Category: fantasy

The Traveling God

A young man sat on a bench, turning to check the timetables further down the platform. He still had a good half an hour but he could not get himself to stop tapping his foot.

Past the platforms, on the far side of the station were a dozen stained glass windows, and behind the man were another twelve. He could name a few of the gods of travel depicted on them, but not all twenty-four. Religion was not his best subject, and another two had been added since he graduated. A trade hub like Fora picked up more gods than they knew what to do with, especially gods of travel. 

Fourth from the right was the one he knew best, Thera. After all, he was named after her. 

He shook his head, choked down a curse, and started to pray instead . This train hadn’t derailed in the ten years it had been in service, but how many stories could he recite on hubris? A prayer couldn’t hurt. In his head, he recited, “Thera, mother of travelers, who carries the moon gently…”

Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder, startling him out of his prayer, almost dropping his ticket.

Edric.

Edric stood there and said, “S-sorry for startling you. Hope…hope I’m not bothering you. Can I take this seat?”

The young man sat silent, ignoring Edric, with his stupid salt and pepper beard and calloused fingers that still felt like sandpaper on his shoulder.

(more…)

Broken

Giovanna wiped the sweat from her brow, smearing a thin layer of half dried clay across her forehead. She looked into the door of the cooling kiln, careful to only touch the handle. The bright yellow light within was finally beginning to dim. As she waited, she walked over to her work table and leaned against its messy surface, covered in tools and knives and rags for sculpting and shaping clay. The clock in the corner of her desk clicked along and Giovanna smiled at her notes and formulas. Her wastebasket was full of failed recipes that used to come more easily to her, but this, this recipe was sure to work. The roots she used to use had been wiped out after a year of blight and an unexpected cold snap late last spring. 

Reaching for her notebook, she recognized the remaining wet clay stuck on her hands was slowly dehydrating in the heat of her workshop, so she walked toward the wash basin. With the cool spring water flowing across her hands she took a moment to look out the window, down the cliff and across the coast. Down the path, at the bottom of the cliff was the local community. At least half a dozen of her creations were living full and engaging lives with the rest of the population. It was hard at first. People were hesitant, but now they are just people.

Giovanna turned the valve, shutting off the spring water, and faced the clock. It needed repairs, for sure. It’s gears would occasionally slip, and the pendulum definitely wasn’t calibrated properly anymore, but it worked well enough as a timer. Her clay should be finished.

She stepped over a few tools strewn across the floor and towards the kiln’s valves and knobs. She let in a surge of brisk air from outside to speed things up. The kiln would still be hot for a minute, but she was too excited to wait. She put on a thick cloth mitten and opened it up, staring at the yellow glowing embers that surrounded her creation.

(more…)

Step Mother’s Note

Dearest daughter,

I know when you went to sleep you still didn’t consider me your mother, but I hope you know that I always considered you part of my family.  By the time you read this, you will have woken up from your rest. I hope that you are feeling better. I know things haven’t been easy, and I hope when you wake things will finally be easier, fairer.

I know that this situation has taken a deep toll on you. It’s taken a toll on me as well, but I don’t mean to make this about me. 

What I am trying to say is, I hope that by the time you wake you can find it within your heart to forgive me. I never wanted to hurt you. I never wanted to do this, but… I hope you can at least understand why, even if you can’t forgive me.

(more…)

Summer Loll

Isaac leaned against the fence post that marked both the edge of the neighbors farm and informally the edge of town. He flipped the dagger in his hand, letting it rest on the back of his palm, before throwing it into the air. It spun a full rotation before landing blade first into the soft dirt. He bent down to pick up the dagger and do the same with his other hand. 

His father was more of a show off. When he taught Isaac how to play with blades, he would always do two, or even three rotations in the air before the dagger would bury itself into the ground. Isaac was much more utilitarian with his knife games. 

His father taught him several summers ago, back when Isaac was only maybe six or seven. Isaac wiped the summer sweat from his brow back then just as much as he did now. He hated the drills his father had him do; alternating stance and form at a moment’s notice. Forward grip extended his reach, his father would say, and back handed grip made boxing more lethal. A downward thrust had more force, good for armor or a thick shell, but it made him vulnerable to someone with longer reach. 

Isaac grabbed the dagger, flipped it underhanded, and stabbed it more than inch into the post behind him. 

(more…)

The Broken Key Part 1

Mikaela turned the corner and began to run down the hall, away from the skittering coming fast behind her. She turned around and still could not see…that thing, whatever it was chasing her. She turned back around and realized the hall was stretching away from her. Her breathing grew ragged with exhaustion, and yet the door at the end of the hallway simply grew further and further away, but the skittering, the sound of metal on tile, and then wood, it kept getting closer. She turned back around…

She gasped as she felt wet warmth across her face.


Mikaela woke up to the feeling of her secret stray licking her face. 

“Christ in heaven, Checkov, nearly threw you across the room.” She lifted the cat, easily, despite the pain in her hand, and although Mikaela was still quite young and small, Checkov was even smaller, the best kind of cat to train to hide in a bag under her bed. The next trick was getting him to stay still for even a minute.

