To Give All 3

Thunderfish Lake MoirenaThe dark-haired one grinned and clapped Vidir on the shoulder. “Yeah, man. It did. She’s been in tears for almost an hour and threatened everything about us if we don’t come back with you in one piece, so we’d better get going.”

Vidir turned back to Jiloryn and took her hand in his. He kissed that back of it and gave her a rakish grin. “Thank you for saving me.”

Jiloryn smiled, though her heart ached at the thought of him being in love with someone. “You’re welcome.”

Without another word Vidir and his friends headed off.

Jiloryn stood at the edge of the water with it lapping at her toes and watched them walk away. She wanted to ask Vidir to come to her father’s cage for dinner, and she was considering asking him when their voices drifted back to her on the breeze.

“What was that thing?”

“A rusalka, or something like that,” Vidir answered.

“Wow. And you let it touch you.”

Vidir turned to the dark headed one. “Shut it, Yundit. She saved my life.”

“Yeah, but man was she ugly.”

Tears formed in Jiloryn’s eyes, but she brushed them away and dove into the lake to collect the Thunderfish for her father.

 

 

Jiloryn sat alone in her room. The light had long since ceased to shine, and she should’ve been asleep. Her father had yelled at her for nearly an hour for taking the time to save Vidir rather than focusing on gathering the Thunderfish, and she was sentenced to yet another day at the bottom of the lake.

Jiloryn sighed as a single tear leaked from her crimson eye to trail down a lilac cheek. Her ears fluttered back and forth as she fought back the sobs that threatened to choke her.

A soft knock on her door caused Jiloryn to wipe her eyes. She rose from her bed and took the few steps necessary to open it.

“Hey,” she greeted.

“Hey, yourself,” Cahriss replied. Cahriss bounded into the room and plopped onto the bed. “So. Are you totally in love yet?”

Jiloryn sighed, then she grinned. “Totally.” She twirled around in circles then plopped down onto her knees beside the bed. “Wasn’t he just scrumptious?”

Cahriss giggled. “Oh, yeah. But his friends were total jerks.”

Jiloryn’s smile faded. “Yeah. They were.”

“So, what are you gonna do about it? Are you just gonna go away meekly?”

Jiloryn bit her bottom lip and brushed her hair behind her ears. “I don’t know. I don’t know where he’s staying or anything.”

Cahriss leaned over until she was looking Jiloryn in the eye. “Well, I do.”

“Really?”

Cahriss nodded and grinned. She sat upright and brushed her navy hair behind her ears. Her eyes, yellow pupils on black irises, flashed with mischief. “He’s staying here in town while his father works out some kind of deal with the city administration.”

Jiloryn simply sat there with her mouth open.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“Are you gonna go and try to catch his eye or not?”

Jiloryn continued to bite her lip, her pointed teeth slightly piercing the skin. “Do you think I should?”

Cahriss nodded. “Oh, yeah. You definitely should.”

Jiloryn thought about it for another moment, then she laughed. “Okay. Let’s go.”

The town of Dustspire was quiet once the sun ceased to shine. Most people headed to their homes for the evening, but there were still some who enjoyed a late dinner at the local cafes, and there were always those who gathered around the fountain in the center of town to flirt and talk. Jiloryn generally stayed in, for she had no real desire to flirt, and she and Cahriss spent most of their days talking. But tonight she was looking for Vidir Frostfall.

Jiloryn had brushed out her long, wavy hair and put on her favorite red dress before she left her house. Cahriss had also changed her clothes, though her dress was a soft peach.

The rusalki walked arm-in-arm the short distance from Jiloryn’s house to the town square. The stepped up close to the fountain where several others were playing a dice game on the cobbles and stood back to watch. Jokes flew among those playing, and several other girls, one a demon with short horns sticking from the top of her head, watched with laughter in their eyes.

“Do you really think they’ll come?” Jiloryn whispered.

Cahriss nodded and inclined her head toward the south end of the square. Four dwarfs, the three boys and one girl, entered the square and looked around. They spotted the game going on by the fountain and stepped up to play.

