Update on Final Chapter

Good Evening from the CST region of this world,

Just a quick update on the final chapter in Mylia’s Saga.  It’s written, it’s ready…and it cannot be released.  At least, not in time for the 1/13/19 deadline as formerly promised.  It’s too raw an ending.  Too unpolished.  I owe you, dear readers, a duty to wrap Mylia’s journey from nest to Empire in a manner suitable to her personhood, at the very least.

Thus, the final chapter shall be delayed seven more days from the aforementioned deadline.

The new publishing date is 1/20/19.

Thank you for your patience.  I hope you have strong opinions over the ending.  At the worst, this story has provided five minutes of sorry entertainment in the great fishpond of the internet.  The best: something you’ve read births a small cognition that exponentially flames into a larger incendiate until, indeed, perhaps a useful thought (small or great) splashes from the ashes.  That is, after all, the purpose of writing.  So that ideas may not splutter out and be forgotten but live to stream on and find an ocean…or a water-world.  Because…you never really know what’s out there!


M. Evalyne

Chapter 15: A Mighty Voice for the People

Mylia’s eyes narrowed in great wrath.  She was not amused.  A moment ago, her heart had pounded with the wild thought that she was headed back to the castle where people called her a demon and desired to slice her body apart for sale.  Now the prince wanted her to sing for this other human and she did not exactly care to obey.  It was all too raw and new, being in this echoing palace and she needed time to adapt and thus survive.


She turned to Fay and tried telepathic communication but Fay’s mind was a wall of stone.

Fay met her searching gaze with a confused, innocent stare.  “Mylia, go on.  Why don’t you sing like you did for Tom and I?”

Mylia pressed her lips together and stood, silent as a green tree.  She would not oblige these humans though they kill her.

DJ Sand sighed and checked his wristwatch.  “Look, Asher.  I’ve got to get back to the station for my next program. Will she sing or not?”

Asher looked over Mylia for a long moment.  Then, he spoke and his words were clipped and pronounced.  “I’m sorry.  She is starstruck and I seem to have wasted your time.”

The DJ shrugged.  “Not a big deal.  It happens.  Well, good day.”

Faster than Mylia’s eye could follow, the DJ whipped a black slice of Dyn air into the room.  Stepping into it, he promptly vanished and the room returned to its general shivery opulence.

Mylia felt ill.  So many people had the ability to code a passage through the Dyn.  Her disadvantages grew with every passing moment.  She thought of her isolated life, deep in the Wylds, ignorant of this great, modern, fast world…and she shuddered.  Everyone here was better and cleverer and faster and she was the most despised and clueless of them all.  How could she survive a world with such odds stacked against her?  A voice broke through her thoughts.

“Prince Asher, will you guarantee our safety?”  Fay spoke, her voice low and concerned.

The Prince spun on Fay, his eyes snapping with anger.  “Sand was the only DJ who I could persuade to hear Mylia.  You know how glutted the Capital is with vocal talent?  Why I ever thought this was a good idea…”

“Well, whatever it is, you thought it and here we all are,” Fay snapped back.

“Mind your manners, witch,” Asher coldly responded.

“I won’t.  Because of you…because of Mylia, the government knows about me now and I’m in a lot of trouble.  Now, I brought her to you and I want your word that Tom and I will be okay.”

“Have you heard her sing?”  He asked, sinking into a chair.

“Yes,” she said quietly.  “Her voice is beyond compare.  Why are you trying to put her on the radio?  She can outperform any of the Court’s talent with a few notes.”

He leaned forward and his voice fell soft.  “If Mylia opens her career at the Palace, her future is doomed.  She will become a court spectacle and never leave these walls.  No, she must become famous across the Empire before coming here to reside as a mighty voice of the people.  DJ Sand controls the programs of the most popular radio station this side of Ringold river.  He can bring her fame overnight.  I tell you this so that you know I am not a cruel man.”

Mylia gazed between Fay and Asher, desperately studying their lips, eyes and expressions.  They discussed her and she could not determine the messages conveyed.  They spoke too quickly and with too much emotion.

The witch frowned.  “Hmph.  You plan to keep her identity concealed. You know, there are ways to make it easier.”

“Magic?  No.  There are too many detectors and frankly, if she hints of magic, people are less inclined to believe in her talent.  They’ll only feel annoyed that their emotions were bewitched and the anger from such can fuel a mob.  Why do you think we hate magic nowadays?  Give people the real deal and they’ll love you because you helped them believe again.  Fool them and they’ll kill you for the offence.”

Fay sighed.  “Well, you’ve got your Mylia and I’ve got to get home.  Do I have assurance of your help or not?”

“I always keep my word,” Asher replied.

Fay burst into a relieved smile. “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

“Oh, get out,” Asher coldly snapped.

Fay’s eyes glittered in rage as she swept open the Dyn world, a thin black hole of freezing air and darkness, hovering beside the chair.  Pushing herself up with strong arms, she fell into the aperture.  Within, she turned with a final look to them.  “I hope you do not break your word.”

“Is that a threat?”  His eyebrow raised.

She shrugged.  “At least, when I fall, I can always choose the way I climb back up.”

Moments later, the black hole of the Dyn world vanished, taking Fay from them.

Asher abruptly stood upon his feet and faced Mylia.  “It was a mistake to bring you here,” he said.  “I cannot tolerate insubordination from anyone.  You are released from my service.”  Spinning on his heel, he swept from the room and the golden doors slammed shut behind him.

Mylia shivered.

She was in the Imperial palace, leagues away from her home, and entirely alone.

Her first reaction was overwhelming fear.  Her entire body turned cold and numb and she wished hard that something truly painful would happen to her so that she could feel something—anything at all—to remember she was alive.

This did not happen but the fear subsided in the wake of practicality.  Fay would return.  The prince must come back.  People surely could not abandon anyone so easily.

With a start, Mylia reminded herself that she was not human.  She was a wyrm or half wyrm at any rate.  And humans killed wyrms and wyrms killed humans.  That was the way it always was and here, she stood vastly outnumbered.

She tentatively walked to the closed door and leaned against it.  The door opened, she beheld a large room.  Again, the decor repeated in grand chandeliers, marble floors, gold and heavy velvet drapes.  But this room had windows!


Mylia rushed to the window and flung aside the coverings.  Through the cold-misted glass plummeted a vast, grey city of skyscrapers and fog to the black water harbor miles below.  Mylia craned her head, pressing against the glass to see if the city ended.  She had never seen so many buildings and such an infinite spread of water.  Later, she would learn the name for it.  Ocean.

“Excuse me,” a woman had entered the room.  She wore a simple black outfit with a white apron.  “I’m sorry, ma’am, I didn’t see you.”

Mylia opened and shut her mouth, not daring to speak.  This was someone who could help her escape the palace.  She remembered how Fay had connected with her.  Walking forward, she grasped the woman’s arm to connect into her mind.

The resulting screech from the woman made her spring back.  The woman flung her away and ran from the room.  Mylia rushed after her in great haste.

Alerted by the commotion, a palace guard arrived in swift order.  He too wore black and a silver insignia on his chest.

The woman waved him down.  “Help!”  She shouted, pointing to Mylia.  “Stop her!”

The guard stepped in front of Mylia and held out his hand.  She immediately stopped, her wrapped, pearled head swiveling between the two humans.

He studied Mylia with a trained gaze.  “What’s your name, miss?”

Mylia stood frozen, shocked at these humans and their uncontrollable reactions.

“I was just cleaning the room and I saw her looking out the window!  I thought she was a foreigner or one of those courtesans.  Then I remembered those Dyn assassins mask themselves and when she grabbed me, oh, I got so scared!”  The woman cried.

“I must insist, your name?”  The guard stepped closer as Mylia shrank away.

Mylia felt tendrils of fear.  Baring her teeth, she growled and drew back.  Yet her growl released as a string of glass chimes, shivering in a frosted dew budded during a cold spring morning…syrupy notes so sweet, they seemed to turn the air cooler and lend a clear, fresh taste to the ears.

The guard and woman stared at her with huge, dazzled eyes.  Mylia was suddenly glad to have such a reaction.  She understood the outcome.  When her voice had sung for the prince, he had rescued her from death.  Even her witch friend had idolized her singing.  Surely now these strange new humans could help her.  Precious things never went unwanted.

“She must be a foreigner,” the woman breathlessly concluded.  “It’s not uncommon.  We get all sorts of folk here now the Emperor opened the borders.”

“No matter, she has to have permission to be here.”  The guard approached Mylia.  “Miss, who granted you access to the Imperial Palace?”

Mylia fell silent.  This was not an outcome she expected.   This man again threatened and the woman’s eyes grew hard and inquiring.  They reminded her of the folk from Asher’s castle.

“I will give you one more warning and then I will have to put you outside.”

She backed away.

“Maybe she’s a thief,” the woman helpfully suggested.

“Okay, enough is enough,” the guard said and his fingers moved in a quick, calculating blur.  Behind Mylia opened a gigantic black hole—a hole which quickly split apart into the Dyn world and then opened once more, like a light at the end of a shrinking tunnel, into another segment of this world.

Through the strange aperture, she saw the marble floors of the palace shift to grey asphalt, the midday light gush down upon a busy street filled with traffic and people walking, heard the shouts and honks drift through to echo upon the still, golden palace walls.  And then the guard thrust her into the opening and—out—onto the street.

She spun around and for a moment saw the guard and serving woman stare upon her through the opening.

The Dyn world closed.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!”  A man shouted.

Turning, Mylia saw a flash of angry eyes and then he turned and kept walking.  But she soon forgot his reaction entirely at the immense sight before her eyes.

The paved street curved up to the sunrise—true—and yet the stores on either side that glittered neon with huge stone arches and glass overhangs to protect against the mist crawling down the mountainside and through the streets with the searching fingers of one both sightless and avoided by fume-addled cars and the black umbrellas of walkers lay entirely forgotten—for a behemoth rose before her.

Grey and stark with battlements from a former time of warfare and unforgotten fear, the Palace reared from the mountaintop into the clouded skies.  A flock of dark birds, crows perhaps, fluttered upon the high winds that bashed against the sleek pillared walls and dark windows set within.  The multitude of buildings spread upon the mountaintop like a sordid crown and the  peak of its narrow, tiled rooves were lost in the storms above.

As Mylia gazed, the sky darkened, a slit of cloud opened behind her and a lance of yellow sunbeam shot across the city and smote the palace.  At once, all the windows sprung afire and it seemed to her that a great monster of stone and burning eyes rose from his mighty perch and glared upon her shrinking form.

With a scream, Mylia turned and fled.


People sprung out of the way of this wrapped, veiled figure sparkling with pearls and gilt embroidery.

“Bloody foreigners,” one cursed as she struck his shoulder in passing.

