Saturday, March 10, 2018

Interview of Prince Blakely

I know I've been really bad about posting lately, but I hope to remedy that in the near future, and I hope you can forgive me. :) In the meantime, I shall post this so that the blog at least has something up until I can gather up more posts. I'm interviewing Blakely today, the crown prince and best friend of the heroine from my Action/Adventure book, Alagna. His bio can be found here (the questions were taken from the comments there), and the previous interview, of Alagna herself, can be found here. I hope you enjoy! :)
Belle. *enters interview room, where Blakely is reading* Hey, Blakely, do you mind if I ask you some questions?
Blakely. *glances up from his book and then puts it down* Feel free, my lady.
Belle. Alright, the first questions - hey, you've never been interviewed before, why aren't you asking why or what's going on?
Blakely. *smiles a little absent-mindedly* I did rather wonder...
Belle. *rolls eyes* Typical. You could be being led to your death and you would just wonder. Anyways, though, the reasons for it are so I can get to know you better and so my audience can do likewise. And what's happening is just me asking you stuff to accomplish that.
Blakely. *nods thoughtfully* Of course.
Belle. Good. Now, these beginning questions are from Catherine, the first one being what is your favorite hobby?
Blakely. *rests chin on hand* Reading, maybe. Hunting and riding are also pleasant activities.
Belle. Yeah... Any more elaboration?
Blakely. *smiles* Not really - I suppose walking about the grounds is another favorite pastime, but I really can't think of many things in the realm of favorites specifically.
Belle. Alright, what are your life goals?
Blakely. *becomes quiet for a little while, then finally speaks very carefully* Defending the kingdom, helping my mother... finding my path in life. I think that makes it.
Belle. And said path in life wouldn't happen to include any special... girl, would it?
Blakely. *smiles a bit* That's for God to decide, my lady.
Belle. *frowns in frustration at not being able to catch him* Yes, I suppose it is. The next questions are from Megan - you remember her, right? She's interviewed a few of you guys.
Blakely. *nods* Yes, I do.
Belle. Well, her first question is what might make you lose your temper to the point of punching someone?
Blakely. *laughs a bit* I can't say that I've ever had the experience, that I can remember. Well, at least to the point of punching someone... But, then... *jaw stiffens slightly, but he remains silent*
Belle. *shakes head* But then...?
Blakely. I know I oft have to dispel the thought of punching someone... *smiles a tad embarrassedly* Although I think Francis and Edmonde don't even try to dispel the thought.
Belle. Roanwall?
Blakely. *sighs, slightly ashamedly* Indeed.
Belle. Well, that's okay - I want to punch him too most of the time. Now, if you had to choose a cause to die for, what would it be?
Blakely. *furrows brow and frowns slightly* Not an unlikely choice to make, I'm afraid. With things the way they've been slowly becoming, I fear that things may escalate to such a degree. I... *pauses a moment* I already know of an attempt on my own life being planned... Alagna knows, but... I don't want to worry her by telling her how serious it is.
Belle. You know, though, she'd probably be mad once she found out you'd kept it from her.
Blakely. *frowns* Do you think so? I do not want to anger her either... But she gets, well, perhaps a bit - *hesitates cautiously*
Belle. *laughs* flustered? Like a chicken with its head cut off?
Blakely. *raises brow slightly at this latter expression*
Belle. *laughs more* Just an expression, Blakely. Anyways, though, you still haven't answered the question.
Blakely. *nods thoughtfully* Well... The kingdom would be worth it - even one life would be worth it, I think... but I suppose that's not a very specific answer.
Belle. *rolls eyes* It's fine, Blakely. I'm gonna be here all day with the time you take to answer stuff. Now - the next question. Has Alagna ever made you angry? Embarrassed? Disgusted?
Blakely. *raises brow slightly* Usually I'm the one who makes her angry. I don't remember any particular time when I have even been so much as irritated by her... Same case for disgust. As for embarrassment... *half-smiles* Well, let's just say, our characters being quite contrasted, I have been at least internally embarrassed by her a good few times... though not ashamed of her so much as befuddled by her.
Belle. I can easily believe that. Now, do you have a really amusing story about your brothers to tell?
Blakely. *groans smilingly and puts head in hands* Take your pick, my lady - there are many a score to choose from. The fools... *shakes head amusedly*
Belle. *nods sarcastically* Yep. Totally fools... and you're totally not, right? Never associate with them, huh?
Blakely. *breaks a larger smile* I think, my lady, you have me riddled. However, as to your former question, I have plenty of stories of them. One in particular comes to mind, actually. Once, at Francis' - or Edmonde's, I don't remember - birthday celebration, after the feast, the two of them planned an untimely prank upon me. The servants had not yet finished removing the food from the table, so a partial cauldron of stew sat there, waiting to be taken back for the servants. They planned to wait until I came in the banquet room and pour it on me - so Edmonde waited inside with the cauldron for Francis' outside signal. However... apparently, they did not plan particularly well, because when Francis gave the signal that I was coming, Edmonde thought it meant I was to be the next person entering the banquet room. However, Francis came before me to see the prank firsthand, and so got the stew bequeathed upon him instead. I then entered, and they laughed because it had gone horrendously wrong. *laughs a little* I... couldn't help laughing with them, I admit, for it wasn't hard to guess what had happened. *shakes head* Those two were always - and are always - favoring me as their subject for pranks. *smiles slightly* However, thankfully, their jokes no longer consist of cascading soup on people.
Belle. *laughs* I wouldn't be so sure of that...
Blakely. *raises brow with a slight smile* I shall take that as a warning to be cautious around banquet room doorways, my lady.
Belle. *nods* Yes, I think that's a good call. Anyways, though, the next question is in order. What do you admire most about your mother?
Blakely. *smiles gently* She is a mother - what more is there? She is my mother - what more is there to me? I think what I admire most about her is what she has been for us... *becomes slightly more serious* I would never be anywhere near what I am without her guidance... or her love. She is the dearest person upon this earth to me - I have never known a better ruler or parent.
Belle. She's definitely something. But I think it goes both ways - she wouldn't be what she is without you either.
Blakely. *bows head* I wouldn't know - but I am grateful for her.
Belle. Good! - you're luckier than most of my characters. Most of them don't have their mothers still or are adults and so have to fend for themselves far away from their mothers. Why, if Feo still had his mother like you do, then maybe he would have never become a ne'er-do-well vagabond.
Blakely. *looks slightly concerned* This is a sad thing - why did you not let him have his mother if he needed her so?
Belle. *waves hands dismissively* Eh, it'll make him grow. Now, next question - are you ever afraid of the amount of responsibility you have? What about the responsibility you will have eventually?
Blakely. *nods* I am - but no being ever lived without responsibility, and none ever shall, so it is inevitable. *sighs* But, yes, it is one of the things on my mind most often...
Belle. What are some things you're afraid of?
Blakely. *smiles a little* Well - my responsibility - what is happening in the kingdom... *goes a bit quieter* I am afraid, though, of losing someone. I have a subtle feeling within me somehow that someone - someone close to me, like Alagna or my mother - won't be here when this is all over...
Belle. *shifts uncomfortably* Um, yeah... Uh, anyways, though, passing over that, last question from Lucy... and, I think, the last question. What are some things that make you happy?
Blakely. *smiles* Being with Alagna.
Belle. *laughs* You really have absolutely no wish to even try to hide it - you are really stuck on her!
Blakely. *smiles a little sheepishly* Perhaps... but if I were, why would I hide it?
Belle. *shakes head smilingly* Well, that's the end of the questions. Thanks for cooperating, Blakely!
Blakely. *bows* 'Twas my honor, my lady. *leaves*
End Interview
What did you think of Blakely? Did you enjoy the interview? Do you have any characters he would get along with?
The next interview will be - depending on votes - either
Prince Francis and/or Prince Edmonde, Blakely's younger brothers (votes will decide whether they will be separate or together)
Lady Felicia Ellmonte, Alagna's cousin and friend
Alexander Arleine, Alagna's tenacious cousin and Felicia's younger brother
Vote in the comments and I'll post a bio for the winner soon! :D

