My Raven Girl: A Realm of Light Snippet

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The yellow leaves are yours, their color so vivid against the blood red veins. They’re exquisitely unique, rare beauties. Like you.

I select the fairest of them and place it reverently aside before piling the rest into a golden mound and placing my palm to the top. No one else need see these, they’re meant for only us, and I won’t share them with any undeserving fool who enters my forest. I close my eyes to better concentrate and pull deep from that inner well of heat until the familiar tang of smoldering foliage reaches my nostrils.

Leaning back on my heels, I observe as the leaves succumb to my power, crumbling one after another into fine, white-grey ash. My thoughts drift back to you — as they often do — and the thrill of your power and mine. We were made to compliment the other, your flames and my ash. You were born for me, just as I was for you. What would it feel like, I wonder, to be burned by you? To see your body marked by my ashes?

Quicker than thought, I reach into the crackling collection and snatch out one last golden leaf, marveling as the heat pulses against my pale skin. My prize is still pristine, still perfect. Twisting the brittle stalk, I place it next to yours in safety.

Yours I’ll leave on our table in the forest, mine I’ll take home with me tonight to better think of you. Your beauty, your grace, your kindness, your power, and your Spirit. One day they’ll be mine, you’ll give them to me freely I know. But we have time yet, my Raven-Girl. We have time. Until then I can dream. I can plan.

*This is just a little flash fiction in the point of view of one of my characters from my WIP Ashes, I hope you enjoy it!

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A Mother’s Love

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

A Mother’s Love

I was running before I could even think to. The sharp slap of the tall prickling grass as it marred my skin was my only connection to the world around me as I tore across the open ground, barreling past the farthest borders of the village, headlong to the stone archway, the Gate to the other Realm, my Realm. Where my children now were. My boys. My sons. The others wouldn’t be far behind me, they would flee to the Gates — an unstoppable onslaught of terrified humanity — and in doing so, bring those monsters with them. They would lead those things to my children.

There was no time.

So I ran. Faster and longer than I’d ever run before. Never slowing, never stopping. The knowledge of what must be done writhed inside my stomach like a coil of snakes, but I pushed it down, flung it aside, allowing no other thoughts to enter my mind that the image of my sons as I’d last left them. If I thought about the rest I would never be able to do it.

Ryzan, my eldest — just five summers old — had been so fearless. He’d held my Ryvan’s little hand, lending his younger brother courage for their first adventure without me and a surge of beaming pride had nearly swamped me, though I hid my tears in a wide smile.

“Look after your brothers,” I’d told him, kissing Ryvan noisily on his plump, dimpled cheek before looking back into Ryzan’s deep copper eyes. “Keep them safe for me Ryzan.”

My boy had nodded, his grin easy and assured, so much his father’s son. “I will Momma,” he said, as his brother squealed happily with laughter at my kisses before clinging back to Ryzan’s hand like clenched steel,

“Ryvan and I will have lots of adventures — won’t we Ryvan? Uncle says so!” And I knew with certainty my middle son would be just fine without me for a time. Ryvan would go anywhere as long as Ryzan led the way.

And Rynan, my baby, wrapped in extra blankets against the chill of the Realm of Light, he would have a cavalcade of admirers vying to care for him. I wondered again if he would take a chill — my boys were used to the blistering heat of the desert in the Realm of Stones, not the fluctuating seasons of my old forest-blanketed home — but my littlest son never stirred, never whimpered. He merely watched me from my brother’s arms, serene, peaceful, accepting whatever fate handed him. My arms had ached to snatch him back to me, but I clenched them to my chest. “I’ll see you in just a few days,” I said again, as much for my sake as theirs.

A few days…But that was before. I bit back a breathless cry. My precious ones, my sons, the very blood and beating of my heart. They had to stay safe, hidden in that other Realm, away from these killing creatures. But they wouldn’t if I didn’t reach the Gate first. The part of me that was vampyre flared wildly to life, fueling my speed and lending me strength as I hurdled through the unclaimed lands. But it was only temporary.

My breath was ragged, my lungs strangely bursting when the grey-stone gateway came into sight at long last. The muscles in my legs burned like well-stoked embers as I pushed savagely on, surveying the strange clearing without slowing. But there was no one here. I was alone. I had done it.

