Tag Archive: writing


Delving back into the backlog of Flash Fiction Challenges that monsieur Chuck Wendig set to try and encourage myself to write again. I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading lately, and also trying to come up with some notes for my NaNoWriMo novel this year. No, I haven’t suddenly become a planner, but I do want to come up with a list of supernatural creatures and what they might do because there is going to be a lot of different supernatural in this novel and I need lots of ideas to pull on as I write. So that’ll be fun to put together.

This challenge was to find a photo and then use that photo as inspiration for a short story. I found this striking black and white photo of a bridge which I used as my starting point.

bdige-of-cala

Bridge of Cala

The surface of the water ripples in the wind, shadows flickering across the top of it again. Casey’s feet were cold, which was good considering the rest of them was sweltering hot. It was always hot in the city, even when it rained.

Leaning back, they looked up at the massive bridge that was causing the shadows to play across the water. Concrete and steel, spanning off into the distance, fading away out of sight. Crossing the vast ocean between the city and the rest of the continent. Given how imposing it was up close, Casey always found it incredible to see from up high in the city, looking down, as if it was a single narrow thread, the only link to the world outside.

Casey shook their head, then stood up, grabbing the collar of their scruffy coat and the strap of their camera as they did so, and turning to walk away, wet footprints left behind against the hot concrete.

Screens from oversized TV hung on the outside of building screamed as they walked passed, the usual news from all over the city. Politicians making lies, celebrities caught in scandals, someone was dead, and now for the weather – high chance of strong winds and rain later, don’t get caught outside tonight!

Just the same old, same old.

Winding though the skyscrapers and ever growing buildings, Casey trod a familiar path, avoiding the cleaning robots that swept around the pavement, getting underfoot even as they did their only job of keeping the city tidy.

The noise of the TVs faded away as Casey walked away from the mainstream areas of the city. The slums certainly weren’t the cesspit they had been mere decades ago, thanks to the automation and rebuilding of the city, but they were less well trodden, less cared about than other parts.

A messenger robot hummed across overhead as Casey knocked four times on a door, which slid open to allow them entrance into the packed room.

It was fairly noisy in here, as robots and gadgets whirred and beeped. The guard dog came up and gave Casey a friendly sniff, before rolling over onto its back and letting out a metallic ‘woof’. Not its fault the poor thing wasn’t programmed with a guard instinct.

“Casey, pictures!”

Unslinging the strap from their shoulder, Casey threw the camera over to the slightly chubby owner of the flat. They let out a small shriek and only just caught the camera with the tips of their fingers, stumbling slightly as they overbalanced.

“Dammit Casey!”

Casey shrugged, and then went back to stroking the dog. They remembered stroking a real dog once, at least they thought it was a memory, might be a dream. They usually was a dog in their dreams.

Thornton carefully open up the back of the camera, took out the chip, and plugged the memory ship into the computer. Reaching up, they flicked the lights, and the entire room was bathed in a red light. Opening up the back, they extracted a roll of film, some sort of really old tech apparently.

It was some time spent faffing around, printing picture, washing them in special chemicals. Thornton tried continuously to explain it to Casey, but they never listened. It was just old tech, why anyone would bother with it all was beyond them.

“Ah ha! See! If you compare this picture of the bridge with the digital equivalent, you can clearly see the effect of the nanotreens-“

Casey was already lost, but the picture was quite a good one. Doing these odd errands, which often involve taking picture of parts of the city, had given them a lot of practice, and privately, they thought it was quite a good photo. The bridge was in monochrome, a sort of halo effect around part of it where the light had been shining, path reflected in the metal of the construction.

If they’d had any idea how it would make them money, they’d take up art as a professional. Another pipe dream.

It took him a while longer to be satisfied with the pictures, and then he rummaged around in a drawer, pulling out a credit chip, and threw it to Casey, who unlike him, easily caught it.

“Come back tomorrow, I’ll need more help with this.”

Casey nodded, but then quickly left the flat, their stomach long since given up on growling at them with hunger, but waking up with anticipation.

A carton of food, cheap, but filling, purchased from a corner vendor dangled from their hand as they traced another familiar path through the city, climbing higher and higher, crossing small bridges and pathways, climbing terraces, until they reached one of the highest points in this part of the city, and settled down under a veranda that had been set up on this terrace, strung up between two walls. Perfectly safe to watch the storm fall over the city.

They didn’t have to wait long either, the clouds already racing across the sky, dark ones rolling in, the leading edge of rain clearly visible as the air turned from clear to misty with the heaviness of it all.

Sucking up the noodles, Casey leaned again the wall, enjoying the sight of the city being drenched, a tiny thrill at hearing the first crack of thunder roll out. It might not cool the city down much, but the storms were some of the best weather they got.

The bridge stretched out to the great beyond, swaying, slightly at first, then more, until it was practically vibrating as the wind and rain lashed at it.

A lightning fork crashed down, striking the top of the bridge, the metal glowing briefly before being instantly cooled by the rain.

Then another, and another.

Casey frowned, that was a lot of lightning, even for a big storm.

And then there was one more, even bigger than before, reaching down passed the top curved of the bridge, and striking at the footpath.

The entire bridge lit up, glowing gold, like a pathway to heaven.

Then the first support snapped.

A chain reaction, down the entire length, one after the other, the support snapped, a gaping arch opening up between bridge and footpath.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the archway started to tilt, pushed by the wind, until gravity took over, and the whole structure started to fall.

Casey didn’t realise that they had stood up, cartoon of food falling to the floor, forgotten and the tearing of metal and concrete screeched throughout the air, even over the storm, and the bridge ripped itself to piece under its own weight, urged on by the storm. Huge waves swamped the edge of the city as pieces of the bridges fell into the ocean, sinking out of sight.

The bridge of Cala was quickly disappearing out of sight, a single chain, pulling itself into oblivion, and the only link the city had to outside world along with it.

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Novel

Okay, so after that marathon post, whittling it down to six, asking everyone I knew for their opinions, getting it down to three, and then spending an inordinate amount of time deliberating over the choice until I realised I’d spent two hours researching one thing on the internet for one of the books and decided that was a level of involvement that meant I should probably write it, I have finally decided which book I shall be writing for NaNoWriMo!

blood

The Blood Within

Dhamphir’s are bad. Everyone know this. What no one can remember is why.

In the centuries since the vampire’s wiped out their half blood cousins, all of the supernatural creatures that roam the earth and the realms beyond have forgotten about them. Even the long lived vampires, the ones who could make them, the ones who killed them, they’ve lost the knowledge to the passage of time.

So when a new Dhampir is born, no one’s quite sure what to do. The most obvious answer is to kill it, but that seems like a waste. Vampires get their powers from the blood of the humans, so what about the blood of a half human, half vampire? Well, that must be a potent thing indeed.

Locked away and raised in isolation, waiting for the time without knowing when, the young Dhamphir has no idea about the herself, her powers, or the outside world. But the outside world knows about her, and it’s grown tired of the millennium long reign of the vampires. Maybe, just maybe, if they can fake her death and pull off a rescue, then they can give her a chance to grow up, a chance to grow into whatever it was that the vampires feared so much.

Of course, there was a time when everyone feared them, and for good reason. They just can’t remember why.

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If you don’t recognise that title as being from the master list, that’s because it was called ‘Ghost’ down there. But since Ghost is the nickname of the main character and the book doesn’t actually involve ghosts at all, I thought it needed a change. That’s what I spent two hours on – trying to find an alternative name for the novel. And given I spent that much time finding the new title, I figured that’s probably involved enough to spend the month writing the novel.