“Oh, look,” said Freya, the girl with Vidir and the others. “The little demon who saved you is all dressed up and ready to play.” She pushed Vidir toward Jiloryn. “Why don’t you tell little demon girl that you’re already taken.” Freya laughed, and Jiloryn’s lilac skin darkened with shame.

Vidir stumbled and kicked the dice. The other boys, mostly demons, rose with balled fists and moved toward Vidir. The other dwarfs spread out and readied themselves for a fight, but Jiloryn and Cahriss stepped between them. Cahriss spoke quickly to the demons, while Jiloryn motioned for Vidir and the dwarfs to back away.

“Back off, demon girl,” Freya said. “It’s a matter of dwarven honor.”

“Hush, Freya,” Vidir replied. “Jiloryn, right?”

Jiloryn smiled and nodded. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

Vidir smiled and turned to the others. “Let’s go. There’s plenty to do elsewhere, and we can always go back to the yacht. Father has plenty to do there.”

“Yeah,” Njall replied. He was the same height as Vidir, but his skin was a dark cocoa. His hair was a deep blonde and brushed back from his forehead, and he wore a leather breastplate and carried a short sword at his side. “Let’s get away from the demon stench around here.”

Yundit agreed, and the four of them turned to leave. Jiloryn watched and did her best not to cry, but her heart lifted when Vidir looked back and smiled at her.

Cahriss joined her a moment later. “Seems like it was a waste of time to get all dressed up, doesn’t it?”

Jiloryn turned to her friend with a sigh. “I guess,” she replied.

Cahriss followed Jiloryn’s gaze and placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “You really like him, don’t you?”

Jiloryn bit her bottom lip and nodded. “He hates demons, though. They all do.”

“I’m sorry, Jil. But that’s something you can’t change.”

To Give All 2

Thunderfish Lake MoirenaJiloryn watched him as he sank. She knew dwarfs couldn’t breathe underwater, but she also knew that some of them liked to swim when they were visiting Thunderfish Lake. This one didn’t seem to be doing that.

Jiloryn swam up next to the dwarf. She caught hold of him, expecting him to pull away, but he didn’t respond at all. His eyes stayed closed, and he made no effort to get himself to the surface.

The young rusalki grabbed hold of the dwarf’s shirt sleeve and hauled him to the surface of the lake. She bobbed for a moment to let her lungs replace her fins, then she pulled the dwarf above the water.

The dwarf didn’t open his eyes. And he was heavy.

Jiloryn pulled him along to the edge of the lake and hoisted him up onto the grass surrounding the lake. She climbed out after him and peered down at his face. There was something about it that made her heart flutter, and she brushed a curl from his forehead.

“Jiloryn!”

Jiloryn looked up to see Cahriss waving to her from a little ways around the lake. Jiloryn motioned for her friend to come over, and Cahriss jogged around the edge to drop down on her knees beside Jiloryn.

“What’s he doing here?” Cahriss asked once she’d seen the dwarf.

Jiloryn shrugged. “No idea. He fell into the lake, and I pulled him out.”

“Don’t you need to do something to wake him up? He doesn’t look very good.”

Jiloryn looked up with fear in her eyes. Water dripped from her long hair, and she shivered in the cool breeze that blew across the lake. “I guess. Can you get my blanket?”

Cahriss nodded once and took off. A few moments later she was back with Jiloryn’s blanket, and the two demons wrapped the dwarf warmly.

“Now what?” Cahriss asked.

Jiloryn shrugged. “I don’t know. Did you see any other dwarfs around? Was he out here by himself?”

Cahriss shook her head. “There’s a boat out on the lake, but that’s it.”

Jiloryn peered out across the water. She squinted her red eyes and forced herself to see as far as she could. At last, she spotted a boat near the southern part of the lake. “Should we check with the dwarfs on the boat?” Jiloryn asked Cahriss.

Now it was Cahriss’ turn to shrug. “We can. They’ll know more how to take care of him than we will.”

Jiloryn chewed on her bottom lip as she looked from the dwarf to the boat in the distance. It wouldn’t take her too long to reach the boat, if the merfolk weren’t fighting again, that is. If they were, it would take time to either go around them or fight through them, and the dwarf had still shown no signs of waking.

