Category Archives: panhistoria

The Demise of Livejournal & Migration to Other Shores

More than a decade ago, I started out blogging on Livejournal.In that time,  I met tons of friends, many fabulous writers, talented artists.  Many of these people are still my friends today. I even purchased a permanent account when they were being sold for very little money.  Back then, Livejournal was the place to be – more than Twitter and MySpace – Facebook was barely a backwater bulletin board at that point. Or maybe it hadn’t even been invented yet.  At any rate, Livejournal was an important beginning as to what social media was to later become.

Livejournal changed hands a couple of times and was later bought by SUP, a Russian company that has very strong ties to the Kremlin.  Almost immediately that the site came under Russian ownership the spam bots were let loose. Having a permanent account, I was mostly protected, but from time to time I would get spam commentary, some of it with malware links attached.  I set my comments on screened and the problem went away for a time.   Now, everything has changed. The servers for Livejournal are now residing in Russia.

Now there have been even more changes.  The servers for Livejournal now reside in Russia. What’s more is that Livejournal has just recently changed their user agreement so that in order to continue to use the site, you must agree to Russian law.  Part of that law is most adamantly against the rights and even tolerance of LGBT folks.

This morning, I got up and deleted all of my communities on the LJ site.  The only exception was Writers_Muses,  a prompt community that had prompts and responses every week.   A little over a year ago I ported Writer’s Muses over to Dreamwidth, mirrored it over on Pan Historia, and just a few hours ago, Writers Muses is its own dot com, hosted here on WordPress.  Soon the community that remains on Livejournal will be deleted.

I know that it’s going to be hard, but I also intend to delete my permanent account on Livejournal as well.  SUP isn’t making any money off of me anyway. I will probably just need a few more days in order to gather up the rest of my “things” before closing that door and walking away forever.  I am quite excited about Writers Muses moving on to possibly better things. I have a client quite interested in my prompts, and there is a Writer’s Muses writing prompt book in the works.   I also suspect I will be doing some video work and setting up a video channel for it as well on YouTube. So many things that can rise up from the ashes that are now smoldering somewhere in Russia.

If anyone needs any assistance in porting their content from Livejournal over to Dreamwidth, or if they are curious about PanHistoria, or want to follow the Writer’s  Muses blog, please feel free to drop me a line at fannyfae at gee mail dot com.  I will be happy to help.  It’s hard to leave those memories and those friends behind, but the future could be even brighter, I think.

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Filed under dreamwidth, livejournal, panhistoria, politics, racism, rants, Writer's Muses, writing

Character or Muse Questionnaire

This list is from some years ago.  Some of you may remember the heady days when Livejournal was the place to experiment in writing all kinds of fiction.  They have since moved to other sites such as Dreamwidth, Insanejournal, and PanHistoria, to name just a few.  For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps gets OOC: I know that some of us who work with Muses and characters all of the time sort of struggle to get a handle on them.

For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps get them down on paper. One thing that I and others who work with characters or muses have noticed is that keeping a journal at hand to get a handle on the flood of information we get about them. Sometimes those characters will just throw information at us in a flourish and it’s easy to miss or forget those important details.

The following is a questionnaire that I compiled from several sources, most of them come from writing courses I have taken in college, or from books. This list is more exhaustive than most you will find online. Most of the questions below will apply to your character or muse, while others may be questions for you, the writer to answer.   Have fun and play with it!
Character/Muse Questionnaire

Name:
Nicknames:
Age:
Birthdate:
Place of Birth:
Height:
Weight:
Body Type:
Physical Condition:
Eye Colour:
Hair Colour and Style:
Distinguishing Features (choose at least four):
Physical imperfections they would like to change:
Characteristic Gestures:

