Friday, 24 June 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Deranged Doggies

Only one week left 'til July and the beginning of Camp NaNo! For those who were wondering, I'm still planning of keeping up with SS+S, though there is a possibility the parts could be slightly shorter than normal. I don't know, but we're so almost up to a bit that I really looking forward to so I can't just leave it for a month. And if I did stop it would probably be completely silent here because I couldn't think of any other post ideas, so I'll still be writing this as well as Monsieur Scattlocke which is, by the way, the story I'm going to be working on for this Camp NaNo.
(Hmm, maybe I should do a post about it sometime...) (I'd also just like to say that last night our cabin had a crazy unplanned online party that left some late comers with 219 notifications xD)

Well, with seven votes for option 3 and only one for 2 (and none for 1) I'm pretty certain which one won. :) But I'm hoping that everyone should be satisfied: for the people who voted option three, here it is! And for Clare, don't worry, things aren't about to start going good...but at least Eumin and Leonora are back.

Hope you enjoy!

“Louise! You’re safe!” Leonora hugged me violently, both of us staggering several paces to keep our balance.

My throat caught and I couldn’t force words out. She was alive! Pulling away, I turned anxiously to see Eumin standing over my rescuer’s unconscious body.

“Oh, is he alive?” I burst out, suddenly worried.

“He’ll be fine,” Eumin snorted, “And when he wakes up he might think twice about kidnapping people next time.”

“But he was the one who rescued me.”

Leonora and Eumin stopped short, looking from me, to each other, then to the guard on the ground.

“He…rescued you?” Leonora asked eventually. “That’s awkward.”

I nodded. “I don’t know who he is but he was pretending to be my guard and now we’ve got a whole bunch of wolves after us and we don’t know how to get away and—”

Eumin put a hand on my shoulder, interrupting my desperate babbling. “Calm down, you’ll be fine now.”

“But running would be a good plan,” Leonora added as a howl rang down the valley.

“What about him?” I gestured to the ‘guard.’

Eumin pushed me forward. “I’ve got him, just go.”

I hesitated, not wanting to leave them both behind again like the day before. Leonora grabbed my hand and started running, leaving me no choice.

The way twisted every few paces and Leonora led the way, ducking around rock outcrops, slithering deeper into the ground down a grass speckled slope. How long could we keep doing? How long would we need to?

The passage ended in a fork, leaving two ways open. Leonora paused, uncertain which to take. Eumin caught up in a moment and shrugged, as well as one can shrug while carrying a grown man over one shoulder.

“I don’t think it matters either way,” he said grimly.

“When in doubt, go right,” Leonora replied philosophically. “If you go left there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll be wrong, but if you go right, it’s guaranteed you’ll be right even if you turn out to be wrong.”

“Huh?” I frowned but Eumin was already setting off down the right hand way. Leonora smiled wanly and followed him.

Behind, wolf-dogs howled at the rising moon.

Not wanting to be left alone, I jogged forward, scrambling around one bend after another. I stumbled on a loose stone, falling flat on my face. The harsh rocks scraped against the palms of my hands, tearing the skin.

A snarling howl jerked my head around just before the wolf-dog leapt at me. Death came hurtling through the air and my limbs turned to ice. Move! I screamed at myself, but to no avail.

I had hoped to live a bit longer than this.

Shutting my eyes, I wondered vaguely what it would feel like.

A massive weight fell on top of me, crushing the air from my lungs at the force. I waited for the teeth to start tearing but nothing happened. Air! I screamed in my head, choking on nothing in my desperation.

The wolf was lying on me. Very dead, with Leonora’s sword shoved firmly into its head.

I gasped in relief, finally able to breathe again.

Leonora jerked her sword, straining for a moment before it slipped out of the massive creature’s head. “The only good doggie is a dead doggie in these things’ case,” she grunted, pulling me to my feet with her free hand. “These deranged doggies are disturbing my digestion.”

I stared, panting heavily, my heart racing from the near encounter.

“Run, girl,” Leonora said. “I’ll guard the rear.”

I ran.

The narrow valley walls rose up on either side, hiding any number of dangers. Stones slid and clattered under foot, restricting the pace to a blundering stumble. 

Eumin forged ahead, I could see his chest heaving with exertion, the unconscious guard slung over his shoulder.

The dim light cast eerie shadows across the path and I almost ran into countless boulders and thorn bushes. My hands stung, and everything hurt, but I couldn’t stop running.

I collided headfirst into Eumin, stumbling away and sprawling onto the ground. Picking myself up I realised the passageway had ended in a looming wall of stone.

The only way out was backwards.

Leonora stumbled up, blood dripping from her arm onto the ground. “They’re catching up,” she panted. “We need to keep…” she trailed off, realising why we’d stopped. “Oh no.”

“How close are they?” Eumin asked.

She shook her head. “We can’t go back.”

We were trapped.

The guard groaned, stirring slightly. Eumin bent and dropped him to the ground. “I guess we fight then,” he said, his face set in grim lines.

