Friday, 27 May 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Brains are Better

This week, I think I have received/sent more emails than ever before in my whole entire life. Impressive right? My cousin Jessica and I had...a rather long conversation about no particular set thing and it got highly amusing. Particularly my attempts at solving her technical difficulties. We're crazy. Very.

Option two got the most votes last week. Astounding! And I had no problems naming today's episode. Brains are definitely better.

Thanks you everyone for reading my stories, you honestly don't know how much it means to me to get all your comments. (If I ever publish a book, I'll mention all my wonderful blog readers in the acknowledgements or something.)

I suddenly remembered my nightmare. It couldn’t have come true. Dreams are just dreams. A cold feeling crept through me, starting in my hands and slowly reaching up my arms.

It couldn’t be true.

The man’s broken voice pushed through the growing fog of dread. “Your lordship, she was my daughter. So young, so sweet.” A sob tore from his throat, “You must do something.”

“She was betrothed to a merchant,” I whispered under my breath, staring in horror at the distraught man.

Eumin stood, stepping to the man’s side. “Sit down, good man,” he said. “Bring him a drink,” he added to the servant. “Make it something strong.”

The man collapsed on a reclining chair, keening softly.

“My liege,” Eumin began as the servant rushed from the room. “If you don’t mind?”

The king gestured for Eumin to go ahead.

Eumin turned back to the man, speaking slowly and gently, but quiet enough that we could only hear the murmur of his voice. Gradually the man relaxed, his frightened shivers disappearing.

The servant hurried back in, passing a full tankard of swirling dark liquid.

I gripped the edge of my chair, eyes fixed on the bearer of news, waiting for him to continue. Finally he revived sufficiently to sit up and look around the room with wide eyes.

“Tell us from the beginning,” Eumin prompted.

“She was…only young,” he began, slurping down another mouthful from the tankard. “Betrothed to a merchant. But last night…” he paused, downing another swallow. “He came. I was asleepin’ in my bed an’…an’ then there was a terrible scream.” His hand shook as he raised the tankard again. “I jumped up, my very blood was chilled by the sound, and rushed to her room.” His voice began to raise in pitch, becoming more like a squeak of terror, “And there he was, standin’ over her with a knife of bloody.” The man hunched over, breaking into the same low moaning sound again.

Eumin rested a hand on his shoulder. “Then what,” he asked softly.

The man looked up, quivering all over. “Then he swirled his cloak an’ was gone.” He gulped more of the dark liquid. “I rode all night to get here just now.” Another swallow. “And I saw its eyes,” he wailed.

He looked toward me.

Our eyes met across the room, and silence rang for a long moment.

Then he leapt from his seat with a high screech, launching himself across the room at me. I hand no time to react before his clawing hands met my face, nails scraping along my cheek. A scream broke from my throat and I rolled to the side, crashing to the floor, trying to get away from the mad attack.

The man shrieked again as Eumin and the king dragged him backwards off me. “The eyes,” he wailed. “The eyes.”

Leonora dropped down beside me, helping me to my feet with an arm under mine. I was shaking uncontrollably, stunned by what had just happened. Something wet trickled down my neck.

I put my hand up to my face and stared at the red on my fingertips.

Leonora grabbed a decorative white cloth off the small table, passing it quickly. “Use that to stop it bleeding.”

I pressed the rich fabric against the long gashes in my cheek, staring at the howling man as he was escorted away by two startled looking servants.

The king shut the door firmly behind him, turning back to the room. “I am terribly sorry, Lady Louise, I didn’t see that coming. Are you alright?”

I swallowed, my throat dry. “I…I’m fine,” I managed. My cheek stung with the movement.

“This is getting serious,” Eumin frowned, beginning to pace across the room. “From now on, Louise, you’re going to have to steer clear of anyone who has actually seen our assassin. If your eyes are so recognisably alike there must be more similarities too.”

“This newest assassination appears very strange,” Lord Ganstro mused. “A young woman, with no apparent connections to anything. Very unexpected and unpredictable.”

“I knew,” I whispered.

Eumin paused. “What was that?” he asked.

“I…I knew,” I said louder.

“You knew what?” Leonora leaned forward, her thin eyebrows drawing together.

“I had a dream last night. It was exactly the same as what he was saying happened in…wherever that place was.”

“Sáliner,” the king supplied. He rubbed his face with his hands, “This whole thing doesn’t feel right.”

“How long have you been having these…dreams?” Lord Ganstro asked.

“They started on the ship,” I murmured.

He nodded silently, deep in thought.

“There’s no possible way to guess the assassin’s next move,” the king raised his eyes. “He’s never done killings in the same town twice in a row before.”

“It’s a trap,” Leonora said.

Everyone turned to her.

“Clearly he knows we’ve returned and he wants to get us to him as fast as possible,” Leonora waved a hand in the air, slumping backwards in her chair.

“How could he find out so fast?” Lord Ganstro asked.

“Was it made any secret among you that we were coming back this week?” Eumin pointed out. “Besides, a watcher could have seen the ship approaching on the horizon and immediately set off to tell the assassin.”

“In that case you must stay here,” the king said.

Eumin dropped down in a chair. “But we can’t, that’s the problem.”

“Why can’t you?”

“Now that we’re back, there’s no stopping the rumours that we’ve got someone with us who can stop the killings, and we can’t just hide out in the castle waiting for more people to die. My liege, you know what would happen,” Eumin shook his head.

“But you can’t just walk right into the trap,” the king exclaimed in frustration.

“On the contrary,” Leonora replied seriously. “We want to walk into the trap. How is Louise supposed to snap this guy out of it without being in close quarters with him?”

“But that’s insane!”

“Your majesty, we know it would be dangerous, as does Louise, but risks need to be taken. It can make us win or lose, depending on whether we take the right ones. It’s a chance I’m willing to take,” Leonora’s earnest tone cut through the silence.