The stone boulders that made up the Realm Gate were eerily cool to the touch despite the desert sun burning down on them as I all but slammed myself against them before sinking to my knees, gulping in air as I never had before. For a moment there was only the sound of my rattling lungs and the rapid beat of my heart in my ears and I remembered my mother and the dangers of pushing a too-human body with too-little vampyre blood. Though, I reasoned that I wasn’t quite to the point of death, just utter exhaustion, as my breathing began to slow and sensation came back to my bruised feet with the sharp stabbing of thousands of knives. The pain cleared away the remnants of my memories and the immediacy of the world came back to me.

I lurched upwards, forcing myself to my feet until I stood shakily before the Gate, ready to melt back into my Realm, to close the portal from the inside. But before I could make myself move, I jerked back as though struck, horrified. Varrick, my husband! In my sudden fear and flight I’d forgotten him! Was he dead? Was my husband gone already, torn apart by those…monsters before they’d attacked our home? Surely these were the creatures he and the others had been searching for…? What if…

My knees began to shake. I was all but desperate to see my sons, to leave this place, but unwilling to leave their father. My boys were safe for the moment, but Varrick could still be out there, fighting his way through these unspeakable horrors. My heart skittered painfully. He would go home, I knew it with a surety that reached down into the marrow of my bones. Varrick would go home, to find me, to protect me. He’d never stop searching. If I left him now I may never find him again. Could I live with myself? But if I stayed…

The horror of it shook through me and I trembled. If I left now I would live, I would close the Gate from inside the Realm of Light, sealing the inhabitants of the Realm of Stone and these creatures inside, possibly forever. I would have my sons, my family, my life…

But if I closed the Gate here… If I sealed myself in this cursed Realm, my sons would still be safe and I could search for Varrick. The trembling worsened.

My sons.

My husband.

My life.

My lover’s.

I stood torn before the Gate’s reflective surface, hesitating as my entire being screamed and wrenched itself into two. My instinct to live and to hold my children once more warred against the love in my heart and the knowledge deep in my Spirit that if I were to leave now, I could never live with myself. Leaving would kill me just as surely as staying would. I looked up and the reflection staring back at me from the watery mirror of the gate was crazed, copper eyes too wide, black hair windblown, with traces of old blood marking pale flesh where the grass had sliced soft skin.  This face didn’t belong to the Summer Girl I used to be, this was another girl all together, a new creature born of fear and heartbreak. I wasn’t sure what she was yet, but she frightened me. I frightened me. She was dangerous. She was deadly. She was me.

A burst of unexpected noise some distance behind me broke the haunting spell and I looked away from the Gate, away from that other girl. My heart pounded a warning and war-cry. there was no more time, someone was coming. Or something. The danger rushed back to me and I knew my decision and suffered as my heart ripped in two. I would never get to say goodbye. There was no guarantee I would ever get the Gate back open again. There was no guarantee I would have enough power to close it. This may be forever. I was only a Fireling after all, not Spirit-Speaker like my grandmother, gifted with the power to control Realm Gates. But I had to try. There was only moments left. I had to try.

“Forgive me,” I whispered, grasping the smooth stones on either side of the waiting portal as the rustling edged closer. The fire inside me flared to life, hotter, angrier, and more desperate than I’d ever felt it before. I grasped the heat, feeling it to burst into flame, and pulled, yanking at the source of the power deep in my blood, in my heart. The fire roared inside me, dangerous, lethal. I gasped, fighting to hold onto it as it writhed inside me, scorching me from the inside out. Pain blinded me. For the first time in my life, the fire burned me, burned my veins, the sinews and muscles inside me, and my heart, turning me from flame to ash.

With a violent scream, I slammed my hands into the rippling mirror, shoving the raging flame of my gift into the very heart of the portal. Be as stone, I commanded silently, feeling my gift leave me and the watery gate miraculously harden and blacken beneath my charred hands. Close. Seal. Shut.

With a final grinding slam of falling boulders, the Gate thrust me back and I staggered, utterly spent, staring at the damage I had wrought. The ethereal Gate was no more than a blackened pillar of stones, a charred ruin. I swayed. My sons were safe. They would live in the peace of the forests with my brother and his wife and my mother and father. They would grow up in the land of gift-bearers and vampyres, perhaps even venture to Britannia one day to lay claim to their grandfather’s people. They would grow in peace and love. And they would never know. Never know the gruesome truth of what happened today, of the decision that was made, or of what their safety cost. I hugged my chest, desperate now to hold together. My sons were safe.

