Writing break – Escape games

I had a big Production install this week, so I took a break from writing for a few days, since I’m ahead in my Nanowrimo word count by 10k. I did get to use the word ‘trite’ in an email today however, which is one of my favourite words 🙂

I spent my time snuggling with kitties and exercising my brain playing ‘Escape Room’ games on my phone. They are rather inspiring too! I often find myself taking screenshots or writing down particular puzzles that I found especially enjoyable and unique so that I can incorporate something similar in my books.

For instance, in one of them, you had to gather items related to elements – berry juice for water, a shield for earth, a torch for fire, and a wand for magic. In Diva I used a similar puzzle where the girls each had to place an item related to their own elemental power or skill on an altar. Tsunami placed one of her energy rods, Jo and Jaina their twin daggers, Ouka lit a fire, and Sadi zapped some sand to create fulgurite for electricity.

In another puzzle you needed to mix in a specific order of berries, leaves, and water into a potion. In Alice Astray, Alice is given a test by the witch Jadzia, and she has to follow the instructions for a potion. But she uses up all the water growing the bush to produce the berries. She starts to cry and realizes that she can use her tears as the final ingredient 🙂

Anyways! Now that I can relax for the weekend, my stress is subsiding and my creativity is returning! I will continue with Nano tomorrow, and will be sure to post the next excerpt of Nim’s story. ^-^

Advertisements

Nanowrimo Day 15

35162 words!  Wow I was inspired last night.  Poor Nim’s full tragic backstory was revealed last night and I cried.  Then decided to rewrite it differently, and cried some more. But it was cathartic for both of us.

Today was insanely busy at work, with a project pre-production deployment gone awry and internal audit breathing down our necks (always excellent timing).  So tonight I’m snuggling with cats and playing Room Escape games on my phone all evening. 🙂

Anyways, here’s the continuation.  You get to meet one of my favourite characters. ^-^


 

Tavya hadn’t realized she’d been talking to Shaelas for so long.  When they finally decided to part ways, with a certain amount of reluctance from both parties, she shuffled up the stairs and to the room she had rented for herself an Nim.

She knew the moment she reached the door that something was wrong.  The door was ajar and the lamp wasn’t lit.

“Nim?”  She called softly into the darkness, with the futile hope that her ward had merely gone to bed early.  But even as she said the words, she knew Nim wouldn’t answer.

Tavya lit the lamp.  Nim’s cloak was gone.

She rushed out onto the balcony, scouring the streets from above.  The boards creaked beneath her feet and her heart grew cold.  It was the same sound she thought she’d heard earlier.  Had Nim overheard her conversation with Shaelas?

Tavya groaned.  Nim was a brave, confident girl, but she was still young and naïve in many ways.  If she thought she was keeping Tavya from a life of freedom.. she might just leave to spare her that.

“You foolish, foolish girl.”  Tavya moaned.

 

“Uh, what?”

Shaelas rubbed his eyes as he opened the door.  He was sleepy and just about to turn in when there was an insistent, repeated knocking on the door.

“Oh it’s you.  Have you reconsidered?”  He gave a debonair smile, letting his robe hang open.

“Nim’s gone!”

His forhead creased in confusion.

“You mean the little one?”

“Yes!”  Tavya burst in the room with the ferocity of a mother wolf searching for her lost cub.

“She’s not here..”

“I know that!”  Tavya snapped.  She pressed her face into her hands and sat on the edge of the bed.

“Maybe.. she’s just gone for a walk?”  Shaelas suggested rationally.

“No, I’m sure she overheard us talking.  What am I going to do..??”  She swayed back and forth, her voice cracking with despair.

Shaelas stared down at her a moment, then sank to one knee.  He took Tavya’s slender hands in his own.

“That’s easy.  We’re going to find her.”

Tavya looked up at him, and the earnest sincerity reflected in his eyes.

“Really?  You would do that for me?”

“You should know by now that I would do anything for you.”  Shaelas said gently.  “All the influence I possess, my connections, my underlings.  We’ll find her, Tavya.  I promise.”

