A New Season, A New 'Do, A New Attitude

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! Yesterday was officially the first day of pumpkin spice season Autumn, and to celebrate I decided it was time for a big change in my life. It’s been a year since I cut my hair, and it was looooong (for me). I hate my hair touching my neck, and it was well past my shoulders at that point, so I went to the salon and told my hairdresser to chop it all off and dye some of it magenta (like Erie!)

Before - look at that lion mane!
Before – look at that lion mane!

He looked HORRIFIED.

And then he talked me into doing copper highlights instead of magenta anything. He claimed it would match my skin tone, but I think really he was just scared that Hubs (who is also his client, and spends more money there than I do) would freak out. And he’s right – Hubs would have shit a brick if I came home with short, magenta hair. I didn’t really care, because mermaid hair, but my hairdresser asked if I trusted him and I said “of course” and then he turned me away from the mirror and got to work.

He put in strips of copper, which gives my whole head a sort of copper tone, but you can definitely see the stripes on the top, which is super funky and I love it. He left the front a little longer (he didn’t want to cut off all that hair, but I felt like a lion with a mane and told him it had to go), and shortened the back up quite a bit. He also did a bit of an asymmetrical cut, so one side is a little bit longer than the other (although you can’t tell in the photos), and the back is cut at a very shallow diagonal. It’s weird and I like it. Hubs loves it. And the hairdresser is super smart, because it’ll be long enough to bug me again soon, so I’ll be back to spend money again soon. Outsmarted once again!

After - you can almost tell that one side is longer.
After – you can almost tell that one side is longer.

Speaking of mermaid hair…I’ve been working on aging Erie up. It’s going pretty well so far, I think. I’m still waiting on CP feedback, but she definitely sounds older. But with fall I always miss Fie Eoin, and I spent much of that haircut yesterday rewriting the first couple scenes of NAMELESS in my head. Which makes me want to write them on paper. And it just so happens that the first fifty pages of Nameless is sitting on the desk next to me gathering dust…

I think we all know what I’ll be doing today.

I’ve read/listened to a bunch of books lately that I haven’t told you guys about. First was THE FOLD by Peter Clines – excellent sci-fi with an interesting premise and really exciting ending (I’m now listening to 14, which is a sort of prequel). Then THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh – the setting was gorgeously done, but it’s a cliff hanger! I will definitely read the second one. QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J Maas – probably the best of her Assassin books so far. I will ship Chaol/Celaena forever and you can’t make me stop. And SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay – not my usual fare because there’s no fantasy element, but it was so well done that I read almost the entire thing in one day and then re-read the ending the next day. For a YA it had a lot of very adult elements. I was surprised at the number of F-bombs.

So there you have it, Aledans. This summer was rough, but I’ve cut out everything that was weighing me down and it’s time to make autumn awesome. I hope you have a wonderful first fall weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

Pleasantly Surprised

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! I woke up an hour and a half early this morning, so I’m a zombie today. Good thing I like brains (no really, fried brains is one of the tastiest foods I’ve ever eaten). Too bad there’s no place that I know of in Charleston that sells them :/

I think my next character will have to like all the offal that I do, just so I can gross people out by writing about it.

In current-character news: I finally figured out how to age Erie up (I hope). I re-wrote her first chapter, and now I’m working on the second. Then I’ll go through and change all the bits that I need to in the rest of it, especially since I dropped a minor character, and a fight scene, and the description of the Mer scales. I definitely need to find a place to add that description back in.

I have to say, it felt damn good to have a pen in my hand again. I’ve been doing all my editing straight onto the computer and I missed handwriting new words. And the writing! Wow. I was pleasantly surprised with how much better it was. I learned a lot writing and editing StO. I’m terrified to go back and look at FE now.

But hey, it won’t be the first time I’ve completely rewritten FE.

Or even the fourth time.

*dies*

The baby chickens are growing fast and adorably ridiculous as always. They’ve learned how to hop/fly onto the patio furniture and the giant (empty) pots in the backyard. They eat constantly and are always underfoot now, begging for food.

My dad had a couple really rough days because his white blood cell count was so low, but his new bone marrow has started kicking in and making new blood cells for him, so he’s felt much better the past couple days. Hopefully he’ll be out of the hospital early next week, so fingers crossed everyone!

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!

