Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Penning Tournament - The Natural Disaster Challenge's Results (And Also Miscellaneous Announcements, Such As Happy Birthday, Percy!)

Hello! Unfortunately, on another Penning Tournament Challenge, dear Lucy was unable to complete it. Aww! :( I really wish she had. However, I did complete it, on the other hand.
So here is my excerpt, form a story as of yet unintroduced on this blog (don't worry, it'll come soon!). Here is a link to the Challenge itself if you need a refresher on what it was about.
Owain turned to Feotheire. "Feo, you need to get a grip on yourself"

He looked at Feotheire's face. Feo seemed to be just looking over Owain's shoulder. "Feo", Owain repeated himself. "Feo?"

Feotheire looked at Owain quickly. "Owain..." He nodded behind Owain, and began to step slowly away.

What on earth was with Feo? Suddenly a loud noise broke through the air. Owain looked behind him. The mountain behind them was collecting a huge cloud of dust, almost as though... A humongous rumble sounded from it, and the cloud of dust grew greater in volume. The mountain's side then began to slide down, thundering madly. The mountain was coming down!
Owain then turned around and began to run. Soon enough, Feotheire was at his side, also running at an untold speed. And so they both fled, trying to evade the ever-collapsing mountain as it billowed behind them, neither one daring to look back.

"How in Elliar did it start?!", yelled Feotheire to Owain as they sprinted.

Owain looked briefly over at Feotheire with irritation before turning his attentions frantically ahead of him again. "Feo, do you really think I am thinking of that now?!"

There was no answer, and so the only proof Owain had that Feotheire was still right next to him was the sound of Feotheire's rushed breathing - the only sound audible aside from the roaring of the rockslide behind them.

Owain looked back quickly. The mountain was almost upon them, with only mere yards to span the distance. Owain yelled in warning to Feotheire. Feotheire looked back also, and his face paled when he saw the close vicinity of the landslide. Both Owain and Feotheire - despite their doubtless extreme exhaustion - heaved a huge breath and attempted to run faster.

Owain looked ahead The tree line was coming up close. Soon, they would run out of room to run because the tree line was so thick. And then... Well, Owain shuddered to think of what would be then. How could they avoid it, though? The deafening bellow of the falling rock behind them was not any encouragement to Owain's pondering, to be sure.

Owain looked a little to his side. The trees were already beginning to get thicker. Soon enough, they'd be as thick as armor. Wait. Owain looked more closely at the trees - or, at least, as closely as he could while still running. Once they reached the tree line, those trees would be too thick to run through... but thick enough to walk on.

Owain started heading for one of the trees. He jumped into it and climbed up. He signaled to Feotheire. "Feo!", Owain shouted, hoping Feotheire heard him.

Feotheire glanced over while still moving. His eyes widened in surprise, but nonetheless, he soon also leapt atop the tree with Owain. They both looked back, and on seeing the landslide, hastily scurried into the next tree.

The gaps in between the trees were - as of now - too wide to step over, so Owain and Feotheire jumped. They must have looked quite the ludicrous spectacle, bounding from tree to tree frantically, as an enormous cloud of dust and rock ever grew behind them. Owain grimaced to think of what their father would say... or do.

But they went on, now practically deaf to anything the other found the much-sought breath to say, due to the overpowering raging over their shoulders. The landslide had gotten slower with the short time of its existence, to be sure. But it had, however, also gotten much closer to Owain and Feotheire, due to their pause in climbing the trees. But they were getting to the tree line! Soon, they would be able to regain swiftness and get away from the pursuing mountain.

Then, suddenly, a crack issued from the tree that Owain was in. Owain looked down as he was running, right before the branch he was on gave out beneath him. In a mere split-second, Owain was plummeting to the ground, with branches hurtling above him, and scraping, hitting, and bruising him from every side. After a moment of falling blindly, Owain banged into the ground and his sight went black.

The next thing Owain was aware of was opening his eyes to Feotheire dragging him across the ground quickly. Then Feotheire stopped and looked at Owain.

Owain stood up shakily and pushed Feotheire away. "Feo, we need to go!"

He looked behind him They would be crushed if they sat here dawdling even one moment more. And they had now - because of Owain's clumsy footing - lost their best way of escape. The mountain was still coming... and fast.

Owain started to run, though a pain began to rise in his torso. Soon Feotheire ran up beside him. Owain looked ahead. The tree line was so close... They would have to just navigate their way through as swiftly as possible... and hope that the landslide halted soon.

"What about your fall? You could be injured!", Feotheire yelled to Owain over the rumbling of rocks behind them.

'Could be'?, Owain thought to himself sarcastically as another pang went through his chest.

"I'm fine!", however, was the only reply he gave Feotheire.

The mountain was almost done setting though... The question would be whether Owain and Feotheire would be able to remain out of its path until it did finish settling...

They were so close to the tree ling! They would reach it within seconds. Owain began scanning the tree line for an advantageous point of entry. He looked over at Feotheire. Feotheire seemed to be attempting to do the same thing. In all hopes, they would just make it...

After a moment that seemed like an hour, Owain and Feotheire sprinted up to the front of the tree line. Almost immediately after reaching it, both began to comb it for a good way through. The rockslide  thundered ominously, signaling its approach. Both Owain and Feotheire looked back desperately. In a moment where Owain seemed unable to breathe, the landslide rumbled up in front of them, threatening to crush them, and then halted - quite literally - just at their feet.

