Monday, December 30, 2013

Lies I Believe

  • Clothes will makes me happy.
  • There must be something wrong with me if people don't like me.
  • Growing older means I'll always be ugly.
  • God is far away.
  • My thighs are huge.
  • My husband needs to turn the light off in the bedroom every morning when he leaves for work so I don't have to get out of bed to fix it or I should assume he no longer loves me.
  • Reading the bible is annoying, and unnecessary for growing in God.
  • I'm a failure if I watch anime all day. Even if its only one day a month. 
  • Taking a break means I'm admitting defeat.
  • It's my husband's fault if he has to work late and I should let him know how much it annoys me.
  • I need more yarn.
  • My life will always be lacking if I never have children.
  • I'll never be good enough. Beautiful enough. I'll never have enough.
These lies have defined my life. Some for just a few months, some for years. Rather serious or trivial, all are wrong.

This season I plan on breaking these habits and moving beyond my selfish reasoning and me-me-me attitude. I hope that in 2014 I can become more like Christ. I hope in 2014 I can help others and find joy.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013: Books

I saw this prompt over at Sew Technicolor, and wanted to do a post because I also read a ton.

So, what books did I read and enjoy this year? Well, if you want to know everything I read, you can check out my goodreads, but I don't keep up with it as well as I should. I tend to add books in spurts, like every 3-4 months when I realize my list of "read" is getting ridiculously long and I better add some before I forget everything. Can anyone else relate?

My favorite books of 2013:
(there are no spoilers are in this blog post, by the way!)

In Young Adult
  • The Truth-Teller's Tale (Shinn)
  • The Thirteenth Princess (Zahler)
  • Thirteenth Child (Wrede)  
  • The Invisible Princess (Burke)
  • Across the Great Barrier (Wrede)
  • Bitterblue (Cashore)
  • The Goldsmith's Daughter (Landman)
  • Airborn (Oppel)

Fantasy/ Science Fiction
  • The Fairy Godmother (Lackey)
  • The Wizard of London (Lackey)
  • Time of the Eagle (Jordan) 
  • Agenda 21 (Beck)
  • Green Rider (Britain)

Classics
  • Marcia Schuyler (a re-read by Livingston)
  • Plays: One (Anouilh)

I read a bunch of other books as well, but these were just my absolute favorite. What did you read and enjoy this year?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Laundry

This is part of my novel. You can start at the beginning here. 
----

She'd ripped apart her silk petticoat before realizing the bed sheet would make a better maids head-covering. What kind of maid would have a silk bonnet?

But now, her hair was covered (braiding really was harder then it looked--she'd just stuffed it up there as best she could) and her dress smoothed, even if it did smell rather moldy and damp; and Miera was on her way. Only, her shoes were obviously too fine. And she'd forgotten to take of her ermine necklace, now a discernible lump underneath her outfit. Oh well. It would have to do, at least until after lunch, when her brother would be off. And me back in a corset.

She opened her door again, changed her room card to "Ill, no disturbances" and began her trek down the hall, her own laundry basket clutched, white-knuckled, in her palms.

Gosh, this thing sure is heavy. Feels like I'm carrying a horse. How do they lift these all day?

The hall was stirring at last, filling with a few sleepy-looking maids who were lethargically making their rounds, knocking on doors, delivering tea, and zigzagging around Miera like she was a piece of forgotten, but ill-placed, furniture. She tried to make her body and laundry burden smaller, but the basket was very cumbersome and she had never attempted, or even been allowed, to carry anything this weighty before.

I'm as clumsy a maid as a princess, she snickered to herself as she eased the door to the servants stair open with her left thigh.

