Survivor

The dragon landed in a flurry of snow and steam, black scales gleaming and red-seamed like hot coals.

They turned their burning eyes to the woman face-down in the snow. There were many other footprints around her, but no other humans for miles around.

They leaned forward and sniffed. No reek of death. They nudged her with their great muzzle.

The woman stirred at the touch, then scrambled to her feet.

‘I’m alive!’ she cried, drawing a dagger from her belt. ‘I survived them, and I’ll survive you too. So don’t even try it!’

The dragon considered her, small and cold, a barely-healed wound on her back and blood under her nails.… Read more

A creature of the moors

Curled on her side in the window-seat, she gazed out at the open moors. Tears made gentle tracks down her cheeks.

Outside, the clouds gathered, dark with empathy, heavy with the weight of their care for her. When the rain fell, the grass sighed its longing.

When at last she returned, the moor would welcome her with wild winds and dramatic skies.

Perhaps then they would both be whole, and she would remember, at last, what she truly was.

Microfiction! Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

Running and Riding

His feet were sore and blistered in his shredded shoes. His shirt was bramble-torn and leaf-stained, his trousers dirty and frayed.

The river was a mirage-like solace, too good to be true. He knelt on the bank and lowered cupped hands into the cool water.

After he had drunk his fill, he turned to see a horse, fur as dark as the blackest mud, with rushes tangled in its mane.

‘I’ve heard of you,’ said the man. ‘I won’t ride you, no matter how sore I am.’

The horse snorted and struck its hoof on the ground. ‘You think I mean to drown you.’

‘That’s what you are, isn’t it?’

‘And what are you?’ asked the horse.… Read more

Memory and Sight

He adjusted his blindfold. ‘What do you think?’

Her eyes tracked the clouds as they rolled across the azure sky.

‘It’s beautiful,’ she replied. She shifted where she lay on the grass, disturbing her hair. It hissed and resettled, scales sliding against scales. ‘I mean … I remembered that it was beautiful, but in my head … it was like a painting. This is something else.’

‘What else would you like to see?’

She smiled, sharp-toothed and joyful. ‘Everything.’

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by tatlin from Pixabay, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

First the Flame, Second the Bell.

Their eyes meet across the burning glade. Fire still trails from the hands of the first, and the flames dance in her sad eyes.

The second is covered in ash. She hugs a cat to her chest. It buries its face under her arm.

‘I know you,’ says the second, as if in a daze. Her gaze sharpens. ‘Did you do this?’

The first recoils. The flames in her hands flicker; the fire around her dims, then brightens. ‘I didn’t mean to. It just … happens.’

‘Just happens?’ She coughs. Her eyes narrow. ‘A fine way to shirk the blame, when you’ve been caught flame-handed.’ The cat in her arms squirms, then resettles.… Read more

Lost

They met at twilight: a woman, scratched and sore, and a fox with mauled ears and eyes like reflected stars.

The fox had one leg lifted, poised to flee. The woman pulled her tattered coat tighter about her as she sat among the leaf-litter.

‘I’m lost,’ said the woman. ‘But I can’t go back. I won’t.’

The fox tilted its head to one side, yipped, and picked up a careful pace.

And through trees and darkening light and desperate hope, it led the woman to her new home.

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by n4pgw, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

The Present Revealed

‘That can’t be right,’ she said.

‘It is the truth,’ the fortune-teller replied. ‘See for yourself.’ He gestured with a hand laden with many rings to the crystal ball that sat between them.

She glanced at the ball, then jerked her gaze away as if stung. ‘All I see is me. You’re just telling me what you think I want to hear, but I fail at everything. I’ll never succeed. I never have.’ She stood up scurried from the room, head down, shoulders raised in tension.

The fortune-teller watched her go, eyes dark and unreadable through the veil he wore.

‘You will,’ he whispered.… Read more

Cry for help

She heard howling in the night: desperate, ragged calls that faded into brokenness. The neighbours’ dogs were silent.

She put on coat and boots and stepped out into chill air under a hazy moon. Her footsteps squelched along a pavement still moist from the memory of rain.

She followed the howls away from her house and up the hill to the old churchyard. No foxes or rabbits skittered past; no bats hunted above.

A hulking figure crouched on the churchyard wall.

It was a misshapen thing of fur and fangs and bulging muscles. A twisted wolf-creature, man-like only in the broadest strokes.… Read more

Shattered Curse

They met in the soft glow of the shattered curse. Rose petals, thorns, and glass shards crunched beneath their feet.

The prince reached for his lover with shaking hands. He gazed up at him through long lashes. ‘It’s truly over?’

The Beast, as they called him, took the prince’s slender hands in his own heavy paws. ‘It’s over,’ he said. ‘The enchantress is gone.’

The prince drew his leonine lover into a gentle kiss.

At last, the Beast was free to love unchained.

Just a little Beauty & the Beast retelling!

Image by congerdesign, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

Strange Spells (The Exchange)

In support of the kickstarter for BOOKS & BONE, I played a game on Mastodon where people could name a gem to me, and in exchange I would write a toot-sized (or tweet-sized) encounter with a strange spell. The encounter was not necessarily related to the gem.

Here are the results. I hope you enjoy them!

Image by Josch13, under Pixabay License.

Amethyst

You hear a crystalline ringing like pure, musical bells. Following it to its source leads you to a café tucked into an alley. You’ve never seen it before. Its sign is faded and painted with rose petals.… Read more