Happily Ever After (Drabble)

Image from Pixabay.

I haven’t been writing much. Instead, I have been transferring notes from old notebooks into digital files. Some of these notebooks are back from 2003. Heh. Luckily, it’s sparking some ideas. Unfortunately, I’m spread between five or more different ideas. But on the plus side, it’s also sparking more drabble ideas. But I’m without a solid writing project at the moment. Of course with how exhausted I am after work lately, it might be for the best until things settle down again.

Phew.

I thought about trying to get organized for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, but I imagine it will be another few weeks before I’m settled enough to be very productive. I’m determined to start writing regularly again, and I think I need a new first draft to do so.

Until then, I’ll attempt to keep publishing drabbles (or longer pieces) each week.

Enjoy.

~ Effy

Happily Ever After (Drabble)

Sir Dane galloped up to the dreaded dragon’s lair. He had conquered many heroic tasks atop his steed and bedecked in his finest armor.

A stale breeze wafted forth as if the mouth breathed the beast’s own rank breath. Sir Dansk drew his sword and screwed his courage. When his eyes adjusted to the dim interior, he saw not the dragon but the fair Princess Stephanie. Her look was not appreciative.

“Did you ever think perhaps I don’t want to be ‘saved’?”

He had not.

“Get along before Melusine cooks you in your armor.” Yellow eyes glared.

And he did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

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Tiny Dreamer (Short Story)

Galaxy Blue by Glenn Farquhar

This is a piece I originally wrote as a fan fiction piece. It has been heavily edited from its original version (there’s was way too much passive voice originally) and adjusted to fit it into the world of Dadreon.

I’d like to eventually put all of my dragon pieces into a short story collection. I’m filling in some gaps for now and we’ll see where it goes.

Enjoy.

~ Effy

Tiny Dreamer

Awareness came in the dark.

Unchanging, it gave no measure of time between when she realized she existed and when she left the darkness. For now, all she knew was darkness. The darkness made her sleepy with its warmth. She slept a lot.

When she slept, she dreamt in colors.

Mostly, she dreamt in hues of blue, ranging from blue so light it was almost white to a deep blue that was close to black but not. The blue felt comforting, familiar. It felt almost like herself. She stayed near to the blue.

Some of the colors appeared in shades of red and green. Some were more white or more black. Some shimmered in shiny, reflective colors. They all felt similar to the blue, but not. She did not feel akin to the other colors like the blue.

The colors all hinted toward something greater, other sentient beings full of knowledge, but she could not figure out how to reach the colors to learn more.

Rather than fight or fuss, she instead let herself drift. Instinctively she knew when something important happened, she would know.

Occasionally muffled somethings would come to her, from elsewhere. With them they brought a sense of movement that was not her, nor her where. Since none of it affected her or changed the darkness that surrounded her, she forgot the distractions quickly. They hardly interrupted her sleep.

Then, all at once everything changed abruptly. Along with a subconscious feeling of change in her surroundings, it became warmer, too warm, stifling. The feeling woke her, and she became more aware of sounds and movement invading her surroundings.

Something was happening. She knew without knowing how.

It was time to leave.

A voice that spoke directly to her soul called to her.

For the first time since becoming aware, she felt anxious and hurried. She wanted to follow the voice, but she did not know where to find it or how to get there from here.

So she went in the first direction that seemed right.

Her path met resistance soon after. It extended in every direction–curving, smooth, unblemished. She panicked, her anxiety growing. How would she reach the voice? But the voice remained nearby and its presence calmed her. It continued to call to her.

She fought against the resistance.

With a sharp crack, the resistance gave away a little. The darkness that formed her surroundings tore open, and a small spot of light broke the darkness. It startled her sensitive eyes though they remained closed. The light was new and signified somewhere unknown, and that made it both fascinating and frightening.

The voice coaxing her onward in her mind mingled with a physical voice that uttered a surprised, happy noise. Somehow, she knew the voice within and the voice without to be the same. It did not really make sense to her, but only instincts guided her now.

Pushing the rest of the way through the tear proved harder than she expected and took what seemed a very long time even after all her timeless waiting. She eagerly sought the place of the voice calling to her. She longed to end her solitude.

She squawked a note of displeasure at the resisting edge of her somewhere.

The voice came again–a low, soothing purr. She paused her struggle and cocked her head curiously. She hoped the comforting voice would speak again, although she did not know the words. The noise pleased her ears after the silence of the darkness.

Something unknown, something that was not the edges of her dark somewhere, brushed against her. It seemed to be encouraging her. She squawked again, this time softer.

Her struggle renewed; her resistance diminished. Her head and front limbs broke free and this made her think to search out the voice.

She opened her eyes.

The brightness of the new place struck her eyes and offended all her senses after being so long in the darkness. After much blinking and more noises of annoyance she focused on the source of the voice.

The creature before her reminded her of her dreams–a being of blue like the dream-beings which had been like her. Unlike the dream-beings, this creature could be focused on. This creature loomed almost close enough to touch and she realized the blue being was huge, god-like.

It watched her.

She squawked again. This time the noise tried to form a word, a word she had found in her dreams, though it had held no meaning for her in that previous timeless where.

“Odassa!” she cried.

The smaller colors had purred the word to the larger ones. It meant someone who protected, someone bigger, someone “family.” Unsure what all these new words meant, though they came to her easily, the images they created in her mind made her feel safe.

Her memories, her dreams were indeed larger than herself.

The creature that was not a dream-being and not from the darkness smiled. The smile showed a mouthful of sharp teeth, but she did not feel threatened. She realized it had understood. For when she cried out, fully in her mind had been a picture taken from her dreams. The large blue creature thought back to her with a word of confirmation, “Mother.” Now she saw the responding thought in the other’s mind–her embraced by the creature.

Then, it did just that, it brought her closer to itself. The being was warm. The warmth and closeness made her sleepy again. She had expended much energy escaping the darkness of her sleepy dream place.

Awkwardly, on limbs that had never supported her before, she left the remnants of former where. Its darkness now lay split wide open and it already felt removed from her. She felt no more attachment to the darkness, it held no more importance.

This creature, this mother, had become her focus now.

She climbed her mother’s closest limb–“foreclaw” came into her mind from it. Her muscles became steadier with each step. Then, she stepped into a cave-like area beneath her mother’s neck–”nest” came to her this time.

She added these to her growing knowledge.

A great yawn escaped her. The sleepiness won out over learning more. There would be time later. For now, she knew she was safe, every thought from her mother’s mind reinforced it.

She curled herself beneath her mother, pressing as much of her body against the warmth there as she could.

Then, she slept. Only now, the passage of time had become important.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Necromancer (Short Story)

A Dungeons & Dragon black dragon.

Okay, first an apology. Last week my brain apparently needed a reboot. I’ve been progressively slowing down in my writing for several weeks. Work’s been busy and stressful at the height of our season. I’ve been coming home brain dead and going straight to bed. Last week, I wrote exactly zero words. No forward progress with my novel. No new short story. And that was after only the 100 words of my drabble I posted the week before.

I also suffer from anemia on top of my anxiety and depression. Silly me, I stopped taking my iron supplement, because I thought it wasn’t doing anything. Boy, did I prove myself wrong. Anemic, I’m tired and grumpy. So that’s back on track too. I won’t do that again.

This week, after my unintended vacation from writing, I’ve written almost 6000 words so far.

I’m to the climatic scene in my novel WIP and I’m working on replotting my novel from NaNo last year. It faltered about 2/3 through because the plot unraveled to the point where I was making more editing notes (which were more questions than notes) than actual writing. The story is solid and I love the premise and characters. So hopefully giving it the same plotting work-up I did for the one I’m working on currently will fix things.

Today’s short story has actually been in process for a few weeks. Yet somehow it only ended up at about 1300 words.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading. 🙂

~ Effy

Necromancer

In the darkest night in the darkest swamp paced the darkest dragon with the darkest heart. She wore a circular path through a swirling fog that reeked of old death and moist rot, mumbling to herself.

