Slave Elf Part 5: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Palace on the Isle by shpyo via www.DeviantArt.com
http://www.deviantart.com/art/Palace-on-the-Isle-678301769

See Part 1 here.

Part 5

I sat, numb. The struggle to grasp the fact that I had a family and that they were at war and that they were royalty was too much to bear. Finally, a clear thought came to me. “I don’t have any powers.”

“Your parents mentioned that you would begin to see them manifest at this age.” Lord Traford tugged his lace-hemmed sleeves down inside his brocade jacket. “I have employed a tutor for you to help you through this period of learning to use them.”

I looked at Master Corpet. “You mean I’m no longer a slave?” I could feel my heart racing as my hands twisted in my lap.

“That is true, though to me, you were never a slave. A ward, would be the best way to put it.” He grinned at me as though he was pleased with himself.

A wave of anger washed over me that made me gasp. “A ward? Really?” I shot up from my seat. “Controlled like a dog for decades. Leered at by your men. Whipped by Emil. Locked in my wagon when elves were near.” My voice quavered with passion.

Surprise filled his face. “Whipped?” he stammered. “No one was to touch you. Ever.”

I snorted. “Emil thinks it’s funny to ride up to my wagon and use his quirt on me then ride off.” I folded my arms over my chest trying to contain my fury. I spun to face Lord Traford. “Why was I not educated in the life of my people? I’m to be a savior and I have no idea what or who they are!”

All three men stood up. Lord Traford placed a hand over his heart. “My Lady. Please forgive us. We followed the King’s orders. I don’t know why he gave them, only that he did.”

Corpet reached out a hand. It was meant to be a comfort but I shot him a glare that should have roasted him on the spot. I paced the length of the room and back again, stopping in front of the Lord. “What’s next then?”

He cleared his throat. “I have an apartment prepared for you, here in the palace. I’ve arranged for you to meet your tutor tomorrow after breakfast.”

I closed my eyes. My greatest dream, freedom, was coming true and all I could think about were my pitiful possessions in my wagon. “What about my things?”

“I’ll have them sent, first thing in the morning,” Corpet rushed to say. “I’m sorry, Delia, for causing you so much pain. It was never my intention.”

I started to smooth it over, as I would have as a slave. I bit back the comment. “Intention or not, it happened. My entire childhood spent making myself small and invisible. No parents, no love.” I shook with the pent up emotion. “Abused.”

He looked devastated. I didn’t care.

“Princess.” Alexis intervened.

I turned to face him.

“I’m sure Master Corpet did the best he could given the circumstances. We’re all a little out of our depths here. It must be very disconcerting for you, especially.”

That, at least, was true. My entire reality had just been shifted. I reached down and picked up my sherry, draining the glass. From slave to princess in a single sentence. I drew a deep breath. “Very well.” I put the glass back on the table. “I’d like to retire to my apartment.”

All three men began nodding and making apologetic noises. “I’ll lead you to your apartment,” Alexis said. He went to the door and held it open.

“Gentlemen.” I nodded curtly to Corpet and Lord Traford and left the room.

Alexis guided me through the palace, up another flight of stairs and down a long hall. He stopped at the last door on the right and opened the double doors. “I do hope you find everything to your liking.

We entered a sitting room. A circle of armchairs surrounded a low table, similar to the arrangement in the library I had just left but in feminine pastels, primarily greens and blues. Landscape paintings hung on the pale green walls and a bookcase filled with volumes was centered on the wall to my right. Opposite the door was a bank of windows with a window seat cushioned and pillowed to match the armchairs. To the right of the windows was a door where I found my bedroom. Again, wide windows with window seat, a bed wide enough to sleep four people was opposite the door. A dressing table was on the wall with the door. A fireplace was on the wall facing the window with two armchairs facing it.  I could fit three of my wagons in the bedroom alone.

“This is nice.”

Alexis bowed. “Mother did her best to make the rooms pleasing to you.”

“I’ll thank her when I see her.” Suddenly I was exhausted. “Thank you for showing me the apartment.”

“My pleasure.” He backed out of the room. “I shall leave you now, to your rest.”

I followed him to the door.

“There’s a bell pull next to your bed and one here.” He pointed to a long ribbon of fabric hanging by the door to the hall. “Just pull it and a servant will be here shortly if you need anything.”

“I appreciate that.”

“Breakfast is at nine but if you wish, you can have the servants bring you something earlier.”

“Very thoughtful.”

He stepped into the hall. “Good night, Princess.”

“Sleep well, Lord Traford.”

He bowed again and closed the doors. I went into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe. Several dresses hung there, along with several pairs of shoes. The dresser held undergarments, bedclothes and dressing gowns. I pulled a pair of bedclothes from the drawer and changed. As I took down my hair and brushed it out, I tried to sort out what had happened to me.

I had a family. Parents anyway. Did I have brothers or sisters? I had an uncle who was challenging my father, the king, for the throne. I was supposed to have powers. What would those be? They purposely hid me. With a slave caravan. Purposely kept me ignorant. Why?

I had very many questions and no answers.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 6.

1038 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Published!: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

The Arrastra by Jay Richmond

Last week I mentioned that my western story, Gold Dream, was going to be published in Frontier Tales. Well, it happened. You can find it here: http://frontiertales.com/2017/05May/gold_dream_1.php. Part II will be in the magazine in June. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, go to the home page of the site and please vote for it as your favorite. Winning will get the story in the Frontier Tales anthology. Thank you in advance.

