Talia: Chapter 2

The next morning I wake up,  groggy and with a slight headache. Time to get up Talia Jolie I say, muttering at myself to get up. I find that calling myself by my full name helps me to get up in the morning. Its almost like someone needs me, even though this is seldom the case, so it helps. I roll out of bed and start to do the chores. I start by building up the fire, mother never says anything, but she has been rubbing her hands more and more, and I think her hands are starting to get to her.

I never thought about how old mother was until this year. She had me late, a miracle baby she calls me. She could easily be my grandmother. But she has always been so busy and spritely you would have never known it. She still is very active for her age, but sometimes I see her look off into the distant fields, and I feel like she wishes to run and play but has not the energy to do so. At times like this I feel helpless.

And sure enough, my mother was there, awake looking at the fields. She started away guiltily, I don’t think she wanted me to see her, which means she’s probably been stealing more looks than I think. Sighing I weigh the options in my head, but not feeling particularly brave (or awake) at the moment….I decide to go with the safer question.

“Morning….mother, can you tell me a story?”

Instantly my mother’s face is transformed, animated and alive, she sweeps into the rocking chair that our neighbor made for her a few years ago and grabs her quilt in a queen-like fashion.

“Of course dear, which one do you want today?”

“How about my story?” I say, a twinkle in my eye.

“Ah, such a fairy tale! There I was, wishing and wishing for a child. I blew the dandelions down everyday for summer, and I threw as many crystals into the lake I could find.”

“Did it work?” I asked

My mother looks at me and laughs, “I don’t know…I know that in that summer I did more hoping and dreaming than I ever had before. I knew that I wanted something in my life, something….” Here my mother pauses, I lean in, I have never heard this part of the tale before. My mother shakes herself and continues.

“Well, I wanted you, didn’t I? So magic or not, it worked, as I was saying, a whole summer, an entire summer of dandelions and rocks, and on the very last day of summer, I knew. You whispered in my ear as I slept, and I woke up knowing you had started. And that was my miracle.”

I smiled

            “And then, of course, 10 moons later you were born, red and perfect, and I’ve been thankful ever since.” My mother ends her story in the usual way.

            I look up, there was a soft tapping at the window, somehow it had started to rain in the brief tale my mother told. I looked out the window, and then realized—by the prickles on the back of her neck that her mother was looking too…over her shoulder. Talia looked back at her mother who met her eyes, something blazing in them.

            “You feel it too, don’t you?” my mother made the query as though it was a fact. “Admit it, your being pulled.”

            As soon as she said it, I realized it was true. I had caught my mother looking out the window, because I had been doing the same thing. The restlessness that was in my very soul was the reason. I hadn’t thought of it as restlessness, I hadn’t thought of it as a call to go because…”but I don’t want to leave you”

            My mother chuckled, a rich, full sound with no sign of irony in it. “I know Tally, I know…but I feel it, I feel your need to go and I know its not me who needs the adventure, so I think I must be picking it up from you.” My mother fell silent to these words, hinting at a magic she had never previously had…

            I didn’t know what to say, so I remained silent, a rarity to for me.

            My mother smiled, a slow, sad and beautiful one.

            “Its time Talia, its time to for you to go. I think you need to find, something, I’m not sure what it is, but I know it in my soul. You need to go.”

            “But, why, how? I don’t understand…..”

            “I think you’ve been feeling it for a long time, I think that you need to figure out why you can’t sleep, I think you are attuned to something…and, and I think you didn’t recognize it because it never occurred to you that you could leave. No one ever leaves here, and you love me” Here I felt a light touch on my shoulder “but its time.”

            Thinking furiously, I started to make myself a cup of tea, knowing my mother was right, but uncertain about how to proceed. And my mother walked outside, and stood a bit in the rain, looking comfortable and satisfied as I continue to busy myself in the kitchen. 

