Running, running, running. To where? From what? I no longer know. All I know is I must never stop. Will I ever remember why I am running? Will I receive a clue? I cannot even see what is around me anymore, only the ground before my feet.
The only thing going through my mind is right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. I must concentrate. If I fall I know everything will be over, even if I do not remember why.
Was that a noise of something behind? Is that light from the finish line ahead? Every time I expect it to end, I find myself still running.
Wait, I see something ahead in my narrowed vision… wait, do I also hear something behind? I can no longer tell what is real and what is imagined. How long have I continued to run? How have I managed to keep going, to not collapse from exhaustion?
Before me is light and blurred silhouettes of people. Finally the finish line, finally I can stop running.
They are waving, shouting, but my eyes can barely see, my ears can no longer hear.
The ground shakes beneath my feet. I stumble.
I look back and see what I had thought imagined, was real. A mass of horror charging towards me. Had this been why I was running?
I look towards the light and the people waiting. My vision clears enough to see them. Instantly my eyes are drawn to the figure in the center, their terrified expression as they scream.
Everything floods back into me. I was not running away. I needed to reach these people… to reach this person.
With no time left, I pull the data disk from my pocket and throw it with all my remaining strength.
A smile on my face as I see it soar through the air, knowing it will reach them. “Use that and live!” I scream hoarsely, unsure if my voice carries.
I am content in my final thought. I succeeded. You will now survive, my love. DARKNESS.
Apparently when I get distracted I’m not happy with only having my attention drawn away from the story I want to focus on, but I get distracted from my distraction, so now I’m doubly far away from what I’m really want to work on.
I know it’s not so bad since it’s still related to writing, which is one of my hobbies I derive the most enjoyment from, but you would think there is a limit to how far I can wander off course.
Some of the blame must be laid at the feet of my other favourite hobby, listening to music (which I have playing in the background almost all the time) As this most recent distraction is the inspiration from my favourite track “Nosaj Thing – Eclipse/Blue” that I have on continuous repeat (I get a bit obsessive about music I love)
I love being surprised with a new story idea or concept, though it happens a little too often for how quickly I can complete a story, since I can be inspired by nearly anything. Sometimes from the beat or lyrics of a song. It’s also possibly from a book, movie or really any story telling medium, that I sometimes wonder or wish had gone in a different direction. And then I am left writing a story outline and trying to find where in my priority list it belongs.
(Chapter contains -sama, Sakura tree and Jinbei. See Glossary for explanation if needed)
As he slowly walked into his village, it was filled with an unexpected excitement, that was uncommon for the usually quiet community.
One of his family’s handmaidens came running toward him, and after she’d slid to a halt, gave him a deep bowed. “Kai-sama, your mother Shizune-sama has been frantic trying to find you, as your presence is needed immediately.” she passed on breathlessly.
Kai gave her a tight-lipped smile. “Guess I’ll head home first then, thank you for letting me know Yumi.”
Yumi greeted the large black wolf next to him with a quick bow. “Good morning Ios-sama.” she said, before running off to complete the other errands his mother had sent her on today.
“Morning Yumi.” Ios replied cheerfully in his deep rumbling voice.
As the girl ran, she turned to flash Ios a quick smile, before disappearing around a corner.
With a sigh, Kai looked at Ios and gave him a scratch behind the ear. “I suppose you should go ahead and get something to eat first. There’s no telling how long Mother might spend chewing my ear off.” he said with resignation.
The wolf gave him a forlorn look, wishing him luck, before dashing off in the direction of the kitchens. He’d always found it amusing how such a massive wolf could suddenly revert to the mental age of a pup, the moment food came into the picture.
Even though Kai knew it was best to simply get it over with, he was still in no rush to reach the expansive mansion at the center of the village. Where his mother was no doubt waiting to lecture him on the most recent unbecoming behaviour of the heir of their people.
As Kai’s home came into view, it surprised him to see his mother actually waiting for him on the veranda at the front of the main building.
Catching sight of him, she frowned when it became apparent he was alone, Ios nowhere to be seen.