Jiloryn sighed and turned back to Cahriss. “Help me get him up. We’ve got to do something, and I’m not sure we can reach the boat.”

Cahriss nodded that she understood, and the two carefully lifted the dwarf. They began by sitting him upright. His head lolled on his shoulders until he began coughing. The coughs wracked his body, and his face turned blue. Jiloryn looked to Cahriss for help, but the other demon simply shrugged her shoulders. Jiloryn pulled the dwarf to his feet and held him close to her. He continued coughing, then water spouted from his nose and mouth. Jiloryn leaned him so the water could pour out of him, then she supported him as he gagged. Once he’d finished, she eased him back onto the grass and wrapped her blanket around his trembling shoulders.

“Are you all right?” Jiloryn asked.

The dwarf looked up at her, his eyes unfocused. “Who are you?”

Jiloryn sat back on the grass and ran her hand through her wet hair. “My name’s Jiloryn.” She pointed to her friend. “And this is Cahriss.”

“What happened?” he voice was low and deep but raspy from his coughing fit.

Jiloryn shrugged. “All I know is that you fell into the water.”

“And you pulled me out?”

Jiloryn nodded and gave him a small smile.

“Thank you.”

“We have a camp a little bit around the lake if you’d like to rest for a while,” Jiloryn said.

The dwarf nodded and stood on unsteady legs. He took a step, but his legs simply wouldn’t hold him. Jiloryn caught him before he fell and eased him to his feet. She stared into his pale green eyes and smiled at the freckles that dusted his nose. His soft curls stuck up around his head and flopped across his forehead in a way that made Jiloryn’s heart flutter.

“What’s your name?” the dwarf asked.

“Jiloryn. And yours?”

“Vidir Frostfall. I come from Bruihull in Emerell.”

Jiloryn smiled. “I live in Dustspire. My father owns a café.”

Vidir returned her smile and stared off into the distance. “What are you?” he asked after several moments. “Not meaning to be offensive, of course.”

“I’m a rusalka,” Jiloryn replied with a shy shrug. “A water nymph.”

“Oh,” Vidir replied. “I thought water nymphs lived in the water.”

Jiloryn shrugged. “I need to be in it for a while every day, but I don’t live there.”

They lapsed into silence then, and Jiloryn took the opportunity to examine every inch of Vidir Frostfall. She loved his broad shoulders and stout legs and arms. She imagined those arms lifting her in a hug and his hands building them a home.

“Vidir!”

Vidir struggled to his feet with Jiloryn close behind him. He wobbled just a bit, and she reached out a hand to support him. He smiled at her, and her heart melted, then he turned toward the voice calling for him.

“Vidir!”

“Over here!” Vidir called back.

A moment later two other dwarfs stepped into view. One had dark brown hair, while the other’s was a little lighter. Both wore chest plates and carried swords.

“There you are, man,” the first one said. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

“Yeah, what possessed you to try that stupid stunt?”

Vidir laughed. “Did it work? Is she going nuts wondering if I’m all right?”

To Give All

Thunderfish Lake Moirena            “Come on, Jiloryn!”   Cahriss called.

Jiloryn waved to her best friend, Cahriss, and turned back to the basket she’d set beside Thunderfish Lake. It was a large basket, larger than the one her father generally sent her to fill up, but Jiloryn had no doubt that, by the end of the day, she’d have it filled with the thunderfish that were such a delicacy in the town of Dustspire in the country of Moirena.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” Jiloryn called back. She brushed her greenish-yellow hair behind her fin-like ears and adjusted the thin, tight suit she used for swimming. She sighed as she looked out over the lake, watching the ripples across the water as Cahriss dove under.

Jiloryn shook her head as she considered her chores for the day. Her father always sent her to collect the fish he served in their café in the center of Dustspire. Most of the time she brought Cahriss with her since all of the rusalki needed to spend time in the water to stay healthy.

