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.

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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!


Chapter 9: Curled Under A Shell of Ice

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!)


The next day, it began all over again, and the day after that for several weeks without break.  Every afternoon, Mylia sat before Edith and watched her make sounds and point to scribbles within her books.  And she blinked her golden eyes and stayed mute until Edith ordered her removed until the morrow.

Beyond the lessons with Edith, Mylia remained locked in her bedroom.  She slept when night fell and ate upon the arrival of food.  All free hours were spent by her window.  There, she would lean her cheek against the cold panes and dream of the Wylds as her fingers curled upon the glass.  The circling squeak of her nails recalled the echoed crack of black ice on the lakes and rivers of her homeland.  Oh, the memories!  How she could breathe a song into a hunk of shivered log and hear the melody thrum away through the icicle trees, over hill and mile, until a bird hearkened to the bait and flapped down to rest upon her hungry claws.


Mylia remembered how beautiful it was to sing and how lovely her voice.  A thousand silver bells or the fizzle-zish of a falling star as it dissolved in fire and smoke upon the snowy treetops could not match her crystal notes.  Yet, here in this castle, numbed by loneliness and stone walls, she found the desire for song grow less until most sounds she made were reactions—tripping in her bonds or waking in the shivered morning.  It was not her fault, she reasoned.  Why should she sing for despising ears?  And yet no comfort arose from the answering silence.

The humans were not the only concern of hers.  The castle itself was changing.  As the days blended into weeks, Mylia noticed the arrival of fir and holly wreaths in the hallways.  The sharp, sweet smell of the evergreen punctured the air and made her sneeze.  Once, she found a holly berry that had rolled into her room and tasted it.  Awful—she spat out the red mush with a terrible wyrm oath.

This holiday, she learned, was known as Yuletide.  Soon, large firs rose in the main rooms and foyers of the castle, ribbons and strings of popcorn looping their frilled boughs.  The candelabras were lit and mistletoe hammered to door frames.  Lady Edith switched her tea for a cup of sugar, raw eggs and cream which she called ‘eggnog’—spiked with a pungent liquor from a cabinet.


Mylia knew from years of watching the villagers along the Wylds edge, that humans possessed a strange affinity for celebrations.  She supposed they had repeat rituals to help remember their placement in the world.  The important moments of the wyrms needed no celebration.  Their massacre by the humans existed forever in the memory of every young wyrm, screaming across their sleeping eyes before they realized they could dream.  As for wyrm holidays, they did not exist.  No day was more special than another; only survival to nightfall and then until the rising sun.  Yes, only these creatures from the Third Breaking, these humans of delicate temper and rapid speech, dared plot the future with such contemptuous regularity.

She noticed Edith grew increasingly worried as the days piled on.  During their lesson, sometimes the woman fell silent and gazed upon the storm-rattled windows, fingers plucking her neck skin.  Mylia supposed she worried for her sons, Prince Asher and Gerard.  Asher had not returned since venturing forth to deal with the cattle poachers weeks ago.  Gerard was strangely absent although Mylia picked up his scent around the castle.  She knew Asher’s execution of those men had something to do with Gerard’s avoidance of everyone but she was young and could not yet piece together the entirety of human motivations.

Edith was speaking and Mylia shook herself from the reverie.

Edith opened her jaw wide, and said, “Water.”  She repeated the word again, stretching out the vowels, smiling encouragingly at Mylia’s bored face.  “Waaaaateeeeeeeer.”  She sloshed her glass so that the clear liquid swirled and gulped unto itself.  “Water!”

Mylia felt annoyed.  All the splashing made her thirsty.  Of course she knew what water was.  Edith treated her like an idiot.  There was no need to invoke its name, she thought with a terrible frown at the glass. Water answered to no one. It gushed, froze and dripped forever in mutiny to air and ground. Really, such a force was best left alone.  Only magic makers were foolish enough to call upon the elements.  She later discovered, when researching career options in the Imperial Academy several years later, that magical careers were directly correlated to high early mortality rates.

Edith drank the glass of water and studied Mylia for a long minute.

“Wyrm,” she said at last, “If ever there was a time for you to rise above the savagery of your species, it is now.  We alone have the power to spare your life or condemn it.  All I ask is a little sign.  Anything to show intelligence may lurk in you.”

Mylia had no idea Edith said, but she understood the emotions throbbing the woman’s voice and knew her teacher’s patience stretched like hot butter upon bread.  Soon, punishment would follow.

“Today is Yuletide Eve.  Soon it will be Spring.  And still, you are silent as one of our beasts.  In several weeks, you will attend functions in silks and pearls to charm the elite of this realm with your voice and…the gods save us from such foolishness!”  Edith shook her head and fell silent.

Mylia blinked.  Asher.  He saved her life and treated her with medicine, protected her against the insults of the stupid and cruel people on the road, and gave her a tutor to help introduce her to humans.  Wyrms did not believe in loyalty, but she supposed that he was owed something by way of thanks.

Perhaps, she could try to speak for Edith.  A thought occurred that it would please Asher when she next saw him.  Mylia found herself wondering when, exactly, he would return.  He was a curious man, she thought.  Here today and then gone for long periods of time.  She remembered his strange appearance and his vanishing on the bridge.  She did not recall how he strode into the Wylds the night after her capture, but when she learned this story sometime later, his aptitude for vanishing finally made sense.  There was a lot in this world of humans that she had yet to understand.  At this moment, she found the uncertainty of his return provoked a desire to see him again, if only to discover why he always—eventually—returned to her.

Mylia bit her tongue to wake from these strange thoughts.  What nonsense had just pervaded her mind?  Thinking kindly of Prince Asher for tearing her away from her beloved Wylds was the last thing she would ever do.  His hunting trap broke her legs and now she was his prisoner.  She would never learn the human language.