And I have so many ideas about it. It’s going to be a huge melting pot of every supernatural creature I can think of, so I get to go make huge long lists of all of those and what powers they might have, because it’s very relevant to the plot. The main character is also going to be interesting to write for reasons I don’t quite want to say because it gives away a lot. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

And of course the other novels don’t go away just because I’m not writing them. Heck, if I get bored of The Blood Within, or even finish it, then I might explore writing another project. I hope to do much the same as I did last year, giving a weekly update of my progress on the novel and not entirely abandon this blog during November, so I’ll let you know how things are going.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Preparation

October is here! And what does that mean? Countdown to NaNoWriMo!

I mean, there are obviously things going on in October, but for the moment, at least for today, I am concentrating on National Novel Writing Month and the preparation work that comes with it.

profileSo far I’ve logged onto the website, spruced up my author profile, made two different word count spreadsheets, posted on the forums and donated, getting my usual halo around my profile. At least one of the reasons I keep that particular profile picture is because the halo looks really good on it. Also adorable Toothless.

What I haven’t done, which is probably an important part of the process, is choose which novel I am going to write this year.

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

I’m a classic NaNoer (at least i am this year) so I pick a new novel and write a first draft during this month. That, and having a break from my older projects might help me to go back to them later. Theoretically. But unlike other years, I’ve been thinking a lot about editing and polishing up those older novels I’ve already written, so as of yet, none of the new ideas have jumped out at me.

Novels I currently have on the go: Archmage, Eidetic, Mechanic Awakening, Quiet Poison, Black Dawn.

Black Dawn’s a bit of weird one. I did technically write it for my first ever NaNoWriMo. But that was six years ago now, and it’s terrible, so it’s being restarted. And I’ve not quite gotten around to restarting it properly. I’ve got the first, like, three pages? Okay, the first 5K. So, I’m not sure how much that counts as a current project. However, I know that I have worked on it before, and I kind of want to do something fresh. I think if nothing else gets chosen, I’ll fall back on this, but I would like to do something completely new.

Looking at my writing page, it says I have the current ideas:

  • Court of Ice
  • Supernatural
  • Fading Shifts
  • Chaos Mage
  • Shadow Rock
  • Blank Charm
  • DNA Key
  • Crossing Realms

In the solid ideas categories are Court of Ice, DNA Key. Slightly less solid would be Fading Shifts, Shadow rock, Blank Charm and Crossing Realms. Supernatural is…complicated and I can’t actually remember what Chaos Mage is, so I’d have to find my notes…okay, so it’s that, but that’s like three lines and not enough to go on. So the first six might be potential ideas.

Having found my master ideas list, there’s a few on there – Pirate, Traitor, Thief of Memories, Fallen Fae, Blood Mage, a dragon idea or two. Blimey, even more in my google docs folder – Firebird, Of Those in Shadow, Ghost, that other project I don’t even have a name for yet. So more potential ideas.

Of course, having an abundance of ideas can be only slightly less complicated than having no ideas at all. Okay, so, I’m going to write out all these ideas, and see which ones I like, and which ones I don’t. Get ready, this is a long list.

creativity

Court of Ice – Magic has been outlawed, but when  pressure rises in the south with the threat of a revival of the old ways, Adriana, lady in waiting to the princess, has some choices to make. High politics and intrigue, slight game of throne feel with more magic.

Fading Shifts – Out of all of there races, shapeshifters are the most rare, having been declining in numbers for centuries. But now, the other races are starting to feel the same effects, and are finally taking an interest. But considering there are only three shifters still left, can they find out what’s going on before the race goes completely extinct?

Shadow Rock – Ashley is the heir to the Throne of Darkness, something that hasn’t been up for grabs in four generations. With people trying to take it for themselves from all direction, from murder to marriage, she runs away from it, all the way to America to do what she wants to do. But is it far enough?

Blank Charm – It was only a little something she picked up from a curiosity shop on holiday, but ever since she found that bracelet, strange things keep happening to her, and these people won’t stop following her, but she has no idea if their friend or foe, or even human. As if Kelly didn’t have enough shit to deal with right now.

DNA Key – In the future, everything is controlled by DNA, food allowances, leisure entitlements, even access into buildings. Kaeleigh’s father, an genius scientist, created a master key – something that will allow anyone to get into anywhere, get anything they want. But he’s just been murdered, and now the attention’s on her – does she have the key to finding the key?

Crossing Realms – You might think that the multiverse would be filled with thousands upon thousands of realms, all just overlapping each other, not quite touching. But no, there’s five. Just five, and they’re meant to be quite spread out. So when they edges of the realms start touching, it’s quite a shock, and quite the disturbance to reality as it’s known. Five people, a champion from each of the realms, have a chance to fix what it is that’s going wrong. But there are only five of them, and it’s quite a big task.

Pirate – Meg turned her back on her family and friends ten years ago, but now they need her and her power. The only thing is, she gave up her power when she left, and really doesn’t want to see anyone from her old life

Traitor – Tess has been labelled as a traitor to the crown, why? Because she’s the same as the king – an ancient born again. She and He don’t want anything to do with each other, but the souls that reside inside them want different things, pushing and pulling against each other, whether they want to or not.

Thief of Memories – After losing everything, including her memories, Lara stole everything that she could, including a heart she probably shouldn’t have.

Fallen Fae – Falen doesn’t mind human as much as other Fae, but her refusal to bow completely to the traditions of the court get her banished, and now she has to turn to people that although she doesn’t mind, she doesn’t fully understand or trust.

Blood Mage – Francesca is the daughter of the most powerful blood mage ever, and almost as powerful a blood mage in her own right. The problem is, she’s a rebellious, attention-seeking teen, and does the one thing that she knows will annoy her father more than anything – join up with the army trying to take him down.

Unbounded – A very typical novel where dragon riders ride dragons in protection of the realm. Except one dragon hatches without bonding to a rider, from there’s it’s an uphill struggle to survive, and prove that dragons aren’t just beasts of burdens for the humans to control.

Firebird – An ancient cycle of death, rebirth, a family of hunter fighting agaisnt the forces of darkness. Unfortunately, their souls don’t get to pass on to the afterlife when they die, and the current family is very tired of hearing so many voices all the time. But there might be a chance, to break the cycle forever, with the power of the youngest of the line – the power of wind and flame, the power of the phoenix, the power over rebirth.

Of Those in Shadow – There are acceptable magics, and then there are those that are not. That is the proper way of things, and every person of an educated nature knows this. But Hailey’s spent her entire life being proper, and it always end up with her being overshadowed by her twin Harper. So maybe, just maybe, she can find something that she’s better at, something that she can do that her twin can’t. Even if it isn’t proper, and even if the consequences could get her killed, or worse.

Ghost – Dhampir’s are bad, the older they get, the worse it is. Although no one, not even the long lived vampires, can remember precisely why. So when a Dhampir is born, she’s sequestered away, brought up in isolation, ready for the day when the reigning family can kill her and reabsorb the power back into the line. Except, with help from those disillusioned with the royals, she fakes her death an escapes. Maybe, away from them, the world can find out why exactly the dhampir’s are considered so horrific. If it doesn’t backfire on them first that is…

AS YET UNTITLED – In this world, everyone had that one special creature waiting for them, that one special bond that you search for. And once you’ve found it, that when the adventure really begins. Abigail hasn’t yet found her special bond, but she doesn’t want to let that stop her adventure, and joins up with a group of other teenagers who have recently found their own bonded. In between escapades and travelling, it starts to look like things might not be as they appear on the surface – what is it that Abby is hiding so desperately from the rest of them?

bookshelf

As of yet, writing those out, none of them have yet jumped out at me. There’s a few I think that would be more suitable to write than others, but no decisions as of yet. I think I might sit and stew on it for a while. Worst comes to the worst, I can be a geek and roll a d20 to see which one I write!

