In their youth they were eleven

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In their youth they’d been eleven
come along in quick succession
One lost his way
on birthing day
A short trip from the heavens

Another tripped and hit her head
before her first words could be said
Her smile bright
yet face turned white
gone the sound of her soft tread

One boy did not stop to listen
youthful mind upon a mission
too far he swam
could not reach land
Later found by men out fishing

No medicine could cure a growth
written in one’s doctor’s notes
He fought so hard
his features marred
Was buried in a collared coat

Number five, a lovely woman
always was a friendly flirting
She passed along
with a sweet song
her memory uncertain

The only one to find a love
believed that passion was enough
She did not share
how much he cared
Deathly drops within his mug

Another coughed away her youth
though some still claim her mind astute
She tasted snow
found her old foe
sickness once more taking root

This one strayed to zones of war
where bullets whizzed to flesh they tore
His letters home
those well-read tomes
one day ceased their constant flow

This other fled to city life
where crime and passion bred new strifes
Her art imbued
an awful feud
with fuel that ended with a knife

The tenth achieved a high degree
that could not supplant pedigree
Her life she claimed
in heights of fame
sparking great controversy

He worked his fingers to the bone
without a house to call his own
and wondered why
the stars he spied
glittered spritely when alone

In their youth they’d been eleven
come and gone in quick succession
the gods connived
to cull their lives
stopping a bloodline’s doomed ascension

© EMMI LAWRENCE (12.4.2018)
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His Pitfall

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* * *

Considering this is going to be my last scheduled short story (I will likely have others I publish in the future, but they’re going to be more related to novel publications than random ideas) I thought it fitting I go back to the very beginning.

His Pitfall is a story I began writing at the same time I started writing in this genre/shortly after starting this blog. It was, in fact, the second MM story I ever began writing (the first is where the idea of the Merandin Empire spawned and thus I can’t publish it as a standalone). But I look at this story as one that speaks to that beginning time frame.

It’s been re-written heavily, but you can still get the old feeling of my writing style creeping in all over the place. I’ve grown a lot since I wrote this story, so I know had I simply started it over entirely rather than re-written it, the story would be even better. But for some reason, this old thing holds a strange place in my heart, like a reminder of moments when I thought it impossible to write full-length novels. 

Most likely because the characters of Traice and Fiar feel very much like the precursors to Caliebb and De’vii from The Wilds Duology.

* * *

A shadow stood above him. Far above him.

For a few seconds, Traice struggled to claim his bearings, his body aching from the fall and weakened branches cracking under his weight. He squinted against the sunlight pouring around the darkened figure of a man, then cursed under his breath as the shadow shortened to a crouch, only a spear left straight and tall, the weapon seeming to pierce the canopy above.

Then came a droll voice. “I’d been hoping to catch something worthwhile today, but that’s out of the question after that howl you gave when you fell. Scared off anything within the vicinity.”

Traice ignored the teasing as he gingerly touched the side of his head. He took stock carefully, but it seemed he’d managed only scratches and sores sure to blossom into beautiful bruises come this evening.

“You okay?”

“Fiar,” muttered Traice as he sat up, popping the brush under his boot heels and crumbling dirt when he reached for the pit’s soil wall. He stood slowly before looking back up.

Vision now clear, he could see all of Fiar. The man, almost eight years Traice’s elder and boasting a sleeveless, dirty shirt and thick camouflaged pants, crouched at the edge of the pit, the butt of his spear resting upon the ground, the shaft resting casually against his shoulder.

Traice sighed, trying not to note the way Fiar’s skin shone in the afternoon sun. All gorgeously tan from being outside day after day. And that hair…a little bit of length up top and cut closer around the sides, was always a plethora of shades of brown from natural bleaching. Fiar’s eyes, too far away to see clearly—though Traice knew them to be a gentle green—bored into Traice in amusement.

“You going to help me out or just stare at me?” asked Traice.

“You can unravel a demon, but you can’t get out of a trap?” Fiar laughed and then leaned closer with a concerned expression. “You feeling all right? Break anything?”

Traice paused, pressing a hand against his side, then shook his head. “No, I’m good.”

