Short Story: Owner of the Bank of Souls

Meg is dying–fast. There’s only one way for her boyfriend to save her. The Bank of Souls.

“Tomorrow it’ll come and tomorrow she’ll be dead!” Danner stood over my cot, all dark and shadowy, though the fireplace crackling behind him did cast light on one thing—his shining green eyes. Or I guess that’s two things technically. To the right of the fireplace, Birdie hunched, sunken and gray like the armchair he sat in.

“Well darn, Danny,” I coughed, “quite the inspiration.” 

He leaned over and softened some. “Shh, Meg, please, just rest.” 

“Well, according to you, I’m about to have plenty of that in eight hours—give or take.” 

His glistening eyes laid on me and though the darkness in my cabin’s living room obscured it, he curved his lips in a smirk—the same smirk he gave me at the prison courtyard before introducing himself as my future husband. But like my health over the last forty-eight hours, it quickly vanished. 

“All we can do is pray for dayligh’,” Birdie said, his voice hoarse.

“I’m sick of praying, Birdie!” Danner rose. “We’ve got to do something!” 

“You willin’ to go out there durin’ curfew and risk meetin’ the courier halfway?”

“I think my odds at taking a bullet are better than hers right now.”

“That so?” Now Birdie rose, wrinkled and still hunched, he managed to meet brawny Danner eye-to-one-eye. Like it did for Danner, the flames shined off Birdie’s single iris and only deepened the shadow in his crater of the other. “I know the odds, kid, and they ain’t good. You’re better off sittin’ your stubborn butt down and waitin’ for her medicine to come.”

 “Dad, please—” I shut my mouth. Birdie’s singular stare darted to me. Despite the warmth, a shiver tore through my bones. 

Birdie walked around Danner and slowly approached. “What did you call me?”

“Dad,” I said it lower, but stronger somehow. Of all the eighteen years he’d raised me, never once had I called him Dad. He never taught me to. 

A tear welled and he knelt beside me and laid his heavy, thumbless hand on my whole one—another friendly reminder from the dictatorship not to ever buy cow meat from the black market again. “Darnit, Meg. I told you what to call me.”

“God forbid, right? Even on my death bed.”

“You’re not gonna die, Meg.” 

“Just like Mom wasn’t going to?”

A tear escaped and he quickly turned away. My own eyes remained dry. I didn’t have the luxury of thirty years of memories. Not even a full twenty-four hours. I only had the reminder of the curse, the plague I was from birth. 

Danner returned to my side, soft again. “Do you want me to stay?”

Sweat dripped from my temples; heat, pain, and love will do that to you. “Kinda.”

He chuckled. “But I’ve got to do something, Meg.”

“Then kiss me.”

He grabbed my hand in his and whispered, “With this audience? I’ll really die before you do.”

“Romeo didn’t care.”

“Yeah, and look how that ended up.”

I sighed. “But unlike Juliet…I am really dying, Danner.” 

His head bowed and he kissed my hand. Hot tears landed on my skin. He peered up again. After what felt like eons, he slowly leaned in and pressed his soft lips to mine. Bitter sweet, like black coffee and milk. Another luxury we’d been deprived of for years. My aching muscles eased. My eyelids grew heavy. My breathing hastened. 

Danner recoiled. “Meg? Meg!”

“Meg!” Birdie cried out. Their loud voices drifted as my head throbbed. Burning stabs cut through my heart. I gasped and grabbed my chest. But I couldn’t feel my hand. Only my heart. The rapid slicing. From every angle. Cutting through my veins. Ripping at my arteries. My lungs squeezed in. A million pounds. I dropped back. This. Was. It. My odds. Maybe I’d meet. Mom.

 Finally. Say hi. Or sorry.

Blackness reigned.


“Meg!” Danner shouted, her lifeless, thin body like the weight of a child in his arms. He held her tightly. “Please, don’t do this. I need you.” Tears soaked his face. And rage consumed his heart. They did this to her. To her mother. To his grandparents. Their neighbors. Scraps and shackles. Crap hospitals. Criminalizing private anything. 

Birdie dropped to his knees and sobbed. “Meg, my Megan. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Danner shut his eyes. Meg’s face that day in the prison courtyard filled his mind. Still thin, but fuller. Her skin glowing with sweat and her dark eyes plain yet penetrating. Makeup was for rich girls. Not that she needed it. 

She sat against the iron gate, writing on a torn piece of bed sheet with a pen she’d stolen from an officer. She had wrapped the flashy pen in some bed sheet, too. Danner was the only one who saw her do it. 

The meat-head sat in his cozy desk chair, writing in the new prisoners on his clipboard with an old, red-feathered ink pen. He prided his penmanship—refusing to use the government provided tablet. Meg had been eyeing the pen the whole time she waited in line. By the time she was third, she feigned the most believable sneeze attack you’d ever seen. Everyone panicked—not wanting to catch the latest pestilence—even Meat-Head. He sprang from his comfy chair like someone jammed a dagger through his cheeks, dropping his pen and notepad. Meanwhile, Meg stumbled forward, still sneezing, and slapped her hands onto the table. As she turned around, she swiped the pen and slipped it into the back of her pants, her sneeze explosion finally ceasing. 

Meat-Head was so disturbed he’d called in backup and took an abrupt break from his post. 

And that’s when the thought hit Danner and he just knew it. He knew one day he’d marry that crazy girl. And he had to tell her. 

“I saw what you did.” Danner opened with.

She stopped writing and looked up at him with those eyes. “And?”

He smirked. “And I’m your future husband.” 

Meg huffed, but then smiled, too.

Danner opened his eyes. And gently pulled Meg away from his chest. Her mouth hung open slightly. But now she was dead.

A knock rattled the front door.

 Birdie continued sobbing as Danner carefully laid Meg on the cot and then rushed to the door. He opened it. Night masked the surrounding woods up to the porch, but a ray of moonlight snuck through the trees and onto a brown paper box on the doorstep. Danner glanced around. The courier couldn’t of disappeared that fast. Danner grabbed the box, slowly, before shutting the door and locking it.

Birdie looked up, his face wet with tears and snot. He frowned at the odd package as Danner scanned it. Not the Black Market’s usual white, imitation government box with realistic insignias and a fake return address.

“Who’s it from?” Birdie finally spoke.

“Doesn’t say.”

“Then don’t open it. Could be a bomb or something from the Regime.”

Danner clutched the box, his eyes traveling to Meg, her skin paler than ever. He strode from the room and into the half kitchen. He snatched a knife from a drawer, set the box on the counter, and then sliced the tape that sealed it. 

As Danner opened the box, Birdie stepped into the kitchen. A clipboard with a paper lay at the bottom. 

“What the hell is it?”

Danner slowly removed the clipboard and read the crimson printed words:

I, Danner Adam Mitchel, on this sixth day of September, year 2033, hereby choose to pledge that in the place of Megan Marie Blackwell, I shall offer my life in exchange for hers. 

Danner’s heart pounded. Beneath a line with an empty space, cursive writing spelled: Anticus Mordem, Owner of the Bank of Souls.

Danner looked inside the box again. A red-feathered pen lay in the center. 

Birdie rushed to his side and grabbed the clipboard. As he read it, he shook his head. “What kinda sick bast—”

Danner clasped the pen and snatched the clipboard back, then walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. Meg still lay there. Her skin now yellowing. Danner approached her. He suddenly remembered what he’d stowed in his left pocket. A ring he’d traded five batteries and a week’s worth of flour for. A six month’s wage. He had the proposal all planned. 

He’d built a small table from two of his dining chairs and set it in his backyard beneath the best looking tree he could find and then sprinkled it with purple flowers—her favorite color. He was going to cook wheat pasta for her and then ask the big question. But before he could, she got food poisoning from spoiled berries and now here they were, two days later. 

Danner reached in his pocket and removed the ring. Rose gold. Plain but beautiful, like Meg. Lifting her limp hand, he slid the ring onto her ring finger. “If this works, I’ll see you on the other side, Juliet.” He gave her one more kiss before pressing the red-feathered pen on the empty line and filling it with his name. 

