Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part VI

The circular room was large, with a high ceiling that seemed to stretch on forever. In the center of the room was a high wooden table covered in spiderwebs, behind which sat seven wizards.
As Merrick dragged me toward them, I let myself tremble like any proper princess would after finally arriving at a villain's lair.
Merrick stopped within an elegantly carved design of stars on the floor before the table, and I allowed myself a weak attempt at pulling away from his grip.
Merrick offered me a one of his grins, and let go of my arm. I shuffled back, then stopped as something pressed against my back. I turned my head, and saw a wall of glowing green stars that rose from the floor's design and up into that endless ceiling.
I turned back in time to see Merrick bow. The wizards at the table watched him, and occasionally looked at me. Whenever they did, I acted the part of a frightened princess.
“Apprentice Merrick, report.” One of the wizard's said, his voice quite reedy.
Merrick kept bowing as he craned his head back to look at the wizards. “I have traveled away from this tower and captured a princess using the magic I have been taught.”
Another wizard spoke, stroking his red beard. “So we see. Who is she?”
I opened my mouth, but Merrick spoke before I could. “Princess Isidore of the Kingdom of Bellstrum, the second-born of King Leopold and Queen Alicia of Bellstrum.”
I stared at Merrick, unable to hide my surprise. I hadn't told him my name, and he'd never asked for it. Was this some wizard magic, or had he known who I was the entire time? Bellstrum wasn't a large kingdom, so most commoners from other kingdoms couldn't even name my father.
The red-bearded wizard nodded. “And how did you capture her?”
“Through the use of Sandera's sleeping spell.”
The red-bearded wizard gave another nod, and the reedy-voiced wizard spoke. “What is that creature?”
Ah, the troll-rabbit. I was wondering if any of them would notice it. I did nothing to hide my relief as the beast hit the other side of the starry wall, unable to get through it to me.
Merrick glanced toward the creature and gave a shaky laugh. “That was a troll that attacked us on the way back to the tower. I attempted to transfigure it, and only managed a partial transfiguration.”
The reedy-voiced wizard frowned as he leaned back. “That will cost you some marks, but not an outright failure, as the best was rendered harmless.”
Harmless? That beast was still trying to eat me! I wouldn't call that harmless.
The other wizards began asking Merrick technical questions about his exam, and I decided not to listen. I was here as the frightened princess, abducted from her carriage and terrorized by a troll. I would act my part, Merrick would become a full wizard, and we would part company.
Unless of course, I was fed to a dragon.
After a couple of hours, the wizard seated in the center of the table lifted a hand. Merrick stiffened slightly, and the other wizards all turned to look at the central wizard.
“One final question.” The wizard began, his voice an aged whisper that strangely seemed to remind me of the stars. “Did you request Princess Isidore's aid in passing this exam?”
Merrick stared at the wizard, before turning those blue eyes to meet mine. The hint of a smile crossed his face, then Merrick turned back to the wizard.
“Yes. It seemed like the polite thing to do.”
The wizards behind the table looked at one another, and then the central wizard smiled.
“Very good, Prince Merrick. You have passed the final exam.”
“Excuse me?” I said, glancing between the wizards at the table and Merrick. “He cheats by asking for my help, and he passes? and why did you call him a prince?”
The reedy-voiced wizard spoke. “The princess test is usually how we're able to weed out apprentices who would use their magic against innocents. However, sometimes the apprentice does not have the skill necessary to complete the other options for the final exam. Whenever an apprentice chooses the princess test, we are careful to monitor their every action during the test, and then question them on their choices. Their choices, and reasoning for them, matters greatly.”
The red-bearded wizard offered a smile. “You would be surprised by how few apprentices who choose the princess test decide to simply ask the princess for help. It is an acceptable method for completing the exam, as a wizard who would ask a royal for help is one who would likely also ask another wizard for help with a problem.”
The central wizard gave another laugh. “Besides, I would be concerned if the heir to a throne didn't ask for permission before taking a princess anywhere.”
I turned to Merrick. “Heir to a throne?”
Merrick grinned. Could nothing stop him from grinning? “Prince Merrick of the Kingdom of Silvercove, heir to King Erick and unfortunate heir to his many greats grandfather Varrick's magic.”
I shook my head. I'd been willingly abducted by a wizard, avoided being rescued by a prince, saved from a troll by having it become a rabbit, only to learn that the wizard who abducted me was in fact a prince.

Well, it was certainly an adventure.