A large breath of relief was released sharply from Feotheire. Owain looked over at Feotheire wordlessly. Feotheire met his gaze, also silent, apparently likewise unable to speak.

Feotheire, though, after a moment, seemed to recover, and stepped forward onto the heap of rock before them. Then, as soon as Feotheire's foot touched where the rock had been, it immediately vanished, making Feotheire stumble ahead.

Owain blinked in disbelief. He looked up at the mountain. It was completely pristine. As though absolutely nothing had happened.

Feotheire regained his footing, and stood up next to Owain. He looked up at the mountain as well.

"It's as though... It was never really there...", Feotheire spoke quietly, voicing Owain's own thoughts.

That was almost exactly what it was like... But, then, how could that be...? Unless...

"It wasn't ever really there", Owain said plainly.

Feotheire looked over at Owain and furrowed his brow. Then a look of understanding dawned in his eyes. "Lucyth"

Owain looked over at Feotheire and nodded in affirmation. "Lucyth"
Well, that's it. :) I hope you liked it! It's from a story I hope to introduce pretty soon. But, anyways, on a different subject, I have some announcements. One of them is the recent birthday of my character, Lord Percy de Blyrwen. On the twenty-fourth, which I meant to blog about, was Percy's birthday. So, happy birthday, Percy! :D
Ahem. Anyways, though, I am also announcing a hiatus. Because I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April, I will be on hiatus for the whole of that month. There may be one more post during the last remaining days of March, and then I'm done until May. I might still be answering comments, so feel free to still stop by, but I will have no new posts. This means a pause in Catholicism Explained; The Penning Tournament; Meet The Books!; character interviews; and, if worst comes to worst, even Beautiful People. Sorry! :P However, like I said, I will be back in May, and, depending on the state of Camp NaNo, and how busy I am, I may or may not be able to convince myself to do Beautiful People (because I can never bear to miss out on them!). But, like I said, probably not, so I wouldn't anticipate it or anything. Anyways, Arrivaderci! :)
What did you think of the excerpt? What do you think of Owain and Feotheire? Do you like the way I did the Natural Disaster Challenge? Do I have comrades in wishing Lucy's writing had also appeared? ;) I'm sorry for the hiatus, and I do hope that you folks can forgive the lack of CE that has already started and will continue because of this. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Interview Of Count Charles Montefore

