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!

Flash Fic: the Enchanted Baker

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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

Flash Fiction: Death’s Diner

Or, how this post also could be called: I won, I won, I won! I talked to you guys before in these posts that I entered the Fantastic Story Competition, a collaboration between Dutch Comic Con, the American Book Centre and the Fantastic Genre Foundation. Last weekend was Dutch Comic Con, which was a blast in and of itself, but it was also where on Saturday I got to read my story to a crowd {eep!} and where on Sunday they announced the winner. And… {drum-roll} I won first place! Which is such an amazing feeling, I can’t even tell you.

I had the idea of a character in my head where the character was immortal, but could die. They were simply brought back to life every time. It was part of a bigger story idea that never saw the light but it got me thinking: what would their relationship with Death be like? Which brought me to this story which I can finally share with you guys and gals! Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

DeathsDiner
Club Ed by CLUI.org

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I met Death in a small ‘50s-style diner in the middle of a desert.
He didn’t seem surprised to see me, I mean, why would he. He just pushed the extra slice of lemon pie in front of him over to me and gestured for me to sit down. “Hello again, old friend.” I greeted him as I slid onto the cracked red leather bench. “It’s been a while.”
He looked up at that, his weathered face incredulous. “I wouldn’t call two months ‘a while’, Tana,” he admonished with a quirk of his lips.
I opened my mouth to respond when a waitress appeared at our table.
“Anything else I can get you guys?” she asked.
Death sat back and smoothed out the front of his charcoal-and-black business suit. “Two coffees please, Rosie, and she’ll have the Scottish chocolate pancakes, extra side of bacon,” he nodded towards me.
I raised an eyebrow at him, I wasn’t much of a fan of breakfast foods and he knew it.
“Trust me,” he told me, and I did. Death knows his food.
Rosie sauntered back to the bar to place our order and top off our coffees.
Death waited until she was gone again before he turned to me. “A garotte, kid, really? I thought you knew better by now. Especially after that thing in Rome,” he took a sip of coffee. “So tell me what happened.”
I shrugged, still feeling the phantom of a wire digging into my throat. “Intrigue, betrayal, death. You know, the usual.” I wasn’t angry, not yet, I knew the rage would come a few days later. And when it did it would burn like an inferno, blazing everything to the ground. “Don’t worry, it won’t happen again.”
“I know you’ll make sure it won’t.” He smiled, his dark eyes still worried. “I’ll put Carver on the list, then?”
I flashed him a quick grin as Rosie put a stack of dark chocolate pancakes in front of me. “Expect him in a few days.”
“I look forward to it,” he said with a smile that sent shivers down my spine. Death doesn’t like it when you mess with his friends.
At this thought the tension in me uncoiled a bit.
“It’ll teach them not to mess with a phoenix.” He mocked.
I rolled my eyes at that. “You know that’s not what I am.” I told him and took a bite of my pancakes. They had whisky syrup on them. They were delicious, as promised.
Smug bastard.
My protest was waved away by a thin hand. “Close enough, and it’s what they call you anyway. Your ‘code name’.” His tone told me exactly what he thought about that one. He took the last bite of my lemon pie, I pretended to be offended even though I always left him the last piece. “So, you were saying,” he invited.
“Do you remember the evil organization I was chasing after?” I waited for his nod to continue. “Well, after last time, I figured there had to be someone within IBI that worked for them. You know Rhodes?”
Death got that far off look where he remembers everything about a person. “Michael Avery Rhodes, 58, unhappily married to Bernice, head of the International Bureau of Intelligence. Would that not make him your boss?”
“Yeah,” I answered, a spark of anger flaring up and dying down again. “turns out it’s him. He burned me, I’m guessing he gave Carver the kill order. We were supposed to be partners in this mission. Fucker killed me in my sleep.” I took another bite of pancake. “I’ll burn them both when I get back.” I grinned. “Now, enough about me. Tell me something.”
“You know, sometimes I think you only visit me to listen to my stories.” Death joked, but I could see real concern in his eyes.
“Not for a while.” I promised, and it was true. The loneliness and solitude that came with being truly immortal was less in this era of growth and science and connection. There was too much to see, too many people to meet.
He must have seen that I meant it, for he only nodded and dropped that conversation.
“Oh, I know!” I went on. “Tell me what you remember about the King.”
“Of Wallachia? Are you still obsessed with vampires?”
I rolled my eyes, slightly embarrassed. “No, I mean the King.” I gestured towards the black and white photo that hung above the bar.

