Slave Elf, Part 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Luxury-Hotel-In-Istanbul-525543149, http://orig01.deviantart.net/4aef/f/2015/098/b/e/luxury__hotel_in__istanbul_by_villazurich-d8ow7ot.jpg

 

Part 1 here.

Part 7

At a few minutes after nine I was led into the breakfast room. Alexis Traford was at the buffet along the right-side wall, selecting morsels from chafing dishes to put on his plate. Lady Traford came in behind me.

“Good morning, Princess Delia.” The lady stopped and gave me a peck on the cheek then took my arm in hers.

“Well enough, Lady Traford. Thank you for asking.” I nodded at Alexis as he turned from the buffet. “Good morning, Lord Traford.”

“Good morning, Princess.” He smiled as he sat down. “I’m glad you’re joining us.”

“The lady walked me to the buffet. “We keep breakfast casual. Serve yourself whatever you’d like.” She nodded in the direction of a uniformed man at the door at the back of the room. “Lors will pour tea, coffee, juice or water, as you indicate.”

I gave the man a nod which he returned. “Thank you, Lady.” I picked up a plate and studied the buffet. Bacon, sausage, and what looked like some sort of meat loaf in slices, scrambled eggs, potatoes both white and orange, then platters of fruits, rolls and sliced bread, followed by four varieties of cheese and cold cuts. Not my usual bowl of mush. I selected fruit and a roll and sat down. Lady Traford followed and sat across from me.

Lors appeared at my side. “What would the Princess, prefer?”

“Tea, please.”

“I’ll take the same, Lars,” Lady Traford added. “And a glass of juice.”

The man nodded and moved to a buffet on the other wall and prepared the drinks.

“Are you feeling well?” The Lady looked over my sparsely filled plate.

“I’m well. I had a small breakfast a few hours ago.”

She nodded and smiled as she cut into her sausage. “I suspected as much. Is Pricilla working out for you?”

“Yes. Thank you for the loan of her. A nice young woman.” I cut my melon into tiny pieces and speared a slice to eat.

Alexis joined the conversation, half of his plate of food already demolished. “Father asked me to lead you to the tutor, Princess, when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Lord Traford.”

“Please, that’s my father. Call me Alexis.”

I glanced at his mother. She seemed to be fine with that. “And call me Delia, please. Princess seems,” I waved my hand, “too formal.”

At that I saw the Lady’s eyebrow twitch but she gave her son a small nod. “Of course, Delia. I’d be honored.”

That settled, the meal passed pleasantly until the Lady rose. “I must meet with my secretary. So much correspondence.”

Alexis rose and went to his mother. He gave her a peck on the cheek and took her arm as she walked to the door. He opened it for her. “You have a wonderful day, Mother. Shall I see you at dinner?”

“Yes, son.” She kissed him back. “You may want to go to the stables this morning. One of the stallions seems to have a problem. Talk to the stable master about it.”

His head bowed. “Of course, Mother. I’ll see to it immediately.”

“I’ll see you this evening, Princess.”

“I look forward to it.” Delia nodded her head and Lady Traford left.

I gave a small sigh of relief.

“We can delay if you’d like more to eat,” Alexis said.

“I’m finished.” I dropped my napkin on the table and rose. “It’s time to meet my tutor.”

He led me out of the small dining room. Pricilla was waiting outside of the door. “Lord Traford is taking me to the tutor, Pricilla. Thank you for waiting.”

“Yes, miss.”

“She’ll be in the conservatory, Pricilla.” Alexis held out his arm. “Shall we proceed?”

“Certainly.” I did my best to quiet the butterflies in my stomach. I was glad I hadn’t eaten much. On the way, Alexis entertained me with stories about the portraits and landscapes on the walls of ancestors and famous battles. We arrived at the conservatory relaxed.

The space was huge, walled on three sides with glass. It was lush and green and humid, a definite change from the desert environment where Katzin was located. I tried to take in all of the different flowering plants as he walked me around the central plantings to an open set of double doors on the second wall. There a small wrought-iron table and chairs sat, a tea tray in the middle, looking out to a lawn and garden outside. It was very lovely.

A man sat at the table, looking out. He turned at our approach, and rose as we neared. My breath caught in my throat. It was an elf.

He had long blond hair, pulled back on the sides to a braid that fell over the back hair. He was silver at the temples, with deep brown eyes, flecks of gold in the irises and high cheek-bones making his face seem aristocratic. A tooled leather belt at his waist, with a silver dragon buckle, set off the sage green tunic. His fawn colored breeches were tucked into knee-high brown leather boots. He wore a silver pin sigil on his left breast of a spreading tree.