The hazy darkness absorbed the scant light of the twin moons, and Nehalennia’s black scales faded from view except when they caught the light of candles held by her deathless minions. Humanoids in various states of decay stood perfectly still until she came near, then lowered their head in deference. She hissed and bared her fangs at each of them, whispering words not meant for their decayed ears, and swept her head back and forth in a hypnotic display.

At the center of her scored and worn path lay a jumbled pile of bleached bones. Every dozen paces or so, Nehalennia would brush the bones with her talons in a touch that lingered.

“Now, what are the words?” the dragon hissed. She cocked her head as if listening, while tapping her chest plates with her talons. She let out a long hiss that was equal parts excitement and sigh. “Yes, now I can begin.”

Nehalennia continued in a circle and began to chant in a long forgotten language. Made up of hisses and long consonants, it seemed well fitted to a dragon’s tongue. The black dragon continued to pace as she chanted. The undead around her stood motionless.

The pile of bones quivered. They made a hollow clatter and reached upwards.

Nehalennia barked a noise of triumph. It interrupted her chanting, and the bones settled into silence once more.

Triumph turned to rage, and the black dragon stomped a foot, setting swamp animals, sleeping and nocturnal, on edge from the tremor. She roared. She flailed her talons and shredded the nearest undead. The creature fell in silent, bloodless gore.

The others stood stoic and unfazed. If their mistress chose to end their unlife, they had no opinion.

Nehalennia hissed and murmured to herself, chiding her impetuous display. Now there was a break in her circle, a candle with no bearer. Nehalennia cursed whatever gods were listening. She would need a new corpse to raise. The spell was abhorrently specific about the number, meant to be cast by one flanked with many followers.

Nehalennia had created her own followers, painstakingly, one at a time.

The first group had been easy, taken from a tiny village at the edge of the Dead Swamp, but humans had become more difficult to find after that. The last two had come to her completely by chance, a hapless merchant and his guard.

She sniffed the still air. Only wet and death and damp fur met her nostrils.

Nehalennia touched the bones with her talons, caressed them. “Soon,” she promised.

With an irritated hiss, Nehalennia settled on all four of her legs and lowered her body until it slithered along the ground as she walked. She hit the dark, stagnant water with barely a splash, only the faintest ripple, and swam out into the black of night.

She was not a patient dragon, but her determination outweighed her impatience. She waited near the single human road through the Dead Swamp with only her head and the ridge of her back visible in the water. Even as the sun rose and illuminated the greyish-green fog that always hung here, she would be hidden among the reeds and muck.

It could go weeks without a visitor to the swamp, but eventually the sound of horse hooves and wagon wheels over the pocked road brought Nehalennia out of a light doze, and she hissed in anticipation. Bubbles tickled her muzzle.

“That’s a big crocodile,” came the voice of a man.

She saw an arm stretch out, a finger pointing her way. Two faces peered over the side of the wagon. It brought with it the smell of sweaty horseflesh and unwashed human.

“That’s no crocodile…” the woman next to him began. She trailed off as she tried to get a better look. “I don’t know what…”

The black dragon held very still. She waited for the wagon’s front, where the two humans sat, to be nearly even with her waiting maw. Then she sprang forward with all the strength of all four of her legs, striking like a coiled snake, and catching both humans in her mouth.

They still wriggled briefly. By the time the wagon, led by the two panicked horses, was out of sight, they were still. Nehalennia was already back in the water, just two eyes scanning the stillness as a tail twitched behind and four legs pumped invisibly below.

She would have an extra, just in case.

Raising a human into undeath was easy, she’d had much practice now, but it was nothing compared to her ultimate goal. Nehalennia had spent years learning the art of necromancy. Her invisible companions had been invaluable. Before them, she’d seen failure over and over.

Now, their whispers instilled her with the knowledge she needed.

Her circle once more unbroken, a continuous wall of candles perfect in placement, the black dragon once more began to pace before the pile of bones gathered in the center.

“I have forgotten the words,” she hissed into the silent heavy fog. Her ever-present invisible mentors responded, whispering the old words to her silently. She tilted her head, listening, and her head began to nod in recognition. “Yes, yes.” A pleased smile tugged her lips back from her long, protruding teeth.

She began to pace and chant, swaying on her hind legs while making delicate gestures with her foreclaws.

The pile of bones wavered. The voices in her head cautioned focus. Nehalennia didn’t falter. Her voice grew stronger and more sure with each repeated line.

The shadows of the swamp been to coalesce like fog in the early morning. They swirled and danced and entered her circle of light. The undead never wavered. They did not feel the cold fingers of the dark magic Nehalennia summoned brush their skin, for they were beyond such senses.

Their stoicism strengthened her spell. She felt its power thrum around her.

The dark tendrils entwined the quivering bones, infused them.

Nehalennia’s eyes widened and she chanted louder. Her pacing quickened and it rumbled through the swamp like earth tremors.

The bones began to raise and dance with the summoned shadows.

The bones came together. They formed legs and feet and toes. Nehalennia continued reciting. They formed a tail from vertebrae, one at a time. Nehalennia continued chanting. A backbone grew from the tail, then a neck. Nehalennia continued, though her throat began to protest under the harsh rumble of the unfamiliar syllables. A skull, elongated, reptilian, and full of sharp teeth, attached to the neck.

The dark tendrils acted as tendons, pulling and holding the bones together as Nehalennia finished the final lines of the spell.

“Velenos!” she cried into the heavy night air, summoning his essence to the bone shell and giving him back his name.

The skull’s eyes began to glow with a green light. They raised on the long neck and came level with Nehalennia’s. The great dracolich rumbled and thrummed as it searched for its voice, flexing talons and neck and tail like a swamp lion waking from a nap.

“I am returned,” it said with a voice echoey as if it came from the bottom of a deep hole. The voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere.

“Yes, my love,” Nehalennia whispered, her voice hoarse, her energy drained. She panted and stumbled forward. She sighed and nuzzled against the neck and chest of the bone dragon. “We are together again.”

The dracolich thrummed.

Nehalennia could have faded into that moment for eternity, but the voices returned.

Now you will do something for us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

The Paper Dragon Festival (Excerpt)

Original Image: “Ancient Dragon” by Satoshi Kamiya (Japan) 1 uncut square

Around this time last year, I finished my first ever first draft of a novel, Jadeflare. I’ve been overwhelmed with the idea of editing it. So it’s been sitting. Among the numerous chapters already there, it needs some additional scenes added. This is one of the parts I want to add. My goal was to give it a definitive beginning, middle, and end, but it started to get long and rambling. So I cut it off.

A heads up, it gets a little steamy at the end.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

1000 Day MFA — Week 4

The Paper Dragon Festival

As they walked through the tall gates of Farnx, Lakeerae felt as if she walked into the prismatic rays of a rainbow. Shifting colors waved in the wind before her along both sides of the street and she squinted to better identify the objects that swung in the light breeze.

Colored paper, folded into the shapes of small, multicolored dragons.

Paper dragons.

Roidar seemed to recognize them at the same time, but his reaction was much different. He groaned, and as Lakeerae looked over to ask, she saw the deep frown on his face. She had finally started to get used to seeing him without it.

“Excuse me, ma’am druid, but we need to keep the way clear.” The guard averted his eyes as she turned around.

“Forgive me. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,” Lakeerae said. As she smiled, the guard returned it.

“Yes, ma’am druid, the Paper Dragon Festival is very beautiful.”

Roidar snorted.

The guard’s smile faded as he studied Roidar’s flamboyant clothing and gold chains and hoops. “Watch yourself, gypsy thief,” he snarled.

“Forgive us for dallying, sir,” Lakeerae said, grabbing Roidar’s hand and pulling him along beside her. Once they were out of earshot of the guards, she dropped his hand and spun on the man. “What are you in such a huff about?” she hissed in a whisper.

He did not answer but maintained his disgruntled look.

