Lage’s Game: Chapter Twelve, Part Two

Rebella took me through the castle and to a hall. It had an arched ceiling that lent it all an air of grandeur, except that was wasted, for the hall seemed to have lost anything worth mentioning. It was empty, really. There was a throne, guards, but the walls were bare. The throne was a stone seat, but it had pockets and chunks missing from it, as if gems had been pried off it. Rebella’s sister was pacing before the throne, and before here were ‘them’.

Oh, I could recognize them alright. There were three of them. They weren’t the same ones as had been sent after me before, but they had an air of familiarity to them, what with their polarized fleece winter coats and thick snow boots. They wore reflective sunglasses, hats, and lots, lots, of guns.

“I found her,” announced Rebella, dragging me into the hall after her. With a haughty tip of the head, she presented me to ‘them’. “Here you go.”

“How do we know it’s really her?” asked the man who was standing in the front of the other two.

“That’s not our problem,” said Rebella sharply. “You should have known what you were looking for.”

The man tilted his head to the side, and I wondered if Rebella was about to earn herself a hole in the head. Did I want that to happen?

The closest ‘them’ took a grip on my shoulder and wrenched me to their side. He held up a device to my shoulder, and it beeped. He nodded to the others.

“We’re going,” said the head one to the Queen. She nodded, obviously relieved.

“Have a nice trip,” said Rebella with a smirk.

The goons looked at her. I was beginning to sweat. My stomach was doing flips in my chest. I was cold, hot, and wanted to be done with murder – if I could bring myself to do it.

Where was my anger? Where was that blood-infused strength? I didn’t have it now.

They dragged me after them, marching out of the hall. My heart was pounding in my throat. The world flickered on and off, and I was just registering glimpses of what was around me. It was all happening too fast. I wanted to stop, to pause, but it was all too much.

They loaded me onto a snowmobile where they should have been riding horses. Servants watched earnestly. I felt a cold knot in my stomach, and I was trembling.

The engines revved. Servants startled away, and we zoomed off.

The city flashed by, the cold wind slapping and biting me in the face. It brought me back to life.

I was going to die, I realized. Or worse. These people meant business – and I realized I had two options ahead of me.

Screw Rebella, I could go with these ‘them’ and settle things once and for all. I could go to their nest, their boss, and slay him.

Slay him? I was rattled from that thought by the foreign-ness of it. Who was that, thinking that in my head?

But now I was cool, calm, and unafraid. I felt composed, ready. Beneath it all was a boiling anger, a power that was just waiting to surface. I was there.

As I realized the presence of this… presence? Within myself, it slipped back over my mind.

Coldly, I thought again of my options. I could kill them in their nest. Slay their chieftain. Or I could slay these ones and flee. Flee again! I was tired and sick of running. But did I have a choice? Was I strong enough, at one, to defeat them in their nest? Would they let me close enough to utterly destroy them?

They first gates, those of the castle, whizzed past. Horses and people were now jostling out of the way. We had to slow, and that gave me precious time.

Two paths, so clear, lay before me. All involved death and bloodshed, but I was settled for that. It was nothing to me now, just another consequence of life. But was there a third path?

Lage, I thought. I swallowed his card.

Nagging, in the back of my mind, I knew that meant something enormous. Gigantic. Could I call upon him like these other spirits? Would I be able to summon him to my aid? I was not sure, and certainly did not know how.

Then there was Ekundayo’s necklace. But what good was that? I dismissed it almost as swiftly as it had come up.

No, two paths it was. Which one?

Guards rushed, people screamed, and we were at the final gates. The guards watched nervously, and we whizzed past them. The warm stench of the city was now gone, and we were out in the biting cold. Snow churned up around us.

Now, a voice called out within me. It called, if such a thing was possible, through my chest. From the stone, I realized coldly.

Rebella, you bitch, I thought. You’re watching me.

Distantly, I heard her laugh. Come back to me, she ordered.

I held my stillness. I was still not sure which path I was to take. In fact, I was beginning to drift towards the first. Not only because it was delayed action, but because I wanted things to end. Let me have closure. Let me close this chapter.

The forest, black trees on a white background, it all went by within the deafening roar of the machines. A familiar dolmen appeared, then grew in the distance. Beside it stood Lage, wrapped in his cloak with a spattering of snow atop his shoulders.

The snowmobiles drew to a jarring halt before the dolmens. “Here,” said the goon in charge. “We pay the toll.” He drew a pouch from his pocket and handed it to Lage. Lage, looking tired and drawn, accepted the pouch. He pried it open and looked within.

I heard a strange whispering, the cries of souls on the wind, and felt a sense of whimsical homesickness. How I missed having my own souls, being paid my own tributes.

Shoved off the snowmobile, I returned to my senses. I was just a kid, a teen. Fear seized me. Cold bit through me. In a flash I wondered at what was happening in my mind – what was this presence taking over me?