Mylia wished to apologize, humans were so quick to hate, but she dared not stop.  Running downhill was incredibly easy although her legs moved stiffly now that the joints had healed wrong.

The myriad of streets with their cars and people had all passed in a blur of rain and neon lights and shadows.  How long she ran, she could not have known.  The sky fell into evening and all the shadows turned purple and hideous.  A moisture which began as mist transgressed into torrential rain and in minutes she was freezing and soaked to the bone.  Her pearls broke and scattered.  Somewhere, she tore away her outer garments and flung off her veil to better see the pavement before her running feet.  People had cursed and shivered at her strange, white face with the huge golden eyes, small nose and neck too slender for a human female.

“The demon snarled and passed by like an evil wind,” they later told the police and each other.  The next day, a couple of news stories ran sensational headlines of a monster sighted in Ovgarod but people laughed for the most part and accused the papers of publishing fake news.

Mylia learned about this only years later.  At this moment, she was filled with hate for her surroundings and desired to escape at all costs.

She staggered along the filthy, trash-strewn pavement of an unknown street in the heart of the Imperial capital.  Her feet stung from the cold, lumpy gravel and the distorted stench of tar and asphalt made her sicker with each passing moment.  Her stomach twisted and she paused for a moment to silently retch over her knees.  But only a few drops of clear liquid fell upon the ground.

Wyrm blood.  She was bleeding.

But not only from her bruised stomach.  Her feet left clear splatters behind her and even now, she noticed her toes and heels turning deep grey with the bruising effect of the run.

She slumped into a heap by a dumpster.  The exotic smells of rotting fruit, bread and wet paper made her even more ill.  She wanted to move but her legs felt nerveless.

Mylia grabbed her tail to her chest and grew saddened upon sighting the clumpy dust and mud coating the fine, grey hairs.  Pieces of street trash from the running clotted the ends and a terrible smell of old rainwater made her nose twitch.  She had never felt more disgusted with her body.

She flung off the tail and felt it curl and flop against the tarmac.  She would not gaze upon it.  Instead, she fell against the stone wall and gazed upward.  Against the leaning, black buildings, a small furrow of night sky lay visible.  Mylia badly wanted to see the moon and stars…wanted it so terribly, her eyeballs hurt.  But the storm clouds lay thick and dense; green when shivered by lightning and a sodden black under the downpour.


Mylia shivered uncontrollably.  She would die, small and forlorn, in a city gutter hundreds of miles from home.  No one would miss her and no one would care.

But then, had anyone ever cared?  She had hunted the birds who loved her voice to their doom.  The larger creatures of the Wylds either pitied or despised her.  Human friendship and love were things she pined for but a list of humans, Gerard, Fay, Tom and now even Asher had shown they did not consider her as their equal.

She took a deep breath and considered her options.  Back in the Wylds, when food ran scarce and her stomach howled like a wretched beast, she had used her brain to obtain food.

Trickery and cleverness were her strengths.

Somehow, in the wild shifts of the past several months since her capture, she had forgotten the very things that allowed her to survive the brutal Wylds.

Mylia sat up and considered her options.  She was trapped in this city.  She could not return to the Wylds and everyone she met either wanted her gone or dead.

Unless she sang.  And she knew those vocalizations made people like her.  They warmed to her like butter to a flame.  And she would be their flame.  They would embrace her as the great singer—as Mylia!—and she would never want for food or shelter ever again.  She must become something of value to the world.  After all, people did not throw away diamonds or gold.

But first, she must become human.

Mylia looked upon her white hands and feet, suddenly hating the claws that curved from the tender flesh.  She gazed upon the limp, flexible tail as it dragged through the trash and thought it ugly and unfair.  She felt her wings behind her, those useless flippers of leather and bone, and detested them with a rage that made her cold heart glow.

She must become human.  But how?

She pulled her tail towards her and with a chomp, so swift that she could not change her mind, Mylia bit off her tail and flung it away.

A fountain of clear blood rushed out and joined the rivulets of water shrieking down the walls and into the gutter.  Mylia watched the strange, dirt-grey thing of fur and bone move in the undulating current and tears sprang into her eyes.  Now, only a stump remained in her nerveless hands.  She regretted her decision but—too late.  And she wept.  And, weeping for the loss of her beautiful tail and the blood that left her body, she fell into a darkness and knew no more.

FINAL CHAPTER to be published 1/13/18!!

Chapter 14: They’re Always Hungry and Mad

Mylia, a singing wyrm-human monster, is rescued from the bleak Wylds by a poor, ambitious Prince and surgically fashioned into a popstar to help him overthrow an ancient Empire. Under her new identity, she must navigate scandal, fame, deadly court intrigue, and even love in a rags-to-riches tale for the ages. (A new chapter every two weeks!)


When Mylia awoke, she found herself in a soft bed under a mound of blankets that itched of electric heat and static.  Daylight had faded and shadows crawled around her.  A sea breeze tang hinted she remained in Ovgarod.  What a day of rescue, new beginnings and terror she remembered and what a strange, inglorious end.  Her nightmare had seemed so real.

“I saw it too, you know.”  Fay’s voice echoed from somewhere deep in the bedroom’s depths.  “The oncoming wave, taller than several buildings, headed directly towards us.”

What does it all mean? Mylia thought her question to the witch who nodded in response.

“The end of the world,” Fay answered.  “But, remember the vision is just a possibility, a single future drifting amid multiple other futures in that black Dyn world.  Our Imperial coders game such futures daily as they use the Dyn to shape the future of our planet.  So, don’t think further about futures, dreams, prophecies…end of the world garbage.  Really, you’ve got more important things to do and so have I.”

She laughed but worry edged her voice and Mylia wondered just how much truth was in the witch’s reply.

Pinterest: source unknown

Mylia recalled her beloved Wylds and suddenly, desperately wished to return—her lofty bower of leaves amid swaying fir tops, the deep, red sunsets and myriad of bright birds with their silver voices.  Life was so gloriously simple then.  Even the times of cold and starvation didn’t seem all that bad in retrospect.  The Wylds did not deserve to drown in planetary destruction.  The quiet depths of the cool-sparkled forest glens must remain so for the small, timid creatures and those of forbearance and quiet tread.

There are some things that cannot be destroyed, she thought in sudden dismay and struggled to sit up.

Fay was stationed in her wheelchair, facing the open window.  Pallid moonlight outlined her face and twinkled upon the silver trinkets in her dim hair.  She turned and surveyed Mylia.  “You’ve been unconscious for a few days.  How do you feel?”

Slowly, Mylia stood up, heavily leaning upon the bedside table for support.  My legs are no longer…I don’t know.  They no longer hurt.

“A happy side effect of your rest was that we were able to heal your legs.  To inform you, I did use magic to quicken the process.  I hope this doesn’t offend you.”

A sharp rumble of thunder in the distance startled them both.

“More rain,” Fay’s tone was moody.  “Storms are a daily feature of our Empire…a product of our Dyn overuse in these parts.”

Mylia sighed and an idea struck her.  Now that I am healed, please send me home.  I want to walk again in the Wylds—long enough to remember my speed and strength.

Fay looked at Mylia’s legs.  “Yes,” she said quietly, “I suppose you must have been fast indeed before the accident.”

The hunting trap was not an accident, Mylia glared in return.  Humans have cruel natures.

“Then it was no accident,” Fay repeated with a calmness Mylia found exasperating.  “But it happened all the same and you must do your best to move forward.”

Mylia fell silent.  She was deeply angry.  Life had interrupted her when she never asked for it and now some witch dared instruct her on how to cope.  She was tired of these humans and their schemes.  She longed for her forest—for the beautiful Wylds of the wet, black branches and blossoms so fresh a finger’s touch sent petals curling in moist protest, for deer of blooded necks and dainty steps, and the sun hazy and blue behind morning fog—more than anything else in the world.

Please send me home, Mylia begged to the witch.

Fay frowned.  “When I first rescued you, I may have agreed.  But while you slept, things changed and someone awaits your presence.”  She reached forward and shook a rope dangling on the wall, jostling that hidden bell within the house’s recesses.  “Come, you must get ready.  Morning will soon arrive.”

Several hours later, Mylia stood in front of a mirror and stared at her reflection.  Fay’s boyfriend and live-in nurse, Tom Ledel, had brought yellow silk robes embroidered with pale green and gold flowers.  Mylia took a hot bath, felt remarkably better, and dressed.  Tom gave her a pair of red leather gloves, stuffed to make her fingers fatter like a human hand, and red boots fitted to her very toes  A metal headdress fastened over her head and neck from which a dense silk covering fell to her waist.

Pinterest: source unknown

The final touch, several strings of cultured pearls, covered Mylia’s head and wrapped her throat with strands trailing down her back so that no gust of wind could blow away the covering and betray her wyrm self to the world.  A latticework of seed pearls crossed the gap for her eyes so that her gold irises flashed and sparkled behind the strands.

Mylia stared at her reflection and wondered.  This was the finest outfit she had ever worn.

“You look magnificent!”  Fay exclaimed when Mylia presented herself.  “The Prince spared no expense.”

Tom looked as smug as though the outfit were entirely his doing.  “You’d never know her true nature with such finery.  She looks like one of our great ladies of the Palace!”

Mylia knew they were encouraging and so she hummed a little tune; small, fluted notes that jumped around the room like jackrabbits on a spring day.

Fay looked at Tom.  “Yes, well, we should prepare and tell her what to do.”

Tom nodded.  “Do your mind speaking thing, it’s faster and highly private.”

Fay rolled her chair forward to Mylia and locked eyes.

Suddenly, like a door opening, Mylia felt Fay’s presence in her mind.

Mylia, when you were unconscious, Prince Asher arrived in Ovgarod by Dyn travel.  As is his lineage and right, the palace gave him lodging. 

How does he know I’m here?  Mylia thought back with an edge of hurt in her voice.  Had the witch betrayed her for a reward or worse?  Fay met her eye for unblinking eye.

He found out.  I am decent at Dyn coding but you should see the coders who work for the Emperor.  They’re the best in the world.  It’s impossible to hide from them once they decide to find you.

Mylia digested this information and decided Fay was not to blame.  Will you get in trouble for me?

If a further investigation is done, yes.  But the prince says the government will not intervene if you meet with him. 

Mylia thought this was manipulative of the Prince and informed Fay with several angry, glaring thoughts.  What if I say no?  He may plan to recapture me or worse, invoke justice for the death of that foul Titus… And here Mylia cursed for a moment in wyrm language.

Fay shrugged but her eyes were not pleased.  People will do anything if driven to desperation and he is a desperate man.  I think he cares more for the special future prophecy he discovered in the Dyn than making amends for a dead castle staffer he never really cared for.