Country of Origin:
Race:
Ethnic Group:
Religion:
Married / Divorced /Widowed:
(First, Second Third, etc. and how long for each)
Spouse’s Occupation:
Children:
Family Background / Lineage:
Father’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Mother’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Years of Schooling:
Major and Minor Studies in College (if applicable):
Degrees:
Grades achieved in school:
Special Occupational Training:
Skills, Abilities, and Talents (Name at least four):
Areas of Expertise (Name at least three):
Current Job or Occupation:
Moonlighting or Past Occupations:
Military Experience:
Short-Term Goals (3-4):
Long-Term Goals (3-4):
Short-Term Needs (3-4):
Long-Term Needs (3-4):
Personality Type:
Introvert or Extrovert?
Eccentricities:
Quirks:
IQ:
Method of Handling Anger or Rage:
Admirable traits:
Negative Traits:
Bad Habits / Vices:
Predjudices:
Pet Peeves / Gripes:
Things that Make Uncomfortable or Embarrass:
Most Painful Things in One’s Life:
Ever Been Arrested (if so, for what?):
Arrests, and Convictions: (list types of convictions & time served for them):
Medical Condition:
Political or Social Issues Important to your Character:
Opinion on Abortion:
Opinion on Environmental Issues:
Opinion LGBT Equality:
Opinion on Military Intervention:
Opinion on Progress:
Opinion on Crime and Gun Control:
Opinions Particular to Character:

What kind of government does your character live under? Democracy? Monarchy? Dictatorship? Theocracy? Do they support their government? Apathetic toward it? Rebelling against it?
Political Party:
Liberal, Conservative, Centrist, or Radical?
Income:
Do they have a sense of humor? If so what kind?
Fears (3-4):
Phobias:
Manias:
Physical Illnesses or Chronic Disorders:
Mental Illnesses:
Hobbies:
Personal Interests:
Sports:
Favorite Pastime(s):
Favorite TV Show(s):
Favorite Movie(s):
Favorite Music / Favorite Band /Singer:
Favorite Travel Destination:
Pets:
Why / How did they acquire them?
How Important Are They?
How do they treat pets? Wild animals, etc?
Drinks Alcohol? If so, how often?
Favorite Alcoholic Drink:
Favorite Food or Meal:
Favorite Book(s) and Author(s):
Diet (Rich, low fat, cholesterol, restaurant, etc):
Favorite Restaurant/Ethnic Food:
Grooming:
Posture and Movement: Walk, etc.:
What is the most attractive feature about your character?

What turns them on?

What turns them off?
Traumas, Psychological Scars from the Past:
Clothing Styles, favorite kind of clothes:
Favorite Pet Sayings / Words:
Speaking Style – do they have an accent? Describe it:

Are they loud or soft-spoken?
Philosophy on Life:
Close Friends – who and how many?:
Best Friend:
Other Friends:

Enemies:
What experiences shaped your character the most into who they are today?
Home – do they live in a house, apartment, condo, other? Describe what it’s like:
How is it decorated?
What is their neighborhood like?:
How do they travel? Is it by foot, car, horse or other?:
If they drive, do they drive fast or slow? Do they obey traffic and other laws?:
Major Problems that your character face. How do they intend to solve or overcome it?:
Minor Problems?: What and how to deal with them?:
Attitudes about Money:
Dancing? Do they know how? Do they enjoy it?
Do they like being outdoors or indoors most of the time?
If your character has a partner or spouse, how do they get along with each other?Children?

Do they have any children?
Parents:
Siblings:
Do they get along with their neighbors?
How do they deal with those who are higher in society or more successful than they are?
How do they deal with those who are lower in society or less successful?
Sleep Patterns:  Do they sleep well? Fitfully? Not at all?  Who do they sleep with?
When do they get up in the morning?
What awakens them?  Is it an alarm clock? Rooster? Dog, Wife or Parent? Kids?
What do they do normally eat for breakfast?  Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?

Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?
What is your character’s normal routine around dressing? Is it difficult? Easy? Meticulous?
Does the morning fill your character with anticipation or dread?
Does your character like their job or hate it? Do they give their work honest attention or avoidance?
Would He or She rather be doing something else?
If so, What?
How long and hard is the work day
Do they stop for lunch?
Where?
Eating what typically?
With Whom?
Does He or She Enjoy the Meal?
What does it Consist of?
What Goes on During Dinner? (Conversation? Fighting? Reading?)
Who Cleans up?
What does your Character do on a typical Evening?
Where?
With Whom?
How Much Does He or She Enjoy it?
What Would they prefer to be doing?
Why Doesn’t He or She Do That?
What id the evening atmosphere like?
Bedtime: Does he or she go to bed consistently at the same time?
What Time?
With Whom?
When does bedtime occur at a different time?
Do they fall asleep right away?
If No What is He doing in the meantime? Reading? Watching TV? Sex? Tossing and Turning?
How Much do they enjoy this activity
Does He or She dream a lot, little or never?
Are most of his or her dreams scary, pleasant, sexual, etc?
Is any dream that they have a recurring one? What is it about?
What is his or her earliest memory?
If they were to suddenly become much richer, what he or she do with the money?
What is his or her stated dream in life?
What does he or she really long for?

What event are they most afraid of possibly happening?
Who does he or she in their wildest deepest soul really love best in the whole world?
What would he or she be willing to die for if anything?
What does he or she believe about God or the Divine?
What do they believe is the purpose of life?
Do they believe in an afterlife?
What does he or she actively work to gain or keep or protect – or not?

Do they merely say is important, but actually invest time and emotion in – money, fame, family, love, country, revenge, etc.?
How would he or she describe himself or herself if totally honest?
In a single word, how would YOU the writer sum up this character/muse’s attitude toward the world, interested, optimistic, defeated, Exploitive, compassionate dissatisfied, power mad, controlling, happy, etc. ?

Would your character or muse agree with your assessment?
Why or Why not?

Do you like your character or muse as a person?
Sources:
Dynamic Character”: How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated” by Nancy Kress, 1998, Writer’s Digest Books
“Building Believable Characters” by Marc McCutcheon, 1996, Writer’s Digest Books

“Getting Into Character” Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors” by Brandilyn Collins, 2002, John Wiley & Sons

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Filed under dreamwidth, fanfiction, fiction, livejournal, nanowrimo, panhistoria, reblogged, Writer's Muses, writing

Writer’s Muses: Prompt Set # 1

1. What did your mother tell you to never do? Write about the first time you broke that rule.
2. Write about an unanswered prayer or ungranted wish.
3. A year after his death…..
4. “Paranoia is just reality on a finer scale.” – Philo Gant, “Strange Days”

5. Who would you die for? Would you prove it?
6. Question to the Writer: What was the stickiest entanglement your character ever faced?

7. Photo Prompt

tornado

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D is for Dancing & Drumming

dancers For those of us who have been raised with an intimate knowledge of our Indigenous culture, we know that dancing is an important part o our and many cultures throughout the world. For myself, hearing the sound of drums and the sound of bells and jingle dresses and the singing along the powwow trail begins at the first sign of spring and continues on well into the fall. We dance, because we can. We dance and sing and beat drums and it serves as an affirmation of life; our own heartbeat and the heartbeat of everything and everyone around us. People gather to dance and to sing and to celebrate the rhythm that permeates every aspect of our existence.

Dancing and music figure prominently in our religious and ritual practices as well. Dance is a meditation, it can send us into a trance and be a way for us to express emotion, ecstasy and connect us to the Divine. The truth of the matter is that dance has been a part of human history or prehistory around the world since probably before Homo Sapiens became fully bipedal.

The first great culture to really infuse its entire society with the magic of music and dance was that of Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians enjoyed life to its fullest and no celebration in Ancient Egypt would have been complete without music and dancing. At parties, singers and dancers performed to the music of harps, lutes, drums, flutes, cymbals, clappers and tambourines. During festivals, crowds chanted and clapped, carried along by the vibrant rhythm of Egyptian orchestras, while dancers performed amazing feats, leaping twirling and bending their bodies in time with the music. It was so important a feature of everyday life that musical instruments – frame drums, harps, clappers, sistra, and other instruments found their way into the tomb of those who passed to the Beautiful West and their entertainment in the afterlife.

Most of Egyptian secular and religious life was marked by the performance of music and dance. This important aspect of daily life of the Egyptians is depicted as early as the Pre-Dynastic periods. Ceremonial palettes and stone vessels indicate the importance that music had even in the earliest of periods. The importance of music in daily life in Ancient Egypt is underscored by the large number of musical instruments found in museum collections around the world.  Of the several terms used in ancient Egyptian to describe dance is ib3.