But then I was cool again. Controlled. I rose to my feet as the goons, the soldier I realized they must be, dismounted their snow machines.

My eyes met Lage’s. In a flash I knew he didn’t want this. He would help me – if he could.

Then help, you bastard, I thought. And he heard me. He lifted his head, holding up the bag. Cleared his throat.

The goons looked at him. It was a fleeting distraction, but it was enough.

In one fluid motion, I drew the gun from the holster of the guards’ hip. Bang, bang, bang. I heard the shots, but didn’t so much register what was happening. In a blink, I heard yells. Heard the almost silent thud of the gun hitting the ground. Felt the touch of the dagger in my hand.

I came to, wiping my dagger clean on their clothes. Lage stood there still, the bag now closed in his hands. Three heads lay at my feet, still bearing their sunglasses. Should I keep them? Did I want these souls as mine?

“Thank you,” I heard myself say to Lage. I turned to him.

“Who are you?” he asked softly.

I felt humor come over me. I laughed, and the voice was jarring. Again, I shifted. Panic swelled over me. Was I-? Who was this in me? What was this feeling of – otherness?

But then it slipped back over me. I was calm, controlled. I held out a hand. “Give me those souls,” I demanded. Not that I needed the food. But a girl likes an army, doesn’t she?

Author’s Rant (SPOILERS)

So how have I been doing lately? How is life, how is everything?

Life has been treating me very well. I have even had the opportunity to get into natural ink making. The results of which I’ll attach to this post. I feel so privileged to be able to live in a little patch of nature and have access to ink making materials! I really love sketching with ink too, it takes so much more thinking and precision.

But this post is called an author’s rant. So, what do I have to rant about, in an authorly way?

Well, I hate to sound like a broken record, but I only have half an idea where the story is going. As usual, the story is winding up, growing more and more complex, and I’m just sitting back baffled, like, wondering if this beast is going to bite me or not?

To my surprise, I am enjoying writing this story. It is dark, I can’t write it every day, but I feel like it is still fun, still something worth doing. The violence of it still surprises me though!

Now, if you’ve been reading along you’ve hopefully started to notice something happening in our (still unnamed!) main character’s mind. Namely, she is in the process of having a part of herself take over.

This will come out a LOT more in the next part (which I have just written today, but will publish the next time I write). Remember the whole ‘who is she? Maybe she’s an ancient?’. Well. The ancient is there, and the ancient is on a mission!

Now, and here is the Big Spoiler, the ancient in particular is Anat. Who? Sumerian goddess of war, anyone? Read up on her, she’s pretty bloody, passionate, but striving to establish peace. I just realized this today, while writing out the scene where she really ‘comes through’. And now I’m all… hmmm… where is this going? How will I make this a nice and cohesive story?

I don’t want this story to wind on as long as Kuryo and Chaos’ story did. That’s just a bit too long and winded for me. i want this one to maybe be, just, a trilogy maybe? Something nice and neat like that.

Anyways, I’m also trying to work on a new birdie book (on death!) as well. I’ve been told that I am breaching topics that are maybe too philosophical for kids, but I have others that say that those topics are necessary, even for very young kids. So… I feel conflicted. I’m far from an expert on children, but I love illustrating with the birdies!

So that’s my update of the day, lovelies. I wish you all a great day, and much love your way. Take care ❤

Lage’s Game: Chapter Twelve, Part One

I caught Rebella by surprise. There was a smear of blood on the Grandmother’s lips, but it was tiny. Rebella spun with a yell, but I had the dagger.

I stabbed blindly – but she caught my arm.

And we were stuck. Me bearing down on her with all my strength, her sitting, half falling backwards, bracing up against me and the dagger. The dagger which was so, so, close to her eye that it was maddening.

Fury pumped through me. I willed this with all my might. To murder her.

“Guards!” Rebella yelled as her hands slipped ever so slightly. The tip of the dagger grazed her cheek, cutting a slim line.

It was not enough! I wanted her dead!

The door behind us burst open. Hands seized me and I was flung back, the dagger wrenched from my hand.

“What on earth are you doing?” yelled a voice. As my mind spun, I came to on the floor at the foot of a guard. Before me was the tall figure of the other princess, who was holding Rebella by a blood-spattered wrist. “What are you doing?” she screamed.

Rebella wrenched free. “What needs to be done!” and she turned to her grandmother.

The moment seemed to stand still. Rebella gasped. Her dagger clattered to the floor, splattering my blood across the planks.

“No!” gasped Rebella, shaking the elderly woman, who now bore a slight smile on her face. But the woman was limp. “No!” Rebella screamed, shaking her some more. Desperately, she smeared blood on the grandmother’s lips – only to be wrenched back by the sister.

“Don’t do that! You can’t!”

“I can and I will!” screamed Rebella, wrestling free from her sister. “I don’t care! She can’t die! We need her!”