For the rest of the day, Death did exactly that. He spun stories about Elvis and when those ran out, he told me about the Elvis-impersonators he had collected over the years. Their demises running from completely mundane to something that involved a dare, chocolate pudding and a single live chicken.
Don’t ask, trust me, I’m sorry I did.
By the time the sun was setting, my stomach was hurting from laughing so much, and I was warm and comfortable in this diner in the middle of nowhere.
Death turned to me again, face serious. “It’s time.”
I knew, but I didn’t want to leave this place where everything was easy and I could just be. And I didn’t think Death wanted to either. “I know.” I answered as he laid his hand on the table. I braced myself and placed my hand in his. It was like touching shadow. Shadow that suddenly grew teeth and dug into the innermost part of yourself and ripped out a piece. The pain was indescribable. Through tear filled eyes I watched as the copper and orange light crawled down my arm and into his, where it dispersed into bluish-black light. My payment for another death. He didn’t apologize and I didn’t lie and say it was fine. That I was fine. We’ve learned that much over the years.
I smiled at him and squeezed his hand. “See you soon, my friend.”
He squeezed back. “Not for a while, I hope.”
Then everything went black.

So that’s it! I really tried to capture what my husband called ‘the lazy-sunday-afternoon vibe’ and I think I succeeded, don’t you? This whole process was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever. And it’s not done yet because it also got me an invitation to the ‘Day of the Fantastical Book’ next week, with writers workshops and panels. It’s going to be great. These were the prizes:

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Five copies of the book they printed which contained all the stories {does that mean I’m published now?}, gift vouchers for the American Book Centre, a ticket to the Day of the Fantastical Book and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Holding a book in your hands that has your name {spelled wrong, oops} and story in it is such an unreal experience, but so, so cool. Leaves you wanting more… So onto the next story!

 

 

Flash Fiction: Bloody Werewolves

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By Gemini-1970 on Tumblr

It’s been hectic here on the story front. I’ve been working on the plot of my novel idea and things are picking up steam. I finally have more of a feel of where I want the story to go and the characters are finally coming to life. Good things!

Annnnnd…. I’m a finalist in the Fantastic Story Competition! {gasp!} My story, Death’s Diner, made the shortlist of ten stories. This weekend is Dutch Comic Con, where on Saturday I will read my story to the public {oh dear… public speaking!} and on Sunday the winner will be announced. After this weekend I’ll post the story here, if you can’t wait, you can read it (and the rest of the shortlist) here.

Anyway, on to this weeks story! It’s set in the city where my novel idea is set, and Scotty is actually one of the character the main character will have a lot of interactions with. It’s a story which dives a little bit into the background of the character, which also allows me to get a better feel for her personality. So enjoy!

 