Yes, I know it took a while. Sowwy! But sometimes it takes a while for genius. Haha, sorry. That was not a good excuse (or a true one). :P Anyways, I'm interviewing Count Charles Montefore, from my main book, Alomina, with questions from some lovely audience members here at Worlds Of Ink And Paper. The previous interview can be found here. His bio is here. His story (up to Chapter Fifteen) can be found here.
Belle. Greetings, Count.
Montefore. *nods* Greetings.
Belle. Mind if I ask a few questions?
Montefore. I shall answer them if that is what you mean, Lady Belle.
Belle. *smiles* Good. First up are some questions from Hope. What is your favorite childhood memory?
Montefore. *any slight trace of smile fades, but he doesn't frown*  I have very few happy memories to boast of, I'm afraid. But so you do not suppose that I am in a depression or something of the like, I shall attempt to conjure one up. *thinks for a moment* The memory of my mother, I suppose. I remember her only very vaguely, but the face is enough.
Belle. *interestedly* What did she look like?
Montefore. *gazes off distantly* She looked... *breaks off from thought into expressionlessness again* She looked as any mother who is going to one day die and abandon her child does, Lady Belle. Please continue with the interview.
Belle. *crosses arms disappointedly* Fine. One day you'll tell me some more about you, though.
Montefore. The next question?
Belle. Yes, alright, alright. Do you prefer the day or the night?
Montefore. I don't know. For the thing itself, I prefer the day, I suppose. I dislike the night. Too much can occur during darkness.
Belle. Yeah... You better than most should know that. *clears throat* Anyways, oh dear...
Montefore. What is amiss, Lady Belle?
Belle. Uh... A question that I don't think you'll like to answer.
Montefore. While I cannot assure you I will like to answer it, I give you my word that I will at least try to answer it.
Belle. *shrugs* Fine. But I'll hold you to that. What's your type in terms of women? Innocent? Sweet? Charming? Good dancer?
Montefore. *keeps face expressionless* You were correct in assuming that this query would gain my disfavor, my Lady Belle. However, I have given my word I shall answer, and so I shall. I have little preference in terms of women, My Lady. I do not think I shall ever be turned by any such being, because I have little cares to spare for such things. Nor do I think any such being would be willing to spare anything for me. I may seem to them cold, forbidding, or secretive. All of these things I am as well, in some measure, so I do not think any woman would abide it, and I wouldn't urge nor pray her to, I assure you. So there it stands as a desolate situation.
Belle. *snorts with laughter* You make yourself sound like Mr. Darcy.
Montefore. *raises brow* Who?
Belle. Haha, nothing. A reference to something of a different day than yours, Count. *tries to restrain giggles* Besides, I may or may not know something you don't know about yourself and your future, Count...
Montefore. *ignores remark*
Belle. *clears throat to cover up last laugh* Alright, do you like to fence? Ride?
Montefore. No, I don't like to fence, and I don't unusually enjoy riding either. But I do not mind either one.
Belle. Do you wear lots of hats?
Montefore. *gazes up briefly at brim of large traveler's hat he's wearing* Yes.
Belle. Haha, do you realize you look like Will Turner with that hat on? By the way, that's me asking, not an audience member.
Montefore. Who?
Belle. Haha, another reference.
Montefore. I am not so sure anymore that my existence is entirely original, My Lady Belle, for you continue to compare to things of your own day.
Belle. *laughs* It's okay. I actually wrote you before I even knew about Will Turner or Mr. Darcy. And you just happen to look like Will... It's, uh... coincidence. Yeah, coincidence. *smiles guiltily* Okay, so maybe he just happened to fit your description and I thought he was handsome, so... *smiles again* But anyways, what's the name of your current horse? *bursts out laughing at question*
Montefore. What so amuses you, Lady Belle?
Belle. Um... *giggles* It's just that, because your horse was the only one in the book that didn't have an official name, my sister made up a rather ridiculous unofficial name for it that wouldn't be mentioned in the story.
Montefore. Well, then you can ask your sister my horse's name, because I didn't name him.
Belle. What? Oh, come on, he must have some name.
Montefore. He does have a name, but I didn't name him. I don't call my stallion anything. The only title he was ever called was given him by a stable boy.
Belle. What was it?
Montefore. Dertay. Apparently it meant 'courage' or something of the like in the boy's language.
Belle. That's kinda cool... Um, what's your favorite food, Count?
Montefore. I don't have a favorite food.
Belle. Oh, come on. What's something you enjoy eating?
Montefore. I enjoy venison, I suppose. At any rate, it's better than traveler's bread.
Belle. Non-favorite food?
Montefore. I don't turn down food for my own whims. But I can occasionally tire of traveler's bread.
Belle. Do you like to read?
Montefore. I suppose I do, when I have the time.
Belle. What's your current occupation at the moment? How are you supporting yourself?
Montefore. *frowns* My current occupation is a many-faced one. It could not be summed up in one word... unless the word was 'slave'. And as for my support, it is my dwindling family fortune.
Belle. Alright, these questions are from Spiderman the awesome. What's your favorite thing to occupy yourself hobby-wise?
Montefore. Perhaps thought. Or reading. I don't get a large portion of time for revels, Lady Belle, from my occupation and my attempts at restoring the hopeless bit of ruins that my castle is.
Belle. What are you best at?
Montefore. Traveling fast and remaining a stranger to other people.
Belle. That's a terrible thing to be best at.
Montefore. I don't have a choice. I cannot, at the risk of whosoever I become close to, become close to anyone. They would only be used for being associated with me.
Belle. Do you have any friends? Who?
Montefore. As I previously informed you, My Lady, I cannot have anyone close to me. I cannot marry, or have a family, or even have friends. They would only be used in the same way I am. Besides, I could not ask anyone to try and be with me in my hopeless endeavors of restoring a half-wrecked castle and running errands for slave-drivers.
Belle .Okay, okay... Eeesh... Are you anticipating any troubles at the moment?
Montefore. Yes. I will soon be traveling on another such errand, and I do not know the extent of its difficulty yet.

Belle. Do you prefer to be in Vellethia or Tresinta?
Montefore. Perhaps Tresinta. The extent of my activities in Vellethia are living alone in the ruins of Montefore Castle. In Tresinta I am still alone, but at least I don't have to look at the fallen legacy of my family's home.
Belle. Do you travel often?
Montefore. Fairly often. I travel when called, or when I am not at Montefore Castle. Is that all?
Belle. *nods* Yep. You can leave now if you want.
Montefore. Thank you. *stand up and bows, then leaving*
End Interview.
The next interview will be of
Maid Dricynnia de Blyrwen,
King Edarian II Of Tresinta,
or Princess Celeise I Of Tresinta.
Leave the vote of your choice in the comments! :)
Anyways, that wraps it up. What did you think? What do you think of Montefore? Would you read him? What did you think of the post on a whole? I am, difortunamente, sick at the moment (again!), and so, depending on how bad it is tomorrow, there may or may not be a Catholicism Explained tomorrow. The only reason I am posting this today is because I already had it typed up. I am sorry! I really do keep catching ill, though; I'm not making it up. :P It seems like I'm catching every single little tiny germ that floats around these days.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Penning Tournament - The Natural Disaster Challenge

