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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Letter to My Friend

I had a dream about you again. I know it's been years, but I still worry about you. I think about you all of the time; wondering how you are doing and if you're happy. The more time that passes, the more I get this nagging feeling that you could really use a friend to talk to. I think I could stop dwelling on you if I just knew that you were doing okay and were happy. I sincerely hope that you are well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kira's Story - Chapter 26

This story is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon. Please buy my book if you have Kindle :-) For the Love of Kira

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I wish I had some assistants!

To make a manga, or really any type of graphic novel, the author/main artist write the manuscript, and does the story boards, and then draws the main scenes, but has an army of assistants to handle the backgrounds, shading, toner, etc.

To make a piece of crochet, it's pretty much all one person doing the work - whether they follow a pattern or freestyle it. This is wonderful when my hands need something to do, because when my hands are idle, I tend to suffer for it, lol! On the other hand, I often want to make dresses that are for too complicated for me to ever finish. This is where some henchmen - er um I mean assistants - would come in handy.

For 2 years now, I have had a design for a wedding dress in the back of my mind. It would take me probably a year of constant work to actually finish it, and even then, I need an actual body to fit it to because it's definitely not for me! (I've been married for 10 years, and even if I needed another dress for a vow renewal, i'd probably choose something a lot simpler.)

Then there's this; I found it last night as I was surfing the web, and I think it would make an EXCELLENT crocheted dress - if I could create a pattern for it, heh heh. Perhaps I should buy a barbie and make one for her just to get the pattern right...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 16

Chapter 16

King Notus' relief over no monsters appearing was relatively short lived since a report came of a monster attack while Zephyr was plotting a course on a map. From the sound of it, the attack was right where they were going. The King immediately gathered a party of men to ride out and kill it.
"Brother, I wish to go," Boreus stated. "I have no desire to wallow in self pity for the next three days."
"Agreed, you shall -"
"Notus, if I may speak," Zira interrupted him only a little politely.
He nodded.
"I think Boreus should ride with Zephyr, Amadea, and myself."
"If you think to add to my punishment..." Boreus growled menacingly.
"No, I merely think it would be the wisest course of action," Zira explained.
"Very well," Notus agreed. "Boreus, you shall ride with Zephyr, and please behave."
Zira didn't wait for him to respond before taking Boreus' hand, and dragging him after Zephyr and Amadea, who were already halfway to their horses.
Zephyr gave Zira an inquiring look as he helped her mount behind Amadea. What are you playing at? Zira merely shrugged, and indicated that Zephyr should get mounted already.
Zephyr did so, then gave Boreus a hand up. He pointed the direction out for Amadea, and signaled that she should fly ahead a bit. He had a feeling that Boreus might not appreciate being overly close to the cause of his current predicament.
After Cirrus was airborne, and Boreus had quit cursing in awe and a slight fear of heights, Zephyr decided to speak. "I want you to know that I would never have done this to you, nor would I have allowed Amadea to do it had I known her intent."
"I admit I was shocked at first, but now I am of the opinion that three days is short enough to endure. I just hope that you enjoy your brief respite," Boreus replied.
"I'll try, but to tell the truth, I was just beginning to accept myself. This just doesn't feel right anymore," Zephyr admitted.
"Well, I’ll say this; you are a lot better looking than I remember you. Seems to me that wife of yours could cure you anytime. Maybe you should ask her to do so."
"Zephyr! I see them!" Amadea called out as Cumulus began to dive.
Cirrus followed suit, renewing Boreus' curses.
In nature, there are several different species of animal, every one of which has an evil twin, so to speak. Normally, hunting and killing demon animals – as they are called – is not any more difficult than killing regular ones. Today, however, a village was being attacked by a pride of demon lions. This area had never had lions before, let alone demon ones, and so they were nearly helpless.
Amadea and Cumulus were charging the lions one by one, Cumulus' front hooves bashing in their foreheads. This stunned most of them, but some were only knocked senseless. Zephyr knew when it was time for him to act. "Beasts, I strip thee of thy demonhood! Purify!"
Nothing happened.
"Purify!" Zephyr repeated. Still nothing happened.
Amadea was aware of Zephyr's lack of results, and so cast the spell herself. Immediately, the lions began to retreat. Next, she recited a spell to banish them to a home much better suited to them.
"Amadea, over there!" Zephyr pointed to a lone black cloud hovering over the woods not too far away. The party went to investigate.
They discovered the forest was infested with all kinds of monsters, not just demon lions. At the center of the infestation was a large black shadow that looked to be a huge hole in the ground, until they looked at it from the side and realized that it hovered a few inches over the ground.
"It's a doorway, similar to the one the warlock used to free the source, but nowhere near as big or powerful," Zira diagnosed.
"What do we do?" Zephyr asked, adding, "How do we seal it?"
"Good question, any ideas?" Zira asked in return.
"Well, Zephyr told us all about your battle with the source, what did you do to seal that doorway?" Boreus wondered.
"I died!" Zira answered sarcastically.
"Zira, don't, he's got a point. The same thing may work here, without having to die," Amadea defended.
"Well, the thing is, I don't think I did seal the doorway, I just killed the warlock, and... and I don't remember. I summoned power... I called upon the Gods to grant me enough power to prevail... I'm not really sure how it worked."
Zephyr chipped in a suggestion. "I could try to cast a barrier until we can figure out how to close this door. That should at least stop anything else from coming through."
"Good idea," Amadea agreed. Zephyr recited the strongest, and incidentally the longest, barrier spell he knew, which was powerful enough to barricade against an invincible army for at least a hundred years.
Nothing happened.
"My magic's gone!" Zephyr stared at his hands in horror.
"What? Why?" Amadea asked in concern.
"I don't know!" Zephyr answered in agitation. Just then a monster that resembled a giant mosquito – only much scarier – flew out of the black shadow, managing to stab Zephyr through the shoulder with its needle, and carry him off for lunch.
"Zephyr!" Amadea shouted after him.
Boreus had nearly been knocked off of Cirrus, but held on long enough for the horse to shift his weight back into stability. Amadea was already flying after the monster that had her husband. Boreus followed out of concern, and because Cirrus wouldn't have given him any other choice anyway. He watched Amadea unsheathe the Divinity Blade, kill the monster, and catch her husband in one seamless movement.
"Boreus, repeat after me," Zira demanded, and proceeded to recite a healing spell.
Boreus did as he was told, not realizing what he was saying. He instantly felt an unfamiliar surge, and suddenly Zephyr was conscious.
Amadea sobbed in relief, but two seconds later thrust Zephyr into his brother’s arms. She was glowing red once more, and Boreus was infinitely glad that her anger wasn't directed at him this time. She jumped from her horse, and ran for the black shadow of a doorway, killing monsters left and right. A foot from her destination, she stopped.
"Oh goddess, hear my plea, it is help I need from thee!" This was a spell for inspiration and or aid in times of need. She heard a voice inside her head.
"Oh Amadea, beloved of the Gods, I shall bestow upon you two gifts, and hope that you take more care of your actions in the future. The first is a spell to close and seal the doorways, and purify the earth of its miasma. The second is a small stone, ordinary by all appearances, but which will cure anyone of those poisons that come from any part of a monster's body. Hurry now."
Amadea suddenly felt a stone form in her hand, and a new spell enter her mind. It was long and complex, but she recited it carefully, and then watched as the black cloud grew smaller until it disappeared altogether. She sighed happily, and looked curiously at the stone in her hand. Why did the Goddess give me this?
"Amadea!" Zira called out in panic. Amadea ran back to them to find Zephyr on the ground, and Boreus repeatedly reciting the healing spell.
"What happened?" Amadea asked.
"I don't know, he just suddenly coughed up some blood, and went deathly still," Boreus said.
"He must have been poisoned!" Zira announced in sudden understanding.
Amadea immediately pressed the stone to the place where the monster's needle had been.
She knew the stone would cure the poison, but knew also that he needed another huge healing spell to keep him alive until it had finished its job. She recited the same spell as Boreus, and felt relief when some color returned to his face. Slowly, Zephyr regained his strength, but only enough to wake up, and move around some. He'd still need sleep, nourishment, and time to recover fully.
         Zira told Boreus how to cast a repelling spell so that the monsters would leave them alone until reinforcements arrived. The ground may have been purified, but the monsters that were already here remained, and would need to be dealt with. After finishing the spell, Boreus decided to begin the task of killing some of the monsters by himself. Zira let him, since he was now protected by Zephyr's "curse" and magic. Not that he knew how to use it.

