Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Right way to Write

So is there a right way to write? A right tense? A right POV? A right 'person'? Who am I to say? I'm merely a writer, and there's probably as many 'right' ways to write as there are writers to do the writing.

(say that one fast - haha)

One thing I do know is, I am a very logical person, and I find it very frustrating when I try to read a book and I can find no logical progression of events. If I can't figure out who I'm supposed to 'attach' to is another frustration. One book I took a stab at shifted back and forth in time, while not a bad think in itself, it certainly can be if you have no way of connecting the scenes. Something as simple as a similar name is all that is necessary for a connection or the same location either earlier or later, linked by the name of a road, forest or hill.

Now there is a writer's folly I can look past. That is tense. I'm not so good at that myself, but I do know that you can't have the first part of a sentence in the past and the rest of it in the present. That's just a goof though and has nothing to do with a writing style.

One book I tried to read started out with a very well written scene, but then came chapter two and a whole new range of characters, a different location, and absolutely no mention of the events that occurred in the first chapter. Two more chapters of illogical character behavior and relatively dull daily life, and still nothing related to the first chapter, the exciting chapter. That was enough for me. I can take mood swings, but utterly illogical behavior is annoying. I don't care how outlandish your character is, there still needs to be reason, no matter how twisted the logic.

Another book read like a news paper, but not all of it. Pieces and parts here and there were well written scenes with dialog and purpose. About the time I got to know those people that piece was finished. One part was fine if you're interested in the doings of three or four generations of a family and how they evolved into the rich landholders they were. It was a chronology of who did what for whom and when they moved where and built what. Interesting, if you're interested in that sort of thing - totally pointless in a fictional writing that has nothing to do with these ancestors, nor do the ancestors have anything to do with the current events of the story. And then we get to another chapter different people doing things that might relate to the story, maybe, if you can figure out how.

Just so you know - I approached both of these authors with my concerns, and I will not mention their names or their books here or anywhere else. They are very happy with their books, and apparently they have a few fans. More power to them.

But back to my original question - is there a right way to write? I happen to believe there is.

There needs to be a minimum of one character the reader can follow. I've read books where there were several and they each ultimately ended up going in very different directions. As long as you remain familiar, even 'attached' to them, the number doesn't matter much. This character or characters can do most anything, to include going back and forth in time, whatever your story dictates. They can be anything you want, do anything you like, be evil or good or whatever, as long as we can understand.

Having multiple characters usually dictates different POVs, but not always. Third person removes the reader from closeness but opens up vistas.

Even tense can be flexible to a degree. A person can remember past events or even research or investigate things that happened in the past. Such things might be discussed, and they would be refereed to in the past. Ach, I'm not good at this, like I said before, so I hope you get where I'm trying to go.

All in all, confusion is a big no no. However you tell your story, there needs to be an easily found thread of logic, cleverly hidden however you like, but findable just the same.

Your characters need to be as human as they are (if they are human that is). In the case of paranormal characters, other traits might be fun to mix in. Like the werwolf might have some traits normally seen in only a wolf. A werbear might be rather ... well ... bearish. Vampires - well we've seen quite an evolution in the vampire character, and they all have their fans as well as their flamers. Make of them what you will, but I would caution against making them too 'human'. Characters who originated on another world, while very human-like, need to have other priorities, other habits, other customs.

Me, I like playing with traits and natural laws. One thing I experimented with was the laws of magic. Just like the laws of something as mundane as gravity, which is an accepted constant in most all of our writing (unless we take it away). Your world needs to have 'laws'. Like the rules of physics, things work in an acceptable, logical way, and magic needs to be the same. Create the 'laws' of your world and then stick to them. Sometimes these very laws will throw curve-balls into what your character can and cannot do, or how he goes about his normal life, let alone accomplish the deeds you've set for him.

So what do you think? Is there a right way to write, or is it all just style?

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I was asked to critique a story the other day. By the time I'd covered like half a dozen pages, I'd come to the conclusion that this author might need a little help. I know full well that the way I write, and the way I tell a story is only one of probably as many ways as there are writers, but I also know that readers have been inundated with less than good books. Not that there's anything wrong with the story, but that the writer rushed to publish before learning as much as they could about the craft.

