Saturday, January 9, 2016

Athol - Lost

"Spoiler! Spoiler!! Spoilers!!!
I love Dwayne and I want to tell his story so badly, but he's only a secondary character in Athol. This explains a lot about his motivations and spoils a bit about what he might be up to in the confines of his own story, but I just want to put it out there anyway.
Just remember that I warned you of spoilers!"

Dwayne’s fingers had become red and sore from drumming them so much against the seat in front of him on the bus, but he kept up that practice all the same. He had to get home. He’d explain everything to his Dad; how he’d been disobeying his teachers, what he’d learned about the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and how Fiona had threatened him. Classes would be out in five minutes. He continued the drum his fingers against the seat.

The young man darted from the vehicle as soon as the door was partially open. He sprinted down the block as fast as he could, but stopped short once his front porch finally came into view. A broom was leaning beside the front door.
He ran up to the door, hopelessly calling upon whatever “one true power” the Seelie recognized to protect his father from the opposing power that was now lingering in his house.
The door was unlocked and when he stepped inside he could clearly make out the sound of his father and Fiona conversing pleasantly in the living room. He sighed with relief; Fiona hadn’t done anything yet.
“I’ve never seen a student put so much effort into the language portion of their studies,” the witch was saying. “He probably speaks Gaelic better than some of graduates by now.”
“Well, he is brilliant,” he heard his father agreeing. “He practically taught himself to read when he was four-years-old.”
“I don’t doubt it. He’s an extremely resourceful young man.”
Dwayne quietly made his way towards the two voices, mentally going over the many water spells he’d learned in his studies. The only problem with that plan of action was that Fiona could easily turn the magic he’d learned against him. She was his teacher after all.
“Hey! Look who’s home!” his father announced as the boy turned the corner into the living room. The man got up from his seat and went to hug his son. Although Dwayne hugged his father back his eyes were fixed on the witch sitting across from him on his sofa. She gave a little wave to him with her fingers, wearing her best parent-teacher-conference-smile.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Dwayne asked as the man pulled away from him again.
“Well, Mistress Fiona and I were just talking about a job offer for you,” the man said with a proud nod.
Fiona stood up as she added, “One that’d give you a break on your tuition. We want you to teach Gaelic to the first year students. It’d mean more hours at school, but it’d also mean saving your father a lot of trouble.”
As she said this, Dwayne’s father went back to sitting beside Fiona on the sofa. He didn’t like them being so close to each other. It conjured up the image of her stabbing him through the neck with some hidden knife. Dwayne felt his blood boiling as it rushed through his veins. Fiona wanted to keep him a prisoner in that school. The calm air between his father and the witch was making him sick to his stomach.
“He’s never been any trouble at all,” Dwayne’s father assured them both. “I’d give anything and everything for this kid.”
“I understand,” Fiona nodded as she looked at Dwayne with such admiration. “What parent wouldn’t give their very life for their children?” Fiona put her hand on the man’s leg in a gentle and soothing manner.
A switch flipped in Dwayne’s mind. His father really would give his life to protect him. If he attacked Fiona right now he wouldn’t be able to protect his father. He wasn’t strong enough.
“Of course, you don’t have to take the job if you don’t want to,” Dwayne heard his father saying, though his mind was still trying to calculate a way out of this mess.
“Yes, there’s no pressure,” Fiona agreed. “But I really do think this would be the best thing for you both.”