What To Do Next? (a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! I’ve had a bit of time to recover from the end of Draft Four, and I’ve already heard back from a couple of friends that they loved it (the CPs have been curiously quiet…). I’ve been spending the week working on the synopsis and query, and although the synopsis is still very rough and makes the entire book sound stupid, the query is getting itself into shape.

I’ve also been reading a couple CP projects, and reading SABRIEL by Garth Nix. It took me a while to really get into it, but once I got to Touchstone, I’ve been devouring it. I’ll finish it today – probably at lunch. Then I have to decide what to read next.

And what to work on next. I really miss Fie Eoin, and I know fixing NAMELESS wouldn’t be too difficult, but I’ve already gone through a year of rejections on Nameless. Assuming StO goes anywhere, I don’t want the answer to the question “what are you working on next?” to be “something you already rejected.” And I don’t want to work on StO2 in case StO never sells. So I’m left with the option of fixing another already-written book (Phooka Tales, probably, since that would be in line with the paranormal fantasy thing going on in StO), or working on something completely new. I do have a “something completely new” rolling around in my brain, but so far there’s not much story, and the MC doesn’t even have a name yet. So we’ll see. I’m still quite fond of the monsters in PT, but this new story has enfields (a fox/hawk hybrid), and a mute MC, which would be a fun challenge to write since I rely so heavily on dialogue.

In super exciting awesome news: they found a bone marrow donor for my dad, so I’ll be flying home next month to see him when he goes into the hospital for the procedure. Expect my online presence (and especially the blog), to be sporadic for the next couple of months.

This weekend I have two awesome custom ponies for you, so be sure to come back on Sunday to see that. And until next time, I’ll leave you with a photo of my ladies, who are growing fast and almost ready to start laying eggs!

Mad Maxina and Imperator Furiosa, the chickens.
Mad Maxina and Imperator Furiosa, the chickens.

Draft Four is Finished! (a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I’ve had a whirlwind couple of weeks working on Speak the Ocean, and I’m happy to say that I finished Draft Four at lunch! Draft Four was by far the most difficult, because it included looking for all those little problem words I overuse while writing. Guess what my biggest problem word is? Look. Mostly in the context of “[character] looks [emotion]”, which I had to ruthlessly delete and show instead. And despite the extra description, I still managed to delete a ton of extra words. Plus, you know, it reads smoother now.

It took me three days to find and fix all the instances of “look”. There were 384 of them in a 366 page book. I’m also quite pleased that I got to use “ogle” in place of one of those looks. What a fun word.

So now StO is off with the final round of CP’s, and I have a couple weeks to breathe. I have to write the synopsis and query, of course, and I have a couple of CP projects to critique, but I think it’s high time I headed back to the mountains to work on Fie Eoin. I miss home <3

Problem Words (and a sneak peek at page one)
Problem Words (and a sneak peek at page one)

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part 6

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! This is the final week of Ocean’s Story, but don’t worry – you’ll see her in a book someday. I liked her too much to just give her a short story 😉 If you missed all the fighting and flinging-princesses-off-cliffs of the earlier parts of the story, you can find them all here.

The Winged Warrior

The “something deeper” Yule mentioned was Ocean’s wing. It had broken at the base.

“Can you fix it?” Ocean squeezed the priestess’ hand hard when she asked. If she lost the use of her wings it’d be like losing a limb. She’d be done as a warrior.

Yule wouldn’t look at her. “I can try.”

Her face was pale as she helped Ocean into a sitting position, wrapped her hand around the wing as close to the base as she could, and took a deep breath. Warmth rushed from Yule’s hand into the base of the wing, and when she yanked it back into place the searing pain darkened Ocean’s vision until she nearly passed out. Yule held her, hands warm with energy, until Ocean’s breathing returned to normal, then immobilized the wing with a bandage.

Yule’s hands shook as she poured a cup of willow bark tea and handed it to Ocean with a brave smile. “It’ll take a couple moons to know if it healed correctly. You are not to move it until then.”

Ocean gave a breathy laugh. “I don’t think I’ll be moving much regardless.”

The smile fell from Yule’s face. “No.”

There was a knock on the doorpost and Hem’s face appeared around the flap. “Can she have visitors?”

Yule placed herself between the king and Ocean. “What do you want?”

He stepped inside. He wore traveling clothes and his hair looked as flat and dull as tarnished gold. Nothing about him spoke King or power. He looked almost as empty as Barracuda. “To apologize.”

Ocean squeezed Yule’s fingers weakly and nodded. She stepped aside.