I did not study writing in any of my schooling. My attitude toward schooling was to endure a necessary evil, and when I got to college, it was a means to an end, but the end was taken away so it became a search for some way to make a living. So much for college - I joined the army. What I've learned about writing, I've gleaned only since being online. I avidly followed several bloggers who I considered knowledgeable. I learned my particular weaknesses and found the answers on how best to correct them.

Because I found it so easy (relatively) to educate myself, I would like to pass on what I learned. I mean, even educated writers might have many of my same weaknesses, and it's really hard to see your own mistakes, and I'm not talking about typos, though they can be sneaky enough.

What does all this have to do with heavy-handedness? Many readers form an opinion of a book (and by association, the writer) within the first few pages, if not the first few lines. If you tell the reader all the tricks of the story in the very first paragraph, what's the point of writing the rest of the story?

Many stories start out with a bang. The big scene that sets the stage for the whole story, and then they go to some point in the past and take the reader to that point throughout the rest of the book. Though not really my thing, I've read some fine big-bang starts and have enjoyed the rest of the book, but in truth, I've taken a look at many more that were what I consider heavy-handed. In the first paragraph you know the crime, the perpetrator, and the reason. So-n-so didn't want to do such-n-such, but he just had to because of thus-n-so.

This particular writer that prompted this post then proceeded in a logical step to the police who would be investigating this crime, and informed us that they were incompetent. Okay so they were the only police force in the area, and maybe they were complete dufuses, there's nothing wrong with that concept, but the last thing you want to do is tell your reader that fact up front. After that, I wasn't willing to go any further, and since it was a 'test critique' issue, I said there mostly what I've said here.

This all took place in a Facebook group I'd been invited to. They were struggling to gather reviewers to post reviews on books, and I think they were planning to start a web page to assemble them. The reviewers weren't to know who the writer was so there could be no bias. In a way I can understand the caution, but I think the precaution was a little much.

There's another issue I read on another blog I follow bringing up the idea of how it might not be such a good idea for a writer to write reviews on books. The meaning, and I can see it, was that another writer knows or can guess at all the behind-the-scenes issues that go into a story. The end result could very well be the writer being the heavy-handed one.

Am I being too heavy-handed in my different reviews? I have always said that my reviews would be from a writer's perspective, and I especially point out issues that just hit off wrong with me, be it some sort of structure, formatting, or even blatant 'telling' rather than 'showing'. These are all issues I went to great lengths to figure out.

I have also believed in treating the entire manuscript as a whole document, I mean why polish only the first three chapters to impress an agent or publisher and then leave the rest of the document to the mercy of their editor? Such a strategy only leaves your book sounding as if it was written by two different writers. (Yes, I've read some books like that too, surprisingly enough) Besides, if you can polish the first three chapters, you can polish the whole thing.

Yeah, I know the feeling of impatience, but at my age I don't have the time nor inclination to collect rejection letters. I just want to do my level best, and believe me, I am my own worst critic when it comes to such things as appearance, structure, ease of read, and logic, and it is this that I apply to the books I read.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

To Write

So what do you need to write? A pencil and paper? A computer with some sort of writing program? Sure, but those are just the tools. Sadly, one of the things you need is solitude, room to think, time enough to take a stroll into a different world or a different life.

While tending my garden, I used to pretend I was the palace slave who, for some infraction, was relegated to the job as a punishment, only I liked the work, so it wasn't really all that much punishment after all, but don't tell them that. My favorite scenario was that I discovered a wounded soldier trying to hide in the bushes, only he'd passed out before he realized how close to the garden he was. Of course he was very handsome and so very vulnerable, and I didn't like my masters very much so of course I would do what I could to protect and help him. Produce from the garden would keep him from starving, and there were herbs to tend his wounds, though he needed more than that, and once in a while I managed to smuggle something from the table. Then of course, the inevitable would happen and he would be gone and I didn't even know who he was. This idea eventually evolved into parts of What Future, Slave, but there's little resemblance to it in there really. Maybe one day it will be the core of it's own story.