I’m just about done with the edits of Mystery at the Book Festival. I have a few more things to check and then I’ll send it back to the editor for a final review. That should happen this week. After that it will come back to me and I can do the formatting and finalize the cover.

Sahara Sunrise by djluke9 via DeviantArt
http://orig05.deviantart.net/ab5b/f/2017/093/2/2/sahara_sunrise_by_djluke9-db4idv5.jpg

I’ve been enjoying the writing of Slave Elf. I’m totally winging it (called pantsing (for writing without a plan, by the seat of my pants)) so I have no idea where I’m taking the story. It could go on for a while.

First strawberries

Gardening: I bought marigolds to fill the one pot by my sidewalk to replace the pansies the javelina ate. The pot with the daffodil bulbs looks like the bulbs won’t sprout. That makes me sad. I guess I’ll have to buy something, more marigolds, perhaps, to go in there. I picked my first strawberries Saturday. Yummy. That’s them above. I attended this last weekend’s garden club plant sale. I got there an hour and a half after opening and nearly all the vegetable plants were gone. I did get 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 Early Girl tomato plants and 2 serrano chili pepper plants and put them in the garden on Sunday. I also planted seeds for straight neck yellow squash, Black Beauty zucchini, bush green beans, pole green beans (both Blue Lake) as well as peas and yellow wax beans. Have you ever noticed how you cannot get yellow beans in the freezer section? Very odd. Anyway, it wasn’t ideal weather to plant the tomatoes and peppers. We’re having a cold snap and the wind is blowing like crazy, but I put the plants in anyway. They’ll have to tough it out.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading: Easter Giveaway is now on. If you missed out on the last one, this is your chance to win.

Shout Out:

I’ve joined an author group that’s gotten together to help support each other. This group is focused on mystery/thriller/suspense stories but some of us are going to form up a separate group for other genres. I’ll be posting here about their books and freebies and contests as we go along. For example, until the 12th of May, you can get 14 free mysteries at http://www.abbyvandiver.com/blog/go/free-books/

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

The Phoenix ComiCon is coming up the end of this month, May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall in the Four Carat Press booth number 1797.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Slave Elf Part 4: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Nilagiri Palace in Odisha by PatraTravels via DeviantArt.com http://www.deviantart.com/art/Nilagiri-Palace-in-Odisha-678700094

See Part 1 here

 

Part 4

Dinner went as I expected. I was too nervous to eat and I had no idea how to tell these aristocrats that I was a slave. I did my best to keep my comments to how nice they looked. We had nothing else in common.

After dinner, the ladies retired to a drawing room where a young woman played soft tunes on a harp while the men assembled in the library. There was more awkward conversation to go through as each lady made the time to come over to my chair and ask me questions about my life in the caravan. Many were amazed that I kept the books. One dowager was utterly aghast. “You read, write and do math?” She gave a nervous giggle as she raised her eyebrows to her friends. “Very unseemly for a woman to be educated. Very.” Then she walked over to a group of women and whispered something that had them all turn and stare at me. I heartily wished I could be back in my wagon.

That’s when a servant arrived and went to the Lady Traford. She came over to me, a puzzled look on her face. “Lord Traford asks for you to join him and Master Corpet in the study.” She pointed to the servant. “He’ll escort you.”

All the ladies within earshot turned to stare. This was apparently something very unusual. I rose and bowed my head. “Please excuse me, Lady Traford. I’ve had a lovely evening.”

She nodded in return and I went to the servant, holding the door open. I followed him through the house to a room upstairs and over the drawing room. Here I found Lord Traford, his son, and Master Corpet in armchairs around a low table. They each had a tumbler in front of them or in hand. Sam was not in sight.

Lord Traford stood. “Delia. Thank you for joining us. Please,” he waved to an empty armchair, “join us.”

Alexis rose also and bowed. Corpet raised his glass in salute. I took the proffered chair and sat on the edge of the seat. “Sherry?” Alexis asked. “Or would you prefer to share our whiskey with us?”

“The sherry, please.” I nodded.  My mind was in complete confusion. What could I be doing here?

Alexis went to the small bar and poured a glass of sherry and returned, handing it to me with a bow and a smile. I had all I could do to keep my hands from trembling. After he returned to his seat, his father began.

“This must all seem confusing to you, Delia.” He looked at Corpet and his son. They both nodded. “We have a matter of some consequence to discuss with you.”

I placed the glass of sherry on the table and folded my hands in my lap to keep them from shaking. Lord Traford was scaring me.

“Master Corpet reminds me that you’ve been with him over sixty years now. A whole lifetime.”

My mouth went dry. Fear washed through me. And dread. What was coming?

“We believe it’s time to let you in on our secret.”

I nodded. I couldn’t trust my voice not to quaver.

He sipped his whiskey and replaced it on the table. “My father is the one who put you into Master Corpet’s care.”

Care? How was making me a slave, care?

What I was thinking must have shown on my face. Traford raised his hand. “Please, I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Your parents gave you to my father for a reason.”

My hands twisted in my lap as a roaring filled my ears. My parents gave me up? What?

“I’m sorry. I’m making a bungle of this. What I mean is, they gave you to us to hide you.”

I stared at Corpet. He nodded. “It’s true, Delia. You were in great danger if you had stayed with your parents. I’ve done my best for you, I have.”