Her lips clamped shut and she remained still upon her seat.


A metal box trilled upon the desk, a phone, as Mylia learned.  Edith grabbed the handle and pressed her ear to the shell-like opening.  “Gerard, dear, your interruption is not desired.  Why have you called?”  She listened and her face staggered into joy.  “Asher?!  Oh, he’s returned?  I will be down at once,” her eyes darted to Mylia, “And, Gerard?  Order the servant to take the wyrm back to her chamber now.”

** ** **

Back in her bedroom, Mylia hobbled to the window and again considered her escape under light from two rising moons.  Everything had been a mistake, from her capture to this idiocy of learning the human tongue.  She was a feral little monster of long limbs and pallid flesh who swung from snowy evergreens and twittered with the birds before eating them.  She did not sleep in a bed nor speak like the humans.


She stared upon a vast and desolate plain, plunging from her tower window and running away to mountains blackened by the crawl of night.  Around the castle, the farms of Prince Asher stretched for miles, streaked by fences piled with snow and broken in sections from neglect and overgrown trees.  Mylia knew from the frozen chill in the air, another storm gathered fury for that night.

Leaning over the windowsill, she looked down.  The ground was two stories below her room, impossible to jump and survive.  Craning her head against the window, she studied the walls on either side for ivy, drain pipes or any other foothold.  But, the rock was sheer and wet with slime and rain.  Perhaps, she would jump after all.  Surely, the snow piled against the wall could lessen her fall.  She considered it a unlucky chance the moat did not extend around this section of the castle.

Years later, she learned the Emperor had demanded every castle of the Nine Royal Families have their walls leveled and moats filled.  After all, such warring architecture was unneeded now that peace had been proclaimed by radio and paper across the lands.  Upon receiving the decree, a then teenage Prince Asher merely piled dirt into the moat on the most protected side of his castle.  Otherwise, he let the Emperor’s orders be damned.  As his castle was geographically distant from the Capital, and his family, minor in House and poor, no one from the (consolidated) Imperial Justice and Public Affairs Department had cared enough to pursue the matter further.  Of course, this changed when his prestige ticked upward at the Capital and there arose a need to search his past for dark and shameful secrets to buy his political cooperation…but this was all far away in the future for Mylia.

At this moment, she knew of one thing.  She did not belong in this dim, old castle of humans and locked doors.  The jump must be attempted.  After all, greatness only happened to those brave enough to define it.

Her fist was moments away from plunging through the glass panes when she heard something that had not echoed through the walls of her chamber for many a night.



The castle had come alive with glorious song notes so pure that tears welled in her eyes.  She flung an earlobe against the floor and listened with her body and soul.  Dimly, trickling through the wood beams and plaster smacking the stones, she picked out the main thread of direction and purpose.  Yes, that was it.  The entire castle must be gathered within the great hall.  They were at dinner—a feast.  They sang carols around the table and she heard their melodies define each voice from the young child to an old guard she remembered had welcomed the hunters into the castle all those weeks ago.  She listened for the Prince’s voice and there it was, a quieter lilt among the others.

Mylia listened in surprise.  Asher was trained in singing.   It made sense, she thought, given his education and the beauty of his mother’s ovular voice.  Another voice rose above the chorus and Mylia recognized Lolli, the servant girl.  Lolli sung with an abrasiveness that reminded Mylia of death.  It was later that she learned it was the Prince who no longer met Lolli in black of night gardens, amid statues crowned with dried snow.

The music died and a great silence fell upon her ears.  She supposed they now feasted and her attention returned to her room and the needs of the present.

The fire had burned down to fat embers that coolly hissed in the smoked hearth.  Mylia slumped upon the floor in a total funk.  No one had brought her food that night and she was colder with every passing minute.

A strange, ugly thought broke upon her awareness.

Good Free Photos

How many nights had she calmly rocked herself to sleep in a tree amid the wynter storms, waking to find herself curled under a shell of ice?  And now, all she wanted was to be warmed and fed at regular intervals like some pet.  Even her attempt to escape died with the embers in the hearth.  She had grown soft and so quickly!

A movement outside her bedroom snapped her alert.

Someone outside was opening her door—she heard his step and heavy breath as she spun around.

Gerard entered and he was drunk.

…to be continued in Chapter 10, posted October 21.

Update ~ 09.29.18

Hi Everyone!

M. Evalyne here.  So, I have an announcement to make, or, at the very least, an update to announce.  Mylia is going to change from a chapter posted every Sunday to bi-weekly posts.  Thus, you will receive a new chapter every two weeks.

I am sorry to delay the story for y’all but the reality is this.  My work and an upcoming finance exam are eating my lunch more than feeding me these days (figuratively speaking, of course).  Result?  Mylia’s story either suffers in quality or quantity.  I chose the later so as to not burn your eyes with mispellings, grammatical of errors, or other such nonsense that pervades hastily written, poorly edited material!

Anyway, I hope you continue to enjoy Mylia’s saga.  Stay tuned for the next chapter to be posted 10/07/18!

As always, any questions, thoughts or otherwise, please get in touch via my contact page.

Love and Hugs,

M. Evalyne


Chapter 8: The Fluttered Ramblings That Possess Human Throats

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 seven days!)


The Servant guided Mylia into the room, bowed to the seated people therein, and left, closing the door with a subtle click.  It was a sitting area or study of sorts, with low ceilings and a muttery fireplace of red embers and coal.  Seated in front of diamond pane windows now blustered by snow, were Prince Asher and an older woman she did not know.

She defiantly glared upon them through her veil, determined to show that she, Mylia, was not afraid.


