Sunday, February 24, 2013

Htebazileizzardabethica: superhero of fauna

For last poet Standing
week 6: create a superhero

Htebazileizzardabethica: Superhero of fauna

She liked to talk to Tobe
and that would have been fine
‘cept that Tobe was a squirrel
She was the oddest superhero, really
and barely that.
Everyone knew it,
all the greats
Captain Awesome and Fly-by-night
Moonsinger who could move the tides
and Clyde
who could read minds
they all knew and 
giggled behind gauntleted hands
because she called herself
the superhero of fauna
healed broken bird’s wings
and found homes for puppies
and fought off the bullies who’d cornered
not a girl, but a kitten
but she ran when the villains came to play
and let the greats take care of it
and afterwards they’d chant
Tebazil, can’t do nil
you call yourself a hero
who do you save?

And so she’d cry to Tobe
and he’d chatter, in his way, reminding her
of the robin who’d flown into a window
and lay dying in her palms
how she’d saved him
when the greats would have looked away
or the time that a badger had been swept down stream
and she’d saved him too.
that soothed  her
whose name didn’t roll of the tongue
like Flybynight or Awesome
or Clyde
who could also lift cars overhead.

Oh, she wished she was one of the greats, or at least
that they’d see her as such
they stopped crimes
but didn’t she use her powers with
the great responsibility the movies had taught her?
didn’t she help, all that she could?
Tebazil, can’t do nil
you call yourself a hero
who do you save?

But they’d come to her now, saying,
call your birdies
the city’s in peril
we have to act now,
every hero, even you
come, animal girl, come
so she’d pulled on her hoodie
it wasn’t a cape
but animals didn’t care what you looked like
not when they looked at you
with bead bright eyes and said
softer than any human whisper,

She followed Clyde
who could also teleport
into the dark city
run rampant with explosions as
villain after villain swarmed
taking revenge on heroes and their home.

 looked with eagle eyes and saw
closing in like a raptor on prey
and Tobe
on his telephone pole chattered
in his way
"Too dangerous, they come
and they will rip this city to the ground
too many of them. Run"

People cried out for the greats, pleading, thanking, then-
It’s a bird, it’s a pla- no, it’s a bird
one of her birds,
but what’s she doing here
the superhero of fauna
not of people
she thinks she can help?

she was back to back to back to back to back
with Awesome and the Moon
and Clyde
who was running out of breath
and she ran
Tebazil, can’t do nil
you call yourself a hero
but you run away

Up the stairs and into the first building still standing

And the wave of dark pressed on
and the greats cursed and called for backup
from Gotham

Leading the charge, Darkness itself cheered
in the form of one defeated every day after school
"And now we win! And now we win!"
And the birdies took to the sky lamenting
blood and tears fell from the faces of the greats
as they readied themselves to fight
but it was a lost war.

was having none of that
CHARGE! she yelled
as she rode out of the museum
on a mammoth.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


For Last Poet Standing
Week five: Picture from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Truth is a funny thing.
They say , truth is what is real
And real is what is fact
And fact isn’t fantasy.
Music is real.
Harps are real, and rivers
that flow, spoiled by rocks
but not ruined;
for a rock does not stop the river
but shapes it
causes tilts in the river’s music
as it spills into itself
like a finger plucks a harp string
and it resounds,
filling the air,
filling me
with some kind of wonder.
It’s true.
Just as true as the trees
as true as the sky is blue
as true as the loyal one beside me
who never leaves.
what I saw is true.
But they say, truth is what is real
And real is what is fact
And fact isn’t fantasy.
And what I saw, that day in the green gold woods
is fantasy
can’t be fact
can’t be real
can’t be true-
they say.
the music was on its own
no hand pulled at the harpsstrings
pulled at my heartstrings
making something so beautiful all I could do
was stand
and wait for silence
that didn’t come for how long I don’t know
the sun gleamed gold through the trees
gleamed gold on the harp
that sat on the stone,
sleek with moss and sang,
The harp
is the bridge between heaven and earth
and in that moment I knew
that that is true
as true as anything ever was
The music- the harp that sang of its own accord
not hindered or helped by human hand
was like nothing I’d ever heard
in halls
or homes
or hearts
it was a glistening
of lost and open sky
a cool hand
a warm breeze
a rose, laced with frost
but not withered
so alive
and the trees swayed with it
the river sang with it
I stayed with it
full of what is real
what is fact
what is fantasy
It’s true, the music, the magic
it’s really true.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


For Magpie 156

Kallin’s face was white in the pre-dawn, and dark circles under his eyes told Arriani that he hadn’t gotten more than an hour or two’s sleep in the last two days.