Hopefully this won't seem to rushed, because I assure you that I'm writing this at break-neck speed just so I can post something. I'm sorry it's been a while, but here is the next post, and next challenge in the Penning Tournament.
So, there's a reason that this one is called The Natural Disaster Challenge, and it's not because I'm participating. ;) The challenge is this:
Write at least 1k words, required to be in at least one scene, but allowed to be split into more, of the effects of, or the event of, a natural disaster. Anything from a tornado, hurricane, or typhoon to a volcano eruption, earthquake, or wildfire to a flood, tsunami, or cave-in. Get creative and use any disaster you want. The only catch is that it's due by March the 28th. Good luck to Lucy, me, and anyone else who wants to participate! :)
Again, a reminder is that, due to Lucy's inability to blog this Lenten season, if she finishes this assignment before or with me, then her excerpt will be posted on here either alone, or along with mine. Likewise, if she finishes, her victory post, and the next challenge (which will be set by her) will also be on here. So look for Lucy's lovely writing on this ole place! (Hehe, maybe it will attract more people... You see, haha, evil plot by Belle Anne, mwahahaha!) Let's just hope that my version of this assignment doesn't turn out to be a natural disaster, haha. ;) Yeah... that was a terrible pun, I know. Belle's humor is getting weak. :P Anyways, another reminder, if you need it, on what this tournament is about can found here, and the last challenge can be found here. The location of my fellow tournament competitor's blog is here, at Tanglewebs And Fairy Rings. And obviously you know where to find mine, or else how did you get here? ;) I think that's about it. Around the 28th, I will post updates on the Tournament, and the excerpts of whoever finished the assignment, with a victory post from either me or Luce. After that, one of us will set the assignment, but it will pop up on here.
What do you think of this challenge? Sound as fun as the last one? Better maybe? Think you might participate? If you do, the only rule is to link up here (Lucy's blog would be acceptable also, but she is on hiatus over there at the moment, and so will not see it for a while if you do). I also will read the excerpt, so don't think 'I won't link mine up because Belle is too busy to read it'. I am never too busy to read good literature! So there. ;) Do you think the time frame sounds manageable? Is anybody else frustrated that the pretty picture I tried to design for the Tournament never shows up large enough to read the small type?! Agh! :)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Beautiful People - Echo

Yay! Beautiful People is BACK!!!! I know it was back last month, but this is the first ordinary BP since I started blogging, so I am EXCITED ENOUGH TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS, WHICH I RARELY DO. For those unfamiliar to BP, it's a lovely character link-up hosted by Cait and Sky. If you have never joined in this fun, I highly suggest doing so. If you have, I highly suggest doing so again. I'm going to start it up with a lovely character of mine called Echo Torriven, from an as of yet un-introduced story on this blog (shh! I will introduce it later). I am afraid that Echo has another name, but it is one I have mentioned on this blog before, I believe, and it's spoilers, so, he will go by his nickname, 'Echo', for now.

What's their favorite book/movie/play/etc.?
Echo doesn't really do movies, seeing as he's a medieval guy. And... I can't really see him going to plays much either. As for his favorite book... There's a book of poems in his current country, Belestine, that he used to read to his wife a long time ago. Even though she's dead now, he still loves the book, especially one particular poem, the first stanza of which is this:
Forever, dear, forevermore,
Though rain and wind doth toil away,
Though fadeth rock and dust of clay,
Forever my heart and spirit soar
At memory of our golden day.
This poem has actually not been written all the way yet by moi, so pardon the fact that it's messy and incomplete. :P
Is there anything they regret doing?
Oh, yes, plenty of things unfortunately. However, most of these things would be automatic spoilers if a single one of my sneaky reader crowd was among the audience, so I shall only mention one. A long time before the beginning of the story (though, due to the odd chronological arrangement of the story, it happens during the story kind-of), Echo left his small family to help someone. He never came back from it due to certain things. While he doesn't regret what he did to help, he does regret the fact that he never got to see his family again after he left them. He was gone for so long, and due to another spoiler thing, he never saw them alive or otherwise, but knew they were dead.
If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them?
There could be any range of people willing to take that task up. While Echo doesn't know many people well, the fact remains that he help a great deal of people, all of whom would be willing, I'm sure, to help him were he in any danger. Most likely, though, it would either be his tavern-keeper friend, Grant, or one of the two orphaned children he keeps in his care, Lania or Ariff II.
Is there an object they can't bear to part with and why?
Well, out of obligation to, Echo always keeps his knight's ring on him. It's the ring of a lesser knight of Belestine. A lesser knight is basically a knight of Belestine who is originally foreign or has no noble blood, therefore called a 'lesser' knight. However, it is only out of duty that he keeps this on him. Echo has another ring, though, too. An old, battered ring, constituting a promise he made so long before. His wedding ring. Even though his dear lady is long-departed, he still wears it, always keeping it close. (Echo is not incredibly old, but he seems like it from his looks because of all he's been through. An old-looking man with torn cloak, a missing ear, scratches of different sorts everywhere, wearing two battered rings - one far more ill-conditioned than the other - is not usually looked at twice, unless it is to remark how worn-down he looks in comparison to his almost child-like joy.)
What are five ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Echo's heart has already been won... I doubt anybody could do it in the same way again. But it's incredibly easy to win his friendship. You don't really need to do anything more than exist. However, five ways in which a person is bound to attract his attention especially are these:
1. If the person is alone - without family or friends living.
2. If the person needs help, being helpless or sick in injured or alone or just anything that renders them unable to fend for themselves. Then you can be sure Echo will care for the person to the best of his ability.
3. If the person is depressed, in the wrong, or doubtful. Echo has a thing about helping people, and if anybody needs it physically or otherwise, he will try to become close to them so he can help them.
4. If the person is willing to help others.
5. If the person has a particular bravery or selflessness about them. Echo knows the difficulty of bravery, and he values it immensely in anyone.
Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Echo usually wears a patched cloak, sometimes with a traveler's hat. He also wears a tunic of some kind, usually rather unassuming in appearance. He wears very long traveler's boots, usually brown in color, two rings, and a satchel over his shoulder. Other than that, it's pretty ordinary medieval attire for his rank.
What's their favorite type of weather?
Sunshine. Definitely sunshine. I'm weird, and I prefer rain, so most of my characters like it, but Echo is an exception. He likes sunny, beautiful, slightly breezy days when he can run like a child again. Actually, the day that he comes in on in the story is one of these days, and he's coming home, so the first time you see Echo, he's very happy.
What's the worst fight they've ever been in?
You remember how I said earlier that he left his family to help someone? Well, don't repeat this to any of my beta readers if they happen to ask, but he left to go fight in a war. That might not seem to mean much, but to a keen reader that pretty much just gave away about 70% of the giant plot twist they're all trying to figure out. The war between Nistria and Belestine was a long time ago, and it wasn't even really Echo's war (he did not live in Belestine at the time it began). But a friend of his had suffered from the war already, and had been called away to fight. So, Echo went to battle because of his friend, and because he believed that the war - if it wasn't cut short - could threaten his home country as well.
What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Well, he was always called by his real name when he was younger. After the war, though, his friends and family were gone, and he went out without anybody calling him anything. Echo eventually settled, only ceasing in his perpetual search for his family because of two orphaned children that needed him. Orlania and Ariff II, as they came to be called under him, were the only reason  - despite Echo's being told that his family was dead - that he stopped searching for his family at all. For eight years at the beginning of the story has Echo been in that town with those two (Lania is, at the story's start, fifteen, and Ariff II is ten). After Echo was in the town, though, before he had actually settled there, he made a friend of a local inn's man named Grant. Grant gave him the nickname 'Echo'. Echo had lost an ear in the war, and Grant would joke that because of the hole in Echo's head, anything Grant said would just echo right out and not be listened to. Thus he came to be called 'Echo', even though as a knight, he it still known by his real surname, Torriven. So, depending on who is addressing him, he is either called Echo or Sir Torriven.
What makes their heart feel alive?
Good question! The memory of his beloved ones does, as well as any occasion when he can care for people in need. But the thing that perhaps makes him feel most alive nowadays is when he can finally come home from a journey, and can run down the hill-path into the town, to where Lania and Ariff II await him, Lania with fresh bread baking, and Echo with a new story to tell them both.
That about wraps it up, I believe! What did you think of Echo? What did you think of those lovely questions from mistresses Cait and Sky? I do believe that with Beautiful People around, I shall never tire of posting things... though I may still procrastinate because that's what I do. ;)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bio Of Count Charles Montefore