A pang thrust through his chest. He staggered before hitting the floor. 

“Danner!” Birdie dropped beside him and began compressing his chest. “No, you ain’t goin’, too, kid! C’mon!” He pushed down hard. Over and over.

“Dad?” Meg’s voice. 

Danner’s chest seared at the sound and he forced himself to look at her. Her skin shone its normal pale, kissed with red. Her dark eyes alive—and terrified. 

As she jumped out of the cot, Birdie stopped compressing. “Megan? But…”

Megan took over. She pumped and pumped. Pressed her lips to Danner’s. Breathed out. Pumped some more. Breathed out…

“No, no, Danner, don’t you dare!” She cried as she pressed harder. 

The pain spread until it swallowed. And Danner gave his life.


“No!” I cupped Danner’s cheeks. His eyes were open. But distant. I touched his neck. Nothing. I slowly scooted away. What kind of nightmare am I living? I died only to wake up to this? No. It isn’t real. I’m still dead. Maybe this is hell. My punishment for killing Mom during labor. 

“Meg.” Birdie smashed my dark hopes. He held out a clipboard, his hand trembling. 

I took it. Read the words. And Danner’s signature. 

I shook my head. “This isn’t possible.”

“You…” Birdie’s voice quaked, his blue eye wide. “You died. I—I saw it. And then Danner signed. Dropped to the ground.” His body shaking, he muttered the rest. 

My heart raced. Beside Danner lay a red-feathered pen—exactly like the one I swiped from that tool at the prison. I snatched it and then noticed a rose-gold ring on my wedding finger. Oh my God.

I clasped my mouth. My head thrashed as my mind swirled. This is hell. A living hell. 

I closed my eyes. Tried to breathe. To think. What would Mom do? Dumb question. I’d never know. Birdie forbade asking about her. And he never brought her up. She could’ve been a dream this whole time. A good dream. Not like this. I took another deep breath. And opened my eyes. 

I looked at Danner. Gone. Somewhere else. But I wasn’t ready to let him go. 

I ripped the paper from the clipboard and shoved the feathered pen in my back pocket. As I stood to my feet, Birdie did, too.

“What are you doin’?”

“I’m going to find this Anticus Mordem guy. And make him bring Danner back.”



Read the previous chapters: Part 1, Chapters 1-2; Part 1, Chapters 3-4; Part 2, Chapter 1; Part 2, Chapter 2; Part 2, Chapter 3; Part 2, Chapter 4

The blare of trumpets harmonizing with rapid strings and jittery jingles overpowered the corridor leading to the Banquet Hall. With my umbrella open and ready to deflect, my anticlimactic purple dress, and my annoying older brother at my side, I wouldn’t fail to make a miserable entrance at the celebration. With my fate lately, I won’t be shocked to walk in and accidentally collide into Prince Nuelle, poking him in the eye with my umbrella.

“Nothing like a grand festivity to try and distract prodigies from the academy’s new threat.” Javin stalked beside me in muddy Servants’ attire.

“You’re being overdramatic.”

“Oh right, because the lunatic wall-burner only threatened Prince Nuelle so the rest of us are fine. Elly, this is the kind of person who clearly fears no one.”

As we reached the Banquet hall’s large, circular entry, I raised my voice over the loud music. “If this prodigy was so brave, why not make the threat to Prince Nuelle’s face?”

We stepped inside the crowded room with an array of both fancily

and casually dressed prodigies. A short, leather-dressed girl dodged my umbrella. “Good point! But my guess is that whoever this servant is, building up fear was the goal, you know like”—she deepened her voice and added some rasp—“‘I’m like a shadow ready to sneak up on you and attack when you least expect it.”

“See,” I said, “to me, that’s even more cowardly. If this vandal would opt for a surprise attack rather than an open duel, he’s weaker than his swelling words suggest.”

“He?” The girl glided beneath the covering of my umbrella and situated herself too close. “How do you know it isn’t a she?”

I eyed her while my heart-rate spiked. As Javin slowly wrapped his arm around my waist, I began tilting my umbrella. If I can read this strange girl’s heart, what would I discover? Could this unassuming shrub actually be the creep behind the treacherous message burned into the wall of the commons? My grip moistened on my umbrella stick. I planted my feet as firmly as I could to brace myself for the onslaught of emotions about to trample me.

Short-stuff broke into a shrill cackle. “I’m just yanking your umbrella, sweetcake. Enjoy the celebration!” She wiggled her hips as she weaved her way through the crowd in front of us.

Javin released my waist. “Fortunate for her. I was preparing myself to strike a lady for the first time.”

I straightened my umbrella as my heartbeat calmed slightly. “For once, I’m thankful for your overprotectiveness.”

“Be slow to speak, sister.” He quickly grabbed my waist again as Eldin approached from ahead. My heart jumped back into high gear. Wearing a gray, woolen cloak with silver clasp, opened at the right shoulder, neatly draped over a tightly fitted black tunic, and his brown hair brushed back, exposing more of his flawless daystar-kissed face, I was unsure if my heart raced because of his masculine beauty or because of what Thrine accused him of. 

He stopped in front of us, a shy smile on his thick lips. “Good to see you.” Smile evaporating, he looked at Javin. “And you.”

“I would say likewise, but that’d be a lie.” I gaped at my own words—though only seventy-five percent true.

As Eldin’s forehead creased and mouth frowned, Javin growled, “Whoa, whoa. Did this lump of graether dung do something to you?”

“Not to me.”

Eldin lifted his palms as if trying to ward off ever-increasing violent waves. “If you mean what happened with Thrine and I—”

“I’d rather not hear the details of your”—the words burned like acid in my throat—“intimate times so spare me.”

“What?” He and Javin echoed.

“I don’t want to talk to you. I just want to see Prince Nuelle.”

The music’s swift drumming hastened toward a climactic finale. Eldin’s voice loudened. “He hasn’t arrived yet.”

Javin shook his head. “Late to a celebration being held in his honor. What a high-headed weemutt.”

I frowned as I scanned the prodigies. Some danced merrily and others conversed with tight faces and nervous glances—no doubt confused by the unannounced royal arrival and concerned over the personal threat. And now he had yet to show to his celebration?

“Do you think he’s okay?” I asked Javin.

“Yeah, he probably isn’t gonna come because of embarrassment over the disrespectful display in the commons. Show us lowers he’s too good for us.”

I rubbed my sleek umbrella stick with a moist thumb. From what I’d read about him and the Supreme King, he didn’t seem like the type to render dishonor for dishonor. But maybe he was just unpacking still, or handling some sort of business with the Overseer.

“Can we please talk?” Eldin focused his gleaming purple eyes on me.

Javin moved his hand from my waist to my shoulder. “She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to chat with you so you’d better dance off.”

“You won’t at least hear my side? Come on, Elisena. You’ve only just met Thrine, but we’ve known each other for as long as we can remember.”

I pursed my lips. Holding his hypnotic stare weakened me. And his words were true…I got so riled over everything his romantic companion said, I didn’t think to consider he should also be heard before making my final verdict. I sighed. “Javin, can you excuse us?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Papa-twin.”

Slowly, Javin removed his arm from my shoulder and then pointed a finger beneath Eldin’s chin. “If you try anything—”

“You’ll tear me to pieces like a hungry Massadon, I get it.”

“Good.” Javin barked, but Eldin just eyed him as he marched away and disappeared behind a group of lanky brunettes.

“Can we go out on the courtyard?” Eldin asked.

I squeezed my umbrella, slipping in my sweaty grasp. “Fine.”

He walked past and led me back out of the circular entryway. When we reached the commons, a hunched, white-haired caretaker stood in front of the cobblestone fireplace, sanding the burned markings above it with an iron flathead. The creepy message still shown deafeningly clear: Disappear like you brother, Supreme Prince. I shivered.

“After you.” Eldin held open the terrace door to the left.

