Woven Fate: Part 3 – The Weaver

Woven Fate 1

Wind whipped Tovi as he led Makani up a meandering path of beside a swift flowing river. He wasn’t even sure he was really on a path. Makani’s mane and tail were tangled and Tovi held a hood over his head to keep the wind off as much as possible. The cold air dried his skin, cracking his knuckles, and sending a sharp sting across his skin. They were three days into their journey up River Mountain and the landscape was mostly a sheer rock face, slippery stones, sparse trees, and gusting winds trying to throw anyone foolish enough to climb it off.

Looking up, Tovi could almost see the top but the mountain continued to reach into the sky. There was one more outcropping before the summit. The prophetess had to be nearby. How far up could she live? Or did she even live on this side of the mountain? After running from the troupe, Tovi had just kept going, ignoring the questions as they came. If he paid too much attention, he would stop. Testing a foot hold, Tovi kept going.

Huffing and gasping for breath, he climbed three more feet before looking up again. His head parallel to the outcropping, he could just see over the edge. Far back from the leg, against the steep wall to the summit, was a small cottage. Pulling on the reins, Tovi ran up the remaining incline, dragging Makani with him, and to the front door.

Rushing across the flat ground, Tovi let go of Makani when the horse refused to go faster, and knocked on the door. A moment went by but no one answered. It wasn’t that big of a cottage. Someone had to hear.

Is no one home?

He knocked again.

“Put the horse in the stable and come in through the back,” said a woman’s voice.

Stable? “What?”

“Makani knows. Follow him.”

Just as the woman finished speaking, Tovi saw his black and white horse trudge past him. Following, Makani lead him to a two-stall barn down a short hill behind the cottage. Stopping inside the door, Tovi watch his horse meandered into a stall, head lagging and placed his nose in a full water trough. The stable was small but roomie, giving a homie comfort for the animal. Towards the back, Tovi saw some hay and gathered an armful before removing Makani’s reigns and saddle. After a quick rub down and putting a blanket on the stallion, Tovi petted his friend.

“Sorry, boy. You relax now.” Leaving Makani in the stall to eat, Tovi headed back up to the cottage.

As he reached the back door, he lifted his hand to knock but the door opened with a puff of steam.

“Now, now, there is no need for that. Come in, come in, Tovi.” A short woman waved him inside before waddling away.

Tovi ducked as he entered. Hanging from the rafters were row upon row of yarn, dangling like vines. “How do you know who I am?”

“I remember everyone I weave.”

At least I’m in the right place.

A fire burned in a hearth with a kettle and pot nearby. The sweet, warm smell of fish and bread hovered in the air. He stopped for a moment just to take in this warm home. If reminded him of preparing supper with his father as the hearth heated the room until sweated dotted his brow or chased away the shivers of winter as snow fell.

“Come all the way in, now. No need to stand in the door way letting all the hot air out. Come now, dear.”

Snapping his eyes open, Tovi shut the door behind him as he shook his head. Dodging this way and that, he parted the yarn as he walked through the kitchen, trying to locate the chatty old woman. Her silhouette could be seen scurrying here then there through all the yarn. And she wouldn’t stop talking.

“A good warm meal is what you need. Yes. Just look at you. A tall, straggly young man.” A hand slapped him in the stomach as its wielder passed before disappearing behind another thicket of yarn. “So thin.”

“Um,” Tovi said. “I wanted to talk to about a prophesy you wove.”

The old woman leaned backward from around a yarn waterfall of yarn. “Not until we are by the fire.”

Finally, for a moment, he could see her. She was grandmotherly looking with a wrinkled face and head full of white hair. Despite the spring in her step, she looked like someone who should be complaining about her back and hobbling around with a cane.

“It was the one woven for King Noach, prince at the time, to commemorate the—”

“Defeat of Dallow. Yes, I remember, dear.” She turned towards another sheet of yarn and called, “Nara. Please come. We have a visitor.”

The old woman wove around the yarn with two trenchers in one hand and a kettle and three cups in the other. She swayed back and forth as she balanced everything. Jumping forward, Tovi steadied her then took the two trenchers.

“Oh. What a gentleman,” she said as she pinched his cheek. “This way.” She wondered over to the fire and set the cups down on a table and filled them. Tovi set the trenchers beside them.

She wiped her hands on her skirt then squinted at Tovi. “Oh, that must be uncomfortable.” She reached up and pulled the wrapping off his head.

Stumbling back, Tovi reached up to his face.

“Much better. Sit, sit.” The woman gestured to the chairs before taking one herself.

Swallowing, Tovi took a hesitant step as a young woman came throw the yarn. As she glanced up at him, she gasped and stumbled back, her eyes widened as she stared at his face.

“Nara, you’ll have to grab a trencher for yourself. I didn’t have enough hands.”

Setting back from Tovi, Nara gave him a wide berth as she ducked towards a table and loaded a trencher for herself.

“Sit, dear,” the old woman insisted again.

Taking a hesitant step, like a starving dog afraid of being kicked, Tovi took the other chair.

When Nara joined them, she brought an extra chair, placing it on the other side of the old woman, keeping her between them.

As he spoke to the weaver, he tried not to look at the young woman who was also avoiding his gaze. “I wanted to know more about the tapestry.”

“Eat first.” The woman took a trencher and piled some mashed peas onto her bread.