Friday, June 24, 2016

For a clean room

1. It gives you room to exercise in.
2. It helps you to find anything you drop. When the floor is clean, you can more easily tell where something lands.
3. It allows you space to rearrange furniture.
4. When a room is clean, it is more inviting to be in.
5. A clean room is safer to navigate. When objects are within view instead of hidden near the path you're taking through the room, there are less chances that you will trip and get hurt.
6. Pests have fewer places to hide. There is nothing worse then when the kitten brings in a live mouse and lets it get away into a pile of stuff to be gone through.
7. When the room is clean, you'll be able to find all of your books. For it is a sad day when you cannot find the one book you really want to read.
8. You'll want to spend time in it. A clean room is a place full of possibilities. It invites the imagination to run wild, even if that means scattering your notes and crafts all along the floor. After all, a clean room doesn't necessarily have to stay clean.
9. You'll finally have room for a new bookshelf. Because really, who doesn't need a new bookshelf in their room?
10. It will give you motivation to keep it clean. Cleaning a dirty room can be dull, tiring work. But once the room is cleaned, it can be easier to do all the little things to keep it that way. You just need to work at it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part V

When Merrick finally began to stir, the sun was setting. The wizard blinked, and I took another bite of jerky.
Was it improper for a princess to steal food from her captor? Certainly the stealing was beneath one of my station, but I was hungry. And technically a prisoner.
In light of that, a small theft didn't matter so much.
Merrick moved slowly, rubbing his head as he sat up.
“Enjoy your nap?” I asked, allowing some of my irritation to taint my voice. The troll-rabbit headbutted my knee, and I shoved it away.
“No,” Merrick stretched, and frowned at the troll-rabbit. “That hasn't left yet?”
I gave him my royal look of annoyance as I shoved the brutish beast away. “It will not leave me alone. I demand you remove it from my presence immediately.”
Merrick got to his feet and looked down at the troll-rabbit, swaying slightly. “I don't think that's a good idea. Come on.” He turned and started walking.
I frowned, but got to my feet as quickly as a princess should in this kind of situation. I did not hurry after him, but simply decided that a brisk pace would be good for a twilit walk.
There was a thumping as the troll-rabbit hopped after us.
I allowed Merrick to walk in silence for a while, taking that time to study him. I disliked how pale he seemed, and though his gait was quick, he often swayed like a wind-beaten leaf.
“Thank you.” I said. Merrick glanced at me, a faint smile crossing his lips for just a moment.
“Isn't there some royal protocol about rewards for saving a princess's life?”
“Oh, there is.” I answered, glancing away from his blue eyes. There were many protocols about what happened when someone saved a royal life. Most of the time the reward for such an act was either a royal boon, or a royal marriage.
“Think your kingdom would hire a wizard?” His voice held a note of laughter to it, and I turned back to face him. Merrick smiled. “We could leave out how we met. After all, none of your guards saw me.”
He was impossible, this wizard. Convince a princess to pretend to be his prisoner to pass his final exam, and use an incident that the princess would never have been involved in if it wasn't for said farce in order to get a job.
“You are either dangerously clever, or simply lucky.” I said, and Merrick grinned.
“Why can't I be both?”
I decided to ignore him. It was for the best.
A half moon shone from a brilliant night sky by the time we arrived at a sparkling tower. It was of some glittery quartz, and with how tall it was, we should have seen it hours ago.
But when the door has to be opened with a magic spell, I suppose it isn't too much of a stretch that magic must hide it from view.
“Did you have to allow that thing in?” I asked, turning to glare at the troll-rabbit for a moment as we walked down a carpeted hall. At least its thumps were muffled by the plush red fabric.
Merrick took a deep breath, his hands clenching briefly as he stopped before a ruby door. His fingertips were still smoking a little, though it didn't seem like they bothered him.

“Alright, princess. We've arrived.” He placed a hand on my forearm, his touch surprisingly cold through the fabric of my sleeve. Griping my arm gently, he opened the door and pushed me into the room.

Friday, June 17, 2016

For freewriting

1. You can get new ideas.
2. You'll learn something about your thought process.
3. It can give you an opportunity to write as poorly as you want to.
4. Because sometimes you need to warm up before tackling larger writing projects.
5. It can help to relieve stress, by letting whatever is clogging your mind a release point.
6. Because you might surprise yourself with how different things become connected.
7. It can be a lot of fun.
8. It gives you something to do while waiting at the dentist's office.
9. Because it is a creative writing exercise that you can do with your children.
10. Because once the words begin to flow, it can be rather difficult to stop them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part IV

