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Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
About a mile ahead, we reached the Greenbriar Hills, where outcroppings of white rocks dotted the rolling landscape like toppled pawns on a chessboard. Jayden and I shared fearful glances. The ambush opportunity was great. We were lucky to have clear skies, and few trees, but it was necessary for us to ride far ahead of the caravan to ensure the way was clear.
We approached the first outcropping, where two rock formations flanked the road. A sense of dread mounted inside me. Jayden stared at the ground and motioned for us to stop before we rode between the rocks.
“Cali,” he whispered, “go back to the caravan. Tell the guards to draw arms.”
“Can’t we just turn around?”
“Too late. We’d never outrun them. Go!”
I tugged on the reins and turned Charlot back. When I reached the caravan, I yelled, “Guard the mages!”
The six paladins drew their swords, and flanked in closer to the carriages, surrounding them on all sides. My father leaned out the window of his carriage. “What’s happening?”
“I think your enemies are upon us.”
“Then I will fight.”
His face held a mixture of regret and determination. A fiery spark ignited in his eyes. I caught a glimpse of my father’s renowned power, the magic that Academy students whispered about in the corridors, magic that had once ensured my uncle’s throne. I felt a swell of pride to be his daughter in that moment, but I had no idea what kind of threat we faced. He was some five hundred years old, and had not faced any foes for a very long time.
I readied my bow. “You might have to, but stay in the carriage for now.”
Tension filled the air like a sickening fog. The only sounds were the horses shifting their feet. Not a bird sang. Not a puff of wind blew.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Prompt as ever, Sir Malchior stood just inside the door of the preparation room in the manor’s basement. Arms crossed, he glared at me over his spectacles. He had a prominent nose and long, brown hair so dark, it was almost black. I never recalled him smiling and thought his face might break if he tried.
“You are ten minutes late, Lady Caliphany. My time is precious. Shall we get on with this?”
I took a deep breath and stepped onto the dais, mumbling all the way. “You are five hundred years old. What’s the rush?”
Sir Malchior took his seat and raised his head from the scroll he studied. He pushed up his spectacles. “What was that?”
“Nothing. I’m ready.”
“Very well.” He narrowed his eyes and studied my face. “Are you quite all right?”
He shrugged. “Let’s begin.”
My hands shook from the near-kidnapping. But I steadied them the best I could, closed my eyes, and drew from reservoirs of concentration deep in my mind’s recesses. A tiny flame appeared in my palm. The fire never burned anymore, but merely tickled. It had taken me some seventy-five years to get to this point, from when I first joined the academy. My father was counting on me to succeed.
I began to rehearse the words I would use to present my dissertation. “Fire, one of the four primary elements, instrumental in both destruction and creation, is not one single entity, but consists of four distinct components. I will now show you each of these components as I separate them from the mother flame.”
The flame grew larger and brighter, a flickering mixture of yellow, red, white, and blue in my palm. I glanced at Sir Malchior, who watched from his seat in the small auditorium. I lifted my other hand, palm up, to hover beside the first hand. Concentrate, Caliphany. Concentrate. Four metal stands sat on the bench before me, waiting for each component.
“The first component.” I carefully enunciated every word in the spell. “Pyronea icterica.”
Pure yellow fire jumped from the mother flame to my empty hand. I gently deposited it on the first stand. Sir Malchior scribbled some notes. He gestured for me to continue.
“The second component, pyronea ruberica.” I separated out a bright red flame and placed it on the second stand.
“The third component, pyronea albidica.” A stunning white flame leapt from the shrinking mother flame into my empty hand. I placed it on the third stand.
Sir Malchior scribbled again. The nearly perfect tear-shaped flames danced on their stands in front of me. Only one more—the blue flame remaining in my palm.
I continued, with unexpected confidence lacing my words. “And now the hottest component of all, pyronea azurica.” This was the part where I would show off, surprising Sir Malchior when I bounced the flame from one hand to the other, making it leap to the last platform.
The flame leapt to my other hand, but then my mind lost its focus. Unwanted visions of those brutes on the dock flashed before my eyes. I imagined their hands upon me, and could barely resist the impulse to rub their lingering stench from my face. I realized everything was falling apart when I finally pushed aside the memory of those green eyes.
Galadin, his name was Galadin.
The blue flame jumped from my hand to the bench, flared and projected itself directly toward Sir Malchior, who raised his head just in time to notice. His eyes flew wide open; he screamed and ducked. The flame hit the stone wall behind him and shook the room. The others flickered and faded until they were gone.
“I-I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. Are you all-?”
Sir Malchior shot from his seat and removed his hand from the top of his head. Smoke rose from the patch of bare scalp and the ring of singed brown hair around it.
“You…are…hopeless!” He stormed out just as my father entered the room. Sir Malchior wagged a finger at him. “Your daughter. Your daughter!”
Father blinked, then turned his disappointed gaze on me. He winced when the front door slammed. I tried not to cringe. Hands behind his back, he stepped toward me. I swallowed, wishing my mouth wasn’t so dry. I willed my eyes to meet his, framed in the stone of his unsmiling face.
He calmly brushed his platinum hair behind his shoulder. “You were late this morning.”
“I know. I’m sorry, Father.”
“Come with me. I would like a word with you.”
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Downstairs, in the tavern, we ate a hearty meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, and wild rice. We sat at a corner table, where the music and chatter all around us afforded a chaotic anonymity. Galadin wore a white shirt, with tight cuffs and generous sleeves, loosely laced at his collarbone. His tawny hair was clean, but unruly as ever.
He spoke above the tavern’s roar. “So, you’ve never seen Tilliya Island?”
I shook my head.
“I think it’s time I show you.”
“You don’t have a ship,” I shouted.
“I know where I can get one.”
Galadin drew an invisible “x” over his chest. “Cross my heart.”
When the waiter came by, I ordered Draeberry wine. Galadin raised an incredulous brow.
“Same for me,” he said, and the faery waiter flew back to the bar. He looked at me with a one-sided smile. “One glass of that, and I’ll be having my way with you.”
The waiter returned. I wrapped my fingers around the cold glass. “Oh? I doubt that.”
Five glasses later, we were dancing. A visiting gypsy band played. Their tambourines, bongo drums, and fiddles surrounded us with sultry melodies. The music animated our bodies, drifted around us in a seductive, rhythmic embrace. He clasped my body against his. We shimmied and swayed—so different than the ballroom dancing to which I was accustomed. His hearty laughter was as intoxicating as the wine. I never wanted this night to end. In his arms, I was free to be myself, to let down my guard and allow my heart to soar. Galadin had made me believe in myself, and if we never shared another night like this, I would always be grateful to him for that.
Among the crowd of strangers, no one cared that we danced like lovers. My breasts pressed into his chest. I gripped his back, and we swished as one being into the rising tempo. When my leg traveled up his thigh, he gripped my knee and I let my shoulders and head fall back away from him. He swung me in a half circle and then pulled me up again. Our faces were so close, his hot breath caressed my lips. I kissed him wildly, and he stumbled.
When I pulled back, he said, “Gawd, you’re beautiful. Jesh quit beatin around the bush and shtay with me tonight.”
I sighed and shook my head. “Sure. Let me help you to the room.”
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
- managed to
- swallowed hard
- Leading participial phrases, such as: "Turning my head, I saw Cali's face beside mine." (This one has both a leading participial phrase AND the word saw.)