   I startled awake by the sound of my front door slamming open.
“Werewolves, Scotty? Seriously?” My sister’s voice called out to me as she made her way towards my bedroom.
I eased my hand away from the knife hidden under my pillow at the familiar sound of her voice.
“This is what you’ve been hiding, bloody werewolves?!” She finally burst into my room in a flurry of dark curls and designer clothes.
“Rosie -” I sighed, so not ready for this discussion at ass-o’clock in the morning.
“Don’t you ‘Rosie’ me, Philomina Bethany Maria Scott.”
Uh-oh, full name usage was a very bad sign. “I’m sorry?” I ventured. By the glare I received I could tell that was not the response she was looking for. I winced, rubbing my hands over my face in an attempt to wake myself up a bit more. I glanced at the clock despairingly and said goodbye to any sleep I might have gotten that night. I’d spent most of the night researching Glaistigs, Green women who lure unsuspecting travellers to their deaths – fun times – for the pack and had only gone to sleep an hour ago. When I looked at my sister again her glare seemed a little less frosty.
She sat down next to me on the bed and patted my leg. She looked at me for a long moment. “I was worried,” she admitted finally. “You were pulling away from me, from us, again and you were showing up with bruises,” she took a shaky breath. “After Trevor-” she trailed off.
She didn’t have to finish that thought. My still sleeping brain jolted more awake as I realized what this would look like to my family. Trevor had slowly kept me away from my family and friends. And after he hit me the first time, well, I was so ashamed that I pulled away even more. There was a reason I hadn’t spoken to my sister in months before I’d finally had the guts to toss him out.
I’d tried to keep my family safe by keeping them out of the werewolf thing. Knowing there was a whole other world out there was dangerous. I absently traced the scar on my forearm. “Rosie, I’m sorry. I didn’t think about how it would look to you. That you’d think – wait, how did you find out it was werewolves?” I looked at her sharply.
She looked back with a mixture of defiance and embarrassment. “I talked to Rowan Hearne.”
“So you walked up to the alpha of the pack and – what?” I asked.
“I may have seen you two together in the city,” she confessed. “I may also have gone over there to warn him what would happen if he was the cause of those bruises around your neck.” She gave the neck in question a meaningful look.
“Wait,” I said, willing my body to wake up as I pulled myself up to sit against my headboard. It’s not like I was going to get any more sleep tonight anyway. “you went to Alpha Hearne and accused him of – what? – abusing me?”
“I may have.” Rosie sniffed indignantly.
I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing. “Oh my God, I wish I’d been there to see his face. Did he do the scowly thing, please tell me he did the scowly thing? With the eyebrows?”
“I was half tempted to warn him his face might stay that way at the stroke of midnight.” My sister grinned at me. “I mean, how do his eyebrows do that?”
“I think he practices his glaring in a mirror.” We both collapsed into a heap of giggles at the thought of big-and-strong-alpha Rowan standing in the mirror practising intimidation techniques.
“He told me to keep you away from them, you know?” Rosie told me, still giggling.
“Are you going to?” I asked, sobering a little.
“Of course not. If anything that told me how much they need you. And you need them. He cares about you, obviously, otherwise he wouldn’t try to keep you safe.”
I felt a warm glow in my chest at the words and was sure my cheeks were red. My sister noticed, raising one eyebrow in question. “Shut up.” I told her, giving her a light shove. She backed off, hands raised in surrender, but I noticed the calculating gleam in her eyes.
“It does make you wonder what else is out there, doesn’t it?” She asked, changing the subject. “What else have we met?”
I glanced over to the Monster Manual on my desk, filled with sticky notes. “There’s a lot of them.” I admitted. “I’m working on it.” I gestured towards the stack of books.
She nodded primly. “Well, keep me updated. I am in this now too, you realise?” She gave me a pointed look which looked so much like mom my heart clenched. “No more hiding things.” The from me was left unsaid but I heard it anyway.
“I promise.” I told her, squeezing her wrist for a moment.
“And of course we have to tell dad about this.”
That thought made my heart skip a beat. “No, why would we need to tell dad? I mean, there’s an ocean between us anyway and it’s not like there’s anything he could do from London and -”
“His daughter is running around with mythological creatures that shouldn’t exist and getting hurt in the process.” Another pointed look towards my poor bruised neck. “Secondly, he’s a member of cabinet in Her Majesty’s Government, of course he needs to know!” My sister admonished me. “Who knows how many werewolves live in London?”
“Three hundred seventy two as per November last year.” I murmured absently.
“Scotty!” My sister exclaimed, clearly shocked.
“Yes, I already figured that out! You know how I get when I discover something that interests me. I need to know everything, this is not news to you.”
“No, but how could you keep this from father?” She took a deep breath. “Did you ever consider that he might help them, the wolves? If he knows, he could make life easier for them as well.”
The downside to having sisters is that they know exactly what makes you tick. She just gave the only argument that would work, and from the look on her face, she knew it. I sighed. “I’ll think about it.”
Rosie nodded, apparently satisfied. “Now, your friend Claire said you learned about werewolves on the night you kicked out that tosser Trevor.” She waited for my embarrassed nod. “Tell me.” She demanded, laying on her side on the bed.
I scooted down and laid next to her. “You’ll like this story.” I grinned. “I’ve never seen Trevor that terrified.” And for the next hour, I did exactly that. I told her about how I found out and everything that had happened since until we both fell asleep, still side by side, just like when we were little. And even though I didn’t know I had missed this, missed her, I felt a lot lighter, like a weight had been lifted from my heart.

 

So that’s it for this week! I’m hoping to upload a new story every week. {plans, yay!} For now, tell me what you think!

Flash Fiction: Noor

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From MedievalWitch’s tumblr. It doesn’t exist anymore, if anyone knows whom I should credit, let me know!

Hi guys! Soooo…. It’s been a while {again, I know}. But, the good news is I come with a new story! Dutch Comic Con, together with the American Book Centre here in the Netherlands is organizing a short story competition. I’m so excited. It could be written in English or Dutch, and couldn’t be more than 1000 words. The last part was a bit more difficult for me, but somehow I managed. First I wrote a story called Death’s Diner {which I’m hoping to post after the competition is over}, but I worried that it lacked action. So I wrote another story. In the end I decided I liked Death’s Diner better, and sent that one in. But, I’m still rather proud of my other story, so I wanted to share this one with you.