The woman, Lady Edith, cradled an herbal teacup with fingers dripping in clouded emeralds.  Years later, when Mylia built a formidable jewelry collection of the sheerest diamonds, pearls, sapphires and other rubescent stones set in three types of gold known to humankind, she learned that Edith’s emeralds were cheaper than a sack of wheat.  In this moment, however, her eyes lingered upon the rings for they glimmered like spring weeds in mist and greatly calmed her.

Their owner lent an entirely different reaction.  Edith appeared in her sixtieth wynter and her eyes, so alike to Asher’s black irises, were rimmed in kohl and wrinkles and pierced Mylia with educated precision.

Edith placed her tea down with a decisive clunk and rose from her seat.  “So, this is the wyrm.  Let’s have a look at her.”

She placed her hand upon Mylia’s head and lifted the veil.  For a moment, and it was only the briefest second, Mylia saw a flash of surprise and jealousy within the woman’s eyes.  And then, Edith’s face reformed into a smile.

“My son,” she turned to Asher with a thrilling laugh, “When you mentioned the wyrm you had found, I imagined a monster.  This creature is beautiful.  Look at her limbs and face so like us humans…but her eyes are larger and a wonderful habiis gold color and her mouth, somewhat smaller than ours.  You mentioned her wings and tail and all I can imagine is that…somehow—and extraordinary to think!—there was a mingling of the earth that crafted our Third Breaking humans and Fourth Breaking wyrms.” Edith’s nails traced across the healing skin on Mylia’s face.  “And yet, what happened here?”

Quickly and with few words, the Prince recounted the attack and Mylia saw the old woman’s lips tighten with anger.

“Ignorant peasants,” she breathed.

“Half of them are convicts from the Empire’s cities serving out their sentence in the outlying farms,” he replied.  “They worship and fear the wyrm, planting shrines up and down the forest edges of the Wylds.  To see their monster as human is too much a stretch for their imagination.”

“And what do you consider her to be?”

“I really have no thoughts in the matter,” Asher leaned back and crossed his legs in thoughtful determination, looking much like the lord of the castle.  “Either way, I found what I looked for in the Wylds.”

“You mean this wyrm woman?”

“Wyrm woman?  Isn’t that verging on the dramatic?”

“No, indeed, I say she is more woman than wyrm.”

“Well, I assure you that her finding was purely based on luck,” he said.  “No, I went to the Wylds to find my destiny.  It is exactly as I imagined it to be all those years ago.”

John Miklasz

As he spoke, Mylia watched his face with fear and caution.  Deep in her slow beating wyrm heart, she knew he could have her immediately killed.  Executed like the three bodies that crushed the snow from the bullets addressed to their skulls—and at his orders, no less.  Her bonds made her helpless against this possibility.  She remembered the gentle touch of his hand against her bruised forehead after the attack.  No, he may be a strange and even cruel prince, but she was an anomaly and there was both safety and an entirely different peril in this fact that turned him to save her when others cracked their lives for lesser wrongs.  And then a thought occurred.  She had no idea why he ordered those three men killed last night.  She very much wanted to know, but Edith was speaking.

Edith sank again into her chair in a melancholy stiffened by sore bones.  “You were not born into the luxury of deciding your future.  You are the lord of our castle and must deal with the duties thereof.”


“Listen to me.  We eat into our stores.  If we run out of food this wynter, we must sell the farms and be land-less.  Only the gods know what will become of those under our care.  Already treason has shown in fits and starts.  Royals lose their people’s respect when bellies empty.”

He paused for a long moment and then spoke, this time with a quiet determination. “I plan to take the creature with me to the Capital when the spring rains come.   There, I will show her amid the parties and entertainment venues.  She will quickly find work as a singer and her voice will restore wealth to our family.”

“You will parade the wyrm around like some circus show?”

“No.  Her identity will be concealed.  Do you have such little faith in me?”

“I fear you will disgrace the family name.”

Mylia watched their exchange with fascination.  Their emotional currents conveyed what their words lacked.  They were desperate for good fortune and hoped to use her.  But how and why, she could not yet guess.  What concerned her even more was the sharp pains traveling through her legs.  All that walking was not suitable and she was certain there would be swelling and fresh blood on the bandages.

Asher’s black eyes sparked with fury.  “I will do whatever I must to keep this castle running.  If I become a businessman to reach my goal, then so be it.  Is staying here, fending day to day in fear and poverty so preferred an existence?  Why should our family suffer in such ill-founded pride?”

“I know the ambition that drives you,” Edith sounded worried.

Asher grimaced.  “How many times must I reassure you.  I will return home.”

“Yes, but I don’t think Gerard will come back.”  Edith’s voice hardened.  “He wants to go with you.”

“He’s dreamy…useless.  I spend hours disciplining him and receive arguments and disobedience in return.  What good can he possibly do anyone in the Capital?”

“He is nearly eighteen and wishes to impress the world,” she replied, “You’re his older brother and inspiring.  Don’t you see?  Your ambition shall rid me of all my children and I’ve already lost your father.”

“You still have Titus,” Asher remarked in the coolest of tones.

“He may be my lover but he is not royal like us,” she said.  “And I increasingly dislike his influence upon Gerard.  For that reason alone, I wish Gerard to have you around.  Will you not reconsider?”

Asher stood up and his words stung the quiet air.  “I will not live here, Mother, not for duty or family or pride, and you cannot make me stay.”

For a long moment, mother and son glared at each other.  Edith was the first to turn away, back to Mylia, her eyes bright with unshed tears.  “Let me hear this remarkable voice then,” she said.  “Come, now, sing for me.”

Mylia remained silent.  Though she did not follow their words, the emotions streaming between Asher and Edith painted a great clarity of vision.  She had followed their exchange, read within their eyes and gestures, the fear and hope that drove each to some extreme.  And she found that all song eluded her for she had no idea of what to say.