Princess the Hopeful Fiction

aegis

Aegis

So, at the moment, I’ve been working on a piece of fiction to do with my princess character. It’s not a novel (I mean, It’s length, but not a novel) and very few people are going to read it. Mostly I’m writing it because I want to, and if I’m writing something I want to write then that’s better than writing nothing at all, because I’m having a really bad week.

Also I’ve still got a kickstarter to cash in where I can get my own text printed on a scarf, and if I like this enough when it hits the upper word count, then there’s a chance that I’ll get this printed up and wear it around my neck, which is awesome.

However, since it is what I am currently working on, I thought I’d share an extract of it here. Because why on earth not, and I need to do a writing post for this week. So here’s an extract from my current fiction, about my character from the tabletop Princess game I play in.

***

“She is what she is, she does what she does. And she has an entire court that loves her for it,” Aegis said.

Before he could respond, there was a faint screeching noise from in the clouds, which caused them both to look up and around.

“What was that?”

“Not sure,” Aegis was scanning the clouds banks around them, looking for anything out of the ordinary among the fluffy white expanse.

The cry came around again, and echoed around them, less muffled this time.

He looked around, spotting a princess of spades and calling out to them, “What is that?”

“Not sure, we shouldn’t get anything up this high. I mean, the only thing that would be big enough to handle the currents is a-“

Out of the cloud on the left hand side of the ship burst a dark feathered form, cresting over the clouds, eyeing up the ship, before diving back down beneath the top layer, and the boat shuddered as the bird that was at least a third of its length battered against the underside.

“Roc!”

The cry echoed around the airship, and suddenly princesses were erupting from everywhere, shouting and calling to each other, adjusting various parts of the ship as it shook again, and Aegis spotted a number of them arming themselves.

He turned to look at her, his eyebrows slightly raised as he gripped the railing to steady himself, “Aren’t you going to join in?”

“I’m going to let the Princesses with the ranged weapons tackle the moving bird as it circles the ship. If it lands, I’ll very much get involved. Until then, there’s a lot of air between us that makes melee combat somewhat difficult.”

“True,” he turned to look out over the clouds, stumbling slightly as the boat shuddered again.

“Just hold on. It’ll be fine, these princesses are professionals.”

A number of grins flashed around her as the ranged weapons appeared, searching through the clouds, tracking the shadows and valleys that appeared.

“Here!”

The call came from the other side of the ship, and more than half the princesses moved over, leaving only a few to stand guard. A number of twangs were heard as arrows and other projectiles were loosed, several of them hitting their target.

Bursting out from the cloud cover, the Roc screeched, causing many people to wince or cover ears in some cases. Even Aegis narrowed one eye in discomfort at the noise, still watching as small volleys of projectiles were launched at the creature, more attempting to drive it off than kill it at the moment.

It wheeled and dodged, making another screech, before it rolled, going over the ship this time, raking its claws against the skin of the balloon. It didn’t manage to piece through it, the magically reinforced cloth apparently holding for now, but it did batter the balloon off centre, the ropes going slack on one side, taught on the other, making the deck tilt horribly as Aegis grasped onto a rope and she spotted the Queens emerging from the lower decks.

Then the deck swung to catch up with the balloon, snapping the ropes taught all at once, swinging wildly. Aegis rolled with it well enough, the vibrations jarring up her armoured boots, but there was a startled yell to the side that had her turning her head.

“Husband!”

There was a short cry from the Queen of Hearts as Aegis also spotted him, toppling over the edge of the ship, scrabbling for handhold as he was the wrong side of the railing.

Aegis leapt from where she had been standing, crossing the deck in a few steps, reaching out, only to have his grip slip as the Roc slammed into the balloon again, and the deck jumped a few inches.

Drawing her sword off her back, Aegis didn’t think twice as she jumped over the railing herself, tumbling over so she could reach down and snag the back of his tunic with one hand, the other one bringing her sword around and slamming it into the underside of the boat, angling it to trap itself against the wood, providing a good handhold.

As expected, the impact jarred her shoulders apart as she took the weight of him dangling against the grip of the other on her sword. Adjusting her feet, she managed to place them against the hull of the boat, giving her a little extra support. She turned down to look at the Rose Groom, grinning in spite of the ache in her arms.

“Whatever happened to holding on?”

He chuckled in an embarrassed fashion, not attempting to look around to make it easier for her to continue holding onto him, “Thanks for the catch.”

“No problem. Getting back on deck might be more of one.”

“Hey,” a head appeared over the side of the railings, belong to the Queen of Spades, “how’s it hanging?”

“You’re awful.”

She laughed, and then threw a rope ladder over the side of the railing, where it swung a couple of feet away from them. Aegis gritted her teeth, then using the motion of the ship, swung him out so that he could grasp the ladder, finding his own feet on the wooden rungs and she could let go of his collar.

With quick motions, he went up and over, back onto the deck, which just left Aegis, judging the jump between her perch on the hull and the swinging ladder.

Until the Roc screeched again, bursting up from the clouds beneath them, slamming into the hull next to where Aegis was.

“Naturally,” she looked up to the sky, well, upwards anyway, allowing herself a moment of resignation as the Roc turned to fix its gaze on her.

Gritting her teeth again, she judged the wind, and then leapt, pushing off from the hull as the Roc beat its wings, head snapping at her heels. Its head brushed the underside of her foot, and she used it as another slight boost, hands stretching out for the ladder.

Grabbing the last rung, she held firm as she swung out, the massive bird missing its second attack by inches as her shoulders were wrenched for a second time in as many minutes. Hauling herself up the ladder, it got easier once she could plant her feet on the rungs, and then she was up and over, feet planted on the deck again, which was a lot firmer than air.

Taking steps away from the edge she concentrated and held out her hand, summoning her sword back into it, before sheathing it.

“Sure you don’t want to keep it out?”

“Nah. She’s got this.”

Aegis had only glanced in Her (Wands) direction, but she had already seen that her weapon was out, and that she had one foot on the railing, timing her strike carefully so that the massive lance pierced down, skewering the bird’s wing joint as the Queen of Hearts stood next to her, keeping one eye on her to pull her backward should the deck shift again, and one eye on her husband, who was standing in the doorway to the lower decks, probably at her insistence, lest he lose his footing again.

It screamed once more, blood droplets flying through the air as it backpedalled and the Queen of Wands let it slide off the Lance, watching it carefully as it changed direction, away from the airship, attempting to fly and only partially succeeding as it had trouble flapping one rings.

Aegis looked over at the Queen of Spades, “Apologies for the hole in your ship.”

She shrugged, “It’s easier to replace than he is,” she indicated him with a jerk of her thumb and a grin as Aegis shook her head at her humorous spirit.

The Queen left to attend to something, and Aegis turned away, rotating her shoulder, her hand resting on top of her armour as she attempted to stretch it out, reliving the ache that came from overuse without warming up. Footsteps faded away, then came back, and a large hand was placed on top of her own. Aegis turned her head upwards to look at the face of her Queen.

“You okay?” she asked in a low voice.

“It’ll be fine.”

The hand moved up to cup her cheek, and the two of them gazed at each other for a few moments, before the queen leaned down and their foreheads touched.

“Try not to jump overboard again, okay?”

“No promises. Might have to save another damsel in distress.”

She felt her queen smile, then withdraw, the warmth of her hand lingering on Aegis’ cheek. She smiled to herself, eyes half closing in contentment, before she turned to find somewhere she could sit on deck out of the way.