But an entire Realm was now trapped, thousands held prisoner in this nightmare. Because of me.

All the thoughts I had held at bay before rushed in, seizing me. I looked down to the reddened flesh of my own hands and stumbled to my knees, cracking them across the stone base. Now I was truly that other girl. I was dangerous. I was a murderess. A monster. A killer. These scarlet hands would wear the blood of thousands for as long as I lived. I hadn’t allowed myself to acknowledge the truth before, the truth of what my boys’ safety would mean for the rest. But now the truth ravaged my Spirit. I had damned an entire Realm to the terror of monsters and blood and death. I had done this.

But my sons were safe. And my husband… Varrick! Where was he?! My need for him flared wildly, consuming me. I needed Varrick! I had to find him! He would understand, he would see that I had saved them. He would forgive me. He would love me. Even now.

But would he even recognize me now? I was no longer his Summer Girl, innocent and bright, now I was that other girl, a monster, a murderer. But I had done it for them, did that make any difference? I wasn’t sure, though in my heart I understood one awful, bitter truth. I would do it again. I would do anything to keep them safe, and if the entirety of the Realm of Stones had to perish, so be it. I was a mother, and there was no creature more dangerous than I.

*****

This is a clip from my WIP Ashes, I hope you enjoy! 😀

 

My Raven Girl

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The yellow leaves are yours, their color so vivid against the blood red veins. They’re exquisitely unique, rare beauties. Like you.

I select the fairest of them and place it reverently aside before piling the rest into a golden mound and placing my palm to the top. No one else need see these, they’re meant for only us, and I won’t share them with any undeserving fool who enters my forest. I close my eyes to better concentrate and pull deep from that inner well of heat until the familiar tang of smoldering foliage reaches my nostrils.

Leaning back on my heels, I observe as the leaves succumb to my power, crumbling one after another into fine, white-grey ash. My thoughts drift back to you — as they often do — and the thrill of your power and mine. We were made to compliment the other, your flames and my ash. You were born for me, just as I was for you. What would it feel like, I wonder, to be burned by you? To see your body marked by my ashes?

Quicker than thought, I reach into the crackling collection and snatch out one last golden leaf, marveling as the heat pulses against my pale skin. My prize is still pristine, still perfect. Twisting the brittle stalk, I place it next to yours in safety.

Yours I’ll leave on our table in the forest, mine I’ll take home with me tonight to better think of you. Your beauty, your grace, your kindness, your power, and your Spirit. One day they’ll be mine, you’ll give them to me freely I know. But we have time yet, my Raven-Girl. We have time. Until then I can dream. I can plan.

*This is just a little flash fiction in the point of view of one of my characters from my WIP Ashes, I hope you enjoy it!  And I’m sorry for repeatedly posting things from the Moonstonemaiden vault all week my lovelies, but I’ve been a bit sore and uncomfortably bruised after falling down a staircase on Tuesday morning and bouncing down a few wooden stairs — needless to say, sitting is quite painful, but nothing was broken lol. (I then preceded to slam my thumb in the door yesterday evening and thought I was going to pass out, but settled instead on wailing at the top of my lungs, mostly out of frustration, for a good few minutes lol.) But suddenly accident-prone or not, new posts are coming my lovelies, I promise! 😀

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Fourteen

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!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Fourteen

“You told him what?” Ratha’s voice was low and dangerous as she growled through tightly clenched teeth, the muscles of her jaw tense and rigid as steel. Her fingers dug into the dark-stained wood of her chair like talons as fury flushed the sun-darkened skin beneath her emerald gown.

Joona met her friend’s ire unflinchingly, her mouth pursing into a long, thin line. Her green eyes narrowed, flickering with the heat of her own stubborn anger. “And just what else was I to tell him Amalee James? After he recognized you as a woman clothed as a man. An exquisite woman no less. It’s not as though I could pass you off as an ailing spinster aunt from Kerry! Your ship bears the name of my father’s, so family you must be and a cousin you are.” Joona’s tone grew sharper with every word. She would not be chastised in her own house for something out of her hands and Amalee needed to remember she was not the captain of St. Clare Manor. She held her friend’s fuming eye long enough for the lesson to sink in before allowing herself a small smile. “An eccentric cousin no doubt. Though no less loved for all your wearing of trousers.”

