Friday, August 7, 2015

Quote Queste

so, now that it is time for next month's challenge, I finally join Miss Melody Muffin's July QQ as I semi-promised her I would. ah, me. (when did August happen. when. how.) Thank you, Lody, for giving me an actual scene in my story, and one which I was entirely not expecting. XD The credit for this bit goes all to you.




Also, I feel like perhaps Imperfecta deserves a word of explanation. 
The story started with a scene of a boy asking a doctor why he had worked so hard to save him at birth, because the world would have been better off without him. It was pseudo-historical fiction about a boy who everyone saw as cursed trying to find a reason to live. 

From there it began morphing into a story dealing with racism and family and love...but something was missing. I think at this point I have found the missing piece, and I'm pretty sure it's fantasy. 
[Or fantasy-feeling sci-fi. Because instead of dealing with aliens like sci-fi can, it's dealing with legends (particularly Scottish)...but not how fantasy normally deals with them. As in, there are fae - elves, brownies, whatever else they have been called in the old stories - but they are not part of our world, but in another dimension...and their limited ability to interact with our world explains the knowledge of them and the lack of their actual presence and a lot of other things, like second sight. Can you scientifically explain a myth? I'll find out. XD] 
Exactly how I will deal with the spiritual aspect I have not yet decided...but really, it is kind of a reaction against what I have seen of popular culture's desire to be more than human. Or, I should say, the story comes more from a massive desire to show the incredible value that humans, as humans, have, and what an awesome thing it is to have been created by the God that made the universe. What is it that makes humans love, or want to be, vampires, were-wolves, wizards, super-heroes, etc? 
As much as I adore my genetically modified assassin characters in Contract to Time Travel, I found myself coming up against the same trouble. While I don't think it's wrong to have characters more than human (if only to show why genetic modification is a bad idea...), I found myself wanting something that focused more on the miracle of being alive and the beauty and the tragedy of being human, in the midst of shattered family and senseless hate, as well as friendship, sacrifice, and love. 
It's not often that a story's themes appear so early in the writing process, and I'm not sure how that will affect the story, but I'm curious. So we'll see. XD



~*~*~

   "Do you wish to drive me fully insane?"
   Perhaps he already was.
   The fae king's laughter echoed through his mind at the thought. Perhaps? Either you are and have been since first you heard my voice or you are not. There is no perhaps, my dear.
   The heir to the Westmoore house and lands was wholly familiar with the way darkness amplified the thoughts and feelings of the day, but he sat upright in bed with a savagery that surprised even himself. "Let. Me. Sleep."
    But surely you have learned the legends of this land?
    "Do you exist then merely to make legends truth?" The amount of scorn he managed to infuse into his voice would have been almost satisfying if he had any hope that it would even faintly ruffle the calm of that untouchable creature.
   Ah, no. We are the truth of legends. Can you not feel it? 
   This time he did not answer, but instead buried his face in his hands, pressing fingers brutally against his burning eyes.
   Surely you have heard the saying. 'When sleep at night you cannot find, awake you are in another's mind.' Do you not wish to know who it is who dreams of you?
   Somehow the worst of it was that he could not lash out that it was all false. There was truth there, somewhere, and it was truth that would hurt him, else the king would not now torment him with it. But he laughed, throwing himself back against his pillow. "Does not his Honor dream of strangling me every night? And you have only now chosen to use it against me?"
    The king laughed with him, and he hated the sheer beauty of that laughter as he had never hated it before. But in the space that followed there was silence in his mind and he took a slow breath, hoping against hope that the king had wearied of this game. 
   The next breath would have seen him sleeping, but before he took it, birds began chirping. He glanced toward the door, confused that robins would be up already, wondering how they were so loud, his sleep-deprived brain unable to make sense of it for a moment.
   Robins.
   He flung himself upright once again, anger defying even the exhaustion of three sleepless nights. "Leave her out of it. She has nothing to do with you or with this, and I swear if you-"
   You swear what? The king's voice was gently mocking. But you know the way to keep her safe...if you would only take it...
   As if he was so stupid. 
   But if he was still arguing with the king, then he was so stupid. He forced himself to lay back down. He would not answer.
   You know we do not interfere. Cannot interfere. We can only watch. If she dreams of you, it is her that dreams, not us.
   He lifted his head off the pillow. "You do not call this interference? Are you brainless or do you only think that I am?"
   This time silence answered him. He had time to wonder if he had managed to offend the king once again, and then he was asleep.


