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Category Archives: Short Stories

“What are you doing in my house, you thieves?” Lady Folling asked. Her frizzy dark hair hung to the side of her face, which, with the fear surfacing, mixed with her defiance, gave her a surprisingly vulnerable and youthful look, despite her middle age. It almost made Simon think they had made a mistake.

“We heard you were a painter and thought to appraise them ourselves,” Tandrel said, flashing a smile as he rested his arm on David’s shoulder and leaned on him. David glanced up at him grumpily.

“You mean steal them, no?”

“Don’t jump ahead, please.  Appraise them, see if they’re worth the effort, and then steal them, sell them, and make a nice profit. We have good connections, surprisingly. You’ll feel honored to get such a high price for them. Although, of course, you yourself won’t be getting the money. But that’s no problem for you, seeing as you’re nobility and all. Your selfless contribution to the world and our pockets through your art is quite amazing.”

Lady Folling clenched her fists, not meeting their eyes. The dimly lit estate covered her face in shadow. “My painting are the only things that keep me sane in this place. After all the abuse I’ve been through, you would dare take them from me?”

This had gotten too personal. He almost wished he could call off the mission. Tandrel, however, acted mercilessly. “Your abuse? As if you knew what that was. Besides, you can always paint more.”

With a cry of fury mixed with anguish, Lady Folling shot twin icicles from her hands, meant to impale them. Although they had expected something like this, it still seemed foreign to Simon that this woman, almost a girl, could do something like that. He jumped away barely in time. The icicles crashed harmlessly into a wooden wall, just a few feet from one of her paintings, a dark and haunting scene.

“Careful now, you don’t want to damage your work. I hear moisture is bad for preservation.”

“So is light,” she said quietly, breathing deeply for a moment. A ray of darkness shot out at them, sucking away any light near it. This they had not expected. Who was this woman? Someone more messed up than they had originally thought. Dodging that, they ran deeper into the house, splitting up. Folling followed Simon, for some reason, so he knew what he had to do, even if he felt lost in this house.

Sliding through corridors, never letting her get a good shot, he made his way to the main parlor, hopefully. He dodged under another blast of darkness, making sure her footsteps still echoed behind him and pushing down wooden chairs and tables behind him to slow her down.

For a moment he didn’t hear her and paused to look behind him. Mistake. She still chased him, but now floating above all the fallen furniture and coming at him faster than ever. He saw a large stairwell on his right going down to what looked like a big open room, maybe the parlor.

Running at full speed, he grabbed the ballast and used his momentum to swing him at a right angle and stumble down the stairs, using the railing to keep from falling. Windows lit the space, revealing two men talking on some sofas. They looked up to see Simon coming down. Immediately, one of them, who wore armor, got up.

“So there are thieves here!” He began to draw his sword when Lady Folling’s shrieks filled the air. Everyone paused as she floated down the stairs, flying after Simon. He jumped out of the way of another ray of darkness, sucking in the light from the windows for a moment. Then she realized she had company.

“Ynette, what have you done?” Lord Folling, the other man, asked, shaking his head. Her expression wilted from rage to defeat in less than a second.

The armored man also shook his head, sighing. “I’m afraid I will have to report this to the judges. I expect the Knights of the Dragon to personally look into this.”

Lady Folling turned white. She managed to gather some indignation. “And this thief?” she asked, gesturing at Simon, who lay on the floor supported by one arm.

“Have you stolen anything, boy?” the man in the armor asked woodenly. Simon shook his head. “He is but a trespasser. Get out.” Simon scrambled to his feet. “Yours is the real sin here, Lady Folling. The nobility are prohibited from using magic, and Dark magic doubly so. I hold little hope for you.”

Lady Folling looked wretched as Simon left. “You’ll pay for this, thief!”

He met up with the others soon after. “So it worked?” David asked. “Our tip off to the city guard got her caught in the act?”

Simon nodded. Her last words would haunt his dreams for quite some time. David continued, “So what do we get out of this, again?”

Tandrel smiled. “Some of those painting look pretty valuable. And she won’t need them where she’s going.”

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“Lord Folling lives in there?” Tandrel asked, whistling. He blocked his eyes from the sun.

“I think he’s a duke, not a lord,” David said, crouched on the green hill outside Balaron.