“Can you at least guide us to someplace we can get supplies? You know your way around much better than I do.” As Lakeerae spoke she tucked her red hair behind both of her ears and tried not to get lost in the fluttering paper dragons.

No answer came, and she finally looked back to Roidar. “Yes,” he said without expanding on it.

“Okay, lead away.” Lakeerae tried to sound cheerful, gesturing widely out before her, but he was good at fouling her mood when he wanted to.

He walked in silence. Lakeerae took the opportunity to take in all of Farnx.

She marvelled at the streets and buildings made all of stone, instead of the dirt and wood nocs, or hill-homes, she had always known among the druids. Even the roofs looked like sheets of stone, instead of the thatch often used on smaller houses. They crowded the street and loomed from five or six times her height, making her feel small.

People walked everywhere. Their clothes were as colorful as the paper dragons. Some people danced in the streets. Others hung out of windows, shouting, singing, or a combination of both. Smiling faces, covered with paint like multicolored scales, greeted her and offered her foods, the scent of them travelled to her on the summer breeze, warm and fried and sugary.

“So many people,” she said, grabbing ahold of Roidar’s sleeve, so to not lose him.

“Stupid people,” he growled and pushed his way through.

Lakeerae frowned. She thought to press him but decided to wait until they were off the street.

Roidar stopped in front of a building. Lakeerae bumped into the back of him and mumbled a flustered apology.

“Damn this town and their stupid festival,” Roidar grumbled.

Lakeerae peeked around his shoulder and saw a hastily written sign: “Closed for the festival! Come see us tomorrow!”

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” she said.

“Tomorrow? Just what I want, to stay in this city.” Roidar glanced both directions down the street they stood on. “Come on. We’ll have to find an inn for the night.”

“Oh, we get to stay for the festival!”

Roidar glared at her, but his facade softened under her smile. “Yes, I suppose so.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By the time they settled into the inn’s common room, Lakeerae was painted, full, and getting sleepy. Roidar let her rest her head on his shoulder as he sipped his ale. Hers was still half full. Her cloak’s hood slid back from her hair and she caught Roidar studying the green scales painted on her face.

“Why green?” he asked.

“It’s the color of leaves, of course,” she said.

“Of course.” He nodded and went back to his ale.

He had humored her all afternoon and joined her in the festivities, despite his continued annoyance and reserve. She had even forced a smile out of him a few times, but he had not been enjoying himself like her. She tried to experience everything around her.

“What is it about these paper dragons?” she asked. She put her hand on his arm. It looked pale against his darker skin.

“They’re just silly.”

“Like the kind of people who enjoy such things?” she continued with a smile.

Roidar frowned. “Are you referring to yourself?” She nodded. “Your enjoyment is endearing. I have tried to remind myself today that they…” he gestured to the room “…are just as unaware of the true meaning of this festival as you are.”

Lakeerae sat up. She swept the hood back the rest of the way and tucked her hair behind her ears. “What do you mean?”

“This festival. It’s not about dancing or face paint or food. It’s about protection from the terrors the dragons brought with them. The Dragon War was a real thing. Dragons are murderous and destructive. These paper dragons are wards, originally created by the priests before they fell out of favor when the gods disappeared.”

And the druids became the religion of the people, Lakeerae finished silently.

Lakeerae fingered the blue paper dragon on their table, feeling the fibrous smoothness of its wings. “Well, they must work then. No dragon has been seen in the Bracklin Reach in hundreds of years, not since the Dragon War.”

Roidar picked up the paper dragon and held it, staring into its eyeless face. “Not as well as you think,” he replied cryptically.

Lakeerae studied him but didn’t know how to reply.

She didn’t have time to think long on it. A woman holding a lute walked between them and the hearth, catching both of their attention with her dark silhouette against the orange flames.

“As we come to the end of the Paper Dragon Festival, it’s good to remember what we have to celebrate. The Dragon War was a dark time.” She paused, strummed the lute, adjusted it, and then began to sing. The lute harmonised with haunting sobriety.

The bard told how the sky grew dark with great scaled beasts and how they crashed like thunder and lit the sky like lightning. Their battle waged for several fortnights, blocking the sun, blocking the moons. The greenery burned and the animals laid down. The people hid and the people starved.

The priests prayed and created wards. One morning the sky cleared and all became quiet. The dragons were gone. The people rejoiced but that winter was a harsh one. More died. The priests begged the gods for help but they were silent. The only magic left to them was their wards–paper dragons, hung from window and door frames. They worked and the dragons never returned.

When the bard finished, the common room erupted in cheers. Lakeerae leaned over, close to Roidar’s ear, and whispered, “She knows.” She took another drink of her ale, watching him over the top of the mug.

Roidar looked at her with the ghost of a smile. Lakeerae returned it but wider.

Then she yawned unexpectedly.

“You should rest. The sooner we get our supplies the quicker we can be on our way again,” Roidar said.

Her eyelids were too heavy for her to argue.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lakeerae stumbled up the stairs, but Roidar caught her before she could go over. He had one arm under each of hers as he hauled her back to her feet, where she wobbled, her face close to his.

“Can you stand?” he asked. His mouth was close enough to hers that she could feel the warmth of his breath and smell the hint of ale still on it. His lips filled her vision.

She nodded, then tripped on the next stair. “Sorry.”

“Here.” He leaned over and lifted her into his arms. He staggered momentarily and Lakeerae’s tired eyes fluttered with concern, her arms clutching his neck. “I’ve got you,” he promised. He ascended the stairs slowly but more steady than she had been on her own. She buried her face in his chest and inhaled his scent, like pine needles.

He didn’t set her down at the top but kept going. The door swung open and shut with hardly her notice. She was too focused on the backs of her eyelids and fingering one of the gold chains that hung around his neck, smooth and warm from being against his skin.

The bed rose up to meet her, or maybe Roidar set her down. Suddenly his arms were gone. The linens felt cold against her skin and she prickled with gooseflesh.

“Will you be okay here?” Roidar asked. He sounded far away.

“I’m cold,” she mumbled.

A weight on the bed brought his smell closer again. He tucked the blanket around her, the scratchy fibers tickling her chin. His hand lingered at her cheek and she sighed and pressed against it.

Silence stretched and Lakeerae opened her eyes with a start. She wondered if she had drifted off. Roidar was still sitting there, a shadow against the darkness. Moonlight streamed unevenly into the room from his left, casting just enough light to create an outline.

“Get some sleep. I’ll come get you in the morning.”

As his weight on the bed shifted, Lakeerae reached out and found his retreating hand. She gripped it and pulled it back. She fought her tired eyes and heavy body as Roidar made a surprised noise.

He chuckled. “You can’t even keep your eyes open. What are you doing?”

Lakeerae sat up, blinking. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand, keeping Roidar’s in her other. They were face to face. “I want to say thank you.”

“For what?”

“For spending the day with me, even though I could tell you wanted to be somewhere else. I enjoyed it.”

She watched his shadowed cheek rise, the moonlight illuminating his teeth as he grinned. He was starkly contrasted in light and dark. “I enjoyed it as well. I’m sorry if I seemed an unwilling participate. I’m actually starting to like your company.”

From anyone else she would have thought it a backhanded compliment. “You’re not quite as bad as I first thought.”

Silence enveloped them until it seemed they and the room and the moons were all of existence.

Lakeerae raised the hand she still held and placed it near the center of her chest. She felt her quickened heartbeat against his similarly racing pulse.

Roidar’s eyes fell to their entwined hands and came back to her face. “You should get some sleep. Remember to shield your mind, like we’ve…”

She silenced him with her lips. There was no hesitation. He leaned into her, tilting his head and kissing her deeper. Their tongues found each other. Lakeerae reminded herself to breathe as she became lightheaded.

She brushed both of her hands back through his hair, tugging his face tighter to hers.

Their knees touching on the bed made them awkward as they tried to press closer. Roidar pivoted and guided her leg out to the side of him, the other still hanging off the bed. He laid her down.

Roidar pressed against her. He kissed from her mouth, along her cheek, and to her ear. His breath was heavy as he kissed her earlobe.