“Ocean,” Hem knelt next to her and folded his hands before him. “I owe you my deepest debt of gratitude. Without you, Kindra would be…”

Ocean winced at the mental image of what would have happened if she’d failed. “You charged me with her protection. Whatever the cost,” she said, her voice a breathy whisper.

“I…” He swallowed and glanced at the bandages that held her together. “I never meant for…”

“How’s Bar?” She interrupted.

“We were close enough it was no strain.”

She doubted that, but said nothing. If she hadn’t provoked Hemlock he wouldn’t have felt the need to draw on his twin-bond in the first place. Yule was right to call her stupid.

“I’m still leaving Kindra here for the summer, if you’ll have her. Even with you on bed rest it’s safer for her in Fie Eoin.”

Ocean sucked in a surprised breath, then winced at the pain in her ribs. “You still want me to guard her?”

“Of course,” he said. “You proved the lengths you’d go to for her.”

“Hem,” Ocean whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“Hush.” He patted her hand briefly before standing. He looked to the door, then back to her. “Do you remember Chief Gar, your grandfather?”

“A little.” He’d died when she was nine, but she remembered his easy smile and kind eyes. His rule had been one of peace and prosperity, before the Known World.

Hem swallowed. “He told me once that they didn’t deify his wife for the times she defeated her enemies in battle—many warriors have done that—or even for being the first woman warrior. Fie Eoin made her a goddess for the times she took on the hatred of the tribe to save them. For the times the tribe thought she’d abandoned then, when she never had.”

Ocean smiled. “We’re not deifying you, Hem.”

The corners of his mouth turned up as well. “I don’t expect you to. Just know I’m trying to keep you safe the only way I can.”

He turned to go, but Ocean spoke, as loud as her broken body would allow. “Hem?” When he stopped she glanced at the priestess. “Can Yule come with me this autumn?”

“Of course.” He nodded to them both and left.

Yule sat on the corner of the cot and grabbed Ocean’s hand. She’d barely stopped touching the warrior since the fall, using energy to speed along the healing process. She stared at Ocean’s fingers for a long moment, then smiled and looked in her eyes. “What makes you think I want to follow you to the Known World?”

Ocean smiled back. “I know how much you like tying me up in bandages.”

The priestess snorted, then put her hand on Ocean’s ankle—one of the few places that didn’t hurt—as her smile fell from her face. “I don’t know how you managed to pull energy like you did, but I will forever thank the Mother.”

“I think you should thank the Warrior Goddess instead.” The way the energy rushed up after Ocean called out, just enough to save them—it was the only explanation she could come up with. Kindra had saved her granddaughters.

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part 5

Happy Friday, Aledans! You may recall that last week, after a battle between cousins, I threw a princess off a cliff (you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to throw someone off that cliff!). She hasn’t quite gone SPLAT yet – it’s a long fall 😉

Catch up with the story here.

The Winged Warrior

“Kindra!” Hem yelled as he spun.

Ocean took a running start and dove off the cliff after her. The princess flailed, but Ocean tucked her arms and wings in, as true as a spear hitting its mark. She grabbed the girl around the waist and spread her wings, jerking them both up. The princess was heavier than the armor, though, and all Ocean accomplished was pushing them into an angled fall. “Kindra!” She cried out, to the princess or the goddess she didn’t know, and strained her wings to lift them.

The ground rushed at them fast—too fast. Ocean squeezed her eyes closed and wrapped herself around the princess. She felt the energy of the ground as they neared and wished desperately that she’d been born with the power to control it.

A sudden warm rush of energy hit her wings and pushed her up slightly. She opened her eyes in surprise. They sped along, inches from the dirt. She tucked her shoulder just before they hit solid ground. Pain exploded through her right side as Ocean wrapped tighter around the princess. They rolled to a stop, Ocean on her back and the girl atop her.

Sharp, dizzying pain throbbed through her body. “Princess,” she gasped. “Are you ok?”

Curls lay very still for a moment before whispering, “I think so.”

“Then…get off me,” Ocean managed to grind out.

The princess scrambled to the side and Ocean groaned as it sent pain shooting through her chest and arm. Yule landed and knelt, put her warm fingers on either side of Ocean’s face, and looked in her eyes. “Ocean,” her voice wavered, “Look at me.”

“I’m trying,” Ocean groaned. “When I…figure out…which one to…look at.”

