June 2: The wizard’s cat

June 2, 2016 Danielle 2

It wasn’t exactly an accident, but it certainly wasn’t on purpose. Sammy dared me to climb the wall, and it was that or kiss his cousin Eric, who has bad breath and no prospects. And we all thought the tower was deserted.


The wall wasn’t that difficult to climb. It’s tall, but the mortar’s old and there are lots of toe-holds between the stones, and there’s a big old apple tree growing up against it on on side. The whole wood’s an old orchard, mostly apples. We used to spend afternoons there in the summer, sitting in the shade or swimming in the river, and I’d climb the trees and pick sour-sweet apples to take home for pie.


I’m good at climbing things. Tom calls me Cat, because I’m always up a tree or something. Tom and Dean are Sammy’s friends, but also mine; they have a farm down the road. Sammy’s the miller’s son. He used to be a lot of fun, but the last year or so he’s been looking at me in this odd way that makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Eric does it too, and I don’t like it. I think I wouldn’t mind so much if Tom’s older brother looked at me like that, but he doesn’t.


The garden inside the tower’s wall was amazing. All these statues of fantastical creatures, and flowers everywhere. There were  orange trees covered in fruit, and raspberries all along the inside of the wall, and a fishpond with lilies on it. And the wizard, wearing a big floppy hat over his dark hair, carrying a basket full of herbs towards the tower.


He saw me at almost the same moment I saw him. It was as if the horror I felt at seeing him drew his attention to me. He frowned, and I froze, mortified.


“What are you doing up there?”

“Um. Nothing. Sir. I’m sorry, I’ll just go, um,” I was babbling, and I knew it.

“Wait,” he said, and his voice echoed inside my head like a churchbell. I felt like time slowed down, or maybe time ran normally and I slowed down. I waited, a long pause while the wizard came closer.

He stopped beside the wall and looked up at me. “Come down here, girl.”

His voice sounded like echoes again, reverberating. It made me a little dizzy.


“Could you not do that thing with your voice, please?” I asked, as I started climbing down the inside of the wall. “I’m coming down, and I’m very sorry for intruding. But you’re making me dizzy with that thing you’re doing.”


He looked interested, and said, “You can hear it?”

“Of course I can hear it, I’m not stupid!”

The moment I said that, though, I wondered if I was in fact stupid. Scolding a wizard isn’t smart, and he seemed to be genuinely interested that I could hear his echoey voice trick. Which probably meant I should have kept that to myself.


“Of course not,” said the wizard agreeably. “How old are you, girl?”

“I’m fourteen,” I said, “and my name’s Caitlyn, not ‘girl’.”

“Caitlyn, hmm? You’d be John Ashley’s second daughter then?”

I stared at him. “How could you possibly know that?”

He grinned at me, eyes flashing with laughter. “I buy tomatoes and eggs from your father every other week at the market. He always keeps one or two of the best lambs for me in spring, too. Did you think I was some sort of recluse?”

“I didn’t think anyone lived here at all,” I said quietly.

“I’m glad you were mistaken, Caitlyn Ashley. Do come inside and have some tea while I decide what to do with you.”


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June 1: The Sea-folk of Yarthe

June 1, 2016 Danielle 0

The sea-folk of Yarthe are descendants of the ancient elves of Mu, the Shining City, just like the ghost elves of the Deeps and the nomadic surface elves of Europa. When Mu fell, that catastrophe left the remaining elves as homeless refugees. Most chose to become nomads among the younger races, seldom settling in one place for long, or fled to the colonial cities deep beneath the surface of Europa and attempted to recreate the luxuries and culture of lost Mu. A few did neither.


Many of the wizards and almost all of the priests who were resident in the Shining City when it fell managed to survive – by trusting themselves to the oceans. They used powerful magics to create undersea cities, and to give themselves and their children the ability to breathe and to move freely in their aquatic environment. They made deals with water elementals, and oceanic fey, and over time those deals became friendships and alliances, and sometimes led to passionate trysts or long-term love affairs, and to children. The sea-folk are descended from the elves of the Shining City, but magic runs in their veins as well – the magics of those ancient wizards and priests, enchanted into their genes and bones, and the magics that they inherited from their elemental ancestors.


Physically, the sea-folk are shapeshifters. Each individual has three shapes: a full humanoid form, a mer-form, and a fulyl aquatic form. The humanoid form is very similar in appearance to the surface elves, but amphibious – able to breathe air as easily as they breathe underwater. The humanoid form is perfectly at home in the water, able to adjust their buoyancy using a swim bladder and inborn magic. Although stories exist of relationships between sea-folk and humans or surface elves, these stories are almost always tragic as the sea-folk are never happy to live permanently on land. They feel a deep psychological need to be fully immersed in water at least daily, and long for the ocean when separated from it. On a practical note, while in humanoid form, sea-folk must keep their gills and skin dampened or risk death from dehydration.


The mer-form, commonly used in aquatic environments for its strength and streamlined shape, is also amphibious. This form has the upper torso, head, and arms of a humanoid, but an aquatic lower part which resembles a fish, eel, or sea-snake. The aquatic form of the sea-folk always matches their mer-form, being fully fish or shark, eel, or serpent. The type of the aquatic shape is an ethnic and tribal identifier, and varies by geographic location.


Sea-folk are found in every latitude, living in the shallow waters along the coasts of the main continents and among the reefs, atolls and sand-bars of the mid-ocean islands as well. There are rumours of cities far below the surface, perhaps shielded by magical forcefield-bubbles which hold air and provide light and warmth, but no evidence exists that these things exist. There are rumours, too, that the sea-folk have managed to retrieve much of the magical knowledge of ancient Mu by sending expeditions to the ruins of the Shining City and the drowned ruins of some of the older cities of the ghost elves. If they have, they haven’t seen fit to share that knowledge or any artefacts which they’re retrieved.


Politically, the sea-folk are uninvolved with the land-dwellers of Yarthe. They have their own factions and tribal politics, and they involve themselves in the politics of the Fey, but the land-dwellers are of little interest to them. They maintain a friendly relationship with the surface elves, and avoid the ghost elves as far as possible. Many of their tribes have alliances and friendly relationships with the dragons of the Western isles. Some island-dwelling human and Halfling clans have good trade relationships with the sea-folk, but the people of Europa know little about them.


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BlogJune Challenge

May 27, 2016 Danielle 0

On a slightly lower key than NaNoWriMo, which I didn’t manage to finish this year because of a 2 week long, very stressful and timeconsuming cat emergency, BlogJune is coming up. So I’m gonna try to post something here every day of June. As a challenge to myself.


Official rules: register, then blog during june, and tweet your posts.


My rules: It has to be something creative. A snippet of conversation, a plot idea, a writing prompt, a piece of fiction, even a poem. Visual art counts if I’ve drawn it.


Let’s see how I go. #iambloggingjune

Writing in public

April 28, 2016 Danielle 0

This is a new exercise, although I’ve blogged before. This is a space to post snippets and writing prompts, finished fiction which isn’t going up for sale (and sometimes even if it is), and game designs and plot points. And of course, I’ll post news about new projects and completed projects here too. 🙂


Happy reading.

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