“I guess you’ll want to leave directly then,” the king sighed.

Leonora nodded. “As soon as possible.”

“I shall see to the preparations,” Lord Ganstro stood, moving to the door. “My liege,” he bowed slightly to the king and exited.

“Would the palace healers be able to have a quick look at Louise?” Eumin suggested.

The king nodded, glancing toward me. “Most definitely, sorry, my lady, that I left it so long.”

A servant entered the room and the king quickly instructed him to take me to one of the healers and then escort me to the courtyards afterwards. He bowed low and led me from the room.

I followed him through a myriad of corridors and stairs until he stopped before a door. He paused and knocked softly before opening it.

“I shall wait outside,” he said, standing back for me to enter.

“Thanks,” I murmured.

The room was very clean and ordered, not a speck of dust out of place. A tall, brown skinned woman approached me. “The king sent you, yes?” she asked, her accent different again from the rest of the Eireran people.

I nodded. “Yes, he…ah, said…” but the woman waved it away.

“Sit here,” she led me to a chair. Squatting down before me she gently took my hand away from my face, studying the long red scratches.

“You have been in a battle, no?” she suggested, setting the bloodstained cloth on a bench and fetching a damp cloth with which she proceed to wash my cheek.

“Not exactly,” I replied with a faint smile.

She looked at me seriously. “We all have different kind of battles. Not always with sword and horse. Some here,” she tapped her forehead, “Those ones are much harder.”

I watched silently as she picked up a bottle of salve from a shelf on the wall. “How are they harder?” I asked eventually.

The healer shrugged. “Plenty people can fight good,” she said. “Not many have this,” she tapped her head again, “Brains.”

“But sword fighting is more useful than having a brain,” I said.

The dark eyes met mine. “Swords good for protecting body, no good for protecting mind, thoughts.”

I thought about her words, realising the truth in them.

A smiled broke out across the dark face, her teeth almost blindingly white against her skin. “Some sword fighters no have brain, some brain fighters no have sword. If they fight, sword will win. Brain has to think and not fight. Otherwise brain die, then brain is no good.”

Her smile was contagious and I found one on my own lips. “Thank you,” I said as she straightened, replacing the lid on the jar of ointment.

“No you go,” she said, opening the door for me.

I stepped out, seeing that the servant had waited true to his word. He beckoned and started off down the hall.

“Do not forget! Brain better than sword, brain protect mind!” the healer called after me.

I turned back and nodded. I wouldn’t forget.

Out in the courtyard three horses were ready to go, the king, Lord Ganstro and several other castle folk were present to see us off. Leonora smiled at me as I approached.

“Feeling better?”

“Mmm,” I murmured agreement.

“The armorer wanted to give me half a dozen extra swords, but I told him I didn’t need any more. Unless you wanted one?” she raised her eyebrows in question.

“Nah,” I shook my head. “I’ve got no clue how to use one, and besides, brains are better.”

“Brains are better?” Leonora repeated. “Ouch, are you suggesting I haven’t got one?”

“Only sometimes,” I grinned, the gesture turning into a wince as the scratches on my cheek protested.

“Come on you two,” Eumin said, tossing Leonora the reins of a prancing young horse.

She caught them easily, checking the saddlebags and her sword were well secured before swinging nimbly into the saddle.

I took the reins of the quiet brown from Eumin, setting my foot in the stirrup and mounting. Leonora had warned me to wear something I could ride in, and I was glad I had. A dress would’ve made things unendingly complicated.

“No we do not need half your army,” Leonora was saying to the king. “The best way to fight sneaky people is by being sneaky ourselves.”

“And half an army is not sneaky,” the king shrugged wryly. “Ride well, all of you.”

Eumin led the way out the gates, his big grey trotting smoothly under the massive portcullis and out across the bridge.

“Brains are better,” I murmured to myself, as the horses took us out of the castle and on our way. Toward Sáliner. Toward my brother.

Or the man who once was my brother.

I wasn’t sure which anymore.

“Hey Eumin, take a look at that,” Leonora said, a strange tone in her voice.


1. The Rift was sailing along the horizon, sails catching a brisk wind, heading along the coast northwards.

2. I froze at the sight of the ragged man who had brought the news of the assassination talking rapidly to a vaguely familiar man.

3. A solitary rider was silhouetted against the bright morning sky, horse and rider standing like watchmen over the town and castle. As I looked, the horse turned and they disappeared.


So, I must say, that first six hundred words took an interesting turn. The problem with this week's option was that it was more a statement of fact, so it didn't lead on to anything really. But I managed to blunder my way through it, though the ending was rather stubborn and didn't want to come for half an hour or so. Hope you enjoyed my blunderings.

I feel like the voting will be a little diverse this week. But maybe that's just my weird feeling. I'll have to wait and see. Just comment the option that most takes your fancy and if you can't decide between them, you can comment and tell me. :)

Fair Winds!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Meeting His Majesty

Brotherband book six came out on Monday guys! You gonna read it? (You should) I (naturally) preordered a copy and it arrived on Monday. But the thing was, with all the other Brotherband books we did them as family read-alouds but our dad is currently away for work so it wasn't going to work! (Nonono: cue panicked sobbing) And then, I - the master of brilliant plans - came up guessed it, a brilliant plan. I'm reading it aloud and our dad can listen in via face-time! We've read the first six chapters so far and have already laughed aloud and died with excitement multiple times (Yup, multiple times). So basically, it's great!
(I'm not sure if I should mention the fact that I sat staring happily at the book sitting on the shelf with all the rest of its series for...a while. Nah, I won't say that. It could cause you to think I may be loosing my sanity*)

And now, back to my story. Option one won once more (he he he) and I discovered the fatal mistake of inventing a pirate/character like Warin...(Get away, you're not meant to even have come into the story yet, man!) I always think these episodes sound weird but apparently they don't according to some other people. So...yeah, I'll leave the judgement up to you. You can decided that too. :)

(*I actually lost my sanity years ago.)

