The Cost (A Particular History 3) {RW}

Cynthia’s dreams are cyclical. The way she could weave images together and create false realities so grounded and potent was a brilliant feat. She could erase their very existence in a few choice words. It was an act of strength to destroy that which was created. I always envied her capability. In her hands she held the very fabric of time and space each moment she took to breathe. She was also an excellent liar.

Cynthia used to speak of far off places and sword fights. She dreamed of technicolor swirling waterfalls that cascaded into endless seas of silver and of floating castles that lived amongst the clouds yearning to touch the ground. She spoke of mysterious towns covered in the fog of always midnight where shadows lived and lurked haunting the inhabitants who never had arrived to begin with. When she was sixteen, she told me of floating to another world in her dreams where the man in black greeted her and asked her for a promise. She did not give it to him. Instead she followed him through unending staircases to stores she could list off in languages that I did not name.

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This is Love {RW}

This is Love {RW}

She didn’t like the way that we were always together. She didn’t like the way that I would whisper to you in the night, or how you would giggle with me at our own personal jokes. She didn’t like when we rearranged her terribly organized house. She didn’t like us.

It is not so surprising. I have found that many people tend to lose their rationality when it comes to me. They twist about spouting words, red faced, and bathed in fear. How could I possibly be here? How could I intrude on their lives? I have long grown used to the calloused looks away, and the way that they pretend that I don’t exist. But you saw me.

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Echo {RW}

Echo {RW}

The echo of voices started soft. A siren song luring the mind deeper into the darkness. She knew she shouldn’t approach. Her mother had told her to avoid the voice when it came for her. 

The first time she had heard the voice was when she was ten. For a decade she had fought it off in her nightmares. It would come in the grey of the night as the wind lulled her to sleep. It started as a distant wordless vocalization that grew closer with each breath. She learned that voice was beautiful, but it could not be followed. She had to pretend that she did not hear its twisting serenade harmonizing with itself as the echo grew.

She had once asked her mother what the voice was. Her mother had claimed that the voice was calling them home. Her mother believed that they had left some strange land to come to this one. The voice was a calling to return, but they could not. Their homeland was dangerous, terrible; they had left it on purpose.

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Concinnity {RW}

Concinnity {RW}

The world slowed as Tony took the hit of magic, directly protecting Tiana. She fell to the ground with his body on top of her. For a moment everyone stood silently, waiting on baited breath for him to rise. They watched as Tiana’s shaking hands grasped her brother’s body, pulling him closer to her. They could hear her saying his name over and over again.

“Tony. Are you okay?”

“Tony.”

“Anthony, this is not funny.”

“Anthony?”

“Tony?”

“Please. Tony. Please…”

“No. No. No. nonononononononono.”

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One Aunt Grace (A Particular History 2) {RW}

One Aunt Grace (A Particular History 2) {RW}

Cynthia always said the door was an oak one. The description of this door changed all the time, but the wood was always oak. It may have been painted red (with white swirls and gold twist knobs and hinges) or bleached oak (with a brass keyhole and a peephole painted black). It sometimes was as large as ten feet and other times just big enough for her to squeeze through at six years old. Most of the time it was a standard seven foot tall, dark brown door with a black handle that could only be pushed down, and squeaked when it tried to move open. It was, however, always oak.

Cynthia doesn’t have a key. Not in the way that Cyndy and I do — or rather I do, as Cyndy lost hers far too long ago. Cynthia does know, however, that her aunt had one. Aunt Grace had a long black iron key that she held on her at all times. Cynthia said it was far too heavy for her to ever hold. (Which was not saying much as the last time Cynthia had been to Aunt Grace’s was when she had been no more than eight and she had been a very weak child.)

Cynthia had only ever gotten a glimpse into the room once — although she swears she had never seen the room open in her life. This attic door, she claimed, was the gateway to a back attic room stuff full of old brown boxes and a single window looking to the outside. The exterior roofline of the house had no such window. And while Cynthia says that’s what she saw, she will likewise swear that it never opened. It never could open. It never should have been opened.

