She searched every corner of her nose with her pinky, scratching at the sides until she found the treasure she was after. She pulled her pinky out and examined her findings, but only briefly before she wiped it carelessly on the flowered wallpaper against a green leaf belonging to a lily. Lilies were her favorite flowers, and she took a moment to admire the lilies that were scattered on the yellow walls of her bedroom.
She heard a honk suddenly, bringing her attention back to reality, and she jumped to her feet and ran to her window, looking down on the street below. There, waiting as it always did, was her carriage waiting to take her away for the day. She hurried out of her bedroom, down the stairs, and grabbed the backpack from beside the front door, swinging it over her shoulder. She shouted goodbye over her shoulder as she opened the door and slipped outside into the warm, spring air. She climbed into the carriage and took the seat beside a young, dark skinned girl, as she always did.
“Hi, Tammy,” the girl greeted her, but she did not smile.
“Hi, Keisha.” Tammy smiled as she sat beside her, swinging her bag around to sit on her lap. “What’s wrong?”
Keisha shook her head. Her dark curls bounced around her face. “Nothing.”
But Tammy was accustomed to her friend’s behaviors. Some days - most days - she was sad. Her eyes were red, and Tammy was sure she had been crying.
“I brought some bubbles for recess,” Tammy said.
Keisha smiled at this, and that made Tammy happy.
“We can play castle again,” Keisha suggested.
Tammy raised a brow at her. “Play castle?” she echoed. She rolled her eyes dramatically. “It’s not a game.”
“I know,” Keisha said slowly, though she seemed confused.
Perhaps she meant that she wanted to play in the castle. This made more sense to Tammy. They always played in the castle. That was where the carriage was bringing them. Every day the carriage brought them to the castle where they roamed long corridors that brought them to amazing rooms. In some rooms, books seemed to line the walls from floor to ceiling. This room was her favorite; the floor was soft and fluffy pillows could be used anywhere you wanted. When she and Keisha came to this room, they always built a fort out of the pillows and read books inside.
Other rooms seemed to transport them into a whole new world entirely. One brought them to a lush, green rainforest, while another brought them to sandy beaches where they could hear the sound of crashing waves from the ocean. And, of course, no castle was complete without a grand dining hall where all the children gathered to eat at the exact same time every day.
Tammy was familiar with the routine. Some days, she began her morning outside on the playground until the rest of the kids arrived, but other days, she joined Keisha in the dining hall for breakfast; a special treat that wasn’t offered to all the other kids. She and Keisha were special; they weren’t princesses, but it was likely they were being groomed to take the role when they got a little older.
Once all the other kids arrived, they gathered together in groups - always the same groups - and followed their specific teachers to their designated rooms. It was in these rooms where they learned so many things that princes and princesses needed to learn. Tammy and Keisha had seen so many wonderful things since they came to the castle. It seemed impossible that the world was so large and that they could learn everything about it, but Tammy was trying her hardest.
It was after learning when they gathered together for lunch, and following lunch they got to play outside. Tammy didn’t like to be outside as much, though. Sometimes, Keisha would leave Tammy behind to play with her friends. Tammy wasn’t friends with Keisha’s friends, and on these days, Tammy sat alone on the bench and watched Keisha play.
Tammy was happy to see Keisha happy. But still, she missed her friend on these days, and no one else ever talked to her. They only did when Keisha was with her. Sometimes, it felt like Tammy didn’t have any friends at all. So she was glad to hear that Keisha wanted to play with her. She was glad she wouldn’t be alone today.
The carriage finally stopped in front of the castle, and Tammy looked up in awe as they stepped out. She was always happy to be at the castle. The castle felt like home. She wished she never had to leave. But every day at the same time, the carriage returned to take them away. Tammy wondered where the other children went. She supposed they had homes, too, like her and Keisha. But were their homes like hers? Just as empty and lonely and dark?
Keisha was already walking into the castle, and Tammy had to run to catch up to her. She slipped her arms into the straps of her bag as she ran, looking up hesitantly at the adult she had passed in the process, certain she would get scolded for running, but the adult didn’t seem to notice her, and she sighed in relief.
Today was one of the days where they would eat breakfast in the dining hall. Tammy could already smell the maple syrup wafting through the halls as they made their way through. Pancakes were her favorite breakfast. It was going to be a good day. She followed Keisha as they walked to the counter and an old woman who Tammy always suspected to be a witch handed her a tray of food. She smiled, and Tammy shivered. She followed Keisha to a table and sat beside her.
“Are you sure it’s not poisoned?” Tammy asked as Keisha took a bite.
Keisha shrugged. “I dunno,” she said simply.
The dining hall was relatively empty and quiet. Keisha did not offer much for conversation. She didn’t finish her breakfast, either, and it was almost time to go.
“What’s the matter, Keisha?” an adult woman asked. She sat on the other side of Keisha and smiled. “Aren’t you hungry?”
Keisha shook her head. Tammy saw the sadness return in her eyes. She didn’t know why, but she wanted to cry, especially if Keisha did.
But Keisha didn’t cry.
“Not really,” Keisha replied to the adult.
The adult woman frowned. “Did you eat at home?”
“No, you didn’t!” Tammy stood. “Don’t lie!”
The woman stood. “Alright, Hun. You can go throw your food out and I’ll walk you to your class.”
Keisha did as she was told and the woman led them out of the dining hall.
“Why did you lie?” Tammy asked, but Keisha ignored her.
Tammy was starting to feel angry with Keisha. She wasn’t normally this mean to her. But when they stepped into the room, she no longer felt angry. She felt excited. She felt at home.
And it seemed Keisha did, too. For a moment, she had forgotten about being sad, and she hurried to bring her bag to her assigned cubby. Tammy shared a cubby with Keisha; it was brightly decorated by the two of them when they first came to the castle. It was a good memory; they had so much fun decorating it together. Tammy placed her bag beside Keisha’s, then the two of them joined the other children at the front of the room. It was time to sing songs.
Keisha and Tammy loved to sing. They sang songs about the weather, the time, about colors and letters and numbers. And when they were finished singing, they joined the other children, sitting at the tables placed around the room where they practiced writing and coloring.
Tammy was in the midst of her latest masterpiece, focused only on the details of her drawing. She was making sure she utilized every color crayon she could; it was necessary, of course, to complete the rainbow she placed in the top left corner of the page. She was just about to reach for a goldenrod yellow when the boy across from her grabbed it as her hand hovered over it. He pressed the crayon hard against the page as he began to scribble, and Tammy whined.