“Concussion,” Yule whispered, tears shimmering in her eyes. She wiped them away, switching from lover to priestess, and flattened her hands to hold them just over Ocean’s head, then neck, then shoulders. “Wiggle your right fingers.”

Ocean squeezed her eyes together, then gasped. “Can’t.”

Yule nodded and put one hand on the top of Ocean’s shoulder and gripped the top of her arm with the other. “This is going to hurt, love. A lot.”

She didn’t give Ocean’s addled brain time to comprehend that before she shoved the joint back in place. Ocean would have screamed if she could have taken a full breath. Instead she gasped, then moaned.

“Can you wiggle your fingers now?”

Her hand shook, but the fingers moved.

“Good.” Yule brushed her warm fingers over Ocean’s shoulder, drawing healing energy into it. “Your arm’s broken, but the shoulder is back in place. Can you take a full breath?”

“No,” Ocean whispered.

Yule ran her hands just above Ocean’s chest, eyes closed, all her attention focused on the energy. “Broken ribs—at least three. Something deeper…” She didn’t elaborate as her hands moved lower, then down each leg.

She opened her eyes and put her hands on either side of Ocean’s face as the stoic priestess disappeared and the tears returned. When she spoke her voice was rough. “Don’t you ever do anything that stupid again.”

“Couldn’t let…the princess…die.”

“That’s not the part I was talking about,” Yule said and kissed her. Warmth spread through Ocean at the touch.

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part 4

Happy Friday, Aledans! And happy May! It’s Trina’s Day in Fie Eoin, so don’t forget to celebrate the Feast of Lovers tonight 😉 Speaking of lovers, it’s time to get back to Ocean and Yule, who had a very satisfying night last night. If you missed the beginning of Ocean’s story, you can find the first three parts here.

The Winged Warrior

The next morning Ocean trudged up the path to the cliff, Yule next to her, the princess following behind. Curls’ hands kept smoothing over the sides of her legs as if she expected the silk of her skirt rather than the wool pants and shirt that hung loose on her slim frame.

“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Ocean mumbled.

Yule bumped her hip. “I don’t recall talking much, although I did my best with my lips and tongue.”

“And hands.” Ocean flushed at the memory of Yule’s fingertips tracing the contours of her wings. The warm energy they left behind that calmed and intoxicated Ocean. The way Yule’s fingers trailed lower, until Ocean was gasping a promise to teach the princess self-defense.

Besides, it would drive Hemlock mad to know his precious daughter was handling weapons.

The cliff was a wide, grassy area with trees on one side and a sheer drop-off on the other. Ocean preferred practicing here because no one ever came up except the priestesses. The princess, however, looked uncomfortable. “Why can’t we practice below?”

“We can,” Ocean said, “If you want the trainees to watch.”

Curls ran to catch up. Already she was winded from the steep climb, but she wiped the sweat from her brow. “No. This is good.”

Ocean smiled—she hadn’t wanted to practice in front of the trainees at first, either. She’d made Bar and Hem teach her on the cliff until she felt confident enough to keep her wings out of the way of an attack. Even the granddaughter of a warrior goddess wasn’t immune to teasing or injury.

“Alright,” Ocean drew the dagger from her belt and held it out for the princess. “A blade this size is easy to hide and wield, even for a girl like you. Unless you prove truly adept—and you might, with the goddess’ blood—you’ll never touch anything larger.”

Curls grabbed the hilt and lifted it from Ocean’s hand with a frown. “It’s not very big.”

“Skin isn’t thick. Thrust this into someone’s gut and they won’t run after you very fast.” She grabbed the princess’ chin and locked eyes with her. “I’m not teaching you to kill a man, just to distract him with pain long enough to get away.”

“Can’t I do that on my own?” Curls asked.

“Did you last time?”

“Ocean,” Yule hissed. “Don’t be cruel.”

“Sorry,” Ocean said to the girl. “I’ve been part of your father’s army too long. I don’t always know when to keep my mouth shut.”

To her credit, Curls looked her in the eye. “What do I need to do next time?”

Ocean smiled, maybe this princess would prove tougher than she looked. “First we need to work on your stance.”

“I have perfect posture.”

“To be shoved over.” Ocean bent down and hit the girl’s ankles until they were shoulder-length apart. “There. You’re not at court; you don’t need to be modest here.”

“It feels weird.”