In many banqueting scenes found within the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians, the banquets appear to be more secular. Shown in these scenes are an idealized rather than any actual event. The basic components of these scenes changed very little throughout Egypt’s history, until the New Kingdom. Around the 18th Dynasty, there is a marked change of character, in the song, dance and the overall “feel” of these scenes. At this time we see a marked sense of erotic significance. Lotus flowers, mandrakes, wigs and unguent cones, as well as men and women clothed in semi-transparent garments and the gestures of the banquet participants. Music, love and sensuality go hand in hand in most civilizations, ancient as well as modern, and in different spheres. Overall music is a major component of life, an important piece of both secular and religious life.

NileGoddessDance was far more than just an enjoyable pastime in Ancient Egypt.During the Pre-Dynastic period were found depictions of female figures, perhaps of Goddesses or Priestesses, dancing with their arms raised above their heads. The act of dancing was undoubtedly an important component of ritual and celebration in Ancient Egypt. The Neolithic figurine of a goddess or priestess that currently resides in the Brooklyn Museum is commonly referred to as “the Nile Goddess” or “Nile Dancer”. The figure has arms that are raised above her faceless head like some sort of pre-historic ballerina. Her body is slender with ample breasts and broad hips. Some have speculated that her graceful limbs lifted above her head are to emulate the horns of the Goddess Hathor, who was the personification of the joys of music dancing, love and life itself. This particular piece of very early ancient Egyptian art has been an inspiration for many modern sculptures and art lovers just in its beautiful simplicity.

girlmusiciansPeople from every social class were exposed to music and dancing. Manual laborers worked in rhythmic motion to the sounds of songs and percussion, and street dancers entertained passers by. In normal, daily life musicians and dancers were an important and integral part of banquets and celebrations. Dance troupes were available for hire to perform at dinner parties, banquets, lodging houses, and even religious temples. Some women the harems of the wealthy were trained in music and dance. Unlike today, however, no well-born Egyptian would consider dancing in public. The Nobility would employ servants or slaves to entertain at their banquets to a offer pleasant diversion to themselves and their guests.

Elizabeth ‘Artemis’ Mourat, professional dancer and dance-scholar categorized the dances of Ancient Egypt into six different types: religious dances, non-religious festival dances, banquet dances, harem dances, combat dances, and street dances.

muudancers1There were certain ritual dances that were crucial to the successful outcome of religious and funerary rites. This is particularly true of the Muu-Dancers. These dancers wore kilts and reed crowns and performed alongside funeral processions. Funeral rites often employed or were based off of the Songs of Aset and NebetHet (Isis and Nephthys in Greek) and the retelling of how Aset searched for the body of Wasir (Osiris in Greek) and reassembled his dismembered form for burial and restored to eternal life through Her prowess and skill in magic. This period of singing, dancing, drumming and lamentation was said to last over a period of five days. It was through these rites that it is believed Roman mystery cults arose.

With the emergence of the cult of Wasir dance was a crucial element in the festivals held for both He and Aset, His sister-wife. These festivals occurred throughout the year. Dance also figured prominently in the festivals dedicated to Apis. Another deity that has been linked to dancing, is the Dwarf-God, Bes. He has been depicted in both reliefs and in statuary playing a tambourine and dancing, denoting the idea of using dance in order to drive away evil spirits. Images and amulets of Bes were often found in and around the birthing chamber for women who were giving birth.  In these images, Bes is quite often shown playing a tambourine or a drum. Wikimedia Commons

acrobatsmThe act of dancing was inseparable from music, and so the depictions of dance in Pharaonic tombs and temples invariably show the dancers either being accompanied by groups of musicians or themselves playing castanets or clappers to keep the rhythm. Little distinction seems to have been made between dancing and what would be considered today as acrobatics. Many dancers depicted in the temple and tomb paintings and reliefs show dancers in athletic poses such as cartwheels, handstands and backbends.

Detailed study of the depiction of dancers has revealed that the artists were often depicting a series of different steps in particular dances, some of which have been reconstructed in the modern era. Movements of Egyptian dances were named after the motion they imitated. For instance, there were “the leading along of an animal,” “the taking of gold,” and “the successful capture of the boat.”

