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Sunday Scribble – “Xara”

Xara

“My name is Xara.” Despite her friendly words, the young woman’s posture was stiff as she stood by Sky with one hand on the mare’s flank and the other inching toward the sword at her side. Her skin was tanned and her hair dark, contrasting with her blue eyes that darted back and forth between Quill and Flynn.

“Nice to meet you,” Quill said, attempting to sound casual to help the woman relax. “Thank you for finding my horse.”

“Your horse?” Xara’s gaze glanced at the blue roan and must have noticed the way Sky was staring at Quill, her front hooves occasionally dancing in place. The woman’s face whipped back around and Quill took a step back from her glower. “I found her wandering alone in the field. How dare you leave her like that? She could have been hurt, she could have been killed–”

“Which was a guarantee if we had left her to the bandits,” Flynn interrupted. Xara gaped as he continued, “We got ambushed a couple of days ago, our supplies and horses stolen in the process. We were able to rescue them, but Sky got lost during the confusion when she had been released with the others.”

“Where were these bandits?” Xara asked.

“Toward the Jagged Gardens,” Quill said as he descended from Canvas’s back. The pinto heaved a sigh of what Quill assumed was relief from being unburdened of the extra weight. “May I have her back?”

“That’s up to her.” Xara stepped away from Sky, allowing the mare to make her own choices. Sky’s gaze was momentarily caught by a butterfly before she trotted over to Quill. She stuck her nose toward his hands, trying to find something to eat.

“Glad you missed me for me rather than food,” Quill said with a chuckle. Sky nuzzled his head and proceeded to graze when she found his hands to be empty.

Xara swung up onto her black horse. “Careful out there,” she said.

“What of you?” Flynn asked. “What is a noble doing out here on her own?”

Quill glanced from the easy-going smile on Flynn’s face to Xara’s suspicious expression, and he imagined that his own face was mirroring hers. When no answer was forthcoming, Flynn added, “Your clothes gave you away. There’s not many families that can afford a silk riding cloak lined with fox fur.”

Xara inched her horse farther away from Flynn and Quill, despite the fact that neither of them had made any move toward her. “That is my business alone.”

“Forgive me,” Flynn said, “but bandits around these parts aren’t going to mind their own business, not around a pretty lady with an expensive riding cloak.”

“I know,” was all she said before commanding her horse into a gallop.

Quill climbed up on Sky, grateful for having the mare with him again. Flynn was frowning as he watched Xara rider further away. Quill waited a heartbeat before asking, “Are we going after her?”

Flynn shook his head. “No,” he said.

“But she’s all alone. She’s going to get ambushed.”

“I think that’s what she wants.” Flynn tore his gaze away from Xara’s retreating figure and looked at Quill. “We’d be unwelcomed and probably be labeled as creepy if we followed her. We gave her a warning and that’s all we can do right now. Let’s keep heading toward the Goddess’s Lake.”

Quill took one last glance at Xara off in the distance before directing Sky to follow Canvas once more.

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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Scribbles

 

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“Have a Prompt!” Saturday #24

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Prompts

 

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Strong People

I saw the new Fantastic Four movie the other night. I know, I know, the reviews and ratings are atrocious, but I didn’t think it was that bad overall. I’ll admit, I’m not as knowledgeable of the Fantastic Four than I am, say, the X-Men, so my ignorance may have saved the movie for me. On that note, there may be some spoilers in this post for a movie that’s been out for a month already.

One of my favorite parts regarding the movie was Sue Storm’s character played by Kate Mara. Unlike the original Fantastic Four movies, Mara’s Sue was shown to be an intelligent scientist. Her character was a computer whiz, helping to create a teleporter and later shown to be tracking down Reed when he all but disappeared from the face of the Earth into an itty-bitty remote corner of the world.

One of the biggest praises I’ve seen around for Disney’s Big Hero 6 was that Honey Lemon and GoGo were positive role models showing girls that science it awesome and it’s certainly okay to be geeky. Sue Storm emulates that and it was beautiful. Her character has more important things on her mind than romance, such as saving her brother’s and friends’ lives with her skills and smarts when they decided to teleport to a strange dimension while drunk.