Yule poked Curls’ shoulder with two fingers. She swayed a bit, but didn’t lose her footing. Yule smiled. “Ocean made me do this once too.”

For good reason. I’m already losing Barracuda; I’m not going to lose you, too.

Ocean stood in front of the princess and grabbed the hand that was holding the dagger. “You don’t want to hit the ribs, so stab low and point the blade up, like this.” She moved Curls’ hand to demonstrate, then released her. “Try it on your own.”

The girl’s face paled. “What if I stab you?”

“You won’t.”

“Ok…” Timidly, Curls moved the dagger forward towards Ocean’s chest.

“Too high,” Ocean said. “Try again. Do it with some force this time.”

The princess tried again, stabbing over and over as Ocean frowned at the messy execution. “You’re going to have to do it harder than that if you want to hurt someone.”

“Kindra!” Hemlock barked as he appeared at the path head. “What are you doing?”

The princess dropped the dagger. “Father,” she said in Known, “I….”

Ocean put a hand on her shoulder and stared her cousin down. “I’m teaching her how to stab a man. Just in case.”

Hem glanced at her, then the dagger at their feet. “Your job is to guard her, not let her guard herself.”

Ocean bent down leisurely to grab the weapon. “Guards die. She needs to know how to defend herself if it happens again.”

“What’s wrong Ocean?” Hem’s eyes slit into a glare. “Afraid you might break a wing defending her?”

Ocean snorted. “Maybe that’s why you want me to be her guard. Maybe you’re trying to kill me off, like Bar. With us gone you’d eventually become king of Fie Eoin.”

Hem’s face blanched. “I would never…I’m not trying to kill Bar or rule Fie Eoin.”

“You’re certainly not trying to help him survive.”

“Ocean,” Yule touched her arm. Ocean shook her off. She’d been waiting thirteen summers to confront Hem.

His hands closed into fists at his side. “This isn’t about Bar or Fie Eoin. You cannot teach Kindra to wield a blade—she’s a princess.”

Ocean spread her wings so suddenly both Yule and Curls jumped back. “You taught me, and I’m Faye. Or have you forgotten all of Fie Eoin’s rules?”

“Cousin,” Hem said, a warning in his tone.

“No. You have no right to call me that anymore. You may call me ‘servant’ or ‘guard’ or ‘soldier,’ but not ‘cousin.’”

“Ocean,” he breathed. “You’re being unreasonable.”

She flipped the dagger in the air. “You’ll know when I’ve become unreasonable.”

“Are you threatening me?” His hand fell automatically to the sword at his side. A Known sword.

Yule squeezed Ocean’s arm hard. “Don’t. He’s King and you can’t win.”

“Fie Eoin has no king.” Ocean stared pointedly at Hemlock. Although he didn’t spend much time at the front he hadn’t gone soft. His gaze travelled over her, sizing her up, resting on her wings as they twitched. There was a good reason his men feared her.

She stepped forward and his knuckles went white around the hilt. “You have forgotten everything you once were,” she said. His jaw tightened. “All you can see now is what is Known, and Fie Eoin isn’t Known.”

“Because of me—“

“Because of your mother!”

He drew his sword. “Stop, Ocean. Now. You don’t know what happened—“

“Bar told me.” She took another step forward. “Bar told me her sacrifice. And his—“

“I have sacrificed, too!”

“I imagine running away to play king while you can feel your twin-bond dying is quite the sacrifice.”

“Stop,” he said as she took another step forward.

She had only her dagger and wings against his sword and twin-bond, but the look in Bar’s eyes at the temple made the anger rise in her, sharp and hot. She stopped before Hemlock. “And then you had the audacity to name your half-breed child ‘Kindra.’”

The moment the energy beneath her feet began to drain away Ocean’s fingers tightened around the small blade in her hand. He was using his twin-bond with Barracuda against her.

“If that’s how it’s going to be…” She jumped into the air.

Hemlock swung.

“Ocean!” Yule yelled.

“Father!” The princess screamed.

The power behind his swing was more than Ocean had ever encountered, and she had only a dagger to deflect. The force of it pushed her over the edge of the cliff and left her arm radiating with pain. Stunned, she barely remembered to snap her wings open before she fell.

He ran towards her and she dove, his shield of energy pushing against her. This time their weapons didn’t even touch—the force of the twin-bond slammed into Ocean so hard it sent her to the ground on the cliff’s edge, gasping for air.

“Are you done?” Hemlock growled.

