Tag Archives: Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time – Chap. 6.3

None of you are staying so get out.” The desk attendant continued giving everyone the evil eye while releasing a thunderous, gurgled snort from his throat. Sylvia scrunched her face, half-expecting the next action to be spiting a mass of something nasty on the floor. Instead, he began a lazy reach for his book.

Let us stay.” V’s hand landed on the book first and pushed it to the other side of the desk. “Pleeease.” He spoke the last word like a child begging for a cookie before dinner.

Take a hike.” The man narrowed his eyes, leaning closer. “And get your hand off my book before I break it.”

The hand or the book?” called out Bastiick, winching a second afterward from another one of Deigen’s elbow jabs.

We’re staying here tonight,” said V with an authority that at this point was just plain ridiculous. “Get us four room keys.”

Sylvia rolled her eyes. “Look, V, it’s time to know when to quit and-”

Okay, keys are right over here!” The man practically skipped his way to a shadow box key holder behind the desk. He spun around and gingerly held the requested items in an open palm toward V. “Will there be anything else?”

What?” Sylvia’s head whirled to stare at the vampire’s overly cheerful new best friend.

Why didn’t you just do that when we got here?” complained Bastiick while crossing his arms.

V turned and raised a brow. “Because some of us have manners. Put it back.”

Bastiick shrugged. “Put what back?”

Deigen wrestled a coin out of one of Bastiick’s tucked hands and tossed it toward V, who managed to catch it while still displaying a disapproving glare. “I believe this was on the floor by the entrance, which means it belongs to him not you.” He slapped the coin down on the desk in front of the desk attendant who still appeared gleefully trapped in a daze.

He wouldn’t have missed it,” argued Bastiick, holding a hand out for one of the keys. Sylvia bounded forward and pushed the extended arm out of her way.

What did you do, V?” She stomped in front of the vampire and crossed her arms. It was an act that would have perhaps succeeded in being more menacing if Obmuj had not decided to hop on the desk and perfectly mimic her.

V nodded at the man while accepting the keys from him and passing them out to the rest of the group. “Nothing that will cause permanent damage, I promise. But he won’t stay that way for long and it would be best if we’re not here when he becomes grumpy again.” He tossed the last key in his hand to her and reached into his pocket, pulling out a handful of coins. “Though grumpy or not, I’m certain this business is his livelihood.” He counted out what Sylvia considered to be a rather generous payment for the rooms and strolled towards the staircase.

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Time to take out the bookmark…

Happy New Year!

As predicted, the general hustle, bustle, and self-induced insanity that the holidays tend to bring left little time for much writing. This is the primary reason I knew a short hiatus would be needed for Sylvia and her friends.

For anyone catching my last pre-holiday post, you’ll remember I was doing serious consideration as to whether continuing this story blog style would be something that resumed in 2012. This is, after all, a rough draft in the works. This admittance  also may give a bit dark insight into the way I write: Characters have conversations or play out a scene for me at random, usually while I’m doing exciting activities such as folding laundry. Sometimes, when these conversations/scenes are interesting enough, they get scribbled down on paper or typed up. There’s usually no initial beginning or ending, as my characters like to keep me on my toes and just throw the middle at me to start with. Eventually an actual plot becomes chiseled out  as these scenes create transitions with each other and a story is born, kicking and screaming into the world.  Such was the case with my Once Upon a Time tale.

But there are two strong truths that lead me to believe continuing this story here is actually needed. The first is the fact that, until I started completing it via blog, Sylvia was left dormant and unheard from for many years since first being typed up and saved onto the computer. Actually finishing stories is the hardest part for me and I fear that if not completed at least as blog snippets, these characters will be doomed to never know the victory of  crossing the “The End” finish line. Second, I’m thrilled and somewhat amazed at the number of folks that have started following the story either by Facebook or otherwise. To all of you included in that little audience, I owe a HUGE thank you. I also realized that suddenly deciding to totally switch gears and stop the story now would be a bit a slap in the face to those that have been following along and Sylvia just wouldn’t hear of that. And so, starting next weekend, we’ll go back to our usual Sunday postings. I’m not so much afraid of people getting lost if they happen to come across the story later because I think each snippet holds its own to a certain degree. That being said, the snippets themselves will likely be a tad bit shorter at times, to hopefully make it both easier for me to write and less daunting for those reading.

Again, thanks so much for continuing to follow the adventure as it unfolds!