Years ago, while waiting for sleep to come (and likely succeeding in putting it off), I would pretend I was some soldier left for dead on the battlefield to be discovered by some old hermit who used a lamed warhorse to drag me to his little cave in the side of the cliffs. He had of course been searching the battlefield for valuables, but he had a soft spot for survivors.

Little did I know how valuable these pretend sessions would become. Not only did they take me away from the mundane nature of normal life, but they became a tool I used frequently to get me though some scene or other. Many such scenes were totally played out in my head, and some were physically rehearsed to a certain degree.

I've heard it said from time to time that writing is a solitary task, and it very much is. Today, not having an idea for this post in mind yet, I had to wait for my family, and my nine-year-old, chatterbox grandson to go fishing before I could come up with an idea for this post. I love my family to death, but writing just isn't possible with the house all in a hubbub. I find it nearly impossible to write with just the TV on since the darn thing is sitting right in front of me, just across the table away. There's no room in my house for an office and my husband would complain if I made use of one anyway. So, being pretty much the only person in the family who is a morning person, I get up early to write or edit for the battery life of my computer. By then my husband is up and doing his thing for the life of his battery, and I can go do other things until the generator is started. But, it's summer now, and what with family visiting, even that simple routine has been disrupted.

Like right now, my husband would still be sleeping for another hour or so. Instead everyone got up early to go fishing. Next week, my son and grandson will be gone for a week and then the entire family will come back out here for another week. That counts up to both my sons, both their wives, and my grandson here in this little house. This will be a first for them all being out here. Last time we were all together was when my husband and I went to Fairbanks to spend a winter with my youngest son and his family so that I would have internet access to facilitate publishing my first book. My oldest son came back from Korea for the Christmas holiday, but he wasn't married yet.

It will be so much fun having them all here. Gold panning, sorting out the stuff they've had stored here for the last ten years or more, and trying to dig the worm I've managed to acquire out of my computer, is on the agenda for their visit, not to mention fishing. Why didn't I go fishing with them today, you might ask? Thanks to the partial sorting of upstairs stuffs, a lot of old dust was stirred up. That coupled with the dusty silt that is everywhere along the river and so easily carried on the slightest wind, and the fact that the trees have decided to try to make up for the lateness of spring by taking a super dump of pollen, I have spent the last three days wheezing and out of breath. If it doesn't clear up soon, my husband will cart me off to the doctor for a prescription. I tried to buy an over-the-counter inhaler last winter when I was in town, but they don't sell such things over the counter anymore. Yeah, the prescription stuff worked better and even tasted better, but Primatene worked well enough for me and it's a whole lot cheaper than a doctor's visit. I'm healthy; I don't even have any of the growing old issues yet, other than getting just a mite slower than when I was a teen. I guess not having a paying job this summer was sort of a good thing, if you don't look at the financial end of it. Not only was I like three weeks late getting mobile, now I'd have missed three more days of work.

Ah well, such are the breaks of living in the wilderness. Now we're praying for rain to wash out the air and to fill my water buckets again (that's how I know about the super pollen dump - my water buckets and thick with it) and to break this super hot dry stretch we've been having. If my son, who has spent the last few years living in Arizona is driven out of the sun, you know it's hot.

Enough about me. I'm home alone and I promised to be good and not stir up any more dust so I'm off here to go do some editing after I start the generator. Love ya. See you around the www somewhere. Take care.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Druid Derrick Cover

Here's my latest cover. It is an original by Candace L. Bowser at Dark Water Arts on Facebook. 

I know a couple digital artists and their work is really awesome. I however have very little understanding of how it is done. I'm fairly certain it bears little resemblance to Paint, and I know the kinds of hours I put into creating pictures with that. hahaha And believe me, what I turned out was nothing like this. I've also taken a stab at actual painting, you know with acrylics and a brush. I can only see this accomplished with an airbrush; something I didn't have the patience for, though it was fun to play with. So, my hat is off to anyone who can accomplish this with a computer, no matter how 'packaged' each part is.