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Writer's Dilemma - Writing and Racism

I used to worry a lot about a good few things in my writing. Some of them, well, I still do worry about. But there's one that needn't be worried about - for really anyone I've seen.
Let me lay out a scenario. You're a white writer, and you like to write novels. Now, many or most of the characters in said novels are white. You suddenly realize you have few or no black characters, few or no Asian characters, few or no Hispanic characters, few or no Polynesian characters, etc. Mostly plain old white. And you start to worry - am I being a racist? Is writing primarily Caucasian characters going to make me unpopular with non-Caucasian people? Is it going to offend or exclude them? This is exactly the scenario I've found myself in before. I have tried to amend it, of course, since then:
  • Sam Bastikka and his son, Felix, from In Greater Hands are both Jamaican, and so black
  • Alejandro Lorenz from A Broadway Waltz is Hispanic/Latino
  • Chalera from The Treasure of the Twin Temples is Native American in basis, though from a fictional country
  • Dominique Morales from The Treasure of the Twin Temples is Hispanic (duh!)
  • Kate Venji from In Greater Hands is Indian
Above are my frail ways of mending the situation. But, you know, slowly perhaps, but truly, a question dawned on me. Is it racist to naturally have a tendency to envision majorly white characters? The answer in short, friends, is no, it's not.
Imagination and Familiarity
I like to think of it rather like the many images of Our Lady that there are. Think about it. An African painting of Our Lady depicts her as black, wearing perhaps a Nigerian woman's garb. But we know Mary was not Nigerian. A Russian depiction of Our Lady may have her wearing many mantles and layers of illustrious jewelry, as was the fashion of the Russian monarchs, and it may depict her with blonde or red hair. But we know Mary was not Russian. A Chinese depiction of Our Lady shows her wearing a kimono, having black hair and dark eyes like the Chinese themselves do. But we know Mary was not Chinese.
I think the reason people do this is because when they sympathize with a character or person, they don't just start being like that person, they start making that person like them. When we imagine a character, or in this case, Our Lady, we want her to be familiar to us - a part of our lives, and our culture. Now, whatever that respective culture may be, it's usually not the one that Mary really came from. But we paint and draw her akin to us nonetheless, because we not only want to see us in her, but we want to see her in us - we want to imitate her. So we start by giving her something in common with us.
Writing is exactly the same way. When we make a character, the character usually starts out with something in common with us. Think about it - every single one of your characters, Writer, even villains, even the ones who don't physically look like you, have absorbed some part of you from their beginning. And chances are, later on, you started to absorb them too (although hopefully not as much so in the case of the villains). But we start with familiarity in our imagination, so it shouldn't shock you that that's also how we start out in writing. If we start out with white characters, it's usually not because we're racist, it's because we're white. I mean, black writers probably start out with black characters. It's just natural. We write what we daily see around us; what we look in the mirror and see; what is familiar. This is why most girl writers tend to have female main characters, and other way around for guy writers. This is why many underage writers (like myself) tend to have younger main characters, while sometimes older writers will write older main characters naturally. It's not racist. It's not sexist. It's not age-ist, to make up a completely new, ridiculous word. It's. Just. Natural. So don't be embarrassed by it.
Writing What We Know
This is similar to the concept of familiarity - we write what we know. Oftentimes, also, the races and respective looks of our characters depend on what kind of a culture we set them up in. Kudos to the people who make up their own cultures, but even those are based off of something. And when we write cultures, we like to use ones we know well.
Most Irish-descended writers I've met write at least part of one of their stories (if not far more) in a Celtic or Celtic-based setting. An African friend of mine particularly favored African settings. I myself am Norse-German, and as I am writing my newest novel, I'm finding that I unintentionally somehow picked a Germanic setting. There's a simple explanation, again. An Irish person likely has their talkative Irish grandparent to tell them all about beautiful ole Ireland. My African friend's parents always told her stories from Africa when she was younger. I myself have been told quite abundantly about my Viking and Frank ancestors, I assure you. So the cultures we know the most about tend to take precedence in our writing... and those usually tend to be the ones we have that wise old granny or storytelling uncle from.
But Should We Fight It?
This is the big question. Is it racist to write that way naturally? - no. Is it racist to wittingly keep writing that way? - well, no. Obviously, we should all strive for a certain amount of variety in our characters, in every aspect of them, which includes race, nationality, and looks, but that's not correcting racism, that's just good writing - a writer's common sense, if you will. If all our characters looked and acted the same, it would be quite old after just one novel, much less an author's whole repertoire. So it is definitely good to explore other types of people - not just racially and culturally, but psychologically and characteristically as well.
However. That being said, you shouldn't push yourself to write in a way that is estranging. So, yes, have multiracial characters and stories, but don't make all of it that way if it feels unnatural. Don't try to write what you don't feel comfortable with. So if you're uncomfortable writing a guy's POV, then do it less than the girl characters'. If you're uncomfortable working with a culture you don't know - research, of course, but if it's just not your thing, then just do it less than you do your signature cultures. As for characters of other races - strive for it! But don't put it before writing well and writing what you want to read.
What do you think? Anything to add? Have you ever struggled with this dilemma or something similar? Chat with me! - I would love to hear your thoughts. :) 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Bio of Prince Blakely

