Characters · Research · WIP Wednesday

Voices Across The Void

Do you like it?

That is the name I finally settled on for the ghost story collection.  I have an amazing cover thanks to the wonderful MS Fowle via her new Melchelle Designs site and am working away on the stories themselves I have them all outlined and drafts finished on a few the others need some more filling out before editing begins.

I would have loved to be looking at Halloween as a release date but surgery has put paid to that but I still hold hopes of it all being ready in time to order copies from Createspace for family christmas presents.

Research has been not really been carried out much on this project, in some cases it has given me an excuse to lounge around watching my favourite ghost hunting programmes and most of the other research has been around looking at historical costumes for certain periods.  I was thinking about my comments regarding The Woman in Black about being scared and realise that the stories I have written for this volume at least are not really scary at all, some are heartwarming, some are funny and some are thought-provoking (or at least I hope they are) but none are really out-and-out scary. I do think this is something I need to change and have at least one really chilling story in there.  I do not really want to wander into the realms of horror with these stories but would love to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up once or twice. I have an idea of which story will be changed to do this and luckily it is one of the ones I had felt still needed work.

I also have one other story I am not sure about including as it got a little racy in one part I do not want to have to add an adult content tag so it will either have to be hosed down until it cools a little or removed and saved for a different occasion i am not sure about the direction I will go yet.

I will be taking my note-book into hospital with me so I can work on the stories there, my laptop is literally falling to bits and as my scrivener is not on my other halves netbook actually getting writing done will be out of the question even if I feel up to it.  I am hoping in my drug fuelled state I may get inspiration for some more stories for the next volume which seems like I am getting a little ahead of myself but it is also the way my mind works.

Awards · Characters · Flash fiction · Photo Friday · Plots

Tag You it!!!

The delightful Maddie over at Breezy Books has tagged me in a new game you can read her post here.

The challenge is “The idea is to locate the word ‘look’ in whatever manuscript you have lying around (I may be paraphrasing here) and post the few previous and following paragraphs and then invite other authors to do the same.”

So off I wandered to have a quick look….

As the elevator halted Priscilla lost her balance, the heels that she wore as part of her daily corporate uniform failed her, sending her forward through the air. Instinctively she reached out grasping Tyler’s arm to steady herself, as soon as she regained her equilibrium she pulled her hand back as if the cloth of his suit had burnt her hand.

“Sorry” She found herself apologizing despite the fact he had turned to her and smiled.

“Not a problem, are you okay?”

“Yes it just caught me off guard, I just hope it isn’t stuck for too long.” She reached out her hand to the control panel hitting each button hoping that it would spur the elevator to movement. She reached finally for the alarm button pressing it several times before a voice crackled into the intercom explaining there was a power cut, an accident in the street had hit a power cable it would be back up as soon as the cable company arrived.

She stepped back aware there was nothing they could do but sit back and wait. She looked around at the steel walls, wondering how long she would be able to bear being in here. Tyler seemed to sense her unease and turned to face her loosening his tie, he began complaining he would not make the ball game he was heading to that evening if they were held up long. She was aware he was trying to pass the time and distract her from the fact they could be trapped for hours but as he spoke she found herself drifting off contemplating what it would be like to feel his lips against hers. She made the effort to return his conversation all the time taking in each of his features, the lines that appeared round the corner of his eyes when he smiled made her realize he was perhaps a few years older than she had believed previously. She had thought him in his mid twenties, too young to consider for anything more than a fling, not that she would have considered having one she quickly reminded herself.

She was becoming aware of the walls closing in on her, she could feel herself growing warm and feel her heart pounding in her chest. She felt it was beating so loudly surely he must hear it, she slipped her jacket from her shoulder, her eyes now leaving him and flitting round looking for an escape route from the shrinking metal cage which encased them. His words were muted now as if they were coming to her through water, she could see concern spread across his face and his arm reaching for her. She felt herself falling then dull pain as she met the floor before everything went dark.

In the darkness she saw streams of blood running down the elevator walls she ran between them pounding on the cold hard metal as she screamed for help. She knew she was not alone a figure stood watching her. It did not move or speak just stood watching, she flew at it now pounding her fists against the unyielding flesh. She felt strong hands grasp her wrists, holding her, restricting her movement

Okay so thats my bit taken from one of the ghost stories I am working on, lets see who is next up…

M.S. Fowle

The View Outside

“The Light-Bearer Series” Novelist, Emily Guido

Hunter’s Writing



Characters · Plots · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – The Ghost Stories

I decided today to take a break from the medieval but don’t worry another dungeon tour is imminent, instead I want to talk about ghosts.