“Georgie!” she shouted at him. “I was going to use that!”
But Georgie ignored her, and she frowned.
“Georgie! Give it back! You took it! I need it!”
Still, Georgie paid her no mind. Tammy turned to Keisha desperately, hoping for help from her friend, but Keisha seemed to be ignoring her, too.
Angry, Tammy stood. She swiped her arm across the table, sending her paper and some of the crayons flying off and onto the floor. This got Keisha’s attention.
“Why did you do that?” Keisha asked.
“You guys are ignoring me!”
Keisha frowned. “Do you want to color with me?”
“Why do you talk to her?” Georgie sneered.
“Because she’s my friend!” Keisha said.
Georgie laughed. “You’re weird.”
Tammy frowned, but she was grateful that her friend finally acknowledged her. She sat back in her chair and moved closer to Keisha, peering over to see what she was coloring. Her sheet had the outline of two puppies playing, and Keisha was coloring one in purple.
“Do you want to color the other dog?” Keisha asked.
Tammy smiled. Purple was Keisha’s favorite color. “Can I color it green?” Green was her favorite color.
Keisha smiled and nodded, and Tammy picked up a green crayon and began to color in the second puppy.
When they were finished coloring, it was time to leave the room. The children lined up in a neat, orderly line as they always did, and together, they made their way excitedly through the castle and to the gym.
The castle had a really cool gym, and twice a week, they were allowed to play in the gym, often with other children from other rooms in the castle. It was the largest room in the castle. Their favorite songs always played when they were there. And after spending a few minutes stretching and running, they got to play games.
Sometimes the games were standard games, like soccer and basketball. Other times, they played with scooters, ropes, and scarves. It was always very loud in the gym, but none of the children minded. It was one of their favorite parts of the day.
Except when they played team games. Tammy didn’t like when they played team games. It seemed the other children didn’t like Tammy, and most of them all ignored her when it came time to picking teams. But today, they were playing in groups of four, and Tammy was relieved when Keisha chose two other girls to play with them. They were of the few that talked to Tammy.
“Jaysha and Meghan - do you want to play with me and Tammy?”
The two girls approached them excitedly, skipping arm in arm. They each carried a jump rope with them.
“Hi, Tammy,” Jaysha said with a wide grin.
“Do you want to do double dutch?” Meghan asked.
Tammy loved double dutch, and she and Keisha were the best at it.
“Yeah!” Keisha exclaimed.
Jaysha and Meghan held the two ropes between them, and Keisha and Tammy stood in the middle between them. They began to swing the ropes around them, and they jumped in perfect synchronization, their feet never touching the rope. Jaysha and Meghan cheered them on as they jumped and jumped and jumped. It felt like they jumped a thousand times in a row! But neither of them could actually count that high. Still, Tammy thought that was how many jumps they did, and she couldn’t wait to tell everyone. They were the best jump ropers in the whole world.
When it was time to leave the gym, the children made their way into the dining hall. It was time for lunch. The best part about lunch was that they could go outside and play after. Tammy looked out the window longingly. The sky was clear and blue and the sun shone brightly. She couldn’t wait to get outside and play some more.
Outside, things were different. She wasn’t ignored and was often allowed to play with Keisha and her other friends. She didn’t understand why things were different outside, but she liked it. She liked swinging and sliding and playing hopscotch. Sometimes, all they wanted to do was run and play tag. Tammy was fast. She loved being fast. And she loved hiding during hide and seek. Inside the castle, there were often rules. Sometimes they couldn’t run or be as loud. Sometimes they had to be quiet, and it was often hard for Tammy to sit still. But outside, those rules didn’t apply. She loved every bit of the castle, but sometimes, being outside was the best.
Tammy and Keisha were about to join the other children to play when one of the adults stopped them. She got down to speak with Keisha.
“It’s too hot for a jacket, don’t you think?”
Keisha frowned. “My mom says I can’t take it off.”
The adult lady frowned. “Why not?”
“Well, I say you can,” she said, and she helped Keisha remove her jacket. “It’s silly to wear a jacket when it’s so warm out. You’ll get hot, right?”
She pulled at Keisha’s arm and examined it with a frown. “How did you get these cuts and bruises?”
Keisha shrugged. “I fell.”
“Tell me the truth, Keisha. What happened?”
She sighed. “Go play, Sweetie.”
Keisha hurried away from the adult to join her friends, but Tammy held back. She watched as the lady joined with the other adults. They spoke quietly, and Tammy could not hear what they were saying, but she could tell they looked sad and angry.
Outside always seemed to be too short, though, and before she knew it, they were being brought inside the castle once more. But Tammy didn’t mind too much. She had gotten hot outside, and the castle was dark and cool. She got to drink some water at one of the castle’s magic fountains, then they were in their room again.
They sat at their tables where brightly colored blocks waited for them. The blocks fit together perfectly, and already, the boys started to press them together as long as they could, using them as swords to fight one another. But it wasn’t time for them to train as knights, and they were immediately told to take their blocks apart.
Tammy stared out the window, lost in thought as the adult spoke to them, and the children listened. Together, they sorted the blocks into groups, counting each group. Then, they pressed the blocks together and counted the blocks again. Tammy watched Keisha as she followed the instruction, but otherwise did not partake in the activity. She stared down at her own blocks.
“I ran out,” Keisha said. She looked at Tammy. “Can I borrow some of yours?”
Tammy nodded. She wasn’t using them, anyway.
When they were finished with the blocks, the children were allowed to play once more. Different stations were set up around the room, and they were allowed to choose where they wanted to play. Keisha and Tammy joined Jaysha and Meghan at the kitchen. Jaysha was rocking a baby in her arms, and Meghan was on the phone.
“I need twenty pizzas and twenty sodas,” Meghan said. “Five hundred dollars? Do you take credit cards?” She turned to Jaysha. “Hey! Gimme your credit card!”
Jaysha rolled her eyes dramatically. “Buy diapers, too.”
“Oh yeah. Five hundred diapers, please,” Meghan said into the phone.
Jaysha smiled to Keisha and Tammy as they approached. “Do you guys like my baby?”
“Yeah!” Tammy said.
“What’s her name?” Keisha asked.
“I named her Jasmine. Meghan is buying pizza. What do you want?”
“Ice cream!” Tammy and Keisha said in unison.
