Raw excerpt from Watchlings.

Guess what? I am stuck. Again. I seem to be doing this quite a bit recently. So I’ve decided to post the prologue of volume two (working title: Watchlings).

I know, I know, volume one (working title: Cyrion) isn’t even out yet. But I am stuck in Watchlings. Maybe seeing a snippet of it in a different context will help me become unstuck.

What can I say? I’m an optimist. A desperate optimist. A desperate optimist of the worst kind – one with a word processor.

Heh 🙂

Fair warning: The following is a first draft that has never felt the keen blades of any editing process. Kindly forgive the quality of the prose.

So (keeping my fingers, toes, eyes, knees and elbows crossed), here goes nothing.

Prologue: Daddy                                                                                                  

Date: Unknown

He stood at the very edge of the precipice. He was human, for the moment. It was always his preferred form. His natural form was too big. Too bulky. Except when he wanted the freedom of the open sky. But for most other things, the human form suited him just fine.

He was a creature of pure magic. Of old magic. The time bubble he created, one he’d been living in for he’d forgotten how long, was sustained by the very air he exhaled. It would also pop out of existence the moment he chose to leap.

He stepped closer to the precipice, bare feet now curled right over the edge, and felt the grit of sand and crumbling earth between his toes. He looked down and felt an overwhelming sense of vertigo. Odd for someone born to rule the skies. But then, he’d always been the odd one.

He wondered what lay below. What would happen if he leapt without Shifting into his natural form? Would all sensations cease? Would he no longer feel the warmth of the sun on his face? Or the caressing breeze riffling through his unruly black curls? Would all thought and memory cease?

He hoped so. He’d buried so many loved ones. Too many. Or would it be a new experience entirely? One his kind had never known or spoken about?

Curiosity, anticipation and resignation battled within. He tensed his muscles. They felt like cords of silk in his human form. In his mind’s eye, he saw it all. Multiple realities, multiple worlds. Glowing, iridescent blue-white pearls on an infinite string, set against the absolute dark of oblivion. He longed for that oblivion. He’s lost so many loves to the void.

And then he heard the scream.

That voice, so familiar. One of his own. How long had he been in this bubble? How long had he left them? Left her? His wild silver-eyed child, in that blue-white world.

He looked up and saw eclipses of iridescent green butterflies fill the horizon. She’s in trouble. Serious trouble. He stepped back from the edge, allowing the butterflies to envelop him.

There she is.

He raised his hand and ordered them back to her. His beloved. The only one he had left.

His little Anya.

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You know you need a break when…

When I first started writing, I know I needed a break when my thoughts started to wander in odd directions. I’ve made recent additions to the list. By the way, I usually write with my trusty pencil on my trusty paper notebook.

Yeah, I’m old school, so? :p

The following are a few highlights.

I know I need a break when…

  • … I brainstorm ideas with 9-year-olds with the attention-span of parakeets on speed.
  • … I insist on spelling it “ominus”.
  • … I wrote the word “agony”, and I find myself wondering which works better: “Ebony and agony” or “agony and ivory”, right before singing both versions aloud, just so I could hear which version sounds better.
  • … I scribble “clink”, and automatically wonder if it should be “clinc” or “clinck”.
  • … I try to order citrus in order of intelligence. On one hand, the pomelo is much bigger than a lemon and animals with bigger brains are supposed to be smarter, no? On the other hand, does size really matter? The tiny kumquat is much more flavorful than the pomelo. Ultimately, when it comes to citrus, does intelligence correspond to size or to flavor?
  • … I try to fit my prose to the Major-General’s song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.

How about you? How do you know when you’ve really had enough?

More Twinkle and Sledge

Chapter Three: Through the Water Star.
Morgaine raised her arms as high as they’d go, then swung them down. Hard. The delicate crystal vase, reputed to have adorned Napoleon’s private chambers in Elba centuries ago, shattered on the granite bathroom floor. She stepped back and studied the glittering, star-shaped carnage in complete silence.

Nurse is going to get so mad at me.

Twinkle and Sledge hovered over the wreck of rose petals and crystal shards.

“You’re right,” Sledge said. “She is the Hag who summoned us. I haven’t seen a Water Star this perfect in a long time.”

Twinkle sniffed. “Told you so.”

“Excuse me?” Morgaine shifted her weight back and forth, from one bunny-slippered foot to the other. “What’s a Water Star?”

Sledge flew to Morgaine’s face and sat on the bridge of her nose. “You’re looking at it. It’s our portal to,” she waved her arms with a flourish, presumably to add drama, “other worlds beyond.”