~*~*~
   
  "Your grandfather says you have been falling asleep at meals."
  He noticed I was present? He would not have dreamed of saying it to St. Rivers, but the way the physician was looking at him, he would not have been surprised to learn the man could read his mind. 
  "He wonders if you are using that now to avoid eating." 
   He considered crossing his arms, pictured his Honor doing the same, and instead looked at the door across the room so that he need not look at the physician. "Do I appear to be wasting away?"
   The very silence seemed to fill with sarcasm, and when the silence was broken at last by St. River's voice, the sarcasm was still present. "I would not think a mirror necessary to know something was wrong if one felt half as bad as you look."
   That was rough touch to a wound still raw, and he looked back too quickly. "You said you would not speak of mirrors." 
   "I said I would not ask you of them. If you answered truthfully the rest."
   The physician waited, and he finally shrugged, jamming his hands into the pockets of his pants. "I have not slept well this past week."
   Again the physician waited, but this time he merely shrugged again.
   St. Rivers sighed. Whatever he was about to say was never said, for there was a sound at the door and the next moment Moll burst in, robin-red hair wildly askew, once-green cloak tangled about one arm as if she'd caught it up to run, and mud spattered clear up the front of her plain brown dress. 
   "Sorry!" she gasped, half-bending over to catch her breath. "I slept straight through the rooster crowing and my own mother making breakfast. And then I ran without looking and Angus Macdaniel, the crabbit brock, nearly rode his horse right over me, all for to teach me a lesson." 
   He swallowed the smile that would come. "You learned a lesson?"
   She tossed her head. "I'll be watching for his tousie face from now on, believe me."
   St. Rivers cleared his throat. 
   "Sorry!" she gasped again, then seemed to take an actual look at the patient they had come to see. 
    "What happened?" she cried, and he shut his eyes so she could not see him roll them. 
    You, apparently. He opened his eyes then, looking at her curiously. "I'll tell you if you tell me why you overslept."
    St. Rivers muttered something under his breath, but said nothing when Moll shot a glance at him, asking for permission or for rescue, he could not tell. 
    "Why I overslept?" she repeated, and that hesitation was enough unlike her that he believed for the first time the king might not have been lying about that part. 
    She laughed then, still breathless, and when she answered she was not looking at him. "It is nothing...just I've been dreaming this past week - the dreams where you feel more tired after than before you went to sleep." She glanced at him finally, then away as she gave her head a shake. "No matter, except that I did not wake on time this morning."
    That seemed all she was going to say, and he raised his eyebrows when she finally looked expectantly at him. "While you have been dreaming, I have been awake." More than you understand. "I have not slept well in a week, and if I am not eating it is because I am nearly too tired to breathe. It is not something I am purposefully doing, and if you can fix it, please do so." He looked at Moll as he spoke, though he knew both of them would think him speaking to St. Rivers.
    "And you will not tell me why you have not slept?" He could feel the physician's eyes on him.
    "If I knew, do you not think I would have fixed it myself?"
    "That is debatable," St. Rivers said gruffly, then reached for his brown leather bag. "But perhaps I can fix it regardless of the reason - drink a spoonful of this an hour before bed." He held out a tinted glass bottle, the length of his palm. "If one spoonful does not help, take two the next night."
    "It will make me sleep?" The clear liquid within did not appear powerful enough to keep the king out of his mind, but he took the bottle.
    "It should help," the physician said, and he supposed he would have to be satisfied with that.
    "Does it prevent dreaming?" he asked then, running his thumb across the rim of the smooth glass, and St. Rivers frowned, as if suspecting there was indeed something he had not been told. He did not care. "Does it?"
    "It should help with dreams also, yes. Why?"
    He smiled, and this time did not stop himself. "I will only take it if she does."
    "What?" St. Rivers exploded, and his smile widened. 
    "Both or neither. She will dream less and I will sleep more and all things will be right. If you know what you are talking about."
    "I will not permit you to use my assistant like that." There was a seriousness to the physician's tone that meant he would be coming alone to visit shortly, and there would be talking then, whether the patient wished to speak or not.
    "No, no!" Moll interrupted before he could respond. "I was just thinking to ask you about it, but he said it first. The dreams have been getting worse, and if I am to be of any use, I must be rested mornings. And if I am taking it, it will remind me to run over at night to make sure he has taken his - it will work finely." 
    St. Rivers looked at her a long moment, but at last reached again into the bag, withdrawing a bottle identical to the first. "You cause me more trouble than all my patients put together," he said, and she smiled.
    "And for all that I am a bletherie bother to you, you dinnae get scunnered with me. You have the patience of a saint."
   A healthy respect for St. Rivers he had, but at that he snorted. Patient the man was, a saint he was not.
   St. Rivers turned on him then, but even as he ducked his head in apology he could have sworn there was amusement in the man's blue eyes. 
   "Go to sleep, my boy. I will be back in two days, less if your grandfather calls for me. Moll will be over tonight to check on you. And perhaps earlier to see that you eat today."
   Then he was gone, and Moll lingered only long enough to shake her head at him and point authoritatively towards his bed.
   "Please be good," she said, and he shrugged silently.
   Then she was running down the spiral stairs after St. Rivers, and he listened to the sound of her footsteps until they faded away. 
   But why were you dreaming of me, little robin? I am sorry...
   He did not finish the thought, but pulled the cork from the bottle and put it straight to his lips. There was probably more than two spoonfuls gone when he set it down, but he pushed the cork back in and threw himself upon his bed. 
   Please work. Please, please, please work.

