11th January: Mischief

Many stories tell of mischief and mayhem, they tell it in all sorts of ways, caused by all manner of creature. Most use fairies or goblins, they call them sprites or fear to give them names at all. Mischief to one species can be torment or suffering to another, such as milk going sour or hearing the patter of tiny feet, seeing something out the corner of your eye that when you turn isn’t there.

When I was younger I used to believe that my toys woke up when I slept, one of the reasons that I loved the film Toy Story. I firmly believed that they fought monsters under my bead. And sometimes, they too would engage in mischief. That age old idea that something has moved from where you left it.

So really, what’s to say that the two aren’t interlinked?

‘Put it down!’ came a harsh whisper from the top of the bed, ‘She’s coming!’

There was a soft thump as the toy was dropped on the floor. The door opened and a young girl skipped into the room. She was calling to a person downstairs.

‘I just need Isabell!’ But Isabell was not on the pillow where she had been carefully placed. instead she was sprawled on the floor. Her lace bonnet several feet from her head, and her skirts all askew. ‘Isabell!’ the girl chided, ‘What are you ding on the floor!’

The doll was carefully picked up, brushed off and her lace bonnet fastened back on, then she was swiftly escorted from the room. That was all the fuss that was made. Perhaps an adult would have wondered how a doll had managed to get out of the covers, and roll of the bed to be so artfully spread about; but to a child it made perfect sense, Isabell had tried to get to her.  Perfectly logical.

If there were mischievous eyes peering from under the bed, well, a lady like Isabell couldn’t have been expected to climb off the bed by herself, could she.

11th January: Mischief

9th January: Switching

Based on a crossover fanfiction between Wicked, the musical, and Disney’s Descendants.

Switching from Glinda the Good to Maleficent the evil fairy hadn’t been very easy. In fact, it hadn’t been her choice at all. As ever the Wizard and Madam Morrible made a chilling couple. Glinda had taken Elphaba’s death very hard, and she found it far too difficult to continue the charade that the duo had thought up for her, however they also seemed to believe that Glinda had signed her life away to them, in blood. Now not even Fieyero was there to help her.

Once they had realised that Glinda was serious about no longer performing her ‘duties’ as the good witch nasty rumours began to spread about her true involvement with the wicked witch of the west. Then, one day the wizard disappeared and that was when Glinda knew she was really in trouble. news spread quickly that Glinda was somehow responsible for the wizard vanishing. So she did the only thing she could, she ran.

She spent a lot of time on the run, many years passed without her truly noticing. This time allowed her to get to grips with some of the more difficult spells in the Grimmorie. Most of them were defensive, but she would have been stupid to ignore the dangerous ones, and many of them saved her life more times than she would care to admit. Still, some nights she found herself wishing that she had even a singular speck of the easy talent that Elphaba had shown.

Years later found a blonde woman on the streets of an unfamiliar kingdom, far far from the Emerald City and those that once sang the name of Glinda the Good. So too were the pink frills and glittering gowns gone, now she was dressed in rags, bitter and twisted against the world and those who had cursed her to this life.

In this kingdom she head of a new king and his new bride, along side tales of their goodness and kindness. Intrigued and slightly hopeful she slipped into the castle, but inside she was enraged to find the Wizard, sat comfortable and plush on the throne. Once more he had wormed his way into a position of power where he could ruin more lived. Glinda tried in vain to warn the kingdom of the danger he posed but the King or the Wizard had prepared for this moment. He rose with a shout and warned them all that she was an evil fairy who had hunted him since childhood. The local fairies rose against her and branded her Maleficent, for the malice they thought she contained.

Branded with this new name Glinda found herself banished to the edges of the kingdom, where she once more felt the sting of rejection and came to truly understand the treatment Elphaba had endured all her life. This time, though, Glinda was ready, and she was angry. So she patiently waited until the time was right.

An announcement for the newborn princess was called all though out the land, the king had been blessed with a child. Maleficent came to the castle, ready to give her blessing upon the child, despite not receiving any invitation, for it was customary in this kingdom to invite anyone of power, and she certainly had power.

‘You’re not upset?’ the new queen asked. Beside her the Wizard glared, untrusting of Glinda’s kind smile. And he was right too, for Glinda was here to exact her revenge, for Elephaba and herself. She saw her chance, and she took it, laying upon the baby a curse. As she looked into the Wizard’s eyes she knew he understood, he had used them as puppets, tiny creatures to dance to his whim. Now his child would be her puppet, dancing on the strings she played, ones that would lead to her death, just as it had lead to Elphaba’s and Glinda the Good’s.

Then she left, and she believed that finally she would have the peace that had been denied to her.

