Dutch Myths: Hludana

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It’s been a while, but welcome to the third instalment of my Dutch Mythology series! Previously we covered the Dutch Goddesses Arcanua and Baduhenna, now it’s time for another Goddess: Hludana.

What we know.

As with all Dutch deities, we only know bits and pieces, and Hludana is no different. We only know Her from five votive stones found, three of which in Germany and two in the Netherlands. Four stones were found within the area that used to be the Provence of Germania Inferior, so we know Hludana was most likely a Germanic Goddess.

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Hludana inscription in Beetgum

The first four stones found, in Germany and Holdeurn (modern Nijmegen), give us nothing more than a name. This caused a lot of speculation as to who this Goddess was. The name sounds similar to known Goddesses like the Germanic Holda and the Norse Hlodyn, which caused Jacob Grimm to think that the earth Goddess Hlodyn and Hludana were the same Goddess. And for a while this was the general concensus: that Hludana was the Germanic name of the Hlodyn, or perhaps a variation of Holda. The discovery of a new votive stone in Friesland in the year 1888 shed some new light on this Goddess.

 

In the Frisian village Beetgum a discovery was made while excavating a terp. They found a votive stone where the lower part of a woman can still be seen, together with an inscription dedicated to the Goddess Hludana. This was the first stone to give us more information than just the name. The stone reads:

DEAE HLVDANAE
CONDVCTORES
PISCATVS MANCIPI
Q VALERIO SECV
NDO VSLM

Meaning: “To the goddess Hludana, the fishing contractors, when Quintus Valerius Secundus acted as tenant, fulfilled their vow willingly and deservedly.”

This tells us that Hludana was probably a Goddess of fishing. Since Beetgum at the time this stone was made was connected to the sea, as was Holdeurn, this would fit. The stones in Germany were all found along the river Rhine, so perhaps this Goddess was connected to this river as well.

What I think.

There is still some discussion going about the connection between Hludana, Hlodyn and Hulda. I think the stone found in Beetgum gives us the information we need to see that Hludana was a Goddess Herself and not an identification or different name for Hlodyn or Hulda.

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Hludana by Froukje Torensma

I see her as the Dutch Goddess of fishing, commerce and the river Rhine. Us Dutchies have always had deep connections to water, so a Goddess dedicated to fishing is something we would definitely have. Commerce is something that my own mind interjects with fishing: you do it so you can sell the fish and feed your family, hence the gold and coins in the aesthetic above.

Correspondences:

Rituals: fishing, water, anything work related.
Colours: blues and soft greens {water colours}, golds.
Symbols: fish, nets, winding rivers.
Stones: aquamarine, pearl, blue calcite, hagstones, simple river rocks.
Metals: gold, silver and copper {coin metals}.

Sources:

Book – Over de beoefening der Nederlandse mythologie, naar aanleiding der jongste tot dat onderwerp betrekkelijke geschriften – Johan van der Wal
Book – Nederlandsche volksoverleveringen en Godenleer – L. Ph. C. van den Bergh
Book – Teutonic Mythologie vol.1 – Jacob Grimm
Website: Livius.org
Website: Forgotten Gods – Reginheim
Website: Good Ol’ Wikipedia

So that’s it for the third installment of the Dutch Mythology series! Let me know what you think, or if you have a request for the next bit of mythology information. ‘Til next time!

Fiction Friday: the Sorceress Royal

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Rapunzel’s Tower, concept art by the amazing Lisa Keene

See what I did there in the title? {hihihi} Yes, I’m still trying to get into the discipline of writing, so I’m trying to get one story a week out to you guys. This week I found another plotbunny through Tumblr {which is just a treasure trove of awesomeness} which stated that there are two people who are generally found in towers: wizards and princesses. So yeah, that became this. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

 