Twinkle clucked his tongue in disapproval. “Are you fibbing to our Hag already?” He abandoned the bruised rose petal he’d been studying and joined Sledge on Morgaine’s nose. Morgaine’s eyes crossed as she tried to focus on the two fairies. “The Water Star is just a way out. To go to the land of the Fae, we have to follow the trail of the butterflies.”

Sledge turned to him, tiny arms akimbo. “How’s that different from what I said?”

Morgaine shook her head. Twinkle and Sledge tumbled from their perch. “Would you mind picking a different place to sit? I’m getting a migraine.” Morgaine rubbed her forehead and stretched her neck. “So what do I have to do to see Mother?”

Sledge cocked her head. “You jump in with both feet.”

“Jump where?”

“Through there. The Water Star,” Twinkle said. “We have to be on some part of you though. Unless you don’t mind losing your mind in the process.”

Sledge snickered. “What mind?” Twinkle frowned at her. Sledge bit her lip and fell into silence.

“Just jump into that?” Morgaine pointed at the mess on her bathroom floor.

“Yep,” Sledge said, nodding. “That’s it.” She flitted to just above Morgaine’s left ear. There was a faint tug as Sledge held onto strands of her hair. “Trust us.”

“Trust you?” Morgaine ticked the points on her fingertips. “I am a sweet, innocent girl, this is New York City, you broke into my room, insulted me, then forced me to break a priceless piece of modern history. Now, you’re asking me to do something that you said might cost me my mind. And you’re asking me to trust you?”

Morgaine felt a faint tug on her scalp just above her right ear. “Yes,” Twinkle said. “You summoned us.”

Sledge sounded uncharacteristically sad. “And we want to go home.”

Morgaine shrugged. She already broke the bloody vase. How much more trouble could she possibly get into?

And she really wanted to see Mother again.

“Okay, hold on tight you two.” Morgaine spared a breath for a quick prayer, bent her knees, closed her eyes, and jumped.

What a hag is not, and my apologies to Ancram

The fourth installment, folks. While I still don’t have a title, I do have a setting. Hooray for every small victory, right?

😉

“Twinkle,” Sledge said in warning, her voice pitched low. “We have a job to do.”

“Well, she’s not making it easy.”

Sledge flitted beside the blue orb, her glow muting and coalescing into the shape of a female. A winged female. “Think of what is at stake. Don’t you want to go home? I do.”

The red lightning ceased and Twinkle turned a lighter shade of blue. “Very well.”

Morgaine relaxed.

Sledge stayed beside Twinkle until he was the shade of a summer’s day at high noon before flitting in front of Morgaine’s nose. “Well? Are you ready?”

Morgaine’s eyes crossed. “Ready? For what?”

Sledge sighed and turned back to Twinkle. “You got your wish. Are you happy now? Our hag is stupid.”

You’d rather she’s stupid. I was hoping for epilepsy.”

The scowl returned to Morgaine’s brows. “I am not stupid. Or blind. Or deaf. Or a hag.”

Pearlescent lightning flashed in Twinkle’s nimbus. “So there’s still a chance you’re epileptic?”

Morgaine’s voice dropped a few hundred degrees. “No.”

Both she and Twinkle yelped as Sledge head-butted them in turn.

“Twinkle, focus. Remember the job?” Sledge turned back to Morgaine. “You’re a hag because you summoned us. You want a name to go with the title? Earn it. Start by getting out of bed because we have to go.”

Morgaine swung her legs off the bed. “Where?”

Sledge heaved a long-suffering sigh, then spoke very slowly. “What. Did. You. Wish. For?”

I’m going to see Mother! She slid into a pair of bunny slippers beside her bed. “What? Now? But it’s the middle of the night.”

“Daytrips are for sissies.” Twinkle flitted to the crystal vase of fresh-cut flowers on the ivory-inlaid rosewood table at the foot of her bed. “I think this will do, Sledge.”

“But it’s the middle of the night in New York City.” Morgaine glanced in the mirror, noting her pillow-crushed curls. “And I can’t go anywhere looking like this. Nurse would kill me.”

“At least it’s not Ancram.” Twinkle shuddered. “Nothing’s as bad as Ancram.”

Sledge flitted around her head for a moment. “Looks fine to me.” She flew to the vase. “Is your bathroom floor perfectly level?”

“I think so.” Morgaine approached the vase of lush, odorless hothouses roses. “Why?”