We all grew up hearing ghosts stories you would think they would be easy to write but they are not.  First the very fact we all grew up hearing numerous variations on themes makes it incredibly hard to actually come up with original ideas. When I first got the idea to do this story collection it was because I already had a couple of ideas, then others started coming the problem was obviously my muse had the same childhood I did and was retelling me stories I was convinced I had already heard.  Eventually I came up with 15 ideas that I am happy are original enough to continue with that even if not totally original I can put my own voice into enough to make them my own.

I found myself asking several questions as I vetted these ideas..

  1. Who is the ghost?
  2. Why are they a ghost?
  3. What do they want?
  4. Can they have it?
  5. Who sees them?
  6. How do they react?
  7. Is there a resolution?

The last one is most interesting does resolution mean the ghost moves on in very case in my stories it turns out the answer is no.  Sometimes they merely provide a resolution for the breathing characters.

I also wanted a couple of more humourous stories and hopefully when they are done a couple will have people laughing out loud but that will depend on my storytelling abilities, if I could show you them the way I see them in my head I know you would but it is the transference from mind to page that is hardest for me.  Ideas have never been a problem but I get incredibly frustrated at times trying to project the image to paper, to find the words to express my vision, I know I am probably not alone in that but it can feel that way at times.

Like so many others whose posts I read I do not believe in my abilities at times, I feel the desire for others to justify my words and it is a feeling I hate, it makes me feel like a needy child demanding praise, I even wonder if that is part of the reason for doing this, but then I get scared I will hear not praise or even censure but indifference.

I told my parents about being accepted for publication their response was hardly overwhelming especially as it is unpaid, but the comments I received here and from friends both real and online compensated and I feel that possibly strangers know me better than my own parents.  Don’t get me wrong if the novel was published and made money they would be proud of me but they would not read it still (possibly for the best given a few scenes) but to them it’s not real unless you make a living from it, and I wonder if that is why I feel the way I do about my work though in my case it is not the money but the seeing my name in print which is the main concern.  Having someone think I am good enough to print, someone who selects me above other choices, which makes me feel bad then thinking I may be taking the spot of someone more talented more worthy of the recognition.

I know it sounds like I have gone off topic but I haven’t you see these doubts are my real ghosts, the ones that haunt my dreams.  I do not fear the dead but I fear joining them never having silenced the doubts which plague me. And for that is the real essence of the ghost story, why we all love being scared by the imaginary ghouls because ultimately nothing out there can be as scary as the fear of failure.

Characters · WIP Wednesday

Supporting Cast

Every heroine requires several things, firstly a bad guy or girl to battle, then a support cast of characters to aid her in her journey through the story.  Last week I spoke about where the initial story came from the legends and stories from history and the online game I played.

Now I have to apologise or my drawings am out of practise but wanting to avoid copyright issues I thought it best you get my scribbles.

It was here in the game that a few of the characters initially started life. That is not to say they are based infact on real people or even on their in game personalities but that is where the seed was planted.  The bad guy Wend began life as a larger than life in game persona who was a bit of a rebel. In real life he is a lovely guy but a few of his antics sparked the idea for the bad guy, I am lucky that no matter how bad I made my fictional character he lapped it up quite happily claiming credit for being the inspiration for Wend Y Mawr.

Celdwady comes closest to his real life inspiration not that I believe my friend has magical powers, well not quite, but he is a Pagan who if I had to describe him I would classify as a Druid.  He has been a real inspiration on advice regarding that aspect of the novel, teaching me about the uses of various herbs and the potions which it is possible to brew using them.

Not all my characters appear in human form in the novel.  The Lady and her Lord appear frequently in wolf guise.  The wolf had special significance in many societies so it seemed fitting that this was the animal form my Goddess would appear in.  I also have a huge soft spot for wolves I hate seeing them in zoo’s and although it will never happen would love to see them reintroduced here in the UK.  It is fitting that part of the theme of my novel is about the balance required in life between good and evil but also between man and his enviroment.  Here in the UK the wolf was hunted out of existence by man so the whole concept of the bond between my main character Jacantha and the Lady in the guise of the wolf fascinates me.

I think in part the cast of characters actually creates the whole.  Each  in the novel has a part to play for each character there is a counter to balance out the elements of each personality.  While literally there is a cast of hundreds of extra’s I made a concious decision that only the characters that are essential to the story line are given names.