Mylia remembered Gerard and Prince Asher discussing the prophecy during her time of captivity.  The very future prophecy that sent Prince Asher to the Wylds and led to her unwitting capture.  The future that spelled Prince Asher’s ascension to be Emperor.

“Fay, you should hurry it up.  Please.”  Tom hovered between them with the consternation of an overwrought butterfly.

Fay redirected her attention to Mylia.  Will you meet him? 

Mylia grimaced.  I’m sorry to have brought this to you both.  You were nice enough to help me escape death.  My future shouldn’t hurt yours.

Nonsense.  I’d rescue you again if needed.

Mylia stared down upon her hands.  It was hard to see anything with the encasement of fabric around her body.  Okay.  To help you and Tom, I will see him. 

Thank you, Mylia.  I hope the meeting goes according to your satisfaction.

The door ‘closed’ and Mylia felt Fay’s presence depart and fade.

Beside her, Fay made a great downward motion with her hands and pulled apart the air, exposing a black space.  The Dyn had opened.

Fay pushed herself forward from the chair, falling into the blackness.  A moment later, Mylia saw her spring up on suddenly working legs and motion to her.

Mylia stepped through the odd chill of the Dyn entry and joined Fay in the darkness.

“Watch your step,” the witch said as the door or opening or whatever it was between the dark world and the morning-washed apartment shut.

Pinterest: unknown source

“I’m okay,” Mylia said and was surprised to hear the sound of her voice amid the echoing blackness of the Dyn world.

Fay nodded, bemused.  “Yes, you can talk in here.  The Dyn transports your body by moving your mind, all within logical reason, of course.  So, in my mind, I can walk, therefore…” She beckoned to her upright legs.  “Obviously, in your mind, you can speak with me, and I must say, you have a beautiful voice.  I’d be enthralled to hear you sing.”

Mylia grinned. “What else can I do?”

“Nothing beyond the constraints of your nature.  I can’t fly in the Dyn, for example.  You may although I wouldn’t recommend it.  Too visible to the other coders and there’s nothing up there but space and stars.”

Fay walked ahead, eyes on the shadowy, flat ground, fingers making odd motions in the air as though coding something invisible.  Mylia followed, wondering if she could breathe fire.  After all, she was part wyrm and if flight were possible, then—she took a deep breath and thought of fire.

“No!”  Fay frantically hissed, reading Mylia’s plans.  “Do you want to attract every hungry wyrm ghost in the vicinity?  Goodness, Mylia.  I thought you had more sense.”

Mylia pondered this and decided against any and all sudden movement.  “How are ghosts trapped here?”

“It’s a long story.  This Dyn is just another world…a terribly cold and dangerous one folded around ours from the dawn of our planet’s formation.  The spacetime complex of the Dyn lends an eternal time or at the least, a highly stretched out linearity to our time’s progression.  Because extreme lengths of time are the equivalent of a perpetuity or eternity, a type of trapped sentience or ‘ghost’ can be created.  Typically, we get more wyrm ghosts than any other species and they’re always hungry and mad.”

Mylia remembered Fay’s earlier admonition and repeated it.  “The Dyn is not the afterlife.”

Fay nodded and kept walking and weaving the air in front of her hands.  “Correct.  Another strange aspect of the Dyn—humans found we could glimpse the future of our world in certain parts of the Dyn and then, much later, we determined ways to code the future we wanted for our planet.”

Mylia remembered the Prince’s prophecy.  “Prince Asher said the Dyn forecast he would become Emperor.  Is that the actual future then?”

Fay shrugged.  “Dyn coding is all very complex stuff and no one ever agrees to the precise future we want but now our entire world is run by the happenings of the Dyn.  If your prince can obtain control over the general future trend of the Dyn, anything is possible.”  Fay unfurled a slice of blackness, pulling apart the folds like a pair of curtains.  Beyond was that shocking blast of whiteness.

“Catch me when I fall,” Fay said and together, they stepped out of the Dyn.

Mylia grabbed Fay as her legs collapsed and lowered her carefully to the floor.  Staggering upright from the heaviness of the witch’s body, she found herself in a strange place.

Everything around her glittered as though lit on fire—opulence she could never have imagined from her blue treetop bower washed in fresh moonlight.  Gold and fiery gems encrusted the plates and goblets upon the coffee table, settees of purple and crimson velvet lay curved on either wall, heavy with huge portraits of pastoral landscapes, and the floor was a single slab of ebony and cream river marble.  Shards of multicolored light flung downward from a chandelier the size of a car, suspended as it was high above them.

Pinterest: Versailles (photo source unknown)

It was some type of grand sitting room and lacked windows.  As if to recall nature’s existence, a silken cloth flung a bunch of purple grapes upon a small coffee table.

Mylia watched as a heavily-ringed hand plucked a grape and popped it past a huge beard into a mouth that chewed and swallowed.  The hand and mouth belonged to a man with long, red hair and a diamond in one ear.  He wore a tough blue sort of pants material around his legs and a fitted shirt of cotton.  Mylia later understood this to be a denim and tee shirt combination highly popular in the Capital.   She also did not yet realize how casually dressed he was for the obscenely glittered surroundings.

“Mylia, so good of you to join us,” a familiar voice said.

Prince Asher sat opposite the stranger.  He wore his typical black hunter’s outfit but had added a heavy silver chain and shaven his beard.  Mylia felt a stab of pain and gladness to see him and considered this a strange emotion, given the bloody manner of their departure some days prior when she had killed Titus.  She decided to ponder later in safety for now her wits must be present.

Fay sighed and held out her hand in sweet annoyance.  “Will someone be nice and help me to a chair?”

The man in denim jumped up and offered his arm.  When Fay was properly seated by the grape-covered table, she exchanged looks between the man and the Prince.  “Well, here’s your escapee dressed and presentable as you requested,” she said to Asher.  “Who’s your kind friend?”

The man stuck his hand forward to the witch.  Mylia felt a knee-jerk reaction and flinched but then realized he only wished to shake hands with Fay.

“Name’s DJ Sand,” he announced.  His voice stood thin and plain amid a wonderland of arrogance.

The young witch pumped his hand with cursory politeness.  “You’re a DJ?”


She wrinkled her nose in consideration of this.  “What do you want with Mylia?”

The DJ frowned.  “Who’s Mylia?”

Asher had watched the exchange and said no words.  He only stared at Mylia with a great, unblinking gaze that she found unnerving.  When the DJ said her name, he stood up with some alacrity.

“This is Mylia,” he said and grandly flourished his hand toward her.

The DJ looked her up and down in some bemusement.  “Why’s her face covered?”

Asher lent a secretive shrug.  “Why does any artist do what they do?  She has the only thing you need.  A voice.”

The DJ nodded and bit into a grape.  “I love food.  I literally eat all the time.  It’s remarkable I’m not the size of a sunship by now.”

“As the saying goes, choose a vice for a vice will always find you,” the Prince echoed with a smirk.

“Exactly.  And vices can have the strangest origins,” and the DJ spat a grape pip across the floor.  “Well, I’m here and I’m interested.  Mylia, sing something for me, won’t you?”

Asher nodded to Mylia.  “Please…oblige.”


Chapter 15 to be released 12/31/18!!

Chapter 13: Elegant in the Starlight

Mylia stumbled back in the darkness, reeling to catch her balance.  Because she was more wyrm than human, her eyes adjusted in milliseconds to her surroundings.

She stood on a flat, grey plain that stretched to the horizon under which a canopy of black night shivered and glinted with heavy stars.  There existed no temperature that she could feel and the air lay still and devoid of scent.  For a dreadful moment, she wondered if the arrows had killed her and this empty place was the afterlife.

Those hands that had grabbed her away from the homing arrows—Mylia remembered and spun around.

A shadowy woman’s form rose behind her, elegant and lean in the starlight, walking away with the grace of a dancer as subtle chimes trilled around her hidden form.  And then Mylia realized the woman made strange gestures in the darkness as though tracing calligraphies with obscured ink.

As she watched, the woman’s hands spread wide and the darkness split apart as though she had opened a curtain.  Brilliant light shone upon them, blinding Mylia’s eyes to slits.

“Follow me, love,” she heard the woman exclaim in a thick, foreign accent, and again those hands grabbed and dragged her forward into the brightness.

Final Fantasy screenshot

Mylia sank to her knees in fear and confusion, again waiting for her eyes to clear.  When they did, they found the woman lay crumpled before her in a heap of robes and limbs.  Mylia turned to see the last vestiges of the opening into that strange, dark world seamlessly close and zip up the black air into nonexistence.

And she saw that she was in a small room and the air lay heavy with sea and cloud.  The light was also different.  The low afternoon sun slunk orange behind the curtains, speaking of a land that received plentiful day hours, unlike the thin, frantic dawns and long twilights of the Wylds.

“You can stare all you like but do help me up,” the woman said in that syrupy-chunk accent.

She held out a hand and Mylia understood.  Somehow, in that strange, black realm, this woman was able to walk.  Now, back in the real world, she had lost the ability.  Mylia remembered her own, healing legs that had been broken from the hunter’s trap months ago and felt a wave of understanding.

“To the chair,” the woman insisted, faintly gesturing to a chair perched by an open window.  And so Mylia dragged her in a slide of dangling legs and clutching arms, to the chair.  It was difficult going, given her filthy exhaustion from the castle escape but the woman had powerful arms and plunked her body from the floor, swinging herself into a mound of cushions with a sigh of relief.

Mylia stepped away and surveyed her rescuer in proper daylight.

The trilling sounds she had earlier heard now made sense.  A thousand silver trinkets had been meticulously sewn into the woman’s black hair and moved like metal rain as she settled back in the chair with a deep sigh and closed her eyes.

Mylia took in the squawks of bluebirds from silver cages dangling in the white gauze curtained windows that encompassed much of the room.  Outside was a courtyard wall, the grey stones dank with rotten moss and dirt.  A large, wet tree bough flung across the window as though attempting to hide the alley below in which a car rested amid piles of trash on cracked tarmac.

The exterior was quite the contrast from the bright chrome fixtures, grey plush carpet and brightly pattered furniture of the room, Mylia thought.  But this room was again a far cry from the castle.  She wondered where in the world she was and what sort of powerful magic had enabled such a leap of distance.

“They’re pretty living quarters, right?”  The woman had evidently recovered and now sat watching Mylia with hawkish eyes.

Mylia turned, curiosity written across her gaze.

The woman pursed her lips, frowning.  “You don’t speak the human tongue, I take it.”

Mylia knew an answer was demanded but she said nothing.  How could one answer an unknown question?  Any reply would invariably complicate the next inquiry.

“Hmmph,” the woman slowly and thoughtfully said.  She was perhaps in her late twenties, if counting by human years and several black and blue tattoos in a strange, symbolic language glinted and danced upon her darkly muscled arms.