“And five hundred ice creams!” Meghan said into the phone. She nodded. “Okay. Thanks. Bye!” She hung up the phone and turned to them. “I’m glad you’re here. I have to go to work. Here’s the credit card. Bye!”
Keisha took the credit card and watched as Meghan left. Meghan made her way to a box with clothes in it, and she quickly dressed into doctor clothes.
“Oh, wait!” Meghan ran back to them. “Ding dong!”
“I got it,” Keisha said. She opened the door.
“Here’s your pizzas and sodas and diapers and ice cream!” Meghan said.
“I thought you were at work?”
“I am!” Meghan stamped her foot. “Just pretend I’m the pizza guy, too!”
Keisha handed her the credit card. “How much?”
“One thousand dollars!” Meghan took the card, slid it through her machine, then handed it back to Keisha with their pizza, soda, ice cream, and diapers. She hurried off again.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Meghan! It looks like you broke your legs and your arms and your butt!” She giggled to herself.
“Let me help you with that,” Tammy said to Keisha, taking some of the items. “Time to eat!”
Keisha dug through a bin of food, placing several slices of pizza on plates. She handed them to Tammy and to Jaysha. Jaysha took her piece and shoved it into her baby’s mouth.
“Oops! She has a dirty diaper!” She dropped the baby onto the table and began to change her.
“This is good pizza,” Tammy said as she chewed.
“The pizza was on sale,” Jaysha said. “It was really cheap!” Jaysha frowned down at the baby, then. She picked her up and her nose crinkled.
“She cries too much!” She threw the baby across the room.
“I’m home!” Meghan announced. She took off her doctor coat. “Phew! I had to do a hundred surgeries today!” She looked around. “Where’s Jasmine?”
“I didn’t want her anymore.”
“That’s okay. I’m pregnant with fifty babies.”
“Oh, man,” Jaysha said. “Does that mean I need to get a job?”
“We’re bajillionaires,” Keisha said.
Jaysha sighed in relief. “Thank God.”
“Alright, everyone. It’s time to clean up and get your bags to go home!”
Some of the children whined, but they quickly started to pick up their things. Some of the boys threw their toys across the room, shouting when their items landed in the appropriate buckets. They frowned and apologized when they were yelled at. Tammy didn’t bother to help with clean-up, however, and she hurried around the corner to her cubby where she sat and waited for Keisha.
One by one, children gathered in the cubby, talking and laughing as they gathered their backpacks. Keisha and Tammy grabbed theirs, then returned to their seats at the table. Once everyone was ready, they left the castle and waited outside for their carriage.
“Are you coming over?” Keisha asked Tammy.
Tammy smiled. “Yeah!”
Keisha returned her smile. “Mom said we can have a sleepover.”
Tammy always slept over Keisha’s house. Sometimes it was really fun. Other times, she wished she were back at the castle. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t stay at the castle all the time.
When the carriage stopped at Keisha’s house, Tammy followed her off the bus. Inside, the house seemed to be empty. Keisha dropped her bag on the floor. It tipped backwards and fell against a small table, rocking it. The motion caused a small, glass item to fall to the floor where it shattered. Keisha hurried into her bedroom, but Tammy took a moment to look around. It always smelled funny, there, but Tammy had grown accustomed to it. She didn’t know what the other kids’ houses looked like, but she imagined they were all the same.
They entered into a single room where there was a stove, sink, and refrigerator. In front of the kitchen area was a small table with two chairs, one on either side. They appeared old and dirty, even broken in places. A single brown couch was near that, wip rips and holes in the fabric, and a small tv sat in front of that. The walls were plain in color and bare and appeared yellowed and dirty at the edges. There were stains in places, both on the walls and floors, and the ceiling had spots of yellow as well.
Tammy moved across the room. There were two doors on the opposite wall, one which led to Keisha’s bedroom. Keisha was already inside, sitting cross legged on her bed. She smiled when Tammy entered and scooted over so Tammy could sit beside her. She had an old book open in her lap. The corners showed signs of age and abuse. The colors of the pictures were faded, but the story could still easily be read. The title read “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” It was Keisha’s favorite book.
They read the book quietly together, pointing at the pictures and their favorite parts. They couldn’t read all the words, but neither of them cared. They made up their own stories to go with the pictures, and they giggled when they got silly. They fell quiet only when they heard the door open and yelling quickly followed.
“Your mom and dad are home,” Tammy said.
Keisha did not respond. She continued to look down at the book in her lap.
“Can we have mac and cheese for dinner?”
Keisha shook her head. She looked up as she heard footsteps, and the door opened. Her father stood in the doorway, and he looked at them angrily. Behind him, Tammy could hear Keisha’s mother’s voice.
“Leave her alone!”
“Did you do this?” Her father held up the pieces of the glass item that broke.
Keisha pressed herself back on the bed until her back hit the wall. She had started to cry.
“It was an accident,” she sobbed.
Her father threw the pieces on the floor and grabbed her arm. He threw her across the room. Keisha bit back a sob and quickly crawled to hide in the closet. Tammy sat beside her in the darkness, listening as her parents shouted at one another. She put her arms around Keisha and hugged her.
“It’s okay,” Tammy said. She had Keisha’s book in her hand, and she offered it to her.
Keisha sniffed and opened the book on her lap to look at the pictures once more. Her parents had moved out of her bedroom now, but their shouts could still be heard. The two girls tried to block out these sounds as they huddled together and spoke quietly to one another.
It got darker out until it was nearly too dark to see. There was only a small night light in the corner of her room, but neither of them moved from their space in the closet. For a while, the shouting had stopped, but it soon returned, along with sounds of things breaking and slamming. There was the sharp sound of a slap and Keisha’s mother cried and begged for something to stop.
And then it fell quiet again. Not a single sound could be heard in the entire house. Soon, they fell asleep against one another until the morning sun woke them. Keisha’s mom greeted them with a smile. Her eyes were red, and she smelled like the rest of the house, but otherwise, Tammy felt comforted by her presence.
She was quiet as she searched through some cabinets, then sighed. She turned to Keisha. “Will you eat some breakfast at school?”
Keisha nodded wordlessly and grabbed her bag. It was no longer at the door where she left it, but across the room on the floor and on its side, as if it were thrown there. Her mother kissed her, patted her cheek, and said goodbye. Tammy followed Keisha outside where they stood in silence until their carriage came to bring them to the castle once more.
Keisha didn’t talk to Tammy for the entire ride to the castle. When they got there, Tammy followed Keisha to the dining hall where she got breakfast. She sat at the table in silence, staring at her food, but she did not eat. Like yesterday, a lady approached her.
