Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fireworks and balloons

Fireworks and balloons, with streamers in the air.
Friends gathered round, laughing about confetti in their hair.
Celebrations taking place in cities far and wide.
Even in the smallest of places, excitement is hard to hide.
Children fight fatigue as they watch the clock.
Counting down each second with a tick-tock.
The year's final hours seem to slip away.
As the new year rises in the coming day.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Gifts for your dog

1. A big juicy bone.
2. A shirt. Because some dogs love wearing them.
3. Squeaky toys.
4. Moist food. If your dog is normally on a dry food diet, then moist food could be a wonderful treat.
5. A new collar or harness.
6. A long walk around the block. If your dog loves exercise, then going on an extra walk could make them very happy.
7. Their favorite treat. Who doesn't love getting something they already love?
8. A new blanket or bed. Something comfy to sleep on is very important for your pup. Plus, you might get to be able to sit in your chair this way!
9. A good rub. Your pet is sure to love the attention, and that you can reach those hard to itch places.
10. Extra playtime. Spending more time playing with your pet is an excellent way to show your love for them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Only a box

It was getting late, but the children were still awake.
"You three must go to sleep." Their mother urged softly, fatigue hidden beneath a gentle smile.
"But we're not tired!"
"Tomorrow's Christmas—"
"I'm so excited!"
Seeing the bright expectation in their faces, their mother's heart nearly broke. How disappointed would they be when no presents appeared under the tree?
Oh, they'd tried to get gifts, but the bills from Jonathon's accident had emptied their savings.
"Could you please try to sleep?" Her soft request was met with groans, but the children slipped back into their beds. Turning off the light as they settled in, their mother stepped into the hall and closed the door.
Walking back to the living room, she sat in her husband's chair and buried her face in her hands. Perhaps the children would enjoy visiting their father tomorrow. It was a long walk to the hospital, but maybe seeing Jonathon would brighten everyone's spirits.
No. The children should have at least one gift to open in the morning. Even a candy cane would do!
But she had nothing.
Nothing to
She glanced at the clock. 10:30 P.M.
Who could it be at this hour?
Slowly getting to her feet, the woman walked toward the door. wrapping her hand around the handle of Jonathon's worn baseball bat, She peered through the peephole.
There was no one in sight. Only a box.
She waited, counting the minutes under her breath.
Still no one.
Cautious, she opened the door and quickly brought the box inside.
Then after the door was secure, she turned to the box.
It was a simple brown box, like someone would use for moving. A note on the top read, "Merry Christmas", but bore no name.
Taking a breath, the woman opened the box.
Hand flying to her mouth, she stifled a gasp at the sight of wrapped presents.
As she pulled each out, she found that all had a blank name tag and a sticky note that described what it was.
Setting down the last present, he woman covered her face and cried.
For her children would have gifts in the morning.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cheesy foods

1. Macaroni and cheese. Because without the cheese, it would just be macaroni.
2. Fondue. Because dunking others foods in melted cheese is fun.
3. Alfredo. It's basically pasta, cheese, butter, and cream.
4. Au gratin potatoes. They're delicious!
5. T.C.T.'s. Just take a tortilla, and add melted cheese.
6. Stuffed crust cheese pizza. Kids love it!
7. Omelets. They're best made with lots of cheese and meat!
8. Cheese curd. They squeak!
9. Chicken cor don bleu. It has cheese on the inside and the outside!
10. Mozzarella sticks. It is fried cheese!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Off the road

The trip was long, the road rugged. Deadly creatures lurked around every bend.
So if you were willing to risk life and limb, the pay was excellent.
"I requested a dozen guards!" The woman's voice was a shrill shriek, a lot like a harpy's. She was a soft sort, this noblewoman.
"A smaller escort will attract  less attention." Jared said, in that calm tone he always used with our customers.
"I should cut your pay in half." Her lip twisted in an unladylike snarl, further solidifying her resemblance to a harpy. Jared gave a polite smile, and motioned to the rest of us.
"Rupert and Steven are excellent scouts, while Thomas, Maria, Audrey, and myself are capable of protecting you from nearly everything the road could bring."
"Nearly everything?" The woman did a good job hiding most of her fear. It was a good skill to have on the road. Jared nodded, his smile fading.
"There are some things that even a hundred guards couldn't stand against. We simply do our best to get everyone through safely." The woman frowned, then turned and climbed into her carriage. Turning to us, Jared shook his head. "Alright, you all know what to do."
We moved into position. Rupert moved ahead, scouting for any dangers, while Thomas and Maria took the carriage's left. Jared and I took the right, and Steven fell back to watch for dangers from behind.
If all went well, we'd only have a few harpies and perhaps an ogre.
The carriage moved slowly. It had it, with all the potholes and ruts in the road. No portion of the road was ever smooth for more than a day, despite all that the royal family has tried to do. Most people went along the southern road, which although it was a longer trip, had a smooth road and fewer dangers.
But then there were those like this noblewoman. Inpatient to reach the capital, or ignorant of how dangerous this road was, or simply looking for a thrill. I'd seen all kinds of crazy.
Of course, they only took this road once.
So maybe I was the crazy one.
About half an hour in, Rupert appeared from the brush ahead. "Two harpies, about five minutes down the road." Jared nodded, and gave a twittering whistle.
Taking an arrow from my quiver, I moved ahead of the carriage, catching sight of Thomas moving up as well.
We'd only have one chance before they call for the flock.
Turning cautiously around the bend, I lifted my bow and aimed. My target was an old bird, with ratty feathers and barely any hair. I counted down, then drew and released.
My arrow flew true, and the harpy fell, and its companion fell to Thomas's arrow.
It was then that I noticed what had drawn the harpies to the ground.
"Wyrm!" I shouted, drawing an arrow. These wingless dragons were horrible, ravenous monsters. Preying on nearly everything but harpies, a wyrm would easily crush the carriage.
Aiming for the eyes, I loosed.
And ran into the brush.
A grating hiss and the crashing of foliage signaled that the wyrm had taken the bait.
Now I just had to lead it away from the carriage. Then kill it before it ate me.
And then find my way back to the others and collect a bonus.
I paced myself, since wyrms are not very fast. Persistent, and with a bite that would sap my energy faster than a siren's song. But not fast.
I needed something better than my bow and belt knife.
A rushing roar sounded ahead, and I grinned.
When traveling around the road, you never went near any flowing water.
Because it always held some sort of creature.
I slowed, allowing the wyrm to get closer as the sound of water grew louder.
When it came into view, I almost stopped.
The river vanished into a misty waterfall, and far below I could see a huge lake. Best of all, a conveniently-placed bridge began a short ways upriver. It was probably a trap, but I'd take it.
Moving toward the bridge, I heard the wyrm crash into the open behind me. I didn't have to look back to know it followed, but the urge was hard to resist.
It was certainly an ugly brute. Mottled green scales and stout, knobbly legs. Though its head was the worse, looking like it had been crushed by a carriage wheel. My arrow stuck out of the thick skin at the corner of the eye.
I reached the bridge, and waited.
I leaped onto the bridge as the wyrm lunged at me. Racing along slick boards, I stumbled as the entire bridge dipped down.
"Congratulations Audrey, you got a wyrm on the bridge. Now what?"
Shocking cold enveloped me. Gripped by the current, I gasped for a breath as my head broke the surface. Something large and scaly slammed into me.
The wyrm.
Reaching, I pushed away from the creature.
And suddenly, we were free.
Falling, with water and mist all around.
The waterfall!
Between the water's roar and the mist, I couldn't tell when I'd hit the lake.
There was a sound like a whinny, and something furry hit me.
And I fainted.