“Come,” she again beckoned to Mylia.  “Come, I won’t bite you, wyrm woman.”

Mylia frowned at the geniality of the woman’s annoyance.  This woman had saved her life and likely felt a debt of obedience was owed.  After all, had not Asher and his mother inflicted such a debt upon her that had culminated in her near death only hours ago?  A small voice told her this was an unfair assumption to apply to a stranger.  However, she remembered the flying arrows toward her body and figured some leeway was allowed her private thoughts.

The woman only fixated her finger to a spot on the plush, red rug directly before her.  “Stand here,” she said, again jabbing at the floor with adamant will.

Mylia did so.

The woman picked up Mylia’s arm, peeled back the sleeve, filthy with the dirt of the moat and the lifeblood of Titus, and pressed her strong fingers into Mylia’s flesh.  “Look at me,” she commanded and her gaze punched Mylia’s golden eyes.

As though from a great distance, Mylia heard a buzzing in her head.  It was as though a very, very tiny bee was trapped somewhere deep in the depths of her mind and trying to get out.

The woman saw recognition dawn in Mylia’s eyes and smiled.  She closed her eyes and her grip strengthened.  Deep, throbbing, the sounds increased, louder and louder until Mylia thought her head would explode.

—And the buzzing stopped.  In the sudden quiet, a voice spoke.

Wyrm woman,” it said, calmly and with great strength.  “I am the witch they call Fay Varna.”

Mylia watched Fay’s face.  Her lips remained still.  No, somehow this woman, this self-professed witch, was speaking into her head.

You must forgive our people on the borders…the ones who called you a devil and tried to kill you.  They are rough and crude folk who worship ghosts and kill their marred infants.  But they are a remnant of what the early Empire was and not all of us humans are like them.  I welcome you to my home.  You may speak your mind.

Mylia pondered this development with some concern.  Was this how magicians communicated then?  Could Fay read her thoughts?  How similar the conversation was to those she had with the animals and trees of her beautiful Wylds.  Just thinking of them made her realize how distant in memory they had become.

Where am I?

In Ovgarod, the Capital of the Empire.  You have traveled over a thousand miles in the Dyn.

The Dyn.  So that strange, black world they had passed through was the fabled Dyn.  Mylia felt a thrill of fear and curiosity at the thought.  How strange and alien the place had felt.  She hoped to never again enter but a small voice told her that she would return.

You must be a powerful witch, Mylia thought to Fay.  Can you read all my thoughts?

Would I have asked you to speak your mind if I could discern your answers?

Yes and no…perhaps you wanted me to think that some of my thoughts are private when communicating like this.

Fay inclined her head and then those sharp, deep eyes pierced Mylia’s soul.  Can you read my thoughts, right now, right here?

Mylia smiled, refusing to fall for the bait.  If she admitted that Fay’s mind was readable, then Fay could in full rights try to reach into her mind.  And Mylia was feeling uncertain whether such a thing was possible or if she would even care to enjoy it.  In the Wylds, my forest home, if a creature suffers, we offer it care but we do not attempt to save its life for perhaps time has come for it to die and who are we to play with fate?  The same goes for thoughts.  I can read the sufferings and joy of a thousand creatures, feel their emotions thrumming through the forest chords every moment of my waking and sleeping life.  But I do not pry into the specifics of those thoughts.  Us wyrms consider it rude.”

Fay laughed and opened her eyes.  “You wyrms?  You’re not a full blooded wyrm and yet you cling to that species…well, I suppose that it makes sense.  Sometimes, you must claim another identity to be able to grow your own, uninterrupted.”

Mylia frowned, feeling annoyed at such directness and yet, how incredibly relieved she was to be able to converse with someone.  Ever since her capture, she had despaired and trembled in the confusion and silence of her mind, unable to connect on such a casual basis with anyone.  And she had suffered so much as a result.

Fay snapped her fingers and gave a great, angry frown.  “Come!  Leave those thoughts for later.  You can always pick up a sadness to dwell upon if you’re in the mood.  Now, be a dear and ring that bell?”

Fay gestured to a red, embroidered rope hanging from a hole in the ceiling to the floor.  Several other such ropes were visible around the room, cleverly situated by tables, windows, chairs and the bed.  Later, Mylia was to realize their great use to Fay in summoning aid.  But, at this moment another thought preyed upon her mind and she turned to the witch.

I can still hear you perfectly, she marveled.  How is it possible you speak to me and yet no longer touch my arm?

“We have a connection,” Fay laughed.  “I can see that the Prince and his mother tried to connect into your mind.  Oh, they tried  hard indeed, I’ll give them that.  But they don’t consider magic a useful means of education. They could only get so far by endeavoring to make you talk with your tongue and teeth.  I broke beyond the barrier of muscle movement and conversed with your mind.   The only issue then was whether you were smart enough to read my thoughts and you certainly are.  Speaking with you is like running a marathon, not that I’d know.”

Fay gestured again to the red cord.

Mylia still had questions.  But how long will we be connected?

“As long as you want.  You just decide in your mind to not talk to me anymore.  As though you’re closing your lips, your mind ‘switches off’ and I can’t access it until you grant me permission again.  Now, please ring, will you?”

Mylia gave a tug to the rope and deep within the recesses of the dwelling, she heard a bell chime in answer.

“Thank you, wyrm.  What is your name, anyway?”


“A beautiful name.  Does it have meaning?  Who gave it to you?”

I don’t know.  I just woke up one day and knew that I had a name and it was Mylia.

“Hmmph,” Fay said again, “The Sentience of Beasts.  I thought it was a legend.  It doesn’t exactly apply to you,” she added quickly.  “It’s more the seconders….plants and animals.  Fairytales say they can or did talk many thousands of years ago.  Then something happened and they no longer have the ability to think as we do or speak with us.  Besides, talking and having the ability to know yourself apart from others to the point of claiming a name are two incredibly different things.”

I don’t understand.  I speak with them.  Or, I used to.  Every day in the forest.  A sudden wave of nostalgia swept over Mylia and she gulped to contain her sadness.  If Fay noticed, she didn’t show it.

“Well, that’s all fine and good but humans can no longer speak the languages of animals and if we can’t participate in an intelligence, no matter how it’s evolved beyond our knowledge, we don’t consider it intelligent.  Conquerors do not tread lightly, you see.”

Before Mylia could reply, a door opened and into the room bounced a man holding a tray of tea and white cakes.  He saw Mylia and quickly slammed the door behind him.

“Fay?!  Oh, Fay, what have you done this time?”

“Tom, meet Mylia.  Mylia, this is my roommate, Tom Ledel.  He’s a gift straight from the stars when he isn’t scolding me about doing magic.”

Mylia drifted her eyes over this new arrival.  He reminded her of an abandoned stone temple in the Wylds long since taken over by bramble and wildflowers.  And, while he moved with urgent joy, some key emotion, utterly trapped, swam in circles within his smiling eyes.  “Hush, Fay!  You shouldn’t say such things.”

Fay laughed and wrinkled her nose.  “Tom, the Empire’s judicial system wants to catch bigger magicians…to make a name for themselves and set an example, you know.  I’m very small fry.  Sorry, Mylia,” she turned to where Mylia, “This is an old argument and doesn’t concern you.”

Tom placed the tray down before Fay and turned to survey Mylia from head to toe.  “Hmph.  Her clothes are of faded dye and the fashion is three years behind ours.  She’s obviously from the outskirts of the Empire.  Did she come from the Wylds?”

“Yes and what’s more, she didn’t wear clothes at her home.  They were given her by the night farms royal family, you know…the one led by that Prince Asher.”

“I know the Nine Royal Families.  I’m just thinking aloud.  She’s stunted; her throat looks like ours.  Can she fly?”

“Mylia, can you fly?”

No, my wings are too small.

“Tom, she can’t fly.  Keep going with your deductions.”  She turned to Mylia and winked.  “Tom and I met when I was in the hospital the last time.  He moved in with me shortly after.  He’s a nurse, you see.”

“And a bloody good nurse,” he grinned and again, his eyes ran over Mylia’s figure, discerning all details with an odd little grimace she figured was due to the mud and blood splatters upon her clothes and the rug.

Tom again spoke.  “Wyrms are fire-breathers and yet I believe this wyrm could rent a smokers-free apartment with little issue.  Can’t smell a trace of smoke on her.”

Mylia noticed his stare lead to her throat and realized his question.  She shook her head with vehemence.  I can’t breathe fire.

Fay laughed and translated for Tom.

“Why did you rescue her?”  He plumped Fay’s pillows.

“They were about to kill her,” Fay said.

“Savages,” Tom sniffed in disdain and then kissed Fay.

Mylia watched their embrace and wondered to feel strangely at ease within their shared affection.  Fay met her eyes over Tom’s shoulder and twinkled a smile in return.

“No, it was a misunderstanding,” she said to Tom as he began to carve the pale-fleshed cakes.  “They thought she murdered one of theirs.  And she did, but out of self-defense.”

Mylia refrained from correcting Fay.  True, she had killed Titus before he murdered her, but she had also enjoyed it.  He had persecuted her for months.  Killing him gave her pleasure beyond the sheer protection of her body.  But this witch did not need to know the full assault of emotions that possessed Mylia’s inner mind regarding that dreadful fight in the castle cellars.

“You seem to know an awful lot.  Fay, just how long did you spend in the Dyn watching this creature?!”

“Just a couple of minutes each time,  I promise. I couldn’t get past the castle moat…you know I can’t travel in the Dyn over water.  I had to wait for Mylia to leave the castle before I could rescue her.”

“Fay!  I know you’re lying,” Tom handed her a plate with cake and tea, tenderly, although his eyes were firm.  “The Dyn is super addictive for you.  I don’t want to return here and find you gone one day.”

Fay rolled her eyes.  “Yes, mom.”

“Cut the attitude.  I’m serious.”

“I’ll always return to you,” she said in a very quiet voice, “But I like walking and the Dyn lets me do so.  You can’t deny me this pleasure.”

His eyes grew small and sad, but only for a moment and the trapped, bright gaiety returned. “Well, now that you have a dirty and bloody wyrm woman in our apartment, what do you plan to do with her?”

“I told you about the prophecy, correct?”

“Yea, the one about the….” His voice fell softer, “…Emperor?

Fay nodded.  “When I was last in the Dyn’s Pillars, I read many things in their riddles.  I discovered an anomaly linked to the Emperor and in that quirk or call it what you will, I found the coding for Mylia’s future which led me to her castle.  There, I was able to spy on her until I could attempt a rescue.  She is highly special in the years to come and I don’t yet know why.”

Tom sighed and turned to Mylia, “Do you know what she’s talking about?”