So today, I am going to introduce Count Charles Montefore (or, as spell-check wants to call him after my bad typing, Coconut Charles Mount For). Ask him questions in the comments, and I will post an interview of him answering those questions later on. The previous interview can be found here.

Name: Count Charles Montefore. Age: Twenty-one (almost, that is - his birthday, though it is not mentioned, occurs during the span of the story). Nationality: He is a Vellethian. Height: About six foot one...? Hair Color: Very, very, very dark brown... almost black. Eye Color: Very light brown. Title(s): Count (hereditary title). Family: None living any more. His cousin, a certain Hugo Montefore, was the last one to die. Bio: Charles Montefore was born in the ancient, but failing line of Montefore, a line so old that it went back to the beginning of Vellethia as a kingdom. He was one of the only sons born in his generation (the only other being his uncle's son, Hugo), and so he was one of the last Montefores. Their estates as well as their line was failing, and at that time their fortune was only barely suitable for their title, and not the great thing it had once been. They were a proud line, though, and so they did not spend it much, wishing to keep their regime, and only used as was necessary to try and restore Montefore Castle. Montefore's parents were likewise some of the only Montefores in their generation. The Montefores had a long history - a long and half-abandoned history that only they ardently remembered. Montefore's parents died in a mobbing of the royal palace at Vellethia's capital when he was young, along with his uncle. This left him and Hugo as the last Montefores. When he was fourteen, he and Hugo decided to take up the hereditary task (spoilers!) that their parents had died before they could accomplish. They did not succeed in their attempt. It only resulted in the death of Hugo. Though Montefore escaped mostly unscathed, he learned a lesson that day. This attempt also led to Montefore's meeting of the youngest Vellethian prince, Lothaire, whom he would know for a very long time to come. After this for some years, Montefore merely put his energies in either traveling for unknown business or trying to restore the almost hopelessly forgotten Montefore Castle. At the beginning of the story, Montefore is away from Montefore Castle on more untold business, in the capital of Tresinta, to be exact. It is here that he is met by someone he altogether did not anticipate...
Anyways, that's Montefore. I do hope I didn't paint him too wrongly, because I let out a rather larger bit of information than I probably should have. But I was also very vague due to this. So, on a whole, it was a confusing bio, wasn't it? :P Very sorry if it was... And also sorry for how long it took for me to put this up. Ask any questions you have for Charles in the comments, and I shall put up an interview once sufficient query count is reached. :)
What do you think of him? Does he scare you? Or perhaps does he seem very likeable? What do you make of his stance in the story from what I've told? Have any particular questions for him? I can warn you now that you may need to ask a good few questions as he speaks very little and dislikes being forced to speak.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Catholicism Explained - Devotions And Sacramentals

