Friday, June 25, 2010

Fire Dance - from WHAT FUTURE, SLAVE - unpublished

Arawyn woke with Surshan's hand on her shoulder. "This is it. His Fire Dance is beginning."

She looked at the shirtless man standing with his back to her, methodically dropping his armload of driftwood sticks, one at a time, onto the almost cold coals of their campfire. "What do I do?"

"You must keep him from the fire."

"But . . . ."

The last of Salazar's sticks was on the fire and Surshan had moved on to the others who were sleeping around the fire. By the time the fire was burning hot again, the others had moved away, out of the light of the fire.

Jandar was the only one who was reluctant to leave the fire. No one had explained anything about this to him and he still didn't trust Salazar very much. He had seen the expression on Salazar's face and the way all the others had left the fire could only be seen as a move away from danger.

Rather than helping him, Alanmarel only tried to keep him quiet and was finally forced to silence him. Alanmarel's command did not carry the power that Arawyn's would, so all he accomplished was to make Jandar lethargic rather that asleep, but it served to quiet him.

Salazar was pacing around the fire now, much like a great cat might pace the bars of a cage. Arawyn watched in fascination. She had noticed the dancers around the fire but they were much more animated than this.

It wasn't long before it evolved and Arawyn watched in horror as Salazar seemed to be dancing with the flames. She tried to impose herself between him and the fire, but that proved to be more difficult then she thought as he danced away from her, doing his best to keep the fire between himself and her.

As his dance evolved, he paid less attention to her and she caught him. Standing with her back the fire, she rested a hand on his chest to interfere with his advance towards the flames again.

He gasped at the touch and looked away from the flames for the first time and down at her hand. He tried to spin away, but she kept her physical contact with him. The caress around his torso almost brought him to his knees, but that didn't stop him from trying to continue to escape. He slid first to one side and then to the other only to encounter first one of her hands and then the other that caressed his ribs with cool ecstasy.

His hands came to her shoulders and her shirt dropped away to land on the ground behind her with one sleeve in the fire while her hands traced the hard muscles of his shoulders and chest.

He made another attempt to get to the flames but his move only put his sensitive body more withing the circle of her arms and her hands caressed his back, causing him to arch and writhe.

Arawyn spun this time and they were steps away from the fire. Salazar's efforts to get to the flames turned into another type of dance, a dance focused entirely on her, a dance that lit fires in her the like of which she had never believed could be.

In a moment of calm, Salazar fingered Arawyn's silk shift in abstract fascination, and then it too fell to the ground. Soon after, they were rolling in the sand, their clothes left behind, forgotten in their lovemaking.

Many, many sensual moments later, Arawyn opened her eyes and gazed across the contours of his muscular chest that was liberally dusted with white grains of sand. She slid her hand over the dusting and Salazar's chest rose abruptly with his gasp, and then he began to love her again. This time was gentle and languid by comparison. But now she could think at least a little and she brought into play all the things she had been taught about pleasuring a man.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Protect the Weak - from THE GUARDIAN - unpublished

Over the next several months, the term ‘mobile infantry’ earned a whole new definition. No longer was there anything that might be called a ‘base’. All of their operations were centered on the big transports. Camps on the ground were few and brief at best; no one slept out in the open any more. Chow might be heated over a campfire occasionally, but more often than not, it was cold. Even the fuel and ammunition was stored in transports and when they began to run low, more would be parachuted down to them from orbital carriers. Sentries always stood watch both in the cockpit, over the sensors as well as on top of the transports with binoculars, long-range motion detectors and radar.

Even with the hard work of the guardians, keeping structures standing was proving to be all but impossible, so they kept moving. Those guardians who had been embroiled longest in the war had become quite powerful, but the enemy spell casters were powerful too. The only way to keep fighting was to keep moving. Casualties were minimized this way, but it was hard on everyone.

Reed looked up from his latest disc-letter from Jennifer where she was tickling his son, trying to wring giggles out of him so daddy could hear him laugh. It was such an infectious giggle; it made him smile every time he heard it. He watched the letters over and over. It helped him to remember just what he was fighting to protect. He wished so much he could be there instead of here.

Other men in the transport were doing much the same thing. Some were watching their own letters, some were reading a book or magazine, a couple was playing chess and at least half of them were sleeping. Everyone looked haggard and tired; it didn’t help that none of them had taken a bath or washed their clothes in weeks; they were doing good to scrape the hair off their faces and keep the rest out of their eyes. There was an exception though. Somehow, Stenner managed to remain relatively clean and groomed.