Continue reading “One Aunt Grace (A Particular History 2) {RW}”

The Birth of Valor {RW}

The Birth of Valor {RW}

Alayne stood, white cloth in her hands. The Arena was filled with thunderous cheers and applause. There had to be millions of them watching her, sitting, teetering in excitement as she had stepped out to the grounds. Dust swirled in the air about her as she walked, the heels of her boots silent upon the gravel leaving not a trace as she maneuvered inward. The air was fresh that day, with the slight sting of chill that came with the early spring mornings. It smelt as new hope and rejuvenation often did. With a breath in Alayne filled her lungs with the best of it, steadying herself with the cloth in her hands, her hair swayed behind her tied up high in the ponytail that she had placed it in earlier.

Her ears prickled at the sound of the cheers filled with veneration and anticipation. Her name was repeated over and over again: A-layne A-layne A-layne. High above her, seated in the only balcony seating of the Arena, sat the King of the great land. His hair was black as night tumbling down his back in waves. His eyes were dark as night as well and his skin the color of a deep oak. His skin swirled in the tattoos, shimmering in a gold dust, that glowed from an inner light within him. Teeth sharp as his eyes, he sat adorned in golds and reds, facing her as she faced him, their eyes connected despite the distance. Besides him sat his foreign queen of ice white hair and startling blue eyes, her skin the color of the lightest ash wood that Alayne had ever known. Her tattoos were like the lines of a tree, working their way along her body in a color not so dissimilar from her skin tone.

Their children, still yet saplings with grey hair, jumped about in fright and wonder as they spoke to their parents in awe and fascination. Their skin was still green, of the lightest newborn leaves, as they had not yet come of age, matured, become one of the clans. In time a tree would call them, and in time they would swear themselves to her beckoning cry. With it they would change, and become one of her, their coloring changing to match her whim and their allegiance to her. For now, they were but children, watching her with the King of these lands and the Clan Elders of far too many others.

This day had brought at least one clan leader from each of the Clans. She saw an Ash and two from the Oaks. There was Maple, Fig, Birch, and Willow. She knew there were Beech and Cherry, Chestnut and Magnolia, Pine, Spruce, Juniper, and Elm. She wondered if Redwood and Cypress had arrived, as they traveled the greatest distance. Hickory, Larch and Cedar had arrived late that night, although she could not see their representatives now. Aspen, Gum, and Fir were in one corner away from Hemlock and Mahogany. She could not see all the Clan leaders of the major and their minor clans, but she knew they would not miss this day. None wanted to miss this day. They had traveled from all over the world, from secluded woods and major cities. They had shut down the bustling economies and placed armistices on wars, all for this day.

Today was the day Alayne was set to die.

She looked over the white cloth as she had for hours prior. She would not be able to see through it. With that, was her only protection. The spells were woven into the fibers of the cloth with a careful and steady hand. The lightest silver and blue threads shimmered in the morning sun, reminding Alayne of the time and care that went into the making of this cloth. It was her only lifeline, for not even she could trust herself to keep her eyes closed.

Once more, Alayne looked up to the crowds. Millions of Clankin cheered her on singing her praises and repeating her name. They were not alone, however. She could see a multitude of other races within the stands, of all parts of the world. They did not have the pointed ears of the Clankin, the only unifying feature they all had where the length and shape varied. Only Clankin had the sharp points at the tops of their long ears. Only Clankin identified themselves by their mother tree and not the land in which they were born. Clankin fought deadly wars amongst each other but grudges were often forgotten when new members came with outside perspectives, chosen by their mother tree to join the Clan. The outsiders may have come to see the great battle, but they would remain outsiders, and unaware of the importance of the day.

Alayne placed the cloth around her eyes and the world silenced around her. The white cloth made everything dark where no light could be seen. Her ears prickled at the slightest sounds and her skin moved based on the slightest breeze. Her hand went to her weapons, checking them one last time, each one chiming at her touch as their glass blades delighted. Her fingers stopped on the short sword of silver and woven magic; the killing blade it had been called.

“Are you ready?” The voice of the King commanded the silence that had befallen the moment she had made her final move.

“I am.” She spoke to him, to her people, to the world.