Friday, December 11, 2015

For chocolate

1. It can make for a tasty drink, whether hot or cold.
2. It can improve your mood.
3. Giving it to another can make them smile.
4. It can be drizzled on a plate to make it fancy.
5. Because what is a cookie without chocolate chips?
6. It can be made into edible game pieces.
7. Because it makes a wonderful gift for almost any holiday.
8. It makes for some yummy ice cream.
9. Many foods can be dipped in it.
10. It can help you to stay awake.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In my closet

I went into the closet to find a hat,
but ended up at the laundromat.
The next time I went to find a dress.
By the time I got out, my hair was a mess!
The third expedition was in search of some socks.
I found them by disturbing a sparrow flock.
A messenger delivered bad news,
when I went searching for my shoes.
In my closet I got lost for three days.
Guess that is what happens when it's in such disarray.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter activities

1. A sleigh ride.
2. Gathering together with family.
3. Baking cookies.
4. Going Christmas caroling.
5. Preparing the gifts you will give.
6. Sitting around the fireplace.
7. Decorating the house, both inside and out.
8. Eating soup.
9. Celebrating with those you love.
10. Playing in the snow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rabbits and Wolves

The sky was dark, and the warren was empty.
For the colony was on the move.
They darted across the field, long ears pressed back as they ran.
From the edges of the field, the canids watched their prey. This time, there would be no escape.
At the end of the colony, a young buck stopped and leaned back on his hind legs to look around. Long ears erect, they shifted slightly as he tried to pinpoint what he'd heard.
 Falling back to all fours, the buck broke from the colony.
At the edge of the field, a canid broke from his pack to give chase.
The alpha gave a grow of frustration as the colony noticed the rogue canid chase the young buck. With a harsh bark to the others, the alpha led the hunt into the field.
The colony ran faster, hearts pounding as fast as their feet.
The bucks at the head of the colony reached a flat, smooth stone as pale as milk, and encircled it.
Does moved onto the stone, with their kits in tow.
Once the stone was full, the bucks began thumping their large hind feet against the edges.
Thump thump thump thump.
A break in the clouds formed, and a beam of moonlight hit the stone. The stone flashed once, and those upon it vanished.
Others filled the stone, and the bucks pounded their hind feet.
Meanwhile, the canids picked off as many of the colony as they could catch.
The young buck raced beneath a bramble, and the rogue canid gave a yelp as thorns bit into its snout.
As the alpha closed in on the stone, the bucks joined the stragglers upon it and gave a final thump.
And the colony was gone.
Growling, the alpha glared up at the moon and howled.
His prey had escaped, and taunted him still with their light.
Beneath the bramble, the young buck shivered in the dark.
He was on his own. Alone, he could never hope to summon a moonbeam.
Without the moonbeam, he couldn't rejoin the lunar colony.
Still shivering, he listened to the alpha's howls.

Friday, November 27, 2015

For baking Christmas cookies

1. They can be tasty.
2. They make for a fun gift.
3. It gives the family something to do together.
4. It can become a tradition.
5. It is a skill that can be passed from one generation to the next.
6. Because homemade tastes better than store bought.
7. It gives you something to do on the day after Thanksgiving.
8. Because something baking makes the house smell wonderful.
9. When else can you play the Christmas Cookies song?
10. Because you need a snack for Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Peanut butter and jelly

In the corner stood a rickety table. One leg was gnawed so much that it resembled a used toothpick, while another was held in place with a single bent nail.
The bulb which lit the room flickered uncertainly, as if it wasn't sure of its welcome. The room it lit was filled by three people: a man, his wife, and their son.
The three sat in mismatched chairs at the table, and looked down at the platter.
It was chipped ceramic, and covered with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The man looked at his wife, and gave a sad shake of his head.
The wife attempted a smile, lips quivering as she glanced toward their son.
The boy was staring at sandwiches, his eyes wide.
Silence stretched, during which the wife looked back to her husband.
He took a deep breath, and lifted a hand to his son's shoulder.
"Tommy, I know it isn't turkey and stuffing, but—"
"It's perfect!" Tommy looked up at his father, a wide grin on his face. "I love jelly, and it's fun when the peanut butter gets stuck to the top of my mouth. Thanks a bunch!"
And as their son eagerly dug into the sandwiches, the man and his wife shared another look.
One filled with gratitude for their child's joy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

For cooking together

1. The children have to learn from someone, so why not you?
2. Because it can show how well you work with others.
3. It'll give you a chance to finally get great aunt Marien's apple pie recipe.
4. It means you get to help eat all the extra cookies.
5. Because the best food fights happen in the kitchen.
6. Because it is a learning opportunity for both you and whoever you're cooking with.
7. Those who cook together usually don't complain about surprises in their food.
8. It gives you an excuse to hang out together.
9. Because then there is more than one person to blame if the waffles burn.
10. Because you'll need someone to talk to while waiting for the timer to beep.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Once I took my dragon on a walk

Once I took my dragon on a walk.
We went around the entire block.
We came upon a harpy, who's talons went clack-clack.
My dragon chose to eat her, as a little snack.
We turned left at the corner, and there we met a mourner.
So saddened by the visit of a banshee.
My dragon spat a bit of flame, and made the banshee accept the blame.
We continued down the road, and met a very ugly toad.
My dragon gave it just one look.
That was all it took.
The toad hasn't been seen since.
And neither has the prince.
Our walk ended by the lake, when my dragon complained of a bellyache.
After much hacking, the harpy emerged clacking.
And my dragon and I watched her fly away.

