Another late update, and kind of a sad one (but only a little). Reality has been throwing a lot at me lately with everything happening in the world on top of everything we're doing at home – much like it's been throwing a lot at so many people. Looking at what directions I'd like to pursue and where I'm hoping they can lead has been a big preoccupation for me these past weeks. We've somehow created a few awesome opportunities in our little piece of the world, and I don't have enough hands to grab all of them.
Right now, at 41 years old, I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up: Entrepreneur. Not something I planned on before now, that's for sure. My parents ran from-home businesses when I was a kid and I already knew the amount of work involved. It's a big part of why I like working for other people so much lol. I'm falling in love with having a freeze-drying business, though; despite the labor involved I really, really want to dedicate the time and effort needed to help our little food business find success. Plus, our other little business of shirts and stickers has grown up a bit more and it's time to give that some honest attention.
Letting go of regular writing feels like a good decision right now. I'll still be posting up short stories on my Wattpad and in my Short Stories as I finish them, but not on a regular schedule. I like this new direction life is taking. It's terrifying and exciting so it must be a big enough change to be worth it. I hope life treats you well, and that you get to have an excellent week. Happy reading!
3. A Lizard
Aston ducked behind a rocky outcropping and caught his breath to listen for any pursuit. The poachers sounded like they were remaining in place to search the small clearing where they’d lost the fairy. They were still yelling at the one Aston had struck with the branch, mostly that trees didn’t attack people. He huffed a quiet chuckle and then looked around for any of the familiar landmarks he’d noted while running toward the fight, spotting a certain knotted and twisted tree not too far off.
He set his hand on the ground for the fairy to be able to step off easily. “I suppose you’d prefer to be on your way?” he asked.
She turned to listen toward where the poachers were arguing and then looked up at Aston from the center of his palm as if he was missing half of his brain for having made the suggestion. “I can’t fly, and I’m nearly ready to collapse from using so much magic so quickly, and you just want to leave me here where they can walk over and pick me up without any sort of effort at all?” she demanded.
“Oh, I... uh, I didn’t think of that,” he replied quietly.
“No. You didn’t,” she agreed harshly.
“What about friends or family who could –”
“No.” She cut off the question before he even finished asking.
“All right. Um. You could come with us?” he asked instead, so uncertain about it that she stopped moving around in small efforts to sit more comfortably in his hand and stared up at him.
“ ‘Us’?” she asked, glancing around for who else he might be with.
“Me, and my...” Good grief, how was he going to explain Draessellor? “Friend,” he finished, carefully. “My name is Aston,” he added, hoping to change the subject.
“Hm. And what are you pretending to be, Aston?” she asked, reaching out to poke at the serpent hide sleeve of the shirt Draessellor had fashioned for him.
“A” –he paused, it wasn’t like he could say he was the Low Prince of his father’s kingdom while dressed like this– “an apprentice,” he said quickly.
“An apprentice for what?” she asked, staring up at him suspiciously again.
She cocked one of her little eyebrows at him.
“And stealth,” he added hastily.
Her other eyebrow joined the first.
“Like, well, you know, outdoor life, and protecting myself...”
“Uh,” he said, his mind racing to compare if that description matched anything similar to what he was actually learning these past months. “Sort of?” he answered with a question. “Look, you can either come with me right now or not. If you don’t want to travel with us then at least our camp is further away from those poachers than right here.”
She sighed heavily and gave him another weighted, long glare. “Fine. I’ll go with you right now,” she said.
“All right. Do you have a pack with you, or a camp we need to circle back to for your supplies?” he asked.
He waited long enough to realize that was all she was going to say before he shrugged, stood up, and crept back along the way he’d come while making sure to cover his passage. Draessellor was still at the fire, but had finished his deer.
“Did you backtrack? Your passing was concealed?” the old lizard asked.
“Yes,” Aston confirmed, coming around to crouch at the fire and show Draessellor the fairy. “And I recused this –”
The mercenary flicked his tongue at her. “Magic user,” Draessellor grumbled the interruption through a heavy frown. “Leave it here,” he commanded, picking up his pack in one hand and dousing the fire with his other.
“But wait! I mean, just look at her. She’s injured,” Aston argued. He hurried to collect his own pack one-handed as Draessellor started walking away. “She was being attacked by poachers trying to cut off her wings and she was hurt during the fighting. We can’t just abandon her right after I rescued her,” he reasoned.
One of Draessellor’s eyes swiveled back to stare at Aston before dropping to glare at the fairy the Low Prince carried. She was clinging to one of his fingers and staring at the Reptilian mercenary in horrified terror. The old lizard stopped and turned fully, walking back the two steps needed for meeting Aston’s halted scramble, to glare down at the fairy.
“She was fighting against at least eight poachers. Plus, she knows a spell that sets off a burst of light so bright it blinds anyone looking at it for nearly a minute. Those skills have to be useful, right?” Aston said.
Draessellor stared at the fairy with one eye and Aston with the other for what felt like an eternity. Then he huffed, shaking his head in the way which only meant irritation, and then turned away. “I won’t tend it,” he muttered, already resuming his steady march toward the mountains. “And I won’t feed it,” he added, quietly calling back over his shoulder.
Aston gave the fairy a reassuring smile. “That means Draessellor says you can come if you want to. Just let me know if or when you want to stop travelling with us,” he said.
She opened her mouth to reply but only a wordless squeak ending in a whimper came out. It wasn’t a request to be put down, so he started walking after Draessellor.
“We’re going over those mountains there, then across the Small Plain on the other side out to the coast. After that, we’ll be turning south to go to my kingdom. I ended up across the Long Plain and the desert by a cursed teleportation, way back that way. Draessellor is taking me home. Apparently he’s a friend of my mother’s.”
The fairy only whimpered this time.
“You already know my name’s Aston,” he continued. “And you are?”
“Ssshh...” Her voice didn’t work but she swallowed and tried again. “Sh-Shyla,” she stuttered.
“It’s nice to meet you, Shyla,” he greeted. She stared up at him like the rest of his brain had gone to find the missing half from earlier.
“You are not Rangers,” she accused, anger quickly replacing every other expression on her face.
“No,” he agreed. “But we’re not wing-cutting poachers, either,” he added. Her head dropped forward as she muttered to herself too quietly for him to hear, smacking her tiny palm into her small forehead a couple of times. “So... where are you from?” he asked, trying to keep the conversation going now that he had someone to talk to.
She looked up at him, turned and assessed the passing trees in the direction of the poachers they’d gotten away from, then her posture slumped and she leaned sideways against his fingers. “Somewhere sort of close to here. But I am not going back there so it isn’t important anymore,” she stated.
“Sounds like a good place to be from,” he said. Her head snapped up and she stared at him in surprise. “I think you’ll like going out to the coast, actually. It really is nothing like anything here. I’d never have thought I’d miss it, but I do. Our island always seemed so limited” –he looked around at the forest and gestured back toward the desert– “but this is all so unlimited.”
“Then why did you leave?” she asked.
“Well, I actually didn’t. Not on purpose...”
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!