“The tapestry was revealed the banquet celebrating King Noach’s victory,” Tovi continued. He wasn’t hungry, he just wanted answers. “It depicted—”

“I remember. I remember everything I weave. It was one of my better works, if I might say so. A dark, starless night contrasted with red and orange flames all around the edges with a lone figure, standing upon the ruin remains of stone, one eye green, the other blue.”

Tovi’s tongue clung to the ruff of his mouth. He had heard vague descriptions of it but never like that. “I guess. I never saw it.” Coughing, he tried to clear the lump in his throat. “I wanted to know… why did you weave me into it?”

“I weave what I see.” She tapped the side of her head. “As all weavers do.”

“But why me? I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I don’t want to destroy Elanra. I love this kingdom. Its people, its land. I even like King Noach. He cares for this kingdom, placing its people and their needs first. So why is it I’m the one who is going to destroy it.”

The woman finished chewing and swallowed. “It is very impolite not to ask someone for their name.”

Tovi blinked. “What?”

“You haven’t asked me my name yet. We’ve been talking all this time and you haven’t asked for my name.”

“Ah, what’s your name, ma’am?”

She smiled. “Asami.”

Tovi let out a calming breath. “Lady Asami—”

“Just Asami.”

Biting his lip, he breathed. “Asami, why did you weave me into a tapestry predicting the destruction of the kingdom? Everyone hates me. I have to hide my face so no one will attack me. This is not what I want. I want to live a normal life. I… I want to see my father again.”

Asami tapped her foot. “What do you know about prophecy making?”

“Nothing.”

She waved a finger at him. “Come.”

Tovi followed her as she got up and began to waddle out of the kitchen into another area of the cottage. Nara jumped up and followed her, staying close on Asami’s heels.

“As I said before, I weave what I see. I don’t choose who goes into the tapestry. I don’t get to make the choice.” They entered a room with various looms against the wall with baskets of yarn beside them.

Asami waddled over and picked up a basket and brought it back to Tovi. “Do you know what this is?”

“Yarn made for prophesizing.”

“Half right. It is yarn.” Asami shrugged. “Nothing special.” She dropped it on the floor and slid it back across the floor with her foot. “How about this loom?”

Tovi shrugged. “Made from a special tree?”

“It is a loom, darling. Other women have them in their homes too.”

This was getting him no where. He started to wonder if the woman could give a straight answer.

“You want to know what makes the tapestries so special?” Asami smiled up at him as if she was teaching a star-eyed kid.

“Yes.”

“It is what I see. I can see moments of the future that will come if the people continue down the path they are on. People come and ask me them to weave them a tapestry for their newborn daughter or to remember an event. They will usually bring me yarn and I will see a moment and weave it. Some are happy, some are not. I just weave what I see.” She lowered her arms and looked up into Tovi’s eyes, for the first time being sober. “When Prince Noach asked me to weave, I saw destruction.”

Tovi reached out to a tapestry on one of the looms and played with a loose piece of yarn. “So that’s it then. That is my future.”

Nara glanced from Asami to him, like she was waiting for her to say something important.

“Well… not entirely. It is only the future if you choose it to be. It is all your own choice.”

His head snapped to her. “So, I don’t have to destroy Elandra?” It was the best news he’d heard in years.

“Correct. But,” she continued, “I find that those who know the future have a hard time not fulfilling it. Once a future is woven and they know it, it tends to come true. Sometimes, people try so hard for it not to come true that they make it true. Other times, they try ignore it so much that they don’t see they are heading down the path where it will happen.”

“So…how do I keep it from coming true? Both options say this will happen.”

Asami waddled up to him and placed a hand on his cheek. “The fact you don’t want it is good. Just live your life, be conscious of the choices you make, and everything will be alright.”

Tovi waited for her to go on. “That’s it? There has to be more. Can’t you weave me a new tapestry? Not make me a villain?”

“Sorry, dear. That is all I can do. The rest is up to you.” She turned around and headed back towards the kitchen.

Nara stepped back as Asami passed, squinting at the woman.

“But I can’t live like this. I can’t keep hiding from people trying to hunt me. It is only a matter of time before the king decides to put a price on my head. To destroy the problem before it becomes one. Please, weave me a tapestry. I’ll pay you.”

Asami frowned. “I’m sorry. There is nothing more I can do. Stay the night. In the morning, I’ll help you find a new place to go.” She waddled out of the room.

Was that it? Tovi turned in a circle, unsure of what to do next. From what she said he was trapped no matter what he did. Leaning against the wall, he slid down, hanging his head.

“Hey.” Nara glanced towards the kitchen then crept up to him. “There might be a way.”

“What?”

She bit her lip and squirmed. “I’ve always heard that prophesy too. It gave me nightmares.”

“Who hasn’t?” Tovi hung his head again.

“But you’re not how I pictured. So… I’ll tell you. Weaver legend has it there is a needle that can change tapestries woven with prophesy. It has been hidden away but lore suggests it is in Daker.”

This couldn’t be real. A real chance to change his destiny. “What do I need to do?”

“I could take you there. Maybe.”

Tovi glanced towards the yarn shrouded kitchen. “What about Asami?”

“She won’t approve so we best leave tonight.”

Silence came between them for a moment. “Why are you helping me?”

Nara swallowed. “I became a prophetess because I could see things. I wanted to help people. But sometimes all I do is set down the future but nothing changes. This is something I can do.”

Tovi nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”

As Nara stood and dusted off her skirt, Tovi reached out his hand towards her. “Thank you.”