“Ada, there is someone coming,” Riva said from where she fluttered in front of the window.
I groaned internally, not wanting to lose my concentration. “The wards will get him,” I told her as I carefully added the crushed bellflower petals to the mixture bubbling in my cauldron. A tuft of purple smoke poured out and onto my worktable. I smiled. This particular spell had taken four hours to prepare, I would not have some hopeful muck it up.
“Ada,” Riva started again, hesitantly, “he’s already passed the outer wards. It looks like he’s getting ready to climb the tower.”
The purple haze of my spell flickered for a moment as I took that in.
No, focus.
It doesn’t matter that he crossed the outer wards, I told myself sternly, nobody has ever made it inside. The spell solidified again as I raised my hands towards it, now as a tiny ball of bright purple light.
“Suza,” I called out, hoping he would listen, “would you be a dear and make sure His Highness doesn’t make it up the tower? I can’t deal with him right now.” My only answer was the brush of scales against my leg and the giant roar as he tossed himself out of the window. I wasn’t expecting the answering roar followed by a growl so deep I could feel it in my bones. My beautiful spell flashed once, then winked out of existence, my attention shot.
I threw my head back and made a sound of pure frustration. “Four. Hours!”
I closed the grimoire still open in my lap and flung it on the table in front of me. The cauldron was still spewing smoke, but the spell had been broken. There was no saving it now. Fuming, I walked out of my cosy, candle-lit workshop and into the midday light of my bedroom. I turned back towards the wardrobe that I’d just walked out of, the portal to my workshop still shimmering within, and closed the door.
It had been a while since someone had tried to ‘rescue’ me from my tower, I’d almost forgotten what an annoyance it was. The first few years, before I had strengthened the outer wards, the mere sight of Suza’s large dragon form was enough to send most princes running. After the wards, well, no one had even dared to get anywhere near ‘the Cursed Tower’.
The sounds of battle were different this time, I thought as I listened more carefully. No sound of shield against scales, No outcries in the midst of battle. Just snarls and growls, like two animals fighting.
There was a pained yelp and Suza came tumbling in through the window, his larger form dispersed. The now cat-sized dragon lay in a crumpled heap of blue scales and leathery wings. I quickly made my way to him. “Suza,” I shook him gently, “are you alright?”
He shook himself, wings and all, and nodded. Pressing himself under my hands for a moment in caress before walking over to his pillow and curling up. Transforming took a lot out of him, I knew, he needed his rest.
I stood looking at Suza for a moment, worried, when Riva spoke up. “He’s climbing the tower, he’ll be here soon.” She turned from the window and flew over to me, gold and green feathers glimmering in the light. “Ada, he might make it. What do we do?”
I had no idea. This was the first time in fourteen years that someone had even come this close to entering my tower. Fourteen years ago I may have wished for rescue, but I was no longer this scared maiden imprisoned by her circumstance. I righted myself and turned to Riva, gesturing for her to come perch on my shoulder. “He still has to make it through the last wards,” I told her as she landed and dug her talons in deep enough to draw blood. The connection zinged through my magic for a moment, making every colour and scent sharper. “But if he does make it, we shall welcome our guest,” I continued, conjuring a ball of bright blue fire over my palm, “and we’ll teach him that this princess doesn’t need rescuing.”