Time Sinks

Guiltily, I’ve realised it’s been almost a month since I last posted. My bad, I keep saying I have no time, but really I could have more time if I just organised things a little better. Unfortunately, that takes energy, and that’s something I don’t have a lot of at the moment.

Sort of brings me onto the title of today. Everyone has a limited amount of time and energy, and sometimes (like it has been for the past while) my cap is lowered due to my anaemia. And whilst naps are delicious, it means that I’m not doing other things.

So what have I been up to lately?

Well World of Warcraft: Legion got released on the 30th August. After waiting in all day for amazon to deliver my collectors edition (I’m a sucker for the art books), I got it, and I haven’t really stopped playing it since. Well, there’s been food and sleeping, but I took a week off work so that I could play it, and it was so worth it.

legion-illidan

Trying not to spoil anything whilst still enthusing: This expansion is about the return of the burning legion to Azeroth, and so we’ve gone back to the Broken Isles where they first invaded 10,000 years ago, and that’s the home place of the Highborn (elves) and druidism. As someone who plays a Night Elf druid, I have been hyper about this for a while, and playing it has absolutely lived up to my expectations. The lore and the quests have had me amazed and tearful at times, but really, it’s an amazing expansion, and the first raid is going to be The Emerald Nightmare, something I have been waiting YEARS for. That, and the artefact weapons are really, really cool. I love how they’ve implemented them.

So that took up a week. And then I managed to pick up an infection, so I was ill for some days, got dragged to the doctor by my boyfriend (i’m one of those people who’s really resistant to going to doctors, although I have no idea why, they’re actually quite lovely), diagnosed and given antibiotics, and then I spent a week off work being ill and having side effects. I mean, I could still play Legion, but that was about the only good thing. And I watched a lot of daytime TV.

One bad thing, because the illness took a lot out of me, I didn’t end up going to the last Empire of the year. It was the right decision, and I know that I feel a lot better for having had a weekend of nothing rather than trying to push myself when I had no energy left, but still, it is the first time I’ve ever missed one.

Basically, now I’m back at work, and trying to pick up on all the things I’ve been ignoring (registered for my new uni year, paid my fees and chose my optional module yesterday, which felt good to have gotten done), and I’ve been reflecting on the last couple of weeks a bit.

Yes, I spent a lot of time on WoW, and no I don’t regret that, (being ill sucked, but what can you really do about it) but it does make you think – when you only have so much time and energy, how is it that we choose what to spend it on? I had a lot of things I could be doing, but mostly I want to play the new expansion, so I did, to the exclusion of a lot of other things. It is a huge time sink. I also find that when I watch TV, I end up watching more than I planned to, and suddenly three hours have gone by. I’ll be listening to a new tune I’ve just put on my music player, and then suddenly it’s 1am and I should have gone to bed an hour ago. Stuff like that.

sand-tiem

Maybe it’s because I know I was ignoring a lot of things that I’m having a bit of a weird brain loop thinking day today, but it is just something that strikes me. I have a lot of things to do, and I don’t always make time for them all.

In better news, I’ve managed to write 7,000 words over the last few days, so I’m catching up where I should be with the 365K challenge! Although I think I would do much better with everything if this hot weather would go away. Honestly, it’s an English September, it really shouldn’t be 27 degrees out.

Eberron – Breakout

Bit late this week, however I am going to Empire this weekend, so I won’t be able to post anything else until Monday at the earliest because I’ll be in a field running around being a mage and things.

So what I have for you today is quite long, to kind of make up for that. And also because it came out long. It’s a fiction piece about my character in the Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Why? Because it’s going to start again in a couple of weeks and I am so excited to be playing this character again, and we’re resuming just as the entire country of Cyre has been wiped out by this weird mist – so many feelings! And writing this fiction is helping me to remember and get back into the headspace of the character, it has been seven months since we last played. Enjoy.

Her arms were twisted behind her, held tightly between two stony-faced guards. Stripped of her armour, weapons and anything else that they thought could be a magic item, Adara had been left bare foot and dressed in only her shift and leggings, which was not a good position to be in overall.

Still struggling against the grip, she was hauled through the darkened corridors that led down to the dungeons. Strangely, Adara found that she was missing the jovial banter with the guards that she had been able to have whenever she had been in detention in the army. Which had happened several times, she didn’t deal well with authority some of the time, which made being in the army a somewhat odd choice. She’d had her reasons. Of course, those reasons had long since died, along with the fog. Now, there were other thing to fight for.

The guard walking in front of the three of them took a bunch of keys from his pocket, and opened up one of the dungeons doors, a solid wooden affair with bars set into small window. With a large amount of force, the two guards hurled her into the small room. She landed on her feet, but before she had finished turning around, the door slammed shut and was locked, the guards leaving without a word.

Adara let out the sigh that she had been holding in and straightened up, stretching out her arms, shaking out her copper hair into something resembling neatness. They had not been gentle in manhandling her down here. But so far so good. In the dungeon, now to see if their intelligence was good.

She went over to the door and inspected it – quite a good set up, she couldn’t see the mechanism of the lock at all from this side, the hinges were also on the outside of the door, and the surrounding wall was made out of stone and looked far more solid than the wooden door, which in itself was impressive.

Coming back from the door, she sank into a sitting position in the middle of the room and focused on her breathing. Once calm, she could reach out, and let the currents of the surrounding emotions wash over her, feeling out for the presence of other people in these dungeons. And there were quite a few, each one a small beacon against her senses. Fear, dread, anger, hopelessness, there was much of that present here. But in small pockets, there were feelings that reassured her for the wellbeing of her countrymen, especially as she felt a familiar presence a few cells over.

“Who’s there? Were you just brought in?”

Adara smiled, “Hello General.”

“Who? I know your voice,” there was hesitation in the voice, but she could feel the strain of hope starting to rise in his feelings.

“I should hope so, I’ve been running your errands for some years now.”

“You were in the army?”

“Under Milton Wallace.”

“So there are other survivors?”

“Many more than your probably thought. Parts of the Army, traders who were out of the country, civilians living on the edge of the land, the Prince and his retinue.”

“The Prince lives?”

“Yes, he does,” Adara smiled as she thought about the dark haired man with a degree of fondness, “He’s gathering survivors, getting aid. The King of Breland has let us set up camps in his land, and Oargev is trying to persuade him to let us have some land permanently.”

There was a heavy sigh from down the corridor, “It is good to hear that there are other survivors. It’ll make this hellhole more bearable.”

“Hold that thought for the moment. Do you know of any others in here?”

“Of course there’s more of us in here you red-haired whore! Those of us that they didn’t slaughter and turn into undead have been rotting in here for months! I’ll give them endangered species.”

Adara sighed, “Naturally,” she said more to herself than anyone else. Well, the dragoons had had horses, getting out fast kind of was their thing.

Undoing the laces on her tunic, she could slip a hand down her front, and fiddle under the binding she was wearing, and ease out the ring that had been hidden down there. They had been very thorough in their search, but they hadn’t gone so far as to strip search her, and thus the ring had remained hidden. The opal gleamed at her, even in this dim light, from the wrought black metal of the setting. Wiggling it around, she fit it on her finger, and allowed herself a passing admiration of how pretty it looked there. Shame they would probably have to give it back, but for now, she could stand up, still extending her senses out so she could track the people around her.

Riserr was a seething pool of anger, and General Tinshy was a wild mis of exhaustion, exasperation, but a tiny current of hope buoying him up. That tiny current was beginning to spread around to other people that had heard the conversation they had had, and Adara could hear one thing in particular spreading.

“The prince. The prince is alive,” whispered from cell to cell around the entire dungeon.

