The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

Jan 17, 2017

Welcome to Musings of a Messenger!

Here you'll find the writing and ramblings of Meri Greenleaf. For easy access, here are the stories I've so far shared to this blog.

Short stories from "Unexpected Inspiration"
These are a collection of short stories about artists, inventors, and carnival performers. They're set in my lighthearted/comedic lgbt+ fantasy series Unexpected Inspiration. (You can learn more about the series here.) I'm currently writing the first trilogy of books in this series, so these short stories go along with those characters, and I'm always adding new stories to this list.
  • "Three Keys"
    Friendship, trust, and keys. Sweetness abounds.
  • "Who Picked Whom"
    The trio reflects on fate being
    weird. This never should have happened.
  • "A New Beginning"
    A would-be thief gets offered a job after a strange blue woman catches him.
  • "Rising to a Challenge"
    A young arcane chef regrets her decisions and wonders if her restaurant is cursed.
  • "Mile Long Cow"
    Some myths and legends go back centuries. This one goes back five minutes and you'll probably want that five minutes back.
  • "Soul-Marks"
    It would help if anyone ever went by their real name. (Every writer writes a cheesy soulmate AU at some point. This is mine.)
  • "Lost and Found"
    Sure, blame the newcomer when your stuff goes missing. That won't come back to bite you.
  • "Roommates"
    What do you do when your new roommate is an offbeat inventor who can control fire? First step: make him wear pants.
  • "Of Parties and Potions"
    A mischievous scheme causes chaos at a costume party. The healer enlists the help of a cat and a mouse to right a lizard's wrong.

Novellas
These are longer stories set in the world I was writing previous to Unexpected Inspiration; they're older stories written in '10 and '11. These are more traditional fantasy and are set in the "Dungeons and Dragons" world my husband and I created. I've since moved on from elves and traditional fantasy, but these stories hold a special place in my heart as the ones that gave me my love of writing.
  • The Acolyte's Map
  • A powerful magical artifact has been unleashed! Unfortunately it has fallen into the unlikely hands of a hapless young priest who is now bound by its bizarre curse. This is the tongue-in-cheek tale of a half-elven cleric who is trying to locate and free the unwitting victim from said item's grasp with the help of his mischievous (and not always competent) brethren. Along the way there will be magic, intrigue, mischief, and a talking dog.
  • Hidden Magic
  • Meren, an unusual elf girl (and her more unusual centaur brother) take up the task of hunting down a band of orc trespassers. When she stumbles into a pitfall, Meren finds an object: an amulet that gives strange new powers. Little does she know that an increasingly desperate young wizard is looking for the very same amulet and that their paths are destined to crisscross in a weave of chaotic magic...

Writing update for 1/9-1/15

 

I'm a little behind with posting this writing update, but I'm just excited that I have a writing update! Last week my writing goal was basically "start writing again" and I did that by diving back into my rewrite of book 1 (Colorweaver). I rewrote the first chapter (that's what this excerpt is from) which is great because I've been on the fence about what chapter should be the first chapter. I think I've worked out where/when the story needs to start. Only took me something like five tries, two viewpoints, and four different locations. And watch, I'll change it again.

I also dove into my Dreaded Chapter. This was the only part of the story that remained mostly intact from the first draft and it no longer really fit in the story, but it had a bunch of events in it that needed to happen so I kept trying to make it work. Last week I had enough of the chapter making me grimace every time I looked at it and rewrote it from a different location. I'm still working on it, but for the first time since the first draft, this part of the story feels like it belongs in the story. I'm optimistic.

My goal for this week is simple: do something writing-related for an hour a day, at least three days. I'm hoping to keep making progress with this rewrite, but after being kicked around by December, I'll take any kind of writing! I still have to finish my culture building worksheets, so those are on my to do list, too.

~Meri

Jan 5, 2017

Writing update for the new year


I just realized that I haven't done a writing goals/progress post in over a month. The reason for this is that December ... well, can we just pretend December didn't happen? I've never been a fan of that particular month and this year it was particularly difficult. I did a little bit of writing-related stuff each week, but it was mostly world building and planning. It was hard to even hit my weekly goals of two days a week! Thank goodness December is finally over.