An evil smile spread across Fiar’s face causing Traice to curse inwardly at his own stupidity. Continue reading

Walk the Snowy Passes

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Walk the snowy passes
Where the frost wolves guard
Cross the stone-capped arches
Where the golems bar

Dive the deepest rivers
Where the mermaids ford
Fly the pine-decked mountains
Where the simurgh lord

Dance the violet fields
Where the horned beasts herd
Search the jungle’s labyrinth
Where the dryads lure

Sing to heaven’s choir
Where the angels soar
Play with devil’s fire
Where the demons war

Raise your ice-tracked shield
Where the humans team
Fight the mundane living
With your magicked dreams

© EMMI LAWRENCE (11.17.2018)

 

All Language

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Attn: Pabron qu Aheren, Chief of the Wakeguard

We have spoken once before, if you recall, when you relayed an incredulous tidbit about a certain someone. A lass of general, though not great, renown who had gone missing. Do not worry, the details of the event in question are not the reason I write to you, merely my method of nudging you into remembering.

No, instead I seek the truth of another matter. Now normally I do not care whether stories told to me are completely truthful, for the sake of the story is what matters. The more fanciful, the better. But in this case…

I have been accused, even by you, of using underhanded techniques to get my stories, but I have never tortured, never beaten and certainly don’t bribe. I merely show interest in people begging for attention, make them feel as if I care, which, in turn, make them believe me to be trustworthy.

Men and women both have used me as a confident, confessing secrets and sins to my ears. And every word, every ounce of character, both kindly and cruel, have been recorded somehow, in some way, in my journals. I purposeful write out of order, leaving blank pages for another time and no dates to speak of, for I know them by heart.

This particular story interests me a far great more and for little reason that will make sense to you.

This man, of whom I will withhold the particulars, he claims to listen to things no other man can hear. He speaks so sincerely, with no mocking in his tone or humor in his smile, that I honestly can say I believe him. He’s asked his name to not be recorded and I will honor that request for dual purposes. However, I will note that he speaks with a coastal accent and uses phrases such as “by the swelled sea” and “like a gull’s cry.” He also bears a gouge on the palm of his left hand, of the sort one would get if wielding a scaling knife in the right while not paying attention.

I think you can see where I’m going with this, for does that not remind you of yourself in some part? Growing up where you have?

This man, he is not attractive in the classical sense, his features not entirely even, the left side of his face more amiable while the right seems to draw down, as if remembering some horrible past event. However, he carries no extra pounds, owns a calm and respectful manner and seems a steady presence, not one prone to outbursts. He avoids drink, even in social settings, and has the most intense considering gaze, one I could stare at for hours, wondering at what he might be wondering at.

These are his words, as best as I could jot them down as he spoke… Continue reading

Equine Dreams

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Can you smell the fresh cut grass
caught to your bare soles
from fast climbing berry hills
chasing long-legged foals

Can you hear their haughty chuffs
ears set flicking round
as they catch our cheery calls
and come trotting down

Can you feel their braided manes
with azalea ties
color to their cocoa hair
worn and proudly prized

Can you see the lightning bugs
flashing round their hide
shining courage in our path
as forward fast we ride

Can you taste the equine dreams
in flavors freshly spiced
with textures rough and tempting
a fleeting paradise

© EMMI LAWRENCE (8.10.2018)

Raid Social Mechanics

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This one isn’t technically a short story; it’s more of a slice of one. But there is no larger story surrounding the scene as it was a single idea that never blended with any others. That advice you hear sometimes about writers having to delete scenes they love because they don’t work with the project? This would fit into that category pretty well. I want to share this scene with you anyway because I know if I don’t it will merely sit in a save file forever untouched and alone.

I wrote this piece many years ago, back during a time I raided on an MMORPG. I don’t anymore because it was far too time-consuming, yet I have a lot of love for that time, and a lot of fond memories, both of people I’d met and the games we’d played. This story was an exercise within that mind frame. If you’re not a gamer yourself there are likely many references and slang you won’t recognize, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from enjoying the energy of the piece :)

* * *

Austin cursed as another one died. Not into the microphone though. He button smashed, holding one finger posed over his interrupt as his others maneuvered his character around behind the boss.