“Doesn’t matter,” Simon said. “That’s a lot of open ground to cover.”

“Shouldn’t be hard for you, dressed in green. You’re more of an elf than I am,” Tandrel said.

“Shut up,” Simon said with a smile. As much as he didn’t like pulling this off in daytime, they’d heard that magical wards came on during the night, which would alert the owners to their presence. So they began their exodus. Luckily, they found no guard in sight.

“For once my short stature comes in handy,” David crowed from under his green blanket he used to cover himself as he ran. The other two had one as well, but ran crouching. Their knees didn’t feel very sympathetic to David at the moment.

It took about ten minutes, stopping frequently to avoid detection, for them to get to the side wall, made from smooth stones. David’s cheeks looked less red than the other two. “Ceno is going to wish he’d come along.”

“You just wanted to hear him complain,” Tandrel said. David grinned.

Looking around carefully, they found a window near ground level. Without asking, Simon stepped up on David’s shoulders and looked inside. David only grunted. The view inside didn’t look very interesting, the same as most noble estates. Some paintings hung on the walls, with a canvas on an easel facing away from him in the middle of the room. The room looked like a studio. One of the Follings liked to paint.

“Looks like it’s safe to enter,” he said, lying. Some magical alarm would probably sound, but he didn’t care. Get in, get proof, get out, don’t die. He tested the window and found it open, if a little grating. Slowly, as silently as he could, he pushed it open until he could crawl in. It felt darker inside than when looking in from the outside. Tandrel pushed David in, who fell down with a grunt. Tandrel climbed in after.

“Ok, time to find some evidence of magic.”

“You little thieves, you’ll regret even touching me.”

“Actually, since you wanted to kill us, I really doubt that. I rather like living,” Tandrel said. Simon scanned the magic pass for a moment, and tore it up. The man who had been hunting them sat tied up in a small abandoned tavern. They had little light, despite the midday sun outside. The Majestic glared at them.

“I could burn you up right now, you know.”

Simon laughed. “Stop bluffing. You would have done it already. I doubt you even know elemental magic. Yours is probably all spiritual and useless.”

“It let me find you.”

“Much good that did,” Tandrel said. “What’s so special about this gem? Why would the Follings hire a Heretic to get it back?”

The man looked back and forth between them, then sighed. “You might be able to get a nice price on the market with that, but its real value is in its magic use.”

“So you want it for yourself? Are you working behind the Follings’ back?”

“No! I mean…yes?” The man drooped his head.

Simon and Tandrel looked at each other. “Nobles using magic? Interesting…”

“How’s he following us?” Tandrel whispered, hiding in the alley. “There’s no way he could identify us in that crowd.”

Simon looked at the necklace. A dark green gem reflected a darker version of his face, surrounded by other smaller gems. “So the Follings sent a tracker after us.”

“Simon, trackers are fond of wildlife, not cities. A hundred people line the streets; there’s no way he could know where we went.”

“Yet you say he’s following us.” Simon pointed out. Tandrel didn’t say anything, just looked for a way to get out of the alley. Meanwhile, a man with a groomed mustache and beard pushed through the crowd to get to them. Simon stared at Tandrel, who reluctantly answered.

“Yeah, I know, there’s obviously some explanation for this behavior of his. Magic.”

Simon rolled his eyes. “He can track us using magic? Shouldn’t he be chanting in the streets, and wouldn’t everyone know what he’s doing?”

“Simon. Please. Don’t be an idiot,” Tandrel said impatiently. “Heretics can use magic without anyone knowing what’s going on. No chanting or waving hands.”

“But there are some people who could detect him.”

“Yeah, the judges, maybe, but why should we care?”

“I’ll bet the Follings didn’t give him a pass.” Simon grinned.

“Of course they gave him…oh, I see.” Tandrel grinned as well, watching the man shove his way closer. “Maybe you’re not such an idiot after all.”

For any of you have been following my blog, you probably have noticed my short stories. Well, now they are available in one place, conveniently in ebook format (soon to come to kindle as well). It includes all the short stories on this blog, including the full version of Fallen (known as Apple on this site). The book also comes with the covers I’ve made, as well as the prologue for book one of Sage Eyes. Hope you enjoy, please support!

First Contact Cover

The cover for the short story First Contact.