“She does not understand you,” the Prince said.

Edith glanced over Mylia, curiosity overtaking her earlier rage.  “But, how to reach her?  Even if her jaw and tongue are like ours, does her mind desire to speak after the manner of our language?  You know that singing like some bird is highly different from speech.”


Asher’s face moved into a smile but Mylia noticed the conciliatory gesture did not ascend to his eyes.  He rose and went to a bookcase.  “Either way, you must try,” he said and carefully pulled out a long, thin volume and blew away the dust.

“I must?”  Edith’s voice deepened.

“I have not the knowledge of speech that you maintain, or the time needed to devote to her letters.  And I know you capable…after all, it was you who instructed my letters all those years ago.”

So the conversation had reached an apex, Mylia thought, feeling the emotions run like feathery tendrils through the heated air.  Soon, her fate would be decided.  She wished that she knew why these people spoke so seriously amid tea and books as she stood between them.  The petals of snow that beat upon the windows and the atmospheric heaviness that lay upon the room told her a deeper wynter storm approached.

Her legs ached and she did not know how much longer she could stand.  She needed to sit down but the splints on her legs forced her to stand, shoving her legs straight so that crumpling to the floor was impossible.

She looked around and saw a settee behind her.  She bent at the waist and carefully fell onto the low couch.  There, much better!  She breathed a merciful sigh of relief to have the pressure removed from her legs.

And she spoke of this relief in a sudden rush of vocals, curses for her burdened life and love of released pain within.  A smile echoed around Asher’s eyes upon her song rushing forth.  And her wyrm curses for the pain transformed into melodic joy, every note healing to her anger even as they sought to penetrate his mind and read the unknown turmoils therein.

Edith’s eyelids strongly closed and opened in several blinks of great shock.  For such a slow moving, stately woman as she, this gesture was the equivalent of screaming.  And yet, even under the duress of surprise, she quickly composed herself and smiled upon Asher.  “You were not wrong.  Such a voice has never been heard in all the halls of this country.  I will undertake her training, if only to sacrifice my hopes so that such beauty can live.”

Mylia felt the joyous atmosphere blossom from Edith and knew these humans had no intention of letting her go.  At least, she grimly thought with a soft purr in her throat, they would not kill her.  She was valuable to them like Edith’s green jewels or Asher’s monstrous ambition, although she only guessed the second thought a while later when she realized his true purpose in the Capital.

Asher smiled and handed the book to Edith.  “Excellent.  Please commence today.”

His mother accepted the book as he gathered up his cloak and fastened it around his shoulders.  “You will not stay for the lesson?”

“We have cattle thieves on the borders,” he said with some weariness.  “I’m taking several men to hunt them and will return at the week’s end.”

Edith firmly nodded.  “Take care of yourself, Asher.”

She held up her face and Asher quickly kissed her wrinkled, powdered cheek.  Then, he turned and left, quiet as a slipped shadow, through the door.  Mylia gazed upon the closed door, curious that the Prince did not acknowledge her in farewell.  Curious and almost hurt.

Edith turned to her and clasped her hands.  “Shall we begin?”

For a multiple hours, as shadows veered across the floor and a strange instrument called a ‘clock’ ticked in the corner, Mylia sat on the plush settee and watched Edith mouth sounds to her.  The heat and silence made her head throb and the book which lay before her lap stank of mold and puffed must with every turn of the page.  Large, black scribbles covered the papers and she quickly made the association between these wriggled lines of ink and the sounds from Edith’s lips.

Long vowel sounds.

Edith repeated them over and over and over again.  “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa, eeeeeeeeee, iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, oooooooooooooo, uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu,” and a strange “whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” that reminded Mylia of the “hiiiiii” sounds that hunters used when meeting each other.

Sometimes, Edith stopped and pointed to her, asking for a repeat of her sound.  Mylia only blinked her gold eyes in superior unawareness.  She knew the purpose of the voice lesson and held no desire to learn the fluttered ramblings that possessed human throats.

The storm ended the lesson.  The glass-pane windows shook with the blasts of rage, wind and howling snow.


Edith listened to the raging storm outside.  “There are evils that blow upon these winds.  The weather fouls and before this noventury ends, our world will face a challenger that will either bring its doom or renew the future.”  She tugged an embroidered hanging upon the wall and somewhere deep in the walls, Mylia heard a bell ting.  “It is time for you to retire.  We will continue tomorrow.”

Mylia realized she was dismissed when the Servant arrived.  The snowstorm creaked the castle and filled the halls with racing shadows.  Here and there, people passed, scurrying wordlessly with barely a glance for the two figures in their midst.  She saw Lolli at one point, carrying a bundle of fir branches upon her head, skirts bunched high around her waist and white legs flashing in the gloom.

Back in her room, Mylia was rebound and dressed in night clothes.  She noticed someone had closed the shutters on her window and stoked the fire hot and bright.  A plate of meat slab and bread lay on bedside table and she was ravenous and fell upon the food as the Servant watched in mild distaste.

How heavy her sleep was that night and filled with frantic dreams.

If she had been more watchful, Mylia would have known that two hours past midnight, a great column of blackness filled her bedroom from which two eyes watched her thrash and turn upon the bed until morning.

Chapter 9: September 30
Chapter 10: October 7
Chapter 11: October 14
Chapter 12: October 21

Chapter 7: Skies Warmed by Sunlight and Fire

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 seven days!)


“You were ordered to put her by a fire,” the Prince exclaimed.  “Where is my brother?  I told Gerard to watch her.”

A mild soap smell drifted past Mylia and, under her veil, she sensed the Servant draw near.

Video Blocks

“She’s dangerous.  Struggled like a mad fish all the way down.  Tried to bite me, what’s more.”