 

9th January: Switching

Day 6: Food

The hall was, as ever, bursting with laughter, song and the clatter of cutlery. Many of the children were running wild, adults long since passed the point of caring. Servants moved gracefully between the the chairs and tables, filling goblets and clearing plates. The king surveyed his gentry with pleasure. All of this came at the end of many months of war. Yet they had won, prevailed despite the odds. The tables groaned under the weight of heavy plates of meats and poultry, breads and spreads, puddings and wines.

If you looked closely you could see the strain of war, clothing that was patched and meats that were thin on the bone, bread made of more air than wheat. Even some of the lower class gentry were here, filling empty spots. Still, the king thought it about time that things changed, and after the toils of the war he wanted to do right by his people.

‘My lords and ladies,’ he said, standing to catch their attention, even though his booming voice had already caught it, ‘I welcome you to this most fantastic feast, even those of you no so accustomed to attending such events,’ some of the lower class squirmed uncomfortably, ‘this war we have fought has not been an easy one. Our crops have failed, our houses burnt, and our forces slain. But we are victorious!’

A cheer echoed throughout the hall. Hundred of voices yelling in triumph together. He allowed them their cheer before raising a hand to ask for silence. ‘Thank you for your support, and for everything that you have all donated to the war effort. Now, I must ask you one last thing, let us raise of goblets in a toast, to those who did not make it!’ An echo rose from the crowd, their goblets glinting in the candlelight. There was moments silence.

‘Now I ask you, join me in giving thanks to those of our forces who made it home to us!’ The great grand doors at the bottom of the hall swung open, revealing two lines of soldiers, tired and battle weary, they stood to attention for their king. ‘I have not told you why I summoned you here,’ he said to the soldiers, ‘for all you know I am sending you off to another war. Yet, you have all still come, and to honour that courage, bravery, and most of all loyalty, I give you not only my thanks but my table and my goblet. Tonight my food is yours, and tomorrow all the kingdom shall know your names and the deeds you have done. I will hold a ceremony to honour you all!’

His decree was met with a wild cheer from the gentry in the hall. More than one of the soldiers was wearing a nervous smile as they relaxed. Then they were spread out around the room, one of them even taking the kings throne (at his insistence), while the king himself sat on a stool beside him.More food was brought out, everything from full pigs to succulent beef joins, vegetable dishes, mashed, stewed, boiled. Pitchers of wine and gallons of water. Every resource the king had came to the tables in front of the soldiers. A never ending parade of pies, crumbles, tarts, cheeses, and even a sponge cake.

That night was talked about for months after and the king was never more widely respected or loved. the food had never tasted better nor wine sweeter since.

Day 6: Food

Persephone: Hades meets Death

“I want block three cleared this afternoon, there’s a midnight rush coming in from a shipwreck! Someone get those children a room! Midred! What are you doing? Tortured goes to level 7! Is anyone reading the map?! I made it big enough for you all! Come on people we haven’t got all decade! I want to see movement!”

Hades yells filled the main chamber, clambering to be heard over the pounding of footsteps and the volume of voices. There were wails of children, shouting of men, arguments and consolations. The God was stood on top of a fine wooden desk, the likes of which had yet to be made, a long scroll was in his hands and his suit looked rumpled and distressed. Lower spirits rushed around him, formed out of grey and black smoke, they were distinct shadows in the gloom of the underworld. Hades lifted his scroll to one of the few candles lining the hall, squinting at it as he tried to place the next group.

Across the hall a commotion began as a group of shining new silver spirits tried to enter, only to bump into the queue of spirits waiting to be sorted. A dozen lines like this were dotted all around, a desk at the front of each one where two or three harried black spirits were double checking names and sending the spirits in different directions. There were several portals, filled with a black smoke that the sorted spirits were being sent though (or pushed), these led to the Levels. Each one was different type of afterlife, some for the good and some for the bad.

Into this mess stepped a black robed figure. It was the only solid creature in the underworld apart from Hades and its very presence created a rush of silence. Every eye was looking at it. Even Hades lowered his scroll. There was a sense of wrongness, a feeling like you had gotten an A on an exam when you hadn’t learnt the subject of. The feeling of cheating, or being cheated. Escaping a tiger only to find yourself facing a lion. And it was hungry.

“Who are you?” He asked.

‘We should talk in private,’ there was no voice, only the suggestion of one, a whisper of movement from under the hood. All eyes turned to Hades. The god glanced around, and seeing no help would come began the process of clambering down from his desk.

“Right, er, come this way then. What are you looking at! Get to work! Midnight shipwreck remember!” He yelled, pushing his way through the crowd to a small plain black door at the back. Instantly the noise began again. Some other spirit clambered onto the desk, picked up the scroll and began loudly directing everyone.