At least she knew the hall well. Sort of. She'd been sneaking down this stair often, for at the bottom rested the library, and the servants back-end way was the quickest route to her books. From her predecessors letters, Miera knew the best times to use the stair: early mornings they were all but vacant--or, if she pleaded a headache, she could spend her lunch or dinner hour alone in the library, when all the servants were eating in the kitchen. On the main floor, if she didn't use the stairs, she'd have to wait for a chaperone to take her past the drawing rooms and dinning hall to get anywhere close to the library, and only if the chaperone was in the mood to visit, of course. The common practice was to have the instructor bring you books instead of fetching them yourself--but Miera had learned quickly that her tutors bland offerings, while full of courtly wisdom and matronly insight, lacked in adventure and romance.

But today was different. She wasn't going to library, and she definitely wasn't alone. The stairs were teaming with servants, and it looked like morning had begun. Miera saw three or four girls, much younger then herself, carrying larger baskets with apparent ease. She straightened her back and followed them.

Two existed the stairs at the kitchens, but the other two carried laundry like Miera. She followed them. She knew she'd have to deposit her own laundry in the washroom (a place she'd never seen) and then, somehow, find her way to the church where her brother's ceremony would be held and wait until noon to see him off. So, she'd surmised that by following other laundry maids she wouldn't appear out of place. As long as she did exactly what they did and stayed out of sight.

The girls ahead of her were laughing and chatting to themselves and didn't seem to realize Miera was eying them. They existed the stairs and began to walk briskly down a corridor that Miera had never ventured on, that lead, after a few twists and turns, to the back of the castle somewhat near the kitchens, from the smell of things.

"Here, I'll hold the door for you," Said one of the maids, hoisting her bundle to her left arm and, letting Miera slip though. Miera smiled uncertainly, and bobbed her head in thanks.

"You must be new, eh?" Said another laundress, her black eyes winking at Miera's green ones, "Your not to talkative."

"Y-yes." Said Miera, carefully. "Today is my first day."

"Got'cha on laundry already!" The elder of the two laughed, and eased her way up to Miera's left side, adjusting her bundle so she could walk next to her. The blond girl, the one who had held the door, strode up to her right. "And how do 'er highness panties smell?" She asked, wrinkling her nose at her own package.

Miera tired to hide her shock.

How do my panties smell? What does she mean... she thought, confused by the maid's frank question, blinking back her confusion in the budding sunlight. In the silence, she noticed that her feet clipped oddly on the gravel path next to the other girl's cloth shoes, and that she could already see the steam rising off the roof of the laundry house at the end of the walkway.

"Well, I don't know." She said, a few moments later, "I don't want to smell them."

The younger girl, who looked about ten or eleven, snickered. "They probably smell like lavender and roses, that being female laundry you've got there. I've got Sir Walters knickers in my bag, and now, those don't smell so fine."

The elder girl nodded, a dark curl escaping her cap. "The worst is the babies linens. Just you wait." She turned and smiled at Miera for a moment, but suddenly stopped right in her tracks.

"Gah, girl, what are you wearing on your head?" She said. Miera didn't know if her eyes were giggling or about to breathe fire. "And your dress! Who did you get it from, your grandmother?"

Miera stopped, her cheeks flaming. "I--I..."

"Oh 'Neitha, seriously," Interrupted her blond counterpart, "She's probably from the poor house. Did you come in the transfer yesterday?"

Miera didn't know what else to do but nod

The raven-haired girl that Miera now knew was named 'Neitha hoisted her laundry basket higher and took a step back, her eyes roaming Miera's person. Miera shifted uncomfortably.

What do I do in this situation? Do I run?

The thought that servants would actually talk to her hadn't crossed her mind. The maids had never really spoken more then "Yes'm or No'm" in her presence before this point.

"Oh, look at her shoes," Squealed 'Neitha, "Now, I know a Lord had to have given you those. What'd he do, take all your other finery after he was done with you?"

Miera, still confused, was about to nod when a tall figure suddenly rounded the path, her arms loaded with laundry.

"What are you girls doing?"

It was a matron. All three maids jumped as if on cue, Miera most of all.

