The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol.4, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

I was drunk, completely and utterly drunk. I lost count how much ale I had long ago. Keyne had broken glass and empty tankards all around him. I knew he drank way more than I did but I didn’t consider how much he drank each night. Always holding myself a little above the others, I never really interacted with the rest of the pantheon. Maybe I should work on that, when I sober up, that is. I’m having a wonderful time. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Just one more reason I am starting to feel a little bad about my task. Surprisingly enough, Keyne isn’t so bad when he tries. When he was good and drunk I climbed into his lap, wrapping my arms around his neck and leaning in “let’s go to bed Keyne”. Sober La’el would have rolled her eyes at the spectacle but drunk La’el was highly amused by the way his expression changed. He didn’t speak, he just hooked an arm around my waist and stood, scooping my legs up as he did. I have never been carried anywhere. I don’t remember having a childhood, I just was, so this is new to me. I liked it, a lot. I giggled as we headed through the great hall, hiding my head in his barrel of a chest when the cat calls started. They were all stupid drunk not two minutes ago, how did they notice this? He stumbled as he walked through the yard to his home, “put me down, I can walk better than you at this point”.

“I find I like my arms around you woman, I will not let you fall.”

I wasn’t able to do much about the situation so I decided to just enjoy the feeling of being cared for. Never mind it was just a drunken night with a man I was about to betray. As we entered his chamber he set me down so that he could remove his weapons belt and boots. He was having considerable trouble with this so I decided to help. Walking behind him, I removed Dragon-Breath and placed it on the hook beside his pallet. Wrapping my arms around him I unhooked his belt and put it away. I then gently pushed him down to his pallet and removed his boots myself. Climbing onto the pallet beside him, I snuggled into his arms and lay my head on his chest. Despite what I knew I had to do, being wrapped in his strong arms was a wonderful feeling. He was too drunk to take things further, I had no fear of that. He just held me in his arms, running his hands over my shoulder and arm as I ran my fingers through the hair peppering his chest. Soon he was snoring loud enough to wake the dead. I was nearly asleep myself before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. When he finally shifted position, his arm loosened enough that I could get off the pallet. Placing my hand on Dragon-Breath, I closed my eyes and pictured a swamp, deep in the southernmost part of Georgia. The “land of trembling earth” I’ve heard it called. Once the image was firmly in my mind, I whispered a short incantation and with a small pop, the ax was gone.

Knowing he would be furious when he woke and more so when he finally realized I had tricked him, I decided to enjoy this one night of companionship. I didn’t realize when I hatched this plan how it would affect me. I only thought about how to fix this latest mess. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I climbed back onto the pallet and cuddled up to Keyne.

Writing Groups and Such

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

I didn’t make my Camp NaNoWriMo Month goal but I did pretty well if I do say so myself. I am now playing with the idea of making the story a novella instead of a full-length novel. I have ideas but I just don’t feel like Inara and Mark have a novel in them yet. Time will tell.

I have joined a few writing groups lately. Hopefully, that will give me some writing friends and some accountability to make things move a little faster. Life is crazy but writing is one of my end goals so I just have to figure out how to make it work. I gots this!

One of my groups has an accountability spreadsheet that we should fill out daily. I’m more concerned about remembering to do that than actually writing. I’ve committed to 20 hours this month. That’s a little less than an hour a day. I should be able to do that on my lunch break or even in chunks during the weekend. I just have to remember, writing is like yoga for my mind. I have never left a yoga class regretting how I feel when I leave and I have never sat down to write and regretted having written. In fact, both activities make me feel better.

Writing is like yoga for my mind, I have never regretted doing either. I always feel better when I'm done.

In one of my other groups, there was an entire thread about getting new notebooks. Yall, I’ve found my people. Like the picture says, happiness is a blank notebook. The possibilities are endless there. Those blank pages can become anything, all I need is a good pen and some good music. Soon words fill the pages and no matter if it’s just a grocery list, those words, once written, become real.

words, once written, become real

This month may be a scheduling nightmare, I may spend the next year running in a thousand directions but I want to have a story finished by Christmas. I want to be working on the final draft come new years so that I can begin with the next story because I am loving the world I have made up inside my head and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Finding these groups may be the life saver I need when things get overwhelming and I want to curl up and read a good book. They offer a link to encouragement, friendship, ideas, and advice. All invaluable in their own way.