“How can you be afraid of a tied-up little wyrm?”  The Prince snapped in return.  “Our farm boars are more deadly and you herd them.”

The Servant tried to further protest but the Prince must have looked furious for his voice faded into feeble mutterings.

“Enough.  I’ll speak with you and Gerard later,” Prince Asher declared and lifted the cloth from Mylia’s face.  The gloom outlined his features poorly but she recognized the same concern he had carried from the attack days before.  “At least the medic should be commended for his duty.  Her face has improved under his treatment.”

And then his leather-clad arms lifted her from the cold torture of the paving stones.  She gasped in relief and pain as her body weighed fresh aches into her bones.   “Be still, I’m not going to hurt you,” the Prince warned, his breath hot on her face, but Mylia did not struggle.

The deathly cold of her cell had turned all movements slow and terrible.  She did not know if wyrms could die from severely low temperatures but she felt her heartbeat lurch and thoughts drift into the arena of hallucinations that battled for oxygen to the brain.

A strange, cloying idea entered her mind and latched with great ferocity.  The Prince had saved her from that hellish prison deep within his castle, saved her from the attack those days back, and as such, was now her savior, to continue helping her in future times of need.  And Mylia whimpered and snuggled her head within his steady grip as her golden eyes stared in adoration upon his shadowed face  As her vision began to warm and her thoughts clear, she realized he had changed somehow; but the rooms were dark and her mind too weary to discern the reason.

Dark Halls

He carried her up several passageways and along a dim corridor lined with dying lamps.  The Servant padded behind, a cloud of unease and muttered glances for anyone who may have seen them.  And then a door was unlocked and she entered warmth—oh, heaven and stars above!—and felt the downy puff of soft fabrics collapse under her body.

She lay on a massive bed piled in furs and blankets in a small room with a fireplace at one end and a shuttered window and closed door which the Servant guarded.  Red and brown carpets were flung across a stone floor and a dirty chandelier spat hot wax from several candles.  Above the fireplace hung a painting of what she later understood was a train; a machine of speed and purpose with tracks snaking away into brushed purple hills.

And she noticed the Prince was indeed altered—filthy and exhausted.  Black mud clumped his boots and smeared the leather of his fitted hunting suit.  His cloak fell heavy with crusted snow, and his leather sleeves were torn, exposing bruised forearms.  Even his face, angry and creased in weariness, lay rimed with dirt and sweat in the low firelight.

He noticed her wonder and broke away his gaze.  Taking her bound hands, he refitted the ropes to be more comfortable and tied the ends to the bedframe.  She whimpered against the constraints in hopes he may change his mind.

“You must be tied,” he said, each word lay punctuated in command.  “This is for your own good.  The Wylds are many leagues away and you would be killed before you reach them.”

“Prince Asher, the wyrm does not understand you,” the Servant sullenly replied.

Mylia did a movement that other men had done in response to the Prince’s commands.  Her head inclined and eyes dropped to the floor in a subtle bow.

The Prince gave a loud clap and she was surprised to see his glad face.

“Did you note that?”  The Prince turned to the Servant who stared at her with shock.  “This wyrm may understand more than we realize.  Remember, the humans were so busy slaughtering the wyrms all those centuries ago that we know little of their genetic makeup or intelligence.”

The Servant looked skeptical but the Prince only turned to check her bonds with firm, quick fingers.

“I want her brought to me in the morning,” he commanded.  “For now, I have a duty to attend to.”

When the men left and the door closed, Mylia immediately prowled the bedroom, turning over the blankets and sniffing the fireplace, eager to explore and understand.  The room was simple and bare of interest.  She had returned to the bed for sleep when she heard it.

A voice.

The first piece of coherent language since all those days of her travel from the dim forests of the Wylds.  It was a thrilling tone, hallowed as a full-throated blackbird lifted upon a green dawn.  The voice spoke to her in no language but its song painted grand vistas of summer and joy…Vast apple trees carved a summer sky still lit by a lingering moon.  How swift the sun rose upon fluttered petals—a field of daisies clustered round a thatched cottage with green eaves.

For the first time since her capture by the nets and hunters all those nights ago, Mylia found a need to sing.  To sing was for what she could not see.  What she no longer felt.

She swiftly crossed to the window and flung aside the shutters.  Beyond, snow blue to the night horizon, stretched the frozen breadth of the Prince’s lands.  But the music lay closer and her eyes fell downward to the source.  Upon a rocky jut in the yard below, a young man sat and held a hollowed stick to his lips.

It was Gerard.  He played the flute that spun the apple tree vision and Mylia rested her hand against frosted pane, tasting with great delight, every note of his song.  Who knew the humans were capable of such language, she thought, and a great desire arose within her mind to reply.

Parting her lips with a slight gasp, she sang forth a return.  Snow began to fall, swift and gentle through the evergreens as her music sparked in silver admiration.  And Gerard, alerted by her song, looked upwards and sighted her.  She saw a quick smile pierce his eyes and the rippling volley of notes swept her soul into the rains and snow that slept the castle far into the wheeling night—

Earth Moon and Stars

His music stopped.

Gerard leapt up and she followed his gaze—

Three men marched into the yard, another three men behind them.  These following men held long large poles or sticks of wood and metal in their hands.  Asher rounded up the procession, heavily wrapped in his cloak.  He sharply gazed at Gerard and Mylia noticed his face burn with anger.

Gerard shouted and the fury of his voice shivered her spine, but the Prince only turned away and beckoned to the men with the sticks.

Mylia then noticed the three leading men were tied together hand and foot.  The sticks-men prodded the tied men to the castle wall and then stepped away.  Mylia pressed her face to the glass, eager to see what the tied men were doing but they were beyond her sight.

Asher said something for she noticed his lips move.  The men raised their sticks like guns—for they were guns—and fired.