“Stop being so selfish!” screamed the sister, grabbing at Rebella again. “It’s not about you! Let her rest!”

“No!” Rebella screamed, stamping a foot. “We need her! I don’t care if it curses us all! We need her!”

I staggered to my feet, determined to try again. The sister turned, our eyes meeting. Her eyes swept me up and down – and she nodded to herself. “Guards! Take this one to the healing ward! And this one-” she gestured to Rebella. “To her room! And keep her in there!”

“No!” Rebella yelled, but the sister yanked her forward and away from the Grandmother. A squabble began, but the guards quickly seized Rebella. With a slam Rebella bodily shoved one aside, punched the other in the visor, and stamped past me out of the room.

“See to it that she stays in her room!” called out the sister at the guards who rushed after Rebella.

I was left in the custody of one guard. They picked me up in their arms, limp and head spinning. The last thing I remembered was watching the ceiling twirl above me – and then nothing.

Time passed in lurches. I saw darkness, then I was beside Lage, watching him fish in the ice.

“You’re here?” he asked. “So soon?”

Then, the world lurched. Ekundayo was beside me, humming as he drummed happily with a stick on a rock. “Child, child,” he said, shaking his head with that strange grin.

Then, I spun downwards.

With a gasp, I sat up. My chest was seizing with pain. Two pairs of arms belonging to robed people were stretched above me. They were chanting incoherently. A sense of panic was crashing over me. I had to get out of here. They were going to pullt he card out of me!

I lurched to the side, falling clean off the bed and before a pair of feet. I grabbed onto a hand and helped myself up – and was faced with a sneering Rebella.

“Well,” she said.

Hatred swelled in me- but I was pushed backwards onto the bed.

“You should sit,” said Rebella nastily.

I breathed, heart hammering in my chest. Rebella. How I hated her. The monks, healers, whatever they were, lowered their arms. A sense of static electricity left the air, and my panic left me. Cool calm came over me. I focused on Rebella, wonderign how I could kill her.

But Rebella wasn’t herself. She was fidgeting, looking from me to the door beyond the curtains that framed the bed. “They won’t think of coming here,” she murmured. Then, to the healers, she snapped “Get out!”

The healers bowed, scraped their feet back, and shuffled away without another word. Rebella followed them. Once the door was shut, she latched it shut. Then she pressed her back to the door nad glared at me.

It dawned on me then that this wasn’t an infirmary. The room was small from what I could see, but – it was a personal room.

Rebella marched towards me. “Who are you? Why do they want you? Hmh?”

She was now at my side, drawing out a dagger from her belt with a hiss of metal. She held it between us, eyes flashing.

“They?” I asked. “They’re here?” Could there be more than one ‘they’?

“They want you,” said Rebella angrily. “They are saying they will kill the new Queen if we do not hand you over.”

Her hand was trembling. Her eyes flicked over me like a spider darting all over.

“Who are they?” I asked, feeling a sense of control. A sense I could finally get some answers.

“They?” she hissed. “You know them! They are the Associates. They rule your world, or so they say.”

I made a face. “They do not,” or so I hoped.

“Why do they want you?” she hissed, prodding the dagger at me. But I knew she wouldn’t hurt me this time. She was too uneasy. Or maybe that was the danger.

“Where am I?” I asked, drawing back the curtains from the other side of the bed. My fingers barely grazed the fabric before my shoulder was seized by Rebella. She shook me, making sharp daggers of pain burst in my chest.

“What do they want?” she hissed rabidly. “You- who are you?”

She had dropped the dagger in my lap. In a flash I knew I could take it and slash her throat- but somehow I chose not to. I grabbed her wrists and pried them off me.

“I am no one!” I answered coolly, shoving her back so I could stand. “I-”

“They wouldn’t threaten my sister for just anyone!” and the dagger was back between us. Then, with a flick, she slid it back into her belt. “Tell me – or I will bring you to them!”

That stilled my heart. That meant … “If I tell you?” I asked cautiously.

“I will keep you safe from them,” she said too swiftly. Nodding to herself,she held out her palm. “Word of honor.”

There was a catch. Obviously. But I didn’t want to be turned over to ‘them’, did I?

I looked around the room, hoping for some escape. I gripped at my robe, a strange flimsy white thing. I was barefoot, too. I wouldn’t get far.

“Five,” declared Rebella. “Four,”

I scowled at her. What a stinker she was.

“Three,” she said, challenging me.

“I ate Lage’s card,” I snapped.

Her jaw fell. A choking sound came out of her throat – then she turned to disbelief and started laughing. “You did what now?” But then she tipped her head back and laughed.

Humiliation burned over me, but she seemed relieved when she was done with her laughter.

“You idiot,” she said happily. Then she clapped a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. “You are stupid, you know that?”

I fueled all my anger at her through my eyes, choking up on words. How I wanted to tell her that I hated her right then. Maybe I should try and kill her again.