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 6.2

V leaned in toward the man at the front desk. “How much for a few rooms tonight, friend?”

Their friend, however, seemed more concerned with continuing to read a book he’d grabbed from the desk’s edge than attending to his potential customers. “Don’t rent out to vampires,” he said with a grunt, tearing the page out he just finished reading. Judging from the haphazard pile of pages Sylvia now noticed littering the top of the desk, he was at least past the first chapter.

“It looks like your novel there is getting a double life as decoration,” joked V, eying the desk’s unique covering.

“Didn’t like how it started.” The man added another torn page to the collection.

V watched the page fall down. “You’re a fast reader.”

The man became motionless aside from his eyes, which raised up only to glare at him. Small talk was clearly not the way to win this fellow over.

“Four rooms.” V held his fingers up, wiggling the digits. “Three for myself and the other two law-abiding gentlemen and one for the young lady.”

“I don’t rent rooms to vampires!” the man bellowed back.

“Two of us aren’t.” V pointed back and forth between Sylvia and Bastiick. She felt as though she were suddenly part of a two for one deal at an auction.

The man’s attention to her paled in comparison to the inspection he gave Bastiick. Finally setting the book down, he leaned in closer to peer at him, causing the desk to groan in agony. His head made a slow revolve to the WANTED poster tacked to the wall adjacent to the desk. “You’re all law-abiding citizens, eh?”

Deigen let out a long sigh and elbowed the toe-headed member of the group. “Some of us more than others perhaps.”

Sylvia stared at Bastiick. “You’re a wanted criminal?”

“Well, he’s not a vampire,” said V. He turned back to the over-sized front desk attendant. “And the rest of us aren’t criminals.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 6.1

Once again Sylvia found herself being led into a smelly building with questionable occupants. This time, however, the stench was less attributed to spilled ale and more due to the occupants themselves. A burly man with a body that appeared too small for his arm muscles leaned against a rickety front desk. He wore a beige shirt which was likely white at one point given the garment’s spotted color variances. Besides the desk, there was only a staircase leading up to the left, a darkened hallway taking an unknown path to the right, and a single wooden table tucked away in the left corner near the door. The table appeared similar to ones from the tavern, though it was hard to tell given that it was partially obscured by someone sleeping on top of it. The snoring lump lay entirely covered by their cloak aside from a greasy mop of brown hair that trailed off the table’s edge. Sylvia made the mistake of deciding to inspect the floor as well and took an immediate step back as a cockroach large enough to saddle and ride scurried past, disappearing under the desk.

This is your idea of a safe haven?” she asked, scooping Obmuj in her arms to keep him from chasing after the runaway insect snack.

V shrugged, casually making his way toward the front desk. He took a wide step forward to avoid stepping in the puddle of an unidentifiable stain. Sylvia hoped it was only her imagination the sludge appeared to follow his boot when it passed over. The vampire looked around the room nonchalantly, his eyes seeming to escape notice of the dingy paint peeling off the walls and the fact that the main light source was a chandelier with only one candle lit, hanging crooked from a ceiling that threatened to loose the battle in holding it any minute. Leaning against the desk, he gave a nod of approval. “I’ve stayed in worse.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 5.3

For someone who claims to be a magician, you seem to know fairly little about your predecessors.” V spoke like a disapproving father.

“Not all magicians wreck havoc on people’s lives,” argued Sylvia. “In fact, most travel from village to village and use their skills to help others. There was one that stayed with my family for about a week. Everyday after breakfast, he taught me a new spell like how to make water instantly hot without using fire.”

“So he took up free lodging, ate your family’s food and encouraged you to be a lazy child.” V and his horse managed to snort at the same time. “Yes, that sounds quite helpful.”

“He assisted my parents with the daily chores while he stayed and left me a spell book to practice with.” Sylvia stuck her chin up. “I think you simply have the same fallacious opinion about magicians that most have about vampires.”

“And I think you are too young and unwise for us to have a reasonable discussion on the matter.” V stared ahead of him and said nothing afterwards. Sylvia wasn’t certain whether the vampire was deep in thought or pretending to ignore her. She was nearly convinced of the latter until he randomly spoke to the air in front of him. “Did the visiting magician leave you with the pendant you carry?”

Sylvia wrinkled her nose, remembering how she found the pendant lying on the kitchen floor. “I’m not sure.”

“Not sure?” Deigen repeated, bringing his horse up to the side of the cart again. “How can you not be sure?”