Go To Chapter 17 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Eggroll and Udon Soup

We recently decided to make eggrolls, which are easy to make, but time consuming.

To make the Eggrolls, we cooked up a combination of ground beef and pork - approximately 5-6 pounds worth altogether since we were making a LOT - seasoning the meat liberally with Realsalt and organic seasoned salt, and then peppering it conservatively. I am not a fan of pepper and neither is my hubby, but it really does make a difference to add some to the mix. As the meat cooks - stirred and mashed occasionally - we chopped and sliced, 2 heads of cabbage, 2 onions, 2 bunches of green onions, several stalks of celery, and then shredded several carrots. (All organic.)

When adding the veggies to the meat mix, my hubby also poured in a cup and a half of soy sauce, 2-3 spoonfuls of brown sugar (sucanat), and 6 eggs. NOTE, this was in a 10 quart stock pot, and even then we sometimes need a second pot as it cooks, lol!

Once all of the veggies have cooked, the entire mix is poured into a large colander over a bowl. The mix then goes into eggroll wraps, and then the eggroll is deep fried (I try to use lard or tallow for all my deep frying, but this time I used Hain sunflower oil), but even after 90 eggrolls, we still had left over mix, plus all that wonderful juice!

So, I took the juice - which filled half of a gallon jar - added a half gallon of water to it, and boiled a package of Udon noodles to make soup. To that, I added the left over mix from the eggrolls, and voila! Eggroll and Udon soup! Yumyumyum... I totally plan to make just the mix again sometime soon so that I can make this soup again. :-)

A good side to go with this soup - especially if you happen to be deep frying eggrolls anyway - is cream cheese wontons. They are actually super simple to make. I took 2 packages of organic cream cheese and added maple syrup - or honey - to taste. I like mine not so sweet, so I think I only added 2 spoonfuls, then I mixed it with my electric mixer until it was smoothly blended.

Scoop the mix into wonton wraps, seal, and then deep fry. WARNING! These are addictive!

This post is part of the Traditional Tuesdays Blog Carnival!
http://www.cookingtf.com/2011/08/30/traditional-tuesdays-12/