It’s part Dutch mythology, part pen-and-paper RPG. Noor is the character I play in our Pathfinder games, this is a tiny bit of her backstory. She is a warpriest to the Goddess Baduhenna, Goddess of war and madness. Baduhenna, however, is a ‘real’ Goddess from Dutch mythology. I wrote about her here. So who knows, maybe this is how the Frisians actually won the battle against the Romans {grins maniacally} Are you ready? Here we go!

The rage burned in my stomach, the taste of revenge like blood on my tongue. The forest was filled with the sounds of battle, the screams of our oppressors. Although they were greater in number, the forest was on our side tonight.

I spotted him then, my prey. My vision blurred red as I advanced on him, the rest of the world falling away. It felt like I was about to burst out of my skin, like the fire inside was consuming me. Burning away all that made me sane. A feral grin spread on my face as I embraced the fire, embraced the madness. “Relanius!” I called.

The man before me turned to face me. For a moment, his face looked like that of a demon, evil curling around him in tendrils of shadow.

“You will pay with your blood for what you did to my sister, to my people,” I growled. “I swear it!”

“You cannot win this, Noor!” He called back. “This little rebellion will be struck down, just like the rest of your people.” This was the monster that killed my sister, and tossed her bloody and battered body onto our doorstep. This was the man who broke my parents and because of that, something within me finally broke free.

I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and squeeze until the life left his eyes. I wanted to cut him for every pain he had caused my sister and watch his blood paint the forest floor red. I wanted his life.

“Yes.” A voice whispered on the breeze. “Now.”

I charged, my attack too wide but made up for by force. I didn’t draw blood, but the monster staggered. I kept advancing, blow after blow. He was more trained, but I was wilder and stronger than I had ever been. The rage within me like fire through my veins, strengthening my strikes.

The shadows over his face swirled like smoke, giving me a glimpse of eyes wide with terror before they burned with hell-fire once again.

I had scared the monster, I realised. A laugh tore out of my throat, ringing through the forest. Part of me wondered what this made me.

“Good” whispered the wind.

A larger part of me agreed with her. With each blow, which each drop of blood spilled, the red haze grew, until the entire world was pulsing like a heartbeat. The only thing that existed were me and my prey. Both of us locked in this fatal dance.

I was losing myself, a distant part of me realised, but I couldn’t stop it. I could only hate and laugh and strike.

Suddenly everything fell silent.

Clarity.

Pain.

So much pain.

The forest around me turned from red to green and black again in the light of the moon overhead. I looked down to the sword protruding from my chest in disbelief.

My killer had the same shock in his eyes, like he hadn’t believed he could win.

Blood filled my lungs. My sword clattered to the ground as my body lost all its borrowed strength. The forest was dimming around the edges, darkness coming to claim me. The gladius was pulled from my chest, a spray of blood coming with it. As my back hit the forest floor, the world went black.

The darkness was cold and absolute. A whisper of feathers sounded behind me and I turned, but still saw nothing.

“I heard your vow.” A female voice whispered, the same one I had heard in the forest. “Blood for blood. The blood of those invaders for the blood of your people, for your sister.”

“Yes.” I answered.

“I felt your fire. I feel it even now.” Her voice came from all directions and curled around me, like a cloak of ink and feathers.

“Yes.” The rage was still there, tempered now, away from the heat of battle.

“Do you wish to return? To finish what you had vowed to do?” She asked.

“Yes.” No hesitation.

“Will you not rest until your task is complete?” The voice filled with power, with promise.

“Yes.”

“Will you bleed them all for what they did to My people, to My forest?”

I realised then, who I was talking to. There was only one answer.

“This is my vow to you, Baduhenna, Goddess of our forest. Upon my blood and my soul, you have my word.” At these words warmth surrounded me.

“Rise, then, my daughter. Rise and show them that which they should really fear in My forest.”

I felt cold lips upon my forehead, the taste of blood once again on my tongue. I opened my eyes and looked up to the night sky.

Crows flew past the moon, their battle cries mixing with those all around me.

I pushed to my feet and took up my sword again. My body took a step forward without conscious thought. I felt distant, like I was one step behind myself, looking through the eyes of a stranger. Baduhenna, I realised as my hand reached out to touch an attacking enemy.

His eyes turn black, like a crow, before he turned to his closest ally and with a manic laugh threw himself at him.

A next attack was struck down with one swipe of my sword, the second blow digging deep into the man’s neck.