“Lord Enaur, this is Delia, Princess of the house of Ucheni. Princess Delia, this is Lord Enaur, a mage of renown, from your father’s kingdom.” He bowed as he stepped back.

I could hardly take my eyes off of the elf. He studied me. “Welcome back, Princess.”

“Thank you, Lord Enaur.” My mouth was nearly too dry to speak.

“Will you have tea with me?” he asked as he indicated the tray beside us.

My knees felt like water. “Yes. Certainly.” I gripped the back of the chair next to me and controlled myself as I sat.

“I’ll take my leave, then.” Alexis bowed to the mage, then me, turned and left out of the open doors.

I clasped my hands in my lap to control the trembling.

Enaur, sat down and poured tea for us both. We were silent through the adding of cream and sugar. Once his cup was to his satisfaction and he’d replaced it in the saucer, he took a breath.

“I’ve been informed that you were told who you are just last night.” He studied my face. “It must have been a shock.”

I nodded. “It was. I still have difficulty rearranging what I thought about my life until now.”

He sipped again. “Drink your tea.” He looked around the conservatory. “Then we’ll walk around the gardens and I’ll give you more background.

I picked up my cup and sipped. This was a more robust tea than I’d had for breakfast. Fortifying. I glanced around the conservatory. Did he suspect listeners? I emptied the cup.

He rose and held out his hand. I took it and rose beside him. “I have much to share, and a message from your parents.”

We left the brick-floored conservatory and stepped out onto the green lawn. What could the message be?

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 8.

1163 Words

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

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Slave Elf, Part 6: Flash Fiction Friday Post

By Randy Cockrell

Reminder: All stories on my blog are drafts. I do my best to have the spelling and puctuation clear but there will be errors. Please bear with me as I decide if this serial should be in 3rd or 1st person.

Part 6

After a restless night, I rose just as the sun began to brighten the eastern sky. The clouds were pink and blue, changing gradually to yellow, then orange as the sun came up over the city towers. I washed in the cold water left me and put on a blue dress from the wardrobe. It fit me perfectly and I idly wondered how Lady Traford knew my size. The dress had a subtle dark green design woven into the fabric and I found shoes to match. Dressed, I rang the pull next to my bed and went into the sitting room.

I opened the curtains there and watched the sun rise until a soft knock sounded at the door. “Come in.”

The door opened to reveal a young woman. She was discreetly dressed in a dove gray gown, a white apron over all, her black hair pulled back and put up in a bun at the back of her head. She stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. “You rang, Princess?”

I had to recover at the honorific. It was still too strange. “Yes.” I swallowed, unaccustomed to giving orders. “What’s your name?”

“Pricilla, Princess.” She bowed her head.

“Pricilla, I’d like breakfast served here. Something light. I’ll attend breakfast with the Lady, later.”

“Yes, Princess.” She turned to leave.

“Wait.”

Pricilla turned back to me, hands folded in front of her. “My Lady.”

“Have you been up all night waiting for a call from me?”

“No, My Lady. I came on duty an hour ago. Lady Traford thought you might rise early, this being a new place to you. I’ll be your personal maid for the time being.”

I stared at her. She hardly looked old enough. “How old are you, Pricilla?”

“Twenty, My Lady.”

She seemed so solemn. “Thank you, Pricilla.”

The girl turned and left. I sat in the window seat and watched the city wake. When Pricilla returned, she had a tray with her. “On the window seat, Princess, or on the table?”

“The window seat, please.”

She carried the tray over and placed it at the opposite end of the cushion. “Shall I pour, Princess?”

“No, I can do it. Please, pull a chair over and sit with me.” I saw an eyebrow twitch but she nodded and carried over a small chair and placed it near the tray, facing me.

“Good. Thank you. Tell me how long you’ve been in service here?” I poured tea for myself. Then selected some cut fruit, a square of orange cheese and a roll and pulled them all over in front of me.

“Three years, Princess. My father indentured me to Lord Traford.”

“I see.” I blew across the tea cup and sipped. It was a nice dark tea, with a floral and citrus undercurrent. Perfect for breakfast. “And what do you do here?”

“I worked in the kitchen, at first, scut work. Then the House Keeper moved me to cleaning rooms. She must have liked my work because later I became Lady Traford’s, third maid. Occasionally I served visiting ladies. Now I am your maid.” She studied her hands, folded in her lap when she finished.

“You must be very clever or they wouldn’t have promoted you so quickly.”

Pricilla shrugged. “So it seems. I do my work well and keep what I hear to myself.”

I nodded. “Discretion is a valuable characteristic.” I knew from keeping Master Corbet’s counsel how much it was valued. “Would you rather not be my maid?”

“I do as I’m told, Princess.” Her eyes stayed on her hands.