Ana’s face froze with horror. “I…Louise…you…” she trailed off, looking from me to the indistinct face outside the window.

“What?” I asked, a vague feeling of dread creeping up my spine.

“It’s…” Ana’s mouth moved silently for a moment.

“C’mon kid, you there?”

This time I recognised the voice. “No,” I shook my head slowly. “You can’t be serious. You’re not…it’s not…”

The person outside tapped the window. “I’m going to open it now, kid,” the voice said.

I stared as the blade of a knife slipped between the glass and the sill, flicking the latch to one side. After a moment of grunting the window was pushed up slowly. His hands appeared first, unmistakeably a man’s, toughened and strong from years of hard work.

The window slid up the full way and he vaulted through, landing nimbly on the floor.

A look of shock crossed his face as his eyes landed on me.

I stared back, frozen in astonishment.

Captain Wielder was the first to break the silence. “Look, my lady,” he began. “I know how this might look, but if you’ll just trust me I can explain.”

Drawing myself up, I look sternly at him. “What are you doing in this house?”

Warin spread his hands helplessly, glancing around nervously. “I…” he seemed lost for words. “I tell stories,” he said finally. “To her.” He nodded at Ana.

“That’s how you know so much,” I said slowly, the full import hitting me.

Ana looked anguished. “I never meant to start,” she whispered. “I just met him one day an’ he came back again.” She raised her eyes to mine, “You won’t tell?”

I looked from her anxious face to Warin’s helpless uncertainty. “No,” I finally decided. “I won’t tell.”

Warin smiled lightly, sitting down on the window seat. “Now that we’ve got that sorted—”

“I still don’t think it was very nice of you,” I interrupted.

He frowned. “Not nice?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Taking advantage of a girl to get inside information of her aunt. That is not what I expected of you.”

He looked surprised and a little hurt. “It’s not like that,” he said. “I have plenty of other ways, Ana just…she wanted to hear stories.”

I sniffed. “I still don’t believe you,” I told him flatly.

Silence came in reply. Warin tapped one finger awkwardly, eyes shifting around the room anywhere other than me.

He coughed. “Louise,” he started hesitantly.

I ignored him, letting him decide whether to keep talking or not.

“May I ask…what is your mission here?”

I looked up quickly. “No you may not.”

“Oh,” he shifted uncertainly. “If there’s anything I can help with…” he trailed off, frowning.

Footsteps came from the other side of the door and in a flash Warin dived out the window, disappearing into the darkness.

Eumin opened the door. “There you are Louise,” he smiled, walking in. He pushed the window closed, pulling the heavy curtains across the glass.

“Time we all got to bed,” he said, turning back. “You and Leo can camp out by the fire.” He bent down, kissing Ana’s forehead. “And you should get some sleep, my girl. We’ll still be here in the morning.”

I stood as Ana snuggled down into the thick blankets, complete contentment in her face as her father whispered goodnight.

Leonora was tossing blankets around the main room, trying to unfold them without getting herself tangled in the long woollen layers. 

“Want a hand?” I asked, picking up one blanket and laying it neatly on one of the hay mattresses.

“Don’t set fire to them,” Susana warned, coming into the room through another door.

In a few minutes I found myself comfortably wrapped in layers of wool, staring into the warm flickering coals of the fire.

Leonora sighed happily from her mattress. “This is good,” she groaned. “Night Louise.”

“Night,” I murmured, drifting off even as I said it.

That night I had a dream.

Marius stands in a dark room, a cloak of midnight swirling from his shoulders. He looks down at the woman sleeping peacefully in the bed. She is only young, betrothed to be married to the merchant traveller. A small smile flickers across her lips, she dreams of her trading lover. Her soft hand rests delicately on the pillow beside her cheek.

The assassin’s hand emerges from the dark folds of the cloak, it is startling white against the fabric darkness. The pale fingers fasten onto the woman’s wrist.

A scream of pain rips the air.

Then all is silent.

A blood smeared knife quivers in the hand of the man who once was Marius.

Someone opens the door, freezing on the spot at the sight of the churning dark figure. Glittering black eyes look out from under the hood, then with a sweep of darkness he is gone.

I woke, sobbing into the pillow, my whole body shaking in terror. The flicker of the fire calmed me and slowly I relaxed, realising it was just a dream. I drew in a shaking breath, concentrating on breathing slowly and steadily.

Soon, I dropped off to sleep again.

Leonora woke me in the morning.

She started by tossing her blankets onto my head, then picking up one side of the mattress and rolling me off onto the floor. I scrambled up, struggling to free myself from the entangling sheets.

“Morning,” Leonora greeted me cheerfully, pulling on her shoes.

I tripped over a blanket and fell face first onto her mattress. “Same to you,” I said, my voice muffled by the mattress.

“How’s your sleep?”

“Good,” I replied, rolling over so I could breathe. “I think I had a weird dream but I don’t really remember what it was.”

“Generally speaking, all dreams are weird,” Leonora remarked.

I nodded agreement, but something was wrong, I just couldn’t quite remember…I shrugged it away, pulling the blankets off my legs. “You know what?” I said to Leonora.

She looked up. “Yeah?”

I threw the blankets in her face. “Morning,” I grinned.

Breakfast was a cheerful matter, consisting of warm freshly baked bread spread with homemade butter.

Eumin chewed the last of his bread thoughtfully. “We’ll be going to the castle this morning,” he said, swallowing.

I looked up. “To meet the king?”

“Yup,” Leonora nodded, drawing the back of her hand across her mouth.

“I’m not sure if we’ll be back or not,” Eumin turned to Susana, a wretched look in his eyes.

“Don’t worry about us,” she said, smiling sadly. “We’ll be waiting for when you get back again.”