I looked from Leonora’s sword to Eumin’s dagger. Against those killing machines of dogs they didn’t stand a chance. But what other choice was there?

Seven dogs leapt into view, charging down toward us with chilling howls.

Halfway down the slope the leading wolf-dog jerked strangely, tumbling and sliding down the hillside to come quivering to a stop in a ball of fur at the bottom, a long arrow buried deep in its flesh.

The other animals fell rapidly, arrows raining from above.

Leonora jerked me to the rock face away from the path of the arrows. “Keep back,” she hissed, shoving me behind her.

The last wolf-dog fell still with an arrow wedged behind its left forepaw. Stunned silence descended over the valley.

A rope creaked above us and I spun around, scrambling away from the cliff. Five men dropped down from the rocks above, landing easily on the rocky ground. Each held a bow, the fletching of arrows visible above their shoulders.


1. Before you could say out of the frying pan, into the fire they all had arrows on their bows at full draw. All pointed at us.

2. “Don’t mention it,” one waved a hand at us. “It was our pleasure.”

3. “Hand over your belongings and weapons, and we might let you live,” the leader drawled, holding one hand out as if waiting to receive them.


Well, that was a little shorter than normal but it just seemed a good ending so I stopped. Hopefully that's allowed. Sorry if you were hoping for a nice happy story, it'll get nice eventually I guess...for a couple of paragraphs. :)

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Friday, 17 June 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Expert Escapee

Can you believe that we're already more than halfway through June? It's crazy how fast the month is disappearing. Soon enough it'll be July with its Camp NaNo and my birthday and all that exciting stuff!

Option three definitely won (6 votes for it, one for 1 and an undecided vote for 1 and 3 both), and I'm rather happy about that since it was my favourite too. I have a plan...Oh, and just so you know, the new character/person/guard's accent is basically Spanish. Think Prince Caspian (2008 movie) or Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride). If you don't know either, poor you. And I guess I'll forgive you if you just make it up, I won't know after all. :)

“Don’t struggle,” a soft accent brushed my ear. “I am here to rescue you, mi señora.”

I couldn’t move for fear, it was just another trick, the guard would soon walk up and laugh at his fellow Cleaver’s wit and go back to guarding.

“I will untie your hands,” the man continued. “You mustn’t make a sound or they will set the dogs on us both.”

Very gradually the hands slipped away from my mouth and then came the rustle of quick fingers at the rope around my wrists. I clenched my jaw, waiting for the Cleaver to laugh and walk away. The rope dropped away, snaking to the ground with a soft sound. My arms fell to my lap.

Staring at my numb fingers, I strained to move them even slightly, waiting for some feeling. Pain tingled down my arms and I gasped, hunching over them and clutching them to me.

“Quiet, the other guards will hear.” The man slid into view and I looked up, stiffening at the sight of my guard.

He wasn’t really rescuing me, but maybe I could trick him and actually get away before he could tie me up again. Another stab of pain pulled a low cry from between my lips as I tried to move.

The guard scanned the clearing from his crouched position, hand resting lightly on the hilt of his rapier. “Come now, we must leave before the guard changes.”

He crawled forward, his cloak rippling across the rough ground like liquid camouflage. I struggled after him, falling on my face as my hands refused to be of any use. With a barely audible mutter the guard turned back, heaving one of my arms over his shoulder to support my weight.

I groaned at the blinding pain, half crawling, half being dragged toward the trees. Surely this wasn’t a real rescue, but then a guard wouldn’t go this far in a joke, would he?

Perhaps there was hope after all.

The guard dropped me to the ground, letting me curl up into a ball of moaning pain.

“Please, you must be quiet, the Cleavers are not deaf as well as heartless.”

I ignored him, trying to stop the pain.

“Wait here, and try not to make too much noise,” he murmured with a faint sigh.

“Where’re you going?” I croaked groggily.

My rescuer put his hand over my mouth again as the words came out louder than I’d planned. “There is a guard just ahead and there is no way he will not hear if we simply try to walk past.”

I nodded, barely listening to the words but trying to place the strange lilting accent.

“Give me five minutes.” With a rustle of his cloak he disappeared.

A dog snuffled loudly just meters away from where I lay, the grinding sound of teeth crunching on a stick. I pushed up to a sitting position, peering nervously into the dark. Dark shapes shuffled around a tree to my right, growling and snapping even in their sleep.

I stifled a sob of fear.

From the dark shadow of the trees someone grunted, followed by a crunch and a thump. Hunching over my knees, I strained for another sound, the alarm would go up any moment. Then I frowned, what if the guard was telling the rest of the Cleavers that I was sitting here just waiting.

Without thinking, I crawled forward, gasping again as my hands collapsed under me.

The sleepy grunts of the dogs stopped short.

I squirmed forward, wishing the pain away. The Cleavers weren’t going to catch me again.

A footfall close by made me jerk back, the tense cry slipped out before I realised it was there.

Aloud combined howl rose from the tied dogs around the tree.

The guard appeared from nowhere, grabbing my arm and pulling me into a run. Pain echoed in every corner of my mind and I stumbled and fell within a dozen steps. He hauled me upright once more, dragging me onward.