Finally! Something other than story snippets! ;)
When Alagna (from her as of yet self-titled book, here) was interviewed a week or two back, getting the interview chain up and running again (ugh, what a horrendous mixing of metaphors), the candidates for the next interview were these:
Prince Blakely, Alagna's best friend;
Lady Felicia Elmonte, Alagna's cousin;
Prince Francis and/or Prince Edmonde, Alagna's other friends, and Blakely's younger brothers.
And, as a two-to-one vote cast, it seems that Blakely has won out. :) So I'm posting his bio here. Ask any questions for him in the comments, and I will ask them of him in a little while when I post the interview. :) I hope you like him!
Name: Prince Blakely of.... don't ask the country's name, I don't know yet. :P
Age: 22.
Nationality: He's the prince of the country I have been calling 'Homeland' when I reference this story, but the country has no actual name difortunamente... :P However. Due to certain details, you may have reason to believe (as I do) that the country is Tresinta, which is the main country in my other Action/Adventure novel, Alomina, as well, though many years after Mina and Percy.
Height: 6'4
Hair Color: Blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde - think honey-blonde.
Eye Color: Deep blue.
Title(s): Prince; Crown Prince (and there's another one by the end of the story, but I won't give that one away...). ;)
Family: His father is deceased, but his widowed mother, Queen Gianna, is still living. He has two younger brothers - Francis, who is not quite three years younger than him, and Edmonde, who is four years younger than him. Other than that he only really has very distant cousins and such among the nobles, the closest one being Philip Arraden, a prodigy advisor to the throne.
Bio: Prince Blakely was born in Castle Ethelire in Homeland's capital, to Queen Gianna and King Percival II. The firstborn, he was named Crown Prince, and heir to the throne, and he has always done his best to live up to that title. When he was young, it was the time what many nobles called 'The Arleine Line,' due to the Arleine family being particularly powerful and close with the royal family at that time; Lord Gerard Arleine was royal advisor, Lady Helen Arleine was the queen's best friend, and Lord Freyand Arleine was in charge of the king's elite garrison of knights. It was no surprise, then, that Gerard Arleine's granddaughter (by his son, Theodore, who was Freyand's younger brother) was a common playmate of Blakely's by time he was six years of age. It didn't take long for them to become best friends, particularly considering Blakely was always of a quieter nature, and did not make friends by the dozen, as Alagna even from that young age did. So his early attachment to Alagna led to her being really his only very, very close friend in his life, really, though he did have friendship with his brothers.
The 'almost twins,' as Francis and Edmonde were called, often said Blakely was a worrywart - a sentiment which Alagna too voiced - and perhaps this was so for a time. Blakely was always the kind to take his duties more seriously - he never really complained or hyperventilated, but Alagna and his brothers could always tell when he was worried. Being of a quiet nature, Blakely was never one to voice concerns, but always preferred to listen, which was good for Alagna, as she was always the more talkative, social one.
Blakely already had taken on much responsibility by his fourteenth birthday, due to the disappearance and death of his father at the hand of bandits when Blakely was nine. But this suited Blakely - he always worked well with responsibility because it was fulfilling to his thoughtful nature.
For quite a few years before and up to the story, Blakely had rather a fancy for Alagna, but being quiet and respectful of their friendship as well as its small nature, Blakely kept it to himself for a while... if rather badly. Alagna knows full well of this fancy, and Blakely knows she knows, but it doesn't really stand between them at all. Blakely just treats her better than other ladies, and she just accepts his gifts with a smile and teases him sometimes. Their friendship really hasn't suffered any damage throughout the years, which is not the case for most boy-girl friendships, so it's really rather astonishing.