“Oh Shaelas, I hope we do.  We must.  She’s all alone out there, and you don’t know what sort of evil is after her.. I just pray to the gods we are not too late.”

 

Shaelas was as good as his word, dispatching his men to every corner of town, and calling in favours, offering a reward to anyone who could help recover Tavya’s ward.

“She’s one tiny albino girl, how hard can it be?”  Shaelas muttered, running his hand through his mane of ruddy hair.

Tavya gave him a dark look at the unsavory description, but she shared his frustration.

She slammed her fist on the table, making Shaelas jump.

“I give up, I can’t sit here any longer.”  She declared, rising.  She fastened her cloak around her shoulders and stalked out of the room.

“H-hey, Tavya!  Wait up!”  Shaelas called, racing off after her.

 

Nim wandered the streets aimlessly.  Without Tavya to guide her, she didn’t know where to go.  She hadn’t realized how much she had relied on her travelling companion.

The tears threatened to well up once more and she blinked them furiously away.

“Well, well, what have we here.  A cute little kitten without her mama.”

A group of men chortled as they stood nearby, grinning at her.

“Bis boss Shaelas put out quite a reward for you, but we think we can get more from the General, whaddya say?”

The leader picked at his teeth with a twig then grinned.

“If all else fails, we can sell her for parts.  I know someone who would pay top dollar for a black market albino.  Whaddya think a’that, girly?  Maybe your liver will be ground up to make some loser’s love life more fruitful, eh?”

They laughed again.

“Of course, there are other things we could do in the meantime..”

The thug’s expressions turned decidedly dark as they leered down at her.

Nim backed up into the alley.  It was a dead end.

“There’s no running for you, just come along all quiet like and you won’t get hurt.”

Something stirred inside her, a burning from the soles of her feet to the tips of her fingers.

Her lilac eyes widened, and she suddenly didn’t feel like herself at all.

The men seemed to realize that something was amiss and a couple shot nervous glances at their leader.

“Hey, boss.. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all..”

“Stop being such cowards, you lily-livered louts!”  He snapped back.  “She’s just a slip of a girl, what can she do to us?”

But Nim wasn’t listening.  She felt like she was going to explode, as if there was a fire blazing within her and she had to release it or she was going to burn alive.

The thugs froze in shock.  Her face seemed to flicker, her features resembling the hollow bones of a skull. 

Darkness flooded her vision and she smelled the heady perfume of marigolds, so strong she wanted to retch.

She groaned, clawing at her head and fell to her knees, a field of crimson energy crackling around her.

Then finally let out an ear splitting scream.

When she recovered, the unbearable burning had ceased, along with the nausea, and she lowered her hands, opening her eyes.

All around her was the outline of a charred circle.

A couple of the thugs who had been too close had been reduced to ashes where they stood, still resembling human form before disintegrating into unrecognizable piles of charred remains.

“What the hell did you do to my men??”  The boss demanded, advancing upon her, any fear he might have felt outstripped by his seething rage.

Whatever had happened to Nim appeared to have ceased for the moment, and she was defenseless.  The man grabbed her and pressed her against the wall, one hand wrapped around her throat, the other raised to strike.

“Handing you over to the General would be too kind after that stunt you just pulled!”  He snarled, spittle flying in her face.  “You’re going to pay, witch!”

Nim flinched as he brought his fist down, but it was stopped in midair.

A thin coil of leather was wrapped around his wrist.

“Now, now, boys.  Play nice.”  A sultry voice said.  “Why don’t you stop picking on the little girl and play with me instead.”

A woman stood there, holding the whip deftly in her hands.  She had pitch black hair and green eyes which twinkled with laughter.

The men charged at her and she easily took them down one by one until they were all piled in a heap at her feet.

“Name’s Duvessa.”  The stranger introduced herself, coiling the whip around her arm like a snake.

Nim took a moment to compose herself before replying.

“Nim.”

“That was quite a trick you played back there.  I couldn’t have done better myself.”