Trolls are hidious, ugly brutes. They have floppy gray ears, a bulbous nose, and reek with such a stench that it would put a skunk to shame.
They also happen to be frightfully good at biting, despite the tusks.
The horse pranced anxiously as the troll came closer, the only thing keeping it from bolting being Merrick's hold on the reins.
“Do something!” I hissed, glaring down at the apprentice wizard. I hadn't signed up to face a troll.
Trolls would either eat a princess right off, or take her down into their caverns to fatten up for later.
It really depended on the troll.
Merrick grimaced as the horse jerked against his hold. “Get down.”
With a troll around? I would rather keep clinging to the horse. Then again, if it did bolt, would the ring cause me to fall off in order to stay near Merrick?
I slid out of the saddle as gracefully as a princess could when the horse is nearly terrified out of its mind. Really, you would think even a prince who is a younger son would have a mount that could handle getting near monsters.
As soon as I was safely on the ground, Merrick let go of the horse. While it bolted away, Merrick said something I couldn't understand and clapped his hands.
The grass surrounding us shuddered, growing taller and weaving together to form a wall. When it got about four feet high, the growth stopped.
Merrick sighed as he pulled me down. “That won't slow the troll very well, and it didn't look like it followed the horse.
I wrinkled my nose as the troll's stench drew nearer. “Do something, oh great and terrible wizard.”
Merrick tapped his chin, thinking over his next move for far too long in my opinion.
“Can't you simply put it to sleep?” After all, that seemed to be his usual method for dealing with problems.
“Trolls don't sleep.” Merrick shook his head, frowning as the troll gave a grumbling noise from the other side of the grass wall.
“Turn it to stone?” I suggested, and Merrick frowned.
“I'm not that good at transfigurations.”
“Well, do something!” I said, voice rising as rips appeared in the grass wall near where we huddled.
The troll's tusks retreated, only to reappear as the beast jabbed at our feeble defenses.
The troll's entire head came through, and the beast gave a grunt as some sparkling spell struck it.
The spell did nothing, and the troll thrashed its way through the grass wall.
As the beast loomed over me, I did what any proper princess would do.
I screamed.
Merrick shouted something as the troll lowered its head to impale me with its tusks.
My eyes shut.
And something heavy and furry hit my chest.
My eyes shot open, and another scream broke free.
The world's most hideous, misshapen, mutated rabbit was scrambling at my gown.
“Told you I wasn't good at transfigurations.” Merrick said, his voice a weak wheeze.
I flung the horrid troll-rabbit away and sat up to look at the wizard. His face was ashen, and his hands shook as he lowered them to his lap. I was fairly certain that his fingertips were smoking.
“You are a horribly dark wizard, to have waited until the beast was on top of me to defeat it.” I said rather sternly, my shivers not pretended whatsoever. If he'd purposefully allowed my life to be in danger just to pass some silly exam, then I was going to do something ignoble that was unbefitting a princess.
I would punch him.
Merrick gave a shaky laugh. “I wasn't even sure that would work. Transfigurations do work better if the subject is close to the one casting the spell, but something could still have gone wrong.”
“I could have been impaled.”
“That would have been very unfortunate.” Merrick shivered and rubbed his arms. His fingertips were smoking. “I would have felt very guilty if you'd died. This should have been a simple walk back.”
I rubbed my temples, and frowned at the troll-rabbit as it headbutted my leg.
“I insist that we depart from this place immediately.” I said, using my best commanding tone.
Merrick nodded, and leaned back against the grass. “Certainly, princess. As soon as I–” he gave a yawn, “– recover my strength.”
And without another word, the wizard fell asleep. How rude.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How to share an idea

1. Write a letter. Sometimes your idea will be taken more seriously if you've hand-written and sent it to someone.
2. Over the phone. Some ideas can be shared through a simple phone call.
3. By sticky note. A little note stuck to a desk or door can be an easy way to deliver an idea. Just make sure it is placed where it will be seen.
4. Through song. Music is a very powerful tool for sharing ideas.  Just make sure that the main point of your idea is clearly stated in such a way that it isn't easily misinterpreted.
5. Over a meal. Good food is a wonderful reason to meet with someone, and one reason they won't simply walk away before you finish telling them your idea.
6. Through humor. Things that make people laugh sometimes sticks with them later, and sometimes your ideas will just sound silly. So be willing to laugh at yourself.
7. Through your actions. Some ideas are better explained by simply doing them. Just be sure that your idea won't have horrible consequences before you start work on it.
8. By listening. Sometimes, others won't be willing to listen to you until after you've shown that you know how to listen.
9. Through your journal. Someone might one day read any journal that you've written, so why not share your thoughts and ideas in it?
10. Talk to someone. Forget the fancy stuff. Just find someone you trust, and talk to them about your idea.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part III