“Well, I sort of found it after he left.” She took a peek at the black stone as though it would share its mysteries with her. “And I was going to just hold on to it until he came back. Except he’s been gone for over a month and now everyone has disappeared from my village.” Sylvia looked up to find all eyes on her.

“Disappeared?” asked Bastiick. “Where did they go?”

“Well if I knew, I wouldn’t have just said they disappeared now would I?” Sylvia rolled her eyes at him. “The only thing I found when I got home was a letter from my mother telling me some woman came looking for me. The letter told me to go see my uncle because she thought I would be safer with him.”

V turned his head to face her and raised his hand, counting off on his fingers. “A stranger leaves a trinket worth some possible value behind. They oddly neglect to return for it. A month later everyone in your village vanishes and your missing parents warn that someone was looking for you.” The vampire directed his horse to the right, snatching the reins out of Sylvia’s hand and leading her mule along.

“Hey, where are you going!” yelled Sylvia, trying to grab her reins back. “You’re taking us off the road!”

“Exactly.” V hopped off his horse and pointed at a stone building in front of them, lantern light streaming out of its many windows. “This is one of the last inns available to us before leaving town limits and will be where we stay tonight. You have someone hunting for either you or that pendant and we will not be dealing with them in the dark. We’ll sleep here and continue in the morning.”

“In the morning?” Sylvia wagged her finger between the two vampires. “You can’t travel in the morning.”

Deigen slid off his horse, sharing her look of confusion. “Why not?”

“You’re vampires, don’t you turn into ash or burst into flames in broad daylight?”

Another round of chuckles emitting from Bastiick alerted Sylvia that she must have been the victim of yet another vampire misconception he shared in the creation of.

“No dear.” V cupped a pale hand over his forehead as though her ignorance were causing physical pain by this point. “We walk in daylight just the same as moonlight. Careful on a full moon, however, we turn into werewolves.”

“Really?” Sylvia asked excitedly, happy to have at least one supernatural element of the world understood.

Deigen and V turned to her and shouted in unison. “No!”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 5.2

You say your uncle lives in the East Desert. That’s actually where Deigen and I used to call home as well. Have you ever heard of the Kingdom of Fools?”

Sylvia yawned and rolled her eyes. “Only from legends about a battle that never happened.”

A battle that did happen.”

An entire city cursed to by six corrupt magicians?” Sylvia laughed, giving Obmuj a scratch behind the ear as the monkey curled up into a ball on the seat to take a nap. “A handful of magicians couldn’t do anything like that.”

A handful of magicians once ruled over these parts, little maiden. And they did so because nearly everyone in the land was terrified to stand up against them.”

“Except for one great city that refused to remain in fear!” Deigen’s sudden arrival to Sylvia’s other side was almost as startling as the fervor in his voice compared to V’s solemn soliloquy. “From it, a band of heroes rose up when the six least expected it and destroyed their precious magical artifacts, stripping their power just long enough to-” he took a deep breath to continue “-gain the upper hand and free everyone from their tyranny!”

“Which was wonderful except that two of the magicians survived the fight long enough to exact their revenge on that city,” added V, again with a tone that better matched the sleeping monkey snoring away next to Sylvia. “And they thought it a grand idea to turn everyone from there into fanged monsters cursed to drink the blood of living things.”

“And immortal,” piped in Deigen. “Don’t forget undead and immortal.”

“Which one of us is telling this story?” asked V.

Deigen put his chin up, crossing his arms. “I tell it better.” A silent stare from V only caused him to grin and to turn his horse back toward Bastiick.

V sighed. “Where was I?”

“I have no idea where either of you were.” Sylvia shook her head. “You’re both spewing fairy tales. Vampires are from the legendary Kingdom of Fools? And you’re cursed to be forever living bloodsuckers because of two measly magicians? Seriously?”

“Well where do you think vampires originated if you know everything?”

“From bats.”

“Bat?” V rose a brow. “How so?”

Sylvia guided the mule away from a pothole in the road that would have likely claimed one of her wheels. “By being bitten by one of course. Everyone knows if you get bitten by a bat, you turn into a vampire.”

V gave Bastiick an amused glare. “Bats eh? I don’t suppose you would have anything to do with that rumor?”

“I never told anyone vampires came from bats,” argued Bastiick while fighting off a fit of laughter. “Though I may have mentioned you turn into them before flying home at night.”