Friday, November 13, 2015

To give your cat a bath

1. Because you want to be clawed to death.
2. Because the cat ate all of your bacon.
3. Because it walked through wet paint.
4. Because the toddler styled its fur with mushed peas.
5. Because your friend dared you to.
6. Because the cat rolled in dirt.
7. Because the dog slobbered all over the cat.
8. Because a clean cat is a happy cat. (At least after it dries.)
9. Because a tongue just isn't able to get rid of all that tree sap.
10. Because your cat is weird and likes water.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The star operator

Astro was afraid of the dark.
Which was kind of a bad thing, since he was a star.
Well, technically a star operator.
He'd taken the job because it sounded like a great gig. Spend a couple of months controlling a sphere in space, and get a ton of cash in exchange.
He'd expected to get the chance to catch up on shows. Maybe get a hobby.
He didn't expect to spend those months in the dark.
They didn't tell him that the control panel only lit up when the star required maintenance.
He spent the first day trying to figure out how to turn on the lights.
On the second day, he tried to turn the star around.
The third day, the a button on the panel lit. Astro clung to the light for as long as he could.
But the light began to fade.
Frantic, Astro pushed the button.
The light vanished, and another button lit.
And so the days went.
Whenever the panel lit, Astro had only a few moments before it would dim. When the maintenance was complete, he was thrown back into darkness.
On the cycle went, with each instance of light being far too short.
Astro lost track of the days, trapped there in the dark.
Something in the air most have provided nourishment, for he didn't remember eating.
All that mattered were those moments when the control panel lit.
The light hurt.
But it was better than the darkness.
Suffocating darkness.
It altered everything. His thoughts, his memories. Time itself seemed meaningless in the dark.
How much time had passed?
A week?
A month?
He didn't know.
He only wanted the light of the control panel to return.
When would it come back?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Uses for mind control

1. So that you can have an army of frogs that actually listen to your commands.
2. Because how else does a little girl get her big brother to play dolls with her?
3. Because it can explain why a character is acting unusual.
4. So that you won't feel embarrassed when dancing like a chicken.
5. Because mind control is a valued skill for any villain.
6. So that you will give the dog your food. He obviously needs it more than you.
7. Because how else can you be sure that your friends really like you?
8. So that your audience doesn't leave before the story is finished.
9. Because otherwise cats wouldn't get the adoration that they believe they deserve.
10. Why else would you swing a pocket watch back and forth in front of someone?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Prince Phillip and the jackalope

Once upon a time, there was a prince named Phillip.
Phillip was a happy boy, always eager to ride his horse around the castle. His father had only one rule when it came to Phillip's riding: never go into the forest.
For behind the castle was a huge forest, where all kinds of not too friendly creatures lived.
Each day while Phillip was out riding, he would pause at the fork in the path that led to the forest.
He would look toward the forest, at the wildflowers that grew at its edge.
Then he would remember his father's rule, and take the left path back toward the castle.
In the middle of March, on a bright, sunny day, Phillip and his father had a fight.
Angry, Phillip stormed out of the castle. He leaped onto his horse and galloped out the gate.
His horse charged down the path, hooves kicking up dirt.
When he came to the fork, Phillip didn't remember his father's rule.
Down the right path his horse went, toward the forest.
The wildflowers at the edge were soon left behind, and the forest grew darker and darker.
Something darted in front of Phillip's horse, and the creature reared.
Phillip fell, and his horse ran.
Alone, Phillip got to his feet and looked around.
The forest didn't look very nice. Not like the wildflowers.
Phillip started walking down the path, though he didn't know if it was toward the castle or deeper into the forest.
After a while, Phillip saw something ahead on the path.
It was a yellow rabbit, with horns on its head.
As Phillip got closer, the rabbit looked up.
"Oh great, a human boy." The rabbit said, a note of disdain in its high voice.
"You can talk!" Phillip couldn't believe it. A talking rabbit!
The rabbit shook its head, eyes narrowing in a glare. "Of course I can. All jackalopes can."
The jackalope turned to hop off the path, and Phillip's heart pounded.
"Wait, don't go!" Phillip cried, and the jackalope paused.
"Can you help me get home?" Phillip asked. The jackalope tapped its foot on the ground, and studied Phillip.
"Why should I help you? Helping a human could get me eaten."
The jackalope gave a great sigh. "Fine, silly human. Come on."
With that, the jackalope darted into the trees.
Phillip chased after the jackalope, scrambling to keep it in sight.
On they ran, with the jackalope always on the verge of getting out of Phillip's view.
Finally, the jackalope stopped at the base of a small mound.
Phillip looked around. Nothing looked familiar. He wasn't even sure which way the path was anymore!
"Where are we?" Phillip asked.
The jackalope looked up at him. "The home of Theresa the jackalope, and of her pet: the human boy."
The jackalope gave one thump of its foot, and the ground beneath Phillip opened.
Phillip fell into the burrow below, and the after Theresa the jackalope jumped down, hole snapped closed like a mouth.
And though Phillip's father and all his knights searched the forest, Prince Phillip was never seen again.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Things that make me happy

1. My family. Sometimes we may annoy one another, but I wouldn't trade my family for any other.
2. Good books. A good book that stays with you long after you've finished it is a great friend, one which I hope everyone can find.
3. French bread and apple juice. Because yummy food can brighten almost any day.
4. Tatting. Having a craft that you understand how to do is a wonderful feeling, especially when you've grown up around crafty people. I love being able to tat bookmarks and other things that I can then give as gifts to people.
5. Being able to breathe through my nose. That may seem kind of silly, but for most of my life I couldn't breathe very well through my nose. So being able to easily breathe through my nose is amazing, and makes me very happy.
6. A good night's sleep. Sleep is important, and sometimes you don't remember that until experiencing a poor night of sleep.
7. Water. Water is vital to life, and I'm grateful to have access to clean water.
8. Medicine. Being able to get medicine that helps to relieve your aches and fight whatever illness you may be suffering from is a wonderful gift.
9. Animals. Having the love of an animal can help to turn a bad day into a better one.
10. Having time to think. Time is expensive, but being able to take some of it to focus on the thoughts you've had that day can help you to better understand yourself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Apples and oranges

In the battle between apples and oranges, there can be only one victor.
The apples laud their ability to ward off doctors, while oranges mock all who dare attempt to rhyme with them.
Both find frequently grace the breakfast table with their deliciousness, and squeeze themselves into juice boxes as well.
In many ways, the two foes appear evenly matched.
But in this battle, the victor is neither the apple nor the orange.
It is you, the one who consumed them.

