Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The dying embers were all around, yet through the ashes I alone remained unchanged.
Newly born chicks were rising from their own ashes, squawking for my attention.
How tiring it was, to remain the same whilst others shed their old lives for a fresh start. The second chance was to be denied to me this season. I would have to ignore that simmering within my bones, the flames that yearned to consume all my gathered knowledge and experience.
No. My duty now was to flit through the ashes, to absorb all that the dying lives had released. All of their experiences, their joys and sorrows, all that these new chicks had forgotten were being drawn into myself.
I was to safeguard it all.
The memories of every past life, and the new lives that were just begun.
I was now the rising phoenix, the ever burning fire of my flock.
The lives of all the flock rested within my wings. Their future was entrusted to me. I would teach them their history, along with all that they would need to know about this world.
Should I fail, this generation could prove a dark one. Succeed, and the flock would prosper.
There was so much possibility with this new beginning, such opportunity for growth.
This was my turn to lead, and my first duty was to care for the chicks.
They had chosen me as their leader for this season, and I would not fail them.
Phoenix lives were long, as were their memories that were now gathered in my mind.
Drawing upon those memories, I gathered the chicks together.
With their bright young eyes focusing on me, I spoke of the new beginnings that awaited them.
For they were phoenixes, and had been given another chance to live.
And as I scanned the young faces of my flock, I wondered how they would use this new beginning.
Friday, December 26, 2014
1. Something new has caught your attention.
2. You encounter an old friend.
3.You can't stop thinking about a great book that you're in the middle of.
4. You've just began a new project.
5. You're at the end of a project.
6. Someone interrupted you while you were in the middle of working.
7. You're just so excited about something else.
8. You didn't get enough sleep.
9. You're hungry.
10. You've gotten sick.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Gathered around, the family exchanges gifts. Each gift had been given careful thought as to the person it would go to, and that forethought was rewarded by the happy faces of the recipients.
After the gifts were all opened, the family shared stories of times past as the children played with their new toys. The mood in the room was one of contentment, of the peace that comes from good company.
The family was gathered to celebrate, and celebrate they did.
In the simple deeds, the kind words.
The laughter of children, and the smiling eyes of the adults.
Each word and deed gave witness to that special time of the year. That time of year when families gather together, when carols are sung, and when strangers work together to bring to others the joy that they feel.
For some, these celebrations would cease at the end of the day. For others, till the month's end.
But for some, the happiness and love felt at this season will continue on, throughout the coming year.
For them, peace, hope, and joy are not limited to a single day in December.
Because the spirit of Christmas flows through every day of the year, for all those who remember the life of the babe born in Bethlehem.
Friday, December 19, 2014
1. To show that you were thinking about another.
2. To be kind.
3. To bring a smile to someone's face.
4. To help another.
5. As a way to share your talents.
6. To show that you would like to be friends.
7. To thank someone.
8. To show that you remember that this day is important to them.
9. Because you felt like sharing.
10. To show your love.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The road was wet.
Rain fell in a pitter-patter against the concrete, only to be splashed to and fro as people hurried about beneath their umbrellas.
The sky was a muted gray, while the trees in the park shown a brilliant green as they drank in the moisture.
The chill air held a slight burn as it was breathed in, and it became visible as a little cloud upon release.
The day was cold, while within the various buildings, the warmth of a heater beckoned for all to enter. From one place to another people scurried, making last minute preparations for the holiday celebrations they had planned.
Night seemed to arrive quickly at this time, the daylight fleeing far too soon and making some long for warm summer afternoons.
As the stars twinkled above, the temperature dropped further as the night dragged on. In their homes, people gathered around fireplaces, and nestled snugly underneath quilts.
When morning dawned, leaving the warmth of home to trudge through the cold day was not appealing, especially when there were hints that some were catching the flu.
But for those who were able, the journey of the day began yet again.
Only this time, no rain accompanied the people on their wintry walk.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The quiet growl of waves leaping onto the sandy shore and then slipping back into the sea was the second thing I noticed upon waking. The grit caking every inch of my aching form was third on the list.
The first was a familiar companion that I never seemed able to escape: fatigue.
Shifting, I managed to sit up and look out at the ocean. Memories flashed through my mind; falling into the waves, losing sight of the cliffs, and finally being caught up in some great storm.
Yet somehow, I had been brought back to the shore. Completely aching and without anything but my coyote tooth necklace, but at least I was alive.
Turning away from the ocean, I shakily stood. At the edge of the beach, strange trees loomed. Tall and narrow, the smooth bark was a greenish-brown. Drawing closer, it became obvious that this strange tree was common to this area, and a quiver that had nothing to do with hunger rumbled in my stomach.
Moving through the trees, I searched for fresh water. The strength of my thirst seemed made me wonder just how long I'd been caught in that storm.
Without my tools, I would have to rely on my wits and the magics I'd been born with. Finding a suitable patch of ground, I knelt and pressed my hand to the dirt.
Fresh water. Picturing streams, clear pools, and serene lakes, my magic trickled through the earth in all directions, seeking guidance from the foliage in finding a source of the precious liquid.
Outsider. The response caused my magic to recoil as the strange trees surrounding me shuddered as one, and some dead limbs thudded to the ground near me. Unnatural magic. Begone.
The dirt beneath my hand burned, and I jerked free of it with a gasp.
I'd been rejected!
Certainly some places had taken longer to respond to my pleas, but my magic had never been so violently rejected before. This magic was common everywhere I'd been, so why would it be rejected?
Getting to my feet, I studied one of the fallen limbs. Placing my hand over it, my voice was a dry rasp as I coaxed staff from the wood.
Although a staff did emerge from the larger piece of wood, strange veins of amber and blue ran through the entirety of the staff. But it fit my hand well, and gave me something to lean on.
Even with the staff, I was ready to collapse by the time I found a stream. Pebbles bit into my aching legs as I knelt and greedily drank, scarcely noticing the unusual taste beneath the refreshing chill of the liquid.
A twittering call from the other side of the stream caught my attention, and I looked up and stiffened.
A blue skinned creature floated above the ground on wings like a damselfly. Though it had a form like that of a women, it could not be human.
The creature's lips moved, releasing a sound like that of a bird. Then it frowned, and the sound changed to something more like speech, yet oddly crisp.
I shook my head. This creature was like nothing I had ever heard of, and matched none of the magical creatures that I had heard of or seen. "I don't know what you are."
The creature recoiled, black eyes narrowing as she studied me. Speaking this time in a tone that dripped like sap, she motioned at me.
Again I shook my head. "I don't understand you."
Tilting her head, the creature clucked her tongue and floated closer.
My hand shifted toward my staff. I wasn't sure if this creature was dangerous. "I don't want any trouble."
The creatures eyes flickered to my staff, and the creature seemed to freeze for a moment. Then she broke in to such a rapid chattering of birdlike sounds that I held up my hand to show her they were empty.
"Now, now, I'm not going to pick up my staff, okay?"
The creature pursed her lips, then pointed at herself and gave a low chirp. I frown, and she repeated the gesture and sound.
"Is that your... name?" I asked as she gave the chirp a third time. Concentrating, I attempted to repeat the sound and motioned toward her.
The creature clapped her hands and warbled some more birdcalls. "I'll take that as a yes." I said as she quieted. Motioning again at herself, she gave the chirp again, then motioned to me. "Me?" Taking a deep breath, I pointed at myself. "Ezhno."
The creature floated a little closer, frowning slightly. I pointed again. "Ezhno."
"Ezhno." She spoke soft and slow, as if my name was a food she had never before tasted.