The rest of the conversation past in a blur, but Dwayne could recall saying something like “let me think about it” before the witch finally left. They were still watching him. He could almost see the mysterious phantom in the basement of the school lingering over him.
“Well, you don’t seem very excited,” his father said at last.
Dwayne looked up at his father and found that he was still at a loss for an explanation or any plan of action. He had to say something. He had to get them both out of danger.
“Can we go for a drive, Dad?” was what finally slipped from his mouth.
“A drive?” the man asked. “To where?”
“Anywhere really,” Dwayne replied as he went to grab his father’s car keys off the hook where they always dangled. “I just want some time to clear my head.”
“Well, sure,” his father replied with a shrug. “I’ll go and grab my wallet.”
Dwayne shouted some mixture of the phrases “Meet you outside” and “I’ll start the car” as he went out the front door. There was no plan here. He knew that leaving town would get them attacked. He just had to get out from under that gaze. He couldn’t think straight while imagining a demon lurking over his shoulder. Would his counter spells even work against their own source? What other source was there?
As his father stepped outside Dwayne insisted on driving. He’d go stark raving mad if he had to sit quietly in the passenger seat like he had on the bus. His father asked him about his learner’s permit, which Dwayne assured him was in his pocket.
They took off down the road and cringed as his father reached to turn off the radio. He wanted to talk and Dwayne still didn’t have anything to say. They made small talk about the weather and about his father’s work at the garage. He asked if Dwayne really would want to be a teacher. He did want to be a teacher, but he wouldn’t want to teach other people Fiona’s lies.
They were getting pretty close to the edge of the city now. If they kept heading north, they’d be seeing a sign for the next county soon. Had they really been driving for almost an hour?
“Where are you going, Dwayne?” his father asked, sounding frustrated at last.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he replied simply.
“We need to get back home now,” the man insisted. “We still have to make dinner and you have school tomorrow whether you take the teaching job or not.”
“Just a bit further.”
“You wouldn’t want to break that perfect attendance record of yours.”
Dwayne eased off the gas pedal a bit, his blood going cold. “What?”
“That sort of thing speaks volumes about your future with the academy,” his father replied, but those weren’t his words. His father never used the word “academy” even though the Sages used it all the time. His father only ever called it a school because that’s all that he thought it was.
His father grabbed a hold of the wheel and wrenched it downwards with such force that Dwayne couldn’t have stopped him even if he had seen it coming. The car swerved off the smooth road and plunged though the uneven rocks and bushes that surrounded them. It all happened in one blur of motion. They narrowly missed hitting the trees that now stood on either side of them. Dwayne had hit the break, though he didn’t remember doing so. They hadn’t crashed into anything.
“You okay?! Dwayne? Are you alright?!” his father was shouting from beside him as he put his hand on his son’s shoulder.
Dwayne lurched out of his grasp and turned to the man in astonishment. “What was that?!” he demanded.
“Did you see a deer or something?” his father asked, glancing out the back window back towards the road.
Dwayne didn’t answer. Instead he got out of the car and away from his father. He pulled at his long red hair as he went over every incantation, every curse, and every potion that could influence another person. There were too many. His mind was racing and his heart felt like it was rising up in his throat. There were too many.
The lingering glare of the thing in the basement was there. Dwayne could almost imagine her shaking her head at him. He could almost hear her taunt rising up in unison with Fiona, saying “You want to protect him, but who’s going to protect you from him?”
“I’ll be right back! I promise!” he yelled as he darted further from the road, from the car, and everything else. He wasn’t heading out of town anymore, just deeper into the unknown parts of it. Into the lightly wooded areas that still lingered at the edge of shopping malls and suburban neighborhoods.
He could hear his dad calling for him, but it would take him a while to follow. The passenger side door was too close to the tree they had nearly hit.
Dwayne found a sort of path in the tall grass and weeds where someone must have trampled it all underfoot. He followed it until he finally saw something that he’d never expected to see within the confines of the city; a sprite.
The creature was glowing with a faint light and it was perched almost weightlessly on a blade of grass. It looked up at him with a small tilt of its head, though Dwayne couldn’t make out it’s expression under the glow of its pale pink skin. Sprites hadn’t been seen in the city for decades.
She leap from her perch and flew off through the trees, her wings only visible now that they were fluttering in the light. Dwayne chased after the fairy, hardly watching where he was going as he eyes stayed fixated on the girl. Chasing sprites was dangerous because you never know where you might end up. At the moment he didn’t care.
He’d only been following it for a few seconds when a building of white bricks came into view; a small modest building with a little bell tower on the roof, three stained glass windows, and a very gothic structured entryway.
He assumed that it had to be some sort of church, but he’d never seen such a small one before, let alone one that didn’t look like a re-purposed movie theater. He’d lost track of the sprite now. It had vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
“Well, you’re a bit early for Sunday Mass,” a voice called from behind him. Dwayne turned to find an old man dressed all in black walking up to him with a basket of vegetables. “But if you’re looking for a more modest spread, we’ll have dinner ready shortly.”
The old man walked right past Dwayne and into the white brick building without slowing down once or asking him what he was doing in the middle of nowhere. Dwayne followed the man into the building.
The old man went about his business as if he didn’t notice Dwayne. Once they were inside, he unlocked a door that had a staircase descending into a sort of sub level to the building. It was very narrow and made of stone. He waved for Dwayne to follow and then disappeared down the spiraling steps.