Friday, August 19, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 15

Chapter 15

After a quiet breakfast, Amadea insisted that they find the woman they had saved, and apologize for the death of her sister. Amadea felt responsible, and gave her a paper that would allow her instant access to Amadea at the palace to ask a favor in the future. (The woman assumed that Amadea was someone who worked in the palace since no one had thought to explain the truth to her.)
Next, she wanted to investigate the site of the explosion, explaining what had happened along the way, stopping only briefly to order Rage and Anger back into her shadow.
"You're saying you have a shield that can protect you from all that?" Zephyr asked incredulously.
"Well, if you think about it, it was a God," Zira chimed in.
"Even so, that's some shield!" Notus said appreciatively.
Their inspection of the site lasted just long enough to prove that nothing had survived. Thankful, Amadea dozed on her horse as Zephyr led the way to Notus' castle.
They arrived just in time for the midday meal. Notus ordered those left in charge during his absence to give their reports as everyone ate in Notus' private meeting room. Except for Zira – who no longer needed to eat, of course.
Amadea happily ate enough to feed three people, causing Zira to laugh in remembrance of just how much she and Gavin had used to eat. Between the two of them, Amadea, and the rest of their traveling companions, keeping everybody fed required a small fortune. It couldn't be helped though, using so much magic or strength made them all very hungry. Only Zephyr seemed to remember that eating massive amounts of food didn't mean he needed to forget his manners.
Both he and Amadea ate with impeccable manners today, even though she continued to eat long after everyone else was finished. Meanwhile, business continued.
"Now that you have all given your reports," Notus said, "I would like to give you mine." He told everyone of the events that had happened since he had parted company with Zephyr yesterday.
Everyone was stunned for several moments, then finally someone spoke. "Even if that be true, brother, you didn't say anything about the success of your mission. Is there a word that young Jason said upon his return that was true?"
"Well yes, Boreus, I imagine that it was all true. What did he say?" Notus asked.
"Just that you stood aside for our brother Zephyr to try for the Imperial Princess' hand, that she loves him, and that he was chosen by the scales to marry her," Boreus explained.
"Then definitely, it was all true," Notus confirmed.
"I mean no offense to you, Zephyr, but how can this be true, and does this mean our goal was attained?" Boreus asked.
"What do you mean, how can this be true?" Zephyr asked. "Is it so unbelievable?"
Boreus cast a sweeping glance over the uncovered parts of Zephyr's body. Since Zephyr was mostly covered, this was just his face, and hands. "Frankly, yes. What woman could love such a freak?"
Amadea stood abruptly. "What did you say?" She growled. She was glowing vibrantly red.
"Calm down Amadea, I am used to such sentiments," Zephyr soothed.
"Calm down?" Amadea ground out angrily.
Boreus paled. "Imperial Highness, I did not realize that you were... uh... you."
"You DARE to say such a thing to your own BROTHER?" Amadea’s redness intensified.
"Amadea please!" Notus begged. "Remember what happened last time."
"Sunny Day!" Zephyr and Zira chorused. Zephyr continued, "It is beneath the dignity of a person of your stature to be angered so easily."
This made Amadea's red fade for a few moments, then return as bright as ever. "Perhaps, but I am not angry as the Imperial Heir, I am angry as your wife and lover! He should not have said that, and I won't rest until he has appeased my anger!"
A single red dog grew from her shadow. He instantly leapt upon the cause of his mistress' temper. Zephyr tackled the dog aside, and stood protectively in front of Boreus.
"Amadea, I will not let you hurt him, he is my younger brother," Zephyr announced.
Amadea took several deep, calming breaths. "Anger, I did not summon thee, return at once!"
The dog whined unhappily, but melted back into her shadow. Amadea's red glow had faded to a mere outline of her body. She wasn't the type to hurt someone, but she knew that Boreus would never learn his lesson unless she thought of the right punishment. As she thought, Notus strode up to Boreus, and slapped him across the face.
"I happen to agree with the Princess. More so since provoking her... uh wrath, can have dangerous side effects. Apologize to our brother.”
"I merely spoke the truth," Boreus grumbled.
"Boreus, brother of Zephyr, your insensitivity has committed a grave sin. Hear me, so that you may learn the error of your ways, you shall take the burden from him, for the entirety of three days!" Amadea spelled the offender. Light blinded everyone for a few moments, then vanished. Boreus gazed at his hands in horror. They were no longer familiar to him, replaced with skin like dried mud and stone. He ran from the room.
Zephyr also stared at his own hands. They looked like he remembered them from before his accident. I don’t believe it!
Notus searched the room for signs of monsters. For once, there weren't any. He sighed in relief.

Go To Chapter 16 

Kira's Story - Chapter 24

This story is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon. Please buy my book if you have Kindle :-) For the Love of Kira