My goal for January is to get back into writing for an hour a day, three days a week. From there I'll try to get back up to four or five days, but I'm not going to overwhelm myself at first. I'm starting to get the itch to create new words again, so I have my fingers crossed I'll be able to dive back into the rewrites of books 1 and 2. Last month did give me some insight and some good ideas for them. Here's to hoping January is less stressful and more productive!

~Meri

Dec 4, 2016

Short Story: "Of Parties and Potions"

She knew that over excited voice, even if it was a little more echoing than usual. "Sol?"
"Yeah! Hey, look what I can do!” The door swung open on its hinges and... well, burped was the only way Blythe could describe the outflow of heat and flame. That was Sol, all right.
Blythe dropped to her knees so she could be eye level with Sol’s knobs. She hoped those were his eyes and not something else. “Yes, that’s great. What do you mean no one wants to talk to you? No one else is here! And-- I'll probably regret asking this-- 
why are you a stove?”



(This is a Halloween/costume party themed story that I finished a month ago. Pretend that it's still seasonal, okay? This short story mostly fits into the Unexpected Inspiration series canon, except that it takes place shortly after book 3 [Iconoclasm]. This story is what you get when a you mix a character who loves causing mischief with a world where magic is readily available. This is another super ridiculous story that I'll blame on my husband, my muse of silliness.)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Of Parties and Potions"


Firedrake nudged the door of their wagon shut with their hip and placed the small brown sack on the table. The contents of the bag, while difficult to acquire, were well worth the effort for the devious plan they had in mind. “Solei, what did you do? Open every window?”

Sol glanced up from where he knelt on the floor. His usual orbs of light hovering a foot above his head did nothing to heat the wagon. The stove served that purpose. The stove, Firedrake now noticed, was cold and dark. Sol sheepishly grinned at Firedrake. “I kinda blew the door off again. But I’m fixing it!”

Firedrake’s exasperated response went unsaid when a shiver shook their body. Sol had improved the stove enough that it could keep even a Salamander warm, but every upgrade meant he broke the blasted thing for most of a day, usually by blasting the thing. “Is this going to take long?”

“Nope! I’m almost done.” Sol snapped his fingers and then pointed at the hinge. A narrow jet of flame streamed from his fingertips to turn the metal a dimly glowing orange. After a few minutes of mixing fire weaving with metalworking, the door was back on and Sol had relit the coal.

Sol climbed to his feet and pushed his goggles back up onto his forehead where they stopped just short of the carefully-styled blond spikes. “There. Told ya!”

“Good. If you’ve finished blowing things up for the evening, I made plans for us.”

Firedrake reached into the bag and was relieved that Sol’s curiosity brought him over to investigate. This was much better than an unreliable stove since Sol emitted a steadily warm body heat. Sol’s inability to understand personal space was never a problem.

Once the glass jar was in their hands, Firedrake pivoted around to show this to Sol. Before Firedrake could explain further, however, Sol reached for it. “Thanks! I was thirsty!”

Firedrake snatched it back, grateful the lid was stoppered with a cork. Who knew what would happen if it hit their skin instead of being ingested? “I didn’t get this for you, goofus. It’s not for drinking. Yet.”

Sol’s lips twitched into a pout. “Aww, why not? It looks like fruit juice.”

“And I’m hoping that’s all it tastes like. Remember the party tonight?”

Sol shook his head.

“You know, the one our sibs were invited to, but the one to which no one saw fit to invite us?”

Sol continued to look blank.

“For the Creators’ sakes. They’re at a costume party right now thrown by one of Adair’s Artisan friends. We’re going to crash it.”

Now Sol got it. His face broke into a wide grin. “Oh! Sounds like fun! What are you going to wear?”

Firedrake rolled their eyes and gestured down. “Was it ever in question?”

“You always dress like a dragon. Can’t you wear something else?”

Firedrake had no desire to change out of the costume they wore to their performance earlier. It took long enough to get the makeup right as it was. “Don’t be ridiculous. Now find something you can wear- one of your silly hats or something- and meet me outside. There’s one more thing I have to do.”

