Hostage Bride – Part 2

This is the second part of the story I started a couple months ago.  It’s an answer to the genre stretch for last month: low fantasy.

**

It hadn’t taken Richard long to find Erin. The problem was that she was, to him at least, entirely unreachable. He was forced to retreat for the moment. He returned as night was falling with two others: Franz Edelstein and Dietrich Schneider. Erin didn’t particularly care for either of them. However, they were on her side… most of the time.

“Why are we here, Moore?” Edelstein asked. “What’s this to do with Erin’s disappearance?”

Richard scowled at the decrepit old building that served as a prison for Erin. “She’s in there,” he said, glancing over at Edelstein. His brows furrowed. “Adler kidnapped her. You recall Adler, do you not? Wanted for murder? Summoner of demons? The man who assaulted Erin just over a year ago?”

“If you know he has her and that she’s here,” Edelstein asked, his tone one of annoyance, “why haven’t you stormed the place and rescued her? Surely, it’s not an impregnable fortress. Once night has fallen…” he trailed off to wave around at the gathering gloom.

“It’s not so simple as that, sir,” Schneider said, his voice soft. He gave Richard a wry smile. “You can’t enter a house where you haven’t been invited. Is that it?”

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Hostage Bride

The Genre Stretch for the month is Gothic fiction.  I think I did a pretty good job of getting this story into that genre, but Erin’s world lends itself well to that genre.  I’m going to do the same thing with this story as I did with my previous one: the Genre stretch for next month and the month after will be used to work on this story.  My goal is to finish it in the next couple thousand words.  I think that’s doable.

**

To say that Erin was angry would have been an understatement.  She was so much more than angry.  She wanted nothing less than to kill Heinrich Adler.  The problem was, with her wrists shackled in heavy chains, she was having trouble lifting them.  That made strangling the life from her captor rather impossible.

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Drowned in Rain

This scene is a continuation of my snippet with the flowers sighing.  Here, we find out what they were really sighing about.  It was inspired by a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth (drowned in rain).

**

Richard woke to the sound of rain beating on the roof and windows.  He groaned and rolled over to frown at the clock.  It wasn’t even night yet.  However, it was so dark, due to the rainclouds, that he had no problem being awake.  Heaving a sigh, he threw back the covered and got out of bed.

When he came downstairs, he found that Erin was sitting by the large front window, glaring outside.  “I hate this weather,” he said, ruffling a hand through his hair.  “It’s too dark.  I can’t sleep.”

“It’s like feast or famine out there,” Erin said, standing.  She smoothed her hand over her skirts and turned to face him.  “For a moment, it’s been dry as bones.  Now, it won’t stop raining.”

“Maybe this is what the flowers were sighing about,” Richard said, as he crossed to the window and looked outside.  On the street that ran in front of Erin’s home, people were running to get to their destinations as quickly as possible.  His brows furrowed as a tall figure made his way up the walk.

A moment later, the bell rang.  Richard turned to Erin.  “Edelstein,” he said, his voice soft, as he heard the butler answer the door.  “It seems he left his office in a hurry.  He didn’t even have a hat or an umbrella.”

Erin scowled and then looked up as the butler appeared in the doorway.  Edelstein was just behind him, looking like a drowned rat.  At Erin’s nod, the butler stepped back to wave the man into the room.  “Didn’t know it was raining or left in a hurry?” she asked, as she stepped over to a nearby chair.

Edelstein pushed his hair back from his face.  “It wasn’t raining over my office,” he said, shaking his head.  He stalked over to the couch and sat down.  “It is, in fact, only raining within ten miles of your house in a near-perfect radius.”

“Weird,” Richard said, blinking.

The Flowers Told Me…

This little snippet was inspired by a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth (Flowers told).  It was fun to write…

**

Erin frowned deeply when the wind ruffled the curtains at the window.  From the vase of flowers on the table nearby, she heard a soft sigh or whistle.  It was almost the sound one might hear if the wind whistled around the eaves of the house.  However, the sound was most certainly coming from the vase or the flowers themselves.

She frowned.  They looked like normal, average phlox and asters.  Shaking her head, she turned to Gretchen.  “Where did we get those flowers?” she asked, pointing at the blooms.

“From the garden, miss,” Gretchen said, frowning.  The wind rustled the curtains and again the low sigh seemed to come from the vase of flowers.  Gretchen looked up at Erin in alarm.  “Are the flowers sighing, miss?”

“They certainly seem to be,” Erin said, nodding.  She scowled and then strode to the window.  She closed the window firmly and then latched it.  A moment later, the sky opened up.  Her eyes widened and then she arched her brows at Gretchen.  “Rain,” she said.