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 14

Chapter 14

"Did you hear that?" Amadea asked, suddenly alert. Everyone grew silent.
"I don't hear anything," Notus said after a few moments.
"Maybe not, but my senses are tingling," Zephyr muttered quietly.
"Rage, Anger!" Amadea summoned. The two blood red dogs jumped from her shadow onto dry land. They looked nearly black even though it was almost the full moon.
"Why did you name them that anyway?" Zira wondered.
"It just seemed appropriate." Amadea shrugged. "Go, scout for any danger." The dogs silently disappeared in different directions. Meanwhile, the occupants of the hot spring dried off, and redressed. One of the dogs began to bark in the not too distance. It was joined by the other a few moments later.
"I guess we had better go see what's out there," Zephyr commented. Suddenly, there was a blood-curdling scream from the direction of the barking.
"Cumulus!"
"Cirrus!"
The party rushed to where the dogs were attacking a huge monster. It could have been a troll except it looked nothing like a troll.
"It's a taurman!" Zira announced. "It is usually harmless enough, but close to a full moon and near a woman! It's looking to mate!"
The taurman apparently hadn’t been able to get to the poor woman cowering near some bushes before Rage and Anger had attacked it, but she was watching the battle knowing what the outcome would be if the dogs lost. Their barking had brought it to her attention.
Amadea guided Cumulus to land several feet away from the taurman. "Rage, Anger, Heel!" The dogs reluctantly did as they were told.
"What are you doing?!" Zephyr demanded from the air. "Just hit him with a fire ball!"
"I need to see something!" Amadea explained. "Stay," she ordered the dogs, then walked straight up the monster. She could see the lust in his eyes as she approached. She stopped about half a dozen feet away. The taurman soon grew impatient, and charged her. It inadvertently knocked her back about ten feet.
She stood up, and dusted herself off. Again, the monster lunged at her. This time he grabbed her and tried to tear her clothes off.
"That's all I wanted to know, thank you!" Amadea quickly unsheathed the Divinity Blade, and ran the monster through. She then stood tapping her foot in thought for a few moments.
"What was that all about?" Zephyr questioned, but was not answered as the almost victim rushed up to Amadea.
"Thank you for saving me! I was out gathering night blooming herbs - as I have done since I was a child - when all of a sudden those dogs of yours warned me of the danger. I just know I would have been raped to death had you not been here, and worse, my younger sister is out here somewhere!" The woman had been explaining at top speed, but ended in a horrorstruck gasp. "Oh no! She's only 12 years old!" The young woman began to run in the direction the taurman had apparently come from.
Zephyr immediately flew ahead of the woman, and Amadea mounted to follow them, but spotted a girl in the distance of the opposite direction. She flew over to her, and found her skillfully gathering herbs.
"Hi there, are you all right?" Amadea asked.
"Huh? Oh, I'm just fine. I'm picking herbs," the girl replied.
"Listen, your sister's looking for you. She's just had quite a scare, and is worried about you."
"Is she? Well then, I had better go see what the matter is." The girl stood and brushed off her skirt. The next thing Amadea knew, she was gone, swallowed up by the ground. Amadea heard her screaming, and dove to help her. She frantically dug until she uncovered the girl's head. Zephyr flew circles above Amadea.
"What are you doing?" He called out. Notus held the woman on his lap.
"The girl, she was just pulled under here!" Amadea cried. The girl had long since stopped screaming, but Amadea kept digging her up anyway. She got her hands under the girl’s chin, and tried to pull her free. It was unexpectedly easy, and Amadea landed on her rear with an audible thump.
The woman screamed in horror at the sight of her little sister's head in Amadea's lap.
Amadea noticed this as well, and began to scream in unison. Suddenly, Amadea felt herself being pulled underground. She realized that she was inside a mouth, the teeth of which would have severed her head from her body, had her shield not protected her. She could hear Zephyr screaming her name.
It was much too late for any of them to help her, and she prayed that they kept off the ground. The mouth she was in was just large enough that when she stretched out her legs, and pushed on the entrance to its throat, she could "stand up" so that the teeth would sever her just below the shoulders, if they could puncture her. Her shield had made her impervious even to what should have been a painful impact when the taurman had attacked her.
Amadea felt a snake-like appendage wrap around her feet as she was trying to grab hold of anything that would keep her stationary as the monster keep on going, thus ripping her from its mouth. She briefly wondered if the snake had been a previous meal that was trying to escape. She learned the horrible truth when it pulled her down the monster's throat.
She didn't have much room to move, but being stuck in the monster's throat gave her a possible chance of escaping. She made a fist against her left hand, and slowly drew her hands apart. When they were about two feet apart, Amadea wished that the sword wasn't always so long. Instantly, the blade solidified, signaling that it was free of her hand, and ready to use.
"Interesting," she thought, "it can be whatever size I want it to be." She pushed the point of the sword out of the monster's throat until she could feel it break through the outer layer of skin. Next, she struggled to turn herself in a circle so that she could hopefully decapitate it. It must have returned to its burrow, for it stopped moving long before she finished her task.
She had only succeeded in creating a tear large enough to escape, but it was as effective as slitting its throat since it couldn't breathe, and it would bleed to death, unless it could heal. Amadea couldn't take that chance. She crawled along its body until she could feel its heart thumping below her. She plunged her sword into its heart, and drew a fatal line down to its guts. Nothing could survive that.
Amadea noticed that the shield was providing her with a small amount of air, but not much. She was beginning to suffocate. Then, she noticed a wriggling pile in a pocket-like cave move toward her, and realized that these were the monster's babies, who were expecting food, and didn't seem to care if it was their mother.

Zephyr was frantically trying to dig Amadea up, but was having difficulty sustaining his efforts.
"Zephyr, calm down," Zira commanded. "Amadea must still be alive."
"How can you say that?" Notus demanded.
"Two reasons, I'm still here, and the dogs are still obeying her. If she had died, they would have attacked," Zira explained.
"You're right, that's why I have to get to her!" Zephyr hadn't paused in the slightest.
"I understand that, so why are you using your hands?" Zira asked. This made Zephyr's panic recede.
"You're right! I'm getting nowhere like this," he agreed. "I'm going to try to summon her. It's the reverse of my ability to transport, so I think it'll work."
"But you haven't been able to transport without some serious motivation," Notus protested.
"Well, I'm motivated now!"

Amadea knew that she could not let these infant monsters live. Nowhere would be safe if they could snatch you as you walked on the ground. She decided to use a spell that was likely to kill her as well, but was guaranteed to work.
"Funeral Pyre!"

Zephyr was in the middle of reciting his spell when there was a huge explosion about a mile away. He finished it, causing Amadea - who was currently falling from about 200 feet in the air above the explosion - to land at his feet, causing a small crater. She was unconscious.
"Amadea!" Zephyr scrambled to get to her, and gathered her in his arms. She was entirely covered with dirt and soot, and looked like she lived in a chimney. He felt her breathing, but couldn't wake her no matter what he tried.
"Looks like she needs to rest," Zira commented. "Why don't you bring her back over to the hot spring, and clean her up?"
Zephyr gathered his wife into his arms, and carried her to Cirrus. Notus and Zira mounted Cumulus, and the group flew back to their campsite.
Notus fetched a pot of water from the hot spring, and helped his brother clean the grime off Amadea. It wiped away easily, causing Zephyr to suspect that he could easily clean it with a spell. He did, and marveled at how the dirt seemed to have hovered above her body and clothing.
Later on, Amadea roused. "Zephyr?" She whispered.
Zephyr began to cry in relief.
"Zephyr,... I'm going... to be... fine. Don't worry... about me," she said weakly, between breaths.
"All of you, get some rest, I can keep watch, since I don't need sleep," Zira suggested.
"Right," Notus agreed.