I thought back to Emil, who had made my life a misery since he joined the caravan. It was not uncommon for him to ride up beside my wagon and strike me on the thigh with his quirt then dash off, laughing, as I nursed the pain. That was the best Corpet could do? I clenched my teeth together and gave a brief nod. I turned back to Lord Traford. “What danger, my Lord?”

“What do you know about the Elves?”

I thought it an evasive question. “Not much. I haven’t been allowed to talk to them. I’ve had no instruction and have read no histories about them.” I’m afraid I let my voice reveal how angry I was.

The Lord merely nodded. “Were you aware the Elves, like us humans, have a King?”

I nodded.

“King Ucheni is his name. The queen is Ralae. They have been fighting for the last sixty-five years against his uncle, Iyuno, who started a civil war to claim the throne. It has been a struggle but the king’s advisors have been waiting for a prophesy to come to fruition.” Lord Traford sipped his whiskey and resettled himself in his chair.

I waited for the rest of the story. Alexis had draped his right leg over his left and seemed bored. Corpet was studying me, sitting forward, eager, almost.

The Lord continued. “The prophecy is that a savior will come to them. More powerful than any elf in a thousand years, the savior will settle all arguments and bring peace to the land.”

“How do they know the prophecy is true?”

“They had a sign, sixty-five years ago.”

I noticed that all three men were watching me. Waiting for something. “What was the sign?”

“A black-haired elf child.”

My mind spun. I blinked at him. “You mean…”

He nodded. “Yes, Delia. It’s you.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 5.

965 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Happy May Day!: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Happy May to everyone. Already into the fifth month of the year. Is everyone else asking themselves what happened? Good gosh!

April’s Camp NaNo is now over. I ended up with over 51,000 words written and a manuscript with serious flaws. It needs a lot of TLC but that’s all right. I can do that.

I’m still working on the edits of Mystery at the Book Festival. I’ve finished 24 chapters so far. I also received a couple of blurbs (book description) that I want to rework. I’m not sure the first sentence is good enough. So now I have that to do. Once the blurb is done, I can send it to my book cover designer and the book cover can be finished. I haven’t seen the draft cover yet. I’m crossing my fingers.

Malaysia Mosque with Muslim pray in Malaysia – Depositphotos_108130076_original

This week I will continue writing Slave Elf. I hope you’re enjoying the story so far.

Other writing news, my story Gold Dream, a western, has been accepted by the ezine, Frontier Tales. It will be in two parts. Part 1 will be in the May issue and Part 2 in the June issue. You can find it at www.FrontierTales.com. The magazine has a contest where readers can vote for their favorite story. Those stories get put into an anthology. So, take a trip over to the website and check it out. I’ll post again when the story is published.

Before

After

Gardening: Yesterday we found that a large flower pot I have out by my front walk had been totally torn up. Probably by javelina.  The pansy root balls were scattered all around the pot and the plants totally gone. That pot has been out there for three years. This is the first time the javelina have gotten into it. Maybe they didn’t like anything else I have had in there?

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading: Easter Giveaway is now on. If you missed out on the last one, this is your chance to win.

Shout Out:

My appearance at the Payson Women’s Wellness Forum last Saturday was a big success. I talked to a lot of people about the Payson Book Festival and I sold a few books, too. Also, the presentations were top notch. I really enjoyed them. Thank you, Mogollon Health Alliance, for putting on another great forum.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

The Phoenix ComiCon is coming up the end of this month, May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall in the Four Carat Press booth number 1797.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Elf Slave Part 3: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Sahara Sunrise by djluke9 via DeviantArt
http://orig05.deviantart.net/ab5b/f/2017/093/2/2/sahara_sunrise_by_djluke9-db4idv5.jpg

I washed again in my wagon, dipping a rag in lukewarm water and running it along my limbs and body. I put on my shift then sat and looked into my little mirror. What to do with my hair? I turned my head to one side then the other. I had no skill at hair dressing. I wore my hair in a braid, usually, under a kerchief, to keep the dust from it. I heard another knock on my wagon door.

“Delia, it’s Hilda. Master Corbet bid me come to you to dress your hair.”

I stepped to the door. “Come in, Hilda. Thank you.”

The woman climbed the steps and entered. She gasped at the sight of the dress spread across my bunk. “Oh, my.”

“Indeed. I can hardly believe it myself.”

She gave herself a little shake. “Put it on. I don’t want to drag it over your hair once it’s done.”

My initial thought was that she just wanted to see me in the dress but I thought better of it. It would damage her work if I waited. I nodded and moved to the bunk. I hardly dared pick the dress up.

“Let me help,” Hilda offered.

She turned the dress over and unlaced the back. Hilda stood in front of me, holding the dress open so I could step into it.  “I suppose I didn’t have to drag it over your hair after all.” She stepped behind me and laced it back up.

The dress rested just barely on my shoulders in narrow straps, then swept down in front, just over my breasts to a point just above my belly button. In the back, it came down between my shoulder blades to the middle of my back. It was sleeveless. I hardly understood how it remained on my body.

Hilda sighed in awe. “Just beautiful.” She grinned at me. “Sit. I’ll do you hair.” She combed and braided and worked with the few pins and ribbons I had until she was satisfied. I looked in the mirror. My hair was piled on top of my head in a tower I could hardly believe. Locks of hair dropped from one or two places, one attractively over my right shoulder, the other, twisting down my back.