“You need to run,” he urged, pushing me to the side as I nearly crashed into a tree.

“I can’t,” I choked back, my legs collapsing under me.

My rescuer scooped me up, slinging me onto his back like a small child. “Then hold on,” he replied shortly, beginning to run again.

Branches ripped at my clothes and skin, reaching fingers to catch me. The howl of dogs bayed through the forest, thankfully not seeming to come any closer.

I forced my throbbing fingers to hold onto the guard’s shoulders, struggling to find a grip on the leather of his vest.

Then the howls erupted doubly loud. I guessed easily what it meant.

They were untied and on our trail.

My rescuer swerved to the side, jumping lithely onto a fallen tree trunk and running along it before leaping to the ground again. I ducked to avoid a branch sending us both off balance. The guard stagger to the side for a few paces, trying to keep his feet under him.

“Sorry,” I gasped, pain jolting my arms.

He grunted wordlessly, and kept running, crashing through the undergrowth of ferns and bushes, sidestepping around trees and fallen logs.

The faint light grew gradually, and we burst from the trees at a staggering run. The wolf-dogs seemed even closer now, their deep howls no less chilling when heard in the open. The guard stumbled down onto one knee.

“You will have to run now, I can carry you no further,” he said, chest heaving with exertion.

I slid to the ground, catching myself on his shoulder as my knees buckled at first. Taking a hesitant step, I realised that the pain had faded into the background. My guard started running again, barely showing a trace of fatigue.

The bare light from the stars and sliver of a moon just rising at our back lit the open space in front. A landscape of low mounds and narrow valleys, dotted with sparse trees opened up ahead.

Sprinting toward the nearest of the gullies, I leapt over a small bush in the way, unheeding to the small thorns that tore at my leggings. The edge appeared sooner than I expected and the ground under my feet slid away, sending me sprawling on the ground, slipping down. At the bottom I scrambled to my feet, groaning and bruised even more than before.

The guard followed more smoothly, jumping halfway down onto a rock and from there to the valley floor. “Keep up,” he spoke shortly, not pausing in his pace.

I tripped after him, my feet skidding on loose stones scattered across the ground. “How long…will we have to keep…running?” I panted.

“Until they’ve lost our scent,” he replied, ducking down into an even narrower gap off the side.

“What about walking through a stream?” I suggested, remembering something Maree had once told me.

“No good, there are no streams around these parts.”

Jumping onto a rock and swinging himself up out of the gully, he glanced down at me. “We’ll have to make do with rocks and jumping.”

Taking his offered hand, I clambered up after him, following as he dropped back down into yet another valley. The rocks underfoot made it hard to run, but my rescuer didn’t slow.

The howl of the wolf-dogs grew louder, they’d left the forest then. If they kept our scent it wouldn’t be long before they caught up. I didn’t like to think what would happen then.

Pain was throbbing in my legs and arms again, and I struggled to keep going. Any moment and the dogs will come howling down the hillside, I told myself. Keep going.

I stumbled, crashing into a rock and almost falling. The guard grabbed my arm and steadied me.

“Rest a moment,” he allowed. “Perhaps you will be able to run faster afterwards. If not, I will carry you again.”

“No,” I protested, hearing the howling in the distance still far too close for comfort. “I can keep going.” Trying to stand my legs turned to jelly and I slumped back on the rock. “Just for a moment then,” I muttered.

Closing my eyes, I buried my head in my hands, trying to steady my heart.

“What’s your name?” I asked, hoping to think about something more pleasant than being ripped limb from limb by a pack of bloodthirsty wolves.

Gravel crunched under a foot and I looked up. The guard was facing away from me, eyes scanning the horizon. I heard a clatter of stones behind me and before I could turn, something flew past me, hitting the turning guard on his temple.

With a grunt he collapsed to the ground. 

They were upon me before I realised. 


1. A rope jerked my arms to my sides, lashing them tightly in place. A manic laugh echoed in my ears. 

2. Dogs skidded down the gully side, launching into the air toward me. 

3. “Louise! You’re safe!” Leonora hugged me violently, both of us staggering several paces to keep our balance.


At the moment I don't actually have a favourite this week, I have a vague plan but it's still pretty vague. But that's why I've got you guys to choose for me. :)
I await your votes with greatest eagerness.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Birthstone Book Tag

As you can see, last week I was tagged for The Birthstone Book tag by one of my great followers (and, more importantly, commenters) Savannah Perran. As far as I can tell, there aren't any rules for this tag other than the unstated-but-hopefully-obvious DO THE THING which I probably was going to do anyway.

First off, I tried to do this post and almost died at the questions. How in the world am I meant to choose?! And so, I've decided to narrow the book options down to books I read (this year, until we get to after June when I'll go back to last year) during the month of the question. (Goodreads helps me keep track of things like that nicely. And I've only read 60 books this year yet so it'll be much easier.)
(Hopefully that explanation made more sense than I feel like it did.)

