Posts Tagged ‘Write at the Merge’

Blowing Smoke

Posted in Fiction on November 11th, 2013 by Annabelle – 11 Comments

“The tea tray for Herself.”  The tray slid onto the table.  Marthe picked it up and sailed down the hallway to the Headmaster’s office.

“Lise.”  The Dean was struggling not to laugh.  “Thank you, Marthe.”  The Head, in full dragon mode, gave her an irritated flap of the hand.

“You want to take the students out to try their skills at an actual stone circle?”  The Head picked up a cup.  “Have you seen what Celia produced with a simple conjuration just yesterday?”

Marthe shook her head and set out a plate of cakes.  That had been ugly.

The Head, catching the movement, gestured with her cup.  “See?  A disaster in the making.”  She narrowed her eyes at the Dean in an expression meant to be terrifying.

Marthe hid a smile.  The Head might bluster, but the staff knew what sort of woman she was.  She never failed to remember their service.  Not with money or words.  It was the Dean whose easy smile accompanied their Christmas envelopes, while the Head glowered conspicuously at the students’ holly boughs and stopped just short of saying “Bah, humbug.”  But the servants’ quarters were always warm, even when ten-foot snowdrifts buried the castle doors.  A nice piece of magic, that.  And food in the servants’ kitchen stayed fresh far longer than it should have, so that no matter how late a worker dragged in, there was always a hot meal waiting.  There was never anything she’d have to stop and be thanked for, but the staff knew.

Marthe cleared away a collection of old cups onto the tray.  Was it the same in the privacy of their bedroom?  Did the Head ever say those words to him?  Or did he just know it all the same?

“I can reverse anything they do wrong, you know that.”  His voice was full of patient affection.

“Fine, then.”  Marthe heard the softened voice behind her as she closed the door.  “If you like.”

 

This week I’m combining prompts; Trifecta Writing Challenge asked for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word REMEMBER (verb):

And this week’s Write at the Merge gave us two pictures and quotes; the one that caught my imagination was “This tornado loves you.”  This is a follow-on to The School if you’re interested.  Thanks for reading!

Sleeping Beauty

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on October 23rd, 2013 by Annabelle – 11 Comments

The girl sat in the stone window-ledge.  She was graceful, beautiful, talented, all the gifts given to her at her birth.  She’d had plenty of time to wonder if they had been worth the cost.

Below her, the castle spread in silent grandeur.  In every room, sleepers, hardly seeming to breathe, left where they had fallen.  In the slanting autumn light, the air sparkled with dust that drifted and turned, but never hit the ground.  Not here.

She hadn’t understood at first.  Alone in the stillness, the unwaking bodies of two handmaids on the floor next to her bed, she had finally realized.  The prince hadn’t come.

At the thought, her eyes fell to the brambles surrounding the castle walls.  She saw no bleached skull, but she thought she knew what had happened all the same.  She imagined she could see the spot — just there, where the roses bloomed in dusky glory every summer.

He had died.  And then the funny thing had happened; the angry fairy’s power at last had broken.  The girl had no idea how many years had passed until then, or how many since. The cruelest joke was that it was the “kindness” of the fairy who had saved her that had kept them all trapped.  The fairy had caught the castle out of time until the prince should arrive.  And then he never did.

So here she was, still sixteen, a phantom of longing drifting through the halls, promise eternally unfulfilled.  Outside, the seasons turned.  Inside, she waited for the last spell to break.  She closed her eyes and wished that her parents had not been so eager for magical gifts, that they had let her birth go unremarked and let her take her chances with an ordinary life.   When the distant geese flew by, obedient to the dictates of time, ordinary seemed like the most extraordinary thing she could imagine.

In the courtyard below, a yellow leaf ceased its eternal circling and slipped down to touch the pavement.

 

This week I’m combining the Write at the Merge prompt from Write On Edge and the weekly Trifecta Writing Challenge.  Write at the Merge gave us the word “pine” and a photo of leaves falling on a deck, and Trifecta gave us the third definition of the word “phantom” (noun):

And of course, a little fairy tale retelling.  Thanks for reading!

Soothing the Savage Beast

Posted in Fiction, Tacar on July 22nd, 2013 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

Raicha stood on the terrace and stared at the crocodile.  It was a gift from Kanjire.  Apparently Kanjirians considered ill-tempered predators an appropriate gift for foreign royalty.  Crocodiles were the symbolic guardians of their royal family, fine.  Still.  It was fifteen feet long and had made a spirited attempt to kill the men who had unloaded it; Camilia had been extremely impolite privately about the need to find somewhere to put the damn thing.  It was also, very clearly, a statement about the relative fitness of the ruling families of Kanjire and Tacar.  Tamedijl, who had been Kanjirian royalty before her marriage, had looked smug all day.