“One more thing.” I lifted the necklace out of my writing box where I’d hidden it. Hilda’s hands flew up to cover her mouth. “I’m to wear this.”

Slowly, her hand reached out to take the gleaming fantasy from my hands. Carefully she draped it around my neck and fastened it in the back. The necklace covered much of my bare chest and the final sapphire rested between my breasts. I didn’t recognize the face in the mirror.

“You look like a princess,” Hilda whispered.

I had to agree with her. I reached into my box and pulled out a silver coin. “For dressing my hair, Hilda.”

She hesitated then held out her hand. I dropped the coin into it. As much as I valued my hoard of coin, I expected she’d never had so much for herself in her life. She ducked her head up and down as thank you’s flooded from her mouth. “You deserve it, Hilda. Go. Enjoy a treat for yourself.”

I opened the door and ushered her from the wagon, still calling out thank you to me. I closed the door. Master Corpet would be hear soon. I studied as much of myself in the mirror as I could in the tiny glass. It seemed as though I should have some sort of shawl but nothing I owned was fine enough to finish this ensemble.

I heard Corbet call out from outside. I took a breath and blew out the lamp. When I opened the door, Sam gasped from behind his master. I stood up, chin high. Master Corpet nodded. “Well done.”

I stepped down from the wagon. Master Corpet pulled a length of blue gauzy material from behind him and draped it over my shoulders. “Perfect.” He took a moment to admire the effect, then turned. “Sam. Open the carriage door.”

Sam gawped a moment more then ran to the caravanserai gate. Outside waited a fine covered carriage with four matching black horses to draw it. Same held the door while Master Corpet handed me inside. He followed, then Sam, who sat on the bench opposite us. Corpet knocked on the wall of the carriage and we were off.

We drew up to Lord Trayford’s palace and a palace servant stepped forward to open the door. Sam got out to help Master Corpet down and Master Corpet gave me his hand to descend. Corpet tucked my hand into the crook of his left arm and guided me through the opulently carved and painted double doors. At the door, a servant called out, Caravan Master Corpet and friend over the music wafting out of the doors from an orchestra on the balcony above facing the door.

Two servants stood on either side of the door with trays of narrow crystal glasses filled with something bubbly. “Champagne, Madame,” one of the servants asked. “I shook my head. I didn’t want to be mush-brained tonight. I had no idea why I was here and didn’t want to risk becoming stupid.”

“Don’t be shy, Delia.” Corpet took a glass from the tray and handed it to me. “I can feel you trembling. It will help.” Once I took it, he took one for himself and guided me into the center of the room.

I sipped out of sheer terror. It felt to me that everyone in the room was staring. Then it occurred to me. My ears. My pointed ears were in full view. I had all I could do to keep a grip on the slender glass my hands were so weak. The glass empty, a servant collected it, offering another. Fortunately, Master Corpet was speaking with a man we’d come across so he didn’t insist I take another when I refused.

“Delia. This is Lord Traford’s son, Alexis.”

I curtsied, my eyes downcast. “Lord Traford.”

“Rise, please.” He grinned at Corpet like a boy at his nameday gifts. “She is just delightful.”

“Thank you, my lord. You will be joining your father and I later this evening?”

Alexis clapped Corpet on the shoulder. “I wouldn’t miss it.” He raised his glass to me. “So wonderful to finally meet you, Delia.”

I nodded. I didn’t know what else to do. What did he mean, finally meet me? After that, Corpet moved from one man to another, some with their wives on their arms, some without. He introduced me to each person. I did my best to memorize all of the names and faces and lineages. At last a servant called us in to dinner. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was going to have to make casual conversation with the people around me. I had nothing in common with them and I was already exhausted. Corpet patted my hand on his arm. “You’re doing wonderfully, Delia.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 4.

1179 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf Part 2: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://magikstock.deviantart.com/art/Camel-1-319794644

Part 2

 

As the camels followed the wagon ahead of them, I sat, half-conscious on the wagon seat. How did this happen to me? I’d asked around over the years, humans staring at the slave brand on my hand. Elves were never slaves, it seemed, but me. What was wrong with me that the elves left me with these slavers? Were elf children so plentiful that one could be snatched away and no one cared?

 

I’d seen elves in the caravan’s travels. Aloof, regal, I longed to shout out to them but Master Corpet, and his father and grandfather, made sure I was chained in my wagon when elves were about. I didn’t even really know anything about elves. Their culture, who they worshipped, favorite foods. The darkness came over me, as had for years. Snippets of memories surfaced of me as a toddler, my parents, laughing, singing, making music. I could almost hear it.

 

The snap of a quirt on my thigh brought me out of my dream. Tears flowed unbidden at the sudden pain. When I blinked, Emil was on horseback beside the wagon, laughing. An evil laugh that reminded me he didn’t care if I hurt or not.

 

“Master Corpet bids you read this and write a response.” He handed me the paper. He didn’t want to throw it in case it blew away. He’d be the one chasing it down.

 

I took it and nodded. “Right away.”

 

Emil snorted then wheeled his horse around and galloped off to the rear of the caravan where the horses were being herded.

I opened the paper and read.

 

Master Corpet,

 

Greetings and well met. Lord Verden passed away last winter. A great loss to his family, friends, and the city, Katzin, as well. As his nephew and heir, I will greet you at the palace at your earliest convenience. Send word on your arrival and an audience will be arranged.

 

As to your business, Uncle left clear direction. I will continue to support you in your endeavors. We will speak of it in person.