Therefore, I gave it another go and here is what I ended up with:

1. January Garnet: Name a character you think is evil/dark. 
Queen Levana from Cinder. She's a great...bad....villainy villain.

2. February Amethyst: Name a book you think of as regal.
Hmm, I'm not very good at regal but something like Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams could be described that way. It was pretty epic.

3. March Aquamarine: Name a character that you think of as weak, or more of a follower.
This one is a hard choice between two characters in the Squire's Tales series. Both are complete idiots (I'm going for the weak part).  But I think Culloch wins the weak-idiot award. He made me want to thump my head on the wall for 24 hours straight (though it didn't take me that long to read the entire book). So yup, a random Welsh lad gets this one. I am just sooo glad that he wasn't the main character, otherwise... *dies*

4. April Diamond: Name a book you love, but isn't very well known.
The Billabong Series by Mary Grant Bruce. I don't think they're very well known but I love 'em to pieces. A really Australian series with such real characters and...I can't recommend them enough.

5. May Emerald: Name two characters that balance each other out well.
Jeff and Iforgothisname from Rifles for Watie were great mates. I think the other guy could've been Noah...maybe? Anyway, I did like that book even though learning about American history can get annoying after a while (don't take offense? Take a gate if you must, but I'd say fences are too hard to carry). 

6. June Pearl: Name a character who is loyal.
Cress! And Jacin. Both from the Lunar Chronicles again, but I've already used that series so I'm going to say Benedict - A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold - although, I haven't finished that one yet. I'm halfway through, and I will be done by the end of the month (definitely) so I reckon it counts. It would just be very awkward if Benedict does something really unloyal in the second half...meh, he's loyal at the moment.

[So, since we haven't gotten up to the rest of the year yet, I'm going to choose these answers from their respective months last year (except for the next question where I'm going to cheat and use one from June that I really want to growl about)]

7. July Ruby: Name a book that aggravates you/makes your blood boil.
The Infinity Cage (by Alex Scarrow, book 9 (the finale) of the Time Riders series). *shudders* I do not like that book. No. Not at all. It is the ONLY book in my whole one and a half years of using Goodreads that I've rated a horrible little one star (even though it deserved minus 100 because of the eight previous books it destroyed). I quite liked the series up until that last book, it had so much potential and then BOOM.  I could've loved that series but the last book RUINED EVERYTHING FOREVER. *distant sobs*

Ahem, sorry, the question did ask for it though. (And I dislike it so much that I don't even want to put the cover here so...sorry about that too if you wanted to see it.)

[Now we're getting to books I read last year. Wow, it feels like I read those books aaages ago.]

8. August Peridot: Name a supporting character you preferred to the main character.
Ahah! The Weasley Twins! Always them. I just love 'em both. Gred and Forge are close to my favourite Harry Potter characters (and yes, I did only read the series for the first time last year). Yeah, technically the twins didn't get that much notice in the last two books (the ones I read in August last year) but I still loved what they had. 

And you know those random 'What Character are You?' quizy things? Well, whenever I do one for Harry Potter, I am very please that I get one (or both) of the twins every. single. time. Which is great, 'cause usually those quizzes seem to pick the person most opposite to what I'm like (that or I am just such a random assortment of stuff that it can't understand me and just comes up completely blank). But me and the twins have a lot in common really. Funny is our middle name.

9. September Sapphire: Name a book you found to be calming.
Umm, looking back through the books I read, it appears that I only read hilarious books that month...but I guess they could be calming...maybe...or not. But it was nice to be able to finally hold The Tournament at Gorlan in my hands, and presumably it calmed my excited anticipation of reading it, so...satisfactory? Yeah, I'm just going with that. And besides, it was funny, and funny is my middle name.

10. October Opal: Name a book with a pretty cover.
I did not read pretty cover books that month. Humph, that really helps, thanks past-me. But if I was to choose my favourite from the books I read that month it would be Four. Not a bad cover (and not a bad book either), but there are plenty of cooler ones. But it was my idea to invent the random rule...It's made my answers so far much more interesting than they usually would've been.

11. November Topaz: Name a book with a resilient protagonist.
Er, Percy? Yup, he's pretty resilient. He's got to be. Technically he's not in The Lost Hero, but I like that one's cover better than Son of Neptune so I'm putting it here. And I read them both in November so it works. I loved the Heroes of Olympus so much (same with Percy Jackson and the Olympians too naturally), so much funny. And (bet you can guess what I'm going to say) funny is my middle name. ;D

12. December Blue Zicron: Name a fictional friendship you would love to be a part of.
Well, do I choose Ky Huntyr or Heather Stone? Ky? Heather? I guess since I've already done one Songkeeper Chronicles answer I'll go for Heather. She's the main character from Counted Worthy, and she's pretty cool. Counted Worthy is freakishly realistic (it's a dystopian book) and the scary thing is that I can really see it happening. But it's cool. Really cool. Oh, it's also Christian which makes it even better.