The room grew warmer. Lakeerae pulled on his handfuls of hair as her skin tingled. She felt it grow hot.

Roidar gasped and pulled away.

Lakeerae’s eyes shot open, her breath coming in small pants. He sat straight up, patting his arms and shirt. When she saw his face, she looked down at herself. She was wreathed in a light layer of green flame, an iridescent flicker along her pale skin. She raised her hand before her face and watched the flames lick along her skin for a moment.

She willed the flames to quiet.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” she asked, her voice strained. Her eyes glistened with moisture.

“No, I appear unhurt,” Roidar said, tracing along his arms with his hands and his eyes again. “Are you alright?”

“I think so.” Her voice trembled with emotion.

Roidar stood up and smoothed his shirt and then his hair with his hands. “I should go,” he said, his words slow to form and leaving a palatable discomfort hanging in the air. He leaned forward, paused, and turned toward the door. He stopped with his hand on the knob and said, “I’ll come get you in the morning.” He left, the only sound the click of the door closing behind him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Blues (Short Story)

1000 Day MFA -- Week 1

1000 Day MFA — Week 1

As part of my keeping myself accountable in writing and expanding my reading horizons, I joined a Facebook group run by the same lady that runs my Ninja Writers group for a 1000 Day MFA. Basically, we are committing to reading and writing a lot:

  • Daily: Reading (1) poem, (1) essay, and (1) short story.
  • Weekly: Writing (1) short story. Watching (3) movies.
  • Monthly: Reading (1) novel and (1) book on writing craft.
  • Yearly: Writing (1) novel.

1000 days is a huge commitment, but I have a group to keep me accountable.

Here’s my first week’s accomplishments (above), followed by my first short story. I plan to share many more in a near future, but I suppose it will depend on how complete I feel they are at the end of the week.

~ Effy

Blues

Demithyra’s great blue bulk shifted as she roused and she made a mental count out of habit. Seven. No wait, she only counted six. She counted again. Six. Six sleeping dragonettes curled beneath her. No dragonette at her left forearm.

Lazheward was missing. Again.

Demithyra let out a quiet squawk. Edarmos did not reply. He must already be out hunting. She lifted her head and scanned the dim cave. Sometimes little Laz would sneak off and occupy himself with a stone or cavern critter or stalactite puddle, but he did not respond to her soft noises either.

Had he followed his father?

She could only hope that they both returned soon. Six other dreaming dragonettes still demanded her protection.

Demithyra resettled herself, resting her scaled head in the crook of her forearm, but she did not sleep.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lazheward splashed at the edge of the water and did not see the approach of a furred creature on four hooved legs. The creature approached from the other side of the river, leading toward the grassy plains. It got to the edge, a mere ten paces from the dragonette and gave the oblivious dragonette a cherubic grin. It looked like a human child in the face, except for the small horns and pointed ears that came from a head covered more with fur than hair.

The young dragonette heard a splashing that came from elsewhere and looked up to see the smiling child, his four legs curled beneath him like a gazelle. Surprise was quickly replaced by joy at a playmate other than his clutch-mates. Lazheward squawked, and it was a small bleeting noise. The child giggled and waved a chubby hand.

The water flowed slowly, it being the dry season at this border between the plains and the desert, and Lazheward had no problem loping on all four taloned feet through the low water to the other side.

The two younglings could not speak to one another, but it did not matter. Language was no barrier for play. They splashed and formed shapes from the sandy mud. Together they mounded it together and formed a mud hill, laughing and smiling.

As the two played, a shadow crept. Tawny fur blended into the sandy dunes and pale stripes hid it against the waving grass. It smelled the children before it saw them. Keeping low to the ground, but poised to run, the sand cat moved silently closer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edarmos scanned the burning desert sands. He had left again as soon as Demithyra had told him Lazheward was missing. An adult blue dragon feared little but a dragonette of less than one cycle of seasons had many possible predators in the desert.

He glided low over the sands, the heat of the climbing sun reflecting back up from each glinting grain and warming his underside. He needed to find Lazheward before the day got too late and the sun too hot. His scales could handle the heat but Lazheward’s were thinner.

Edarmos smelled the river and shortly after he caught the scent of his missing dragonette. A blue speck appeared along the sparkle of the flowing water and Edarmos bugled a call.

Lazheward made a faint happy noise in return.

Edarmos saw a centaur child sat in the mud beside the dragonette and sighed in a mixture of frustration and relief. He caught movement nearby and recognized the sinuous form of a sand cat mostly camouflaged by the sand and grass. He willed his wings to get him to his little one faster.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Vol’zan returned to the centaur camp early in the day, a gazelle with half an arrow still in its heart slung over his shoulder. He acknowledged his clan members with silent nods. His lifemate, Asa’fre, greeted him with a kiss and took the gazelle to clean it.

Settling himself in the shade of their tent flap, Vol’zan looked around the camp and settled his eyes on his youngling, Cer’ah, playing quietly with her doll just inside the family’s tent.

“Where is Mi’an?” Vol’zan asked.

“Playing with his sister,” Asa’fre replied, not looking up from the delicate cuts she made with her knife.

“Cer’ah, where is your brother?”

Cer’ah shrugged and did not look up from her doll. “Probably playing in the mud. He’s always getting dirty and trying to get my Kie’lee dirty.”

Asa’fre met Vol’zan’s concerned gaze.

They heard the bugle of a dragon and Vol’zan took off, his limbs a flurry of movement, his bow clutched tightly in his hand, and his quiver slapping against his shoulder. He saw the great gliding blue wings and ran with a stomach heavy with dread like rock.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edarmos watched the sand cat until he saw another flash of movement coming from the plains side of the river. A full grown centaur galloped through the golden scrub, bow at the ready, heading straight toward Lazheward and his playmate. The blue hesitated, scaly lips peeling back from his teeth, and almost adjusted his descent, but the sand cat must have seen the centaur as well and broke into a sprint.

Fearing he would reach them too late, Edarmos flapped his great wings harder, though he knew each flap made him less able to stop himself. He braced for hitting the grassy sands with all four claws out before him.

He hit the ground. The sand cat screamed. Edarmos felt only sand and scrub grass in his claws, but squeezed anyway. He felt the burning pain of talons along his belly, death throes as the sand cat was crushed beneath him. Then nothing.

Edarmos slid to a stop and his chin fell to the sand with a thump. The form of the sand cat and its claws, along with a thousand tiny pieces of hot sand, all burned his underside. He expelled a great breath that shot a spray of sand into the air before him.

Lazheward was at his nose, tugging a tooth and a nostril playfully.

“Mi’an!” the centaur cried and swept up the child with one arm, the other still holding tight to the bow. He set the child on his back and drew and cocked an arrow in one motion. The centaur held it ready, trembling but his face a menacing growl.

Edarmos rose with an effort, pulling Lazheward upwards with his snout and bouncing the dragonette onto his nose. The babe squawked and grinned. The sand cat still clung to his belly, already growing rigid, and Edarmos flinched as he plucked the talons from the raw, dirty wounds.

The stiffening cat hit the ground and sent up a cloud of golden dust.

Edarmos lowered himself back to the ground, both to protect his vulnerable belly and to make himself less threatening. The sand stung and blood oozed but he fought to ignore it. He tilted his snout in a way that protected Lazheward were an arrow to fly but relaxed the snarl on his face despite the throbbing pain.

The centaur hesitated. His face and arms relaxed. He too positioned himself in a way the child remained hidden from Edarmos’s view. He lowered the bow and the readied arrow a few inches.

The two fathers faced off for several breaths, neither moving.

Then the centaur backed several steps away. When Edarmos did not move, he backed off a few more. Then he turned and galloped away, glancing backwards several times.

When the centaur was out of view, Edarmos plucked Lazheward from his nose and tucked him into his forepaw. The dragonette squirmed but stayed put.