“You need to rest,” the teenager told him, as sternly as she could. Kallin was her leader, and she took orders from him, not the other way ‘round.
The big man shook his head. 
“No. I’m fine, Mageling. Is the spell still working?”

“I’m the healer, Master Warrior. You’re no good to her if you’re dead on your feet.”
“Arri, I’m-”
“No, you’re not.” Sir Kilona laid a large hand on her friends shoulder. “Kallie, anyone can see, healer or no, that you need rest. Please. Just for an hour, there’s a place where we can shelter close by, I know this land.”
It was truly a sign of how weary and preoccupied Kallin the warrior was that he didn’t snap at the Lady Knight for her use of the nickname.

“But Zara-”
“We’ll find her. Arriani’s got the tracking spell going, she’s stopped moving, which means that they’ve stopped, probably for the night. It’s nearly dawn. The horses are exhausted, even with Arri’s magic. We have to rest, just for-”
“But she could be hurt!” And Kallin’s shoulders began to shake.
Arriani had never seen him cry.

The horses slowed to a walk, then stopped, and no one urged them on.

Arriani shook her head, tugging on cord, from which hung a small crystal with a lock of hair in it. “This would have told me if she was, like I told you five minutes ago. “

Rasime, a dark shadow on darkness, pulled up, returning from scouting. 
“Youngling, how far off did you say they were?”
Arriani called on her magic, touching the crystal at her throat. Her eyes snapped open.
“Close. A few miles. I can’t say more than that. I’m strong, but they must have a mage with them.”

Rasime grinned. “Then we’ve found them. There’s a run down mansion three miles up. I saw light in one window.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Kallin asked, urging his mare forward. His betrothed, his Zara- for two days they’d chased her kidnappers, and finally- finally-

It was an old white, two story building, with pillars just like the Vernaluna bank. Trees, black in the misty light, stood around it, leafless, and the wall was crumbling. Arriani touched her Sight pendant. 
“Wait. There are wards.” She began to prod with her magic at the yellow light that surrounded the grounds. Kilona swore.
“I know this place. It belongs to Lord Tristan- of fief Lairclen. Goddess. Oh, Goddess.”

“What?” Kallin looked at the blond woman.

“This isn’t on Lairclen ground, but near to it, that’s where they’ll be headed. I think- Curse it. Curse them. Oh, Tristan.” She shook her head. “If I ever see that man again, it will not be pretty.”

“Lona, what is it?” Kallin had to fight to keep his voice down.

“They meant to take me. Lord Tristan, according to Da, last time we spoke, wants to marry me. Moon alone knows why, I’m no catch.” Rasime made a small noise at that. “I’m sure this is what it’s about. Zara was wearing my cloak when they took her.”

Arriani spoke up. “The wards are down. What say we teach this Lordling’s men a thing or two about messing with our band?”
She took a small bottle from her saddlebag, and handed it to Kallin, then removed more for the others. “It’s a restorative. I’ve been saving it.” she took a small drink, grimacing at the strong taste of lavender, sage, and bay. The others followed suit, then Kallin raised his sword.


For more of Arriani and Kallin's band, check out Celebration

Thursday, February 14, 2013


For Last Poet Standing
week 4: "It's valentine's day and I'm at last poet standing"


It's Valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here
 and we'll have our own day of love
St. Valentine can take a number
No one remembers who he was
Or how he died.
it's just a day, full of red hearts and stuffed bears
 and chocolates, always chocolates.

It's Valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here
 And  I can wait a day or two  to hold you in my arms.
Every day might as well be
a possibility for Valentines with you,
biking two miles uphill
getting lost in the windy berkeley streets
to bring me a chocolate muffin
when I’m sick.

It's valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here
It’s a five hour trip, from your home to mine
but we’ve made it work in longer spaces
Utah is nothing compared to Brazil
no phone calls, just love letters
like the one my roommate wrote you
and laughing, I sent
along with mine.
and you laughed.
And wrote that you loved me.

It's Valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here
And I love you.
going on four years since you asked me out in an email
and I said yes, yes,
and the secret is, I was going to ask you the next day
but you beat me to it.
and the whole ward
turned out to have been taking bets
since my sixteenth birthday on when.

It's Valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here,
And like little kids we’ll go running through the melting snow.
We’ll drink hot chocolate
and talk about
what we’re writing
the worlds of words
full of love and loss, light and shadow
and of course-
epic adventure
and possibly dragons too.