And at last, I realized that might be true.
I'd been carried out into the ocean, and caught up by a storm. Having finally been washed ashore, it was possible that it might not have been in my own land.
As the blue skinned creature twittered in her bird language, I wondered just how far from home I was.
Friday, December 5, 2014
2. Unfrosted brownies.
3. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
4. Pecan pie.
5. Walnut ice cream.
6. Chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven.
7. Zeppoli dipped in chocolate.
8. Fried ice cream.
9. Chocolate covered popcorn.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
It began slowly, a little tingling in the mouth as he chewed.
It seeped into his throat when he swallowed, and the tingling grew to a mild ache.
Then with only a short breath, that mild ache exploded into a fierce burn.
The cookie fell from the little boy's hand as he darted away from the plate by the fireplace and into the kitchen, in search for something to cool the flames that filled his mouth.
Scales scraped against stone as a young dragon shifted to gaze after his friend. Then returning his attention to the treats, the dragon plucked another cookie from the plate and plopping it into his mouth with a hiss of delight.
Unfortunately for the dragon, that was last time the boy invited him to bring the snacks for their weekly playdate, as apparently winter fire cookies were not good for humans.
Friday, November 28, 2014
1. Right after it comes out of the oven. Freshly baked cookies are the best.
2. At the end of a meal. A yummy cookie is a perfect way to finish eating.
3. While with others. Sure, eating cookies alone means that you get more, but eating them with others means that you are able to share something you like.
4. Before someone else gets to it first. Little kids are especially sneaky cookie thieves.
5. When celebrating. There are many things you could celebrate, and many types of cookies that could be eaten with each one.
6. At a party. Cookies are excellent snacks to have at parties.
7. When you are feeling down. Cookies are a sple thing that can help turn a frown back into a smile.
8. Late at night. When you're tired but need just a little more energy to finish your project, just eat a cookie.
9. While playing a game. One of the great things about cookies is that you only need one hand to eat them.
10. After a successful endeavor. After something goes right, cookies can make that good thing even better.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The river was full of cranberry sauce.
Brown gravy overflowed in the bay.
Mashed potato hills sang songs in the night.
Of the apple pie caves that were hidden from sight.
Stuffing carpeted the ground in the glen.
When yams fought with sweet potatoes in the fens.
Corn frolicked in the field, whilst green bean casseroles spied.
The carrots in a parade, having built floats to ride.
Butternut squash sought the pumpkin pie with a frown.
When it saw the pecan pie and rolls dancing uptown.
Hams flew in the sky with cries of delight.
While the turkey sat down for a thanksgiving bite.
Friday, November 21, 2014
1. It means you can snuggle on couch with a blanket.
2. Your cat is more likely to want to sit on your lap.
3. You can drink hot chocolate without receiving funny looks.
4. Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are often served for dinner.
5. It provides an opportunity to wear those winter hats that are too hot the rest of the year.
6. It usually gets darker earlier.
7. There are more clouds in the sky.
8. You can build a fire in the fireplace.
9. It means you can wear a coat and mittens.
10. Families usually gather together when the year grows old and it gets cold.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
It was simple.
All I needed to do was close the door.
A wooden door, so plain that it would have gone unnoticed if not for one unique detail.
It was standing on a cliff that jutted out of the center of a waterfall.
My team was ready, anxious even.
I crossed the newly constructed rope bridge to the door's cliff, barely aware of my team's chatter in my earpiece.
"... by aliens-"
"It was magic!"
"... is a prank, obviously."
"That perfectly coincides with our strange readings?"
Upon reaching the door's cliff, static filled my earpiece. Grumbling, I plucked it out. Tucking it into my shirt pocket, I studied the open door as I approached.
It was completely dry, despite the cliff itself being slick with water. I could see the surrounding forest through the opening, though that fact brought an odd sense of disappointment. Shaking my head as a laugh escaped, I scolded myself for harboring such a ridiculous notion that I might have seen anything else. As team leader, I couldn't indulge in such flights of fancy as my team did.
This was an unusual door, but until I had actual evidence, it was nothing more.
My foot slipped on the wet stone, and I stumbled. Catching the bronze handle of the door, I managed to avoid falling.
Footing stable once more, I let go of the handle.
Or rather, I tried to.
A strange tingling pricked at my palm, and all effort to release my grip on the handle only made that tingling increase.
Jaw tensing, I pulled my earpiece out with my free hand. Returning it to my ear, there was nothing but static.
A creak brought my attention back to the door.
It was closing.
And my hand was stuck to the inner handle.
Increasing my effort, I tugged harder. I pushed against the door to stop its advance. My hand remained fixed to the handle, and in defiance to all logic, the door continued to close.
I had a decision to make.
A quick glance confirmed that the lip of the cliff continued a bit beyond the door. Another revealed that Julliard was halfway across the rope bridge.
I could go through the door, and wait for her to reach the cliff.
"It's just a door." I said, as though speaking would ease the sudden unease in my gut.
Shifting, I backed up as the handle pressed against my tingling hand.
My foot crossed the threshold, and my hand was ripped from the handle as a whirlwind caught hold of me.
Around and around I was spun, unable to see anything through my tear-filled eyes.
The roaring wind died, and I plummeted.
Pain coursed through my side as I hit something hard.
Despite having landed, the ground seemed to be rocking.
"Eh, he's a bit scrawny." A shrill voice sounded, and something prodded me.
"We take what the door gives, Knack." This voice was deeper, and held a tone with commanded my attention.
Wiping my eyes, I had to blink a few times before the blurry shapes took form.
A band of ruffians leered down at me, their clothes mismatched and crude weapons angled toward me.
"Welcome to Beyore, matey." The deep voice belonged to the best dressed fellow, who held a curved blade in one hand and a bandana in the other. "Here's your choice: join my crew or be run through."
Swallowing, I shifted slowly to my feet.
"I- I'll join your crew."
The Captain smirked and tossed me the bandana. "That's what they all say."
Friday, November 14, 2014
1. As a pick me up. A fresh doughnut can bring a smile to a formerly frowny face.
2. As enticement to go to a meeting. When it is early in the morning, sometimes the promise of a doughnut can help you get moving when you would otherwise stay at home.
3. As a quick date. When going on a date, it doesn't always have to be to dinner. Sometimes getting a doughnut and conversing while you eat it is enough.
4. As a practice dish. After getting a deep fryer, it could be helpful to practice cooking the same thing over and over. Doughnuts could be a good dish to try making first.
5. For an edible game. Doughnuts usually have holes in the center, which makes them the perfect food for edible ring toss.
6. For a diverse snack. There are many different types of doughnuts, so you could try something new each time you get one.
7. As a simple gift. Forgot your friend's birthday? Take them out for doughnuts and have a pleasant conversation with them.
8. As a sample platter. Get a dozen different doughnuts, then cut them into small pieces. You now have an appetizer plate to serve at a party.
9. As a way to experiment. Doughnuts can be very simple, which makes them a good blank canvas to test out culinary ideas with.
10. As a dessert. Small, simple doughnuts go well with different dessert sauces, and could be a simple dessert to serve at the end of a meal.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
In the calm waters of spring, the hippocami come to shore.
Majestic creatures, they lounge in the sand and survey the waters from which they rose like rulers overlooking their kingdom.
I've come to the cliff to watch their arrival for the past three years. Each year, I watch as the mares care for their young, while the stallions spar amongst themselves and ward off merlions.
I've learned much about these spawn of sea serpents and horses. The most important fact being that despite appearing like horses with the hindquarters of a sea serpent, their temperament is nothing like that of a horse.