The Goddess was using my body to walk across the battlefield. A touch for one enemy, a fatal blow for the next. Another touch, another strike. On and on.

Feathers, black as night, always at the edge of my vision.

When dawn broke, the battle was done. Before me lay the bodies of my enemies.

“Is it done?” I asked my Goddess.

“No, my child, many cowards ran. The monster who took your sister lives still. They will scatter like the wind, but we will find them.” Answered She. “Your journey has only just begun.”

I smiled. “Good.”

So there you have it! A bit of mythology, a bit of fiction, a bit of geekery, a lot of blood {muaha} I need to wait a little bit longer to know if I made it to the top 10 of the story competition, but as soon as I know, you’ll know! Let me know what you think about this one, I’d love to hear from you guys! ‘Til next time!

Flash Fiction: Familiar

Sleeping Arctic Fox
Sleeping Arctic Fox

I’ve been working on something, something big. Like worldbuilding big. As you may know by now I love fantasy and I love writing. So it might not come as a surprise to you that one of my dreams is to write a fantasy book {or series of them hihi}. It’s kinda scary, but in a good way. So I’m trying to, very slowly, build a world and all the races, creatures and people that go in it. What helps is writing tiny scenes and stories to flesh out these things. The following story is one of those. This might be part 1, if inspiration for this pair of characters strikes again, who knows! Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Keep her safe, it was all he could think about while running through a forest he didn’t know, remembering nothing, not even his name. He could remember her name though, Nialura, which was a strange name, he knew, he just didn’t know why. It didn’t matter now anyway, he was still running, still trying to get somewhere safe. Get her somewhere safe.

There was a rumbling noise, lights illuminating the forest around him. A car passing him and pulling to a stop at the side of the road. Was this what he was running from? He couldn’t know, not with the adrenaline and magic coursing through him, pounding against his skin. He swerved away from the car and kept running. If he could find some buildings, maybe he could find shelter, somewhere to hide. A shape stepped out from behind a tree, forcing him to stop.

“David,” the woman asked, “are you alright?”

“Get away.” He all but growled at her, clutching Nialura’s tiny form closer to his chest. She was so small, so vulnerable.

“David? It’s me, Zoe. Why are you running? What’s after you?” The woman stepped closer, her brown eyes wide and worried. Her dark skin looked warm in the afternoon sun that dappled through the trees. She didn’t look dangerous, but how could he be sure. She reached out, as if to touch him. It was too much. He jumped back, twisting to keep Nialura away from her, throwing up a glowing blue barrier between them. The woman, Zoe, jumped as if burned, her eyes flashing a bright silver for a moment before turning back to warm brown. “David!” She exclaimed, a combination of panic and incredibility in her voice. “Will you just tell me what’s going on? You disappear for three days, nobody knows where you went, and you show up here, smelling like fear, naked, running through the forest like the devil himself is chasing you. What happened to you?” She continued, stepping closer to where the blue barrier had been.

“I don’t know.” He, David?, ground out.

She studied him for a moment more. “You don’t even recognize me, do you?” At the shake of his head she continued. “We’re friends, part of the same – family I suppose. We were all really worried about you. What do you remember?”

He closed his eyes for a moment and thought back. There were some flashes of walking through snow, fighting, throwing his magic at people who tried to get him, running towards a giant wall of purple light, seeing Nialura, her white fur almost invisible against the snow and her amber eyes sharp and knowing. He doesn’t say the last part, but tells Zoe about the snow and the fighting and the wall. Her eyes go wide when he mentions it.

“You went Through the Veil?” The way she says it makes him add capitals, like it’s important. “Why would you go there?”

To get her, he thinks but doesn’t say, her huddling form warm against his bare chest. She stirs then, looking up at him with her amber eyes. “You should show her.” A soft voice rings through his head and he knows instantly that it’s Nialura. “I think you knew her, before. She’s not a threat.” 

“Are you sure?” He thinks back, knowing she can hear him too.

“Yes.” She answers, rubbing her cheek against his chest. “She feels safe.” 

“David?” The woman before him asks. “Let’s get out of here, okay? We’ll get you somewhere warm and with clothes.” She’s grinning as she says the last part, but there is too much worry in her eyes. Instead of answering he took a tentative step towards her, still ready to jump out of her reach, despite what Nialura said. He held out his arms, showing her the small white fox nestled in them.

“Nialura.” He tells her as Zoe’s eyes go wide.

“A Familiar.” Zoe breathes in awe and the word strikes a cord within him, yes, that’s what Nialura is. Familiar in a world where he doesn’t know or remember anything. “But – it’s so rare. And – you’re  too young. You should’nt be able to -. How?” She finally seemed to settle on.

