Pryon #8 – A Name

This short story is part of a series that I have been writing across a series of short blog posts. To read part one, you can click the link here.
Thank you so much for reading and enjoy!


“Who were those men?” Linyeve demanded over Kanalin’s desperate sobs.

“No one, it doesn’t matter,” she cried, face red and blotchy. “How could you let my daughter die?”

Linyeve clenched her fist furiously, the injustice of it all making her lose her temper.

They killed her, not you and not me! She was dead the minute you hit the wall, now answer me. I have lived through this twice now, and I want to know why. Who were those men, and who – or what – was Ana? I want answers, and you are going to give them to me. I’ve earned them.” Kanalin’s eyes seemed to freeze over as she stared into Linyeve’s face, and she took a deep, steadying breath, holding Jakob close to her.

19533686_242015476315832_6942166162641780736_n“I only wanted to protect my children,” she whispered. “A few nights ago, those men – the ones in cloaks – came to me and told me about the fire. I don’t know how it works, so don’t ask me, but they told me what was going to happen to Wrenstead. When they finally got me to believe them, I wanted to run away: of course I did, but they told me that if I did, they would come after me. They would kill us all, Jakob and… K-Kyla, too,” she let out a deep sniff, and then continued.

“They offered me a deal. They told me an orphaned girl was going to visit the village, and that I should go to her. I was to bring her into my house and keep her there. In exchange, they told me that they would take my children, and that they… they would keep them safe. Well, I mean, I’m not very strong and I told them that, so they introduced me to Ana. S-She showed me what she could do with that mind of hers – a family gift, they called it – and told me that she would keep you there. All I had to do was lure you to my house. I was to do whatever it took, an in return, my children would live.” She looked at Linyeve.

“They told me that you’d committed terrible, horrible crimes… and that you had no family. Of course, now I realise they were lying: they lied about all of it. They were never going to keep my children safe. They just wanted you. They said that you should have died, and that you needed to die… I didn’t ask too many questions, but I accepted their deal, and they left.”

dakota-corbin-492737-unsplash“They said I needed to die?” Linyeve interrupted, feeling stunned. Even with Kanalin’s explanation, nothing seemed to make sense. “Why, because I didn’t die in Little Bringleton?” Kanalin didn’t answer, now preoccupied with the sobbing Jakob. “But Ana and this family… I’ve met someone like her before. Are they the ones doing this?”

Kanalin blinked, eyes wide.

“They’re not a family,” she said, her voice hushed. “They’re the family and of course they’re the ones doing it.” When Linyeve still looked confused, Kanalin began to scowl. “The royal family, girl – the house of Pyron.”


Thank you so much for reading! If you’re enjoying the story of “Pyron” so far, please do leave a comment below, and if you want to be notified when the next instalment is out, you can follow this blog through either WordPress or email by clicking on the links in my homepage’s sidebar. Thanks again!

Picture Credit: Photo #3 was by Dakota Corbin (Unsplash).

You can read part nine of “Pryon” here.

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Pryon #7 – Aftermath

This short story is part of a series of blog posts that I have been writing. To read part one of “Pryon”, please click here. Thanks for reading!


The fire reached Linyeve’s right hand first; she had left it jutting out in front of her as she had stood staring into the fire, and, as the flames begin to shoot up her arm, she was overwhelmed by a pain, the like of which she had never imagined. She stumbled backwards, a white-hot pain taking over all sense and reason, and collapsed onto the grass beside Kanalin.

10254173_215179525358930_210237196_nShe could hear Jakob crying from somewhere behind her, and felt her own screams join with his. Hot tears were streaming down her face, and as she glanced down her arm, she caught a glimpse of the blackened stub that had once been her right hand.

As each moment passed, she waited for the flames to consume them all, but the seconds ticked by and the shouts from the village died down. After a while, she chanced a glance back towards the houses, and then let out a staggered sigh of relief.