The next few moments were tense. I’d released the energy needed to keep the blue flames going, no need to spend it when the threat wasn’t here yet. But, toadstools, what if he succeeded, I fretted. I had no intention of leaving my studies, I really didn’t want to leave my workshop. However, Rhezar the Grand stated that magic worked because of certain Laws. He failed to say what the Laws were, exactly, but he was very clear about one thing: break the Laws and lose some of your power, his books taught me. My father had stated Law when he locked me in this tower. Any who would find their way inside my prison could claim me. But what if I refused? Would breaking non-magic Laws influence my abilities to do magic? How would that even work?
A hand landing on the windowsill cut through my panicked thoughts. My last wards flared up an angry red. The prince let out a pained grunt followed by a low growl, but nothing more. I’d set these wards to their most dangerous. Anything human that wasn’t me should suffer from such intense heat that they let go immediately. Although I hadn’t exactly had a test subject, I thought as his head and shoulders appeared through the opening. Maybe I didn’t attune them right.
The prince dropped through the window, rolled, and sprung to his feet. He wasn’t wearing any armour, I noticed. His clothes, well, what was left of it, were still smoking. The man looked around him as if expecting another attack, crouching low in defence. When his green eyes landed on mine he straightened again.
“You are not welcome here,” I told him, trying to keep my voice stern.
“Yeah,” the man answered, his voice rough, “the dragon and the flames kind of gave me that impression.” He scratched the back of his head almost sheepishly, ruffling his black hair. “To be honest,” he continued, taking in my appearance, “this whole endeavour, and you, are nothing like I’d expected.”
I refused to look down to myself. I knew what I looked like. I’d ditched the princess dresses a long time ago. They were just too flammable. Also, I’d spend most of the night preparing for the spell this prince so brazenly interrupted; I was not functioning on a lot of sleep. No doubt I looked very un-princess-like.
Still, rude.
I drew up a little bit of magic to make another ball of blue flames dance above my palm.
His entire demeanour changed at that. He dropped his hands to his sides and loosened his stance, obviously bracing for an attack. Green eyes changed to glowing gold and his teeth grew into long fangs. He growled low in his throat as his face slowly shifted.
“Werewolf,” I whispered, the fire forgotten.
“That would explain why he got through the wards,” I told myself while I started pacing, “they were attuned to humans but according to Fezeraiah the Eldest werewolves are only part human. And the other part is magic, so why wouldn’t he be able to just waltz through my carefully constr-”
Someone pointedly cleared their throat right next to me and I looked to see Riva, still perched on my shoulder, gesturing towards my guest with her head.
The werewolf was fully human again, an amused quirk to his lips.
“Right,” I turned back towards him. I tried to remember how my mother used to stand when addressing other Kings and Queens. She’d always looked so haughty and regal, a demanding presence without even opening her mouth. “Sir Wolf, I have no care for your bravery or for the promises my father made you, I have no interest in marriage.”
The prince’s eyes bulged. “Marriage?!” He choked out, looking very uncomfortable. “I have a wife and three children.”
“What?” I didn’t understand, “So you’re not here to rescue me?”
“Lady, from what I’ve seen -” he gestured down to what was left of his clothing, “you don’t need a lot of rescuing.”
I gave him a nod, smiling. “You would be correct.”
“I believe there has been a misunderstanding,” my guest started, bowing deep, “I am Ardal Conrí, Heir to the Crescent Throne.”
I returned his bow. “I am Ada Lockwood, youngest daughter to King Maxwell of the Veridian Isles.”
The werewolf’s eyes widened, but he didn’t comment. “My father sent me to ask for your assistance, my lady. We are at the brink of war. We need someone to help keep the peace – or stand on our side in battle.”
“And you’ve come for me?” I asked, still not sure what was going on, “Why?”
“Our own sorcerer breathed his last a few years past. Of old age,” he added hastily at my expression, “we need someone with magic at our side. When news of a powerful sorcerer living in a guarded tower reached our ears, Father sent me. We will pay whatever price you ask. Will you help us?”
“You’re asking me to become sorceress to the throne?”
“Yes.”
I could do it. I could leave this tower and see part of the world again. I would be valued for my study of the craft and not because of the family I was born into. A family who had stuck me in a tower they had never know held magic and never looked back. I could practice magic every day and discover new things. But did I dare go out there, into a world I no longer knew anything about? The tower was my prison, yes, but it was also safety. I had Riva and Suza and my workshop, did I really need –.
A thought struck me. “Did your sorcerer have a study? Or a workshop?”
“Of course,” Lord Conrí answered, “filled with books and exotic ingredients. If you agree, it would all be yours.” He finished with a smile.
Miry toadstools, he knew he had me. I still didn’t know if leaving the tower without a marriage would break Father’s rules and therefore hamper my magic. But to have access to new knowledge, to learn new things. I was already smiling.
“So, what will it be, my lady?” He asked, holding his hand out to me. “Are you a princess, or are you a sorceress?”
I let my eyes flash with a spark of magic and watched his flash gold in return. “Oh,” I answered as I laid my hand in his, “definitely a sorceress.”

So there you have it, this week’s story! Did you love it, did you hate it, do you want more? {which you might, next week, since Ada’s story is not over yet} I’d love to hear what you think!

Recipe Cards with Lawn Fawn

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I have this go-to cookie recipe for delicious oatmeal cranberry and white chocolate cookies that are easy to make and yummy! So when I made them as a thank-you gift for my friend Jessica last year she called me the next day and asked for the recipe. Her and her kids absolutely loved them and I’ve made them a couple of time just for them. I wanted to give her the recipe, but of course in my own creative way! I got these adorable stamp sets from Lawn Fawn which are just perfect to make recipe cards with. I used Baked with Love and Sally’s ABC’s for these.