Today was the day Alayne was set to die.

She heard the sound of unified casting. She pictured the mages’ magic circling about and expanding outwards, high into the sky at the edges of the arena. Their magic would nullify the gaze of the beast, to protect those who watched. The magic was not perfect, as no magic was, but it would negate the cost of complete casualties. Those unfortunate enough to witness the gaze would fall ill or paralyzed but they would not die, not with the best healers in all of the world attending. All knew the risks of attending; all knew what was to come.

The sound of gates opening, and the beat being let lose was accompanied by screams of terror and additional battle magic. Alayne wished she were a mage, but she was not yet with magic, too young to touch its influence, too young to know its love. She was alone, with her weapons and her trained body, nothing else. She pictured the beast in her mind from the drawings and the stories. Born from a serpent egg, fertilized by magic, hatched by a cockerel, the Basilisk would have been huge for how long it had terrorized the lands. The magicians slated with its creation had already been judged, but it was time to kill the beast. Its breath so venomous that Alayne’s skin burned as soon as it breathed in her direction.

This was not the type of battle a sapling should be facing. Without magic, without a mother tree, without a true name. She was alone in the Arena facing a monster that teams and heroes struggled to take down. She would do it alone or not at all. She knew that the body of this beast was that of a snake while the head was that of a bird. It had wings and could fly but they had been clipped for this battle, for her, and for the safety of those who watched.

Alayne moved first, glass blades out throwing them at the creature, their spells activating and purifying the air around her as they hit the ground and their target. The beast screamed and Alayne ran, silver weapon out and skin screaming at her to flee. She counted the paces, listened to the wind, and felt her target moved. It had tried to kill her at this point, but what she could not see would not kill her. She sliced upwards, resulting in the scream of the monster, and she jumped back before its blood could melt her away into nothing.

The dance began, with its retaliation. She felt it lunge towards her and as she spun away, she threw out another set of glass daggers their song of breaking glass pacifying her ears as she continued to fight. She swung her silver sword again, stepping into movements that had been ingrained in her to hide and to fight. The silver cut through the beast with ease, chopping its wings off with a terrible screech. She did not relax, encroaching the beast with a series of jumps and slashes until she was certain she had taken its head.

With a thud she landed, and waited on bated breath, sheathing her sword as she reached up to her face and removed the blind fold. The moment it was past her eyes she was blinded by the mid-morning sun. The air around her was thick in its miasma and fog, frothing and bubbling, eroding her and the clothes, but all at once a great chill filled the area as Mages purified the air, and a tremendous cheer went up through the crowd. A-layne A-layne A-layne. The King sat smiling in his chair as the children beside him released their grip of their mother, who smiled as well.

Alayne rose her fist holding the white cloth to the sky, her green skin marred by black poisoned scars that would take time to heal but would heal all the same. Another roar went up in the crowd with her actions before she started towards the exit, pulling her curls from their ponytail and finally looking to the beast she had slain. Its body was a mess and its blood was a bright green that had ignited fire to the dirt around it. She turned once more and led herself through the exit, and to where her steed stood waiting for her safe return.

Alure was the color of a clear summer sky, turning itself towards her as she approached, stomping its hooves in anticipation of their next journey. Once the saddle was placed, Alayne got on Alure reigns directing them outwards and towards the streets. From a walk to a trot, Alure raced into a gallop as soon as they left the long corridor, out into the city. Caliburn glittered and shined in the daylight, the largest of the Clankin cities and the home to the King of the Clankin, this city had been her home for the entirety of her life. Surrounded on all sides by a plateau, the only way in and out were by the mountainous trails or by sky on skymounts.

Alayne and Alure rushed away from the Arena that was beginning to empty and through the barren city past the inns and taverns, homes and stores, to the edge of Caliburn and into the trees that surrounded it. The Great Forest contained one of every tree, at least, with one type of all other flowers and plants that could exist on land. The Forest hummed with bristling excitement as Alayne and Alure made their way to the great fall and the oldest tree in the world. She lay at the edge of the plateau near the Northern waterfall, the only one of which that moved up, instead of down, towards Caliburn instead of away like the Southern waterfall. She healed all waters of impurities and granted all Clan claims. Like her father before her and her grandmother before him, going generations back to the first of the Kings and Queens, the World Tree had always granted her family’s tree affiliation.