Making a noise deep in his throat, the blue dragon spat at the sand beneath him. Blue and white lightning crackled and melted the sand into hot red balls of molten glass. In his free forepaw, taking a deep breath to steady himself, Edarmos picked up the glass while it was still malleable and spread it across the dripping wounds of his chest and belly. The liquid did not burn his hands, but it stung the wounds, raw and open as they were. He smoothed it around until the wounds stopped bleeding and the glass had formed a tight but effective covering.

Picking up the sand cat by the scruff of its rigid neck, Edarmos sprang into the air to take his dragonette home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“My precious Mi’an,” Asa’fre wept, holding their child against her.

Mi’an fidgeted and squirmed. Finally she let him down and he rushed off to play. She watched him even as she spoke, not willing to let him out of her sight again. “The dragon just let you leave?” she asked as she wiped her wet eyes.

Vol’zan nodded.

“What was Mi’an doing?”

“Just playing with the dragon youngling in the mud.”

“I don’t understand. They’ve never thought twice about eating our kind. It’s why we follow the herds east in the wet season, to avoid them when they’re more active.” Asa’fre’s face crinkled in confusion as she looked to her mate for answers.

“I don’t know, perhaps it didn’t want to hurt Mi’an. It never made a move at us, just the sand cat. It seemed more concerned with protecting its youngling then with us.” Her mate paused. “I did not see the sand cat in time to stop it before it ran at the little ones. I wouldn’t have been able to save them.”

“Then we will thank Suriya the dragon arrived when it did.” Asa’fre hugged her mate, Mi’an still at the edge of her vision. It was the strangest prayer she ever made to the sun goddess, but watching her child pester his sister when he might have never come home made it the most heartfelt too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Demithyra nuzzled her precious and frustrating dragonette, making noises that were almost purrs at tiny Lazheward.

“I couldn’t think to harm the child,” Edarmos confessed. “Nor will I hunt when not for food.” He absently shredded the sand cat into the pieces their dragonettes could manage. It pulled at glass protecting his tender chest, but it did not tear the wounds open again.

Lazheward squeezed out of his mother’s reach and grabbed the first piece. His clutch-mates followed after him, but he was munching away on a second piece before they even started.

“Maybe we should go farther into the desert,” Demithyra said. “Somewhere we won’t run into the centaurs. Family is all that matters now.”

Edarmos nodded. “We’ll have to go farther to hunt, but perhaps it’s for the best.”

“I want no more conflict. I just want to raise our family where no one, dragon, centaur, or otherwise, will trouble us.” Demithyra corralled her dragonettes with her tail and put a foreclaw on her mate’s. The two dragons nuzzled and looked down gratefully on their dragonettes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 12

Saurok Fight, from the War Chief's Command Board

Saurok Fight, from the War Chief’s Command Board

Welcome to Day 12!

First let me note that the image above was basically the only good saurok fan art I could find, and happens to be from one of the few WoW blogs I still read–The Warchief’s Command Board. So I am happy to give Garrosh his due credit here. 🙂

Today’s prompt was:

Day 12: Write a Romance.

Simple enough and one of the genres I enjoy dabbling in. These days my writing isn’t completely suffused with romance, but it’s still pretty common. The prompt expanded to mention using body language and facial expressions to convey the feelings going on. So I made that a goal with this piece.

When I started thinking about the prompt, my mind immediately went to a piece I started a while back but never finished or posted. So now seems as good a time as any! So fittingly, I have WoW fan art in the form of a comic above, and WoW fan fiction below. This is a follow-up piece to Broken (if you need a quick catch-up), and features my Monk, Ireenia. She is a young orphaned blue dragon whom my main, Effraeti, saved as an egg and raised. So Ireenia’s preferred humanoid form is a Draenei.

~ Effy

Redemption

WoW Draenei Monk

And sorry, you get an old model Ireenia, because my account isn’t active.

 

What started as an altercation between Ireenia and two saurok had blossomed to a dozen.

There had been no reason for Iree to be here other than her own need for an outlet to her anger. The saurok seemed a good target, being the unnatural and invasive creatures they were. Perhaps the Mantid would reward her for their hides later. However, the woman began to question the intelligence of her decision as another Saurok heard the commotion and hurried to join in.

Iree punched one in the throat as it lunged toward her from the right. Another’s face met her hoof as it tried to take advantage of the other Saurok’s attack. But their target was a Monk, and she did not get distracted. She did not lose focus.

Eventually, though, she would tire.

Despite the handful of creatures already on the ground or attempting to slither away from her, the mob continued to grow.

There were now twelve against her one.

No, make that thirteen. No, back to twelve.

They seemed to replenish their numbers–and grow even–for every one she defeated. Iree realized she had underestimated the size of this Saurok camp.

She also realized they were pushing her slowly towards the base of the great wall dividing the Dread Wastes from the rest of Pandaria.

A saurok felt her fist meet with the side of its skull as it clumsily pitched forward. She kicked the air from the lungs of another. One caught her leg with its sharp talons and she cried out and quickly spun the opposite way, driving an elbow down into its neck. As it hit the ground, Iree twisted without putting her weight on the injured leg and kicked another Saurok in the face.

Red blood ran down the blue skin of her calf, but there was no time to bandage it or speak the words of a healing spell.

Blood and teeth sprayed, and Iree kept kicking, kept punching, kept spinning out of reach.

But their numbers continued to grow. Iree began to tire, her leg throbbing in the spot the Saurok had grabbed her, and she realized the wall loomed even closer than before.

A saurok snapped a mouthful of sharp teeth very close to her face and Iree punched it away. She had let it get closer than any of the others so far. She could not let that happen again.

Iree spun, her injured leg sweeping through the mass of lizardmen bodies. Several were knocked away, but several more avoided the kick and leapt in at her from behind it. A great press of scaly bodies came in on her, a wall of hot, rank breath and sharp talons. Ireenia punched out at one Saurok, but another grabbed her arm. A third dug its nails into her opposite shoulder.

With a pained shout, Ireenia swung backwards and caught the third Saurok in the chin with her elbow, causing a crunching noise and violently snapping the creature’s head back. But another lizardman greedily grabbed her arm just as it came free of the other’s face.

Ireenia knew there was no breaking out now, but she swore she would go down swinging. Somehow, it was refreshing to think it would end this way–that she would die fighting, instead of old and alone.

As she had the thought, the shriek of a bird of prey pierced the air. The giant raptor’s claws dug into Iree’s shoulders and she screamed an epithet as the storm crow lifted her into the air among the flutter of blue-feathered wings.

The saurok cursed and clawed at her, tearing up her legs as she rose.

Ireenia rose as brilliant points of light descended into the dense clump of lizardmen. She watched as those falling stars were met by the screams of a dozen or more of the lizardmen.

The saurok finally scattered.

“Your timing is impeccable,” Ireenia said, not sure if she meant it as grateful or sarcastic.

“I do enjoy making an entrance,” Skeiron replied. Were a beak capable, Iree knew there would have been a wide smile there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once both were back on the ground, an uncomfortable silence settled between them.

Skeiron spoke first. “Getting yourself into trouble again I see.”

Ireenia did not know how to respond to that. They were not the words she had expected to hear. Though, truth be told, she had not expected his appearance or his words at all. “We do what we’re good at, right?” She swallowed and paused. “Well… I didn’t figure on having to explain myself.” She crossed her arms before her, scowling.

“So you went into that fight not planning to walk away from it?”

“Perhaps.” Iree shifted uncomfortably from one hoof to the other, and not entirely because she hurt all over, though her clawed and bleeding legs throbbed. Not only did she not want to explain herself, she did not know–or want to know–where this conversation was going.

Nowhere good, certainly. Probably to an I told you so and a quick goodbye.

She glanced around for an easy escape, but Skeiron had chosen his landing well–the top of the Pandaren wall, between the Dread Wastes and the Valley of the Four Winds. She considered diving off, but doubted the speed with which she could transform into her dragon-self.

She did not look him in the face, especially with him back in his true form as a Night Elf. Despite her gaze being on the bricks below her hooves, Iree felt his eyes upon her.