It was only a couple of hours later, although it was slightly hard to tell given that the only light was from lamps down the corridor, that a pair of guards came down, slowly walking past the doors and peering into each one, clearly on patrol.

Adara leant against a wall with her hands pressed into her back. A casual pose, and she felt the eyes of the guard linger on her only momentarily before they moved on.

Turning the ring around on her finger, she raised her head and focused on the backs of the guards, disappearing out of the narrow view of the barred window and triggered the ring. The world disappeared, and then reappeared a moment later, with her out in the corridor, doors either side and the backs of the guards in front of her.

Silver light exploded around her as her feet touched the stone floor, the radiance of her power blinding down the corridor. The left hand guard stumbled forward, collapsing onto his knees as the right hand one staggered but didn’t fall over.

Darting forward, she stripped the guards sword from his belt, and then turned to face the right hand guard as he struggled to free his own weapon, slicing up and across his chest as her psionic power came round to bear, and both of them staggered further, a ringing in their ears as she turned their own emotions against them.

A short thrust into his lower chest, more than enough to hurt, probably not enough to kill, her power echoed around them again, and both guards collapsed, the left one on the floor where he had fallen, the right hand one slumping against the wall as she removed the sword.

Quickly searching the two of them, she found the bundle of keys that she was searching for and stepped down the corridor to unlock the door she had located the general behind. He looked up at her, his salt and pepper beard a lot more salty than the last time she had seen him, but there was a gleam in his eyes that she knew was new.

“Adara.”

“Ready to leave general?”

“The others…?”

“We’re hardly going to leave them here are we? Here,” she worked the ring open and shook half the keys off it, “you work with these ones, I’ll take the others.”

The general stood up, taking the keys with one hand and clapping her on the shoulder with the other. Between the two of them it didn’t take too long to go around the cells in the dungeon and open up the doors, letting their fellow Cyrans out. The two guards were stripped of their possessions and placed in one of the empty cells, the few weapons they had on them passed around to the people who could use them best, made harder to decide since almost all the people imprisoned here had been in the military.

Adara came up to the last door and leaned against the wall, looking in at Riserr.

“Well? Are you going to unlock me?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t decided how offended I am about you calling me a whore.”

“You’ve been called worse.”

“By you, no less.”

“Riserr! Swallow your pride, apologise and let’s get the heck out of here,” Tinshy didn’t look overly impressed, with either of them really, but it didn’t bother her as she swung the key around on her finger and watched Riserr grind his teeth.

“Fine. My apologies, you are not a whore, harlot, tramp or any other synonym of the word.”

She looked at him for a few more seconds, feeling the insincerity warring with desire to leave in him, “Eh. Good enough.”

And she unlocked the door, closing her eyes as she felt a different presence in her mind.

“Now what-“

“Shush,” Adara said, listening to the voice in her head and carefully composing her response.

“You-“

“I said shush,” she silenced him again as she sent her reply before opening her eyes again.

Riserr looked aggravated, but he usually did, so she ignored him and started moving in the direction of the exit to the dungeon, “Look lively lads and lasses, time for us to make a sharp exit from the dreadfully dreary place, wouldn’t you say?”

“As much as I’m in favour of that, they do have a reasonable number of guards, and we are underarmed.”

“My dear General, did you really think the rest of my team would just let me get captured?”

The timing was beautiful as from above them, they heard the muffled sound of an explosion and a thump, which was probably the doors to the garrison being opened in a non-subtle fashion.

She gave him a faint smile, and used the keys on the door to the dungeon, spotting two  guards down the end of the corridor. Signalling that to the people behind her, she crept up behind one of them and with another flare of psionic energy, ran him through as he started to turn to the small noises of people behind him.

With the addition of more people, the scuffle was over quickly, and more weapons were handed around.

“Which way’s the door?”

“That way,” Adara pointed, “But I plan to go and find the armoury if anyone cares to join me. I’d imagine that’s where my equipment, and yours if you had any on you, is.”

Riserr looked thoughtful, “I would like my sword back.”

Tinshy shook his head, “I’ll be heading straight for the door, with the rest of these people.”

“Milt should be heading up the force, with our squad and a few others. Find them and they’ll get you out and away on back to the rest of our people.”

Tinshy clapped his hand on her shoulder, “I expect to see you catching up to us.”

“No fear of that. Go on, scoot,” she waved them off even as she turned around and started to go in the opposite direction, Riserr following after her.

“Any idea where we’re going.”

“Not really. I can guess based on the construction of the garrison.”

“Fantastic.”

She laughed at the level of sarcasm in his voice as they moved through the garrison, searching down corridors and in doors, until Riserr waved her over and signalled that there was one guard in there.

Bursting through the door, Riserr’s charge did not go as he intended, as the guard was not surprised, instead grabbing a hammer that lay next to him and smashing it into his face.

“That the best you can do?” Adara said as she feinted low then straightened up, going for his shoulder, scoring a glancing blow but it was enough to psionically open him up for another attack. Too bad Riserr was still scrambling around on the floor and couldn’t take advantage of it.

The guard gave him a short kick, but went for her, the hammer smashing against her purloined sword, and she found it impossible to grip as he twisted the hammer around and caught the blade, flinging it across the room.

Catching his chin with a punch, she was still able to call upon her energy, turning her abilities to defence, of both of them as the guard turned and attempted to smash the hammer into Riserr’s skull. The flare of energy as the hammer hit the shield rang out, and the guard turned back to Adara as she looked around for a nearby weapon, finding nothing on the table nearest her, and shield too big for her to grab on the wall.

He came in close, and she ducked under the hammer, only to have his free hand grab her by the throat and slam her back into the wall, knocking the shield over.

Struggling with his fingers as her air supply was cut off, her psionic energy flare, try to find a weakness in this man’s mind as she delivered an apparently useless kick to his armoured knees, doing nothing but scraping some skin off her foot.

He twisted the hammer round in his hand and brought it back, then let out a sigh, his fingers going slack, the hammer dropping to the floor with a loud clunk as he slumped over.

The fey blade slipped out from his back as Cale turned his silver eyes over to Adara, who was coughing, regaining her breath.

“You cut that close.”

“Took me a while to find you,” he turned his head and looked down at Riserr, who was struggling to get back to his feet, “Really?”

“As much as I try to not admit it, I’m not really a horrible person. Couldn’t really leave him there.”

“Even if all he’s good for is falling over? Really, you have to wonder how he can ever get on his horse.”

“Bite me, you pointy-eared git.”

“Still with the insults. My my, what terrible manners,” Adara said, deliberately stepping on him as she walked into the centre of the room.

“Your spear’s in the locker over there. We could use you in the fight downstairs.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Adara said, opening up the indicated locker and smiled as she saw her silver spear gleaming at her, “Hey gorgeous, you and me have a date with some very disagreeable Karnath downstairs.”

 

 

Ideas

Sorry about no dragon post last Friday. As predicted on Monday, Pokemon Go is taking up a lot of my time. Including that which I would spend writing, and basically doing anything else. Even with all the server troubles over the weekend. So before I attempt to get back on track with what I schedules myself to be doing, here’s my dragon Pokemon. Currently, the only Dragon type (apart from its evolutions) in the first generation.

Dratini

My Dratini!