Nim shrugged, she wasn’t sure how she could even explain it, and so opted to say nothing.

“Where you headed?”

The familiar pang of loss ached in Nim’s heart.  She had almost forgotten what she was doing wandering the streets in the middle of the night all alone, and her flight from Tavya.

The thug had mentioned Shaelas had a reward out for her, and she wondered vaguely if it was Tavya’s doing, then shook her head and dismissed the thought.  Whatever the case, they were better off without her.

“I don’t know.”  Nim replied honestly.

“Ladies ought to stay together.  I would be welcome of the company, Nim.”

Nim nodded, weary from her ordeal.

“Thank you, Duvessa.”

 

Duvessa glanced sideways at Nim as she inhaled a breakfast plate of fried plantains.  She had observed everything, waiting to step in until the last moment.

The girl had tapped into the spirit world.

“So it’s begun.”  She murmered.

 

Nanowrimo Day 14

31,680 words!  And this is even after getting a little sidetracked on the weekend.  The middle part of any story is always the most difficult, you know where your characters are going, just not quite how to get them there.

So I avoided it entirely and switched focus to some side characters who got in a merry little argument.  And then back to my girls for a meal (as usual) and then a pillow fight to lighten the mood.  I have some ideas of how to proceed though, so I should be able to get back into the groove after work. ^-^


 

Tavya finished her sensuous veil dance to a round of boisterous applause from the audience.

The town of Fairburn’s resident gang of thugs, led by the burly Shaelas, had hired her to perform for one of their raucous parties, and the entire company were quite drunk.

The musicians queued up another song, but Shaelas held up his hand, a sloshing goblet in his fist.

“We wanna see the little one dance!”

He waved the goblet in the direction of Nim who sat half-concealed in the shadows at the back of the room. She had been playing a small tambourine in time with Tavya’s dancing.

Tavya paled slightly.

“Come now, I’m sure I can entertain you..”

“I don’t mind.” Nim replied tonelessly, rising to her feet.

She wore a silvery outfit with a tight top and billowy skirt with a slit up one side, suitable enough for dancing.

Nim made her way to the stage, pausing just in the wing as Tavya passed.

“Are you sure about this?” Tavya whispered.

Nim nodded. “I’ll be fine.”

Tavya handed her the sheer lavender shawl she had been using, then went to stand against the wall to watch. She was too nervous to sit.

Nim walked to the middle of the stage, holding up the veil to her eyes. The musicians began to beat their palms against the drums, and the lutes chimed out their high notes.  She stood, unmoving, feeling the sound seep into her very pores.  ‘One had to become one with the music’ Tavya had said once, and Nim took this advice to heart.

She slowly began to move her feet, stepping forward, her left leg making a wide arc, and then the other. Then she started to move faster, her arms lifting, spinning the veil, her heels kicking up.  Being smaller and more limber than the statuesque Tavya, Nim was more flexible and could bend her body in mesmerizing ways.  She was hypnotic.

When the music stopped, there was a moment of stunned silence, then a roar of applause, Shaelas clapping loudest of all.

“Bravo!” He exclaimed, banging his goblet against the table for emphasis.  “Bravo!”

Nim bowed and exited the stage, passing her mentor along the way.

“Very well done. You’ve been practicing.”  Tavya observed fondly.

Nim nodded, beaming at her praise.

 

The night’s distractions had concluded and the party was winding down. Tavya went outside to get a fresh breath of air and found Shaelas having had a similar idea.  Though she suspected it had something to do with the queasy look on his face from imbibing too much alchohol.

She cocked her head at him.

Shaelas was an odd duck. He played at being the big, fearless leader, with no qualms or restraint, drinking all of his men under the table.  But it was all an act, he was actually remarkably thoughtful and quiet.

“Hey, pretty lady.” He said in what he obviously thought was an enticing manner.

“Tavya.”

“Tanya?”

“Tav-iya.” She repeated slowly, enunciating for his benefit.

“Tavya. Got it.”