Go To Chapter 15 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kira's Story - Chapter 23

Chapter 23

     After lunch, Celeste and her parents arrived at Jareth’s chambers, and were granted entrance.
     “You’re Majesty, I demand to know why you are toying with my daughter!” Celeste’s father insisted.
      “I am not toying with Celeste. I have told her several times that she deserves better than me, but she refuses to give up on me. I find that an admirable trait, don’t you?” Jareth asked, and Celeste’s mother was relieved to find that all of the occupants of the room had their clothes on.
     “I find it a foolish trait!” Celeste’s father growled. “And worse, you and Celeste were both naked and bathing together, despite her status as an innocent maiden! This means that whether it is true or not, everyone in the palace will assume that you have bedded her. Willing marriage partners who are suitable will be much harder to find, and-”
     Kira yawned loudly, thereby interrupting the man’s rage. He fell silent at her sheer rudeness. Kira took advantage of his silence. “I think you’ll find it quite the opposite, actually. Men who I’m sure you’d approve of will start demanding her hand in marriage if they think that she would be able to influence the King in their favor. In any case, the point is moot, for Celeste refuses to marry.”
     “That is not for Celeste to decide!”
     Kira frowned, “I really think it should be.”
     “Regardless, I must insist that His Majesty stop encouraging my daughter’s foolishness. He clearly cannot marry her, and anything less makes my daughter nothing more than a whore!”
     “Then, I will be a whore!” Celeste cried out in defiance, and ran to Jareth. From his side, she faced her parents. “I have told you and told you that I would rather dedicate myself to the virgin than to be with anyone other than Jareth. I love him, and I will fight for him, no matter the odds!”
     Celeste’s parents stared at her in astonishment; she may be willful, but she was never so openly defiant.
     “Jareth, I know that you do not return my feelings, and I know that you are probably very tempted to tell me to fulfill my duty to my parents and marry, but I cannot. I refuse to settle for anyone less than you! Even if you were to tell me that you never wanted to see me again, I would not marry another. Please, please allow me to stay by your side, even if all I ever am to you is a friend. I don’t think I could bear the alternative!” Celeste begged.
     “Stupid girl! You dare to say such things in front of his wife!” Celeste’s father yelled at her.
     Kira stepped up to him, “You dare to call your daughter stupid for being brave enough to tell everyone her true feelings? Love is never wrong!”
     “What about her duty? The path she wishes to choose will never bring her happiness. It will only ever bring her pain and sorrow, and then, when she has had enough, who will be there to comfort her? It certainly won’t be her children, because she won’t have any!”
     Jareth sighed. “Celeste is young, and she is experiencing the passionate belief of her first love. Perhaps in time she will change her mind, but in the meantime… Celeste, you asked to stay by my side, even if just as a friend. I would be foolish to turn down the friendship of such an honest, brave, and loyal person, and I could use a good friend, but… I ask you to give this some serious thought. For nothing more than friendship, you would give up your entire future… I do not believe this is fair.
     “I ask that you spend three days in deep thought, and then we will talk again. If you can still honestly say that you wish to choose this path, then I will not try to stop you, but perhaps you will decide you do want a family of your own after all.” Jareth held her hand, and held her gaze with his own – completely serious – eyes. He had not planned to encourage her feelings for him at all, but if she was truly so much in love with him that she would defy her parents, and sacrifice her future for him…
     Well, it was deeply touching, and such intensity of feeling deserved that he at least try to return her feelings. Even if he ultimately found that there was no room in his heart for her, she would know that he tried.
     “Three days,” Celeste agreed with a nod. “I shall meditate in solitude for three days, and then I shall return to your side, and never leave it again!”
     Celeste sealed her vow by daring to kiss his lips, then walked out of the room. Her determined stride carried her past her parents without sparing them a glance. Her bearing was nearly regal she walked with such confidence. If willpower could be manifested, she would be surrounded by the fire of knowledge and purpose.
     Her parents stared after her, wondering if they had ever truly known their daughter. They could not find anything to say, and so excused themselves to follow Celeste.
     “That could have gone so much worse!” Kira commented. “I really think she has what it takes to walk her chosen path with courage and determination. It’s a pity that her parents can’t accept her decision.”

*******

     For three days, Celeste meditated, eating very lightly, and sleeping very little. She spent one whole day letting her thoughts tumble through her head, and then be cast aside, until finally, she was able to achieve a trance.
     In her trance, she was able to see the possible outcome of several different choices. She saw what would happen if she continued on her current path, and what would happen if she dedicated herself to the virgin. Then, she saw a future in which she traveled to distant lands, and started a whole new life.
     She also saw what would happen if she actually married the man her parents were so eager to join her to, and the vision – whether the actual future or not – was enough to make her cry. Sure, there were children, but without love between their parents, the children grew up to be petty and selfish. Who would ever knowingly choose that path?
     Lastly, Celeste saw a future in which she did marry the man from her previous vision, but rather than be a dutiful – if unloving – husband, he was consumed by jealousy, and became violent. There were no children, and the vision ended in her death.
     Celeste woke from this vision on the morning of the third day to discover that while she had been meditating, her parents had been busy arranging her wedding. They had even had her dressed up in a wedding dress while she meditated. The maids that had put the dress on her, and arranged her hair, were spooked by her mental absence, and regarded her warily, as if she was possessed.
     “What is the meaning of this?” Celeste demanded.
     “Isn’t it obvious?” Her father asked. “If you will not do the right thing, we will do it for you.”
     Celeste watched the priest and her intended husband enter the room, and shuddered in horror. She had never seen this man before in her life, except for in her visions, which were uncannily accurate about his appearance. She looked around the room in desperation.
     The palace was four stories high, of which, the fourth level was reserved for the private use of the royal family. Celeste’s room was located on the third floor, and overlooked the rock garden. It was Celeste’s favorite view, as the rock garden was always so serene.
     Her desperate search of the room found no weapons to defend herself, and she turned to face her parents. “I will kill myself before I enter into marriage with this man!”
     “There is no need to be so dramatic, Celeste,” her mother said dismissively.
     Celeste ran out onto the small balcony that was attached to her room, and climbed the rail. “I will jump!”
     Her parents gasped, and clutched their hearts, but her father was willing to bet that she was bluffing.
“Stupid girl! There is no sense in killing yourself! Just come inside, and we can finally see you married.”
     “Why won’t you listen to me? I would rather die than marry that man! I would rather die than be with anyone other than Jareth! I will not come off this rail unless I get a promise from you, in writing, witnessed by the priest, that you will stop trying to force me to do what I don’t want to do!”
     “That won’t happen. You will do as you are told.” Her father took a step towards her, and she prepared to jump.
     “Jareth, I love you!” She cried out as she jumped, knowing that her life was about to end on the rocks below.
     She gasped in shock a moment later when Kira caught her by swinging on a rope. The two of them continued swinging until they had landed on the fourth floor balcony.
     Kira leaned over to look at Celeste’s parents. “You have officially angered me! Get out of my palace, and do not ever attempt to force your will upon your daughter ever again! And be very thankful that I do not give you the punishment you so richly deserve!”
     “But it is Celeste’s duty to marry, and produce an heir to carry on our family!” Her father protested. Kira responded by turning her back on him, and ordering a few servants to go help Celeste’s parents pack.
     Meanwhile, Celeste was clinging to Jareth for dear life, and crying on his chest. Jareth stroked her hair soothingly, and was baffled that her feelings for him were so strong that she would prefer death to another man. Jareth didn’t know what to say, or do, and so simply continued to hold her. He looked to Kira for guidance, and received a shrug. Kira couldn’t tell him what to do, because she didn’t know.
     A few minutes later, Celeste had calmed down, and her lack of sleep combined with her receding adrenaline rush to put her to sleep. Jareth carried her inside, and laid her on a fainting couch. Sometime later, Celeste became aware of voices, and even though she was still sound asleep, she had a clear vision of the events occurring around her.
     “I just want to tell my daughter goodbye!”  Her mother insisted.
     “As you can see, she is sleeping. She is clearly exhausted,” Jareth said.
     “That is because she refused to eat or sleep at all during the last three days. I just want to say goodbye. I was so afraid… I was terrified that she would fall, and die… I would rather let her go than lose her to death. Please, let me say goodbye.”
     Jareth indicated his permission, and Celeste’s mother hugged her sleeping daughter. She didn’t actually try to wake her, but kissed her forehead and cheek, and whispered. “I love you so much! Please be happy… I’m leaving now, goodbye.”
     The mother turned to Jareth, and curtseyed. “Please take care of my daughter, You’re Majesty. Please try not to hurt her.”
     “I will try my hardest not to hurt her, but I cannot promise that I never will,” Jareth replied.
     Celeste’s mother nodded acceptance, and left the room.