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That same week was my sister Jacqueline‘s birthday, and after fretting for a few days on what to get her, I thought: why not a recipe card as well? I gave this one a moustache from the Love you a Latte stamp set, which is also where the spoon comes from because I thought this one was cuter {so sue me}. I couldn’t give her just a tiny card though, {although I did make a kick-ass bright piñata card} so I made her entire package with all the ingredients she would need. Now she has everything to make her own cookies!

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With tea, of course. This was so much fun to put together and to make! Jacqueline absolutely loved it and can’t wait to hear how the cookies turned out.

Flash Fic: the Enchanted Baker

EnchantedBaker
Purple Ombre Flower Cake by Pei Li’s Miniatures

It’s Friday, so time for a new story! {see what I’m trying here?} I really had no idea what to write this week so I scoured my Pinterest writing prompt board until I found something that make plotbunnies dance around in my head. The prompt was a dialogue prompt: “Why is there a dragon in your fridge?” “It was hot.” Simple and fun. I still struggled a bit until I had the friend assume that it was a beautifully, detailed cake… that suddenly turned out to be alive. The story kept rolling from there and suddenly a story prompt that I chose because I didn’t know what to write brought me a fun new character to put into my big worldbuilding project! But first: onto the story!

“Er, Steve, why is there a dragon in your fridge?”
I shrugged and looked up from the tiny fondant flower I was trying to put onto the smallest chocolate cake I’d ever made. “It was hot.” I told Jake.
“The detail is amazing, man. How did you get the scales so shiny?” He asked.
“He’s not a – I wouldn’t do that -” I warned but was already too late.
Jake yelped and staggered back a step, “Dude! That thing is alive!”
The bunny-sized dragon chose that moment to climb out of the fridge and make its way over to Jake.
“Well, yeah.” I told my friend, trying not to laugh as he backed away from my new pet.
“Okay,” Jake invited, now pressed with his back against the kitchen bar, “care to elaborate?”
“So, remember that weird dude that hired me a couple weeks ago? The guy claiming to be a mage?” I waited for his nod to continue, “well, turns out he’s legit. He tossed in this huge egg as a bonus, right? Claiming it would make more money for me in the end. Few days later, this little guy hatches.”
Smaug had now climbed up Jake’s jeans with his tiny claws, dodging Jake’s flailing arms, and was rummaging through his pockets. Smaug made a sound of triumph and pulled out a shiny nickel.
I gently laid down the tiny fondant flower and walked over to the small table by the couch.
The little dragon ran over to me, nickel firmly in his beak and chirped happily up at me, showing off his prize.
I patted him on the head as I pulled the tablecloth aside, revealing a pile of loose change and other shiny buttons and beads he had scrounged up from God-knows-where.
Smaug ducked under the table and curled up on his hoard, making weird purring/chirping sounds while he chewed on the nickel.
Jake was staring at him, and me, mouth hanging slightly open.
“Yeah, I don’t know either, man. Smaug thinks I’m his mommy or something and keeps collecting things. I think there’s, like, twenty bucks in change here and it’s only been a week.”
“You have a dragon as a pet? A freaking wizard gave you a dragon as a bonus?” Jake demanded.
I picked the delicate flower back up and finally got it in its place. “Yeah, he was really happy about the cake. Said it gave everyone a boost.” I shrugged again, holding the three-tiered cake away from me to look at it properly. “Apparently I’m magic or something. Hey, does this look right to you?” I waved him over holding up the teeny wedding cake where he could see.
“It’s freaking adorable,” Jake said, voice dripping with sarcasm, “why are you making doll-house cakes right now?”
“For a client, two fairies are getting married -”
“Dude, you can’t just say that!”
I winced at his vehemence. “Right, sorry, two pixies are getting married and asked me to make their cake.” I carefully put the cake down with the other four cakes, each in a different flavour and with slightly different decorations. “The bride could be here any moment for a tasting. You can wait if you want, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t make an ass out of yourself while she’s here.” I tossed him a meaningful glare. It wouldn’t be the first time.
“Right.” Jake stated, one eyebrow raised. “I promise I won’t embarrass you in front of the imaginary, small humanoids. Can we get back to how your magic now?”