“That would have been quite a shame,” Skeiron said softly.

“Hmm,” Iree responded. “Then, I guess it is good you came by when you did.”

“Well, that was no accident,” he admitted. “I was looking for you.”

Iree tensed, unsure how to reply. “I still had some tricks left…” she sputtered uncertainly.

She felt him come closer, but still could not look up. Then, he was standing in front of her. Before she could think of how to respond, Skeiron set his hands on her shoulders.

She flinched at his touch, but at the same time savored it.

“You don’t have to be the strong one all the time, you know,” he chided, his voice a soft whisper. He touched her cheek lightly with his fingers.

Iree’s eyes flickered to the violet skin as it brushed against hers.

“I’m not so strong,” Iree admitted. “I’m just good at hiding the hurt. Stubbornness–that’s what I’m told I’m best at.” As she spoke, moisture began to form in her eyes. It made her angry and she made a face, blinking and wishing them away.

“I know, I just needed you to finally admit it.” The elf pulled her towards him, and wrapped his arms around her trembling shoulders.

She could not hold back the wave of emotion that hit her. A sob wrenched her throat.

“Don’t cry, dragon,” Skeiron whispered as he held Ireenia tighter. As happy as she was at that moment, the comment made her cry harder. His fingers stroked her hair and both stood silent for several moments, only the sound of her sobs causing any noise between them.

Finally Ireenia pulled back slightly, so she could look into Skeiron’s eyes. “I was afraid…” she began, the rest caught in her throat. The Night Elf studied her, seemingly for the first time so intent was his gaze, as she collected herself. It intimidated her, those luminescent eyes that seemed to see inside of her, but they were gentle and reassuring. He touched her face, and with a deep breath and the presence of his fingers, Ireenia made herself continue. “I was afraid I would never be here again.”

“I was afraid you did not want to be,” Skeiron whispered.

A breeze ruffled the feathers of his headdress and cloak, and it reminded Ireenia of flying with him. She pictured him once more as the blue-feathered storm crow, wings spread and gliding along beside her in her dragon-form.

“When I heard the roar that shook the Vale, I knew it was you and I knew I had to find you,” he continued. “There was no mistaking the source of that.”

Ireenia nuzzled her face into his neck, content to be touching him, and not wanting to let go. She did not interrupt as he continued.

“Because that roar echoed the ache of my own heart.”

That tore another sob from her. “I’m so sorry,” Iree said, her voice tremulous. “I don’t know if I can ever make it right again, but I want to try.”

Skeiron hugged her tighter and nodded into her hair. “So do I.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 10

Tavern Dragon, by Bamfette

Tavern Dragon, by Bamfette

The picture above is only vaguely related to this piece. Or perhaps this tiny guy is the source of the name of The Dancing Dragon tavern. I haven’t decided yet.

Either way, welcome to my post for Day 10 of the Author Up Challenge! There’s something exciting about hitting double digits and a nice round number like 10.

Today’s prompt was:

Day 10: Write From the Perspective of a Vain Man.

Particularly, it asked to illustrate this man’s vanity through his description of and actions with another.

When I started brainstorming about vanity, of course dragons came to mind. One dragon in particular–Cernunnos, from my previous piece, Captivated. That, and I’m always fascinated with seeing the same exact scene through different eyes. My all-time favorite Ender’s Game did it with the follow-up Ender’s Shadow, and I’ve done it a few times with my own work.

Let me preface this with the fact that I’m still not entirely sure myself what Cern’s intentions are. I only know he’s not evil, only vain and curious and always causing trouble/chaos. I also haven’t decided how important Leilae’s purpose in Farnx is.

I’ve realized over the past week and a half, that it is driving me nuts to post such unpolished work. There have been a few rewrites, but most of these are first drafts–eek! Since I’m posting everyday, it’s hard to get these to a level I would normally work towards. Granted, I’m editing, but not to the depths I usually do before anyone sees anything. It’s kind of scary and exciting all at once. I hope they don’t come across as too disjointed or rough.

There’s my inner critic trying to get the best of me. Down, you.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

Captivating

Cernunnos saw the awkward, out of place young woman and knew immediately he would approach her. Her confusion proved almost painful to look upon and from the cut and design of her plain, faded dress he figured her to be an outlander who’d never stepped foot into a city like Farnx before. She was nondescript, so much so that even her distressed look would not have caught the attention of another.

Cern sought out such opportunities. Never had one so perfect presented itself like this–her plight, her discomfort, her plainness.

Cern detached from the shadows of a side street and swept his dark hair back from his face with one hand, letting that simple movement give him away and catch her attention. Then, he met her gaze with his and smoothed his goatee with his fingers.

She stared, mesmerized. Humans were so easily captivated. He grinned, more to himself than her, but she saw it and a swoon weakened her further.

“Are you lost, my dear? You look lost.”

She looked incapable of forming words, and had Cern not been putting on his full charm, he might have thought her mute.

He continued on, composed and drinking in every moment. “It would please me greatly if you would allow me to buy you dinner, lovely miss.” He made a grandiose bow and an exaggerated flourish of his hands, his cloak billowing around him. He kept her eyes locked on him with his own.

“I-I…” the young woman stammered.

“Ahh, but I have left you speechless.” Cern grinned and watched her as she focused on the movements of his mouth. ”Forgive me and my rudeness. I have not even introduced myself. I am Cern.” His name came out as more of a hiss than he intended, so deeply he played his role, but he realized it had a pleasant affect as she formed his name on her lips.

He reached his hand out to her, requesting her own.

“Leilae,” she finally said, her voice breathy like she could not intake enough air.

Cern eased his charm, just enough. He didn’t want her to faint, after all. How bothersome that would be. She took one deep breath and her eyes fluttered as she put her hand into his. Cern kissed it, a light brushing with his lips, still watching her over the top of her delicate knuckles.

Her skin was softer than he’d expected, her being from the outlands of the Bracklin Reach and probably a farmer. From this close, he could smell the subtle flowery scent that surrounded her. It was not overly strong like that of many of his previous human women, all city women.

“Beautiful,” he purred.

Her face flushed deep scarlet.

When Leilae had no words, Cern deftly filled silence. “I saw you from across the way, and knew I had to become acquainted with you. I am always surprised and delighted by the workings of… women… but never so much as I am with you. So you must forgive me for being so forward.”

He gave a coy, embarrassed look that melted her further.

“Say ‘yes’ to dining with me. You must,” Cern implored. His eyes searched hers for any remaining shreds of resistance.

“Yes.” The word tumbled out of her mouth almost before Cern had finished.

He gave her his most dazzling smile, then took her arm and tucked it within his own.

Cern would prompt more conversation from her after they reached The Dancing Dragon. He had the inclination that she might be more interesting than he’d previously given her credit for. For now, he continued to hold her in his gaze.

Her eyes never left his face and she barely breathed, but he had hold of her now and did not let her stumble.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 7

The Little Girl and Her Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend, Unknown Artist

Happy Mother’s Day!

Welcome to Day 7 of my journey through the Author Up Challenge.

Today’s writing prompt was:

Day 7: Write From the Perspective of a Child

The extended part of the prompt was to write with a “childish” view of the world, with careful word choice and with dreamlike imagery.

The only thing that came to mind for this prompt was a piece I wrote from an image (above) a while back about a girl and her imaginary friend. I decided to revise and expand upon the original, because I so enjoyed the story idea and felt I could do it better. At first, I thought of taking off the beginning scene, with the mom and daughter, but decided to leave it, because I think it is a good intro and since today is Mother’s Day, I figured I could turn this piece into a lovely tribute to my mom. 🙂 So the book at the end is a Sesame Street book about Grover she read to me as a child, The Monster at the End of This Book, and the title and the story material were just too perfect. The theme of the book is basically, not all monsters are scary and bad. And that’s pretty much what this story is about. 🙂

~ Effy

Tea Party

Mom watched with amusement as Becca carefully spread the strawberry jam on her sandwich. Eight years old and already insisting upon doing so much herself. It almost made up for this imaginary friend business–the doctor had said children usually outgrew imaginary friends by age seven at the latest.