“I’m not hungry,” Keisha said.
“Honey, you need to eat breakfast.”
“I already did.”
The lady sighed. “Are you sure?”
Keisha nodded. She got up to throw out her food, then hurried to her room, leaving Tammy behind.
When Tammy got to their room, the children were already seated and singing. She found Keisha at the back and sat beside her, but they did not sing.
They colored and practiced their writing at the table. Keisha had a blank page in front of her. She drew two stick figures in black crayon. She drew a third in red. There was no sun in the sky, making for an incomplete picture.
“Do you want to make a rainbow?” Tammy asked, but Keisha did not respond.
“I’m making a killer whale,” Georgie said. He did not look up from his drawing. “It’s got a really cool sword!”
Today they did not go to the gym. Instead, they went to the library. But Keisha did not build a pillow fort. She sat alone on the floor and flipped quickly through a book, not really paying any attention to the words or the pictures. Tammy sat beside her, but still, they did not talk to one another.
It was lunch time. Keisha did not eat her food. She sat at the table and listened to the other children talk and laugh, but she did not partake in the conversation. When it was time to go outside, Jaysha and Meghan approached her.
“Do you want to go on the swings with us?”
Keisha nodded and followed them outside. Tammy followed a few paces behind them.
“I still have my bubbles,” Tammy suggested to Keisha. When Keisha did not respond, she continued. “Can I swing with you, too?”
“There’s only three swings,” Keisha said.
Tammy frowned. “We can take turns.”
“I don’t want to play with you.”
Tammy could feel her eyes well with tears. “Why?”
“Because we’re not friends!”
Tammy stared at her. Not friends? How could they not be friends? They were always friends. They did everything together. Keisha told her everything.
“Yes we are,” Tammy sobbed. “We’re best friends! Remember?”
“No we’re not,” Keisha insisted. “I don’t need you anymore!” She turned her back on Tammy and ran to join her friends on the swings.
Tammy stayed where she was, watching as Keisha left her alone, and she cried.
Keisha continued to ignore Tammy for the rest of the day until it was time for them to go home. Tammy stood beside Keisha, hesitant, as they waited for their carriage.
“My mom is picking me up today,” Tammy said in an attempt to talk with Keisha. “Do you want to sleep over?”
Keisha did not respond, and Tammy frowned.
“Can we please be friends again?” Tammy begged her. She started to cry again. “Why can’t we be friends?”
The carriage pulled up and Keisha ran to join the other children in line. Tammy watched wordlessly as Keisha got inside, then sat in a seat, looking out the window. Their gazes met and the carriage pulled away.
Tammy stood alone. She watched as the other children got into other carriages, some in groups, others alone. They talked and laughed with their friends and hugged their mothers and fathers who picked them up. One by one, the children disappeared. Tammy watched as the adults, too, disappeared, slowly making their way to their cars in the parking lot. The lot emptied. The sun began to set behind the trees, bathing the world in a golden glow and casting long shadows across the school grounds. And Tammy was still alone.
The sun disappeared, taking with it the shadows. The world darkened. A single street light illuminated the parking lot, and the world fell still.
On the days where the pavement
seems to smoke, blurring our vision
like a mirage, I wonder if we
are only the result of a
shred my flesh
of my body
to the elements
they see all that I hide
A wave of mucus and snot cascades out of his nose
collecting in the soft awaiting tissue. It caresses
the nostrils, wiping up what has been left behind
and gets tossed carelessly in the garbage, infecting
all that come near with a similar fate.
He lays, not on a throne of sexual pleasures,
or even a cloud of pleasurable dreams,
but on lumpy surface where he tosses and turns.
Covers on, covers off, covers on, covers off.
How does one get off this dizzying ride?
He slurps ginger ale and crunches crackers
a promising meal for a churned stomach
while the essence of meatloaf fills his lungs
teasing his rumbling tummy. Something
hammers inside his head; he closes his eyes.
The red of the mercury is less than the day before
and he forces himself out of his tomb. His nose is
clear of snot, the hammering is silent, and the
queasy ache has disappeared, but crumpled up
tissues remain, littering the battlefield with memories
Buy eggs, milk, oj, cereal, ½ pound chicken
paper plates that won’t break when thrown
Deposit check on counter before 5
take your name off account while there
Pay electric bill
don’t forget to shut off front porch light at night
Shut all windows so neighbors don’t hear
close the blinds so they don’t see
Pick up prescription
buy bandages, ointment, and cover-up, too
Get suitcase down from attic to pack
don’t forget toothbrush
Leave key on counter when you go
Kaylynx: A Preface?
What is The Prose?
Seriously, I'm still trying to figure it out.
A friend suggested it to me. As someone who has tried all the typical platforms, from Wattpad to FictionPress, Royal Road, Quora, and literally everything in between, I immediately cringed at this suggestion.
While some places have value, a majority of them are cringe fests with angsty teenage writers who don't know our from are.
Still. I am quite literally a starving artist who has been working for 10+ years trying to make it as an author. So I said, what's one more website to try.
I've been here for... a week? Almost two? And here's what I've seen so far.
The people behind The Prose. Who tf are they and wtf do they do?
Well, according to their profile, they have made 535 posts, have 125.4k followers, and are following 69 people.
Their last 'update' post was April 10th of this year, mainly addressing bugs.
They supposedly have some kind of publishing service, last mentioned in March, announced in February. But their press page has literally 0 information on what they offer as a supposed publisher. While I have literally no opinions on this website so far, I would say as a seasoned writer who has been in the publishing arena for a long time, this is not exactly a reassuring sign and I would caution anyone who thinks they're going to get some big break out of this press.
But, again, I literally have no opinion yet on this website and also have no other information about the press to go off of, just basing this off the information that is publicly available.
Maybe I'll make it a point to look into it just for my own curiosity, but that kind of circles us back around to my first point of discussion...
Who are the people behind The Prose? And thus, that leads me to a second topic...
Is this even an active website?
Sure. On the one hand, I see a lot of content being posted and shared daily. So, for the users, it certainly is active.
But, again, back to point 1: what even is this website? Who's running it? Is anyone from the team actually keeping things up to date here? Or was it a Covid pet project that they ultimately got tired of and just happen to have enough money to keep the domain going while people continue to write and post on this otherwise unknown website? (I actually did go pretty far down their page to the end and saw posts from 2014 so clearly this place has been around a while... but dying out now, perhaps?)