Under the glow of the lanterns hanging above the back door of the tavern, Tavya saw Shaelas in a different light. He was built like a brick, with broad shoulders and large hands.  He had a strong jaw, with unruly dark red hair brushed back from his face like a lion’s mane, and serious brown eyes beneath thick eyebrows.  Even the long scar running down one side of his face made him look rakish and handsome.

Shaelas withdrew a pouch of jerky from his belt. He offered Tavya a piece but she politely declined, he shrugged and stuffed a wad inside his mouth.  Apparently the salt helped with his nausea, and the queasiness visibly subsided.

“Why don’t you stay with me, Tavya?” He said finally, after chewing and swallowing the jerky.  “I’d make an honest woman out of you.”

“Honest?” Tavya lifted a doubtful eyebrow.  “You?”

Shaelas frowned glumly. “You know what I mean.”

Tavya shook her head. She found herself attracted to the gruff man with a soft heart, but she couldn’t think of romance right now.

“As tempting as that is.. I have other things that I need to take care of.”

“The little one?” He surmised.

Tavya nodded. “She’s my responsibility.  Surely you understand how I feel.  Aren’t you responsible for all your men?”

“Yeah.” Shaelas agreed.

Tavya sidled next to him. He didn’t look anymore as if he were about to either pass out or throw up on her.  Besides, she felt comfortable in his presence.

“But that doesn’t mean that we have to be strangers.” She added coyly, leaning against the wall beside him.

“I’d like that.”

Tavya didn’t just throw herself at men, but there was just something she found appealing about Shaelas. She couldn’t put her finger on it.

“I’m serious, you know.” Shaelas protested softly.

Maybe that was it. Despite his raunchy façade, he was utterly sincere about his affections.

“I know. Got any more jerky?”

 

Nim had been listening, hiding on the balcony above them, and she turned away, her lilac eyes brimming with tears.

Was she really just holding Tavya back? They had been on the run for so many years, Nim had just taken Tavya’s presence for granted, that she would always be there by her side, but did Tavya secretly long for a different life?  If Tavya really had feelings for the hoodlum, maybe it would be better off if she stayed with him, if it would make her happy.  She was a beautiful woman, men were always falling all over her but this was the first time that Nim had noticed Tavya returning their affections.  She spoke to him with such fondness, in a voice that Nim thought was reserved for her.

It made her heart break.

Nim wiped her eyes and turned, padding across the balcony back to their room. She took her cloak from the hook on the door, and vanished into the night.

 

“What is it?” Shaelas inquired.

Tavya shook her head, a troubled look on her face.

“I thought I heard something.. but I must have been mistaken.”

Blade Runner 2049

Went to see the new Blade Runner sequel with my Dad today, I credit him for my love of sci fi and fantasy. 🙂

I stilll like the original the best, low key without overly deafening music (Vangelis’ lovely chords got sadly overwhelmed in the mix) and gratuitous nudity.

But one thing I did like was the ending. No spoilers I promise, but it was the sort of ending where you think you know how it’s going to turn out, and then it turns out differently. But it all fits together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle set out for you, you just don’t recognize their significance until then.

Don’t all of us writers wish we could write so eloquent an ending? I know I do. ^-^

Nanowrimo Day 12

29,000 words 🙂  I’m struggling a little with the middle bit, I always do it seems, trying to discover for myself what the deep purpose is behind the story I am trying to tell.  What drives my characters?  What are they fighting for?  I know where they are going, it’s just the getting there that is tricky.  But the journey is always surprising!

I got to use a favourite word of mine today, discombobulated, so that was a plus.  I also had a chance to describe some delicious regional foods.  If I can’t figure out where they should go next, my foolproof method is for my characters to sit down over a good meal to decompress and discuss where they – and I – should go next. ^-^


 

Hyrum decided that he might as well follow Tavya’s example, and dowsed the lamps as he meandered his way through his house, making sure everything was buttoned tight.  Servants had already locked up for the night, but it was his habit and he didn’t feel completely secure unless he double-checked for himself.