Reed rested his head back against the cushion and just listened to the voices of his little family. They were due to pick up more supplies tomorrow. With luck, there would be a new letter in there from Jennifer. He missed her.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Mountain's Memories - from LORD OF THE LAND - unpublished

He marched down the side of the mountain with more than a thousand men behind him. He was pleased that there was no opposition; pleased that this was looking far easier then he had planned for. He came upon an encampment near the base of the mountains on the edge of a stream. The women and old men met him on the edge of the camp and offered their meager hospitality, sitting down to hear what he had to say. Their men were away hunting.

He explained to them that he claimed all the lands on this side of the mountains, and as citizens under his crown, they were to pay him taxes every year. He explained that the taxes would pay for roads over the mountains and the building of towns to support farmers who would come and tame the land. He laid out the amount of gold and gems they were to give him now, but he began to realize that they weren’t being impressed the way they should be.

They patiently listened to everything he said, but it was obvious that they did not understand the glories he was willing to bring to them. They were not forthcoming with any gold or gems and they were not impressed with his vision of civilization.

Angered, he demanded his taxes from these obstinate people, but in response, they just rose from where they had sat to listen to his wisdom and proceeded to pack up their meager belongings and leave his presence. How dare they leave without permission? How dare they not pay their taxes? How dare they keep his riches hidden from him?

In a rage, he rose up and struck down the first of these heathens he reached. It was a young woman holding a little girl, perhaps two years old who, in turn was holding a handmade doll in her arms. Less than twenty minutes later, every woman, old man and child was dead. He ransacked their belongings and threw it in the fires creating a great smoking monument to their idiocy. His search uncovered three rough gems and a child’s hand full of gold nuggets.

Returning from their hunt, the hunters topped the rise as he was looking with disbelief at the abysmal example of the treasure that had to be here somewhere. Maybe the men had the wealth. Maybe they didn’t trust their women with the gold and gems; women could never be trusted with wealth unless it was to flatter their beauty.

Stunned at the carnage before them, the hunters looked in disbelief at the destruction laid out before them. Their families had been decimated for no reason they could see. They had certainly been no threat against the masses that swarmed over the small camp, but the men were here now. Things would be different now.

Anger cursed their souls and their cursed souls echoed across the mountains and reverberated through the plains. When the hunters charged screaming their challenge to the wind, the soldiers laughed at their puny attack; after all, what were twenty men against a thousand. They would die quicker than their women had.

The soldiers quickly learned that knives and arrows were not their only attack; long before the hunters got close to their ranks, the horses turned on whoever was closest. Hooves flew and teeth flashed. The men had little choice; they had to defend themselves by killing many of their own horses. By the time most of the horses were dead, many men were dead too; the horses had been well trained.

Next came the birds, hawks that had hunted with the hunters swooped after eyes and throats and soon other birds reached the battlefield and became mixed with the arrows that flew with deadly accuracy.

The soldiers couldn’t tell where to strike next. Though most of them were armored, their small assailants got past their swords and shields and found vulnerable flesh. The hunters were still well beyond their reach when the first of the men started to run away from this unnatural battle, others soon followed and before long, there was a rout.

He could not rally the men to fight back, in truth he saw that they could not have fought back if they had rallied; they could only run in hopes of getting away from these crazed creatures. They had to be mad, driven to madness by these witches, but where was all the gold?

The next attack to come came on four feet; wolves, coyotes and foxes materialized out of the tall grass and trees around them and tore at any who fell behind or turned to fight. Hawks circled and dived after any advantage and soon they were joined by eagles, ravens and a multitude of other winged hunters both large and small. Higher in the mountains, the solitary bears and mountain lions gathered to add their threat and terror to this hunt.

In their wake came the hunters. Any bodies they passed that still breathed were relieved of their breath with a cold swipe of their knives and they ran on.

Their night camps were circled by howling wolves and crying coyotes, and they got little rest because of it, though they were spared the flight of the multitude of feathered fiends. Those who retained packs were forced to share whatever supplies were left with their fellows. When that ran out, the packs were discarded.

The running slaughter changed to a frightening and deadly chase after that first night, and through it all, he was spared. He was the leader. He was the center of the storm; it was he who needed to learn from this destruction.

On the southern side of the mountain wall, he tried again to rally his people. His numbers were less than two hundred ragged and haunted men, yet still he called on the villagers and farmers they passed to fight, fight for their land, fight for their lives, fight for their sanity against the madness brought down on them by the witches from the north. Some did, but most could only hide in their cellars hoping the madness would pass them by.