Just as he said it four pixies appeared out of nowhere. A puff of pinkish smoke that vaguely shimmered in the afternoon light and suddenly there were four pint-sized women standing on my dinner table.
Jake took that moment to choke on his own spit and fled further into the kitchen.
Daffodil, the bride-to-be, looked after him, then back to me.
“He’ll be fine,” I assured her, “You’re looking lovely today, are you exited?”
She smiled broadly while she made a small twirl through the air.
I smiled at her. “Shall we begin with the lemon?”
For the next few minutes the bride and her entourage tasted the mini cakes and tried to tell me, in a combination of gestures and speech that sounded like ringing bells, which flavours and decoration they wanted for the big day. It was going to me an ombre cake in purple with the tiniest fondant peonies, hydrangea flowers and golden berries on top. This was going to be fun. I sat back from my notepad and regarded my client. “So, you have around 120 guests, right?”
She nodded, her blue hair bouncing with the movement.
“Are they all your size or will there be guests bigger? Like myself?”
Daffodil came over and took the pencil from me, the thing almost as big as herself. She regarded my notes for a moment and made a crude six on the paper.
“Six bigger people.” I clarified. “Are they all my size or are they bigger?”
She wrote a two and an arrow pointing up.
“Two bigger.” I confirmed, mentally calculating how much sponge-cake I would need. “How big are we talking?”
Then everything just – changed.
I wasn’t sitting at my table any more but was standing in the middle of a forest. A huge creature hulking over me, its breath hot on my face. I was afraid to move, afraid to even breathe because one bite of this thing and I’d have lost a head. I blinked and everything was back to normal. Swallowing hard I looked at Daffodil, who was looking slightly guilty. “Okay -” I tried, my voice two octaves too high. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Okay, so a full sized cake each for them, and one ten inch round cake for the others to share. Or would you like cupcakes?”
My client shook her head and pointed towards the pastel cake.
“Alright, I’ll have it done in time for the ceremony. Full moon, right?”
She nodded. That would give me six days, it would be tight, but it was doable.
We said our goodbyes and the pixies disappeared again in a puff of smoke.
Jake finally dared to venture out of the kitchen again. “Steve?” he started, “I’m not hallucinating, right? There really were tiny women on your table just now?”
I made some final notes about the wedding cakes before putting my pencil down and turning towards him. “You’re not hallucinating,” I reassured him, “apparently Alaric, the mage, spread the word. Like I said, I’m magic.” I added a little jazz-hands for emphasis.
“Yeah -” Jake trailed off, “and what does that mean, exactly?”
“I have no idea,” I laughed, “when Daffodil came for her first appointment she requested that her wedding cake would ‘spread happiness and love’, whatever that means. I don’t now what I’m doing, man, but I guess I’m doing it right because she left a lot more – sparkly.”
Jake opened his mouth to answer when there was a knock at my door. He quirked an eyebrow. “What is it? Witches? Dragons of the full-sized variety? You know what, I’ll get it.”
“I think witches make their own sweets.” I joked as he walked over and pulled open the door.
A man was standing there, dressed in full armour with an honest-to-God sword hanging from his belt. “You are Steven the Baker?” He asked Jake, who was looking towards the heavens with a ‘why-me’ expression on his face.
“Actually, that would be me.” I told the stranger.
“My Lord Baruchiel would like you to bake him something that would give him the strength to vanquish his enemies.” The stranger stated.
“Uhm, okay?” I tried, “I can pencil him in next week.”
He looked back towards the door, seemingly both nervous and annoyed. “His Lordship would prefer not to wait.” As he said this, a huge man stepped into my apartment, his giant white-and-grey wings folded behind his back. They were decorated with delicate golden chains, dappled with what I suspected were real diamonds, reflecting rainbows in the afternoon light.
Jake looked over to me as if to say ‘dude, your life’.
I looked back saying ‘dude, I know.’ Then I turned towards my new clients and uttered a phrase I’d never thought I’d say. “I’m sorry, sir,” I told the angel, “but the pixies were first.

 

So that’s it! As always, I’d love to hear what you think. And, as a bonus, have an adorable piece of artwork of {the Hobbit’s} baby Smaug by Caycowa on Deviantart, isn’t it adorable?