Up to the beginning of the story, Blakely is a great advisor and aid to his mother - who is a widowed queen in prosperous but quickly hardening times. There is absolutely no trouble in the illustrious kingdom up to the beginning of the story, but when trouble does come, Blakely is his mother's greatest crutch.
All of the princes are immensely fond of their mother, the 'almost twins' particularly so (call them "Mama's Boys" all you want - they probably wouldn't deny it!). They all sort-of dote upon her, and are rather protective. You see, Duke Roanwall, a noble in the court who attempts to advise the queen, fancies the queen himself and often makes attempts at courting her... but the princes all despise him. And so, if they're around, they stick to their mother like glue to paper, and basically do anything short of telling him to scram. And they show no particular respect to Roanwall, I can tell you, except perhaps Blakely, who is perhaps a tad less inclined to be outwardly rude than Francis and Edmonde are. But even Blakely is only as civil as is required humanly - Roanwall is rather a fop, and Queen Gianni really doesn't care for him in any such way, so the princes have all the more reason to want to pummel the guy whenever he comes around (though, thankfully none of them do - if even one of them did, Roanwall might not be recovering anytime soon).
I think that's really all that's been going on in Blakely's life up to the points of the story - his mother's droll suitor, his socialite best friend, and a grand kingdom that Blakely takes care of, filled with - so far - nothing but prosperity. That is, until the story starts...
What did you think? Do you like Blakely? What do you think of his current state? Any questions for him? Again, ask him anything you like in the comments, and he'll answer the questions in an interview soon. :)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Don't Look Back - A Sneak Peak at The Ever-Three

I know that this is right on top of another story post, and I apologize for my lack of creativity at present. I just ended a week of hardcore business with a bad lack of sleep, so my brain is just wanting to post the easiest and most close to complete post in my workbox. But, that being said, I did at least polish it up for you guys because I only want to give you my lovely audience the best posts I can (...even when it's only the best of my busy, half-awake posts).
This particular story snippet is a sneak-peek at The Second Brother's sequel, The Ever-Three. This is the book's beginning. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! :)
           Dulcilla glanced back anxiously, her heart beating madly as she ran. Her friend, a dark-haired man, was running behind her a little ways, leading a small pony. Dulcilla breathed in relief. Good. He made it... He was safe... mostly. A limp slowed his movement, but he nonetheless soon caught up to Dulcilla.
            He handed the pony's reins to Dulcilla, continuing to run at her side. "Here," he spoke urgently. "Mount as soon as you're far enough away and then ride to where it's safe. You know where"
           Dulcilla's eyes flew to his limping foot. Oh no..."You're hurt... How will you run all that way...?" She placed a hand over her mouth in horror, realizing there was no way he could. "We've got to mount now!"
            He shook his head. "If we mount now, then we'll be spotted and caught easily. We have to wait until we get to the mountains" He gave Dulcilla a small smile. "I'll be fine"
            Dulcilla searched his face worriedly. After a moment, she hesitantly nodded. She trusted him at least this much...
            Suddenly a shout sounded from a ways off. Dulcilla's companion flicked his head back to look. His eyes glanced briefly behind him before they flickered back to Dulcilla. "Ride away like I told you as soon as possible, Dulcilla, and I'll meet you" He slowed a little. "Go in a different direction from me" His expression was urgent. "Hurry!"
            Breathlessly, Dulcilla ran faster, turning a different direction, and leading the pony with her. The last sounds of her companion's voice reached her as she ran: "Ride, Dulcilla, and don't look back!"
            Dulcilla mounted quickly and rode. But, despite her friend's warning, she could not help one last glance back. She looked back just in time to see an arrow tip burst through her companion's side. Scarlet spilled through his shirt, and he crumpled to the ground noiselessly.
             Dulcilla's heart seemed to stop for a moment. Choking a sob, she forced herself away. "No...," she whimpered, though still riding as though the wind were behind her for fear of being caught.
             The pony galloped swiftly, but Dulcilla urged it on more - not daring to look back, her spirit broken from the first time. Tears streamed down her face, but she kept her sights ahead.
             As time passed like a deathly bell toll, Dulcilla finally gathered enough courage to look back... despite the knowledge that there was no way her companion had made it. A desperate hope drove her to be sure, though. And... even against this knowledge, it still felt like an arrow in her own heart when Dulcilla's eyes found no one. Not a soul.
            But as Dulcilla's attentions strayed for but a moment behind her, her pony suddenly whinnied loudly, and bucked. Dulcilla turned, and lunged forwards, trying to stop him, but she tumbled backwards and everything went black.
           That was all Dulcilla could remember. It had been almost five years now since - five years of trying so hard to remember who the man was, why they'd been running, where they were going, what had happened before it, and so many other burning questions. Dulcilla was almost beginning to believe that it really had been only a dream, and that it had never really happened at all. But then... that face... His face. Dulcilla knew it... somehow.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Pain of a Memory - Part VIII

The previous parts are linked below. Due to the brevity of the next two scenes, I have coupled them together on this post (I may do likewise in the future if it occurs again). I hope you enjoy them! :)
Anwynne looked over at Errius. She had to talk to him. She slowly headed in his direction. Wait. What about what had happened last time? She needed a new strategy... Then how would she get to him? Hmm...
Anwynne had to get his attention. From there, maybe Errius himself could think of a way for her to speak with him somehow. But how to get his attention without attracting likewise that of the bandits'...? Then suddenly an idea hit Anwynne of how she could attract attention from Errius without being conspicuous to the robbers.

So Anwynne started humming, first very softly, and then increasingly louder as time passed. She was humming an old tune that Errius sung a lot when he was done with his duties. It was a war-song - not an Ingrecian one - and she had never heard anybody but Errius sing it. She didn't know where it had come from, or where Errius had heard it either, but it was characteristic of him, and he was bound to recognize it.

Anwynne looked at the bandits that were guarding them. None of them seemed to notice, perhaps because of her gradual approach to it. So she slowly began  to put in the words, only a few scattered of the real ones:

Brimming... hmm... sea... hmm... of arrows strong,
hmm... Sailing... hmm... ship of... hmmm... voices in song,
Five-hundred and... hmmm... a thousand strong,
Sing... hmmm... to the vict'ry... hmmm... of homeland...

