Friday, May 27, 2016

For spending time alone

1. So you can relax. Having aquiet spot all to yourself can be the perfect way to end a crazy day.
2. So you can think. Sometimes you need to be alone in order for your thoughts to flow.
3. Because it can help you concentrate. Getting something done when children are running around the house screaming in delight can be very difficult. Being by yourself for even a few minutes can help improve your focus.
4. It gives you time to remember. While alone, memories may come to your mind. Good times and bad, being able to think about what you've experienced can be wonderful.
5. So you can get work done. Time by yourself can be very productive. Then again, sometimes being alone feeds procrastination instead.
6. So you can get away from the crazy rush of life. Life often drives over the speed limit. So when you can, find a rest spot and take a moment to catch your breath.
7. Improve your talents. Time by yourself is excellent for improving many different talents. Be it a craft, singing, or simply handwriting, some things can be more comfortable to work on by yourself.
8. So you can sleep. Sleeping is a lot easier when there are no children jumping on your bed, dogs chasing each other, or annoying kittens trying their best to destroy your stuff.
9. So you can be yourself. When you are alone, you needn't worry about anyone laughing while you dance a jig or sing like a frog. Alone time means that the only person you have to be is yourself.
10. Because reading a book is so much easier when other people aren't around to bother you with a conversation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part I