The boy glanced around at the grand hall just behind yet another door with stained glass windows in it. Dwayne swallowed the lump that was rising up in his throat. He wasn’t sure he should be in a place like this.
“Are you coming or should I turn the light off?” the old man called from below.
Dwayne quickly followed after him, thinking that he might feel more comfortable downstairs anyway. “Sister Brigid, we have company for dinner,” the old man announced as Dwayne walked into what looked like a cafeteria with the kitchen behind a sort of bar. There was a young woman dressed in a long black robe with a strange veil over her head. She was chopping some meat on the counter. She looked up at the boy that had entered with concern in her eyes.
“Who is he?” she asked.
“That’s a good question,” the old man nodded as he dropped his basket of vegetables on the bar. “What is your name?”
“Father! Didn’t you ask that earlier?” the woman practically squeaked.
“My name’s Dwayne,” the boy offered, trying to puzzle together how the girl could be a sister to the man she’d just called father.
“There we go!” the old man smiled. “Dwayne! Lovely to meet you, Dwayne. I’m Father Hubley and this is Sister Brigid.”
The next few minutes were probably the most bizarre experience of Dwayne’s life. Another two “Sisters” showed up as they got dinner preparations underway. Dwayne helped by chopping some potatoes. He asked questions about what their different titles meant learned that Father Hubley was a what they called a Priest and the three Sisters were called Nuns. They were indeed in a church and was called Saint Patrick’s. They’d been around for decades now and never locked their doors.
“Don’t you worry about the sages finding you here?” Dwayne asked. “They don’t exactly approve of religious institutions.”
“No sage has stepped onto these grounds yet,” one of the sisters assured him. “I think the sprites lead them away.”
“But a sprite lead me right to your door,” Dwayne warned.
“Well, are you a sage?” Father Hubley asked.
Dwayne swallowed another lump in his throat. Technically he wasn’t a sage yet. He had practiced magic and had worked for years against the sprites and all other Seelie types of fairies.
Sister Brigid accidently knocked over her glass of water, sending it spilling over the table. Dwayne reacted by jumping back and calling out for the water to disperse. It sputtered into a mist and the table was dried instantly.
There was a stunned silence as the others stared at him. Brigid pulled a string of beads from her pocket and began fidgeting with them frantically. Father Hubley approached and Dwayne found himself backing away from the man.
“Dwayne, come with me,” the Priest ordered firmly, though there was no sign of anger in his voice.
He followed Father Hubley back up the stairs, expecting to be shown the door, but the man opened the door into the main chamber of the building instead.
“Will you sit and pray with me for a moment?” the man asked.
“Pray? To God?” Dwayne asked, a bit startled by the notion. “I really don’t know him that well.”
“No better time for introductions,” Father nodded. “Come in.”
The man lead him down the row of pews until they were about mid way to the altar and then sat down and waited for Dwayne to join him.
As the boy finally sat down the man pulled down a kneeler from the seat in front of them and proceeded to kneel on it like it was the most natural thing in the world. Dwayne stayed seated awkwardly as he tried to figure out if he should kneel down as well. What was he bowing to exactly? The altar? Besides a golden casing sitting behind it, there wasn’t much there that he could see.
“Heavenly Father,” the Priest began suddenly. “We thank you from bringing Dwayne here on this beautiful Wednesday evening. You are the way the truth and the light, Lord; the one true God. Please hear the prayers of this young man, which he now offers to You.”
Father Hubley turned to Dwayne here and then nodded towards the altar and the golden case. Dwayne dropped to his knees and put his hands together in the same way Father Hubley had done, but he really didn’t know where to go from there. What was he supposed to say?
Dwayne thought back to everything he’d learned in the past year. He thought about how all magic had a source and that source was usually found in nature. The sages claimed that they had such power over nature because they were strong and commanding. Then in his extra studies as a water mage he had learned that no sage, no matter how powerful, could command “holy water” which had been anointed in some way.
That was because their power was actually tied to a Wind Demon named Aoifa, who was known for mercilessly cursing children. Everything they had taught him only dragged him deeper and deeper into Aoifa’s grasp. He could almost imagine her hovering over him like the mist he had dispersed at the dinner table.
A demon couldn’t control what had been anointed, but why? All the books Dwayne read excused it by saying it was nothing more than a trick of the Seelie fairies. If that was true, if the Seelie could in fact oppose the Unseelie in such a way, why couldn’t the Unseelie banish each other the same way?
The answer was that the Unseelie were a broken race that answered to no one, but the Seelie were all united as one under “one true power.” Was that power God? Father Hubley had called him “the one true God” after all. If that was the case, what was a fifteen-year-old boy even supposed to say to such a deity? He had no right to ask for help. He’d been opposing this god without even knowing it.
Then it occurred to him. He knew exactly what to ask or rather what to pray. “Please save my father from my mistakes,” Dwayne said.
Father Hubley closed the prayer with a sort of hand sign and then sat back down in the pew. Dwayne sat down as well and waited.
“I can’t tell you where to go from here, Dwayne,” Father explained. “My advice would be for you to get as far away from the sages as possible.”
“I can’t leave,” Dwayne said in defeat. “I don’t know why they want me to stay at the school. They’ve been trying to make me quit since day one and now that I know their secret they won’t let me go. I never should have confronted Fiona.”
“Well, confronting that woman always leads to hardship,” Father Hubley nodded. “But I’ve known many people to do it all the same.”
“Why don’t you come back on Sunday morning? You might find that you’re not as alone as you think.”
With that, Father Hubley got to his feet and after kneeling before the altar he headed back to the front of the church. Dwayne sat alone in the pew.