I ate my breakfast, chewing more on my thoughts than my porridge. My mother watched me nervously, and whenever I glanced at her, she looked away. I would need to cover up my arm if I left the house. Too many questions would be bad.

In my room, dressing myself, I thought about Lancithar. He had told me that during the night soothing, I would be enlightened. I didn’t feel enlightened. Maybe the other night angels skipped over me because they didn’t want to teach me any magic. There were others, right? They sounded lazy.

Or maybe this was a test. Maybe they didn’t heal me because I could heal myself. That was the point of giving me magic, right? I wasn’t sure; I hadn’t understood it all. But I could try.

Staring at my scar, I pointed at it with my other hand. “Heal!” I whispered in frustration. Nothing happened.

“Go away!”

“Kazaam!”

“Pretty please, just go away!”

It didn’t seem like talking to my scar was going to heal it. Feeling stupid, I tried meditating. Closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, I started focusing on the scar, and nothing else. It felt ridiculous, but I kept at it. After all, it couldn’t be more absurd than a man appearing out of the shadows and giving me magic powers, or being healed every night. I wondered why we never questioned how it happened; we just expected it to happen. It was natural.

I started to remember fragments of my dreams last night. I saw Lancithar’s face, and two others. Then I was looking through their eyes at my body, so frail and young. Ugly in comparison to theirs. They looked down at the scar, looked into it. I saw that there was a difference between the light bouncing off my body, and the colorless fibers that truly made up my body. The fibers had been severed, but it didn’t go down deep. My body was already working on healing them. That was surprising, as I didn’t know my body could heal itself, aside from closing up after bleeding. Was it because of the magic, or did every body heal itself?

Yes, my body was being repaired, but it went oh so slow. It would be days, weeks, before the scar became invisible. I couldn’t wait that long. Surely it could be sped up. What if the blood only brought back the what could help replenish the body, instead of a little of everything? What if I could control that? I hadn’t even realized that that was what blood was for. I thought it was a punishment when someone was hurt or fighting.

Somehow, my will started influencing my blood. I couldn’t actually see it, but the area around my scar started heating up, and I could feel the blood rushing. My heart pounded faster and harder. It pounded my chest, so hard it almost hurt. Was it supposed to happen this way? This couldn’t be right. My scar became tender, the edges burning. I started to become light headed, and it became a chore to focus on the scar. I sat down on my bed, holding my head up with my other arm.

Somewhere in my mind, the thought came that this had to wrong, since I doubted this happened every night to everyone. The soothings must go much smoother. Sweat formed on my forehead. But something seemed to happen. My scar started to flake off, without blood flowing out to replace it. I peeked and saw pink skin forming.

Suddenly I realized I had done magic. Magic!

I fainted.

A hesitant knock on the door woke me up. My first reaction was to cover up the scar, but I realized it wasn’t there. Nearly fainting again, I whispered in response, then cleared my throat.

“Come in,” I said, allowing my former scar to show. Or not show.

My mother came in, a worried look on her face. Her eyes went straight to where my scar had been. A look of relief blossomed on her face. Then one of confusion.

“Didn’t you have a scar…?”

I looked at my arm, pretending to be surprised. “Oh, look, it’s gone. It must have been slow in disappearing this morning.”

“Yes, that must be it,” she murmured. Forcing a smile, she continued, “I want you to help pick some weeds in the garden today. No more going off to the forest edge, at least not today.”

I couldn’t believe it. No one would see me in the garden. She didn’t want anyone to think I was different. She obviously had come up with this before seeing my healed arm. So why did she want to hide me now?

Barely containing myself, I nodded slowly. She frowned, seeing my recognition of what she was trying, and left fairly quickly. I unclenched my fists and wiped the sweat off my forehead. I would obey her. If I didn’t, she would find out faster than a frog’s tongue catching a fly. There are few secrets in the village.

Besides, it would give me time to practice my magic.

I wore my old dress for the garden work, kneeling down in the dirt. People passed me, some waving hello, many pretending to ignore me. Those felt bad for me. Most knew I wanted to be at the edge of the forest. I was too busy for most of them.