Go To Chapter 24 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Amadea and Zephyr waved goodbye to Notus as they parted ways. He had wished to accompany them, but was obligated to return to his kingdom. He’d already sent Jason back home much earlier.
The two of them were mounted atop their flying horses, but had been on the ground with Notus, and now took flight. The horses had bonded with the couple for some reason, and didn't seem to mind flying them all over the place.
Amadea gave a whoop of joy as her horse flew in loops for a few moments. Zephyr watched her with a groan; his stomach seemed to be doing similar flips at the sight of them.
"Where to first?" Amadea shouted. Since Zephyr was much better at planning things out, she had left things up to him.
"I figured it wouldn't matter where we went, since the monsters are attracted to us, but all the same, we might as well inspect the sites of monster attacks to see if we can figure out why they attacked there," Zephyr called out in reply.
Suddenly, they heard Notus' voice magically amplified. "Zephyr, Amadea! Please hear me and come to my aid!" Notus didn't have accessible magic – that they knew of – but apparently their own magic allowed them to hear a plea for help from several miles away. They didn't even waste time deciding, but simply flew to Notus' rescue.
What they came upon made Amadea scream in girlish terror. It was a long legged spider the size of a house! It had glowing red bumps all over its body, and exuded a sinister aura.
"Amadea, are you afraid?" Zephyr asked in some amusement. "It's just a spider." He made sure his brother wasn't too close to the enormous spider, and cast a spell to summon a boulder. The spider squished with a disgusting spray of ooze in all directions.
"Ew, ew, ew!" Amadea squealed and covered her eyes. She shivered with horror.
Zephyr chuckled, and landed next to his brother. "Are you hurt?"
"Nothing a good bath can't fix." Notus shrugged.
"I think I'm gonna be sick!" Amadea cried out, and steered her horse away from the scene.
Zephyr recited a spell to instantly clean Notus from head to toe.
"Perhaps we should travel together a bit longer," Zephyr suggested. "One of the places we intend to investigate lies somewhat near your castle anyway."
"Fine by me." Notus grinned.
"Where's your horse?" Zephyr asked.
"He felt such terror over the spider, he perished." Notus pointed to the spot where his horse lay with glazed over, unseeing eyes.
"What do you say; do you think you can carry him?" Zephyr asked his horse, whom he had decided to call Cirrus. Cirrus gave Notus an appraising look then nodded in assent. Zephyr gave Notus a hand up, and soon, they were closing in on Amadea and Cumulus, who had decided to descend next to a small pond.