At least, not while they have a connection to the sea.
My target slithered away from the herd. Its serpentine body moved like a snake, the two forelegs barely touching the ground. The foal was smaller then the others frolicking through the herd, and its dam was distracted by the foal's larger twin venturing too far into the water.
Hippocampi young at this age have yet to fully develop their gills, and so the possibility of being swept out to sea was a constant threat to those overly drawn to the water.
The mare gave a call, and moved through the herd toward the sea. The smaller twin slithered past the gnarled bush that marked the path to my cliff.
I waited with baited breath as the hippocampus drew nearer the trap I had laid the week before, when the beach had yet to be overrun with the herd.
Glancing back to the herd and scanning for a stallions nearby, I moved my hand to the trigger. Three steps, two...
The foal entered the trap.
Pressing the trigger down, the rope went slack. Below, the net rose into the air, and the frightened foal gave released a keening cry.
Immediately, stallions raced toward the distressed foal. Coiling their serpentine bodies, they shot up like springs in an attempt to reach the still rising net.
But I had been watching the hippocampi for years, and knew how high they could jump.
I also knew they wouldn't venture far from the beach, and certainly wouldn't take the rocky path up to the top of my cliff for one little foal.
At least, I hoped they wouldn't, at least not until the foal's net reached me and I could move inland.
I wanted to prove that the monsters could be trained, and this foal could be my only chance.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
What do you do when offered something you don't want?
Staring down at the hand of the most powerful warlock in town, I couldn't seem to focus on what he held. It was box, that much I was certain of. The slender object within glinted in the firelight, capturing so many colors in its facets.
He couldn't possibly mean what this suggested. I was a nobody. That I was even sitting in the best restaurant in town was mere happenstance brought about by him.
For how could anyone refuse when Benedict Crane requested that they join him for dinner?
"Yes." The word slipped from my tongue against my will, as a familiar buzz in my head warned of magic being used.
"Excellent," Benedict Crane gave his famous smile, the one that caused all of the other women in the restaurant to swoon.
I wanted to rip my hand away, but whatever magic he was using seemed to have destroyed my control.
The ring was like a coal, radiating its heat through my finger until it would finally consume me.
As the meal ended, my vision blurred as he took my hand. Blackness crept in, and my eyes closed.
Head pounding, I struggled to open my eyes.
"You'll feel a little disoriented, but that should soon pass." Benedict Crane's voice was as smooth as ice, and brought a similar chill. The strange room spun as I blinked and sat up. Lit by a source I couldn't locate, the room had a azure glow and held only the fainting couch I occupied and the high-backed chair where Benedict Crane sat.
"What did you do to me?" My voice came out in a rasp, and the ring still burned on my hand.
"Nothing, other then insure that you would come with me." The warlock replied, utterly still except for the tapping of one finger against another. "I was quite startled to find you alone and within the center of a human town."
Clenching my jaw, I fumbled to grip the ring. My fingers kept slipping off it, and when I did get hold, my fingers burned as if I had stuck them in a candle flame. "Plenty of women walk main street alone, and why should it matter that I live among my own kind?"
His finger froze, and for a moment the warlock simply stared.
Then he laughed.
Though I had never heard him laugh, I had heard stories of it. How it was like the gurgling of a stream, which drew you in until it was all you heard.
Obviously, the stories were wrong. This laugh had more in common with the clash of thunder, or the warning rattle of a rattlesnake.
"You believe yourself to be human?" Benedict Crane asked after his laughter ceased. Despite the burn, I clawed at the ring.
"What else would I be?" My irritation masked the growing unease I felt as the ring remained firmly in place on my finger. It had to be an enchantment, though why he had placed it on me was beyond my understanding.
Benedict Crane blinked twice, then leaned forward. "You really don't know?"
The utter disbelief in his tone struck a nerve. I shot to my feet, stumbling slightly as the room skewed. "I know exactly who I am! I am Ardelle Maris, sole daughter of the fishmonger and quite possibly the only women in town not utterly be-smitten by your supposed charms!"
The room continued its unnatural tilt, and I felt myself following. Strong, cold hands caught me, and the warlock released a sigh.
"That may be what you believe, but it is a lie." Benedict Crane lifted my hand with his burning ring on it. "Otherwise, this ring would not cause you such pain. You, Ardelle Maris, are a changeling."
Friday, October 31, 2014
1. Take a rubber chicken, a telephone cord, and a blue shirt. You are now chicken cord-on-blue.
2. Put on a bright colored shirt and a thumb brace. When people ask what happened, just say that you stick out like a sore thumb.
3. Wear a shorts, a sports shirt, a whistle, and a baseball cap. You are now a gym teacher.
4. Carry around a clipboard and a pen. You are now taking surveys.
5. Wear a red shirt. You are now a red shirt. (So beware any away missions.)
6. Wear a glove that has been painted red, and carry a cookie jar. You've been caught red handed stealing cookies from the cookie jar.
7. Put on an apron, then carry a bowl and a whisk. You are a baker.
8. Put on a backpack and carry a notebook, binder, and dictionary. You are a student.
9. Connect a bunch of socks to your clothes. Tell people that you're the monster who takes everyone's left socks.
10. Carry an umbrella and say that you're ready to sing in the rain.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
When on a quest, no hero wants to hear that "true love's kiss" is the answer.
Seriously, true love's kiss? That makes the quest impossible for everyone but the person's true love!
That is, unless the hero can trick themselves into believing the damsel is distress is their true love.
In order to do that, the hero needs to be either a genius or a complete fool.
Luckily, I'm neither of these.
Unluckily, I'm the trusty sidekick of "Caine Barret, a ruggedly handsome hero of no discernible threat", and yes, he really calls himself that.
As Caine pulled his white horse to a halt at the top of the hill to gaze down at the tower below, I had to admit that he fit the image of a ruggedly handsome hero. With light hair framing a sharp face, and a tall frame that could wrestle a lion, Caine certainly looked like a hero who could get things done.
What most people didn't realize though, was that Caine was dumber than a rock.
Not a very nice thing to say, I know. But it's true.
"Where's the dragon?" Caine asked as I pulled my mule to a halt.
"There is no dragon at this tower." I said as I studied the tower. "Lord Glind said the tower is protected by a sorceress."
Caine frowned and tapped the hilt of his sword. "That can't be right. Sleeping princesses in towers are supposed to be guarded by dragons."
I held back a sigh. "The princess isn't asleep. She's been turned into stone by the sorceress." Turning away from the tower, I tried to make my voice enthusiastic. "Only true love's kiss will break the spell."
Caine's face brightened. "My true love awaits below, in the clutches of a vile sorceress!" With a flick of the reins, the hero was off.
I followed at a slow pace, shaking my head. Caine thought anything that needed solved by true love's kiss was happening to his true love. It fit the strange fantasy that he lived in, with him as the hero who always saved the day.
It made jobs like this easier, since these curses didn't seem to care if both parties felt the same way about each other. As long as Caine thought he was the true love, he had the power to break the spell.
Unfortunately, he'd forgotten about the sorceress.
By the time I reached the base of the tower, Caine had already charged inside. Climbing up the dimly lit stairwell, I avoided the traps that Caine hadn't set off. Caine is really bad at avoiding traps, but he had fallen in a pond of invincibility as a child, and so couldn't be harmed by most things.
At the top of the tower, I found Caine frozen in the doorway. Magic.
Taking a cautious look around the immobile hero, I spotted the sorceress.
She looked irritated, but not especially malevolent as she waved her hand to disperse the black smoke that billowed around her. The princess Isabel was in a corner, with a cloak hanging off her outstretched hand.