To finish this picture, I figure I'll add a little more black at the bottom to make room for my byline, and maybe around the edges just a bit, so the blue isn't touching the edge. Can you guess which book this will go to? Eh, so it isn't exactly like the guy in my book, but it's still great. Who knows, maybe by the time it goes live, some things can be adjusted. I'll worry about that some other time. This is what it is for now and I'm completely thrilled.

I've blogged about Druid Derrick a few times. Here is where I talk about how it came to be. But more importantly to this post, here is where I started to worry about publishing it. 

Since the book was going to be very long, it was important that it be broken up. I ended up settling on level advancement as a break point, and with that in mind, I'm going to have to make some adjustments, but that's okay. I even found proper enough druid symbols to use for each section. Speaking of which, I think I'll go back to Candace and see what she can do for me. Do check out the post; I'm still looking for feedback. I figure the backgrounds of each section will be a solid color. One suggestion was to alter the color slightly between sections - still gotta think about that - I mean, what color? Shaded darker? Shaded lighter? Go through the colors of the rainbow? (now that's an idea) 

This one, however will be used for the book as a whole - I seriously hope I can publish it that way. Anyway, whatcha think? Can you just see Druid Derrick in some cool font across the top there? I'll have to see about that blue color, but I'm thinking white, or maybe a lighter blue. We'll see when I get to playing with it, what I end up with.

Ain't publishing grand? You get to play with some awesome pictures, and you get to meet some really great artists, whether they are digital artists like this or photo artists, like are more common.

In case you're interested, here is when Derrick took his first steps onto the path of being a druid:

Chapter 2 Sundered Soul

Derrick had looked into most all things druid, and according to druid rituals, Imbolic, which was a February first ritual, was where those who followed the faith contemplated a new beginning. The new beginning Derrick looked forward to was the new dungeon Leopold had been working on for weeks. He could hardly wait; dawn seemed so far away just now as he could only sit at the table doing his homework. His other books were scattered across the table along with a glass half-full of water, his notebooks and his pencil pouch.

He kept glancing over at the men sitting in front of the TV, waiting for them to fall asleep. The day had been a long and stressful one; three different teachers had picked on him for answers – answers he had, but still, he wished they wouldn’t do that. And now, since his uncle was here for the ‘big game’, the two of them were lasting longer than usual. He looked back at his book; he had three more problems to do and he’d be finished. He could see the clock on the kitchen wall from where he sat; it was almost midnight. He sighed; tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.

He glanced over at his father and uncle again; his father was looking blankly at the TV. That was a sure sign he would be passing out soon, and his uncle was already lounging far back in the couch.

He started to work on his paper again; hopefully they would be out by the time he finished. Suddenly, he felt a heavy hand in his hair. He thrust himself to his feet and tried to turn in an effort to see who it was, but the hand only bent him over the table, driving his head into its surface so hard he saw stars, though the effort to turn probably saved his nose from being broken. Books and notebooks went flying and the glass of water smashed on the floor.

Derrick tried to cry out for help, but with every sound he uttered, his head was bounced on the table again, making him see more stars.

The unidentified someone was leaning over him whispering, hissing in his ear, “Worthless mistake. No good little… Useless… Worse than useless… Good for nothing little…”

Derrick had no idea what was going on, not until his sweat pants were roughly pulled down.

The rape was brutal, and any cries of protest or pain he uttered were met with a harsh hissing laugh and another bash of his head on the table.

Then a strange voice spoke a single word, “Jhaeli” and Derrick was suddenly left in a quivering heap on the floor beside his overturned chair. Only when his uncle scooped up his coat and wove his way from the house did Derrick realize who his attacker had been. He was more than stunned; he was shocked. Never would he have considered his uncle doing such a thing. Never in all his life would he have considered such a thing happening to him. Never…

He looked up at the tall, dark-haired man that now stood in the center of the room. Past him, Derrick’s father was sprawled unmoving in his chair in front of the TV, snoring softly. His mother remained in her room behind a closed door. No one had heard his cries. No one had heard the noise. No one had come to help him, and now a stranger was in their house. He was not safe in his own home. He couldn’t remember if he had ever felt safe here.