Ocean pushed herself up and stood on shaking legs. “Why? Have you finally drained Bar?”

Hem’s face turned bright red. “You’re the one doing this.”

“You’re the one using your twin-bond against me! What’s wrong, King? Afraid to lose to a Faye girl?”

“Ocean!” Yule yelled. “Stop! He’s pulling too much energy!”

“Because he’s draining Barracuda!” Ocean screamed and took to the air. She darted from one side to the other, her feet only touching the ground when she needed the leverage, and attacked the energy shield around Hemlock.

“Bar was the only one I had after you abandoned us!” She screamed as she slashed. “You brought the Known World—” She slashed again, cutting deeper into the shield. “You killed your mother.” Slash. “And Shrike.” Slash. “Cougar.” Slash.

He drew the energy closer with each swipe of her dagger. “Tide,” she whispered, choking back a sob. “And now Bar.”

Ocean was ready when the energy exploded from him, and spread her wings as she was thrown back. Yule barely stumbled. But the princess, who had run behind her father, begging him to stop, screamed as the force knocked her over the cliff.

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part 3

Happy Friday, Aledans! I didn’t get an update post up yesterday, but that’s because I’ve done almost nothing writing-wise this past week (although I did edit the first scene of StO to make the sentences pretty), so you aren’t missing out on much of an update 😉 We’re continuing with Ocean’s story today – you can read Part 1 or Part 2 if you missed them.

The Winged Warrior

Ocean’s tent was twenty feet deep and ten feet wide, with a banked cookfire in the center and a cot on either side. She had moved her armor and weapons to the right side, leaving the left empty. Supplies for food storage and preparation lined the back wall.

Curls sat on her cot and stared at the wall as Yule helped Ocean prepare for the feast. “You have a lot of weapons.”

Ocean winced as the sharp edge of the iron cuirass scraped the base of her wing. “I’ve killed a lot of people.”

The princess studied her face for a moment. “I thought the Faye didn’t fight?”

The Faye that had come from across the mountains, like Yule, wouldn’t touch weapons. They were healers and priestesses, not warriors. “They don’t, but I’m a daughter of Fie Eoin. I come from a long line of warriors.”

“But how’d you get your name? I thought they had to whip you for that.”

For the Mother she had a lot of questions. “I cut my wings off for the ceremony, then grew them back.”

The princess’ eyes grew wide. “You cut off your own wings?”

Yule tugged hard on a buckle and Ocean winced again as the plate dug into the scars on her back. “Actually, Barracuda did it, with Yule’s help. She told him where to cut, and it took all of winter to grow them back, but it was worth it. I’m faster than any other warrior and I can attack my enemies from above.”

The princess’ gaze slid back to the weapons on the wall. “Will you teach me?”

“No.”

“I come from a long line of warriors too.” The girl touched the scar on her chin. “If you teach me to fight then I’ll be able to protect myself. I won’t need a guard.”

Yule ducked under Ocean’s arm to fix the buckles in the front. A teasing smile brightened her face. “The princess has a point.”

“See?” Curls said. “Even a Faye priestess agrees.”

The smile on Yule’s face grew. She would pay for that as soon as Ocean could sneak away from the feast.

Ocean shook her head as she forced the image of Yule’s smooth, flushed skin from her mind and focused on her conversation with the princess. “You will always need a guard. Even your father has a guard. Even the Warrior Goddess had a guard while she was mortal.”

“But all my guards have failed.”

Ocean grabbed her dagger from her cot and tucked it into her belt. “Why do you say that?”

Curls touched her scar, her gaze landing on the wall of weapons again. When she spoke it was at a whisper. “Because they’re all dead.”

Ocean crossed the tent and squeezed the princess’ shoulder. “But you’re still alive, which means they didn’t fail at all.”

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part Two

Happy Friday, Aledans! We’re continuing with Ocean’s story today, but if you missed part one you can find it here.

The Winged Warrior

Ocean shoved off the cliff and spread her wings, taking a much quicker route. The king’s guard grabbed their weapons as she dropped out of the sky into their midst. “Hello boys,” she chuckled as they fidgeted in embarrassment. “Miss me?”

“Cousin,” Hemlock said, only mildly surprised even as his wife and daughter jumped back in alarm. “Quite the entrance.”