Just as when the flames had engulfed Little Bringleton, they had formed a dome around the village, and as Linyeve had stumbled backwards, she had passed out of their perimeters. They were safe.

She looked around and saw Jakob on his knees beside her, bawling his little eyes out. On her other side, Kanalin was lying perfectly unscathed. She took a few, deep breaths, steadying herself.

11232840_908935515839392_633609476_n“Kyla was at home,” sobbed Jakob, but Linyeve didn’t know how to respond. She had instinctively rubbed her blackened arm on the grass, hoping that the beginnings of morning dew would relieve her pain a little, but that had only seemed to intensify it.

The injury itself wasn’t as bad as she had first thought; her entire hand had not been burned away, but she had lost two fingers and her palm was shrivelled and peeling, a deep reddish liquid underpinning the black mesh of ash and dirt that coated her skin. It was a horrific sight, though, and Linyeve felt a small amount of vomit rising up in her chest as she looked away from the hand.

“Wha-what happened?” Kanalin had woken up.

The fury that Linyeve had suppressed as she had dragged her from the village returned as their eyes met. She watched coolly as Kanalin’s eyes found the ruin that had once been Wrenstead, and fought back her pity as she watched tears form in the young woman’s lined eyes. She stared mutely at the flames for a few seconds, and then whirled around, eyes wide. She saw Jakob and reached instinctively for him, whilst she continued to scan the area. Then she turned to Linyeve, angry.

“Where is my daughter? Where is Kyla?”

“She didn’t make it,” Linyeve said bluntly. She would feel sympathy for the woman, but she was too tired, and too angry, to let the emotion in. She knew Kanalin had only been trying to protect her children, but Linyeve had had enough. She wanted answers and, this time, she was going to get them.


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Click here to read the next part of “Pryon”!

Pryon #2 – Questions

This story is part of a series of separate blog posts. To read part one of “Pryon”, please click the link here. Thanks for reading, and I very much hope that you enjoy this second instalment.


Linyeve had bolted over the fence and raced around the corner to the dirt track before the boy had even noticed she had gone. Once on the path, though, she stopped, watching in horror as the village of Little Bringleton was ignited.

The fire that had engulfed the black storm clouds above was whipping through the houses, causing rooves to catch alight and a terrible smell of burning to rise up through the air. There was nothing she could do – nothing, except watch as the houses began to collapse. She thought she could hear screams, but they might have just been in her imagination, as she thought of everyone she had ever known crumbling to ash.

christopher-burns-369659-unsplashIt was as if there was something wrong with her head. It didn’t seem real somehow. The greengrocer, the children from next door, and her kindly, loving grandmother, who had brought her up for as long as she could remember, couldn’t be…

But there was no chance of survival for anyone in Little Bringleton. The flames were everywhere, roaring through windows and sweeping up stairways. The fire had formed a sort of circle around the village, leaving the trees and grass beyond its borders untouched.

Linyeve felt a hot, burning anger rise up in her chest, and whirled on the spot to face the pale boy, who was now leaning against the fence behind her.

“You couldn’t have helped,” he said, not meeting her eyes. “It had to happen like this.”

Had to?” Linyeve demanded, marching up close to the boy. “Had to? Why did it have to? And what even… I mean, how can this… and you… you… and everyone’s…”

“You need to calm down,” said the boy, still not looking at her. “You need to breathe.” He walked a little closer to her, arms outstretched as if to protect himself from an attack. “You’re going to be alright. There’s another village not far from here – Wrenstead, it’s called. Someone there will take you in and-”

“-Why did you save me?” Linyeve interrupted, eyes filled with hot tears. “Why, out of everyone in the village, did you save me? You waited for me that day we met; there were lots of people around, but you waited for me. You made me come outside and stopped me from going home…why?”