Amalee did not speak, but Joona felt the force of her anger diminish ever so slightly. It was enough for the moment. “He is joining us for dinner this evening, which is why a proper gown was needed. There is much he and Eric must discuss and as his ship has suffered so much damage, a fine dinner and a bevy of pretty faces is the least we can offer him.”

“Oh to be sure,” Ratha spat, accenting her displeasure with a sharp flick of her wrist. “Considering I am a husband-hunter after all.”

“Why else would you be here?” Joona challenged. “Use that mind of yours Captain please. I’ve no plans to sell you off to the highest bidder at the end of the evening, but as far as this man and his crew are concerned, you and Madeline are my cousins, and you are looking for good marriages. And as I highly doubt that this man will be pledging either of you his troth by evening’s end, all I require of you is a few hours of polite conversation and the lure of your own natural charm.”

“We need this man,” she said frankly, her features softening as she turned to look at her husband. “We need his ship. This isn’t what I wanted for your first night home. I have no wish to argue with either of you. I’ve missed you dreadfully. But this is as it must be. Just be the kind, engaging woman you are Amalee, just for tonight. He’s been at sea for months, just give him a pretty face to dream about and a smile or two. Please.”

“Of course Joona,” Madeline nodded, leaning forward to pat her friend’s hand reassuringly, her air contemplative but resolute. She shot Amalee a look of warning, plea, and reproach. “What you ask is easily done.”

Feeling a slight wave of shame lapping at her stomach, Ratha glowered at her two best friends — Eric as well for good measure — but kept any further grumblings to herself. She did not like surprises, not anymore, and for good reason.

But Joona was right, a story was needed and this was the simplest. So, she would stick to it, for the evening at least, and keep herself and her crew safe while these strangers encroached on St. Clare land. But she would watch this other captain, whoever he was, and if it was more than just a pretty face he was after, she would be happy to give him the sharp end of her blade for his troubles.

“Fine. Let’s not keep him waiting then,” Ratha said at last, reaching for her glass and downing the last of the port in one swift gulp. “My natural charm is unnaturally short-lived.”

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

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!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

The sun was setting in a blaze of citrine and ruby light into the churning cobalt sea beyond the massive diamond-paned windows when Ratha finally stepped into the glorious St. Clare library. Maddie, Joona, and an unusually weary-looking Eric sat near the warmth and light of a crackling fireplace on the far side of the room, soft conversation enveloping them with the love of longstanding friendship. Each looked up when the door opened, their words halting as Ratha strode towards them, a scowl tugging her lips downward and darkening her bright eyes. Eric St. Clare rose from his seat and moved to meet her with a warm smile, pulling her to him in a brotherly hug that squeezed what little breath she had left from her lungs. Even after all this time, he worried for her safety and to see her and Madeline alive again and home brought him such fierce joy. When he finally released her it was only to lead her to an overlarge chair beside Maddie and to fetch her a glass of port.

Doing her best not to wheeze, Ratha sank into the chair with relief, breathing in as deeply as she could manage in her borrowed gown. She accepted the port with a small smile and took a deep drink, letting the liquid burn it’s way down her throat to her belly, warming her from the inside out. In brilliant contrast to the jagged fire inside her, the crystal goblet was cool and perfectly smooth in her rough, weathered hands. She bit back a rye smile at the sight of her scarred hands holding something so perfect and fragile before setting the goblet down with a decisive clink. Looking back at those before her, she leveled a pointed glare at the red-haired woman sitting before her, her brows arching questioningly.

“Well Joona St. Clare,” she huffed, gesturing down to the emerald gown in disgust. “Why am I in this monstrosity?”

“I think you look lovely Amalee,” Maddie offered with a grin, running an appreciative hand over her own rose pink gown with unabashed pleasure. The sea had yet to take Madeline’s enjoyment of beautiful things and Ratha doubted it ever could. Madeline was born to see beauty in a cruel, sparkling world.

“That’s not the point,” Ratha said with a wave of her hand and a ghost of a smile at her friend’s deserved happiness. But her eyes never left Joona’s. Some new secret lurked beneath their sharp green surface, churning in the depths where love and intellect normally resided. Ratha’s heart beat a little faster. “What is it Joona, what haven’t you told us?”

“There’s a merchant ship moored in our shipyard,” Joona admitted, her mouth a slight grimace. “You’ll have seen it no doubt as you came into port.”