“Grab the vase and meet us there.” Two glowing puffballs flew to the bathroom. The pink orb hovered for a moment. “Well? Hurry up, night’s wasting.”

Morgaine grasped the vase with both hands and made her way to the granite-tiled bathroom adjoining her bedroom. By the time she got there, Twinkle and Sledge had gotten the lamb hide bath rug out of the way.

Twinkle flew by her right ear. “You need to smash it. Hard.”

“But –“

Sledge flew to her left ear. “Listen to me. I know this place nowhere near as dangerous as Ancram, but it’s dangerous all the same. Not just for you, but for all of us. If you want us to grant your wish, you’ll have to do precisely what, how and when we say. If this is beyond you, then return to bed and pretend we’re just vivid dreams induced by excessive nocturnal lactose consumption. Your choice.” She flitted away. A tiny fairy foot tapped the air with impatience. “Well? We don’t have all night.”

The Angry Puffball

The third installment and I still don’t know where it wants to go. Feel free to comment and give me your input on whether I should keep working on it, or stick it in story cold-storage for now. I hope you will enjoy 🙂

Chapter 2: Daytrips are for sissies.

Morgaine opened her hand, stung by shocked horror. “Please don’t tell me you’re my fairy godmothers.”

“Fine.” Sledge flitted out of reach. “I won’t.”

“Let. Sledge. Go!” Twinkle barreled into Morgaine’s torso with each word.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch! I already did. Pay attention, would you?”

“Twinkle.” A blur of pink flashed in the gloom, then stopped in mid-air, pulsating. “I’m here. I’m okay.”

“Sledge.” Morgaine watched the tiniest blue spark flit beside the pink. “Are you really all right? Hag or not, I can take her on.”

“Twinkle. I’m fine.”

“Truly?”

“Truly.”

Morgaine resolved to wait in what she considered respectful silence for an appropriate length of time.

Five seconds ought to be ample.

About three seconds later, she cleared her throat meaningfully.

Twinkle turned a midnight shade of blue. His voice was larded with disapproval. “Do. You. Mind?”

“Excuse me?” Her pitch rose in outraged disbelief. “You broke into my room!”

The glowing blue orb expanded and flew right up to her face, pulsating at a higher frequency. She reared back. Murderous maroon flashed from a shrouded figure within the orb.

Red virulent lightning against storm clouds.

Her voice faltered. “What?”

Twinkle’s voice dropped into a growl. “You, Hag, laid hands on my associate.”

Morgaine shrank from Twinkle, a glowing puff ball no bigger than the average dust bunny. “Hand. Singular.” She couldn’t stop herself. She never could.

More flashes of maroon. Streaks of dried blood against dark velvet.

Morgaine ducked her head, voice dropping to a whisper. “Never mind.”

“If you hurt Sledge –“

Twinkle and Sledge

The continued rough draft of untitled, unset, untimed, un-everything fairy tale. Moral of the story (thus far anyway), never make a wish then squash your fairy ring 😉

Morgaine stared at the upholstered underside of her canopied bed. Teeth, cleaned. Silver-blue curls, brushed until they glowed. Silly, frilly, fussy nightdress, on. Covers, tucked tight. Cheeks, good night-kissed and bedside candle, blown out.

By Nurse.

Daddy was busy. He had to attend a meeting.

Morgaine heaved a sigh and turned over to her side. Squeezing her eyes shut, she resolved to find another fairy ring in the morning and try again.

She was in the twilight realm between wakefulness and dreams when she heard them.

A light, sweet voice, one that made her think of soap bubbles twinkling in the summer breeze, said “Is that her?”

A deeper voice, one that made her think of a plough horse hopelessly mired in muck, responded. “Yes. She made the wish.”

The spell worked!

Morgaine kept her eyes closed, her breathing regular and consciously relaxed every muscle on her torso. She did not want to scare them, whoever they were. Not if they could take her to see Mother. She sensed rather than heard the two entities circle around her bed, coming closer. Her nose flared at the scent of night-blooming jasmine that unexpectedly assaulted her senses.

They must be very close.

“Are you sure?” Soap-bubble said, her voice dripping with disbelief. “Whatever happened to: ‘Skin of alabaster/ Hair of spun gold/ Grace incarnate/ Behold the maiden fair’?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, look at her. Why do we always get the ugly ones?”

Morgaine sat bolt upright, the embodiment of wounded outrage. “Hey!” She squinted in the gloom, trying to make out the two entities.