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Chibi Smaug Om Nom Nom by Caycowa

Get Happy Art Journal Page

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Last week I was having a not-so-happy day, so instead of writing {what I should have been doing} I decided to play around with paint and happy colours! I’ve tried my hand at Art Journaling before, but after seeing the amazing Miranda van den Bosch in action and after practising on my Cattitude painting, this is the first page that looked and felt like an Art Journal page.

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I first made the background with a couple of happy colours applied with makeup sponges. After that I stencilled the star patterns and the two different bubbles. All new stencils that I got at the Doe@Ding dagen, a fun craft-fair, a few weeks ago. The butterflies are all from the Flutter stamp set by BoBunny.

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The white bubbles didn’t come out white enough, so I traced them with a white Posca pen. I added the quotes by first writing out the words normally, and then adding triangles to where the letters needed to be thicker. The black bubbles and butterflies got a few fun accents with metallic markers.

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I stamped the wings on the page itself, using the Flutter stamp set again. Then I stamped the Gorjuss Collectable no. 15, the Black Star, on a piece of cardstock and coloured it with my Flexmarkers. I cut her out and stuck her to the page using foam tape, giving her a bit more depth. Then it was time for the black lines around the page and the black corner-dots, all made with Posca pen. The final touch was a bit of white drops splattered all over the page, made with white Ecoline ink.

So that’s it! My first “real” Art Journal page! It really helped lift my spirits and made me happier with every layer I added. So this might be a new coping mechanism, expect more pages in the future!

Flash Fic: Human Care

Prometheus concept art

Time for a new story! This time I got inspired by several prompts on Tumblr {like this one and this beautiful gem} talking about how aliens would view us humans. They are hilarious and such an inspiration. Expect more ‘humans are weird’ stories, because this was just too much fun. So sit back, enjoy, and tell me what you think!

“Get. In. There. You. Momzer piece of. Shtik,” I grunted as I tried to kick the fuel injector for the atmo-thrusters back into place. I overbalanced at the last one, falling onto the floor on my back. On the bright side, the injector snapped into place with a satisfying clunk.
 …I stayed there for a moment, catching my breath when a shadow fell over me. Looking up, I saw an indigo-and-grey face looking down at me in worry. “Oh, hey, Kel’Jarr,” I greeted him.
 “Human-Keira,” he seemed to pause for a moment, “hey.” He continued hesitantly.
 …I tried not to smile at how awkward he returned the human greeting, but it was a lost cause.
 …“Why are you currently on the floor?” he continued, “Are you injured?”
 …“Nah, I’m fine. I was just in a fight with the fuel injector. I won,” I grinned at him, rolling to my feet.
 …Kel’Jarr looked at the thing like it was going to jump out and bite him.
 “So, what’s up?” I asked him, fighting a laugh when his gaze slipped upwards. I picked up a rag to try and wipe some of the grease of my hands. Lost cause, especially my nails, but a girl can try, right? “Human expression, K.J.,” I explained, “it means ‘what did you need or why did you want to talk to me?’.”
 …“I see,” he nodded, obviously mentally filing the information away in his ‘humans are odd’ folder, “well then, what is ‘up’ is that I brought you a hot Earth beverage.” He thrust a steaming cup in my direction. “I believe you call it ‘coffee’.”
 …That got my attention. “You got me coffee?” I made grabby hands towards the cup until he handed it over. Sweet, sweet coffee, it had been too long. It was rich and dark, with a hint of vanilla. It was perfect. “Marry me.” I joked, although I really should have known better after three months on  Caelestis.
 Kel’Jarr’s black eyes widened comically and he blushed dark purple. “My apologies, I wasn’t made aware of the cultural connotations of giving coffee or of the ease with which you humans propose a life-long bond. I believed it was preceded with months of ‘dates’, social outings where the persons in question –“
 …I took pity on him and interrupted. “No, Kel’Jarr, it’s okay. It’s a – a human jest. Sometimes we use it when someone does something that makes us happy.”
 …He took a moment to digest that. “So this coffee has made you happy?” he asked, an intense glint in his eyes.
 Very, thank you. It’s great coffee.” I took another sip.
 Kel’Jarr looked off to a spot just above my head as if waiting to see if something was going to happen. When it didn’t he simply nodded and left.
 …I stared at him, wondering what the hell that was about. My new-found friends had been acting strangely the last couple of days. True, I, and us humans in general, hadn’t had a lot of experience with the Spaceborn races and human crew was apparently new to Caelestis, so we were all still figuring each other out. Still, they were being weird. I didn’t have a lot of time to think on it. When I raised the cup of heavenly, delicious coffee towards my lips again the fuel injector beeped at me again. I groaned and went to see what it wanted this time.