It's valentine's day, and I'm at Last Poet Standing,
but that's ok, because on Saturday, you'll be here
I love you, I love you two
Three, four, and five
I love you more than Bacon
and Nutella
and that’s saying something
you laugh,
but it’s true.

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m at Last Poet Standing
but that’s ok, because on Saturday, you’ll be here
 and we'll have our own day of love
St. Valentine can take a number.
Don’t need a card with kittens on it
or fancy flowers-
Any day is Valentine’s
so long as I’m with you.
So, Saturday- hurry up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Arriani Gold entered the kitchen of the Blue Harp inn.

“Arriani!” a woman with grey streaks in her brown hair looked up from a large pile of bread dough, wiped her hands on a floury apron, and came over to the girl. “ I thought you and the band weren’t due till next week.” The innkeeper smiled. “Tim’ll be excited to see you. You know how he loves seeing you all.”

Arriani gave her a hug. “It’s good to be back, Ma Loval. We were going to stay a bit longer in Rianair, but Sir Kilona’s Da wasn’t too happy with us on his fief, so we decided to cut our trip short. And we got word of bandits in the Green-Gold.”

Triana  Loval nodded approval. “Oh, we’ve got bandits alright. They got into my beehives just last night, smoked away all my bees and took the honey.  Nearly gave poor Bethica Wold over in Green’s Edge a heart attack, robbed her an’ Madder right on the road.” She shook her head.

Arriani grimaced. She hated bandits. “Well, in another day Linasa and her folk will be coming, and we’ll take care of them. Reports said there weren’t too many.”

“Well, that can wait. You’re skin and bones, youngling. Doesn’t Kallin feed you?” There was a reason all of Gold’s edge called Triana “ma.” Arriani laughed.
“We never eat so fine as here. Kallin wants a feast, to celebrate, like.”

Another woman entered the kitchen, her cropped blond hair shining in the spell-light.  “Ma Loval, Kallin sent me in to ask about supper. Any chance there’s some of that sweet corn cake Zara likes so much?” Sir Kilona asked, smiling.

“Hmm? Yes, Arriani, be a dear and take that out to your friends.” Ma pointed to a large pan of bright yellow souffle. “I’ve got soup on. Now what’s to celebrate?”
As Arriani left, she heard the Lady Knight explain about a foiled kidnapping and hostage situation.

The main room was nearly empty. Tim Loval, his bright red hair tousled, sat beside Rasime, asking questions that the dark skinned man answered, grinning. Granny Solace, a resident of the inn, sat at a corner table with a mug of honeyed milk, telling stories to a pair of wide eyed village children.
Zara Shieldmaiden and Kallin the Warrior sat on a bench, claiming to square tables for the band, deep in conversation.

Arriani stopped at the water barrel, filling a few glasses with the spring water and balancing them on a wooden tray. Just as she started towards her Band members again, she stopped. Kilona came up behind her, and Ma behind her, laden with bowls of Ma Loval’s famous vegetable chowder.

Kallin was kneeling on the ground before Zara, something shiny in one hand.

“Yes, of course!” Zara said, her eyes crinkled in a grin, one hand pressed to her mouth. Kallin took her free hand and slid the gold ring onto her finger, and then they were in each others arms.

Arriani set down the pan and tray and began to clap, Rasime and Tim looked up from the map the man had spread on the table and joined in. Granny Solace looked over at the two.
“‘S’a ‘bout time!” she laughed. “You’ve been looking at each other like that since you started heroing. Moon bless you both.”

Tim started giggling.

Zara and Kallin didn’t notice, still in each other’s embrace, kissing like no one in the world was watching.

For More about Kallin, Zara, Arriani, Sir Kilona and Rasime, check out Finally and Hero!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pear Girl

Pear Girl
By Anna May

It was looking like a very, bad morning for Mabel. She’d been scrubbing pots in the kitchen when a maid had called her into the throne room, where she stood, wringing her still soapy hands.
“Perina,” the king addressed her. “Testimony has been given, that you boasted you would go from here and take back the Witch’s treasure.”
“No, no, Sire, I didn’t!” She cried, shaking her head. “I made no such boast.”
“You did! I have the word of my most trusted palace serving maids, and a guard. You must not break your word. You, girl, have boasted, and you will make good on that boast!” Mabel wanted to scream with the injustice of it, but dared not argue with her king, not on the matter of her innocence or the matter of her name.
“You will depart at once, and may not return unless you come bearing the treasure stolen from my father’s father by the Witch.” The king slammed his scepter into the ground, and Mabel flinched.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” she whispered, all the while silently cursing those who must have lied, for some petty jealousies. She left the polished and gleaming room, fighting the urge to cry.

