Other Books By This Author:
Daughter of Alchemy
Spirit of Winter
Out of Time
A Bear’s Life
Time and Again
Sing to me, oh muse.
That I might tell the tales that yearn to
[Break the chains of my soul.
All Rights Reserved
Several seagulls flew around the stone castle making their braying call heard throughout its numerous halls. The outer walls of the stone castle had four parapets. Each parapet was covered with gleaming red tile. Atop each parapet was a white triangular flag with an embroidered raging blue lion on it. The flags were limp as there was no breeze to hold them stiff. From the top of these parapets you could see cresting ocean waves hitting the sandy shore.
A grey stone wall covered in salty brine protected a modest castle. If you stood just outside of the main hall you could catch a whiff of a pheasant dinner being prepared.
This castle by the water was the famed Joyous Guard and its master was the most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Knight of the Table Round: Lancelot du Lac.
Currently he had one guest in his castle and that was another knight of the Table – Palamedes the Saracen.
Palamedes was one of three knights of the Table from the country of Babylon. Many courtiers were shocked to learn that the distant lands of the Saracen had heard of the wonders of Arthur’s court at Camelot.
Even now when the glory was beginning to fade Arthur’s dream of peace and safety for all people was spreading. And that’s what the two men seated in wooden chair decorated with brightly embroidered dorsals on the backs were discussing.
“This I tell you true, Lancelot,” the dark skinned Palamedes began, “though Arthur will die, his dream will not die with him.”
“Talk of such a great man bodes ill for a splendid dinner of pheasant and vegetables,” said the fair skinned, dark haired knight. If one looked closely you would be able to see the fear in his blue eyes when talking of the death of a man he still considered to be his greatest friend and liege lord.
“I do not mean to ruin our dinner, Lancelot, but surely you must see his mortality as I do,” Palamedes explained.
“After all these years Palamedes, do you still not know what he means to us personally,” Lancelot asked his guest in slight confusion.
“Well I know that many of you consider him a friend and companion. I myself consider him to be a great friend. But what I am trying to impress upon you is that his dream will outlive him,” Palamedes explained as the servants brought the food in and set it on the long wood board table before the two middle aged knights.
As the servants backed out from the dining table the two men began to load their plates although their conversation took on a different tone.
“Do you believe how far the fame of Camelot has spread,” Palamedes asked his companion.
“My friend, when you and your brothers first came to Camelot as emissaries from your father, Esclabar, King of Babylon, I had trouble believing. As for this day his fame is almost inconceivable,” Lancelot replied truthfully.
“Yet Gaul is closer to Britannia than Babylon,” Palamedes replied.
“True,” Lancelot conceded.
After a moment of silence Palamedes said, “Word from my home land is that even Belshazzar respects what Arthur has managed to accomplish in these times.”
Lancelot winced at the disdain in Palamedes quiet voice. All residents of the castle knew that Palamedes had little respect for his oldest brother who now ruled their father’s kingdom. Lancelot could understand those feelings, they were after all, the same way he felt about Mordred.
Only with Mordred there was more black-hearted hate than lack of respect. That villainous, base born bastard had nearly destroyed the kingdom. And while Lancelot knew he played a part in the near ruin of all that he held dear, he knew for certain that Mordred’s part was far larger than his own. Lancelot knew that many people would agree with him. Including his guest.
“It amazes me how one man’s dream can mean so much too so many,” Lancelot replied.
“He is a great man surrounded by great people who would do anything that he asked of them,” Palamedes told his friend.
At this moment a man with wild eyes and straggly hair was ushered into the room. The only saving grace about his looks was that he wore a red tunic embroidered with a gold dragon. This man was a messenger from Arthur.
Lancelot motioned the man forward. As the man approached the aging knight he extended a scroll secured with a black ribbon.
Lancelot opened the scroll and quickly scanned the contents of it. His tan face was pale when he raised his head to look at Palamedes
“What does Arthur say,” Palamedes asked, slightly alarmed at his friend’s paleness.
“He has asked for aid in a battle against the surly peacock Mordred. A final battle,” Lancelot replied gravely. The tone of the scroll told Lancelot that this battle would be one for the famed castle of Camelot itself. Because the man who controlled Camelot controlled the nation.
Lancelot and Palamedes looked at each other and hoped that they would arrive in time. Both knights knew deep in their hearts that with war between nephew and uncle this would be the final tolling of the bells for the greatest nation on earth. And in the backs of their minds they hoped against all hope that Arthur’s dream would live on in the memory of the people.
1In a German prison-palace sat a man with bright reddish-gold hair and eyes the color of a cloudless sky. There were no adornments on his fingers and his clothing lacked any fancy embroidery. It was in this palace that he resided since his capture by his cousin Leopold of Austria. Normally the man had a jolly grin on his face, today though he was pensive. His current predicament was heavy on his mind.
The weather had forced him to take the more dangerous land route from the crusades back to a kingdom that he really didn’t like and the only use he found for it was as revenue. This latest Crusade had been trying on him but at last Christians had more access to the holy land of God.
Here in this prison-palace he had basic rights and the assurance that his captors would not kill him due to his exalted birth – although his brother John would probably like for him to disappear permanently. His daily routines were not changed. He had one servant girl assigned to him. She had dark hair that was held back with an iridescent pearl net and ancient blue eyes. Never once did she say a word to him and yet Richard got the feeling that every time the woman even glanced his way she said a volumes.
The raven haired woman always bore him his meals, but never once had she uttered a word, causing him to assume that she was a deaf mute. A fair occupation for such a creature.
Richard would swear though, that she was not dumb. There was too much intelligence in her aged eyes.
In a few minutes Richard would once again see the raven haired woman. For the sun was about right for his midday meal.
Right on time the servant girl came into the room with his noon victuals. This time though, when she looked at him she asked a question, “Tell me Coeur de Lion, which would you prefer – the sword or the scabbard?”
Her soft voice was melodious. Richard looked surprised at the woman. Without a moment’s hesitation he answered, “The sword Milady. How else were I to defend myself?”
The dark-haired lady shook her head mournfully and answered, “Than I fear, brave-hearted one, that your demise shall be as sad as Charlemagne’s predecessor.” She ended this statement on a sigh as she set the tray of victuals down.
“The man you speak of was naught but a myth,” Richard replied haughtily.
“Arthur was more than myth and fable. But if it is the sword you want than it is the sword you shall get,” she stated with finality. There was a slight sneer on her delicate lips as she turned from him and left the room in something of a temper.
As the woman left she slammed the heavy wooden door as hard as she could and if Richard could have seen her blue eyes he would have wondered if the woman was mortal or one of the Church’s despicable demons.
Once outside of the room the woman carefully worked a spell throughout the castle so that she could leave as unnoticed as she had arrived.
Oh! Why did the men of Constantine have to be so stubborn! Could none of them see that Arthur was right all those years ago? Even now, not a sole believed him and that deplorable fact was the fault of Arthur’s final orders to his Champion. Why did she have to be so successful?
But there was no use in lamenting the fact that orders had been followed successfully so she’d best get on with the future, else it wouldn’t happen the way that the immortals wanted it to. So if it was Excalibur that the Kings of Albion wanted it was Excalibur that Elaine of the Lake would give them.
1It was nearing sunset on a warm summer’s day when someone knocked on the door of the little three room cottage. The villagers down the road didn’t visit the old woman that lived within. The village elders thought that she was off of her somewhat rusty hinges.
As for the children of the village, they were a different story altogether. They thought she was a bard. The old lady told them stories of Camelot. Of great Lords and Ladies. Even ones of knights in shining armor at tournaments jousting for a lady’s favor.
She even told them of a time when there was no famine or war. When miracles happened as often as the new dawn, and good deeds were a knight’s daily fare with his lady’s smile as a reward.