“I don’t know.” Was the only answer he was able to give her.

“Finding a Familiar comes with a cost.” She says, dreamlike, like she’s quoting something. She closes her eyes for a moment and when they open again there’s a new light in them, one filled with determination and respect. “Alright, come on, we’ll figure it all out. I’m taking you both home.” She stepped forward and gently curled her hand around his upper arm, being mindful not to touch Nialura. That touch and her words of home are the first things that seem to make sense in this world that he should know but doesn’t. With one last questioning look towards Nialura he does the only thing that feels right; he follows.

 

Flash Fiction: Aftermath

lady_wolf__by_shannon_maer__by_shannon_maer-d6ir4yq
Lady Wolf by the wonderful Shannon Maer

There was a scene that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but I never quite knew how to start. So when I came across the writing prompt from Sarah Selecky I was very excited! It gave me the opportunity of writing out the scene without the immediate need to turn it into a full story. So here you go, a scene that takes place directly after a tragedy. Let me know what you think!

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I woke up slowly, the heartbeat under my ear a comforting rhythm. The chest I was laying on was solid, rising and falling with his every breath. Strong arms circled me, holding me close. For a moment I snuggled closer into its warmth. That’s when the pain started. There was no sound except for a harsh ringing. My entire body felt like it was on fire, which, now that I remembered what happened, could actually be true. I lifted myself off of my saviour with a pained whimper. I wasn’t on fire, which was a good thing. There was a piece of rebar sticking out of my right thigh, which was a bad thing. Going by how it felt, the bones in that leg were fractured and blood was pouring out of the wound in frightening speed. Now was not the time to freak out, I chastised myself, trying to calm my panicked breathing. Gently I lifted my left leg over the piece the of rebar, rolling onto my back. Now I could finally sit up. The man next to me was still out cold, but I needed to stop my own bleeding before I could check on him. He healed, I didn’t.

Closing my eyes I tried to calm down, deep breaths in and out, willing my body to stop shaking. A rather tough feat when you’re experiencing shock, a voice in my head said. It sounded like my brother. A laugh bubbled up in my throat, but I pushed it down, knowing that if I started laughing I wouldn’t be able to stop. Focus, I told myself again, grabbing the piece of rebar with my left hand. Pushing down the shock and the pain I began chanting the healing spell. I waited until I felt my right hand pulsing with magic, the air around it crackling with energy. It wasn’t the elegant magic I was used to, too filled with terror and pain, but it would at least make sure I wouldn’t die out here, laying in the middle of the street. With one smooth move I yanked the rebar free, pressing my other hand onto the wound and setting the magic free. I screamed as it tore through me like fire, knitting skin and bone back together again.

Still panting through the pain, but certain that I wouldn’t bleed out, I turned my attention back to the man next to me. He looked almost peaceful, laying on his back like he was asleep. He was still breathing and I’d heard his heart beating steadily earlier, so he wasn’t that hurt, just knocked out. He’d also saved my life. I gripped him by the shoulders and started shaking him.