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol.3, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

I had decided on the way into the dining hall to let him approach me. His back was to me as I walked in, he was facing the food table. He was sure to notice me as I walk by to gather my food, this would be easier than I thought. Stacking my plate with vegetables, I smiled as a tankard of ale slammed onto the table beside me, “you need meat woman, you eat like a bird”.

 

“Hello Keyne, you know I eat very little meat, why do you insist on having this conversation so often?” Sighing, I turned to face him. I was going to have to reign in my annoyance if this was going to work. Plastering a smile on my face, I decided to humor him tonight. “I will eat a bit of chicken, which do you suggest?”

 

I startled him with my change in demenor and I could see the gears turning behind his eyes. “I don’t understand your ways woman, meat is life. Well, mead is life, meat helps. Anyway, if all you will eat is chicken and not a lot of it, have the chicken and potatoes.  It has plenty of vegetables with a small amount of chicken. It should be to your liking.” He spooned some of the dish onto my plate as he talked. I was so stunned that he would think to offer me a dish so close to my liking I didn’t notice the amount until I almost dropped my plate. “Keyne!” I cried, “That’s enough, I can’t eat all that!”

“Gods woman, you eat less than a bird. This is hardly a first serving.”

“Then you can help me eat it.” I smiled sweetly as I said this and attempted a seductive look with my eyes. I doubt I pulled it off but from the look on his face, he was buying it anyway. This was going to work if I could hold my temper. Chances are he was five or six tankards of ale into the night already. That was fine for me, I’d give him much more before the night was through. I want him good and drunk before we go back to his pallet. The more he drinks, the heavier he will sleep, making my job all the easier.

 

Shocking me once again he took my plate in one hand and my arm in the other, leading me back to the main table. Instead of setting my plate at my usual seat near the head of the table he caught the eye of his friend and tilted his head a bit. I was puzzled by this until his friend got up and found a new place to sit. Keyne set my plate down and helped me to sit down before taking his seat next to me. “Thank you Keyne, although I was joking. I didn’t mean for you to make your friend move.”

“I have been trying to get you to dine with me for years. Even if it was said in jest you are stuck with me tonight woman.” Well, that was almost sweet. I rolled my eyes and took a bite of my food. At my first bite of the potatoes, I was hooked. Even the chicken was wonderful. I must have made some sort of sound. I heard a chuckle from Keyne. Cutting my eyes in his direction, I took another bite. “If you continue to eat like this I won’t be able to share with you. I’ve never seen you eat this much before.”

“Sorry” I mumbled between mouthfuls, “this is amazing. Thank you for bullying me into eating it.”

let us drink and be merry. It is a night to celebrate

“Let us not fight tonight woman, let us drink and be merry. It is a night to celebrate.” He boomed this last part and chugged his ale. Every time I thought this would be easier than I first thought he did something to make me bite my tongue again. I couldn’t even describe how annoying all this “woman” mess was. “What could we possibly be celebrating Keyne?”

“We are celebrating the new-found friendship we are forming.”

“Oh” he was so serious I almost felt bad about what I was about to do, “that’s sweet Keyne, thank you. I’m stuffed, would you like to finish this off and I’ll go get you more ale?”

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol. 2. An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

Coming up with the idea to have a plan wasn’t the problem. Coming up with the plan was proving to be the trickier part of things. Keyne never lets Dragon-Breath out of his sight, rarely does he remove it from his back unless it’s to wield it. Keyne used the ax, Dragon-Breath to help save the Magus from being completely destroyed during the wars with the humans. Now that the mist has come and our isles are only known to those humans who live here, he rarely uses the ax as a weapon now. Just the occasional battle with Malachi, a dragon from a nearby Isle who will occasionally pick a fight. It’s more their way of staying sharp than anything else, they have never truly harmed one another. It is mostly a training tool. One he keeps sharp should the tides of man rise again. I had to get the ax away from him and direct him on the course to find it without drawing suspicion to myself. I wasn’t sure I could. I still had to try.