“Wonderful, Bastiick.” Deigen let out a long groan. He pointed at the chuckling man with his thumb while speaking to Sylvia. “I believe you can credit most of the current misguidance regarding our kind to this tale giver.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 5.1

Sylvia snapped the reins to get her old mule in motion, receiving a disgruntled snort before the cart wheels began creaking forward. Making a slow progression down the cobblestone street, she was relieved to be heading in the direction of her destination again. It would have been more of a relief if her friends from the tavern had decided to stay in the tavern.

Tell me again why you’re following me?” she asked V, glaring at all three members of her new company.

We are not following, we are accompanying.” He sounded slightly hurt while delivering his correction. “You are a young lady unwise in the ways of these streets and you have a long travel ahead of you. What kind of people would we be if we allowed you to saunter off into potential danger again by yourself?”

Keep me safe from potential danger?” Sylvia shook her head, rolling her eyes. “You want to keep my pendant safe from danger.”

That too.”

What’s so special about it that I need three bodyguards?”

V extended his hand toward her. “Let me see it again.”

“No.” Sylvia gave the reins another snap, trying quite unsuccessfully to move ahead of the younger and apparently faster steads of the others. “You saw it well enough just a while ago.”

He sighed and directed his horse closer to the cart, staring at Sylvia as though her eyes were suddenly extremely interesting. “You will hand me the pendant so I can see it again.”

“No, I will not hand you the pendant, you big oaf!” Sylvia reached behind her and threw an evening gown at him from her arsenal of dresses. “And back off, you still smell like that stinking tavern.”

V struggled briefly to free himself from the garment before obeying the order. He seemed rather perplexed that she hadn’t also complied with his command, whirling his head around to Deigen with a look of confusion. The other vampire simply gave his friend a shrug in response.

“Fine.” V threw the gown back at the cart. “I can begin my history lesson without your little rock.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 4.3

So, we have a monkey-” Deigen waved a hand toward the bread thief, munching away at his loot, “-and a pigtailed little one who I hear knows magic tricks.” He rolled the hand in Sylvia’s direction. “My guess would be someone’s escaping the circus?”

Sylvia rolled her eyes. “We’re not runaway performers. Obmuj is my pet monkey, given to me by my father. My parents wouldn’t go to a circus even you paid them.”

So you’re running away from your dull parents who never let you see a circus then?” asked Bastiick, eying Obmuj and sliding his bowl out of the monkey’s reach.

Who said I have to be running away from anything?”

You’re running to something then?” suggested V. He grinned and took a large gulp from his glass. “I like this game, it’s fun.”

No it isn’t,” argued Sylvia. “I’m going to-” she paused, wondering just how much information would be too much to share with strangers she knew next to nothing about.

Monkey got your tongue?” asked Deigen.

I’m going to visit my uncle.” She decided that was as much as she truly needed to say on the matter.

Going to visit your uncle?” repeated V.

Yes.”

Traveling at night, through a perilous part of town with a cart full of women’s dresses in the back?”

Deigen shifted in his seat to stretch closer to Bastiick. “Her uncle must work as the bearded woman.”

No one in my family is a circus performer!” Sylvia stamped her foot. “For your information, my uncle happens to be an inventor who lives in the East Desert.”

The East Desert?” V’s tone sounded reminiscent of times when her father demanded to know why she had come home so late. “That’s a few days travel, likely a week in that poor excuse of a cart you have. You’re trying to make your way there alone?”

Sylvia nodded her head toward the monkey. “I’m not alone, I have Obmuj with me.”

Oh yes, trusty Obmuj.” Deigen watched him straddle Bastiick’s now empty bowl, attempting to lick what remainder of soup he could from the sides. “He would certainly save the day, provided there was nothing to eat nearby.”

We’ll be fine.” Sylvia pulled her spell book from the one of the secret folds in her cloak and held it up. “Remember, I happen to be a magician.”

Bastiick’s eyes danced from Obmuj to the book, finally landing back at Sylvia and her cloak. “Just how many pockets does that garment have?”

And what is that?” V leaned over the table, pointing toward the book. Sylvia realized, however, it was not the book that caught his interest but the dangling pendant under it she had accidentally grabbed also.

Oh that-” she quickly tried to unwrap the silver chain from around the book and tuck the pendant back into hiding. “-that’s nothing. Just pretty rock I found out by the house.”

V leaned toward Deigen, whispering in the other vampire’s ear. Deigen, however, seemed much less enthused.

Come on, Vandalarius.” Deigen snorted a laugh and pushed his friend away. “Don’t get your hopes up, you know that’s only a rumor at best.”