Dwayne made his way back to the side of the road where he had left his father and their truck. To his surprise, his father was just getting out of the car and heading in his direction.
“Where are you going?” the man was shouting. “You just wrecked the car! This is no time for a jog through the woods!”
“Just wrecked---But I already went and came back,” the boy replied.
“So you jumped out of the car to run ten feet?”
Dwayne hadn’t thought about it until this moment, but he must have been at Saint Patrick’s Church for an awfully long time. He’d helped them to make dinner and then sat down to eat with them. That would have taken an hour at least.
Suddenly a passage from one of Fiona’s books came to his mind. She had stated that sprites could open gates through dimensions that people could accidentally step through. Had he been in the fairy realm? Had he just stepped through it and somehow been displaced from normal time?
Either way, it made it seem all the more impossible that he’d ever see the church again.

Story and Characters (C) SuperheroGeek13

Realm of Rachana

"Agh, this is old. Though I don't think I have anything for this story elsewhere. First person, present tense! Not my strong suit."

Chapter One: The Siege Led by the Black Knight

My fingers dash across the keyboard purely on muscle memory because my eyes and my focus are both entirely on my computer screen. My character dashes through the thick forest with Gwen running beside him. The effects in this game are really quite remarkable. Gwen’s long flowing blond hair and silken green dress billow behind her very realistically as she pulls ahead of me. She must be wearing the magic boots.
A river comes into view just ahead of us. That must be where she was leading us. After all, we are being chased by a fire wizard. Speaking of which, I wonder if he’s gaining on us. I scroll my point of view around and see that the wizard is only a few feet away. In fact, he’s throwing another barrage of fire balls at us. I call out to Gwen through my headset as I dodge the attack. I try to turn back around to watch where I’m going, but now the camera is spinning and I’ve lost all sense of direction.
I swivel the camera back around and catch sight of the river again. Gwen is running that way. I dive into the water just behind her with a loud splash and the muffled sound of running water filling my ears.
My head pops back up to the surface and I spot Gwen standing on the shore hiding from the wizard behind a tree. She spots me bobbing in the water and takes time to roll her eyes at me.
“Any bright ideas, sir?” Gwen asks sarcastically.
“How was I supposed to know that he was a fire wizard?” I demand. Those kinds of stats aren’t available to the general public after all.
The wizard reaches the river and starts throwing more fireballs at me. I duck beneath the water again and the fire hits harmlessly above me. I resurface, wishing that I had become a water wizard so that I could breathe underwater.
Apparently the wizard didn’t see Gwen over to his left because he walked right past her. The sleeves of his long red robe are singed as he forms even larger fire balls above his hands.
I type the action into my keyboard five times before I notice the “Cannot Draw Sword” warning in the corner of the screen. Why can’t I draw it? What am I doing wrong?
“Do you really think that water will protect you from a level 38 wizard, dude?” he taunts through my headset. I have to learn how to change that proximity setting.
“Seems to be working so far, hotshot,” I come back. Weak…
The fire above the wizard’s hands turns blue and completely engulfs his arms. “Noob!” he shouts. “Watch how fast your health meter goes down when I boil the river away!”

Story and Characters (C) SuperheroGeek13 and GamerintheZone

Athol - Ciar's First Date

"This is just a little idea that grew into a whole backstory sort of thing. I'm not all that happy with the end result here, but I've very little confidence in my ability to write anything at all 'romantic.' I still really like Maeve though."