The old woman gave a heavy sigh as she rose from her creaky wooden chair to answer the door. Her dark hair had long sense faded to white and her joints ached with the cold, but she was still as alert as she had been when she was a young maid of twenty.
Upon opening the door it wasn’t to find a child as she expected. Instead she found an apparent man of the gentry on her doorstep. His long white hair was tied in back with a thong and his blue eyes were shadowed with the wisdom of age. The lines of his face spoke of a hard life filled with adventure. It was obviously a face that spoke volumes to the right person.
“Seraphim? King’s Champion? Is it truly thee? Has my long search sought thee out on the eve of night,” the man asked. Relief was evident in his gravelly voice as his eyes started to glisten.
Seraphim, for that was the woman’s name, was shocked. Who was this man? How did he know the truth of her past? Seraphim had thought herself successful in erasing herself from popular memory.
“Who art thou,” she asked with a slight tremor in her voice that had nothing to do with fear and the frailty of age. While she may have sounded weak, you could almost hear the hidden strength that lay just beneath her surface.
“Do not you remember the Knight born of common blood,” he asked in a soft, tremulous voice.
“Born of common blood? Bors? Could it possibly be you that stands at my door?” Confusion was evident in her voice. This couldn’t be Sir Bors. Bors hadn’t been seen since he left on his quest to find the Grail with Perceval and Galahad. Rumors had abounded of his death for years now.
“It is Milady. Might I beg entrance into your cottage and impose upon your solitude,” he enquired politely.
“Granted Bors,” Seraphim answered in the same tone. Bors walked humbly into her home. Granted her home was not as grand as the rooms that she had acquired at Castle Camelot, but the cottage was comfortable and it suited her needs perfectly.
“Please arrange thyself to thy comfort. For I wager that our conversation shall last well into the next sunrise,” Seraphim told him.
“Indeed Milady. For we have much to tell each other,” Bors agreed. He spoke quietly as though he were afraid to disturb the memories she held. Bors knew that his friend held a temper most powerful and he did not want to be the one to disturb it should it be resting peacefully after all these years.
Even though his voice was quiet it was serene. Just as it had always been at court, where Arthur and Guinevere presided in days long gone. Seraphim thought she detected a note of weariness in his voice as well. If it were there it would be a first, for Bors wasn’t known to be weary of anything.
“Before we begin would you care for refreshments?” Seraphim’s tone was polite, yet her eyes shone with merriment.
“I’ll not turn it down if you’ve a mind to share your precious ale,” he answered her with a slight grin. For in times now past it was almost unheard of for the Lady Champion Seraphim to share any ale or mead that she possessed. It was just something that wasn’t done.
Seraphim nodded her head as he went into her little kitchen. She returned with two wooden mugs and a jug of ale.
“Where have you been Bors,” Seraphim asked after she sat down with her ale. There was more than a hint of sorrow in her voice.
“I shall answer your questions if you shall answer mine, Lady Seraphim.”
“Name thy question, Sir Bors.”
“What happened Lady Seraphim?”
“It fell apart. Her Majesty took to Lancelot’s bed,” Seraphim informed Bors gravely.
“The stories are true then? The tales that peasants bandy about hold merit,” Bors asked in confusion.
“They are, my friend. Everything from the betrayal of Mordred and Morgause to that of the king resting on the isle of Avalon,” Seraphim confirmed. Her eyes bright with unshed tears.
“I do not know. It was a combination of many things. The battle with Lancelot for Guinevere shook the people’s faith in Arthur. Thus opening the door for the traitorous vile that was spread by Mordred and Morgause,
“Other than that I know nothing more,” Seraphim replied.
Bors grew upset at the news. This was not what he wanted to hear. Especially not from the only female knight of the Table Round. She was the King’s Champion! Arthur had confided policies of state to her hard head! How could she not know what destroyed the realm?
“How did you survive? You who were his staunchest supporter and protector, yet there isn’t a tale in all the land that bears your name or presence,” he accused.
“Tis not what ye think, for you see, I am still bound by orders,” Seraphim stated simply.
“How is that possible?”
“Before the final battle, during the last gathering of the Court, I was ordered not to fight in the final battle against Mordred.
“Arthur gave that order at the beginning of the gathering in front of every surviving knight. I was furious. And I let my anger be known by storming off after he explained his orders.
“He said that I was to survive so that Camelot would be remembered. My memories are all that exist in the minds of the people,” Seraphim woefully explained as a solitary tear fell down her cheeks.
“In other words, he left the hardest task to you,” Bors clarified.
Seraphim nodded her head in agreement. “And you Bors? What happened to your companions, Galahad and Perceval,” Seraphim asked.
A look of sadness mixed with joy crossed his face before Bors replied, “They are no more Seraphim. Their spirits now grace the halls of the Archangels as they preach the glorious virtues of or Lord. Listen well and I shall tell thee of the holiest adventure of the Knights of the Table Round.
“Across the blue sea and the land of hot sands there lies serene a hollow hill. Within it stands a glorious stone Cathedral dedicated to our Holy Father and his blessed son. It was protected by a silent order of monks.
“Before we reached the Cathedral, Galahad joined the ranks of the eternals.
“Upon reaching the Cathedral, Perceval and I were silently led to the bishop of the Holy Ground for he was the only one permitted to utter a prayer.
“He told us, Perceval and I, of how his ancestor Joseph came into possession of the Cup of Christ.
“And then the bishop spoke of Joseph’s long journey from the land of milk and honey.
“After this he bid us to stay the night. And to receive communion the next day.
“So we stayed in the simple quarters provided. And truly we intended to stay but a single night. But that night turned into many seasons.
“Finally one day I awoke for communion to find that I woke alone. For in the night Perceval had ascended the steps of heaven.
“On that dark dawn the bishop told me of the duty I now held to return to tell the tale of Christ’s Cup.
“And so I crossed the hot sands of the land of milk and honey only to find that Camelot was no more. Arthur lay with the angels and Guinevere had a reputation as low as that of a cozen holar –a reputation no lady should ever stoop to having. And absolutely no one knew of the Lady Champion Seraphim.
“Seraphim, I am most sure that when you were charged with keeping Camelot alive in the hearts of the people you were not supposed to erase yourself,” Bors finished.
“You may be right but it was all I could think of so that they will remember the most important parts,” Seraphim replied.
“Could you not have saved Her Majesty’s honor,” Bors asked.
“I tried and tried true. But by the time I started ‘twas already too late. She had been condemned in the eyes of the populace,” Seraphim replied.
And so the two old friends sat there and talked until the dawn sun dressed the sky in brilliant colors. They talked of recent times and those long gone.
Come late morning Seraphim knew she had more to add to the legend before she could take her eternal rest.
So when the children came the next day Seraphim told them a new tale. The tale told that day would forever be remembered as the greatest adventure for Arthur and his Knights.
It would come to be known as the Quest for the Holy Grail.
1Sunlight filtered through the arrow slits of what was quickly becoming known as the king’s workroom to the denizens of the castle. The sunlight allowed enough light to see by and a slight breeze to circulate the air of the somewhat stuffy room.
In the light’s path sat a sturdy wooden table covered with scrolls. The paper was imported from Aegyptus and known as papyrus. It was extremely durable and versatile. The durability of the papyrus was invaluable to the nation,
Although Khitai was able to produce a cotton blend that was cheaper, it was also more delicate. The papyrus was one of the few extravagances that Arthur allowed his administration this early in his reign.
Behind the table of scrolls sat a man with reddish brown hair and dancing blue eyes. The man was bent over the table carefully reading a scroll. There was a slight frown on his face as he stared at the scroll.
After several moments the sound of a man clearing his throat alerted the seated man to the presence of another in this his workroom. The seated man looked up and said, “Sir Gareth, come and sit for I have something of a quest for you.”