With some help from one of her maids she rose to her feet. “I’m glad you’ve come home before the day grew too late. Where is your Brother wolf?” she asked.
“We hadn’t eaten yet this morning, so he went to the kitchens to get something. I saw no reason for us both to go hungry while you saw me.” he replied respectfully.
Shizune waved it off. “Fine, fine. Come in your Father and I have important news for you.” she said briskly, before turning to head inside.
Kai was surprised and mildly suspicious, that she hadn’t complained or shouted at him. His chosen life style and habit of disappearing had been a common complaint of hers, not to mention leaving Ios free to do as he pleased.
Entering the main sitting room, his father was seated on one of the cushions on the floor drinking tea, while he peered outside at the newly blooming trees.
The room had been opened up, all the sliding panel walls pushed aside to let in fresh air and the fragrant scents of spring.
Looking over his cup. “Ah my Son, you have returned. Iruka bring some more tea.” his father said over his shoulder to the man in the corner.
“Right away, Asuma-sama.” Iruka said with a bow before leaving.
Following the subtle command his father’s eyes were giving him, Kai lowered himself onto the cushion opposite.
No one talked as both his parents waited patiently for the tea to be served.
Once everyone was seen to, his mother started things off. “Our family has ruled over our people since coming to these new lands, and as tradition dictates we have continued our close ties with the King’s line of this realm.
“Every three generations our families are united in marriage, to maintain a strong blood tie with each other.” she said staring at him sternly, not wanting any of his usual defiance when it came to important family matters.
Asuma took a sip of his tea, before speaking. “We have been communicating with the current King, in regards to which of his daughters would be chosen as your marriage partner.
“Once the potential candidate had been decided upon, I met with the young lady in question on a number of occasions and I believe we have chosen the perfect…”
Jumping to his feet, Kai cut him off. “Wait a minute. You can’t be seriously talking about this?” he shouted in disbelief.
With a shake of his head Asuma replied. “Obviously we’re talking about the arranged marriage between Princess Helena, and yourself. As tradition demands of the heir of our people.”
Kai growled. “How many times must I say that I’m not fit to be heir. It’s about time you realize that fact and find someone who is.”
Too tired to have this circular argument right now, Kai quickly made his escape out the opened wall.
Before he was out of ear shot, Shizune shouted after him. “Just know that she arrives at noon today, and will be staying with us. Your presence is mandatory for dinner tonight.”
Ios slipped out from under one of the nearby flowering sakura trees. “What were Mother and Father after? Is someone visiting?” he asked in concern.
“Apparently they have arrange a woman they want me to marry and she will be arriving today. Completely ignoring my constant reminders that I am unfit to lead our people.” he said in irritation.
The wolf nuzzled his hand. “Well at least it wasn’t to complain like usual and who knows, maybe this mate they have for you will be good for breeding.”
Kai chuckled softly. “I wish I could view the world as you do, my life would be much simpler. Anyway enough of that, did you manage to get something to eat?”
Instantly Ios went into puppy mode at the mention of food. “Yes the butcher gave me a full goose, it was just what I was hoping for.” he said while prancing about happily.
After a moment Ios came to a halt and give him a serious look. “Are you not going to eat Brother?” he asked with a hint of worry.
“I’m not hungry anymore, I just want to get some sleep.” he said rather curtly, which he instantly regretted as it wasn’t Ios’ fault.
They continued on in silence as they walked along the verandas that surrounded every building and covered walkways that connected them. The mansion was divided into branches with the part he resided in, being the furthest from the main house.
As they passed servants, Kai spoke as few words as possible, simply wanting to close himself off and hopefully be tired enough to finally get the sleep he desperately wanted.
With a sigh of relief he closed the sliding door behind himself, and made his way quickly down the hallway to his bedroom.
Too tired to bother undressing, Kai pulled his bedding out of the wall closet and only waited until it was mostly flat before falling onto it. Laying there, he prayed sleep would take him soon.
Kai felt incredibly disoriented being woken by Ios shifting in his sleep next to him and was unsure how long he’d managed to sleep, all he knew was it didn’t feel like it had been enough.
