Glimpses

In the pre-dawn, the light was grey, and added contrast to the features of his face; even his copper hair held no light. She rolled to her side and watched him sleep. How peaceful he was in slumber; his care worn brow softened by pleasant dreams, or so she hoped. Lifting her fingers, she gently traced his freckled forehead, to the scar over his eye. Her touch was feather-light as they traveled the angle of his jaw to trace its mate across the cleft of his chin. He stirred to brush his lips against the tips of her fingers, but pale lashes stayed closed to hide the pure blue beneath them. A ghost of a smile curved his lips briefly before sleep pulled him back into its embrace, taking her with him a short time later.


She could hear them play in the garden; her  daughter’s squeal of delight as her father swung her high in the air, and her son’s marveling over every rock, leaf, and insect he happened across. Drying her pruned hands, she moved to the window to observe her small family in the waning evening daylight.

Her husband, for all of his quiet, reserved manner, seemed to truly revel in his children. She thought, perhaps, it was because his own father had been absent for most of his life and he wanted better for them. Whatever the reason, her heart melted a little each time she caught him like this, care free and unburdened by his sense of duty.

“Mama!”

She heard her son calling to her and his little legs carried him as swiftly as they could to meet her, making his dark hair bounce around his eyes.

She went to the door to greet him with a smile as he took her finger in his grasp and tried to coax her outside to join them.

“No, Jack, I’m not finished yet…”

She protested half-heartedly, and stood up.

“Help, help!”

Little Jack beckoned to his father, who set the girl in the grass a moment to join them.

Finleigh allowed herself to be led by the tot for a few paces with a sigh of resignation, until her husband gently removed his tiny hand from her own and replaced it with his as he turned a warm, playful smile to her.

“Your children want their mother.”

The words struck her and she was suddenly reminded of her chance meeting with Gaelyn the previous week. How many times would his son want his mother? Only, she was gone from this world, not inside the house doing the dinner dishes.

Her daughter was already crawling excitedly over to them. Smiling, she sighed and swooped her son up into her arms, leaning in to accept a kiss from her husband as he murmured.

“They will remember this more than clean dishes.”

He was right, and she promised herself she would never forget that.


A warm breeze blew across the lake, making subtle ripples across the surface, and carrying the fragrance of early summer with it. A young man sat at lake’s edge with a fishing pole draped lazily over his lap, taking in the midday sun filtered through the branches of a willow. The end of the line was cast out, but drifted aimlessly in the gentle bobbing. He did not seem to pay it any mind.

With hazel eyes lifted, he scanned the puffy white cotton that painted the sky; each taking form as it glided across the pure blue. A ship. A pen dipped into an ink well. A woman’s figure. It was the last that made him pause and study closer before it dissipated. His recent dalliance had forced his mind to consider that he was perhaps not as contrary as he had always been told, and believed. At the same time, though he did enjoy it to some degree, he suspected the fact that he was not alone may have played a part.

The thought of marriage and all it entailed did not appeal to him. The thought of Rush doing the same made his stomach hurt. Frowning at the thought, he whipped the line up and out so that it skimmed the surface of the water and sunk. It was a fact he would need to face eventually, but things seemed too comfortable to put too much thought into.

He tried to focus his thoughts on the weekend, when he would have a house mate again and could forget the arrangement was temporary.

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Glimpses

The house was quiet, the snow outside insulating most noises of the surrounding woods. It was still decorated with festive garland around the mantle, and a fragrant pine wreath on the door. The fire had burned down to coals, which sizzled in the hearth. Finleigh lay on her side, her newborn infant daughter swaddled and tucked into her arm. The babe slept peacefully, even as her mother stroked her cheek with the back of her finger.

“What’s your name,” she whispered to her, “what are we going to call you?”

In her sleep, the child reflexively turned her head toward the finger and rooted her tiny mouth. She was born on the first day of Yule, and Finleigh could not think of a gift she would have loved better. The midwife said it was a lucky to be born during the change of the year, and all Finleigh could think of was ‘I hope that means she is easier than Jack.’