“Don’t worry,” she clapped my shoulder. “I will keep you safe. Now,” she pressed a finger to her lips and looked me up and down. A smirk drew itself on her lips. She looked smug. “We need to find you some clothes. Come.” She snapped her fingers at me and motioned me to follow her.

We drew to a large chest, from which she drew out some old clothes. They were worn through in their colors, but still solid looking. Several shirts were held up to me until she found one that she found suitable. From there she gave me a tunic to put over, a sort of bra to wear under, and pants. Boots – she gave me some soft slipper-like things in leather.

“They will have to do,” she muttered, cluckign her teeth. Then, she gave me a belt. It was set with a snake biting its tail worked into the metal ring. She set a dagger on it and set it about my waist. “Here,” she said. Then, stepping back, she looked me over. “Good,” she declared.

I had a sinking feeling that something was wrong. Something about the satisfied gleam in her eyes. I felt like a pig being dressed for slaughter.

She took a gray cloak trimmed in white fur from the chest. It was old as well, but fitted me a little largely. It occurred to me that I must look like a younger version of her – was I to be some decoy?

“Now,” she took a white globe from down her shirt, fishing it out with some difficulty. “Hide this in your shirt. Don’t eat it,” she added with a chuckle.

It was cold like ice, so much so that I almost dropped it. It was marble perhaps, smooth white with shoots of glimmering gray woven through it.

“When you are ready to escape, call out the name-”

“Escape?”

“Of course, I’m going to hand you over to them. Then you will escape.”

There it was. The betrayal. “But you had promised-”

She held up a finger between us. “I can’t hide you. If I do, they will sack the city. No, I will hand you over. You have my dagger, and my spirit-weapon.” she closed my fingers over the white ball. “Call their name when you are ready to kill them, and they will appear and fight with you.”

“Kill them?” I gawked. I’d never killed before!

“You must strike the killing blow,” she said softly, “and don’t leave it to the spirit to do.” Then, sensing my dismay, she added “You must kill them. If you don’t, they will follow you back to the city. Killing them will buy us time. Take it,” she pushed my hand to my chest. “Kill them. Then come back to me.”

On remote, I put the ball down my shirt. Then, numb, I felt myself turning to ice. This couldn’t be. It was too awful to be true.

But it was. Rebella whispered a name to me, then nodded. “Come back to me, and I will take care of you,” she announced.

Like hell I would.

Fighting Depression with Birdies…

I got really depressed lately. The best way I found to cope with it was to draw cute lil’ birdies. So I doodled around on my computer, frustrated as ever with the whole ‘analog to digital’ mess wherein I can never get my pictures to show up quite right on digital, and digital is never quite how I want it to be. But then! Hark! I did a drawing that I super-duper liked on the computer!

It was that picture that I drew first, and I love it. I drew several more, all equally fuzzy and happy-hearted. The trick was to use fuzzy brushes and aim for fuzz instead of clean (I usually try and make my drawings and pictures as neat as possible), as well as go absolutely minimalist. I’m wondering what to do with them, as I love them so very much. I think they’d make great holiday/event cards, personally!

But, all that to say that I’m doing better. I’ve had dreams about my stories, friends come visit, and I’m back up on my feet. I have an inundation of medical appointments, but I am coping well now. I have a friend who is supposed to teach me how to make natural inks from my garden, too! Above all, I feel my head is back over the water. I feel mentally okay.

But then, sometimes, I wonder what to do with myself. I feel like I am not a ‘good enough’ author. Recently, I feel like I should get myself published. But to do that, I’d have to make the birdies more ‘generic’, as no pagan publisher will take on a children’s book (Yes, I’ve asked). But I don’t want to make them generic. I want them to be pagan, that’s what all their stories are about – they’re pagan stories. But is it worth leaving them as pagan birdies? Parents and children who have the book love it, but I’m not sure that anyone actually wants it. Is it my marketing, or am I just not in the right field?

Same goes for Farfadel and Lage’s Game. I feel like I ‘should’ get a publisher, but do I have the energy to cope with one? Does anyone want lgbt fantasy novels for children? I feel like no. I got turned down by indie publishers, and seeing that they are more children’s books than adult books, I’m not sure what publisher would want them.

Maybe I’m still just a depressed author, but I love my stories and love interacting with people about them. I want people to read them and them to be a ‘success’. But… I don’t know what I should do. In my heart, I’ve always wanted to have the freedom to do whatever I want, but wanted the ‘stamp of approval’ from being published by a publisher.

Sorry for dumping, but that’s what’s been going through my mind. Lots of questions about my writing, though I’m still plentifully enjoying the writing process. I just – I question myself.