Eumin looked at his family unhappily. “I don’t want to leave again so soon, but we may have to,” he sighed, eyebrows drawn together.

Susana shook her head. “Who else would save the world otherwise?” she smiled.

A faint hint of a smile touched the corners of his mouth. “Well,” he slapped the table with the palm of his hand. “The sooner we leave the sooner we get back, eh?”

We were ready to leave in a few short minutes. Leonora and I said our goodbyes and then headed out to the road to give Eumin a few moments.

He embraced Susana tightly, murmuring quiet words in her ear. 

Then Susana stepped backwards, the glitter of unshed tears in her eyes. “Go save the world,” she said, patting his arm.

Eumin heaved the pack over his shoulder and turned away, his long steps taking him out the gate to the road. He glanced back once, raising his hand in farewell.

Susana copied the gesture, a faint smile lighting her face. Ana and James, holding tightly to her skirts.

The walk to the castle took only ten or so minutes, and I was entire absorbed in my surroundings and barely noticed the passing time. When we turned out of the town I glanced up and stopped midstep. A castle soared high above the road, turrets and towers almost sweeping the clouds.

Nothing in Feâ Sirih could ever have compared with its stunning elegance.

I walked up the road in a daze, unheeding of the amused glances from Eumin and Leonora. We crossed the stone bridge, approaching the palace guards.

The turrets towered high, flags flying from the battlements showing the insignia of a waxing moon with some kind of bird soaring across it. I felt a shiver of delight again as the guards saluted and stood aside, the huge gates open to allow us through. 

A servant led us into a grand waiting room and disappeared to find the king. I sat down on one of the lush red cushioned seats and stared around.

“Liking it?” Eumin asked with a smile.

I suddenly realised my mouth was hanging open and probably had been for the past few minutes. I shut it abruptly, nodding.

Leonora slumped down on a chair, stretching her legs out. “I don’t think I could ever manage to live in a place like this,” she remarked, nudging the edge of an ornate mat with the toe of her boot. “The guard house is definitely a better place for me.”

I rubbed the velvet fabric of the seat. “It’s amazing,” I breathed.

Then the door opened and two men walked in, deep in conversation with each other. The one with ginger-brown hair looked up first, an expression of surprise crossing his face.

“Eumin!” he exclaimed, stepping forward and shaking hands with him. “And Leo,” he greeted her with a handshake also. “I heard you had returned. Successfully too, this time?”

Eumin nodded. “Yes, sire,” he beckoned me forward. “Please allow me to introduce Lady Louise De Corlette of Feâ Sirih.”

The man smiled and offered his hand. I suddenly noticed the silver circlet on his forehead, and it occurred to me that this was actually the king.

I fumbled as I attempted to curtsey and shake his hand all at once, mentally kicking myself at my idiocy. Of course he was the king, who else was he going to be?

“It’s an honour, your majesty,” I stammered.

“I assure you, the pleasure is all mine, my lady,” he replied, looking at me curiously. The king glanced around, “I was not aware that you would be in here, or we would not have come in. Lord Ganstro has been telling me the latest news of the assassinations.”

The king sat down on a chair, waving his hand to signal that we should resume our places. “So, he spoke. “Tell me you plan.”

“We figure on starting at the place he was last,” Leonora rubbed her hands together. “Louise – who is, by the way, going under the cover name Louise Conwell. It wouldn’t be good if word got out that she was, you know, his sister.”

The king nodded. “Yes, I can see how that would end.”

“Anyway, Louise would have a reasonably fresh scene to look at and maybe we could find something to work on,” Leonora finished.

The king nodded, tapping his chin thoughtfully. “Yes, that is probably best.”

A quick knock sounded on the door and it opened, revealing an anxious faced servant.

“Your Majesty,” he panted. “A messenger has just arrived from Sáliner bringing news of another assassination last night.”

A man pushed past the servant, his face streaked with dirt and sweat. “Please, your lordship,” he choked. “You must do something.”


1. Eumin was on his feet. “We’ll go, my liege.”

2. I suddenly remembered my nightmare. It couldn’t have come true. Dreams are just dreams.

3. “No,” Lord Ganstro placed his hand on the king’s arm. “Something is wrong here.”


Well, there ye go, hope you enjoyed it! I had fun writing it, although Warin is getting slightly annoying with appearing at places I don't want him. I'm desperately trying to think of things that I can do to get rid of him until the time when he was actually first meant to come in. I still want that to happen a while away, though it won't be the first time anymore. 
I'm really curious to know all your thoughts on the characters you're meeting and how you like them, whether they feel real or not, if they remind you of anyone from a different book (or movie)...Tell me ALL your thoughts on them! (Pretty please?)

Aaand don't forget to vote for your favourite option.

Fair Winds!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Telling of Tales

Telling of Tales: in which nothing much happens apart from...telling tales... 

But, with luck, it'll be interesting anyway.

You do get to meet the Quest family, and find out a little bit more about other things - that should make it all good. :)

Option one won (I like saying that...dunno why, but it's just fun). Apparently there are some nice people out there who want nice things to happen to the characters! Well, I hope this episode is sufficiently nice as well as interesting.

 “Susana!” Eumin gasped, his arms tightening around her in return.

With a squeal of delight a little girl dashed out of the house, bursting through the low gate, followed more slowly by a short, fat little toddler, stumbling along with a grin far too large for his face.

“Dad!” the girl cried, flinging herself at Eumin.

Eumin caught her up with a laugh, swinging the boy into his arms in another moment.

“Dad come home!” he shouted gleefully, wrapping short arms around Eumin’s neck. “Dad come home ‘gain!”

 I exchanged a smiling glance with Leonora.

The boy caught sight of Leonora. “Aunty Le’nora!” He squirmed to the ground and toddled over to Leonora.

She picked him up with a grin. “How are you, James? Did y’ miss me?”

He chuckled. “Dad back now,” he remarked, eyes shining.