The thought that burned in my mind was how to make myself more attractive. For Michael. My mother said I had a pretty face and a good figure, but I had seen my reflection. I might not be ugly, but neither was I all that pretty. My nose a bit too big, my eyes too far apart, my lips too thin. I wished I were thinner, as well. My mother tried to allay my fears, my father thought I was foolish for even thinking this way, but they’re my parents; of course they thought I was pretty.

Trying to regain the sense of myself I had when healing, I held still, focusing. The more I tried, though, it seemed the harder to grasp. It was there, taunting me, hiding just outside of my field of vision. It was frustrating. How had I done it before?

After about a quarter hour, I gave up. My eyes felt strained, even though I hadn’t been looking at anything in particular. I started to actually pick the weeds. If I sat down the whole time and didn’t have weeds to show at the end, my mother would be just as furious as if I had gone to the forest. Reluctantly, I started grabbing the weeds.

After picking out a few, the thought came to me that if the Night Angels healed others, then they must have powers over other people. Or objects. Could I do anything with the weeds I held? Make them flowers?

It was probably easier to change a living weed to a flower than a dead one. Besides, it wouldn’t do me any good if my mother saw a bunch of dead flowers with the weeds. So I chose a weed that didn’t look too ugly, a dandelion with its yellow petals still out, not gone to seed yet. I focused on it, imagining it was a yellow white rose instead. I tried to imagine the steps it would have to change, the petals extending and growing wider and upwards. The leaves would be smoother, the stalk higher. I poured my will into changing it. The dandelion wavered a bit.

I think it was the wind.

Breathing out in frustration, I pulled out the weed in vengeance. What was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I change anything? What good was my magic? I flopped down on my back, looking up at the sky.

The clouds floated by. One group looked almost like a face. It reminded me of one time when I was a little girl. I had been looking at my reflection in the water when some leaves floated through it. It passed over my reflection’s chin, making it look like I had a beard. I giggled, wishing there was some way to capture the moment and share it with my dad.

Then it hit me. I hadn’t worn a beard then, but my reflection had. A bystander, not looking at me, might think I did have a beard. Well, if he had bad vision. Like my grandpapa. Maybe I couldn’t change my body, at least not yet. But I could make myself appear different to other people. Isn’t that what makeup was for?

Was there some way to change the way people saw me, without actually changing me? Perhaps not the ideal solution, but better than waiting for years while I try to figure out this magic thing and let Michael slip away. I had already alienated him. Lily would be able to pluck him like a rose if I did nothing.

Concentrating on the appearance of the dandelion, I willed it to bloom in the light. A few minutes passed without any success. I kept telling myself that I had healed myself, I could do this. Tired, I was ready to stop and turn away. As I moved my head, out of the corner of my eye, the dandelion seemed to transform. Quickly, I looked back, but it was still just a dandelion.

I moved to go again, and the same thing happened. I looked at it and it went back to being normal, but this time it took longer. There was definitely something going on.

Breathing out, I stopped concentrating on it so hard, but still held the image of how I wanted it to look like in the back of my mind. Slowly, oh so slowly, the dandelion was overlaid with the image of a marigold. At first it appeared like the reflection of clouds on water, and I could still see the dandelion beneath, but the more I focused without focusing, the more it solidified. Soon enough, there was no trace of the dandelion.

I propped my chin on my hands and stared at it, smiling. The illusion didn’t give. I even touched it. I could feel the marigold beneath, but the marigold didn’t ripple away, as I feared.

A few moments later, my mother came out and found me looking at it. “Really, Eva, you need to…When did we get a marigold?”

I suppressed my smile. It wasn’t just me imagining things. My mother saw it as well. “I just found it here, it must have sprung up recently.”

“That’s strange, I don’t remember seeing it. Anyway, Eva, you should get back to work.” Her voice trembled a bit. I felt a pang of guilt. In some way, I was shattering my mother’s reality. Like a glass breaking, but much slower. I don’t know if telling her what happened would fix things or would accelerate the cracking.

I went back to picking the weeds. Or at least my body did. My mind was busy crafting my new face and body. I couldn’t implement it yet, but would try before talking to Michael. It had to look like me, but be better. Picturing myself was difficult, but I managed to bring up my face in my mind. I glanced at the marigold. Still there.