She froze and glance between him and his hand. Nodding, she smiled and said, “You’re welcome,” before sweeping into the weaving room and sitting down at one.

Curling his fingers into a fist, he dropped his hand and sighed. Finding that needle couldn’t come soon enough.

***

Author’s Note

I always enjoyed how inspiration from other places can come together. Last year I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, The Magic of the Unicorn, and one of the endings involved a magic tapestry. I enjoyed that one so much that I thought I would like to one day write a story about a magical tapestry but didn’t have anything planned at the time. I just left it open.

A few months later, I was working on a cross stitch and learned that the little, dull needles used for those are called tapestry needles. I never knew that and loved the name.

This scene also took inspiration with all the crazy yarn from Jenelle Leanne Schimdt’s “Destined for Greatness” short story first published in Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales. 

Inspiration is all around and when woven together can create some fun stuff. I hope you enjoyed this newest edition to Woven Fate and Tovi’s adventure. We are only three months in so there is still a lot to come and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

This part was based on Havok’s Strange New Worlds theme and they just released what July-Decembers themes will be so I’ll be working on that during April. Trying to make it all mesh will be an adventure all on its own. If you’ve enjoyed reading Tovi’s story, feel free to share it or drop a comment below. If you are just now jumping into Woven Fate, you can catch up here. See you next month.

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A Writer’s Bookshelf

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This is not a typical book found on a writer’s bookshelf. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be a typical one found on my bookshelf as I don’t play video games. Just never really got into them. But, I do think of myself as a student of writing so learning how to write for video games is something I was willing to learn.

Evan Skolnick focuses on a lot of different aspects of writing for video games. I especially found it interesting how the story of the game and the mechanics need to work together to make an amazing experience. Another interesting part of this is how this can be challenging because often the story is secondary if not the last thing considered when creating a video game. Apparently, video game creators’ first consideration are the puzzles and mechanics of a game before the story. In fact, some writers can be brought in so late to the video game creation process that it is difficult to mesh the mechanics and a story. Skolnick does go on to discuss when the best time for the writer to come on board so the story and mechanic can work together. The book also shares some good and bad ideas on how to present the story in a video game as well as the challenges of writing. One last thing the writer does say is that if you want to be a video game writer is that you need to play video games. This makes sense (but makes it difficult for me to ever write a game as I don’t play them) because playing, like reading in the genre you wish to write in, will help you learn the good, the bad, and how to write for a game because of how much you experience through them.

So, even if you don’t regularly write for a particular area or style of writing, you can always learn something from what they have to offer. Even for video games though you don’t play them. If you are considering writing for video games, or just looking for a well written book on writing, this one is interesting and gives insight into the industry and various view points of a creation team working to produce a story and interactive game.

Woven Fate: Part 2 – Wanted

Woven Fate 1

Tovi bounced from toe to toe. Lifting a knife, he watched the wheel spin around, the dummy attached to it a blur of limps. The colors swirled, causing his eyes to cross.

Deep breath. Calm down. Just focus on the target. Crouching, Tovi drew his arm back and tossed the blade. With a thunk, it landed in the wooden wheel between the dummies arm and leg. Half smiling, Tovi lifted another knife and threw again. The next three throws found their mark. Flipping the blade back and forth in his hand, Tovi spun around before tossing the fourth blade, no longer able to control his smile. It landed just under the dummies armpit.

As he lifted a fifth knife, he considered this trick with Makani. Could he charge around the wheel and still hit his target? And who would be on the wheel? Adish? Nalani? As he pulled his hand back, Tovi saw for a moment Adish strapped to the wheel, spinning. A blue of wood and limbs. As he released the knife, Tovi’s arm tensed and his hand shook as he saw the blade miss and finding another target.

The knife sunk into the dummies elbow. Grimacing, Tovi stepped back and let the wheel slow to a standstill.

“I think it needs work.” Nalani sat on a hair bale, her chin on her hands with a teasing smile on her lips.

“Just… trying something new.”

“Yeah, your routine is getting boring.”

Chuckling, Tovi shook his head and retrieved his knives.

“So what happened?”

Tovi looked at the dummy. “I start to worry about what will go wrong. I see it happen. Then… I tense up and…” He gestured to the elbow.

“Because you are afraid of something going wrong, it does.”

Tovi flipped a knife and bit his cheek. “Yeah, that’s about it.”

Nalani nodded. Jumping of her seat in a shower of hay roused by her wings, she glided up to him. “We’re headed into the village. What to come?”

Sucking in a breath, he turned away from her. I hate visiting villages. “No thanks.”

“You’ve turned us down at the last three.”

“Well… I’ve got to stop killing Strawman over there.”

“He’ll be fine for a few hours. Come. What are you avoiding?”

“I’m not avoiding anything.”

“Then why won’t you come?”

Tovi sighed. Villages made him nervous. But he couldn’t tell her why. “Okay.”

Nalani jumped and ran off waving to Adish.

Sighing, he replaced the knives and followed.

A gust of wind blew into his back and he glanced behind. Mount Rivers towered several leagues away but it seemed to loom over him. He’d been noticing it more. It had hovered around him since he was a child but had avoided it. The mountain was known to be the home of the prophetess Asami. It had taken a while but eventually he heard it was she who had woven his tapestry. He’d considered going to her and asking why she’d done that but was afraid what the answer might be. So he skirt the mountain but, lately, it seemed to be calling to him. Like something was reaching out and trying to pull him there.