Sylvia shook her head. “What is?”

I believe your pendant is more than a pretty little rock,” said V, sitting back in his chair. “And I also believe you’ve also found yourself some additional traveling companions.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 4.2

As Sylvia opened her mouth to answer, an annoyed grumble took center stage. It wasn’t from her own voice the strange sound originated and she pulled one side of her cloak tighter across her shoulder even while Obmuj fought to free himself. She had been afraid to leave him outside but certain any bartender would object to a monkey being in their tavern. It seemed, however, that Obmuj objected even more to being placed in hiding.

Deigen nodded at the pulsating portion of her cloak. “I believe your left shoulder has something to say.” He spoke as though it was a common occurrence she simply needed to be made aware of.

Sylvia gave up keeping the furry whiner a secret entirely and opened the front of the cloak to let Obmuj loose. He landed on the table’s edge and immediately spotted the remaining piece of Bastiick’s bread, rushing over and grabbing it before Sylvia could stop him.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 4.1

After finding a reasonably safe-looking spot to tie up the mule and hiding the cart’s load of merchandise as best she could, Sylvia found herself following the vampire into the tavern. She had never actually been inside such a place herself and now failed to see the appeal of anyone entering beyond safety from the night streets. The air inside was stuffy and rather nauseating, an acrid mixture of smoke, ale, and body odor. She witnessed at least two fights in progress while passing from the main entrance to the other side of the room. Patrons who seemed to have long already had their fill shouted at each other or sang together; some attempting both actions at once. The most sober members of the establishment appeared to be the two individuals seated at a corner table he led her to. Another vampire with black hair flowing passed his shoulders greeted them with a raised glass as they reached the table. “Vandalarius, you were gone so long we thought you’d headed back home.” After downing the contents and landing the empty glass on the table with a long clank, he peered over at Sylvia. “Made a new friend while you were away I see.”

It seems I did.” The first vampire sat down at the only remaining chair, leaving Sylvia to continue standing in front of them. “This little miss was nearly robbed just outside the tavern. I apparently chose an opportune time to step out and was able to deliver her from harm.”

My dragon helped with that also,” Sylvia attempted to remind him.

Dragon?” The second vampire’s brows rose toward the ceiling.

Oh yes.” Vandalarius rolled his eyes while swishing the contents of what Sylvia hoped was his own glass. “She can summon tiny bloated lizards, Deigenhardus. Watch out.”

What was your name?” Sylvia asked.

The second vampire pointed at himself. “I’m not sure which of us you’re speaking to but I’m Deigenhardus. You can call me Deigen if the last bit gives you trouble. And this-” he slapped his friend on the shoulder “-is Vandalarius.”

Sylvia nodded, trying to re-pronounce the names in her head. She turned her attention to the table’s quieter third occupant and was surprised to find his skin lacked the snowy completion of death the other two shared. “You’re not a vampire?”

Nope.” The towheaded young man stirred a piece of bread into a bowl in front of him. Judging from what she could she of the contents, Sylvia gave the assumption it was some sort of brown soup; or perhaps the fellow had an insatiable desire for gravy. “I’m a regular, boring mortal like yourself. Though I doubt you’ll like my name much either.” He swallowed the drenched bread in a single gulp. “Name’s Bastiick.”

Such strange names,” murmured Sylvia.

Our names happen to be a bit antiquated perhaps but hardly all that peculiar.” Deigen cocked his head, raising another brow. “And what might yours be, little miss?”

Sylvia.”

Sylvia?” Vandalarius and his friends shared a look with one another that made Sylvia wish she’d said her full name to give it extra punch. “Your’s certainly is unique as well.”

If you don’t mind, I think I might need to shorten yours like Deigen’s.” Sylvia gave an apologetic grimace. “I don’t think I’d be able to say it quite right if I tried the whole thing.”

Vandalarius chuckled and shrugged. “Call me ‘V’ then.”

Do I get a new name two?” joked Bastiick, continuing to work on finishing his brown gruel.

No.” Sylvia laughed. Your’s I can handle, it’s just been a long time since I heard anyone called it. My great grandfather’s name actually was Bastiick.”

Well, that hopefully concludes introductions,” said Deigen as he stole a piece of bread from Bastiick’s loaf and popped it into his mouth. “And now that we’re all acquainted and abbreviated, tell us more yourself, Sylvia. What brings a little one like yourself to this chancy corner of town tonight?”

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