Different trees stood for different causes, different meanings, different philosophies. Clankin were permitted to choose their own Clan, offering themselves to the trees and accepting their rejection should it come. For those who offered them and were rejected, they would be claimed in dreams by another tree. Some were claimed before they had the chance to be rejected. Other times Clankin would journey to the capitol to offer themselves to the World Tree so that she may assign the kin personally. Most opted to speak to the Great Forest instead of disturbing the Great Mother, but her family could only be blessed by the her will. They mother claimed her family despite their colorings correlating to other Clans.

When a sapling became mature, they were dyed the colors of their Clan and tree. Their skin was marked in the blessing marks of the Clan bestowed by the trees in the form of elaborate tattoos and designs. In most cases these markings were but a shade lighter or darker, without standing out. Clan Elders dyed theirs white and black in permanent ink, and saplings had none. For three generations her family had been of the Oak, strong, resilient, wise, with the markings of the Great Mother.

Today was the day Alayne was set to die.

Alure raced them towards the edge despite Alayne’s protests. Alure had always been stubborn but she had not anticipated such a detour. “Where are we going?”

The horse did not respond as the raced over the edge of the cliff that had come suddenly and without warning. Alayne felt her heart leap from her chest as Alure’s hooves collided with what felt like solid ground and they took off into the air. A laugh bubbled at her throat for a moment before it raptured into giggles and delight. Alure ran through the sky having come of age as a skyhorse the same day that Alayne was to come of age herself.

It was said that a sky horse knew when it could fly, and it alone would know. The experts could hypothesize and guess but there would be no guarantees. When a sky horse could fly it would want to, and the first moment Alure had gotten to attempt to fly had been this day, the day Alayne was unmade.

The two made their way to the northern falls from the sky, arriving at the World Tree, where she stood waiting and blowing in the softest breeze. Quick to dismount, Alayne hurried over to learn of her destiny. Dropping to her knees in the shallow waters, Alayne reached for a root and breathed out all her apprehension. A wave of love washed over her and when Erimentha stood she was no longer a sapling.

Chosen by the Willow and the Great Mother, Erimentha’s skin was outlined in not gold but bronze. For a moment she starred at the tree perturbed and frustrated, yet no malice formed.

“We had always believed you’d be my heir.” Her father spoke from behind her. She knew his voice anywhere and knew that with him came the Elders and her siblings. She had lived her whole life as the daughter of love produced by her mother and father who had not been married. he had been claimed by them both and when their love had fallen apart, she had stayed with her father. Her step mother had raised her but was not of her the way that her father was. She had fought and trained, studied and learned until there was no more to learn, and yet she was not chosen. She had always hoped that she could be chosen by the World Tree to lead the Clans, to be their pillar of support, to be their Queen, and yet she was not chosen.

Her Clan was Willow, which was not problem, but her markings were bronze not gold. She was royalty but not the heir. One of her other three siblings would have the honor.

Erimentha turned to those who had gathered in haste to witness her rebirth into maternity. The King, her father, stood examining her as if he were seeing her for the first time. She was not his Alayne, precious first daughter and child of his first love. “Erimentha.” She supplied to him and them all, her new name, “Willow.” She then gave her clan. “Aura.” In time her magic affiliation would manifest into fruition but for now she knew under which path she would walk. There was a chorus of whispers as the Elders whispered about themselves, colluding and plotting, considering her circumstances and planning alliances not yet formed.

“We should return to the palace.” Her step-mother spoke in a lush soft voice. “To celebrate my dear Eri.” She gave Erimentha a nickname, as if it had always been Erimentha’s nickname.