The instant he picked up the foreign scent in his room, Kai was on his feet crouching, ready for anything.
“I apologize for entering your chambers unannounced. I had tried knocking, but you failed to respond. Your parents asked me to find you and pass on that your presence is requested for dinner.” the young woman’s voice came from the doorway.
It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness and clearly see the woman, her hand still on the door.
Kai was surprised his sudden movements hadn’t startled her, but as he watched her bright green-blue eyes squinting in his direction. He guessed she probably couldn’t really make him out properly, not having the same exceptional night vision he had.
Her oval face was framed by a mass of tight golden ringlets that barely brushed her shoulders, these features made her stand out from his peoples dark brown, black hair and brown eyes.
If he was to be completely honest, Kai had to admit she was rather pretty, not that he would allow physical appearances to sway his decision.
Slowly Kai straightened up. “I guess I’d better join them then.” he said casually as he wiped his face with his hands.
The instant dinner was mentioned Ios had left in a flurry of excitement, which the woman seemed to take in stride as the large wolf rocketed past her.
Without bothering to change his clothes, he moved to follow the wolf out of his room still wearing his usual jinbei in the old language, something people usually only wore in casual settings around the house.
“After you Princess.” Kai said trying to show some civility.
Giving him a brief smiled she turned to head back outside, to the wooden walkways that would take them towards the main building.
Sensing his mood, she remained silent as they walked, seemingly content simply being there, even if they didn’t talk.
Entering the main dining room, Kai was annoyed to see all the family-heads of the village sitting on the floor in their two rows facing each other. His parents at one end, the place of honour for the leaders. He was even less impressed to see he was to sit at the opposite end with the new guest.
The disapproving look his mother focused on him was plain to see, as she took in his dishevelled appearance and casual attire.
Giving her only a shrug in reply, Kai sat down in the spot set for him, crossing his legs not wanting any part of these formalities. Everyone else was seated formally, kneeling with their legs tucked underneath, so they were sitting on the heels of their feet.
One of the maids directed the woman to sit to his left, which brought a heavy sigh from his lips. It had skipped his mind, but that was where the wife sat in these formal settings.
Kai tried his best ignoring everything that was said around him, as his parents went about introducing the woman to the family-heads. He was disappointed in himself when he accidentally caught her name, Helena.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves as they talked cheerfully, even continuing as the food was served.
Staring at his food, Kai attempted to awaken even the most minute semblance of an appetite, but it was to no avail. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d managed to finish a proper meal, most of the time it was a miracle if even managed half of one each day regardless of his own efforts.
Helena leaned over closely to him. “Are you not hungry? You really should give it a try, I haven’t tasted food so delicious before.” she said pleasantly.
“What?” Kai blurted out surprised by her proximity, after a moment he realised what she’d said. “I’m not hungry.” he replied flatly.
Raising to his feet in one swift motion, Kai found the room spinning around him and his vision going dark for a moment.
“I’m not feeling well, so I shall retire for the night. Please continue with the celebration and enjoy yourselves.” he said formally.
As Kai left, he heard Helena shifting to follow. “No dear, it is best to leave him be, I fear we have pushed him too far today. Even though we have tried bringing him up to be the next leader of our people, he continues to feel he is not fit for the role.” his mother explained sadly.
Not interest in listening to them talk about him, Kai strode off to his rooms. Arriving he found Ios lounging around on the freshly arranged bedding, his head sank the moment he saw the second bed arranged next to his.
His mother wasn’t wrong about pushing him too far, there was no way he could sleep in the same room as the Princess, it simply wasn’t appropriate.
Ios shifted just enough for him to drop onto the bed, which had become rather hot from the wolf’s body heat.
The wolf whined a little. “Sleep under the covers Brother.” he tried to say sternly.
Replying with nothing but a grunt, Kai closed his eyes and found that he was drifting off quickly even after all the sleep he’d gotten during the day. He decided he would just get a little sleep while they finished dinner and then he would organise alternative sleeping arrangements.