Hades slammed the door behind them, cutting the noise off. The small room they were in was a very untidy office. A far plainer desk was sat facing the door, the chair behind obscured by mountains of paper work and hundreds of files. Two high backed wooden chairs sat in front, but they too had fallen victim to the onslaught of filing. The walls were a bare brown stone, the floor carpeted with only a threadbare rug. Though a fire was lit on one side, the room was still dark. Hades quickly shoved the paper onto the floor and gestures for the creature to sit. As it did, politely folding it’s sleeves on its lap, Hades rushed around lighting candles with a match from the fire.

“Sorry about the light, one of the main problems of living underground. I’m thinking of getting some skylights in. Don’t know how I’ll do it but I’m assured they’re all the rage in the future.” He chattered nervously. Once he was finished the creature raised its arms, allowing it’s sleeves to drop down and reveal skeleton hands, then it dropped it’s hood.

Hades let out a little scream.

‘I assure you Lord Hades, I mean you no harm.’ It said, or seemed to say.

“Oh no, I’m sure you don’t. Just quite a dramatic reveal,” He laughed nervously, “You must be Death, or Lord Death? Sir Death? Do you have a title?”

‘No, Lord Hades, I am simply Death.’ An involuntary shiver ran down Hades back.

“Right, right, of course, I don’t suppose you get many people who grant you titles just before they die.” Somewhere inside Hades brain a little voice was telling him to shut up before it made him sound any stupider.

‘Oh, some try. They seem to believe if they bribe me they may live longer.’

“Don’t suppose it works?”

‘I have no use for titles, Lord Hades. I tend to get recognised wherever I go.’

“Right, right, yes of course. So if I’m not dead why are you here?”

‘You created spirits that guide souls to the afterlife.’

“Yessss,” Hades nodded, “They help control the flow of traffic. Otherwise they all come in through the front door.”

‘My point is, that before your father granted you a realm, none of this existed. I did the job you now do.’

“Oh.” Hades wrung his hands in a nervous gesture. “I suppose this is the part where you tell me to get out and get my own job?”

‘Oh not at all Lord Hades, in fact, I’d like to train your spirits to do my job.’

“You’d what?”

‘You see, Death is immortal, yes. But I do like a break, and your spirits have given me the change to have the first break in millennia. All I have to do it go and cut the thread as it is. Your spirits do all the rest of the work. So I’d like to take some of your spirits and teach them how to cut the thread too.’

“Right. So they’d be training to be death. Deaths in training.”

‘Well, you’ve already called them reapers. And what to reapers do but cut the stem of corn, much like cutting the thread of life.’

Hades nodded for a moment, lost in thought. Death sat patiently, a still form in a room of darkness. Finally Hades seemed to come to a conclusion.

“Well Death, sir, I mean, yes. Yes, I agree for you to take control of however many reapers you would like to serve under you and fulfil your purpose. With the agreement that the souls will be sent to the underworld to be sorted for their afterlife’s properly. “

‘Unless one is suited for reaping.’

“Really a human soul?”

‘It has been known to happen, on occasion.’

“Alright, accepted.” Hades stuck out his hand and had the privilege of being the first creature to shake hands with Death. It was a horrific feeling, especially when the bones moved.

Death left the way he came, another rush of silence filling the hall. Hades slumped against the wall. It had been an interesting morning, that was for sure. Sadly though, his peace was not to last. For the next day he received another unwelcome visitor. This time a messenger from Zeus. He had been summoned to Mount Olympus.

Persephone: Hades meets Death

Persephone: Introduction to the Gods

The Greek myth is a tragedy. Poor Persephone, trapped in the underworld with a cruel god, tricked into eating pomegranate seeds, hidden away from her family, only allowed out for half the year. Poor Persephone. What a tragedy.

Shame it’s wrong.

Hades didn’t know what hit him when he first met Persephone. He had a funny feeling it might have been her mallet though. A battle field is not the place you expect to meet your true love. And you certainly don’t expect to be getting seriously maimed by them. Luckily though, Hades is a god, unluckily, so is she.

Before our story can begin, you need to know some things about the Gods. Things are not always as they seem to us mortals. There are three realms; the sky, the earth and sea, and the underworld.

There were three brothers, and each brother was given a realm. Zeus, the oldest was given the Sky, and he was told, guard it well and lead the others to victory. Poseidon was given the Sea and told, use it well for it shall help you heal the earth. Hades the youngest was given the underworld, he was taunted by his brothers and he believed that he had been put out of the way, given the scraps off the table.