Mother always taught me that a princess never goes looking for trouble.
Princes sought danger, while princesses were to wait for the whatever tragedy would lead them to their true love.
True love, according to my mother, only blossoms in the grip of tragedy.
I guess she would know, having been abducted by trolls while on the way to her best friend's wedding, and then taken from the trolls by a dark wizard, who then was eaten by a dragon, who then took her to its cave. She surely would have been eaten if my father hadn't come to her rescue and slayed the dragon.
And so, true love came in the midst of tragedy.
I always bit my tongue when mother told that story. Surely there was something, anything, that mother could have done to save herself. Trick the trolls, distract the wizard with flattery, quietly sneak away while the dragon ate the wizard.
She could have done something.
"Isidore, do sit up, you'll wrinkle your dress." Mother's voice drew me out of my thoughts. I shifted, smoothing the fabric with my hand.
"I'm sorry, mother." I said, and she gave a sigh.
"I know you'd rather be out riding, but a princess does not appear at an event to which she was invited covered with dust from the road and smelling of a horse." Her nose wrinkled with distaste. I gave a meek nod, though inwardly I sighed.
Of course mother would want me looking presentable at the celebration feast in Clarke. Even though the feast was to celebrate the rescue of Princess Maybelle of Clarke by my brother, Prince Theodore, I had to be presentable.
For although true love came through tragedy, alliances normally came through arranged marriages. And many potential matches would be at the feast.
There was a sudden crack, and the carriage jerked to a stop. Mother and I stumbled in our seats at the loss of momentum.
"Charles?" Mother called, sliding open the screen between the inner carriage and the driver's perch.
"Nothing to fear, my lady. The trunk of the old oak beside the road broke, and most of the tree now lies across the road. Your men should have it cleared away shortly, so we shouldn't be too long delayed." Charles answered, his voice the unnatural calm it always was. Nothing could startle Charles.
"Thank you." Mother said, offering the driver a smile before closing the screen and turning back to me. "It would be simply awful if we were late."
I offered a small nod, though if being late kept Mother from discussing a potential pairing with the mothers of suitable princes. I would welcome it.
For though I didn't dream of some tragedy guiding some charming prince to my rescue, an adventure or two would be nice. Just something exciting to remember fondly after I became like my mother. All boring and responsible.
We waited, Mother chattering about who should be in attendance at the feast, and me trying not to yawn.
A princess never yawned while her mother was speaking, for it was far worse an insult than to show up at a feast with a few wrinkles on your dress.
Beneath Mother's chatter, I thought I heard a shout.
No, the soldiers wouldn't shout about a fallen tree, and they would never give only one alarm cry if there was a threat.
The carriage shifted slightly, as if someone had gotten off suddenly.
Mother kept chattering.
I shifted, glancing toward the small screen to the driver's perch. If there was trouble, Charles would have warned us.
A knock sounded on the carriage door.
Mother stopped chattering. "Who could that be?" There was mild irritation in Mother's voice now. She didn't approve of common soldiers directly addressing their Queen. I waited for Mother's command that I answer it, or for her to turn toward the driver's perch to have Charles take care of the situation.
There was another knock.
Mother turned and slid open the screen. "Charles?"
We waited, but Charles did not respond. "Charles, where are you?" Mother called again, a new, uneasy note tinging her voice.
There came a third knock.
I took a breath and pressed my shaking hands against my lap. Then I moved to the door, and ignoring the gasped protest from my mother, opened it.
A stranger stood there, hand raised to knock once more. His hair was dark, and somewhat shaggy. His clothes were worn, but well made, as was the wide brimmed hat he wore.
"Greetings, milady." The stranger said, opening the fist of his raised hand before taking off his hat and dipping into a bow.
I heard something behind me, and turned to find Mother slumped forward. "Mother!" I moved to her side, and felt my heart ease as I felt her breathing.
"Fear not, for she is merely asleep." The stranger called. I turned to see him with his head craned up to look at me as he maintained his bow.
"What did you do to my men?" I asked. With Mother unconscious, it fell to me to see to the welfare of our people. The stranger smiled, and motioned with the hand that held his hat.
"They are all asleep, and will wake with nothing more than a headache."
Narrowing my eyes, I tried to ignore my relief. They were alive. I focused on the fact that this stranger was still bowing. If he was waiting for my permission to rise, then he'd have a long wait.
"Why are you here?"
"Why?" The stranger shrugged, an awkward looking gesture given his position. "To meet you, of course."
I frowned, and moved away from my mother. Standing within the carriage before the open door, I met the stranger's eyes. "What interest do you have in me?"
The stranger shook his head. "It's nothing personal. No revenge story, no obsession. I need a princess, and you're the first one I found."
Stifling my curiosity, I summoned the fierce, commanding look that I'd learned from my father. "And what need do you have with a princess?"
The stranger grinned, the expression lighting up his blue eyes. "Today is my final exam to become a full wizard, and the options were quite dismal. Summon a dragon, transfigure a lump of lead into gold, or capture a princess."
"I could understand not wishing to meet a dragon, but why choose to hunt down a princess?" I asked, leaning forward a little. The stranger was an apprentice wizard! Some wizards chose to use their powers to serve a particular kingdom, but most were elusive and disliked mingling with non-magicals, while others used their powers wickedly against defenseless innocents.
"I'm not too good at transfiguration." The stranger said, giving another awkward shrug. "But sleeping spells? Those I'm good at. So I figured, find a princess, knock out her guards, and see if she'd be willing to come with me."
I stared at him. Just stared. He met my gaze evenly, though a hint of amusement seemed to flicker through his eyes as the silence stretched.
"What?" I shook my head. "Why would you expect a princess to agree to come with you after you've disabled her guards and put her mother to sleep?" I paused, my lips twitching as I tried not to laugh. "Though perhaps I should thank you for the last part, as Mother's plotting can grow quite tiresome."
The stranger grinned. "I could hear some of it through the carriage." Then he shook his head. "To answer your question, I thought it would be more polite to give the princess a choice. Too many wizards just snatch people. I'd rather have a willing companion than a frightened victim."
I frowned, but my curiosity led me on. "And what would you do with the princess?"
"Take her back to the tower, showing the wizard panel that I can be crafty with the knowledge I've learned, and then probably let her go after the panel gives me full wizard status."
"Probably let her go?"
"Probably." The stranger grinned again, mischief in his gaze. "Unless the panel decides I still need to summon a dragon."
I glanced back at the form of my sleeping mother. She would be horrified if she woke and I was gone. But then again, some part of her would probably be eagerly anxious for some prince to rescue me and become my true love.
"Alright, I'll come." I said, stepping down out of the carriage.
The stranger grinned. "Great! Sorry, but you'll have a bit of a headache."
Before I could ask what he meant, the stranger straightened from his bow and brought his hand forward. I coughed as dust filled my mouth and nose, and darkness filled my mind.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Potential treasure guardians