After a few broken verses of this, Anwynne reverted back to just humming, so as to still not make the vagabonds notice. She looked over at them. They still had not taken any serious note of her actions. Good.
Anwynne looked over at Errius hopefully. He was gazing at her questioningly. It had worked! She nodded to him furtively. He gave her an understanding look, as though he had comprehended her wish to speak to him. He looked at the robbers and then back at her. Was he trying to tell her about the bandits being a threat to such an audience? That's what it seemed like. So Anwynne nodded, only hoping she'd understood correctly.

Errius looked away from Anwynne then, and just looked out into the distance as though nothing had happened. Oh no. Had Anwynne just communicated something rather different than intended? Did he think that she had abandoned her wish? Oh, no, oh, no...

Then Errius whispered something to one of his guards. Anwynne looked closer. What was he doing? The guard nodded, and then they both moved closer to each other. Errius and the soldier began to then converse - rather obviously - as though they were trying to be secretive, but doing very badly at such. The bandits slowly began to take notice of Errius and the soldier. Then Errius seemed to notice the robbers' note of them, and he went even closer to his guard, as though trying - quite unsuccessfully - to be less noticeable. But he was doing a rather poor job of being subtle... almost too poor...

The outlaws only seemed to watch him even more closely. His attempt at being unseen in whatever he was doing wasn't working to be sure. In fact, the thieves seemed to be getting rather suspicious of him. A mere moment later, one of them stood up and went over to Errius.

"Fine acting, Sir knight, but I'm afraid that we cannot allow plotting, no matter how inconspicuously covered up", the bandit said with a dry grin. He then gestured for the other one to come, and they both lifted Errius by the shoulders and dragged him away from his guards, over to Anwynne's side of the room.

Well, Errius, whatever that was, it worked exceedingly well, Anwynne thought sarcastically. Wait. Anwynne looked over at Errius, and was half-tempted to laugh. Now she understood what he had been doing... Now he was close enough to speak with her... Of course, he probably wouldn't until the thieves' attention was away from him again. But, nonetheless, now Anwynne had her opportunity. And Errius had understood her after all, the clever man...

So they waited. Errius, perhaps so as not to cast suspicion over Anwynne as well, didn't look at her once, though she would glance over at him often. Eventually, the robbers seemed to have lost any notice for Errius particularly. So Anwynne moved to the side - only slightly - just close enough to speak with Errius unheard.

"Errius?", Anwynne whispered to him, trying to be subtle.

Errius just barely nodded. "Princess" He looked at her through the corner of his eye, not turning his head. "What would you require of me?"

Anwynne took a deep breath. "We have to get out of here, Errius. There's someone else here - someone that isn't a part of our host"

So she told him the story of all she had seen - the hand behind the door, and her fears for what might happen to their band if the Nistrians failed to ransom all of them. He listened intently, wordless and grim throughout her entire account. Finally, after a few moment, Anwynne finished breathlessly. She looked at Errius to see his reaction. He had his chin rested lightly upon his hand, but had a look of grim contemplation over his visage. Once a moment of silence had passed, he looked at her as though to affirm that her tale was now fully over.

Then he spoke slowly. "I shall endeavor most truly to aid this situation, Princess. What will you have me do first?"

Anwynne looked around, unsure of what to answer him. But then she made herself be still. If she was going to be a queen, she had best get accustomed to being in command now.

So she looked back at Errius. "I need you, or one of your men, to find a way out of here. Then maybe that person, be he successful in escaping, would be able to assist us all in doing so"

Errius nodded firmly and clamped his hand to his chest. "I promise you that I shall do all within my power to do this, Princess"

Anwynne nodded in an attempt at being regal, feeling that she should give him some token or something for his promise. She looked down at her hand. A small silver bracelet was upon her wrist - the only jewelry on her person beside a small circlet on her head. She quickly slipped the bracelet off her wrist and clasped it into Errius' hand. He looked at her questioningly.

"A token", she explained to him softly. "A token in thanks for your promise, and your aid. Hopefully someday I shall be able to pay you better, Errius"

For a moment she thought he would protest, but he nodded obediently instead. "Thank you, Princess"

Errius took it in both hands, and slipped it into his vest. Then he turned his face to her again.

Anwynne put her hand over his gently in thanks. "What would I do without you, Captain?"

Errius smiled firmly, and made as though reply, but then looked up blankly, as though a disturbance had occurred. He quickly drew his attention away from Anwynne. Anwynne looked over to see what it was that had caused this reaction.

Rogan had just entered through the mouth of the cave. That's odd. Anwynne hadn't even known that he'd left in the first place. Oh no. That could mean he had sent out the ransom letter already... before Errius' plan could be put into works...

Rogan's gaze immediately went towards Anwynne's direction. His usual swagger was present in all aspects of his air, except his expression. His face held something of a cold anger, mixed with what looked like... fear? Anwynne looked closer. Yes, there was definitely some measure of confusion and fear under the cold glance. What could he possibly be afeared of? Perhaps something had gone wrong in sending out the ransom note? That would be a blessing. Then Errius could have more time...

Rogan seemed to only continue looking. He didn't even move a finger. Anwynne looked at him with puzzlement. Why was he just looking? But he didn't really meet her eyes, even though he seemed to be looking at her. Then what was he really looking at? Anwynne tried to follow his gaze. All it led to was... Errius.

Anwynne turned her sights back to Rogan in confusion. He was still just scrutinizing Errius, without moving an inch... But why? As Anwynne was pondering this, and watching Rogan, though, Rogan just abruptly turned away and walked swiftly past both Errius and Anwynne to the tunnel at the back of the cave, disappearing from sight in a moment.
Echo slung his satchel over his shoulder. He stuck his sword inside its scabbard and sighed. He looked up at the sky. It was almost daybreak... already almost time to leave. He clasped his cloak and then headed towards the town square.  He was already leaving on his quest. He hadn't thought much about the quest itself, only of home. Only three days ago, he'd volunteered to go on this journey to overtake some band of vagabonds, and had to tell his poor Ariff and Lania that he was leaving again.

