I know. It is Wednesday and I said I was only posting twice a week. But I have something I’m planning on posting Friday, in relation to Shadows of the Hersweald so you get the next installment of Beyond the Parchment a few days early. 😉
In this serial story, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.
Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here. You could just read the short blurbs about them, of course, but you’ll probably miss some important details. The blurbs are there for those of you who have read the story and are trying to keep track of all the names, more than anything else. You’re welcome. *bows*
Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second in which a writer, May Ann, wakes up to find a portal she’d designed in her book has become operational and two brothers, Jerinthreo and Daraton have come through and engaged in a bitter fight.
Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right? May Ann tries to keep the brothers from killing each other. Grabs Jerin and pulls him into a secret passage, only to discover she has Daraton instead (they are identical twins). Break out of the passage into May Ann’s kitchen only to discover Varizan, a villain May Ann created, waiting for them.
Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same Another fight between Daraton and Varizan breaks out in May Ann’s kitchen and May Ann saves Daraton’s life by shoving them both through the portal (which so happens to be the fridge).
Part 4: I am never doing that again May Ann and Daraton arrive in Braceaon, Daraton is wounded and Varizan’s soldiers have taken over Daraton’s former home. May Ann helps Daraton away and they find Ethred, a lady both Jerin and Daraton seem to respect, and her daughter, Adella, who happens to be Lord Daraton’s wife.
Well, That Complicates Things
Adella, Lord Daraton’s wife. The words echo through my mind as I numbly stare at the two women, the one short with gray hair and steady eyes, the other twisting an arrow between her fingers. Since when had Lord Daraton decided to get married without inviting me to the wedding?
Ethred chuckles, shaking her head. “No worries. They all look at us like that when we tell them. It’s a precious small secret right now, thanks to that snake, Vaizen.” Her forehead furrows as she turns to the fire, breaking up the coals with short stabbing motions.
The scene blurs as I shake my head, the Adella is at my elbow. “You must be tired, too. Portal traveling and all.” She leads me to a chair and gently pushes me down. Her gaze skims my clothing. “You’re not from here, I take it.”
“Not from…” I blink, shaking my head. Even details behind secret marriages needed to wait in the face of the danger we were in. “No, not really.”
“Ah.” Ethred’s lips twisted into a wry smile as she pours steaming liquid into a mug and hands it to me. “That much we knew. I saw Daraton go through that portal myself, after all.” She settles down opposite me. “Now I realize you are upset and stressed and afraid, but we really need–”
“I’m fine.” The words are a bit sharper than I mean them. “Sorry…” I wrap my fingers around the warmth seeping from the mug. “But really, I am fine.”
“Wonderful.” Ethred smiles broadly as Adella leans against the wall behind her, twirling an arrow between her fingers. “So, where is Jerinthreo, how did you meet up with Varizan, what is he planning, how did Daraton get wounded, and how did he end up with you?”
Adella stares at the rafters above, a small smile teasing her lips. “She’ll forget the questions before you’re finished with them, mother.”
Ethred frowns. “It’s not my fault you young ones have such short attention spans. But if it can’t be helped…” She looked at me again, her eyes stabbing through mine. “Well, out with it. As quick as you can. And as much as you can remember.”
I bite the inside of my lip, hesitating. The brothers both trust her. They are also at odds with each other, which means she must transcend the petty arguments flaring up about us. Well, that or she was some sort of double agent or else…
Stop it. I scold myself. She’s not a secret agent. At least… ok, so I don’t know everything going on here, but I feel sure of that, at least. Maybe she can help, and we need answers of our own.
Interlocking my fingers behind my head, I stare into the crackling flames and slowly sift through the past few hours, recounting all I could remember. Well, all except for the fact that I had written this world in the first palace. They’ll not believe that, and even if they do, I’ve a feeling they’ll not want to hear they are figments of my imagination. If they actually are, that is. I am growing less and less certain by the minute.
Ethred flips the wire covered stone in the palm of her hand, tracing the silver designs which swirled over the smooth surface. “And you’re the Wordsmith?”
I jerk, staring at her. Wordsmith… that is what Varizan called me too, though I’d not mentioned it.
“Maybe?” Adella slips the arrow into her quiver. “How can one not know?”
Ethred shakes her head, peering over her shoulder at her daughter. “You’re lucky. I’ve told you that before. Most Wordsmiths don’t even know their kind exists, much less what they can do.”
Adella’s eyes slide back to me, but I am staring at Ethred. “Wordsmith? As in… a writer?”
“No, my dear.” Ethred holds the stone by a chain, letting it swing back and forth. “Not a writer. A Chronicler.”
“Every generation has one,” Ethred interrupts me. “There are storytellers in many worlds, but there is only one Wordsmith in each land. They write of people in other lands, carrying the histories and the lessons learned across the borders of time and space. I was a Wordsmith, and Adella has taken the duties in hand now.” Ethred rose, crossing the room and opening a deep shelf. Rows upon rows of leather-bound notebooks stared from the shadows.