I hurried outside into the silvery night. Round, basket-weaved couches littered a courtyard spattered with indigo blossoms and floating, wooden lanterns. As we meandered to a couch midway in, I boldly asked, “Where’s Thrine?”

“Last time I saw her, she was kissing a pasty boy with black hair by the buffet line.”

Something pinched my heart while we sat. She seemed like the vengeful type. I guess it’s safe to say their relationship is over. I peered at Eldin. “But how much of that was your fault?”

He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs. “I guess a decent amount.”

Thrine’s words taunted: Unlike Eldin, I’m not here to hurt you, I’m here to help you…By sharing with you what I wish one of Eldin’s victims shared with me before I let him become my suitor. I flinched.

Eldin quickly straightened. “What is it?”

I twirled my umbrella, wanting desperately to close it, both so I could read his heart and utilize it for self-defense if needed.

“What did she tell you?”

I hesitated, forcing myself not to scoot away from him in case it’d set him off. “That you bedded her, and had other victims.”

He coughed out a huff. “She’s always been an elaborate storyteller. Something I foolishly chose to overlook.”

“Why? Because she’s so beautiful you couldn’t keep your hands off of her?” I clenched my jaw as Eldin laid his gaze on me. 

The evening star’s glow shined off of his glassy eyes, hurt…disappointed. “It was our one year anniversary. I’d surprised her by coming to Athdonia to visit. She looked different. She used to have hair down to her hips, but she’d cropped it short and her attire was…more revealing.” He eased forward and set his elbows on his thighs again, staring out into the orange forest in the distance. “That’s when she told me to start calling her Thrine instead of Emmer. When I asked why, she gave me some story about this incredible group of people she’d befriended. How high their thoughts were. How they held these new ideas and views she’d never considered before and how it ‘enthralled’ her. Every time I asked if I could meet one of these new companions, she’d make up an excuse.” He shook his head. “I knew she was hiding them for a reason, but I didn’t want to disrespect her by pushing so I backed off. And then…”

I followed his gaze on the wood ahead and then casually tilted my umbrella to the right. The searing itch of regret radiating from him burned my skin. I bit my lip and focused hard on a dense darkwood whose curling vines swayed softly in the wind.

Eldin fidgeted and massaged his hands. “It was my fifth night there. For her father’s birthday her parents held a grand outdoor banquet in their crescent garden. I don’t drink, but Thrine insisted I have one. I didn’t know that one dragon brew would be as strong as it was. We danced a lot and Thrine got more and more…affectionate. It was another new side of her. At first I tried to evade her touches, offering to go for some dessert, but then she pulled me away from all the music and took me to her bedchamber.”

A heavy weight dropped onto my chest like a sack of stones, making me hunch as he continued his confession.

“It felt so wrong being there, but with the dragon brew fuming in my blood, every caress from her set me on fire and it became harder and harder to fight.” He sighed. “The next morning I just couldn’t do it again. Thrine got upset. She said she thought I loved her. And I did, and that’s why I didn’t want to continue. I stayed four more days and didn’t even kiss her. And that’s probably when she started loathing me.”

Leaning my umbrella back, I looked at him. “So you’re telling me you were never intimate again?”


“And there weren’t other—”

“‘Victims’?” He chuckled sadly. “No.”

The soft warmth of truth rubbed my shoulders, though hurt’s heaviness continued weighing them down. I straightened my umbrella and exhaled as the weight lifted and searing stopped. “Thrine is an elaborate storyteller.”

Eldin sat upright. “You didn’t read her heart?”

“No, regretfully, though it was probably best. I got to hear the whole truth from you.”

He smiled, but it quickly faded. “But I still took a girl’s honor, Elisena. I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

I switched my umbrella to my left hand to give the right a rest. “I think you more…received it.” I managed to smile. “I’m just impressed you were able to resist her afterwards.”

“Ah, well, a sober mind and sour guilt will do that to you.”

“And love.” My heart hung in my chest. “You said because you loved her you wanted to stop. So then, you must have planned on marrying her someday.”

His eyes narrowed as he smirked. “You reading my heart?”

My cheeks warmed. “Not at the moment.”

“So you were reading it before?”

I readjusted my eyes to the forest.

“I knew I felt something in my chest,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to know the truth.”

“It’s okay. I would’ve probably done the same.”

From my peripherals, I could see him staring at me. Willingly yet unwillingly, I turned my head and held his consuming gaze.

“Thrine was no longer the woman I fell in love with. I waited and prayed every night for another year because I wanted to make it work, to fight for her, but it seemed the more I did, the worse she became. She wouldn’t respect my boundaries and never gave up trying to be intimate with me again. It’s why I chose to stay away for as long as I could. But I knew I’d have to face her at the academy and after getting here, I finally had enough.”

I lowered my gaze as guilt pricked my own heart. “The things you said to me during Courtship…in front of her…”

He nodded. “I’d just had an argument with her after I told her I didn’t want to be with her anymore and she brushed it aside, insisting we speak about it later. So I let my anger get the better of me, and I apologize for that.”

Now a sharp pang slashed my chest. “So then you didn’t mean it?”

His eyes widened. “Yes, I mean no, no I did.”

I blinked at him, not sure if I followed correctly. 

“I did mean what I said, even though it was the wrong time to say it.”

Hot waves rushed over my heart as it banged against my skin, making

my head light. So then Eldin does like me? I only dreamed of this kind of reality, but never imagined it’d actually come true one day. He wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, but his heart was so pure, so noble. Eldin Lightsmith would be the dream husband I’d be beyond blessed to have, but…I peered over my shoulder at the Servants’ Lodge where somewhere within, the Supreme King’s son roamed. History was made today: as far as I know, no one of royalty ever attended the academy. And this wasn’t one of the five princes of the lesser kingdoms, this was one of the greater princes. It was only his first day and already, he’d made an enemy. And here I’ve been seeking my purpose in life, wondering why King Nifal made me and gave me this bizarre gift, and then I receive his invitation to this institution. My gaze returned to Eldin, still watching me closely, studying me. My heart leaned toward him, but the academy tugged it back.

Tears filled my eyes. “Before I came to this place, you were the most I ever wanted. But now that I’m here, I think there’s something I want more.”

He spoke with a gentle strength. “Everything in me still wants to fight for you…Should I?”

“I don’t know.” 

As he continued to peer at me, my heart tore in half. The pain rained down on me like hail; cold, rapid, and hard. Unable to bear witnessing his hurt any longer and layered atop mine, I rose from the couch. “Farewell, Eldin.” I turned as fast as I could and jogged across the courtyard, carrying the pain and leaving the love of my life behind me.



Read the previous chapters: Part 1, Chapters 1-2; Part 1, Chapters 3-4; Part 2, Chapter 1; Part 2, Chapter 2; Part 2, Chapter 3

Bewilderment’s haze fogged my vision while fear prickled my skin.

With my umbrella closed, the toxic emotions of whoever lurked behind my dormitory’s giant door pummeled me.

With a deep breath in, I opened my umbrella. “Elisena Dillion.”

As the amethyst stone in the door’s center glowed, the entry dragged opened. The large commons illuminated by four floating wooden chandeliers welcomed after a stressful, still unfinished day–but not for long.

By the twisting-cobblestone fireplace, two chattering girls occupied one of the swirl-backed, leather couches. A pale, big-haired girl spoke rapid-fire to the square-bodied blonde beside her, carrying an open scroll. “I just totally don’t feel safe here anymore. But Prince Nuelle is stunningly gorgeous in person so it really helped calm my nerves.”

I walked toward the spiraling staircase on the left. The blonde whipped her head toward me. “Interesting umbrella.” She scanned me while she continued, more slowly, as if speaking for a translator. “Have you seen him, too?”

“I haven’t.” I took a step toward the staircase.

“Well you may want to know about this then.” She held up the scroll.

As I approached, Big-Hair leaned back. “Not that you’ll be doing much dancing.” She pointed at my umbrella. “Clearly.”

Dancing? I frowned as I took the scroll. Pristine cursive marked the page.