Mylia frowned, uncertain where the conversation was going.  Fay and Tom talked as fast as the birds in the windows sung.  She suddenly missed the Prince and perhaps even Edith.  They had been kind to her in their own way.  And their Twilight home brushed off the Wylds into their minds.  She felt more aligned with the Prince than these strangers with fear in their eyes and flippancy upon their lips.  She wondered what would happen next and did not answer Fay’s question.  A low, throbbing fear had begun to whisper on the edges of her subconscious.

Her eyes sunk closed and slowly, as though she stood on the shores of a wide, black ocean, she saw a line of massive waves, each taller than a building, rising towards her.  Low and furious hung the charcoal sky and red lightning stabbed the heavy mist that clung to the pebbled shores.  On either side of the bay rose massive, rock watchtowers flashing thin fires into the deep.

“But we need to be serious.  If she’s linked to the Emperor, then we’re harboring a future evil.  Don’t you think we’re testing luck already, what with you being a witch and all?”

“Tom, you work at Doctor Thrall’s hospital.  I tell you, I’ve spied on her and she’s already tested every law when it comes to blending legal and magical healing.  What I do is nothing compared to her experiments and tests.”

“But Thrall is connected to the Emperor and I’m just one of her many employees.  Fay, I have to be paranoid since you never are.”

“Now you’re being silly,” the witch responded.

“Not really.  Maybe you should just take her back to her Wylds and let her go.”

But Fay was no longer listening to him.  She studied Mylia with sharpening eyes.  “What’s wrong?”  She asked, abruptly leaning forward.

Closer the first wave raced, rearing its head as a cobra does to strike—crashing down upon Mylia with the full force of foul-tasting sea water…water so cold she felt the flesh stripped from her bones.

Mylia fell and remembered no more.

Chapter 14 to be released December 16!!

Chapter 12: With a Final Crimson Sigh

Mylia, a singing wyrm-human monster, is rescued from the bleak Wylds by a poor, ambitious Prince and surgically fashioned into a popstar to help him overthrow an ancient Empire. Under her new identity, she must navigate scandal, fame, deadly court intrigue, and even love in a rags-to-riches tale for the ages. (A new chapter every two weeks!)


Mylia gasped to feel Titus grab her neck in a pincer clamp.  He threw her down upon the ground and kicked her.

“Look at how pretty they made you.  Why, you’d pass for a lady on a dark night.”  He brought his face down to hers.  “Wyrm filth.”

Mylia snarled and Titus hopped back with a laugh.  “The Prince may only want your voice, but those teeth and eyes, guts…everything within and about you, wyrm, even your soul, will fetch a fine price for me.”

The Servant peeked through the door to check the hall.  Mylia sensed the anxiety pour from him like a tepid waterfall…felt the currents directed towards a grate upon the floor from which rose the familiar stench of shivering horses and hay.  They were a close to the storage areas and stables.


Before she could further discern the future growth of this fear, crouched and trembling as she was on the floor, the Servant spoke.

“Titus, the castle will be looking for the wyrm in a few hours.  Stop jawing about and kill her so we can get riding.  Lolli said she left the west gate open for our horses.”

Mylia moved slightly and another kick from Titus thudded into her abdomen.  She lay still, breathing hatred for the man.

Titus barked a laugh.  “Always the practical one.  Okay, sure.  We’ll carve her up after several hours riding.  Less messy.”

Mylia had no need to comprehend their words to know something was wrong.  Very wrong.  From when he first saw her, Titus meant her harm…perhaps even murder.  She must escape and immediately.

Then she saw the knife in his belt and sensed it to be damp with the Servant’s invisible flow of anxiety, felt the same tidal wave move towards her body and the rush of black, primal darkness snap over her vision forever.

It was in that second that Mylia knew she was going to die.

She sprang up, tripping on her robes, lunging for the door.  Titus expected it.  Faster than a snake, he punched her to the floor and smacked a boot into her back.

Mylia gasped in pain and writhed away on the cold tiles to avoid his reach.  His hobnailed boot thudded into her stomach and she screamed.  How she wished her hands were free, that her legs were unbound.  A single slice from her claws and his eyes would fly!  She spat towards his shiny boots and snarled in absolute rage.

“Filthy wyrm devil!”  He shouted in disgust.  “You Filthy,” his shouts were punctuated with each kick, “Wyrm.”

Titus smashed another heavy kick into her abdomen.  And again as the Servant bleated meager warnings of haste.  Repetition.  The humans loved repetition.  Amid her pain and despair of impeding death, Mylia began to see a way out.

Titus was skilled wyrm hunter.  He knew the weakest spots on her: the abdomen and neck.  His boots spared no qualms for her body but he carefully avoided her neck which Mylia knew would easily kill her.  So, he meant to torture her first.  For how long depended upon his strength and the lack of interruption.  But Titus was obviously was short-tempered and stupid.  Mylia reasoned she was meant to die soon since he would tire of beating her and a prolonged torture was too calculating for his personality or muscles.

She must be quick.

The plan lay spread before her vision, stark as a map fresh drawn from memory too short-lived to matter.

First, she would remove him of his sport.

Mylia closed her eyes and flopped, useless as a fish, to the floor.  The boot continued to smack into her belly, causing her hideous pain.  She gritted her teeth and bore it.

Then, oh blessed relief!  Titus stopped.  She felt his breath hot on her face.  “It’s fainted, the weakling,” he said to the Servant.  “Damn useless beast has no strength.”

Mylia opened her eyes and lunged, her jaws opening like a crocodile.  A single bite from her delicately sharp teeth and Titus’s face was no more—just a bloody mask of skull from which eyeballs writhed from their lidless sockets.

She spat out the skin of his lifted face and grimaced.  He tasted awful.  Another scream echoed from his raw teeth, followed by a dreadful silence.

Titus fell like a log to the floor, his body easing a great pool of crimson across the cobblestones and straw.

The Servant took one look at her lips dripping with blood and turned to flee.  With a bound, Mylia was beside him, her teeth fastened into his shoulder.  He screamed like a bat on fire as she threw him to the floor and planted a foot upon his chest.  She motioned him to stay but he already had that message figured out and turned grey as death.

She carefully unplanted her foot and glared at the Servant again to ensure his compliance.

Then she surveyed Titus as he lay, broken and gasping.  She was not vindictive.  He was dying, slowly and painfully.  She stepped on his neck and broke it, sending his spirit spiraling into the dark beyond.

As she stared at the body twitching on the floor, Mylia suddenly realized, with a sweep of joy and terror, that she was free.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the Servant made a quick motion to flee. He sprang to his feet, but Mylia was upon him.  She knocked him to the ground and punched his face with all her might.

He became extremely floppy and his eyes rolled up so high, only the white crescents of eyeballs were visible.  If Mylia could swear like the humans, this was an opportune moment.  She had intended to use him for her escape.  Now he was useless.  With her current, weakened state, she couldn’t carry him.  She knew from hunting that some creatures could take several minutes to many hours to wake and dart away.  Who knew how long humans took to swing out of their slumbers.  The echoing sounds of the castle smote her and she remembered where she was.  Time was of the essence.

Mylia rummaged through the Servant’s pockets until she found the jangling pieces of metal he had used to unlatch the multiple doors between her room and Edith’s study.  She found the key that unlocked her manacles and gasped with relief to have the metal weights clatter to the floor.

She stood up, feeling light as a feather, and free for the first time in months.  Ahead of her, the hall     stretched, long, dark, and spotted with old hay to add warmth to the floor.

With a mighty shriek, the Servant leapt from his slump and, before Mylia could react, he sprang up the stairs and out of sight.

Mylia stomped her foot in rage.  He was going to alert the castle and she would be caught.  Flight was of the essence.

She ran down the hall, swift and silent in the gloom. Her splintered legs made for slower going but she kept to her toes and paid no heed to the pain within her healing bones.  A door impeded her progress, but it opened with a shove of her fingers, and she dashed through a stocked pantry then around another door and into a wide, dark hallway which was markedly colder than the pantry.


She was close to the outdoors.

The smell of barnyard manure and old hay smote her nostrils and, through the cold stone, she sensed the evil mule, the one with a hoof disease who hated her every moment she sat on his back and plodded to the castle so many weeks ago.

Mylia considered freeing him to help her get back to the Wylds.  He could even come in handy as a food source somewhere along the way.

A great bugle blast shook her clarity.  From the castle came the shouts and cries of many people, tears and shrieks of pure venom.  Through the din, she heard the words, “wyrm,” “demon,” and murder!”

Mylia burst open the door and staggered into the Courtyard.  People dashed hither and yon, shouting and preparing horses for riding.  She shrank against the wall and pulled the veil low across her face.  She hurried past a couple of soldiers dashing into the castle’s main door and ducked into a narrow passageway.  Down she ran a few steps and the smell of livestock grew in strength.  She was near to the stables.  Better yet, she drew closer to the exterior wall and the world beyond.  Somehow, someway, she must make it beyond the few buildings and milling, shouting people between her and escape.

She hurried across a small opening in which some ducks pecked for grain.  A woman sat on a chair and spun rough yarn on a wheel.  She saw Mylia’s blood-dripping face and garments and screamed.

But Mylia only hobbled onward, down a flight of stairs and past a few yawning doorways from which the warmth of life within caused her breath to momentarily catch in grief.

She spun around a corner and saw Gerard race down stairs that led to her.  Mylia flung herself into a doorway and just in time!  He looked deathly furious as he dashed past her, several armed guards in tow.  “Find the wyrm devil!  I want her dead!”

His wrathful screams echoed upon the winds of his departure and she shuddered.

Mylia did not have to understand his speech to feel the hatred within his heart.  And how he hated her now.  She understood, begrudgingly.  His father, Titus, had been flayed of his life by her jaws.  But a sadness lingered within her heart for she knew his friendship had been broken.

She waited for the sound of his voice to fade and then ran down a narrow alley and arrived at the great and ponderous castle walls.

At least twenty feet high before her, they were slick with icicles and smoke.  A series of steps ran up one way; but could she jump down from them on the other side?


Mylia briefly considered running to find the castle gate.  A second later, she abandoned the idea.  The gate would be the highest guarded spot in the castle.  The din from the search parties increased and the shouts came closer.  Within moments, a crowd of screaming people would hurdle around her, armed with weapons and a fury that she doubted even the Prince could stop…if he cared to.  She was running out of time.

Mylia hastily crawled up the wall stairs, taking two at a time, using her hands to help support her wrapped legs.

A guard stood on a rooftop and Mylia dodged just in time as she shot at her.  She felt the bullet hurdle past her face and streak with a scream into the evening beyond.

She fired again and Mylia ducked, springing to the edge of the parapet.  Below her fell the walls, steep and true, with nothing blocking them save the snowy moat stretched around the castle, chucks of blue ice floating in the dark waters.  It may yet be deep enough to catch her fall, but she could die of the wet cold.