Leonora replaced him on the ground and he turned to me. After a moment he whimpered and then fled to Eumin, clutching at his father’s leg.

“Don’t worry, little James,” Eumin smiled, ruffling his hair.

The girl slid to the ground, staring at me curiously. “Who’s she, dad?”

James’ wide solemn eyes met mine and he looked up at his dad again. “’Nother aunty?” he suggested hopefully.

Eumin and Susana laughed. “No, not actually. This is Louise,” he smiled. “Louise, meet my family, Anastasia, James, and, of course, my wife Susana.”

Susana stepped forward impulsively and wrapped me in a quick hug. “I’m sure you’re mostly to blame for bringing him back in one piece,” she remarked, patting my shoulder.

I smiled, inwardly remembering the multitude of times Eumin had saved my life in the short time I’d known him. “Something like that,” I agreed.

“Well, you’d best all come inside,” Susana exclaimed, her hand finding Eumin’s arm. “It’s getting late anyway and I’m sure you’re all hungry.”

“You can say that again,” Leonora agreed, swinging little James up onto her shoulders.

The house was just as quaint and neat on the inside as the out. The front door led to a room lit by wide glass paned windows. A table stood in the center of the room, covered by a clean cream-white tablecloth with a fresh posy of flowers giving it a friendly homelike touch.

On the far side of the room a glowing pile of coals lay in the hearth, an occasional flame flickering to life before dying again. A large pot hung over the warm embers, wisps of steam trailing up from whatever lay within. Susana ushered us into the room, hurrying over to the fire and stirring it to life.

“You just sit down, and I’ll fetch you some dinner,” she said, beginning to gather up pans and cooking utensils. 

Eumin sat at the table, smoothing out a crinkle from the tablecloth. “It’s good to be back,” he breathed.

I pulled a chair from under the table and sat, smiling as Ana and James moved to stand beside their father, hugging his arms tightly.

In minutes Susana had served up a delicious meal of steaming stew, setting the bowls before us. The savoury aroma swirled up to me and I breathed it in, my stomach rumbling softly to remind me just how hungry it was.

Eumin offered a heartfelt prayer and we all began spooning the wonderful stew into our mouths.

I scraped the last vestiges of food from the bowl, licking my spoon thoroughly. “That was good,” I murmured, leaning back in my chair.

“I second that,” Leonora agreed, setting her spoon down in the empty bowl. “I’d almost forgotten what a brilliant cook you were Susana.”

The cook smiled. “I could never believe a thing like that,” she replied. “You forgetting that would be as bad as forgetting your own name.”

“Good point,” Leonora obliged, a grin breaking across her features.

“So,” Eumin pushed his plate forward. “What’s the situation here?”

“Only one more assassination while you were gone,” Susana said, gathering all the bowls into a stack. “The king’s men have come no closer to discovering who it is. They can’t even find any pattern to who is getting killed – this time it was the youngest son of the Sáliner province sheriff.”

“But they’ve all got the same mark?” Eumin twisted his lips grimly.

“Aye, the black scorch mark on their wrist is always there, no matter who dies,” Susana carried the bowls over to a long bench beside the fireplace, returning to the table and sitting beside her husband. “There is absolutely no trace the king’s men have found to track him by.”

Leonora ran her fingers through her hair. “We’ll find one,” she said definitely. “Or more, Louise will.”

Both my eyebrows shot up. “Me? How am I meant to do better than all the king’s men?”

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” James chanted loudly, before hiding his face in his father’s sleeve once more.

“You will,” Eumin replied, ruffling James’ dark hair. “You will.”

“But what about your journey?” Susana asked. “I’ll have to hear the story before the night is up.”

Eumin stood, stretching, and picked up his chair, placing it by the fire. “It’s quite a story,” he said.

We all rose to follow his example, but as I went to pick up my chair I felt a nervous tap on my arm

Ana stood beside me, brown eyes looking hopefully into mine. “Can I show y’ somefin’?”

“Sure,” I smiled. I didn’t really need to hear the story again any way, I was part of it.

She took my hand and led me to a door, reaching up to lift the latch and push it open. “This is my room,” she said, flopping down onto the bed.

“It’s very nice,” I remarked, trailing my fingers along a beautifully carved chest at the foot of the equally imaginative bed.

“Dad made that,” she said, sitting up and tracing the engraved words Anastasia Quest embellished on the smooth brown lid. “He likes doing wood stuff when he’s got time. But he’s away a lot nowdays.” She sighed, trailing her fingers across a delicate flower design on the chest, “I just hope the bad assassin man will go away so dad can stay home more.”

I looked at her sad eyes. “That’s why I’m here,” I said.

She looked up, frowning curiously. “What d’you mean?”

“That’s why I’m here. To get rid of the bad man,” I repeated. “So your dad can be with you every day, and so no one has to worry anymore.”

“How will you do that?” Ana asked, tilting her head on one side.

I swallowed. “I’ve got to find him first, and then…then I’ll…” I trailed off realising that I had no idea what I actually was meant to do. I couldn't kill him, that was certain. Surely there’d be some way to…snap him out of it? I sighed heavily. “I don’t really know what I’ll do,” I admitted. “But I’m going to stop him somehow.”

“Maybe you should get Capt’in Wielder to help you,” Ana suggested, her face lighting up at the idea.

“Captain Wielder?” I repeated. “Why him?”

“Well,” she chewed her lip. “He’s a good sword fighter. The best.”


She nodded seriously. “And he’s got a fast ship. The Rift is only slower than the king’s special ships.”

“But he’s a pirate,” I reminded her.

She nodded eagerly. “So no one ‘ud dare attack you. And if they did, Capt’in Wielder would just pull out his sword and go yahah—” Ana swung her arm in a circle, wielding an invisible sword. “—and beat ‘em all! But he wouldn’t hurt ‘em.”