20184382_1746415735387738_3780746710079242240_nThe boy sighed, looking towards the smouldering remains of Little Bringleton. His eyes traced the billowing clouds of smoke, the fire itself now reduced to a few smouldering patches of grass. Then he glanced back towards the sky and saw, to his relief, that it had returned to a languid grey colour once more.

“Go to Wrenstead,” he said shortly. “They’ll help you.”

Linyeve, who’d glanced up at the sky, too, opened her mouth to repeat her questions, but when she looked back at the spot where the boy had stood, she saw that he was gone. She glanced up and down the track, and even checked the meadow beyond the fence, but every trace of the boy seemed to have vanished.

Ears buzzing, she turned back to gaze at the little that was left of her home. She didn’t want to look, but at the same time, didn’t seem able to stop herself from looking. Nothing made sense. Everything had happened so quickly… Fire didn’t just rain down from the sky, and that boy, who’d seemed able to control her somehow… he wasn’t right, either.

10245908_229013817292235_2035726348_n.jpgThat first day, when she’d met him leaning against that very same fence, he’d told her to meet him in the meadow at 6pm in two days’ time. Linyeve had ignored him, of course, and thought nothing of it, until 6pm that night, when her body had moved against her will, dragged her through her window and forced her towards the meadow. She shuddered, feeling her legs walking slowly forwards beneath her. She didn’t know who he was, but he had known about the fire; he’d expected it, but, at the same time, it hadn’t seemed as though he had, in any way, caused the fire – and how could he have? How could anyone explain those flames? They had come from the sky itself, as if some God had sent it down to punish them.

She averted her eyes from the village as she passed. She didn’t want to see her home reduced to a few blackened ashes. Worse, what if she saw… she sped up, eyes closed against the tears still falling down her cheeks.

She felt dazed; it was as if the boy was controlling her body again, although she was quite sure he was not. Everything was functioning automatically, but her ears were still buzzing, and a strange numbness was hovering over her mind. It was all that she could do to keep walking. Little though she wanted to do anything that that boy had suggested, she knew she didn’t have much of a choice. She’d never been there before, but she’d heard of Wrenstead. There’d never been a reason to leave the village before now; in these parts, it was only the trade merchants who felt the need to travel, but she thought she knew the general direction of this other village. Even if she was wrong, walking was better than standing still, and she was eager to leave the black scar on the horizon far behind her – the scar that had once been her home.


Thanks for reading! Click here to read part three.

Picture credit: Photo #1 was by Christopher Burns (Unsplash).

Pryon #1 – Storm Clouds

As promised, I’ve begun another series of short-story posts, this time centred around the story of “Pryon” (you can read my other serial-based story, “Guarded”, here). Like always, I will endeavour to illustrate the story with my own pictures, and hope to make it as interesting as possible for you, although I don’t yet know how long this story is going to be – perhaps it will be three posts, or perhaps it will be twenty. Regardless, thanks for reading, and I hope that you enjoy this first part of “Pryon”!


It was a dull day, with heavy storm clouds that lurked disconcertingly over Little Bringleton. The village’s few houses seemed to quake in the harsh winds, their thatched rooves shuddering nervously, whilst their inhabitants peered fretfully through their curtains. After nearly a month of dry, rainless nights, they were readying themselves for a storm the like of which hadn’t been witnessed in generations.

928601_310122635821996_1935418722_nA little way down the village track, however, a tall, teenage girl was walking determinately away from the sanctuary of her home. Her long, silvery hair was whipped behind her as she left the path and slipped through the long grass that led her out of sight from the village. Then, careful not to cut herself on the barbed wire, she hoisted herself over a nearby fence and dropped down into the meadow beyond.

“You came then.” A thin, pale boy with startlingly dark hair was sprawled out under a nearby beech tree, his eyes on the newcomer. “You said you wouldn’t.”

The girl seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then made her way over to the tree, standing over the boy with her arms folded against her chest.