Jiloryn took one last look around the lake shore then dove into the water. It was chilly, as it was the Season of Dormancy, but it felt like soft velvet against her purple skin. Her gills took over after several minutes, and Jiloryn was able to frolic with Cahriss and the others instead of holding her breath.

Diving beneath the surface was like entering another world. Tall weeds grew up from the bottom of the lake and waved to and fro with the movement of the water. Darkness reigned within the depths of this forest, and Jiloryn found a peace here she couldn’t find anywhere else. The thunderfish darted in and out of the weeds, making their characteristic thunder sound whenever two or more of them gathered. It was like being in a perpetual thunderstorm, something Jiloryn found more relaxing than anything else.

The merfolk of Moirena also made their home here. Unlike those who lived in the elven kingdom of E’ma Thalas, the merfolk of Moirena were a dark people. Their skin was a deep blue, and their eyes tended to have red pupils on black irises. Their teeth were pointed, and their lips were deep crimson to black. Their ears were more like fins, much like Jiloryn’s, and their hair was generally pure black or pure white. They never bothered with clothing, and most were scarred from their perpetual fighting. Still, Jiloryn found most of them to be amicable enough and had even formed a tentative friendship with a couple of them.

Sounds of a fight filtered through the water, and Jiloryn stopped swimming to listen. The water distorted sound, so she wasn’t quite sure where the noise originated, but she knew she didn’t want to swim into the middle of a merfolk battle. Instead, she swam to the surface and bobbed there for a moment while her lungs took over.

Jiloryn surfaced and shook the water from her scarlet eyes. With a sigh of resignation, she climbed from the water and toweled herself off. She sat down in the grass on the shore of the lake for a moment to catch her breath, then she picked up her basket and dove back into the water.

The water pulled against the basket, and Jiloryn struggled with its larger size. She made her way to the northern part of the lake where the thunderfish schooled. Booms reverberated through the water, making it ripple across Jiloryn’s skin. She shivered at the sensation and continued onward.

Thunderfish swam around her in a rainbow of purples and greens. The beauty of the fish took Jiloryn’s breath away, like always, and she nearly cried at the thought of harming them. Still, though, her father had to make a living, and the café’s delicacy was what kept them fed.

Jiloryn sat the basket on the bottom of the lake and simply waited. It was always this way. As thunderfish, as a rule, were not the most intelligent of creatures, it usually didn’t take long for them to get curious enough to swim into the basket. Her father had constructed it in such a way that, once they entered it, they couldn’t escape.

Jiloryn was close to dosing off when a splash from above caught her attention. She jumped and groaned as the thunderfish scattered. Then she looked up to see what had caused the splash.

Something came at her from the surface of the lake. Jiloryn snatched the basket out of the way and swam toward the object. At first it looked like nothing more than a bundle of cloth someone had tossed into the lake, but when Jiloryn swam closer, she saw that it was a dwarf. He was about average height for a dwarf, a little shorter than Jiloryn, with strawberry-blonde hair and freckles on his pale face. He wore black pants and a blue shirt, and his cloak fanned around him like some strange fish’s fin.

Excerpt from a YA WIP

northern-corleonThings have been a bit hectic lately with my youngest graduating and my move coming up next week, so I haven’t been able to get as much writing done as usual. However, I have been editing a children’s story, and I’m working a bit at a time on the trilogy. I’m also working some on a YA book I’ve been working on for a while. This is the one I’ll probably focus on the rest of this week since everything else is in boxes (so, of course, now all the stuff I thought I didn’t need is necessary).

Here’s a look at the YA WIP. I’m hoping to have this one out by the end of the summer, but I’m not promising. This is the unedited form.

Theo’s call from the front of the house snatched Jess from her reverie. She grabbed the books, all three of them, and shoved them into her pack. She hurried to the front of the house where Theo was motioning for her to be quiet.

“What is it?” Jess whispered.

“Guards,” Theo returned. “They’re searching everywhere. Father sent almost all of the household guard.” Theo’s eyes got wide. “He’s not gonna let us go.”

“Shh,” Jess said. “Calm down. This place had been abandoned for years. We can hide here until they pass us by.”