Echo grimaced as he remembered their reaction when he'd told them. Lania... she's just looked down, silent as the sky. A small tear had rolled down her pretty face, unchecked by her small but work-worn hand. Ariff... he'd stood up and just looked at Echo in disbelief. then he'd just sat down again, likewise wordless. Neither of them had said a word, quite as Echo had anticipated, but their silence was far worse than anything they could have said.

Echo shook his head. He had to put all of that behind him if he was to focus on the job at hand. Echo looked up at the sky again in an attempt to make his mind behave.

Finally Echo reached the town square. There, gathering in wait, were a company of soldiers and scouts, all ready to obey Echo. No, not Echo. They were ready to obey Sir Torriven. Echo almost laughed to himself. Well, if they were to obey Sir Torriven, they'd have to also obey Echo. Echo and Sir Torriven were one and the same, and always would be. What was Echo doing? Why should he try and make himself forget Ariff or Lania on this journey? They were a part of his travels as much as he was. And he would bear them in mind every step of the way. Not their sadness, no, but Echo would bear in mind the happiest days... when he had first found them, and the smiles from them when he first came home, the sun glancing down merrily upon the simply village hut, and the lovely smell of Orlania's fresh-baked bread...

With all these lovely things going through his head, Echo smiled, and strode into the company of soldiers, ready now to carry on with his quest. Soon enough, he would be back with Ariff and Lania again, making more new happy days...
What did you think? Which scene did you like better? Glad to be back with Anwynne? Your thoughts on the escape plan? Feel free to comment, critique, or suggest anything you like - I love feedback and the story needs it sorely - just please be civil. :) I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Song of Violetta, Our Song - A Lenten Meditation From the Opera

Some time ago, I was having a sleepover with my best friend - it was pretty fun, and we did a lot. But the one thing that stuck in my mind was the opera we watched: the Gheorghiu/Lopardo production of La Traviata (The Fallen Woman). And within that, one part in particular, here.
It's a very famous part in the opera, but it didn't strike me for its fame - it struck me for its familiarity. The woman - Violetta Valery - and her song were all too familiar. The words are now almost painful to hear, knowing them. Violetta sings as though she hasn't a care in the world, doesn't she? And even the two words she always repeats are so carefree and pleasured; "Sempre Libera!," or "Ever Free!," she sings. And yet, there is a tone of pain. Who could guess that just before this, she was singing a different tune? A sad, drawn, and pained one, with a melody quite heartrending. And within that, she was singing of something else entirely.
In Sempre Libera, Violetta sings "Libera" (free), "Gioia!" (joy), "Follie!" (folly), and "Piacere" (to pleasure). So it seems she has forgotten her anxiety of before. But then suddenly a voice drifts in from the outside... a voice Violetta knows. The voice of Alfredo, Violetta's only faithful admirer, drifts in. She - being the fallen woman that she is - scorned him for being faithful, laughing at him. But that didn't change Alfredo. It did change Violetta, though. The melody Alfredo sings in the distance recalls when he first revealed his faithfulness to her, and it haunts Violetta, but she nonetheless tries to regard it as "Follie!" and enjoy herself. The words describe love, but in a different way from the love Violetta knows - "Mysterious, high, both cross and pleasure..." Violetta does not know of anything like this, and is disturbed.
The sad song of before, Ah, Forse Lui (Ah, Perhaps He...), spoke not of death, or pain, or really anything like that... and yet, it terrified Violetta and brought out mourning from her. It spoke of Alfredo, oddly enough, and Violetta considered to herself whether to actually stop and have love, serious, true love. She has never even thought about this before - Violetta is a prostitute, you see, originally from very poor beginnings - and faithful love is a strange idea to her. And a terrifying idea. Violetta's carefree joy seems to come from her later thoughts, that she must be free and enjoy herself, and love and party as she pleases, and only anxiety comes from thinking about faithful love and giving things up. How familiar.
The words remind me firstly of our culture - how many times have we heard nowadays from our public that we need to be free, be ourselves, enjoy life to its fullest? And they, unfortunately, suggest doing so in the same way as Violetta. They tell us that loving as we please and withholding from ourselves nothing we really want is the way to enjoy ourselves, the only way to be free and empowered. They tell us that it's all about us, and not about love really. And so we enjoy ourselves. We gallivant and break hearts and go about being 'ever free,' a stranger to anything other kind of love. And then, when faced with true love, we are confused. Maybe even pained. 'Why do we have to give other loves up for one?,' 'Why should we be faithful?,' 'Why must we have love in a certain manner?,' 'Why can't we just love anyone we want?,' We complain, and we think we are bound and shackled by these limitations.
Poor, poor Violettas. A lot of them. They agree so much with Violetta in the beginning, but they ignore what happens later. Even she caves in, and finally gives herself up to the true love of Alfredo. But it is still about her for a while. She lives with him and loves, but then one day, something happens. Alfredo's father comes to Violetta, requesting a simple thing. He speaks of Alfredo's sister, unwed, weak. She will never wed or be cared for properly if Alfredo and Violetta's relationship does not stop, because her reputation will be tarnished by it. So Alfredo's father, Signor Germont, asks Violetta to end it, pleading with her for the sake of love. But Violetta refuses. It is her love! Alfredo is hers now - what business has anyone to end this joy? But then, thinking once more of the words about love Alfredo once sang to her long ago, Violetta finally agrees. Now she fully acts in love, though she knows it will be hard. Because she can see Alfredo, her love, in the weak, unknown girl so much in need of care. And so Violetta gives herself up.
Now that Lent has started, I think ever more of this story. Because it's even more familiar than how I pointed it out above. Not just our culture is reflected in poor Violetta's story. What does the love of Violetta recall more than the Church, Christ's imperfect Bride? We are Violetta in a way. We do as we please, considering nothing but "Gioia" and being free. And yet, when faced with the alternative, we are scared. Faithful love terrifies us, because it shows us what we don't do. It shows us something radically different from being ever free or taking joy and pleasure above all else. Christ loves us more than anything, and far more faithfully even than the metaphorical Alfredo. And yet we remain Violetta in her Sempre Libera - we will have our freedom! And when we really think about giving ourselves up, the thoughts are pained and sad, and we only can think of how hard a path it would be. But perhaps He has real love for us. Perhaps we will give ourselves up. There's no better time than Lent. What are you giving up for faithful Love?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Interview of Alagna Arleine