“Yes,” Amalee nodded, thinking back to the ship bearing the garish orange and silver flags with entwined songbirds that had given her pause before she had arrived. A matching grimace turned her mouth downward as well, settling into port with strange ships and crews so close by was never something she enjoyed, but the bulk of the St. Clare’s fortune was made on the seas and ships came and went through their shipyard far too often for it to frighten her away. The vessels never stayed long, and the crews were kept bust unloading a foreign cargo or loading a new one bound for some exotic destination before settling sail on the next earliest tide. Her women had strict orders to stay well clear of the St. Clare shipyard and the men who worked them and the sailors who passed through them. Their names and faces did not need to become known. But her women knew this well and St. Clare had never before felt the need to draw her aside just to mention a ship. Her stomach tightened into a thick fist. “Is it dangerous?”

“No,” Joona said slowly. “But there was a storm at sea some weeks ago and the vessel was badly damaged, the hull breached and a mast snapped in two. The repairs will take some days and in that time the crew will work and sleep aboard their own ship. They will not be a danger to you and yours so long as your women remain out of their way and in their sight. But unfortunately…”

“But unfortunately what?” Ratha demanded, her heart beating so fiercely that sure it would explode out of the confines of her blasted gown at any moment.

“Unfortunately, you have already been noticed. Or rather your beauty has. It seems the Captain was quite intrigued with a certain person, and asked Eric just who the exquisite brunette was wearing men’s trousers and boots as though she was born in them.”

Ratha’s face paled. How on earth did a sailor recognize her as a woman from such a distance, especially with her long hair — her most telling feature — tied up and out of her face?! “What did you tell them?”

Joona held her friend’s gaze, the very air tense with unspoken possibilities before her lips curved upward. “That you were my cousin of course. Fresh from Ireland with a few companions and on the hunt for an English husband to rival my own.”

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve

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!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

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.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Four

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Four

The crew of the Raven’s Wing was completely comprised of women; no man was allowed to set foot aboard her, not even to keep her from sinking. Most of the women were runaways, orphans, poor, but some were ladies of English society who had given up their fine titles and jewels because of abuse or mistreatment at the hands of their fathers, husbands, brothers or others. All those who boarded the Raven’s Wing, boarded as equals; there was no discrimination of rank allowed other than that of Ratha’s officers. Traveling home was a cause of joy but it was also dangerous, should the women fall foul of their old tormentors or the crown. “Be safe, all of you. Should you need me or become separated and cannot return, give the signal and I will come.” The women nodded solemnly at her, they knew she would find them, return any one of them that was stolen from her. It had happened before, they all prayed it never happened again. “The rest of you, let’s move. St. Clare, if you would be so kind to lead the way.”

 

Amalee had only been in this chamber once but still, everything was as she remembered it: the massive, white bed, the cream colored desk and chair, the scarlet drapes, framing the view of the sea, of the ship that was now hers. It had not been hers the last time she was in this chamber, not yet anyway. It had been night then, pitch black outside, with no moon to shine down on the two runaways as they raced to their friend to beg her to join them, to leave this awful place. They had run to her for help, they had run for their lives and now six years later Ratha was back inside the chamber that St. Clare had led her to that night. She wondered if Maddie was feeling the same in her chambers next door, did she feel this confliction of joy and sadness, of hope and hopelessness, of love and fear.

They were eighteen when their fathers sent them to England to be wed. It was a heady journey across the channel, filled with anxious joy and nervous excitement. When finally, they arrived the three dressed in their finest and fixed one another’s hair as best as they could before stepping onto the dock where their future husbands waited. They had known Eric St. Clare their whole lives and had known since early childhood that he was intended for Joona. In their youth they had had even nick-named her St. Clare, a name Eric found amusing and when he met them on the dock, he embraced all three of them like sisters. But though he loved them, he had eyes only for Joona, who sparkled in a fine, pale lavender that accented her fiery red hair and softened her watchful green eyes.

Madeline’s intended was a southern gentleman who made his fortune in tea leaves, which he imported from India and China. Lord Robert Gamsley was a fair-haired grey-eyed man with an unsettling smile and a slick countenance. Maddie had dressed in her nicest blue silk and a halo had shown around her golden head as she stepped forward to greet the man who would give her his name but would take much more from her. He kissed her hand and drew her away with sweet promises of the years to come.