"Heroes, always rushing in and ruining my potions. They're almost as bad as pestering princesses." The sorceress grumbled as she glared from Caine to the princess.
Straightening, I took a slow breath and stepped into the open. "Pardon my intrusion, esteemed sorceress." I swept into a low bow as the sorceress turned her attention to me. "Perhaps I might be of service?"
Squinting, the sorceress frowned. "What are you, the hero's apprentice?"
I gave a dejected sigh and nodded solemnly. "Alas, I owe him a life-debt. Regardless of my affiliation with the hero, I have a proposal that you might find intriguing." With a flourish, I offered the sorceress a violet stone. "From what I've surmised, the princess Isabel was the latest in a series of uninvited guests from Southtown."
The sorceress coughed and waved away more smoke. "They insist that I use my magic for them. Self-cleaning pots, love potions, combs to grow hair! Each demand was worse than the last." Moving away from the cauldron, the sorceress sat in a plush chair. "No manners! They simply barge in and start listing demands. They keep ruining my spells."
I shook my head and sighed. "Such disregard for decorum. I fear I must apologize once again for my companion." I glanced to Caine, and with a click of my tongue I lowered my head and shook it.
The sorceress regarded me. "You're much more polite than the others. Come sit and tell me, what is that stone?"
Taking a seat, I gazed at the violet stone. "Quite a useful thing, this stone causes whatever it is linked with to become invisible."
The sorceress leaned forward.
"Yes, but it only works if freely given. Otherwise, it attracts the attention of any who come near it." Caine and I had gotten it along with some other treasure last month. Not seeing a use for a purple rock, Caine had given it to me.
The sorceress's eyes glinted. "Would you be interested in parting with such an item?"
I looked at the sorceress, then at the stone. I allowed a moment to pass, as if I was hesitant. "Perhaps, if I might receive safe passage from your domain for myself, the hero I serve, and for the princess Isabel."
The sorceress glanced at the stone princess and the frozen Caine. She let out a cackle of a laugh.
"You are far more clever than the hero, young apprentice." She recited something in a language I couldn't understand, then snapped her fingers. The princess and Caine disappeared. "They'll be waiting outside."
I dipped my head, and offered her the stone once more. "Then I give you this stone of my own free will. May unwanted guests no longer intrude upon your home."
The sorceress took the stone, then gave me a look. "You're far more interesting than the hero you serve." I shrugged, and she shook her head. "Go, depart in peace."
I left. When I finally stepped outside and looked back at the tower, it was gone.
"Neil!" Caine called. I turned and saw him standing next to the princess, who was no longer stone. "Where did you go? I charged into the sorceress's lair and the next thing I knew, I had gotten the princess outside and broke the spell!"
Offering a grin, I jogged over to them. "Another amazing rescue, sir."
The princess didn't even look at me, she was too busy swooning over Caine. "My hero." She said in a tinkling voice. "However did you save me?"
So with Caine atop his white horse and the princess riding my mule, Caine began the tale of how he had daringly stormed the tower and defeated the sorceress.
And as I trudged behind on foot, I was amazed yet again how a hero who was dumber then a rock could weave such a ridiculous tale of his own heroism and believe every word.
Friday, October 24, 2014
1. The 3rd is German Unity Day.
2. The 5th is World Teachers' Day.
3. Canadian Thanksgiving is on the second Monday.
4. October 12th is the traditional date to celebrate Columbus Day, but in the United States it is observed on the second Monday.
5. In Japan, they celebrate Health and Sports day on the second Monday in October.
6. The 16th is World Food Day.
7. The 24th is United Nations Day.
8. In the United States, Navy Day is October 27.
9. The 29th is the Republic Day of Turkey.
10. The 31st is Halloween.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
In the gargoyle hills, a tired adventurer huddled in his camp atop a hill. An early autumn storm had blown south from the mountains and the adventurer's mood soured as the wind whipped at his clothes.
"Perfect end for a miserable day." The adventure muttered, glaring up at the sky before turning the rabbit roasting over the fire.
"Eh, just call it quits and leave." The adventurer's wizened companion suggested, turning its red gaze to the adventurer and snapping its large teeth. "Just let the fae find a gargoyle himself."
The adventurer ran a hand through his light hair and looked at the redcap.
"Reid, you know I can't."
"Vander, you didn't make an oath. It'd be the human thing to do to leave." Reid motioned outward with his pike. "As much as I'd love to taste gargoyle blood, this quest has been a waste of time."
Vander shook his head as a light rain began falling. "The fae's supporting my best friend's efforts to build a kingdom. If Xylon can collect a vogiel's heart, then I can get some blood from a gargoyle." Vander checked the rabbit, and moved it off the flames.
"After three weeks, we haven't even seen a gargoyle!" Reid's face turned as red as his hat. "I'm getting tired of rabbit blood."
Vander moved his hand to feel the pouch hanging beneath his shirt, verifying that the vial containing a mixture of his and Reid's blood was still there. The redcap was a useful companion, but his loyalty would only last as long as the vial of their mixed blood remained in Vander's possession.
Vander knew that the moment it was gone, Reid would turn on him.
The rain fell harder as they ate the rabbit. Midway through the meal, a scraping sound climbed up the hill.
"What do you think?" Vander asked as the scraping sound grew louder.
"Could be a gargoyle." Reid's clawed fingers cut grooves in the bone he held. "Either that, or some other stone creature."
Setting aside the remains of his meal, Vander grabbed his mace and stood. Reid moved to join him, and they waited.
The creature's head appeared first. A leonine face contorted as the creature gave a gravelly snarl.
Moving forward, Vander swung his mace at the gargoyle's head. The blow connected, a chips of stone broke off the gargoyle.
But there was no blood.
"Reid, make it bleed!" Vander shouted as the gargoyle snapped at the mace. Vander harried the gargoyle as the redcap moved into position.
"Bring it over." Reid called. Vander smacked the gargoyle once more, then turned and ran. The heavy pounding of the gargoyle sounded at his heels. Vander dropped into a slide on the rain-slicked grass as the hill slanted. He slipped beneath the lowered pike and just missed ramming into Reid.
There was a sickening thunk as the gargoyle rammed into the end of the pike; the redcap's magic allowing the weapon to pierce the stone flesh of the creature.
Vander stopped his slide and climbed back up the hill. Reid gave the pike a twist, and it tore free of the dead gargoyle. Gray blood poured from the wound, and the redcap was already drinking by the time Vander reached it.
"A vial full should satisfy the fae. You can have the rest." Vander said, though his companion gave no sign of having heard as the adventurer took out an empty vial and filled it with the gargoyle's blood.
As he tucked the vial away and headed back to his camp, Vander wondered what the fae wanted with gargoyle blood.
Friday, October 17, 2014
1. As a way to share important information with audience
without them fully understanding what they've been told.
2. Rhyming can help you to memorize things.
3. During a challenge of wits.
4. Rhymes can help you learn.
5. As a way to express your thoughts.
6. Because it can be fun to rhyme on a dime all the time.
7. As part of constructing a poem.
8. Rhymes can make reading fun.
9. As a writing exercise.
10. Because rhymes can generate interest.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
At the top of our narrow tunnel, dark clouds filled the view. Threatening to release their chill load at any moment, common sense pled that we return to the surface.
Yet we continued to dig.
A dark corner of my mind spoke of how this was our last chance. If we couldn't find the artifact here, then we were done.
"Are you sure it's here?" Joey asked as he shifted a shovelful of dirt.