Men and women as a general rule and in the more conservative society that was Ancient Egypt were never shown dancing together.  The most common scenes depict groups of female dancers often performing in pairs and more rarely, men dancing in groups.  Dance was done in private chambers as well as public festivals and gatherings, in the streets as well as Temple rituals. The importance of dance has not lessened over the years, it has maintained and is carried on even today.  Professional dancers, musicians and other performers, though they are often admired for the work that they do, are not often given a high status within society.  Because they wander the country side  often with men to whom they are not related, especially if they are women, this sort of behaviour is still rather looked down upon – especially within village societies.

There was a notion within early Egyptology that noblewomen  or women of a certain class or caste would never engage in dancing except in private.   The only exception to this idea were the dancers, singers and musicians that were dedicated to the service of a deity, for example.   The dancers that are depicted within the ancient tombs are often described or depicted as being a part of the tomb owner’s immediate family.  As a direct relation to the deceased then any taboos were lessened.   Today, women may dance within the privacy of their own homes, or that of a family member, but never in public.   It is a good idea that depictions in tombs were never intended to be viewed again by the living once they were sealed, and as such served as a private residence for the deceased.

Modern day bellydancing has a little resemblance to the graceful and acrobatic gestures that were a part of dance in antiquity. Because of so many external influences – the Greeks, Romans, and influx of other cultures over the centuries, not to mention that dance in Egypt as also influenced by the influx of Islam into the region.  In spite of all of this, however, we can still see within Egyptian culture the idea of dancing just for the sheer love of it.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Most of this piece is a reworking of a section of my website, ‘The Ancient Egyptian Virtual Temple’, 1995 -2016, Copyright Christina Paul &Ma’at Publishing.

Other Resources

Manniche, Lise, Music and Musicians in Ancient Egypt British Museum Press, 1991. Print.
Threee
Redmond, Layne, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm Three Rivers Press, 1997. Print.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. Print.

Spencer, Patricia, “Dance in Ancient Egypt”, Near Eastern Archeaeology, 2003, p 111 – 121

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Filed under Ancient Egyptian Virtual Temple, kemetic, pagan, Pagan Blog Project 2014, Pan Historia, panhistoria

Fiction: “The Summons” (From World Under Siege)

The ruins of the churc at Orandeur-sur-Glane

The ruins of the churc at Orandeur-sur-Glane

Rage, was all that she felt now.

That the Nazis had had the temerity to have burned the church at Orandeur-sur-Glane was unthinkable. Francoise de Rochefort’s heart nearly stopped in her chest as she saw her friend, Colonel Robert Grayson carrying the limp form of Amarante from his car to entrance of the chateau. The girl’s face, body and limbs were smudged with, blood, soot and ash. Her hair was matted with blood, her clothing in tatters, shoes were also now missing.

No, it couldn’t be like this! Not like this!’ the Comtesse wanted to scream, ‘Not her!’

The other servants had come into the hall, either they dropped what they were doing and stared or rushed forward toward the two figures in panic. Some, particularly the cook and some of the other matrons were wringing their hands, asking if there was something that they could do. Grayson ignored everyone’s expressions and queries except those of the lady of the chateau. His black, boots rapped sharply on the marble, followed by Francoise’s own footfalls. Up. up the stairs he carried Amarante to the Comtess’s own rooms. The Colonel had not needed to ask his Anam Cara where she wanted her protege’ to be placed. He knew.

When he had laid Amarante on the bed, he stepped back to get out of Francoise’ way. Pale and obviously shocked at the sight, immediately she began to evaluate the girl, tearing fabric away as she ordered one of the maids to draw a hot bath immediately.

“Who is responsible for this?” the Comtesse growled, “When I find them I shall kill them myself!” she shot a withering glance backward at her friend who gazed back at her evenly.

“There is no need, Francoise,” he said, not bothering to avert his eyes as Francoise continued to examine Amarante’s prone form, “They’re already dead.”