“Oh, Ciar,” Ms. Clarke sighed. “Button up your shirt!”
In answer, Ciar buttoned the buttons his sleeves, but made no move to fix the buttons that on the front of his shirt. He was of course wearing a t-shirt underneath it, but his guardian didn’t seem any less displeased by that fact. She took these open house party things very seriously. Ms. Clarke shook her head in disappointment before turning around to survey the crowd of people in the center of the party room. Ciar had already had to fight through that crowd to find his isolated little table. He had no plans to move. Ms. Clarke’s face lit up as she finally spotted the person for whom she’d been looking.
“Maeve!” she greeted, causing a young girl in the crowd to turn towards her. The teenager then proceeded to walk over to Ms. Clarke, Ciar watching her carefully the whole time. He smelt a setup.
“Hello, Miss Clarke,” the girl said politely. “Thank you so much for inviting us.”
“’T’was my pleasure, dear,” she replied. “Do you know many people here?”
“No, not really,” Maeve shrugged. “But I don’t really know many people outside of school.”
“Oh aye,” the woman sighed. “Ciar here is in the same boat. Isn’t that right, Ciar?”
The boy looked up at Ms. Clarke in annoyance, but she continued, “I’ll bet you two probably have a lot in common, eh, Maeve?”
“I can’t really say,” the girl said nervously as she glanced at Ciar. “Hi there.”
Ciar simply nodded to her in reply. At least this girl wasn’t knowingly involved in this scheme.
“Well, I’ll just leave you kids to your own devices,” the woman said as she began to walk away. “I know you don’t want to be talking to a boring old adult like me.”
Ciar and Maeve watched Ms. Clarke as she walked away and then they turned to each other. Maeve let her shoulders slump and muttered, “Well, that was subtle.”
Ciar smirked briefly at her comment before turning his gaze to look at the ceiling. Subtlety was so not Ms. Clarke’s strong suit. The woman was always trying to make Ciar hang out with “other kids his own age.” It was usually really annoying.
Maeve stepped over and took a seat, not at Ciar’s table, but at a neighboring table so they were still beside each other. Her gaze was fixed on the rest of the party, so Ciar took a moment to really get a good look at the girl. Her hair was brown and haphazardly tired up in a messy bun. Her completion was fair and her eyes were light green and devoid of any of the sparkles that the other girls at the party were wearing. She was dressed in a very simple purple dress and green sweater so she looked rather casually dressed for the “semi-formal” event. As if to drive that point home, the girl tucked her feet under her chair and Ciar could now see that she was wearing black sneakers rather than heels.
“Your parents drag you here, too?” she asked at last, not bothering to turn her gaze from the party.
“Sorta,” Ciar replied, turning away from her again.
“I’m missing the season finale of MPB: Swords for this,” she sighed as she rested her chin in her palm.
Ciar nodded, though Maeve probably couldn’t see him.
“So, what was your plan for surviving the party?” she asked, turning part way to look at him again.
Ciar sighed long and heavily before answering, “To sit here.”
“Probably smart,” she replied. “I thought I could get lost in the crowd. I should have known that I’d get caught.”
“That’s Miss Clarke,” Ciar agreed as he noticed the woman standing across the room pointing not so subtly towards him and Maeve as she talked with her friends.
“How do you know her?” Maeve asked.
Ciar sunk a couple of inches down his chair. “Legal guardian…” he muttered.
“Whoa,” Maeve replied as she too noticed Ms. Clarke across the room. “That’s gotta be…interesting.”
He could only scoff in reply, which made Maeve smile briefly.
The two teenagers stayed silent for a few moments after that. Ciar took up counting the chairs at each table to avoid glancing over to Maeve. She never glanced back though, so what was the harm?
“There’s a small telly in the office,” she said suddenly. “We could make a break for it.”
Ciar turned to Maeve, hoping that there would be some sort of joking expression on her face, but there was none. She had meant it.
“Unless you actually enjoy Ms. Clarke’s far off company,” she joked as the gossiping woman continued to talk about them.