-sama (A term used when referring/talking to someone who is a much higher rank than the speaker)
Sakura tree (Cherry blossom tree) (Images Below)
Jinbei (Usually worn as a form of nightwear or house wear)(Image Below)
Samue (Worn by monks of most Japanese Buddhist traditions when performing labour duty such as temple maintenance and field work)(Image Below)
Kimono (are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back.)(Image Below)
Obi (Formal obi worn by men is rather narrow, 10 centimetres (3.9 in) wide at most. The men’s obi is wrapped around the waist, below the stomach and tied with a simple knot in the back.)
Two bits of news,
Firstly, apparently my return to my in-progress novel has been delayed, as I’ve found my attention stolen by a short story I’d finished and that was awaiting editing… proving once and for all that I’m a sucker for punishment as there are few things I find more tedious and time-consuming than editing.
The story “The Hidden Valley”(tentative title) will be released in five parts and is currently 8,881 words, but if the past is any indication that will inevitably increase as I attempt to make the story less terrible. I only hope I will manage to get it finished at a faster pace than the previous two novellas I edited.
(edit) Thinking about this post afterwards, I was stuck by my horrible ability to come up with a title for my stories. I have spent days in the past in deep thought in a vain attempt to think of something suitable, only to find myself sorely lacking. Leaving me with only one choice, to settle for something I can only shake my head at.
Secondly, I have been debating with myself on whether or not to post pdf downloads of the two novellas I have edited and posted on this blog and came to the conclusion that it’s better to have them available even if only a single person uses them, than not give people the option.
Hopefully the links below will work correctly and I’m more than happy for you to share them around if you think someone might enjoy them. Though it’s kind of disappointing I haven’t gotten around to organising covers for them yet, even if I know what I’m after
Though the task took much longer than I’d anticipated, it feels good to have the two novellas out of my completed work that I think are worth sharing, finally edited and posted.
The lesson I’ve learnt from this endeavour is, I am most certainly not an editor. I will certainly admit it was a invaluable learning experience, and my writing has vastly improved from the specialised thinking that goes into editing.
But at the same time I’ve been neglecting the vast quantity of story idea and outlines that have been awaiting my attention, and displaying their displeasure by multiplying on me.
I’m not entirely sure where I will be going with this blog now the work I’d planned has been completed, as the main reason behind the blog was to break the daunting task of editing into smaller more manageable chunks and to have a convenient place to send people if they wanted to have a read.
I’ll be going back to one of the novels I’d been writing before I took a break for this, which I’ve half written. So I’m not entirely sure what/when I might post something new, until the novel’s first draft is completed.
I thank everyone who has read or reads the stories I’ve posted, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did writing them.
It was a long and slow process, nursing Celia back to health, needing twice as much nursing than he would have expected. Her hair never managed to returned to its original vivid colour, though it had regained some colour, reaching a soft red.
With a little help, Celia had begun taking the gradual steps towards untainted feeling of happiness and actually being comfortable with herself.
As her state of mind cleared, Celia even began wanting to spend their afternoons in the small meadow, visiting the shrine they’d built in honour of both their parents.
Rune was also feeling more confident in his role of supporting Celia, now that she didn’t try to hide her emotions from him anymore and allowed him to comfort her during those times the memories became too much.
It wasn’t long before he started seeing Celia’s real smile, which only continued to occur more often as each day passed, until it became rare for her to not be showing her cheerfulness.
As the pain inside Celia ceased holding her back, Rune found an unexpected blessing as he was finally able to hear her sing. After which not a day went by that he didn’t ask her to sing, loving every moment he got to hear her beautiful voice.
One day when they were on the roof of his house repairing some of the damaged wooden shingles, a man walked up to them mentioning how word was spreading that Celia the Saint was rebuilding this village and he’d come wanting to help.
That man ended up being only the first of many, as people of all kinds and backgrounds arrived, all wanting to lend their knowledge and expertise.
A common theme among them was they’d all experienced or seen the affects of Celia’s kindness and deeds, and jumped at the opportunity to give something back.