“Why not?”

“He’s a nice man,” Ana replied resolutely. “He al’ays fights careful so he can disarm ‘em, an’ then he gives ‘em back their sword and drops ‘em off on land.” She bounced on the mattress, an excited smile on her face, “And he’s al’ays polite to ladies too.”

“How d’you know all this?” I asked, smiling at her animated gestures.

“Well…” Ana hesitated a moment. “He’s famous. Everyone knows ‘bout Capt’in Wielder.”

“I saw him today,” I told her. “His ship was chasing ours just before we got into the harbour.”

“Did he fight anyone?” She asked eagerly.

“No,” I shook my head. “He wanted to fight Leonora, though.”

Ana smiled enormously. “Oh yes, he’s al’ays following Aunty Leonora around. He wants to see if he can beat her too.”

“So I’d gathered,” I remarked, sitting down on the bed beside the lively Ana.

She brushed the dark curls from her eyes, blinking up at me. “D’you think he could?”

“I really don’t know,” I shrugged. A yawn crept up my throat and I suddenly realised how tired I was. Closing my eyes, I leant back against the wall with a sigh.

Darkness…despair…there is no hope.

I snatched myself from the dream, breathing hard. What in the world was happening to me?

“You alright?” Ana frowned up at me.

“Y-yeah, I’m fine,” I lied, trying to steady my heart. I rubbed my forehead, trying to push away the haunting darkness.

 “Pst, kid, you going to open this so I can come in?” someone hissed from the other side of the darkened window.


1. Ana’s face froze with horror. “I…Louise…you…” she trailed off, looking from me to the indistinct face outside the window.

2. “Ed!” Ana scrambled off the bed and over to the window, pushing it open with her small arms. “I told you, not this week.”

3. One glance at Ana’s scared face, and I knew all was not well. “Who is that?” I whispered at her.


So there we go, that wasn't too bad considering there wasn't actually much happening, so to speak. I have discovered a major fault with writing the story (and this blog post) on Thursdays but not publishing it 'til Friday. I always get excited about sharing the story with you all, and write things like 'can't wait to hear all your votes' but then I have to wait another whole day before you can even read it! Ah well, I live. But I do look forward to all your comments and thoughts. :)

Fair Winds!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Top 10 Villains Tag

Thank you, Lydia, for tagging me for the incredible, the amazing, the tag of Top Ten Villains! I actually managed to come up with ten...After scrolling through my Goodreads 'read' books (and remembering how much I loved them all). So here we go, delving into the darkness of villains...

1. Post the picture
2. Thank the blogger who tagged you
3. List your top ten favorite villains and why you chose them 
(they can be from movies or books)
4. Tag ten other bloggers.

Riiight. So, ten villains. These are probably not my favourite-est ones, but I couldn't remember any particular 'favourites' so I just found some ones I remember liking...for their evilness I guess. Villain's are a confusing bunch. They're not in any particular order...just the random order I thought them up in.

Guy de Gisborne - King Raven Trilogy. Honestly, I just felt sorry for Guy. He was just trying to do his job, but every time he guarded a wagon or two travelling through the forest it blows up in his face. EVERY TIME.

The Curse - Draven's Light. CREEPY. Really, really creepy. I loved this book massively. 'The Curse' was almost the best/creepiest/evilest baddie I've read about in a while.

Artemis Fowl (the younger version) - The Time Paradox. Having Artemis battling his younger self was rather interesting, and Artemis-the-younger-self was a pretty good villain. Plus, time travel is always good.

President Snow - The Hunger Games. He was just awful. Everything he did. Egh. *shudders*

Sauron - The Lord of the Rings. Yup, I couldn't do a bookish post without mentioning Tolkien. Sauron is just...Sauron...and I need any more reason?

Hugo Bonvilain - Airman. I loved Airman, it had all my favourite stuff in it: cool characters, epic plot, evil villains, and, most of all, FLYING THINGS. Bonvilain was pretty evil, I mean, the stuff he did to all the characters! I really feel like re-reading that book. I've managed to resist so far though...

Witch Lady forgotten-'er-name - 100 Cupboards. She was no, she was bad. But good at being bad.

Another Witch Lady forgotten-'er-name - The Silver Chair. Did she even have  a name? 'Cause I honestly don't remember it in the slightest, and I've read Narnia (way) more than once. But, that aside, she was lovely and evil, and a great villain, and I'm running out of new things to say about these people...

(Nooo, there's still two more to go...Umm...)

The Green Goblin - Spiderman (2002). It did say they could be from movies too, and I've recently watched Spiderman for the first time. And...when I woke up the next morning I was very disappointed that I still needed glasses. (Meh, where's my spider?) So yeah, I really enjoyed it. The Green Goblin was rather evil.

(Just one can do it Jane)

Dolores Umbridge - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Oh boy, I can probably honestly say that I hated her more than Vol-- er You Know Who. She was just Horrible!

Phew, there we go, ten villains and I didn't even use any of my own. Thanks again, Lydia for tagging me. 
Now I must apparently tag ten other bloggers...I won't be able to get that many, but nevertheless, I shall tag:

Sarah: Novus Papilio. Since you missed your monthly post in April, you'd better do two this month. :)

Jessica: Inspiration. Just 'cause you might be lacking in post ideas.

Katie Grace: A Writer's Faith. I've never actually tagged you before, but there's always a first time. Though I won't mind if you can't do it.

Hosanna Emily: Having a Heart Like His. Same goes for you. :P

If you don't want to do the tag, or if you can't fit it in with your blogging schedule, or if you've got some other legit excuse like their school work blowing up (note: that 'blowing up' was a metaphor) (Sarah, you don't [have a legit excuse]. Unless you literally blow up your school work), that's fine, I really don't mind. Also, if there's anyone else who wants to do this, please consider yourselves tagged. And be sure to check out my tag-ed-persons' blogs, they're all pretty cool.