“And what have you been told to do?” I wondered if she was a spy for Lord Traford. If she was, would she tell me?

She raised her head to face me. “Follow your orders for your care and well-being. Keep your apartment clean and tidy. Care for your clothing and person. Run errands for you if needed.”

I broke off a bit of cheese and bread and chewed them while I thought. “And what are you supposed to report to Lord Traford?”

“I’ve been given no instruction on that, Princess.”

Whether she had or not, sooner or later the Lord would want to know what I was thinking and saying. I nodded to her. “I don’t have any instruction for you except to come back at nine and escort me to breakfast. I don’t know my way around the house yet. After breakfast, I’m to meet a tutor. I have no idea how long that will take, or if lessons will begin immediately. In any case, if you can determine my schedule, I’d appreciate you being there at the end of the meeting or the lesson, to bring me back here. Eventually I’ll know my way around and won’t need that type of hand-holding.”

“Yes, Princess.”

“I don’t require a lot of care, Pricilla. Mostly escort until I learn my way around and caring for my apartment and clothing. I suspect I won’t have time to do those things myself.”

Her eyebrows rose at the last statement.

I chuckled. “I’ve been caring for myself for a long time, Pricilla. Trust me that I do know how.”

The girl nodded. “Yes, Princess.”

I wiped my hands on the linen napkin and placed it on the tray. “Have you eaten?”

“No, Princess.”

I waved at the tray. “Help yourself. You brought more than enough.”

Her eyes went wide. “Oh no, Princess. That’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t even be sitting in your presence.”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Of course not. Standards must be maintained. I looked her in the eyes. “I apologize, Pricilla. I won’t presume again.”

I could hear a tiny sigh of relief as she did a small bow. “Thank you, Princess.”

“I’m finished. You can take the tray away and go get your breakfast.”

She rose from the chair and put it back where it belonged. Picking up the tray she said, “I’ll return at nine.”

“That will be fine. Thank you, Pricilla.”

She bowed and left the apartment. I leaned back against the wall, staring out over the city. Sunlight touched the high points, inching its way down the walls to the streets below where early morning vendors were beginning to open shops and pull carts into the streets. I could feel my stomach knot with stress over what the morning would bring.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 7.

1068 Words

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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

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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

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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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Camp NaNo Status and Book Signing: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

April’s Camp NaNo is in its last week. I passed 43k on Sunday so I don’t anticipate any trouble reaching my goal of 50,000 words. I’m still doing well in totally pantsing this new story. (book 2 of the Zoe Ohale series, currently titled Troubled Campus.) I have to get Zoe into the final conflict then tie up all the loose ends. Perhaps another 5 – 8 chapters. We’ll see how that goes. I still have no idea how to make that happen.

I’ve been working on the edits of Mystery at the Book Festival. I’ve finished 16 chapters so far. This editing and rewriting is a totally different skill set. I have to stay focused tightly, on what has happened so far, on every question I ask that has to have an answer and continuity. It’s a lot of work and slow going. Totally unlike writing the first draft of a story. Some authors say the editing is their favorite part of producing a book. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that but it’s not too bad if I don’t hold too tight to things that need to be cut or at least, rewritten.

Malaysia Mosque with Muslim pray in Malaysia – Depositphotos_108130076_original

I went into my Elf Slave story to post part three and it’s gone. The draft has only parts 1 and 2. Ugh. Now I have to write both my Zoe story and at least part 3 of this one. Thank goodness they’re different genre’s. I don’t think I’ll get too confused.

Gardening: The roses are Blooming. Last week I talked about everything I planted. So far the only thing coming up are the flower seeds I forgot to mention. Everything else is taking it’s time popping up. I’m nervous about the bonzai seeds. Nothing seems to be happening. I’m being impatient, I know. This last week I trimmed the dead apple tree, reserving the tiny tree that’s popped up from the root stock. It’s an experiment that will take at least five years to see what kind of apple I’m going to get. I also trimmed the root stock sprouts on my D’anjou pear tree and the peach tree. One large branch seems to have bent over, the top touching the ground, in the last big storm. I’ve decided to leave it. I’ve been picking peach buds off of the tree leaving just one at intervals so they will get large. Leaving all the clusters together means the peaches stay small. Also, it thins them out so the branches don’t break under the weight of all that fruit. There are a lot of buds remaining after the thinning. I’m looking forward to having a bumper crop this year.

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 know so many great authors, it’s always hard to choose who to feature. I think this time I’ll brag up the Phoenix Comicon. You can see their link below. But what’s great is that the conference features authors, writers, and creators of all kinds. SciFi, Fantasy, TV shows, Graphic Novels, Costume designers, it’s a free-for all, you people. Really! I took a look at the schedule with the fancy new PhoenixComiCon app (Google Play Store). It is just packed, every day, with presentations, demos, panels, it’s mind boggling. If you can come, you should. It’s going to be fantastic.