She felt a pang of guilt at the thought, and lifted her head to peer over to where Jack’s bed was situated, closer to the fire so that he would not catch cold. His small body was entirely swathed in blankets as he sprawled on the tiny bed, fast asleep. She looked down again to the infant and settled against her for warmth with a sigh, touching her lips lightly to the baby’s soft spot.

“I suppose I will just call you ‘the baby’ forever.”

She smiled to herself, with no one else to share the quip with. The baby stirred, and stretched her limbs then, and her eyes opened to peer up at her mother. She had her father’s intense stare down pat, and his ginger-blonde hair, what little of it there was.

“Hello,” Finleigh whispered and sprouted a smile. The baby just stared back at her with wide eyes as she studied her mother’s face.

“So serious,” she remarked, and the baby grunted in reply, wriggling her legs.

There was more stirring, this time on the other side of the bed where Gavynn slept. He turned toward Finleigh sleepily, and moved close so he could look over her shoulder at their daughter.

“She is watching you,” he stated softly, in his matter-of-fact tone.

Finleigh turned her head toward him and smiled.

“She’s her father’s daughter, always studying things.”

“I hope so. That is important.”

Finleigh laughed softly through her nose and sat up as the baby started to grunt more fervently.

“I think she’s hungry,” she said, and took the babe in her arms to nurse. She leaned back against her husband’s solid frame and they both watched her for a few moments.

“You are different this time,” he whispered, setting his chin on her shoulder, “more confident. Less overwhelmed.”

Finleigh nodded in agreement. It was true that she felt a good deal less helpless than she had when Jack was born. This baby was much more well-tempered than her older brother was, which helped, but for the first time since becoming a mother, Finleigh felt like she knew what she was doing.


 

Pheadra came in from the cold, cheeks rosy from the wind against her face. In one hand, she held a small parcel, and with the other, she removed her hood and gloves as she made her way to the mess hall. It was still quite early in the morning, and she did not hear too many people about, so she poured hot water for tea, looting a scone from the basket on the table as she made her way toward her cubby in the next room.

She had been at Ravenhold for some months now, and the only notice she had received had been an invitation to that ill-fated dinner party she had attended. So, when she rounded the corner and found a neatly rolled, wax-sealed parchment, she was quite curious. She studied the seal closely, then looked to see if anyone else had received something similar. With a shrug, she gently peeled away the wax and unrolled the letter to read it.

Her eyes scanned the page and she found herself smiling softly by the end. It was a letter from Oendir, and an unexpected one at that, explaining his leave and his plan to take a holiday from it all. Some of it made sense now, and she read it over again, sitting down right away at Miss Lichen’s desk to pen a response.

Oendir,

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate the thought, and I hope that this finds you prepared for a time of rest for you, both of body and spirit.

I fully understand your desire to escape from whatever you may have encountered. Angmar is a place of evil, and only Men with great strength of will dare venture there. Whatever mission which brought you there must have been quite important, indeed. 

May the woods offer you solace and solitude to gather your thoughts and see that there are still beautiful things in this world, despite the darkness.

Kindest regards,

Pheadra

 

After reading her reply back a time or two, she waited for the ink to dry and carefully rolled up the parchment, sealing it with wax, and slipped it into Oendir’s cubby on her way as she continued upstairs to her room.


 

He sat on his bunk, with his head in his hands. Most of the other soldiers had gone to sleep already, snoring peacefully in their bunks. A stream of moonlight shone in from a window, illuminating the room just enough so he could make them out in the dark.

He felt a pit in his stomach. The nausea and restless seemed constant now, worsening the longer the skies overhead were dark. The thought of what lay beyond the walls of the city, and that he would be one of the ones to face it made him tremble.

He was terrified.

He tried his best to hide it, only fully letting himself despair in the night when no one would see. He did not want this glorious death that so many of the others spoke of. He did not want to be gutted by an orc blade and left there for his life to drain from him.

He wanted to live.

 

 

The Lily: An Illusion: Part I

Prompt: Write a brief scene illustrating an important moment in your character’s past (before you started playing them).

Define “brief”. Three parts? Well ok…


“Stand up straighter!”