“I was given a destiny.” She spoke ignoring the chatter and the offer to return home. Her words startled those around her. It was rare that newly rooted kin would be given a plight to follow as dictated by the World Tree. Often times they came in dreams, if they came at all. Destinies were provided to rare few in order to protect, guide, and shape the Clankin and the Clans. “I am to find a boy, a boy not yet born. I know naught his name. I know naught his origin. I know naught his appearance.” The difficult thing about destinies were that there was limited information given. Little could be given, as the world was constantly shaping and evolving. She did not know why she had to find him, or what his significance would be. What she did know, however would be enough to find him. “Metal will breathe when he touches it, and magic will bend at his command. His will shall wrought the world.”

She saw how the words concerned the audience before her. A powerful mage was a danger to the balance of the world.

“And when you find him?” Her father asked.

Protect him. “I will fight heaven and earth for him.” Erimentha faced those who were likely to become her destined enemies seeing them for the first time as an adult without the rose light of youth. They, too, knew that she may become her enemy in the future. Mages were a danger and had to be regulated. The Great Mother gave destinies that were both noble and vile, with little distinction between them until retrospect and historians were able to analyze them. Time had to pass before they would know what she was to become.

Alure trotted over to Erimentha’s side and stood at her side, facing the Clan Elders and the King of the Clankin. The weight of the knowledge pressured them all. At this moment she was but herself, a warrior who had defeated great evils before maturity. The daughter of the King, and great talent. Alayne may have been dead but Erimentha had taken the mantle that would never be erased.

“Do you have a date for when he shall be born?” Her father asked.

“I do.” She starred him down daring him to ask her. He would not.

“Then for now we are not enemies. Come, we have celebrations to attend.” He held his hand out to her, and she stepped forward to take it. In the dark of the night she would leave. She would train in the academies across the world. She would learn and grow. She’d spread her legacy and control, creating a network and web to support her charge once she found him. She would leave that night as to give herself ample time to prepare for his coming, but for the day she’d let her celebrate.

Today was the day Alayne was set to die and the day that Erimentha, The Valiant, was born.


Hello all! I know that I forgot to post on Monday. Sorry. I really am. I’m still trying to get back into posting regularly, which includes YP. I have book boxes, tea, and reviews for you coming soon. I swear.

MM

A Day in the Redwoods (A Particular History 1) {RW}

A Day in the Redwoods (A Particular History 1) {RW}

I was ten…

I think, at least. The older I get, the less I remember, and the more, I’m sure, I make up. The details of our exact age are negligible, however. I know that this had to have happened before the 7th grade, because by that time it was too late (for that’s when I met Cynthia, and I know I had the key by the time I met Cynthia). I might have been eleven, but I’m almost certain I were ten, and that she was eleven.

Me and Cyndy, that is. This is not to be confused with Cynthia who is a year younger than me, that I met on the bus. No, Cyndy is a year older than me. Cynthia and Cyndy look the same, eye color, hair color, skin colors (almost). They aren’t related. Obviously. They share the same name, afterall (although I call Cynthia – Cyndy, and bus Cynthia is just Cynthia). Their family circumstances are completely different. And their temperaments? Night and Day. Cynthia is the kind of girl who will stay home and get high, telling stories of wondrous worlds, and making you question the whos and the whats and the why we ares. Cyndy is the kind of girl who goes shopping (always), uses credit cards like money grows on trees, and parties till the sun rises, with new people all the time.

Both are lovely.

Either way, this was, before Cynthia. It was only Cyndy and me, and our families, who have been family friends since we were born. We were in the woods. The two of us swear by fact that it was the Redwoods, but the older I get the more that seems like nonsense. It could have been another national park or state park we went to, not that it matters, what happened isn’t possible in any of them. So, I’ll say it was the Redwoods, and that’s where we’ll begin.

I was ten, standing under the towering trees of red, that reached up so high into the sky that I was afraid I’d break my back trying to stare up. I never did see the tops of them. And the trees were wide, so large that cars could go through, so massive that I felt so insignificant, so tiny, so childlike. This was how I found the whismy that came from the freedom of nature. It was so powerful, and I was so small. It was so beautiful, and I knew that no matter what I ever tried to do or say, I would never be able to give the woods the justice that they deserved.

I would never be able to properly describe it.