“Tovi.” Nalani waved to him. “Come on.”

Gritting his teeth, he checked the wrapping around his eye, making sure it was tight before joining them.

Nalani wasted no time finding the main market area. Stalls lined the streets, selling everything from food, to cloth, to candles.

“Oh, look at those.” Nalani ran up to a stall selling scarves and other clothing. Picking up a few pieces, she held them up and turned to show them to the boys.

“I’m not looking at clothes all day,” Adish said, his shoulders sagging like he was about to melt into the ground.

Nalani rolled her eyes and put the fabric back. “There is a food stall just that way.”

The fire in Adish seemed to rekindle as he straightened up and wondered in the direction Nalani pointed. Almost starting a fire between his hands as he rubbed them together, the wondered over to look at the options.

A tug on Tovi’s trousers stopped him. A young boy stood there, looking up at him. A few feet away hiding behind a post were several other children all watching the boy.

“Are you the horse performer?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I want to shoot like you someday and ride horses.”

Tovi smiled. “Great. Practice and you’ll get there.”

A woman and man walked over to them, the woman with an apologetic smile. “I’m so sorry. I hope he isn’t bothering you.”

“No, he’s find.”

“What happened to your eye?” the boy asked.

The child’s mother pocked him in the back.

Chuckling, Tovi said, “Well…” then sobered and laid his hand on the wrappings, “there is a price for practicing.”

The boy’s friends screamed, scurrying away as they laughed.

The parents chuckled and lead the boy away with waves and “Thanks yous,”. Tovi felt a little bad freaking the kids out but it was the best way to get off the topic. It also taught them to be careful. At least, he hoped it did.

From the corner of his eye, Tovi hesitated. To the left was a sign board, filled with notices from the lord or crown. With halting steps, he wondered over to it. One was about a tax raise. Another was concerning an upcoming festival. There. Front and center. Wanted. Criminal of the Crown. Identifiable by two colored eyes. Reward. Dead or alive.

Absently, he rubbed his hands. The noise from the street faded to a thrumming rumble as the blood pounded past his ears. This was why he never liked going to the villages.

“What are you looking at?”

Tovi jumped, nearly nocking into Adish on his other side as he turned to Nalani. She handed him a stick with squares of meat on it as she ate from hers.

“Look.” Adish pointed to the sign about the festival. “Maybe we could stay a little longer and perform. The village will have visitors and we could get a big audience.”

“Yeah.” Tovi glanced at Nalani but she wasn’t looking at the festival but at the wanted sign.

“I guess he’s still out there.”

Tovi took a bite from his stick but felt he was going to choke on it.

“You wouldn’t think he would be that hard to find,” she said.

“He’s like any other criminal,” Adish said. “He will stay hidden tills he’s ready. Then strike.”

“I’ve been hearing about him since I was a child.” Nalani wrapped her arms and wings around herself. “I always feared I would wake up one day and everything would be on fire.”

Tovi swallowed and looked down, biting his lip.

“Don’t worry,” Adish waved his hand and consumed it with fire, “if he comes anywhere near us, I’ll take care of him.”

Tovi nocked Adish’s hand away and stepped back from the board. “Let’s check out the rest of the market.”

He was stopped short when he collided with something solid and movable. Falling to his knees, he glanced behind him to see a villager sprawled out on the ground.

“I am so sorry.” Tovi reached out to the young man.

“Get away.” With the back of his hand, he slapped Tovi’s hands away and got up shakily to his feet. “Watch where you going.”

Backing a way, Tovi raised his hands. “Sorry.”

The young man was about the same age. Dressed mostly in brown, patched clothes stained with dirt and grass, he must have been a farmer. Large arms and tanned skin supported the hypothesis. But it was the scowling eyes under long, brown hair that made Tovi back up.

“You’re that archer. Think you are some sort of hot shot that everyone should get out of the way for.”

Tovi pointed behind him to Adish. “Actually, he’s the hot shot—” He stumbled back as the man pushed him.

“Making fun of me know. Maybe someone who works for his bread should show you what you’re really worth.”

White, feathered wings filled Tovi’s vision.

“That’s enough.” Nalani said.

“Get out of my way.” The man’s hand reached back.

With a sweep of his arm, Tovi knocked Nalani to the left, letting the man’s hand come down on him, knocking him to the ground. With a role, Tovi got back to his feet and crouched as the man charged. The man swung at him but Tovi ducked, causing him to spin around. Villagers laughed at the blunder which only aggravate him more. With a roar, he grabbed Tovi’s hair with both hands and kicked him in the gut. Air rushing from his lungs, Tovi fell to his knees where the man tossed into the dirt. Shaking his head, Tovi tried to clear the pain of his torn hair and prepare for the man’s next strike. Scrambling to a knee, he waited for a charge.

But the man stood there, eyes wide. Lifting a shaking finger, he stuttered, “Two eyes.” In the man’s hand was his wrapping.

Tovi reached up. The fabric was gone and both his eyes were visible.

“Two eyes. Two eyes!” the man said again, louder each time.

People were staring at him, turning to see what the man was talking about. Several gasped and covered their mouths as they stumbled back. Nalani stared at him, her eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

“Guards! Guards! It’s him. It’s the destroyer,” the man he’d been fighting shouted. Other voices joined in from his left and right, calling down the alleys and streets.