Attention residents of the Tower of Meekness, 

You are cordially invited to a celebration being held in honor of the arrival of Prince Nuelle and his esteemed companion, Ave Purine. The festivity begins this evening at the Seventh Hour in the Banquet Hall. Servants’ attire is not required so do feel at liberty to don your finest.  


Overseer Enri Neitman

My heart racing, I handed the scroll back to chatter-mouth. She snatched it and hugged it against her chest. “I am so glad Aunt Belinda made me bring my sixteenth birthday gown. If that won’t seize Prince Nuelle’s gaze then”–she giggled–“what will?”

Big-Hair straightened and rolled her shoulders. “I also happen to have a gown. It belonged to Mother. She wore it at her Eve of the Covenant Union Dinner. I am certain Prince Striking will ask me for a dance.”

As they nice-girl argued with one another, I glanced up at the stairs. I hadn’t brought anything fancy–not that I had something like that anyway. The fanciest dress I owned was given to me by Ernaya down the mountain after she lost fifteen pounds adopting Javin’s vegetarian diet; a purple linen dress tight at the waist and then widens down to the ankles. I guess it’d have to do, though Prince Nuelle would never notice me anyway. I looked at the open umbrella in my grasp. Or maybe he would. My cheeks burning, I bustled toward the staircase. Of all the ways I’d want one of the Supreme King’s sons to acknowledge my existence, wondering why in Zephoris I ambled around with an open umbrella wasn’t one of them. Though I couldn’t possibly attend the celebration without it. And I had to go. Notice me for better or for worse, I want to see Prince Nuelle. Maybe I could even get a quick glimpse into his heart…

My own heart quickened like my steps. I ascended the stairs and turned into the floating lantern corridor on my right. I glanced inside the open bedchamber doors I passed. A few sat empty; others housed more busily chatting girls like the dueling duo downstairs, happy to meet new friends in this exciting new home they shared with new lessons and opportunities.

I shifted my attention ahead. I wonder if any of them had to deal with their personified past and the confusion and hurt he brought with it. Eldin would no doubt be at the celebration tonight with Thrine. A flutter tickled my gut while I winced. But after how he acted during Courtship–and how she reacted–would they actually show up together? Did she close the door on their relationship like she’d slammed the one on her early departure from the lesson?

As I reached my bedchamber, I frowned. The door stood shut. That probably meant no one was inside. Good for me since apparently no girls–except maybe Surta–cared to befriend the strange, chunky, umbrella girl. With a sinking heart, I opened the door.

My stomach jumped to my throat. On one of the six beds, closest to the large circular window on the back wall, sat Thrine. Her perfect, creamy-smooth legs lay crossed on the thin mattress as she read an open leather journal–my journal.

Every hair on my body rose as Thrine spoke the words I’d penned a few weeks ago.

“Peering into Eldin’s heart is my greatest temptation and greatest source of pain. He’s too good. Don’t mistake me; he is certainly not perfect—none of us are—but Eldin’s heart is unlike anyone’s I have ever known.” Smirking, she peered up at me. “I used to think the same.” Snapping the journal shut and then dropping it on a pillow, she stood. “But now I’ll let you in on a little secret.” Thrine stepped forward. As she neared, I squeezed my umbrella as if doing so would make her disappear. She stopped in front of me. Though we stood eye-to-eye, she somehow appeared taller. “You don’t have to be afraid of me, Elisena. Unlike Eldin, I’m not here to hurt you, I’m here to help you.”

“Help me?” my stupid voice squeaked.

“Yes. By sharing with you what I wish one of Eldin’s victims shared with me before I let him become my suitor.”

I swallowed, though it didn’t help the squeakiness. “Victims?”

Her head turned to the closest bed. She traced her fingers across the top of its rough footboard.

“After getting to know every part of my body, he started treating me like the harlot he turned me into.”

My mouth dropped. Eldin lay with a young woman before marrying her? He was always so respectful and modest. A few men in our village worked tunic-less–to their own scorn from the older women–but never Eldin. His heart held passion, naturally, but he always kept it tame. Or maybe that was just because he was around unattractive me. My temples throbbed. But with someone as blatantly beautiful and alluring as…

Thrine’s yellow eyes glinted with broken rage, so calm yet dreadfully fierce, like a graether enjoying the sight of its terrified prey before devouring it. “You would be shocked. Eldin’s barely laid a hand on you. That’s how he was in the beginning of our courtship. So chaste…but after spilling my heart like the fool he made me, telling him words he never deserved to hear, his voracious passion unraveled all over me.” She smiled, though tears filled her eyes. “He was intoxicating, addicting. Masterful. But…” Her smiled vanished. “That kind of love doesn’t last.” She lifted her hand, making me flinch. Smirk returning, Thrine flicked my umbrella. “Which you’ll soon discover.”

My body trembled as she slowly glided past like melting frost. “Enjoy the celebration tonight.” Her steady footsteps faded and I managed to trudge toward the nearest bed. Before I could sink onto the mattress, I fell to my knees on the wooden floor. The firmness caused a pang in both knees, but it didn’t hurt a quarter as much as my tearing heart did. Still clinging to my umbrella, I buried my face in my free arm and wept. I never want to see Eldin again.

Fantasy Friday: “The Academy’s Royal Resident and Rival” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Chapter 3 (Short Story)

I know it’s not Friday again. I’m working on it. Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are on the story so far. Ugh, that rhymed. Check out the previous chapters here. Happy reading!


A glowing white orb pulsed above me. With a low hum, its gentle pace mirrored my heartbeat.

“Elly,” Javin’s strained voice said, and his prickling anxiety itched my skin. He sat in an old armchair next to the bed I lay in, covered by ivory sheets. My closed umbrella leaned against a small, wooden end-table. An open window on the back wall revealed nearby orange trees brightly lit beneath the afternoon daystar.

“How long have I been unconscious?”

“An hour.” Javin leaned over and brushed aside a strand of frizzy brown hair from my forehead. “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you have your umbrella open?”

“How’d you know I didn’t have it open?”

His eyes narrowed and anger’s stinging heat rubbed against my cheeks. “Eldin told me.”

My face burned. “How long was he here?”

“For as long as he could stand me.”

Lying’s rapid pulse harassed my knees. I sat upright. “Be honest, Javin.”

He sighed. “He was here until Miss Alesia made him go to second lesson.”

Now my stomach knotted from my own emotions. Eldin had to be told to leave me? He probably just felt bad for me like usual. This isn’t the first time I had a breakdown in front of him. “Well,” I said, “you’re not the only one who pities me.”

Javin sighed again. “We don’t just pity you, Elly. We care about you.”

“Because I’m weak and pathetic.”

The smoothe warmth of compassion stroked my back. “You’re not weak or pathetic. Except with a sword.”

I huffed. “No more than you are obnoxious and creepy with the girls you like.”

“Listen, sis’, one day I’ll find a girl who’s adventurous enough to soar over the mountains with me in a roto sack.”

“And one who’s brave enough to put up with your creature stench.”

“Hate to break your nose clamp, but you’ve often smelled just as bad.”

As Javin laughed, I back-handed his chest. “Only while working in the farm for a few hours.”

His laughing dwindled and a blend of concern’s hot swell, caution’s soft rub, and love’s heart-encompassing warmth emanated from him. His eyes faded to lavender. “You know I love you, Elly. And I just want what’s best for you.”

“You mean what’s best for your sanity.”

“Mostly, yes.” He rubbed his dirty-nailed hands against his thighs. “I don’t think Eldin is the best for you.”

I glared at him.

“But I don’t think he’s the worst either.”

I raised an eyebrow and my heartbeat quickened, causing the white vital monitoring orb above me to flicker. Javin glanced at it and then took a long breath.

“Did he…say something to you?”

Javin lowered his lavender eyes. “Maybe.”

I tossed the covers aside and jumped to my feet. “What did he say?”

The door opened and a blue-eyed, dark-bunned woman in a white dress bustled into the room. She stopped beside me and pressed a warm hand against my forehead before slowly moving her palm from left to right in front of my face. She dropped her hand and smiled. “You are all better now.” She looked at my umbrella. “I suggest you keep that open during all of your lessons.”