Sir Gareth entered the room and looked warily at the man before saying, “A quest, Your Majesty,” alarm colored Gareth’s voice.
“Of a sort,” his majesty confirmed with a half-smile on his face. It was a smile that made Gareth nervous.
With trepidation in his stomach Gareth echoed, “Of a sort?”
“Yes. I would like for you to make a journey with the Lady Seraphim,” Arthur answered. Gareth could have sworn that he saw amusement in the king’s eyes as he said that.
Gareth almost sagged in relief. Doing anything with Lady Seraphim was both refreshing and amusing for the fact that it was common knowledge that Seraphim acted like no lady that any knight had ever met.
It was well known that you could take Lady Seraphim into a tavern and she would encourage one to act with boisterous pride amongst your peers. The Lady Seraphim also tended to act as though she were any other knight. That tended to help with thinking of her as a comrade in arms rather than a damsel in distress.
“What sort of journey had you in mind, your majesty,” Gareth asked his king.
“’Twould be naught but a journey across the seas, to the land of Roma,” replied Arthur, his hazel eyes sparkling in mischief.
“Then thou wish a mission of secrecy,” Gareth questioned. The prospect of traveling in secret with the king’s champion sparked the knight’s interest. Gareth, like all other knights of the table, had never served with a female knight and the king’s chosen champion was a woman. This was a highly unconventional thing to have.
The danger this trip held for the King’s Champion was great. This much Gareth knew. The danger was primarily because Seraphim was a woman. All in Camelot knew how the Romans tended to treat women.
Especially given the fact that the primary religion of the Roman conquerors was that of the Christ child. This was a religion that saw women as a frail lot that were to be protected and kept far from the fields of bloodshed.
And the King’s Champion, the Lady Seraphim, was anything but meek and mild. In many ways Seraphim was more of a knight than some of those that sat at the Table Round. For she truly did believe in and try to live by the ideals that the King had set forth for his Knights. It was rumored that the Lady Seraphim didn’t even know the meaning of the words ‘lip service’. That was something that Gareth found to be extremely true in the few dealings that he had attended with the Lady Knight.
As Sir Gareth lost himself in his thoughts the king interrupted, “I have every confidence that my Champion can defend herself. Unfortunately, I also know the depths of treachery that the Roman Senate can fall too,” he finished sternly.
“Understood, Your Majesty. I shall do my utmost to keep faith with the high honor that you have seen fit to bestow upon me,” Gareth finished solemnly.
Arthur gave an ironic grin as he nodded his head. As Sir Gareth strides were taking him from the room the king intoned, “Oh, and Sir Gareth, remember to tone her temper with an alehouse if need be.”
Gareth paled at the thought of what could drive the formidable Champion to the alehouses to calm down. With a half bow towards the king, Gareth strode the door shaking his head at the adventure to come.
The salty waves lapped at Alice’s bare feet. Her eyes were the same stormy color as the clouds above. Her long blonde hair was matted to her face as the tattoo on her arm glowed a soft green. A sad smile played on her lips as her tears blended with the ocean.
She had played in the ocean for her entire life. It was the one place where other children couldn’t tease her. None of them could swim like a mermaid. The water never bothered Alice, not even in winter.
Winter, with its cold reminders of another year gone by; its short, dismal days that never had enough light. The winter solstice that other looked forward to with much fanfare. Others that weren’t Alice.
Alice had always hated the winter solstice. The low tides continuously shortened the visits with her mother.
Tethys, wife of Poseidon, was one of the gentlest souls that Alice knew. She was as gracious as the Queen of the waters should be. Yet she was often distant. That didn’t bother Alice though. At least she saw her. Time with her mother was precious to Alice; Poseidon would only allow her to visit once a year.
Every year on this, the shortest day, Alice made her way to the shores at dawn. She would walk until she was waist deep before feeling her mother’s loving embrace as the waves crashed against her frail body.
At any other time of the year Alice wasn’t allowed in the waters of Poseidon. This was better than the punishment from her father’s wife though. Hera, the Queen of the Gods, was a woman who constantly had to defend her position to the others. Sadly, it was Zeus’ offspring that usually paid the price. Consequently Alice was never allowed to have a child, or to marry. Nor was she allowed to grow into an adult. To make matters worse, whenever she was near live cattle they tended to stampede.
Alice couldn’t blame the great Queen though. To constantly have to defend yourself against the others must be humiliating. This was something that Alice could relate to.
Humiliation. Alice knew that emotion well. The feeling of never being good enough for the families that came through the orphanage wanting a spritely child. Never being pretty enough for the other children to play with. Never being polite enough for the caretaker at the orphanage. Always being compared to another person.
Centuries ago Alice had been condemned to eternal childhood. By the time she reached sixteen or so the waves always carried Alice away from one culture and into the uncertain arms of another.
This would be the last time she saw her mother in these waters. Within a few hours she would float away and wash up on another shore or in another time. With luck the shores would be warmer than these. Alice always hoped for that.
The chance that someone, somewhere would want a solemn child in search of a home. The chance that someone would defy the ancient gods and want an Alice of their own. That someone would let her grow up and live a life other than that decreed by the gods.
Alice didn’t think it was too much to ask for. Then again she didn’t think living was too much to ask for. After all if she could truly live, she could die. She had seen so much in the centuries since her birth that Alice yearned to feel any of it. All she needed was for someone to deny the gods and give her that chance at life.
Before her thoughts could finish the waves pulled her further into the ocean and under its crisp, clean surface. Alice gave a sorrowful smile as the inevitable occurred; it was time to go. The waves rose higher and higher as the current pulled her into deeper waters, that modern mortal eyes would never see.
Rather than struggle against the waves Alice drifted into them; she accepted their chilly comfort as she would the arms of a parent. Hoping that this time they would carry them into the arms of a forever home.
1“We’re being led by an idiot with a crayon,” shouted a dark haired child with sharp features.
“I’m not an idiot,” roared a white haired, muscular toddler who was waving his gold crayon wildly in the air.
The dark haired child stuck her tongue out and retorted, “Yes, you are, Zeus! You made Grandmother mad and she turned us into this!”
“It’s not my fault Hera,” thundered Zeus as he pointed his crayon at her.
“Yes it is,” another squeaky voice insisted. This one had a pale blue spork in his hand and wavy sea green hair. His eye were coral pink.
“Thank you Poseidon,” Hera replied imperiously.
“He was being mean again Hera. You don’t have to thank me for that,” Poseidon pouted while banging his spork on the ground.
Hera rolled her dark eyes and stomped away from her brothers as fat crocodile tears welled up in her eyes.
A blonde haired child ran up to Hera and gave her a blue and green sea shell necklace.
Hera arched a toddler sized eyebrow and snorted, “Really, Aphrodite. Sea shells?”
Aphrodite nodded her blonde head and sweetly replied, “Love will save the day, Hera. It always does.”
Hera frowned as her crocodile tears fell. “Tell that to the gold crayon waving bully.” Hurt was obvious in her high-pitched voice as she stomped her feet.
“He’s a boy Hera. He likes to pull your hair,” Aphrodite soothed.
“He picks on all girls,” Hera cried.
“That’s what boys do,” Aphrodite tried.
Hera hiccupped before crying, “Nu-Uh! Zeus was being mean again! That’s why Grandmother Gaia turned us into kids,” she finished wailing.
“You need a nap,” a bronze haired child said from behind Hera.
“Go away Athena,” Hera snapped as her crocodile tears dried on her cheeks.
Athena cocked an eyebrow and calmly stated, “You are throwing a tantrum because of an idiot waving a gold crayon.
“Wisdom dictates you need a nap,” she finished calmly.
From across the room Zeus screamed, “I’m not an idiot!”
Hera rolled her eyes before snapping, “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”
“You’re losing your temper, another point in my favor,” Athena reasoned.