Satisfied, he took a final lantern and made his way upstairs to the master bedroom.

Tavya and Nim’s door were shut, so was the mysterious newcomer Lucian.

The door to the room which Alois and Kain shared was slightly ajar, and Hyrum peered in to see both both boys sleeping.  Kain was on his side, burrowed under the covers like a mole, while Alois lay splayed on top of his bed, snoring loudly.

Using them as metaphors for children was mostly for Tavya’s benefit, but it wasn’t far off the mark.  Hyrum really did consider the boys to be as his own sons, since he had never been blessed with children himself.

He closed the door quietly then disappeared into his own room.  He used the lantern to light the lamp by his bed, then doused it, his gaze catching the glint of the frame on the side table.  He picked it up.

It was a two-fold frame, which could be folded in half to look like a book.  When he left the house for whatever reason, he always took it with him, tucked in his breast pocket.

It depicted two women of equal beauty.

On the left side was his beloved sister Marrim, with black hair like his own, and deep indigo eyes like the sky at midnight.  She had sharp but kind features, love reflected in her gaze.  On the other side was the only women Hyrum ever loved.  With flaxen blonde hair and laughing sea blue eyes, Deema was the most beautiful creature to ever wander the earth, and for some reason she loved him back.  He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and have a family of their own, but she had a fragile constitution and died young.  Far too young.  Her vibrant life snuffed out, just like a candle.

With her passing, Hyrum knew he would never marry again, and so had lost all hope of ever having children, until he came across Kain and Alois.

They were both orphans.  Alois’ parents had been killed in an accident and he took to the streets rather than rely on the state.  He was a skilled pickpocket, in servitude to a gang of older children for food and shelter, and was able to rifle through Hyrum’s belongings without him noticing until the last moment.

Hyrum tracked him down and offered him the same deal, but without any obligations.  Alois agreed.  He was willing to fight and scratch his way to the top for a better life, and he applied himself to his studies with amazing dedication.

Kain was a few years older, Hyrum noticed him on the street as he was passing in his carriage.  Apparently his mother had died and his stepmother kicked him out of the house rather than have another mouth to feed, deeming him old enough to take care of himself.  Hyrum brought him back to the estate where he and Alois became close friends.  As he grew, Kain decided to take advantage of his emerging girth and strength and follow the path of a warrior, while the clever Alois, already gifted at pickpocketing and how to survive on the streets, expanded upon those talents.

Hyrum was exceedingly proud of them, as much as if they were indeed his own offspring, and he often talked to the portrait of Deema about their ‘sons’.  He imagined that she smiled when he related their latest antics, and the notion warmed his lonely heart.

One day he would be reunited with his sister and his beloved, until then he had the boys to take care of, and his lovely niece.  That they had befriended her after that terrible day, had been a great source of relief and comfort to him.

Hyrum changed for bed and slipped beneath the covers.

“Goodnight, Marrim.  Goodnight, Darling.”

He kissed Deema’s picture gently, then dowsed the lamp and fell asleep.

 

Hyrum was awoken by a loud crash.

“What in Varsha’s name..?”  He snapped, cursing, invoking the name of the Mother rain goddess.  Having been rudely awakened, heresy was not his among his list of pressing concerns.

He fumbled with the lamp beside his bed, knocking over the double portrait onto the floor.

“Damn.”  He muttered, scooping up his most precious possession and tucking it safely in his robes.

He crossed his room and threw open the door, stepping into the hall.

“What’s all this ruckus?”

His question drowned out by a shrill cacophony, Hyrum became aware of two things: first, that his household was in complete and utter chaos. Second: that his manor was on fire.

It took a moment for the latter of these two realizations to sink in, then he flew into action, bellowing orders to both his servants and his guests.

“Get some water over there!  Does anyone know where this fire is coming from?  And where is Tavya?!”

“Hyrum!”

“Tavya, thank all the stars.”  Hyrum gasped.  “What in blazes is going on?”