If you haven't already, remember to stop by SS+S Naming Names and leave your vote. See you all Friday.

Fair Winds!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Naming Names

When I decided to use alliteration for the individual titles of the episodes, I seriously did not think it would be hard at all. So far it hasn't been hard. But I can't say that the title 'Naming Names' isn't just a little weirder than I first planned. Buuut anyway, I tried.

Option three got the vast majority of the votes, which is rather amusing since that was the option that I was just like 'I dunno, but I've got to think of one more thing...oh, that sounds kinda cool, I'll put that one in.' And apparently it did sound cool, 'cause all you guys agreed! (Well, almost all, some of you wished to be independent with you own ideas, but that's cool too.)

I'd just like to say that if you don't know how to pronounce any of the place or people names in these stories, just ask in the comments, I'll be plenty happy to explain. :) Just so you know, Eirerandil is basically pronounced: 'eye-ran-dil.' (The 'eye' should technically sound about the same as the beginning of 'Ireland' but it is acceptable to just say 'eye.') Panalia is exactly how it looks: 'pan-a-lia.' And there's the name of the town which we get to today - Enisaema, pronounced: 'en-i-say-ma.' If there's anything else, please just ask. :)

And now, on to the story!

“Why, how pleasant. What a lovely group. Terribly sorry to interrupt,” a casual voice spoke from behind.

I spun around, my heart leaping within me.

A tall man lay along the edge rail of the ship, hands tucked carelessly behind his head, a pleasant smile on his lips. His jawline and upper lip shadowed by a neatly trimmed beard and a strand of damp brown hair hanging over his forehead, there was something strikingly handsome about the rascalish figure.

“What,” the captain gritted his teeth, “Are you doing on my ship?”

“Captain Wielder,” the man replied, waving one hand in the air. “Need I say more? Pleasure to meet you, by the way.”

“How did you get here? Where are the rest of you?” the first mate barked.

“Oh, I have my ways,” Captain Wielder smiled mysteriously. “And you needn’t worry in the slightest, there’s only one me.”

I blinked at the pirate captain in confusion.

“So,” he drew out the word, letting his gaze fall on Leonora. “We’ve got some unfinished business.”

“Oh no we don’t,” she replied hastily. “I’m quite finished with it.”

“Personally, I’m not,” Captain Wielder began to stand.

Leonora promptly stepped forward and shoved him hard. With a look of startled surprise he slid off the rail and would have landed ungracefully in the sea if he hadn’t managed to catch hold of the railing at the last moment.

“Well, if you’ll have it that way,” he shot an indignant look at Leonora.

She brushed her hands together, returning his gaze evenly. “Get off this ship right now, Wielder,” she commanded.

“I would,” the pirate captain replied. “Only I don’t fancy swimming all the way to the Rift at this distance.”

“Well, I don’t fancy you,” Leonora returned, her voice final.

Captain Wielder sighed heavily, and kicked open the porthole at his feet, releasing the rail and sliding into the cabin of the ship.

“Get into the cabin and secure that pirate!” the captain bellowed to the crew below, as the first mate ran down to the hatch.

“They won’t find him,” Eumin said flatly.

“Why not?” I asked, still trying to work out what had just happened.

“No one ever catches Captain Wielder,” he shook his head. “Leo, maybe you’d best throw your sword overboard, that way you can’t fight him.”

“No way, I like this sword,’ she replied. “Besides, there are other swords on this ship and Wielder would just say I could use one of them.”

“No,” Eumin interjected dryly. “He’d probably give you his own and he’d take a different one. Just so it wasn’t unfair on you.”

“Last I checked, pirates weren’t into being fair,” I pointed out.

“This particular captain isn’t your normal pirate,” Leonora said out of the corner of her mouth.

“Captain! He’s not in there,” one of the crewmen yelled from the deck.

“Keep searching,” the captain replied briskly, eyes fixed on the creeping mass of land edging ever closer. “If we can catch him on land…” he muttered, trailing off in thought.

“The Rift’s gaining,” Eumin observed quietly, looking back over his shoulder.

“We’ll still make it to the harbour in time,” the captain replied.

“With Wielder on board?” Leonora asked.

“That would be ideal. Do you have any idea how much the king would pay to get his hands on that pirate?”

“A lot?” I suggested.

“A lot,” he agreed, glancing my way. “I don’t see how he can get off this ship without being caught. Boarding this ship alone was not a good move on his part.”

Eumin still looked sceptical. “Don’t count on catching him,” he warned. “If you take my word, you won’t.”

“We’ll at least get to Panalia harbour before the Rift catches up,” the captain pressed his lips together.

“I guess we’d better help your men look then,” Eumin shrugged, turning toward the deck.

I followed him, going into the cabin and glancing around. “So, where do we look?”

“Anywhere,” Eumin sighed. “We won’t find him.”

“He’s not in here,” I scanned the room. “There’s absolutely nowhere to hide.”

“Which is why he might be here,” Eumin replied.

“You know,” I mused, pushing a stray chair under the table. “This Captain Wielder is sounding quite strange to me. But I’m not sure that he’s all that bad.”

“Oh, I don’t think he’d be a bad type really,” Eumin said running his hand through his brown hair. “It’s just not very handy to have a pirate chasing you around the place.”

“But if Leonora just fights him, won’t he be happy and leave?”

“I doubt it,” Eumin frowned slightly. “Just between us, I think he’s grown rather attached to Leo.”

“Huh?” I scrunched my eyebrows. “Why?”

“Who knows?” Eumin opened the door to his sleeping quarters. “I’ll take a quick look in here and then go down to the hold below. If you find him, give a holler and we’ll come running.”

I sat down carefully on the edge of the hammock I’d slept in for the last few days, wondering how long it would take to get into the harbour. A sound from behind me made me spin around, the hammock almost flipping over backwards.