Seeing Hera’s dark features begin to cloud over in anger, Aphrodite cut in whimsically, “No one has to get mad. If we rest, surely Morpheus will guard our dreams.
“Who knows, when we wake we might be big again and then I could wear a pretty dress and sparkly sandals.”
Athena shook her head at Athena’s nonsense as she walked away to a far corner.
Hera looked at Aphrodite in shock. “Do you ever think of anything besides what to wear?”
Aphrodite smiled brightly and said, “I’ve been turned into a three-year-old. It wouldn’t be right to think about going on a date with Ares would it?”
Hera rolled her dark eyes before stomping away with the sea shell necklace she had been given. Without warning Hera screamed at the top of her lungs, “This is STUPID!” Her high-pitched shriek had the boys in the room covering their ears.
As Hera started to stomp her feet she heard a huff behind her and a wet tongue licked the back of her neck. As her shrieks of disgust filled the room, Hera turned to find herself facing a three headed dog.
“Gross! Hades tell your dogs to leave me alone,” Hera commanded.
Hades black eyes glowed the color of sulfur before he replied, “No can do. Xerxes is a boy dog and when girls are upset he gives them kisses. It’s his way of making you feel better,” Hades finished with a pale smile.
Hera scowled at this as Xerxes gave her one more body sized doggy kiss that left Hera covered in slobber. The smile on Xerxes’ face was unmistakable as he continued to watch over his youthful charges – sometimes it was good to be the pet of the God of the Dead.
1The cool waters of the seven seas rushed by a merman with inky black hair as he watched the annual Exodus of the Maids. First red, then yellow, then brown, and finally every color in between rushed past. Their colored strands of hair was almost mesmerizing. This was the greatest fair of them all. Every year his daughters rushed the air breathers for a chance at a life they had never known. Very few of them ever came back to the sea with their catch. After the last Maid has past he sighs a relieving breath. None have chosen him. He has escaped his fate for another year.
Years ago, he remembered that the Pythia at Delphi saying he would be chosen by a daughter of Poseidon. It was a fate that he was terrified of. There were several reasons for this. One was because of how fickly the princesses were rumored to be. It was a rumor that no one could verify. After all, mermen were forbidden to look on the beauty of a princess demigod. To commit such a crime was akin to taking one’s life in their own hands.
The other reason he was terrified of such a fate was because he knew the fate of any who became betrothed to the daughters of the Sea King. It was a fate the God of the seas was said to be responsible for.
Watery graves soon awaited them. Those sons are used as cannon fodder. Any son who survived the bloody ordeal disappeared soon after. Very rarely do any of them become Gods themselves. In fact the last time that happened, the Merman in question wasn’t even a son by marriage, let alone consideration. He was none other than a guard to the goddess Aphrodite through her birth from the ocean waves. To this day he still helped to protect the changing tides.
Never in all his life could the merman remember wealth, riches, or fame that awaited a married prince, not of the blood line. It was a fate he never wanted to discover.
As he continued to watch the Mermaids rush past him the young merman felt a pull on his dark green fins. As he looked down the merman felt his heart sink to the inky black depths of the ocean.
“Anaitis! You shouldn’t be out here!?”
“I won’t run the festival.”
“You’re too young run the festival.”
“When I’m older, I won’t run.”
“And why is that?”
“I won’t lose you, Stableman Achaz. Your life is worth more than my father’s wars.”
“Anaitis, you’re too young to know of such things!”
“Never the less, the sight tells me that you mean everything too our way of life. Our beliefs mean that we can’t afford to lose you.”
“That doesn’t matter Anaitis. One day you will see otherwise and on that day I will lay my seas blood down for you. This is something that the stars above have decreed.”
“And you’re someone who needs to have a little less faith in the stars and more in our humanity,” a deep baritone said from behind the stableman and child.
When you think of a beach ball what do you see? Sand? A net? Sun and palm trees?
Not me. Me I see a pair of eyes in a tree. On a spooky fall night, I see someone looking at me from a tree. You know, those funny little eyes in trees on Halloween? That’s what I see.
Those eyes just go to show that the tree spirits of old are alive and well. Those old stories are what I live by. They help write my stories, but do the Judge me as well?
1It’s amazing what a feather can do.
It’s as light as air and yet can lift a bird off the ground. It can blow in the wind yet make soft pillows and mattresses. It can tickle yet make a mess when they fall to the ground. They can be used to make fans or clothes.
Mythology has even used feathers to make man fly. They can be used to send secret messages or be used to write. Of all of these I prefer the history of writing with them. Quills are a wonderful tool in the writer’s profession.
Not only are they pretty to look at, but practical tool. As long as they are clean a quill is safer to chew on than a Bic pen. No writing is quite as elegant as what comes from a quill. The ink that flows from a quill’s nib is more unique as you watch its colors dry. I feather quill literally allows us to create the new worlds that we love. What other tool, I ask you, has that power?
1To me November is crisp leaves of red and gold. It is the time when chill winds harrow colder seasons. A roaring fire and the promise of seeing long absent friends and family.
November is when seasons change and we meet the flu bug head on. When noses start to sniffle and icicles start to form.
November is visiting friends and family who willingly share what they have with you. November is when Nature calls us all home.
1A simple word can mean so much. It can be cold or comforting. If your standing on a windy dock it can be powerful. Mostly though I see it as cold and dark, bordering dank and depressing.
Early in the morning the mist from the clouds covers everything so that you see only in monochrome. The color is so prevalent on this planet and yet in my opinion it really has no place. Grey sucks the life right out of you, often leaving you listless and lethargic – dead.
I have seen grey up close and personal. It is a color that I wish were not around. For grey is literally, the end. Should you not believe me, look at the corpse of a loved just before they close the casket. Grey is goodbye.
1The life giving forces of the sun are unmistakable. Without it trees don’t grow. Without trees there is no oxygen. Without oxygen there is no growth. Without growth there is no life. All because of a majestic fiery ball of gases known as the sun.
Throughout history the sun has been worshipped as one of the most powerful beings in the world. But even powerful beings need the assistance of others at times.
The sun cannot do its job alone. It needs the moon to provide gravity and balance.
Both heat and gravity provide the life that is so important to those that inhabit this planet. Life that we say is so precious; yet others tend to spill it with ease.
1Chaos. It’s all around us and only causes problems when we try to control it. It’s where everything begins and ends. Playing with chaos is akin to playing with fire. It will char your skin you every single time. When we know what the outcome will be, why do we play with chaos? Is it for the thrill of it, or something else?
The answer is simple. Chaos is beautiful. Without it there isn’t much of anything new, and as a species we crave new frontiers. Controlled circumstances cannot create anything new, therefor we find them limiting. If you know what you have going in the end result is predictable and comforting. Chaos is change. Change is survival.
Many people dance to chaos and its perpetually changing beat. Some waltz with darker forms of chaos while others dance with the frenzy of its joy.
The rare people that follow chaos though, those are the ones to watch out for. They are actors, artists, singers, lyricists, and writers. They are the ones we often praise or condemn, for they shake the world to its core.
1A book is a world in and of itself. You are reading a book. In it are contained the secrets of the world. A book can enrich a life or bring destruction to it. They can take you away from your troubles or cause new ones.
Time travel, magic, space, history, all of these and more are contained within a books covers. To many people books are hope. Hope that something more awaits them than the tawdry details of their lives.
To me though books are a way of life. A way to see things I wouldn’t normally see and experience more than what is around me. I need books as much as I need air to breath and food to eat.
That’s what a book is.
1Coffee? What is it? There is no doubt that the caffeine contained within the bean is supportive of life. But why?
Is it because coffee wakes us up? Is it because caffeine was banned from religion? Because it was once a stolen plant? After all these years of access is it possible that we enjoy the brew because of its association as a luxurious sin?