Again apologises for the drawings I really do need to get some practise in.

Characters · Highs and Lows · Thoughts on thursday

Thoughts On Thursday – Given Pause for Thought

Thoughts on Thursday are about my experiences writing so it may be fitting that the inspiration for today’s post comes from someone I follow and their experience as a reader and actor.  First it might be helpful if you would like to pop over to Andrea’s blog and read her post The Quest for My Own Experience by clicking here.  I shall just twiddle my thumbs while I wait….

Okay your back.

Now you may be wondering why her post hit a nerves.  It is because I realised while I as a person am not, my writing is prejudice.  I do not mean that I write negatively about people with different skin colours just that when it comes to it I don’t write about them at all.

If you read my comment on her post you would have seen my first gut defend my self by genre.  Except that doesn’t really work does it I am writing a medieval fantasy loosely based on Anglo Saxon and Arthurian legend but it is not a historical novel in that it adheres to specific time and place.  What I think unnerved me was how easily I omitted anyone other than white characters.

Many times we are told to write what we know, yet we live in a multicultural society  so why write a white only community? I have a chinese aunt and cousin, my other half’s brother is has a mixture of Caribbean and European blood (although the family don’t like admitting to the french part seems it all went downhill once they travelled over the channel).

It would have been easy to sneak away and write in a token black character or two but I would be fooling myself aswell as insulting the reader.  Instead I decided to write this post admitting to myself that as much as I hate to admit it the Colonial genes still have an influence on some level.  I went away and looked through my flash fiction most of which has not mention of how a character looks but knowing that in my head when I wrote them they were all white.  And I am not going to immediately go away and start writing a black character just to prove a point, I hope one day I will write a character that a little girl like Andrea was will read and think I want to play her, and be able to without it mattering about skin colour.

I will now I hope stop and think and broaden my horizons when I consider who and where my characters come from.  I will not write characters to fill a quota but I will stop and think is there any reason why this person is white, would it add to the story if they were not?  I can only hope one day I can write and do justice to more than one tongue and give voice to characters who jump from the page bearing no physical resemblence to me that will grab you and take you on their own journeys.

So what about you?  Is it something you have ever thought about?  Is it something you have addressed?  While it is natural to write what we know does that mean it needs to be exclusive?

Characters · Plots · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – Where it all began?

As this is the first real post regarding my WIP I guess it makes sense to discuss where it all began.  Three years ago I found a facebook game I loved and in some ways it would be easy to claim that as the starting point.  But that wouldn’t be quite true.

Screenshot from my KOC account

You see the reason I enjoyed this game so much initially was I already loved the Medieval.  I was a tomboy growing up more at home climbing trees than playing for hours doing dolls hair.  Most times people play knights, and castles the only role for girls is to be the princess waiting to be rescued but then I found her…..

Boudicca!  Now to be fair she lived earlier than the medieval period generally tends to include as she died around 60 AD .

Now history in acedemic terms is not my strong point and I will not insult you my lovely readers by trying to explain in great detail her life story or the politics of the Roman Invasion at the time   For those history buffs out there or those who want to learn a great deal more from better qualified people than I  here is the first part of Battlefield Britain’s take on Boudicca’s Rebellion.  

If you have the time to watch it it really is a fascinating programme sadly embed was disabled so I could only provide the link.  So in simple terms Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni tribe who led a rebellion against Roman soldiers who wished to enslave her people. The problem here is that many of the stories are as much myth as anything else as history tends to be written by the victors.  No one is actually even sure what she looks like take this composite image I found online

The centre image is from the film Warrior Queen

She was a figure that disappeared from history for many years being made popular again during the reign of Queen Victoria.  Infact it would appear that down the years it is only when a female monarch is in charge that this strong woman is remembered.

She was the isnspiration for my main chararcter Jacantha.  Women were seem as the equal of men at the very least.  They fought alongside them many being considered far more dangerous than the men.  But as in my novel being a female warrio could lead to their sex being used against them if captured,  It is reported that when Boudicca’s daughters were captured they were raped an outrage that only fuelled her hatred for the Roman invaders.

The Roman’s accused the Briton’s of barbarous horrors to justify their slaughter and anyone who questions some of the graphic sexual violence this is a quote from Wikipedia ‘Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio’s account gives more detail; that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour” in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.’

This is a clip from the film Warrior Queen for those of a squeamish disposition I should warn it shows sexual violence as well as normal violence and it is a little longer than I would have liked but it also demonstrates as well the belief in magic held at the time.