I gave a nod and grabbed it.

“And that you get something to eat.”

I stiffened as the dull pang of a headache pushed against the back of my skull. I could maybe have a few sweet-stems for midday meal. But at the moment, eating didn’t matter more than finding out what Eldin told Javin. I clipped my umbrella to my back and scurried from the room, Javin trailing. “What do you have for second lesson?”

“Knowledge,” I replied as we traversed into a small lobby with wooden chairs. Lowering my voice while we walked out of another door and into the corridor, I eyed Papa-twin. “What did Eldin tell you?”

A heavy puff of protection blew against my face as Javin spoke. “That I wasn’t the only one who would look after you.”

“Look after me?” I groaned. “Ugh, it’s like I have two big brothers. Wonderful.”

“Elly, I saw the way he looked at you while you laid there slobbering in your sleep.”

My neck burned as my heart jumped. “I drooled!”

Javin snickered. “Nah, I just wanted to see your reaction.”

I punched his bicep. “One day I’ll learn how to throw a solid punch and leave both of your arms bruised.”

“I’ll believe it when I feel it.”

I brushed my hair behind my ear and twirled my umbrella. “So…how did he look at me?”

Javin sucked his teeth, and discomfort scraped my calves. “I don’t want to be your little love mediator.” He straightened. “I take that back. I would like to stay right smack dab in the middle of you two until he proves he is more worthy than the Supreme Prince of Zephoris himself”–Javin halted. His mouth fell open. Confusion’s high ring buzzed in my ear. I snatched my umbrella and opened it before following Javin’s stare. My knees weakened. I swallowed as my heart raced. In the commons, above the cobblestone fireplace, etched into the wood, smoking letters spelled: Disappear like your brother, Supreme Prince. 

Sweat dampened my hairline. What did this vile message mean? Was this a joke? Did Supreme Prince Tane visit the academy? And what happened to Prince Nuelle?

Javin clasped my hand and pulled me to the right into the Hall of Enri.

“What are you doing?”

“Sending you home.”

“What?” I yanked my hand free.

Javin pointed back toward the commons. “That is why I didn’t want you coming here. I knew this wasn’t a good idea.”

“Well it wasn’t your decision to make.”

“But I was right, wasn’t I?”

“Right about what? We don’t even know what that message means.”

Javin’s voice rose. “That’s called a threat, Elly. And whoever was bold enough to burn that into the wall’s of Supreme King Nifal’s academy is dangerous.”

My hands trembled. Yes, the fact that anyone would have the nerve to vandalize the walls of this sacred place, this place of honor, instituted by the very maker of us all and threaten his son was terrifying. Whoever did this was either deranged, highly intoxicated, or just…overflowing with deadly evil.

Javin grabbed my hand again and walked forward. I shook myself free. As Javin slowly turned to me with nostrils flaring, I tried to steady my increased shaking. “I’m not leaving.”

“You’re not staying either.”

“I was invited to this academy by the Supreme King. How can I abandon this great call and honor after his very son has been threatened?”

“Because it isn’t your place to protect him, Elly! You’re not a Sentry!”

“I’m at a knight-building academy. I was called to protect our people.”

“Elly, look at me!” He pointed at the thin scar lining his eyebrow and descending to his cheek. “You can’t even swing a sword. Come on, you weren’t made for this so stop trying to be something you’re not.”

Squeezing my umbrella stick, I spun around and marched back into the commons.

“Elly, please.” Javin followed. “Will you listen to me for once!”

I mounted one of the stone platforms beside the desecrated fireplace.

Javin peered at me with glassy eyes. “Please, Elly. I can’t lose you, too.”

A pang struck my heart. Ever since Mother left, he’d become overly protective. He believed he had to cling tightly or he’d lose whatever he held onto. And he was right. He could lose me. I could walk onto a path I’d never return from, but in the end, that choice belonged to me, not him.

“Second floor.” At my command, the platform jolted into the air. Tears blurred my eyes as I looked down at Javin, staring up at me with the same face he had as he watched our mother fly away for good.

The platform rose through a rectangular opening in the ceiling and then stopped. The trumpet indicating the end of second lesson blared through the corridor. Doors on either side of me opened and prodigies poured into the hallway. Gossiping chatter filled my ears. “I can’t believe Prince Nuelle is at the academy.”

My heart skipped. So one of King Nifal’s sons was here. But why would Prince Nuelle leave his palace in Agapon and come here? Sweat moistened my back, making my tunic stick to my skin. Was the message in the commons true? Did Tane disappear? And if so, where to and why?

As I strode forward, a quiet stillness suddenly embraced me; a strong, immovable peace I’d never experienced before. It steadied my weakened knees and trembling hands and sparked something in my chest…hope.

I don’t know what my purpose is, or why King Nifal gave me this gift, but I have this feeling in my heart that the answer is right here inside these halls, waiting for me to discover it.

Read the next chapter HERE.


Fantasy Friday: “Courtship Class Catastrophe” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Chapter 2

I know it’s not Friday. This week was hubby’s birthday and I needed two days to recover (no, not because of alcohol. I’m pregnant peeps and don’t drink.) We went to the aquarium and I epically failed by forgetting to bring the stroller so our one-year-old was VERY difficult. He cried. Then I cried. Everyone but my husband cried that day. But, after a prayer break, it got much better. It appears I have to be extra prayed-up for special days since the enemy always attacks double on those days. I’m figuring him out. But I digress. Here’s chapter two of part two of Through Elisena’s Eyes. Here’s part one, chapter one if you haven’t read it yet. Happy reading!



Do not stir up love before its time.  

The swirly, glowing scarlet letters engraved the door to Courtship. Vines and puffy pink flowers layered the wooden exterior, and a robust amethyst stone dominated the center.

With my umbrella closed and clipped onto my back, on came the swarm of extra-awkward emotions. The rapid throb of anxiety poked my skin; excitement rubbed warm and cold on my forehead; and lust’s hot tingling consumed my chest. I snatched my umbrella and opened it with a trembling hand. “Elisena Dillion.”

At my quiet declaration, the amethyst stone swelled with light, and the door opened. Pounds of flowery-sweet aromas slapped my face. I coughed as I walked inside. Bright blossoms filled multiple planters against each wall, and mini flower pots decorated every desk, occupied by a few giggling girls and many nervous boys. At the room’s front, tall candles and an ivory vase overflowing with flowers  adorned a massive desk.

Gripping my umbrella, I skittered to a desk in the back and sat down. On my left, a blue-haired girl wearing a colorful headpiece and spectacles held up a huge, open book entitled: Advanced Dragon Taming.

I smiled. I wish I had something as effective to hide behind.

“This is quite a small academy, isn’t it?” Thrine’s voice made me jump. I turned to my right as she set her carrier atop a desk. Eldin stood beside her. Eyes peering downward, Eldin sat in front of Thrine and then set his gaze to the room’s front.

I tilted my umbrella to the right. At least now only his calve and tapping boot burdened my peripherals.

A four-foot explosion of multi-hued petals burst before the colossal desk. A tiny woman with fuchsia ringlets and a matching dress appeared. She stood atop the colorful foliage. “Welcome, future brides and husbands!” She curtsied. “I am Lady Meltmoore and it is my absolute pleasure to train you in the ways of love!”

The blue-haired girl beside me flipped a page in her book.

“Young dragon tamer in the back, please come forward.”

The girl peered from behind her book, her magnified, teal eyes blinking.

“Don’t make me wait, dear. Tardiness is unattractive.”

Pulling her shoulders back, the girl slapped her book shut, tucked it beneath her arm and strode to Lady Meltmoore’s side.

“Now you.” The preceptor pointed at a slump-shouldered boy with black bangs masking half of his face. Lady Meltmoore curled her finger, beckoning him. He pushed his squeaking chair back and scuffled to the blue-haired girl’s side. Even hunched, he stood nearly two feet taller.

“Now, I want you to introduce yourselves to one another.”

Blue-hair shot her hand out. “Surta Ragnild.”

