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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Serial Story Saturday

Unexpected Adventure, Part Twenty-Two

The air was a mess of noise, and from all ten sets of bleachers—each set could hold around fifty people—arms waved. On the field, at the bottom of a depression between four hills, four teams ran. They dodged and flipped off of moving stone slabs that hung from massive supports. All of them were trying to get to the cranks that swung the slabs, while simultaneously keep the other teams from knocking the large ball into their goals—holes bored into the sides of the hills.
I made my way around the bleachers until I came up to the fifth set. It had, as far as I could tell, the best view. Daddy was thumping Regis—who looked amazingly like a hero with his night-sky cape—on the back and shouting. It had nothing to do with Foosball.
“So that is why you are reluctant around elves!”
Regis sidled as far as he could. “I told you, I’m not—”
“Daddy!” I interrupted, hopping over a few seats and shoving aside some spectators. “Mommy said you’d need this.”
“And so I do!” Daddy swept the book from my arms, flipped to a page, then triumphantly jabbed his finger down. “Right here, this proves it!”
Regis turned red. I stood on tiptoe to see the page. It was genealogy, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
Daddy flipped the book around and held it beneath Regis’ nose. “You are the great-great-grandson of Morning. You have elvish blood in you. Don’t deny it!”
“I am.”
“Well, that explains all the troubles you’ve been having, yes?” Daddy clapped the book shut. “Come, great-great-grandnephew, we had best rest for our journey. Cloudwillow, did mother say anything else?”
I nodded. “Yeah, but maybe we should…” I pointed out at the woods. He watched the game. Rolling my eyes, I waved my hands in front of his face. He cleared his throat and tucked the book of Prophecy under his arm.
“Right. Off we go.” He still watched the game out of the corner of his eye. Then Regis blocked the view. Knowingly, based on the grin that tried to sprout.
I sidled up to him. “So you’re part elf? And you have magic in you?” His face tightened. With a tilt of my head I added, “You’ve been trying to avoid magic this whole time. So-o-o-o-o, that means you probably have some crazy magic ability that makes you powerful, is embarrassing, or otherwise marks you as abnormal.” Regis picked me up by my shoulder—expertly, because it didn’t hurt—and plopped me onto daddy’s back.
Daddy didn’t break his stride. Giggling, I hung on to his neck. “I’m right, aren’t I?” Daddy turned his head slightly, smiled, and said, “Indubitably.”
The rest of the ride home, I was silent. My mind busied itself in guessing what Regis’ abilities were. Fire control? He had the temper and the simmering glare for it. Elemental manipulation was a possibility, since Peter—ugh, what kind of villain name was that?—was able to do it. Maybe he could direct lightning with the sword.
Regis frowned. “Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Like what?” I gave him a crazy smile and widened my eyes. It was then that I noticed a strange glow coming from him. It was thickest around the cape, a dark shade of white, but it was around his entire body, too. I jumped off of daddy and latched onto Regis’ hand. “You generate energy!  Does your face get all puffy and it’s embarrassing when you use it? Is that why you’re trying to hide it? Did you blow up at one point? Can you control it, does it—”
Regis looked like he wanted to be a million miles away from me. He opened his mouth, shut it, then said, “You’ll find out.” He was more tense than he had been a moment before.
It puzzled me for the rest of the day, and I thought about it when we ate, when we were talking, and when we went to bed. Then, I had a terrible suspicion. I crept slowly out of my room and to the living room where Regis was sleeping.
His eyes were closed, and I poked his face. He twitched. “Go away.”
“You’re a beacon, aren’t you?”
He cracked an eye open. “Yes.”

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Serial Story Saturday

Unexpected Adventure, Part Twenty-one

“But there can’t be!” I shook my head at my mother, refusing to believe. “I’ve read that whole book, forwards and back—literally! There’s no more mention of him or the Prophecy he’s in. What else is he going to do?”
Mommy chuckled like a sage and stroked my head. “He’s going to free us from Fate.” Fate, the current ruler of the continent—our side, at least—and forever penning the future of the land. She also controlled everything so that nothing contradicted her Prophecies.
Any dizzying disbelief I had vanished instantly. I snorted. “Where’d you get a crazy idea like that?”
“It’s all in there.” She pointed to the pack I still clung to.
I shook it. “Nuh-uh.”
“Here, I’ll show you.” And she did. Regis most definitely wasn’t mentioned anywhere else by name, but he was implied in other passages. Lots of them. It all made sense when she pointed it out.
I held the book out at an angle, looking at Regis’ picture. Him standing tall, with a mysterious blue cloak and the recently acquired sword. If I tilted it just right, the page’s surface warped and he looked like a clown. “But Fate wrote this! Right?”
“She did. But even she does not know the entirety of what she pens.” Mommy rubbed her enlarged belly. “She also penned a note telling me the book would be needed by your father soon. Get going.” She playfully pushed me to the door. I couldn’t tell if she was joking about the note.
“Okay, okay. Love you.” I hopped, kissed her on the cheek, and bolted outside. A few well-wishers ducked aside as I ran past. “Sorry,” I called over my shoulder.
I felt like I was flying, with my long sleeves flapping behind like wings. Dark trees, snow, faces I’ve seen for most of my life, all passed by in a wonderful blur. When the path branched off in a slope, I went down it. Daddy was probably done at the tailor’s by now and at the Foosball field.
I slowed. As soon as I did, the branches above me shook—it was the guards. Bits of snow fell on me. I shielded my eyes with one hand and hugged the book close. I probably shouldn’t have left the sack at the house. To the yet-unseen guards I asked, “Did daddy pass by here?”
“Yes, and he’s in set five, row three.”
“Thank you!” I jogged, and the trees soon thinned out. A barrier of magic was ahead; I could smell it. I passed it. Deafening cheers rattled my teeth. Lights flashed, food steamed, and fists were in the air.
The Foosball field.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Serial Story Saturday