“I’m just as in the dark as you are.  Nim shook me awake, she could tell something was wrong.  Alois and Kain burst in the door a moment later with Lucian.  We were just about to wake you up when the fire started spreading.”

“From where?”

“Downstairs it seems.  We won’t know for sure until it’s abated, but it looks like someone set the place ablaze.  I sent Kain to make sure all the servants were evacuated, and left Nim with Alois and Lucian, then came back for you.

“Hurry, My Lord!”  Kain beckoned from the landing, as he funneled the panicked staff down the stairs and out the front door.

Hyrum squeezed the portrait in his pocket, grateful that he had at least the foresight to bring it along, it would be folly to return to his rooms now.

Outside, Hyrum took one last lingering look at his magnificent estate, his home and his prison, before it was engulfed in flames.

Still he had his pictures, and his sons and niece were safe.

After all the long years of exile, Hyrum was finally free.

 

“We should head for my estate at Makovo.”

“I disagree.”  Tavya countered firmly.  “We can’t be certain that this won’t be repeated at any of your other properties.  Obviously Callum has figured out that you are helping Nim, and he thinks that by getting rid of you, he will thwart her efforts.”

Nim frowned.  It would go a long way to doing so.

“But who else can we turn to?”  Kain despaired.

“Ulric.”  Nim said finally, and shared a glance with Lucian.  “He promised to aid me in any way I required.  You would be safe in Valdermere, much safer than anywhere in Aelwynne.  Surely he won’t turn me down.”

Lucian nodded.

“King Ulric will make good on his word.  If you request this favour of him, he will grant it.”

Hyrum frowned and Nim took his hand.

“I know that you and Ulric have your old grudges to overcome, but you are both my allies in this venture, you would have to learn to work together sooner or later.”  She smiled.  “Just try to show a modicum of respect and don’t antagonize him too much, alright, Uncle?  It wouldn’t do for him to execute you out of sheer spite while I’m gone.”

Hyrum nodded at her levity, convinced by the wisdom of her words.

“Kain will come with me.  Alois will do what he does best and hunt down the source of this incident.  Then rejoin you and Tavya.”

Then we are agreed.”  Nim declared.  “Lucian will escort you to Valdermere, arriving by yourself would be somewhat suspicious.”

Lucian nodded his assent, recognizing her logic, though he was reluctant to leave his charge.

“I’m trusting you to keep them safe.”

“I won’t fail you.”

Nim smiled and hugged her foster brothers and uncle before they all went their separate ways.

 

“So I guess it’s just you and I left.”  Tavya said fondly to her ward.

Nim smiled.  Since Lucian had arrived she had missed the times she had spent alone with Tavya.  There wasn’t anything wrong with his being around or the quality of his company, but she and Tavya had a special bond.

Tavya knew her innermost secrets, her deepest fears, and the truth of what happened that fateful day.  From then on there was hardly a moment that they were apart.

“Where to now?”  Nim inquired, deferring to her older companion.

“Fairburn is just North of here.  Once Alois rejoins us, we can enter Valdermere that way, via Detmer.  Hyrum will be taking the South road so it will be safer this way.”

“I agree.”  Nim said and nodded.

Tavya once more hefted the sack upon her back, not having Lucian around had its downside, and the two trudged towards the town of Fairburn.

 

Nanowrimo Day 9

23,764 words!  Still on track and five days ahead, just where I like to be.

I was so distracted by my new Sherlock Holmes mystery game that I forgot to upload yesterday’s excerpt.  Whoops!  As a side note, I had the opportunity to make this scene romantic, and I wrote it both ways, but I decided against it.  I needed Kain to be a pillar of strength for Nim, and not confuse her further.  I still might choose to include him in a bit of a love triangle in the future though, we’ll see. 🙂

Without further ado. ^-^


“Kain, where are we going?” Nim inquired for the hundredth time.  He was being maddeningly vague and it was driving her crazy.  Though she couldn’t help but feel her excitement rise as he merely gave her a mysterious smile.

“Be patient, we’re nearly there.”