Slumps arched his hand and gave hers a weak shake. “Layne Locklin.”

After he released, Lady Meltmoore glided behind him. “Again, and this time, try to impress Miss Ragnild.” She clasped his shoulders and yanked them back, making him five inches higher. As many classmates laughed, I lifted my umbrella and snuck a glance at Eldin. Thrine’s yellow-painted nails softly scratched the back of his neck. Planting his elbows atop his desk, he leaned forward. She dropped her hand and angrily tapped her fingers against her carrier.

Why was he being cold? Or maybe he didn’t care for public displays of affection. Or, he felt nervous being around the romantic companion he hadn’t seen in almost a year. I slowly arched my umbrella to the left, allowing half of me to be outside of its force-field. Anger hammered against my back while embarrassment’s hollow churn inflated my gut. Thrine’s fierce emotions trumped Eldin’s, making it highly difficult–and painful–to try and read his heart. I straightened my umbrella and focused on the awkward trio at the front of the room.

Layne cleared his throat. “My name”–his voice thundered as blue light waves flowed from his mouth, making the room quake and knocking over several pots–“is Layne Locklin.”

Surta gawped. Lady Meltmoore clapped her hands and a batch of colorful petals burst from them, raining on Layne and Surta.

“You may return to your seats.”

As they hurried back to their desks, Lady Meltmoore continued. “First impressions are the stepping stone, the building block, to any relationship. Indeed, a failed first meeting can be reconciled later on, but if you absorb these lessons on courtship, your failure rate will minimize immensely. Now you!” She pointed straight ahead–at me. Scrunching my forehead, I touched my chest.

“Yes, my mysterious umbrella-yielding young lady. Please come forward.”

As my peers whispered and snickered, Lady Meltmoore’s big eyes scanned the boys. “Have we any volunteers?”

Strangling my umbrella stick, I rose and walked to the preceptor’s side. Several boys sank deeper into their seats while a few yawned loudly. The slick-haired boy seated in front of my desk said, “Maybe if she lost a little weight first.”

As my cheeks burned and prodigies laughed, Surta crossed her arms. She focused on Slick-hair. A large double-sided mirror appeared in front of him, displaying him with large yellow fangs, furry ears and a wrinkled snout. He recoiled and scrambled out of his chair.

Surta smirked. “I think many girls should also be afraid of how hideous you are on the inside.”

A handful of girls applauded. Despite my still-burning cheeks, I managed to smile. Usually, only Javin defended me and–

Eldin rose from his chair and walked toward me. With each step closer my palms moistened and my empty stomach knotted and ached. Lightheaded from the lack of food and Eldin’s constant presence, I inhaled slowly. Fainting at this moment in front of his dearest would not only be embarrassing, but it’ll seal my fate as having no friends outside of family except Eldin. And with how he’s been acting around me today, another “odd” display and I’ll lose him entirely. As Eldin stood at my side, Thrine glared and straightened in her seat. With her cropped, green hair and yellow eyes, she looked like a poisonous dawn blossom, beautiful but ready to kill.

“Well…” Lady Meltmoore smiled at Eldin. “Handsome and brave. This one has already made a good first impression. Wouldn’t you agree, ladies?”

Many girls nodded or voiced their agreement.

“Now, dear”–the preceptor circled me–“how necessary is this umbrella?”

I tightened my slippery hold on it. Eldin’s glistening purple eyes met mine. If I could somehow drown out Thrine’s wrath and everyone else’s toxic emotions, I could see into Eldin’s heart and maybe get a better understanding of his unusual behavior around me. Taking another deep breath, I pressed the button on my umbrella stick. It snapped shut. A horde of emotions pounced on me; excitement, amusement, boredom, apathy, annoyance, curiosity, anger, rage…I winced.

“Elisena, focus,” Eldin whispered. His gentle yet fierce gaze locked onto me, steadied me…

Frozen, I drew in another long breath and concentrated on his shining irises. The wrathful shoves pummeling me from Thrine lessened like a tiring fighter’s punch.

Lady Meltmoore peered over Eldin’s shoulder. “Ah, so you two already know each other. Well then, rather than an introduction, young man, how would you ask Elisena to a romantic outing?”

Sweat dropped down my temple. What kind of horrible joke was being thrust upon me? I didn’t come to the Academy to be tormented by a lost love.

A new sensation rose from the barrage of others; a warm wind. It caressed my cheeks and brushed my shoulders…

Interest…romantic interest. I swallowed, my throat scratchy. Did I read him right? Maybe he was acting for the sake of Lady Meltmoore’s inquiry. Or maybe it came from someone else’s heart.

Eldin spoke. “Elisena Dillion, I’ve known you since before permanent memories of you settled into my mind. Though seldom, I’ve seen you smile and I’ve watched you cry.”

The warmth turned hotter and the gentle wind strengthened, sweeping over my face and chest. My lightheadedness worsened.

“And though I’ve tried, I’ve never known how to figure you out, but”–he smiled–“I’d like to start. So, will you allow me the privilege of getting to know you better? You can choose a place that won’t put Javin in his grave.”

Despite the tears in my eyes and ever-growing muscle weakness, I chuckled. “That would be nowhere, but he doesn’t need to know.”

“But he’s your stalker. You know we wouldn’t be able to hide for long.”

“You’re right.”

“But, you also know I can handle him.”

My mouth fell open, remembering his scuffle with Javin in our barn. As much as my brother annoys me, seeing him get beat up isn’t something I like to witness.

Now Eldin chuckled. “I’m messing. I think my only option would be to win him over, too.”

I shook my head. “You know that’s impossible.”

“Maybe.” His smile faded and his tone shifted to a more serious one. “But it’s worth a try.”

Whiteness invaded the sides of my peripherals. As Lady Meltmoore’s floral claps assaulted my ears and nose, wrath slammed into my gut. I stumbled. Thrine rose from her desk and marched to the door. Another emotion crashed into my chest, knocking the wind out of me. Heartbreak.

The white fog clouded my vision as strong arms cradled my waist. Gasps and Lady Meltmoore’s frantic voice faded. Releasing my umbrella, I closed my eyes and like that day at the marketplace back home, once again, I fell prey to unbridled emotions.

Read the next chapter here!


Fantasy Friday! “Welcome to Knight’s Elect Academy” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Ch 1 (Short Story)

Click here to read Part 1 if you haven’t already!


Chapter One


Just close your eyes, breathe, and shut out their hearts.

My hands trembled as I stood in the mass of prodigies walking toward the Servants’ Lodge entryway. The daystar rose above the orange forest surrounding me and Javin’s new home, exposing the happy, excited demeanors of my peers, but not their innermost feelings—fear, awe, uncertainty. Every heart’s true emotions scratched against my skin like an old rope.

I reached for the umbrella clipped to my back by my waist-belt while Javin gave me an understanding nod, a few pink feathers falling from his matted tresses. Besides his leather Servant’s tunic and pants, he appeared more like a lost nomad rather than a fellow prodigy at Knights’ Elect Academy. I smiled as I opened my umbrella. Maybe next to him I won’t look so odd. 

An elegant red-head and her identical twin sized me up before whispering to one another and laughing. Well, at least they notice me.


Oh no. Even though my umbrella’s invisible force-field blocked out all the feelings and thoughts streaming from the surrounding prodigies, it couldn’t stop my own heart from jolting, stopping, and then racing seemingly all at once.

Eldin walked toward me, a smile on his perfect lips. Nearly every girl he passed trailed him with their eyes. He stopped in front of me and then glanced at Javin. “Hi.”

Javin growled like a graether and then wrapped his arm around me.

I shrugged it off. “Hi.”

“What are you doing here?”

“What are we doing here.” Javin hugged me again.

I glared at him. “If you don’t take your arm off me, I’ll tell that pretty blonde you were staring at a few minutes ago exactly what you were thinking about her.”

Now Javin glowered as he released me.

Eldin’s purple eyes widened slightly. “So that’s your prodigious gift? You can…read minds?”