I realize that may sound negative and harsh. These are just thoughts in my head as I actually take a little time to explore. Truly, I have no solid opinion on this website yet. Simply, some things I have noticed and that cause me to question.
What really began my questioning was the fact that I joined, published a few chapters of my novel, then got a bunch of followers.
Naturally, this was exciting, so I signed it to see what the fuss was about.
But here's the thing: my chapters have no views, no comments, no likes.
And one of my followers is... The Prose?!?!?! I am one of their 69 followers????
Okay, but for real. WHAT??? Why would they only follow certain users. Am I *Special*?
Anywho. I have a pretty decent understanding of how these places work. But to get followers with no actual views, likes, or comments on what I had posted is... odd. And not that I'm one to judge, but some of the names of these followers are... odd. Spam/bots, perhaps? I don't know. I haven't been here long enough to figure that out.
Which, really, is why I started this post. I thought - hey, if these people are legit - if this site is legit - maybe I can try one of these posts things and see if anyone reads it and has anything to say about my thoughts here.
Maybe things work differently here than what I'm used to. Maybe my stats are off? Maybe they are bots. Or maybe I could actually find more success here then I will on any of those other crappy websites.
I'd be happy to hear people's thoughts, successes, failures, things they learned, etc, on this mysterious place. If anything, it'll just go to prove if these things are actually read, particularly by my 10 new followers or whatever the number is at the moment. And if the number continues to go up, hey, it'll be good for my self confidence, anyway. So thanks for that xD
The council hall had been erected nearly a hundred years ago along the coast of the Animula Sea between the borders of In’audis and Teridia, a central location for the leaders of each kingdom to gather. After its completion, the land around it became unowned territory where the seven kingdoms of Praecanto could meet peacefully, regardless of warfare or political standings. It had been many years since it last saw the kings and queens of Praecanto, but now, the faces of each leader was of a new generation.
Though the building held a lot of history and discussions within its walls, the structure itself was not extravagant. It consisted of one large room, the walls tall enough to hold the banners of each of the seven kingdoms of Praecanto. Three lined the walls on either side of the large double doors with long windows between each of them. The seventh and largest banner hung by itself on the wall across from the double doors framed by two more windows on either side of it. In the center of the room was an oversized table with five chairs on either side and two at each end.
Guards bearing the emblems of six of the kingdoms stood guard around the premises, and more accompanied each of their respected leaders, standing along the interior stone walls as their leaders sat themselves around the table. King Sloan took the chair at the far end, the banner of Ri’iam framing him from behind. His son, Lucas, took the seat beside him. King Sloan looked around at his allies, nodding to them as they each took their own seats. Lucas regarded them curiously.
To his left, filling the five chairs on that side of the table, were the leaders of the far eastern kingdom of Nyrdirid. Queen Draneya and Queen Hevi’ra sat close together, warm smiles on both of their faces. While Queen Hevi’ra had her long hair pulled back in tightly braided dreads, Queen Draneya kept hers down, loose curls bouncing freely around her face as she turned her head to chat quietly with her wife. Beside them was the drastically paler Queen Amisha of the kingdom of Qalede. Her dark hair matched her dark eyes, both striking against her pale white skin. Kings Vaerta and Co’nitia of Teridia took up the remaining two chairs.
There was a sense of comradery on the left side of the table. The three queens and the two kings of the east clearly formed a close friendship with one another over the years as they chatted quietly together. Their eyes pulled at the corners when they smiled - genuine happiness to be in the presence of one another. So had it always been, for as long as King Sloan could remember. Perhaps it was due in part to the great forest that split the content in two. Librona certainly had very little trade with the three eastern kingdoms, but even so, their relationships with their own neighbors, Asmar and In’audis, were strained to say the least. And the right side of the table proved to be less welcoming to one another.
To his right were King Cederic of In’audis and King Rowan of Asmar. King Rowan sat on the far end, leaving three empty chairs between him and King Cederic. He was the youngest of the rulers of Praecanto. Incredibly young, in fact. His blond hair hung boyishly over his forehead, ending just at his brows. His expression was creased fiercely, and he made no attempt to greet any of his fellow leaders, avoiding each of their gazes as they took their seats around the table.
“Thank you for coming,” King Sloan addressed the group once everyone had settled. “As you may know, my kingdom is suffering under the threat of Scarletta. Her recent witch has been wreaking havoc on the villages across Librona. I simply do not have the resources to offer my people protection and to find Scarletta’s whereabouts.” He paused for a moment, letting his gaze settle on the young king of Asmar, but King Rowan did not move his eyes from his gaze on the wooden table.
“I know some of you have offered assistance to Librona in the past. I have tried to keep you all away from this terror, but I fear that we won’t be able to hold our defenses much longer. And if we fall, there is no doubt in my mind that Scarletta will come to destroy the rest of the kingdoms. We must work together to prevent that from happening and keep our world safe.”
“And what do you think you’re going to do if you find Scarletta?” King Cederic asked, his gaze narrowing on King Sloan. “Surely you can’t expect to be able to stop her. What chance do any of us stand against her power?”
“It is unlikely Scarletta is as powerful as she is leading us to believe. In all these years, she has never once stepped out of hiding. She has only sent her own witches into the kingdom, and even they’re power is flawed.”
“How can you make such assumptions?” King Cederic pressed.
“Scarletta is no ordinary witch,” Queen Draneya spoke up in a rather bored tone. She inspected her nails as she spoke. “In fact, she’s just as human as you and I.”
“Mortal,” Queen Hev’ira confirmed with a nod.
King Cederic turned his gaze to the Nydirid queens. “How can you possibly know this?”
Queen Draneya turned her attention to King Sloan. “Your father found Serafina, did he not?”
“He did,” King Sloan said simply.
“And he murdered her,” Queen Hevi’ra said with a slight hiss in her voice. Her gaze hardened on the king.
“Of course,” King Sloan said.
“Serafina begged for the life of her daughters,” Queen Draneya continued. “To spare them, for they were only children. Human children.”
“Children that possess magic,” King Sloan said, narrowing his gaze on her. “Scarletta has gone undetected for almost half a century. She poses a threat, not only to my kingdom, but to all of yours as well.”
“And what of her witch?” Queen Draneya pressed. “What will become of her?”
“She must be killed,” King Sloan said slowly, as if it should have been obvious. “Just as Scarletta must be killed.”