As the prince's charger approached, I drew a hand to my chest and let out a cry. “Oh, brave hero, I plead for your aid!”
Merrick gave glanced at me before leaping to his feet. “Foolish boy, you cannot succeed, for she is mine!” Merrick said, his voice tinged with a disgust that I wasn't sure was aimed at the prince, or at the dramatic words.
Just because the hero, villain, and princess have an overly dramatic banter in stories didn't mean we had to do the same now. Or did it? Would Merrick fail his exam if he didn't act like a villain?
The prince was close enough now that I could see he wasn't someone I knew. Probably some younger son from one of the northern kingdoms trying to make a name for himself.
“Take that!” The prince shouted as he threw something and jerked his horse to a halt.
Merrick ducked, and the... spoon? Yes, it was a spoon now lying on the ground.
This had to be a younger son. With at least four or five older brothers.
Merrick gave a laugh that wasn't quite wicked enough for a dark wizard. “Is that it? I would have expected better, but you are just a prince.”
The prince pulled a short sword out of a sheath connected to his saddle. “Prepare for battle, villain!”
Merrick studied the sword for a moment. “Ah, I don't think so.” He said as he jerked his arm up with fingers outstretched.
The prince sneezed, then his eyes fluttered shut and he slumped sideways.
Which unbalanced him enough that he fell out of the saddle.
“Oh, no!” I cried, racing over to the fallen prince. Until I checked and found that he seemed to be fine other than being the victim of a sleeping spell, my worry was genuine. I didn't want anyone to get hurt just because I'd agreed to help an apprentice wizard.
“Oh, my poor prince!” I let out another wail to keep up the act, and cowered closer to the unconscious prince as Merrick approached.
The look in his blue eyes as Merrick studied the prince revealed that He'd been concerned about the prince's fall as well, though the wizard tried to hide it behind another laugh.
“He was no match for my powers, and now his horse is mine.” Bending down, Merrick gripped my arm gently. “Up, princess. Get on the horse.”
I did as ordered, though it chaffed at my pride to accept his command. Who was the royalty here? But still, riding would be more comfortable.
Even if a part of me felt guilty about taking the prince's horse.
The horse wasn't large enough to carry both of us, but Merrick seemed to move faster now. Come to think of it, he hadn't seemed too weary from our trek through the fields either. Was I simply weak, or did he have unusually high stamina?
As the day wore on, I decided that it must be some bit a magic that kept Merrick going. Since acquiring the horse, we hadn't stopped for a single break. Yet Merrick seemed only a little fatigued from our journey so far.
At this pace, we'd be wherever we were headed before sunset.
The horse jerked to a halt, wide eyes rolling as it pulled its head up as far as Merrick's grip on the reins would allow I glanced around, and spotted what the horse must have smelled.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Identifying adventurers

1. They are insatibly curious. Why else would anyone spend hours searching a seemingly empty room?
2. They are the ones who get excited when a dragon shows up. Adventurers know that a dragon's presence means at least two things; that there could be treasure nearby, and that they might get to fight a dragon!
3. They will do nearly anything for treasure. Have something that you don't particularly want to do? Just hint to an adventurer that there might be treasure waiting at the ens of that task, and it will get done.
4. They have a bunch of skills. Seriously, does anyone really need to know how to wrestle a warthog while scuba diving?
5. They usually have no sense of direction. Tell an adventurer how to get to the village well, and he will come back days later with some story about finding the lost treasure of the silver shores. Then he will ask how to get to the well again.
6. Adventures are nearly indestructible. Have you seen the dangers  adventurers get into? They fight dragons, trolls, warlocks, quicksand, magic storms, and even cats! Yet somehow they manage to survive.
7. Adventurers can be very stylish dressers. From the classic black cloak to the lost gems of Enrichia, good adventurers dress well at all times.
8. Adventurers don't know when to quit. Give an adventurer an inpossible task, and they will not stop until it has been completed. Which is a good thing to remember should you ever need to do the impossible.
9. Adventurers eat a lot. When not off on an adventure, they can normally be found wherever the smell of food leads them. So if you value your food, don't cook anything delicious while adventurers are in town.
10. They are often in a group. Usually you'll find adventurers in groups ranging from three to thirteen, though five seems to be the most popular size.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Grip of Tragedy, part II