Checkov wiggled out of Mikaela’s hands and fell on her chest, mewing once, and licking her face. Mikaela pulled him closer. “Shush boy, don’t want dad to know!” she mumbled with intensity. Intensity undercut by another disarming lick.

“Ugh.” Mikaela set the affectionate boy down on the hardwood of her bedroom floor and gently rolled out of bed. She sneaked towards a large bag next to her dresser. It was just out of sight from the door to her room, and fortunately she was just at the age where her mom didn’t find her sudden interest in privacy strange. 

(more…)

A Night To Forget

Narrow rays of light rested on Paul’s face, waking him from a deep sleep. He sat up and faced the window trying to get a read on the time of day, and then turned to the hotel’s alarm clock. Someone had unplugged it. Paul failed to repress his smile.

Paul felt a hand grasp his arm and try to pull him back to facing the bed. Under the covers rested a slightly chubby man with alabaster skin who was still trying to pull him down although Paul had turned away. 

Theon spoke. “Go back to bed. It’s much too early.”

Paul retorted, “How could you possibly know? The clock has been mysteriously disconnected from the wall. Do you have any idea of who would do such a thing?” Playfulness danced across his words as he stared into Theon’s bright green eyes. 

“The clock was still plugged in when I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.”

“It was, was it? Was it still plugged in when you got back in?” Paul’s smile turned into a smug smirk as he cornered Theon in his not-quite-lies.

Theon stared at Paul’s deep brown eyes and then his dark curly hair, basking in his light like a serpent might bask in the sun. And after a moment he spoke, “You should stay in bed longer. There are things I still want to try.”

(more…)

A Gentle Sound

Grace woke up, rolled over, and stretched her arm to pull Izzy closer. Her hand felt empty mattress, so she patted along for a few seconds before finally opening her eyes and seeing that Izzy wasn’t there. Even with the blinds pulled, she could tell it was deep in the night, as no light peaked out from the corners of the window. 

Grace yawned, “Izzy, honey, where are you?” She sat up and stared at the empty half of the bed.

Grace felt a tickle of breath across her ear – Izzy’s voice. “I’m on the roof. I want to show you something.” Grace, startled, looked around the room. She rubbed her eyes and blinked them open again, but still Izzy was not near. Shaking her head clear, she mentally prepared for leaving the warmth of the blankets and threw her legs over the side of the bed. It took her a second, and a great amount of energy to take that single small step to the cold hard wood floor, and then into her slippers.

Across the hall from her room was the guest room, the door and window open to the small veranda roof at the front of the house, pointing toward the street and the city below. As Grace forced herself through the thick unrelenting sludge of being half awake, she whispered to herself, “Thank God Mom’s not visiting.”

Grace dragged her feet forward and pushed aside the lightly fluttering curtain so she could poke her head through. Izzy was standing at the edge of the roof, the tips of her toes just past the gutter. The side of Izzy’s face was illuminated by the drag of her cigarette. Grace started to crawl out, hoping not to be too loud and startle Izzy. 

(more…)

Down the Mountain

Lucas set the broom against the wooden railing of the back patio, took a step back, and wiped the sweat from his forehead. It had taken him a few hours, but finally the patio was completely clean again. As clean as the day he built this place. Lucas turned towards the valley and looked at the horizon.

He said, “Tree line is looking a little shorter than yesterday. Picking up a bit of speed I guess.” He took out two small paper tickets to a boat. It was docked off the coast in the opposite direction, and slapped them against his hand as he looked back at the horizon. “No point in these anymore.” He ripped them up over the garbage bag still hanging on one of the knobs of the railing.

He took another moment looking off into the distance, his hands on his hips. It was the first time he saw the sun setting like this, bringing a new glint to the snowy tips to the mountains on either side of the valley. The forest itself was quiet for the first time as well, as if nothing in it wanted to break the moment. He turned around, grabbed the garbage bag, and headed inside the sliding glass door.

(more…)

The Gentleman’s Lie: Part 1

The Duchess’s consort was well looked after. After all, people would not look upon her favorably if she lived in wealth while her husband lived in squalor. His apartment, directly attached to the Duchess’s, included its own kitchen, lavatory, study, and smoking room. They were all, of course, smaller than the Duchess’s, as it also would look a bit unseemly if her consort were to have living conditions that matched or even exceeded hers. 

The consort’s bedroom was, however, the same size as hers. This was a gift to him, and one she could easily give, as, hopefully, no one of importance would happen upon it and discover her indiscretion. When he asked why, she simply said, “You make me laugh.” and left it at that. The room was lavish. There was a large oak dresser, imported from the north; expensive jewelry, imported from the west; placed in an ornate ivory jewelry box, imported from the south; and a four post cherry wood bed with silk sheets, all imported from the east.

Underneath those sheets, the consort, Duke Theodore Mercier, felt a tickle as the ties of his lover’s mask brushed against his neck. With him was Gabriel Chastain, of the Chastain family of merchants, the wealthiest family of commoners in the area. And Gabe had one goal, to caress every inch of Theodore’s body with his lips, starting from the top. This was a time-intensive task, but he was a man who stuck by his word. And so, as he gripped Theo’s shoulders and pulled him close, as he straddled Theo, one leg on either side of his hips, Gabe brushed his lips gently down the side of his neck.

(more…)