Queen Hevi’ra stood abruptly, almost knocking over the chair behind her. Her lips pulled up at the corners into an almost inhuman snarl. “How can you be so crass in such a situation?”
King Sloan’s brows furrowed in confusion. The other kings and queens turned their questionable gazes to the two Nydirid queens.
“Crass?” King Cederic echoed. “This is a witch we’re talking about,” he said. “Are you suggesting her life be spared?”
“I’m suggesting you not take the situation so lightly,” Queen Hevi’ra said through gritted teeth.
Queen Draneya put a hand on her wife’s arm, and Queen Hevi’ra returned to her seat, her gaze still fierce.
“We understand you want to protect your kingdom, King Sloan,” Queen Draneya said gently. “You and King Rowan have seen more than enough death and destruction at the hands of Scarletta and her witches. We want to help you bring the suffering to an end, but we cannot possibly stand by and let you murder her witch.”
The lines in King Sloan’s forehead deepened. “And why is that?”
“It is a delicate situation,” Queen Draneya explained. “One that cannot be taken so lightly. Certainly not without discussing it with Queen Ryenna.”
“Queen Ryenna has never bothered herself with the rest of us,” King Rowan said with a snarl, speaking for the first time. “Even now, she’s not here. Why should she be of any concern to us?”
“I realize you’ve been huddled in your own corner of the world, King Rowan,” Queen Hevi’ra said through her teeth. “But Queen Ryenna remains this world’s leader. She comes from a long line of Cælé, the very people that created this world.”
King Rowan narrowed his eyes on them. “Cælé?” he repeated. “Are you suggesting Queen Ryenna is a God?”
Queen Hevi’ra’s lips pulled into a sly smile. She regarded the leaders on the opposite side of the table. “No, certainly not,” she said. She lifted her chin as she regarded the young king. “She possesses magic far beyond what your small mind could imagine.”
Queen Hevi’ra’s words hung over them as the room fell silent. The leaders each looked to one another in confusion. King Rowan stood and leaned his palms against the table.
“Lies,” he hissed. “Witches do not belong in this world. They are unpredictable and full of evil intentions.”
Queen Hevi’ra stood once more, leaning over the table as she spoke to King Rowan. “While the history of Praecanto may be lost on you, it is not lost on us. The Cælé are responsible for all life on Praecanto. This world has never belonged to humans. It was a world of magic and power.”
“Then where are these witches now?” King Cederic asked over the Nydirid queen.
Queen Hevi’ra hesitated, her eyes moving to the side as she glanced at King Cederic. “They were banished,” she said softly. “Banished when they started using dark magic.”
“And yet Queen Ryenna remains,” King Rowan hissed.
“Queen Ryenna is no mere witch,” Queen Draneya said. “Do not mistake the Cælé for witches. She has done nothing but keep peace in Praecanto. Under her rule, we have been safe. She is responsible for keeping the dark magic sealed away. Without her, the witches would be able to return and destroy us all.”
“And yet you defend Scarletta’s witch; the witch that threatens our entire world,” King Rowan barked.
“We do not defend her,” Queen Draneya said, her voice calm and even. “But if she were a threat, if she wielded a dark magic, she would have been sucked into the seal of the Inbetween years ago. Queen Ryenna would have seen to that.”
“And yet she does nothing,” King Rowan said, his voice a low growl. “She is content to stand by and watch this world fall to the very things she created. Seems convenient, if you ask me.”
“You distrust Queen Ryenna?” Queen Draneya asked, her gaze narrowing on the king.
“We have no reason to trust her,” he said simply.
Queen Draneya stood beside her wife, turning to address the other rulers. “We are more than happy to help you in your war against Scarletta, King Sloan. Regardless of Scarletta’s family history, she is a threat that needs to be dealt with. But we cannot stand idly by if you plan to kill her witch. This is a matter that must be presented to Queen Ryenna and handled as she deems necessary. Our faith is in the Cælé, as it should be for all of you. If you stand against the Cælé, however, you will not have an ally in Nydirid. My kingdom is well aware of all the Cælé have done to keep this world safe. I am sorry that history has been lost on the rest of you, but we stand by Queen Ryenna. The choice is yours.”
“If you choose Queen Ryenna,” King Rowan said, directing his gaze first to King Sloan, and then to the rest of the rulers around the table. “You will have Asmar as an enemy.”
“King Rowan,” Sloan started, his voice soft. “I sympathize with you. But it would be unwise to stand against Queen Ryenna.”
“What do you think you’re going to do?” Queen Hevi’ra asked, her gaze narrowed on King Rowan.
King Rowan held his gaze on her. “Nothing,” he said simply. “But I will not aid those who place their trust in a witch.”
“You’re a fool,” Queen Hevi’ra hissed.
“I will have no part of this,” King Rowan said firmly. He turned his attention back to King Sloan. “Do as you please, but know that Asmar is no longer your ally, Sloan. Do not seek our help any more. We have done enough for you.” The last part he said with a wicked hiss. Without a word further, he stood, turned his back on the council, and left the hall. No one spoke further until the double doors closed loudly behind him.
King Sloan addressed the rest of the members of the council. “If Queen Ryenna can help us, then we should seek her assistance. I will cooperate, Queen Hevi’ra. The witch will remain unharmed until Queen Ryenna gives us word otherwise. If we come across the witch, we will hold her until Scarletta is defeated and Queen Ryenna makes a decision about her. Do we have your cooperation in our war against Scarletta?”
The two queens of Nydirid, now seated, nodded in silent agreement. King Sloan moved his gaze around to the other rulers, and one by one, they nodded as well.
“I do not wish to see strife between us,” King Cederic said. “We have lived in peace amongst one another for quite a long time. However, I do hope you are right about Queen Ryenna.”
“What about King Rowan?” Queen Amisha asked.
“I suspect he will stay to himself,” King Sloan said. “He should cause us no trouble.”
A raven’s caw echoed off the waves of the sea as King Rowan stood on the beach, looking out over the horizon. Somewhere across the sea, somewhere he had never seen with his own eyes, sat the great island kingdom of Ri’iam where Queen Ryenna ruled. He narrowed his gaze on the horizon. How foolish he felt, knowing so little about the kingdom and its witch queen. He was infuriated that the queens of Nydirid supported the witch. However, it seemed no mere coincidence. He had always been suspicious that there were more witches hiding throughout the world. He knew now that Ryenna was one, and based on what had just happened in the council hall, he was sure the Nydirid queens were witches, as well.