Tovi scrambled to his feet. He had to get out of here. But there was people everywhere. Clattering came from behind him.

“Hold,” a guard yelled.

For a second, Tovi considered grabbing one of his knives.

Arms wrapped around his waist, clamping his arms to his side. Next he was in the air, above the tree tops and soaring away from the village. Gulping, he tried not the throw up as they flew towards the field where the troupe was camped. A moment later, they landed gently next to his tent where Makani had been grazing. Tovi stumbled and fell to his knees as his legs shook.

“They’ll be here soon,” Nalani said.

Tovi struggled to stand. “Why did you…”

Nalani couldn’t look him in the eye but would glance at him before looking away. “You’ve always been a friend. But…” She fidgeted with her dress. “I don’t know what to think.”

Tovi bit his cheek and nodded.

“I’ll get everyone to go. You get out of here.”

Before he could stop her, she had taken flight and was gone. They had to run because of him. The troupe was in danger because of him. And Nalani. The guards had seen her. Seen her help him. Would she be wanted too? And what would the troupe think when they found out? Everything he’d worked for, all that he had, was gone.

Cursing, he kicked the dirt and paced. He couldn’t live like this anymore. What could he do?

Makani nickered and nudged his cheek. With a snort, the stallion looked behind him.

Over the trees, he saw Mount Rivers. The prophetess. She would know what to do. How he could change his fate. She wove it. Perhaps she would know how to unweave it. Maybe if his fated change, he could protect his friends. Be free. Go home.

Running into his tent, he tossed clothes into a bag and gathered his bow and arrows. Charging back outside, he tied the bag to the saddle and mounted. Skipping the main roads, he turned the stallion towards the woods. Tovi urged Makani into a gallop. The mountain had won. He was going to face his future.

***

Author’s Note

So I’m a bit behind from where I wanted to be but I still got this up in February. The theme this month was Answering the Call so it worked well for an inciting incident to get Tovi to go on his journey to change the prophesy.

Honestly, this whole section was rewritten over the last two weeks. It was completely different in the first draft but I like this better because it gives the chance to get to know Nalani and Adish more than the previous draft. Some parts might still be a little rough so I’ll have to work on them more in the future but this is much better than it was. Next month is Strange New Worlds and we get to meet new characters and learn more about the prophesy. I’ll also share a little about how I was inspired to use a tapestry as a way of prophesying.

What have you enjoyed about the story so far? What do you hope to see in the future? Share in the comments below.

Backlog

Backlog

Do you have more stories than you know what to do with? So do I. There are ones I wrote for a particular publication or theme and never got them submitted. When writing a story for a specific contest or publication, I don’t always finish the piece before submissions close. While I wish everything I’d written I had been able to submit, there is still a plus to having a large collection of unpublished stories.

Last year I partook in a challenge for Havok editors (it was also open to the public but I mostly knew other editors who were participating) to write a story for each genre per theme (60 stories total). Being a writer and the themes being so fun with Havok, we still wanted to write stories for the themes. I took a little easier approach and just did one story within one of the genres per theme (grand total would be 12 stories). We called it the Gauntlet. Now, a couple of these stories were published but being an editor with the publisher limited how many of them could be sent in for consideration. That left a lot of stories written with no home. But that’s okay because it creates something that can be important for a writer: backlog. 

Having a backlog as a writer might not seem good but let me explain why this can benefit a writer, especially with short stories or pieces that could be sent to an anthology or magazine. Now, instead of always having to find a new idea, I have a finished or partially finished story written and ready to be sent when a new opportunity comes up. And new opportunities do come up.

Example. I’m recently was working on a story I originally wrote as a poem, then adapted into a short story (can’t remember why I chose to do this), and polished it to submit for consideration to an anthology. The due date isn’t until April but because it was already several drafts in, I could focus on polishing it up and sent it in a week or two ago. That moves a lot fast than when you have to come up with a story, write it, edit it, then send it in. Sometimes the biggest thing is to tweak the story to fit the requirements of the new publication you’re submitting too.

You may be wondering how this works if a story is written according to a particular theme. Honestly, it still works. What I’ve found when writing is even though a story is written to a theme doesn’t mean it won’t work for something else. One idea can work for several themes. More than once while editing for Havok, I’ll be editing or writing a story towards one theme and can see how it would also work for another theme. Sometimes the story would just need to be tweaked or emphasized here instead of there to fit a different theme.

If you have a story that was written but didn’t get a chance to be submitted to the planned publisher or was rejected, hold on to it. Work on it. Tweak it. A new opportunity will come up. And, when it does, you’ll have a story in your back pocket to polish and send. And still have time for cookies.

Woven Fate: Part 1 – The Charging Arrow

Woven Fate 1

Seven Years Later…

Tugging on the wrapping around his left eye, Tovi watched from behind the wagon as Adish spun his flaming staff. The orange and red fire on either end swirled, creating the illusion of a continuous circle. Adish twirled in place, still spinning the staff at top speed, creating loops and rings and spires of fire encompassing him. With a jerk, he stopped and bowed. Tovi blinked away the light spots in his eyes from focusing on the glowing flames.

“Adish, the Keeper of Flame!” Ringmaster Traveler declared.

The crowd of villagers clapped and smiled, hopping on their toes in excitement.

Tovi regripped the reins and took a deep breath. Even after three years, he was still jittery before a show. Calm down and don’t flop.

“And now,” Traveler bent low to the crowd, hesitating as he looked each member of the audience in the eye, “the man who cannot miss a shot! The Charging Arrow!”