"It has to be." Doctor Horace gritted his teeth as he shifted a large stone from the area of interest. Doctor Horace was the entire reason we were here. It was his map and its riddle that made us believe the hourglass was buried in the middle of nowhere.
But after three weeks of digging holes, I was beginning to doubt the doctor.
"Doctor, we've dug enough. The storm is going to break, so we need to leave." I tried to keep my tone friendly, but some of my impatience slipped through.
"Constance, can't you feel it? The hourglass is here." Doctor Horace shook his head, crouching to get a look at the congestion of stones he'd uncovered. "If you two want to climb up, very well. This still work for me here."
Glancing up at the looming storm, I turned to Joey and motioned to the ladder. "Climb on out and start packing up our supplies."
Joey hesitated for a moment. He was such a sweet boy, and had been a excellent assistant for the doctor. But I outranked him, so with one last look at doctor Horace, he scurried up the ladder.
"You could go with him." Doctor Horace said once Joey was out of earshot.
Kneeling beside the doctor, I shifted a rock. "Not if I want Jack to still speak to me when we get home." That was one of the cons of working for your fiancé's absentminded brother.
"He worries too much." Doctor Horace shook his head, moving yet another stone from the the pile.
"You don't worry enough." I replied, gripping one side of a particularly large rock while the doctor got the other side. Together, we heaved it out of the way.
Thunder boomed from above, and I felt something wet hit my head. "What is that?" I asked as doctor Horace peered into the cubby we'd uncovered.
"It appears to be a box." Doctor Horace studied the opening, while I glanced up as another raindrop hit me. "The entry is too small for my hands, but yours should be slender enough to reach in." I fought back a frown as I looked through the opening at the box within. More raindrops struck me, and I knew that the doctor wouldn't leave the find behind now that it was exposed to the elements.
Reaching in, I felt the side of the rectangular box and found a rough handle. Gripping it, I began to pull my hand out. It was a tighter fit now, and something scrapped my hand as I forced it free. The other end of the box snagged on something within the hole, and the box broke.
Doctor Horace reached out to catch the object that slipped out of the broken box. Landing in the cushioning of his hands, the tattered cloth covering the object slipped slightly to reveal the top of a golden hourglass.
Letting go of the box, I stood and offered the doctor a hand.
"Looks like you found it, doctor." I said as he took my hand.
"This does appear to be what I was seeking." Now standing, he carefully pulled away the tattered cloth as the rain began to steadily fall.
Placing a hand on his shoulder, I opened my mouth as he overturned the hourglass.
"Doctor, we should climb-"
A jerking feeling in my stomach silenced my as the grains of sand in the hourglass slid through bulb to the other. The rain vanished, and overwhelming nausea filled me. The world went dark, then a blinding flash of light burned my eyes.
The jerking feeling faded. Blinking rapidly, my vision slowly cleared.
But what I saw didn't seem to compute.
Doctor Horace and I were standing in the middle of a grassy field, and it wasn't raining.
No holes marred the landscape, and I saw no hint of where Joey and our jeep had gone.
"It actually works." Doctor Horace spoke softly, loosening his grip on the hourglass and gazing at it.
"What works?" I asked, my hand tightening around his shoulder. He started, and the hourglass slipped from his hands.
Doctor Horace fumbled to catch it, but it slipped from his fingered and the glass bulbs shattered against the ground.
Shaking beneath my grip, the doctor's voice was quiet when he spoke.
"That hourglass could manipulate the flow of time, and was our only way home."
Friday, October 10, 2014
1. The alligator congregation couldn't really sing.
2. A paddling of ducks floats on the water.
3. There is a mischief of mice hiding in the cupboard.
4. Watch out for a cloud of grasshoppers.
5. That cackle of hyenas is laughing at us.
6. A bed of eels makes for an uncomfortable night.
7. A descent of woodpeckers met in the woods.
8. An ostentation of peacocks poses for pictures.
9. A scourge of mosquitoes irritated our day at the lake.
10. A tower of giraffes feasts on the highest acacia leaves.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
It was Tuesday, and I was late to feed the fish.
Racing down the street, I left the laughter of my friends behind. They thought I was being funny, racing home to feed the fish that live in the backyard pond. A few days ago, I would have been laughing with them.
But then I saw what happened when my uncle was a little late at feeding time.
Rounding the corner onto my street, nothing seemed amiss as I barreled past the three houses before mine. Cutting across the lawn to the back gate, I pulled it open and hurried along the side of the house.
The water of the pond was seething, and I caught sight of silver scales midst the foam. Reaching the large tank on the back porch, I scooped out a small bucketful of goldfish and cautiously approached the chaotic pond.
Once I was as close as I dared come with the fish in this mood, I took hold of the bucket with both hands. I threw the bucket forward in a well practiced toss. The water and goldfish flew in an arc into the center of the pond.
A flash of silver leapt out of the pond, revealing the hungry fish. Its long, narrow body was partially transformed: short legs scooped at the air as a face that had elongated to a muzzle that snapped open to catch goldfish with gleaming fangs. Twisting back against its own body, the golden maned head of the fish disappeared back into the pond that appeared too small to contain such a large creature.
Returning to the tank, I got another bucket of gold fish and tossed them into the pond as well.
After a third bucket, the pond settled back to its regular stillness: the fish finally satisfied with its meal.
I cautiously approached the pond, and looked down at the deceptively peaceful looking carp swimming slow circles around the pond.
If I hadn't seen its other form, I would have thought it was a boring fish that my uncle insisted on feeding multiple times a day.
But after it bit off some of his fingers when I forgot to feed it, I realized the true danger of the fish.
It was dangerous to forget about a fish that transforms into a dragon when hungry.
Especially when it lives in your backyard.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I've always been good at becoming someone else.
My methods are just a bit... unconventional.
Most shapeshifters like me steal a person's shape by coming into contact with them. A bush of the arms down a busy street, or perhaps feigning sleep against their shoulders during a long bus ride. No matter what the method, they all had one thing in common.
Physical contact with the target.
I don't need that. Which is good, since it has never worked when I try it.
I was the disgrace in the family for quite a while. Mother complained that I would never find a good match when I came of age, while Father fretted that I wouldn't survive long enough to worry about marriage.
Our kind of shapeshifter isn't seen in a good light by the other species of the world. Probably due to the fact that when we steal a shape, the person who's shape we've stolen loses half of any magical abilities they might have.
Since the other half comes to us with their shape.
A good shapeshifter can carry over the stolen abilities from one shape to another, though this becomes more difficult when there are many abilities or powerful abilities.
It's easier for me to transfer abilities, as long as I get everything just right.
I don't need physical contact to steal a shape.
I just need to know about the shape I'm trying to steal.
Sitting in the pack, I study the girl by the pond. Touching my pen to my notebook, I jot down another note.
Auburn hair; shoulder length and curly. Slender build, potential fairy blood.
With each notation, I felt my connection to this girl growing. It wouldn't take much longer for the key to claiming her shape to be revealed.
Five years ago, I had stumbled onto my unique way of stealing shapes. After writing down a detailed description of a neighbor, I had added her full name to the bottom. It had surprised me to find that I knew the neighbor's full name, as we weren't close to the family of sphinxes.
But the moment I had lifted my pen from the paper after writing her name, I had felt myself change.
Suffice it to say, we moved before the neighbors could realize what had happened.
I was on my own at the moment, and had been tracking this girl for two days.
That was the downside of my method: it was slow.
But I was running low on backup shapes, and needed to restock. That was the upside of my method, since after recording the details and learning the shape's name, all I needed to do was add the last detail to their name and I could take their form as it had been recorded.