About a quarter hour after changing the dandelion, I had come up with most of the details for how to change my face. I looked back at the marigold. But there was none. It was back to being a dandelion. I started to panic. I would need more time than that for things to work with Michael. We would just barely be saying hello. I willed the dandelion to turn back. Strangely enough, it did, although I felt some energy draining from me. Still, it was a relief. I would be able to renew this transformation. I just had to time it right.

Finally, I finished my punishment for waking up with a scar. The only weed left looked like a real flower. My mother reluctantly let me have some free time. Before letting me go, though, she gave me a hug. It felt kind of strange, after what had been going on. Almost like an apology. Until I felt her hand subtly feeling my arm, where the scar had been. She was looking to see if I had just put something on to color it the same as my skin. I grew cold and pulled away. She looked down and told me to be back in time for supper.

I went down to the river. It flowed so slowly it was practically still. Kneeling down on an overhang to see my reflection, like I did when I was a child, I saw my face. The face that, until now, I didn’t particularly like, but felt that it was permanent. Now that I knew I could change it, temporarily at first, perhaps permanently later on, I found myself hating every flaw. This ugly face would no longer torment me or prevent me from getting what I wanted.

I had to make sure my face was still recognizable. I wanted Michael to know it was me. So the changes had to be subtle. Clear away the freckles and pimples. That would be simple enough. The size of the nose and lips shouldn’t be too difficult. Changing the position of the eyes would be a bit tricky. Then I would want to change my hair. Make it more voluminous, silky, and luxurious. But part of that would be more mundane than this magic I had: I would wash it with some oils. It would cost some money, but I should be able to gain it back easily enough once I mastered this magic.

I had brought some parchment and a charcoal stick, so I set out drawing what I saw in the river. Although I wasn’t the perfect artist, I had received some praise before. Drawing was always a good way to process my thoughts, in a way that differed from pulling weeds.

While I drew how I looked and how I wanted to look, I idly thought about Miri and Jaz. Should I tell them my secret? Probably. But not yet. The most I had to show for it was a scar that wasn’t there. My new face might be evidence, but the changes were supposed to be so subtle that it wouldn’t look like magic. Besides, I was still trying to process Lancithar. It seemed there were more of these angels, watching over us. That was both breathtaking and creepy at the same time.

Eventually I came up with a sketch of how my new face would look. Staring into the water, I molded my face to look like the sketch. It took a lot more relaxed concentration than the marigold, and longer to get it right. On the first try, my face didn’t even look human. But after an hour or two of sweating concentration, I found something I was happy with, and memorized it so I could become that way quickly. Once I used magic in some way the first time, it was easier to duplicate it the second, but still required effort.

Looking at the sun in the sky, I saw that it wouldn’t be too long before Michael came home from the woods. I would need to look my best. I stopped by the market on the way home and bought the oils, as well as some clothes and a necklace. My mother wasn’t going to be happy when she found out what I’d done.

I got home, hid my illegal items, and ate supper with my mother and brothers. My father would be coming home later, so my mother kept the stew heating on the coals. The supper was quieter than usual, although my brothers jabbered like normal. My mother and I would look at each other until getting caught by the other and looked away quickly. An admission of guilt on both our parts, but no attempt to bridge it by talking. I tried to eat quickly without making myself sick. The nervousness from my mother’s looks and the anticipation of seeing Michael again was twisting my stomach. Good thing I wasn’t suffering from monthly pains.

Finishing my stew, I left with barely a word, shutting myself into my room. I then started the transformation, the mundane first, like the clothing and the hair, and when that was finished, the face. Halfway through, my mother knocked on the door, asking if I was fine. I looked at myself in my little handheld mirror and truthfully told her I was. She left me alone after that.

I had on a red dress with lacy frills. The dress showed more leg than I had expected, but I suppose Michael would not mind. It came with a shawl that looped under my arm and over my shoulder, covering the long neckline.

When done, I hardly recognized myself, not so much for the face as for the clothes and hair. My magic made my lips a sweet red, I had powder highlighting my eyes, and I had a small ribbon in my hair. This was a look only princesses in the stories would wear. And now I had joined their ranks. My mirror showed my looking as red as an apple.

I almost vomited with uneasiness.

Slipping out the window, so my mother wouldn’t see me, I looked at the sky. Red dusk. Michael would be stretching his muscles walking home after working all day. He’ll have just eaten. Now I just needed to find him.

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