Next week I shall discuss how the cast of other characters formed around my Queen.


Characters · Poetry · WIP Wednesday

In Her Dreams

Okay back to a purely writing post, as you all know this week I am knee deep in the mire that is editing.  I have been working my way through the first section of my WIP and apart from a few arguments with the grammar setting on spellchecker its not going to bad.  Last week I read a post now this is the bad bit I cannot remember whose blog it was on (sooo sorry I remember exactly what you were writing about if it makes you feel better you will know who you are) where they did an interview with one of the characters from their WIP.  I loved the post and the idea but stupidly deleted the email to be able to go back and give proper credit.

Now I am not exactly copying their idea more appropriating the spirit of it lol in that today the chapter I edited was one where the bad guy Wend infiltrates the heroines mind as she sleeps forcing his thoughts into her dreams.  I was thinking about she would feel afterwards about what had happened and her voice came to me so I thought I would share her words…

Unbidden he comes

An intruder in my dreams

Through the darkness he emerges

Wanting, longing, demanding

I pull away

Yet he remains encroaching

His hands ply my flesh

My mind protests

My body betrays

As the flush of shame

Sweeps my brow

My treacherous flesh

Yearns for more

Sins of carnality

I know but have not tasted

Primal instincts aroused, alight

Base responses of animal lust

I cannot push away

Though my heart protests

I hate this man with all my soul

But in the dark of night

I answer his call.

Characters · Plots · Research · WIP Wednesday

A Peek in a Notebook

Monet’s living notebook

Years ago when I first left school I went to Art College instead of taking A levels we had just moved towns and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  In hindsight it was wrong but there was one experience which made the failure worth the lost years.  That was the college trip to Paris. As a city I hated it wander off the tourist paths and you found dirty grubby streets, we even had our own adventure walking through the red light district trying to get back to the youth hostel from one gallery but that is a story for another day.

My best memory of that trip was a little obscure looking gallery filled with the most amazing treasures…Monet’s paintings.  I was fascinated by Monet for two reasons.  First of course were his wonderful paintings, I loved Impressionists but especially Monet.  To stand before the sheer magnitude of his canvas’ to see each individual brush stroke up close was breath-taking.  For me I think it was the first time I truly understood the meaning of the word genius.  But it is the second reason that is the focus of this post.  It is the fact he created and grew and entire garden just so he could paint it.  He planned the views, the colours, the layout all so he could paint his visions.  And in a lesser way this is how I view my note books.  They are my garden starting out as ideas, seedlings planted some to grow to maturity some plucked away.  I thought it might be fun to share a few picture of the note-book I use for my novel.

These are early pages after all I don’t want to give too much away lol.  I started off with collections of images…no thats not true. I started off with the idea I had idea’s about how certain characters would look and act and I searched out images which fit what I envisioned.   I scrawled on around and even over certain images taking notes of the parts that fit with what I wanted, asking myself questions, working out what research I needed to do to find the answers I needed.

I saw those early scribbles as the first tentative brushstrokes or the skimming of charcoal on paper providing an outline for what I wanted to create.

As you can see these early pages become more and more filled with my looping scrawl as more thoughts come to me.  You will also see I love to doodle on the pages as I think.  It has been a long time since I took the time to practise my drawing skills maybe in time if I put in a little more effort as I doodle they will be worth looking at once more.  You can also see on these first pages the skeleton for the novels structure just a quick note in chapter form of the novels timeline.  It held it most of the way with obviously more details and a few changes in later versions.

I did lose track of myself on the occasional page where my terrible scribbling become too confusing to read myself later but as the note-book was only ever meant for me to see I did not think it neccessary to worry about nice neat flowing handwriting but as the book continues as the note-book begins to contain facts and ideas for actual use then it does get better.  no point having a great line if you can’t read what it was.

Someone else made a comment to me that one day if I ever got published people would want to see my note-books and I laughed.  Maybe if that day ever came it might be wise for me to destroy them and pretend they never existed rather than disappoint with my terrible drawings and appalling writing but I don’t think I could ever do that.  Disorganised as they are this is how my ideas have grown, the pages where my characters were born and took their first breaths I don’t think I would ever want to part with them.

I didn’t want to carry on further into the note book afterall pages of text are no where near as amusing as scribbled pictures and random notes but I hope you enjoyed a little peek into how my mind works. Maybe in writing this I have learnt a lesson myself not just about realising myself how I work but also that spending a few extra minutes when writing in my note-books would not only ensure I can read my own writing but one day might make me feel more comfortable about sharing more from them.