Her mother’s accented voice was hard to miss, even with all of the commotion of rehearsal. Her mother was always around somewhere, even when she couldn’t be seen. She told fortunes and read palms and tea leaves for the little traveling company they belonged to, and seemed to have a sixth sense about her.

With a groan she complied, pressing her shoulders down to lengthen her neck. Knife practice was unnerving, mostly because she was usually the target. She stood up against a round, flat piece of wood, secured at her wrists, but it was mostly just to keep her hands still rather than true restraint.  Though she’d never so much as had a scratch, there had been a few close calls, one involving a length of her dark hair falling to the floor.

At least it hadn’t been her ear.

The practice was arduous, but for good reason. If any variable was different; if she was standing an inch to the left, if her head was tilted, if her posture not absolutely straight, it could mean disaster. She fully trusted her partner, a bald man named Renaldo who wore a waxed mustache and had crooked teeth. He had been in the business nearly all his life and had honed his craft so that he could do it blindfolded.

That one always had people on the edge of their seats.

The day was hot and stagnant. She longed to be free of practice to run about and do what most girls of late teen years would do: watch the hands unload their gear from the caravan. She saw her sister over Renaldo’s shoulder. Daedess was nearly as tall as her, but with fewer curves. She was not her sister by blood, but she was her oldest and closest friend and thus, they were as close as siblings might be, or what she imagined they might be. Daedess was doing a nearly spot-on impression of Renaldo, but Lily did not so much as snicker, keeping her focus on the tip of Renaldo’s ear.  She felt the wind of it as the knife embedded itself about three inches past her left cheek. Only then did she crack a grin, but soon wiped it from her expression to focus. The next two hit their mark just over her head and next to her torso.

It was on the next throw that her attention was pulled away from Renaldo, and Daedess, and knife practice to the tall, muscular body which had come to stand behind all of them. A pair of blue eyes studied her from afar and she met his gaze and held it for a moment before dipping her eyes a bit with a slight smirk. Her left arm flinched as she did, and instead of hitting the board behind her, the knife stuck fast in her sleeve, causing her to gasp. She blinked and looked first to Renaldo who was already approaching to check on her, but it was her mother’s voice that rang out above them, having appeared seemingly from thin air.

“Aye chavaia!”

This time she was bustling over to make sure she wasn’t injured. She began chittering in a foreign language as she looked her over, standing her up straight and causing Lily to roll her eyes.

“I am fine, mum, honestly.”

The woman scoffed at that, chiding her daughter as she helped free her from where she was bound. “Chai don’t know when she is fine. Only her daia can see she is fine. Avree with you! Be back in an hour to prepare for tonight.” She tutted and shook her head and went back to where she had appeared from.

Renaldo shook his head with an exasperated sigh as he drew a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his bald head. “Enough practice for today.”

Daedess approached as the commotion died down and stood at her shoulder, facing the same direction. Her eyes found what had caught Lily’s attention. “He’s a looker.” , she muttered, glancing at Lily sidelong.

Lily glanced back with the same look, and a soft chuckles as she replied, “What?”

Daedess rounded to face her, wearing a wide grin as she teased, “He was the distraction.”.

Lily rolled her eyes and pushed past her, but didn’t exactly deny it. “I haven’t seen him before. That’s all.”

Daedess chortled in response, and met Lily with a mischievous expression and a bit of sing-song in her reply, “Want me to introduce you? I bet he is…fun.” Her eyebrows waggled to punctuate the insinuation.

Lily replied, attempting to sound nonchalant, “I think I can manage that if I want, thanks.”