“Hey! Wake up!” No response. “Come on, Wolfman, nap time is over!” Still nothing. I braced myself, knowing he wouldn’t be happy being woken up like this, but he left me no choice. I slapped him across the face with all that I had. “Sam, wake up!” His green eyes flew open and flashed gold as I got out of his way. He sprang up, unnaturally fast and changed. The sound of ripping fabric, bones realigning themselves and suddenly I was face to face with a huge snarling wolf. “You’re okay.” I told him, holding my hands up to show that I was unarmed. “You were unconscious, but you’re alright.” The wolf seemed to calm down at those words. His golden eyes looked me up and down for a moment, no doubt taking in the blood soaking my jeans. He whined low in his throat. “I was hurt, but I’m better now. We need to get out of here, however, I think we both don’t want to be stuck here with the police asking questions we can’t answer.” The wolf bobbed his head up and down in answer. “Alright, your car was around the corner that way, correct?” I asked, gesturing to the west. Another nod. “Then let’s go. Do you know anywhere safe where we can hide, lick our wounds and prepare for the next step?” An enthusiastic whoof and tail-wagging this time. I grinned at him. Slowly I got to my feet, keeping my weight off of my right leg as I straightened. As soon as I tried to take a step however, it buckled under me, almost sending me face first into the rubble. Strong arms gripped me again, keeping me on my feet. Sam was holding me up, in his human form this time.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” He asked, helping me step over a big piece of building.
“I tried a healing spell. It patched me up for the moment, but I was too panicked to focus. I’ll need rest and do one when I’m not fearing for my life.” I confessed, gritting my teeth and taking a few steps on my own. Sam stayed close, which I was grateful for.
“We’re not far now. I’m taking you to my family, we’ll be safe there. At least for now.”
I looked into his green eyes, “Are you sure you want to involve your family in this? They already tried to kill us for getting too close.”
A muscle in his jaw clenched in anger. “Which is why my family would want in. Besides, seeing what they can do, we need more manpower.”
I couldn’t argue with that. We’d been taken by surprise and almost hadn’t lived through their attack. Up until now it had just been Sam and me, but if we were to defeat the evil bastards that did this, we needed more people. “Alright.” I told Sam as he opened the door to his black Chevy Camaro and helped me in. Pain shot up my leg from the muscles that weren’t healed properly and I hissed in a breath through my teeth. “I’ll be fine.” I reassured a very worried looking Sam. He nodded and walked to the driver’s side, climbing in and letting his car roar to life. My phone buzzed with an incoming message.
Why are you limping? EV
Spying on me again, brother? TJV
I typed back as we sped down the road towards the edge of the city.
No need, little sister, you are on every news broadcast. AV
Indeed, fleeing the scene with a naked man. Mother will be so proud. EV
“Shit.” I breathed, really not needing my brothers or, heaven forbid, my mother to get involved. But it looked like I had no choice on this one.
“What is it?” Sam asked, his eyes never leaving the road.
“There is news footage of us.”
Sam snarled. “They’ll recognize us.”
“Yes. But I’ll make it go away.” I answered as I typed in a number and pressed my phone to my ear.
“TJ, are you hurt?” My brother answered on the first ring.
“Not at the moment. I’ll need some rest and another healing spell. I’ll be fine.”
“Alright, what do you need?” Augustus asked, his voice all business.
“Get the footage off the air.”
“Done.” He answered, then seemed to pause for a moment. “Is mister Weston still with you?” He asked.
“Yes, we’re heading towards his family. They’re safe.”
“Yes, I read that in the files. Mister Weston, I know you can hear me. Take care of my little sister or this Brotherhood will be the least of your worries. Is that understood?”
I looked apologetically towards Sam, but he simply nodded. “He understands.” I answered Augustus.
“Good. Security teams have been dispatched to your next location along with a healer. They will meet you there. I’ve got Emerson on research, we should arrive with new information around eight. See you then, sister. Be safe.”
“You too.” I answered and ringed off. Relief fought with rage. We were still alive despite the Brotherhood’s efforts, but they harmed a lot of innocent people today. They needed to be stopped, whatever the cost. And now, with our people pulling together, we finally stood a chance.
“We’ll get them.” I said into the quiet interior of the car.
“I know.” Sam answered, the same rage in his eyes. I gripped his hand where it rested on the gear shift for a moment and squeezed. We were safe. At least for the moment.

Flash Fiction: Torrid

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Once Upon a Time by the amazing Anne Stokes

Time for another flash fiction story. This one was written for the prompt: write about the dragon who rescued the princess from the knight. I just had this image of a princess sitting in the palace garden of her home, not happy being rescued at all. Then this happened! Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