He looked tired, his golden hair mottled with silver, his eyes shadowed with dark circles. What could send a king running from a palace bristling with guards to a small village in the northern mountains? The messenger had said only that Hem was bringing his daughter for the summer, and Ocean was to be her personal guard.

“King Hemlock,” She bowed, wings straight up in salute. “Queen Alyssa. Princess.”

He grabbed her arms and stood her up. “Please don’t bow to me here. I’m not the King of Fie Eoin.”

“Indeed.” She glanced at the small group. “Huh. I don’t see your twin here to welcome you.”

Hemlock’s shoulders tightened. “He must be busy.”

“He didn’t mention having anything to do today.”

Hemlock looked to the sky as if asking Aleda for patience, then turned to his daughter. “Kindra,” every Aledan within earshot winced at the sacrilegious name, “you remember your cousin, Ocean.”

The princess curtsied, the silk of her skirt shining in the sunlight. “You’re to be my new guard,” she said as she stood. A faint white scar broke the dark skin on her chin—she’d been born in battle, which is why her father named her after the Warrior Goddess.

“I am,” Ocean nodded. “You’ll be living with me for the summer.”

Hemlock squeezed his daughter’s shoulder. “Ocean is one of the best warriors I’ve ever met. You’ll be safe with her. I promise.”

The princess’ gaze slid to the village. Dark curls highlighted with gold framed her hazel eyes. Aledan eyes. Wary eyes. “Where’s the palace?”

She hadn’t been to Fie Eoin since she was born and Ocean knew the hide tents must be a disappointment compared to the stone buildings in the capital city. A few stone structures dotted Fie Eoin now—the temple, the chief’s house—but the majority of the Aledans still lived in tents. She preferred the warm softness of the hides to the cold, hard stone.

“There is no palace—Fie Eoin has no king.” Ocean cut her gaze to Hemlock, but his face remained emotionless at the jab. “Come on, Curls,” she used the nickname she’d given the princess last summer. “I’ll show you where you’ll sleep.”

She turned her back on the royal family. Ocean had fought for Hemlock, but only because if his enemies won they would come after Fie Eoin next.

“Ocean,” Curls said as she followed behind. “Can we go to the temple first?”

“Why?”

“Because she was my great-grandmother.”

Ocean stopped and looked at the princess. She’d grown since last summer—they were almost of a height. The girl’s dark skin and wild hair may be Known, but she was undeniably Aledan as well. “As you wish, Princess.” Ocean turned on her heel and led the way to the temple in the center of the village.

The stone structure stood on the old fire circle, nine feet by nine, with a hide doorflap that faced the High Priestess’ tent. Inside, candles burned day and night, illuminating the carved rock altar and the blue sword that sat upon it. They also illuminated her cousin, Bar, who stared at the blade with his arms crossed.

“Barracuda,” Ocean nodded and stepped aside so the princess could enter.

“Ocean,” he nodded in return, “Princess.” His hair had gone completely silver with the strain of his twin-bond. The twins in their family could use their bond to manipulate the earth’s energy much like the priestesses, but the farther apart they were, the bigger the strain. “I suppose that means Hem is here.”

“Just arrived.”

He squared his shoulders. “I’ll leave you the temple then. See you at the feast.”

When he was gone Curls turned to Ocean. “He doesn’t like me much.”

“Bar doesn’t like himself much, either. Not anymore.” Ocean turned to the blue blade, the amethyst jewels in the hilt shining in the candlelight. It belonged to her father now, but he hadn’t touched it since he took it from his twin sister’s dead hand and gave it to the High Priestess. He wouldn’t use it, not even as Chief of Fie Eoin.

The sword that had saved the tribe from their enemies sat on a carved rock, in a building of carved rock, useless until the day it would become Ocean’s.

“Can I touch it?” The princess whispered, her voice filled with awe.

Ocean nodded. Curls ran her fingers over the hilt, carved and jeweled to resemble wisteria. “It’s beautiful.”

“And deadly.” Ocean had watched from the cliffs as this sword cut down numerous Known soldiers. Felt the energy of the land drained by the twins in her family. Was thrown back as the energy exploded out of them, doing more damage than a blade alone ever could.

Her hands folded into fists as she remembered the destruction. Yule was right—even if she learned to fly in armor she could never win against that raw power.