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Allure

Posted in Fiction, Tacar on March 21st, 2013 by Annabelle – 3 Comments

Camilia gave a gurgling laugh at the sally and laid a hand on the Lord Magistrate’s shoulder.  She saw him appreciatively following the line of her neck and long bare arm and smiled.  He had known her father too well to be genuinely swayed by her femininity, but she found that very few men actually minded being charmed by the Empress.  She crinkled her eyes at him in parting, and turned away to find the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He was standing on the balcony, the last echoes of sunset on his face.  He was, as ever, slim, tall, and elegantly dressed, the note-perfect performance of a man who had been at court since long before she’d been born.  He had been appointed to his position by her grandfather and had not been young then, but of course that was nothing for the Tevalle.

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The School

Posted in Fiction on March 13th, 2013 by Annabelle – 7 Comments

They sailed down the main corridor talking about the class schedule.  As always, James let Lise set the pace, trailing just slightly behind despite the difference in height.  Lise stopped dead as a teenager wearing glittery lip gloss reeled past, juggling a bubble full of barely-contained flame between her hands.

“Hey!” Lise bellowed.  “Get that out of the hallway.”  She stabbed a finger at the door of a workroom.  The student giggled, God help her, and stumbled through the door, the flame surging dangerously as she went.  Lise pulled the door shut behind her emphatically.

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The Forest

Posted in Fiction on March 6th, 2013 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

She was waiting when he wandered in, stupidly lost.  The trees here all seemed taller than they should have been; he was hot, tired, and he couldn’t imagine how it could be taking him so long to find his way out.  And then, in the clearing, an incongruous sight: a dark-haired woman sitting on a great rock with her knees drawn up, the green light of the leaves on her face.  He drew up, startled.  It was his kingdom, it was all his, but she looked at him with a detached curiosity, like a piece of interesting mold on a rock she had just turned over.

“So you finally came.”  Her voice, light and clear, took him off guard after the hour of wandering and shouting for his men.  He opened his mouth, but then she gave a smile that struck him dumb.  “Do you know where you are?”  He scowled.  Lost.  He was idiotically lost on his own lands, a ridiculous indignity for a man like him.

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The Woods and the Wolf

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on February 25th, 2013 by Annabelle – 13 Comments

Her feet carried her slowly, unwillingly, down the forest path.  A hush had fallen, and the gentle clatter of branches and the quiet squeak of the fresh snow under her boots were the only sounds she could hear.  The wolf was pacing her out at the edges of sight, no more than a grey whisper among the grey trees.  It wouldn’t come any closer, not yet, but she could feel it waiting.

She pulled the crimson cloak closer around her against a cold she barely felt.  It had been a gift from her grandmother, a token of an affection that now made her skin crawl.  Under the sun, the cloak flamed, impossible to miss.  Here, under the trees at the last tail of dusk, it faded to the color of old blood, melting into the dark as if it belonged there.  The obscurity was strangely comforting.

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The Twelve Dancers

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on February 18th, 2013 by Annabelle – 35 Comments

Worn-out shoes.  That’s what it came down to.  He was risking his life for worn-out shoes.  He shifted back on his heels in the mud, and raised his fingers to the place where a thorn had torn a sticky gash in his neck.  He’d had far worse, but it was all of a piece with this whole night.

The thing had stank from the beginning.  Find the secret in three nights or be put to death?  What sort of offer was that?  But the king was a father and fathers got desperate.  He hadn’t been far from desperate himself — out of a job, out of money, about to exhaust his options.  No one seemed to want his nicked and battered sword or equally battered self.

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The Apple

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on February 12th, 2013 by Annabelle – 11 Comments

The stillroom was a wreck.  Elanne pressed a frustrated hand to her face, and surveyed the damage from between her fingers.  The floor glittered with shards of glass, here the remains of a green bottle, there what was left of a clear one, and all of it glistening with the spirits she’d been storing here.  A sweet, herbal tang filled the air so thickly she could almost taste it.  She didn’t need to wonder what had happened.  Her stepdaughter.  Of course.

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The Tower

Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction on January 30th, 2013 by Annabelle – 24 Comments

This, she thought with a wince, might really be the worst of the things she had to hold against her parents about this whole process.  She experimentally took a hand away from one ear just in time to hear a particularly off note be followed by a sharp twang and a startled squawk.  Broken lute string?  She had given up hoping that would shut him up.

The tower thing was ridiculous all around, and she had plenty of things to say about the arrangements for her so-called comfort if she ever got the chance.  She was beyond sick of looking at the walls in here and so bored that nearly anything would have been an improvement.  But this?

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