Friday, October 23, 2015

To give your antagonist some good traits

1. Because it makes them more believable.
2. Because it gives them something for the audience to relate to.
3. Because it keeps them from becoming predictable.
4. Because otherwise they risk becoming dull characters.
5. Because it adds complexity to their character.
6. Because it makes it more likely for the protagonist to have something in common with the antagonist.
7. Because it can build trust between the antagonist and their minons.
8. Because it gives them the possibility of finding redemption.
9. Because it gives them something to confuse the protagonist with.
10. Because it is more challenging for the antagonist to balance both their good traits and their bad ones.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The trouble with ice cream

Do you know the trouble with ice cream?
It melts.
Slowly, until it slips off the cone, or so quickly that your fingers become covered in it.
Some people will stir with their spoon until the ice cream becomes a soup.
Others try to gobble it up before any bit can drip away.
Some take little licks, turning the cone so that each side is given a turn.
Others take bite after bite, then groan as a brain freeze hits.
There are so many flavors, and none can agree on which is the very best.
Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. The list goes on and on.
Do you know the other problem with ice cream?
There is never enough to share.
And everyone cries when their scoop falls to the ground.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Halloween earring ideas

1. Pumpkins.
2. Bones.
3. Bats.
4. The moon.
5. A witch's hat.
6. Candy corn.
7. Cats.
8. Spiders.
9. A cauldron.
10. Ghosts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The swan and the witch

Moonlight rippled upon the lake's surface.
If not for its light, I could have escaped.
"Owen, my darling, come to me!" A familiar voice called from the dock. I'd come to loathe that voice, and the power it held over me. Even now, I glided through the water toward it.
The women standing on the dock was beautiful. Dressed in fine silk that seemed to capture the moonlight, while the breeze played with her long red hair.
I stopped a foot from the end of the dock. Curving back my neck, I half raised my wings and let out a hiss.
"Still vexed over a little spell?" She gave a laugh, though her grey eyes grew cold. "I thought you would have finally recognized the folly in your obstinance."
I gave another hiss, wishing I could speak in this form. Then I'd tell Sidonia exactly what I thought of her spell.
"Oh well, you do make an exquisite swan." Bending, she beckoned with one finger. The pressure of her summons tugged at my heart, and I had to close the distance. As she ran her fingers through my feathers, Sidonia sighed. "This would be far more pleasant if you simply accepted my proposal."
I turned my head away. Marry her, and I'd no longer be imprisoned on this lake. No longer be trapped in the form of a swan.
Marry her, and my people would have a witch as their queen.
And I'd be reduced to nothing more than a puppet king.
Turning back toward her, I released another hiss.
Sidonia's grip tightened, and pain flared as she ripped out a handful of my feathers.
"Foolish boy." There was nothing kind in her voice now. "You will come to accept me. I'll keep you here for however long it takes."
She straightened, and gently brushed the handful of my feathers against her cheek. "After all darling, you gave me your heart."

Friday, October 9, 2015

First date ideas

1. Eating ice cream. Each person has their own favorite flavor, and learning why it is their favorite provides a nice starting point for conversation.
2. Going to the library. You both get an opportunity to share your favorite books, and by deciding on a new book to read at the same time, you'll have a reason for a second date.
3. Going out to eat. Sharing a meal is also a chance to share your interests.
4. Watching a movie. Now, you don't have to go to the theater, and sometimes it's more fun to have the movie be an old favorite. That way, you have a chance to laugh and make comments about your favorite parts.
5. A hike. Getting outside can be fun. Being outside with someone someone whose company you enjoy can make the hike even more enjoyable.
6. Playing games. Board games, card games, it doesn't really matter what kind it is. Being able to see how a person reacts to both winning and losing is important, especially when you're getting to know someone.
7. Go dancing. Even if you have two left feet, dancing can be fun, especially when your dance partner is fun to be around.
8. Playing sports. If you share an interest in the same sport, then why not play together? You may just find that you make excellent teammates.
9. Cooking together. Whether it is cookies, pasta, or fried chicken, the time spent together preparing food can be exciting or terrifying, depending on how well both of you can cook.
10. Going to a museum. As you study the different exhibits, you may find that you share an interest in the same subject. Or you may find that the same thing is equally boring to both of you, and share a laugh because of it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dragons and their stomachs

How do you feed a dragon?
Very carefully.
You see, dragons have very sensitive stomachs, and even the slightest change to their diet results in severe heartburn.
Which with dragons, means fire.
Lots of fire.
This is because when a dragon experiences any indigestion, the contents of their stomach are rapidly converted into a partially liquefied compound which when expelled, ignites upon contact with the air.
Since this happens often because of their sensitive stomachs, dragons rarely digest a full meal.
Which means they are constantly ravenous.
So the next time you find yourself facing a hungry dragon, remember how sensitive their stomachs are and offer them your spicy peppers before they can consume you.
It may just give you time to get away.

Friday, October 2, 2015

To take notes

1. So that you have a reference to use later.
2. So you can keep awake during the dull moments of a class.
3. Because writing it down can help you remember the information.
4. So that you have a guide that you can glance at when needed.
5. Because then you can help others remember what they are supposed to do.
6. Because those notes may become inspiration for other projects.
7. They can help keep complicated things from accidentally tangling together.
8. So you explain how you figured something out.
9. Because your notes could help someone else learn how to do what you did.
10. Because sometimes you need a little reminder.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hydras are such a headache

The hydra was in a bad mood.
Dozens of head writhed frantically, snapping at each other with enough ferocity to behead.
Which explained why the zoo no longer had a three-headed hydra.
"How long has she been like this?" I asked, turning away from the enclosure to glare at the zookeepers. The younger two shifted nervously, but the third just shook his head.
"Since eleven."
"And you waited eight hours before contacting help?" I said, and the younger two flinched at my tone. How could they have been so careless? Hadn't they noticed the hydra's distress, especially when her heads started fighting?
"We thought it was just irritated by the harpies." Said the younger man, shaking as I glared at him. Barely more than boy, that one. Why they let him around the mythics, I would figure out later.
"I'll have to go in." I said, and final zookeeper started.
"You won't kill her, will you?" She asked, chin trembling as she glanced toward my belt.
I gave a grunt and turned away. "Charmers do what needs done."
Getting into the enclosure was easy, since the hydra was too preoccupied with its heads to notice me. As I approached the creature, I slipped my baton from its sheath. As I lifted it, a long ribbon of magic sprouted from one end and caught the wind.
Of course, it caught the hydra's attention.
All of the heads hissed at once as they turned to me. I twirled the baton, the ribbon of magic coiling in tight loops at the movement.
"Hey girl, I think you've snapped off enough heads for today." It was hard to hide my grin as I stared at the creature. This was my favorite part of being a charmer. Facing off with mythics like the hydra, never entirely sure if I'd walk away uneaten at the end of the day.
I'd been eaten once, and it wasn't fun enough to do again.
The heads on the right shot forward, and I cracked the baton like a whip.
Heads hit the ground with a thud, with the necks neatly cauterized by the baton's magic ribbon.
The remaining heads let out angry hisses, and struck.
I scurried away, snapping out lone heads when I could.
It was great fun, though my supervisor would likely complain that it was excessive pruning.
When there were only four heads left, I put away the baton. As the next head came at me, I jumped onto it.
Releasing a pouch from my belt, I tossed it in the head's mouth. It gobbled it up, and shuddered once before going limp.
Repeating the process with two more heads, I finally faced the main head.
I knew it was the main head by its scales. Hydra's always had one head which was a different shade than the others, and that head influenced all the others.
"You're alright, girl." I said, voice gentle as the main head gave a weak hiss. She probably felt the sedative I'd fed the other heads. Which was good, since that meant I could get closer without having to knock her out as well.
"You've had a rough day, haven't you?" I felt on my belt for the final pouch, knowing I'd only have one chance. The hydra head was moving slower now, with delicate movements.
I took one more step toward her, and the hydra's mouth opened to hiss.
And I threw in the pouch.
It swallowed the pouch, and the hydra blinked. The glazed look of pain faded from her black eyes, and the hydra relaxed. Even the unconscious heads seemed more at ease now.
I slowly backed away, though the creature was no longer interested in me.
Once safely outside the enclosure, I found the three zookeepers waiting for me.
"What did you do?" The girl asked, practically bouncing in her excitement.
"Trimmed the excess heads, subdued the secondaries, and gave the primary some pain killer." I said, before pointing at the head zookeeper. "Never let your hydra get such a bad headache again, or I'll revoke your mythic license."
He nodded, and my work was done.