Their stand was little more than a hitch in their rout and men continued to be brutally harried and killed if they fell, all the way to the palace gates. Only there did the attack cease. Most of the birds rose up, circled and slowly disbursed. The foxes, coyotes and most of the wolves melted away. The hunters pounded on the palace gates and demanded entrance.

He had no more fight left in him. He could only surrender and hope they left him his life. He ordered the gates thrown open and the hunters marched into his palace as if they owned it.

“Have you learned your lesson?” asked the tall dark man who stood in front.

“What lesson?” he asked. It behooved him to understand exactly what was expected of him.

“The other side of the mountain wall does not belong to you. You and your people are forbidden to cross - ever. Because of what you have done, the mountains are now cursed, forever. You did this; you brought this down on us all.”

A beautiful young girl walked into the room just then, her yellow hair curled around her silver tiara and then cascaded far down her back glittering with diamonds, her pearl encrusted dress brushed the floor. “Father, you’re back. Who are these people?” Her voice was the gentle chime of silver bells, at odds with the anger and fear that was still so close.

The leader stepped forward with breath-taking speed and entangled his hand in the girl’s golden hair. “I will take this with me. It will ensure you never forget.”

They were gone with his greatest treasure before he could fathom what had just happened. He had lusted after gold and gems, and instead of gaining wealth beyond his wildest dreams, he had lost his only daughter.

Outside, they mounted on willing mounts that had no saddle or bridle, and the girl was thrust into the lap of the man who had claimed her.

The memory of their journey back across the mountain wall became disjointed and then sporadic and eventually halted all together, but not before they rode back into the camp where it had all begun and looked into the mountain stream that ran red with the blood that washed off the side of the mountain in the cold rain.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May Contest Winner from Ambitious Writers at Goodreads

Olivia, our most awesome Mushroom, won May's writing contest with this entry:

Genre: Romance-Heartbreak. :'(
Rating: K+?
Word Count: 561
Summary: A girl writes a letter to the boy she loves on Valentine's Day, explaining her feelings.

February 14

Dear Alex,

You probably will never read this. In fact, you won’t. After I write this, I will shred it, or eat it, or watch it burn in a fireplace, depending on how dramatic I feel like being. Do you know why I’m writing this letter? It’s because I’m too shy to tell you my feelings to your face. Because I think I’m in love with you.

I know you’ll never like me back. For one thing, you’re like one of those stereotypical popular high school kids. Always laughing, the center of a crowd of beautiful people. You’re in all the AP and Honors classes, and you still get straight A’s. Me? Well, I’m in the average classes and I still barely scrape by with C’s and a few B’s. You’re like a beautiful palace, and I’m a rundown shack. (And the worst simile creator award goes to…) What I’m trying to say is, you’re so…so Alex, and I’m so Marissa. And what can be more different than you and I?

For another thing, I know that you’ve dreamed to be a doctor; that you’re planning to be a doctor when you go to college. What kind of an insensitive person would I be to try to distract you from your dream?

Have you ever felt your heart break, Alex? Have you ever felt your heart shatter into teeny tiny little pieces, and still love someone with all of those little pieces? Have you ever loved someone that wouldn’t – couldn’t – ever love you back? I have. I know that you’re smart enough to guess who I’m talking about.

I did everything I could for you to realize how much I love you. Every day I walked by your locker, said hi to you. And I always blushed when you said hi back. I wrote little notes and stuffed them in your locker when you weren’t looking. I always cheered you on at every football game, even if we were losing. Do you know how today, everyone was supposed to give everybody in our grade a valentine? When I was handing them out, I gave you a special one. You may not have noticed, or even cared if you knew, and I understand that. Do you want to know what I did?

I sealed it with a kiss.

I didn’t have lipstick on or anything weird or dramatic like that. I just kissed it. It may have been invisible to everyone else, but to me it was as public as a shout in complete and utter silence. I was hoping that you might somehow, against all odds, realize what I did.

But at the end of the day, I realized what a burden I might be to you. Who, after all, would want me, of all people, when they could choose from any girl in all four grades of our high school? So I promise I’ll stop with these hopes and dreams, because when they’re crushed, when all my hope is extinguished, it’ll hurt more if I draw them out. If I feed that tiny little flame of hope, I know it will contribute more to my sorrow. I promise I’ll stop with these hopeless fantasies. And when I’m finished with this letter, I promise that I’ll do my best to move on.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Alex.