The sky was a the kind of empty blue that foretells a sunny, uneventful day, as untouched by actual weather as a day can be. Alivia couldn’t stand it. She wanted to frolic in mud puddles, dancing under the droplets of a gusting storm. She wanted to prance and twirl on her cloven hooves, shake raindrops from her snowy mane like a waterfall, and spear the thorn-sharp tip of her horn into as many individual drops of water as she could. She wanted to play rainy day games.
The rain soaked the mountain until its red dirt was dusty no more. Chira’li spread his wings testing them, and the water beaded on his feathers like glittering gems.
Water streaked down Nawry’s face, soothing him. It was like the entire world could finally cry for all the wrongs that had been done, the cold shoulders turned; every minute of pent up pain got released. And the tears were beautiful.
Nawry stayed for the night in the castle. He slept in a downy bed under a canopy of rich green velvet, much the same color as the forest canopy itself. But the bed was much more comfortable than sleeping on the forest floor, leaned against a fallen log. He awoke to find Kassy curled up on the pillow beside him. The pillow’s soft cotton covering was a pale shade of lime, so the tiny gray cat looked like she was sleeping on a grassy hillside, just the right size for her.
According to the maps drawn up by Benter’s guards, Nawry’s quest must take him South. The shoreline was only two days’ swim in that direction, a much shorter journey through the depths of the ocean than the one that had brought them to Benter’s Kingdom. A shorter swim was certainly an appealing prospect. However, Nawry worried about denying Kassy the chance to return home.
In the mere days of their journey so far, Nawry had seen Kassy’s small body grow leaner and longer. The silver fuzz of her fur had smoothed and dimmed to a gentle gray. Although Kassy hadn’t noticed it, Nawry could see her growing older. She had bare seasons to live compared to the many years he could look forward to, and he didn’t want to keep her from the society of the other kit-seeds if she wanted to return. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 4: The Evergreen Masquerade”
For three days, Nawry had swum through empty water over barren sand in deep dark. He was used to his eyes playing tricks on him. So, when blackness lifted to blueness, he paid no heed. Surely, he’d imagined it.
Yet, the water ahead of him continued to grow lighter, paler. The light was diffuse. Even once Nawry was sure it must be a sign of the kingdom he was approaching, he couldn’t make anything out of the azure and cerulean blurs ahead. It didn’t look like a kingdom. He saw no buildings, no castle. It looked like a fragmentation in his vision. His eyes had grown too tired, he thought, and had invented an hallucination. Then, suddenly, the darkness, the blueness, and the light pulled together, and Nawry understood what he saw. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 3: Benter’s Kingdom”
Nawry discovered the Karillow tree nestled between the bounteous persimmon and peach trees behind Aumna’s house. It was a little, silver branched waif, and, unlike all the other trees in the glade, it was winter-naked all winter long.
The Noodlebeasts came from the North. They traveled the Rocky Shores with their baskets of noodle-seeds, eating only as many as they needed to survive. The rest they saved for their arrival. It was a long journey along the crooks and crags and crannies. At night, they found safe nooks, protected from the beating of the ocean waves. There, they built cozy fires, toasted noodle-seeds for their supper, and sang songs about the world they were traveling toward. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 1: The Rocky Shores”
Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023
The trunks of the trees stretched up toward a sky blocked out by clusters and clumps of orange and red autumnal leaves. The trunks were smooth, black, regular. Minutus loped between them, slaloming through the woods on long legs, bushy with her burgeoning winter coat. She was alone. She’d been alone since her latest litter had grown into full-coated, long-legged adult wolves of their own. With their own lives. Continue reading “The Soul of the Forest”
Originally published in All Worlds Wayfarer, Issue XII, September 2022
Eggshell cracked, and the dome of the world broke away, showing a whole other world, infinitely larger and more complicated, beyond the confines of the duckling’s natal home. It was time to lift her head — breaking the eggshell further, widening the crack in it — and then spread her wings, shaking out the scraggly, wet feathers plastered to her dimpled skin, letting them begin to dry into soft, yellow down. Continue reading “Stranger Than a Swan”