 

Lord Trayford

 

Nothing unusual. Much of Master Corpet’s work was done in person, so I wasn’t concerned about that part of the letter. That the old Lord was dead, again, humans have so short a life, I wasn’t surprised by that either. I’d never met the man. I puzzled a bit over …your endeavors. As the master’s book-keeper I was sure I knew all the master’s business. Some of it less than legal, but there seemed nothing Lord Trayford could help with, unless it was protecting the caravan routes from competitors.  I folded the letter and tucked it in my sleeve pocket. No response could be written until the wagons stopped and we neared Katzin.

 

After we camped and I had fetched water for my wagon, I went to see Master Corpet. I stood silently at the back of his wagon as he gave direction to the camel drover leader, the slave minder, and Emil. Emil spit in the sand at my feet as he left the master to take care of his tasks.

 

Corpet grinned at me. “And you, little Delia. What do you have?”

 

I swallowed my gall at the diminutive. I was forty years older than he was. “Other than announcement of our arrival in Katzin, do you want anything else included in the letter to Lord Trayford?”

 

He shook his head; his turban ends swinging gently. “No. That will be all. We will arrive tomorrow. Give me the letter in the morning and I’ll send it from the gate. The lord won’t be ready for me until well after we get to the caravanserai and I have a chance to bathe and refresh myself.”

 

“Yes, master.” I bowed and turned to go.

 

“Delia.”

 

I turned back to him. “Master.”

 

He studied me a long moment. I could feel myself begin to tremble. What was he thinking?

 

“When did you come to us?”

 

I bit my tongue at his choice of words. Come to us? As though it were my idea and I was an honored guest? “I was six, Master. Sixty-three years, eight months, eleven days.”

 

He nodded. “My grandfather. Papa told me. That’s a long time to be a slave.”

 

I shivered, clasping my hands so that he couldn’t see them shake. “I think so, Master. That’s three human generations. A whole human lifetime.” I lifted my chin as I spoke then fearing I’d gone too far, ducked my head and shifted my gaze to the sand.

 

He grunted. “Indeed. That’s all.” He turned and went into his wagon, calling for his personal slave, Sam, to bring him wine.

 

That’s it? I thought. That’s all he wanted? Still trembling I hurried back to my wagon. I put the kettle on for tea and sat at my table, waiting for it to boil. What was that about? What is Corpet thinking? One more day until we arrived at Katzin. We went there every year, twice a year. Out and back on the Corpet trade route. The far end being Midton, the end we just came from, Kitgate. Over a thousand miles, back and forth for the last sixty-three years. Sandstorms, raiders, famine, drought, I’d seen it all, over and over. The water boiled. Half I poured into my mug and dropped in a few tea leaves. The rest I poured into the basin and added cold water.

 

I washed away the dust of the day as best I could and tossed the dirty water out the back of the wagon. I watched it disappear into the sand. Like me, I thought. I was tossed into the mass of humanity, never to be seen again. My chest grew tight at the thought. Lost. Lost.

 

 

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 3.

961 Words

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Slave Elf Part 1: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Malaysia Mosque with Muslim pray in Malaysia – Depositphotos_108130076_original

This story was derived from a Chuck Wendig prompt. Chuck does a lot of these for his fellow authors and I enjoy the wackiness of his prompts. Here’s the prompt:

DEMURE ELF CLERIC FROM A SLAVE CARAVAN WHO LOST THEIR MARBLES A LONG TIME AGO

You’ll notice when you read the story that I didn’t stick strictly to the prompt but the idea of an elf, and a slave caravan are certainly there. Enjoy.

Also, when I started posting these parts, I hadn’t finished the story, so I have no idea right now how long this will be.

 

Part 1

I huddled in my wagon, the laughter and drumming, the shouts of the caravanner men to the dancing slaves, rolled in the small open windows of the wagon. It was too hot to shut them. I pulled the collar of my night gown closer to my neck and shuddered. I knew what was going to happen, probably already happening to those dancing girls.

 

I rolled out of bed and lit the tiny brazier, putting the teapot over the flame. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well finish the caravan master’s letter to the next city’s Lord. I lit the lamp and sat down, the unfinished letter on the small table in front of me. The current master was the third I’d been held by. All sons of my original owner. I sharpened the quill. In elf-years I was still quite young, stolen from some elf encampment as a very young child. Even so, I could already read and write in elvish, dwarf and in multiple languages of men. That, at least came easy to me.

 

The master made sure I was left alone and I was grateful for that bit of courtesy. Caravanners are not the most genteel of men. I made my tea and opened the ink pot. In a careful hand, with graceful loops and delicate swirls, I finished the letter. As I put the materials away in my writing chest, I could tell the night was winding down. I could hear the crying from the slave wagons. It was sixty years of listening to that crying every night. I’d stopped crying after twenty. There was no point to it. I lay down in my bunk and closed my eyes. Dawn would come soon.

 

“Delia! Delia!” A pounding on my wagon door accompanied the shouting. I jumped from my bunk. “Yes! Yes! What is it?”

 

“Master Corpet wants that letter. He’s sending a rider ahead.”

 

“I’ll take it to him right away.”

 

“Hurry up.”

 

“Yes, yes.”

 

I was already stripping off my night gown. Master Corpet would be impatient to get the caravan moving. I could hear the camels squalling already and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon.