Now onto the actual writing topic. Today’s post comes from a conversation I had last night. The actual conversation revolved around the Princess the Hopeful game that me and the partner play in. My character has recently done something quite unusual, and there’s going to be a lot of, not consequences as such, but certainly aftereffects. Because I was thinking so much about that, I had a dream about my character the other day, in which another Princess had a crush on my Princess, a third Princess wanted to do the thing I had done so we were investigating ways for her to do that, there was a fire and a burning building, a big baddie, and some other stuff, hard to remember exactly what but it was a cool dream. I then went on to outline the things I had been thinking about since then, and the ways in which this dream had developed into a sort of story in my head. Not one I think that will happen in the game (well, maybe some parts of it will) but as I was talking about this, my partner went ‘Wait, you dreamed all of this?’ to which I responded ‘Well, not all of it. It started with the dream and since then I’ve just been thinking about it, kind of day dreaming really, and it’s progressed from there.’

And that was what got me thinking about this – my ideas for stories and how they develop. As just mentioned, dreams are a fairly common starting point for me. I’ll dream about something, part of it will really stick in my head (I dream most nights and can remember a fair chunk of them the next morning usually, it’s handy) and then I’ll keep thinking about it the next day.

DreamDreams I have in the last week include getting stuck with the children of a friend after she died, the Princess dream, and a dream where I needed to steal colouring pencils from a witch. I kind of find this a little bit, what the word, recursive? Because dreams are meant to be the way in which you process, store and deal with events from the real world, but my dreams rarely are entirely mundane. That, and I get so many ideas from them, that if they are simply reflections of the real world, then I am getting ideas from my memories which is stuff I’ve already seen but I don’t get the idea until it’s presented in dream form. I’m probably grossly overthinking this, but it always seems a little odd to me. Not odd enough to stop using them as starting points.

Of course there are other starting points. Dreams is my most common, but sometimes I can just have an idle thought in the middle of the day, I can overhear something someone says or does in conversation and that can have a bit of a spark. But given that I write fantasy, I tend to find my inspiration in the most fantasy steeped setting, and for me that is my dreams.

But what about afterwards? Once I have that idea, how does it develop? Time and thinking, are the basic ingredients. I’ve done a lot of reading, I’ve written a fair few novels now (even if none of them are close to publish worthy) so I know various events and actions and plots that can happen. Choosing which one does happen? Well, often I’ll go through several different ideas for the same scene, think about it, imagine it, play it out in my head multiple times, and then settle down on the idea.

Take the Princess dream from above. I know that there was another Princess, and there was a fire. So, going on from the fire, I have the idea that it would be cool to have her lose one of her arms and have it replaced with living metal (it makes sense within the setting, she is in the court associated with the element of metal) whilst everyone else thinks she’s dead and goes after the big bad. So that’s fine up to that point, but then comes the big reveal, the whole classic ‘she isn’t actually dead’ thing, and that’s where I’ve gotten to – how is that going to play out?

Ideas 2I have several ideas, from jumping in from the balcony/roof, to just walking through the door, to she was actually found in the fire by the big bad and doing it from that angle. How is it going to resolve? No idea. I may or may not write this down as a sort of fanfiction thing, at which point I would need to choose, but right now I’m experimenting with the ideas. I’ll take one of them, spend some time imagining it and playing it out in my head, how the character would react, what they would say, what are the feelings going on around the room, how can it develop from this point and all those sorts of things. And eventually, one idea will suggest itself to me as more of the right way of playing that scene out and that’ll be the one I write.

And this process pretty much goes for all of my novels. Start with an idea, think on it for a while, write it down, think of it some more, come back with new ideas and edit those in, and repeat until I think I have a story. That last bit has yet to happen to a point I am satisfied with for most of my novels, but I’m certainly getting there. It’s a looping process, but it works for me. And I certainly enjoy visualising all the scenes in my head, it’s one of my favourite parts of writing.

Writing Projects

Right. So. Been having a tiny bit of trouble with the writing lately, as I have mentioned. Flash fiction challenges are going some way to getting me back into the swing of things, however, flash fiction is not my novels, and I probably should be working on those.

In the continuing interests of picking back up writing in a proper fashion, I am going to list (read: ramble on a bit) about my current writing projects, which are all my novel projects. I do this in the hope that actually listing out what I could be working on will help my brain to transition back onto working on them. That, and given that I have quite a few projects on the go, this isn’t a terrible thing to do from an organising point of view either.

 

LightningArchmage

1st Draft – Completed.

Story has been split into 3 parts (It might turn out to be a trilogy, it is getting to that length)

2nd Draft – Part 1 Completed. Part 2 Started. Part 3 As yet untouched.

So, Archmage. It’s a beast of a thing at the moment, and I did a lot of work on it during the first couple of months of the year, but then I finished re-writing the first part, and sort of never got into the swing of re-writing the second. Well, there’s like 5,000 words in there. What I think I need is to find a suitable beta reader (or poke my beta reader into actually reading the first part) and then so some blocking out of what happens in scenes and then tweak them so rather than just editing each chapter as I come to it, I edit the higher level structures of the book. I’m pretty sure Part 1 is going to need another re-write, so that seems like the sensible idea. It’s just hard since I’m a pantser, not a planner, but the story will be better for it.

 

black wingsBlack Dawn

1st Draft – So terrible it was abandoned

1st Draft (Take 2) – Started

So Black Dawn was the novel I wrote for my first ever NaNoWriMo. I’ve learnt a lot since then, and I can safely say that what I wrote back in, 2011 (man, old feeling) is a pile of crap. But, the characters were there, and the setting had something, so it went into the drawer for a while, and now I’ve got a shiny new plot and setting tweaks and I think it can work now, I just need to write it. I’m, let’s see, a couple of chapters into starting this. It’s been a very on off sort of project.

 

magnificent_mazeEidetic

1st Draft – In Progress

This was last years (2015) NaNoWriMo project. And it was going well, I got to 75K words, it wasn’t too hard to write. Except, then November finished, and I haven’t even really looked at it since. Not entirely sure why, but, I think I started to see holes. I know what I want to happen in the second half/ending, but, there’s a few holes between where I got up to and that point, and I’m not sure if it’s a satisfying story, and I just seemed to lose the point of it a little. I’m certain that actually it’s not as bad as I think it is, and there is life in the novel, I probably just need to re-read it, and then think about the plot in a little more depth before I continue writing it.

 

MechanicaMechanica Awakening

1st Draft – Completed

1st Edit – In Progress

Another NaNoWriMo book. To be fair, I do a lot of writing in NaNo, it’s only this year that I have seriously started to concentrate on stuff outside of that month, from editing to new material. This one, I wrote the first draft and it’s the first one where I feel like the 1st draft isn’t going to be a million miles from the last draft. It felt complete, rounded, and sure it needs some editing, but the story is there. (Personally, I have a distinction: Re-writing is when there are still plot holes and major writing left to do; Editing is for when the story is there and only minor tweaks need to happen. Mostly at the moment I am re-writing rather than editing, but, that’s because I know most of my stories aren’t finished yet) I did start, was working on it last summer, but again, fallen on a back burner a little bit. I was also doing this editing by hand, which was probably a mistake. I think it’d be easy enough to pick up again.

 

fantasy-pharmacyQuiet Poison

1st Draft – In Progress

One of the few novels I have not written in NaNo. Actually, I only had the idea for this one at the start of the year, so it’s the newest idea that’s actually been written down. It’s going in scenes at the moment. So I find a bit of the book I want to write, write that particular scene, and then when I’ve got enough of them I’ll work out how to string them all together. It’s a very fun project, with intrigue, assassins, relationships, death, and an awesome setting I’ve been crafting with my sounding board. He’s great. This is the one I should be writing, or at least the one I feel I should be writing, because there’s a kickstarter I backed where you can have your words printed on a scarf and this is the project that might actually come in under the limit of 40K (I’m a fantasy writer, novels run long for me typically) but I do actually have to write it up to that much. It’s on about 25K at the moment.