The stranger spoke a whole string of words, but only a few of them made any sense. Each one laid ahold of his stunned mind. “Cyr vaesyl.” Derrick gasped. “Paji” shoved a wedge into his mind where none had been before. “Tylerol” pierced deeper. “Awstyrol paeras” touched something never touched before, leaving his mind feeling dug through – looted. “Mendraerol you should forget everything that happened here. Tari thaes for your safety, you need to escape this place.” The last one, “Pystolari vaesyl” settled a weight over it all, and then, with his final word, “Ailorordoloria” he touched himself in the center of his chest and was gone as if he had never been there, though Derrick had long since been cowering, unable to muster the strength to move.

Moments passed before Derrick numbly, mechanically, disentangled himself from his ruined and bloody pants and headed for the shower, the strangeness shut safely away. Waking his mother wasn’t even a thought, and he didn’t dare bother his father. Calling the police never occurred to him. In fact, there was very little thought at all. All he wanted to do was wash away the filth running down his legs, and hopefully the pain would go with it.

The hot water washed the blood and filth away, but did nothing for the pain. His right ear was throbbing, the whole side of his face was pounding with it, and more than one place bled freely, and that was nothing compared to the rending pain deep inside.

Scarcely bothering to towel dry, he made his way to his room. His room – it had always been a trap. Methodically, he wiped bloody water from his eyes and dressed. By rote, he dressed warmly, even taking time to lace up his boots while blood dripped from the crushed cut that traced a line of hamburger from his eyebrow to his cheekbone around his right eye.

In passing through the dining room again, he picked up his coat and buttoned it up completely while more blood dripped down his back from a two-inch long tear in his scalp.

His next target was his book bag; most of its usual contents were strewn over the floor with the broken glass, but he didn’t give them a second glance. The only thing left in his bag was his precious spell book and his pouch of oddments. The book was the fifth one he’d made; his father tended to find them and destroy them. So far, keeping the book with him at all times had insured its survival – the longest survival of them all.

He’d only just started to accumulate the contents of the small pouch; it was the discovery of a cat’s skull that started it. After acquiring the teeth, he’d decided to collect other spell components his spellbook asked for – he thought it might be fun to see how much he could come up with. He managed to accumulate a wooden nickel that he’d painstakingly carved into a tiny buffalo mask, a few puffball mushrooms he’d found in the yard last fall, two old rings he’d taken from his mother’s jewelry box – they looked like they might be platinum – and a handful of sawdust he kept in a Ziploc. Only the other day, he’d added a few pieces of dog food he’d discovered at the store when he went shopping with his mother; apparently some bag had a hole in it and it hadn’t all been cleaned up.

In passing through the kitchen, he pushed his wet hair back and backhanded blood from his cheek. He retrieved his water bottle from the dishwasher and filled it with water from the tap. On the back porch, he stopped at the freezer and packed a ham and a block of cheese into his backpack. He caught sight of the old blanket his mother kept draped over the old couch; he rolled it up and hung it over his shoulder using a corner of it to mop at his face again.

His numb mind wouldn’t let him conceive of anything beyond this, so he slung his pack across his shoulders and turned for the door. The two steps down from the porch to the yard was more than his shaky legs could stand and he found himself on his hands and knees in the grass, crisp and dry with winter frost. The hood of his coat flopped forward over his head and he made no effort to push it back.

He slowly climbed to his feet again and doggedly moved on. Movement distracted him from some of the pain. Movement ensured he wouldn’t have to start thinking. Movement took him away from the torture that was his existence. The chill air freezing his hair helped to numb some of the pain. 

Hope you like my idea. I'm going to try to get this finished by the end of next year. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cliché Storyline

When I went to count votes on my website, one of my stories had earned it's first vote. It's a bit of a cliché story - prince's parents die and the distant family member who is appointed regent decides he wants the crown. Even for bad guys, there are legal considerations. Said prince must go away, but he can't be responsible for the deed. So, he decides to make the prince the most hated person in the land, then he sends him out as just another soldier (almost) to put down another rebellion. If one of the rebels kills him, so much the better, but just in case, a back up plan is in place. Only something goes wrong and there's no body. With no body, he can't claim the crown.