“Perina,” one of the maids had followed her. “You have none to blame but yourself, really. Sneaking ‘round with His Highness the Prince, putting on airs, like you was better than us because you was raised here. You was asking for trouble, with all your  woe-is-me, ‘I had to grow up in a palace, never going hungry, ‘cause my parents didn’t love-.’”
“My name,” Mabel said, interrupting, heat rising to her cheeks. “Is Mabel. Why did you lie to the king? We weren’t hurting anything, pretending we had a chance! I don’t think I’m better than you for having lived here so long, don’t you think I wish I-!  Just leave me alone, Ninetta.” She turned on her heel and ran down the hall. A few minutes later, she had her small pack on her back, and made her way to the palace gate.

Prince Pietro stood in the shadows. “Mabel!” he said, catching her up in his arms. “I’m sorry, this is my fault. I tried to talk to Papa, get him to see sense, but...” He shook his head, dark curls bouncing.
“It’s...It’s alright. I’ll be alright. I’ll find my family, I think I can remember where we lived.”
Pietro’s eyes were shadowed, his face drawn. “Yes. Do that.”
“What is it? What are you not telling me?” Mabel drew away, looking up into his black eyes.
“I... Mabel, I’ve been cursed. The Witch. Papa’s been going mad, trying to break it, but all the physicians say the only way to break her spell’s to get back the treasure - something about it being her power over the royal family and my life. If we could get it back, well, but otherwise it’s looking bleak. Papa’s sent men, but they don’t come back, and more than those refuse to go; under law, you know, they can refuse to go after a witch or ogre. So...” His shoulders slumped. “I’ve spoken to my fairy godmother, and she says you have a chance. So Papa...”

Mabel paused, drinking it all in. “Of course I’ll go,” she said, reaching a hand up to his cheek. “For you, I’ll go, and return as swiftly as I can.”
He held her close. “Luck to you, my Mabel, and be careful.”
The girl pulled away. “Yes. I love you, Pietro.”
She set off on her way, out of the city and into the country on a long, dusty road. She had nothing to do but walk, and think. She hardly remembered her life before the palace, but Ninetta’s cruel words had gotten under her skin. They hadn’t been true. Her parents had loved her, but they’d been poor folk. Mabel remembered hungry nights, fireless nights. They’d paid their tribute to the king in pears from their trees, and as a toddler, Mabel had helped her elder sister and Mama and Papa fill the four large baskets owed. Then had come the drought. Mabel frowned, thinking on that. Mama had died, and some of the trees had withered, so when it came time to fill the baskets, Papa’d told her to get in, kissed her forehead, promised she’d have a better life, and covered her with pear leaves. 
A kitchen hand had found her, a cook called Maria, and she’d called her Perina, which meant ‘pearlet’, despite her protests that Mama had named her Mabel. No one had called her anything but Perina or ‘girl’ in the years that had followed, except for Pietro. In spare moments when he could escape his tutors and she her duties as kitchen maid, they played games and told stories, and he had alway called her Mabel.
The sun was low when she reached a large pear tree, which smelt of her mama and safety. She climbed it and fell asleep in its branches, as though in the arms of someone who loved her.