Nim sighed half-heartedly. Tromping through the grounds in the middle of the night wasn’t exactly how she had planned her evening, but it was a thrill, and Kain always had the most amazing surprises.

With the promise of the big reveal in store, Nim determinedly plodded on, barely keeping up with Kain with his long stride. He was even taller than Tavya.

Down a steep hill with roots and brambles tripping at their feet, Nim couldn’t help but notice they were getting further and further from Hyrum’s estate.

“Hey, Kain.. are you sure this is safe?”

He grinned.

“Have no fear, sweet lady, for I shall protect you.”

Nim rolled her eyes.

“You sound like Lucian.”

Kain slowed and looked at her.

“What’s up with you and that guy anyways?” He asked, suddenly serious.

Nim was caught off guard by the sudden question.

“I don’t know what you mean. King Ulric assigned Lucian to be my bodyguard, and a messenger should I need the king’s assistance.  So I’m stuck with him, whether I like it or not.”

“And do you like it?”

Nim was exceedingly puzzled by Kain’s shift in attitude.

“He’s nice enough, but I hardly know him.” She cocked her head up at him.  “What’s this all about?”

“I just don’t want anyone protecting you but me.” He mumbled.  “Well.. and Tavya of course.”

Nim laughed and Kain shrugged, embarrassed.

“Don’t tell her I said that, she’d have my hide.”

“Yes she would. Definitely.”

The two of them dissolved into giggles, immediately lightening the mood.

“Ah, we’re here. Take off your shoes and close your eyes.”

Nim could hardly see anything in the dark anyways, but she followed his instructions anyways.

She felt Kain’s hand take hers and gently lead her forward.

“Keep them closed.” He added, taking small steps.

Nim nodded, barely able to contain her anticipation.

The night was quiet, the air still and fragrant, with the sounds of small insects buzzing in the mangrove trees. She felt warm water splash up against her bare feet.  They must be at Barrow Bay, near the port of Shorewick, down the hill from Hyrum’s hillside estate.

“Okay.. now.”

Nim slowly opened her eyes. Then opened them wider.

The entire bay was glowing a luminous blue!

She wiggled her toes in the sand and the water glowed at her feet.

“It.. It’s beautiful!” Nim exclaimed, mesmerized.

Kain smiled, pleased with her elation.

“The residents have nicknamed it the Glimmering Cove.”

Nim knew there was probably a rational explanation, but to her it seemed just like magic. She began to twirl in the surf, creating artistic glowing blue ripples and spirals in her wake.

“When I saw this, I knew I had to show you.”

“Thank you, Kain. It’s absolutely wonderful.”

He kicked off his boots and joined her in the water.

“Will you dance with me?”

Nim nodded and took his hand while he placed the other on the small of her back. She hadn’t had much opportunity to do a waltz in a while, and was a little out of practice.

Together they danced, spinning in the water, the luminous blue light following their steps.

They stopped dancing and Nim stared up at Kain, feeling a little lightheaded.

“Thank you for tonight. You reminded me that there is some beauty left in the world.”

Kain smiled, his amber eyes meeting hers, then he leaned forward and kissed her hand.

“Anytime, my dear Nim.”

Nim glanced at the glittering bay once again, reluctant to leave it.

“We should get back before Hyrum sends out the dogs to find us.”

Kain laughed.

“You’re right, this would be terribly difficult to explain, my stealing you away in the dead of night. How scandalous!”

He grinned as he tugged on his boots and held out his hand.

“My lady.”

Nim giggled and slipped on her slippers, then followed him back into the night.

Unbeknownst to them, someone else was watching, green eyes like those of a cat, gleaming in the dark.

 

They parted ways at the side entrance of the house, and Nim nimbly crept through the window, while Kain shuffled through the door, trying not to make a sound.

They tiptoed to the stairs when a presence behind them made them jump.

“And where have you two been?” Tavya inquired sternly.

“Tav, you scared me!” Nim gasped, her heart having skipped a beat with fright.  “I was with Kain.”