Ciar turned and just caught Ms. Clarke as she turned her gaze away from him. Was the woman hoping to catch him and Maeve smiling and laughing like a couple of idiots?
 “You’re serious?” Ciar asked. He always gave his guardian a hard time, but he never actually went as far as to disobey her or break into her office.
In answer, Maeve smiled again and then got up from the table to head for the nearest door out into the hall. Ciar found himself getting up from his table and following after her. Ms. Clarke did seem to take notice, but she didn’t bother to leave her group of friends.
They darted off into the main lobby and then through the door into Ms. Clarke’s office. There was in fact a small television sitting on an end table by the window. It was a portable clunky looking model, but it was probably good enough for watching MPB: Swords.
Maeve turned it on and started flipping through the channels for the crime drama. Then she pulled up a couple of chairs and sat down eagerly. Ciar sat down beside her in the other chair and the girl suddenly giggled mischievously. Ciar was a bit taken aback, but the girl quickly composed herself. She probably wasn’t as much of a sneak as she had led him to believe.
The show started and the two of them watched it in silence. During the commercial breaks Maeve would nod to him excitedly or gasp at the twist in the plot, but other than that they didn’t really do much more than watch. Halfway through the episode they heard someone talking out in the lobby. Maeve turned the television off and quickly rode her swivel chair back into its place at the desk. Ciar got to his feet and watched as the girl looked around frantically for a place to hide.
He quickly ducked into one of the niches beside the door, the one that would be blocked when the door was opened, and waved for Maeve to follow him. He’d used this hiding place many times before while Ms. Clarke was working.
Maeve ducked into the niche with him just as the door swung open and Ms. Clarke stepped inside. The two teenagers were as silent as possible, not even daring to breath. Ciar was holding Maeve by her shoulders to keep the girl from accidently stepping on his feet. She smelt kind of like vanilla.
After a few seconds of glancing around, Ms. Clarke disappeared back through the door. The two fugitives stepped back out into the open and Maeve sighed with relief. “You don’t think she’s worried about us do you?” Maeve asked a bit guiltily.
“There’s only fifteen minutes left,” Ciar shrugged.
Maeve gave him a quick smile and then went to turn the television back on. They went back to watching the show just as they had before, except now Ciar couldn’t help stealing glances at Maeve when she wasn’t looking. Her bright green eyes complimented her sudden and brief little smiles so well. It was also nice that she didn’t constantly smile. It felt more sincere how it just came and went.
Before he had even realized that MPB was over the credits were rolling. Maeve turned off the television and leaned back in her chair with a satisfied sigh. “I’m glad they didn’t leave it on a cliffhanger this season,” she approved.
Ciar nodded, though in truth he had kind of spaced out for the last few minutes of the show. “So, shall we make a reappearance before your legal guardian decides to send out a search party?”
Ciar found that he really wouldn’t mind going back to the party if Maeve was going to be there. He wouldn’t mind at all. In fact, he figured that any place might be more tolerable with her around. She didn’t complain about his attitude or his unbuttoned shirt. The two of them could…
Ciar stood up from his chair and quickly made his way to the door. What was he thinking?
Maeve jumped to her feet and followed after him. “I’ll go first,” he said, not bothering to turn and look at her.
“Okay,” the girl conceded.
Ciar then went out into the lobby and closed the door behind him. Instead of heading back to the party he went straight out the front door and down the street. It was a long walk from the main building to the other end of the villas where his house was, but couldn’t exactly ask Ms. Clarke for a ride. It couldn’t be more than seven minutes away. It just felt far because he was wearing his stupid dress shoes. Maeve had had more sense than to wear fancy footwear.
Ciar shook his head, not wanting to think about Maeve anymore. She’d probably never think of him again anyway. 