A hand clamped over my mouth, catching my fall.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you,” the quick voice made me freeze to the spot. “I just need to get up onto the deck without being seen.”

“What makes you think I’d help a pirate?” I jerked away from his hand.

“No really,” Captain Wielder said. “I don’t want to hurt any of you, but if that captain tries to catch me I can’t just stand around and let them do it. Things could get messy even though I don’t want them to.”

I drew a breath to yell for Eumin but stopped, looking at the honest face of the supposed pirate captain, recalling Eumin’s words just moments before. “Alright then,” I said, pressing my lips together. “You can go.”

“Thank you,” he bowed politely. “I think we shall meet again one day soon.” Captain Wielder stepped to the door, bowing low again.

“Wait!” I stopped him just before he left.

“Yes?” he turned back.

“My name’s Louise. Louise Conwell,” I stammered, not quite sure why I had wanted to tell him that.

“My pleasure,” he smiled. “Mine is Warin. Warin Wielder.” Slipping through the door, he disappeared.

I blinked. Well, introducing yourself to a pirate. That’s something you don’t do every day.

The door opened again and the pirate captain stuck his head back in. “Only don’t tell anyone about the Warin,” he said. “You’re basically the only one aside from my crew who knows that.” Then he closed the door again.

After waiting a few minutes, I stood, still thinking about my exchange with the pirate. Walking out onto the deck, I ran up the steps to the steering platform where Leonora was still standing.

Eumin joined us moments later, shaking his head. “No luck, as I predicted. Did you find anything?” he directed the question to me.

“Er…” I began, “Well…”

Looking upwards, Eumin noticed how close the Rift had come in the last half hour. “Oh my,” he groaned. “So much for ‘we’ll at least get to the harbour before they catch up.’”

I closed my eyes for a moment, glad to have gotten out of explaining that I’d let the pirate go. 

The Rift was drawing ever nearer, the distance separating us lessening rapidly. But the harbour mouth lay only seconds away, gaping wide before us.

I glanced up, not really knowing why I did so. A long form standing easily on the crossbeam above the lowest sail caught a flying rope tossed from the top of the main mast of the Rift.

“Look!” I cried, grabbing Leonora’s arm and pointing.

Everyone looked up as Captain Wielder saluted cheerfully and jumped. Swinging on the rope, he slid down it neatly, landing on the deck of his vessel with only a slight stumble.

“Wow,” I breathed. “That was cool.”

The pirate captain strode to the back of the ship, taking the helm. Small longboats were gliding out from the harbour, slicing through the water rapidly. Coming to release us of our notorious escort.

Our ship surged forward as the crew tightened the sails, sliding smoothly into Panalia Harbour. I watched as the Rift swung around in a circle, heading out to the open sea once more. Three longboats came toward us, leaving the rest to chase after the pirates.

“Hoy there!” a man stood up in one of the longboats. “We’ll escort you into the harbour.”

“My thanks!” the captain shouted back.

The green land spread out on either side of us, only shining blue water separating the bright land from me. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the rolling shores. Trees lined the horizon and quaint, neat houses were scattered across the wide landscape.

Eumin stepped to my side and pointed at a distant shape on the horizon. “That’s the Royal Castle there. You’ll see it much closer up tomorrow when we go report to the king.”

Squinting my eyes, I could make out the tall turrets and towers of a grand castle. My fingers tingled with excitement, staring at the strikingly foreign design of the castle. 

The ship moved much too slowly for my liking, the shore seemed to be creeping up at the slowest speed. I gripped the rail, barely able to contain my anticipation.

Forget about pirate captains and assassins, the moment would be perfect.

It had to be.

Finally the ship drew up to the dock with a flurry of movement. Two sailors jumped onto the stone wharf, lashing ropes to thick stumps of wood to secure the ship.

Turning to me the captain smiled at my flushed face. “Ladies first.”

My breath struggled to come steadily, and I could feel the rapid pulse of my heart quickening. Yet another shiver of delight ran up my body. Moving to the middle of the ship, I looked at the dock, took a deep breath, and stepped up onto it.

Loose stones crunched beneath my shoes and I looked down at the ground, a strange feeling welling up. Turning, I beamed at Eumin and Leonora. “I’m here,” I whispered.

All the sailors cheered and clapped, beginning the task of unloading the ship and securing the sails and oars.

Eumin drew in a deep breath. “Oh, it’s good to be back,” he sighed happily.

“Aw yeah,” Leonora agreed, closing her eyes and absorbing the feel of land beneath her feet.

“What next?” I asked finally, moving out of the way of a grinning sailor lugging a heavy crate of something.

“Now we go home,” a soft edge came into Eumin’s voice. “Boy, I didn’t realise how much I’d missed ‘em.”

“Where’s ‘home?’” I glanced around.

“Not close enough,” Eumin replied, setting off along the dockside with long strides.

He led the way through the streets of the town – Enisaema – and I lagged behind, staring around at the amazing differentness of everything. Everyone spoke with strange accents and dialects, completely mangling the correct pronunciation of their words.

“Come on, Louise,” Leonora called. “We’re almost there.”

The houses had thinned out a little, each neat cottage with a little garden and painted fence out the front.

“Okay,” I replied, half running to catch up.

Eumin had increased his pace, eyes fixed on a small cottage with a white picket fence, smiling yellow flowers spilling over the panels.

With a strange cry, a flashing figure leaped clean over the fence and collided with Eumin, sending him stumbling back a pace.


1. “Susana!” Eumin gasped, his arms tightening around her in return.

2. “Help! Gypsies!” a wailing voice shrieked.

3. The figure snarled, drawing back a fist and punching Eumin hard in the face.


Hmm, odd options this time. And they're all rather different too. The last one was just random. I'm seriously going to laugh if it gets voted in. Seriously. I will. And it'll be funny.

But aside from that, I don't think I've got anything else to

Fair Winds!