Or is it more simple than that. Is coffee or the caffeine the wonderful flavor of life?
Legend has it that a goat herder discovered the coffee plant after his goats weren’t able to sleep after eating from a specific tree. The goat herder told the local abbot who made a drink of it and found he was able to stay awake for long hours of prayer. Thus the beginning of mankind’s love/hate relationship with this beverage. In the late middle ages and early modern era coffee was as highly valued as beer. In some places it is still valued more highly than tobacco.
What causes this? Is it something about the flavor or scent? Or is it the often mystical capability to wake us from the deepest slumber and stimulate our minds? That is the true question, isn’t it?
1Memory is a funny thing. It can simultaneously take you back to your worst day and your best. It can pinpoint where childhood ends. There are times that you can smell every little detail of a day. I have a day such as that…
It was mid to late September 1993. It was a comfortable indian summer night. My parents had been arguing for days and my dad had taken a walk earlier that morning. I watched him leave from the upstairs window, with his duffle bag in hand. He had told me to go upstairs because he didn’t want me to see him go. This wasn’t the first time he had pulled this stunt.
My mom and aunt had just smoked their drug of choice as my siblings and I sat watching a rerun of the X-Files premier. There was a knock at the door. The rail thin form of my mom said, “Rosey, answer the door.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I looked out the cracked front window. “Mom, it’s grandpa. And the cops are with him,” I told her with a hint of sorrow in my teenaged voice.
“See what your father did this time,” mom demanded as she slunk off to the bathroom.
Shrugging my shoulders at the inevitable reply from her I opened our creaky front door and stepped onto the rickety screened porch that was attached by a miracle. “Grandpa, what did dad do this time,” I sighed resignedly.
Grandpa’s aged features looked older than I had ever seen him and the cop at his side shook his head. Grandpa’s deep voice was heavy with tears as he ordered, “Rosey, I don’t care what you have to do, but I need you to get your mom out here now.”
This wasn’t the first time I had seen Grandpa angry, but it was the first time I had ever seen tears in that stubborn old man’s eyes. “Okay,” I answered as I nodded my head.
I went back into that little ramshackle house with its paper thin walls and walked to the bathroom where my mom was sitting on a pile of laundry that needed to be done. “Mom,” I began, “Grandpa says he needs to talk to you, now.”
Her dark, stringy hair shook with her head as I reach out and pulled her to her feet. I slowly forced her to walk to the door. Opening that creaky door I stepped onto the porch with her. I had every intention of standing by her side while she decided what to do with the current mess my dad had gotten himself into. That was no to be as I was told to go back inside and watch t.v..
After I sat back down it wasn’t but a few minutes before I heard my mom scream, “NOOOOO!” The four of us siblings looked at each other and then at my aunt. She got up and went outside. Barely a few minutes later I heard my aunt yell, at the top of her lungs, “Are you happy now, you bitch! He’s dead!”
We sat there not understanding. Eventually we all went to bed in that house with its paper thin walls.
The next morning, we found out the truth. Our dad had been murdered and my aunt had screamed at a neighbor that my dad often feuded with.
I was thirteen years old at the time and my world had ended. Today, twenty – two years later that day is but a sad memory in my life. I can remember the talk we had the day before he died and I can still see what he looked like in his coffin. I can still see the chunk of skin missing from his cheek. All of this I can still see and more.
Today I try to focus on the good memories in hopes that someday, the pain of that dreadful day will fade a bit more.
1 I don’t remember almost a week before the hospital. I don’t remember the high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or the severe cramps. I don’t remember arguing with my husband about going to the hospital. I don’t remember being admitted to the hospital with severe sepsis. Later the cause of the sepsis was determined to be salmonella.
I don’t remember telling the nurses I was having trouble breathing. I don’t remember them intubating me. I don’t remember the ice baths to bring down my fever or the spinal tap. I don’t remember the restraints. I don’t remember receiving my newest teddy bear, Mr. Cuddles – or naming him. (True fact about Mr. Cuddles – he went on to write a book!)
What I do remember is them pulling the tube out of my throat and saying, “Call my husband.” I remember that first breath of air half pulling me up from a lying position. I remember my husband walking into the ICU room and reaching down to hug me and plant a kiss on my greasy hair. I remember him asking me where we ate that we didn’t share a meal. I remember telling him where we ate.
I remember the nurses thickening my water until they were sure I could swallow again. Then they gave me straight water. This was followed by applesauce, cereal bars, and juice. I had responded to the antibiotics fast enough that they were moving me to a room on the seventh floor by the end of the night.
The next day I saw my doctor in the room and he said at the rate I was going that if I pushed it I could be home in four days. I remember promising them I would be out on that Thursday. That evening the nurses came helpfully showed me some exercises that I could do to strengthen my legs so that when Therapy came in the room I would be able to stand with a walker.
Sadly, the next day was Sunday so I would have to wait until Monday for the Occupational Therapists. But the nurses and their aides helped me from my bed to the chair in my room. For the first time in two weeks I was sitting in a chair! That was the same day my best friend came up to see me. Later in the week my sister-in-law came up to see me. My husband was there daily.
My next memory is seeing my husband’s face when he came in the room to ask me how I was doing. The joy, awe, and love expressed there is something that will be forever etched into my mind.
The look on his face when I pushed my hospital table away from the chair to stand up and give him a hug was one of the most beautiful sights I will ever see. I tell you now, feeling his arms encircle me for the first time in a good two weeks is a feeling I will never forget.
The nurses and their aides would take me for walks around the ward multiple times of day. The stopped to talk to me. One of the aides I met put a piece of my childhood to rest. Something I will never be able to thank her enough for.
A nurse from nutrition came to tell me to order more food. I had been placed on the seventh floor not because I was a cardiac patient, but because I needed the extra eyes they could provide in case of an emergency. No food restrictions for me, what a relief!
My husband wasn’t there when they told me I could go home as scheduled so I had the privilege of telling him that. That was also the same day he brought me a copy of Ivanhoe so I had some reading material in the hospital.
I remember them taking out the PIC line. After resting they helped me to get dressed in clothes that my husband had bought me. For the first time in roughly two weeks I put my teeth in my mouth. Now that was a real accomplishment.
My husband went to bring the truck around to the front of the hospital while the nurses helped me into the wheelchair that would take me out side. The aid talked to me and wished me well in my recovery. She also told me that it was a pleasure to see someone fight an illness as hard as I had.
When they pushed me outside into that warm fresh air, I felt invigorated. The songs the birds were singing, even the sounds of traffic was music to my ears. Some normalcy had been returned to me. It was early spring in everything was in bloom! There was color everywhere! They helped me into the truck and I was off.
As we drove through the warm streets my husband and I talked and talked. He had bought me a new blanket for the couch, as well as some new tank tops to work in once I got stronger. Falling asleep in his arms that night was a treat. Finally, I would get some real sleep.
I needed a walker and my husband’s arm for the first week or so. Something as simple as going to the bathroom or taking a shower had become a team effort. Slowly though I became strong again, walks in the yard and through the garden helped.
What they didn’t tell me at the hospital was long term effects from the salmonella and sepsis. They didn’t tell me about PTSD, increased arthritic pain, or losing most of my hair. They didn’t tell me that both illnesses could exacerbate issues I already had.
The increased pain started almost immediately, it’s decreasing now. The PTSD is manageable. I don’t question eating out as much now. I still get minor panic attacks when something from the deli isn’t right.
When I started to lose my hair I didn’t know what was going on, so I researched it. Turns out the high fever from the sepsis caused some of it to fall out. It’s growing back nicely now.
I fear my breathing will never be the best now. Before the illness I was prone to bronchial infections. Today walking gets me so winded that I have to sit to catch my breath. I find that walking slow and steady helps.