Alagna's bio can be found here. The introduction to her story can be found here. The questions were given at this post here. I hope you enjoy it! :)
Me. *enters interview room and turns to Alagna* Alagna, can I ask you some questions today?

Alagna. *raises brow in question* Ask me questions?

Me. *nods* For an interview.

Alagna. *frowns slightly* Yes. But please keep it quick, there are things I would like to do.

Me. *dryly* Like sneaking around ballrooms, spying on people, and other general nosiness and

Alagna. *blushes slightly, but ignores it* No. Like finding that man in the mask.

Me. Yes, so exactly what I said.

Alagna. No, this is -

Me. How's about we get on with the questions, Alagna? These first ones are from Mary Katherine.
Firstly, what is your favorite dessert?

Alagna. I don't know. Something rich and chocolate. Something elegant or difficult.

Me. So... maybe red velvet cake...?

Alagna. *nods slightly in approval* Yes.

Me. Now, if you lived in current times, what movie or musical would you enjoy? Hmm. Actually, I may have to answer this one, as you have no idea what I'm even talking about.

Alagna. What are you talking about..?

Me. Never you mind. They're a form of music or entertainment we enjoy nowadays... sort-of. But I think you would probably enjoy ones with more rich, classical entrenchment. Probably would enjoy The Phantom of the Opera as far as musicals go... at least until you heard the plot. As for movies, you'd probably like Gone With The Wind... again, excepting the plot. Basically just things that are particularly rich in culture. I think your favorite movies, though, would probably be mystery movies, oddly enough. You like figuring things out and being nosy so much, you'd probably love them. You'd probably like Miss Marple.

Alagna. *lightly* I still have no notion of what those are.

Me. *shakes head* Ask Amy and Alejandro sometime, they're always bringing movies with them in here. Anyways, though, what's your favorite color?

Alagna. To wear or at all?

Me. Um, both, I guess.

Alagna. To wear, gold. At all, claret red. *frowns slightly* I would wear it as much as gold, but... *glances disapprovingly at her hair*

Me. Well, I'm not changing it, if that's what you're implying. Come on, you're my only even relatively red-headed heroine. Definitely not changing it.

Alagna. *smooths skirts nonchalantly* I wasn't asking it. But you may go on with the questions.

Me. Alright, do you have any hobbies?

Alagna. *inclines head* I do.  I play the harpsichord, lyre, harp, organ, and I sing.

Me. So mostly music.

Alagna. Yes. Mostly music, but I also read a bit.

Me. Alright, these are from Blue. What's your earliest childhood memory?

Alagna. *cocks head* I think when I went to the palace as a little girl, for a party my parents were going to. I was, I don't know, perhaps four years of age? But I spoke with Blakely and his brothers there, and I remember it distinctly because Francis was following their mother around, wanting to hold baby Edmond. *smiles* I don't think those two have ever tolerated being parted. *laughs* Even my earliest memories are of balls and grandeur, it seems! I'm afraid I know very little of any other world.

Me. Well... you will... *clears throat* Anyways, what is your most prized possession?

Alagna. Easily spoken. A book of songs and old ballads that Blakely gifted to me for my last birthday. It is old, but I love the old songs. They are so - I don't know - they just have a beauty, and a mystery to them like nothing else I know... *laughs a little* But they're old enough that I can scarcely read the music to sing them!

Me. Do you have any unusual talents?

Alagna. *raises eyebrow and cocks head* Unusual, I'm not sure. I play, and sing, but as do most ladies of the court. I read, but as do most of the intelligent ladies of the court. Well, I like keeping house, which is something most ladies of any court would scoff at. *straightens* But I scoff at them for not acting like women. I would like to think I'm good at housekeeping, but my servants always seem to somehow do it far better than I whenever they do it.

Me. *rolls eyes* I can think of one. How about nosing into other people's business? You're an expert at that...

Alagna. *blushes again ever-so-slightly* Well, I try not to be - but, well, *indignantly* the masked man was important! In the library, he had -

Me. Yes, I know what he had.  *sighs exasperatedly* You are a terrible busybody. But, if you weren't, then a lot of people would probably be dead, so whatever. *shakes head* Now, what is your deepest fear?

Alagna. *looks away* I... I don't think I have one.

Me. *nods sarcastically* Of course not. If you don't answer on your own, you know I can make you, so you might as well.

Alagna. *bites lip* Well, I really don't know... I have a sinking feeling inside of me sometimes, and... I don't know what it means, I really don't... I don't know what I'm afraid of.

Me. *plainly* I do. Love perhaps...?

Alagna. *sweeps hands out* Of course not - I have suitors, and I have never shied from any of them. And I see men in court all the time, and I never shy from deflecting them from me if I don't want their attentions. I'm not afraid of men. Or love. *nods decisively, as though to assure herself*

Me. *shakes head* Alagna, Alagna... Now, what is your deepest desire?