My head aches.
Blinking, I winced as the light made my head hurt even more.
Yeah, the headache is the worst.” The voice was unfamiliar, yet felt like one I'd heard before.
Squinting, I found a dark-haired stranger lounging on the grass a little away from me. And as he offered a grin, I remembered who he was.
The apprentice wizard. Who I'd agreed to go with so he could pass his final wizard's exam.
Putting me to sleep was unnecessary.” I said, sitting up a grimacing at the grass stain on my dress. Mother would have a fit when she saw it.
Then again, perhaps princesses in distress were allowed a mildly ruined gown.
The stranger stretched his arms above his head as he gave a chuckle. “Actually, it was necessary. The wizard panel might not give me full wizard status if they think I had the princess's full cooperation.”
Smoothing my hair with a hand, I looked at the stranger. “So I must act the role of a distressed damsel, torn away from her life of comfort on what should have been a day of celebration.” Furrowing my brows, I let my bottom lip tremble as I rapidly blinked tears to my eyes. “Oh, woe! Woe is me! It is a vile situation which I find myself in!” I said in an anguished cry, shrinking back a little as the stranger lowered his arms. “Oh, what an awful state, to be in the grip of such a foul fiend!”
The stranger's eyes were wide, and I congratulated myself. Since princesses were often put into dreadful situations, we prepared for the role as was fitting our station. Whining, pouts, even crying techniques were exchanged whenever princesses gathered together.
I thought it was ridiculous to practice how to appear weak and vulnerable, but had picked up a few tricks nonetheless.
That'll do.” The stranger said, his blue eyes crinkled with unspoken laughter. He got to his feet with surprising grace. Striding over to me, he gave a bow that seemed less respectful than the one he'd given outside the carriage and offered me his hat. “Now here, milady. One of such fragile disposition should not be beset by such harsh sunshine.”
I kept the lip tremble as I reached a hesitant hand to take his hat. It was actually quite considerate of him, though his skin was far fairer than mine. One could almost be envious of his complexion.
Though I would never stoop to something so ignoble.
Who are you?” I asked, dropping the facade for a moment as I put on the hat.
The stranger shrugged, which still seemed an awkward movement to do while bowing. “You can call me Merrick.”
Straightening the hat, I held out a hand. “Well, Merrick, you may assist me up.”
Merrick smiled and took my hand. He held onto it for a moment longer then was proper after I was standing, and once he did let it go, I found a golden ring on my index finger.
What is this?” I asked, studying the ring. It was pretty, but felt strangely warm.
That ring is what will keep you from simply running away.” Merrick said as he began walking away. I frowned at the rudeness, then let out a gasp as my hand with the ring began to feel hot. The farther he went from me, the hotter it felt.
I hurried to catch up, which wasn't something mother would approve of. A princess never hurried.
Merrick glanced at me as I fell in step beside him. “Not many princesses try running from wizard's, but a few of the brave ones do.”
Oh, if only I had the proper shoes.” I said, releasing a sorrowful sigh as I glanced at my dainty slippers. Mother insisted that a proper princess wore slippers. I thought a practical pair of boots would be better, especially when something like this adventure could happen.
Worry not, princess. For we will reach our destination by sunset.” Merrick said as we walked through the field. I wasn't quite sure how far he'd traveled while I was unconscious, but knew of no wizard towers in my own kingdom. But of course, we'd already passed the border into Clarke before the carriage had stopped.
So we walked. And walked. The scenery was pleasant, though my feet did begin to ache after a while. So like any proper princess, I demanded a rest.
Merrick complied, after letting me whine about what horrid conditions I was suffering under. For what kind of monster forced a princess to march though field after field?
The grass was more prickly here, but I settled on it gratefully. My feet did hurt, after all. Merrick wiped his brow and settled down beside me.
What prompts one to study wizardry?” I asked, watching as he pulled a piece of jerky from a belt pouch.
Wizardry isn't something you choose to study, not like horseback riding or falconry. If you're born with an affinity for magic, than you have to learn how to control it.” He said, taking a bite of the jerky. Swallowing, he continued. “If you don't, then the magic burns hotter and hotter within you, until it eventually flares up and consumes you and anything nearby.”
I shuddered, a real one. It seemed so tragic, to have no real choice about studying magic.
Merrick took another bite of jerky, and I frowned. “Shouldn't you have offered some of that to me?” I asked, putting a touch of royal command in my voice. Merrick grinned and took another bite.
Sorry, princess. But it wouldn't be fitting for a wicked wizard to give his prisoner a snack.”
Forget about acting the distressed damsel, I wasn't about to sit here and let him enjoy some food while I had none! So I opened my mouth to respond, but the sudden sound of hooves made me pause.
We both looked around, and my heart sank as I spotted a white charger.
Halt, fiend! Unhand that fair maiden!” The prince riding the charger shouted as he spotted us, and I heard Merrick groan.
It was just what a poor distressed princess longed for, a prince to save the day.
Too bad he hadn't found someone in actual distress.