“Apparently, they wanted you to know it was going to rain, miss,” Gretchen said.  Her brows furrowed and Erin could tell that she was trying not to laugh.  Another other maid would have been in a panic over such a thing.  Gretchen, clearly, had lived among wizards and magicians too long to find it amusing.

Erin shook her head.  Richard was never going to believe that she knew to close the window because the flowers told her.  “I just wonder if they’ll let us know when it’s safe to open the window again,” she said.  Then she swept out of the room.  She had more important things to do than deal with sighing flowers.

An Unusual Display

This little vignette was inspired by a phrase prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  The phrase was: lights pulse and weave and… after thinking about it for a while, it reminded me of an aurora borealis.  I’ve only ever seen them in photographs and videos aurora, so my description is based on a picture that was taken in a place that parallels the location of the story.

**

It wasn’t unusual for Richard to be up until all hours of the night.  In fact, given his vampiric nature, it was rather odd how active he was during the daylight hours.  He usually spent most of his late nights sequestered in the library.  He was well aware that most of the household was asleep, so he kept to himself, so as not to disturb them.

So, Erin was surprised when he shook her awake in the middle of the night.  “What’s wrong?” she asked, as she sat up and rubbed sleep from her eyes.

Richard handed her a dressing gown and whispered, “Come and see!”  Then he left her side to hurry to the curtained windows.

Erin was just slipping off her bed and shrugging into the dressing gown when he threw back the heavy curtains.  Immediately, soft light filled the room.  Frowning, Erin padded to the window and looked outside.  The sky was ablaze with colors.  Near the horizon, there was a line of yellow that faded upward into pale green.  Another band, this one red, cut diagonally through the first.  Where they touched the sky was orange.

“What is that?” Erin breathed.  She’d never seen anything so beautiful in her life.

Richard set a hand on her shoulder.  “They’re called the northern lights – the aurora borealis,” he said.  “They aren’t usually visible so far south, so I’m not surprised that you’ve never seen them.  It’s why I decided to wake you, actually.”

“I’m so glad that you did,” Erin murmured.  She sat down on the cushioned window seat and smiled when Richard joined her.  Together, they watched the lights pulse and weave until they finally faded back into darkness.

The Ashes of Youth

Heather's Fancies

A little story featuring some new characters.  It was inspired by a phrase prompt at the WriYe DreamWidth (which became the title).

**

Franz Edelstein hadn’t expected the case to turn out like this.  They were supposed to find that the girl had simply run off with her boyfriend.  Instead, they’d found that the boy had been sent off to join the military, so the girl couldn’t be with him.  Now – less than a day later – he was standing in a field of tall grass, looking down at the body of their missing girl.

“How long do you suppose it’ll take before she arrives?” the peace officer beside him murmured.

He heard a coarse voice floating across the field.  A woman was scolding someone about being too slow and needing to pay better attention to what he was doing.

“She’s already here,” Edelstein said, grimacing.  He didn’t care…

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Golden Promises

This little vignette was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth and features my new character and her father much younger than in the previous story.  (I just realized that the other story with these characters ended up on my other blog.)

**

Johann Von Brenner was more than a little worried about his daughter. Seventeen was a difficult age under the best of circumstances. However, she’d lost both her elder brother and her mother in a matter of months. The double loss had his him hard enough. It must have been so much worse on the young girl.

He started across the grounds, scanning the trees that were scattered across the fields for any sign of the girl. He finally spotted her at the base of a tall tree, staring up into the branches. “Erin?” he called.

126c709e160ac3121c73b6063486fa7fShe looked over her shoulder at him and then looked back upwards once again. When he reached her side, she said, “Lucas used to climb this tree.”

“I remember,” Johann said, nodding. He’d had the gardener cut back the lowest branches when Erin had nearly fallen badly trying to mimic her elder brother. That had ended both children’s tree-climbing adventures.

“He’d go as high as he could and… he’d say that he could see the whole world from up there,” Erin said, her gaze going to the golden leaves high overhead. “He’s say that he felt like he could touch the sky.”

“Erin?” Johann said.

Erin looked at him suddenly. Her eyes were moist with unshed tears, but there was an intensity in her gaze and a determined expression about her lips. “If I climbed high enough, do you think I’d see where they took Lucas, Father?” she asked, arching her brow. “Would I be able to hear Mama’s voice again?”

“No,” he said, his vision blurring as tears filled his own eyes. “Would that it were that easy.”

Nodding, Erin looked up at the tree once again. Setting a hand against the rough bark, she said, “I’ll find Lucas, Father. I’ll find him and bring him home.”

For the first time in a while, Johann felt his lips turn up in a smile. “If anyone can do it,” he said, setting a hand on her shoulder, “it’s you, Erin.”