So, in my serial story, Beyond the Parchment, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And now she has just leaped through the portal, dragging one of her wounded characters with her, to escape her villain.
But, first, I spent some time starting to get a Beyond the Parchment pinterest board. Here are a few pictures I found. 🙂 No collages yet, but they’re coming.
They are identical twins, after all. *scowls* I should have considered pictures before I came up with that idea…
Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here:
I’m Never Doing That Again
Shards of blue light stab through my brain, surging about me, tearing at my hair and clothing like a wild animal. The roar of thunder fills the air, echoing in my ears, strobing a blur of glinting silver and darker shadows behind my eyes.
Nothing exists. Nothing but noise and light and something hard I have clutched in one hand. Then even the thunder is gone. There is nothing. Shadows close on all sides of me. Silence echoes in my ears. Something itches beneath my cheek. My breath is hot against my lips.
Somewhere, as though from a distance, I hear a muffled groan. My stomach churns and every muscle in my body aches. I roll over on my back with a moan, staring upwards at the blur of red and orange flickering in and out of focus.
I draw a quick breath, shoving myself into a sitting position. My head spins, the shadowy scene swimming before my eyes. I gasp as I plant both hands on the floor to keep myself from falling. How had the others come through the portal so effortlessly? Because I am not about to go through it again.
Not even to get back home.
Besides that, of course… I blink away the gloom, but there is no sign of a portal. Just a ring of charred earth and glowing embers on the straw of what must be the stall of a stable. Something shifted in the shadows beyond the glowing ring and I stagger to my feet, then stumble forward.
“Daraton!” I drop to my knees beside him. His fingers curl around my wrist.
“What… have you… done?”
“Saved your life, for starters. Again.” I scowl, my gaze skimming his pale drawn face and clenched jaw. His sword still hangs from his hand, but that is the least of my worries, whatever the suppressed rage surging behind his eyes.
I stretch my fingers toward the slim dagger still embedded in Daraton’s side, then jerk back before I actually touch it. Isn’t there something about leaving such things inside a stab wound until they can be properly cared for so the patient doesn’t bleed to death in the meanwhile.
“Which is the only reason I’m still lying here.” Daraton pushes himself up on one elbow, then winces. I press him back, the dark stain about the dagger growing.
I swallow hard, my breath hissing between my teeth.
Come on, think! You’ve hurt characters worse than this before and they survive. Well, sometimes.
Yes, and they all had expert healers or at least friends who knew what they were doing to dress their wounds.
I don’t know what to do! I’ve only ever said ‘his wound was bandaged’ in my own writing.
Lazy research. Serves you right.
“Shut up!” I hiss the words out loud, then blink as Daraton stares at me. “Not you I just… I need more light.” I stumble to my feet and yank the torch from its socket, slipping the stone both brothers seem to view as so important into my pocket as I step back across the sifting ashes. There must be a way to turn the portal back on. Or something… I don’t have time to worry about it right now as I crouch down at Daraton’s side.
His eyes narrow as he watched my face. “You have no clue what you are doing, do you?”
He rolls his eyes, then grits his teeth as he props himself on his elbow and drags himself backward so he is half sitting against the stall wall.
“Be careful!” I shove the torch into a rack on the wall and turn back towards Daraton as he yanks the dagger from his side. So much for that.
His fingers fumble with a pouch at his side and I shove his hand aside, unbuckling it and pulling out a strip of white cloth. “You carry bandages with you?”
“I will now,” I mutter under my breath, pressing a portion of the cloth against the wound in his side. “So…”
Daraton grits his teeth. “Over the tunic. We’ll get it better later but… we have to get out of here…” He leans his head back against the stable wall, his eyes closed, his teeth clenched. Swiftly I wrap the bandage around his midsection, adding extra wrapping he gives me against his side, then fastening it off tightly.
The wound is low enough, but not too low, and it doesn’t seem extremely deep either… I rock back on my heels as I finish. “The bleeding is slowed down. You should survive.”
“Survive the cut or the poison?”
“Poison?” I bite my lip before I can utter a very unladylike comment. That is so not fair. I never even decided that Varizan dabbles in poisons. Much less that he coats each weapon with them. Quite a personal hazard, I’d have thought, though not a bad idea if…
A distant crunch of hurried steps filters through the night and my head snaps toward the stable doors.
Daraton muffles a groan as he grasps the top of the stall, heaving himself to his feet. “We have… to get out of here.”