Well, I do think that the random only-choosing-from-books-I'd-read-that-month thing did make the answers rather different than they would've been, and it made me realise how very many books I've read already. Only problem with the rule is that I didn't get a chance to mention Tolkien or C. S. Lewis. *gasps* Do a book post without saying something about them?! Never! But I guess this paragraph has kinda rectified that, so no worries.

Thanks again Savannah for tagging me, I had plenty of fun writing the post. Hope you all liked the completely random assortment of books! And I would tag some people but I think all my normal tag-receivers are busy finishing other tags I gave them a while back. Basically, Jessica, if you're feeling up to it, I tag you. If you're not, I probably tripped over on the way and missed you, so don't worry. :D

Hmm, that was kind of long. Amazing how all those book covers can lengthen a blog post so quickly. But they make it look more interesting.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Friday, 10 June 2016

Swords, Sail + Scoundrels: Camping with Cleavers

Ah, just a nice camping trip with a bunch of Cleavers. How pleasant. :) Unfortunately, it isn't as great as the title suggests. Personally I don't completely know who these 'Cleavers' are but it started with 'c' and I felt like having a 'c' title this time. So the Cleavers came along! (I also keep almost leaving out the 'a' so they're Clevers instead. It can be rather amusing.)

I believe option two won this time round (I know actually, not just believe). Which left me stumped for a while until I had a lovely prod of inspiration from an equally lovely reader (you guys are all so great) and it all went fairly okay!

And I'm so excited for next week's part...

Four men stepped from behind the trees around, forming a half circle facing me, weapons in each hand.

Pushing myself into a half crouch, I flicked my eyes between the men and the dog. A sound from behind made me turn and I quavered at the sight of another four men.

I was surrounded.

The dog snarled again, sharp canines bared viciously.

I couldn’t get away.

A pinprick of sunlight through the trees glinted off the axe head of one of the men as the circle tightened.

Like a noose.

Panic froze my limbs, numbing my brain with fear. I let out a terrified squeak.

In a concerted movement the men stepped forward, every weapon threatening me.

I started to scream but a rough hand clamped over my mouth, smothering the noise before it began. Letting my legs fall limp, I dropped down, taking the man by surprise and slipping out under his arms.

This time I screamed at the top of my lungs. Eumin and Leonora must hear. They couldn’t be dead. I needed them.

The hand stopped my scream halfway, and a man jerked hard on a handful of my hair. Something cold touched my throat.

I remembered the feeling all too well.

“Not another sound,” he growled, pressing the knife a little harder. “The Cleavers will have you, like it or not.”

The Cleavers. I shivered at the venom-dripped words.

The knife slid away, but I remained frozen on the spot, surrounded by seven other bristling weapons. The man took a rope from one of his companions, large fingers wrapped tightly around my wrists as he lashed the rope tightly.

I stared dumbfounded at his leering face. “It will be our pleasure to escort Lady Louise to the camp,” he said, lips curling scornfully.

“How—” I choked through my shock. “You’re not meant to know—”

“The Cleavers have their informants,” he drawled. “Plenty of warriors that can find juicy bits of information like that.”

“Brains are better,” I gasped.

His hand flashed out, palm slapping hard against my already injured cheek. I stumbled backwards, one of the men behind me grabbing my arms before I could run.

“I don’t need any of your smart mouth,” the man narrowed his eyes. “I get enough of that from the gypsies.”

I opened my mouth in shock, pain blurring my thoughts, and a screwed-up cloth was shoved into my mouth and before I could spit it out again the man tied a long strip of fabric around my mouth, tying it at the back. I gave a muffled cry as the knot yanked at my hair. My cheek burned with pain.

The men laughed together at my weak attempts to pull free from the restraints. With a gesture from the leader, a massively tall man stepped forward, casually picking me up and flinging me over his shoulder.

My vision swam and I choked out a sob through the gag. This wasn’t how it was meant to go. There was nothing heroic about being slung over someone’s shoulder with tears dripping into my eyebrows.

They jogged through the forest swiftly, my head thumping rhythmically against the man’s lower back. A headache pounded in my temples.

The journey faded into a blur.

The next thing I became aware of was the giant man dropping me in the middle of a camp,  letting me collapse to the hard ground. I lay, sobbing and struggling for breath, ignoring the laughing looks the Cleavers gave me. I cringed away as the huge man bent down knife drawn. What did I do now?

He sliced through the gag, tossing the cloth on the ground beside his feet. Shoving me into a sitting position against a tall wooden pole, he took my hands and lifted them above my head, tying them firmly in place with yet another length of rope.

“Please,” I begged, hoping that he wasn’t as harsh as the others, “I didn’t do anything, you’ve got to let me go.”

The giant blinked silently and turned away as if he hadn’t heard.

“Please!” my voice broke. “Please, you’ve got to…” Another bout of tears started their path down my damp cheeks.

The camp was filled with the black clothed men, all with the same cruel glint in their eyes. A group of three walked past, glancing my way with a kind of hideous curiosity. The one closest to me spat contemptuously. “Having fun, princess?”

I shrank back as far as I could, unsure whether he actually wanted an answer.