She ruffled her daughter’s bobbed blonde locks of hair, and Becca fidgeted out of her reach. “Mom…” the girl complained. She wrapped up the sandwich and placed it gently in her backpack with the other one–the sandwich for Casey, Becca’s imaginary friend.

“Sorry,” Mom said with a soft chuckle and threw her hands up in defeat.

“Well, I’m off. Casey and I are going to play.”

“Yes, and I’m sure Casey will appreciate the sandwich,” Mom replied, trying to keep a serious face.

“She will. Strawberry is her favorite too.”

Mom just continued to nod as Becca shouldered her backpack and skipped out of the kitchen’s backdoor. She watched as Becca crossed the yard and disappeared into the dense greenery of the trees lining the yard.

“Imaginary friends…” Mom said, trying to remind herself that it was the sign of a creative mind and nothing to be concerned with.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Green leaves shook on their branches in the spring breeze and Becca smiled and waved back. The young girl skipped over crunching pine needles and dried out old leaves, taking in the smells and sounds and sights around her. The sun snuck its rays between the closely standing trees and caught falling specks that glittered like flitting fairies.

Becca hopped and tried to catch one. Maybe a fairy queen would grant her a wish!

But she didn’t let fairy-chasing delay her too long. Casey was waiting.

“Casey? Are you here?” Becca called, cautious to keep her voice from being too loud, even though she was sure she had gotten far enough away from the house. She didn’t want Mom finding Casey.

“I am always here, little friend,” a deep voice replied. The voice seemed everywhere at first, surrounding the girl like a warm blanket.

Two golden orbs, like twin suns, appeared before the girl. The eyes, each easily the size of her head, hovered in the air among the tree branches for a moment. Then the greenery of the forest around the eyes shimmered in waves like hot pavement until a long, scaly muzzle the color of sunlit summer leaves appeared inches in front of Becca.

“Welcome back,” Casey murmured, twitching her lips. The edges of the dragon’s mouth curled up in a reptilian smile, showing the mouthful of teeth lining her muzzle.

The girl giggled and threw her arms around Casey’s nose. “I missed you,” the girl told the dragon. “I wanted to come visit you everyday! But school and Mom kept me away.”

Her annoyed pout lasted only a moment. She was so happy to see her friend.

“I missed you as well, little one,” Casey admitted, and nuzzled the girl back with the rounded end of her long nose.

“Oh, Casey!” Becca exclaimed, sprinting to her backpack. “I brought my favorite doll, Miss Heather. And her friend, Mister Teddy. And my favorite book. And sandwiches and tea–so we can have a real tea party!” The girl pulled items out of the bag in a flurry of motion, setting each on an old tree stump as she introduced them. The last item out of the bag was a bottle marked Lipton filled with light brown liquid that sloshed as Becca set it with a thunk onto the stump.

“Strawberry?” Casey asked, tilting her large head and widening her eyes.

“Of course! I know it’s your favorite!”

“Mmm,” Casey purred, and sniffed at the tree stump.

“Wait, wait!” Becca said, raising her hands. “Let me set everything up first.”

“Oh, all right.” A smooth rumbling noise came from the dragon as she chuckled.

Casey watched as her friend arranged the tea party. Becca draped a blue bath towel over the stump, making a lovely tablecloth of it. Then, she set out four tiny plastic tea cups on four tiny plastic saucers. Next, were the two sandwiches, set opposite each other–one for Becca and one for Casey–causing the dragon to twitch her nostrils and stir a soft breeze that made Becca giggle. Lastly, the girl set Miss Heather and Mister Teddy to either side of the table.

“Okay,” Becca said with a look of pride at her accomplishment.

Then, she changed to tea party hostess. “Thank you, everyone, for coming to have tea with me today. Please be seated and I will serve us.”

Casey smiled and rested her head on the ground in front of the table, listening and slowly blinking her large golden eyes.

“Now, you say ‘Thank you for inviting me and being such a gracious host,’” Becca prompted.

“Thank you, Becca, for inviting me and being such a gracious host,” Casey replied, her smile widening.

“Miss Becca,” the girl whispered beside her hand.

“My apologies, Miss Becca.”

Becca smiled and kneeled before the table. Then, she began pouring the tea into the tiny cups. As she did, she asked Heather and Mr. Teddy how the children were and what was new with them, nodding politely as they answered. Becca leaned over and tipped a tea cup first to Miss Heather’s mouth, then to Mister Teddy’s.

“Isn’t this fun?” Becca asked, a huge smile lighting up her face.

“I cannot recall ever having more fun. I’ve never been to a tea party before,” Casey replied.

The dragon looked fondly upon the little girl as Becca unwrapped the sandwiches and extended Casey’s toward her. Casey stuck out her tongue, a great pink thing, longer than Becca was tall, and took the sandwich with great care. It disappeared with one flick of Casey’s tongue and a satisfied look spread across the dragon’s face as she made a purring noise.

Becca giggled and took the biggest bite she could from her own sandwich in response. Casey chuckled back.

Then, the dragon dipped the tip of her tongue into her own tiny tea cup and looked happy with the taste of the sweet drink Becca had brought.

“Oh, I also brought a book!” Becca suddenly exclaimed, clapping her hands and holding the fingers tightly laced together. “It’s a book my grandma read to my mom and my mom reads to me and now I want to read it to you.”

“That sounds lovely,” Casey said.

“It’s called The Monster at the End of This Book.” With that, Becca scooted up against the side of Casey’s nose and settled herself onto the noisy bed of pine needles and leaves, opening the book and beginning to read.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 3

A Moonlit Garden

Hello, Day 3! Welcome back to my progress through the Author Up Challenge. I thought this one might trip me up, but I pushed through.

Today’s prompt was:

Day 3: Write in Third Person Omniscient

Well, it took me forever to come up with a scene for this. I’m still not 100% happy with it, it’s only vaguely omniscient. Third person omniscient seems so awkward and lazy, and I’ve trained myself for so long to try and get into character’s head one at a time. Usually I write in third person limited and if I need a new point of view, a change scenes and switch then.

I used a writing prompt for this that allowed me to stick with the fantasy genre, once again from Pinterest:

Writing Prompt: He waited for her.

But I’m still feeling all sappy and romantic. So I apologize. 🙂

~ Effy

Rendezvous

Lazarus waited for her, knowing Rosaelyn always ran late. He expected it of the princess, with all her responsibilities to the kingdom of Zandra. They filled much different stations–he being only a captain of the royal wing command–and though his demands were great, he knew they paled beside those of the princess. He had to remind himself of this, despite the fact she had requested to meet with him.

Their evening meetings were becoming harder to arrange. The last had been over a week before.

Lazarus may have appeared nervous had anyone passed by, straightening his cuffs and adjusting their place within the chestnut-colored jacket sleeves, signifying his place of command over the bronze squadrons, but quite the opposite. Lately his human form felt more comfortable than any other. Nor did Rosaelyn’s tardiness make him nervous. With King Evrain sick, much had fallen recently to his only daughter. She may have lacked in punctuality, but she never missed an appointment.

He enjoyed the view while he waited, standing in the royal garden and surrounded by trees and flowers native only to far-off Sandrae. The climate of Zandra was much too cold for them naturally, and only the greenhouse and the care of dedicated gardeners allowed them to grow here.

No one bothered him. The night stretched on into twilight and the garden remained quiet. The two moons, Harendar and Solintar, shone brightly and lent their light to the darkened garden.

“Captain Lazarus.” The familiar feminine voice came to his ears, soft yet formal.

He turned and smiled. “Your Highness,” he replied with a deep bow.

“I appreciate your agreeing to meet with me,” princess Rosaelyn said. The pale light made stark shadows on her face, and her auburn hair cascaded in dark locks, almost black, to either side. She took him in with eyes that were bright, catching every ray of light and reflecting them back upon him.