Then two healers died at the same time. Bam. Bam. And that was all she wrote. He watched as the main tank went from full health to nothing in two seconds flat during the boss’s special attack. The off tank held him for a few moments, but it was a losing battle before it’d begun and the boss turned and systematically took out the rest of the raid. Austin didn’t even bother trying to run like a few of the other guys did. Just sighed and stood, the echoing sounds of the boss’s emotes ringing in his ears as he bent to open the fridge for a drink.

“Motherfucker,” said Ira. That was the off tank. Ira, short for Irabelle. The first e had a squiggle over it as if it somehow made the name cooler. “What the fuck, people?” Thirteen or fourteen, Austin guessed, and still overly enthralled with the fact he could cuss online.

Austin pulled a water from the fridge, then went and grabbed a hoho before going to sit back down at the computer. The dorm room was quiet around him. His roommate escaped on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights because he couldn’t stand Austin’s hobby, which was more than okay for Austin because he didn’t have to feel self-conscious or embarrassed if Paul brought anyone around.

“Soo…” said Mango. Raid leader and one of the main healers. “What exactly happened there?”

Austin rolled his eyes and stuffed the last of his hoho into his mouth. Mango should be the one to know what happened. Should be the one correcting people’s mistakes, leading them in the right direction, but damnit, he was pathetically incapable unless Des—rogue dps, short for Desbledsallot—told him what was going on.

There was a ping and Austin glanced down at the yellow private message as he took a swig from his water bottle.

I died! I died! Please someone explain to me HOW that could POSSIBLY happen when I’m standing in the fucking fire??? Continue reading

Micro Poem Collection #3

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Her breath of frost and lungs of ice
strip the world with winter’s kiss
Snow-trapped fae and crystal sprites
lodged beneath that frozen mist

~~~

Hope shrivels when touched
weak as a butterfly’s wings
you must let it soar

~~~

Bone-white teeth and shoulders scarred
Claws of death and muzzles marred
Tortured eyes and longing howls
Shattered pack from play most foul

~~~

Stretching fingers wrapped in pigment,
dictate how we live
Painting pictures seeped with fragments,
section love we give

~~~

As the memory fades
out of your reach
I hold your hand

© EMMI LAWRENCE (2018)

Poet’s Bane

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Your song, it tarries in the grooves of my heart. Plays on repeat, stuck. Your words, a language spoken by the soul, unintelligible to those outside our bond.

I pen another.

No smile could touch me quite the same. No tears strike the chord yours have found within my heart, swelling a lullaby that cradles me as I sink into the bliss that is you.

And another.

Such sweetness stains, eats away the walls I’ve built. Such devotion drives a track within our lives, carving a future merged from two.

And again.

This gentle soul I’ve found in you, reflected in a thousand mirrors, a million stars lighting your aura that you might cleanse me, free me from these earthly constraints that threaten to drown me in sand and soil.

I flip the page.

Take me to that place, wherever you might be. Come dawn, whisk me to between the worlds where folded together we shall ever be.

Scribble across the unintentional rhyme.

Please, I beg you to hear me scream. My voice echoes in my throat, but does not reach the sky. Lost among the nether clouds where your ship wanders, searching for what, I wonder. Searching for me, I hope.

The thesaurus does not help, so I throw it.

You are my heart, my soul, my world and all the worlds you’ve visited since. I breathe for you. A silent song I can not control pours forth into the starry road you travel.

I scream for real, a shout of pure frustration.

What can I possibly say for you to hear, not with your ears, but with your heart? I yearn to follow you, to chase that winding path you’ve left glowing in your wake.

I let the pen fall. Ink splatters the page, looking like star patches and nebulae and a single half note with its empty belly. There are no words left untarnished by my feeble attempts. I merely repeat myself.

Heart. Soul. Stars. Song. World.

How can I not wrangle these thoughts into something coherent, something I could be proud enough to show him? To watch his eyes flick across the page, faster and faster, as he reads of my emotions.

Outside the roar returns. His ship burning, a high whine settling into a blare of engines that shake the building.

I’m out of time.

I shove the used papers into the trash. Ink bleeds across those pages, muffling the pain in those sentences. I take up the pen one more time. Pull free a fresh piece of paper.

May I come with you?

He would understand.