"Get your loads to the laundry at once, and don't let me see you dallying about again, or it'll be the marks for ya!"

"Yes'm!" They chorused, and Miera found herself suddnely panting to keep up with 'Neitha's bobbing shoulders as they all sprinted towards the laundry.

At the door 'Neitha nodded to Miera. "Do what I do, new girl." She said, and Miera could have hugged her in relief if he arms weren't so full. She placed her basket in the corner, where two sweaty adolescent boys were sorting, and then followed the blond girl to another corner where a big bored with tiles rested. She took two tiles from one side and hung them on another bored.

"Whose you got?" She asked Miera, and Miera mumbled her own name. Another tile joined the rows.

The steam in the laundry room wafted around Miera like thick fog, obscuring most of her view. She saw a line of women, with red arms and stringy hair scrubbing vigorously, and beyond them, a courtyard with lines for drying. 

Then 'Neitha grabbed her hand, with a whispered, "come on, do you want to get us all in trouble again?" suddenly they were all back outside and passing the matron on the way back to the castle.

The castle looked so different from this side. No gilded fences or plots of roses, or even a cobblestone path. Just rocks and gravel and various building that all looked well-used.

Once inside 'Neitha pulled both Miera and her blond counterpart into what looked like a broom closet. They were both grinning from ear to ear, while Miera tried to hold her sides in as they felt about to split from all that running.

"Here, I gotcha something." Said the elder 'Neitha. She pulled from her dress a clean white cap and starched apron. "They keep the spares in the laundry. Did ya leave yours in your bunk, or something?"

Miera opened her mouth to speak, when the blond girl pulled the hastily tied piece of bed-sheet of her head, causing her ruby locks to spill around her shoulders.

"Gah, you've a ton of hair! Red like fire. No wonder some lord took a fancy to you!"

The two maids then carefully braided and covered her hair, and helped her into her apron.

"There you go, New Girl. Now you won't get tossed out on your first day and be put out into the streets." And Miera could only smile, because she didn't know what to say.

-----
Stay tuned for the next part: Surprise!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Biggest Fight

My husband and I have been married for just over a year now! Isn't that exciting? I've definitely learned a lot in this year. One thing I've learned (and knew, before marriage) is that communication is extremely important. But after marriage, I've re-learned that communication isn't just important, it's crucial! Without it, hilarious and amazing misunderstandings abound! One person says something, and then the other person totally does not understand the premise or even the words, causing the message to be totally twisted and misinterpreted. If you are in any sort of relationship, I'm sure you can relate.


For example, Mr. Adventure and I were raised by different families. His use of the word "fine" does not mean the same thing when I use/hear the word "fine". When Mr. Adventure tells me "you look fine," I hear "you look moderately put-together in a no-effort mundane kind of way." But, he understands that word to mean "you look great," as in, better then average. You look fine girl!

(I won't get into my personality complex of always wanting to look better then average to my husband...haha).

There are other words, and other stories. My favorite is when my husband and I were sitting in the target parking lot last summer, just chilling, and suddenly he turned to his left and said "wooooahhh, look at that! How hot, I want one." And I turned to look and saw a very scantily-clad female in a tube top and daisy duke shorts out the window. I immediately was flabbergasted, because my husband has never mentioned the garments or hotness of anyone in my presence before. Ever. After griping at him for about five minutes, he finally lets me know he was talking about the car in the parking space next to us (it was a custom Corvette) and he hadn't even see the girl in the backseat. Then I felt bad. I don't know a Corvette from a Jaguar, and the idea that my husband would be looking at a car just never crossed my mind. Because, why look at cars? How boring.

I think most of our arguments on my end have to do with me expecting the worst out of poor Mr. Adventure, who never, of course, ends up deserving that kind of mental placement. Now I try to think the best of him. It's something he's taught me, because he never thinks the worst of me. It's really refreshing to be trusted, and I want to give him the same kind of trust! I should have asked "what are you talking about"? when he said he'd wanted something instead of automatically thinking he was talking about another girl. Because I should know Mr. Adventure would never talk about another female much less drool over one with his wife in the car right next to him! Hah!