 

In moments, I had drawn on my dress, pulled my black hair back and tied it with a black ribbon and pulled on my boots. I took the finished letter from the writing chest and opened the door. Men were swarming around the wagons, dust rising from their booted feet in the sand. Bowls of food and water were being given the slaves, eight wagons full. A good trip for master Corpet if they all arrived at the next town. I did his books as well.

 

I stepped down the short ladder and hurried to the master’s wagon. He was sitting at a table, meat and mead, bread and cheese in front of him, at the back of the wagon. A human slave girl was being hustled out and back to her own place. Her face was tear stained and she sent me a glance of desperation. I looked at the sand at my feet. I was in no position to even offer sympathy.

 

“Your letter, Master Corpet.”

 

He held out his hand while drinking with the other. I passed it over and kept my eyes on my boots.

 

He read it quickly and nodded. “Good.” He handed it back. “Seal it up and give it to Emil. Tell him into the Lord’s hands only.”

 

I nodded and turned. Emil would be with the horses. “We leave in a hand, Delia.”

 

“Yes, Master.”

 

Emil was saddling his horse when I arrived. “About time,” he snarled at me. “Corpet gives you too much consideration.”

 

Emil hated me. Hated that I had my own wagon. Hated that I was forbidden to him. I handed him the letter. “Master says just into the Lord’s hand.” I kept my head down.

 

“Do I look stupid?” He jerked the saddle band tight. His face a scowl as he glared at me.

 

I didn’t answer. Anything I said would be a reason for him to hit me.

 

“Bitch,” he growled.

 

I handed him the paper. He snatched it out of my hand and stuffed it in his saddlebag. Emil leapt onto his horse and pulled the reins. The horse reared, nearly missing my head with his hooves. Emil laughed as I flinched then kicked the animal into a run, kicking my shoulder with his stirrup as he passed.

 

The men nearby laughed as I spun around. I refused to rub the spot until I got back to my wagon. It was already bruising. I made tea, ate some bread and cheese, while standing in my wagon door. Two men were already leading camels to my wagon. Time to pack everything away and get ready to leave. I sighed and finished my bread. Time to fill the water bladder for the day. It was going to be another hot one.

 

Thank You! Return next week for part 2.

834 Words

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A Little Magic: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Camp Fire by Kiaraz via DeviantArt.com

I just needed a little magic. Just a little. Enough to get the fire started, get the room warm, maybe to save my mother. I heard her moan from her pallet along the wall. I rearranged the wet wood in the fireplace. If I could just get the wood to burn. I could make a little soup, a cup of tea, anything to warm her up. Me too, to be honest.

She moaned again. I knew she had a fever. If the soldiers had just left any of my brothers or sisters behind I wouldn’t be in this fix. But they took all of the people with magic abilities off to fight the war. Father had been taken a year ago. Yesterday, they came for the rest. The wailing and screaming in the village had been horrific. My stomach roiled just thinking about it as I struggled to light the fire.

“Come on.” I willed my shaking hands to strike the flint against the steel but they were too cold. My sister Hilda would have just held her hand over the tiny pile of kindling and it would have burst into flame. A year younger than me she always gave me a hug when she made the fire. It was my job, but she knew I didn’t have any magic. A tear ran down my face. And now she was gone, along with my littlest sister, Maggie, and my big brothers, Todd and Edward. All gone. Dragged away to fight even though Maggie was only eight.

My hands shook more, with anger this time. How were we supposed to plow the fields or plant the crops with so many villagers gone? I glared at the tiny pile in the fireplace, gripping the flint until it cut my hand. The wood smoked then burst into flame. I rocked back from my squat and sat hard on the floor, staring. The flame began to die down and I scrambled to my feet to feed the tiny fire twigs, then sticks, then wood. I piled the wood on, uncaring if I set the house on fire or not. Mother would be warm, at least tonight. I set the kettle on the hob and put the pot on the hook, filled it with water and the jerky and vegetables I’d already prepared. I put two pinches of salt in the pot, unconcerned with where more salt would come from.

Another pot went next to the fire and I filled it with water to warm. Clean water to wipe mother’s face and hands. As I tended her, I finally allowed myself to think about the fire. The mage yesterday took one look at me and passed me by even as the soldiers were dragging my brothers and sisters out of the house. Mother cried out from her sick bed and it broke my heart. There was nothing she could do. She didn’t have any more magic than I did. But, I did have magic. I started a fire!

How had I done it? I just remembered feeling angry. So angry. Rage, that’s what it was. Rage against the king and his stupid war. Rage against the mage and the soldiers. Rage against my mother’s sickness. The water in the bowl I was dipping the rag into began to boil. I dropped the rag into the water and blinked. The water calmed but was hot.

I put the bowl on the table and wrapped my arms around myself. I’d never been so angry before in my life. I did have magic but just a little. I used both hands to wipe the tears from my eyes. So little magic I was of no use to the King but here, well, here I was of use. I wondered how many of the other villagers had tiny sparks of magic?

The next morning I went door to door and asked the remaining people. They shook their heads but I could see in their eyes that they were going to try. The priest, so old that the mage and the soldiers left him behind even though he did have magic, patted me on the shoulder.

“Child. Be careful. Don’t let that rage take over just for a bit of magic.”

He was a fool. All I had left was rage. Hadn’t the King’s men dragged off more than three quarters of our village? “Who will do the plowing and planting, priest? Me? I’m twelve. Mother is sick. The rest of the village is in the same shape I am. Too young, too old, too sick. We’ll starve.”

