Creative bravery

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Happy Hump Day!

Meant to try to get something written up earlier in the week, but we all know how these things go. On the bright side, I’ve gotten some reading done and may or may not have found a new favorite book series.

Anyway, on to the prompt!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. I’m tempted to do a response for more than one of the prompts, but for now I’ll be working with “Creative bravery” as my inspiration.

Happy reading!

~~~

I’ve never been more grateful for mine and my family’s opposite schedules. Though spending the nights alone was beginning to get tiresome – and very depressing – it makes it much easier to keep the vampire attack a secret. Still, there’s that small window of time when we’re having dinner, and my palms get sweaty with the nerves. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like either of them notices my discomfort – my stepmother is too busy recounting some bit of news here or there, and my dad seems to be somewhere else entirely.

“I’m sorry – what were you saying?”

“I heard at the market today that there was some kind of animal attack in a neighboring village.” To be honest, I was hyper-focused on my food, so I missed that bit of news as well.

“What?” I find myself reacting without realizing it.

“Yes. There were a group of hunters out or something a couple of nights ago, and when they didn’t come back, another group went out to look for them. They say it was a grizzly scene – blood everywhere, and they were only able to recover one of the bodies. The other four are missing.” I can’t help but think of the vampire that attacked Layla – could it have been the same one? Or another?

“Do they have any idea what kind of animal it was?”

“I don’t know – they’re still investigating, trying to track whatever did it in hopes of finding the other bodies or maybe some survivors.” My stepmother shrugs. Do they suspect vampires at all?

It’s a relief when they finally retire for the night. My father warns me not to go out tonight, for fear of the animal that attacked those men, and I tell him I won’t. Still, I only wait about two hours after they’ve retreated to their room before grabbing my things – including that vampire’s hatchet – and heading out.

Unwilling to put myself in too much danger, though, I don’t stray very far. Really, I’m only out here in case Niklaus comes back. I can’t exactly risk him showing up inside my home. So I stay hidden at the edge of the forest, just far enough away that we can’t be overheard, but close enough that I can still keep an eye on the house. For the first time in longer than I care to admit, the night holds a very tangible danger. I’m not as comfortable in it as I was the night before, and I’m not sure I like that.

Lost in my own thoughts, I almost don’t hear the leaves rustling around me, despite the lack of wind. As soon as the sound registers in my mind, the hatchet is in my hand and I’m turning in place, eyes scanning the darkness of the trees for the source of the sound.

“It’s just me!” Nadya holds her hands up, eyes looking at the hatchet with extreme caution.

“Sorry.” I sigh, leaning back against the tree. “I assume Niklaus told you what happened?”

“Yes – he wanted to come back tonight but had to deal with the council, so he sent me instead.”

“Why? You didn’t have to.”

“He wants to make sure you’re safe.” So he sent her to protect me?

“So what, the two of you are going to take turns babysitting me?” She winces at that, but doesn’t respond. “This is stupid. None of this would be necessary if he didn’t send me away in the first place.”

“I know.”

For a moment, I’m so caught up in my annoyance that the attack my stepmom mentioned nearly slipped my mind. “Have you heard anything about another attack?”

“Another one?”

“A few nights ago, some men went missing in a neighboring village. No one seems to suspect vampires, but it’s too much of a coincidence.” Settling on the ground against the tree, I relayed the story to Nadya.

“Wonderful, just what we needed.” Her face twists into a grimace of disgust. “Maybe you should go back inside…”

A part of me wants to agree with her, but the other part – the one angry about being kicked out of the castle – refuses. “I’m fine. You’re here, right? Besides, I was able to kill that vampire last night.”

“True. Pretty impressive all things considered – you’re braver than most humans, you know. Stroke of genius, too, that arrow to the throat.” Her voice trails off, thoughtful for a moment, before her eyes focus again and she turns to look at me. “A bit messy, though, and severely inefficient.”

“Forgive me, I’m not an expert vampire hunter.” I roll my eyes, frustrated again. Hunting vampires has been illegal as long as hunting humans has been. No need when the peace agreement guaranteed our safety.

“Do you want to be?” Nadya’s voice is cautious, curious. “I could teach you.”

“What? Why would you want to teach me to hunt vampires?”

“Because if my lesser brethren have really started hunting humans, the peace agreements are off – and you need to be able to defend yourself if Nik or I can’t be there.” She turns thoughtful again – her eyes are far away, in a time I can’t even imagine. “I have a feeling things are about to get worse than they have been in a long time. Besides, you seem to have a natural talent for it, and you’re brash enough to try.”

I’ve heard stories of how bad it used to be – centuries before when we were little more than cattle to the vampires. They killed indiscriminately, and it was only when our numbers had dwindled so much that it put their population in danger that they finally realized how important it is to keep us alive. I can’t help but shudder at the thought of the vampires plowing through our villages and population like that again.

“Can’t hurt to know how to protect myself, I suppose.”

Nadya smiles, giving me a look that says she knew I wouldn’t be able to say no. “Ariella, vampire hunter. Kind of has a ring to it, doesn’t it?”