Do you use a note-book or are you a straight to computer writer?  If you do what is scribbled in the margins of yours?

Characters · WIP Wednesday

100th Post

I have annoyed you 100 times now in the last two months since I started blogging by pulling you away from you writing to spend a few minutes here with me and I just want to say THANKYOU so much.  I gave you the option of choosing what you would like for the 100th postI should have known you have dirty minds lol.  It is also quite helpful for me as my back went at work yesterday so am struggling to sit up today let alone think.

I should point out right now if you are under 18 stop reading now….go on…go…come back tomorrow but no more for you today.

The excerpt if from the first draft and will propbably get tamed down a little before it goes anywhere near a publisher but who knows it could get worse lol.  I just wish to point out it is a medieval fantasy there for raping and pillaging is compulsory. This is the first sex scene I have ever written and yes my mind may be slightly warped but hell who wants to be sane, Leave me your thoughts especially on whether it would put a publisher off…


Wend Y Mawr stripped off his shirt, revealing his muscular chest, and stepped forward towards the woman.  For a brief second she let her head drop backwards, and then threw it forward releasing a volley of phlegm at his face, he wiped it away with the back of his hand then struck her across the face.  The woman hung dazed, Wend pulled his sword from the scabbard. For an instant those present thought he would strike the woman down, that she had insulted and provoked him enough to preserved her dignity though not her life, but he held the sword in front of him, one hand closed over the blood stone and began chanting.  The room shimmered around the onlookers, a fog enveloped the centre of the room, lights seemed to fluoresce within it, then there was a flash and the fog dissipated.

Wend still stood in the same position but the woman was no longer there, in her place hung the image of Jacantha, Wend smiled even her father would not have been able to tell the difference,  the charge of energy within the room increase,  he began to harden at the prospect of what was to come.  He stepped forward, the woman was now barely conscious; all the better, he had not heard enough of Jacantha’s voice to be able to add that to the illusion, he did not want the woman shouting out to break the spell.  He undid his belt removing his dagger from it before letting it drop to the floor.

 He stepped up to the woman and slowly began cutting away her remaining clothing savouring each moment as he uncovered Jacantha’s body, allowing his hand to trail across the exposed flesh. He caressed her breasts as he freed them from their covering, almost tenderly, taking his time, rolling the nipples between his thumb and forefinger.  He knelt before her sliding the dagger under the leather near her ankles and cutting up each leg in turn until the legging lay shredded on the floor before her.  His hand trailed across her stomach slowly, savouring each moment, as she squirmed beneath his touch.   He moved behind her enabling himself to take in the look on the audiences’ faces, the look of horror on the faces of the captives desperately trying to turn their heads away, their eyes staring unwillingly. The men’s eyelids started to tear as they struggled to close their eyes to the sight before them, the women trembling and silently weeping.  He looked to his own men,  other than those focused on holding the captives, their excitement was visible, one or two had already grabbed a concubine ready to relieve them once things got started.  It didn’t matter if they started before the show was finished their energies would only help to sustain the illusion.

Wend Y Mawr kicked off his boots, untying the thongs on his leggings and allowing them to drop to the floor, he stepped out from behind her naked, for action, at over six foot, broad and muscular he was an impressive sight, he knew this, even the men in the room could not help but admire his physique. For a moment he wished he was alone with her could take his time just savouring her naked body and imagine what it would be like to have her hands wander over his body.  A slight shift in the room drew him back he knew he must keep his focus; there would be time enough for his fantasies once he had the real one in his power.

He stepped up and grabbed the woman behind the thighs, tilting her backwards slightly, he heard a scuffle behind him as one of the male captives again tried to break loose. He adjusted his position slightly then thrust into her, driving his full length into her, holding onto her hips he began to plunge himself into her in long slow deliberate thrusts. Behind him he heard the wailing begin and smiled.  He was careful to control his lust, he wanted this moment to last, not only for his own pleasure but to gather the energies from those watching, and ensure the captives would have this image ingrained in their minds.  He felts his pace quickening, his body determined to fulfil its own desires, he withdrew and stepped back, he was throbbing with lust still.  He stepped back behind the woman, for a few minutes he gathered himself allowing his hands to wander over the women’s body, he pinched the nipples, then grabbed her breasts in turn squeezing them hard, his other hand straying between her legs spreading her, displaying her to those watching.