“You are from…” Ethred’s fingers trace down the spine. “Terra, is it not? Ah yes. The Wordsmith May Ann. She was the one who designed a portal…” Ethred motion outwards in the general direction of the manor house, while she flips through the yellowed pages. “Nothing about coming here, but it looks like you get married and then…”
“Stop!” I spring to my feet. My stomach twists. What on earth did this lady know about me? About my life. Another story. Another history… “I don’t want to know. I really don’t. Assuming all you tell me is true.”
“I didn’t say it would all happen, dearie.” Ethred places the book back on the shelf and turns back toward me. “Some Wordsmiths are more connected with what happens than others. There are some who get the accounts horribly mangled, I fear. Though it is hard to tell, seeing we can’t generally confirm any of them. Are you an orphan with one brother in the army and a younger sister who died in your arms four years ago?”
“Am I… why… you…” I sputter. “No! I have a wonderful family who happens to be on vacation until tomorrow night.” I bite my lip. Tomorrow night I’ve until then to get Vaizen out of my house. And possibly buy a new fridge.
Ethred sighs and shrugs. “Ah well. A pity. Not for you, of course, but it was touching. And your own death scene…”
I glare at Ethred. “Wait until I get back and write up a heartrending scene for your death. It would be just the thing to get Jerin and Daraton back on the same side, don’t you think?”
“Don’t you dare.” Steel presses just below my eye and I raise my eyebrows as I meet Adella’s flashing stare. “I am the Wordsmith here, and I can make you suffer much worse than death. Believe me.”
“One would think you both could actually make a difference.” Ethred rolls her eyes. “A Wordsmith writes what happens in the various worlds. The stories which come to them are history, but they don’t always come fully formed. And where guesswork is involved, drama and truth do not always go hand in hand. You both can kill each other or me as much as you please in your writings, it’s not going to make it so. And you, Adella, should know that already.”
Adella sighs, scowling as she lowers the arrow. “I know, but still…”
I hold up both hands. “It’s fine. I’d probably do the same if you threatened…” I broke off, watching her warily. “Never mind. I’m not telling you who you should threaten.”
Adella snorts, but her lips curve up slightly.
“And,” I turn back to Ethred, “since I’ve answered your questions, it’s only fair you return the favor.”
“As if life cares anything for fairness.” Ethred shakes her head, her eyes twinkling. “Well, ask away, and I’ll answer as best I can.”
I bite my lip, glancing around the small room. Beyond the shuttered windows, shadows of the night press inwards. Braceaon. My land. Which is no longer my land because I had nothing to do with the creation in the first place. I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. There will be time, later on, to deal with such… things.
“What has happened here?” I finally find the words. “Daraton, Jerin, Lord Balstin… I knew he would die, I just didn’t realize he died so early.”
Adella glances at Ethred, and Ethred sighs, taking a seat. “Neither did I. Or any of us.” She passes one hand over her face. “It was Vaizen, mainly. Riling Lord Balstin with news of Daraton’s marriage. Then he got cozy with Jerinthreo over the portal to gain access to that. We still aren’t sure who assassinated the Lord, but Vaizen made sure Daraton thought Jerinthreo had a hand in it due to his contestation for more lands, whereas Jerinthreo now thinks it has something to do with Adella and Daraton’s marriage.” Ethred glares at Daraton who is still sleeping peacefully. “Fools, both of them, though I must say Vaizen was convincing enough.”
“And Vaizen?” I ask. “What does he want?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Adella looks sharply at me. “He wants the Wordsmith. He wants you.”
I groan. Great. This is just great.
“It’s not all that bad,” Ethred assures me. “There are plenty of others he wants too, though you are at the top of his list. Rest now, and by morning we might have a few more answers, although…” she glances at Daraton, “We may have more pressing matters on our hands by then.”
Right. Poison. And such.
I sigh, but let them lead me to a bed tucked in the wall. I’m never going to sleep, of course. Not now. Not after what has happened.
But I’m so tired.
I blink rapidly, trying to keep my eyes open. Or did that put one to sleep? What did it matter? I was exhausted and somewhere in my muddled thoughts I’ve the suspicion Ethred slipped some sort of calming agent in my tea. But I do I need sleep.
My eyes slip closed and darkness sweeps about me…
Darkness, but light filters through the air. My shoulders ache and something rough is holding my wrists behind my back. Rope? A heavy breath echoes in my ear and I jump, twisting to the side. A vaguely familiar outline leans against the wall as my eyes adjust to the gloom. His cloak is torn, and blood stains his tunic and face.
My brow furrows as I stare at him. Somewhere, footsteps echo. Why does my head throb so? And is that… are those my shoes? I blink, my gaze skimming the familiar confines of my walk-in closet. What on…?
The door is flung open, and light streams inwards.
I squint against the sudden brightness, then a shadow falls between me and the light.
“Well, well, well.” Varizan’s hand catches my chin as he crouches down, forcing me to meet his gaze. “Look who finally woke up?”
And…there you have it. Any guesses on what is happening or what will happen next?