~~~

Well that took a turn. I feel like it’s been building to this for such a long time, and yet this still wasn’t where I pictured the story going when I first started it.

Oh well. Such is fate.

As always, think happy thoughts!

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#100WordChallenge – Secret

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Happy Thursday!

So last night, I accomplished what felt like an impossible task when I started – I made progress (actual progress, oh man!) on Withered Legacy. Can’t begin to describe how excited I am – I sat down for a whole hour and wrote nonstop, thanks to The Most Dangerous Writing App. It was the first time I was able to finish a session without losing my work, so hooray! My muse has been reinvigorated by this progress, meaning another session of panicked writing awaits me tonight!

Anyway, to break up the panic so all my writing doesn’t get done in stress-filled bursts, I’m cooling down with one of my usual prompts! This one happens to be Tara’s #100wordchallenge.

Prompt: Secret

~~~

I’ve never liked keeping secrets, not really. My whole life, I’ve tried to be an open book, and yet here I am – hiding my existence from most of my village and keeping the vampire attack on Layla, and my subsequent murder of said vampire, from my family. I wish I could at least tell my dad, but Niklaus asked and I can’t say no. Our situation is dangerous enough – I don’t need to make it worse.

Niklaus took the body – at least I didn’t have to deal with that. Still, finding the silver lining will only take me so far.

~~~

Ariella’s life sucks (ha! no pun intended) – but then again, it’s not like she’s the only one. Emma went through her fair share of issues, and Videl and Paola are currently no better off. Here’s hoping things start looking up for her soon.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Damned liberty

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Hello hello!

If you haven’t already seen, Reckoning now has a book trailer! Hooray! Check it out at the side bar, or here.

On to the post –

Today’s piece comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompts, as usual. For this one, I decided to go with the “Damned liberty” prompt, as it pretty accurately describes Ariella’s current situation. It serves as overall inspiration for the piece.

It’s a long one, so brace yourselves!

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#ThursThreads – Ready

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Happy Thursday!

Hope everyone’s week has been going well. Surprisingly enough, the writing continues! I’ve even gotten some reading done. Hooray!

Today’s post comes courtesy of ThursThreads. I was hoping to use the prompt to move forward with Ariella, but it was not meant to be.

Ptompt: I was ready.

CW: mentions of suicide

~~~

After a day, I was ready to be released from the hospital, desperate to get as far from that place as possible.

Max made themselves scarce during the time I spent with my dad, giving me little to focus on to distract from the sadness in my father’s eyes or the aid assigned to watch me. Then again, being hyper-aware of Max and the fact that I’d just come back from purgatory after apparently attempting suicide wasn’t a comforting alternative.

To be honest, I couldn’t remember much about what happened – only that I definitely wasn’t trying to kill myself. It was my word against what everyone saw, though. That meant being under watch until someone deemed me well enough to be sent home. I did my best to act normal, or as normal as I could given the circumstances. Max popping in now and again made that difficult and only reminded me of how messed up everything was. I couldn’t even ask the angel questions with my dad and the aid watching.

I lost count of the days it took to release me, but they eventually did. Unfortunately for me, being home wasn’t nearly as comforting as I would have hoped. When it came time to sleep in my own bed, I couldn’t bring myself to. My dad didn’t protest when I set up camp in the living room.

Nearly falling asleep to late night cartoons, I practically jumped out of my skin at Max popping up beside the TV.

~~~

Forever wondering where this is going.

Be sure to check out the rest of the responses – there’s always good stuff out there to read.

As always, think happy thoughts!

#100WordChallenge – Letter

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Happy Hump Day!

It’s been a slow week here, I know. On the bright side, I’ve gotten a lot (by my standards) done on Withered Legacy. After a few months of not writing anything, I wrote quite a bit yesterday and I’ve got steam left over to keep going! In the meantime, updates here will be sporadic and continue to depend on prompts.

Today’s post comes courtesy of Tara’s #100WordChallenge.

Prompt: Letter

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The house is shrouded in silence when I get back, dawn a couple of hours away. Though I can’t sleep, I retreat to my room. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the solitude of being the only one awake at night, and yet a part of me refuses to readjust to human hours.

“Ariella?” My father – tired and groggy – sits up from my bed.

“You didn’t have to wait.”

“I wanted to.” A yawn. “Here – this came for you.” He holds out a wax-sealed letter.