Which meant if I wanted to claim a magical ability, I needed to know what it was.
The girl stood from her crouch, and with a graceful leap she took rose into the air.
I smiled and looked down at my notebook.
The ability of flight.
I added the ability in the space above the standard list I kept on every page of the abilities I wished to carry over. As my pen lifted, the girl's name slipped into my thoughts.
Turning to the front of the book, I added her name to the list I kept there.
Taliyah Irvia Howl. (page thirteen)
Closing the notebook, I stood and left the bench behind. Now that her name had come to me, I had enough information to take her shape. All I needed to do was add her name to the page that held the rest of her information.
But that could wait until I needed to shed this form.
I quite enjoyed being an elf, after all.
Friday, September 26, 2014
1. You might receive sub par work. If you underestimate a person's ability and set them to a task beneath their skill level, then there is a chance you'll receive less then their best.
2. It could prove dangerous. By underestimating, you risk courting danger with both eyes closed. In unfamiliar situations, it is best to maintain at least some degree of caution.
3. You could make a mistake. If your preparations prove insufficient, then whatever you are working on might suffer a setback.
4. You could miss important information.
5. When you underestimate someone, you may lose a chance to make a friend.
6. When you underestimate something, you cut yourself off from future opportunities within that activity.
7. You could become overwhelmed due to not fully understanding the situation.
8. You could be surprised. By underestimating, you leave yourself open for the unanticipated.
9. You cheat yourself. By underestimating your ability, you hinder your own growth.
10. By underestimating another's work, you not only insult them, but deny yourself an opportunity to enjoy their work.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The world has fallen to ruin.
All because of me.
It began the day I became a hero.
Gifted with abilities I did not fully understand, I happened to be in the right place to save a bus full of people when its brakes failed.
You were on that bus.
As the passengers exited, you caught my eye and mouthed a thank you.
Your pale eyes sparkled like the moon, and I was drawn to you like the tide.
I became fixated on you, though we had only that brief meeting.
You seemed to be a magnet for trouble, and though anger filled me at the thought of you being hurt, another part welcomed the excuse to get close to you.
But despite my ever increasing feelings, you never showed me anything but gratitude for the rescues.
I wanted you to feel the same as me.
When I tried to get closer to you, you fled.
I couldn't understand why.
I was strong, a hero! I could protect you from all harm, and give you whatever you desired.
Surely you had at least some feelings for me.
They just needed to be brought to your attention.
I showered you with gifts. From the common to the exotic, my beloved would want for nothing.
But you were so difficult to please. All my gifts were beneath you, scarcely worth a moment's notice.
That's when I realized that only one gift would be fitting for you.
I waded into the darker portions of the city, where those with more nefarious minds dwelt.
I found a man who claimed to have a way to harness the moon, and I aided him in his research.
Fending off any who tried to stop his research, I anxiously awaited the day that I could give you the ultimate gift.
Finally, the day came that the man used his device.
His aim was off.
Instead of gaining the moon, we drew in the sun.
I'm no scientist, to explain the disasters that followed the man's experiment.
All I know is that I lost you within the first month.
It's been four years since I lost you, and there are only a few survivor's left.
For the most part, I ignore them. My powers keep me from their desperation, and none of them could ever take the place of my memories of you.
Looking up at the sky, I watch the shattered remains of the moon.
And think of your eyes.
Friday, September 19, 2014
1. As a shortened version of your name. If you have a long name, forming a nickname from it can save time.
2. To show a characteristic you possess. If you're quick on your feet, you might get a nickname like Speedy.
3. As a reference to some past event. Sometimes, you receive a nickname because of something you did or had happen to you. This is usually known only by a certain group.
4. A title or rank can be become a nickname.
5. A last name can be a nickname. Sometimes you may prefer to be called by your last name.
6. A nickname could reveal something you like. It could be your favorite color, food, or even an animal.
7. It could be a pet name. Some common ones are Sweetheart, Darling, and Honey.
8. It could be used as friendly teasing. Just be sure that everyone involved is alright with the nicknames given. It's not friendly unless everyone is happy with the nicknames.
9. As a filler name until you can learn their real name. There are times when you don't know someone's name, but need something to call them. These are usually temporary, but can end up becoming an oft used nickname.
10. To hide an embarrassing given name. Sometimes, people can find the name that they were given by their parents to be embarrassing. At such times, they may decide to create a nickname that they find to be less embarrassing.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I had always heard that names have power, but it wasn't until I nicknamed my cat that I realized it was true.
Sweetie was the nicest cat I had ever seen. Then one day I came home to find that she had knocked my mom's potted plant off the table. I picked Sweetie up and scolded her, calling her Sweetie the terrible.
In the blink of an eye, Sweetie became a monster.
Hissing and clawing, she got away from me and began terrorizing the house.
Furniture was destroyed, documents ruined, my formerly gentle cat had become a terror.
All because I jokingly gave her a nickname.
Since then, I've tried to be more careful with names. But there have been times when a nickname has slipped out.
Francine became terrified of everything when I called her a scaredy cat late one night while we watched a movie.
My cousin Peter hasn't grown any taller since I called him little guy at the family reunion three years ago.
This ability even seems to work on pre-existing nicknames. When I met Dash, I thought that was his real name. But after I called him that, he suddenly became impatient and jittery, unable to stay at one task for more then a few moments before growing frustrated.
To make things worse, no one seems to notice the changes my nicknaming brings except me.
Though I remember Sweetie as she once was, all my family recalls is the beast she became.
My urge to nickname keeps growing, and yesterday I learned something about this ability that makes it even harder to resist using.
It works when I nickname myself.
Friday, September 12, 2014
1. Watch a movie. Friday is a good night to pull out a long movie and watch it with friends.
2. Read a book. Just settle down in a comfy spot and read a book from cover to cover.
3. Play a game. Whether it is with friends or on your own, playing games is a fun way to spend an evening.
4. Bake cookies. The best part of baking on a Friday night is that you can stay up and eat them.
5. Write. Why leave the house when you can create your own adventure from the comforts of your favorite chair?
6. Stargaze. Looking up at the night sky can be an enjoyable way to spend a Friday night.
7. Have a sing-a-long. Gather your friends and their favorite musical movies, and belt out every song that comes along.
8. Listen to the silence. Sometimes, simply spending the night sitting in a quiet room is enough.
9. Sleep. Guess what? Sleeping on a Friday night can actually be quite relaxing!
10. Have fun. It doesn't really matter what you do on Friday night, so long as you enjoy whatever you choose to do.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I'm fifteen today, which means it's time to declare my specialization.
Because everyone who turns fifteen and has even an ounce of magic has to choose a discipline they'll follow on the first Saturday following their birthday. If your birthday happens to fall on a Saturday, then you make your choice on that day.
I played with the plain iron ring on my left little finger. Since I was confirmed to have magic at thirteen, I had worn this ring. Glancing down the bench at the other three youth who's birthdays had come during this week, I tried to guess what their specializations would be.
The boy at the end was in my class, and had a silver tongue. He'd probably become a beguiler.
In the middle was a jittery little guy who I found hard to believe was fifteen. With how much energy he had, I guessed he had an affinity for wind or electricity.
I didn't know about the dark-haired girl beside me. With her head tilted back and eyes closed, she seemed almost bored. Not that I could blame her, since we'd been here for an hour.
I looked away from the girl as the door to the theater opened.
"Follow me," the woman said, briskly disappearing back through the door before we even stood. We hurried after her, shifting into our positions according to birthday.
Like always, I was last.