Hey, everybody! Yeah, I know it's been a while since the last CE, and I apologize for it. Due to being gone longer than I expected, and then getting sick once I got back home, I wasn't posting for a while. But I'm back now, so I can proceed with one of my favorite subjects to talk about in Catholicism: devotions and sacramentals (while there is a difference between them, it is very slight. Sacramentals are technically devotions, but not all devotions are sacramentals if that makes sense).
Basic Theology
So, we pray and receive the sacraments, yes? But we're not always doing them of course. Often, very often, yes, I hope, but not always. So sacramentals are little things reminding us of the sacraments. For instance, wearing a wedding ring may remind us of the sacrament of marriage, and our vows to it. (Yes! Even a wedding ring can be a sacramental! :) Or carrying holy water vials can remind us of our baptism. Or having a cassock (if you're a priest) can remind you of your ordination in Holy Orders. So basically they're little symbols to remind us of the sacraments. In and of themselves, they have no power or grace. Their only graces are an extension of the sacrament itself, from representing it. If they are used in a manner that is contrary to the sacrament they represent, then they have absolutely no value except as an ordinary, material item. Devotions are little things meant to further our devotion to God (hence the name 'devotions'). Like the Rosary. Or the Scapular. Or the veil. Or so many others (I will have an explained list of examples later in this post).
Some Common Objections
But why should we put any trust in mere material items? It's ridiculous to put hope in things.
Well, we're not putting our trust or hope or anything in the items themselves. Like I said, in and of themselves, they have no power or grace. But neither do the sacraments. God gives the sacraments power, the sacraments give sacramental power. Thus, we are putting our trust in God's grace, not the nonexistent grace of a mere material item.
Isn't it idolatry? Even if we're not putting our trust in the items themselves, we're still using them as though they were powerful, aren't we?
The thing is, they are powerful. But again, not on their own. Idolatry isn't necessarily of items: it can also be of people who are not God. And yet, when we have help from powerfully holy people in our struggles, it isn't idolatry, is it? No! Because we don't follow them because of their own examples. Alone, they would be without a single grace, without a single virtue. But in God, they have grace, and power, and holiness, so we flock to them. It is the same with items. Being from God, they have their power and grace likewise from Him. So, when we use them, it's not as though we were using magic or idols or anything, we're only being reminded of and led to God through the items (or people).
It's scientifically ridiculous that a little bit of blessed water, or a piece of leather strung around your neck can help you out. How could something like that be?
Well, again, it's God that helps us, not the items themselves. Miracles usually involve some material and scientific fantasy that actually comes to pass. There have been plenty of miracles in the past involving sacramentals or devotions (stories of which I will provide in the next CE post), both spiritual and material miracles.
Why Do We Believe In Them?
We believe in them for many reasons. A great many saints have gone to sainthood through endearing these devotions to themselves. A great many people have turned away from the ugliness of sin only because they saw the beauty of practicing for God (in other words, showing devotion). So we have much history to show that they can only do good. Besides that, even in the Bible we find many instances that are almost coincidentally similar to sacramentals. Like oil, or chrism, for instance. It's all over the Old Testament especially, whether being used to anoint kings or merely to dedicate sacrifices. And chrism is a sacramental that we still use in the Church today. Here are a few Church father quotes on the matter:

"Moreover, we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized."
- St. Basil The Great, On The Holy Spirit, A.D. 375 -

"Thus, too, in our case, the unction runs carnally [on the body], but profits spiritually; in the same way as the act of baptism itself too is carnal, in that we are plunged in water, but the effect spiritual" - Tertullian, On Baptism 7, A.D. 200 (emphasis mine) -

And the good old Catechism Of The Catholic Church:

"Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops' pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of a Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of Holy Water (which recalls Baptism)"
- CCC 1668 -