I guess I’ll wing it. What could go wrong?

I still didn’t have a real plan as I dressed for dinner that night. Just a vague idea about pretending to take Keyne up on his offer to share his pallet for once. I have never been interested in the idiot. A fact he took as a challenge instead of a refusal. I could pretend to give in and steal Dragon-Breath as he slept. Getting it Georgia would be easy if I could ever get it out of his hands. As the Oracle, I had more than enough magic to transport it there even if I didn’t want anyone to know that little bit of information. I figured in his usual drunken state, Keyne would be easy enough to fool into believing I had changed my mind about bedding him. And with enough mead, he would fall asleep before it came to that. My bigger concern was stopping him from blaming Malachi and running off to do something foolish before I could send him to Georgia. I also needed to keep him from realizing it was really me who stole the ax. I have no idea how to do that though. I guess I’ll wing it. What could go wrong?

I was going to need more than mead to get through this night.

Downing a pint of mead as I readied myself for dinner. Slipping on my most revealing dress and pulled my hair into a loose knot that allowed most of it to flow down my back. I had just enough wave to make it look a tiny bit wind blown without looking tangled. I knew Keyne liked it this way. He made a point of telling me all about how I should wear it like this all the time. He’s such an idiot. As though I, the Oracle, didn’t know how he liked a woman’s hair, or as though I cared what he thought of mine. I took extra care with my makeup. Anyone else would be suspicious with that alone. I never bothered with makeup. I have the power to throw out a glamor powerful enough that the other gods can’t see through it even if they know it’s there. Luckily, it would never occur to him to question my looks or my change of heart tonight. He would just think he had finally won “our little game” as he always called it. I was going to need more than mead to get through this night.

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 1 An Isle of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

I knew things were getting out of hand when he named Carl the God of Wet Willies. Why in the name of all things holy would you even need a God of Wet Willies? Or a God of Cheese Cake, of Biscuits, or of Chess Boards for that matter? I was going to have to have yet another talk with the Khan, Erwin. This ridiculous idea that Keyne and his companions should be able to hand out divinity like mugs of mead was insane. God of Wet Willies indeed I thought as I stomped through the woods. I had spent the morning in my clearing by the stream meditating on what to do about this mess. I had gotten nowhere. What they needed was a Goddess of sweet tea and chicken and dumplings.

Why in the name of all things holy would you even need a God of Wet Willies?

I had tried those once on a trip through the Americas and my taste buds had never been the same. Of course, no one else thought that those delicious southern staples were worth godliness. That’s only because they have never been to South Georgia. The place was a sweltering, humid, bug-infested utopia of food, scenery, and madness. A place worthy of even the most foolhardy of Gods. I can’t believe I had been unable to convince Keyne and his companions to visit the place. Sure, they would go to New England, that’s where the ships landed but going down the coast was too much to ask it seemed.

Some days I hate this job. Being the Oracle of The Isles of Mist, knowing all the things that could be and all the things that ever was is such a burden. A burden made all the heavier by that imbecile and his new-found power of godhood granting. The Khan had thrown me with that one. How had I missed the fact that he would do such a thing? Now not only did I have to fix the fact that there were, at last count, 48 thousand new gods in the pantheon. I also feared my powers were slipping. That was the far more troubling thing. Without my powers, I am no one. Keyne was always being an idiot and I was forever cleaning up his messes. Taking the powers of a few thousand new gods wasn’t the worse thing I had to do in the name of keeping order on our Hidden Isle.

Talking to Erwin about Keyne’s outlandish behavior NEVER accomplished anything. At this point, I wasn’t even sure why I bothered. Yes, I was, it was because talking to Keyne was worse. The stupid lout, you had to be willing to drink with him to get him to have the conversation and he took nothing seriously unless it was about his ax. I did not have the time or the patience to deal with him right now. I also could not find The Khan. I guess I’ll have to handle this myself.