I slowly twirled my umbrella. “Not minds…”

His olive skin paled. “Well, uh, I have to get going, you know, eat, figure out where my first lesson is and all of that. Fair day.” He turned around and strode toward the lodge’s crumbling steps.

My cheeks burned. I wish I didn’t have my umbrella open. As Eldin walked through the open door and disappeared, I bowed my head. Or maybe I do.

“I don’t know what you see in him.” Javin extended his arm, a mossy scent emanating from him. As a twirlwing swirled down like a green cyclone and landed atop his hand, its big eyes incongruent with its tiny beak, Javin looked at me. “Actually, what do you see in him?”

“That is none of your concern.” I marched forward, gripping my umbrella while more of my peers whispered and laughed—mostly at me, but some at Javin. I came to the academy to discover my purpose, but instead, I find my past.

“It is my concern.” Javin strode beside me. “Especially without Father around. But, I’ll let it go…for now.” He set the fluffy-feathered twirlwing atop his head, adding more colorful feathers to his messy hair, and then opened his satchel and removed a scroll. After unraveling it he said, “I have Wisdom for first lesson. Third floor, Hall of Sage. What do you have?”

“I don’t know.” I walked up the dilapidated steps to the porch and then onward through the open doorway. Prodigies stepped aside to make room for me and my umbrella. An auburn haired boy tried to poke it. Javin hissed at him, and the twirlwing spun off Javin’s head and in front of the boy’s face. He recoiled and ran off.

The wide Main Hall opened up to a commons crowded with barrels of pink water and roughly patched couches. A wall-high cobblestone and wood fireplace stood against the center wall, three gray stone platforms on either side of it. I veered to the right where all the other prodigies traversed into a circular entryway leading into a banquet hall.

As Javin followed me inside, the aroma of fresh-baked bread greeted me. Prodigies/Servants sat at multiple darkwood tables beneath the blue light of a massive chandelier. To the left, more prodigies stood in a line before floating platforms with apron-wearing women behind them, serving loaves of bread and stew. My stomach rumbled.

“I hope that stew is meatless,” Javin said. “I can eat like a vegetarian graether right now.”

“You do that.” I scurried to one of the only empty tables remaining, near a large risen platform in the back, and hurried into a chair. Mugs of water sat on the table. I grabbed one and guzzled, hoping it’d somewhat fill the void in my gut. Hopefully Javin wouldn’t hound me for skipping morning meal.

A green-haired girl carrying a tray with a bread loaf and steaming stew sat beside me. Her yellow eyes shined and she held her chest high. “Waiting on anyone?”

I shook my head, though Javin would probably pop up soon, and looked away.

“Nice umbrella. Not exactly a good choice if you’re trying to be invisible. Though I don’t think you really want to be, do you?”

My grip tightened on my umbrella’s bronze stick. Did she have a similar gift to mine, or was it just a discerning guess?

“Come on.” She smiled. “No one really wants to be alone. But I get it. You’re picky about the company you keep. That makes two of us.” She reached her hand out. “My name is Thrine.”

I shook it. “I’m—”


“So you can read minds or just know people when you see them?”

“No. Eldin Lightsmith told me about you.”

My stomach lurched. Thank Sovereignty she didn’t have a prophetic gift. “Oh. How do you know Eldin?”

“We met at the annual Royal Garden Gala two years ago. We’ve kept in touch ever since.”

“That’s a beautiful celebration.” I feigned casualty. “What did he say about me?”

“That he worked for your father.” She spooned a mouthful of stew, its savory scent making my hollow stomach ache. “And that you were the oddest person he’d ever known.”

I lifted my mug to my mouth and chugged. The oddest person he’d ever known? That explained the bewilderment ever-flowing from his heart whenever he was around me. But the last time he peered at me in Father’s barn it had changed to curiosity. Maybe he meant ‘odd’ in a good way. Unlike most people, he never avoided me. Well, not until today.

Emmer.” Eldin neared our table, carrying a tray of food. My heart hammered as he stood between me and the girl.

Thrine rose. “You mean—”

“Thrine, right. I apologize. I’m still getting used to it.”

“You will soon enough.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

I set my mug down with a trembling hand, my empty stomach twisting. Eldin glanced at me. He grasped Thrine’s wrists and removed them, breaking away from her kiss. She watched him as he set his tray down on the other side of her chair and sat. “So I see you met Elisena.”

Thrine eased into her seat. “She just so happened to sit at the table I told you to meet me at.”

“Small academy.” He bit into his bread.

Thrine scratched his back. “I’ve missed you. Can you believe it’s been eleven months since we last saw each other?”

He nodded. “It seems a lot has changed since then.”

She stopped scratching his back. Her narrowing eyes landed on me. “I hate to ask, but can you excuse us?”

“Uh, certainly.” I rushed to my feet.

“Welcome, Servants!” A silver-haired man with a protruding chin, wearing a cotton robe, stood on the risen platform beside a giant woman with black braids.

She wore a tunic dress with two calve-splits. “May everyone please take their seats.”

I looked around. Javin stood by a table near the entryway, brown liquid oozing down either side of his mouth as he waved me over. The pretty blonde occupied a seat next to him, while prodigies filled the others. Not a single seat remained. Torn between thankfulness and growing discomfort, I slowly sat beside Thrine again. She crossed her arms as the man continued. “My name is Overseer Enri, and this is the Assistant Overseer, Lady Bridie.”

The woman raised a large hand. “Fair day, prodigies.”

“Firstly, we would like to thank all of you for choosing to be apprentices here at King Nifal’s Knights’ Elect Academy. Each of you has been invited because of the prodigious gift you’ve been given by our Supreme King through your lineage.” He removed a small, silver tube from his robe pocket and spoke into it, his voice now amplified. “The foundation of knighthood is service. Throughout your first year, you will learn the principles of servanthood, along with basic combat and preservation. If you succeed, next year, you will move on to become Squires, and in your final year, you will be trained as Warriors and leave the academy as knights of the kingdom you’ve selected to serve and protect.” He handed Lady Bridie the tube.

“Now onto Ground Rules. The only time you are permitted to leave the grounds is for your end of the year three-month visit. Curfew is at the twenty-second hour. Common respect to your preceptors and peers is expected of you, and there is a guide of those expectations and the punishments for disobedience in your General Knight’s Guide found in your designated dormitory.”

I snuck a glance at Eldin. He quietly ate his meal, his stare fixed ahead on Lady Bridie. She handed the tube back to Overseer Enri.

“If you need assistance, my office is on the first floor in the Hall of Enri, and Lady Bridie’s is in the adjacent corridor, the Hall of Bridie. Again, welcome to Knights’ Elect Academy. We look forward to seeing you grow.” He slipped the tube back into his robe pocket and sped off of the platform, Lady Bridie running to keep up with him.

Thrine uncrossed her arms. “You can excuse yourself again.”

Eldin put his bread down. “You can be more respectful, Em—Thrine.”

“I apologize.” She spoke slowly and high-pitched. “Elisena, can you be so kind as to once again remove yourself from our table so that I may hold a private conversation with my suitor?”

Tears blurring my sight, I stood with my open umbrella and scurried to the circular entryway, ignoring the stares and laughs from my fellow prodigies. Eldin Lightsmith, the young man I’ve known since infancy, the one I grew to love and often prayed to someday have the honor of marrying is courting another girl.

Can this day get any more heart shattering?

Click here to read the next chapter!


Fantasy Friday! “He Peered At Me” – Through Elisena’s Eyes (Short Story) : Part 1, Ch. 3-4

*Click here to read chapters 1-2 if you haven’t already.


He Peered at Me

6th of the Days of Warmth

Distractions are harder to dust off than I’d previously planned. Especially when they are a handsome, hard-working, six-day-a-week presence. And when I’ve given so much thought and attention to them for so long. Too long.

Eldin was here today, working on the farm with Father and Javin as always. However, today was different. Very different. From the outside, no one would notice the change. But being able to see inside, changes happen more often than you think. Some for the better, others for the worst. Today, it was both.