So, our biggest fight? I don't think we've had one. Most of our disagreements are resolved quickly, as we both backpedal and try to describe the emotions behind our behavior and define our terms. I've never been upset with him for more then a few hours. He is my best friend. I try to live every moment like it might be our last. I try to remember that Mr. Adventure loves me, and he would never intentionally try to hurt me. This helps me stay rational and calm and, most all, listen to whatever it is he has to say when I've misunderstood him. So, while we have not ever had a big fight (we have never yelled at each other) we have had some issues that keep cropping up. For one, Mr. Adventure really dislikes it when I move or otherwise "rearrange" his things. I'm not talking about things we both use, but things that only he uses that don't apply to me at all. I just do it without thinking, tidy something here, put tools where I think all his tools go (wherein, I find out later, those were outside tools and the others were computer tools, or electrician tools and now I've mixed them all)

Then his things get lost. And how am I supposed to know where I put his sciencey doohickey with attachable nubs? And what did I do with the charger? And did I know that those kinds of computer chips have to stacked this way, or they can break? Opps.

He understands I like to tidy things, but I also need to understand that I don't know much about his things. It took awhile for me to realize this, because I like my house clean and organized and sometimes didn't view his way a "clean" or "organized". I still forget and move his stuff. (I'm sorry dear).

While both of our hearts are genuine in this matter, (I want a clean house for my husband whereas he just wants to be able to know where his things are) we both have to work together to realize this in our abode. We still work on this today!

What about you? Any funny marriage misunderstandings or amusing fights?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beth's Gloves

I started this thing last month where I am attempting to make a pair of gloves (or other knitted item) for each of my friends. The rule is that I try to design something that fits their personality. The first item on the list for this month was mittens for my friend Beth. Besides being in my wedding and also taking all my wedding photographs (she's amazing) Beth runs her own photography/videography business while doing modeling on the side. To put it simply, she's awesome.


While I'll never know every single thing about my friend Beth, I do know she is super creative. I also know her favorite color combo is orange and purple, and that she loves tribal designs. Those are the pieces of her personality I tried to focus on when creating her gloves. I knew she'd want some type of fingerless gloves, because of how much she uses her hands when working. I texted her two ideas (for half-fingers, vs. fingerless) and let her choose.


Beth, I really really hope you like your gloves! You are an amazing person, and I love you so much! I love seeing your life unfold day by day and watching you worship God. Never forget how special you are!


The great thing is...if you knit, and you like Beth's gloves, I've created a PDF knitting pattern for download on Ravelry so you can wear them too!

If you are wondering what I've got next on my needles...you'll just have to wait and see! I have a lot of great friends and so many ideas...

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Glasses


I recently was gifted with some new glasses by my wonderful husband! I've been needing/wanting a new pair for awhile. Oh, did I mention I absolutely love them? Well, I do! I can't remember what website we ordered from...because it was about a month ago...but it wasn't sponsored or anything, so I suppose it does not matter.


I like how the marbled brown effect matches my hair. Also, the fact that I can see better. That's always a good thing, right? I know, they look totally hipster. And I'm not really a hipster. Or am I? I'm not quite sure anymore. I know I look like a hipster. Most of the time. When I'm not wearing my husband's sweat pants. I think I'm okay with it for now.


How is everyone doing? I've been okay. Recently reading Walking with God by John Eldredge, and drinking a lot of tea. And hiding inside. Because it is cold. But my skin could probably use some outside-rays. Generally good for your health, right?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sewing and Finances

My husband and I are attempting to use the "envelope system" for our budget. If you don't know, it is basically where you withdraw X amount of $$ from your bank account where X = your budget. You then only spend the cash, leaving credit and bank cards at home for emergencies.