Mabel woke early, and left the comforting branches of the pear tree. At its foot, she was startled to see an old woman, reaching for a pear. Mabel plucked one, and handed it to the woman, who smiled, and said, “Thank you, child. You are the pear girl, then, called Perina?”
“My name’s Mabel, but yes, I am. Can I help you?”
The old woman stood up taller, and suddenly turned into the most beautiful woman Mabel had ever seen.
“My godson, Pietro, bid me come to you and offer aid. You will brave the Witch’s castle and retrieve the treasure chest, to break his curse?”
“I will.” Mabel’s hands shook a little, but she kept her voice steady.
“Then three things I say to you. When you come to the river of blood, you must say, “ Fine water so red, I must make haste, else of thee I would taste.’ Secondly, take three of these pears, this sausage and this pound of grease. You will know what to do with them when the time comes. Thirdly, take courage, and remember why you do this thing. The Witch is strong, and I cannot interfere with her magics. You must be stronger than she.”
In a burst of light, she was gone, so Mabel  shrugged, put the gifts carefully in her pack, and set off again.
After some time, she came to a blood-red river. Her voice shook as she said, “Fine water so red, I must make haste, else of thee I would taste.” And to her amazement, the river parted for her. She scurried along the smooth, suddenly dry riverbed and up the bank as quickly as she could.
After a only a few turns in the road, she came to  clay ovens and saw women laboring. 
“Is this the way to the Witch’s castle?” She asked.
“Yes, but none who pass here return, be it for the Witch or be it that they take the other road and flee to the north. You should turn back, girl, and return home.” One of the women called to her.
“I cannot, I must go on,” and she made to do so when a girl said, “Wait! Would you have any pears? Our mistress has asked for pear turnovers, and we have none, and what a beating we’ll get if she don’t get them.”
Mabel un-shouldered her pack and pulled the pears from it, handing them to the women. “Here,” she said, before turning to go on her way.
A little farther on, Mabel saw it, a castle, black as a rotten tooth and crooked besides, behind a tall iron wall, with a tall gate slamming rapidly. She knelt, and with deft fingers, worked the grease the fairy had given her into the hinges, so high she had to stand on tiptoes. The gate began to close smoothly, slower, and she eased it open, trudging along the narrow path up to the castle door. Moments later, she saw a large red dog coming at her with fangs and slavering jaws.  Quick as a hare, she threw him the sausage in her pack.  In a blink, he ate it, and bounded away.
At long last, she stood at the threshold of the Witch’s castle, and as she put her hand on the doorknob, she felt pure terror course through her. I have to get out of here, those women were right! I have to go, I can’t do this! Her thoughts raced with panic. She wanted to run, until she was safe in the arm-branches of the pear tree. But Mabel paused, and let out a slow, shaking breath. It was some kind of dark magic, she knew it must be. “Take courage,” she said, soft as a sigh.  Mabel opened the door, and stepped softly down the hallway, letting luck guide her until she saw it, as beautiful as a fairy story, dark wood inlaid with silver and gold and mother-of-pearl. This was the treasure box Pietro had told her off in their stolen moments, the treasure the Witch had stolen. Mabel gathered it up in her arms, and again fear struck her like an arrow. She felt rooted to the stone floor, a terrible ache in her breast - oh, how she wanted to sit and rock and weep, the Witch would be coming but she could not run.
Footsteps sounded farther down that dark hallway. Mabel closed her eyes, picturing Pietro. “Take courage,” but the fear-spell held her tight. “No! It will not end this way. For Pietro, you must run! You must be stronger, Pear girl, stronger than the spell, stronger than the Witch. You do this for love,  and that is more than fear.”
She broke into a run.
Out the door she ran, feet pounding, heart pounding. 
“Dog, eat her!” cried the Witch, seeing the girl fleeing the castle. But as Mabel waited to feel teeth in her flesh, she heard instead a voice, saying, “No, I won’t, for she gave me meat.”
Mabel ran on.
“Gate, crush her!” Cried the Witch, coming down the path. Mabel flinched, expecting bones to break, but the gate only cried out, “No, I won’t, for she greased my hinges.”
Mabel ran on.
“Ovens, burn her, women, grab her!” cried the Witch, still on the girl’s heels.
“No, we won’t,” said the women stoutly, “For she gave us pears for our baking.”
Mabel ran on, and the river of blood remembered her.
“River, drown her!” cried the Witch.
“No!” sang the river, “I won’t, for she called me ‘fine water so red.’”
Mabel reached the other side as the Witch,who’d heard gossip of the girl, shouted, “Little Pearlet, Perina, I curse you by your name! Return to me, Perina, I command!” 
But Mabel only stood, breathing hard, unable to run any longer for the pain in her sides. The Witch screamed, and ordered, “River, part!” as she moved forward, and rather than part, it swept her away, down the river, until she was gone.
“My name,” the girl gasped, lungs heaving, “isn’t Perina.”
She limped along, until she reached the pear tree, and again fell asleep in its mother’s arm branches, not touched by fear any longer.
She rose early, and walked the long road to the King’s City and the Palace, where a guard stopped her.
“Might you be Mabel?” He asked, squinting. “I’ve a letter for a girl I’m told will come by this gate, by that name.”
“I am,” she said, taking the letter and reading it quickly.
Dearest Mabel, 
Mi cara, thank you for what you have done, a thousand times my thanks.
Papa will offer you a reward, but you and I both know he’s not like to grant anything large or valuable, not even for such a service as you have done. Fear not, my love. Ask for the box of coal in the cellar, and all in it. That he will not refuse you. I love you.
Your Pietro.
Mabel folded the letter, and entered the palace, making sure that there was enough notice for Pietro’s plan to fit together before she entered the throne room. Word had spread quickly, and the room was packed with ladies and lords in silk, and Ninetta, her face blotchy with rage, stood in the hall doorway. Mabel smiled cheekily at her, then turned to the king and curtsied, holding the treasure box under one arm, and then brought it forth with a flourish.
“I have made good on the boast, Sire. I give you the treasure stolen from King Stefano by the Witch, who is no more.”
The king took the box, looking impressed and grateful before he hid the expression. “Yes. Your banishment is revoked, and I will grant you one request.”
Mabel hesitated, then said, “Sire, I would like the coal box in the cellar, and all it contains.”
The king waved a hand. “Granted,” he said airily, and footmen bore the box into the room, where Mabel threw off the lid, grinning broadly. 
Pietro leaped out, embracing Mabel with all his might, and she flung her arms around him and held him as though no one in the world was watching. At last, he turned to his father, still holding Mabel’s hand.
“Papa, you must not break your word. She has fair claim on my hand, and I will wed her, for she saved my life at risk of her own.” She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back. “Papa, may I introduce you to my pearlet, my champion, and my bride?
There was shock on the king’s face, and murmurs in the court. The future Princess curtsied again to her king.
“Sire, my name is Mabel.”
The king put his head in his hands and laughed for the shock of it all, then stood and proclaimed the wedding would be held right away, while Pietro held Mabel, his dark eyes bright with joy as he ran his fingers through her curly brown hair and found a pear leaf, and they laughed and lived happily ever after.