“Yes, so Lucian informed me. Doing what, may I ask?”  She lifted an enquiring eyebrow.  Even the formidable warrior was cowed.

“I took her to the bay, to see the Glistening Waters.” Kain admitted truthfully.

“The bay? At this time of night?”

“Yes. Nim was perfectly safe, I never left her side.”

Tavya sighed at his noble protestation. He was a capable protector, that much couldn’t be denied, but it was unwise.  Still.. the children deserved at least a little joy, and the luminous bay was the exact sort of thing that would make Nim happy.

“Very well. I’m glad you’re both safe.  But next time tell me before you go galavanting off, alright?  You gave me quite a worry.”

“Yes, Tav.” Nim nodded guiltily.

“Alright, off to bed with both of you.”

The two trudged upstairs and went into their individual rooms.

Tavya made her way to the foyer and sank into a chair with a heavy sigh.

“Nim?”  Hyrum inquired knowingly, handing her a glass of brandy.

“Yes. She was with Kain.  They went down to the bay of all things.”  Tavya took a sip of the amber brandy, swirling it in the snifter.  “How do you do it, Hyrum?”

“Hm? Do what?”

“Deal with children crossing into adulthood, you’ve raised both Alois and Kain. Nim is just starting to bloom as a woman, and I recognize some of the struggles I went through as a youth in her.  I’m trying to keep her from making the same mistakes I did, yet allow her the freedom to grow into her own person.  But it’s hard.”

Tavya stared moodily into the bottom of her glass.

“And now I’ve got Lucian to deal with too. Honestly, who makes a sixteen year old boy a palace guard then sends him away on a perilous quest?  Boggles my mind.”

Hyrum gave a throaty chuckle.

“Oh I have my theories.” He said mysteriously.

Tavya gave him a dark look but he wouldn’t elaborate. She finally gave up.

“In any case, I had enough trouble with them, but now there’s the added pressure of an impending marriage when all this is over and dealt with. So now Nim, who never had time for romantic notions before, is thinking about weddings and children, and I’m absolutely no help at all.”  She concluded with a huff.

Hyrum patted her arm sympathetically.

“You’ll manage. I had no experience as a parent either, then Kain, and later Alois were practically dropped on my doorstep.”

“Like us.” Tavya interjected wryly.

“I do seem to collect strays, don’t I?” Hyrum quipped.  “I had to figure out how to raise them myself.  I like to think I’ve done a good job, though other parents might disapprove of the skills they’ve mastered.”

Alois was a clever, streetwise thief while Kain was a skilled fighter.

“Don’t sell yourself short, they’re a credit to you.” Tavya said.

Hyrum tipped his chin.

“Thank you. And Nim is a credit to you as well.  Lucian.. well, I’m sure you’ll figure him out eventually.  Boys aren’t quite so complicated as girls at this age, I hear.”

“So I remember.” Tavya said snidely.

She rose and bowed to her host.

“Thank you for the brandy, and the conversation. But I’m bushed, and I need my beauty sleep.”

“Never.” Hyrum winked and Tavya grinned.

“Oh you!”

Sherlock Holmes mystery game

At work today, there was a board game fair and I bought a new game! I’m not a big fan of board games as a rule, however my favourite pc game is Myst, and all of its sequels. I love solving puzzles!

During the fair I was looking at an ‘escape’ type game that I would probably solve in under an hour, and you could play only once since you essentially destroyed the game pieces, when the girl reccommended this to me. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. 10 cases which would take at least 2-3 hours each to solve. Well, not only do I love solving puzzles, but, aside from some sci fi shows, crime dramas and mysteries are practically all I watch on tv. And of course, my favourite detective is Sherlock Holmes in all of his incarnations! I was sold.

I already wrote a thousand words for Nano tonight, so I’m going to start a case. Meanwhile, here are some pictures! It has a character directory – which points you to a specific page in a casebook, a map of London (which will help me with Clemency’s story!), 10 editions of the Times, and 10 casebooks. I can’t wait to get started! ^-^