Red blasts shattered the night.

A movement from the castle wall, and Mylia saw three bodies fall into the snow.

She looked for Gerard but he was gone.  Only a parted door in the castle wall gaped upon blackness within.

And Mylia realized she trembled for the music and gunfire.  These humans and their monstrous ways.  So quick to impart violence and still touch life with dreaming hands.  Caught and afraid, her body sank into the floor.

Upon the floorboards, curled within her dress, biting her lips to prevent their quivering and knowing her fright could only still with time, she felt sleep crawl past her fear.

That night, Mylia dreamt of skies warmed by sunlight and fire.

** ** **


Morning light seeped through the window and she woke in immediate terror.  The Servant stood over her where he had placed a large bowl of cooled grits upon the bedside table.   She had grown soft.  Never could someone ever sneak upon her bower in the Wylds.   But these thoughts faded upon the sight of the food.

Before the Servant’s wide eyes, Mylia threw herself to breakfast, using her bound hands to shovel the porridge down her throat in massive gulps.  When the bowl lay empty, she nudged it towards the man with a soft whine in her throat.  She wanted more food but all he heard was a lilting melody, delicate and fragrant as white blossoms upon the wind.

The Servant fussed with her bonds and Mylia slumped to realize there would be no more food for a while.  She grimaced as he tied a short rope between her ankles with enough length for her to take short steps.  Her hands were also firmly bound and only her tail fell beyond the hemline, long and beautifully furred upon the ground.  Mylia wanted to cradle her beloved tail against the cold and filth but her bonds gave no choice in the matter.

The Servant pulled a cloth over her head and fixed the ends.  She wondered if captivity would always blind her but a gauze segment had been stitched into the fabric and her vision was free, although hazy.  Of this small benefit, she was grateful.

The Servant opened the door and led her through a passageway, then down and up several stairs.  Mylia hobbled as best she could.  The castle lay blue in early morning light and echoed of the silence that accompanies a heavy snowfall and the lingered slumber of those tired before the face of another day’s work.

A young woman passed them within a stairwell.  Her grey dress was similar to the Servant’s jacket and Mylia figured her to be another castle worker.  The woman looked her up and down, first as a stranger, and then with a gloating knowledge.

Mylia had seen such a look before.  Many wynters ago, when she was just a wyrmling child, she followed a black panther who tracked a deer.  The panther knew Mylia was on her trail and gave her the slip, disappearing into the trees during a stormy night when heavy rain dampened Mylia’s senses.  The next morning, she found the panther bent over a devoured deer.  The panther raised its head, jaws bloody with purple guts, and that same, gloating look from her yellow cat eyes.   It was rare for a creature from the second breaking to outwit a fourth breaking wyrm and Mylia snarled in outrage.  But the panther only hissed and plunged into the carcass with furious gulps and Mylia left, her belly growling with hunger.  After that event, she learned to climb trees to outrun the large cats.

The young woman gave a small laugh.  “Is this the Prince’s new plaything?”

“Mind your own business, Lolli.”  The Servant pulled Mylia to keep walking.

Lolli smirked, undeterred.  “He likes them tied up these days, does he?”

“You have dishes to clean,” the Servant replied.  “Who Prince Asher entertains is none of your business.”

“Edith does whatever she wants and no one says anything.”

“You’re not the Lady Edith,” he said.

Lolli playfully stuck out her tongue but her face burnt with anger as she sauntered up the stairwell and vanished from sight.

They left the stairs and entered a narrow, stone hall lined with doors.  It was a castle stung with poverty and neglect, Mylia suddenly realized, noting the dust webs and dead beetles, the furniture of rotted wood and faded cloth.  The rooms stank of cold leaves swept by winds across the pavers as the Servant and Mylia crossed a banquet hall.  Clustered iron chandeliers, filthy with rust, dropped from the vaulted ceiling in which slung a few bats, their wings twisted into a chrysalis for the day’s nap.  A row of paneled wood doors faintly gleamed with the scent of wine and roasted sweetmeats from the kitchens, while the other stone wall held an entrance door, partially open upon a cobbled yard in which the leaves drifted in.

Mylia’s eyes glittered for she knew this door was the way to freedom and the Wylds.  But, she had no further time to ponder.  The Servant pulled her into a side corridor and they halted before a wood and iron door upon which he knocked.

“You may enter,” echoed a soft, beautiful voice from within.

Chapter 8: September 23
Chapter 9: September 30
Chapter 10: October 7
Chapter 11: October 14

Chapter 6: She Did Not Hear His Voice on the Winds

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 seven days!)


Onward, the company rode until the two moons rose and the horses, weary and tiresome, kicked the gravel and flapped heavy lips at the cold.  Mylia listened to the nickering beasts and watched through the heaving of her veil, her bound wrists turned silver under the moonlight.

Some years later, she entered the grand halls of the Imperial Academy, clad in silk and prestige, and learned the names of her beloved moons.  Isol, Moon of Sorrow and Ridven the Warrior, prophesier of the planet’s end and beloved of all who traveled by night.  During those years, she studied the heavens under famous academics eager to know her and join her elite social circle.  It was then she learned the chemical makeup of stars, their wavelength mathematics, the heat maps measuring their twinkling latitudes around the galaxy and piercing through the atmosphere of this world.


Snow Scenes

But on this night, Mylia only felt instinctual joy for the heavens—a joy soon to be interrupted.

The Servant detached her from the mule and tied her up in a tent.  Judging from the prickly scent of old blanket and the echoed heaves of cloth walls fluttering beyond her grasp, she knew the tent to be empty.  Which was an excellent condition, given how she planned to run away. A swift grab with her tied hands, and the veil flung away into a heap.  With an awkward wriggle of bound limbs, the wool dress soon followed and she lay naked of clothes—shivering but free—among the heaps of blanket on the stones.