Marching down the the raised walkway that stretched above the audience and down to the stage, I faltered as I glimpsed the representatives waiting for us.
Hundreds of magic users, each from a different specialization.
And I didn't know which I wanted to join.
Hurrying to catch up to the dark-haired girl, I tried to focus beyond growing panic. Choosing a specialization should be a simple matter of picking the type of magic I was most interested in.
That was my problem. Each time I thought about what I was interested in, I blanked.
I'd begin thinking how fire magic was exciting, but then thoughts of ink magic would surface. Then the flood would begin. Duplication spells would lead to healing, then transfiguration to weather magic. My mind would sort through dozens of magics, then discard them for another set.
We stopped at the edge of the walkway, and the woman stepped onto the stage. Lifting her left hand to her throat, the ring on her little finger sparkled as she used magic. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome!" Her amplified voice carried throughout the room as the woman strode across the stage. "Today four of our youth will declare their specializations and join their colleagues!"
Spinning like an ballerina, the woman held out her hand. "Soren Glace."
The boy from my class moved forward to stand in the center of the circle painted on the floor. Removing the ring he wore on his left little finger, he held it out to the the representatives of magic.
"I choose the path of beguiling."
From among the representatives, a woman slipped away from the others and sauntered to Soren. Holding out her left hand, she touched his ring. In a shimmer of power, it transformed to the silver and black ring of a beguiler.
"We welcome you." The woman intoned, the traditional greeting slipping like water from her lips.
As they moved to stand where they could be seen by the audience, I scanned the crowd of magic users. What did I want to specialize in?
The jittery boy chose electricity, his ring changing copper.
"Claret O'Connor." The dark-haired girl walked into the circle, leaving me alone on the walkway. Slipping off her ring, she held it up.
"I choose the path of acculermancy."
The man who moved to greet her wore the uniform of a city officer, and her ring split into equal segments of black and white.
"We welcome you." He grunted, then they moved to join the others.
My feet were heavy as I walked to the circle. Mind racing through the different types of magic, I couldn't settle on one.
Standing in the circle, I scanned those before me as I slipped off my ring. Did I just name a magic, and settle for whatever it was? Why did specializing in one type of magic matter?
Eyes widening, I almost lost hold of my ring.
Was there even a specialization for what I was thinking?
"I choose the path of ... matter."
What little noise there had been in the theater vanished. Then, from the back of the representatives, there was movement. The steady tap of a cane echoed through the room as the ripple of movement drew closer. Then at last, an old man stepped into the open. When he reached me, his pale eyes squinted as he studied me. Lifting a wrinkled hand which trembled, he touched my ring.
In the flash of light, it transformed into quartz.
"I welcome you." The old man's voice was so soft, but his meaning sent a chill through me.
He was alone in the specialization I had chosen.
Friday, September 5, 2014
1. Cats are sneaky. Cats are always slinking from room to room. And if you happen to catch them at it, they dart away before you can catch them.
2. Cats are unpredictable. You could be sitting there reading a book, with a cat watching from beside you. Then suddenly, the cat leans forward and bites the corner of the page! Whatever did that book do to anger the cat?
3. Cats can be jerks. The cat saunters into the room, and you cheerfully call to it. But instead of coming over, the cat completely ignores you to go to someone else.
4. Cats can be mean. You're gently stroking the cat, when it suddenly growls and tries to bite your hand.
5. Cats have to be the center of attention. Sitting at the computer, you're typing away. Then the cat comes and blocks your view of the monitor, and when that doesn't work, begins pressing random keys to ruin your work.
6. Cats don't always get along with one another. Two cats met at a crossroad. Instead of peacefully passing each other, they arch their backs and begin hissing as they prepare to tear each other apart.
7. Cats are dangerous. When startled awake, the cats strikes out with a vengeance far greater then the crime committed.
8. Cats have a horrible sense of timing. It rarely fails that a cat will choose to grace you with their presence at the exact moment you are about to leave.
9. Cats are thieves. Be it pillows or food left on the counter, the cat will lay claim to anything it wants without regard of your feelings.
10. Cats are cats. The only person who can trust the cat is the cat itself.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
One day, a bird fell into my backyard.
With pretty yellow feathers that tinged to a light bronze at the edges and inquisitive brown eyes, I decided to call him Harrison.
When Harrison first arrived, his right side was burned, and those pretty feathers were covered with ash.
I called for my mom. I had thought that if anyone could help this bird, it would be her.
But when my mom came out to see what the matter was, she didn't seem to notice the bird laying in the grass. Sure, she has glasses, but even without them she should have been able to see a bird the same size as her son.
So it fell to me to care for Harrison.
He didn't trust me in the beginning, but had been too weak to protest.
I cleaned up his injuries, and brought him different things to eat.
He likes hot dogs and peanut butter.
As Harrison began to get better, I tried to find out what kind of bird he was. But the school library didn't have any books about him. And whenever I tried to ask someone about him, they could never see him.
Dad says I'm too old for an imaginary friend, but Harrison isn't imaginary. If he is, then who ate all those hot dogs and peanut butter?
He keeps getting bigger. Now Harrison is twice my size, and he's almost completely better. But he hasn't tried to fly away.
I wonder what he's waiting for. Looking out my window at night, I see him waiting on the grass. Sometimes, he's looking up at my window.
Yesterday, Harrison ate the neighbor's cat.
I scolded him, but he just looked at me and preened his feathers.
I don't know why he's still here, since you can't even tell he was ever injured anymore.
He's as big as my dad now, and I don't think he's done growing yet.
When Harrison flapped his wings today, the backyard fence broke.
He hasn't eaten any other animals, but mom and dad are starting to wonder where all the hot dogs and peanut butter are disappearing to.
I tried to tell Harrison to leave, but he just sat there, staring at me.
I hope I don't remind him of the cat.
Harrison takes up most of the backyard now. Dad is upset that he keeps having to fix the fence, and mom's put locks in the kitchen.
I haven't fed Harrison since yesterday.
When I went out to the backyard today, Harrison gave a crackling croak. I went to give him the peanut butter crackers I had saved from my lunch, and he grabbed me with his foot.
Then he flew away from my house.
When Harrison let me go, I landed in sand. Looking around, I saw a girl who looked about twelve walking toward me. She paused to look at Harrison as he landed behind me, then spoke.
“Welcome to the Roost.”
“Why did Harrison take me away from home?”
Because he's a roc, and has chosen you to be his person.”
Friday, August 29, 2014
1. You might not be able to get out. There are many things that could keep you from leaving the forest: getting lost, becoming injured, being chased by a minotaur and having to wait for it to leave before you can climb down from this tree... it seems like the forest just doesn't want you to leave.
2. The locals might not be friendly. Usually people who build a hidden village deep within the forest dislike having uninvited guests stumble into their village in the middle of the night.
3. The wildlife is hungry. There are many creatures in the forest that just love the taste of adventurer. Why else would they be attacking you right now?
4. There'll always be someone in need of rescue. Be it an enchanted prince or the standard damsel in distress, you can count on running into someone in need of help at the worst possible moment (like while you are fleeing from the wildlife). Oh, and did we mention that you'll probably not be able to refuse helping them? You're a really nice person, after all (and that pack of giant wolves should be far enough back that you could stop for a moment and help, right?).
5. You find an artifact of doom. Somewhere in the forest is a dark tower belonging to the wizard Ruizmeir. Luckily for you, he's not home when you flee inside. Unluckily, that damsel in distress you just rescued stumbled into you and you've bumped an old iron box off its pedestal. You're not quite sure what that greenish smoke leaking from it is, but the disembodied cackling that surrounds you seems like a good cue to leave.