*******

Later that day, after the four of them made camp for the night, they sat around a campfire chatting.
"Gods! This makes me feel like I am still alive! I'm practically doing the same thing I did all my life!" Zira jokingly complained.
"All your life?" Notus questioned.
"Yeah, well, my older sister and I were orphaned when I was still very young, and she took care of me as best she could. She can use magic too, but even though she is about as strong as I am, magic just didn't interest her like it did me. She was great at lightning though! She would hit me with a bolt of lightning anytime I angered her, which was several times a day, and so I left when I was about 12 to learn all I could about sorcery.
"Almost right away, I came across this ARROGANT, rude, pushy, self-centered ass of a man, and angrily challenged him to a duel. It wasn't until after I won that I found out he was considered to be the most powerful sorcerer in the land!" Everyone laughed at that for it was one of the many things Zira was famous for.
"After that, I traveled about, learning as much as I could. I actually was invited to study at the Imperial Sorcery College for a while, and I must have read at least half of the books they had in about two months. By that time, I was having too many differences of opinion with the other students. So I left." Zira shrugged.
"The Emperor had seen me at the college, by the way," Zira interrupted her story, then continued. "I resumed traveling the land for a couple of years, while my sister decided to become a knight for her local God's temple. I tried to go back and visit her at least once a year, you know," Zira interrupted herself again, wistfully. "But we inevitably fought, and she'd kick my ass!" Zira laughed.
"Anyway, I supported myself by hunting those who prey upon travelers. The Empire is just full of bandits, you know, and some of them have stolen quite a bit. I had quite a reputation by the time I met Gavin around age 15. He was 21, and so full of himself!" Zira laughed at the memory. "And already an excellent swordsman. We made quite a pair." Zira fell silent, lost in memories. These days it was rare for her to remember so much, but talking about it seemed to make it all come back to her.
King Notus was interested in hearing more, especially about what happened after Zephyr had joined up with her. "Well... then what happened?" He prompted.
"Well, gradually we had quite a few people join us. Mostly swordsmen who wanted to learn from Gavin, but then Zephyr joined us from time to time. He didn't stick with us – preferring to be alone – until about a couple of months before Sunny Day joined our group. I was hearing rumors of someone trying to free the source of all evil, and he figured that the places we traveled might have some clue as to how to get him back to normal. We did uncover a wealth of lost knowledge, but none of it pertained to his situation.
"About a year before we defeated the source, this young slip of a girl joined our group. She said she wanted to travel with us, and learn sorcery from me. She reminded me of myself a little, so I let her. I figured that 5 swordsmen, a sorcerer/swordsman and I could easily protect one little girl if necessary. She learned so fast, and had a considerable amount of power, even though it was nowhere near my level, at the time. She was forever making goo-goo eyes at Zephyr, but Zephyr just seemed to think she was staring at his... difference."
"I did not make goo-goo eyes!" Amadea protested.
"Yes you did!" Zira teased.
"Did not!"
"I don't know if you did or not, but I do remember you staring at me," Zephyr added.
"Fine, maybe I did," Amadea grumbled and blushed.
"I was too involved in my own problems to pay much attention to you," Zephyr admitted.
"Oh, I don't know about that." Zira waged a finger at him. "I noticed that every time we found ourselves in a fight, you'd try to protect our little Sunny Day."
"Did I?" Zephyr asked innocently.
"I can believe it!" Notus chuckled.
Zephyr blushed slightly, and changed the subject. "Did anyone else notice the hot spring just over there?"
"A hot spring? Really?" Amadea near demanded in sudden excitement. "We all used to have such fun in the hot springs."
"Come on, I'll show you." Zephyr grabbed Amadea's hand, and ran towards the naturally heated pond.
"Don't be shy," Zira admonished Notus. She grabbed his hand, and dragged him along.
"But you're a ghost!" He protested. "You don't need to bathe."
"Maybe not, but just like I can wear clothes if I want, I like to bathe just for the fun of it." Zira had dragged him to where Zephyr and Amadea were busy shedding their clothes. She let go of his hand, and began to remove her own clothing.
"This can't be proper." Notus covered his eyes.
"What kingdom do you live in?" Zira demanded. "Everyone bathes together!"
"Well yeah, but not with the future Empress!" Notus explained.
"Oh please! Notus, while we are traveling, I'd rather you think of me as Sunny Day, I get enough of people telling me what's proper back in the palace. Besides, I'm married now, even married noble ladies are allowed to bathe in mixed company same as everyone else," Amadea informed her brother-in-law.
"If you really don't mind..." Notus began to strip. "I do love a good hot spring."
"That's the spirit!" Zephyr congratulated Notus on his sensible decision. The four of them splashed each other playfully for quite some time, and Zira smiled over happy memories.

Go To Chapter 14 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 12

Chapter 12

This was the first sentence they heard clearly since they had joined hands. Amadea broke off the kiss to see if Zira was serious. She was.
"Zephyr, go on ahead, I'll be there as soon as I can," Amadea said. Zephyr nodded and ran off. "Lillian, help me out of this dress. There's no way I can fight in this!"
Lillian goggled at her incredulously, but obeyed none-the-less. With Zira's help as well, the new bride was soon wearing only a lacy camisole and ruffled petticoat. Amadea used the Divinity Blade to cut slits up each side of the petticoat to allow her to move freely, then ran to help her new husband.
"Zira, how do I fight imps?" Amadea asked at the sight of at least a hundred of them – the size of rats – biting everyone they could. Some of the people in the crowd were successfully killing the imps with daggers, blunt objects, or by stomping on them, but there were still too many for this to be particularly effective. Zephyr was casting spells left and right, but was still being overwhelmed.
"You could try several spells," Zira bit her lip in thought. "But I think you might have the best success if you tried to ensorcel them first. The problem is that you would likely ensorcel the crowd as well. Think Zira!"
Fragments from a lullaby surfaced in Amadea's mind. She sensed that it was important, and concentrated intently, absently killing any imps that attacked her. Finally, she remembered the entire song. She took a deep breath, and recited a spell to magically amplify her voice.
The lullaby caused all of the imps to stop what they were doing. Slowly, as if fighting the spell, they began to come to Amadea. She led them to a clearing, signaling to Zephyr to try something.
Zephyr recited a spell to turn them all into glass.
"It worked!" Zephyr cheered.
Amadea stopped singing, "Now what?"
"Maybe you could sell them as souvenirs," Zira joked.
"Actually, it would be a shame to waste all that glass." A nearby woman said. "Too bad you didn't turn them into sand instead."
Amadea looked expectantly at Zira.
"There is a spell for that," Zira mused.
"I know," Zephyr acknowledged then recited the spell. "...Change this glass back into sand!"
"Oh sand, hear my command, go to where you'll be at hand," the woman spelled. "Thank you, Imperial Highness, I am a glassmaker, and will make good use of it."
Amadea nodded gratefully.