The End 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Note: this got away from me. Sorry. I hope you’ll read it anyway. :) You don't have to. Also, I know the prompt was a library, but I thought it looked like a bank... so yeah.

“I don’t like this.” Arriani told Kallin the Warrior for the third time. She pulled at the end of her dark braid, worrying at it nervously.
“You’ve said, youngling. I know. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bank.”
“It’s big,” said the village girl. She knew he was just preoccupied, but it was still a little upsetting. She’d been a part of his band for six months now, and she no longer hesitated to tell him her thoughts. “There’re so many people here. I just don’t like it.”
“Come on, both of you,” ordered their companion, Zara Shieldmaiden, brushing dark hair out of her eyes. Arriani  looked up at the tall stone pillars of the huge Vernaluna Bank. They were there to collect their reward for their last quest: the rescue of the Lord Magistrate’s son from kidnappers.
She frowned. Her fingers itched to hold her glaive, a teak staff capped with finely tempered Isani steel. She’d left it, as Kallin and Zara had left their swords at the inn, with Sir Kilona. Usually Arriani remained behind, as the youngest member of the group, but Kallin had said she needed to get experience with what came after the rescues.
They entered the shining, busy building; it was just one main room, with stalls for money changers and clerks, a table for arranging for loans, and a large iron door barring the way into the vault room.
Arriani was awed how large it was-- her whole home back in the Isani Hills could have fit inside it.
Zara eyed her. “You’ve never been to a bank, have you, magelet?” the tall woman asked, not unkindly. 
“No. And there’s nothing this big in Lune’s Bond- nothing like it in all the Hills, ‘cept for the Temple.”
“Sounds sensible there.” Zara said. “Maybe we oughta take some quests thereabouts, eh, Kallie?”
“You know as well as I we take the quests that come to us. And don’t call me that,” snapped Kallin.
Zara laughed. “There,” she said, pointing. “ I see his Lordship. Let’s go get our gold.”
As the others walked over, Arriani felt uneasy. Her dark fingers touched first her Goddess-token in a silent prayer, then the Sight pendant she wore on the same chain. There was much to see, as her sense sharpened-- Arriani let the magic fill her from worn boots to dark hair.
A woman was arguing with a man behind a set of large brass scales to her left, to her right a boy in Apprentice green was checking silver coin for coles. Above, at least 20 feet up, was an image of a dragon and her hoard. Arriani sharpened her Sight and saw it was mosaic, with real silver for the scales.

“Arriani! Youngling, come!” Arriani tore her gaze back down to eye level and felt wrongness surge. She whipped around, her left hand going for the glaive that wasn’t in its strap on her back.
Men and women dressed in dark clothing, with animal masks, carrying swords stood in the entryway, pulling the heavy doors shut. There was a moment of panic as people ran for the side door, screaming, but they too were blocked by the armed folk.
“Keep quiet or we’ll set off the Mageblasts! Face the walls!” came a woman’s voice from behind a goat’s mask.
Thinking quickly, Arriani touched another of her charms. From the coolness in her veins she knew it had worked-- as long as she held the spell, she’d be invisible.