Friday, September 25, 2015

To care for your feet

1. So they don't hurt.
2. So that you'll always be able to run away from bears.
3. Because you can't play kick the can with your hands.
4.Because ingrown toenails are painful.
5. Because when your only weakness is your heel, you'll need to do more than wear a pair of sandals.
6.Because toe jam doesn't taste good on sandwiches.
7. Because how else would you show off your cool socks?
8. Because hiking on sore feet is never fun.
9. Because if you don't watch out for them, your dance partner will crush them.
10. Because if they're swollen, how could you lose a glass slipper at the ball?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The new monster

There was a new monster under the bed.
Joey wasn't sure what kind it was, but he could hear the old ones chattering with it.
There was the clack-clack of the biter bird, and the click-click of the crab claws. He couldn't hear the whippersnapper, but it was always quiet.
At least, until it came out to scare him.
Curling up beneath the covers, Joey tried to listen to the new monster's grumbling and guess what it was. A bear with glowing eyes? Or maybe a rhino with snake skin.
The bed creaked, and the monsters chattering stopped.
Joey squeezed his eyes shut. "They're not real. They're not real." He whispered, the words coming out in a rush. His dad had checked under the bed, and he said there weren't any monsters.
His dad knew lots of stuff, so surely he was right about this.
Joey felt the edge of the bed sink, and imagined a scaly claw pulling itself out from underneath it.
A faint noise, like a dog's paws on carpet.
Joey didn't have a dog. If he did, then it would've scared the monsters away.
Something brushed the top of the covers, and Joey froze.
Slowly, the covers shifted, and Joey stared into glowing yellow eyes.
"Aah!" Joey shrank into his pillow as he screamed, and the yellow eyed monster jumped back.
"Aah!" The monster echoed his cry, stumbling as it backed away from the bed. "Don't eat me!"
Joey pulled his covers up and peeked from behind them. "Eat you? Don't eat me!"
The monster blinked, the glow from its eyes vanishing and reappearing a few times.
"Eat you? Monsters don't eat children. You eat us!"
Joey sat up a little. "No we don't."
"Yes you do." The monster gave a grumble and jerked a claw to the toy chest, where Joey's stuffed alligator was hanging out. "You eat our insides, then stuff and shrink us!"
"That's a toy, not a monster." Joey lowered the covers a little and frowned. "If you're not going to eat me, then what are you doing?"
The monster swished its long furry tail and looked down. "Rodger dared me."
"Rodger?" Joey asked, then started as a crab claw peeked over the side of the bed. The monster gave another grumble.
"My cousin. He says I can't play with them unless I scare you."
Joey looked at the monster, and realized that it didn't really seem scary. It had claws, and glowing yellow eyes, but it also was covered in long brown fur that stuck out at odd angles.
"You did scare me." He told it, even though he wasn't very scared anymore. The monster's eyes seemed to glow brighter.
"Really? Great!" The monster barred sharp teeth in a grin, then dived back under the bed.
As Joey settled back under the covers, he heard the monsters chatter begin again.
Only now, the new monster didn't seem so scary.

Friday, September 18, 2015

For helping others

1. To ease burdens.
2. To build friendships.
3. To share talents.
4. To set an example.
5. To provide comfort.
6. To relieve stress.
7. To bring joy.
8. To have fun.
9. To strengthen family bonds.
10. To improve yourself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Crowman