“Isn’t this your home?” I demand, throwing one of his arms over my shoulders. His foot slipped and I staggered under the sudden weight. “Shouldn’t we be getting you help?”
“Not here.” Daraton shakes his head. He motions towards the opposite side of the stable, but I am already heading towards the semi-secret entrance. That, at least, is something I know about. “Varizan…”
My mind sifts through one possibility after another as I help Daraton across the stable. Outside, the calls are getting louder.
How had Varizan even known of the portal? Though it wasn’t any surprise that he did, I suppose. He has spies everywhere. I should have known better than to give him so much persuasive charm. Had he killed the old lord then, and set the brothers on each other? But why? I scowl, my breath hissing between my teeth.
Varizan. The one character I’ve next to no backstory on. It is a tragic one, I am fairly sure. Other than that… nothing. Though it probably has something to do with Lord Balstin, seeing he is the only one dead at the moment. At least I hope so… My mind flits back to Jerinthreo. But no. With Daraton gone, Varizan will surely keep Jerin alive. I hope.
We reach the stable wall and Daraton leans against the wall, his hand feeling for the latch. The double doors at the other end other end of the stable are thrown open.
“…can’t be.” The voice is deep, with a drawling accent I almost recognize.
Daraton mutters a low oath.
“Didn’t Varizan say…?”
“I don’t blazes care what he said. Everyone vanishing isn’t natural, even for him. He’ll have got himself in deeper than he meant to this time…”
Daraton eases the door open. His hand pushes me through. My foot catches on a protruding brick. I stumble and, by the time I’ve regained my balance, Daraton is outside as well, silently shutting the door.
A squad of soldiers, their caps lined in the black and silver of Salendria tramp by. Daraton presses me back into the shadows, though I’m already huddled tight against the wall. They vanish without so much a glance in our direction and I move under Daraton’s arm so he can lean on me.
“The village…” His breath is coming shorter now. Already. The wound or the poison? “We can get help there. It’s…”
“I know where the village.” I turn my steps toward the wood sweeping up against the pastures. A pity it isn’t day. Lord Balstin’s gardens were supposed to be the most enchanting of the land. Though I don’t suppose we’d be able to hide in shadows if it were light out. As it is, the moon is enough to give us away if anyone has a sharp enough eye.
But who is in the village? I hadn’t… oh, right. I almost smirked. Daraton has a secret love interest there. This Ethred I keep hearing about, perhaps?
The shadows of the forest close about us, but we strike a path soon. Daraton’s steps are growing slower, but he presses on, his breath rasping in my ear. The village. How far is the village again?
“Who goes… Daraton?” A lithe figure cuts the challenge short, springing onto the path before us. A quiver hangs across her back and she slips the bow across her shoulder as her hands cup Daraton’s face and she stares up into his eyes.
He manages a tight smile, but she places a finger on his lips before he can speak. “Later. I’ll get you to mother…” Her eyes skim me. “What happened?”
Her eyes darkened. “Poison?”
“We think so.”
She moved to Daraton’s other side and between the two of us it is only several minutes later when we break into a clearing just outside the village. Warm light spilled from a window, and in the open door a short, wiry figure stands, waiting. Her white hair hangs to her waist, bound carefully back, and a cloak is wrapped around her shoulders.
“Must you always get yourself into trouble, my dear?” She shakes her head as she scans our small party, focusing on Daraton, then steps aside. “The bed, quickly.”
We deposit Daraton on a wide bed. Staggering back a step, I rub my shoulder as the two woman bend over Daraton, stripping the cloth from his wound, cleaning it, and rebandaging it. The younger girl sits at his head, her fingers brushing away his hair, as her mother finishes the examination. The light gleams gold on her hair and her lips pucker into a charming frown. It’s no wonder both the brothers like her.
Some of the color has returned to Daraton’s face, but he is still pale, his eyes closed, his jaw tensed. But finally his breathing relaxes.
“He’ll sleep for a good bit.” The older lady announces, rising to her feet. “Now,” she turns on me. “How about you tell us exactly what happened?”
“Without even proper introductions, mother?” the younger girl rises, forcing a smile as she rounds the bed.
I return the expression. “My name is May Ann.” My fingers touch the stone in my pocket. “I presume you are Ethred?”
The older lady snorts out a laugh, her frown easing into a smile. “No, my dear, I’m Ethred. That is my daughter, Adella. Lord Daraton’s wife.
Well, what say you? I have the basic story outlined now, but what do you think/want to happen next?