We were hiking, or rather going for a walk, the nine of us (my family of five and Cyndy’s family of four). Our parents kept an eye on us, but they let us wander. Never get too far. If we can’t see them, then we need to go back. Always have a buddy, and for me that was Cyndy. Cyndy and I ran along the path, looking at the trees. Or maybe only I was running, whispering to them. For I’m pretty certain that at this time Cyndy thought I was strange, not that she doesn’t think I’m strange now, but that we are sisters now and back then we were only friends. (Sisters can think eachother are strange, but friends? That is a possible deal breakers. We’ve been through enough to no longer care.)

Cyndy chased after me, telling me I was going too far down the paths. We had picked a way to go when the road forked and I wanted to go further. I did. Hurrying along, we came to a shop, in the center of an intersection of paths. It was not one of those pop-up shops, but a freestanding building, with a few other shops around it. Different and odd names, candy stores, books and maps, and the antique store that was two floors. It was this store that Cyndy and I went into.

What’s important to note about this, is that when we left the shop, keys in hand, joy on our lips in the form of laughter, we had fully intended to come back. We wanted to go to the candy store next door, but Cyndy and I did not believe we would receive anything for free as we had from the antique store. We had run to find our parents, them not particularly worried. We hadn’t been gone too long. What had felt like forever to us, had been no more than a minute or two. And when we led them to where we had seen the shops, they were gone. Our family told us we might have taken the wrong way, Cyndy and I knew better.

The shops were there. And then they weren’t. All that remained, for me, was a small golden key, to no real door, hanging around a black velvet string. A key that I still have. A key that has never opened a single door, and is constantly a peculiarity to me.

The antique shop was filled, like those book stores where the items tower high and in arcs, a maze of a mess, with no real direction through the madness. Mirrors of all shapes and sizes resting on the walls, with name plates under them or written on them of strange characters or places we had never heard of. And if you starred long enough into one, it was almost like you were starring into another world behind you.

There were paintings too, with time periods, no name or artist, of different people and places. There were door frames with no doors. Doors with no frame, leaning against the wall. Walls and walls of shelves, shelves in the middle of the room. Tables thrown about in every which way, laying on their side, their face, from the ceiling. Books that were all about, locked up tight behind glass or laid open on stacks atop the accessories in the room. Tea cups, postcards, record players. The longer one looked, the more one saw. Bird cages, pianos, metal candle holders and pots, instruments, wind chimes. Vases, plants, bottles, clothes, hangers, clocks. And locks. There were so many locks. Locks on books, on doors, on door frames, on mirrors, hanging from the ceiling, lining the floor.

Locks.

And there was a staircase, that was narrow and tight, leading up to a second floor, beckoning us forward.

“Can I help you?” The only worker there was the man in white. He was dressed in a white button down, with a white mustache, and stark white hair, and black pants. He had a white apron and white gloves on, with black framed glasses and the whitest teeth we’d ever seen. He told us his name then, but neither Cyndy nor I remember it now. He was a young man, no more than twenty-five, but his eyes held wisdom of a person of more than a hundred, and neither of us knew how young he truly was until we talked about it later.

We told him we were just looking, and he showed us around the shop, to all the locks and mirrors and pictures and books. To the toys and clothes and desks and nooks. To the corners where we could crawl through tapestries, and the secret back room where the candy store kept their candy. The man in white led us through this shop for hours, telling us stories about all that we pointed out.

Then we went upstairs.

Upstairs was dark, it was not filled with the light of a hundred lamps, like the downstairs was. Nor was their sound, which until going to the second floor we had not realized that there was an ambience of light jazz music playing on the floor below. Upstairs was lit by glow in the dark bottles and potions, and paint that dusted the sides of the walls like constellations. With a flick of his wrist the man in white lit a candle that then lit another and another until the room was glowing in the blue glow of the dark light potions and the soft amber of flame.

There were tables here, decorated in strange artifacts, however the table of note, and the one of importance, was the table of keys. It was not until we were leaving the upstairs that we had realized that the walls and floor were covered in keys, hidden behind painted glass, thousands of them. All different. On the table, however, there were only five set on thick black velvet.