It's working really great. But I needed a place to store each specific $$. So "groceries" does not somehow turn into "yarn fund," you know? (This never happens. Okay, it sometimes happens. But rarely. Like, only when the yarn is super pretty. Or on sale. Or I happen to drive by a yarn shop. Uh...)


Anyway, I wanted to make my own wallet! So I made four cute pouches and then sewed them all together and made this button closer!


I am sad to say this might be my last sewing project for awhile, because my sewing machine is broken at the moment. The tension is all wonky and I can't figure it out! But that's okay--I'm knitting up at storm and completely occupied.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Knits

I've been knitting up a storm! Last week I made these awesome comfy leg warmers for a friend. I absolutely love them! If you want to knit yourself a pair, I created a free PDF pattern that explains the process! You can download it on Ravelry here. The pattern comes in four sizes and is explained for knitting in the round and knitting flat.


Next I made some rainbow fingerless gloves for my sister. She loved them! We both share an absolute love for color, and what's better then rainbows for your hands? I also made a free PDF pattern in case you knit and want to make your own! It's on Ravelry as well: here.


I am enjoying knitting my hands off this winter season...what should I make next?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Lie of What's Right

I can do whatever I want as long as it does not hurt anyone. 

It seems everyone nowadays is sprouting this colloquialism. And if you disagree with them, then suddenly you are a a self-righteous prick bent on making them feel bad about their personal life decision, while unfairly judging them on their choice. Because, God forbid you try to tell somehow how to live their life nowadays.

Is it our job to live our life exactly the way we want it or is it our job to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy? Is it our job to help others at all, or, should they just be taking care of themselves and not bothering us on our quest to go get what we want?
Free printable from Landeelu
Through the years, I've heard things like well, that may be right for you, but this is right for me. And, if it does not hurt anyone, then whats the big deal? It seems these days, the moral rule is that anything goes, as long as it does not hurt anyone.

I've always had a problem with this.

For one, its inherently and utterly selfish. It puts all the focus on you. The world turns on the axis of your shoulders, so thus your choices are your choices and, your life is only your life. It's you, you you you.

I hear things like: How dare you try and tell me what to do? How dare you judge me? I'm living my own life. You don't get to tell me what to do. Go live your life. And let me live mine.

And some of those statements are true. I am 27 years old and no one can tell me what to do. But that does not make all the things I can do, or choose to do, somehow right. That does not give me a free ticket to just go out and live my life exactly how I want it regardless of anyone, or anything else.

Why, now-a-days, do we all feel above judgement? We act like spoiled little babies, a privileged race of humans spending all our money on ourselves (because, of course, we earned it) and making ourselves as comfortable as possible (because, we deserve it) and naively thinking that all our decisions effect ourselves and ourselves only (a total lie because in a world full of people all decisions somehow effect everyone even if you can't see it).

I'm not saying that pampering yourself sometimes is awful. I'm saying we live in a world where our entire lives are devoted to pampering ourselves. Where we sing our own praises and feel completely justified in smashing anyone who tells us otherwise. I've done this myself as well as seen it everywhere. We feel we deserve things just because we exist. This is wrong. 

I can do whatever I want as long as it does not hurt anyone is a lie.

An outright lie.

Honestly, it should read:

I can do whatever I want as long as it helps someone.

When you see this, you realize how selfish the other statement really is.

So, stop living life for yourself. Live it for others. If you keep living the lie, sure, you'll probably have more toys then anyone else, and you'll probably be really comfortable. But who is going to care, besides yourself? You'll just be one more lonely, selfish person with a lot of stuff, quickly forgotten in the rat race.

What do you think?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Miera's Story

This is part of my novel. You can start at the beginning here. 
----

Miera woke up determined that today was the day she would change. Or die trying.