Anyways, I wish you all lots of love. Have a great day ❤

Lage’s Game: Chapter Eleven, Part Two

The trees were coated in soft fluffy white snow. The flakes sifted slowly down through the air. A slow breeze slid through the trees, biting through me. I huddled under the cloak, stumbling ever forward through the forest.

It had been what felt like hours that I was walking. The only change in time was the shift of the weather. Sometimes warmer, sometimes colder, and now the snow.

I knew I had to find Lage. Lage, or someone who could bring me back to my world. Somewhere, somehow. I’d be safe there, I told myself. I knew I wouldn’t, but I told myself I would. I told myself that at least there wouldn’t be a stupid princess throwing me in a dungeon with … an assassin? Who rescued me?

I plodded on, gritting my teeth at the complexity of this newfound world. The princess, the dying Queen, the gun, it was all piling together in my head. I knew I wouldn’t be safe in my own world – and stumbled over a branch. My arms flung out to break my fall – and I landed in something white.

Not the snow. A pair of arms.

Slowly, I looked up. Red eyes looked down from a white-as-snow face with icicles for hair.

I gaped. The creature grinned, revealing a fanged set of teeth.

I screamed, jumping back and flailing. The creature was a disembodied thing, a torso with just a whispy tail-like bottoming out. It had hands like claws that were tipped in blue talons.

Spinning, I darted straight back the way I came, floundering through the snow.

A high-pitched chuckle echoed in my ears as I ran, and the ‘thing’ rushed along behind me, in the corner of my eyes, clacking its teeth and snagging at me with its claws.

Breathless, I crested a small hill- and tripped over a root. I tumbled straight down the hill in a blundering blurr of white that bit at me and roots and stones that jabbed into my sides.

When I floundered to a stop, there was a horses’ nose before me. A soft brown horse nose that snorted at me. I scrambled to my feet, thinking that I was lucky – when I saw that there was a guard atop this horse. And on the horse beside it. And on that horse, beside it? Another guard.

A clacking sound from behind made me spin. The strange ‘thing’ was rushing towards me, eyes glowing, jaws open, and blue finger-talons out.

“Enough!” barked a voice. The thing reeled to a halt just before me, its talons a mere foot from my face. It looked to my right, where another horse was stepping forward. On this horse, dappled gray, sat Rebella with her white cloak. “Come,” she ordered, holding out her arm.

With a squeal, the creature turned into a snowy white owl and flapped its way to her arm. There, she gave it a small bit of meat. It looked suspiciously like a dead mouse. Rebella turned her cold glare to me. “It looks like we found it,” she sneered.

My blood boiled. “Me,” I declared. “You found me. Not an ‘it’. I’m a person.”

“Oh, well, person,” sneered Rebella. “There I was thinking you had rocks for brains.”

My fury bubbled over, but I was speechless once more, silent in my white-hot fury. Rebella nodded to a guard. “Take it,” she ordered before wheeling her horse around.

The guard reached down, seizing me by the shoulder. I wrenched free.

I wished for a knife. Some dagger, magic maybe, to help me overcome all of them. Maybe even a gun – which I normally hated.

Between two guards I was lifted up, kicking and biting, up onto one of their horses, before the rider. Then, with an armored arm around my waist, we wheeled around to follow Rebella.

I gave up on fighting as we trudged back through the forest. I turned limp, glaring viciously at Rebella’s back.

I hated her. I wanted to utterly destroy her. She was quickly enlarging in my mind, becoming synonymous with ‘them’. Those hated unknowns now had a face and persona in Rebella.

When we trudged back within the cities’ walls, I had decided that I was going to kill her. No matter what. It was my chance to hit back at ‘them’.

We plodded through the grubby city, the horses’ rhythms suspiciously lulling, annoyingly slow-paced compared to a car. Houses that were mere shacks passed on and on. People covered in filth stared, mouths agape, pointing at me but never at Rebella. She must be a villain they were used to.

What struck me was the silence, though. The people whispered but voices never rose into spoken words with clarity or force. They merely whispered, mumbling from mouth to ear behind hands. Definitely no one shouted.

My chance came when we entered the castle’s walls. There, the guards visibly relaxed. They began laughing among themselves, cracking jokes I didn’t listen to and laughing rowdily. Rebella, however, had her back to us and rode on ahead. That is, until we dismounted.

I was dropped to the ground, aching all over and numb from the cold. But I sensed a window of opportunity. A tingling came over me. Rebella had her back to us still, throwing her reins to a servant. The guards were dismounting around me, trading jokes.

I spun, seizing the sword from the hip of the guard behind me. With a hiss of metal the sword drew clear. I stumbled, but swung it with the momentum, lurching forward at Rebella.

In slow motion, I saw Rebella turn. I saw her eyes widen, her lips part slightly in surprise.

With a shriek, the owl burst at me, wings flapping at my face. I stumbled back.

Time jolted back to full speed. Rebella was before me, the bird tossed aside. She grabbed my arms, wrenching the sword from my grasp. I kicked at her, but she deflected it with a swipe of the leg that sent me falling face-first into the muddy snow.