“I guess that would work...” Sol paused for a moment, then his eyes widened. “No! I have the most perfect idea ever!”

Oh no. A Sol idea couldn’t end well. “What-”

Sol interrupted Firedrake with a laugh and gave them a gentle shove towards the door. “It’s a secret, like your not-juice. You’ll see!”

-----------------------

“I take it you are having as much fun as I.”

Blythe stopped trying to push her annoyingly floppy ears away from her eyes when she heard the familiar voice. Etri leaned against the wall next to her as though he wished he could pass through it- something not too far outside the realm of possibility considering that he was a Shadowweaver. Although Etri towered over everyone here, Adair had chosen the most suitable costume for someone with a penchant for hiding.

“Hang on, your whiskers are smudged.” She reached up to wipe his cheek. His round ears were knocked slightly askew by his mess of curls, so she adjusted these. “There. Yeah. I’m hoping if I stay in this corner long enough, Addy will forget I’m here and I can sneak out the side door.”

“That is unlikely after all the begging he did to get you to come in the first place.”

“Said the pot to the kettle. He knows we hate parties. I don’t do small talk and you don’t do talk.”

“It could be worse, yes?”

Blythe let out a huff of air and pushed her ears away from her face again. As obnoxious as the things were, they still weren’t as obtrusive as the fake snout tied behind her head with string. She would have preferred the painted whiskers. “Since when are you the optimistic one?”

Etri gestured towards the center of the room. “Ever since I saw what the other sentinels wear. He could have garbed us in that.”

Blythe snorted a laugh. The lounge was full of artists and their sentinels, most dressed far more ridiculously than Blythe and her pair. The artists seemed to have gone in for a few of the Muses this year-- lots of dragons, arborein tree-folk, and birdlike aerigals. These were presumably supposed to be Tessera, Mortise, and Andante, the Muses of glassblowing, woodworking, and music. And, of course, cats. There were always cats at a costume party. What wasn’t normal was the fact that the bodyguards were almost entirely crustaceans.

“Okay, I get the whole fixation with artists and Muses and their whole art thing. But why lobsters? Shouldn’t sentinels be dressed more … impressively? Or at least a little less silly?”

Etri’s lips twitched into a smile. “Well, ponder this. We are supposed to be defensive of our artists, yes? What better for this than an animal both possessing a natural kind of armor and capable of attacking a foe.”

“Claws made from stuffing and fabric kind of defeat the purpose. How exactly is a sentinel supposed to defend an artist when their hands are inside large oven mitts and they’re waddling around with a stupid tail?”

“What could possibly hurt us here?” In her ranting about how mind-numbingly stupid this all was, she hadn’t noticed Adair walk over to them. He grinned behind his own set of painted whiskers and handed Etri a red beverage. “And I knew you’d say that. That’s why I didn’t make you or Etch wear gloves for your paws.”

“Thank your Creators,” Etri muttered under his breath as he took a drink.

“Ha! I knew you’d start talking like a Concordian eventually!”Adair reached up to adjust Etri’s headband from where it had slid forward again. As he shifted to stand on his toes, his striped tail swung back and forth. Blythe thought he looked far better than the trees and lobsters, even if he had expressed disappointment that so many people also chose cats. A cat suited Adair. He was like a small, hyperactive, overly-affectionate kitten. Even his tattoo-like skin discoloration- the side effect of channeling weaving that was not his own- resembled the dark markings on a tabby.

When he took the glass back to hand it over to Blythe, she couldn’t stop the sigh that escaped her lips. While Etri might be getting more and more Concordian as time went by, she just couldn’t adjust to Adair’s Artisan traditions. Why did the three of them always have to share food and drink? It wasn’t as though she really minded sharing with Adair and Etri, but she wouldn’t say no to her own drink every once in a while. She couldn’t remember the last time she finished a meal without Adair nibbling from it. Etri once jokingly threatened to climb up on the roof of their wagon during meals, a place where he knew the acrophobic artist wouldn’t go. The intense disappointment Adair projected through their link had quickly stopped that jibe.