“I didn’t want to,” she said, her voice sulky. “Can’t you see those clouds? I’m lucky that no one saw me leaving, or we’d both be caught.”

“But you came,” the boy persisted, a nonchalant smiled playing across his lips. “I’m glad.”

Sighing, the girl sank to her knees beside him, her arms still tightly folded.

“What do you want?” she hissed, looking away from him.

“I wanted you to come here,” he said coolly. “And you did.”

The girl seemed to struggle with herself for a few moments, and then let her folded arms fall to her sides. The boy smiled lazily, before his eyes darted to the blackening skies above them. “It won’t be long now,” he muttered, and moved slightly further under the cover of the beech tree. The girl sighed, and then shuffled after him on her knees, her eyes narrowed.

“You still haven’t told me what’s so special about this storm,” she said to her hands, still not looking at the boy. “You drag me out here and then-” she stopped, looking up at the sky, too. “It’s starting to rain!” she complained, glancing back at the fence she had climbed to reach the meadow. “I should go back.”

11232840_908935515839392_633609476_n.jpgHeavy water droplets were now pounding against the leaves of their tree, bouncing to the ground with mighty splashes.

“It’s just rain, Linyeve,” said the boy. “It’ll pass.”

“Can you not see the sky?” the girl – Linyeve – demanded. “I’m not just going to sit here and wait for the storm to hit. I’m not stupid.” Getting to her feet, she began to march towards the fence, her hair and coat becoming soaked within seconds. The boy didn’t answer her, his eyes still fixed on the black clouds churning above them, so she ignored him. Reaching the fence, she placed her hands on the top-most wooden plank to hoist herself over, but then she stopped. She looked around at the boy, her hands still fixed on the wood.

“That’s not funny!” she cried, the rain dripping down her face. “Please, this is ridiculous!” She struggled for a few moments, attempting to wrench her hands from the fence, but it was as if she had been bound in place by some invisible force. “Let me leave!”

The boy still wasn’t looking at her. He was sitting upright, his back straight and his eyes fixed on the sky above.

“It’s here,” he whispered and, for the first time since Linyeve had entered the meadow, he didn’t sound in any way relaxed. His voice was strained – was that excitement or alarm? It was impossible to tell.

Linyeve let out one more sigh and then, despite herself, she looked up at the sky, and felt her mouth fall open.

“What…what is it?” she gasped, too shocked even to realise that her hands had slid free from the invisible grasp of the fence. She and the boy both gazed wordlessly upwards, as the sky above them was stained red by the fierce, scarlet flames that had burst from the clouds.


Click here to read part two of “Pryon”!

Nameless

Here’s my attempt at the latest photo prompt challenge from Creative Writing Ink. With no word counts and no real guidelines, this has to be one of my favourite challenges. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!


I didn’t know her name. She hadn’t told me, and I’d never thought to ask. There hadn’t been time, but now – well now – I regret it more than anything.

I’d only known her for five minutes. She’d been waiting in the back seat of my car when I finished work. I’d thought then that I was going to die; ironic, really.

Nameless

Credit: Kristina Flour

I remember how she’d jumped out at me and whispered in my ear,

“Don’t go into work tomorrow.” Then, with a delicate finger pressed against her lips, she’d slipped back into the darkness, and I’d never seen her again… not in the flesh, anyway.

I don’t know what had made me listen to her. I don’t know what had made me ring up sick, but I’d done it.

I’d been sitting at home with my son when the news article came on: 50 dead in office fire.

I would have been there, in the centre of it all, but I wasn’t. I’m here at home, sat at my kitchen table, when all my colleagues, my boss, the HR lady, the intern, the people who worked in the kitchen and that mysterious woman who’d saved my life, had been burned alive.

I don’t know who she was, and I don’t know why she’d been in that office block if she’d known what was going to happen – not that she could have. In my heart, I hope she was trying to get people out. I hope she was warning them, just like she warned me, but in my head, none of that makes sense. She couldn’t have known about the fire. It had been put down to a small kitchen fire that had just veered out of control.