Father prepared to collect chump—chewed grass made savory and nutritious by the saliva of gurns—from our oldest gurn, Magenta. She had apparently swallowed more than she could chew because before Father could grab the pail to catch the chump, Magenta vomited grass the size of her head onto his lap. He called in Eldin to catch whatever chump remained, then Father went inside to clean off.

Did I mention Father had me brush leakers from Magenta’s fur? I tried desperately to ignore Eldin’s heart by overly concentrating on scraping off a giant, oozing leaker from Magenta’s rear, but then the change happened.

The usual loyalty, diligence, joy, kindness, and compassion poured from Eldin’s heart in warm waves that ignited my mind with thoughts of King Nifal, but I realized the horrible feeling of pity wasn’t prickling my skin. Sadness hung, heavy in the air. But bewilderment changed to curiosity. And then reality slapped me in the back like a pleased Gavrailian. Eldin hadn’t attempted to chat with me as he always did. He sat as quiet as I’d been since he replaced Father in chump-collecting.

I removed my stare from the stubborn leaker and looked over at Eldin, seated on the stool, pail in hand, catching chump. But he wasn’t just catching chump. He was peering at me, observing me as if I were some mysterious artifact.

My skin tingled. My stomach flopped. I never held gazes with his shimmering, deep purple eyes. They infiltrated my soul, making my knees weak, and heart pound.

I scraped so hard, brown leaker-insides splattered onto my face. I dropped the brush, my cheeks burning.

Eldin jumped to his feet and removed a handkerchief from his back pocket. He tried handing it to me, but I was so embarrassed, I just scurried out of the barn as Javin was entering with a pail of water. I crashed into him, drenching us both.

“Elly!” Javin grabbed me by the shoulders, his eyes lilac, mirroring the concern and anger consuming his heart. “What happened?”

“Nothing I—”

“What did you do to her?” Javin released me and strode toward Eldin. “Did you touch her?”

I bustled after my hot-hearted brother. “Javin, he didn’t do anything.”

“Really, Javin?” Eldin set his pail on the ground. “You think I would ever harm Elisena?”

“That’s ‘your sister’ to you,” Javin said.

Eldin smiled, yet anger kindled in his heart. “Elisena is much more than just ‘your sister.’”

Javin stepped close to him. “Maybe to our family, but not to you. So don’t you dare even think of—”

“Of what? Being her friend?” Eldin stepped forward as my heart ached at the mere friend response, while every inch of me cringed at the swelling anger in him and big-mouthed Javin.

Eldin continued. “You aren’t her father so you should stop acting like one.”

Javin shoved him. Eldin staggered, knocking over the pail of chump. Javin swung his fist. Eldin dodged and then rammed into him, sending them both tumbling to the ground.

Eldin raised his fist.

“Please stop!” I screamed. And cried. Eldin peered at me again. Remorse.

He lowered his arm, rose to his feet, and walked out of the barn.

I have a feeling more distractions are on their way.

for blogs incentive


Did My Calling Just Knock?

11th of the Days of Warmth

Eldin hasn’t been back. It’s going on day four of his absence at our farm. Father said, “It’s best to give the boy space to forgive.”

Meanwhile, I am needing my own space to forgive Javin. Papa-twin is banned from roto-flying and has twice more work to do until Eldin returns—if—Eldin returns.

I pray Javin would at least attempt to work on his trust issues. He and Father are two unhealthy extremes in the trust arena. Despite all he’s been through, Father is quite trusting. Whereas Javin is the complete opposite. He doesn’t even trust Father because of how trusting Father is. It’s a deep-rooted heart issue that began when we were seven.

Father and Javin sat outside shearing the new purple fur that had grown on our youngest furth, while Mother brushed my hair in the cottage fore-room. I used to enjoy going on adventures around the farm. We own a few acres, and Ollander and his wife always let me venture into their land.

They have two big slinkpaws; a fluffy black male and an orange-spotted female. Rina, the female, loved to play with me. I’d hide and she’d come skulking. With a playful growl she’d pounce and we’d roll around in the grass. That day we actually rolled down a hill. My adventures always left a tangled mess of brown curls, but because of the hill-smashing, the knots were worse, and Mother had to untwine sticks and grass.

The brush caught on a knot. Mother cussed and yanked. Anger speared from her heart like a dagger into mine. She yanked again. More cussing. I started to cry.

“Well if you didn’t act like an animal and play with those beasts, you wouldn’t have this ugly, wretched hair!” She pulled so hard the brush broke.

I wailed. Mother threw the brush on the floor, strode to the closet, and shoved the curtain aside. Rage, disappointment, and something even more horrible suffocated the air. She snatched her satchel off a hanger and stormed out of the cottage, leaving the door open. She screamed at Father. I ran to the entryway and peered outside.

Mother stood across from him while he held back Javin with one hand, the other grasping Mother’s. “Lillian, please. Let’s go inside and talk about this.”

“Oh, now you want to talk!” She shook her hand free. “You’ve had years to get to know your own wife, but you put this farm before me.”

“I work for you, for our children.”

“Stop. Just stop it. It’s too late. You’re too late.” She turned to the right. Alongside the cottage, three sibling rotos and their mother drank from a water tray. She marched in their direction.

Father released Javin and trailed Mother.

“Mama!” I jumped off our wrap-around porch and raced to her, Javin following suit.

Anger, disappointment, and self-pity bombarded my seven-year-old frame, poisoning my thoughts. Good for nothing. How could he? I want nothing to do with him. 

Mother hopped onto the mother roto. She screeched and flapped her red wings.

I reached up and clasped Mother’s calve. “Mama, where are you going?”

Javin gripped the roto’s feathers. “Stay, Mama! Stay.”

Father’s voice trembled. “Lillian, don’t do this. Please. We need you.”

Grasping the reins, she looked down at Father, and something I didn’t understand then consumed her heart. “You need me. What about love?”

A crushing weight of defeat and jealousy shrouded Father’s broken heart. Tears spilled from his purple eyes. “Clearly, you know nothing of love.”

She kicked the roto’s side. She leapt into the air and they soared away.

From that day forward, Javin never trusted anyone, but me. We were the victims. We were the ones abandoned. Our own mother traded us for what she believed was love and chased that fantasy to another town. Word traveled fast about her adulterous relationship with a married man of seven children.

Father couldn’t protect us from that betrayal, but Javin believes he can spare us from another. And so he behaves accordingly, keeping people at a distance or pushing them away. He certainly shoved Eldin hard. I guess it was an answered prayer. No distractions now. Which reminds me…

Today is Invitation Day. All the gifted in Zephoris who have been chosen to attend Knight’s Elect Academy will receive a letter of acceptance and invitation. No one gets to apply to the academy. They have only to wait for the letter and choose to accept or reject it.

With all the thoughts of slapping Javin or pushing him into roto waste, I hadn’t thought about this day. Well, I somewhat forced it from my mind. How could my gift be used to serve the people of Zephoris? Knights are strong and intimidating. I’m short, somewhat hefty, and shy.

It’s hard to imagine King Nifal would want me to become a knight. I’m clumsy with a sword at best and downright hazardous at worst. Ask Javin. The scar at the end of his eyebrow and descending his cheek is a consequence of my terrible swordsmanship. After that epic failure, he and Father never let me lift a sword again.

One moment.

Hmm. Javin’s anxiety level is tearing through the walls of my bedroom and prickling my entire body. Even Father’s nerves are leaking in. Now intense anger from papa-twin. He’s yelling at Father. I’ll be back.


Javin received an invitation to Knight’s Elect Academy.

And so did I.

Click HERE to read part 2!


Through Elisena’s Eyes: Free YA fantasy eBook

elisena cover 1

Hey fellow writers/readers. I have a short free eBook in journal format from a beloved character in Prodigy Prince, Elisena.

Whether you’ve already read Prodigy Prince or not, this is a prologue and won’t spoil anything. You can get Elisena’s Journal here.

Speaking of journal formats, have you read any fiction books in this format that you enjoyed? Tell me about it in a comment.

Happy reading!