The flowers withered at her touch.
"Oh," Turning, the woman set the dried husks on the balcony's stone railing. She stayed like that for a moment, a hand hovering over the bouquet as she stared out into the twilight.
The young man who'd given her the flowers shifted behind her, possibly regretting his decision to waste that night's token on the enchantress.
That is what they called her, though such disrespect was unbecoming in courtiers.
Taking a quiet breath, the woman stilled her expression, though her silver mask hid all but her red lips.
Red like the roses he'd given her, before her touch destroyed their beauty.
Turning back to the young man, she twisted those lips into a smile.
"I accept."
He straightened, though the stiff movements as he offered her his arm betrayed his apprehension.
As they strolled into the ballroom, the women studied the courtiers which filled it. Men. Young men, filling the room with the musky scent of their cologne and the sickening stench of roses. Yet there were only three things all the men had in common.
They were beautiful.
They were noble.
And they were prisoners.
As she and her escort moved to the center of the dance floor, the crowd of men parted to allow eleven other couples through.
She barely glanced at the men her sisters had ensnared tonight, or at the lovely corsages that graced their dainty wrists.
Instead, she stared at the one man who didn't move to the edge of the room with the others. Older, with hair darker than a crow and a feathered mask to match.
Her sisters settled into their positions on either side of her, forming the crescent moon which always seemed to embrace the old crow.
The young man shifted to face her, and the crowman was blocked from view. Draping one hand on the young man's shoulder as he took her other in his hand, the woman noted his clumsiness.
It wouldn't take long for him to tire.
Yet as the music began, she almost found herself hoping that he would last to the end of the night.
They danced slowly at first, their crescent spinning around with the crowman always at its center. The young man did better than she expected, making it through that first dance without stumbling.
During the second dance, the tempo increased, and the dancers broke from the crescent.
Weaving through patterns that shifted into another just as the young men figured them out, the twelve sisters never lost the music's rhythm.
Their feet moved with each note, pulsing, aching as the soft slippers they wore deteriorated.
The women knew the moment her partner slipped.
His hand lost its grip to hers, and her hand grasped empty air instead of his shoulder.
On she danced, partnerless.
She savoured those brief beats, almost allowing herself to hope that she hadn't been the first.
Then a cool hand with a puckered scar on the palm clasped hers.
"My enchantress." The crowman's voice was soft, with its usual allure that called the ear to heed.
The woman turned her head away as his other arm wrapped around her waist. "How is it that my courtiers always faint before the fifth dance?"
The crowman rubbed her back with his thumb. "Perhaps if the lady would tour the ballroom with her sisters, a more capable partner would present himself."
The woman turned to face him, resting her hand on his shoulder. Spending her free moments in the ballroom wouldn't get her a stronger partner, even if she flirted with the men as her sisters did.
No, being in the ballroom would mean placing herself beneath the crowman's gaze.
Spending most of every night dancing with him was more than enough.
She stared at that feathered mask, and they danced in silence for a while. Beneath the music, she heard as her sisters lost their partners to exhaustion and received shadowmen as replacements.
Her feet were a constant agony, but they refused to obey her desires.
They wouldn't stop until the music did.
"We could end this now." The crowman said, in that persuading tone that almost begged her to give in. "One word, and the dance ends."
"One word, and my sisters go home, along with all these courtiers." The woman's voice was ragged, breath coming in quiet gasps now. She knew the night must be near an end. The crowman always waited until then to voice his bargain.
"They all go free. Your sisters wake in their beds, feet sore but minds free from any memory of this place." The crowman shook his head, as if such a fate was horrid.
"They would forget me." The woman glanced toward the other dancers, but all she saw were glimpses of masks and shadows.
"Else they might be tempted to venture into my domain a second time, and I'd be forced to keep them." The note of pleasure in the crowman's voice sent a shiver through the woman.
One word, and she could end the dance. Send her sisters home.
And condemn herself to the crowman.
If she held her tongue until the dawn, then she would have a reprieve.
Another day to ease the pain of tattered feet, and dread the coming of night.
Another night of new courtiers in the crowd, and the previous night's dance partners nowhere in sight.
It all hung on a single word.
Staring at the feathered mask, the woman took a breath.
The music stopped at the sound of her name.
Her legs gave out, and the crowman caught her in strong arms.
The ballroom was empty of all but her and the crowman.
He laughed, a caw of a sound.
"Adelaide, my enchantress." He spun her around, and she could imagine his smile beneath the mask. "Such a beautiful name for my bride."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pleasant things

1. Finding a penny on the ground. Sure, it's not worth much on its own, but finding one is always a nice surprise.
2. Hearing your favorite song play at a store. Sometimes your favorite song isn't popular,but hearing it play in a public place can brighten your day.
3. Children. Kids can be cute, and often offer smiles to anyone they meet. It can be difficult to maintain a sour mood after encountering a happy child.
4. Waking up refreshed in the morning. When you wake feeling good after a restful night, it provides a happy foundation for the rest of the day.
5. A cool glass of water. Sometimes, a refreshing drink is all you need.
6. Running into a friend, Your friends can be a strengthening influence, and there are times when that is all you need.
7. Having a pet. Be it a dog, cat, or even a goldfish, having something there to greet you when you get home is great.
8. Comfortable shoes. Being able to wear something that won't leave your feet aching by the end of the day is quite enjoyable.
9. A quiet moment. With the craziness of daily life, being able to take even a brief moment for yourself is wonderful.
10. Family. Your family can be a pillar of strength and support in your life. Cherish each day with them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part VI

For three days, I either studied salamanders, gathered volcanic rocks, or worked with Mervyn.
I learned that some salamanders were poisonous, so much so that they could taint water merely by touching it. Others could cause trees to wither. Some never ate anything, but survived by bathing in flames.
Mervyn couldn't do any of this.
My salamander didn't get larger when placed in a bonfire. He consumed enough fish during one meal to fill a wagon, and nothing about the little salamander was poisonous.
Mervyn did learn how to control his inner fire during training, so now Ruebin didn't squeal when Mervyn sat on his back.
Now back on the plain, I strode toward the newest challenger.
A young girl with pigtails, her moon rabbit was a sleek little thing that gave off a milky glow.
This is my first challenge!” The girl announced as she shook my hand. Mervyn and the moon rabbit were watching each other, the rabbit's gray nose twitching.
Your moon rabbit looks well cared for.” I said, and the girl grinned.
Spots is the best, he can do anything!” The girl smiled at the moon rabbit, and the milky glow brightened. A moon rabbit was a great champion for a child, as they drew strength from the imagination of their master.
After we recited the traditional opening of a challenge, our champions took off.
Spots the moon rabbit was fast, but that milky glow revealed his position in the tall grass.
And even though Mervyn wasn't big, or poisonous, or anything else a dangerous salamander was supposed to be, he was fast.
Fast enough to catch this moon rabbit, and win his second challenge.
And so we added a moonberry orchard to the mainland.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Animals that eat mice

1. Barn owls.
2. Cats.
3. Snakes.
4. Coyotes.
5. Lizards.
6. Skunks.
7. Tarantulas.
8. Ferrets.
9. Hamsters.
10. Hawks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part V

My new volcano was hot.
Really, really hot.
Wiping sweat off my forehead, I looked over at the lava flow far to my right. Mervyn's head popped out of the lava, the molten rock slipping off the salamander like water.
Dreadful place.” Ruebin crossed his arms and pawed at the dark, rocky ground with a hoof. He had a pair of saddlebags bulging with volcanic rocks strapped to him, and he wasn't happy about it.
It seems to me that centaurs are rarely happy. Though having to act the role of a pack mule probably didn't inspire a cheery mood.
Mervyn likes it, and the rocks might fetch enough credits to start repairs to the barn.” I said, smiling as we headed down to the dock. If Ruebin didn't want to improve the barn, then he wouldn't haul the rocks.
You never know, maybe centaurs liked leaky roofs.
He got lucky, facing a grass element. If it had been a lynxoon or a cragar, he'd be dead.”
Reaching the dock, I started unloading the rocks into a chest inside the shed. At a hundred and fifty credits a stone, they were the best export I'd ever collected. And as a favored food of many fire element champions, I knew someone would buy them.
We have the respite before anyone can challenge us again.” I'd never thought about how I would spend the three days a champion received after surviving a challenge. Why would I, when my first champion had been a scrawny moon rabbit, and the three after that spotted carps?
But now that I had the champion's respite, I wanted to take advantage of the volcano.
After all, Mervyn's next challenger probably would be a water element like the lynxoon.
And if he lost, I would probably lose the volcano too.
Use that time well.” Ruebin's tail swished as he turned to looked at Mervyn swimming in the lava. “And train that lizard to do more than play.”
Finishing with the first saddlebag, I nodded. “I'll try, but I don't know anything about salamanders.”
Ruebin gave a horselike snort. “Then learn.”