Francoise stopped, surprised. There was no need for Colonel Robert Grayson to confess any involvement. She knew he would have killed his own men for something like this. What was France coming to now, the Comtesse wondered. “I am sure that the SS will be quite interested to know why you shot men from your own ranks, Dieter Hag. Collaboration does not mean collusion with the French people.” Eyes stinging, Francoise turned back to Amarante. She was determined that she would not cry.

The bullet had gone through Amarante’s body cleanly, The entrance and exit had miraculously missed vital organs, and hopefully with diligence, Francoise thought, she would be able to stave off infection or any complications. Much of that would depend on what Colonel Grayson was able to do in keeping further SS involvement in the area.

After determining the depth of the wound, the Comtesse banished Grayson from the room. If the child were to awaken, however unlikely from the shock, she would be traumatised by the Colonel being in the same room while she was not dressed. There had always been an air of fascination tinged with fear that Amarante had in regard to Grayson. He had never been anything but kind to her, but it was the uniform of the Germans that she could never see past. That, Francoise thought, was not too different from the rest of the French who now lived under occupation. Now with the unspeakable horror of Orandeur-sur-Glane, that distrust and even loathing would surely deepen.

The child had been bathed, her wounds tended with the finest herbs and unguents that Francoise found in the Chateau de Rochefort’s apothecaries. Both had been ritually prepared, the myrrh and goldenseal from the Americas with Yarrow and lavender in beeswax and the finest olive oils. The bandages smelled sweet, relaxing and almost camphorous. Amarante, her honey-coloured hair now washed and barely damp but lovingly combed as the child slept in a clean white nightdress. Even in the low lamplight, the child’s rest was fitful, and far from restful. Nightmares would rise up, and Amarante would murmur softly as if speaking to someone in the room. One in particular, caught Francoise’s attention.

Non, non, Monsieur. The lady, she knew nothing! Qui? Non..non..

The Comtesse regarded what she had written and once again lit the brazier within her magical chamber, deep within the crypt beneath the Chateau de Rochefort. Unbinding her hair she let it fall and invoked the words that would awaken her husband’s shade. He haunted these halls and even without the rite itself, he would not refuse her summons and come to her call. But for this, this time, she could leave nothing to chance. This rite was to protect not only she and Amarante, but also Sebastien. The Giovanni and the Rochefort had been allied as families since the Renaissance, and there were others, very powerful others, who wished ill to either side, or even to both. The Halfling Countess could not afford to be careless.

A spectral wisp snaked through the caverns and stone arches beneath the Chateau, past the wine caves that its human form had so carefully tended when he was alive. Slowly it weaved its way, beyond the stone sarcophagi of endless ancestors that stretched back even before Merovingian times to the room where the wife of its last incarnation stood. Slowly, swirling around her as if once again alive, seductively moving about the Comtesse de Rochefort as her husband might have done.

In two breathfalls, she caught the scent not only of the musky dark of a mouldering grave, but that sweetness of leather and finest oils from the East that had been his favourite. The Comtesse closed her eyes and smiled, letting out a long exhale that sounded almost like a purr.

“You need not have been so formal, lady wife,” the spectral voice spoke to her mind, “I would have come…”

The Comtesse nodded, savouring the feeling like a brush of air against her neck that trailed over her breast. The sensation fell far short of what they had known in life. In the dimly lit chamber she could see the shadow move to formation. She allowed herself a small smile that bordered on adoration. Remembering why she had been moved to the crypts on a second consecutive night, her lips turned downward. “I know, mon amour,” she whispered in archaic French that few living understood and even fewer ever spoke. “I need you to leave the chateau’s halls and go to Venice.”

“Why would I leave?” the voice chuckled and caressed.

She ignored his question. ” You must. And after this, the Giovannisi will be expecting you.”