She swung her legs over the side of her bed and slipped on her cushy slippers, tip-toeing towards the large door that separated her sleeping compartment with the hallway to the women's suites. Yes, she had woken before anyone else! The absence of servants soft footprints in the hallway sent her heart racing with excitement with thoughts of a day to herself, free of embroidery, lady lessons, and tutors.

She eased her door open slowly. To her left, the women's rooms stretched unfathomably forward, all the way down the carpeted hall towards the Queens room, and the men's quarters beyond that. Not a soul was stirring--was the sun even up yet? Miera softly shut her door and drew back one of the two heavy curtains that framed her arched window. Barely dawn. So she had overslept, a bit.

She checked her calender again. Yes, today was the day. The day Riol would leave. Miera quickly buried her jealously--there wasn't time to mope over Riol's impeding adventures and, of course, male privilege that allowed him to leave the castle and be free of marriage, corsets, and etiquette tutors while she was stuck simpering and bowing her way down the drafty castle corridors. Why, did women need to know five ways to hold a fork, or twenty ways to curtsy anyway? Not to mention that insufferable corset.

Throwing it in the fire and pretending to have "lost" it only got servants beaten or killed for thievery and another garment delivered the next morning.
Source: The Royal Hallway
But no time for thinking. Miera quickly let down her hair, running her hands though it to undo as many tangles as possible. She locked her door, threw the covers off her bed, and pulled the plump mattress back revealing the sturdy mahogany frame below. Just at the back of the bed, where the built-in wood frame met the wall, there was a good 12-inch gap perfect for hiding anything she didn't want anyone to find

She remembered when she'd found the hiding place. It had been in the first days of her move from the nursery at 11 years of age to the women's hall when her "bleeding" had started. On that first day, with servants everywhere, she was suddenly given two more manners tutors, a "diet instructor to encourage a ladylike figure" and had her precious Fousté (Fou-tee) book confiscated for not being suitable reading material for a lady of her station. The beginning few weeks were a blur of instructions, reprimands, and tears. But then she'd found the cubby-hole one night when, in a fit of rage, she'd attempted destroyed her bed. There had been a letter in it.

Dear Whomever--the letter read, its pretty female script neatly filling the space between the margins; Who are you? I think often about who will live here after I, and fill these sheets with different dreams. So I thought I would write you a letter, since I'm sure we will never meet. Tomorrow I turn fourteen and thus will vacant these single rooms to move to a parlor room with personal maid, and began my courtship. I'll leave you what's left of my privacy, that I'm sure my husband will not allow me to keep it when I turn sixteen and marry.  If you must know I am sorry to vacant this little room, but maybe you will be happier in it then I.

The letter went on. Miera skipped to the end.

I'll leave you with this, dear friend--there is a servants stair right outside, and perhaps you can use it to frequent the library. You are lucky to be situated just at the end of the hall to allow for such easy access. Also, there is a set of maid's clothes that I found here when I first entered. I'll leave them for you. I'm sure that if I tried to take them, that I would most severely reprimanded and all adventure lost.

You'll find that the usual undergarment is missing! How scandalous, I wonder how she lost it? I often daydream of the girl and her secret lover that she must have visited so cleverly disguised. I wonder if he still thinks of her? Do any men still think of us, moments after we are gone, or are they happy to be rid of our pretty laughter and perfumed persons? 

I'm sure I am about to find out. Oh, bother, the house maid is knocking at the door with the ladies call to tea. Maybe I'll write you again later. Love, Lizzette P.S. of course that's not my real name, you ninny, do you think I'm daft? 

Of course, she'd fixed the bed before anyone had noticed-- she didn't want a servant or the hall maid to find her secret. There were more letters from "Lizette" as well as two letters from someone who called herself "Poppy" whose handwriting was so bad Miera had to squint to read it. The dress was still there, a mothy thing in the corner, but Miera had never even considered wearing it. But yesterday when she was told she couldn't attend her brother's Choosing, she had made the decision to finally use it.