He would go on a quest & hopefully appoint someone’s grandmother as the Goddess of soul food

I wandered around contemplating the best way to solve the problem. My thoughts keep getting jumbled with thoughts about his ax. About his ax…. there’s an idea. What if his ax ended up in some secluded area of South Georgia? He would go on a quest to find it and hopefully appoint someone’s grandmother as the Goddess of soul food in the process. This could work. I am a genius! Not only would this get Keyne out of the way while I dealt with all these new Gods and Goddesses. It would prove a point about acting in such as reckless manner. And maybe, just maybe some decent food would finally be served in the dining hall when he came back. But first, I needed a real plan.

Musings of a Writer

Francisco Moreno

 

I love starting things. The ideas flying out of my head like little fireflies. I love the planning and the setup. I love it all. I have so many things swirling around in my mind, it’s nice to come up with some wild idea and run with it for a while.

I have always wanted to be a writer.

So, I did what I always do, I dove right in and got my feet wet. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. At a terrible time, I should add, I’m a full-time student, mother, and worker too. I signed up again, this time for Camp NaNoWriMo. During that first camp, this summer I put together most of a rough draft of a horrible book. I lost its plot and got overwhelmed in building my world. So, I put it aside to stew.

I wrote a second rough draft, better than the first but still a mess. I signed up for the July Camp NaNoWriMo, chose a pen name, created a website and Facebook Page. I wrote a short story that I want to figure out how to tie into my book and make it part of that world. I’m trying to write another short story but it’s not working. It may have to stew as well.

All this to say, I dove in and now I’m here and I’m learning. The process will be slow and more than a little painful. I will want to give up. I may even try to do so. But I will be back because, at the end of the day, I am a writer.

 

 

A Story From The Past

While I work on getting everything together for my new little online home enjoy a story my Grandmother tells of picking blackberries in her youth. It is in her own words and not edited for flow. Sometimes it’s better to just let the story be itself.

–Lynn

Blackberries and mint

“Picking Blackberries”

Sometimes in late spring or early summer blackberries begin to ripen in South Ga. When I was growing up my family felt they had to get their share. They grew wild everywhere. At first, we would pick right around the house, along the garden fence, behind the barn. We could get enough for a pie easily.
Granny was always close by cautioning us about snakes and at some point she would get serious about the berry business. She and I would ramble all over the countryside, dressed and armed for the occasion. I in a pair of overalls my cousin had handed down. She in her sunbonnet and long sleeved dress that reached her ankles.
Besides the buckets, she carried a hoe and I carried a long sturdy stick. This I used to poke around in the bushes good before I got close enough to pick the berries. If I heard something that sounded like dried peas rattling in the pod I was to run to her, she would kill with her hoe (the snake I mean). I was to remember that unlike rattlesnakes, moccasins didn’t give a warning, they just struck. As we picked she would tell me horror stories about people that had been bitten by a poisonous snake and what had been done for it. The one I remember most vividly was someone had been bitten on the leg and a hole was dug and he sat with his leg buried in the hole. The soil drew the poison out. If a snake bit me I just hope it wouldn’t be on my face.
If we had more than we could carry with two hands we would thread them on the pole, Granny took one end and I the other. When we arrived home, Mama and Granny set to work. Canning and making jam and jelly. Sometimes, but not often, the jelly didn’t jell properly and they would have to cook it over. If it still did not work it was considered a loss until Dad, one day poured some oh his plate and decided he liked blackberry syrup better than the jelly. Once when I had the occasion to eat breakfast at IHOP to my surprised blackberry syrup was on the menu. I had some and it was good, but I wondered if it had started out to be jelly and didn’t quite make it.
By the way, on these blackberry adventures, we never ran into a poisonous snake. Maybe they heard us coming and hid, or we just didn’t see them.”

 

-Story by Granny