But it was Amalee’s husband who drew every female eye; he was breath-taking in a way that left women shaking. With his dark chestnut hair slicked back framing his strong, marble chiseled face, dark arrogant eyes and a cruel, perfect lip, Lord Derek Richards was a lion amid lambs. And what’s more, he knew it. Derek had shown like a godling in his austere blacks when Amalee approached, a hesitant smile twitching on her nervous lips. Instantly she knew he approved of her golden dress that highlighted the gold flecks in her eyes and hair and curved dangerously low over her high, full breasts. The cut of the dress had not been to Amalee’s taste but her new husband had commissioned the gown and so she tried to wear it proudly.

 

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The Adventures of Ratha James Pt. Three

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Three

This picture reminds me of St. Clare! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

This picture reminds me of St. Clare! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

 

“Are you excited to be back?” Maddie chirped unaware that her friend was no longer listening. “Amalee! I asked if you were excited to be coming back?”

“Yes,” Ratha sighed, “It’s been too long Maddie. We’ve been gone too long.”

 

The sun was high and the rain gone when Ratha stepped out of the long ship and nearly flung herself into the arms of her closest and most beloved friend other than Madeline. In seconds Maddie was there and for a moment it was like it had been before: the three of them wild with freedom and privilege, running untamed through their fathers’ lands in Ireland, best friends, all but sisters. Tall, willowy Amalee James with her unusual dark coloring, a laughing Maddie Kingston, shapely even then, and the cunning and far-sighted Joona O’ Donald, already known as the future St. Clare amongst her friends, they had grown up together. Born within months of one another and their fathers’ land bordering each other, the girl’s had been thrown together young, sent off to play in the woods and the friendship they had formed had stuck, becoming unbreakable with age.

“I thought you’d never arrive!” St. Clare exclaimed as she pulled away from her friends, holding them at arm’s length to inspect them properly. Amalee needed sleep, but she doubted she would rest well on English soil; there was nothing to be done about that. Madeline looked well, thinner than she remembered, and darker. Both of her friends had been bronzed by the sun, – Ratha resembled a Spaniard with her dark hair and sun-kissed face! Their skin would never be the porcelain it was in their youth but it didn’t hinder their beauty in the least. “I feared you would be taken before you reached me.”

“The Captain would never allow us to be taken!” exclaimed a young girl as she stepped boldly from the little boat and reached back to help the others. She was fairly new to the crew but her fervor and belief in Ratha’s ability to protect her shone in every facet of her expressive face. Amalee faded in an instant and once again Captain Ratha James stood surveying her crew of forty women, the oldest in her early fifties, the youngest only eight. Forty pairs of eyes turned to her expectantly, excitedly. These women were her crew, her friends, her family and her responsibility. She protected them, sheltered and harbored them and they trusted her with their lives, she would not let that knowledge slip from her just because her feet were once again on English soil.

She stepped away from Joona and Maddie, planting her arms on her hips as she moved to stand before them all. “Listen up, your lives and mine depend on this. You are currently standing on the shoreline of the St. Clare family holdings. This,” she said pointing to Joona, “is Lady St. Clare and this is her home. While you are here you will abide by the rules she and I set to you or you will be punished however I see fit. For those of you who plan to depart, you will give your names and intended destinations to Ulsa, if you plan on not returning to us inform her. We will leave in two weeks from this day. If you have not returned and I receive no word of distress then I will leave you. Do not miss the tide.”

Immediately twenty or so women lined up to give their information to Ulsa, the ship’s head cook and scribe. Ratha surveyed them, they would all return to her, she was almost positive. She had known most of the women in this group for years, they would never desert her but if they did she knew it would only be because they had found something better. But even then, most still returned to tell their captain of such good fortune and she wished them well. For safety, she required them to travel in pairs or trios; no one was allowed to travel anywhere alone, and Ratha meant anywhere.

 

And just in case you missed them, here are part one and part two of this epic pirate tale!

The Adventures of Ratha James Part One

This one reminds me of Ratha! Image From Google. All rights Belong To Artist.

This one reminds me of Ratha! Image From Google. All rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Two

And this one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

And this one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James Pt. Two

This one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

This one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

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.

The Adventures of Ratha James Pt. One

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. 😀

Image From Google. All rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All rights Belong To Artist.

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?