Alagna. I don't really know that either... *puts hands up frustratedly, biting lip* I suppose I'm not much help answering these - but maybe people should ask simpler questions! And mind their own business, for Heaven's sake.

Me. You are such a hypocrite, Alagna! And I think I know what this one is too... in fact, I think it's the same answer.

Alagna. *straightens* It is not. I have never desired any affections, though get them I may. I never even think about it.

Me. Ugh, Alagna! You don't have to think about something to be afraid of it, or to want it. In fact, your not thinking about it, I think makes it all the more unexpected and unfamiliar.

Alagna. *waves hand flippantly* Next question, perhaps?

Me. Would you sacrifice that desire to prevent that fear?

Alagna. *gasps frustratedly* According to you, they're one and the same! Which makes it a logical impossibility, doesn't it? Next question, please.

Me. Fine, fine. Here's the last of Blue's questions. Would you be the type to throw a cream pie in someone's face?

Alagna. *expression lightens to a coy smile* This question I can answer easily - certainly! I must say it's an odd idea to throw a pie in someone's face, but it sounds like something Francis and Edmond though up... which makes it rather delightful to think of! *laughs* I can just imagine doing it, too...

Me. *laughs* Yeah - strangely enough, so can I. Alright, now these questions are from Catherine Hawthorn. Who or what is your greatest enemy?

Alagna. *frowns slightly* I don't really have any enemies. I don't think there's really anyone I know that comes to mind that I can't at least mostly tolerate, and can't at least mostly tolerate me. But the masked man... if he is truly as dangerous as he bodes to be, then I and the whole country may have an enemy in him.

Me. What is your greatest talent?

Alagna. Playing or singing. Not sure which. Perhaps playing my harpsichord.

Me. What is your favorite flower?

Alagna. A white camellia. It's the most elegant flower I can think of, and I like wearing it in my gowns and hair at balls.

Me. Alright, what's your favorite gown or other piece of clothing?

Alagna. *frowns disapprovingly* That is a rather indelicate question.

Me. Come on, Alagna. In your times it might be, but not in mine, and not in your interviewers'. Please answer.

Alagna. *nods slightly* Then my gold gown, the one -

Me. *nods* Yep. I know the one. The one you're wearing when the story begins - big, billowing skirt, sparkling spectacle, low enough neckline for you to have your bit of jewelry and your hair trailing down your neck. Your preferred genre of ball gown, yes?

Alagna. *smiles reminiscently* Yes, most surely.

Me. Alright, these questions are from Hope. How would you describe yourself?

Alagna. *cocks head coquettishly* 'Spoiled', perhaps - 'elegant'? I think, actually, 'charmed' would be the word. A spoiled girl who loves elegance and has a charmed life that she's rather attached to.

Me. *nods* That sounds about right. Now, what do you like to do that most people would think was odd?

Alagna. Well, like I said before, keeping house. I pleasure in doing it, unlike most nobles. And most women of court would think me odd - if they didn't already for my leaving home before being married.

Me. Which you did exactly for that purpose.

Alagna. *sweeps hands lightly* I didn't do it because I wanted to prove a point - I did it because it sounded nice. I cannot really keep house for my parents - what an odd notion - and I cannot really have my own estates while living in someone else's.

Me. *shakes head* Alagna... Anyways, if you could be any animal, which would it be?
Alagna. *cocks head* A fox, I think. I like them, and they are rather intriguing creatures.

Me. *rolls eyes* Intriguing creatures that just happen to be like you in animal form? Red-colored fur, slender and sleek, nosy, and always sticking themselves in business that doesn't belong to them. Really, Alagna?

Alagna. I never really thought about it that way, I just always liked them!

Me. *shakes head again* Whatever. What is your deepest, darkest secret?

Alagna. *smooths skirts rather irritatedly* I think these people are getting a bit too prying.

Me. Just answer the question, Alagna, eesh.

Alagna. I don't know. Perhaps... perhaps that I really actually do care what other people think, and do care for simplicity, and really wouldn't mind a simpler life. But I doubt that anyone else shall ever know it.

Me. I don't think that's it, but fine. Close enough. The next questions are from Megan - you remember her, right? She was the one that interviewed Edmond a while back... I think...

Alagna. Yes, I think I remember that time.
Patrizio Buanne of the very, very blue eyes. :)
Me. Yeah. Well, anyways, her first question is what do you find more handsome, brown eyes or blue eyes?

Alagna. *frowns* This is another attempt to try and - ! *throws up hands irritatedly* Ugh. Brown, if she must have an answer!

Me. *raises brow sternly* Alagna...

Alagna. *gasps frustratedly* Fine! Blue, then.

Me. *nods, satisfied* I know. Now, are you practical, or a dreamer?

Alagna. Probably a bit of both. Perhaps slightly more on the practical side - I'm perfectly content where I am, so no need for dreams. However, that could also be because every dream of mine that comes to mind I already have.

Me. So you think... Alright, last question. Would you rather live a long and unremarkable life, or a short one filled with glory?

Alagna. *cocks head thoughtfully* I think the former suits me. I am rather unremarkable in my present state, and would be content to live forever in it, so that logically points out the answer for me. Is that all?

Me. *nods* Thanks for your, uh, attempt at cooperation.

Alagna. *flicks hand up dismissively* I wasn't even attempting. Farewell.

Me. *shakes head* Farewell, Alagna.

End Interview.
What did you think? Did you like Alagna? Is she difficult or what...? Ugh... some characters... Anyways, though, the candidates for the next interview are these:
Prince Blakely, Alagna's best friend
Lady Felicia Elmonte, Alagna's cousin
 Prince Francis and/or (depending on common vote of joint or separate interviewing for them) Prince Edmonde, Alagna's close friend(s), and Blakely's younger brother(s).
Vote in the comments, and I'll post a bio for whoever gets the most votes in a little while. :)