Beyond lay the massive expanse of tree-dotted wilderness; the Prince’s farm.  Deep within the darkening afternoon lay the path to her beloved Wylds.  If she could make it to the tree line, she would have a fighting chance.

Mylia jumped.

For a brief second, she fell, faster than the wind.  Then, the shock of ice water smote her body and she plunged into the moat.  For a second, only the freezing vastness of pressing, ice-liquid surrounded her, popping her eardrums and slapping the rhythm of her beating heart with such force and pain, she nearly cried and, then Mylia felt her feet sink into the muddy bottom.

With all her might, she pushed against the mud and drifted upwards.

Her face broke upon the surface of the water and she gasped for air.

A whistling sound distracted her and an arrow thudded into the water by her ear.  Above, on the castle ramparts, a soldier stretched back a massive bow, preparing another shot.  Mylia took a deep breath and plunged back into the water.  Several other soldiers joined him, two had rifles.

If she made a run for it across the snowy wastelands, she’d be struck within a few steps.

Mylia had never been much of a swimmer, but sometimes, when wynter grew rough, she had to swim to catch fish hibernating along the bottom of the rivers.  She knew how to hold her breath and shove her weight through the waters like a ship’s propeller.

Deep into the murky waters she sunk, rhythmically kicking her splintered legs to propel herself forward. The wooden constraints were difficult and impeded her progress but she continued with a ferocity borne of desperation.

She swam, holding her breath for what seemed like an eternity, until she reasoned that, judging from the curvature of the moat, she had crossed a good quarter of the castle’s walls.  They were likely patrolling all the walls, but she may as yet take them by surprise.  And she must surface; holding her breath caused painful spasms in her lungs and her legs hurt badly from the unwonted and vicious exercise.

Mylia stopped for a moment and floated deep in the black, muddy waters, thinking.  If she sprang upwards now, she could have a head start.  She could not stay in the water forever.  If she did not breathe air within the next several seconds, the lack of oxygen would cause her to first writhe in agony then, exhausted, drown.  If there were plants, she might yet hide within their bodies, breathing air from the hiding of their leaves.  Yet, the moat was made of stone and mud and cold.

She knew the frosted embankment lay near her paddling limbs but the tree line was far, according to her memory, and the arrows and bullets of the castle would find her black form an easy target against the pressed snow.

Even now, deep underwater, she could hear their hateful shouts for her death.  Dim red light pierced the waters above her head.

The setting sun.  Nightfall gave cover when she needed it most.  Her chances for a run to the trees would be attempted and if she died?  At least she would die looking at the stars.

So be it, then, she thought.

Mylia kicked upwards.

Her pale head burst apart the water and she pulled in a deep draft of icy, blue air far within her lungs.  Sweet air and clean—she lunged for the embankment and crawled from the moat, her filthy linen dress streaking dirt and blood upon the clumped, grey snow.

“The wyrm!  There!”  The shout rose upon the ramparts.

Mylia heard the clatter of many running feet upon the ramparts above her.  Beyond her vision lay the dark tree line of firs heavy under snow and wheeling crows.  If she reached them, she would yet be safe.  But they were at least a thousand yards away.  She ran forward, stumbling in haste and pain.

A huge arrow, black-feathered, sliced the snow beside her feet.  She glanced at it but cursorily, for it had missed her.  The snow was wet and cold—how shining white it lay before her like a great, unpierced blanket.  Lowering black clouds in the horizon spoke of another storm.  Strange she should connect to the elements, she thought, as death shouted and readied weapons against her in the castle rising behind her fleeing back!  She must fear her mortality for it was a thing of realness and present beside her in a way unlike any other day in her young life before this moment.

Another great arrow shrieked past Mylia’s ear, nicking some of the flesh.  The arrow thudded into the ground several yards ahead of her.

She felt the trickle of her clear blood run down her neck.  And she increased her pace, dreading the pain of death at every step.


With a final, crimson sigh, the sun dropped behind the horizon and all the world lay frosted by night.

“Kill her!  Kill her!”  Gerard’s shouts echoed on the ramparts.  Now the zinging snap of multiple bows released their arrows at her.  Several bullets screamed past, smacking the ice with a hideous krop-krop.  An arrow slashed her robe, missing her back through a hair’s breadth.  The next volley would surely hit a mark.

This was it.  Her moment of death had arrived and it would be delivered by someone she had considered a friend.

She heard a familiar voice spiked by madness and Mylia saw the Prince—

He ran upon the ramparts, shouting as though insane for the soldiers to desist.  But a fresh volley was already released and his face dropped in fear.   Yes, she reasoned in that hellish moment of slowed time and sharpened sensory awareness, it was fear.  He cared for her life.  And she realized how terribly she had played her part all through the time spent at the castle.  Asher should have become a truer ally and supported her wishes, not his younger brother, Gerard.  She wasted so much time and thought upon chasing threads of friendship and loneliness with Gerard whose mind was weak and easily misled.  If she could have the time to live again, a more forthright approach would be maintained.  She would only spend her thoughts upon people who both truly cared and had the power and discernment to enact their feelings.

The bitterness swept through her mind in a second and her eyes flashed upon the snowy expanse once more for her death approached.

The flying arrows shrilled towards her body; now a hundred, now seventy feet away.  Mylia could see their sharp metal heads in grim focus.  Within moments, she would be studded by a dozen or more.  And she would die.  Perhaps, she reasoned in the brief moment as the world crouched in expectation, the pain would not be so terrible.

Two hands grabbed her shoulders and sharply pulled her backwards.  Mylia felt a cool, slippery sensation fall over her body and her vision quivered and rippled.  Then, like a candle snuffed out, the world fell into darkness and a great silence so deep and immense that it seemed eternal, smote her.


To be continued in Chapter 13, December 2!

Chapter 11: Stone Eyes

Mylia, a singing wyrm-human monster, is rescued from the bleak Wylds by a poor, ambitious Prince and surgically fashioned into a popstar to help him overthrow an ancient Empire. Under her new identity, she must navigate scandal, fame, deadly court intrigue, and even love in a rags-to-riches tale for the ages. (A new chapter every two weeks!)


Prince Asher had experienced many different horrors in his life of thirty odd years.  But overwhelming shock smote his fearful, arrogant mind when the wyrm woman in robes and big, gold eyes, her tail tucked demurely between her ankles, spoke for the first time.

Her name was Mylia and she said it aloud.

And it was horror at first.  After all, humans were taught that wyrms were monsters of no genetic superiority.  “If they actually had brains like us, imagine what they could do!” was the consensus around the world.  This sort of thinking encouraged the popular sport of killing wyrms and using their ghosts as gladiators in the Dyn world’s famous arenas for, lacking souls and now bodies, they were fit only for human entertainment.  But the Dyn, a complex ecosystem of spacetime and bad dreams, bound to the real world through the might of human invention, is to be explained later.

Asher was a mentally ambitious man and knew general opinion was both changeable and likely incorrect.  And his horror faded to wonder and then joy.

A joy that reminded him of hope.  One impossible thing proven otherwise meant the world now offered him a cornucopia of equally likely futures.  Everything was his for the taking, courtesy of Mylia’s verbal thrust into the unknown.

She had said her name.  The crack of the barrier separating wyrm and human echoed round the world.  Although, for a long while after, people did not know the barrier was gone and behaved exactly as before.  After all, a learned trauma was easier to compartmentalize and shove aside, veil in history books and whispers in the dark.

Asher stared at her.  “Mylia,” he repeated, his voice soft in rare awe.  “Asher,” he pointed to himself, “Mylia,” and his hand motioned to her.

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Meanwhile, another set of entirely different thoughts ran through Mylia’s mind.  A connection had been made between the syllable she had pressed from between her teeth to the glittered joy now stamped upon the Prince’s face.  Somehow, this strange action of her throat, one-part singing and the other, verbalized intention, had pleased him more than anything she had ever done before.  And she was glad for his joy at her behavior and then concerned that she cared at all about how he felt.  But what she planned to say to him remained unheard for someone knocked on the door.

Gerard entered. “Mother said you called for me?”

Asher’s face dropped into the regal chill he typically wore.  “Yes, I have a task for you.”  He stood and walked to a cabinet and rummaged in the papers.

Gerard shrugged and snuck a glance at Mylia.  “How’s the lesson going?”

The Prince closed the drawer and returned with a scroll in his hand.  “Her name is Mylia.”

“Oh, she told you?”  Gerard’s eyes darted between Mylia and his brother.  “That’s remarkable.  What else do you know about her?”

Asher shrugged.  “Only her name but other words will soon come.  When I go to the Capital, I need you to do something for me.”

“Is that the prophecy?”  Gerard indicated to the scroll.


“I should have gone with you that night into the Wylds.” The younger man’s voice dripped with accusation.

“Nonsense.  I would never have put you at risk.  I needed this,” Asher shook the scroll, “And I got it.  You must lock it up in this castle where no one can find it, not even me.  It is utterly important the prophecy remains hidden until the appropriate time.”

Gerard nodded and tucked the scroll into his jacket but Asher stayed his arm.

“Thank you for doing this,” Asher said.  “I owe you a debt.”

The other man looked annoyed.  “I’m your brother.  Of course I’ll help.”

Asher inclined his head in thanks and resumed his seat, but his eyes were hard upon his brother.

Gerard walked to the door and paused.  Turning, he stared at Mylia again and she read concern within his gaze.

“Look, I’ve been meaning to discuss this with you.”  Gerard cleared his throat and addressed Asher.  “I don’t think you should take the wyrm to the Capital.  They claim premium upon wyrm flesh in the Empire’s brighter lands.  She could be easily kidnapped and butchered by any Dyn worker or magician.  You know what they do…sell the body parts and send the soul to the Dyn to eternal torture.”

The Prince gave Gerard a sharp glance.  “Gerard, please do not introduce this conversation.  Mylia is not human…she is so much more.  There is an intelligence and strength that we have only begun to realize—”

“Titus says the only reason we have a living, breathing wyrm in this castle is because you plan to use her…to use Mylia…to make money.”

The Prince looked aggravated, although Mylia saw he concealed it well.  The mention of Gerard’s father, Titus, the commoner lover of Lady Edith, did not please him but only the slightest drop of the eyelid gave away his thoughts.  Only, she was observant and noticed.

Asher finally spoke.  “Your father misleads you.  You have seen the horrors of wynter in these lands.  The large game have long left these lands.  Our crops fail and sicken with drought and pestilence.  Even Yuletide had rationed food despite our merriment.  My time on the borders of our lands led to several executions and all to deal with stolen food.”

Gerard looked ill.  “They were starving.  You had no right to kill them.”