His eyes filled with tears as he nodded. “True, child. But rage will burn you up.”

“Maybe.” I turned and left.

Mother died not long after I found my rage. It was a hard year. I grew hard with it. We worked together, we survivors. We plowed and planted. We learned to hunt and forage. Winter killed many of us but at the next spring we that remained were stronger. I was leader, even though I was only just come into my womanhood. We gathered wood, nurtured our tiny magics, made plans.

The King lost his war. The new King’s soldiers came through and saw the pitiful remnant we were and went away. We grew stronger. We had children. We made contacts throughout the land with others like us. We hid our tiny magics until it was time. Then we attacked. The mages first, then the new king and his lords. It didn’t take long. They underestimated us. We had no great magic.

I was named Leader, I refused to be called Queen. Many wanted to kill everyone with magic. I said no. Would we kill ourselves? I set the cleverest of us to creating weapons that needed no magic. We would be ready when and if the time came, magic or not.

 

Thank You!

981 Words

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Brigands in the Woods: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Box by Connie Cockrell

Lord Belsing closed his book as he heard his coachmen yelling, “Whoa!” What was this? It was still half a day to Lord Releh’s castle. He heard the Captain of the Guard shouting orders. Belsing pulled the curtains and stuck his head out of the carriage window

He saw guards lined up on either side of the carriage, six more were ranked across the road in front of the carriage horses, Captain Udon in the front. Beyond him were masked men, highway men from the look of them.

“Give us your gold,” the lead highwayman said. “No one will be harmed.”

Captain Udon’s horse danced, the Captain brought the horse back into line without effort. “Be off with you, brigand. You’ll get no gold from us.” He moved his hand to his sword hilt.

The brigand eyed the Captain then the carriage. “Those are Lord Belsing’s colors, Captain. He has enough to share. We’ll spare you, your men and the lord if you accede to our demands.”

“Fancy talk for a thief,” the Captain snarled. “Ready!” he called.

The guards drew their swords. The guard beside Lord Belsing’s window said, “Better get inside, my lord.”

Belsing thought not. He was on his way to propose to Lady Nyesta Releh and wanted this business done and without bloodshed. He was about to get out of the carriage when he heard rustling. He looked into the woods. There, men came out from behind tree trunks and boulders, all ready to fire their bows. They outnumbered the guard five to one. He opened the carriage door and descended.

“Gentlemen,” he called.

Captain Udon didn’t turn around. “Please return to the carriage, My Lord. I’ll deal with this scum.

Belsing strode to the Captain and addressed the brigand. “Sir. Would three purses of gold satisfy you?”

The brigand laughed. “I can see the chests in your supply wagon. You carry more than three purses of gold.”

Belsing sighed. He didn’t want to treat with this man at all. “May I have your name, Sir, since you so clearly know mine.”

The brigand gave a jaunty salute. “Iristan, My Lord. Prince of the woodlands.”

“I’ve heard of you, Prince Iristan. You’re causing a great deal of trouble on the roads.”

Iristan bowed. “Thank you, My Lord. Now, if we could have at your supply wagon.”

Captain Udon drew his sword. “Hold, ruffian. Or you will meet my sword.”

Iristan laughed. He flicked his hand. A circle of arrows hit the ground encircling the Captain’s horse.

Belsing jumped as three of the arrows whizzed past him.

Iristan patted his horse on the neck to sooth it. “You are surrounded and outnumbered. There is no need for you or your men to die today.”

Belsing raised his hand. “Hold Captain. Let us walk back to the supply wagon with Prince Iristan.”

“My Lord!” The Captain began.

“Come, Prince.” Belsing waved to the brigand. “Let us complete this business and we’ll be on our way.”

“By your leave, My Lord.”

Belsing marched back to the wagon and stopped next to the driver. Iristan rode behind him and the Captain followed as half of Iristan’s men came out of the woods to the road. “There,” Belsing said. “The chests of gold are marked. Please leave the rest.”

Iristan made a small gesture and his men came forward. Two men jumped up into the open wagon and hauled the small chests to the back and handed them down to their fellows. “Take just four,” Iristan called to his men. “After all, Lord Belsing must pay his way on his journey.”

Belsing was relieved at that. While he was a Lord, gold didn’t grow on trees and he didn’t have much compared to the other Lords. Udon grumbled under his breath.

Iristan rode up to the wagon and looking in. He picked up a highly-polished box, hinges, clasps and corners capped with fine brass and inlayed with mother of pearl in a swirling leaf design. “This, I’ll keep for myself.”

“No!” Belsing leapt forward. “You cannot have that.”

Iristan wheeled his horse around, box still in his hand. “Why not?”

Belsing swallowed to calm himself. “That is a gift for Lady Releh. A…a proposal gift.”

Iristan laughed. “Men! Lord Belsing is going to propose!” They all laughed. He looked back to Belsing. “What’s in the box?”

Beside him, Belsing could see Captain Udon’s sword rise. “Please. It’s a very rare tea. Grown in China. I’ve had men gone for two years to bring it to me for this gift.”

“A great treasure then.” Iristan put the box in his lap. “What say you, men? Should we give the Lord his tea back?”

Some good naturedly shouted yes, some no. Belsing’s stomach clenched. The Lady was known to love tea. He wanted the box back. “Man-to-man, Prince, return the Lady’s gift.”