Talia: Chapter 1

I can’t sleep. Note, this is not an unusual fact of life, but there it is. I am up awake again looking at where the moon should be. There is no moon of course, only the dark and feathery clouds that have blocked the moon for the last three years. I remember because it started on my sixteenth birthday. On that day the moon rose, and shone full for all of an hour before the clouds came out. I was outside, looking at the moon with my mother when the clouds started to gather, one by one. Looking no more than wisps, or the seeds of a dandelion. It kind of crept up on you. Then it was covered.

Not a lot of people noticed the moon of course. But my mother and I had looked at each other and shivered when it happened. My mother and I aren’t really witches (we’re not much of anything). We live day to day trying to get by. I go into the village and keep watch over the childlings for a bit of money. My mother tells stories, and villagers will leave her presents.

Note I say villagers, because we aren’t really villagers. But as I said before, we aren’t really witches either. We don’t have magic and we don’t know the lore. But my mother tells their stories, and we do live at the edge of town in the former witch’s cottage. My mom was the friend of the Witch—Perwin, and my mother found herself without a husband (I still don’t really know what happened to my father), we moved out here.

I sighed to myself as I reviewed the facts of my life. It was like telling a well-known tale. At sixteen I was….well I wouldn’t say innocent…I had already known that life was not full of the good food and pretty clothing other girls had, but I was more hopeful. Hopeful that some girl might talk to me more than in passing. Hopeful, that I might find a friend in village. And wishful too, back then I wished for a house—maybe with a husband or a friend—where I wouldn’t have to live alone.

That was before the clouds. Before magic started cropping up everywhere. Before my mother started to tire out before the day ended.

Before I had trouble sleeping.

Hopes and wishes, they weren’t bad things, but I felt them burning in my breast, smoldering and burning down almost to nothing, before something—like a smile from a girl my age or a wistful moment holding a childling, rekindled the spark in my heart.

My life was like a banked fire.

Maybe that was what was happening to the magic. Maybe its fire had been smoldering too long so sparks of it were escaping. No one is quite certain whether magic had been disappearing, or if people had just been making less and less use of it. The Court Scholars are still arguing about it (as if their arguments change the fact that magic is back, personally I think they are arguing about the wrong thing, maybe instead of worrying about why there is so much magic all of a sudden, maybe we should worry about what we should be doing with it all).

In our village, Elda’s nose turned purple. It really wasn’t all that noticeable. Elda has beautiful ebony skin, and is the town Matron. No one, but no one crosses her. So it was rather a problem when people started to see it. No one wanted to mention it to her face, but since there is no witch in town, no one had a mirror, and the pond is too cold for most of us to admire ourselves in the pond. Besides Elda doesn’t seem to care much about clothing or looks (that’s how she got to be matron)…she tends to rap the knuckles of the more vain girls and always compliments a girl on their skills rather than their looks (Elda did compliment me once on my sharp eye for childlings when I was watching the nearest neighbor’s youngest whilst the mother was having a new baby…I tend to think this is why I got so many offers for further care). So, it wasn’t until Tam, a boy of about 5, told her frankly that he liked her nose that she realized something was up. She marched over to the pond right away, and the entire village held their breath waiting until we heard loud shrieks—it wasn’t till we reached the lake we realized that the shrieks had been laughter. I always sort of liked Elda, at that moment I wanted to be her.

Since then small magics have been cropping up. Lots of colors have changed, and some new plants grow and die in a day. Some of the childlings claimed to have seen pixies. I rather think that they are right, after all, none of the stories speak of pixies visiting adults, and the childlings don’t usually lie (they instead play dreaming games, where they always declare “I dream I’m a …..” before they start the game). But I guess too much imagination is not to be trusted, because the childlings aren’t really being taken seriously about this.

