Alright my lovelies it’s 2019 and you know what that means…Star Wars Episode IX is finally nigh!!! So let’s start the year off right with a fun little fandom chat over on my second blog, Whimsical Mutterings where we’re counting down the Top 5 Canon Star Wars Novels! I’ve got some great stuff planned for that channel as we begin the countdown to December and the release of the final Skywalker film, so I hope to see you over there!!! ❤
What dream does your heart wish for tonight my lovelies? What fantastical tale will you live as you rest secure beneath starry skies and bright moonlight? Will there be romance? Or danger? Daring battles or deep friendship? Will a lesson be learned or a truth be known?
You decide. You choose.
Make your wish my lovelies, hold it tight, and dream it into reality.
If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!
The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve
A sudden deafening knock shattered Ratha’s morbid recollections and she found herself standing before a large gilt-framed looking-glass, one hand raised to touch the burnished skin beneath her eyes. For a moment the ghost of a lingering bruise darkened her sun-kissed skin before fading back into haunted memory. She shuddered, her stomach roiling sickeningly as the briefest flicker of remembered terror touched her very soul. Ratha purposefully turned away from the mirror, squelching the fear before it took root. It was this place, the past would give her no peace here. She would never feel safe on English soil, no matter how many years since her escape. Perhaps it was a mistake to come back after all.
“Amalee Ratha James!” Madeline called irately from the other side of the bedroom door. “I know you can hear me in there! St. Clare needs to speak with us before dinner so hurry and finish dressing and meet us in the library. Joona’s laid out something for you to wear on the chair near the fire, which I’d wager you haven’t even noticed,” Maddie huffed the last to herself, but Amalee heard her through the door clear enough. “If you need help with the lacing, there’s maid here in the hall.”
Lacing? Ratha flinched, her horror renewing as she turned to investigate the clothes Maddie had rightfully guessed she had not yet noticed, preoccupied as she was with the unnerving eclipse of past and present she always felt in this house. She strode towards the crackling fireplace with misapprehension heavy in her heart before stumbling to a halt with a insuppressibly hiss of displeasure. A sturdy wooden chair stood at the ready, swathed in a vision of frothy, endless emerald silk — the color so deep and vivid the gown nearly burned with a life all its own. Like drops of glistening dew, emeralds and fiery diamonds rained over the bodice and the delicate, gossamer lace net covering the full, wide skirts. The gems sparkled wildly in the dancing firelight, but the corners of Ratha’s mouth turned down in a hearty scowl.
What in the blazing Hell was St. Clare up to?!
Grumbling more than a baited bear, Ratha precariously descended the wide, marble staircase in her borrowed finery, on route to the magnificent St. Clare library. With its dark paneled elegance and diamond-paned floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ever-surging sea below, the library was by far her favorite room in this opulent home. Yet even now, the thought of all those lovely leader-bound books could not rid her of the irritation of drowning in St. Clare’s accursed gown. She pulled at the confines of the gem-encrusted bodice as gently but forcibly as she could as she fought to straighten her shoulders and get in a decent breath of air. The damn gown was pinching her mercilessly and she nearly tripped over the billowing yards of skirts. Again. She yearned desperately for the simple freedom of her fitted leather trousers and the bliss of airy linen shirts. With a misstep of her borrowed heeled shoes, she toppled sideways, righting herself at the last moment, swearing eloquently like the sailor she truly was. And boots. She desperately missed her boots.
After six years at sea, Ratha had lost all appreciation for and what little understanding she had of, the beautiful gowns worn by her sex. With her father’s wealth in relative tatters her whole childhood, she’d grown up in plain, simple gowns and serviceable boots, and after she left home for England, Derek certainly never liked her so fully clothed as all this… So she had been quite happy to trade dresses for trousers and confinement for freedom and in the years since, the occasions she’s had since to wear such frippery were few and each heartily despised.
But it was more than the mere fact that clothing was uncomfortable, it was dangerous. The gown was heavy and far too long should she need to run, and she could barely breathe in such a tight bodice — though she congratulated herself on her own firm refusal to wear the whale-bone corset Joona provided — and more importantly, there was no place to conceal her weapons in a garment such as this. She felt the loss of her array of array of hidden blades usually latched to wrist, thigh, ankle, and stomach, as well as the elegant promise of her rapier on her hips, and the blunt surety of the pair of pistols strapped to her belt. Were it not Joona’s own gown, Ratha would have cut slits into the skirts and other strategic places to hide her smaller weapons before emerging from her room, but as the dress belonged to her friend, she resisted the temptation. In the end, Ratha was forced to comfort herself with the knowledge that she was not completely defenseless. The smallest of her knives rested securely between her breasts and the pins securing her dark chestnut hair were sharp enough to inflict damage, were she inclined to, as well as the small pistol strapped to her right calf, and the longer sheathed knife on her left.