Tovi and Makani bolted around the troupe’s wagon as Adish blew on the end of his staff, casting fire onto a large hoop. The flames spread around it as Makani jumped through the ring.

Raising his bow, Tovi knocked an arrow and aimed at a target help by a member of the troupe, releasing seconds later. Before it had sunk into the target, he directed Makani with his knees as he knock another arrow and they charged towards another target.

The second arrow hit the center. Spinning it between his hands, the troupe member turned that target around and held a finger up to his lips. The crowd laughed as it looked like Tovi hadn’t hit his target. But the joke was on him as he didn’t see Tovi knock and release another arrow, thudding into the target’s center again. The man jumped back with the sudden strike. Holding up the target so the audience could see both sides, two arrows stuck out of it, perfectly even with each other. With “oohs” and “awes”, the audience clapped.

Tovi and Makani thundered up to the last target.

“Last one folks,” Traveler announced.

Bitting the corner of his mouth to keep from smiling, Tovi leaned forward in the saddle, the appearance of charging the last target, as he brought his feet forward. Makani braced his legs and skidded to a stop, tossing Tovi dramatically forward and onto the horse’s neck, mock falling, as he wrapped his arms and legs around and hung underneath.

Children and adults laughed at his predicament. Taking overdramatic breaths, Tovi reached down one leg to get off while applying pressure with his fingers. Makani started walking backward. With one foot almost on the ground, Tovi hopped after the horse before tripping over his own feet and falling face first in the dirt. Wondering a few steps away, Makani began grazing.

The snicker from the crowd made it hard for Tovi not to smile. But, with a clamped jaw and stomping to his feet, he got up and brushed the dirt away before striding over to Makani. Taking the reins, he put a foot in the stirrup, glanced back to make sure the horse wasn’t moving, then swung into the saddle. He pulled Makani towards the last target. With a shake of his head, the horse continued to graze. Tightening his muscles, Tovi regretted making this part of his routine, and kicked. Rearing up and kicking, Makani tossed Tovi up and off his back, crashing into the ground again and this time getting winded.

A cry of sympathy pain as well as laughs rose up from the audience as Tovi regained his breath and climbed back to his feet. Checking behind him, feigning secrecy, he whispered in Makani’s ear and pointed at the audience. Shaking his mane again, the horse continued to graze. Glancing about again, Tovi dug some oats out of his pocket. The horse perked up and consumed the oats. Taking the reins once more, Tovi jumped up onto Makani’s back and turned him back to the target.

They galloped towards the final target hanging from a tree branch and higher than the last two. As Tovi knocked an arrow and took aim, the troupe member holding the string gave a jerk, pulling the target higher just as Tovi released the arrow. The crowd yelled at the injustice of the failed shot but the arrow sailed throw the air and into the string holding it, cutting it in half. The target fell as Tovi scrambled to knock another arrow and take aim. He fired as the target flipped end over end, striking two feet from the ground. It spun wildly and crashed. The troupe member went over and picked up the target, holding it above his head for them all to see. The arrow struck the bullseye.

The crowd burst into applause and cheers.

“Tovi and Makani, the Charging Arrow,” cried the ringmaster as they road to the front in front of the wagon, centered under the words Traveler’s Traveling Troupe painted in black letters on the side, waving to the crowd. “Never misses a shot but needs to remember to feed his horse before a show.”

Howling with laughter, the crowd roared and clamped as they took a bow.

“And now, please welcome the Enchanting Beauty, Nalani!”

Tovi tapped slightly with his heal. Makani reared up and whinnied as a burst of feathers shot into the sky. With a swirl, white wings flew out on either side of a golden haired woman. A large skirt flared around her as she floated and began her sky dance.

As all eyes turned towards the next performance, Tovi quietly turned Makani towards the back of the wagon. Once out of sight, he dismounted and rubbed the spot where he’d landed when Makani tossed him.

“Great performance.” Adish leaned against the back of the wagon, his staff laying across his arms. “But you might need some new material, old man.”

Tovi chuckled then groaned. “You might be right. Great job, by the way. For a second I thought you were going to burst into flames yourself.”

Adish help up his hand and flames flickered over his fingers. “Maybe I will someday.”

Holding up his hands to block himself, Tovi leaned away. “Stay away from me, hot head.”

Leaving Adish laughing, Tovi wondered away from the wagon to the water trough, the cheers of the crowd dimming. Makani dove in as he rubbed the horse’s neck. “Great job, boy.”

Turning to the trough, Tovi saw himself through the ripples, sweat beading on his forehead and half his face hidden behind the wrapping around his eye. His hand shaking, he removed the wrapping. Blue and green eyes reflected back at him in the water. With a sigh, he scooped up some water and splashed his flushed face. Keeping his hands over his face, he sighed again.

Makani nickered and tapped his nose on Tovi’s elbow. Giving a half smile, Tovi leaned against the horse’s neck and stroked the black and white pattern. “Great job, boy.”

“You were great out there.”

Jumping, Tovi hurriedly wrapped the cloth around his eye and turned to Nalani. She was beautiful, like Traveler introduced to her. In her white dress and feather wings that wrapped around her like a cloak, she looked like an otherworldly creature come to grace the land.

“Hey. Um, thanks.”

With a huff and shake of her head, Nalani said, “You don’t have to wear that thing, you know.” She paused. “I don’t know what you’re hiding but you don’t have to from me.”