Friday, August 28, 2015

To get a sidekick

1. So that you can pass down your knowledge. You've got a talent for birdcalls, and if you didn't have a sidekick eager to learn, then who would you teach them to?
2. So you have backup. Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and it can be comforting to know that someone has your back.
3. So someone can witness your awesomeness. It can be nice to have someone notice when you do something amazing, even if that thing is simply reciting the alphabet backwards.
4. So that you have someone to remind you of what is important. When you've lost sight of the reason for your actions, sometimes you need a friend to help you get refocused.
5. Because you need a friend. A sidekick knows what you're facing, and also knows how to make you laugh about it.
6. So that you'll have someone to run errands. After all, who else is going to get you doughnuts?
7. So you have someone to talk to. It can get boring working alone. With a sidekick, you'll finally have someone to talk to during the dull moments.
8. They're better than a fish. A sidekick can go on adventures with you, while a fish just swims around its tank.
9. They might teach you something. A sidekick will add another perspective to whatever you do, and a different set of skills. You might be able to learn something cool, like how to make a pecan pie.
10. So you have someone to be the distraction. How else are you supposed to rescue the cookies from the cooling racks?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part IV

My salamander was on fire.
The boy moved to his rosion. “Dire, get up!” His voice was firm, though the hand he stretched out to the creature shook.
The rosion's eyes rustled open like brittle leaves. It looked at the boy, and gave a soft huff before its eyes closed.
The boy stroked the rosion's left ear, then turned to me. “We yield.”
I stared at him, and the boy shifted and glanced at his injured champion. “The victory is yours.” He said, and I shook my head.
Um, right. I accept, the battle's done.” I'd never won, never had to end the battle. Usually, I hoped that the victor would be satisfied with simply beating my champion.
Unfortunately, most kept the battle going until the spotted carp was ready to cook.
The boy relaxed, shoulders loosening as he turned back to his rosion and pulled out a medical kit.
I turned and found a scorched trail through the grass. Looking down, Mervyn sat in a smoldering pile near my feet.
Thanks for not climbing onto my shoe.” I said, crouching down to look at him. Heat poured off of him, and a ribbon of flame danced between the brown spots on his back. He tilted his head, and gave me a look that could almost be a smile. Smiling back, I lowered my voice. “And thanks for not dying.”
Straightening, I walked over to the boy and his rosion.
The boy was quick, and already had the rosion's burns neatly bandaged. When he saw me, the boy straightened.
What will you claim?” He asked, pulling out a map. As he unrolled it, the features became three dimensional. Forests covered a vast mainland, and a chain of islands curled around a squat volcano and its needle sharp twin. The rest of the realm appeared to be a vast garden.
This was new, seeing someone else's realm and getting to choose a piece to add to mine.
Pulling out my own map, I opened it. My relatively bare mainland and tiny training island were almost laughable. Anything from his realm would be an improvement to mine.
Glancing back to where I'd last seen Mervyn, I thought about the smoldering grass.
I'd like that.” I pointed at the squat volcano. The boy nodded, and plucked it off his map. Holding it out between two fingers, he offered it to me.
Taking it, I was surprised by the warmth that it gave off. Studying my map, I selected a spot a good distance from my training island and set the volcano in the sea.
The ground beneath us trembled slightly, then settled.
Rolling up his map, the boy rubbed his shoulder and shook his head. “I underestimated your salamander.”
He surprised me too.” I said, putting away my map. I held out a hand. “I hope your rosion heals well.”

The boy gave a half smile, and took my hand. “And hopefully your salamander continues to surprise.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Things that can be creepy

1. Eyeshine. You're sitting there, and in the dark corner of the room something shines. Two somethings. Fluffy doesn't seem so sweet with light in her eyes.
2. Waking before your alarm. You've woken early, and the house is silent. Except for those strange noises you keep hearing, and in the darkness, those noises could be anything.
3. Music. Sometimes, a chord is struck while you're listening to a song, and suddenly you don't feel quite as comfortable.
4. Closets. It's just a small room, right? But some closets are more pleasant than others.
5. Unexpected flavors. You get a doughnut. It looks like your favorite kind, and you take a huge bite. Only, it isn't your favorite. Its something odd, a flavor you can't name. And eating something without knowing what it is can be quite unsettling.
6. A smile. Sometimes, you can sense when someone's smile isn't sincere. Other times, you don't consciously realize. But something still makes you uneasy.
7. An empty room. Rooms are rarely empty of anything. When you do come across such a room, it can make you nervous.
8. Vacuums. They start off sounding one way, but then midway through cleaning, it suddenly shifts in volume and tone. But when you check, nothing is clogging it.
9. A dying toy. You know those toys that talk? When one starts to die, the change to its voice can be discomforting.
10. The wind. Sometimes it whistles, sometimes it gently blows. Then there are the moments when it shrieks and howls, or moans like an injured beast. There is a sound of the wind for any occasion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part III

One of the interesting things about champions is their natural instinct to protect their realm.
Even a week old spotted carp will try to fight when a challenge is issued.
Mervyn... was playing hide and seek.
The rosion let out another roar that sent thorns blasting into the tall grass. A breeze made the grass rustle, which hopefully helped hide Mervyn's position.
Until the rosion twisted, and I saw sandstone amongst the green.
On the rosion's back.
“On top of you, Dire!” The boy shouted, and the rosion's head contorted as it strained to see my salamander.
If Mervyn had any offensive ability, now would be the time to use it.
But no, the little salamander lowered its head between two frightfully long thorns on the rosion's back.
Unable to reach Mervyn with its mouth, the rosion twisted and leaped, trying to shake the salamander off.
“Mervyn, do something!” I said, and thought I saw the little salamander glance at me. What was I expecting him to do, Suddenly sprout wings and become a dragon?
Apparently, Mervyn had other ideas.
The rosion gave a vicious jerk, and the salamander sailed through the air.
“Dire, now!” The boy called, and his rosion pounced.
Catching Mervyn as he fell, the two creatures landed in a particularly tall clump of grass.
“No.” Covering my face with my hands, I turned away. I'd liked the little salamander. And now with his failure, I'd probably lose the mainland. I didn't have enough credits to get another champion egg and a new mainland. And without the mainland's harvest potential, I couldn't keep this realm running.
I heard the rosion's triumphant rumble, that one I knew meant it was about to bite down.
That's how my second spotted carp died, so I hadn't forgotten the sound.
There was a boom, and a ferocious explosion of heat rammed into me.
Twisting around, I stared at where the rosion had been.
It was lying near the boy, the right half of its face charred, and devoid of red petals.
And within an ashy circle where the thick clump of grass had been sat Mervyn, his back engulfed by flames.