“Anything for you, princess. If you required my life, you had but to ask.”

Rosaelyn smiled in return. Her features softened in the pale light. “I did call you here to make a request, but nothing so dire, captain.”

“Ask and it is yours,” Lazarus promised.

The princess hesitated, for the briefest moment. She looked down the path to both the left and right, checking to make sure no one else shared the garden with them. She took slow, measured steps, and it seemed the distance between them was a great chasm of imposing air.

When she stopped, Rosaelyn stood only a step away from him. Her eyes searched his, her request yet unspoken from lips that formed intriguing shadows with their amused posture.

“What do you wish of your loyal servant?” Lazarus asked, his voice barely loud enough to cross the space between them.

“Kiss me,” she commanded in a breathy whisper.

Lazarus closed the distance dividing them with one eager step and leaned his face to hers. Lips met and embraced with familiarity and longing. His hands found her shoulders and his fingers entangled themselves in her long hair, tugging her closer.

Rosaelyn alternately gripped and caressed along his back and shoulder blades, feeling the warmth of him against her and relishing the fit of their bodies.

Countless moments passed, though they seemed too fleeting compared to those that had made up the intervening absence. Lips separated and Rosaelyn nuzzled against Lazarus’ neck, still pressed to his chest and not wanting to allow any air to intrude between them.

Lazarus stroked her hair, his head leaning against hers.

“Lazarus, there’s something I must tell you,” Rosaelyn said after many more moments of touching and silence.

“What is it?” He drew back at the seriousness of her tone and looked into her eyes. Those eyes, dark and shimmering, gazed back with sadness.

“It’s my father…”

“Has he gotten worse?” Lazarus squeezed her around the shoulders.

“He’s as well as can be expected.”

“What then? What saddens you?”

“He worries for me,” Rosaelyn began, faltering. “He wants to know I will be cared for when he is gone, and he has arranged for me to be married.”

Lazarus felt he had been kicked in the gut and took a moment to catch back his breath. “Is that what you want?” he asked when he could.

“No, of course no. I want to be with you.” She buried her face in his neck. “But how can we tell anyone about us?”

Lazarus nodded, as much to himself as her. “I know, it would be as much of a problem with Hephaestus as with your father.”

A dragon and a human? It was against the laws of both races and part of the treaty signed when the alliance had formed between Zandra’s ruling family and the metallic dragons. Lazarus and Rosaelyn had known, had fought their feelings for almost a year, but it had not stopped them from falling in love.

But now, it seemed the forces that could not keep them apart would succeed in breaking them apart.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 2

D&D Black Dragon

D&D Black Dragon — Property of Wizards of the Coast

Welcome to Day 2 of the Author Up Challenge! I’m on a roll so far!

Today’s challenge was equally simple and open to a wide variety of possibilities:

Day 2: Write in the Third Person (Limited)

There was a prompt also given, but the email for this challenge mentioned internal struggles versus external struggles–so I felt this piece would be the perfect way to accomplish some of both. I already had about the first half dozen or so paragraphs written prior.

This the black dragon piece for my growing collection of dragon short stories. (See the others here: Green, Red, White.) This leaves only the blue dragon piece to be started. Progress!

The above image is a D&D black dragon. The dragon and his/her surroundings (a very creepy looking swamp) partly inspired this piece.

This is the first scene a longer short story, to be concluded later.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

The Dead Swamp

Moern knew the terrors that cried in the night were not his imagination. They were real. But he didn’t know their names, if they had any. And he didn’t know their faces, nor did he want to.

Whatever light the moons and stars shared with the denizens of Dadreon that night got swallowed up by the thick fog that hung in the swamp like a soggy curtain. It made a night that was impenetrably black. The fog muffled the sounds of the swamp, making them less distinct and seemingly faraway, but more eerie for their lack of location.

The merchant wished there were a better route from Balk to Traeg, but to bypass Dead Swamp would add several days to this trek. Time he could not afford to lose–time was money. The market would not wait. The customers would find other traders for their wares.

He’d finally broken down and hired a mercenary to guard himself and the wagon. Solvi was a northerner from her accent and her pale, cragged skin. Her temperament was colder than the tundras of that icy place, and Moern mostly left her to herself. As long as she performed as paid to when it mattered, he might get through this ungodly place without an incident like the last time, when he’d lost most of his goods to a band of roguish knolls.

Moern knew far worse things crept just outside the flickering, swaying light of the lantern lashed to the front corner of the wagon. Its dim yellow light lit the back of the horse’s head and little else in the murk. Occasionally, the lantern would tilt just so and a shaft of light would stretch out and illuminate the edge of the road. Each time, Moern swore he saw something skitter out of the light. It made his imagination stir with the dark possibilities of what lurked there, just beyond the light. Further out, Moern saw only curtains of black moss and what he swore were hundreds of eyes, watching, some blinking, some unblinking.

Wiping the chill sweat from his brow, Moern flicked the reins gently and made a clicking noise with his tongue. The horse perked up and quickened from a walk to a trot. Solvi did the same without a comment or even a glance in Moern’s direction. Her eyes scanned the darkness around them, her sword out and ready to strike, and Moern breathed easier for the knowledge.

“That sword will not protect you from the terrors of this place,” a rumbling voice purred. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, impossible to place in the damp and suffocating swamp.

Moern swallowed and became uncertain whether to continue forward or take off back in the other direction. Before he could even mutter, “To the abyss with this!” the horse had made the decision for him, stopping dead in the road, prancing and tossing its head. The whites showed in the beast’s terrified eyes. The man barely succeeded in keeping hold of the reins and the panting creature ignored his tugging.

Solvi looked on edge but collected. Her outward calm kept Moern from full panic.

“I would ask you to drop the weapon, but it will not stay me from slaying you both.” The voice seemed amused in a nonchalant way.

“I will not let you rob this wagon, villain,” Solvi said to the disembodied voice.

“Villain?” There came a rough coughing sound that Moern realized to be low chuckling. “What makes you call me a villain?”

“You mean to rob us, surely,” Moern sputtered.

“Rob you? There is nothing in that wagon that could possibly interest me.” The voice dragged out the last syllable until it strung out into a surreal note that bored into Moern’s head like a termite into soft wood. It set his teeth on edge and made his head ache.

“Then, why impede our progress and terrorize my horse?”

The horse, now frothing at the mouth, continued to quiver and stamp its hooves.

“It does not know true terror.”

Giant yellow eyes blinked, appearing suddenly from the surrounding blackness to the left of the road, their greenish pupils adjusting to the lantern’s light. A great reptilian head detached from that same murk, its face resembling a lizard skull with the ebony scales and skin beneath drawn too tautly. Pointed teeth lined a smirking mouth that could not contain them. Spines jaunted from its cheeks and up the side of its head to two giant, curling horns, making it almost look like an emaciated mountain goat, and completing the nightmarish visage.

Moern only noticed the horse was frozen in fear because the reins had stopped shaking in his hands. He too was unable to move, unable to tear his gaze from the dragon’s yellow eyes. He could only watch, jaw slack and eyes wide, as the wyrm snapped its jaws around the horse, ripping an ear-splitting shriek from the beast. A quick shake snapped the horse’s neck and tore it loose of the wagon. Moern barely noticed as the reins were ripped from his hands. Then, it two quick motions, the black dragon swallowed the horse whole.

“That is terror. Wouldn’t you agree?” The dragon grinned and it was a ghastly sight.

When Moern and Solvi remained silent, and wyrm continued on, unperturbed. “Don’t worry. I promise your fates will be far more interesting.”

With a foreclaw supporting talons the length of the tall northern woman, the dragon grabbed Solvi by the face and snapped her neck with barely a sound uttered. Only a noise like crackling underbrush and the clatter of her sword broke the silence of the stifling swamp.

Then, it came face to face with Moern and grinned again, its wicked teeth jutting in every direction. “You will make an excellent test subject.”

Moern fainted, sparing him from witnessing his own fate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.