* * *

I had the first two lines of this story for a very long time, but I didn’t know what to do with them. Second person isn’t my favorite type of POV so I knew I didn’t want to write anything too long, but I couldn’t come up with a way to turn those two lines into anything more.

Then I got to thinking about the way I often brainstorm when I’m stuck trying to come up with a new idea or flesh out an old one. And that is…I write new lines, continuously starting over until I finally pick up the right track and can race forward with the story.

I thought it might be fun to create a flash piece using that method…so thus was born the poet trying to pen a love note and having the worst time of it.

What’s neat is that this is an inside look on how I sometimes get to the right words. There are often a lot of unused words that come first, most of which get tossed in the garbage because either they’re not good enough, don’t move the story or characters in the right direction, or simply don’t convey the message I’m trying to get across.

That being said. I absolutely love the first two lines. I think the poet should have stopped with them.

~Emmi

Across That Ocean of Sand

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“You don’t get seasick, do you?”

His attention remained on the leather harness rather than on me, yet I heard a rather interesting lilt in his tone, as if he were remembering some past bloke who couldn’t hold his breakfast.

“It’s a similar feeling, a rocking, swaying with the muscles of her neck bunching between your legs. A different sort of barren landscape underneath.”

I swallowed against an instinctual bile rising to the back of my throat and neglected to answer for I’d never stood foot aboard anything large enough to sail the seas. “Have you ever been on an ocean?”

My curiosity was merely an attempt to distract myself from the wyvern clawing at the ground and sniffing at the dusty air, her focus pulled toward the erg filling the world to the east. Ruins of a distant time jutted from beneath the sandy layers nearby. Crenellations lingering long after the city had been claimed by the encroaching dunes.

The man snorted and patted his vest before tugging free a pair of hide-covered binoculars. “No, but wind-surfing the dunes sparks a similar feeling I’ve been told when you’re on the down side, a dropping in your gut, and I’d dune-surfed a few times in my youth.”

“Who told you they were similar?” I asked.

I had my doubts, as I’d dune-surfed as well and didn’t think it could possibly be comparable to being wyvernback. Not at all. On the sand, I had control of that board. Up there? I’d be at the beast’s mercy. And there was a whole lot farther to fall if I lost my balance.

“And old flame,” he muttered in answer as he scanned the horizon, then he passed the binoculars to me. “We go south, over the sinkholes, stop at the Ribcage for her to rest and then head on to Hollow Heights near dusk.”

“That long?”

“Longer still if we don’t get going.” He patted his girl’s neck, gloved fingers scratching at beige-scaled hide. The man himself, face leathery, short beard unkempt, clothes worn, yet clean, seemed content to merely stand there though. He’d been paid half already. I reasoned, if I backed out now, it’d been an easy payday for him even without earning the other half.

And backing out seemed more and more attractive the longer I stood there hesitating. Couldn’t seem to move myself closer to that wyvern, my heart beating a rapid rhythm and my mind tricking me into thinking I was in danger. Sweat broke out on my neck. My legs screamed for me to run.

“Her name is Preen. Likes compliments and jewelry. To a girl’s heart.”

When I didn’t move, his eyebrow quirked and a resigned smile that held a hint of irritated empathy flickered across his face. “She’s a nableclaw. Small, swift and friendly to boot. You’ll be in safe hands.”

My chest squeezed, the air so dry I felt as if could feel my lips cracking. “Give me a moment.”

The words came out sharper than I’d intended, but I didn’t correct myself as I spun abruptly and strode away, needing to be out of reach of the wyvern, my fear an animal in its own right, clawing up my spine, ripping through my skin, pouring from my pores like burning magma.

Along the edge of the rocky mound, I paused and leaned, staring longingly to the northwest where the plateau around Springhaven stretched. The small city—home—couldn’t be seen, not from this height, not from this distance, but I knew it to be there, hidden beneath the plateau.

The man’s boots scuffed the rock behind me. “You’re not a dune crawler or a wyvernback. What’s in the Wastes for you to do this?”

What indeed. More like a who. A man I wasn’t even sure would be happy to see me.

I knew I could convince myself of the uselessness of this trip easily enough. I also knew I’d forever ask myself what if…

What if I hadn’t let this fear stop me from going to him? Hadn’t let it be the end of us. Continue reading