~*~*~

  Clever boy. Oh, clever, stubborn boy. 
  He opened his eyes, wondering why he ached all over. He shifted, and realized abruptly it was dark outside and he had not moved in all the hours since the morning's visit. 
   "Oh, thank heaven."
  He came upright with a start, shaking the sleep from his mind in something of a panic. But of course she was there.
   "I was going to wait five minutes more, then find St. Rivers. Did you see how much you took! And laying there so still and peeliewally! I thought you might never wake again."
   Quite careless of you. She is entirely right. Do not let it happen again, or I will find a way to deter you. 
   "I wish I had not," he said dully, feeling already the headache that came when the king insisted upon speaking when others were present.
   The hurt on her face caught him suddenly, and he realized what he had said. "Had not woken yet, not ever again," he corrected, wondering at how very relieved she looked at his words, and how much of a lie the words were. 
   The king laughed softly, and he clenched his jaw. 
    Oh, sleep so long as you wish, my dear. You should have given in. Now I must find another way to bring you to your senses.
   "The servants could not wake you for the evening meal...I have brought it up with me. Will you eat in bed or get up?"
   He shrugged, and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He was not hungry in the least. 
   "I brought up enough for two, so I will eat with you." 
   "You need not pretend you have not yet eaten so that you may watch me eat." He smiled. "Watch away, and report to his Honor whatever you must."
    She glared. "I do not report to him. I report to St. Rivers."
    He reached for the glass of milk on the tray she had set beside his bed. Perhaps that would go down without gagging him. "You think if his Honor met you in the hall and demanded how much I had eaten you would not answer him?"
    And you think I torment her. 
    The king was laughing again, and when he watched the hurt flickering across her face, caught between truth and guilt, he hated himself slightly more than usual. 
    "You have my permission to tell his Honor whatever he wishes to know regarding what I ate, my health, or the state of my general mental instability. If that helps." The milk was making him feel sick. 
    "Thank you," she said, but there was misery enough in her voice and eyes that he knew she would still feel as if she were betraying a patient if she did so.
    "Are you still afraid of him, then?" he asked, curious.
    "Everyone is," she said, looking at her hands. "Everyone except you. And St. Rivers."
     He thought for a moment. "I suppose." He hated the man too much to fear him. And for all the times he had wondered, he still did not understand why St. Rivers tolerated the man. "They do not seem likely friends."
    You could ask me. Did I say you were clever? Silly, silly boy. So many questions...and I could answer so many of them. 
    "If they were friends the world would be tapsalteerie. St. Rivers could not be, not with the likes of him." 
    She was too sure of it. But then, she thought St. Rivers a saint. 
    "You are not eating." She said it as though it hurt her to mention it.
    "I was thinking," he said, and reached for the bread. Perhaps with the fresh jam it would not entirely turn his stomach. 
     I have rather let you get out of hand. What if I promised not to speak to you tomorrow? Will you eat it all?
    He stopped with the bread halfway to his mouth. The king had clear and vested interest in his health, which directly decreased how much he himself cared. But it was not often the king would bargain, and much as he hated silently replying to the king - it legitimized the presence in his mind - he was willing for the possibility of a reprieve. Two days and the night between.
    I feel so unloved.
    It was painful to swallow a reply and simply wait. 
    Fine. The king was sulking now. 
   Do not dare break your promise. He held his breath.
   As if we would. Learn to trust me, silly boy. And eat, or you will be the one to break the promise.
   As if he would. He would eat if it choked him.
   Silence followed, and he took a breath of relief, then realized that Moll was staring strangely at him. 
   "Are you sure nothing else is wrong?" she asked.
   He smiled. "A good night's sleep and you will be surprised at how well I look. But have you no stories for me?"
   She narrowed her eyes at him, but leaned forward to rest her chin on her her hands. "Perhaps...Has Ani told you yet that she met Callum?"
   The sparkle was coming back to her even as he shook his head. His curiosity over why Ani meeting Moll's youngest brother was story-worthy paled before the delighted refrain within his mind. 
   Two full days without him in my head. Two full days. 
   Perhaps with space to think he could understand why her dreams had been there to be used against him.
   "Tell me the story," he said aloud, and she smiled, though whether to tell it or to see him eat he would not guess. But he knew which it was without guessing, and it made him ache to know it.
   Oh, little robin, why do you care so much for people? At least you should have left me out of it. 
   I'm only going to hurt you.

   
   

2 thoughts shared:

Christine Smith said...

Okay this, this is awesome! You come up with the most different, intriguing ideas. o_o

I am in love with pretty much ALL things fantasy and fae and whatnot. I adore the idea of the fae being from another dimension. But what I really, really, REALLY love is how you want it to be about how being human is a beautiful thing. I'm guilty of enjoying those stories with super humans, and wishing I was a little more than just human myself. But why? We were made out of God's own image after all! What is more beautiful than that?!

You've made me really think, how I should be so grateful that I AM human, and even though life isn't all peaches and rainbows, it's still beautiful.

Keep being awesome, girl. This story and all that it involves sounds absolutely wonderful!

Katherine Sophia said...

XD Thank you!
And yes - I /know/ to be human is an incredible thing...but I really just want to explore that thought because it /is/ so easy to enjoy the more-than stories, without thinking what that says about /merely human/. I'm glad the idea resonates with you - I am excited to see where the story goes. XD

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