Some months later, strange things start happening. The ghost of the old king walked the land claiming vengeance, but the regent knew the truth. The ghost, you see, was leaving him a calling card. A link from the mail armor the regent had made special for the prince was found on every body. The regent now had to find and kill the prince before anyone learned that he was still alive. And he had to ensure his claim to the throne by another means.

The prince had been betrothed when he was a child, and the girl was soon to come of marrying age. If he could marry her, he was that much closer to that crown, plus, he would take something away from the one person who was proving to be his worst enemy, or so he hoped. 

The idea came from my favorite movie, Black Arrow, but really the only resemblance is the prince himself. After I decided on that, the rest just swept me away on it's own wild ride. Here's the first chapter as a sample - Please understand that this story needs a lot of work before it sees publication. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dire Fortune

King Martemik and Queen Jolene of Kashkar were well known throughout their land for their strength and fairness, and were therefore loved by most everyone. Of course, those on the receiving end of some of the harsher judgments thought they were dealt with too harshly and unfairly, but a line had to be drawn somewhere; the laws were the laws and the king was quite strict about the breaking of them.

Martemik was a big, powerful man, standing over six feet tall with the wide shoulders of a swordsman. In keeping with his fathers before him, he had the white hair of the royal family. Other members of the nobility all had varying shades of blond hair and light eyes, but the children born to the rightful king always had thick white hair and pale gray eyes. Even daughters born to the bloodline had the white hair and gray eyes, but their children did not carry on the family trait.

Jolene was also tall; coming from a bloodline that produced men much like her husband. She was a proud and stately woman with copious amounts of pale gold curls and striking blue eyes. With effortless ease, she commanded the attention and respect of everyone around her. She was also great with child.

The knights of the nobility and most of the soldiers wore their hair pulled up and bound in several bindings down the center of their heads in an imitation of the manes on their horses. The number of such bindings was dictated only by the thickness of the hair; a knight wanted a proud crest, not a collection of horse’s tails. Also, the type of bindings was dictated by the formality of the affair they were attending at the time. Anything from brightly designed wrappings for formal court events, to common leather straps for casual time at home or for wear with armor was used.

Since it was a tradition in the queen’s home country to seek out a fortune teller and have a child’s future told in the last month before birth, she requested this of her husband, and though it was not necessarily a custom in this country, he was familiar with the practice, so he relented to the wishes of the beautiful wife he had come to value highly and adore.

So they packed up, ostensibly for a tour of the country, to show the people that the queen was soon to produce an heir to the throne. They planned to be gone for a week to ten days. This would only cover a small portion of his kingdom but it would do to spread the word of the coming birth.

Everywhere they went, they were greeted with cheers and many of the women gifted the queen with good luck and easy delivery charms. Jolene accepted them all graciously and treasured all the charms with the respect and deference with which they were offered.

The custom of visiting a fortuneteller at this time was fairly common among the peasantry, so it wasn’t difficult to find what they were looking for.

Late one night, the royal couple approached an old cabin in the woods. “I don’t like this, Jolene,” said the king. “There’s no light inside. If you would only consent to one of the fortunetellers who were willing to call at the palace, we wouldn’t need to go through all this.”

“You just don’t like sneaking around in the dark, dear, and you know that those fortunetellers willing to call at the palace would say anything to make us happy; who would know if it was a true telling or not. At least coming this late at night, she won’t have any time to set up some show,” replied the queen with quiet patience.

The king knocked solidly on the old door. A few minutes later, the old woman who answered was greatly surprised to see the king and queen standing on her doorstep so late at night. There was no doubt that’s who they were; everyone knew who the king and queen were. She quickly invited them into her humble home, wishing fervently that her accommodations were better than they were, but there was no helping it now. “What can an old woman like me do for you, Lord and Lady?” she asked as she poked up the fire and added some wood and then lit the one lamp she owned with a coal from the fire.

“Are you a fortuneteller?” asked King Martemik as he moved his wife closer to the fire; the night air was chilly and damp.

“I am that, my lord, among other things. Do you seek your fortune?”

“My wife seeks the fortune for our child soon to be born. Can you do this?”