Their significance is simple enough, I suppose. It is to draw us closer in devotion, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual devotion to God and Our Lady. They remind us of things we promised (like baptismal or marriage vows), of things we are promised (like the Rosary reminding us of Mary's Fatima promise), and they remind us most importantly of that Person Whom we are always striving to grow closer in devotion to.
Some Examples
There are plenty of brilliant examples, the most well-known of which is the Rosary. But Miss Lucy has already covered the Rosary (see link above), so I'll list some other ones.
The Scapular
The Scapular is a blessed small, brown square of cloth strung around the lay* person's neck, to explain it very technically. (*there are other forms of the Scapular, but the most common one, the one that lay - not religiously avowed - people wear, is the one I'm talking about here.) It was given to a saint by Our Lady in an apparition, and there is a beautiful promise that goes with it. The exact words (and these words are found inscribed on most Scapulars) are "Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire". There is a promise from Mary that, fulfilling these three conditions, the wearer of the Scapular will be given the graces necessary to reach Heaven and avoid Hell. The three conditions are
1. that the Christian actually wears the Scapular (you can't just own a Scapular and expect the promise to be fulfilled - you have to wear it)
2. that the Christian is chaste according to their station in life (spouse, single, religious, etc.)
3. that the Christian recites the Scapular's office (prayer) daily, or (only with special permission from a priest!) say the Rosary daily in place of it.
The first Scapular you own (you are permitted to own a Scapular once you receive your first Holy Communion) must be blessed by a priest, though. Not every Scapular you own after this has to be blessed in this way, but I think it's a lovely rite, and should be used. I was just invested with my first Scapular last month by my parish priest, and I thought the Scapular blessing was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. And I got the really cool privilege of getting invested in Latin. Usually the rite is performed in English, but we brought a version of it in Latin, and the priest was very willing to use Latin, so my siblings and I got invested in a very unusual (but super awesome!) way. The Scapular is to remind us of the mutual promise between us and Our Lady when we have it.
The Chaplet Of Divine Mercy
This beautiful prayer devotion was also instituted in an apparition. This particular apparition was to St. Faustina, a nun. The prayer is said on a rosary, just as the Rosary prayer is, but it's slightly different, and a lot shorter. It's a prayer for Christ's mercy to cover the earth, and for all of us to be forgiven in that mercy. Instead of 'Hail Mary's on the beads, as in the Rosary, we say
"For the sake of His sorrowful Passion - Have mercy on us!",
and then on the 'Our Father' beads, we simply say
"Oh, God, we offer You the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ - In atonement for our sins and those of the whole world".
Other than that, it has minor differences from the Rosary in the prayers it ends in and the prayers it begins in.
The Veil
A whole lot of women (including many Catholics even) are getting confused when they see Catholic women veiling themselves in Mass, perhaps because almost nobody does it. The veil (or, as the European version is called, the mantilla) is a beautiful 'small t' tradition much like how men always take their hats off in church (I wear the Italian mantilla, which is very similar to the picture above). The veil is a rather unusual devotion, though, in that it was not instituted by an apparition of either Christ or Our Lady, or an apparition at all; in that it has been going on since the beginning of the Church; in that it has extremely distinct Biblical roots; and in that it is symbolic and reminding of a very many things rather than just one. The veil, first and foremost, symbolizes purity and chastity (btw, there's a fun fact concerning that symbolism that I will perhaps impart in the next CE post). It also particularly symbolizes the purity of Mary, which is very special, because her purity and her chastity is the most pure and the most chaste of any woman that ever existed. The veil also presents us to Christ humbly, covering our own mere human glory in the sight of His greatness. It also presents us to Him, Our Holy Bridegroom as brides, before Communion, which is a sacramental union of Christ and Christian just as a wedding is of a man and a woman. The veil is also incredibly practical, and I highly suggest reading a booklet called The Veil, which can be found at www.veilsandmantillas.com
I think those are all the examples I'll give for now (because this post is becoming incredibly long, and I plan to do a follow-up anyways). If I can manage to find some good links for more information on these, then I will put them in the next CE post. For this one, my other sources were

Why Is That In Tradition?, by Patrick Madrid.
Book VI on the Catholic faith, Catholic Apologetics, by Fr. Laux.
Daily Defense, by Jimmy Akin.
I really hope this post doesn't seem al jumbled together like most of them are... I really did try this time! But, I didn't even scratch the surface on the subject, because there's so much to cover. So, like I said before, I will be doing a follow-up post to have more thoughts and explanation on the matter.
What did you think of this Catholicism Explained? Do you agree with the points I made? Or was the post altogether too confusing? Have any notes? Additions? Questions or concerns? Perhaps suggestions for the bettering of Catholicism Explained? Talk to me! :) I love to hear any and all questions and debates for it, just so long as they remain considerate and civil. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Penning Tournament - Updates

Bongiorno! Yeah, I know you're probably all wondering why I've been gone. Well, in a rather hilariously chaotic chain of events, all I have been able to do over the past few days is answer comments. You see, I was gone for a while, and then arrived home a lot later than I had anticipated to, and then once I got home, I got sick... again. :P So, sorry...? I'm okay now, and so I figured I'll make it up to you guys by this post, and hopefully a good CE on Sunday (shh! I'm not saying anything else about it!). Anyways, I'm here today to give updates on the Penning Tournament. You can find the previous tournament post here. Just as a reminder, this writing challenge is a writing incentive of a sort for me and Lucy@TanglewebsAndFairyRings.

The Results:
I completed the challenge at the very last minute, and Lucy, difortunamente, did not. So, I shall post mine right here and now.
Leta sat down on the ground. Another mission to be completed, and it felt more hopeless in outlook than any previous ones. This would be the one to decide everything: what Leta and her team had worked for, and whether it would ever come to anything. They only had a couple hours, and then they would begin the impossible-seeming quest.

Leta looked around at the team. Sam was out of sight, undoubtedly checking the flier's readiness. Tsonja was looking over a diagram of the movements for the plan. The only proof that Vance was anywhere near was a lofty figure in the distance, keeping watch quite unnecessarily. Bertie was looking at Leta in an almost observing way, as though not quite sure what to do or say.

Leta looked back down at her feet. She didn't even want to think about how much of the team would be left after this was all over. Could she lose any of them? Technically speaking, she could lose any one of them, especially with the jobs they all had. But could she really afford to lose them? Not just for the team, but for her? It pained her to think of it... yet, she couldn't help it somehow.