Perhaps it was foolish to worry so in the home of her trusted friends, but Ratha James was an outlaw in this land, and Amalee Richards an escaped prisoner. Should she be taken as either it would surely mean her death. These gowns were lush, extravagant creations of exquisite, otherworldly beautiful art, but there was no damned, beautiful dress worth her life.
If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!
The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven
Suddenly Amalee was exhausted. The turmoil, fear, and abuse of the past months bore down on her all at once and she sunk leadenly into the plush cobalt armchair, closing her heavy, dark eyes.
“We had heard about Maddie,” Joona admitted hesitantly after a few silent minutes. The shock of the evening left her voice thready and strained and even with the light of a cheery fire haloing her, there were dark circles beneath St. Clare’s eyes that had not there a few hours before. “Months ago. You and I knew, after the horror of that sickness, that her chances of bearing children were slim, and it has long been my fear that it indeed left her barren. But I so hoped…she’s so healthy now, I thought maybe in time, her body would continue to heal. No one deserves a child more than she, and she’s always wanted a babe so desperately…” Joona stopped, unable to say more until the clenching sob in her constricting throat subsided. “I knew she would take the news badly so I wrote to her, inviting her to stay awhile here with us. I thought the sight and smell of the sea might restore her. Maddie so loves the sea.”
“Eric and I even called on their home in London when the letters went unanswered but Robert dismissed us at the door without so much as inviting us in to speak of her. He said Maddie was indisposed, desolate, and wished to be left to herself for a time. He looked so wretched, I felt so poorly for them. I wanted to see her, but how could I know he was keeping her from us? What if, in her grief, she truly did not wish to see me? To intrude at such a time, I feared losing her, especially after you… I thought…”
“You thought I abandoned you,” Amalee breathed, her voice barely a whisper. There was so much pain, and she was so weary, but she mustn’t sleep, not yet. It was not safe.
“I’m so sorry, please forgive me! Joona cried, unable to hold back her tears any longer. After fearing for her friends for months and now seeing her fears confirmed she was close to breaking. “I should have known that you would…that you would never…But I missed you and you never wrote me and I did not know what to think! I worried of course, but also feared you no longer desired my friendship now that we were here on English soil, where you have risen so high. But this,” she said, touching the blackish bruise on Amalee’s cheek with soft, careful fingers. “I could never have imagined this.”
“Of course not you foolish thing, there was no way for you to know,” Amalee reminded her weeping friend affectionately, but sternly. “This is not your fault Joona. Nor is it Eric’s. I saw the blame in his eyes before and I see it in yours now and I forbid it. You found your happiness together as man and wife and I refuse to let anyone cause you to regret it.”
“We were going to find you,” Joona confessed, dropping her face into her slender hands and taking a shuddering breath. “After a few months with no word, we knew something must be done. Eric was gong to leave right away but I…” she laid a land on her swollen stomach as a new wave of silent tears slipped down her cheeks. “I discovered I was with child. For months I was horridly sick and I was so frightened, for the baby, for myself. I wanted Eric with me and he stayed. But now, I wish I had left him go. He would have found you. He would have never given up.”
Amalee took her friend’s hand, feeling the chill of the pale skin, and squeezed it tightly. “You needed him here Joona. Eric’s place is here.”
“But if I had been as brave as you,” Joona whispered, her sharp green eyes taking in every bruise, both faded and fresh, on her friend’s beautiful face. “Perhaps he’d have found you before…”
Amalee shook her heavy head minutely, bringing Joona’s words to a halt. “He hit me the first day we stepped off the ship,” she said quietly, her voice touched with sadness, regret, and anger at the madness of it all, at being delivered into the hands of a monster. “Before the carriage left the dock. You couldn’t have stopped him Joona. No one could have.”
A Rose Bound
In the labyrinth there’s a castle,
where a bed of roses lie,
thick and bright and color-strewn,
arching turrets to the sky.
I see you there, in my sleeping mind,
a shadow in the brightest light,
cloaked in crimson, rich as blood,
beckoning me in from coming night.