Sure. Not from you or the rest of Elandra. He had heard the whispers among the troupe. It had become a tossup between scares and a missing eye so must let him keep it covered without discussing it.

She reached into the trough and got some water which she rubbed on her neck. “I don’t care how bad it is. I’ll be here for you.” With a gentle smile, she pushed away from the trough and walked back towards the wagon and the clapping crowd.

Tugging off the sloppy wrap, Tovi looked back into the trough. After a moment, he hung his head. If you saw, would you still stand beside the villain of Elandra?

***

Author’s Note

I hoped you enjoyed Tovi and Makani’s performance. This section is based on Dynamic Duos of Havok’s Season 3 themes, Bingeworthy. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m enjoying seeing Tovi and Makani develop as well as their friends. You saw Makani from the Prologue but that was before he had a name. As you can see, time has passed since then and Tovi is trying to find a way to live but can’t reach out to others for fear of the prophecy. How the prophecy is following him and still affecting his life will come up more in Part 2 next month so stay tuned as his story is just getting started.

Did you enjoy today’s edition? Was there a question or thought you would like to share? Do you have any thoughts on what will happen next? Feel free to drop a comment below and follow the blog or my Facebook Page to hear when Part 2 goes up in February.

Woven Fate – Prologue

Woven Fate 1

Da, where are you? Tovi fiddled with his mug, sloshing the milk as he rolled it on its edge. It had been three days. Why had his father made him run? He wrapped his cloak a little tighter around his shoulders.

The tavern owner knocked on the table. “Hey, kid.”

Tovi looked up.

With a jump, the man stepped back then shook his head. “I’ll never get used to those.” He tapped his finger under his eyes.

Blinking one eye closed then the other, Tovi alternated between his right blue and the left green eyes. “What do you mean, Axel?”

He chuckled. “Want some more?”

“Yes, please.”

The man shook his head. “Most kids your age would try to sneak a little ale when they parents aren’t looking.”

“I’m not most kids.” Tovi shrugged.

“Speaking of your da?” the owner trailed off.

Tovi sat up a little straighter. “He’s coming.”

“Mm hum.” After filling his mug, Axel wondered away.

Swinging his legs, Tovi glanced back towards the door. Taking out his money bag, he counted what he had left. How much longer until his father show up? If wasn’t careful, he’d run out of money. Axel had been kind about it so far. Saying something cost one thing when Tovi knew it was another. The tavern owner was practically letting the horse stay in the stable for free.

The horse. That was the other mystery; why his father let him take the black and white he was training for the prince? Probably should consider giving it a name to call it more than horse. Tovi’s snorted as he thought back to the conversation with Prince Noach where he asked if he could name it. The prince teased him that he was making the horse his own, stealing it before his eyes. It was the afternoon before his father made him run. With a nod, he decided to wait. Might as well not confuse the poor animal before they went home.

But how long would that be? Tovi’s head hurt from all the questions that kept chasing each other. Rubbing his hand through his hair, he took a drink of his milk.

“Did you hear about the uproar at the castle a few night ago?”

Tovi glanced at two patrons sitting at the bar. Axel was filling mugs but also glancing at the men as they talked.

“You mean that great banquet the prince was throwing?” said one man with messy beared.

“So happens the prince commissioned a tapestry to commemorate the event.”

“Tapestry?” Axel interjected. “One of those haven’t been woven for the royal family since the prince was born.”

“Apparently he thought a glimpse into the future was the best way to celebrate the defeat of Dallown.”

“Aye, that was a spectacular battle.”

The news bearer picked up his mug. “Bet he never guessed it would show the fall of Elandra.”

The mug in Axel’s hand slipped, clattering on the counter as the bearded man jumped. “What?”

Tovi gasped and leaned over the arm of his chair to hear better.

Taking a sip of his ale, the news bearer set his mug back down. “The tapestry showed the castle in ruins. With a lone figure standing over it. Darkness surrounded all as fire consumed the ruins.”

The other man ground his fist into the counter. “Villain. If I ever find the man, I’ll take his head and deliver it to the prince myself.”

“You might get your chance,” the man went on. “The figure had a unique look to him.” He pointed to his eyes. “He had two colored eyes.”

Hand shaking, Tovi reached towards his own. Two colored? That tapestry wasn’t predicting him. He wouldn’t do that. Why would he? But… his father had been at the banquet. That was the same night he made him run.

Tovi looked towards the bar. And met the gaze of Axel.

Slowly the man leaned closer to the patrons, still watching Tovi. “What color were those eyes?”

Uh oh. Pulling up the hood of his cloak, Tovi stood and moved towards the back of the tavern, avoiding looking at anyone else.

Stepping out the back door, he ran for the barn. Inside, he unbolting the stall door where the stallion slept and saddled him. As he swung the saddle bags on the horse’s back, he realized all his clothes were in the room he’d rented. For a second, he thought about going back. Then considered passing through the common room. And the news of the tapestry. Shaking his head, he grabbed his bow and quiver from the wall in the stall and led the horse outside.

Axel and the two man stood outside the tavern door. The bearded men was rubbing a fist into his other hand while the news bearer grinned. But Axel just looked scared.

Tovi stepped back.

Holding up his hands, Axel said, “It’s okay. We just want to talk.”

The men stepped towards him.