“You are all so useful,” Rebella sneered at her guards as she turned her back on me once more, dropping the sword to the snow mere feet away from me.

The guards murmured apologies. I staggered up, but was dwarfed by hands. No more freedom for me. As Rebella marched on ahead I was bodily dragged after her, arms held out like a scarecrow. My feet dragged, catching in the stones and earth as we marched into the castle.

This time, we did not enter the huge gardens within that dome. Instead we marched up a flight of stairs, turned left, and found ourselves in a dark corridor. At the end of it, servants lined a room. These guards were adorned in purple with large feathers atop their helmets. The servants exchanged nervous looks, but bowed their heads as Rebella approached them.

“What are you all doing out here?” Rebella demanded, half-yelling. “Why have you left her alone?”

“She ordered-” murmured one servant who was standing before a door. She didn’t finish her sentence, as Rebella took her by the shoulders and threw her out of the way, crushing into the other servants.

“Bring the thing!” shouted Rebella, yanking the door open and barging in.

The guards yanked me forward. I was shoved into the room seconds after Rebella entered it. It was almost a touching scene. Almost.

The grandmother Queen was laying on a giant red four-poster bed with the curtains drawn shut. Rebella had opened one side and was now clasping the grandmother’s hand in both of hers. The grandmother’s good eye was open, but it too was now turning milky white. The decay had almost taken over her entire face.

“Child,” said the grandmother, breath heaving.

“It’s not your time. We need you,” whispered Rebella, clutching the withered hand to her chest.

The grandmother smiled mysteriously. “That’s not how the world works.”

Determination came over Rebella. She lowered the grandmother’s hand. “Get out,” she ordered, backing away from the bed. “All of you. Leave the thing here. I have something to do.”

The guards backed away, shuffling nervously out the door. It shut behind them with a creak and a clap, and I was alone with Rebella and her dying Grandmother.

Rebella wasted no time. With a yank she drew a dagger from her belt. With a toss her cloak fell to the ground and she marched towards me, head held high.

I just wasn’t expecting it.

With a flash of the arm, she stabbed me in the chest. I gasped, the sharp pain slicing through me. I found myself gripping at her arm as she yanked the dagger out of me.

I staggered as Rebella yanked away. The world swam as her back walked away, back to the bedside. My knees struck the floor. I was clutching at my chest, watching the blood seep out from between my fingers. I knew enough to know that this was severe. I was going to die.

And Rebella was still alive.

“Blood of the heart, lift this curse,” I heard Rebella whisper as she was lifting a bloody finger – full of my blood – to her Grandmother’s lips.

“Child, no,” whispered the fading Grandmother. The good eye fluttered closed.

I was taking that bitch down with me, I thought. I saw the dagger set beside her on the bed. I launched myself.

Struggling Today…

It’s terrifying, really, how quickly we can go downhill. How one seemingly tolerable incident can *boom* send you spiraling down. And it’s so hard to stop the spiral.

I wish I had some wisdom to impart today, but I’m not sure I do.

I managed to take a shower, which almost set me in tears. I am more functional than I was earlier on. Napping helped. But really, what do you do when you feel like you’re just slipping downwards?

Well, what I’ve learned with my social worker, is to focus on what you can grab on to stop the sliding, even if just a little.

Don’t focus on how shitty you feel. Focus on what might make you feel a little better, even just a little.

For me, it’s music and colors. So I forced myself to listen to music and color and draw in a cute birdie. Yay!

Altogether, I am sorry to be pitching so much moodiness out here into the void, so to speak. And yet, I really enjoy being able to be honest with people like this. It’s freeing to just expose the wound to others and say ‘here, I’m hurt’.

Maybe that’s something we need to do more of within paganism, speak our truths and pains. We do seem to be a vocal bunch, but I don’t know. Do we really talk about our nitty and gritty? I don’t know. To be fair, I’m not entirely in the loop as to who’s talking about what.

Oh, and one last thing. Where are the discussions on the fallibility of deity? I’m researching it for a course I’ll be teaching… and all I found was Christian crap. Anyone out there talking about the limits of the deities and spirits? I’d love some links if anyone has any.

In the meantime, I’m really reconsidering what to do with my birdies. Not that I want to stop doing them, but I’m wondering if making them a pagan project was too narrow for them. Maybe I should just leave them a non-pagan thing, and leave them as a cute little project.

What’s spawning this consideration is that I have a link that may be able to get my children’s activity book into a schoolboard, but the books would have to be a little less religious. A thing I’m not sure would be bad. Maybe just nature-centric would be enough for them. I don’t know. Thoughts?

Here is the picture I drew this afternoon. I hope it makes you smile and brings you some joy. Thank you to all of you for your support ❤

More Updates!