Where Will I Be?

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

Big news! I have received a half table at the Payson Women’s Wellness Forum next Saturday, April 29th. I’ll bring a good variety of books to sell and sign. If you’re in the area, come by. I’d love to talk to you. http://www.mhafoundation.com/

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is 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 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

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

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Taxes and Camp NaNo: Monday Blog Post

Pansies

Newest News:

If you didn’t see it from me on Twitter or Facebook, I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

April is tax month and no doubt it’s as stressful a time for you as it is for me. I finally filed my taxes at the end of March. I decided I needed to withhold more money every month so I don’t have such a big tax bill to pay at the end of the year. Sigh. Adulting is hard.

April’s Camp NaNo is over halfway done. I passed 25k on the 14th so I’m doing well as far as word count goes. I’m also doing well in totally pantsing this new story. (book 2 of the Zoe Ohale series) I was a little fearful about going into a novel with little to no plan but it seems to be working out so far. I guess, at least for me, Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing into the Dark does work.

In other writing news, my editor sent Mystery at the Book Festival back and it looks like it will only need a few rewrites, nothing major. Oh my gosh I’m so pleased. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this writing thing.

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

My Elf Slave serial story began last Friday. Like all of the stories I put up on Fridays, it’s a little rough. I have three parts written and have no idea how long it will be. I found a lovely picture to illustrate part 3 and have received permission of the photographer to use it. You’ll love it. Part 3 will post on the 28th. That gets me through April and in May I can start writing the story again. Maybe Troubled Campus will be done, maybe not. That remains to be seen.

Part of being a writer is taking classes to help get better. I was taking a class on how to write a series with Holly Lisle when she became quite ill. The class stopped two years ago, unfinished. However, she’s re-written the class and started it back up again with better than ever lessons. I’m going to restart that class and apply a new Christmas series to it. I’ve been wanting to do a Christmas series for a long time and I’ve been brainstorming ideas. This is the perfect opportunity for me to get this project off of the ground. I’m very excited. Perhaps I can get the first book out in November! We’ll see.

Gardening: The roses are beginning to bloom. I’ve planted parsley, onion seed and chives (in a pot). I should dig out my bean seeds and get them in. They’re plenty hardy enough to deal with the cool nights here in central Arizona. I received a bonzai seed kit from my mom for my birthday last year. I’ve been keeping the seeds cold all this time. Last week I bought seed starter pods and planted one seed in each pod. I’m checking them daily to see if anything sprouts.

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 think this week I’ll give author and speaker Joshua Robertson a shout out. He can be found at  http://www.robertsonwrites.com/ and he writes dark fantasy. His most recent series is the Kaelandur series and he has a deal going on them right now. https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Robertson/e/B00RHAMPHM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1. Check him out!

Where Will I Be?

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

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is 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 1795.

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 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

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

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Camp NaNo 2017: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

April’s Camp NaNo has run ten days as of today. I seemed to have taken Sunday off but still, I’m at over 13,000 words. That’s behind, by the way. I should be at 25K on the 15th! No matter. The upcoming week is less busy for me so I can spend some time on words. How’s it going, you may ask? As usual, I’m hating everything I’m writing. Not having a plan seems to matter little. So far I get words on the page but I’m too close to determine how good or bad those words might be. That’s what my cooling off period is for after I get the draft. It has been in the past that when I come back to the manuscript fresh, I like what I wrote much better.

Sunday, while I wasn’t getting words, I was getting a bit of gardening done. I’ve prepped a small bed where my new thyme will go. I also put the lovely large blue pot my husband got me for Christmas in the front yard, filled it with dirt, and planted left over daffodil bulbs in it. They’re all sprouting so I think in a week or so, I may have daffodils in late April or early May. Late arrivals for this area but they’ll be a welcome, happy sight in my front yard. I also repotted my jade plant in another lovely pot hubby got me for Christmas. A picture is above. It looks pretty nice, right?

This week starts the Elf Slave story (on Friday). Like all of the stories I put up on Fridays, it’s a little rough.

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:

This last weekend, I was part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that ran from Friday April 7th to Sunday the 10th. Here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. There were chats with other readers and new to me authors. I made some friends and participated on a few events at https://www.facebook.com/events/1466110423422872/. I think they’re still up so you can still check out the fun. Same over on http://b2bcycon.com/. Our panel discussions on multiple topics are still up on http://b2bcycon.com/panels/.

Where Will I Be?

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

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is 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.

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 prizes 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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