Blythe rubbed at her forehead as she handed the drink back to Adair. It made her head a little fuzzy, which shouldn’t be able to happen to her, especially after only a few sips. “What’s in this, anyway? It’s potent.”

Adair shrugged as he drank from it. “I dunno. Fruit?”

A loud clanging sound distracted Blythe from her worries. “Oh no. What’s he doing here?”

Clamoring across the dance floor and bumping into everyone he passed was Etri’s brother. When Sol saw them, he waved his arms wildly to get their attention, spilling some of his drink on a pair of birds and knocking a tree off her feet.

Etri hid his face behind his hands. As the only other tall foreigner at the party, it was obvious that he knew Sol- or if this wasn’t obvious, Sol untangling his feet from branches and coming over to give Etri a bear hug would have made this undeniable.

Adair broke into a titter as Etri tried to pry himself away from someone who seemed to be made entirely out of metal.

"So you're a... stove?" Blythe leaned over to unhook Etri’s shirt from where it stuck to Sol’s burner. “That’s certainly different.”

"No, I'm a knight! Like from the stories! Dray's my dragon!"

Blythe groaned. “Dray’s here too? What part of ‘private party’ don’t you understand?”

Never mind that she didn’t want to be here and would have gladly allowed Sol to come in her place. He didn’t have to know this.

“The part that left us sitting at home bored, of course.” Firedrake had come up behind Sol. Dwarfed by the much taller man, Firedrake wouldn’t have made a very threatening dragon if not for the fact that Firedrake really could breathe fire. “We decided to see what all this fuss was about. Frankly this party is rather boring.”

Blythe couldn’t disagree there, but before she could say as much, Firedrake let out a gasp. “Solei!”

At the sound of his name being shouted, Sol started with his glass halfway to his lips. The liquid ran down his arm and splashed the front of Firedrake’s coat. Firedrake crinkled their nose and frantically began brushing at this with their hands.

“You klutz! It will be impossible to remove this stain. Do you know how hard it is to get punch out of-” Firedrake froze and stared at their hands in disgust. When Etri handed them a handkerchief, Firedrake waved it away. “There isn’t much point now, is there? I’m afraid I made a horrible mistake.”

Something was wrong with Firedrake’s hands. They seemed stained a strange color different from the punch… green, perhaps, but when Blythe took a step forward to get a better look, she stumbled. She reached out to steady herself against Etri only to find he no longer stood at her side. Typical, she thought as her knees hit the floor. Ten minutes into a social situation and out he crept through the nearest door. Occasionally it was through a window. Once it was up a chimney.

-----------------------

Blythe’s ears itched. Her legs itched. Her back itched. It felt like she had walked through a patch of nettles. No… it was more like the time the cat had slept on her clean laundry and shed fur everywhere. When she brought her foot up to scratch at her ear, the embarrassment won out over the incessant prickling. What was she doing?

She climbed to her feet to make sure no one saw this. Luck was on her side- no one had, if just for the reason that no one else was in the room. She peered under a nearby table to check that no one was playing a trick on her and found it empty of all but a lizard.

As this skittered away, Blythe rubbed at her head. She still felt fogged from the drink Adair gave her, whatever it was. Her eyes widened and she dropped her hand. Maybe that was what happened. Maybe everyone else got sick from this, too, and left to go home.

That couldn’t be right. As a healer she recovered faster, so there was no reason she would have been struck down immediately and then affected longer. For another thing, Etri and Adair would never leave her here.

Blythe headed towards the door and tripped over a row of potted plants that she didn’t recall having been there earlier this evening. Why were there so many trees? These people really went all out on decorations. If only she could find the people. Her pair would be preferable, but anyone would do. Creators, her skin itched! Her costume wasn’t made of wool, was it?

She pushed the door to the hallway open, expecting to find everyone waiting outside to yell “surprise!” The hall was as vacant as the lounge. She poked her head into each of the rooms on this floor to find them all empty. Where the hell was everyone? If this was a joke, she didn’t find it very funny.