Miera pulled it out and quickly put it on over her night-robe.

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Click here to keep reading!
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Amazing Fog

So, a few weeks ago my husband and I stayed in a hotel for our one year anniversary. The next morning we slept in, and when we awoke there was this amazing blanket of very thick fog covering the hills. It was wet, breathtaking, and disorienting all at once! I've never seen fog like this!


Naturally I had to take pictures in it.


While my husband was showering, I slipped outside. It was just me and the fog and I felt like I was in wonderland. After a few steps everything turns white...


Later, we drove above the fog and saw it spread out all over the mountainside like thick bunches of fluffy cotton candy.


I could spend all day staring. So much fun. By the time I was done taking self-pictures and my husband had finally packed his bags up and joined me--my hair was fuzzy and damp from all the dew. I guess spending all day in a cloud really wouldn't be ideal to ones hairstyle, no matter how dreamy. Oh, well. Still worth it! He took this time lapse of me and then we took a few fog pictures together.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Favorite Vegan Sandwich

So, I frequent this awesome coffee shop in my home town called "The Muse" and they make this amazing hummus wrap. I crave it all the time so I decided to remake it at home in sandwich form!
 You need bread. Duh. I don't toast mine, but I'm sure you could.
I put a thin layer of hummus on both sides, and then a handful of spinach on one side, so the hummus kinda holds it in place. I top that off with a little bit of red onion and a few cucumbers. I LOVE cucumbers. 
Then I add some kalamata olives. You can cut these up, or use kalamata olive paste--but I just sit them on the side and nibble on them as I'm eating. That way I can control the kalamata flavoring.
This is seriously the best thing ever. I'm not even kidding you. The olives really add to the flavor. At the Muse they also add goat cheese, and maybe a few other things (can't remember) and they use a wrap, not a sandwich--but this is my knock off. And right now I'm not eating cheese, so yeah. :D
Whats your favorite sandwich?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Riol's Choice

This is a continuation of my novel that I am currently writing and posting on my blog weekly! New to this tale? Start at the beginning here.
------------

Besides for a few short, personal meetings, usually when Riol had misbehaved or otherwise called attention to himself, he never saw the king outside of state dinners and other such flamboyant events.

Oh, he had a suet of rooms, next to Olix and garbed just as nicely. He had tutors and arms training—but unlike his brother he was never the focus of any ball, or any dinner. Daughters of nearby kingdoms were never invited to dine with him. At Olix's coming-out ball, Riol had danced song after song with ladies that only sighed, looking forever over his shoulder, waiting for a chance to dance with his brother. His father had never ordered a new riding suit for him—better to get hand-downs from Olix, since he'd be leaving soon, anyway. His father never even acknowledged him. He was an extra, a spare—better a girl, to be given in marriage—then a boy who was worth nothing.

It was worse because now even Olix ignored him. Olix, who had once been his friend, was now silent and baleful whenever Riol attempted to speak to him, to talk to him.

It was like he now views me as some kind of threat--thought Riol.

Slowly over the years Riol appeared less and less at dinners, less and less at state events—and surprisingly no one noticed. Well, except the King's magician—who always took time to tell fabulous old tales at night, when Olix was sleeping. Not that Olix had any interest in old tales, that is, but he might have viewed Riol's friendship with the Magician as rather odd. If he noticed.

At nineteen, Olix he was now a fully trained solider, and next month would began his last official year of courtship before choosing a bride.

He'll be married before he's was twenty, thought Riol, glumly. And I won't be welcome here anymore, after that. 

Source "The Choices"
Because, at sixteen, Riol would either have to swear the knight's oath, and forever bind himself in service to a King, or choose to become a monk and don the black robes of service. Actually, it was worse then then a choice. Because as a knight, he wouldn't even be allowed to stay at home.