After a last gaze over her shoulder, the object of their attention smirked and turned the opposite direction. They made their way out past the tents to the grass beyond to stretch out on the grass and soak up the last of the day’s sun.

~~~

An hour or so later, Lily returned to her caravan to find her mother preparing for the evening performance. She had donned her own costume, which featured a belt made up of hundreds of metal loops chained together that made a pleasant sound when she moved, and a silk scarf that covered much of her long, dark hair.

“Chavi!” She said sharply as she brushed out her hair, “You are late. Come, sit or you will be later!”

Lily rolled her eyes and sighed as her mother fussed over her, plaiting her hair, lining her eyes with kohl, and fitting her costume. There was no use arguing about it. She gazed into the mirror she had sat herself in front of, and her mother’s reflection met her own. She had her mother’s olive skin and dark hair, but her eyes, as her mother always told her, were the eyes of her father, whoever he was. He was a secret her mother didn’t like to talk about, a fact which intrigued Lily to no end, but her mother was a stubborn woman and would always change the subject.

Once she was prepared, they both made their way to the main tent, where the other performers had gathered to get ready for the show. Lily made her way to Daedess, who was leaning casually up against a wall of hay bales.

“There he is,” she said, with a coy smile turned toward where the drivers and hands stood, watching them.

Lily took only a peek, but Daedess was already in motion, sauntering slowly over in their direction with a hand on her hip. Lily took issue with the way she was so bold and vulgar. Caravan girls were raised very chaste, and taught just enough about flirting to keep a man’s interest without throwing themselves at them. How did she ever expect to find a husband if she flirted so shamelessly? She could see Daedess looking her way and she gave a sigh, rolling her eyes at her, but eventually she wanders over to pull Daedess aside.

“What are you doing? You’re going to give them…”

“Give them what? The wrong idea? Lighten up, Lil. It’s just a bit of fun. Besides, that one likes you.”,

Daedess pointed off in the direction of the same she had come from. The men had started to disperse, except for the familiar pair of blue eyes that met Lily’s when she looked in that direction. She immediately looked away, chancing a glance back with a soft smirk as she finally disappeared inside the tent, with Daedess tugging at her hand.

~~~

The show went as it usually did, and the girls stood outside, after getting out of their costumes, packing things up into trunks. They were nearly finished when Lily felt a tap at her shoulder and turned around to see the same young man she had seen before standing over her.

“What-…oh.”, she felt a bit of warmth in her cheeks as she turned to look at him, with his charming smile.

“Th’ name’s Rihnn.”, he offered, extending his hand lightly. She took it, but her hand offered little in the handshake.

“Rihnn.”, she repeated, dumbly. A moment of silence followed before she cleared her throat and remembered her manners.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Li-” , she smiled and bowed her head slightly.

“Lily.”, the same charming smile widened, “I was thinkin’ I might go for a walk, and wanted t’know if you’d like t’come along.”

He had found out her name! Her heart skipped a beat when he said it.

“Oh…I…I’m not…”, she felt a sharp nudge at her ribs where Daedess discreetly poked her side, causing her to jump. “I mean, I can’t be gone long.”

“Good. Follow me, then.” , he gestured toward the expanse of pasture just beyond the tents, and a small hill which overlooked it all.

Lily nodded and found herself reluctantly following him, but she didn’t know that they were being watched. Her mother stood outside their little caravan, shaking her head as she watched the couple move off on their own. She would wait until Lily returned to lecture her about it.

Fear and Loathing in Bree-town

“How could it have gotten that bad?”

The young man thought to himself. He had brought his fishing tack and pole to the lake side, but instead of fishing with it, he sat in a pile of dry autumn leaves and soaked up the last the sun would offer until spring.  At length, he went through the motions of baiting the line and casting it out, the actions so familiar that he could do them unconsciously as he silently shamed himself.

He could scarcely believe he had allowed himself to stoop so low, as to given over his hard-won coin just for a few hours of a good time. It had been years since he had experienced it, and he felt ashamed for letting his male parts act on his behalf. He didn’t intend for it to go the way it did, but he had had too much cider, and the thoughts were swimming in his head, and the dusky-skinned fellow had been fairly aggressive in his seductions so that he could no longer ignore the heat in his belly. It was what he wanted, or so he thought, and it had felt good to fall asleep, exhausted, next to someone warm again, but when he woke up in a strange bed, the guilt that washed over him nearly kept him from raising his head.

He sat and loathed himself for some time, with one half of him excusing it, and the other half admonishing him for it. What was he to do instead? When his insides ached for release, there was no one to offer it.  Sure, girls would look his way, but he usually put his head down and moved the other direction. Men looked his way too, and sometimes he would look back, offering something of a smile, but most of the time, the looks did not stay long and they would move on, leaving him feel ridiculous.