How could she have known? Unless she was responsible.

I sigh, tossing the morning’s newspaper away from me.

They’d moved on from the fire already, those reporters. They’d forgotten about the HR lady and that nice intern. They didn’t care about those nameless, faceless workers, because they weren’t important anymore. They were gone.

I won’t ever move on.

I can’t move on, because, in the back of my mind, there are all those horrible thoughts. There are the voices that whisper at me when I’m trying to sleep, telling me that I’m supposed to be dead.

The one thing that I’ll never understand, though, is why it was me that the woman warned. Why wouldn’t she tell the boss or the boss’ boss? I’m no one important. I’m just another nameless, faceless worker.

Except I’m alive.

Unique Blogger Award

I need to thank Vivid Tales for nominating me for my second ever blog award! It’s so nice to feel appreciated by other bloggers; it really gives a confidence boost, as well as prompting that nice, warm feeling that I’m sure we all know and love. Please do check out this blog – Abhi is a great writer and always manages to evoke those most powerful emotions.

Unique Blogger Award

Rules:

  1. Link to the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  2. Answer the questions you are given.
  3. In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  4. Ask the people you nominate 3 new questions.

My Questions:

Here are the questions that I was asked; I must say, I struggled a little on the last one!

Q: As a writer, what is more satisfying to you (reader’s traffic, likes, comments, personal connection) and how will you define success as a writer?

A: I write because it’s what I like doing. It’s a hobby and it’s a way of expressing myself, so, of course I’m not going to say that likes and comments don’t make me happy. I want people to read my work and it encourages me when they give feedback. At the same time, though, I only like that; the response and interaction with others doesn’t actually affect my writing, and I wouldn’t stop just because my ratings dropped. I’d therefore have to say that the actual process of writing in itself is the most satisfying – whilst I like reading other people’s works and having them read mine, that’s not what really matters to me.

Q: Personally, deep inside your heart, what is your current state of mind and what things are you seeking in order to be happy – career, money, fame, love, etc.?

A: I’ve just moved into my first flat before I start my second year of uni, so, honestly, my current state of mind is pretty relaxed. It was pretty chaotic. I didn’t know whether I was ready for all the ‘adult’ things that come with renting a flat, such as paying bills and buying fridges and washing machines. Things are going pretty well, though. The flat hasn’t burnt down and things are getting sorted. It’s really encouraging, so, for the moment, I think all that I want, is for things to keep going as they are. I’ll hold off a while before I start thinking about any more big goals, I think.

Q: How wild and rebellious are you? Tell the readers some taboo-breaking experience of yours.

A: Well, I generally consider myself quite a good girl. I was always one to do my homework on time etc., so I haven’t really got any exciting ‘bad girl’ experiences to tell. I suppose the most rebellious, if we’re talking about doing something that is outside social convention, would be to move in with my boyfriend, even though we go to uni in different cities. I know people think it’s a little strange, and I certainly didn’t see it coming, but, I’m going to be honest… our flat is much nicer than student housing!

Your Questions:

So now I need to give my nominees three new questions. Here we go!

  1. Can you remember the first story you ever wrote? Can you remember what triggered it/influenced it? Or are you more like me – writing so much that you can’t remember that far back?
  2. Why do you write online, opposed to keeping your writing to yourself? I only ask because I used to be very private about my writing. I didn’t have the courage to show anyone because I was too scared that they’d criticise it. Was it the same for you?
  3. Which one of these do you think is the more powerful – a sad story that makes the tears flow, or a story that fills you with confidence and determination? I think it’s interesting; obviously both are powerful, because they affect us so much, but which does so more?

My Nominees:

Finally, if you’re looking for a new blog to follow, whether they’re a beginner or old-timer, these are the blogs that I highly recommend you check out! They all possess a unique quality of writing that is really quite admirable.