“What do you want?” asked a well dressed old man. 
Goat-mask snapped. “Open the vault door. Now!” She kept her sword-- fine steel, not a mere bandit’s weapon at all-- pointed at the man’s back as he took a key from around his neck and put it to the lock of the heavy iron door.

Arriani carefully wended her way through toppled scales until she reached Kallin-- his jaw was set, his hands clenched into fists, his pulse beat wildly in his neck. Beside him, Zara was muttering curses.
She’d been in skirmishes, but here she was without her glaive-- all she had was a boot knife and that would do little good. And Mageblasts-- she could counter binding spells and work healings, but Mageblasts, especially more than one, were big magic, more than she could counter, or at least, more than she had ever tried to counter. She was a strong mage, but there were few that could outright stop the explosive devices. One, maybe, but even that was a risk; it could drain her lifeforce if it proved to be too much. Arriani looked around. There were at least 20 people, not counting the Masked. The thieves that hadn’t already entered the vault room roamed the bank, disarming the bank warriors and keeping everyone quiet.
“Kallin,” she hissed, softly. “What should I do?”
“What?” he turned, looked around. Zara grabbed his arm.
“Kallin, Zara, it’s me,” she kept her voice low. “Arriani. It’s my new charm. Now, what should I do? What do they want?” They were near the black vault door.
“Arri, Moon’s tears, don’t scare me. They’re after Aria’s crown. They’ve a map, that says it’s in the King’s Box.”
“It’s a fake, the map.” Zara added quietly. “Sir Kilona checked into it ages ago. Aria’s Cown’s gone.” Arriani noticed that Zara had a long cut on one cheek. The woman shrugged. “I tried to tell them, but no one ever listens to me.”
Kallin reached out and took her hand. She squeezed it. 
“I’m fine, love.” She managed a small smile, wincing. “ Our Magelet can heal me up if...”
Arriani spoke again, careful that no one else was close enough to hear. “ What should I do? Please.” She didn’t want to admit that she was terrified, but her heart hammered in her chest, trying to burst free.
“Will that charm cover other folk?” asked Kallin, looking at the air to her left, light eyes darting.
She shook her head, then remembered they couldn’t see her. “No, sorry.”

“See if you can find where the Mageblasts are with that Sight charm you’ve got. Then get out of here. The Provost’s men should be here by now. Tell them. They may be able to help. It’s not likely, but still. Without our weapons, we can’t do much.”
“No talking!” 
Arriani flinched; Goat-mask was nearing them. The woman glared at the heroes. “You keep quiet and as soon as we have what we came for, you lovebirds can go home to your nest. Faces to the wall or you’ll get another taste of my blade.” She walked on, circling the room. More masked folk walked the room, keeping order, more still were past the wide open iron doors. 
“Go.” Zara told Arriani.
“No! You’re my band! I can’t leave you!”
“Youngling, it’s going to go sour in here. You’re only fifteen. I want you out.” Kallin’s voice was hard.
That’s Kallin. Noble, chivalric, brave. Protective. They all are. But I can’t leave them, not my friends-- my family.
And there were children: the boy apprentice, and another boy with his head pressed into a well dressed man’s side. Arriani may have only been a first year hero, but she was a hero all the same, and that meant she was not going anywhere. She was the only one who could act.
She focused her Sight and searched for magic. Maybe... maybe she could disarm the blasts. Goddess help me.
There, by the main doors where high pillars supported much of the roof, was a patch of coppery light.  One Mageblast. But there had to be more, so she strained her Sight until her eyes filled with tears-- nothing. No other lights, except a flicker in in the vault where a pig-masked man and sheep-masked woman sent light into a gold box, trying, Arriani guessed, to force it open.

She turned back to the Mageblast, trying to think what to do. I can’t stop it. But maybe I can contain it, for a little while. Or muffle it. If they get that box open and don’t get what they want, we’re all dead anyway, and I think I can hold it. Maybe. Goddess, please. Lend me strength.

She returned to her band, stopping by the pile of weapons the Masks had taken from the bank warriors on the way. Swords found places besides some of the strongest looking warriors, others were pressed into the hands of her band.