 

Supernatural

Draft – ???

Bit of an odd project this one. It’s the first novel I ever wrote, when I was 14. It was, complete trash, as might be expected of a first ever novel attempt, let alone one written at a young age. But, the main character never went away. There’s, well, there’s ideas and scenes, but nothing that I would call a solid plot, so it’s hard to count this as anything resembling an active project, but she’s always there, in the back of my brain.

 

And that’s it for active projects. Or, you know, projects on the backburner. I have a lot of other ideas for novels (Court of Ice, Firebird, Shapechangers) and other projects that keep me writing but aren’t novels (mainly fanfiction type things, or me fluff writing about my characters in various games. Werewolf, princess, D&D). It’s been good to remind myself of them. Maybe now I can actually go and write something on one of them.

Friday came and went, and with it, another Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time, he gave us 1,000 words and the theme of Insomnia. Apparently, he’d been having a little trouble sleeping when he came up with this week’s theme, so I can see why he choose it. For my piece this week, I’ve tied it into a tabletop game in which I am currently playing – Princess the Hopeful. I mention it a bit here, and considering that these magical girls often stay up late and give up sleep to protect the world and attempt to have a normal life, I though that this was the perfect theme to explore that a little bit. So Lucy/Aegis is my character (name changes happened), and this is a tiny extract from her life as a Princess, fighting to forces of darkness.

tired_warrior_by_nenee

Insomnia

Lucy was still up, sitting with her back against the sofa, coursework spread out on the table in front of her. A yawn cracked her jaw open, and she rubbed her eye, but even as she indicated sleep, she had no intention of seeking her bed tonight.

“Lucy?”

A tiny, tired voice came from the doorway through to the bedroom. Lucy looked up, and a smile of warmth came across her face as she spied her sister. Putting her pen down, she easily climbed to her feet, and crossed the short distance to room.

“What’s my little princess doing awake, hey?”

“Had a bad dream,” Imogen’s face looked a little sad, as she rubbed her eyes from the light still on in the living room.

Lucy reached down, easily picking her sister up and settling her on her hip. Imogen snuggled her face into her shoulder as Lucy gave her a reassuring hug.

“Was it the same one as last time, with your teacher?”

“Different one. You were there. And the monster was there. And the monster was trying to eat me, but you wouldn’t let it, so then it ate you instead.”

Lucy closed her eyes, letting the words fade along with the stab of emotions that they had brought forward. She turned her head and kissed her sister’s head, “I promise. No monsters are going to eat you.”

“What about you?”

“No monster are going to eat me either,” she kissed her forehead again, and then walked into the dark bedroom, quietly so as not to disturbed their brother, who was sprawled out over his thin bed.

Settling Imogen back down on the bed, Lucy tucked the duvet in around her, and paused on the edge of the bed, smiling down at her sister.

“You coming to sleep soon?”

“I’ll come when I’m finished princess.”

“You’re never finished.”

Lucy smiled, “Seems that way sometimes,” she leaned forward to kiss her sister a final time, “You go back to sleep now. Have a nice dream, for me, okay?”

“Okay,” her sister was already mumbling the words, eyes closing. It was nice to see her slip back into sleep so easily, as Lucy quietly got up, and slipped back out into the living room.

Another half hour went by, pen scratching away at the coursework, until her phone vibrated on the table, and she flicked a glance at the screen. Time to go to work.

Hood pulled up, trainers on, Lucy slipped out of the front door, careful to lock it behind her, before she slipped out into the dead city, dark and creepy as midnight approached, only the occasional unbroken street lamp throwing out golden light against the black of the night.

She met up with her fellows just outside Utopia’s place. Ray was bouncing on the heels of her feet, and Flora was running up from the end of the street, ponytail bobbing wildly as she assumed she was late.

She skidded to a halt by them, doubling over, slightly out of breath, “Sorry….I’m…late.”

“It’s fine Flora, you aren’t late,” Utopia reassured her.

Lucy reached out a hand, stroking the head of the red panda that was sitting on Utopia’s shoulder. Elisa purred slightly under the touch, but then shook her head, and frowned. As if it was unbecoming for a shikigami to receive such attention.

“I think I’ve got a lead on the darkened we’re chasing. Might have a place he uses as a hide out,” Elisa said.

“Is Devlin coming with us?” Lucy looked over at Utopia, who, predictably, turned a faint pink colour at the mention of him.

“Ah, no. He’s sitting this one out.”

“Willingly, unwillingly, or did you tire him out?”

“Aegis!”

Lucy grinned at her, and then let it drop.

“Come on you two, stop teasing each other and let’s go!” Ray had already Transformed, her magic settling over her to form the familiar cloak from which she would pull the exact item that they needed at the time.

Lucy, closed her eyes, and felt the customary weight of her armour settling on her, the plates shifting as she rolled her shoulders, easy to move in, but still offering her that protection she needed, as she made the slight mental shift from Lucy to Aegis. It wasn’t a big difference, but there was something about being Transformed which leant itself to her Princess name.

“My sister had another dream tonight.”

“Oh?”

“A monster was trying to eat her, but then I got in the way and it ate me instead.”

“Hm. Given the level of potential reality in that, I’m starting to believe that your sister might be a Beacon.”

“Certainly possible. If not now than in the future. She is only five after all.”

“True. In the meantime, we’ll work on not getting you eaten by the big bad monsters.”

Aegis smiled, “Out of all the things I think the darkspawn will do, eating me is not my biggest worry.”

The night was long, and active, as the four of them chased the darkened and his darkspawn minions through the city, herding him into an area that it was safe for them to fight him in.

Flora was frowning as she looked over the clawed wounds in Aegis’s side, her bracelets sprouting flowers as she attempted to magically heal the wound.

“That’s about as much as I can do, sorry Aegis.”

She grimaced as the wound were touched again, “S’fine. I can hide this without too much trouble. I’m just glad for once they didn’t go for you.”

Flora gave her a sympathetic smile as Aegis let her sword and shield and armour evaporate, changing back into her mortal appearance, hoody and sneakers not at all beaten up from the night’s activities.

Lucy quietly slipped back through her front door, the clock on the oven blinking that it was four in the morning at her, as she padded through into the bedroom.

Both of her siblings were still asleep, and she let out a sigh of relief as she stripped down, lying on the thing bed next to her sister’s.

Even though she had college in the morning, and even though she had been running all over the city, tiring herself out, when her head hit the pillow, her eyes remained open, looking up at the ceiling, images and memories flooding through her head.

It wasn’t uncommon for this to happen at night. The memories of failure, the worry of the women who was behind all of this, pulling the strings on her puppets. And most of the fear that something would happen to her siblings, that she wouldn’t be there, that she would fail to protect them if she was.

Lucy sighed again, turning her head to look at her sleeping sister.

As long as she lived and breathed, she wouldn’t stop fighting for them. No matter what.

So, to get back into the swing of writing, I’ve being doing some more of the flash fiction challenges. Just 1,000 or 1,500 word things. Helps get me back into the pattern of daily writing because none of my ongoing projects are speaking to me right now and I know I should be writing because I’ve been having a terrible month in that regard. To help with this I went back through the archives of one Chuck Wendig and pulled out the Friday challenges. I hadn’t been keeping up with them until this week, but they were still there and the inspiration still stands, so I’ve been doing a few of those. And I just kind of liked what I came out with today for this one, so I thought I’d post it.

New plan for the blog is a Monday/early week post about writing and a Thursday/late week post about dragons. That’s my minimum that I’m aiming for, so if I get more than that, I’ll call it a win. Look out for a dragon post tomorrow or Friday as well. But, without further rambling on by me, here’s some more flash fiction.