Iristan looked around him. Belsing could see his eyes dancing with merriment. “It would be cruel to send the Lord to his proposal with no gift.” Iristan handed the box to Belsing. “Take it and good fortune.”

Before Belsing could respond, Iristan whistled. His men scurried into the woods on all sides and disappeared as Iristan and his mounted riders galloped away, down the road Belsing had just traveled.

Captain Udon shouted, “About! Follow those men!”

“No!” Belsing called. “We proceed to Lord Releh’s castle.”

“My Lord!” Udon pleaded.

“It’s a waste of time. The men on horseback will have already melted into the forest with the rest of the men. You’ll not find them.”

“We need to clear the King’s Way of this rabble.”

“We do.” Belsing sighed and walked to his carriage door. “But not today. Let’s go.”

With poor grace the Captain called his men into marching order and the carriage moved on. Belsing stroked the smooth surface of the box, tracing the mother of pearl. Yes. We’ll catch up with the Prince of the Forest. But first, I’ll propose to Lady Nyesta.

 

Thank You!

998 Words

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Spring is Coming: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Lake Thaw, Sacandaga Lake, Fulton County, NY by Randy Cockrell

Free from my nurse and my Lord mother’s demand to learn needle work, I hurried to my room and changed into riding gear. In the stables, I saddled Dawn, my uhlans, as the stable master eyed me.

“And where are you going?”

“Hunting.”

His eyebrow rose. “Spring is coming. Who are you going with?”

“No one. I want to get out of the castle and breathe the cold air.”

He watched as I fastened my bow to the saddle and my spear. “A lot of gear for a ride.”

I wagged my eyebrows back at him. “You never know what you’ll run into.”

“Hmm,” was his response. “I’ll send Ben with you.”

Ben was his son. He was a good companion. “Sure. Where is he?”

The stable master whistled and Ben hurried through the stable door. “Papa?”

“Saddle up and go with Lady Zung.”

Ben gave me a quick wink as he hurried to saddle his mount. I noticed he packed weapons as well. The same age, fourteen, we learned to hunt together and I was glad to have him along.

We rode out. His father called out behind us. “Be careful. The ice is melting.”

I waved and kicked Dawn into a cantor as we reached the gate.

Two hours later we were at the lake. I knew that the wisent herded on the other side. I guided Dawn down the bank.

“Don’t, Yunki. We don’t know if the ice will hold.”

I sniffed. “It’s too early for the lake to melt.” I kept moving down the bank.

“Lady Zung!” His tone was sharp and he only called me Lady Zung when the adults were around or I was being particularly dense.

I sighed and turned in the saddle. “The melt has only just started, Ben. The ice is going to be four feet thick.”

“Do you know where they cut last?”

I had to stop and think. Where was the last place the men had cut ice? I shrugged. “Don’t know. It’ll be obvious.”

Ben shook his head. “Better not. I know you’re after a wisent. But let’s just hunt for a gulate instead. There are bound to be beds around here. Look,” he pointed at the lake edge. “You can see a thin line of water.”

He was right but I really wanted a wisent before their thick winter pelt started to shed. “Then you hunt for gulate. Summer will last three years. I’m going for a wisent.” I kicked Dawn in the ribs and dashed down the bank and onto the lake. I ignored the faint cracking of ice as I guided her straight across. I could hear Ben behind me and I grinned.

Dawn’s large feet were secure on the ice but I didn’t push her. No sense risking a slip and having her break a leg. I eyed the lake in front of us. It looked completely safe. As we neared the center, Ben four lengths behind me, I heard the ice crack. A loud snap that made Dawn’s head toss.

“Stop, Yunki!”

I tried to get Dawn to back up but more cracking made her dance. Then we were both in the water, the uhlans thrashing all six legs and shoving me into the sharp ice as she tried to climb out.

“Hold on!” Ben was off of his mount and pulling rope from his pack.

“Get Dawn first.”

“Don’t be stupid! She’s made for the cold.”

“So am I.” I argued with him but he was right. Even as cold-adapted as we were, the icy water was having an effect.

He tossed a loop to me and despite Dawn’s struggles, she had her two front legs up on thick ice now, I could grab the rope and pull it over my head and arms. “Ready,” I called.

Ben finished fastening the other end to his saddle and began to back up his uhlans. “Hang on.”

I kicked hard, trying to generate some lift but my fur boots and leggings were already soggy. The edge jabbed into my chest. I could feel the force break a rib and I cried out in pain.

“What?” Ben called.

“Nothing. Keep pulling.” I gasped and did my best to slide up the edge with a wave Dawn caused as she got a third leg up onto the ice.

Dripping, I slid up just as Dawn crawled out of the water. The air caused icicles to form as the water dripped from her. She shook, sending a spray of water over me and Ben as he hurried to me.

“Let’s get you back to shore.” He helped me to my feet. As I grabbed my rib cage he brought Dawn over. “I should build a fire.”

“I’m fine. Let’s just head home.”

“In wet furs?” He looked at me as though the top of my head had just fallen off.

I started to shiver. The water had gotten to my skin. Ice was forming on my coat. My boots were already solid ice. “It’s only two hours.”

“You’ll be dead and then your Lord father will kill me. Don’t be stupid.”

In the end, I gave in and probably as well. Ben left me at a huge fire, Dawn standing as close to it as she could, and rode home for dry clothes. My oldest brother came back with him. He laughed as he dismounted. “So, little sister. Spring is coming.”

I just rolled my eyes.

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

909 Words

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