Athol - Perditus Meets the Nixie

"My poor blog is so lost and forgotten! I really need to do a better job of updating it, no matter how scrapped-together and embarrassing this stuff might be.

Anyway, here's one of the opening scenes from Athol that I've already visited once and have re-visited from a different character's POV. Does it make any difference? Maybe not, but it was helpful in the writing process. Beware of Spoilers ahead!"

Perditus struggled through the forest with Ciar slung over his shoulders. The young man was still unconscious and even though his head was resting on Perditus’ shoulder the elf could hardly hear the sound of his friend’s breathing. He had started out so feverish and it was just getting worse and worse. How long had they been walking already?
Glaoim ar an cumhacht ag an Chúirt Seelie. Sprites, le do thoil teacht ar mo chúnamh,” he called out, imploring the fairies for help. He’d called out to them several times already with no success. They were too close to the edge of the woods where all types of fairies were scarce.
At last they made it to the edge of a stream that Perditus had had to cross when he first entered Athol. He had climbed knee-deep into the water and then leapt across before, but that would probably prove more difficult with Ciar over his shoulder.
Sprites, le do thoil teacht ar mo chúnamh,” he called again, but there was no answer. In fact, things had become eerily quiet and the elf wasn’t sure why. The sound of the running water, the chirping of birds, and the subtle noises of the forest were all still there. What had changed?
“Ciar?” he asked as he turned to look at the boy.
That had been the reason things were quieter, the faint sound of Ciar’s breathing had stopped. Perditus Quickly dropped to his knees and eased Ciar off his shoulders and onto the grass.
“Ciar!” he called nervously, leaning in closer to listen for even the slightest sound of life. He grabbed the boy’s wrist to take his pulse, but he couldn’t find it.
Dúisigh!” he commanded, trying to awaken Ciar from his sleeping spell. He didn’t respond.
He put his hand to Ciar’s neck, trying again to find his pulse. He was panicking too much, he couldn’t remember if he was even doing this right.
Glaoim ar an cumhacht ag an Chúirt Seelie!” he shouted into the woods. “Please, if any of you can hear me, please help!”
He was still a whole day’s walk from his village and Ciar was out of time. He’d gotten the only good human in all of Athol killed. “Please God, don’t let him die,” Perditus prayed as he wrapped his arms around Ciar and lifted him into his embrace. “Please Lord, thy will be done. Thy will be done.”
“You shouldn’t call for anyone, as anyone could answer,” a voice answered, soft but stern.
Perditus turned towards the voice and found two bright yellow eyes staring at him from the edge of the stream. The creature lifted herself out of the water and the elf could now see that she was in fact a Nixie, her long dark hair veiling her face and her rich blue skin covered in freckles.
“Dia leat, Nixie!” Perditus greeted hastily as he lifted Ciar in both his arms. “I beg your help! He’s not breathing! He was poisoned by a witch!”
“You want me to save a human life at the risk of my own?” she asked sternly.
Perditus didn’t remember much about how Nixie magic worked, but he didn’t doubt that it could leave her vulnerable somehow. And even the Seelie were no friends to the humans.
“Please, I promise that I’ll make it up to you!” he insisted. “I’ll give you anything you desire!”
“You have nothing, traveler,” she argued, eyeing Ciar nervously as if he might suddenly spring to life and attack her.
It was true; Perditus had nothing but the clothes off his back. What could he possibly promise her in exchange for Ciar’s life?
“I offer my life for his,” he bargained. “I shall be at your service ‘til the end of my days!”
“You are a fool,” the Nixie sighed. “I will not rob an elf of his freedom only to set loose a known traitor.”
“He is no threat! I swear!”
The Nixie turned her back to him and shook her head. “Your people have made that mistake before,” she reminded him. “If I can help you, I shall, but I will not endanger my brothers and sisters.”
This was why Perditus had left his home in secret. No one trusted the humans anymore, not even human children on the brink of death.
“Is there any way that I might convince you?” Perditus begged as he knelt beside the girl with Ciar still held limply in his arms. “Just tell me your terms and I will accept them no matter what!”
The Nixie looked down at the elf and the boy remorsefully. She was Ciar’s only chance right now and if Perditus let her go he would never forgive himself.
“The human’s life is truly in your hands and yours alone?” she asked searchingly. “No one else can help him?”
Perditus nodded, not sure what she meant by the question.
“Then his life would be yours if he survived,” she nodded. “And thus it will be mine. You offer me his service and I will save him.”
Perditus hesitated, knowing that he had no right to swear on Ciar’s behalf, but what choice did he have?
“What exactly do you mean,” Perditus insisted.
“If I save the human, he will be my servant,” she pledged.
“Until you choose to release him,” Perditus added. The Nixie grimaced, but she nodded in agreement to his amendment.
She then knelt down and lifted Ciar out of Perditus’ arms and then stepped into the stream. She placed the boy in the water and closed her eyes, likely examining him through some sort of extrasensory power she had through the water.
She began humming a soft tune and was soon singing a melody that Perditus couldn’t quite make out. She then let Ciar drop beneath the water where he was unaffected by the flow of the stream and stayed in place.
Perditus sat at the water’s edge and watched his friend anxiously. Nixie’s had very powerful healing magic, greater than even the most powerful of the elves. He just prayed that it wasn’t too late.
The sun soon set over the forest and Perditus could hear the sound of the witches’ sentries flying overhead in the forms of crows. He concealed them as best he could with his glamour spells, but he knew it wouldn’t do them any good if they came in person to find them. Maybe the witches would assume they were already much deeper into the woods by now.