“I asked a question,” he snarled, taking a threatening step closer.

“Y-yes sir,” I squeaked.

“Bah,” he snorted. “Better than your friends had.”

A chill of fear swept over me. What had they done to them? I closed my eyes. They couldn’t possibly be killed. Surely?

The cold heaviness in my heart assured me they could.

The group of Cleavers walked on, laughing loudly.

Tears squeezed between my eyelids, following their predecessors as they dripped off my chin onto my shirt. Nothing was happening like the stories were meant to go.

The afternoon wore on, the sun gradually sinking, still concealed by the thick trees around the camp. Cooking fires glowed heartily, sending delicious aromas wafting around.

I moaned, my mouth dry. The Cleavers hadn’t bothered to give me any water all afternoon, and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. No one paid any attention to the tear-stained prisoner in their midst, all except the man ordered to guard me.

The ropes around my wrists had long ago left my hands unfeeling and having them raised above my head for so long left my arms tingling with pain. I struggled to reach the rope with my fingers, hoping to untie the knot. At the movement a flash of feeling touched my hands for a moment, shooting pain down my arms.

Gasping, I shuffled until I could get my legs underneath me and rise slightly to a kneeling position. Jerking my arms to the side, I tried to slide the rope around the pole but to no avail. The Cleaver giant had tied the ropes too tight.

A blow knocked my feet from under me, almost sending me sprawling but for my tied hands. The guard glared down at me, his hand resting on the sword at his belt.

I pressed my back against the rough pole, trying not to let the fear show on my face.

After glowering at me for several moments the guard seemed satisfied, stepping back again to resume his former position.

When darkness fell the Cleavers began settling into their sleeping blankets, a dozen or so posting as a guard around the edges of the clearing. My guard swapped, the other man giving me a final scowl before striding off into the darkness.

The pain in my cheek and arms throbbed dully through my head, sharp blades of the short tufts of grass digging into my thighs. I leant my head back against the pole, wishing it all away. The pain and hunger kept me from even considering sleep, my muscles refusing to relax though there was nothing I could possibly do.

The stars blinked in the sky, seeming cold and uncaring. Eumin and Leonora were gone, who knew if they were dead or alive, I couldn’t bear to think about it. A feeling of desperation gave me a sliver of strength and I yanked on the ropes again, twisting my hands to reach the knots.

A few steps away the guard shifted, head turned toward me. Even in the dark I could sense the hatred in his stare.

I slumped dejectedly back. No brilliant plan came to mind, no chance of escape. There was nothing but the hope that I’d be able to get my hands free.

The guard moved again, pacing around the camp. He disappeared from my line of vision for a moment and I wrestled with the ropes again. Then a pair of cruel eyes were near mine. “Don’t even think about escape,” he hissed, and moved off into the darkness again.

My heart pounding, I didn’t dare to move again, not even when the guard resumed his former place in clear view.

The night dragged on, stars glimmered in the sky, the sound of hounds snuffling and growling in their sleep sent shivers down my spine. At what I guessed to be midnight the guard changed.

My new guard was restless, almost constantly shifting his feet silently and scanning the clearing for any sign of intruders, his dark cloak moving slightly in the cold breeze.

I watched him with narrowed eyes, hoping for a glimpse of a weakness. It was clear that he knew what he was doing, no one was about to get past him. Pressing my lips together, I pushed away the hope of rescue.

This guard wasn’t about to let that happen.

The man rolled his shoulders, stepping backwards and prowling softly away behind me. I tensed, ready for him to repeat the previous guard’s action.

The night was silent, I couldn’t hear the faintest sound of footsteps. Slowly starting to relax, I let the breath hiss out between my teeth.

A hand clamped over my mouth.


1. “It’s me,” Eumin murmured. “We’re going to get you out.”

2. “Thought you were going to get away, eh?” a harsh breath snarled against my cheek.

3. “Don’t struggle,” a soft accent brushed my ear. “I am here to rescue you, mi señora.”


I'm really looking forward to what you think of the options this week! Hope they're good. :)

And while you're here, any aspiring writers don't forget to check out my last post - The Fellowship of the Keyboards - 'cause I'd love so much to have you join me in July.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Fellowship of the Keyboards

The return of Camp NaNoWirMo draws near! And with it I have an announcement to make.

Never heard of the Fellowship of the Keyboards? Just hold a moment and I'll explain.

With the approach of July's Camp NaNo, I have been preparing for my second adventure. I had masses of fun last time, and reached my 15k goal way faster than I expected. it comes folks...This time round I have begun to draw together some brave comrades-in-arms to embark on the quest together.

In other words: I've made my own cabin.

And called it The Fellowship of the Keyboards. 'Cause I'm just like that.

Thus far, I have had four people volunteer to accompany me: Clare (my sister), Jessica (cousin), Bethany (Jessica's friend), and Sarah (my brilliant friend). Together we make a Moon Magic-er, a Knowledgeable Thief, a someone-I-don-not-know, a Super Powered Life-Saver, and me, an Outlaw. But we are only four.