Fie Eoin Friday: The Winged Warrior, Part One

Happy Friday, Aledans! Yesterday I told you that my submission for the Women in Practical Armor anthology was rejected, and since I have nothing else to do with it I figured I might as well use it for Fie Eoin Friday. So for the next six weeks we’ll be following Ocean, the winged warrior. For those of you who’ve read the rest of the Fie Eoin Friday’s, this is set about 50 years after the first book, so you may not recognize anyone 😉 Enjoy!

The Winged Warrior

Her parents named her Kaye after the High Priestess, but the Warrior Goddess named her Ocean. It was a powerful name—close to the Goddess’ own.

She hauled herself onto a low, thick branch where the forest and field met at the top of the cliff, and spread her wings. The branch groaned under her weight.

“The armor is too heavy to fly in,” Yule warned from the ground. Her long blonde hair lifted in the wind before settling over her own wings. “You’re going to break something.”

“Won’t be the first time,” Ocean said. She could fight in the air with sword or spear, and she’d even managed to get airborne with greaves and manica, but the segmented cuirass was too heavy and uncomfortable, even when altered to accommodate her wings.

“You’ve never broken a wing before. I can’t heal them if they break too close to the base.”

Yule’s face pulled into a worried frown, but Ocean smiled at her. “I have faith in you. Besides, I’ve been strengthening them. It’ll work this time.”

Without waiting for an argument, she spread her wings and jumped. The cicada-like appendages caught the wind and kept her airborne for a moment before the weight of the armor pulled her down. She threw her arms up in front of her face and let the manica take the brunt of the fall.

Yule ran to her. The annoyance in her voice had drained away to worry. “Are you ok? Let me see your arms.”

“I’m fine.” Ocean pushed herself up with a groan. She’d left two deep gouges in the dirt, but other than some chafing she wasn’t hurt.

Yule unclasped the manica and checked her arms, then began the long process of unbuckling the cuirass. Each thin, curved piece of metal wrapped around Ocean’s side to buckle in the front and back. They were held together with thick leather cords that tied up like a corset.

“That was a stupid idea,” Yule finally said. “I told you it wouldn’t work.”

Ocean lifted her arms to make the unbuckling easier. “You think all my ideas are stupid.”

“Because they are.” Yule stuck her tongue out. Ocean kissed it.

“Eww! You’re disgusting. I don’t know why the Mother let a creature like you on this earth.”

Ocean grinned. “She has an excellent sense of humor.”

Yule shook her head, smiling, as she finished with the buckles. “I still don’t see why you need to learn to fly with all this weight. They let you fight without it, and you aren’t going to the front lines regardless.”

No, Ocean was babysitting a princess this summer. “I don’t like the idea of being land-bound if I’m in it.”

“When will you be in it?”

“Whenever I’m in the presence of the king.” Ocean’s shoulders tightened as Yule pulled the cuirass off, careful not to nick her wings. Ocean immediately felt better without the metal. As a winged Faye, she was able to sense the energy of the earth, although she didn’t have the natural magic that a priestess like Yule did.

Ocean sat on the edge of the cliff, legs dangling over the side, and watched the standard-bearers descend from the southern pass. Sunlight flashed off the armor of the soldiers who had accompanied the royal family from the Known World to Fie Eoin.

Yule twisted a golden strand of Ocean’s hair between her fingers. “You should probably get down there to greet him.”

“He’s already walking into a wall of disdain. I won’t add mine yet.”

“Ocean,” Yule tsked. “You can’t blame him for leaving. He had a wife whose country was falling apart and a newborn daughter. Of course he couldn’t stay.”

“He also had a tribe in turmoil and a twin-bond he’s stretched so thin Bar never smiles anymore.”

Yule tucked the strand of hair back into Ocean’s braid. “Bar has plenty of other reasons to not smile.”

“Which is why Hemlock should have stayed.” She could never forgive her cousin for leaving Fie Eoin, for betraying his twin-bond. Soon Barracuda would be a husk, as empty as her father.

Yule ran the tips of her fingers lightly over Ocean’s wings, leaving a trail of warmth. “Nuh-uh,” Ocean said. “No using your magic on me.”

“I’m just trying to calm you down, love. You can’t start a fight with the king of the Known World. You’d never win.”

Ocean sighed—someone needed to put Hem in his place.

Yule stood, dusted herself off, and planted a kiss on the top of Ocean’s head. “Whatever sent Hemlock all the way to Fie Eoin must have been significant. He’s family—he trusts you.” She gathered the armor and began the long walk down the path, speaking over her shoulder. “I’ll see you before the feast to help you get this madness back on.”