She was halfway across the dance floor with the goal of the side door in mind when she heard a familiar clattering sound behind her. At least someone was still here! “Sol! Do you know where Addy and Etch are? Or any-”

She spun around to find no sign of Sol, either. She had been so sure. When two parrots whizzed past her head, she had to duck to avoid being brained. This was so stupid. Who let all these animals in here, anyway? It would be just her luck if Etri escaped out a window instead of a door and left it open. She always got stuck cleaning up after his and Adair’s mistakes.

Grumbling about her grievances as a sentinel, she spun around and rammed her knee against the side of a table. She looked down. No, not a table. A stove. In the middle of the dance floor.

Okay, things were beyond weird. This had to be a dream.

“I’d like to wake up now,” she muttered in the hope this would jolt her sleeping self into consciousness.

“Oh! Are you sleepwalking! You looked awake! If you want me to go so you can sleep, I’ll go.”

She stared at it. It couldn’t possibly be speaking, yet with each word the flap on the stovepipe lifted up and down. When the stove began to prance away on its stubby legs, she called out, “Hey, wait!”

It stopped and turned around. She got the impression it was grinning at her, but a stove couldn’t emote. Or talk. Or walk. “So you are awake! I was hoping you’d talk to me! No one else wants to.”

She knew that over excited voice, even if it was a little more echoing than usual. “Sol?”

“Yeah! Hey, look what I can do!” The door swung open on its hinges and … well, burped was the only way Blythe could describe the outflow of heat and flame. That was Sol, all right.

Blythe dropped to her knees so she could be eye level with Sol’s knobs. She hoped those were his eyes and not something else. “Yes, that’s great. What do you mean no one wants to talk to you? No one else is here! And-- I'll probably regret asking this-- why are you a stove?”

“It’s great, isn’t it! I can blow out fire and make things warm and no one yells at me for it!”

“Sol, there’s no one else here to yell at you even if they wanted to. Just me. Where is everyone?” If Sol had shoulders she would have shaken him by them. As it was, she had to settle for glaring at the flapping stove pipe.

“They’re right here. I’d point, but I don’t have a hand. It’s the only thing bad about this, I guess. Hey, want to see what else I can do?”

Blythe scooted back on her heels in case Sol decided to belch again. “No no, that’s fine. What do you mean ‘here’?”

“All around you, silly!”

Blythe glanced quickly around the room, then rolled her eyes. “Sol, I already looked. No one is here. And you didn’t answer how in Petra’s name you ended up a stove. Did Addy set you up for this? Did he use his weaving on you?”

That had to be it. Adair had recently learned how to make illusions. Sol-as-stove was a trick.

“Nope! Not Addy, but you’re close. Pretend I’m waving my arm around again, okay? Okay, so all this is weaving.”

Blythe looked around again and finally noticed how many new things were in the room than there were before. If Sol wasn’t a figment of her imagination and wasn’t under an illusion, that meant…

It was weaving. Potent weaving. Blythe snatched a candelabra off a nearby table and stared at it. “Right. So then this is actually a person?”

Sol let out an echoing chortle. “No, silly! That’s just a lamp! I’ll give you a hint: what was everyone wearing before?”

What did their clothes have to do with price of apples in Agren? Then it hit her. That was why Sol turned into a stove. If his costume had been better, he might have actually turned into a knight. No wonder she had tripped over a row of potted plants. Those were probably fine; they weren’t going anywhere and not much could hurt a small tree. The animals, however, were going to be a problem. She needed to get them separated before… her eyes slid to the left where a lobster had cornered a lizard, possibly the same one from earlier. Oh no.

“Sol, stay here! I’ll be right back!”

-----------------------

After many a scratch, pinch, and bite, Blythe managed to dump all of the lobsters into a bathtub, drop the lizards into a large box, and shoo the birds into the adjoining room. She could only hope each of the same species wouldn’t hurt another- or try to mate. That would be embarrassing after they became human again. If they became human again.