“I can, your grace,” she replied with a small bow. “My lady, please have a seat.” The old woman offered the queen the only seat and pulled a crate out from beneath the cupboard for herself to sit on. “My lord, I have nothing else for you to sit on, even my bed is on the floor.”

He was somewhat impressed with the way the old woman so readily handled the simple preparations for this ordeal, without making any attempts to set up any kind of stage or use any elaborate bobbles, but he was still very uncomfortable about all this; he never did like this mystic stuff. “Never mind me,” said the king. He had no interest in becoming comfortable.

The queen smiled at her husband as she took the offered stool. It was amusing to see her tall brave husband unsettled by this small frail peasant woman. She would have to tease him about this night many times.

The fortuneteller sat across from her and held out her callused hands to the queen. When the queen’s delicate hands were in hers, she closing her eyes, and with a deep breath, she rested her forehead on the table and searched for the future of this child.

Just as they were beginning to worry that the old woman had fallen asleep, she raised her head and spoke in a resonant voice that could not possibly have issued from the throat of the old woman.

“The news I have for your son is grave and troubling. Are you sure you still wish to hear it?”

“I do, speak your news. I must hear it,” said the queen as color drained from her cheeks.

Martemik would have swept his wife away from here but the words that followed froze him in his tracks.

“Your son’s life line will be fraught with sorrow, anger and danger. He will loose his father to death, his mother to fear and treachery will hunt him like a rabid wolf. All of this will beset him before he comes of age. But, there is still hope. There is one man who is close to you now; one whose loyalty to you will remain strong, despite all the evil he must see. This man will find your son and help him to see through his sorrow and bitterness. If your son has not become too lost, if he is not too bitter and angry, this man will be able to lead him out of his darkness. Only then will he be able to gather the people to him in a union that will surpass even his father’s. If he can do this, he will ascend to the throne and become a king far greater than any of his forefathers.”

“A son; we’re having a son, but how can my son become so lost?” asked the queen, but the old woman opened her eyes at the question and the spell was broken.

The old woman had heard the question though – had heard similar question before, many times, and it was her habit to try to answer it. “To become lost is never an end; it’s only a distraction in the path of life, as long as your son continues to set one foot before the other, there is no choice but to continue.”

“What are you talking about old woman?” growled the king, unwilling to admit how shaken he was about the whole thing.

“Nothing my lord, it is merely my humble attempt to answer the queen’s question. Forgive me for speaking out of turn.”

The queen held her hand up to stay the king’s words, and he turned to glower at the fire instead. “Please explain further if you can,” she coaxed. “The fortune of my son is dire and I would like to understand more.”

“In truth, my lady, I can not say more. I only heard your question and tried to answer it. Even if you told me your son’s fortune, I would only be guessing at a meaning. Does he die, become fey or does he meet some other untimely trouble?” The old woman was also quite shaken; that she told the fortune of the royal prince at all was astonishing enough, but that it seemed to be bad, very bad, was quite frightening.

“No, you said that he would loose both of us while he was still young, and then you said that he would become lost himself as well, but that he could ascend the throne and becoming a great king.” Tears had already begun to flow freely though she refused to allow herself to sob openly.

The old woman was heart broken at the sight of the queen’s tears and she truly wished that her words had been different, but when telling these fortunes she did not choose the words that she uttered; she could only hope to help make sense of them. “That is indeed a rocky road for a child to follow, but if he becomes great in the end, what more can a parent ask for.”

The queen found these words comforting, though marginally, and she rose to leave. Her movement caught her husband’s attention and he wrapped her cloak around her shoulders once more, keeping her in the protective circle of his arm until she was safely inside their carriage.

After the king had ushered his wife into the carriage, he turned to the old woman and pressing a full bag of coins into her hand. “You must protect yourself from the events of this night. Should others learn of our being here and what was revealed here, there could be trouble for both of us.”

She knew he was correct; if anyone were to find out that the king and queen had come to her home for any reason, everyone would be hounding her with every little problem and she would be unable to help all of them. If there were too many failures, the villagers would be likely to stone her for her efforts. She would keep the coin and use it only when she had to. There was enough to take care of her for many a year if she was careful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I always liked a good prophecy. hahaha