*******

Three days, and three attacks later, Amadea paced across the nearly empty throne room. Zephyr, Notus, Zira, her father, and his advisors were the only other occupants.
"It has become obvious that my presence in the palace is attracting monsters," she said.
"Not necessarily," an advisor argued. "We have had reports of monster attacks from all over the Empire."
Zira was studying a map intently as a different advisor was marking each place an attack had been reported. "Amadea, you should take a look at this."
All eyes were immediately drawn to the map.
"It can't be!" Amadea exclaimed.
"What?" Her father asked in concern.
"Each one of the attacks happened very near places we went as we hunted the warlock," Zephyr replied.
"So, they are attracted to my presence," Amadea groaned.
"If that were true, then why haven't they attacked you before?" Zira questioned.
"It seems to me that they happen to appear whenever the two of you start glowing," the Emperor remarked. Amadea blushed.
"You know, now that I think about it, he's right," Zira concurred.
"Well, I don't know how we do it, much less how to stop it," Amadea said in defense.
"You could try staying away from each other," her father suggested. Amadea felt as if her heart was being squeezed in her chest. She pressed a hand to it.
"Something still doesn't make sense," Zira thought aloud. "Why now, why not after you killed the troll?"
"Zira!" Amadea blushed. The Emperor looked from Amadea to Zephyr, who was also blushing lightly, and evasively not looking at the Emperor.
"Amadea!" He chided.
She avoided his eyes. "You do have a point, why is this happening now?"
"May I make a suggestion?" Notus asked. "Didn't you say, Zephyr, that the Gods spoke to you on the scales? What if they are behind this?"
"I doubt it." Amadea shook her head.
"I doubt it also, but they did try to warn me something would happen," Zephyr said.
"You didn't tell me that," Amadea replied.
Zephyr shrugged. "I didn't think they meant right away. Didn't they warn you?"
"No, when I was chosen as Heir, all they told me was that they had been watching us battle the source, and that I had proven myself very brave," Amadea informed them.
"Wait, the Gods spoke to both of you?" An advisor asked. "Records indicate that the gods only talk to maybe one person in a decade, why would they choose to speak to both of you?"
"I think your records may not be accurate," Zira commented. "They talked to me about once a year since I was a child."
"The Gods didn't speak to me when I was chosen as Heir," the Emperor informed them. "So I can vouch that they don't speak to everyone who gets chosen by the scale."
The advisor who was well known for his skill in mathematics spoke up, "Inaccurate records or not, the odds of there being one person spoken to by the Gods in a room are very slim. That there are three of you tells me something inconceivable is about to happen."
"We figured that out, thanks," Zira replied sarcastically.
"In any case, what should we do?" Amadea asked.
"Perhaps we should travel the Empire killing these monsters, and try to figure out why they are attacking in such unusual numbers lately," Zephyr suggested.
"I think that is a great idea!" Amadea agreed.
"Absolutely not! Zephyr is certainly welcome to do so, but you must not endanger yourself until you have been told your future, and -" The Emperor fell silent at the sight of Amadea. She was visibly glowing red, as if a raging fire emanated from her skin.
"You want me to let him go fight monsters without me just because I don't know if it'll kill me, and I haven't had an Heir chosen yet! I refuse to allow him to go into danger without me!"
"Amadea, my beautiful Sunny Day, calm down," Zephyr soothed. He was across the room from her since that's where her pacing had taken her. The redness around her faltered as she consciously tried to regain control of her temper.
A spot of darkness wavered next to her, and a blood red dog about the size of a mule appeared. It growled menacingly. Amadea's anger died abruptly, and she stared at the dog in puzzlement. Was it here in response to her anger, ready to fight her enemies? Or was it here to attack her?
It lunged for her throat, knocking her to the ground, and answering her question. Immediately, it was repelled by a shield expanding from her body. It lunged at her several more times, trying it's best to kill her, but unable to penetrate her shield.
"...With chains of air. Binding!" Zephyr shouted. The demon dog began to struggle, as if against invisible ropes. Amadea withdrew the Divinity Sword, and used it to slash the dog in half. After a moment, they had two big red dogs to attack them.
"Great!" Zira congratulated sarcastically.
"Why isn't the Divinity Sword working?" Amadea asked.
"It, or rather they, must be-" Zira's explanation was suddenly chorused by both Zephyr and Amadea. "The corrupted dogs!"
Amadea groaned in frustration.
Zira caught the Emperor looking to his advisors, and quickly explained. "The God that the Divinity Sword was created all dogs, but one particular breed was his most loyal companions. They felt betrayed when their master died, and were lured to the dark side, becoming blood red monsters, but since they were created by the God, his sword won't hurt them."
Amadea was doing fine in her impenetrable shield, but Zephyr – who was being attacked by the second dog – found that his binding spell wouldn't work a second time. He froze one, and quickly turned the other to stone. All was quiet for a few seconds, then both dogs shook off the spells.
"Oh no! They're resistant to magic!" Zephyr gasped. The dog attacking Amadea decided to join its brother rather than continue his useless attacks. Zephyr used his sword to wound each, and was defending himself very well. King Notus joined the fray, but both were careful not to sever any pieces from the dogs. Nothing they inflicted killed the beasts, and they were becoming tired.
Amadea stared at her glowing hand. There had to be something she could do. "You who have come to me, sword of great divinity, if I cannot slay them by my hand, then place them under my command! I name thee Rage and Anger!"
The dogs stopped attacking Zephyr and Notus, and growled at Amadea menacingly. She slowly stepped closer to them, reaching out her hand. They grew more fearsome but did not attack. Finally, she had a hand on each of their heads. Still they resisted.
"You will submit to me!" Amadea told them. They tried to bite her, but were shocked by tiny bolts of lightning coming from the glow in her hand. The dogs yelped, and backed away.
"Submit!" Amadea demanded. Both dogs bowed their heads in defeat. Amadea nodded her head in satisfaction. "Now then, what to do with you... Oh I know! Zira, didn't that book about the corrupted dogs say something about them living in his shadow?"
"Yes, but I always interpreted that to mean they were always one step behind him," Zira replied.
"Well, what if it was literal? The writings about the Gods are often literal, especially when it sounds impossible." Amadea tapped her head, and absently chewed on a thumbnail. "Oh I know! Rage, Anger! Return to my shadow!"
The two dogs sighed as if they would like to disobey, but stepped onto her shadow none-the-less. They dissolved into her shadow, vanishing. Amadea swept her hands past each other three times and nodded as if she had just cleaned up a mess to her satisfaction.

Go to Chapter 13 

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