A king never kept his blood near him, he droned sarcastically to himself. So he would be shuttled off to Wilindolyn, or Graymere, or somesuch kingdom, traded away for one of their bloody second sons, and bound in service to some unknown cause for the rest of his life. To fight battles over their land. To shed his blood for some trivial desire of theirs.

Even if he was being forced--he'd already knew what choice he would make. The thought of being a monk like his uncle Rex or his twin Reichi disgusted him—death would be better then to be locked behind stone, copying out faded manuscripts for all of time. Oh, sure, they traveled sometimes—to assist the Church, to minister to the lost, or to counsel young second-sons as their choice approached. The most boring life in existence. And he thought life right now was bad. That would be...would be...hell.

At least knights were well received. And could attend balls and escort young maidens. Maybe even exchange a kiss or two.

Uncle Reichi had visited many times in the last six or so years, and each time Riol had dreaded his coming. For one, he smelled like day-old fish. It was all Riol could do not to gag in his presence when he came tottering in, with his crusy, dank robe flowing out behind him and his staff of Greater Stickiness clinched in his sweaty palms. Ugh. 

Uncle Reichi's story had come to him in bits and pieces over the years, from an oddment of tutors and religious persons, with a few choice tidbits offered from Reichi's own lips. He was a second son under King Heyol, Riol's grandfather, born as a twin with Rex, who was thus a third son. At fifteen he had been forced to join a very poor parish in the backwoods hill-town of Illwithie after some mistake involving a maid--and that was that. He was about 50 now, and thin, with white cheeks and graying hair, that stood out all in tuffs under his little pointed hat. He could have joined any other parish, in any other town—and why he'd settled on the absolute poorest after the whole maid scandal was beyond Riol.

It wasn't that he didn't like Uncle Reichi. He seemed nice enough, for a monk. It was just so tiresome when he was younger to be told to sit still, and then to be given a lengthy sermon on sin and hell, before receiving a lecture on the state of his heart and opulent surroundings. Riol was sure Uncle Reichi meant well, he knew—but monk-hood was not for him.Mass on Sunday like everyone else was one thing, but giving his life away to the church?

No, thank you. As in, I'd rather be fed to the moat alligators.

However, his lack of zeal over monk-hood didn't mean he was jumping with excitement to be a knight, even if it did sound less boring. But more dangerous. A lot more dangerous. Uncle Undine visited from the castle of Wilindolyn quite frequently, and his tales were of a different sort then soggy manuscripts and pockmarked peasants. Camping in the rain, running a sword though a man, marching for days to the north, where the wilds were—drills, drills, drills—and in the off-years, the slow times between wars—guarding the castle, the king, or any noble. Waking at all hours, training rigorously--a knight was always busy, from sunup to sundown. And at any time he could be sent off on a quest at the whim of his Lord, to spend the rest of his life wandering the wilds, like a needle in a haystack. Riol knew for a fact the reason Uncle Undine hadn't visited last winter was because he was off searching for some magic swan or something that was supposedly in the Northlands. He was probably cold, miserable, and wet in front of a spluttering campfire right now. And all because the King of Wilndolyn had promised the stupid bird as dowry for his daughter's impeding marriage to the Prince of Graymere.

Not to mention Uncle Undine was missing part of his left ear, and several of his fingers from skirmishes with Graymere back before the truce had been signed and the marriage alliance drawn up.

No thank you, actually, to either choices. Riol said, to himself again, his back pressed on his bed, an discarded book just beyond his fingertips. I'd really rather go courting. 

Courting! Riol felt himself blush as he thought of the palace girls, with their long silk dresses and pretty, perfumed faces. Olix would marry, soon, and produce heirs. Then Olix would be King after their father died, while Riol would take his few years of arms training and secondary tutoring and become a knight, or worse, a monk. And of course, probably never be allowed alone with a girl. Much less get around to producing anything beside rainy campfires and rusty chain mail.

Well, there wasn't much he could do about it. Tomorrow he would turn sixteen. And tomorrow he would be forced to choose.

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