She couldn’t think about that now. There was one last task to protect the rest of the party-goers from themselves and it was shaping up to be the most difficult. Herding cats was like… herding cats. Painful, frustrating, and nearly impossible. As she dropped what she hoped was the last one into a room already beginning to make her nose itch, one darted between her legs.

Blythe growled after it, then cleared her throat. So the effects of the drink hadn’t quite worn off. What good was her enhanced metabolism, anyway? She ran after the cat while a part of her subconscious tried to force her down on all fours. She caught up with it when it skidded in a u-turn to follow a small grey shape.

Tell me that isn’t…

As the cat pounced, she leaped. Wrestling the tabby around until she was glaring into its eyes and hoping it wouldn’t claw her too much, she told it, “Drop it! I mean, him! Spit your sentinel out right this minute!”

This cat had to be exactly the one she guessed it to be. Only Adair could manage to look that sheepish in animal form. Through their link she could sense annoyance, then confusion, then recognition. She kicked herself for not thinking about their bond earlier. If nothing else, she could have tracked down these two fools first.

In her head his voice sounded as contrite as she expected. -Blade? Why are you so big?-

She gave him a quick hug followed by a sneeze before placing him down on the ground. Thank the Creators, at least Adair was starting to think like a person again. “Someone spiked the punch with weaving. Everyone’s their costume.”

-But you’re okay… Oh, healer’s healing, right?-

She nodded. This also explained why Adair was returning to normal thinking patterns. Her healing extended to the other two through the bond they shared.

The mouse climbed up her leg to sit on her thigh. -Impossible. Weaving does not work in that manner.-

Blythe shrugged. “You’re the Weavers, not me.”

When Adair lifted a paw, she swatted it away before he could swat Etri. "Knock if off, Addy. We’re going to need Etch’s help."

Etri scampered up her sleeve to reach the safety of her shoulder. -What do you have in mind?-

She leaned over to scratch Adair behind the ears. “I may not know weaving like you do, but I know a thing or two about antidotes. And the perfect way to brew up this concoction. First we find the punch bowl.”

-Then what?- Adair asked as he purred and rubbed against her hand.

“Then we figure out how to get you back to normal. You’re both cute and all, but fur make me sneeze.”

-----------------------

“But you know what? Honestly it just feels right! Heck, I wouldn’t mind if I stayed this way!” Sol prattled on as Blythe placed a pot of water on his stove top. It figured he was the only one affected who could still speak aloud.

“That’s nice,” Blythe muttered as she tried to figure out what knob would increase the heat. There was no way she wanted to turn any of his knobs. “Um… Could you maybe make this a little bit hotter?”

A few seconds later Blythe leaned back and blinked. She didn’t need her eyebrows. “A little less oomph this time, please.”

“Oops! Sorry!”

Something brushed up against her leg. Adair had returned carrying a jar in his mouth.

“Oh good, you found them!” She rook the jar from him and read the label. “No, Addy. I said peppercorns. This is pepperoni.”

Adair’s tail twitched in annoyance. -Drat! I thought it was right! It’s so hard to read when my eyes are funny like this!-

Blythe opened the jar and handed a few pieces down to him, which started the purring again. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

-Colors are weird. I hate not seeing colors right!-

Of course he wouldn’t. Adair was an artist and a painter to boot. She gave him another pepperoni to ease his suffering. “Maybe the label on the peppercorn is a single color script. Can you try again?”

-Yeah. I guess. There’s this mean cat who lives in the kitchen and she keeps hissing at me.-

Blythe wondered if this was because Adair was another cat or because that cat knew Adair was likely to raid the nearest kitchen at any given time, regardless of form. “You’re a person. Ignore her.”

-Easy to say when she’s bigger than me.-

“You should be used to that. It’s not like you’re very big as a person either. Please get me the peppercorn?”

With indecipherable mental grumbles, Adair padded across the floor. Once he was out of sight, Etri appeared back on her shoulder. At some point he must have climbed her again, but she hadn’t noticed. Etri was surprisingly light as a human due to his weaving, so it only made sense that his weight would do the same as a mouse.

“Didn’t want to be drooled on again, did you?” she asked him.