The Prince’s eyes were hard.  “They know the rules.  The day we bend our law for pity or sentiment, is the day our vassals murder us in our sleep.  Revolution has occurred in the country before.  We still have pockets of Mals surviving here and there.  Quiet meetings in the dead of night and suddenly, the post office or train station is torched to cinders.  People have tasted of freedom, for better or worse, and they will never forget.”

“But, they were fathers and brothers, good men!”  Gerard was angry now.

“Yes, and for that, I am aggrieved,” the Prince calmly replied, his eyes of ice.

Mylia, caught between their argument, found it astonishing that two men could go from gentle terms to a fury within minutes.  Surely, these humans were unpredictable and dangerous beyond anything she could imagine.

The door swept open and Edith entered.  One look at her quarreling sons and she turned and quickly closed the door behind her.

“Gerard, Asher, what is going on?!”

Mylia watched the family swap meaningful glances.

Edith swept her hands upon her hips and glared.  “Well?  Speak up.  Gerard?”

Gerard glowered at Asher, his fury turning his face red.  “Asher has been playing with life and death.  I asked you to let me go with him to the borders.  I would never have allowed him to murder those men.”

Edith laughed and swept past him to a chair.  “Is that all?  Gerard, everyone knows the laws of this land.”

“Just because something is legal does not mean it’s right!”  He exclaimed.

Edith’s eyebrows curved upward.

“I offer apologies, my Lady Mother,” Gerard muttered and formally bowed to her.

She regally dipped her head in acknowledgement and then sighed.  “My dear son, our people expect punishment when they disobey.  Take that away from them, practice mercy, and they will turn on you as the timid oppressor.  Then you and Asher will feel the end of the sword and your mother beg for scraps on the street.”

Asher turned from the window.  “Enough of this argument,” he said.  “We have other details to discuss.”

Gerard made as though to continue but thought better of it and sat down.

Edith followed suit, sweeping her purple robes around her with aplomb.  “Asher, what is it?”

Asher motioned to Mylia who sat silent with her eyes downcast.  “I will spend several more lessons with her before we leave.  Gerard will stay with you and guard the castle until my return next year.  Will you be safe?”

Mylia listened to the tone of his voice and suddenly realized what terrible fear he kept suppressed within his cool tone.  She felt sorry for him even as she felt herself drawing closer to Gerard as a beacon of kindness.  For the Prince was too clever and unpredictable.

His younger brother grimaced.  “I know the real reason why you go to the Empire’s Capital and it has nothing to do with making our fortune or even this wyrm.”

The Prince looked at him with care.  “You’re wrong,” he said.  “Mylia has everything to do with it.”

“I saw you go into the Wylds that night.  The prophecy will only bring you bad luck, brother!”

Edith’s quick eyes darted between them.  “What prophecy?  Asher?”

“Mother, when we captured this wyrm, the Prince entered the Dyn and found a prophecy that says he’ll be Emperor one day.  He recorded it in that scroll.”

Edith’s face turned to stone.  “Gerard,” she hissed.  “Some things should never be said aloud.  You never know who listens.”

Gerard shrugged.  “Sorry.”

The Prince shook his head.  “Mother, you knew this was to happen.  The Dyn has revealed that it is my fate to take over the world and become the next Emperor.”

“But why mix her up in it?” Gerard gestured to Mylia.  “She’s just a wyrm from the Wylds.  How can she be expected to behave as you will have her?”

The Prince shrugged.  “Because I’m better at persuasion than you,” he said.  “And, I never let anyone forget their place.”

Edith clapped her hands.  “Enough, enough.  There are too many people who will happily end your friendship.  No need to assist them in the task.  Gerard, go now.  Asher, I will have a word with you.”

“Gerard, will you still do as I ask?”  Asher’s cold voice cut into the air.

His hand upon the door handle, Gerard turned.  “Never, not for all the arguments in the world, could I betray my word or harm a family member.  I’m hurt you would even ask.”

Before Asher could reply, Gerard had stormed out and slammed the door.

Mylia looked from Edith to Asher in dismay.  Whatever was going on did not bode well for her.

Edith looked at Mylia.  “Asher, you are worse than Gerard.  Some things must never be said.  And that wyrm to witness—we do not know yet know her level of awareness.”

Asher nodded.  “She needs to hear my plans.  Mylia likes and survives on strategy.”

Edith raised an eyebrow.  “You mean to say in a few hours you’ve made more progression than I have in weeks?”

He sighed.  “Mother, humans, as you and I well know, love patterns.  The  framework of our reality is established upon the connections we put on events, objects and people.  Mylia and, I suspect other wyrms as well, holds an advanced form of such logic within their DNA.  Us humans…we have to think hard to strategize and only some of us are any good at it.  We use feelings…emotions…empathy for our fellow human to excuse our regrettable lack of foresight.  But for wyrms, strategy is second nature.”

Edith studies Mylia with hard eyes.  “All the more reason to be aware of her, my son.  You don’t know what she will do when in a new environment such as the Capital.  And, you have to take a train to the Capital.  You can’t risk putting Mylia into the Dyn, even for a moment.  You know what can happen to wyrms there.”

“If we travel by train, then so be it.  The villagers already speak of the she-devil in the castle.  You’ve protected her well, but not everyone is as well inclined as we have been.  Even my loyal men tell me of bad omens they have seen since the wyrm’s arrival.  No, if we are to be successful, Mylia is fortune’s key.  Without the benefit of her voice, we could spend a century doing what I will accomplish in a handful of years.”

Edith stared at Mylia.  “You are certain of this plan to rule the world,” she slowly replied.  “If it doesn’t work, we will all die for treason.”

“But if it does, you can only guess the outcome.”

“You never told me your plan and I am your mother,” Edith said a little too sharply.  “I know what prophecy you obtained and I say it’s nothing but a fairytale.”

“Exactly.  And you will tell them such if you are questioned.  But millions of people do believe in such things and it is over them I dare to rule.”  He stood up.  “Now I have things to attend to—”

Edith blocked his path to the door.  “Answer me this.  Will you pursue ambition in the Capital or bring us some money so we can survive the winter?”

“Mother, how can you think so poorly of me?”

“I had to deal with your father for years and his ambition cost his head.”

“But I am not like my father.”  The Prince curtly bowed and left the room, closing the door behind him with a soft click.

Edith angrily spun on her heels, grabbed a painted vase on a table, and hurled it across the room to smash the wall.  A thousand ceramic fragments shattered like an exploded snowball across the room.

Mylia watched the older woman gaze ahead with stone eyes even as her chest heaved angrily.  Finally, she seemed to have spent her anger for she grew calm and took a deep breath.  Turning, she saw Mylia staring at her, eyes huge with curiosity and fear.

Edith grimaced and straightened her dress.  When she spoke, her tone was clipped and highly formal.  “Wyrm, if you are as gifted as my son thinks, then intuition tells me that you will become a special player in the highest level of politics.  But, if you don’t learn to be like us…if you don’t learn to be human…then you will eventually die, along with whatever dreams you hold dear.”

Mylia did not need to know the words to understand the threat.  She felt like a snarl was in order but Edith’s voice held strangely triumphant undercurrents of pain and she kept her silence.

And Edith rang the bell to summon the Servant to take Mylia back to her room.


Shortly thereafter, Mylia and the Servant walked through the castle halls as flaming sconces burned shadows onto the walls and windows seared under the red evening light.

She had much to think about and longed for the silent emptiness of her bed to curl under the blankets, close her eyes, and dream her confused mind back to orderliness and into the light of a new day.

Such a hope was not to be for something happened that Mylia did not expect.  The Servant led her left of the hall, through a door she had never entered and down a curiously narrow flight of stairs.

Mylia drew back, unnerved.  Something was wrong.  Very wrong.

He retaliated by shoving her along, his grasp a stranglehold upon her arm, towards a door at the hallway’s end.

She struggled, but he was far stronger.  She was not yet human enough to know screaming could summon aid and this ignorance nearly cost Mylia her life.

For the door opened and another voice spoke from the shadows of this strange room.  One she knew well and loathed.  It was Titus.


To be continued in Chapter 12, released on November 18!

Chapter 10: What Great Machines Shift the Sky Around Its Fiery Orb

Mylia, a singing wyrm-human monster, is rescued from the bleak Wylds by a poor, ambitious Prince and surgically fashioned into a popstar to help him overthrow an ancient Empire. Under her new identity, she must navigate scandal, fame, deadly court intrigue, and even love in a rags-to-riches tale for the ages. (A new chapter every two weeks!)


Gerard drunkenly staggered into the room.  Mylia immediately stepped back, tripped on the rug and tumbled into a heap of robes.  She scrambled up and found her tail over her face like a silvery feather duster.  She coughed at the fur caught in her lips and lowed the fluffed tail from her face, coyly blinking at the swaying man.

He gaped at the ridiculous spectacle she made of herself, and so she sat up and dropped her tail in dismay.  What on earth was she doing flirting with a human?  Perhaps she was learning to beg for her food.  Like some animal.  She glared at him in full wrath and showed an array of small, pincer teeth.  Teeth that later would be filed down and squared to resemble human dentures.


Mylia knew the danger she faced, alone in the room with a human.  Like all of his species, he was dangerous and unpredictable.  She stood tall and gathered the robes around her with a single clasp of her gloved fingers.  She had watched Edith and knew how a woman’s elegance could frighten people.  And she wanted to frighten Gerard because she had no idea of what else to do.  There was no blueprint of behavior for a wyrm living with humans.  One usually killed the other upon meeting and due to such behavior, social niceties had never had enough time to develop between their species.

Gerard turned and tottered out the room.  She wondered at his departure—had she been so frightening?—but he returned, hauling in a trolley.  The trolley was piled with bowls, silverware and lidded plates from which seeped fragrant tendrils of steam.

Mylia’s arms fell limp and all thoughts of terrifying Gerard vanished for on the tray was a feast.

Stacked was orange-spiced pork, bacon rib bubbling under a slop of butter, and a turret of golden scones cracked with sugar even as their cores dripped hot cheese.  A dessert bowl held currant pudding that smelled of vanilla spice and caramel.  And the wine!  Purple wine that tasted of grapes so crisp, the liquid tanged her mouth like a bundle of shaved ice.

Mylia sat down on the bed, pulled the tray towards her and ate and ate and ate.   He joined her on the covers.  “I miss the castle beds,” he bounced lightly on the mattress, “Ever since I came of age, I have to live in the barracks with my father.  Their bunks are like stone…lumpy stone, if that’s even possible.”

Mylia only topped off the wine and reached for a bowl of water scented like the dew of flowers.

Gerard stopped her hand.  “You use rosewater for freshening up after eating,” he said, motioning to his hands and face.

She scowled and downed the liquid in a gulp.  It was hideously bitter and she gagged.

Gerard laughed at her disgust.  “Some things you drink, others you put on your skin.  Next time, listen to me.”