The first key was silver, small, with a deer decorating the top of the key for the loop. It had three prongs, and odd runes that made strange words that the man in white could read.

The second was black, two prongs, big and heavy, made of iron, he said. The handle was too big for my hand, and the loop at the end was nothing special, until he waved a candle over it and it glowed from the inside.

The third was my key, the one I ended up taking. A gold key, larger than the first, much smaller than the second, three rivets in a row, with a loop at the end that was shaped almost like a heart with design that looked like leaves.

The fourth was silver again, but this time it had painted veins of blue that pulsated as it grew cold and dark around the key. It was large, but not too large, and was cut as a modern key was, despite looking so old.

The last was bronze, with a large loop at the end, of three circles wrapped around each other to form a globe, with a crystal hanging from the inside. The key blade itself was just a long rod, that looked like nothing more than a stick, until it was moved and one could see the indentations imbedded into the metal, creating grooves.

Each key had a task or a weight, something that had to be given to take.

The first was a promise, to give one that could never be taken back or broken or else. The second was of heat, of passion. Glory could be achieved but would it be worth it? The fourth was for stability, a million worlds could be reached, but no true home would be found. The fifth was a soul. Whose? The man in white would not say.

The third was “you will know.”

I still do not know.

“Take a key, or leave. You don’t have to take one. But you can.”

“Can we both take one?” We had asked.

“You may.”

I took the third key of gold and Cyndy took the first key of silver, promising never to lose it. She last saw the key when she was twelve, under her bed, not where she had left it, and then she never saw it again. I am not sure what she gave to lose it, or what she lost when she lost it. Was it the chance at opening doors? I will never know.

The man had told us not to worry about paying, for payment was already made and then we ran downstairs, and away, the man in white waving at us from the counter. A beautiful man.

It was only upon looking back, when much older, that Cyndy and I realized just how strange and wrong it all had been. We could have been lost forever. We could have been hurt. And despite having full faith in the man in white, the shop was just so strange, so unreal, so magical that both of us chose to ignore it existed, disregarding the fact that I still had my key and no logical answer could be given to how I got it. My parents didn’t remember buying it for me. I had never gotten it as a gift. And thus we were stuck realizing that the two of us in our naive world had wandered onto something unfathomable, and unreachable ever again.

When I was seventeen, Cyndy and I were out shopping when we both stopped. There across the busy shopping center we both swore we saw him, but when we chased him to ask, we found ourselves not only wandering back from where we had come, but certain we had not saw him at all. I believe this, too, was his magic.

When I met Cynthia in the seventh grade, she had said some strange things to me. Of note was one strange man in all black that she had met once at her aunts house who had come to get a key from her aunt, with sharp white teeth. He had wanted the key from an attic long locked. Her aunt had died a few months later, in a mysterious fire that started in the same room. Apparently no one had ever opened a door, so she never did know if he had gotten the key. It was this same strange man that the two of us swore we saw on the bus one day when it was stopped at a light, starring at us from a gas station parking lot waving.

That was when Cynthia had seen my gold key and asked me what it was worth and to which I replied: “I do not know.” I still do not know.

There are strange things surrounding the Cynthias and I, very strange things that I can not place. But this key, I have never lost, despite trying to. I have always remembered. And somehow for some reason, I feel like it is as a part of me as I am to it.

And I am still waiting for the door, the door that I might be able to use this key on. I have not found it yet, not for lack of trying. But I know that when I do, that is when I’ll know what it costs.


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Of the Shadows {RW}

Of the Shadows {RW}

One breath. Two.

She slipped through the alley, masking her footsteps to match the bustling noise of the nightlife and the pitter patter of the rain. Light footsteps hiding her actions, in order to disguise her and make her disappear. The night was busy with cars and honking, letting her sound drift away as her body shimmered out of sight with the flickering of the nights.

Two breaths. Three.

Street lights, like all lights, created a circle. It was the halo of protection from beings like her. Those who lived in it, would not — could not– be touched by her. Cities such as these were a killer to her kind. However, the brightest cities had the darkest corners.

Three breaths. Four.