-No, I did not. I have that which you asked.- Blythe held out her hand and in it he placed a tangle of hair into the palm of her hand. -I believe this is from every garment in the coat room. What would happen if there are some I missed?-

Blythe dropped the knot into the pot then plucked out a single strand of her hair and did the same with this, just in case. It felt coarser than usual and wasn’t the right color. She hoped this would work because at the moment “human” wasn’t as much as it should have been. “Artisan party. Almost everyone here should be in a link like ours. As long as I have the hair from one, this should also work on their bondmates, too.”

-What about S--

Etri’s words were cut off when a much heavier animal landed on Blythe’s shoulder, forcing Etri to climb up her braid and cling to her scalp. “Mrrrttt!” came the sound as Adair began to slip, followed by a mental -Ouch!- when he dug his claws in for grip.

Blythe lifted Adair off her shoulder with a wince and tucked him into the crook of her arm. “Did you not hear what I was saying to Etch? We’re still linked, doofus. No clawing me. And for the love of Petra, stop trying to eat Etri! If you think clawing me hurts, what do you think eating him would feel like?”

-But he’s a small fuzzy moving thing,- Adair grumbled. -I like small fuzzy moving things.-

Blythe wasn’t sure if it was the cat side or the human side talking and didn’t really want to know. “Did you get the peppercorn?”

-Oh. Yeah. Umm... I hope.-

Blythe knelt to pick up the jar, bending slowly at the knees so she wouldn’t dislodge Etri from her hair. She wasn’t sure what a fall like that would do to him in his current shape. The last thing she needed right now was all three of them to end up with broken legs. Paws. Whatever. When she saw the label she groaned. “Now you’ve grabbed popcorn.”

“Ooo! Popcorn! I love popping popcorn! Let me pop it!” Blythe should have known Sol wouldn’t stay silent for more than a few minutes.

“We don’t have time for that. Look, I’ll keep the jar so you can pop it later. Can we please get on with this?” She placed Adair on the floor in front of the stove. “I’ll go get it myself. Can you make sure this doesn’t boil over and come get me if it does? And Sol, try not to do your burping thing again. I need this a steady temperature.”

“Right! Can do!” Sol flapped. Adair’s response was a mental affirmative.

She returned a few minutes later with the correct jar in hand to find Adair curled up in a ball in front of Sol. When she nudged him with her boot, one of his eyes slid open. -I wasn’t asleep. Just watching. Like you asked.-

Blythe unscrewed the jar and placed the last ingredient she needed into the pot. As she stirred this together, she said, “Since you’re so helpful, you can be the first to try this out.”

Adair sat up and his ears twitched back. -You can’t expect me to drink that! It smells! And has hair in it!-

Blythe transferred the contents into a smaller bowl and placed it in front of him. “A sip would do.”

Adair shot across the room and vanished under a table. By the time Blythe was able to coax him out, on no small part thanks to the remaining pepperoni, the brew was cool enough to drink. Adair sniffed it.

When he turned his head in disgust, Blythe had enough. She dipped her fingers into the bowl and flicked the liquid at him. Immediately Adair began washing his fur while making intermittent faces at the taste. He stopped mid lick with his tongue sticking out as realization dawned. -That was a dirty trick.-

“A dirty trick that worked.” She held the bowl up to the level of her head. “Etch?”

-You said only one of a triad needed to drink this,- he pointed out.

“It’s a theory. Do you really want to test it by staying a mouse?”

-You have a valid point.-

Blythe poured a small amount into her palm and held it out to him. As he drank this, Blythe turned her attention back to Adair who was still attempting to lick himself clean. The difference was he no longer had any fur. It took him a moment to notice this, then he let out a laugh and threw himself at Blythe to hug her. “It worked!”

Too well. Blythe hadn’t thought ahead to move Etri to the floor and within the breath of Adair tackling her and Etri taking a drink, Etri returned to his normal size.

Blythe’s voice was muffled. “I think I liked it better when you were both smaller.”

The three of them climbed to their feet, Etri and Adair a bit unsteadily. Once they were used to two legs again, Blythe checked on the bowl to find its contents covering them and the floor. Adair began to lick Etri’s sleeve until he remembered he didn’t have to clean him this way and gave him an embarrassed smile.