“You’ll have to act fast,” she hissed. “I think I can hold the Mageblast-- there’s only one.”
“Arriani Gold, get out of here while you can. That’s an order.” Kallin said, his face ashen. White fingers clenched the sword hilt, hiding it with his body.
“My word is my bond, I am a Hero of Kallin’s band and I will not let innocent come to harm so long as there is blood in my heart.” The oath she had taken when she joined Kallin, Zara, and Kilona, fell off her tongue. “I still have blood, sir. I can hold the blast, if not all the way, enough.”
Zara nodded. “What do you need us to do, Magelet?” she asked softly.
Arriani checked over her shoulder for Masked, but none were near by, they were busy filling their purses with coin from the moneychanger’s stalls.
“When I say the word, get this door closed, and hold it. All their mages are inside. The iron will help cut them off from their spells, I think. I’ve gotten weapons to the warriors. I’ll hold the blast. You’ll have to get these Masked, and get the main doors open.”
“ You could be killed.” Zara said, trying and failing to meet Arriani’s invisible eyes.
Arriani didn’t answer, just slipped back to the doors. She sent up a quiet prayer, took a deep breath, and broke the silence with a yell. 
She dropped her invisibility spell, and thrust everything she had into creating a box of bronze light, her magic, around the copper Mageblast; if she could only hold her box, it would muffle any explosion. The thing started to glow even to her unSighted eyes, and she strained. Around her she heard but didn’t comprehend the sounds of battle, swords on swords, a cry of pain that she knew as well as her own heartbeat: Kallin’s’s. Fire burned in her throat as she held the Mageblast. Her vision started to go gray but still she forced her bronze magic to hold the box form and keep the Blast dormant.
Sunlight streamed across her outstretched and shaking hands as the wooden main doors opened; men and women of the Provost’s guard streamed in, adding to the clamor as they clubbed down the Masked.  
At last a cool hand was laid on her shoulder-- Zara, bloody but grinning, and beside her Kallin, violet eyes full of concern. “You can stop holding it. We’ve got the mages. Rest.” 
As she breathed, in, out, in, in, in, out, the Provost, a stocky, scarred man who had entered with his warriors, turned to them. 
“Kallin the Warrior. I might have known. Lucky for us that you were here, or this might have been a bloodier day. They had a Mageblast, it might have killed everyone. I hear you boxed up the mages. We owe you.”
Kallin shook his head. “Don’t thank me. They got the jump on us,” he indicated Zara and himself. “It’s our magelet, Arriani Gold, who ended up the hero of the day. She held the Blast, singlehandedly. And all this after we told her to leave.” The Provost looked down his nose at the girl.
“Well done, young one. You have courage.”
Arriani felt her dark cheeks go red.
“I should like to reward you all,” came a second voice- the Lord Magistrate. Or rather, the father. His young son, the same that they’d rescued a few days earlier, stood beside him, beaming at Arriani.
  “And it seems I owe you for twice saving my son. Please, you are all welcome at my home for dinner this evening. Thank you, especially you, young lady.”
“Truly, Youngling. You’ve done us proud today.” Kallin said, squeezing her shoulder.

For more Arriani ( a much shorter Arriani) check out "Finally"

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Early Morning Groundhog

For BYUI's Last Poet Standing
week two: Groundhog's day

Early Morning Groundhog

Bead bright button eyes
and mussed, stubbled fur
tawny brindled black...
The groundhog would like 
to go back to sleep.

Yawn, all tongue and teeth
a sigh heavy with
winter flower breath...
The groundhog would like 
to go back to sleep.

Her burrow is filled
with dried leaves that 
crackle under paw...
The groundhog would like 
to go back to sleep.

But noise from above,
stomping, cheering crowd
Much too loud, too loud
The groundhog would like
to go back to sleep.

A five fingered paw
reaches inside home
with food, coaxes her
The groundhog would like
to go back to sleep.

But no, too loud, loud
she pokes her head up
as if to say: hey
This groundhog  would like
to go back to sleep.

Sun is out, and bright
too bright for bead eyes
she chatters, angry,
This groundhog would like
to go back to sleep.

She has eyes only
for the mob of folk
that don’t hear her say
This groundhog would like
to go back to sleep.

So many of them
standing in the snow
waiting for her, why?
The groundhog would like
to go back to sleep.

Again, she chatters
they don’t understand
It’s early she squeaks,
The groundhog would like 
to go back to sleep.

No, instead they cheer
Spring is here, spring! Here!
don’t know what THAT means.
The groundhog would like 
to go back to sleep.

And so she does.
It’s her day, after all.