How can four people alone save the world?

So that is my announcement. There are seven more places in the Fellowship, just waiting for YOU.  I am offering out those seven places to my lovely blog readers. If it's your first or one hundredth time, I don't mind, I'd love to have you join us.

Not interested yet?

No problemo, I'll tell you some of my hopes... my aim for the Fellowship is to have a crazy cabin of besties who can come sobbing when the words don't come, who can cheer and eat pizza together when someone reaches a goal or finishes a chapter, and just generally have a great time. High word count, low word count, no one will care, 100 words or 100k it doesn't matter! (Though low word count is probably going to be prominent) We'll all just band together and go on an adventure. (And question the sanity of anyone with a 100k word count goal.)

Interested now?

Good-o. If you're wanting a chance to join the Fellowship there are two options (because I'm so good at thinking up options) to choose from:

1. You can shoot me a message via the Campsite. My 'name' is Peace Rider Lydia. (A reference to one of my WIPs)


2.  You can comment on this post and tell me your username.

But remember, there is a limited amount of space, so if you're interested don't hesitate! I'd LOVE to have some of you join the Fellowship.

Adventure is waiting, my friends!

Fair Winds!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Forest Frenzy

Winter is here folks! Or summer...depending on what side of the world you're on. But for me it's winter which means campfires, bonfires, lovely warm fires inside, no frying hot days, the sun is actually something to enjoy now! And it also means less rain, more dead grass, and the wish to stay in bed in the mornings because our bedroom is perpetually cold in winter and boiling in summer.
Good fun!

Option one won again, but it was a close tie with option three, so I'm going tell you all now that this episode is almost a mixture of both. That wasn't hard to do as option one was more pertaining to things that will happen in the future... (mwahahaha)

If you have any inspiration of anything that you'd like to happen in the story please tell me in the comments, because ideas are always welcome. 

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

I squinted my eyes to try make out more detail but the low rise of a tree covered hill came between us and the Rift slipped out of sight.

“Why’s he going that way?” I frowned, trying not to move my lips and trigger the pain in my cheek.

Eumin raised his shoulders slightly. “Who knows,” he said. “Captain Wielder isn’t one to predict easily.”

“Chances are he’s hoping to meet up with us somewhere along the way,” Leonora said. Her mount frisked lightly under her and she patted its neck. “You’re eager to be off, eh?” she grinned.

“So am I,” I agreed. “I’d rather get going than stand around thinking.”

Eumin and Leonora exchanged a glance. “And I’d thought we were the hardened adventurers,” Leonora remarked.

I smiled and urged my horse forward again, falling in between the two. The horses’ hooves clopped rhythmically on the hard dirt road leading out from Enisaema.

The road followed a reasonably straight path from the town and out past outlying farms until the forest loomed directly ahead.

“Shouldn’t we be going that way?” I gestured to my left.

“West would take us on a more direct route, aye,” Leonora glanced my way, “But north is easier. If we went directly west, we’d have to cross the Thieven Grounds.”

I nodded knowingly, pretending I knew what the so-called Thieven Grounds were.

“And I’d rather we didn’t get robbed of everything but the clothes on our back,” Eumin said. “Personally, I like travelling with a good supply of food, but the Thieves like that too.”

The very edge trees of the forest were around us now, the spreading branches casting dark shadows from the late morning light.

“We’re following the coast to avoid the Thieves then,” I said, making sure it was a statement not a question. I felt like I’d asked a lot of questions in the last few days.

“Aye,” Leonora nodded. “Unless you have an objection to going the easy way?”

I shook my head quickly. “Easy way is fine by me.”

She turned her head away, not quite hiding the grin that slid onto her features.

The forest closed in about us, trees drawing closer to the path, leaning over as if curious of the strange travellers invading their realm. The sun, now beginning its slide downwards once more, was mostly concealed by the countless leaves and branches. Ferns and bushes covered the forest floor, forming a thick carpet at about waist height. The dim light made every movement seem sinister and the foreign sounds kept me constantly on edge.

We travelled at an easy trot for the first few hours, exchanging small talk every now and then but for the most part we rode in silence, deep in thought.

I was thinking about Maree and Jack when a movement flashed in the corner of my eye, and I turned, staring around the dappled darkness of the forest. Nothing. I pushed my uncertainty aside and urged my horse faster again to catch up to the others. Nevertheless I couldn’t help feeling like we weren’t alone. Stop being so nervous, I berated myself, trying to shake the feeling away.

The slightest movement of a fern frond made me jump in the saddle, and I clamped my teeth down on my tongue to stop myself from crying out at the creak of a branch rubbing against its neighbour.

Again I saw a shadow in my peripheral vision. Spinning around in the saddle I glared at the branches swaying innocently in the breeze. A tiny bird hopped along a branch, pecking at invisible bugs, a moth fluttered a moment and then landed on the trunk of a tree, camouflaged against the bark.

I turned around again, taking several deep breaths. My mount could sense my fear and nickered hesitantly, its ears flicking to catch any strange noise.