  1. Sweeter than Nothing.
  2. Soul Connection.
  3. Flip Flops Every Day.
  4. Ramblings of a Writer.
  5. Behind the White Coat.
  6. Neel Writes Blog.
  7. L.E.R.T.
  8. Jessica Bakkers.

“The Taming of the Shrew”: Play Review

We all know Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth, but we are generally less educated in Shakespeare’s comedies. The fact of it is, though, that Shakespeare wrote more comedies than he did tragedies or histories. Tfullsizerender-1his review will focus on one of Shakespeare’s lesser known comedies, The Taming of the Shrew, which, in my opinion, has some of the most controversial issues of any of the Shakespearean plays.

The play essentially tells the tale of a rich man who is desperate to see his two daughters marry into noble families. The youngest of the two, Bianca, has many suitors, and is admired for her beauty and modesty. Yet her father, Baptista, refuses to let her marry any of these suitors until his older daughter, Katherina, has married. Unlike her sister, Katherina does not have a single suitor; she is outspoken, loud, and, in contemporary terms, unlady-like, or, as one suitor calls her, a “fiend of hell” (Shr. 1.1.98). The play continues, disguise and intrigue entering its narrative, forming what is generally seen as an amusing story, fitting for what was labelled a “comedy”.

Petruchio: And you good sir. Pray, have you not a daughter 
                     Called Katherina, fair and virtuous?

Baptista:    I have a daughter, sir, called Katherina.
(Shr. 2.1.42-44).

I, personally, found the above lines very amusing, but there are frequent periods of blunt comedy within the text, especially concerning Grumio, a servant to one of the suitors. Whilst not being directly named a “fool”, this is the role he seems to play, and strengthens the element of comedy in the play.

Despite this, the genre of “comedy”, in concerns to The Taming of the Shrew, has often been challenged. After all, whilst this is essentially a tale of romance, and thus presents the opportunity for comedy, it is a dark romance, the “shrew” in the title actually referring to Katherina, and the story depicting the “taming” of her outspoken personality, meaning that the end product of the play is a quiet, obedient Katherina who follows every word her husband says, her personality seemingly obliterated.

Petruchio, Katherina’s husband, forces her to endure several days without food and sleep, torturing her as a part of this “taming” process. Then, upon returning her to his father, he tests her obedience. He calls the sun the moon, and an old man a young maiden. Katherina, perhaps out of terror of her husband, agrees with him. This misogyny goes a step further, too; the very conclusion of the play depicts the husbands of Katherina and Bianca to have a bet, each claiming to have the most obedient wife. Petruchio wins the bet, having Katherina fondle his feet in front of the crowd, which includes her entire family.

Obviously, The Taming of the Shrew was designed for a patriarchal world where the woman was seen as lesser to man. The majority of its audience in the globe would have been men, and so it is easy to see why a play with what now is such controversial content, could have been, at the time, funny. However, this may look too bleakly on Shakespearean society. Whilst it is true that the play’s audience would not have the same views of equality that exist in modern society, for this was a time before the waves of feminism, many critics argue that not everyone would be able to laugh at Katherina’s torture at the hands of Petruchio. This is, of course, complete speculation, but some argue that the sexism is so blatant in the play, that Shakespeare actually uses satire to indicate the injustice in society, and, in this move, makes himself one of the first feminists (although he cannot be labelled as such, seeing as how the word “feminism” did not exist during his time, let alone a concept of this movement).

Regardless, The Taming of the Shrew is an exceptionally interesting play, if confusing on occasion, when more than half of the characters on stage are in disguise. It is funny, and it is thought-provoking; I would recommend giving it a read, or else checking to see if there are any recent performances of the play, seeing as Shakespeare was meant to be heard, not read on a page.

Note: the quotes in this post use line references from the Norton edition of the play:
Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Edited by Dympna Callaghan, Norton, 2009.