Come to me, come to me,
your voice echoes low on the wind,
come to me, come to me,
to our story now, we must tend.
Come to me, run to me,
gasping, my heart begins to pound,
come to me, find love with me,
become the rose to which I’m bound.
…Or rather I went on an adventure but either way there’s adventure afoot my lovelies! This past weekend my bestie and I had a Bestie Weekend (a clever and original title of course, lol) and we spent our time racing from one place to the other, having fun, meeting new and old friends, eating out, and generally ignoring real life for a day or two which is always lovely. I think I took literally hundreds of pictures — refreshing my collection for future weekly photo challenges — and I figured I’d go ahead and post a few now just because I feel like it 😀
So…we began our whirlwind wonderings of St. Augustine at the beach, because I mean where else would you go when you’re waiting for a taco party to begin?!
And then skipping forward a few days we hit Downtown for some awesome Barbeque Chicken pizza at Al’s:
Before spending a few hours meandering aimlessly down winding St. George Street and the sprawling green of the Fort!
The British are coming, the British are coming!!!
The Adventures of Ratha James Part Two
With a shake of her head, Ratha dismissed such dangerous daydreams. St. Clare had made many provisions for such a thing happening, and they’d encountered none of the pre-advised warnings alerting her to turn back and flee. No, if there was any hint of danger, she would know. Her stomach somersaulted excitedly. It had been far too long since she’d been this close to home. The women aboard the Raven’s Wing needed this, they had been at sea for nearly five years, making port all over Europe, staying in one place for no longer than a fortnight or so. They returned to England a few times a year only long enough to reload supplies and gather the new recruits. A day, perhaps two if the women were lucky. But this visit would be the longest; two weeks, not a day longer, and then they would move to another port further north for those whose families dwelt closer to Scotland for yet another two weeks and then south to France. Or maybe Spain. Ratha had not yet decided.
“Maddie,” Ratha called, knowing her closest friend would be nearby waiting for instructions. Madeline Kingston, a shapely girl with a tumble of impossibly bright gold hair stepped out of the shadows. Her blue eyes were bright with barely suppressed excitement, her mouth pursed to keep from smiling. Ratha chuckled; her friend was nearly shaking with happiness, like an excitable puppy who was trying its upmost not to embarrass itself. “Drop anchor on the far side of St. Clare’s farthest vessel, I won’t have us too near the stranger.”
Maddie nodded, stepping forward to reclaim her place at the wheel. “Aye Captain.” The young girl who had taken the night’s steering patrol nodded sleepily at Ratha before clamoring below deck to her cot.
“Avangaline is doing well under your tutelage,” Ratha remarked as she and Maddie watched the other women begin their preparations to port. Most had been with Ratha and Maddie since the beginning, others had joined them over the years but each person knew her place and her job when it came to anchoring the massive ship. Ratha stood by with pride as the women silently and efficiently trimmed the sails and readied the massive anchor ropes.
“She’s young yet, sixteen is young Amalee James and don’t you give me that look,” Madeline snapped as her friend and captain smirked at her. “She’s a good listener, and heaven’s know she has some brains in that pretty head of hers but it will be some time yet before I let her steer without some sort of guardian standing near.”
“Not everyone was born with your father’s knowledge of ships at her fingertips,” Ratha ribbed, her eyes still on the approaching coastline. If she squinted now she could just make out the window where St. Clare would be watching their entrance into England. She felt like giving a wave, knowing that St. Clare would be watching them like a hawk for any signs of distress but decided not to antagonize her friend who risked her wealth, land, title and life merely by not turning them over to the crown, let alone harboring them. With the inky green and blue pennants flying from her masts, anyone looking their way would think that Reginald O’ Donald was making an unplanned visit from his native Ireland to see his English married daughter. Reginald himself had given Ratha the flags and had instructed them to rename the Raven’s Wing when they visited his daughter, with the name of his flagship the Sea Daughter. The name had indeed been painted over the original just yesterday, in gold sparkling paint that caught the sun’s every flickering ray.