This wasn’t the life I’d imagined for myself. Not at all. Not that I’d ever had a lot to say about what my life would look like. I was born a princess, the course of my life had been set in stone since the moment I first drew breath. But stone can crack, and it did when my powers first manifested. My parents were terrified and gave me away as a virgin sacrifice to the dragon that lives high in the mountains on my sixteenth birthday. Needless to say, I wasn’t sacrificed, in fact, the dragon is actually quite nice once you get to know him.
He had vast libraries and loved to talk about all the places he had seen. Even though my life wasn’t my own, it was the only time I’d felt free. There were no expectations to live up to, no mask that I needed to wear. The dragon, I called him Torrid, showed me my true self, and accepted it unconditionally. For a time, I was happy. This, of course, couldn’t last. After just a few years of peace, the princes came to defeat the ‘terrifying dragon’ and save the lost princess.
Eventually it was Prince Evan who defeated the dragon and won me. He didn’t kill my dragon, I begged him not to. Promised I would go with him if he just let Torrid live. Evan dragged me away to his lands, my life again not my own. Our marriage was a huge affair, white flowers on every surface, people arriving from all across the continent to watch the lost princess finally returned. The people of the kingdom fell in love with me, and I with them. But Evan was cruel, both to his people, and to me. Instead of locked in a mountain cave with my dragon I was now trapped in a castle with only animals for company.
The castle gardens were my only place of solace, the one place where I could be away from expectations and the torment that was my husband. The soft petal of a yellow rose was like a caress against my hand as I picked it and smelled its sweet perfume. I turned my head towards the sun, his golden light warming my skin. Days like these were when I missed my dragon the most, his easy company, his gravelly laugh, his eyes glinting when I did something he didn’t expect.
A shadow fell across my face. I blinked up at the figure looming over me. It was a man, young of face and body, but his eyes and silver hair spoke of a soul far older. I knew that soul.
“Torrid?” I gasped.
A soft smile adored his handsome face. “Yes, my princess, it is indeed me.”
“But how? You’re – human?” I wondered, reeling from this revelation.
“Not quite.” He answered as his eyes flashed golden yellow for a moment. “It’s a new trick I learned from an old friend.”
“Torrid, I am so glad to see you. But why are you here? If Evan found out -.” I couldn’t even finish the sentence, a chill running down my spine.
“My dear princess,” the dragon in front of me started, gently taking my hands into his, “my love, I’ve come to win you back.”
I couldn’t stop my wide grin even if I wanted to, knowing that everything I felt for my dragon was clear on my face. And for the first time since I was taken from his, no – our, cave in the mountains, I felt hope stir in my heart.

Short Story: Breathe

breath
Breath by the amazing Selina Fenech

As you might have figure by now, I adore mermaids. I love artworks of mermaids, myths of mermaids and of course, stories of mermaids. So when I found a writing prompt that said to write a story about a mermaid and a princess, I just had to write something. Let me know what you think and enjoy!

He was drowning. He fought with all he had, flailing wildly. Anything to just break through the surface and just breathe, but it was hopeless. His vision was darkening, shifting from black back into colour and he was losing his focus. The ship was becoming smaller, the shimmering of the sun on the surface impossibly far away.

Something moved in the water. He looked at it, watched as it came closer impossibly fast. His eyes grew wide as the shape became more human. A mermaid, his slowing mind provided.

“John!” the mermaid called out through the water. He wondered how he could hear her, and how she knew his name for that matter. A vision, he decided, conjured up by his mind so he wouldn’t die alone. It had to be a vision, for the mermaid wore the face of his captain.

“Marina” he whispered, the last of his breath escaping his lips as she took his face in her hands. She looked worried, her eyes sad as her grey-green hair floated away from her face. The scales of her tail were the same colour he noted, shimmering lavender where the sun hit them just right. It was the last thing he saw before the world turned black once again.

Soft lips pressed against his own. Softer than they were in his dreams and fantasies. It was the most natural thing to breathe in as she exhaled. The pain in his lungs lessened, which his doctor’s mind told him was not a good thing. He clung to his fantasy, deepening the kiss while breathing in her sweet air.

Too soon she pulled back, wonder and desire both glinting in her pale silver eyes. She smiled at him, the soft smile she sometimes wore when they were the only two on deck, gazing at the stars. He smiled back as she gently caressed his face with her fingers. He closed his eyes under her touch. He opened them again when he felt her wind her arms under his armpits, gripping tight around his chest. She pulled up and he had no choice but to follow.

They sped through the water, straight up towards the light of the sun and John thought that if he were to die, this was actually quite pleasant.

At that moment they broke through the surface. There was a lot of shouting and suddenly there was a rope around his chest, pulling him up to the ship while he tried to cough up the water from his lungs. They lowered him to the deck and after more shouting, another figure was laid beside him.

His breath left his lungs on a sharp exhale as he watched the glittering scales of the mermaid’s tail melt away, leaving in their place two very human looking legs.

“Marina?” He rasped as he looked into his captain’s face. The corner of her mouth quirked up in humour at his shock.

“Your pup was right.” Marina said as she nodded towards his daughter, staring at them with wide eyes.

“You’re a – a mermaid pirate captain?” John asked, his voice still raw.

Fondness twinkled in her eyes as she leaned forward. “Mermaid pirate captain princess.” She corrected. Before he could do anything more than gape at her she pressed her still wet lips against his, not caring that the whole crew was watching.

“Ew!” Little Emma’s voice called out. “Does that mean you’ll get married now? Will I be a princess too?” She gasped as she excitedly bounced on the balls of her feet.

John laughed, he couldn’t help it. He laid back down on the deck, pulling Marina into his arms and looked up at the blue sky. As he pressed her close he thanked the lucky stars that it was this ship that he and his daughter had stepped on, so many months ago.