Some of the arrivals had been once orphans she’d met many years ago, now grown up and living successful lives. To her surprise there was even someone from the very first orphanage she’d visited thirteen years ago.
It was a blessing that no one seemed taken aback by the strangeness surrounding Celia, as she hadn’t aged since meeting them. Nor was there a comment about her changed hair colour, as everyone easily accepted her for who she was and what she’d done.
The community continued to grow rapidly, quickly out pacing the speed at which they could construct the new buildings, as many people arrived with their families.
No matter the person’s skills or profession, everyone cheerfully found a way of helping the growing village, even the children found way of helping beside their parents.
A little unexpectedly, Celia was actually enjoying the liveliness that had quickly surrounded them, which came as a relief to Rune.
Celia’s one gripe was that people kept forgetting her wishes in regards to ceasing with the saint nonsense, Rune noticed a number of people also found her struggling towards this goal amusing.
After a single year it was impossible to believe the village had once been ruins, with its now bustling population.
One day a small group of orphans arrived, all dirty and starving. Everyone quickly adopted them into the village, as if they were one big family, setting about looking after them and giving them everything they needed.
It was a simple decision for everyone to construct extra buildings, and become a welcoming place for anyone in need, giving them a place they could feel at home.
Rune was amazed at how harmoniously everyone lived together, always helping each other out, which really made him love the village and the people inhabiting it.
That following spring, during one of the festivals everyone was holding, Rune watched Celia dancing with one of the children the village had taken in, it was plainly evident that she was easily having as much fun as her small dance partner.
Knowing it was the right time, Rune made his way to Celia and after asking for the next dance, finally asked her to marry him. After a moment of shock and embarrassment from being asked in front of everyone, said yes as she embraced him tightly.
The festival quickly turned into a celebration party, as the whole village congratulated them and began preparations to hold the ceremony the very next day, as everyone had been waiting for the day with bated breath.
Celia and Rune choose to hold it at the meadow where their life together had begun, and hoped both their parents would look down and watch the joyous occasion.
The village became so caught up with celebrating, that was still going months later. This was much to the dismay of the embarrassed couple, who’s frequent requests to stop were always declined with a smile, as everyone was enjoying themselves too much, even if it was sometimes at the expense of the newlyweds.
Many happy years later, they were having a picnic in the meadow.
“Would you have ever thought your life could change this much Dear?” Rune asked lovingly.
Celia laughed softly. “Never in all my wildest dreams. I do finally understand our parents thoughts and wishes, they really are the most precious things in the world.” she said blissfully.
With his own proud smile, he looked down at their pride and joys. “I really do know what you mean. Now you’re a bit young, but Brock and Rose, these are your grandparents. We owe them everything, so we hope you’ll love them as much as we do.”
Leaning towards Rune, Celia kissed him on the cheek as she continued to gently bounce Brock on her lap, and chuckled when she noticed a restless Rose trying to escape her father’s clutches.
Their children, not even a year old, had been born twins and decided to divide their parents’ traits equally
Brock took his father’s black hair and her emerald eyes, while Rose had his golden eyes and to both their surprise had inherited Celia’s vivid red hair, which was always being brushed by her mother.
“This really is only the beginning of our happiness isn’t it.” She said with contentment.
Rune kissed her on the lips. “It really is only the beginning, so I hope you’re ready for it to last a very long time.”
“I think I might be able to live with that.” she said while snuggling closer to Rune, resting her head on his shoulder.
Unbeknown to the joy filled family in the meadow below, their own parents were continuing to watch over them.
“I’m so pleased that ended as well as we’d planned.” Brock said with a satisfied nod.
Celia’s mother laughed pleasantly. “It did, I really don’t think there could have been a better ending for them.”
“I love the twins, they’re so adorable. But I hope they have a few more, as I always wanted a large family. I’d actually been silently hoping you’d give me a litter of pups Brock.” Rose added with a saucy chuckle.
Celia’s father laughed along with them. “That is something I would have loved to see… It’s nice to think we can finally relax now, since all our hard work has paid off.” he said beaming proudly.
Filled with bliss, they continued to watch over their precious family, sharing in all their happy days.