In the original Fantastic Four movie, one of Jessica Alba’s big scenes as Sue Storm was to slowly walk toward the male characters in her wetsuit-like skintight uniform that wasn’t too subtle in playing up her assets. She explained that the suits “acted as a second skin, adapting to your individual body’s needs,” and she hoped Reed would notice it working for her. Yes, Alba’s Sue was a scientist as well, but to the movie, she was Reed’s love interest first.

This reboot of Fantastic Four showcased Sue Storm as a more career-driven, independent woman, one who was as active on the battlefield as she was off it. Of course she still flirted with Reed (they’re a canon couple, after all!) once in a while, but she had her own agenda as well. She was a well-rounded person, having her own interests and goals that didn’t revolve around One Guy, and it was as refreshing as iced water on a summer day to see it.

Mara’s Sue reminds me of a particular piece of writing advice. As a writer, I see so many articles about having “Strong Female Characters.” This thinking indicates that, by default, a male character is strong because he’s a guy. By default, a female character is a prop for said guy. It’s still baffling to some that, hey, men and women are both people with a helluva range of emotions.

Forget about writing “strong, female characters.” Write about “strong people.”

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Home

 

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“Have a Prompt!” Saturday #23

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Give a prayer of thanks to those that made and continue to make this day possible. Be safe and of good cheer!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Prompts

 

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Short Story Sunday – “Wait”

Wait

“Wait a minute.” Quill scrambled to catch up to Flynn, who merely paused to glance back at him. “You’re not going alone.”

“You don’t even have your sword.” Flynn’s tone was infuriatingly patient. “I’m not planning on just bursting in there and taking down every last thug with my spear. I’ll sneak in, release the horses, and come right back during the confusion.”

Quill blinked. “You’ve done this before.”

“Only once,” Flynn admitted. “Woke up tied to a tree one morning with Canvas and the caravan gone. Once I broke free of my binds, I tracked the bandits down, which was simple enough since Canvas seemed to have been fighting them the whole way. There were plenty of hoof prints stomped into the ground for me to follow. I waited until nightfall to sneak in and free not only Canvas but all of their horses. Canvas and I busted out during the confusion and booked it back toward the village. It was on the way back from the market, so I didn’t feel too guilty in leaving behind the caravan–”

“You’re lucky you weren’t killed,” Quill said.

“I thank the fates for that every day.” Flynn readjusted his grip on his spear. “You going to let me go now?”

“No, I’m still going with you,” Quill said. “I can be a lookout or something.”

“It’d be much easier for you to wait here,” Flynn insisted. “I’ll come right back with the horses–”

“I’d rather be where I can make sure you’ll be lucky again.” Quill stared at Flynn and was thankful that Flynn was the one to break eye contact first when he sighed and shook his head.

“You stay behind me, got it?” Flynn’s words booked no argument, and Quill could only nod in response to the other’s hard tone.

The pair crept ever closer to the bandits’ hideout, using the dusk’s shadows and the rocky terrain as cover, eventually climbing up a short plateau. They communicated silently, with Quill doing his best to interpret Flynn’s gestures and signals, and it worked for the most part. Until, of course, Quill misinterpreted a signal that meant go back for one that said push that rock. Quill’s stomach dropped to his toes when he noticed Flynn’s wide-eyed, jaw-slacked face of bafflement and horror as the small boulder tumbled down the plateau to crash into the side of the hideout.

Bandits streamed out of the crude structure with angry and puzzled shouts, and Quill could hear some horses neighing in concern. His shirt was suddenly tugged backwards and Quill almost stumbled as he turned to follow Flynn down the plateau’s makeshift path. Once they reached level ground again, Flynn pushed Quill against the wall.

“Stay here.” The man was off before Quill fully comprehended the command. Once he did, Quill berated himself for his stupidity and tried to peek around the wall in order to be sure that Flynn was still alive.

From what Quill could see, Flynn was darting in and out from behind the larger stone structures by the hideout, using his spear occasionally to trip and knock out various bandits. A few other thugs were starting to get the hint that the rolling stone was no accident, and some were even quick enough to pick up the trail of attacked bandits. It wouldn’t be long before some caught up with Flynn.