1. Griffins. They are well known for their ability to protect treasure, and you don't get a reputation  like that for sleeping on the job.
2. Dragons. These terrifying monsters actually can get away with sleeping on the job. Because really, would you risk waking a dragon just to get some gold?
3. Leprechauns. These guys usually specialize in gold, and some can even make the gold vanish if someone takes it. But they aren't really the best security-wise, since all you need to do is find the end of the rainbow.
4. Sphinx. A sphinx can be wonderful at guarding the way to your treasure. But be warned: if you can't solve their riddle, then they might just eat you. It doesn't matter to them that the treasure is yours.
5. A siren. If your treasure is hidden on an island, then a siren might be your best best at warding away ships. Just remember your earplugs.
6. Hydra. If one head is good for spotting intruders, then just imagine how much better a multi-headed monster could find them. And even better, pesky thieves can't simply behead it and be done, since it takes more than a sword to stop a hydra head regeneration.
7. A will-o-wisp. Just imagine some bad guy trying to find your treasure. Now just think what would happen if the corridor was lit with will-o-wisps, who led the bad guy into a trap. Pretty good job for something doubling as the lighting.
8. Unicorn. Such a pretty creature, thieves will think it harmless. But unicorns have a long, sharp horn, and deadly hooves. They also don't usually take well to hunters, so treasure hunters beware.
9. A phoenix. Just imagine a lovely trap just before the room where your treasure is stored. It is a room that bursts into flames should the trap not be properly disarmed. This lovely trap would of course be fueled by a phoenix's inner fire, and the disarming of said trap would involve pleasing the phoenix.
10. A cat. Because what could be more frustrating than a cat who ignores anyone trying to enter the vault. Especially when the cat is the only one who can open the vault.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wisdom hires help

Looking out from the entrance of his cave, all the old man could see were monsters.
Huge dragons, swarms of monstrous bats, and killer rabbits were only a few of the ones he could name. And for each one he could name, there were two or three that he couldn't.
It was fantastic.
Motioning to a jaded-looking centuar with a jagged scar on his chest, the man moved deeper into the cave.
With the clip-clop of hooves echoing on the stone behind him, the old man led the centuar to a torchlit table.
The old man sat in a chair behind the table, then looked up at the centuar.
"And you are?"
"Thaddeus Clovesen, of the Thundering Plains." The centuar answered, silver tail swishing as he dipped his humanlike torso in a bow.
The old man set his hands on the table and leaned forward. "And what makes you think you could solve my problem?"
"I've defeated twelve heroes in single combat, and chased off two adventurer bands who were seeking the unicronum treasure." Thaddeus said, a smirk slowly forming as he spoke.
The old man considered, then selected a paper from the table and slid it over to the centuar.
"You're hired. You'll be paid a portion of whatever treasure you and the others happen to gather from the heroes you defeat. Is that acceptable?"
Thaddeus grinned and picked up a quill. "That'll be just fine. It's not often that the wise old man decides he's tired of helping the heroes."
The old man let out a snort as the centuar signed the contract. "You'd be hiring protection if annoying fellows with too many muscles and not enough sense kept breaking into your home and demanding prophecies fortelling them defeating some vile overlord."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fears of a balloon

1. Being overfilled. Getting popped before even having a chance to do anything is terrifying.
2. Floating too high. There are many scary things up in the sky. Birds, planes, and the void of space.
3. Having a hole. A balloon with a hole cannot hold anything for very long.
4. Sharp objects. Every balloon knows the nightmare which is a straight pin.
5. Children. They let go of strings, squeeze too tightly, and don't pay attention to the dangers of a balloon brushing against other objects.
6. Fire. Fire can be very bad for a simple party balloon. And also uncomfortably hot.
7. Trees. Trees often have rough or prickly parts that are dangerous for balloons.
8. Pop the balloon games. There are few fates more terrifying for a balloon than to be part of a popping game. To see other balloons popped, and to know that you could be next.
9. The slow decline to the ground. A balloon filled with helium dreads the day when they will drift down to touch the ground.
10. Being part of a water fight. Imagine being thrown through the air and crashing with enough force that your flimsy form explodes into tiny pieces. That is the fate of the water balloon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The treat

No matter what it took, he would get that treat.
If he needed to sit, he'd sit.
Shake your hand? No problem, he's ambidextrous.
Lay down? The floor can't be met soon enough.
Stay put while you actually go to get the treat?
Yeah, that isn't gonna happen. Not after you forgot to give him the treat last time.

Friday, May 6, 2016

To count to ten

1. Because you are playing hide and seek with little kids who can't count any higher than that.
2. Because you have exactly ten cats.
3. Because that is how many second are left before your alarm goes off.
4. Because that is how long you have until the kitten attacks your foot.
5. That is how many cookies you managed to grab before the children swarmed.
6. You're helping teach a child how to count.
7. Because countdowns aren't as cool as count-ups.
8. You were told to count, so that's what you did!
9. Because counting to eleven is too weird.
10. Because it helps pass the time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Speed limit

Always obey the speed limit.
When driving your car.
While boating.
Even when walking around the mall.
But most importantly, always, always, obey the speed limit while flying.
Or else the dragon enforcers might decide to take pursuing you as an early lunch break.
Because that's what happens when you give omnivorous reptiles the power to enforce traffic laws.