Perditus fell asleep midway through the night and awoke to realize just how beat up he was after the last couple of days. Being tossed around, dragged around, tackled, and used for target practice really did take a toll once he had time to stop catch his breath.
Every decision he had made the last few days had ended badly. Should he have told his family his plans after all? Would they have stopped him or helped? Could he have spotted the dragon if he hadn’t been so tired? Would Ciar and his sister have been better off if they’d never met him?
He tried going over everything that happened with the Nixie, but she seemed to be in some sort of trance most of the time, though she did shake her head from time to time.
It was another day before Ciar finally woke up. The boy burst out of the water in a panic and Perditus quickly tried to calm him down. “Ciar! It’s alright, you’re safe,” Perditus assured him, happy to finally be able to say that himself.
Ciar climbed out of the water and immediately shoved the elf over. “You want to drown me now?!” he demanded, brushing his wet hair out of his eye.
“I’m sorry,” Perditus insincerely apologized. “The poison had done its damage. If I hadn’t gotten you help, you’d be dead now.”
Ciar kneeled dripping wet on the ground as Perditus stood up and dusted himself off. He hadn’t thought much about how he’d explain the situation to Ciar once he woke up. Until now he’d just been hoping that he’d wake up at all.
“Help?” Ciar asked with suspicion in his voice.
“He is an ungrateful little human,” the Nixie interrupted, catching Ciar’s attention. Perditus cringed at the fact of these two finally speaking to each other.
“Well, at least now that I have him, he’ll be no trouble to the rest of the forest,” she shrugged.
Perditus rubbed the back of his neck nervously. It was probably best to get it over with quickly.
“Ciar, this is the water nixie of this stream,” Perditus sighed. “She is the one that saved you.”
“Humans are not easily mended,” she stated, coming to the edge of the water. “But Perditus’ deal was fair.”
Ciar turned to Perditus slowly with a look of both realization and distain. Perditus stepped back as Ciar’s fist clenched at his side.
“Nixies do not offer help without the promise of reward,” Perditus tried to explain, hearing how insufficient it sounded even to him. “And she would not take my service as payment.”
“Service?!” Ciar snapped, grabbing Perditus by the collar of his jacket. The elf wanted to add that he had bargained with his own life, that he had tried to get help elsewhere, and that Ciar was basically dead when this all happened, but he felt that he had no right. He had done this to Ciar and really would feel better about the whole thing if Ciar punched him in the face.
“Now, now! None of that!” the nixie interrupted again. “The human will unhand the elf immediately!”
Ciar’s eye widened and Perditus felt the boy’s hands flinch as he struggled to disobey the order. Perditus couldn’t look him in the eye as the Nixie called out again.
“I gave him an order!” she snapped, pulling herself onto the edge of the stream.
Ciar released Perditus without hesitation this time and then stare down at his hands in disbelief. He turned to the nixie lying at his feet. “How did you do that?” he asked.
“There is a magic in a nixie’s voice,” she said simply.
Ciar turned to Perditus again and the elf could only sigh helplessly.
“Their commands can control anyone within earshot,” he explained, remembering that Ciar wasn’t familiar with magic.
Ciar shook his head angrily and then turned to run off through the forest.
“Stop!” the nixie called after him.
Ciar stoped at the edge of the tree line a few feet away, his back to both the nixie and Perditus. The Nixie sighed in annoyance as she turned to Perditus.
“Such a stubborn boy!” she complained. “I liked him better when he was asleep.”
“You mustn’t be so strict with him,” Perditus whispered. “I told you about what transpired with his sister.
“So the humans are turning on each other now,” she scoffed with a roll of her eyes. “Do not expect me to weep for a traitor betrayed.”
“They’re not all witches and warlocks, dear nixie,” Perditus reminded her.
The girl looked at him sternly for a moment before replying, “They’re all alike, Perditus. I know that better than most. I can only pray that the damage this human will cause is minimal. You never should have brought him here.”
The Nixie then pushed off the shore and drifted into the center of the stream. Perditus couldn’t allow her comment to stand. She’d been nothing but disrespectful towards him from the moment they met.
“There was a time when an elf could vouch for a human before the rest of the Court,” he said.
“You are the last of your species thanks to that trust,” she shot back.
“Those were the actions of his ancestors, not of Ciar himself,” he argued.
“Just as your foolish actions are yours and not anything akin to your Grandfather’s.”
Perditus had no comeback for that. He hadn’t realized that the Nixie had actually guessed his heritage.
“He is a testimony to your people and you should have listened to him,” she rebuked. She then jumped into the air and dove into the stream and out of sight.
Perditus watched the water flowing for a moment longer. He’d never won any of the arguments with his grandfather either. Didn’t anyone understand what he was trying to do?
He looked up at last to see that Ciar was also staring down at the stream from where he stood. Perditus walked up to him, once again just feeling relieved that his friend was alive.
“I did not enter into this deal lightly, Ciar,” he assured him, though Ciar didn’t respond. “I shall find a way to free you from this contract.”
Ciar turned to him and narrowed his eyes, making the elf flinch. “Promise?” he asked.
“Well, I’m afraid that I can’t swear to an action against what I already swore to the nixie,” he admitted.
“Just what did you swear to her?” the boy asked.
“That if she saved you, you’d be her servant until she released you,” he recited.
“How do we get her to do that?”
“I’m still working on that part.”