Hi everyone! I’m sorry if I worry you, but I’m still not well. I think it’s because yesterday I had to call a victim’s advocacy group in order to try and get myself psychotherapy… Long story short it was stressful. Anything to do with the past is stressful for me.

The worst part is that I know that it’s ok. It’s just a phone call. I can see the connection between it and the past – and yet I still get all worked up and anxious and can’t stop myself from experiencing it. Ugh.

Writing helped. Talking helped. Painting digitally helped. But I’m still fragile. It frustrates me so much to see that the past still affects me so much, nose-diving me straight into an anxious mess.

Oh well. Thank you to everyone for your well wishes and kind thoughts, I appreciate them. I sincerely hope that you all are doing well and that you and yours are safe ❤ lots of love.

I’m dropping here a picture that I worked on today. It’s not perfect but what the hell, I like it. It’s of Rebella, who I’m sure is going to be super important in the story and an utter pain for our MC (who still needs a name).

Lage’s Game: Chapter Ten, Part Two

The door to the shack creaked and rattled so loudly as it was drawn open that it almost fell off its hinges. Inside was a cluster of people huddled about a tiny fire. They looked up like owls. Terrified, huddling – and then they were angry and ready to attack.

They cried out, clutching at each other yet lurching forward as one. Ekundayo held up a hand, and said something. I wish I knew what he was saying, and they in turn. But I couldn’t understand, and would remain as if deaf to this whole conversation. The conversation rattled on, sharp retorts from person or other among the huddle, and Ekundayo answered so calmly. He placed a hand on my shoulder, and I decided not to shrug him off. We might need his story to be actually believed.

Finally, the huddled people returned, not to owls, but to disgruntled sparrows or something like that. They huddled again, and took to whispering. But the conversation was over. Ekundayo smiled at me. “They welcome us,” he said sweetly to me.

“Who the fuck are they?” I muttered angrily, hugging the cloak around me. We were still standing in the doorway!

“Oh, dear, they are poor people,” he said as he drew me away from the door and back out into the cold. “They’ve, how shall we say it? They’re a society of people.”

“Okay,” I snapped as I was directed to turn and walk to another building.

“And they’ve decided we can live in their lands. It’s a sort of, commune? People that share, that hoard and spend together. All coins are to be deposited in, here,” he said as he gestured to the next building. “Come,” and he went up and rapped upon that door. It didn’t look ready to fall over. It practically did.

This door was shoved open by a person with a rat-like face, protruding hairs, and a sniffing nose. Their eyes were sunken in caverns, and they had a walkign stick in hand and a shawl about their shoulders.

They sniffed the air, then cocked their head to the side. A grin split their features.

“Ekundayo,” Ekundayo said. He drew a pouch from his belt and rattled it loudly before handing it to the blind rat.

“Ekundayo!” the person cried out. Then they sniffed again, reaching towards me. Ekundayo took their hand and guided it to my shoulder, where he patted it into me. I grimaced, but didn’t move.

“My daughter,” Ekundayo said with a twinkling smile at me. “She’s my apprentice too.”

“Oh! Oh!” the person cried out.

“This is Crow,” said Ekundayo to me. “He used to be a great dame.”

“I was elegant,” Crow sniffed. “But I am happy now!” He squeezed my shoulder and patted me. “Come in, daughter and father!”

Crow backed away into the building, shuffling and muttering. We followed, Ekundayo gesturing me in before himself. Once we were in, he shut the door behind us. The cold remained, only a little stifled by the shack’s walls.

Here, there was no fire. There was only a large table laden with coins, pouches, and all sorts of items, a straw mat in a corner, and a pile of more junk in another corner. Ekundayo dropped his pouch into the pile and began rummaging. “We need clothes for my daughter,” he commented calmly. “Her mother is going to want her back, as will the princess. She was a handmaiden, you know?”

“Oh! Do you know dame Minstrel?” Crow asked chirpily as he shuffled to his straw mat and plopped down with … no grace whatsoever.

I didn’t answer, feeling the vices of our lie tightening around us. Ekundayo sighed into the pile of junk. Loudly, he drew out a piece of clothing. “This will do!”

“What will do?” asked crow loudly. “Is she a girl? Or a boy?”

Ekundayo looked at me with a glimmer in his eye and a foolish grin on his face. He held out the tunic to me. “Hm?” he asked, to prompt me to answer.

“I’m a girl,” I said sourly. I reached a hand out for the tunic. It was a bit large, but it would do. It was sufficiently mud-colored with a hue of green about it. I would blend into the streets.

After digging me up some pants and a pair of oversized boots, Ekundayo went to sit on the cot beside Crow with his back to me so I could change.

Crow, however, had gotten a taste of conversation and seemed ready to indoctrinate. “Are you sure? You seem,” he snapped his fingers in the air before himself. “Unhappy.”

“Oh, she is unhappy,” said Ekundayo with a chuckle. I began changing angrily.