Some days I’m wobbly with my balance, but certain exercises have helped with that as well. I’ve dealt with feeling useless and a burden to thinking that I’ve become pretty damn strong.
The last clear memory I have before the illness is me asking my husband if he thought I should wait to publish my next book. Glad we decided not to wait. Otherwise it would have been over a month before it hit store shelves.
Here it is a year later and while there have been bumpy patches we are still here. While I still have things to watch out for great things have been accomplished. I am whole and working again, part of the house has been remodeled, and I have published three more books.
We’ve had friends over and cook outs. Even done some traveling. We’ve seen the Old Quarter in St. Augustine as well as the pirate ship there. We’ve even been to Chattanooga to see the train. We’ve seen mountains and flowers, rain, snow and sun. The point is that we’ve seen all these beautiful things.
I am taking for granted that most people have a happy memory as one of their first. I don’t.
I was maybe five years old and my parents were in the middle of one of their notorious arguments. Needless to say we were hiding from the loud voices. Anyway, my dad was as angry as we had ever heard him when he turned around and stormed out the door.
There were no blows struck – there never were.
After he left we came out of hiding, my sister and I came out of hiding. My mother pulled me into her arms and as her tears fell she wailed, “What am I going to do now?”
She needn’t have asked because he came. Dad always did.
Until he died anyway. But that’s another memory.
1A sterile room smelled of the elderly and antiseptic. Faded flowers decorated walls and threadbare carpet lined the floor. Round laminated tables were scattered about the room. Some tables were occupied and others weren’t. Under a flickering fluorescent light three white heads sat huddled around a laminated table whispering fervently back and forth. “Alcmene, what are we to do? It’s all over the news! They’ll find us,” one white head whispered franticly.
Alcmene raised her sharp brown eyes and replied, “We run, Drusilla.” Alcmene’s brittle voice was steady. As was her mind.
The third woman snorted before retorting, “In case the two of you forgot, we’re 90 years old in wheelchairs. We’re not going to get far.”
Alcmene rolled her eyes before replying, “Would you rather we stayed here and get caught, Henrietta?”
“Not particularly. I don’t fancy spending what little life I have left behind bars for doing what needed to be done,” Henrietta explained. Her pale blue eyes reflected the bare bones honesty in her statement.
“None of us do,” Drusilla whimpered.
With a huff Alcmene snapped, “Quit whimpering, Drusilla. We’re leaving and they won’t find us.”
“That’s what you said sixty-five years ago! Now look what happened! The police tore down your house and found the body,” Henrietta snapped at her long-time friend.
Drusilla whimpered at the harsh tone from Alcmene.
“Enough with your tears, Drusilla. We have to hurry if we want to leave before the police arrive with a shiny pair of bracelets for us,” Alcmene snapped.
“She has a point, Alcmene. We live in a nursing home. It’s not going to be hard for the cops to track us down,” Henrietta forcefully put in.
“It’s a private nursing home Henrietta. We’re safe for a couple of hours. Besides, we’re on the ground floor and our chairs are motorized,” Alcmene impatiently reminded her two cohorts.
“We won’t get far,” Drusilla whispered as tears started to fill her pale green eyes.
Alcmene smirked as she assured her friends, “You leave that to me. I called Ajax two years ago for modification on our chairs. All we have to do is make it out the front door and we can take these chairs on the freeway.”
At the mention of Ajax, Drusilla smiled dreamily. With a lusty look in her pale green eyes Drusilla asked, “Such a strapping lad, that Ajax. He has proven to be the only good thing Salvatore gave us. Why didn’t you tell us you called him?”
Alcmene shrugged her shoulders as she stated, “Pack your overnight bags, girls. We’re going on a trip.” The excited light in all of their eyes couldn’t be missed. They hadn’t left this nursing home in over a decade. The old ladies were looking forward to this adventure.
Twenty minutes later each woman had a bag and was parked in front of a door labeled back garden. Each of them had a floral backpack on their seat backs. The back garden had the only unlocked door in the facility and on occasion the orderlies would let them sit in peace amongst the flowers. All they had to do was wait for someone to open the door.
After a few moments a burly male nurse came over and greeted, “Good afternoon ladies! Would you like to enjoy the sunshine for a bit?”
Alcmene nodded her head once as she smiled and answered, “Thank you Julian. The weather is so pleasant today. The sun hitting the flowers reminds me of my garden.” Henrietta and Drusilla giggled at Alcmene’s reasoning. Alcmene’s garden had always been the one place they could hide their secrets.
Julian smiled at the three elderly ladies as he punched in the key code. As the sun filtered through the door the ladies smiled brightly. Once the door closed behind them the ladies slowly rolled to the wrought iron gate that surrounded the garden.
Henrietta looked both ways while Alcmene slowly opened the gate hoping to avoid a squeak that would give them away. Once the gate was open the ladies exited the grounds of the nursing home in a single file.
As they went down the sidewalk the ladies slowly began to talk about the reason for this trip.
“I hate that man. Even after sixty-five years he haunts us,” Alcmene grumbled.
“Tell me about it. It’s almost like his ghost doesn’t believe that he earned his dark fate,” Henrietta agreed.
“His actions were almost barbaric. Really! Marrying all three of us? Salvatore had to know that we were going to catch on,” Drusilla put in. Talking about what Salvatore had done always stopped Drusilla’s whimpering. Those actions were the one thing that straightened her spine in righteous indignation.
The mere mention of Salvatore had both Alcmene and Henrietta frowning in anger. Before either of them could comment, the geriatric trio heard the piercing sirens of a cop car. Simultaneously the old women reached up to their ears and turned their hearing aids down.
Henrietta and Drusilla turned to look at Alcmene. Alcmene gestured for the other two women to lift the plastic plate on their arm rests. Underneath those plates was a flat red button. When Alcmene pushed the button her wheelchair roared to life.
In under three seconds Alcmene went from sitting with her friends to being halfway down the block with a smile on her wrinkly face. Her wheelchair roared like a motorcycle. When Henrietta and Drusilla saw how fast Alcmene went, devious smiles formed in the crags of their faces.
Without a care in their aged minds the two women followed Alcmene’s lead. As the wind whipped through their white hair the three women zoomed down one street and then another. They took the corners on two wheels. Throughout their daring ride broad smiles never left their lined faces.
As the old ladies whizzed through the streets at startling speeds they realized that their adventure had just begun.
1The earth has a way about it when it is to rain. The air becomes humid and the temperatures drop as nature once again tries to cleanse itself. I see people rushing away from the water as quickly as it can carry them. Others meander slowly through the pre-rain drizzles. Others still shut their windows tight so as to block out the greying clouds, and flashes of lightening. Some even jump at the clang of thunder. But not me.
Personally I walk, run, dance, and spin around in circles as the water pours freely from the sky. I raise my face so that I can catch every drop of water as it falls on my face. I breathe the damp air in as if it will be my last breath. I embrace the chaotic winds of the blowing storm. Because I know what it brings.
You ask why I walk in the rain and the answer is simple. It’s the only place I can think. You ask why I dance in the rain. It’s because the rain is where I am free. I sit in the rain because it washes my troubles away. But most of all I like the rain because I find peace in the rain.
1Silly princes. They really have no clue. Daily they come with their sharp swords and swift horses to try and win the hand of my princess in her stone castle. They never will though. The Pretty Princess with the fiery hair doesn’t want them. All she wants is to be left to her library of scrolls. Why I don’t know, but what the Pretty Princess wants the Pretty Princess gets. Even if it doesn’t taste all that good to me.
The Dark King and Blonde Queen don’t know that. My fiery haired princess doesn’t want them to know. She said that if her parents find out than they will burn her scrolls. That would make the princess cry. I don’t want to see my flame haired friend cry.