6. Duels to the death sometimes happen. Just as you sit down to rest, a knight in sticky armor arrives. Despite his apparent encounter with a beehive, the knight seems roaring to challenge you. From what you can make out between dodging sword swipes, it seems that he thinks you abducted the damsel in distress from her home kingdom. Are all forest duels caused by misunderstandings?
7. You might become separated from your group. After convincing the knight of your innocence, the three of you begin traveling together. But such good times rarely last in the forest. One seemingly empty clearing ends up being the home of the gigas arachnida. During the chaos, you stumble into a ditch and lose consciousness. Upon awakening, you find that the knight and damsel in distress fled from the spider. While it is preoccupied with dinner, you might want to do the same.
8. The weather could change suddenly. A nice quiet hike to find your companions is rudely interrupted by a thunderstorm. Having lost your cloak quite early on to a disgruntled monkey, you have little choice but to find some shelter and wait out the storm.
9. It's uncomfortable. Crouched beneath a short tree, you can't decide which is worse: the raindrops that somehow make it down to drip onto your head, or the fact that you're stuck between two prickly bushes underneath the tree's mostly dry side.
10. The forest is enchanted. Why else would all these crazy things keep happening to you?
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
It was a paper cut.
A silly little paper cut.
Weaving through the woodland between the village and where I lived was something I always did. Sure, it was forbidden. I'd been told that hundreds of times through the years. But I didn't want to travel all the way around it every day.
And nothing had ever happened in the woodland.
Until I got that papercut.
Pressing my thumb against the cut on my forefinger, I bent down to pick up the partially opened letter. A speckle of red marred the creamy surface of the paper.
"That's lovely," I muttered as I walked over to a large rock. Climbing up, I balanced on its uneven surface. Releasing my stinging forefinger, I looked at the narrow cut.
Beads of blood welled to the surface, appearing quite bright in the early evening light.
A breeze brushed against my face, surprisingly cool for late summer.
Turning over the letter, I continued opening it. Leaning forward, I began to read.
I won't be home by the end of summer. We've been approached by a messenger from Kyzone, in regards to a basilisk infestation they're suffering from. The Cap's decided that we're going to help them, so I won't be back just yet.
I know I'm breaking my promise, but I hope you'll understand why.
Adventures aren't always convenient, but they pay well.
I should be home before the first snowfall, should the infestation be cleared out quickly.
Keep to your studies, and stay out of the woodland.
Clenching the money that he had enclosed within, I crumpled up the letter and threw it away from me. "Dumb brother, off to a faraway land instead of coming home." Wiping away the bead of blood from the paper cut, I tried to ignore the ache in my throat. "He couldn't have a sensible apprenticeship in baking or linen making. No, he had to run off with a party of adventurers."
Glaring at the paper cut, I knew I was being childish. My brother burned anything he tried to cook, and couldn't even patch a hole in his sleeve. Sure, him becoming an adventurer left me alone, but it was something he loved.
The crumpled letter fell near the base of my rock.
Jerking my head up, anything I might have said caught in my throat.
A creature covered in cerulean fur stood before me, its rose eyes unblinking. I returned its stare, trembling as the urge to run filled me.
Whatever this thing was, I had never seen it in the woodland before.
Its rose eyes flickered toward my hand, and its nostrils flared.
I jerked back, and lost my balance.
Piercing white filled my vision, then darkness engulfed me.
Friday, August 22, 2014
1. Music can affect your mood. It can elicit sorrow, or cause cheerful laughter.
2. It can add an extra finishing touch. Though we don't always notice it, background music adds something to whatever it is a part of. Without that music, it wouldn't quite feel complete.
3. Music offers us a way to connect with others. Have you ever sat and listened to a piece of music with someone? It is a simple way to connect with another, and can even traverse language barriers.
4. Music can help to inspire. Inspiration can be be aided with music. And sometimes an idea can strike after you listen to a song.
5. Music can help you to remember. There are times when music will help bring to your memory things which you had forgotten.
6. Music can help you to learn. With a catchy tune, it can become easier to learn how to do something.
7. Music can help you to develop patience. When trying to learn to play an instrument, patience is something that should be developed through the hours of practice you'll put in.
8. Music can bring understanding. Some music has lessons to teach, and answers to give. But in order to understand, you need to be willing to listen.
9. Music can provide a look into the past. You can learn a lot about a time period by its music.
10. Music can provide comfort. When faced with a challenge or frightened by something in the dark, humming a favorite song can help to ease your nerves, and bring you the strength to carry on.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The music flowed through the room. Its gentle, beckoning tones softly pleading for my attention.
The notes tugged at my heart and filled my mind.
Here is peace. Here is rest.
Almost unaware, my footsteps a minor disturbance to the melody. Even as the thought crossed my mind, the music shifted slightly to incorporate my footsteps.
Each note filled my ears, reverberating through my bones. With each step forward, I found it harder to remember a time before the music.
Had there ever been a time before the music?
The creeping doubts scarcely began to form before the music shifted, filling my mind with its sweet melody.
All thought fled.
Leaving only music.
Forward, following the swell of music out of the room. Through the declining spiral hallway.
Downwards, into the echoing elegy of a spacious cavern.
The steady dripping of water mingled with the music, beckoning me toward the pool in the center.
As the water lapped at my feet, a voice joined the music.
Words indecipherable, yet it beckoned to me.
An unfamiliar longing fill my heart.
In the dim light, a woman rose from the pool.
The music reached a crescendo, and the woman smiled.
As she embraced me, a single word broke through the music.
Friday, August 15, 2014
1. Star Trek. I'm a Trekkie, and quite enjoy the philosophical and ethical dilemmas that the characters face in many episodes. I also enjoy the designs of the different aliens, the use of red shirts to reveal the threat of the week, and the starships.
2. Dragons: Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk. As you might already know, I love dragons. And these series do a good job of expanding the How to Train your Dragon universe, while maintaining the core characteristics of the characters you loved from the movie. New dragons, new dangers, and you get to keep the stuff you already liked? I like it!
3. Doctor Who. I'm a fan of time travel, and of a main character that can have drastic changes happen to them, but still be at the core the character that you've grown to love. And I love a good monster that challenges the characters.
4. Studio C. I enjoy sketch comedy that is fun not only the first time you see it, but with additional viewings. I also like when the humor is appropriate and entertaining for the entire family.
5. Once Upon a Time. I love fairy tales, magic, and well written villains. With this show, I get all three! It is quite fun to try and figure out what fairy tale or story that will play a part in an episode, and I love watching as the character growth, and how a character's growth will also affect the other characters.
6. Rugrats. The characters in this cartoon can make me laugh and smile. It is fun to see simple things from the perspective of babies, then end up on an adventure because of their imaginations.
7. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I enjoy a group of characters learning to become a team. Most of all, I love continuity. When something takes place in the same universe as other stories, I love when there are references made to the events that happened in those other stories. It's a wonderful thing when the world-building is shown and added upon constantly.
8. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I enjoy the cast of characters and their growth, the catchy songs, and how the lessons on friendship are delivered in an enjoyable manner.
9. Eureka. I like when highly intelligent characters are able to interact with a character of regular intelligence, and have both be equally amazing. And with lot of amusing scenes mixed in with those of the cast trying to save their town from the latest technological crisis, this is one of my favorite shows to watch again and again.
10. Warehouse 13. I like when a simple object is given fantastical abilities. It's even more fun when the characters need to go out and collect these objects before they cause too much trouble.