Must Contain a Map

                Iva finished one last symbol, and then reached out to drop her quill back into the pot of ink, she’d clean it out later. Making a ‘come’ motion with her fingers, the tiny fire sprite rolled over, settling onto the stone weight in the corner before it flared up slightly, waves of warmth spreading out over the roll of parchment, the ink drying out, a rippling effect outwards from where the sprite sat.

She sighed as she leaned back, yet another request for a map completed. Looking around the oddly shape room, there were maps, both finished and unfinished, hanging up all around, the walls only seen in a few places now that their business was booming.

The fire sprit chirped at her, and she looked back down to the map as it rolled away. Carefully, she rolled it up into a tight scroll, then rummaging around in the single drawer under the desk, finding a ribbon to tie the map up with.

A thud, a jingle, and floor gently shook underneath her. Good thing she had finished the map when she did, not least because the dragonborn was the customer who has requested this rush job.

Petting the fire sprite, she exited the room, scroll in hand, and went down to the main shop area, giving her cousin a quick head ruffle as he hid behind the doorframe, eyes huge at the massive creature that stood in the middle of the shop.

“You did say a rush job would mean three hours,” the deep, rumbling voice said.

“I did, although you did ask for a very complicated job Dagnath, I’m sure it will done soon.”

“Now, in fact,” Iva smiled as the dragonborn and her Uncle Aldrick, “The map that you requested sir, finished but a minute ago.”

Dagnath took the scroll from her used delicately used one claw to untied the ribbon, rolling out the scroll so he could examine it.

“Excellent detail, a very fine map indeed.”

Iva came him a small smile of appreciation, then moved back, letting her uncle, who looked a little relieved at her timing, take over to manage the business part of the transaction.

As she was turning to walk back to her work room, she noticed a human, male, curiously examining some of the maps that were framed on the wall, examples of what they could produce. He was wearing cloth, not quite robes, but she recognised some of the symbols and paraphernalia hanging from his belt. An arcane caster of some kind.

He twitched slightly, and then looked up, noticing her watching him. Iva ducked her head away, not wanting to be rude, and gave her cousins another head ruffle as she went back up to her room to resume work on another map.

Sunset came, throwing long shadows over her work, and Iva decided to stop, putting her pen down, before stretching her arms up to the ceiling. The tiny fire sprite, which kept her company, rolling around the desk most of the time, was given a tiny lump of coal, good to keep it occupied for the night, before she left the room.

Leaving her family to dinner, she kissed her uncle’s cheek as he wrestled with one of the twins over the ladle, and left the shop, walking into town.

Stopping by her usual bar, she picked up a bottle of sweet wine, and exited out into the cooling air, walking along her familiar path to the outskirts of town, and up the hill, to the forest of the natural landscape around the town.

Here she could drink her wine in peace, and she could look over one side to see the town sprawled out beneath her, and on the other, the tamed expanses of nature, growing darker as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.

“Mind if I join you?”

Iva looked up, blinking as she recognised the arcanist from the shop, earlier in the day, “Uh. No. Not really.”

He flopped down on the grassy hill, sprawling out as he relaxed, “Nice confluence up here.”

“Sorry?”

“Confluence. Place where magical rivers join up with each other? No?” he frowned, “Sorry, thought you were a caster, you’ve got a pact after all.”

Iva looked down at the back of her hand, where an invisible symbol was etched onto the back of her hand, “Oh, no. That got done for me by a sorcerer in town. And it’s just to the smallest fire sprite you could ever meet. Kept happy with firewood, otherwise I’d never maintain it. I’m not a mage at all, or anything else really. Just a commoner.”

“A commoner who makes exceptionally good maps.”

She shrugged, “Have to earn money somehow.”

He smiled, “Quinn, by the way.”

“Iva.”

“So what brings you up here Iva?”

“The view. And it’s quiet. Well, normally. Ah, sorry, that probably came out wrong.”

Quinn smiled, “No offense taken. Adventurers, by our very nature, tend to intrude on things.”

“You’re with the dragonborn, Dagnath?”

“Aye, I’m with him. And a few others as well, of course.”

“Going up to the Phirith region, yes?”

“Well you did draw us the map.”

Iva gave a small smile, “The city up there is meant to be spectacular, surrounded by water on three sides, they’ve never had a drought, the architecture is astounding, I’ve seen pictures,” she paused for a second, “I’d love to visit someday,” she said quietly, internally anticipating the next question.

“Tied down with the family?” Quinn looked over at her sympathy on his face.

Iva blinked, and looked over at him, startled by the lack of the typical response, “Not tied down per se. Well, yes. But I love them, it’s no burden to stay here.”

“Your uncle runs the shop, but you make the maps? I guess even if you wanted to take a holiday that would mean less, even no money being earned.”

“There’s a small backlog of standard maps, but mostly the custom work and the rush jobs bring in the most money. And everywhere I’d want to visit is pretty far away,” she studied him a little closer, “You know, this isn’t how this conversation with adventurers usually goes.”

“Oh, I can imagine. ‘Well why don’t you? Just up and leave, it’s easy.’ That sort of thing?”

Iva nodded.

Quinn smiled, and shook his head, “Adventurers are funny people. And I know the irony of saying that as one myself. We don’t really have the ties that normal people have, family, jobs, friends. Well, okay, that last one is a bit of an overstatement. I have lots of friends. But, getting up and walking out the door into the wide world? Yeah, not as easy as people think.”

“Not everyone wants to either. I mean, I’d love to visit places, but, I love my family, and I like my work, I do. That, and going around, killing monsters, camping out, actual down to earth adventuring? Yeah, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.”

“It is really exciting. About twenty percent of the time. Seventy percent is travelling and camping and moving, and the other ten percent is trying to find money to buy all the things we need to keep living and adventuring. Honestly, I have no idea why I still do it.”

Iva looked back over him, and there was a smirk on his face as he talked, looking up at the stars.

“Liar.”

Quinn grinned at her in response. Then shifted forward, and drew a symbol in front of him, “Name a place.”

“Sorry?”

“A place you want to visit. Name one.”

Iva blinked, “Uh, Oresmitt.”

“Haven’t been there, pick again.”

“Brulon then.”

There was another symbol, and a shimmering surface expanded over the grass in front of them, resolving itself into an image of a city.

Iva felt her mouth fall open slightly, leaning forward on her knees as she examined the city from, well, it would be the point of view of Quinn’s memories she suspected. She could see the stout building’s that were typical of dwarven architecture, a pub on every street, sometimes two, and lots of the smaller sized humanoids bustling about, flowing around the viewpoint as it moved around the city.

“Might be second hand visiting, but I think it still counts right?” Quinn still had the grin on his face as Iva looked up at him.

“Yeah, it can count.”

Quinn hadn’t been to everywhere in the world, mostly the northern and north-eastern parts, but that was still a view that she’d never had the chance to have before, and she was ecstatic as he showed her his memories of the various places he’d visited.

Midnight had drawn near, and the bottle of wine had been drunk, as they walked back down the hill to the town again.

“Thank you. Really, that was…so nice of you.”

“Nice?” Quinn laughed, “I’ll take nice.”

Iva ducked her head and blushed, then looked over to him again, “I know you said you’re going tomorrow, but, if you ever do come back this way, look me up again. I don’t suppose I’ll have gone anywhere. And, well, I’d love to see your memories of Phirith.”

Standing on tip toes to reach, she kissed him on the cheek, and then turned away to walk back to the shop.

“Count on it!”

Iva smiled to herself, without turning back as Quinn called out after her. If he really did come back, then she was looking forward to more second hand visiting.

map_of_eltar_by_fragless

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