“It is not about that,” I said sourly as I pulled the boots on. Then, thinking things over, I moved to sit on Crow’s other side. Resting would be nice, I decided. A bath would be better, but that would be probably impossible in this world.

“So what is it about?” Crow asked. Then, completely ignorign me, he began prattling about how, when he was young, he never knew what was wrong, but he knew something was wrong and –

I tuned it out, glaring at Ekundayo. He grinned at me like this was great fun. I scowled and leaned against the icy wall, hugging my cloak about myself.

Then, to the sound of Crow’s exaggerated story of elegance and misery, I fell asleep.

Author’s Update: Life is Good

Life really is good for me right now! My wife’s dog ran away this morning, but came straight away back when my wife called for her (I had to holler for fifteen minutes without results, haha). Things are peaceful and calm, and I love it that way.

But one thing irks me. I haven’t had a single comment on ‘Lage’s Game’ in AGES! I know y’all are reading (and thank you so much for that) but – what are y’all thinking? What does the story make you think of? Do you like it? No? Yes?

Personally, I’m really liking this story. It’s got ‘vibe’ to it. It tingles my spidey-senses. I’m loving the development, the characters, and how fast-paced it is. Granted, now I’m wondering what each of these characters has ‘in play’ and what they want and from whom. I’ll have to keep writing to discover that, I guess, that or (dun dun DUN) brainstorm? Brainstorming is generally pretty useless for me though, haha. I think up all these things and then change my mind the minute I touch the keys. Yep. So yeah, Lage’s Game is going pretty well. I’m working on several other projects on the side as well – one painting project and several other Farfadel books. Several? Oh yes, several, haha.

I’ve also got some lovely feedback from a reader about my latest Farfadel book: that it’s a great middle-grade children’s book. Children’s book? Me? I … never thought of them as children’s books but now that it has been pointed out to me, I guess it really does fit the criteria for one. They’re just a tad bit on the long side for children but hey, whatever.

The giveaways have been going great as well, getting lots of views and comments, but somewhat less than I expected. But! I am determined to focus on the positive! I’m getting really positive feedback, and people seem excited for my books, which is great. I’ve even been told that I should sell my books locally at farmer’s markets and stuff like that. Which, really, whenever I can get my author’s copies in (amazon won’t let me get author copies. I had to order full price to get the ones for the giveaway!), I will definitely check into! Wouldn’t that be exciting? Author parties! Meeting readers! More giveaways! Heheheh. I love giveaways and goodies, does it show?

Anyways, that’s my update for today 🙂 I really hope y’all are doing well and that you’re enjoying my books, whichever way you’re reading them. Much love to you all!

Author’s Update (Spoilers)

Well, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted or had much interaction with anyone here. But how have I been? What have I been up to?

Well, lately, I’ve been surprisingly well. In the past week or so I’ve had an upstreak in mood and energy. I’ve finished the birdie’s activity book, and am set to publish the next Farfadel novel quite soon. The only catch is that I want to do a giveaway of both of them, and want to order them together to save on shipping. So, the birdie giveaway must wait for the Farfadelian novel to be done and published as well.

It isn’t really intense spoilers, but this certain Farfadelian novel does end with death. And oh my, everytime I finish reading through the novel to edit it, I get upset. In real life, I don’t mourn deaths that hard. I have luckily not lost anyone that close to me, but death doesn’t seem to affect me as hard as it does others. Except when it comes to my characters… oof. I almost always want to cry when I finish this novel. Remember that time I killed off Kuryo and mourned for several days straight? Yeah, well, it’s a thing with me. I mourn my characters.

On the upside, I’ve become more and more charmed by this novel. When I had written it, I thought of it as a dumb and rather foolish novel. So I abandoned it for a few years. But now… it’s actually a nice novel. I like it. I’m pretty proud of it. I really hope y’all are going to want to read it as well, and that you’ll all enter into my (soon to be) giveaway.

While I’m writing, I do have to say that I’m sorry I haven’t been posting more stories here for everyone to write. I just have been so busy editing! By the time I’m done editing, I’m usually so sick of sitting in front of my computer for three to four hours that I just up and run away to do something else. Also, I’m very sorry to everyone who wants me to keep writing about mental illness.

The sad truth is that, I don’t feel like I have it in me to write about mental illness anymore, or at least not these days. It just doesn’t feel like the time is right. So, for everyone who wants me to keep writing about that particular topic, I ask for your patience. I do have plans and topics for that, but it’s just not the time right now.

I will end this post with a final wail/humorous story. I had dug up an old picture of the main characters of this novel, and was going to use it as a book cover. It was only after setting it as the book cover and doing all the editing (roughly a few hours of work) that I realized that one of the characters description had changed… Now I’m redoing the painting in watercolor, and desperately hoping it’ll all come out alright!

Anyways, much love to you all! Take care everyone!