She doesn’t have scales to protect her from the evil Princes or the Sour King and Queen. So I will protect her. My scales are green and gold. They are as hard as a diamond and sharp as razors. I have ripped many a prince to shreds with my talons that dared to try and see the Princess.
I think I saw the Princess laugh at the last Prince. Her bright hair matches the fire I breathe. I wonder what the Princess meant when she asked if I wanted ketchup at the next Prince roasting. Would ketchup make the Princes and their furry ponies taste better?
I don’t know. Maybe the Princess will bring some for me to try out? Sometimes she does bring me treats. Last week the Princess had the rancher down the road bring me a cow. I love beef. Especially when it’s still moving. Although I could do without the fur, it sticks when I roast them.
I admit that the fur is easier to deal with than the metal shirts that the Princes wear. Sometimes it tastes like they are boiled instead of roasted. They taste better roasted. Sadly there isn’t enough meat on the Princes heads, so I usually leave the heads in the river that floats into the other kingdoms.
The Princess saw me drop the head of a prince once while I was flying and she said that it served him right. My fiery Princess said that if they can’t learn their lesson then I can eat as many of them as I want. Since the Princess doesn’t want to meet any of the Princes, that means I can eat them all.
I think I hear the hooves of my next dinner. The Princess is smiling from her tower, that means that I can go eat now.
1Every generation the Abaya was reborn. No one ever knew where the Chosen One would show up. The Ancient Priests were given a sign from the gods when it was time to escort the Chosen One to the Shrine of Rights. There the Chosen one would be given the power to fulfill his destiny. Saving the people, their souls, and the planet.
No one ever knew what the Chosen One’s destiny would be until the power of the Ancient God was bestowed upon him.
Many priests wished they knew the fates so they could better prepare the Chosen One, but they didn’t. Never had those wishes been granted.
The Chosen one didn’t even know beforehand. That was the scariest of them all. Many a Chosen ran when they found their destiny. More than one ran from a cliff top to escape the decree of the Gods.
The Vanguard didn’t know the destiny and they were the ones that had to escort the Chosen One to the Shrine of Rights. Their job was often the hardest. They had to put up with the quirks of their new charge.
Three days. Three interminable days of arrogance, lightening, and disdain along a craggy mountain ridge. That’s how long it’d been since Nechor had met the Abaya. And what a character he had proven to be. With a sour smile Nechor thought of what he had to put up with from this Abaya.
Nechor had escorted more than one Abaya to their destiny, but none of them held this man’s arrogance and derision to his fellow man. Nechor didn’t even want to think about his contempt and superiority to the sacred female.
Nechor frowned in distaste as he heard, “You there. I require food.”
“Young Abaya, the Gods decreed fasting before the Day of Rights. This is something we cannot go against,” Nechor tried to explain.
“Whether they want it or not, I am hungry,” the Young Abaya demanded.
“We cannot go against the gods, Young Abaya,” Nechor tried again.
“And them,” the Young Abaya sneered towards the women that traveled with the group. Those same women held baskets of fresh fruit and amphorae full of honey and wine.
“Theirs is a different role, and they follow the mother. Everyone knows that we have a mother and a father, Young Abaya. Balance is necessary,” Nechor preached in hopes that the message would reach the young man.
“I don’t care,” the Young Abaya firmly stated.
Nechor rubbed his temples. “Young Abaya, it won’t be long until we reach the shrine. Once there the priests will anoint you with sacred oils so that you may greet your destiny. After that there will be food aplenty, of this I am sure,” Nechor soothed.
“I want food or them, now,” the Young Abaya demanded harshly.
“The Gods dictate otherwise,” Nechor informed coolly.
“If I don’t get food, we go no further,” the Young Abaya threatened.
Nechor’s eyes blazed at that threat as his eyes turned into smoldering embers. “I have had enough of your high-handed disrespect to both the God and Goddess; let alone what you have implied about our holy sisters. That you have the nerve to treat anyone this way.
“It stops now,” Nechor thundered as the ground around them shook.
The winds picked up and the sky darkened as a booming voice shook from the heavens, “So be it, destiny is chosen.”
Darkness engulfed the world for a minute. When the light glowed on the dirt again. Nechor’s eyes widened in disbelief. No longer was there a svelte, dark-skinned male Chosen. In the place of the arrogant Young Abaya stood a buxom blonde with wavy hair and a tiny waist.
The former Chosen took one look down and let out a screech that would have done a banshee proud.
1That is the question that we all want answered. As adults we want the same thing that we wanted as children and teenagers. Friendship, respect, and understanding. If we have those things, we can grow into well-adjusted people.
In order to have any of this though, we must find the qualities in ourselves. We must be a friend to ourself, respect our own person, and understand who we are. The last one can sometimes be the most difficult. For everyone on the planet understanding of who we are as a person is a lifelong journey; with a new portion revealed everyday.
Being our own personal friend is just as difficult. Daily we hear people putting us down and telling us that we won’t be anyone. Would you let someone talk that way to you? No. Therefor why do you talk that way to yourself? How can you grow to be well adjusted if you constantly put yourself down? Being a friend to yourself is the first way to attract true friends.
Now we come to the trickiest one. Respecting yourself. First realize that the rest of the world won’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. This is why you must treat yourself the right way. If it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. These are the first steps to respecting yourself. If you don’t want someone else to treat you a certain way, don’t treat yourself that way.
1A man with icicles in his white hair stood in front of an icy coffin. Engraved in scrolling gold letters on top of the coffin was the name Noelle. In the coffin lay a woman with jet black hair and blood red lips. Her eyelids were tattooed with holly. Pale skin stretched over high cheekbones. Around her neck was a pearl and amber choker.
The man standing in front of the coffin with his head bowed and frozen tears fell from his eyes. Ice was forming around his pale lips as he brokenly murmured, “One day Noelle, you will walk the snows with me again. I promise.”
“You shouldn’t come here every day Jack,” an aged man sagely informed from the white doorway.
“She can still hear me Father Time,” Jack replied brokenly.
“Seeing her everyday isn’t healthy for you,” Father Time insisted.
“If I don’t visit my sister, who will?”
“The two of you aren’t alone,” Father Time insisted again.
Jack’s thin lips sneered as he turned to face Father Time. “For someone who has been around since The Beginning you don’t know everything. Or is it that you have forgotten,” Jack harshly retorted.
Father Time shook his grey head and closed his ancient blue eyes. “Jack, we are all still here. Just in different aspects than our pasts,” Father Time explained softly.
A glittering teardrop fell from Jack’s clear eyes as he bitterly shot back, “Sixty years ago she danced beautifully on the snowflakes! Now the mortals couldn’t tell you her name! How am I not supposed to be biter,” Jack asked hotly.
“Jack, time will heal all,” Father Time sagely assured.
Jack violently shook his head as he spat, “Not this time, Father Time. Unless they return to the old ways never will Noelle slide down the snowbanks again,” Jack bitterly assured.
“Times change Mr. Frost,” a mellow female voice said from outside the room.
“Mother Nature,” Jack sneered.
“You’re young by our standards Mr. Frost. But not by the world’s. You know these things; why can you not accept them?”
“Because out of all of us she is the only one who ever cared for me. Noelle is kind, gentle, and caring. Not to mention free spirited and fun loving. My sister doesn’t deserve to be forgotten by the fleeting memories of mortals,” Jack stubbornly insisted as icicles began to form in his short locks.
“Jack, she will dance again,” Father Time benevolently guaranteed.
Jack angrily shook his head as he stormed past Mother Nature and Father Time leaving a light trail of fallen snow in his wake.
Mother Nature bowed her vine tangled hair in the wake of Jack’s icy anger as Father time sadly shook his elderly head. “How do we thaw Jack’s frozen bitterness,” Mother Nature asked Father Time.