Food awaited her.  A pitcher of water and a flayed rabbit curled upon a metal plate beside a cold bread hunk.  Gerard had kept his promise and caught her meat.  Mylia wolfed down the meal.  The bones stuck in her throat and the loaf was squashed and dry, but her snarling belly outweighed such annoyances.  Lacking clothes but feeling satisfied and full, Mylia felt her old wyrm self again and set to work escaping.

She first tried to pry open the walls of the tent, but her rope tied to a stake holding the tent center and repeated tugging failed to free her.  Even lying on her stomach and reaching with all her pain-ridden strength, she could not touch the tent walls.  So, Mylia flung an ear against the stony ground and listened with all her strength.  Crisp steps rang upon frozen ground outside as the hunters hurried to set up the camp, settle the horses and prepare dinner.  Already the flinted spark of fires hummed through the ground and the horses stomped their hunger and demanded oats and hay.  Again and in a fit of anger, she tried her bonds but they remained firm.

Tired and cross, she lay down and rested for a time.  A dreadful, guilty pang struck her.  She could not escape and felt such failure suggested on a primal level that she did not want to be free.  Surely, if she truly wanted to leave, she would try to run away until she won or her life ended in the attempt.  She considered this choice with some angst.  Give her a minute of freedom and away under the night sky, she would flee, for the Wylds and her home.  In that fitful moment of bliss, her legs would lurch forward, unbroken, and her wings, unfurl upon the vast, swift skies.  She softly mewed as a tear slipped down her cheek.

What a dream it was.  Mylia, beautiful as the daylit stars, flying above the earth as a shadow of sapphire and silver, her great wings beating the ice winds, careless and free!  But, she was small and shaped more human than wyrm and her wings would never carry her home.

The next few days passed without event.  She stayed upon her mule in the back of the troop and felt her injuries slowly mend.  Gerard sometimes rode beside her, judging by his scent, but he did not speak much.  When he did address her, the words remained casual and inflicted with announcements of approaching weather.  The Prince was absent and this concerned her greatly.  She never heard his voice on the winds that swept over their caravan.  Nor did she discover the scent of pine and snow that accompanied his presence.  She even listened for the militant stomp of his stallion.  But, he did not appear and she thought one of the villages had delayed him.  She even wondered if he had left the hunting party for other means…another hunt in the Wylds, perhaps.  Another wyrm to bring home to his castle lair, alive or dead.

Every day, she ate bread and rabbit and soon discovered the happy sensation of a full stomach.  The food was like a pillow stuffing her belly and all the angry hungers of yesteryear now lay silent, grimly blinking upon this strange guest.

But she had other pains to remind her of captivity.  Her forehead remained a swollen lump of pain and fluid and her broken legs ached at every jostle of the mule’s step.  Once, the Servant and medic adjusted the splints and washed the bruised skin.  Mylia knew many oaths from listening to the voices that howled amid the cold sweep of wind and snow upon the Wylds.  She snarled every oath in a melodic litany as the men refastened her legs straight along the wood.

One morning, the Servant brought black gloves and pulled them upon Mylia’s hands, stretching over her shackles.  Mylia was surprised at how well they fit.  She considered this a new approach of the humans to keep her wyrm figure concealed for the Servant, finding her skin free amid the blankets after a night’s sleep, had angrily demanded she remain dressed around the clock.  Mylia disagreed but when she removed the gloves that night, she found that her hands glowed a deep shade of twilight blue while her upper arms remained grey.

Mylia held her hands to her face and marveled at the bewitching color until it faded to match the dim shadows.  And that was how she learned that heat could be contained for indefinite periods of time if such heavy coverings were worn.  After that moment, she fastidiously kept the gloves save for when she removed them with her teeth to stare upon the beauty of her skin.  This experience later helped precipitate her extravagant love of huge furs, heavy velvet gowns, hot baths, roaring fireplaces and electrically heated wood floors, but Mylia did not realize it at this time.

They rode through several villages and once, a large and noisy town.  Mylia remained blinded by her veil, but the fast-changing smells and racket that assailed her delicate ears helped her understand the changing environments.  She could not have guessed from her leafy bower amid the snow and mountains just how many people were alive.  It seemed the world swarmed with this species of the third breaking.  At least, there were no more attacks upon her.

Now that she remained wrapped from head to foot, she was mostly left alone.  In fact, she noticed even the Servant treated her a little better as he gave her food and cared for the mule.  Because she wore human clothes—that she needed human clothes to prevent attacks—seemed to indicate on a deeply moral level that she was less of a wyrm.  She knew that the difference was fundamental; her blood ran cold while they were mammals and her features and body were thousands of years advanced beyond their genetic makeup.  Yet, eyes were easily tricked and she felt glad to have disinterest replace the hatred of preceding days.

Only the older hunter, Titus, the one that dragged her through the camp like a dead thing and laughed while she had starved, never ceased hating her.  She could feel him walking by her tent at night and feel his burning gaze towards her during the day, disgust radiating from his body in sour waves.  She hoped to never have him touch her again.  If he did, her claws would remove his eyes or she would die in the attempt.

They traveled for several more days, perhaps eight or a dozen.  Mylia found it hard to keep track since she measured time by the fall of the moons and seasonal leaves.  Once, they crossed a river.  She later learned it was called the Ringold and fed into four major rivers that created great corridors of traffic for the Empire’s trade and allowed world travel for commoners who lacked passcodes into the Dyn realm.  She felt the pebbled grass change from under her mule’s tread and noted they were on a road of sorts, made of large, hewn paving stones.