Tovi towards the horse, struggling to get his foot in the stirrup but the stallion was too tall. One of the men grabbed him and pulled him down. Kicking his legs, the man tossed Tovi to the ground. Landing in the dirt, he coughed as the wind was knocked from him.

With a ringing neigh, the horse reared up and knocked his front hooves into the man sending backward. As the new bearer man ran up, the horse twisted around and kicked out his hind legs, striking the man in the gut.

While the two patrons groaned in pain, Tovi scrambled up and got on the horse. The tavern owner ran towards him.

Struggling to hold the reigns as his hands quaked, Tovi held his arm out to the side, raised it, and said, “Hup.”

The horse sprang up off all four hooves and kicked out his hind legs. The tavern owner skidded to a stop just in time not to be struck. With a click of his tongue, Tovi signaled the horse who charged around the tavern and into the street. Gripping the pommel, it took all his strength to stay on the horse as he pulled on the reigns to direct it down the street and out of the village.

They didn’t stop until they were well into the forest. When he did pull up, Tovi dropped to the ground and braced himself on his knees, gasping for breath. Why would he do those things the men said he would? He didn’t want to hurt anyone. This was why is father sent him away, why he tried to sneak Tovi out of the castle. Touching the skin below his eye, Tovi’s heart squeezed, feeling like he couldn’t get enough air.

His da wasn’t coming. Or he couldn’t come. Was he in trouble because he helped him? Was he okay?

Standing straighter on shaking legs, Tovi knew he couldn’t stay there. But he couldn’t be seen in the villages either. Climbing back on the stallion, he turned off the path and into the tangled forest, disappearing into the brush.

***

Author’s Note

The jump-kick the stallion did in the story is a real move. I got the idea from a short video I once saw on Facebook. The video sounded like it was filmed during a medieval-like competition or show and historically the move was used in defense during battle. It was so cool I wanted to use it in a story. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the original video I saw to share but I did find other videos featuring it. I also learned the move’s name: capriole. Here is a video of the jump (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUJ6YLyysLE). The original video I saw it in was when the horse was being ridden so it can be done from the saddle. I made up the hand gesture.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Tovi and will come back next Sunday when the story starts matching Havok’s themes.

2020 Blog Project

Hello readers. So sorry for the lack of posting in December and most of January. The holidays took a lot of time away and then it just continued to slid by. I had wanted to talk about last year’s writing and reading habits (if you would still be interested in a post like that, drop a comment below) and then, with the new year, talk about plans for this year. Well, this post will talk about a big project I plan for this year (something I wanted to announce last month but, as stated, holidays).

With the start of this month, I will be releasing a novel in twelve parts (chapters) on this blog, from January to December. I’ve heard of others doing this before but was inspired to add an additional challenge from a writing challenge I did last year.

For about a year and a half now, I’ve been volunteering with Havok Publishing, first as an editor and now with the marketing department. Because so many who volunteer are also writers, we set up a writing challenge for those in house to try and write a story for each theme in each genre (I took a smaller challenge in only writing one story per theme in a one of Havok’s genres which would make it twelve stories in total.) I was two stories short of accomplishing it but it was fun. A story or two into the challenge, I started thinking how fun it would be to write a story where each story would flow into the next to make a cohesive whole. So, I decided I would do that this year with Havok’s 2020 themes. That is how this new blog story is going to work.

So, before much more, lets take a look at some of the guidelines:

  1. Each part will corispond with Havok’s monthly theme in the order that they appear (Part 1 with have a Dynamic Due, Part 2 will be Answering a call, etc).
  2. Because the story will be one whole story and will have to build a little more than a flash fiction piece, each section can be 2,000 words long.

Next, what are Havok’s themes this year?

  • January – Dynamic Duo
  • February – Answering the Call
  • March – Strange New Worlds
  • April – End of the World as We Know It
  • May – Super Duper
  • June – The One Thing

Each part of the story will emphasis these themes will also creating a whole and complete story. Now, you might be asking, “That’s only six themes. This is supposed to go the whole year. Where are the last six?”

Great question. And the answer is Havok hasn’t released the next six months of themes so I don’t know. Really, I don’t know completely know where the second half of the story is going to go (part of the challenge) but I have some ideas so getting those to work will be fun. The first half of this blog story is already written (NaNoWriMo 2019) and just need some editing which will be done as they are released.

Part of the prep work for this story, I also read How to Blog A Book by Nina Amir. While the book focused more on blogging a non-fiction book, there were some take aways that I’ll be using for this story. One of which is exclusive content. I hope to compile and self-publish this story when it is finished. So, while the main story will be on the blog, there will be additional content for the finished, published book that will expound upon and broaden the story and world.

I hope you come along on this journey with me this year and enjoy the story. Now, to tell you all what this story is about!

Woven Fate 1

A prophecy foretold a man with two colored eyes would destroy the kingdom. Tovi is the only one with different colored eyes which has caused him to run since he was ten. Hiding among a traveling troupe of performers, he performs archery tricks on his horse, trying to live a normal life. But prophesy is always looming and when it causes him to run again, he set out on a quest to see if he can re-stitch his fate and out run those who hunt him for the person he may become. But can change the future or is he destined to become the man who doesn’t want to be?

I’m really excited for this story and I plan on publishing a prologue tomorrow to set the story and then Part 1 on Sunday the 26th. Stay tuned here and on Facebook to here about progress and new parts as they release!

Questions? Thoughts? Drop a comment and let me know what you think of the upcoming blog story, Woven Fate!