Of course Ryenna would have spies all around Praecanto. He didn’t know how many more there were, but one thing was certain: he couldn’t trust anyone. Witches did not belong in the moral world. He knew first hand of the destruction they could - and would - cause. There was simply no such thing as a good witch.
Queen Ryenna needed to be stopped before witches inhabited the world once more. But surely he would not stand a chance with such a powerful being. Not him, a mere mortal human. But perhaps… another witch. Or, in this case, half witch. A mortal witch.
Working with a witch was the last thing he wanted to do, but if what was said was true, Scarletta wouldn’t pose nearly as big a threat. Being human, after all, made her flawed. Surely she could be reasoned with. Plotted against. Killed.
It was the perfect plan. He would approach Scarletta with his proposition; her help in ending Queen Ryenna in exchange for… well, whatever she wanted. It didn’t matter to him, because he would not hold up his end of the deal. As soon as Queen Ryenna was gone, he would destroy Scarletta as well. He would bring an end to witches once and for all. Praecanto would remain the mortal world it always was and was always meant to be.
King Rowan turned his gaze to the raven that continued to crow. The jet black creature stood alone on a branch of an old, barren and decaying tree standing just on the edge of the beach where the sand met the tall grass. Its silver eyes were unsettling in contrast to its dark body. King Rowan made his way back to his soldiers, waiting on the dirt road with his horse. The raven’s eyes darted, its head cocked, and it stretched its wings and took flight above the King of Asmar, fading in the distance.
Librona’s soldiers traveled north towards Alryn, the capital city of Librona where the castle of House Sloan stood tall at the northern border. They galloped their horses through the waking and unaware city, following the cobblestone streets up the hill and through the front gates of the castle grounds, stopping only when they reached the front courtyard. The captain of their battalion slid off his horse as they came to a stop and bowed his head to King Sloan as he trotted down the stone steps of the castle.
“There has been an attack on Talmond,” the soldier explained. “One of Scarletta’s witches.”
King Sloan’s jaw clenched. “What are the damages?”
“The city is in ruins. Everything is destroyed. There are many civilian casualties as well.”
“Where is the witch?” the king said between his teeth.
“It just vanished. I have dispatched my men to search for it.” His tone changed, hopeful. “It appears to be weak.”
King Sloan turned his gaze to the horizon. The corner of his lip pulled slightly. “That means nothing,” he hissed. “Do not underestimate Scarletta’s power.” He turned his attention back to the captain. “We must be proactive in weakening Scarletta’s defenses. Find that witch and destroy it.”
The soldier bowed to his king, then mounted his horse once more. He shouted to his troops, ordering them to begin their search through the kingdom of Librona. They took off at a gallop through the city and towards the distant forest that marked Librona’s southern boundary. The forest of Do’lor was large and dense. Not only did it make travel difficult, but it also deterred the southern kingdom of In’audis from providing any assistance to Librona in their war against Scarletta.
Librona's only other neighbor and ally remained to the north of them; the seaside kingdom of Asmar. While the kingdom aided them in the past, they quickly withdrew after the death of their beloved king. The kingdom refused to help their southern ally as their own kingdom struggled to remain afloat under their young ruler. With no other heir, their focus was to keep their kingdom alive for as long as possible.
King Sloan stood on the steps of his castle, gazing over the waking city. The kingdom struggled in their war against Scarletta without an ally, especially after Asmar pulled out of the war. King Sloan never doubted King Rowan's decision, but they were crumbling under Scarletta's reign of terror, and Asmar would surely be next.
He absentmindedly stroked his beard, his eyes fixed on the horizon. Over the years, King Sloan couldn't help but to slowly lose hope in their war against the red-haired witch. He didn't know how much longer his kingdom would last; the odds did not seem to be in his favor. His stomach churned as his mind turned to his wife and children. He never wanted his children to grow up in a world where war threatened their home. He would keep them safe at any cost. Perhaps King Rowan would let them stay in Asmar while the war raged on in Librona. Surely even he couldn't hold King Sloan’s children responsible for the demise that had befallen Asmar.
King Sloan headed inside the castle as the sun came out from hiding beyond the horizon. With Scarletta's attacks still on his mind, he made his way towards the tactical room. Regardless of their situation, he had a kingdom to run and to fight for. He would fight to the very end for his kingdom, but not blindly. He needed a plan. He needed to ensure his family's safety and he needed to prepare his army for battle. Not only that, but he needed to warn the other kingdoms of Praecanto. Should Librona fall, there was no doubt in his mind that Scarletta would turn her attention to them. She would not be satisfied until the world of humans was no more.
King Sloan stopped as he walked through the empty throne room. He gazed up at the banners that hung above the red, velvet throne and felt a sudden wave of defeat wash over him. Scarletta needed to be stopped, but with each passing day, that seemed less and less possible. He couldn't bear to think that he could be Librona's final king, but his options were dwindling rapidly.
Images of his father played through his mind as his gaze fell to the throne before him. As a child, when he wasn't at his father's side, he sat on that very throne, pretending to be the king. “Sloan, a king must be fair and just,” his father would say to him. “Sometimes the solution isn't clear. Sometimes things aren't black and white. The world is gray, Sloan. It is your job, as the future king, to bring the color into the world. Do not be quick to judge those who have made mistakes.”
He had always looked up to his father. He strived each and every day to be a king his father would be proud of and to continue to earn respect for the Martel lineage. His father never gave up, nor should he. He would fight for his kingdom, even if it meant fighting to the end. He would fight to bring the color back into their gray world.
Strikes of lightning split the sky and annihilated the earth. Thunder crashed violently, shaking the ground as it resounded through the kingdom. The road erupted and debris scattered away from the explosion with deadly force. Citizens jolted backwards, crashing against the walls of their shops and homes. Their bodies flew through the air like dolls being tossed between children; their limbs flailing before shattering when they landed forcefully on the ground. Blood seeped between the cracks in the stone, its sharp scent scarring the air as a reminder for the days ahead of the destruction that took place.
The muddied boots of Librona's armored soldiers splashed across the cobble-stoned road as they hurried to join the commotion in the town. Their battle cries were lost amidst the chaos of war thundering around them. Women and children scurried in every direction; their anguished screams and cries haunting the night. Deep voices barked orders only to be drowned in frantic desperation. Swords were drawn from their sheaths; the shwings of the steel threatened in unison. Their blades reflected the orange glow of a city in ruins. With them, unarmored citizens took up improvised weapons. Pitchforks, axes, and scythes paraded through the streets, gripped by calloused hands, eagerly joining the kingdom's army in the fight for their home.