“With time he will see that the mortals will remember the joyfulness that Noelle embodied. Until then all we can do is keep Noelle surrounded by warm hope and soft thoughts,” Father Time positively stated.
“Jack won’t accept that Father Time. We have to be able to tell him something more than that,” Mother Nature quietly insisted as a cool wind swept the snow away.
With hunched shoulders Father Time closed his eyes as he stood in front of the frozen Noelle Frost. “I don’t know what to tell him,” Father Time whispered as a tear trailed down his paper thin face.
“Do you think Mr. or Mrs. Claus could help,” Mother Nature gently asked.
“They could try. Unfortunately I think it would only increase Jack’s bitterness. After all Mrs. Claus has gained in popularity where Noelle has lost,” he sadly explained.
Mother Nature shook her head as she joined Father Time in front of Noelle Frost. As the two stood silent watch over the frozen youth, multicolored leaves fell to the floor around them.
Snow was falling heavily around the sparkling house on the hill. Of all the houses on the North Pole this one stood out the most. Multicolored lights were reflecting off the falling snow like a rainbow of diamonds in the sun. Smoke was coming from the chimney and golden lights glowed in the windows.
In the arched doorway Mother Nature stood wrapped in a cloak of leaves. She stood there until a small figure in green opened the door and chirpily greeted, “Mother Nature! What brings you here?”
Mother Nature smiled patiently and replied, “Hello Trixie. Are Mr. and Mrs. Claus in?”
Trixie energetically nodded as she directed, “They’re in the main study. He’s going over his list.”
Mother Nature smiled at Trixie as she thanked the little elf. Trixie’s ears turned a bright red as she disappeared.
With a fond smile Mother Nature shook her head as she made her way to the most famous study in the world. After a polite knock on the stone entryway Mother Nature heard a jovial, “Enter.”
Mother Nature glided into the cozy study like a gentle spring breeze. “Hello Santa and Mrs. Claus,” she politely greeted.
“Mother Nature! What a nice surprise,” Mrs. Claus exclaimed.
“What’s wrong old friend,” Santa asked from his wingback chair.
“What makes you think something’s wrong,” Mother Nature asked.
“I smell rain in the air,” Santa wisely answered.
Mother Nature bowed her curly, vine entangled head. “Can you talk to Jack,” she pleaded softly.
“He’s still visiting Noelle than?”
“Worse. He’s getting bitter,” Mother Nature gravely informed her old friend.
“Oh no,” Mrs. Claus whispered as her chocolatey eyes began to shine.
“He could make winter bitterly cold for all of us if he doesn’t accept that people and things change,” Mother Nature quietly explained.
“I know old friend. But, what can we do,” Santa worriedly asked.
“You and Mrs. Claus are the most magical of the winter beings. Surely you can do something,” Mother Nature pleaded the crackling fire emphasized her hope.
Santa sat contemplatively, his list forgotten, as he pondered what he could do. Slowly the twinkle returned to Santa’s eyes. “Trying to talk to Jack wouldn’t do any good. However, there is something that can be done. It would take you, me, and Father Time,” Santa told Mother Nature conspiratorially.
Mother Nature cocked her head to the side as she asked, “What do you have in mind?”
“Let me have one of the elves call Father Time. It’s best if we discuss this when we are all together,” Santa gravely stated. Mother Nature looked at Santa with confusion as one of the elves called for Father Time.
Mrs. Claus walked across the study and put a hand on Santa’s right should as she leaned in and whispered softly to him. Mrs. Claus then walked out of the room with a homely smile towards Mother Nature. Mother Nature smiled graciously at her hostess and continued to stare at Santa in confusion.
The crackling flames in the fireplace roared loudly in the silence. Santa and Mother Nature stared into the flames as though they contained the answers to their problems. Slowly the fire glowed brighter as a black square with symmetrical lines formed in the center of the flames.
Slowly the square grew larger in size until it covered the flames. Once the square stabilized an elderly form stepped through the square as spryly as Santa went down a smooth chimney.
“Show off,” Mother Nature whispered with a fond smile.
The form bent form straightened as he was able and gave a warm smile to Santa before asking, “You had something that you wanted to talk about?”
“I’m hoping you could help me with something, Father Time.
“Mother Nature has told me the sad state that Jack Frost has fallen into and I think there may be a way we can help him,” Santa finished mysteriously.
“What did you have in mind,” his ancient voice cracked.
As his guests stood waiting on him, Santa smiled and replied, “We turn Jack into a child.” Santa’s smile never left his face as he gave his solution.
Mother Nature’s eyes widened as the vines in her hair went vibrant green to brittle brown. Father Time had a few white hairs turn chestnut brown. “That’s…..” Father Time muttered.
“I think I need to sit down,” Mother Nature mumbled.
Two chairs appeared out of the air for the mythical beings to sit upon as they watched Santa grin. With a jovial chuckle Santa explained, “Between the three of us we have the willpower to bind Jack’s memories and turn him into a mortal child temporarily. He needs to remember how to play. With a little luck not only will we get Jack back, but Noelle as well.”
Mother Nature stared into space for a moment before whispering, “My only question is how would he return to us?”
“Bind his memories to something precious. When he remembers what it is like to be a child and play the spell would lift automatically,” Santa firmly stated.
“Who would watch over him,” Father Time asked sagely.
Santa gave a half smile as he calmly answered, “Old friend, I was hoping you would take over the role as his grandfather.”
Father Time chuckled and smiled as he replied, “Count me in. I haven’t spent time with the mortals that decide our fate in years.”
Mother Nature smiled as bright as a summer sun to signify her agreement to Santa’s rather outlandish plan.
1The sand finally settled and I saw the giant silhouette in front of me. Of all the statues that I have seen none bears greater resemblance to the lofty nobility of a deity. Even in these murky depths I can see her kohl lined eyes glisten with life imploring me to break the eternal curse that trapped her in this solid state. If I close my eyes I can still feel her soft hands gently weaving through my unruly hair. She is the greatest influence in my life. She is my mother.
I haven’t had the pleasure of sitting at her side since she hid in the mortal world from Mars when the Philopater fell from grace. That was almost two millennia ago. Being the child of a goddess makes me an immortal. There are more of us in the modern world than one would think. Even the ancient Gods are here. We all have tragic stories. Such is the case with my mother, the Goddess Isis. She is the mother to us all and the invading Romans sealed her great love in this underwater statue that I have searched for since time immemorial.
I’m surprised I was able to get this close to her. The immortal children of Mars have blocked the path to my mother since the day the Aeilius family betrayed her to the Romans and their unholy ways. That was when Mars found her and laid the Roman curse on her. He trapped my great mother Isis in this living statue, withholding her love from the world.
Roughly a hundred years ago a mystic roamed the dust bowl known as the Fertile Crescent and he granted me an audience. The man told me where I could find earth’s salvation.
As I stare at my mother’s beautiful face I smile slightly as I make a solemn vow – I will break this curse and bring her love back to the world. For now though, I must protect her in this form.
I will take my mother home and surround her with the flowers she so adored when she freely loved the earth. There is an obsidian throne and crown of lapis lazuli waiting for her pleasure. They were all I could save from the sacking of her temples.
My grandchildren will search the earth for the cure to this curse. I vow that my blood will find the alchemists of today. From the ranks of the alchemist my blood will cull the most talented. Whether it be male or female, Master or Kleopatra they will break this curse or we will all suffer. This much is inscribed in the stone at my mother’s feet.
R. Stachowiak and her husband live in sunny Florida. She looks for inspiration in the beauty of nature that surrounds her.
In Wanderings of a Muse the author shares her thoughts on everything from the meaning of words to one shots. Contained within these pages you will find tales of Greek Gods and Camelot. Memories and ruminations about colors and books will stretch your mind. Will you dare to find out where the muse wanders?