He knew exactly what had caused the latest preoccupation, and it stemmed from the little fishing venture taken recently with his friend. He felt no lust after the young man, but his close proximity when they had swam in the river had stirred something in him that he had been trying to ignore for years.

And he didn’t want to think that way about his friend, he reasoned to himself.

He had told himself before that it was all just a phase, an ugly phase of his life that he was  sure to overcome in time. He was a confused individual. When folks asked him if he had a girl, he’d shrug and give a rather sheepish smile in response, safe in not confirming or denying her existence. He was getting older now, though, and soon it wouldn’t be enough for him to shrug and dodge the questions.

But what if this was not just a phase? What if he would be this backwards way for the rest of his life? He worried about resorting again to brothels and male companions just to keep his sanity. Maybe he could marry a girl, one of those skinny little things who couldn’t fill out a dress and preferred cross-country hikes instead of cross-stitch. And he would father a child and there would be no questions to dodge, or worries.

With a heavy sigh, he shook his head of those thoughts, his fishing pole having dipped low so that the tip almost touched the water. He yanked in the line impatiently and gathered his things. As he made his way back to the little cabin by the lake on the outskirts of Ladworth, he swore to himself again that it wouldn’t happen. He would be strong. He would try his hardest not let himself continue to be the thing his father had spat at him with such vitriol.

Queer.

 

Girl Next Door: Expectant

She tried to count on her fingers, but kept getting it wrong. The company had returned in late winter, and Gavynn had come to her, mad with grief over his father’s death. She had never seen him in such a state and only wanted whatever would ease his pain, even if it meant giving her body to him for whatever comfort he would find there.

She was certain that was when it happened. She could think of no other time that she was so absolutely sure. Something was different, but she didn’t know what or how. Her mother used to speak of woman’s intuition, and Finleigh was only just starting to understand what that meant.

Jack was becoming more independent by the day, having finally outgrown his colic by the time he was eight months old. She was just starting to get more sleep as he slept longer, and was feeling more like her old self again. She had just started enjoying motherhood after a difficult pregnancy and all of the perils of learning how to care for a baby. Gavynn was now home again after having been gone for months. They felt like a proper family.

She ignored her missed cycles for as long as she could. It slipped her mind, she’d say, when pressed. She blamed her eternal nausea on something she ate. The quickening, however, could not be ignored. Like tiny butterflies fluttering in her belly, it was unmistakable, as was the slight swell of her stomach. The midwife congratulated her and gave her a tea for the nausea.

She was more than just a little scared. How would she be doing it all again so soon? The thought made her want to cry. Finleigh didn’t know what she would say to Gavynn, but she had to tell him soon, before she could no longer hide behind over-sized robes.

Glimpses

It seemed to Reily that he had just fallen asleep, but as soon as he opened his eyes, he knew otherwise. The fire had died down some time ago, so that only the glow of the orange coals could be seen in the dim light. The stars were quite brilliant under the sky with no moon. On the opposite side of it, he could just barely make out Rush sleeping in his bedroll.

Reily sat up and sighed, watching him sleep for a few minutes. He was not used to having friends, and it seemed that he and Rush had developed something of a friendship in what seemed like overnight. It worried Reily. How long until Rush saw who he really was? Or worse, what if he noticed what had happened earlier?

Quietly, Reilly willed himself out of the cozy sack he had been sleeping in and stumbled in the dark toward a basket that was sitting at the shore of the river, near full of fish. After retrieving his pack, he began to set up the box for smoking them, lighting a little fire underneath, but kindling it with green grass so that it would produce plenty of sweet smoke. He methodically gutted and cleaned the fish to prepare them as he thought back.

It had been roughhousing, one of the physical things boys did to express their friendship, and it had been fine until Rush held him in the headlock. Too long had it been since he’d felt someone so close, and his body betrayed him, despite the playfulness of the game. He only hoped that it had gone unnoticed; he’d certainly gone to pains to try to prevent it. His legs were still chafed from where they rubbed up against the rock as he tried to hide his excitement from his friend.