The captives now were broken wrecks; the women had forgotten their determination to stay silent and were openly weeping. The men holding them already taking advantage of their position, breasts had been exposed and were being groped, hands worming their way between legs.  The male captives also had tears streaming down their faces but they were silent, faces set in grim expressions of pure hatred. They had ceased struggling but Wend could read their thoughts, they were waiting hoping for an opportunity to avenge the honour of their new queen. They had taken in the illusion completely and could no longer recall that it was not her hanging there.  Several of his men were now engaged in various acts with concubines, some merely receiving a helping hand, while others chose a helping mouth.  He felt an explosion of energy as one released himself over the breasts of a small blonde concubine, then grabbed a dark headed girl and forced her to lap it up as he rammed a hand between her legs, Wend redirected a small amount of energy back to him and watched as he hardened again immediately and forced the blondes mouth back onto his manhood.

Wend’s hand wandered to his own manhood, time to finish the show he could not hold back much longer He moved closer to the woman pressing himself against her, she moaned and tried to pull away from him, he didn’t want the illusion to end before he was finished. He positioned himself between her firm buttocks then he reached round grasping her hips and tilted her forward slightly. Even in her confused state the woman began to struggle aware of how he was about to violate her. He looked directly into the eyes of the male captives and he rammed himself into her, his domination of her complete.  The women’s eyes flew open as a scream of pain escaped her lips, for a second he nearly lost the illusion, he grabbed her hair, and pulling it so tight it threatened to come out by the roots.

Characters · Plots · WIP Wednesday

Lets call it a taster..WIP

I have been debating how to celebrate 3000 views on my page and I thought this was the way to go.  I have read so many of your excerpts from your books and WIP and you have repaid me by coming bac over and over again without the slightest evidence that this WIP of mine is actually going to be worth the effort.  So I decided that I would give you a taster the first few paragraphs of Queen of Ages.  Now please be kind and bear in mind this is only the first draft I am aware of a few glaring grammatical issues, and as I have progressed writing it there will probably be quite a few changes to this but I wanted to share with you where it all began for me.  So here goes I hope you like…..

She pulled her cloak tighter around her, the soft fur brushing against her cheek.  She was alone now. She would stay here the full night paying her last respects to her father until the flames died to smouldering embers.  Despite the warmth from the fire itself she could see her breath as she exhaled. The night was clear, the moon shone brightly.  She turned her gaze towards the sky, picking out the constellations she recognised from her childhood lessons. Each pinpoint of light seeming brighter than the last. Finally she settled on one concentrating her gaze on it.  She picked out each individual star that made up the constellation. She wondered how far away each one really was.  Childhood lessons talked of each star being as big as the land she walked upon.  It seemed as unbelievable to her now as it had as a child.  She found herself going dizzy at the thought of the insurmountable distance between her and the star.  She lowered her eyes back to the ground.

As the flames flickered and danced before her eyes. She allowed her mind to drift back over the last few hours. Everything had happened so quickly, yet she herself had felt as though she had been moving through water.  Everything seemed to have happened in slow motion, as if she were watching it and herself from a distance.  The men had carried her father’s body back from the battle. They had fought valiantly and on pure skill should have been victorious but it had not been skill which had determined the outcome.  The few warriors who had returned had described strange circumstances occurring during the course of the skirmish. She hadn’t been able to take it all in.  There would be time for the stories to be retold in the next few days but first the formalities must be performed with the solemnity they deserved.  Her father was a bear of a man, tall and broad. She had gained his height but had inherited her mother’s willowy build.  In her memories of childhood he was alternately the kind loving father who lifted her into his lap and regaled her with stories of wolves, and witches, faerie folk and elves. Or he was the strict ruler impressing upon her and her younger brother the importance of their future roles.  A strict taskmaster on the training field, he taught them to wield various weapons. Forcing them to practice for hours, even though their arms ached and they had reached a point through weariness where it was all they could do to lift the huge broadswords.

A brief smile escaped her lips at the thought. She bore him no ill feelings for the fact the hours training had far outweighed the precious hours of stories. She understood why things had been that way, the smile faded as the realities of the warrior life returned as she thought of the lifeless body carried back through the keep gates. Without his fearsome spirit the body had seemed smaller. Now she would take his place as the leader of their tribe, and would be expected to lead her troops with the same bravery and skill as he had.  Tomorrow she would take the crown and her brother would receive the heir’s diadem that now sat upon her chestnut tresses.