 …I opened the door to my bunk the next night to find another crew-mate anxiously waiting for me. At least, from the way the dark purple tentacles on her head were swishing back and forth, she seemed nervous.
 “Xanni, is everything alright?” I asked her.
 …Instead of responding she held out a shiny pink rock, glittering in the artificial lights. It was very pretty. When I didn’t make any move to take it she started talking. “Human-K – I mean, Keira. To the Xerronovians, crystals symbolise the everlasting,” she explained, placing the stone in my hand.
 …“Okay?” I tried.
 …She took a deep breath, her hair swishing wildly for a moment. “It is often exchanged as a token of friendship. To show the unbreakable bond between them. I found this one on the Ophros mission. Its colour reminded me of you.” She smiled almost shyly, her gaze flicking up to my fading pink-dyed hair.
 …“You’re – you’re giving me a stone of everlasting friendship?” I asked, needing the clarification. When she nodded I couldn’t help but smile. “Wow, Xanni, that is beautiful, thank you.” I thought for a moment. “We have an ancient human custom like this as well,” I told her, untying one of the handmade bracelets I had around my wrist. “These are called friendship bracelets. We wear them as a sign of – well, friendship.” I tied the lavender coloured bracelet around her wrist. “The colour matches you,” I told her, grinning.
 …Xanni held her wrist up into the light, cerulean eyes glittering with wonderment. Her hair tendrils gently reached out, feeling the knotted bracelet. She gave me a wide smile.
 “There is another custom that follows the exchange of friendship gifts,” I told her solemnly, like it was a big deal, “We need to hug, come on.” I gently tugged her into my arms and closed them around her.
 …She was stiff in surprise for a moment before practically melting into the embrace. Her tentacles ran through my dreadlocks, which felt very weird, but nice in a way. Almost like being petted. When we let go and stepped back she looked at my hair for a moment before focussing back on my face. “This has made you happy, yes?” Xanni asked, suddenly intense.
 …“Yes, Xanni, it made me happy.” I smiled at her.
 …She nodded, gaze flicking up again. “Good,” she stated, “will we still have ‘movie night’ tomorrow? I am curious to how this ‘Doctor’ will get out of the library.”
 …I grinned. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 …Two days later found me sitting in a bustling mess during break while my three friends hovered at my table. No, really. Shifting-from-foot-to-foot, shooting-meaningful-glances hovering. “Hey guys, what’s up?” I tried.
 …Xanni, Kel’Jarr and Shakris exchanged a glance before Shakris stepped forward. He put a squirming ball of bright orange, lime-green and black fur on the table before me.
 …It turned out to be some kind of creature that reminded me most of cross between a cat and a fox. Almost neon green fur covered its belly and gave way to shocking orange on its flanks. Black fur covered its back and spiralled over its face and sides in almost tribal markings. It had tiny horns on top of his fox-like head. Green eyes glittered bright and intelligent. Its fluffy black-and-orange tale swished back and forth lazily as it took in its surroundings. And me.
 …I couldn’t help the squeal of pure excitement, it was the cutest thing I had ever seen. The three crew-mates at my table looked up at the sound, alarmed, but my attention was all on the neon ball of fluff in front of me. “Look at the pretty kitty!” I exclaimed as I raised my hand to pet it. “Yes, you are beautiful, aren’t you? So pretty and bright.” I turned to Shakris. “Is he yours?” I asked as I ran my hand down soft fur.
 …Shakris’ scales turned darker for a moment. “No Human-Keira, he is yours. The Faeturim resembles the Earth-cat most, even if it is significantly more dangerous. It has a soft temperament, but when cornered, it will set its tail aflame.”
 …My eyes widened. “It can set its tail on FIRE? That is like, the coolest thing ever. That’s it, now I have to call you Sparky.” I cooed at the fire-fox-cat for another moment. “But wait, why did you give me a pet that can set the ship on fire?”
 …“My ‘Human Care’ pamphlet spoke of the ease of which humans bond with smaller creatures, especially those you consider ‘fluffy’,” Shakris explained, looking slightly uncomfortable, “It also implied that the more dangerous it was, the happier it would make you. Since you are obviously unhappy, we wished to remedy this by giving you a small companion.”
 …I stared at him, surprised. “Human Care pamph – you know what, not important right now. Why would you think I’m unhappy? I am happy.”
 …“You are wilting.” Kel’Jarr chimed in.
 …“Wilting?”  I really had no idea what was going on.
 …“Your hair,” Xanni started carefully, “it’s been losing colour.”
 …“Yes,” Shakris continued, “first we thought it might be vitamin deficiency, since Human-Joe and Human-Laura don’t have the same problem. But scans show –“
 …I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing. The confused looks on their faces didn’t help and it took about a minute for the full-out laughter to calm into occasional giggles. Sparky was sniffing my face as if checking if I was okay and Shakris looked ready to call a medic. “Guys, I’m fine. Really. I am not wilting. My hair is dyed.”
 …“Dyed?” Shakris asked.
 “Yeah, as in, artificial colouring. I dyed it pink before we boarded but it doesn’t last forever. My real hair is the same boring blonde as Joe’s.” I tried not to flinch at the sudden buzzing of the scanner Shakris was holding next to my head.
 …“Fascinating,” he stated, ever the scientist, “they combined 2,5-diaminotoluene with 5-amino-2-methylphenol and a range of harsh chemicals. Tell me, what is the cultural significance of colouring one’s hair?”
 …“No significance, it’s mostly cosmetic. Lots of humans do it.”
 …“Fascinating. Kel’Jarr, look at this, if we added the polymer bindings we discovered on Ophros we could make the colours last much longer.”
 …“I see, which colour do you think, blue?” Kel’Jarr took the tablet from Shakris and started typing furiously.
 …The blue of the ‘Doctor’s’ spaceship would compliment her blue irises.” Xanni chimed in.
 …“Whoah, whoah, wait a minute guys, don’t I get a say in this.” I interrupted, but I was smiling as I said it.
 …“Of course, Human-Keira, our apologies.” Shakris bowed slightly. “We will of course consider your input for choice of colour.”
 …I snorted. “Thank you for the consideration, Shakris. So you actually want me to dye my hair a bright colour?”
 …“Yes.”  They answered in unison. It was almost creepy.
 …“We like you more vibrant,” Xanni confessed, her hair tendrils twisting happily, “more – like yourself.”
 …I smiled at my friends, my new-found family. “Alright, you pick something.”
 …Sparky curled up on the table in front of me, emitting a strange rumbling that almost sounded like purring.
 …I kept petting him as I watched my friends discuss which colour would be most ‘aesthetically pleasing’ with my skin- and eye colour. Happiness bubbled up in me, unbidden, and I couldn’t help grinning. I’d finally found a home.