She had lived for long enough, been burned enough, to know how to avoid the lights, to skip around them in a dance as she moved about the world to capture her prey that was lying in wait. Hood over her head, she walked with a sucker in her mouth, humming to herself as she stepped closer.

Four breaths. Five.

The man was cowering and tumbling to the ground. She could smell the stench of sweat and piss dripping down his leg to a puddle on the ground. Then there was the blood. That was what really drew her. She would never lose him as long as his leg bled the way that it did.

Five breaths. Six.

The shadows were tossing about around her, hungry. They were so hungry. Their last meal had not been long, but the shadows were greedy, and that made her ruthless. She aimed to only go after scum. Those who hurt their partners, murderers, and hurt children. She had a set of morals that most of her people found painful. The light-dwellers were not their own. Thus, they were like any other form of live stock. Good or bad live stock? Such things were negligible.

Six breaths. Seven.

She still cared anyway.

Seven breaths. Eight.

She stood over the man, as he panicked and had hit a wall. He starred up at her, fear rampant in his eyes, as the lights around her flicked until they dimmed. They could not go out, as that would draw notice, but dimming was okay.

Eight breaths.

“Monster.” He called her. As if she hadn’t heard that one before. He was not the talkative type. Nor the fighter type. He was already resigned to his death, and this final statement was nothing more than a cry for help.

Hand out, the shadows devoured the man, leaving her basking in the cool wind of the night as her power returned from her, leaving nothing behind on the floor before her.

“What are you?” she heard from behind her.

She turned to find another girl standing in the light. Not one of her kind. She gave a name not an identity. “Emily.”

“Emily?” The girl in the light, furrowed her eyebrows. “What are you?”

“Its standard practice to give a name in response.” Her shadows filtered about her, condensing and retreating into the darkness.

“What are you?”

With a sigh, Emily was her name now, glared at the woman. “Not a vampire, if you’re wondering.”

“Obviously.”

“Leave.”

“Aren’t you–“

“Vampires are nicer than we are. Leave.” She took out the sucker stick in her mouth and dropped it to the ground stepping on it. The woman did not budge. Groaning to herself, she weaved her shadows to the back of the alleyway, and turned herself to leave. Her shadows consumed the alleyway, as she pulled out another lollipop and started walking towards the other exit. The screams sounded around her as she moved further and away, the muffled cries resonating in her as she moved.

Innocent blood tasted different than tainted blood. She felt it on her tongue as her shadows consumed the woman, and forced herself to eat more candy. The candy had to be more important than the lovely taste that came from the woman’s soul. She needed to keep her mind about her.

Skip in her step, she placed her hood lower, and put her hands in her pocket, walking out in to the light. Her shadows condensed around her and into her hood to protect her from the remaining street lights that she could almost walk under.


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Yule Tide Short Story {RW}

Yule Tide Short Story {RW}

The crisp air was scented in cinnamon and roasted chestnuts. The light flurry of falling snow, dusted surfaces that had been cleaned a few hours ago, silver metal becoming cooler to the touch with each passing second. It was the season of ice once more. Solstice had come and Midwinter was upon us. Today was the night that the feasting would begin, the sacrifices would begin, the celebrations would fester.

I breathed out deeply, trying to contain my excitement. My breath slipped out into the air, hot, visible, thick. Rubbing my hands together I let myself simmer in the upcoming festivities. The air stirred above us beckoning us to its grasp. The clouds were dark and spinning, the moon lighting the sky and peaking through when the clouds so wished.

Continue reading “Yule Tide Short Story {RW}”

Shelf-Life Hero (Part 2) {RW}

Shelf-Life Hero (Part 2) {RW}

It was raining. Again. Which was not to say that she hated rain, but that it was frustrating conditions to go through when she already had an arm injury that ached from the rain and made her curse the storms.

She’d been injured the first time, on the inside of her forearm, while maneuvering through a course in the rain. She’d been injured, once again on the same arm but the backside, in capture the flag, where she’d saved the flag from drowning in the river. She’d thought herself fine at the time, a few stitches, maybe some healing ointment, and it would be fine.

It was not fine.

Continue reading “Shelf-Life Hero (Part 2) {RW}”