Friday, August 14, 2015

To steal someone's seat

1. So that you can have a quick chat with your friend. After all, you just need a question answered, and will probably be out of the chair before its owner gets back.
2. Because it provides a better view. You want these pictures to be good, and if they ask for their seat back, you'll move.
3. As a joke. They're always taking your seat, so why not turn the tables for once?
4. Because you need to get away from the person seated next to you. For some reason, you don't want to spend another minute next to this person, and notice someone leave their seat. Quick! Take it before they get back!
5. Because you want to be on the same team as your friend. They're using the old one-two method to pick teams, and if you stay where you are, you're going to be on the wrong side. So in order to be with your buddies, you move to take that seat while its former occupant is getting a drink.
6. Because a cat stole yours. You don't have it in you to move the cat, so you'll let your best friend do it when they get back.
7. Because it is more comfortable than yours. You've got a boring metal chair, while they have a nice cushioned one.
8. Because it is closer to the food. Come on, who wouldn't want that seat?
9. It has better lighting. You've got a book, and they've been playing on their phone. Which person needs that light more?
10. So that they'll talk to you. You're too nervous to start the conversation, but if they say something first, then perhaps you'll be able to reply.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part II

With the week's reprieve nearly done, Mervyn hadn't done anything to relieve my anxiety.
Sure, the little salamander was fast, but that seemed to be his only ability. No venom, no sharp teeth or claws.
Pulling out my battered scanner, I aimed it at the salamander as he scurried through the training course. The machine gave a few beeps, and Mervyn's information filled the screen.
Frowning, I smacked my hand against the scanner's side. “Dumb thing is still malfunctioning.”
Ruebin snatched the scanner from me. “Fire element? If that lizard has any fire at all, then I'm a pack mule.”
We're going to die.” I groaned, rubbing my forehead. Pressure against my foot caught my attention, and I looked down. Mervyn was looking up at me from on top of my foot. His mouth opened wide.
Alright,” I reached into the bag at my hip and pulled out a fish. I dropped it, and Mervyn caught it and scurried away. I turned back to Ruebin. “That's another thing. He eats more than you, yet hasn't grown at all. Where is it all going?”
The centaur shrugged. “Perhaps to those spots on his back. They've swollen a bit.”
Two bulges on a salamander's back weren't enough to explain the lack of growth. Even a spotted carp doubled in size during its first week.
What will I do when the challenge arrives? Quick feet aren't enough to win.” I glanced at my watch, and swallowed when I saw the time. “We've only got couple of minutes.” The first week always ended at the exact time that the new champion hatched at.
For Mervyn, that was 7:17PM.
He only has to win once.” Ruebin said, then his tail lashed as his torso twisted. “Get off me, lizard!”
Mervyn's head tilted, and I had to stifle a laugh. I didn't know how he kept managing to get on Ruebin's back, but that was Mervyn's favorite spot.
The salamander lowered his head into the centaur's dun coat, seemingly untroubled as the centaur tried to shake him off.
A ding echoed in my ear, and I stopped laughing. Touching my watch, I twisted the face to activate the transportation spell.
Back before my viewscreen, I pulled up my messages as my stomach settled into a knot.
There it was.
A challenge.
Opening the message, I held my breath.
It was from a young constructor, whose realm was only a little larger than mine. He wasn't wasting any time, and had set the challenge to take place in five minutes.
Sighing, I sent a confirmation, along with the coordinates to where the battle would take place.
At least as I always got to pick the battleground. Benefits of being the defender.
Tapping at the console, I collected Mervyn and relocated him to a grassy plain. Reaching for the knob, I twisted it.
Stumbling in the grass, I resisted the urge to throw up. When I felt something on my foot, I looked down at Mervyn.
Alright boy, we just have to hope that you can survive this. Not all challenges have to end with one of the champions dead.” They didn't have to, but so far all of mine had.
Mervyn tilted his head, then turned as a pop sounded from across the plain.
Not good.
The boy was my age, but it was his champion that held my attention. A lithe creature that looked like it had been plucked off a rose bush, its green limbs were covered in thorns. A mane of red petals encircled its head, which was shaped like a lion.
Where's your champion?” The boy called as the rosion gave a catlike stretch. Bending, I picked up Mervyn. The boy laughed. “It hasn't gotten any bigger!”
So he'd seen Mervyn's introduction photo when the information about my realm updated last week.
He's big enough.” I shot back, though my voice trembled. Mervyn stared at me with his dark eyes, and I swallowed. “You are big enough.” I told him softly. He was just the right size for that rosion to eat.
I set Mervyn down, and looked at the boy. “Make your challenge.”
The boy smirked, running a hand through sandy hair. “I, Francis of the Green Realm, challenge you with my champion, Dire.”
I took a step forward. “And I, Corina of the Vail Realm, accept your challenge with my champion, Mervyn.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Things that can rob you of sleep

1. Pets. The new puppy need to go outside at midnight, or the kitten decides that it wants to eat your nose. Pets don't understand why you would rather to sleep.
2. Ideas. The mind is a difficult thing to quiet when it decides to run. A flood of ideas is welcomed when you are trying to work, but when you want to sleep? They can be irritating.
3. Neighbors. Some neighbors are nice, and share a similar desires to sleep at a reasonable hour. Others prefer to have noisy parties until well into the wee hours of the morning. The real question to ask: which are you?
4. Illness. When you are sick, it can be hard to sleep. With a stuffy or runny nose, achy head, and many other potential aliments, a restful night is hard to achieve.
5. Distractions. Sometimes, sleep is put off because there are other things which you find more interesting, or something prevents you from being able to fall asleep. A loud television in the other room, a cliffhanger in the book you just put down, or a younger sibling's anticipation of an upcoming event. There is no end to what might distract from sleep.
6. Fear. When you are afraid, sleep does not come easily. And when it does, the normally restful companion you knew is often exchanged for one riddled with nightmares.
7. Anger. When you are upset, your mind often dwells on the cause. And the more it dwells, the more frustrated you become. So you toss and turn, tension building until finally you fall into a sleep which does not bring any relief.
8. Pain. Injury can make it hard to get comfortable, and a lack of comfort makes sleep difficult to find. Other pains also leave one restless, which often feeds those pains and invites them to linger, thus continuing the cycle.
9. Work. When a thing need to get done, sleep is a common casualty.
10. Uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Sure, some people enjoy a cold rock slab as their bed. Others, a cloud of softness. It's hard to rest when your only option is undesirable, but if you refuse to even try, then sleeplessness has already won.