“From who?” My stomach turns – Niklaus wouldn’t actually write me letters, would he?

~~~

I’m struggling (as always) with how to get this story to the next plot point. Here’s hoping future prompts set me up for it.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Calloused Caretaker

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Hello!

This week we will continue to ride the angst train until I figure out a way to resolve Niklaus and Ariella’s problems. For now, enjoy the suffering of one of my favorite couples.

Today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. For this one, I picked the “Calloused caretaker” prompt. Nothing better for a broken heart than to have a tough parent rub salt into the wound.

Here we go!

~~~

It’s only been a week since Soren brought me home (is it really home? I’m not sure anymore). I’ve yet to adjust to regular human hours again, and I don’t think I can. The few hours I do spend awake that overlap with the others at home have been filled with a combination of pitying glances (from my father) and annoyed looks (from my stepmother).

They think I don’t notice, but it’s kind of hard not to, when it’s all I see before they retreat for the evening or before I turn in for the day. My father, to my relief, has allowed me to adjust on my own. He’s giving me all the time I need to come to terms with what’s happened. The same can’t be said about my stepmother. Always the pragmatist, she constantly brings up how I should be pulling my weight around the house.

Tonight is no different.

“Honestly, Ariella, all this moping is getting old.” I’m doing my best not to lash out at her – after all, she is my dad’s wife and commands some of my respect. Not to mention that I know her annoyance with me comes from a place of caring – she’s not heartless. And, to an extent, I do understand where she’s coming from. This is getting me nowhere but I can’t bring myself to do anything about it. “You should be glad to be rid of the leeches.”

Funny, I once would have called them leeches, too. They were monsters in a faraway castle back then. “I know. I’m sorry.”

It’s the first time I’ve responded to her reprimands, and this seems to catch her off-guard. Even so, it’s not enough to get her to stop. “Then start acting like it.”

She dumps my crossbow (I hadn’t even noticed that Nadya thought to include it in my things) and some hunting gear on the table in front of me.

“What’s this?”

“I need you to go out and gather some things for me, herbs mostly.”

“I’m not supposed to be interacting with the rest of the village…” According to Soren, Niklaus (I try not to grit my teeth at the thought of his name – I fail) thinks it best so as to reduce the chances of the council finding out – it annoys me that I agree. Not to mention that they’re almost all closing up shop by now anyway.

“I don’t need you to go to the shops.” She rummages for a sheet of parchment in her apron and hands it to me. “You can find the herbs in the forest. And maybe catch us something to eat other than this dry meat from the market.” She wrinkles her nose at our supply closet.

It’s not like I can refuse – being confined to the house hasn’t exactly been helping – so I nod and retreat to my room to change. Unlike Niklaus’ clothes, my hunting outfit doesn’t need any adjusting to fit me properly. Once it’s on, I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try hunting. I feel comfortable for the first time since getting back to the village.

“Try to be a little easier on her.” My father’s voice floats through the door. I stop what I’m doing and inch closer to hear better. “She’s clearly distraught over what happened.”

“She can’t just mope forever.  It’ll get her nowhere, and it’ll be impossible for her to move on. Really. She’s a grown woman and should be acting like it – not like a lovesick little girl.” I flinch at the ice in my stepmother’s voice. Makes me wonder if she’s ever had her heart broken. “Ariella can’t confine herself to this house forever – I don’t care what that stupid vampire says. Eventually, she’ll have to pick herself up and go to another village and start a new life. You think she’s equipped to do that now? You think she’ll ever be able to at this rate?”

Rather than let my father respond, I step out of my room. Of course, I know that’s what I’ll have to do, but it doesn’t hurt any less hearing her say it like it should be the easiest thing in the world. The tension in the room is palpable, and I avoid both their gazes, keeping my head down and gathering my things. Neither of them say anything, even though I can feel my father’s need to apologize and my stepmother’s urge to drive her point home.I sling the crossbow over my shoulder and put on my cloak.

“I’ll be back by dawn.”

Holding the sheet of paper tight in one hand, I shove the back door with more force than I need to, slamming it open before disappearing into the night.

~~~

So I’m finally starting to get an idea of what may or may not bring her back in contact with the vamps. We’ll see. Feel free to leave comments/feedback/suggestions on where you want the story to go! I’m always all ears 🙂

As always, think happy thoughts!

Gifted grievings

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Hello!

Today you’ll be getting a barrage of posts because I’m playing some hardcore catch-up. I went camping last weekend and have struggled to get back into the swing of things since then. This was supposed to go up Monday – three guesses how that went.

Anyway, this is post one in a series of three that will go up today. For this post, I’ll be using Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt. The prompt, “Gifted grievings,” serves as inspiration for the following snippet of A Vampire’s Bride.

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