The sky was just starting to lighten once all of the fish was set in the smoker.  Reily went to the river to rinse his hands and then returned to the camp. Rush was still sleeping, luckily, so Reily stoked up the fire and gathered his fishing pole to try to catch some fish for their breakfast.


They had come in the night and set it aflame. Awakened from a sound sleep, he could hear her crying out to him, but he was blind. The smoke was thick and filled his nostrils, making him wheeze, and his eyes sting. Heat blistered his skin, forcing him to flee from the house into the night. He thought for sure that she had found her way out.

Her screams echoed in his ears still and he awoke from the nightmare, drenched in his own sweat. There, alone in the tiny bed, he struggled to breath and it would take several minutes of control until he was himself again; the stoic, brick exterior he displayed. He got up from the bed and moved to the basin to splash cold water onto his face as he looked out the window. The glass was imperfect and made the lawn look warbled and distorted the shapes that lay on it. He could see the lights that lined the streets of the tiny village of Durrow.

Though the distress of the nightmares that followed him hung on him like a cloak, he was glad to be there, away from Bree and the dirty, noisiness that it held. There were people here, certainly, but they were calm, and cordial for the most part. Ironic that he would have met the innkeeper there who would lead him to this place with a kind word and a pretty smile. He was sure she flattered most everyone else the same, but it was enough to draw him in and distract him from his thoughts for a time.

The sun was not yet in the sky, and it would be obscene to be up at that hour, so he forced himself back into the small bed to lay until sleep found him once more.


Pheadra stood at the edge of the yard, looking up at Ravenhold towering above on the hill. The place did not seem like home yet, but it was at least comfortable and would seem welcoming if she could find any of the Wayfarers who would once more become her comrades. She was certain they had lives and families to return to, and likely did not visit the hall very often. There would be time for meeting.

Her journeys into town had become more frequent, and it no longer felt as awkward to approach people and speak with them, though she had little in common with most of them, with a couple of exceptions. Darramir intrigued her, but his resemblance to Islude, both physically and in his manner of speaking, was a little alarming at first. Perhaps it would be true of all men of Gondor whom she met.

Still, as content as she was settling into her new routine, she was beginning to get the urge to explore. What Raigar had said about the ruins in the South had been worrisome, but she hesitated to go anywhere with him alone. Perhaps she could recruit some of her new comrades to go with her.

Once she got to meet them.

Character Photos

I thought it might be fun to give you a glimpse of how I see my characters in my head and the sounds of their voices. I find it far easier to write for a character if I can imagine them talking and “hear” how they would phrase things in their own voice.

Camrin is based on Jodi Lyn O’Keefe.

Camrin

Lily Camrin

Her voice and accent sounding something like Claudia Black as Aeryn Sun in Farscape.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLApSha_EWM

Finleigh is based on Rebecca Hall.

Finleigh Anne Sagewood

Her voice is like Michelle Ryan as Zoe Slater from Eastenders. (without all of the drama in the video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgUf9hlTnnU

Rhet is based on an Indian actor named Hrithik Roshan.

Rhetyn

Rhetyn

His voice is similar to Laurence Fishburne…if Laurence Fishburne had a bit of an Irish sounding accent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE7PKRjrid4

Brendha is based on this model/actress whose name I couldn’t find, but Luca Hollestelle is also a close match.

Brendha

Brendha

Her voice is similar to Rose Leslie as Ygritte from Game of Thrones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldWKjZym0to

Aranthia, or Thia, is based on Holland Roden. I have not placed her voice, but I imagine her being simply spoken and kind.

Aranthia Clearwater

Pheadra is hard to place as there are not many people I feel “fit” her. She is a tall woman with a large frame, but she is not what we would consider “plus-sized”. The best I could come up with is Jemima West’s face, but a little older, on Gabrielle Reece’s body, except pale and minus about four inches. That may change if I can find someone who fits her better.

Pheadra

Pheadra

For a while I thought her voice might sound very soft and subdued, but now I am considering that her voice might be different. I have no examples of it, but will put one here when I find one.