Mylia studied him, staring intently into his blue eyes.  Why this sudden kindness, she thought.  He had always been nice to her, but never this nice.  She frowned, uncertain of how to respond.

He piled the empty dishes upon the trolley, but not before scoffing the last currant rolling across the vanquished plates.  “I meant to say this earlier but I forgot. I came here because you spoke to me.”

Mylia stared at him.  The wine was doing funny things to her eyesight, she was certain humans reacted a lot stronger to fermented berries.  Either way, Gerard seemed to be somewhat more sober, she reasoned.  He smiled.  He had a nice smile with small, square teeth…useless for hunting in the Wylds, she thought with mild dismay and then immediately regretted such unkind thoughts.  Not everyone was born a predator.

“It was odd.  I didn’t ‘hear’ you as if you were speaking to me.  I just understood your thoughts.  Your voice was inside my head and you were hungry so I raided the kitchens and here I am.”  He ruefully grinned and hiccupped.  “If my father Titus…or anyone…knew I just said that, I’d be tossed into a cell and accused of sorcery.”

She looked questioningly at him and recognized the name of Titus, the cruel old man who had starved and hit her when she was first captured in the Wylds.  She had felt the odd connection between Titus and Gerard ever since her first day of captivity.  So, they were father and son.  And yet where Gerard was kind, Titus was mean and cruel.  It was odd, she reasoned, that members of the same bloodline could exhibit such different personalities.  She had yet to understand the huge variability of heritage’s influence on a person’s behavior.  Later in the Academy, she learned such actions were explained by free will, determinism, and other delightful mental contradictions that exhausted the thoughts of the learned and elite.

Gerard gathered the dinner items and packed them onto the tray as Mylia watched.  Then he walked to the door and opened it.  He turned and looked at the small wyrm woman crouched on the bed in a bundle of robes and golden eyes.

“So anyway, have a Merry Yuletide,” he said and closed the door.

Mylia collapsed upon her bed stuffed and dizzy from the food.  What a dinner it had been.  She listened as Gerard’s footsteps died upon the passageway until the great silence of dead stonework erected high upon the speaking earth engulfed her.

But as she drifted into sleep, something odd happened.

Someone with light and hesitant steps walked up to her door and stopped outside.  For a moment, she wondered if Gerard had returned but she sniffed the air and immediately picked up the panther scent of Lolli.  For a while, Mylia listened to the other woman narrowly breathe on the other side of the door, her own lungs slowing to a state of cautious readiness for the eventual confrontation.

Lolli stood for a while, as though summoning the desire—or courage—to enter.  She walked away at long last, but not before Mylia’s heart had begun to thump with the same, cold fear that she had felt during her first days of captivity.

Mylia did not fall asleep for the rest of the night.

** ** **

Discover Magazine

“A mortal looks at the sun and wonders what great machines shift the sky around its fiery orb, pushing it upwards with the new morning and sinking it like a stone before night encloses.  Another gazes upon the sun and thinks “It is a fine day!”  But the same sun shines on both people, whether or not they are aware of it.”

Prince Asher finished speaking and looked at Mylia with encouragement in his face.  “Tell me, do you think reality changes upon your perception of it?  Or, does the world spin along all the same, despite our brief involvement in its affairs.”

Mylia blinked and stared.  His voice was melodious and his mannerisms, encouraging.  But his words?  Incomprehensible.

The Prince sighed and turned to Edith who sipped tea and studied Mylia with squinted eyes.

“I see you’ve made no progress,” he said.

“You asked her a complicated philosophical question,” Edith snapped back in high wrath.  “I’m trying to get her to say the o’clock of the day and name colors.”

“If she cannot reach our level of understanding, there’s no use in our working together,” he angrily exclaimed.  “I have no patience for ineptitude.”

Mylia softly snarled.  There was no mistaking his tone of voice now.

The Prince indicated to her, “Listen.  Even when she is angry, her voice is beautiful.  She will become a singing wonder of the Empire.  You must try harder.”

Edith slammed her tea cup onto the table and compressed her lips for a long moment.  Then, she let out a large sigh.  “My dear son, you must remember the situation.  Just weeks ago, this creature had never seen a human.   How do you expect her to expound on the universe when she has yet to understand the most basic of words?”

“The best singers, mother, are always the greatest philosophers.  Only then can they touch the inner desires of the audience, whether they be commoners, royals, or the Emperor himself.”

Edith shrugged.  “I don’t know what you would have me do.  We’ve tried for days on end.  The creature has had time to adjust to her new settings but refuses to interact with me.”

Asher sat back in the chair and studied Mylia with an intense scrutiny that she matched, stare for stare.  He spoke to his mother, keeping his eyes fixed upon Mylia.

“Mother, when I caught the two horse poachers on the eves of our land, I hung them from the nearest tree.  I stood before them and watched as life fell from their eyes.  They seemed to die for an eternity.”

“Is that your greatest fear, my son?”  Her voice softened.

“You mean, do I fear death?”

Edith gazed at her son with great compassion.

He shivered.  “I fear mind loops.  They are like a train you can’t remember boarding with a journey you may yet accept.”

She sighed and reached for her tea.  “The Empire has many trains and all their tracks lead to the Capital.”

Asher made an impatient gesture as though tired already of the conversation.   “The point I wish to make is that when someone dies, their eyes hold a final spark…as though their soul has flung itself against the prison of the body in one last attempt for survival.  That spark reminds me of the fire that now burns within her golden orbs.”

“If she is so desperate to live, perhaps we did wrong in bringing her to stay with us.”

Mylia’s eyes flitted between Edith and Asher.  Something about her was being discussed but their tones shifted so quickly, she could not determine whether she was in danger of their decision.  She stared upon Asher and wished very much that she could reach his mind and ask questions.  For, she had so many.  Why she was here and where her future lay.  If he would ever take her back to the Wylds or even set her free.  She was in the mood to grant this human family lenience after the kindness shown by Asher’s step brother, Gerard, the night before.

“I couldn’t leave her in the forest with broken legs.”  Asher’s voice calmed as he studied Mylia, matching the burnished intensity of her gaze.  “You should have seen the state she was in.  She would never have lasted a day.”

“It’s surprising you care so much for what is only a tool to procure our family wealth.”  Edith sharply stated.

“Not really.  She must pay me back for saving her life with her service.”

Edith looked from the Prince to Mylia and back again.  A slow, steady, comprehending smile spread over her face.

“Asher, my dear, why don’t you try instructing the creature.  Perhaps you may reach a breakthrough where I cannot.”

Asher met Edith’s eyes and his face shifted with calculation.  “I understand that as a challenge, mother, and I accept.”

And so, Edith swept from the room, the door closed, and the Prince and Mylia were alone.

Mylia then realized that Asher would replace Edith’s tutelage for the day.  It was not the result she wanted but perhaps, alone with Asher, his emotions unpolluted by other humans, she would be able to discern something more of his intentions for her.  So, she waited for his to speak, expecting the same, boring litany of long vowel sounds and sentence fragments Edith had thrown into her ears.  Instead, the silence of the room was overwhelming.

The Prince studied her face with a frown of what she thought to be great resilience.  At first, she matched his gaze, her eyes bright with an intensity that made the sun pale by comparison.  But her heart was not in the staring contest and she grew bored.

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Mylia broke her eyes away to check the clock.  Every lesson was based around the short needle moving from the ‘9’ to the ‘5’ with a break at ‘1’ so Edith could eat lunch.  Now, the hand still hovered above ‘10’ and today’s lesson already dragged.  Since the Prince only cared to study her face, Mylia let her gaze wander.

The fireplace embers dimmed to purple.  Soon the Servant would enter to poke them back to life.  She glanced to the door and then the window, noting the chill creeping through the glass.  Perhaps she would stay warm today by shivering her emotions into submission.  Perhaps, she could even forget how hungry she was.

She would consider the doorway behind her where a swift flight down the steps and out the door took her into the freedom of sunshine and snow.  But the castle grounds and outlying buildings still lay to be navigated to the great beyond—the world outside.  True freedom in the Wylds was so very far away.  If only there was a way to be picked up from this room, lifted across the world like a bird on a supersonic wind, and deposited upon the forests of her home to dwell in peace forever.  Such travel would be more valuable than anything else in this world.

Or, maybe the Prince could be overpowered?  She looked at his sinewy form, noting the sharp darkness of his gaze.  No, this was one human she would prefer not to fight.

She looked down to her clawed hands, resting sedately, one on top of the other, the nail beds turned pearl in the daylight.  Just when her mind was falling asleep from boredom, the Prince spoke.

“What is your name?”

Mylia stared at him.  It was a question, judging from the slight, upwards lilt in the last word, ‘name’.

“What is your name?”  He repeated and then pointed to himself.  “Asher.  My. Name. Is. Asher.”

Mylia lowered her head, dismayed.  She understood his gesture and yet she did not know how to say “Mylia” in the human tongue.  But then, no one had ever asked her for her name.  Not even Gerard, although he treated her as a friend.   She was “creature”, “monster”, “wyrm” and a series of oaths from the humans who feared her.

Asher repeated the question, slower and with an ordered emphasis upon each word.

They stared at each other and Mylia thought for the longest moment that nothing else existed on earth but the question.

The question which hovered like a series of small, silver bells in a wynter-brushed forest in which footsteps crunched the stillness of pressed snow and icicles froze like glass ornaments from tall evergreens.

He wanted to know her name.

But how to speak her name as the humans did?  They opened their mouths and used the contraption of their vocals to elicit a reaction.  She did not think of words, only emotions consolidated in song.  If she remained silent, perhaps his pleasantry would vanish and she be refused further lessons.  Worse, he would no longer visit and she lose her best ally in this castle.

She reached out her arm, palm upward, fingers outspread, in supplication.  Carefully and slowly, she sang to him.  Her every note was delicate and beautiful as almond-scented breeze wafting through a rose garden.  She sang of her frustration and sorrow, her desire to impress him with her knowledge, and the hatred of the chains which now bound her so well that memories of swift flight through dark trees had faded to the deep recesses of sleep.

When she finished, the Prince remained for a long moment as though turned to stone.

Finally, he spoke.  “I still have yet to learn your name.”

Mylia looked upon him in great awareness.  Prince Asher was a hard man.  He could appreciate her singing even as he ordered her punished for disobedience.

With the greatest effort she had ever known, she pictured the sound of her name upon her lips and stated, carefully and slowly, like a needle puncturing taut fabric—


She paused and saw recognition dawn upon his face.

“Myliaaaa,” she said again, faster and with more competence.

It was the first time she had ever seen him spontaneously smile and it made her heart glad.

And she repeated the sound from her lips, the sound of her name.  “Mylia.”


To be continued in Chapter 11, released on November 4!