So sometimes a fish says a real word, and sometimes the roses turn into teeny tiny bushes with fairy sized buds. Sometimes your hair turns blue and sometimes (more often than not) it will eventually revert to its old color. I like to think  of it as the magic leak. After all, I’ve seen magic before this,: Sunlight making the dust sparkle, newborn babies taking their first cry, the full moon at night so close you can feel its power. In my personal opinion, magic has always been there, but regular magic feels like tame magic, and tame magic allows for explanation. So the scholars study a newborn baby, proclaim that it makes a mother and a father to make it and state the fact like they have it all figured out. But no one really knows when a baby first cries. Is it while its still a secret, hiding in its mother’s belly? I saw a stillborn babe once, she was wet and wrinkly, no more than 5 or 6 months in the womb, yet she looked to me like she was real. This deep magic is the sort of which, I think we take for granted.

But as I said before, I’m not a witch, so no one has asked me what I think. And the magic keeps spilling out in small leaks. Making itself known.

I miss the moon I think, finally drowsy as the sunlight starts to shyly peak its head out from the morning….and with that thought, I fall back asleep.

Book Review: “The Prince of Ill Luck” by Susan Dexter

Summary: The first in a series about Valadan a magic horse who finds the must interesting people to journey with. Today it is Leith (Lay-eth) the self-styled Prince of Ill-Luck wins the ring/princess/duchy, but he doesn’t want them! Instead he wants to get rid of his curse, and The Prince of Ill Luck (Warhorse of Esdragon, #1)the princess wants to find her mother the sorceress. So the story begins where most fairy tales ends following their adventure.

Reviews: I love this story, there’s something about the strong heroine and the ill luck prince which is fascinating. The story is told through both the characters eyes, and the reader gets a good idea of who they are, what they are doing, and how they grow. This book has been on my shelf for many year, read at many times, and its well worth the reread I just had. If you like The Hero and the Crown, The Enchanted Forest Series and The Seer and the Sword.

Book Review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

Marina is sent away to live with her godparents as a baby–she doesn’t really know why, but she does know that when her parents die and she is forced to live with her aunt, something is wrong.

Review: I liked this book even more than the first one. . I think part of this may be because Lackey was able to further develop the world of elemental magic. It also may be because the love interest was still a minor note in the story but somehow it seemed to be more appropriately placed (I think the first one vacillated between wanting to give a fuller account of the romance and yet not giving me enough to stay interested).

Very enjoyable read, again with strong heroine and an interesting world.

Love Joss Whedon

Love Joss Whedon

(in other words, what’s with your obsession with females with swords..oh wait it might not be an obsession…it might just be awesome writing!)

Book Review: The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

 

Synopsis: Half-Indian Maya Witherspoon has returned to England, but that’s not all, she has returned as a doctor, but that’s not all, she is also a strong magician.

Review: Very Strong Female Character–think Victorian Era Romance with a strong female. Also this is a very different look at Snow White! (However if you are in it for the fairy tale, that’s really a minor aspect). This is some of Mercedes Lackey’s best writing. There is a touch of mystery too (although it isn’t in any real sense a mystery). Also, a good struggle between her Eastern and Western heritage.

Strongly recommend!

Books you may also like: Patricia C. Wrede Mairelon the Magician (or the compilation which were released as A Matter of Magic or Magic and Malice). Snow White and Rose Red and The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (or Sorcery and Cecilia). Trying to think of other Victorian (non-steampunk, although those are great too) magic series….might add a comment about it later

Review Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is a book about Celaena’s bid for freedom as she and others vie for the title of King’s Champion. Celaena is a complex (if somewhat self-centered) character, who drives the story. The love sequence is ok, and the world is fairly interesting. Some parts of the plot were a little slow for me, and there is a classic love triangle. The mystery and mythology parts are especially good. (I am hoping the characters mature if the sequel ever happens).  If I had to say what its like, I would say its in a similar spirit of “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore, but it is not as captivating. If you read it lightly, I think it can be pretty fun.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1599906953Throne of Glass

Shannon A Thompson

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