But their father took him aside and told him, “Son, the underworld is the most important realm. One day even your brothers shall pass through these gates. But you son, you will be here till time itself runs out. It will be lonely for you, but I know that you are strong and brave and you can withstand the tests and trials that will be before you. Maybe one day you will even make this place your home. But for now it is your realm and it will be under your protection.”

And so the brothers split up and began to rule their lands. Zeus married a Goddess named Hera and began to cement his legacy as leader of the Gods. He ruled firm and had no leeway, even for his own family. Other Gods came to rest upon the top of Mount Olympus, where Zeus had made a fine palace for himself.

Poseidon took to the seas and filled it with all manner of creature. He made himself a palace under the water where he looked after each citizen with a fair hand. He saw to it that rain fell and the Earth grew bountiful.  Eventually, he too fell in love and married a goddess called Amphitrite.

Hades spent a long time in the Underworld. More time alone than either of his brothers. He rearranged the world as he saw fit, and made it not a beacon of despair but a refuge for souls. They arrived from the moment he took his mantle and did not stop. Always busy with work Hades soon forgot about his father’s comments and indeed almost forgot about his brothers. Finally though, the work became too much and he created subject to help him in his duties. These creatures helped guide spirits to the afterlife but for their efforts they were feared and called evil spirits.

So Hades divided his work force. He created formless, faceless creatures to take on a comforting aspect to those about to die, and called them Reapers. Then he took his evil spirits and gave them duties in hell, where they would comfort the innocent and punish the wicked.

Persephone: Introduction to the Gods

Excerpt

It had to be a dream; not because his dead mother was setting out dinner; nor because his father was sat at the table, red faced and laughing like he had never seen before; not even because his sister was sat with him, smiling happily. Really it was a dream because it was sunny. Long shadows streached across the dark wood floor, light spilling in through the double doors at the back of the room. The fresh yellow paint lit the kitchen, his family stood out against it like a pop up Christmas card.
He wanted to freeze this moment. He wanted to stop time and drink it all in. The family he had never had.

His mother had died when he was eleven, his sister seven. For a reason he had never understood his father had blamed his sister, and her life was full of abuse and misery since then. He was powerless to stop it.
In the years that had past he had learnt how to set bones, soothe bruises and bandage cuts, but he couldn’t learn how to mend a broken heart. She didn’t talk about it but he knew that their mother was fading from her mind. If she had ever known a kind word from their father it had long since been forgotten, only terror and anger remained.
He escaped it all because he would take the crown. In his fathers eyes he could do no wrong, until he abdicated.

As the dream continued he watched his father lean towards his sister and whisper something to her. It gained him a light smack from his wife and playful teasing. He smiled at his sister’s laughter. She wouldn’t be a little girl by now, she would be twenty in June. He frowned, a bitter taste on his tongue. He wondererd if she was even alive, if his father had enough restraint not to kill the only heir he had left

He watched the dream unfurl. For it could only be a dream. It was never sunny here, in his cell, his prison, his punishment.

His banishment.

Excerpt

Z is for Zebu

Z.jpg

Well, I didn’t make the deadline, and I’m posting on a sunday. But at least I’ve wrote it and at least I can say, “I finished!”

This is the final instalment of the A to Z blogging challenge. More information can be found here.

He had grown around the animals, a fact of life as common as a dog or a cat in any other family. But to others they were wild creatures, to some they were no more than a cow, and to another group they were holy. All his life had been spent with the animals, his father had them on his land and now he had them on his own.

So you can imagine his surprise when a man knocked at his door in a business suit, with a lanyard around his neck and a letter that told him he was no longer allowed to keep his animals.

“I’m sorry sir,” the man had said, “new government decree. They’re going extinct in the wild, and this is their way of saving the animals.”

“I don’t understand. The land where the wild Zebu’s live is miles away! Most of it was cut down for that new building project, where will they live?”

“That’s not for you to worry about, sir.”

“It damn well is!” he had replied, “These are my animals! They’ve been in my family for generations. I was there when they were calves and I’m gonna be there this spring when the new mothers have their calves.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the man repeated, “government decree. They’ll be gone by the end of the month.”

It had taken all of his will power not to slam the door in the man’s face. Instead he took the letter and immediately went to his computer. Surely he had rights? These animals were a part of his farm, they were part of his livelihood.

It took him nearly all month, even with help from his family, to get the evidence he needed. When the truck pulled into his farm he was ready. In one hand he had the original letter, in the other he had a folder, full of information and evidence. And by his side stood his lawyer.

He wasn’t going down without a fight.

These were his animals, and they depended on him.

They were his Zebu, and he was their farmer.

Z is for Zebu