Unexpected Adventure, Part Twenty

I ran into the house, through the living room, and up a short flight of stairs.
Mommy sat in a rocking chair, reading, her back to the door. The green walls and gauzy curtains over the arching windows made everything look surreal. I tiptoed up behind her.
She started, and turned. Well, sort of. She seemed to have trouble, and when I came around in front of her, I saw it was from the large size of her belly.
I couldn’t hold in my happy shout, and hugged her. As well as I could with the book and belly in the way, that is.
“Oh, you’re home! Where’s your father? The baby started kicking—here, feel.” Her largish teeth and straight lips beamed in the best smile ever.
We talked for a little bit, even though all I wanted to do was dance in the trees. I would be a big sister in a couple weeks. Or months. I wasn’t exactly sure how everything worked.
It wasn’t until mom and I went downstairs that I remembered Regis. “Mommy, we found the fulfiller of the Prophecy!”
She cocked her head. Her brown curls hung prettily over her shoulder. I stroked my own straight hair, wishing I could get it like hers. “Which one?” she asked.
So we sat down on the couch and I explained. Just as I finished, daddy and Regis came from the left entryway. Daddy waved, his eyes lingering on mommy’s belly.
I glanced at Regis. He looked uncomfortable, and it wasn’t just the elvish clothing he wore. I whispered, “Daddy, don’t embarrass me.”
He rolled his eyes. “I would do no such thing.” I was afraid he was going to anyways, but he just kissed mommy as well as he could while still standing, then pulled back. “I will return shortly after dark. I’m off to take Regis to the tailor’s.”
Mommy stood, smiling. “You need to, and not only for the cloak.” She went up and kissed him on both cheeks. “The young man needs proper attire for where he’s going.”
“True.”
Regis’ face scrunched up. “What do you mean?”
For once, I was in total agreement with his question. I couldn’t let him know, though. I would be a disgrace to innkeepers and bookworms everywhere if I did. So I giggled. “You’ll see.”
As soon as he and daddy—him arguing, daddy dodging questions—left, I turned to mom. “What did you mean?”
She smiled. “There’s more to the prophecy than just that page.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Serial Story Saturday

Unexpected Adventure, Part Nineteen

Regis met some of the boarders, a large group of rich, outdoors-y humans. He even traded his weird back scabbard and twin swords with an enthusiastic teenager. Then, we continued on.
The forest was exactly the way I remember—thick, dark, and most importantly, alive, even in the winter. Regis kept his hand on his sword. When we got to the city, he blinked, then his arms went limp.
I smiled. This—a collection of maybe a hundred elves and assorted humans, living in a variety of houses scattered among the trees—probably wasn’t what he had expected. But then, neither were the boarders (he’d been expecting savages). I asked, “Do you like it?”
Regis looked around. “It’s…not what I was expecting.”
I nodded. “Lots of stuff isn’t. Daddy, can I show him the statue?”
Daddy clapped Regis on the shoulder. “We can. I don’t want you scaring him off.”
“I’m not that bad, am I?” I pouted, then laughed and skipped down the packed path. It hadn’t changed, either, and I could admire the view as we went on. The different patterns in the tree trunks, the frost, and the cracked rocks. Then, I came to a small clearing.
Hoar trees—thin, white, with crackly leaves, and dotted in purple berries—surrounded a statue of our founder, Prince Day. His eyes and face were mostly left up to interpretation—the carver hadn’t gone into detail—but I could see the nobleness in his firm chin and braced stance. Brushing some snow off one of his boots, I sighed. “Daddy, when can I start courting?”
“Not until I trust your judgment.”
I hefted myself onto the statue’s pedestal. “But you trust me now!”
“On matters like business and housekeeping, yes. That is not quite the same as knowing you will not run off with the first dashing young man you meet.” Daddy joined me on the pedestal and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “I want to be sure you won’t give your heart away to someone who would misuse it.”
“Aw, thanks.” We hugged.
Regis cleared his throat, shifting his feet.
Daddy hopped down. “So sorry about that; I forgot what we came here for. The tailor’s shop is just a few trails down.”
Regis frowned. “The tailor’s shop? The cape isn’t made?”
“Oh, it is. The tailor's is simply the safest place to keep it.” Daddy started off. I gazed longingly at the statue. When Regis walked past, I scraped snow from the pedestal, jumped, and managed to shove the snow down his jacket.
He flailed and made inarticulate noises.
“Can’t catch me!” But, he did, eventually. That was only because daddy tripped me, then they both pelted me with snowballs. It was fun.
When the laughing died down, I looked up at them from my position on the ground. “We’re going past our house soon. Can we show Regis?”
“Yes, of course. I’m certain he would like to freshen up.”
I looked at Regis and realized that, in addition to being wet, his outfit was several days old. And he hadn’t washed for at least as long; his hair was oily. I shrugged. “Okay.”
When we got to our tree, I paused. Something was different. The coniferous leaves were the same, the sleeping pods higher up in the tree, the carved door, and the smaller tree stump next to the door…had a woven metal basket stuffed with moss, down, vials, berries, and a bundle of cloth.
I couldn’t keep a smile from spreading across my face. Slyly, I asked, “Daddy, why is there a birth basket in front of our house?” I looked over my shoulder. Daddy had a silly grin on his face, and he nodded.