Alright my lovelies, here is the first installment of the pirate story that I told you about last week! Remember, these will only be small snippets for each post, that way y’all don’t get bogged down reading for more than a few minutes. 😀
The Adventures of Ratha James: Part One
It was a typical sunny English morning when the familiar coastline came into sight at long last. That is to say the sky was dreary grey and a steady drizzle slicked the ground and dripped off the nose of anyone who happened to be out and about so early in the day. But it was fine English weather, the sort that no English gentlemen would allow to spoil his morning plans – which at this hour could only be stealing away from a splendid mistress or the arms of whatever woman was available at the nearest brothel. Indeed, no man could dare call himself an Englishman should he even take notice of such common weather. But then, Rath was no common English gentlemen. He wasn’t a fine lord or a lowly cur and he could claim no fine titles or ancient honorable holdings, not even a hovel at the river bank. He was, in fact, a woman, and she was not so fond of being dismally wet, even though she was thankful of the cover the rain provided.
Amalee Ratha James – Ratha as she was known to those closest to her, and Rath by her enemies – was a woman with much on her mind as she paced the polished oak planks of the Raven’s Wing gleaming broad deck. Her heavy brown-black hair was pulled high, out of her face and held into a slick bun with a shining silver clasp as she studied the coastline once more. Devilish amber eyes sparkled under elegant dark brows that knitted together as she squinted to distinguish the different flags fluttering from the masts of the three other vessels anchored near her intended place of port. With a muttered curse, she finally yanked the battered but gleaming looking-glass from the pocket of the fitted black trousers that she preferred to any silk dress or mess of ruffled petticoats. The reflective glass revealed that two of the ships were those of her friend the Lady St. Clare, who allowed Ratha to anchor the Raven’s Wing here in the first place. The third ship bore garish orange and silver flags stamped with entwined songbirds; it was one Ratha wasn’t familiar with. She hesitated, perhaps this was trap; had her friend at long last been discovered as her protector and now was helpless to alert her to the impending danger?
Hello my lovelies!!!!! Wow…has it been awhile or what?! Let me just say: This unjust and tortuous absence was not planned — or happily borne on my end I can ASSURE you — but when life throws you one ‘adventure’ after another you just have to go with it (and blog in your head, you guys have no idea how many posts I’ve constructed in my mind the past few months lol)! But I have to admit, blogging in one’s head is a very lonely and quiet affair and I much prefer the company of all my wonderful blogging friends in this wondrous blogosphere! I have missed all of y’all like crazy and shed many a tear over the situation, and fully intend to catch up on your blogs one at a time — so don’t freak out if you get like twenty likes and comments from me in one day lol. It just means you’re awesome and I have missed you terribly 🙂
Now I’m not sure how consistent my posts will be in the near future until we get the internet situation/nightmare figured out, I may only post on Thursdays and Fridays for a while, but I figured I would go ahead and get a post in while I can! And this is just my Welcome Back Post, I’ll have a real Moonstonemaiden post up later 😀
I hope everyone had a wonderful year last year and an amazing New Year so far, and know that this year will be freaking awesome!
Happy Friday everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything this week, but I have been/still am under the weather for the last several days (which means I am pretty much worthless at the moment). The weather has turned prematurely chilly here and between that and the unholy war Nature is leveling against my sinuses, I’ve been huddled under the blanket sniffling helplessly listening to music, daydreaming, and trying to catch up on my reading list when my foggy head will allow. I will have a proper post for you all hopefully early next week as I’m hoping to kick some serious allergy/sinus butt this weekend!
I don’t know about y’all but when I don’t feel well, I tend to daydream about happy things to get my mind off the fact that I can’t breathe through my left and/or right nostril, and that I generally feel like a big blob of ickiness. Ireland is my easy, go-to happy place; I can’t wait until my mom and I actually get to visit Ireland for ourselves! I’m partially Irish (and so is she) and just the thought of roving those rolling, mystical, green hills with my best friend fills me with undiluted joy! There’s something so magical and intriguing about Ireland, with its haunting music and wonderful stories, that just draws me in and refuses to release me. And of course there’s always a mysterious, lighthearted, quick to smile, and just down-right handsome Irishman waiting to sweep me off my feet in my dreams! (I’ve got my fingers crossed for reality, lol.) I don’t know what it is, but Ireland just inspires me; it takes my breath away and leaves me content and happy just thinking about it.
Alas, my cocoon of blanket-y warmth is calling to my frozen fingers and toes! So for now, I’ll happily continue daydreaming of my adventures in Ireland with my mom and falling in love with the (Irish) man of my dreams! Perhaps we’ll all take a side-trip to Spain as well… I figure Ireland is pretty cold this time of year and I’m already partially frozen 😉 I take my leave of you all until next week, enjoy your weekend! But first…what places inspire you to daydream? Is there anywhere you find yourself longing to visit when you don’t feel well? Or do you escape into books or movies?