Quill looked around, trying to find something useful to do, and scrambled up another nearby plateau. He surveyed below him, waited until Flynn was out of range, and then chucked more rocks down at the bandits. He clonked one on the head and Quill prayed that he hadn’t outright killed the bandit, but the air of confusion it created gave Flynn enough cover to dart around the hideout. Quill held his breath until he saw a charge of horses burst out from behind the building and it was only until he noticed Flynn riding atop Canvas did Quill climb off of the plateau.

True to his word, Flynn and Canvas reached Quill’s hiding spot, and Flynn reached down to give Quill a lift onto the back of his horse.

“Sky?” Quill croaked out as they galloped away from the scene.

“Didn’t see her,” Flynn said over the rush of wind. Flynn directed Canvas toward the general direction of the rest of the horses, leading the gelding in and out of the crowd, but Quill saw no sign of his mare.

He did see some bandits catching up to their own horses, though.

“Let’s get out of here,” Quill said. Flynn’s head moved as he tried to look back at Quill, but Quill said, “We need to leave. Sky will find her way home.”

Wordlessly, Flynn tugged on Canvas’s mane to direct the gelding away from craggy landscape.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Scribbles

 

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Short Story Sunday – “Villain”

Villain

“The ghost I’m following was the villain that had tried to kill Mum and Dad,” Quill deadpanned. “What exactly did she do?”

“She routinely stole blood from others,” Doyle said, running a hand through his hair. “Having an endless supply of blood enabled her to live beyond her fair share of years.”

“She was a blood mage?”

“No.” Doyle shook his head. “But he was… The man whose corpse you found in the waterfall’s cave. He helped her steal blood so she could continue living.”

“How does that work?” Quill asked.

“Blood is the plasma of life,” Doyle said. “It’s one of the most important components to live. Without blood, you die.

“A blood mage can direct the flow of blood,” the older man continued, “no matter whether it is inside a body or not. Aidan and I call it a blood transfusion. If someone is injured and losing blood, as a blood mage I, for example, am able to direct some blood from another and direct it into the injured person to help him live. Take too much blood, though…”

“The other person will die,” Quill finished, and Doyle nodded. “Was she really hurt?”

“She was years ago,” Doyle said. “She had been poisoned and it had continued to multiply and spread throughout her bloodstream. The man wasn’t prepared to lose her.”

“Her husband?”

“No, her advisor,” Doyle said, “but everyone knew that he had deeper feelings for her, herself included. She used it to her advantage.

“She had heard tales of mages who controlled blood and ordered him to find one that could rid her blood of the poison,” Doyle continued. “He did, but… the blood mage could only do so much with the way the poison operated. The blood mage taught the advisor how to use blood magic to give her a few more years of life.

“It worked, but…” Doyle took a deep breath. “They did it often, too often. Eventually her blood was free of the poison.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Quill asked.

Doyle paused. “It depends on your point of view,” he said. “On one hand, she was healed. On the other… her daughter was dead.”

Quill blanched. “They used the daughter’s blood?”

“Over the years, the daughter had volunteered to give her mother clean blood,” Doyle said, “but instead of the advisor just taking a bit of blood, he was switching the plasma streams entirely between the two women. Eventually, the daughter had all the poison running through her veins. And she died.”

“She really was a villain,” Quill said, turning his glare to the gravestone in front of them.

“If she was aware as to what her advisor was doing,” Doyle interjected. He shrugged when Quill raised an eyebrow.

“If that was the case,” Quill said, “then the advisor was the villain–”

“For trying to rescue the woman he loved?” Doyle waited a couple of heartbeats before he added, “Perhaps the advisor hadn’t realized that he was killing the daughter in the process. It could very well have been the fault of the blood mage that had taught him blood magic for not properly explaining the process.”

“That would have been an accident–”

“Or negligence,” Doyle cut in. “Can you really say who is the villain, Quill? The woman who was just trying to stay alive? The man who, accidentally or not, killed to save her? Or was it the mage that had taught the magic in the first place?”

Quill took a few moments to think until he said, “I suppose it was the mage who had started this whole thing, huh?”

He glanced up at Doyle and saw the sad smile on the man’s face.

“Quill,” the blood mage said, “I didn’t mean to be a villain…”

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Scribbles

 

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“Have a Prompt!” Saturday #21

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Prompts

 

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