She could lose any one of them forever, and be all alone... again. Leta could lose Sam, never to be cheered or assured by his happy words again. She could lose Tsonja, never to laugh at that dry look again. Leta's face grew warm with the threat of tears. She could lose Bertie, never to hear that infectious laugh again... Leta looked up at Vance's shape in the distance. She could lose Vance... never to see that frustrating grin, or that wind-blown hair, or that towering figure keeping watch in the distance ever again... Leta looked down yet once more.

So much could be lost... But losing Vance... How would she ever recover from that? How would she ever feel whole again if that happened? Leta couldn't lose him... She couldn't be alone again.. They couldn't leave her alone.. Never...

Someone sat down next to Leta. A hand neared Leta's. Leta looked up. It was Bertie, still looking at her observingly, but with almost a tinge of worry now.

"You okay, kid?" Bertie's hand went over her own comfortingly.

Leta bit her lip hesitantly. "I don't know, Bertie..."

Bertie smiled. "Don't say you don't know, because I know you, kid, and you're worrying. What's wrong?"

Leta attempted a smile. "Nothing, Bertie... It's just - I - what if one of us - or more than one of us - doesn't come back from this mission?"

Bertie nodded and sighed a little. "I know what you mean. I've been thinking about it a lot too, kid, 'cause I've been there before" Bertie swallowed, and paused for a moment. "I've gone out there with somebody, and come back alone, and it wasn't fun, I can tell you. But I guess that's what we all signed up for, isn't it? We never go out there a hundred percent sure that we're gonna come back, I guess, so what makes this time any different?"

"Yes, but..." Leta looked down. "Well, when I got into this, I signed up alone. I was alone, thought I always would be. I though that if I didn't come back, it'd still just be me... alone... so, I guess it didn't matter as much... I never counted on losing a team... you, or Vance..." Leta trailed off, her eyes going back to rest on faraway Vance.

Bertie turned her face towards his with a characteristic smile. "I know. But don't worry - you won't be alone again. We've got your back, kid"

"But can you guarantee you'll never go?", Leta asked doubtfully.

Bertie smiled again. "You know I can't. But I can promise you, kid, that Vance and I, we'll stick by you. We won't ever leave you, even when it seems like we might"

Leta's eyes flew to Vance again, and a moment of silence ensued.

Bertie also turned out to look at Vance thoughtfully. "You like him, don't you?", he queried finally.

Leta was a bit startled by the question. She recovered after a second, and half-smiled. "Yes, I do..." She laughed. "But not like you mean, Bertie... Not like you and Tsonja anyways"

Bertie turned away from Vance and back to Leta. He raised an eyebrow at her suspiciously, a tiny glint in his eyes. "What about me and Tsonja...?

Leta smiled teasingly, the first real, full smile she'd felt all day. "Oh, nothing, Mr. Dim-Bulb Fleming, nothing at all", she said, so quiet it was practically under her breath.

Bertie shot her a mock irritated look. "Somehow I have a feeling that wasn't supposed to mean 'nothing', kid. And really?" He slapped his hand to his face laughingly. "You 'forgot' my rank again. You know, technically I'm Major Dim-Bulb Fleming! Can't a guy get a little respect, at least from Russian little girls who are under his command?"

Leta shook her head grinningly. "Nope. You'll always be Mr. Dim-Bulb Fleming to me, Bertie"

Bertie eyed her exasperatedly. "Not sure if that was supposed to be disrespectful or sentimental, but either way you're gonna pay for it later, kid"

Leta got up laughingly. "Well, so will you, Dim-Bulb. I believe I'll go over to Tsonja right now and tell her of your being enamored with her"

Bertie got up in disbelief and pushed Leta back down. "You rascal!", he laughed frustratedly. "You wouldn't go and tell her such a story like that! For that, you're in timeout here until we leave"

Leta looked up at him innocently. "It wouldn't be a story, it would be true. And last time I checked, timeout is not a regulated punishment, Bertie"

Bertie chuckled a bit. "Well, it is now. And who told you such a ridiculous story anyways?"

Leta blinked and grinned. "Well, Vance was the one who figured it out, but it's pretty obvious anyways"

Bertie started to walk towards Vance, a reluctant grin spread over his face. "Well, I'm gonna have to have a word with Lt. Vance, then. You stay there, Missy"

Leta called after him, making sure Tsonja was out of earshot, "So when do I need to buy a dress for your wedding?"

Bertie's now-becoming distant figure quaked as though laughing. "Never - you're not invited!"

What you just read was an excerpt from In Greater Hands, right before an action scene (I apologize for the unstable nature of the scene - it was supposed to be a relief in between intense scenes, and it isn't the full scene). I wrote it for the Penning Tournament challenge (which there's a link to at the beginning of this post). I chose this line of the song If Ever I Would Leave You, my favorite song from Lerner and Loewe's Camelot:

Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall - no, never could I leave you at all!

The next challenge will be posted shortly by me, since Miss Lucy did not finish hers. And there will also be a change in plans for this feature. Since Miss Lucy will be unable to blog during this Lenten season, her writings for the tournament will appear on the blog of yours truly when she e-mails them to me. Her challenges will also appear here. Anyways, I think that was all I had to say. ;) You can count on another challenge being posted soon. At the moment, I'm off to go and think it up. ;)
What did you think? Did you like the excerpt I wrote? Do you like Bertie? Or any of the other characters mentioned? What do you think of the song I chose for this challenge? Anybody else now really wanting to listen to Camelot? :)