So that’s it! I had a lot of fun with this one and I think it shows. By the way, this is Sparky, made by the amazingly talented Lee Cross. Seriously, check out her amazing posable creatures by clicking on the picture!

Posable Fire Fox by Lee Cross

Bright Piñata

Neonpinata2

Last Sunday was my sister’s birthday and I, of course, couldn’t let this pass without making a happy card! In case you haven’t noticed yet, I love neon colours. So when I was thinking about what to do with my amazing new Year Seven stamp by Lawn Fawn it wasn’t a very difficult choice. So I coloured the cute little piñata with my Letraset Neon markers and couldn’t stop giggling at their brightness. So now what?

Neonpinata

Well, I decided to try if I could stamp with the markers. I knew it worked with Ecoline markers, so why not, right? And it worked! Sister-dear loved the clean style of my Splashing Mermaid and Pastel Rainbow cards, so I decided to use the same stamp set as I did with my mermaid (Joycrafts Grunge set), but this time in OMG-bright colours.

Neonpinata3

I didn’t have any neon rhinestones, but since the markers are alcohol based, this wasn’t a problem! I used clear rhinestones and coloured them neon. Then I added the confetti and the sentiment. A thin line drawn with a fine-liner and tadaa! The bright birthday card is finished. She loved it and I fell in love with this little piñata. He’s so much fun and so happy, I’m sure I’ll be using him a lot!