Marco Zaffignani

Mylia marveled at how closely fitted each stone was into the other.  The bridge was built centuries ago.  She could smell the multiple years packed into the layers of cement, gravel and circular pebbles that created a strong, flat structure for the road upon the rough landscape.  Deep beneath its stones, there lay the celery stench of human skeletons; workers who had died so the bridge could rise.

And the water!  This was no slurpy, moss-banked stream lurching down the mountains.  The river was vast, encrusted with jagged boulders that smashed the pounding water into frothy, roaring waves.  Her small nostrils flared, attempting to find traces of fish or river birds.  But, no, the stream lay devoid of life for the waters ran too fast and banks veered too steeply.

It was upon the bridge that Mylia picked up another scent.  Prince Asher had been here and riding his horse, judging from the commingled scent of spiced fir and snow and beast that lay aged upon the chill air.  She followed his trail across the clattered bridge.  And she wondered as a thrill sparked her soul in memory of his touch upon her face.  He cared for her life and of this feeling, she grew more certain with every passing step upon the fitted stones.  But, his voice remained silent and his presence, unfound, and then, a strange event happened.

As Mylia’s mule clattered off the bridge, all scent of Prince Asher vanished.  She rapidly sniffed the air, craning far out of her saddle, but no answers met her sparking brain.  No fresh mud upon the river banks spoke of his departure into the water and his presence was gone from the trail as though he had lifted into the sky or the world had zeroed his very body into nothingness.

Mylia was utterly confounded.  Prince Asher had appeared at the bridge and crossed it upon his horse.  And then, he had vanished.

The group left the bridge behind.  An excited rustling and chatter rose among the men for they were within the Prince’s lands and soon to be home.  Mylia heard the lowing of cattle and sheep upon the moors and smelled the spice of freshly tumbled snow.  Yellow and brown leaves crunched amid the frost under her mule’s hooves and she noticed a new pep to the animal as it recognized the warm manger that lay ahead.  Mylia almost felt happy until she remembered her future lay unmade.

That evening, under Isol’s blue moonlight, they arrived at the castle of Prince Asher.  The sounds and scents alerted Mylia before all else.  Stoked furnaces dimly roared deep within the stone turrets and tiled rooves and a heavy, golden scent of roasted fat hinted of the sheep and goat that had flamed for dinner.

B&N Blog

And she eagerly sniffed the other mingles of food both known and new.  Hot wheat rolls and gravy-dunked potato and buttered carrots and thick creams and herbs fresh from a greenhouse garden.  The heavy, sweet, wild-honey odor of mead drifted from underground cellars, punctuated with the sharp aroma of red wines so succulent, she could almost see the frosted grapes squashed into silting wines, waiting in their cool, dark lair for hands to drag them forth and gulp them down.  And Mylia trembled for the scents spoke of human desire and she did not yet know her placement within that feeling.

The hunters cantered under a large stone gateway, and she caught a flash of brown waters under the drawbridge, and then they stopped in a wide courtyard.  Mylia waited, listening to the band of hunters dismount and tether their horses, shouting to each other as people gathered around them.  It was a long, lonely moment and she was almost glad when the Servant approached and gripped her mule’s harness.

Mylia knew it was the Servant for she smelled the man’s familiar, mild soap scent as he led her mule down one of the narrow passageways between what must have been tall buildings and made of stone, judging from the echoed ring of hooves upon the cobblestones.  Through her veil, she saw the world darken and knew they were inside a building—the first building she had ever entered!—descending a curving path, as the air chilled and sounds faded.

A great fear swept her brain and she knew she must escape.  Mylia took a deep breath, sucking in mouthfuls of veil and tried to pull it from her head, but to no use.  She felt the Servant’s slight touch on her face, readjusting the cloth tighter.  She viciously snapped for his hand, knowing that she must have come near to removing the headgear.

“Hey, Titus, come help me with her!”  The Servant shouted.   The odor of metal and leather arrived, punctuated by firm crunches of footsteps and Mylia felt a familiar grab upon her neck and a frightfully strong, recognized force pull her off the animal.

“You need to take a firm hand with the wyrm,” Titus said and threw her into a heap.

Mylia snarled and floundered in the cloth and bonds.  The fall upon the stones had jolted her leg fractures and shuddering bolts of pain thumped her brain, leaving her in agony and unreason.  But, the Servant and Titus said no more as they fixed her bonds and left, their steps ascending upwards.

Mylia pressed her ear to the floor to listen.  Unlike the peacefully buzzing, chatty forest systems full of gossip and news, this huge building echoed with the vast stillness and impregnability of stone and dead wood beams.  There must have been ivy growing upon the exterior walls and roof, for she heard a faint and yet alive babble of squeaky voices she recognized as crawling, vine-like plants.  But their voices were soft and held an accent she did not understand.

Mylia explored the lengths of her rope and discovered a curved iron handle bolted into the stone wall.  She tugged with all her might, but soon collapsed, tired and snarling, to the ground.  There, she lay and wondered when and how she would die.  Her claws made thin rasps upon the stone.  She would be ready.  As for Titus—a growl curdled her vocals and the air stiffened in reply.

The cell darkened and grew colder as night pierced the world’s atmosphere.  Mylia shivered.  The past days of relative warmth from her cloths and nightly tent had quickly taught her body the meaning of fresh cold.  Now, she expected a warmth only possible through human trappings and ministrations.  And she wondered if therein lay their final trap.  She would forget her freedom not through need but desire.  Bound and wrapped, Mylia could only lie amid the cloying blackness of her prison.  And so, she waited…and waited…and waited.

Just when she thought her mind could not exist another moment, footsteps echoed nearby and then Mylia heard the rasping scrape of leather upon stone as the Prince knelt beside her and harshly gripped her head within his hands.

Chapter 7: September 16
Chapter 8: September 23
Chapter 9: September 30
Chapter 10: October 7