The witch clad in black stood erect in the center of the town. Her golden eyes pierced the darkness as the dust lifted from the explosion. Her dark hair was obscured to the darkness of the stormy night, and stray strands of wet hair dragged across her pale face. Her black dress clung to her small, delicate frame and wrapped around her legs with the wind. She raised her head as she looked over the cowering village and she lifted her arms above her, palms up towards the angry sky.
A ball of fire grew from nothing above her, hovering just over her open palms. The flames flickered and danced, anxiously waiting to feed on the ruins of the village. The heat was warm and encouraging against her palms, and the glow of the flames was bright against the hollowness of the dreary night. But the warmth of the magic that coursed through her veins grew cold, and the fire in her palms shuttered and diminished.
The soldiers hesitated in their pursuit, their frightened eyes fixed on the magic that threatened their lives. The witch took advantage of their hesitation and hurled the fireball at her opponents. Soldiers and citizens scattered in all directions. Those who were too slow found themselves face to face with their death as the fireball exploded against the ground. The flames clung to the streets and rampaged through the village, feeding off of the wood homes, their wooden frames split and shattered. Old, thatched roofs erupted into a hellish inferno. The fire engulfed the buildings within seconds. The sound of crackling flames and collapsing homes mixed with the cries of terror and anguish from women and children. Bodies lay motionless around the city, burning. The scent of charred skin and hair mixed sickeningly in with the metallic scent of blood.
The witch gawked at the sight of the marred and mangled bodies, feeling a twinge of guilt in the pit of her stomach, but as the soldiers took up their weapons once more, she sent another fireball loose with a sense of desperate urgency. It exploded upon impact with the ground. Screams escaped from the burning homes that no longer offered safety to its residents. Bodies stumbled through the black smoke, coughing and choking and reaching for one another. The witch hesitated, flinching as the screams of those trapped inside rose above the crackling flames and stampeding soldiers. Her wide eyes darted around the burning village until she found the kingdom's soldiers once more.
The soldiers rushed towards her with swords in hand, their battle cries rising above the panicked city. The witch's frantic gaze remained as she feebly threw her arms out before her in an attempt to summon another spell. Her face creased with fear when no magic burst forth from her open palms. Her eyes darted between the charging soldiers, realizing then that she had grown too weak to continue the fight. The magic she had grown accustomed to, flowing warmly through her body, was thin and cold. She was empty. She closed her eyes.
A flash of light struck the town, temporarily blinding those within its walls. The soldiers shielded their eyes with their arms until the light subsided. When the world dimmed, they peeked between their arms to see that the witch with fire had vanished.
The rising sun peeked over the distant mountain range, its purple summits just shadows against a yellow morning sky. A lush valley stretched away from the mountains, sparkling with the glitter of morning dew, and disappeared into a vast forest. Leaves of browns and greens tickled the waking sky. An old, decaying castle sat quietly at the edge of the forest, under the looming shadows of the mountains. Black clouds stretched towards the mountain range, bringing with them the threat of a storm. Distant lightning flashed and cut through the sky.
Scarletta stood over a wooden table, worn and beaten; its nicks and dips held memories of struggled years as Scarletta anguished over each spell and potion she had created. Her vivid red locks fell swiftly across her face from their hold behind her ears as she mixed the colorful liquids. The glasses bubbled and steamed as each liquid was married to another. Red, green, and black smoke billowed over each vessel, filling the room with a scentless fog. The woman was still as her concoctions came to life, but her expression remained cold and hardened. She filled a needle with the liquid and walked to the far corner of the room where a dark shadow was huddled.
Golden eyes split the shadow and scanned the room in fright. Scarletta knelt on the ground beside the young woman and inserted the syringe into her arm. The golden eyes winced slightly, but otherwise, were still. When the syringe empty, Scarletta rose and returned to the table to carefully rearrange the glasses.
The young woman in the corner stood and stepped into the warm, yellow light that streamed through the dirty window behind her. Her dark hair framed her pale face and nearly blended in with her dark dress. The dress made her look remarkably plain, but her facial features were perfection, as if carefully sculpted by patient hands over many years. Her eyes – pained and sad – and brows were stunningly symmetrical, spaced evenly apart. Her brows arched neatly over her almond shaped eyes. They seemed to frame her small, straight nose just so, in the center of her face, just above her soft, pink lips. A sunken dimple emerged when her lips twisted to the side, but otherwise, her skin was smooth and ageless. Not a scar or imperfection marked her young, delicate, but rigged body.
“Does it please you, Calliope?” Scarletta asked. She did not turn to the witch behind her. She worked at clearing the glasses and gathering the pages that were scattered on the table. “Does it satisfy you to disappoint me?”
The witch behind her did not speak. She remained perfectly still, waiting to feel the wrath of her master.
Scarletta, however, did not expect a response. She turned to the young witch, her wavy red hair twisting around her and caressing her frame. Her gaze narrowed on her witch.
“You are careless,” she scolded. “They will not show you mercy.”
Calliope nodded without uttering a word. She forced her shoulders back, appearing confident as Scarletta looked her over, but her heart raced and her knees trembled under her master’s powerful glare. “I will be better,” she said softly.
“I put a lot of time and effort into you,” Scarletta said. The corner of her lips twitched slightly. “I expect you to use yourself to your full potential. I am not finished with you yet, but I will throw you to the Nequam if you continue to fail me.”
Calliope winced at the remark, stepping back slightly as if to catch herself from a fierce blow.
A small smile pulled at her lips, and Scarletta turned back to the table, marrying the liquids together. “You are very important to me, Calliope. I gave you life. I gave you purpose.” Her smile faded. “Do not forget all I have done for you.”
“I exist to serve you,” Calliope said. “I will destroy the kingdom for what they did to you.”
“Do not come back until the job is finished. Then, we will go to Alryn together, and I will tear King Sloan limb from limb.” Her voice hardened. “Spare your strength. Do not let me down.”
Without a word, Calliope turned and let herself out of the dim room. Scarletta continued to busy herself with her potions for a moment, then turned and approached the nearby window. She smiled as she gazed out over the forest and toward the horizon.
Though she could not see the village, dark plumes of smoke marred the sky from the earlier attack. There was no doubt in her mind that Calliope was far superior to her other witches, despite her carelessness. Soon, all of the kingdom of Librona would look the way the sleepy village of Talmond did. Scarletta would have the revenge she waited for.