Etri gently pushed him away and chuckled softly. “No more spit today, if you would please.”

Safe in the knowledge that Adair could no longer hurt his sentinel, Blythe walked over to the stove to ladle more into the bowl.

“Can I stay like this a little longer?” Sol asked. “Please please please?”

“Fine, yeah. I’m not sure how you’re going to drink it anyway. At least the plants have dirt I can pour it into.” She nodded at Etri and Adair. They were slightly damp, but at least they were human again, which would make them far more helpful. “Now we give this to everyone else. Grab bowls and fill them up. It’s going to be a long evening.”

-----------------------

Blythe was pouring the end of her bowl into a potted fern when she heard clanging again. “Sol, you really shouldn’t be walking around like that. Since people are people again, you’re going to scare them.”

“Like what?”

Blythe looked up. Sol was Sol again, other than balancing the pot on his head. So basically Sol again.

“Oh. How did that happen?”

“When you spilled it, I guess some splashed on me. I guess it’s what happened when I splashed Dray with the punch, too.”

Sol looked forlorn, so she stood and patted him on the shoulder. “You’re still a pretty good stove even on two legs.”

She paused as the other part of Sol’s sentence made its way into her tired mind. “Wait. Dray. The lizards!”

She darted across the hall and into the room where she had left the box of lizards. She arrived just in time to see Adair place his bowl inside.

“There you go,” he said. “Now everyone drink this and you’ll be normal soon.”

“Addy, no! The box! You have to-”

Too late. As she watched, the box exploded outwards as the reptiles changed shape. Green claws became hands, tails became simply extensions of costumes, and silent animals became confused and bickering humans.

Sitting at the top of the human pyramid was Firedrake who blinked slowly at her. “About time. Did you really have to stick me in there with them?”

Firedrake hopped lightly down to land next to Blythe. Of course Firedrake would only be mildly affected by being a lizard, having spent six months with a tail and scales.

She folded her arms across her chest and glared at her sibling. “Don’t you have something to say for yourself?”

Firedrake ignored her question and brushed at the now dry stain on their coat with their hands. “Do you know how dull these lizards were? I could have thought of a better way to spend the evening.”

Blythe bit back her retort when the now familiar clanging entered the room. “Hey, guys! I found another glass!”

With speed he didn’t normally possess, Adair cleared the gap between them and knocked the glass out of Sol’s hand with a sound somewhere between a “mrowl!” and a “no!” It bounced off the floor and upturned over the carpet.

While Sol pouted at the spreading stain on the floor, Blythe reached over to scratch Adair behind his now-round ears. “Good boy. Now let's get out of here before anyone starts to wonder what happened and why they have feathers in their teeth or a desire to sit in a pot of dirt.”

Firedrake fell into step beside her and nudged her with their elbow. “You’re taking this awfully well.”

Wait for it… a few more steps… now! Blythe caught her foot around Firedrake’s ankle at precisely the right moment and kept walking as though nothing had happened.

Before she stepped out of the room, Blythe called over her shoulder. “I am, aren’t I? I’ll be back in the morning.”

“I probably deserved this,” Firedrake muttered as they pushed themself up onto their hands from their sticky spot on the floor – hands which were just starting to turn green again.

Nov 30, 2016

Writing update for 11/21-11/27 (and my favorite line)


This week a prompt for the NaNoWriMo photo challenge was "favorite line you wrote." I did a lot of editing, character development/background, and world building this month, so I didn't have as many new lines from the new rewritten stuff to choose from as I normally would. Of those words, this is probably my favorite, though!

I just realized I never did an update/goal post for last week, so I'll do that now. I'm gradually moving forward in my rewrite of book 1. I'm going to continue on with this for this week, assuming I don't decide to jump back over to the rewrite of book 2. I never know what book I'm going to be working on or if I'm going to do a random short story instead. That's okay! I've accepted that that's the way I write. At least I'm moving forward even if it wasn't with the original project. :)

~Meri