Soap-bubble, somewhere to her left. “She doesn’t even have proper witchy eyes. What self-respecting witch has brown eyes? Should be green. Or violet.”

Plough horse. From the right. “Or electric blue. So she could fry you with a glare.”

Morgaine flapped her arms around, trying to catch them. “There’s nothing wrong with brown eyes!” The air whistled as Soap-bubbles and Plough-horse ducked her open palms.

“Or silver even. At least then it’s obvious she’s blind.” Soap-bubbles, from above her head.

Morgaine gritted her teeth. “Am. Not. Blind!” She swiped at where she thought Soap-bubbles was, but caught nothing but crisp autumn air with one hand and a fistful of her own hair with the other.

“It’s not nice to tease the blind, Sledge,” Plough-horse said, somewhere unexpectedly close to her left ear.

Morgaine reared away, instinctively batting at her ear. “For the last time, I’m not blind.”

“Only calling it like I see it, Twinkle. Just look at her flail around.”

“I’m also not deaf. Are you?”

Twinkle, from somewhere behind her. “Epilepsy.” Morgaine heard a groan from Sledge and the smacking sound of a face-palm. Twinkle continued his sonorous drone. “Epilepsy could explain why she is flailing around.”

“I don’t have epilepsy. Whatever that is.”

Sledge, from her right. “I’d prefer simple stupidity to epilepsy. Or narcolepsy.”

Morgaine clenched her jaws and kept still, waiting for Sledge to get closer.

“Do you remember Sleeping Beauty, Twinkle? She looked the part, but what a nightmare to work with.” Sledge chuckled. Morgaine heard a whir wings and felt a gentle breeze on her left cheek. “Sleeping Beauty. Nightmare. Get it?”

She weaved her head – fast – and snapped her fingers closed on… something. A set of wings beat a frantic tattoo against her palm.

“Twinkle, help!” Sledge’s soap bubble voice was muffled. “The Hag’s got me!”

Hag? Morgaine growled. She brought her closed fist up to her face. “Who are you calling a hag, you –“  Morgaine yelped at an unexpected sharp pain from her side.

“Let. Sledge. Go!” Twinkle roared, punctuating each word with a head butt.

“Yeah,” Sledge said. “Lemme go. We were just teasing. We knew you weren’t asleep.”

“Let. Sledge. Go!” Twinkle roared again, each word accompanied by a burst of pain from Morgaine’s side.

“Can’t grant your wish unless you let me go.”

Fairies, Pixies and Peri-peri

A re-surface post 🙂
Just a little something I’ve been working on. No real title yet, as usual. Oh well, it will come in its own sweet time, right? 😉

Feel free to post thoughts in the comment box. No flames, please. This story is still in its very, *very* early stages.

Chapter One:  The result of squishing fungi

She twirled around, back straight, head tilted up to the autumn sun, arms stretched as far out as they would go. Once. Twice. The third time, she made sure to stay on the very tips of her toes, her fondest wish firmly planted in mind.

This was not the time to think of cakes and ice cream.

A shrill cry broke the relative silence of the forest clearing. “Morgaine!”

Startled, Morgaine lost her balance and fell on a clump of mushrooms. She rose to her feet, made a modicum of effort at brushing away the dirt that clung to her skirt, then frowned in dismay at the sight of squashed fungi.

There goes another fairy ring. That one was almost a perfect circle too. Now I’ll have to find another one.

“Morgaine! Where are you, my little duckling?”

Nurse.

Morgaine sighed, lolling her head back. She silently cursed over-protective nurses and over-protective fathers who persist in hiring over-protective nurses. No matter how many said nurses she sent away crying or screaming.

Preferably both.

It’s not like she’s a baby anymore. She’s nine years old, for heaven’s sake, well past the age of reason. At least, that’s what Mother always said.

She caught a flash of movement from the corner of her eye. An unnatural hush settled in the clearing. Morgaine froze in place. A familiar nursery chant ran through her mind in a continuous loop.

My mother said I never should

Play with pixies in the wood

Morgaine held her breath for a few moments.

Pixies!

Father said pixies stole Mother two years ago. Was that a pixie she saw? Would it steal her also?

Did the spell actually work? I can see Mother again?

A cold sweat broke all over her body as she listened to the stillness. She was waiting for… something. Every muscle in her body tensed, ready for a confrontation with the pixies.

The pixies that dared steal Mother.

She’d make them take her to Mother. Even if she had to fight every last one of them.

Another shrill cry. This time, tinged with a note of impatience. “Morgaine!”

The spell was broken.

She cursed again.