“Something doesn’t feel quite right,” Eumin said slowly from his place in the lead.

Both he and Leonora were looking around the forest with an uneasy light in their eyes. Leonora pulled her horse to a stop, scanning the undergrowth.

“There’s definitely someone there.” She kept her voice low.

A moment of silence followed and I swept my gaze around, almost certain that an assassin would jump from the trees at any moment.

With a creaking of leather, Leonora swung to the ground, drawing her sword from its place behind the saddle. “Watch my back,” she said, moving toward the shadowed undergrowth.

Eumin dismounted, taking one step after his sister. I gripped the reins until my knuckles went white, my eyes darting around the forest.

Leonora lifted a fern frond aside with the tip of her sword, advancing further away from the path. A figure erupted from the bushes a bare meter away from her prodding sword, darting away through the massive fern bushes. With a shout, Leonora ran forward.

The man dashed through the ferns, leaping logs and low entangling vines, Leonora close behind. The fugitive bent under a low branch and scooped up a fallen branch, hurling it backwards at his pursuer.

“Watch out!” I yelled a warning, scrambling down off my horse.

Leonora dodged the branch but her legs tangled in the ferns and she fell crashing down. The man fled out of sight into the darkness under the trees.

I ran to Leonora, grabbing at the vines around her legs. As she grabbed at a handful with one hand her sleeve slid up her arm a little way, revealing cruel, red scars across her wrist and reaching further up her arm. I froze a moment, staring at the marks. Then the ferns ripped away and her sleeve slid back down her wrist.

“Are you alright?” Eumin rushed to us.

Leonora used her sword to slash the rest of the ferns away, dragging herself up. “I’m fine,” she growled, severing half a fern plant with an angry sweep of her sword. “So’s he.”

Eumin looked in the direction the man had disappeared in. “We need to get going. If he was a spy, which I don’t doubt he was, soon enough everyone we wanted not to know about our approach, will know.”

I shivered at his words, running back to my horse and mounting again.

As Leonora hesitated Eumin placed his hand on her arm. “It’s too late to catch him now, the best we can do is get away.” He shook his head, turning back to the horses.

A cry echoed through the forest, reverberating against the trees. It sounded again, high pitched and chilling. Eumin spun back, eyes wide. It was impossible to locate the direction the sound had come from, but I guessed quickly.

Eumin and Leonora took a step backwards, eyes still trained on the forest around us.

“What is it?” I said, my words sounding weak against the echoing vestiges of the cry.

“We’ve heard it before,” Eumin said. “Just before—”

“A dozen men and wolf-dogs came running out of the forest,” Leonora finished, sprinting to her horse, Eumin not far behind.

“Run!” Eumin yelled at me, slapping my mount’s rump as he passed.

The brown leapt under me, shooting forward with startling speed. I almost tumbled off backwards, only just catching hold of the dark mane to save myself. Another cry burst through the woods, spurring the horse on faster.

The reins slipped through my fingers but I concentrated on staying in the saddle, ducking under the branches that hung low over the track. The shouting that erupted behind me sounded strangely distant behind the roaring in my ears.

A bunch of leaves slapped my face, blinding me for a moment. I regained my vision just in time to see the low branch hurtling toward my face. Ducking low, I missed it by a hairsbreadth. The path had bent sharply somewhere back and the brown mare had charged on straight ahead in her terror, crashing through the undergrowth.

Lying low along the horse’s neck, I ducked branches and vines, the distant cry still replaying in my mind. Trees spun past, reaching out to grab hold of my clothes and hair, scratching any piece of exposed skin they could reach.

I looked back over my shoulder, desperately hoping to see Leonora and Eumin just behind me. Trees concealed everything from view, huge ferns waving silently as I passed. Turning back to look ahead again I saw the branch just before it hit my shoulder.

Tumbling backwards from the saddle, I had the sense to kick my feet from the stirrups before landing flat on my back in the middle of a large fern bush that cushioned my landing. My horse careered on, clearing a fallen log with a bound and disappeared.

Panting and clutching at my aching shoulder I lay where I’d fallen, trying to catch my breath. The forest watched silently, the lack of noise eerie after the frenzied rush. The rapid beating of my heart pounded through my body as I drew in deep breaths.

A stick cracked.

Almost impossibly, my heart sped up even more. I half rolled over, raising my head to see who was approaching.

A low growl ground through the bared teeth of a massive wolf-like dog. I stared through the green fern fronds at the black eyes. It took another pace forward, the sharp eyes fixed on me.


1. I scrambled backward, away from the snarling wolf, remembering all too well the sight of Jack Danson’s blood-smeared arm clamped between the jaws of the hermit’s wolf.

2. Four men stepped from behind the trees around, forming a half circle facing me, weapons in each hand.

3. The sound of a whistle cut through my terror and the drooling dog looked around, the growl turning into a disappointed wine.


Crazy stuff. I have no idea what's going on. And my internet is being spastic with dying fits because my sister is uploading photos on the other side of the room, so I'll use that as an excuse for having nothing else to say. :)

Fair Winds!