The shadow that had been once man was silent for a long moment. Francoise set the letter she had penned in sorceror’s ink on the parchment alight and continued. “I light this smoke to mingle with thine own essence….” Her voice trailed off and immediately the smoke and the shade became infused as one upon the air. She could feel th spectral mood shift as the flames licked and consumed the parchment from adoration to one of anger. His ville had been trespassed upon and worse, those who would have been under his charge had he been alive had been attacked. The very temerity of the act sent up billows of heat that caused the Comtesse to step back from the last shred that was being swallowed up by flame, consuming her very words:

Wordlessly she touched the parchment to the flame. It sputtered and quickly across the newly-penned missive. Each word remained for a moment in a glow, then became as nothing but feathery, glowing curls of etched carefully tanned hide that cooled and almost immediately disintegrated into dust. With a zephyrous gust, the last ashes of the letter were put out and Faelyn heard her husband’s words hiss inside of her brain.

“You send me into a necromancer’s trap with the child as bait, Faelyn?”

“You know better,” she snarled back, “I am out of my league in this and I do not want to relive the hell that we did with Marie.”

Another long silence then a large gust swept through the crypts. There were no other words of adoration, no sense of anything but the same sort of focused resolve that the man who once made up the shade had within himself. It sucked the air out of the chamber and out of Faelyn’s lungs until it blew back through the crypts and into the night air with a thunderous rumble and the slam of doors rattling on their hinges. It was as if Sebastien had mounted upon his black stallion and spurred him through the very halls of the Chateau de Rochefort, sword drawn.

Faelyn crumpled to the floor gasping, swallowing in an attempt to regain her composure, but the crushing heat of anger from her husband’s shade remained.

Her message had been sent.

Special thanks to my fellow writers who pen and who have permitted me to use the characters of Col. Robert Grayson, and Ambrogino and Isabel Giovanni. A most heartfelt thanks must go to the hand behind M. le Comte de Rochefort. It is because of them and their muse that my obsession with their story has never waned.. The rest of the story can be read at

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Of Sidelocks and Donkey Tales

The following is a story I wrote some time ago with a friend over at PanHistoria and before that at Ancient Sites. It is a reworking of the Aesop’s Tale, “The Man, The Boy and the Donkey.” I have long since lost track of my friend. I hope he does not mind my posting our collaboration on my blog here.

This is from another story of Sekhmet Meritamen and her adopted son, Meni. In this scene she is telling Meni about being different and the parable of trying to please everyone.
~*~*~*~

BoatIt was past dusk on board the Heart of Ra and Sekhmet Meritamen padded nimbly down the wooden deck steps to her cabin. As Royal Physician to a pregnant Per’aa, Sekhmet’s routine was unpredictable; she hurried from her work and was thinking of what to make herself and young Menenhetet for dinner when a sound reached her. It was the sound of a child’s crying and it drew the Lady Sekhmet with a tug on her heart. The sound came from her own cabin.

Inside, in the middle of the floor, a blanket clutched to his breast, lay Meni. Sekhmet’s heart ached at the sound of his sadness. She rushed to the curled up ball that was Meni. His face was a blustery thundercloud, bursting with tears. His sobs were a tiny thunder in his wan chest and lightning shone in the glisten of his tears. Drooping like a hippo’s tail, his new sidelock trembled from the weeping.

“Are you hurt?” Sekhmet asked, kneeling near him and looking over his tanned limbs with a professional calm that surprised even her. She saw no cuts or bruises, but her hands examined the frail boy out of habit.

Meni simply wept, blubbering and oblivious to the tender ministrations. Yet nothing seemed amiss.

“Please tell me what’s wrong?” Sekhmet almost felt as though she herself might cry as well, for the boy’s sobs were like pluckings on the strings of her heart.

“The .. boys .. and .. girls .. laughed .. at .. my .. hair!” he finally managed, hiccuping between each syllable and blinking a stream of tears out of each brown eye. Many of Per’aa’s entourage had children onboard the Coronation Barge. Apparently Meni had been teased by some of them.

Sekhmet relaxed inwardly, vastly relieved. She pursed her lips sympathetically and thumbed away the spill of tears on the boy’s wet cheeks. She held the boy’s head and tried to still his crying with a kiss upon his troubled brow. He huddled to her bosom and cried all the more. Rocking his sobs away, Sekhmet sighed.

“Meni, you like your new hairstyle, don’t you? Nebet Nefeti worked very hard to make you a handsome little man. She shaved your head, just like you wanted and even managed to salvage this sidelock for you to braid,” Sekhmet stroked the dark tail of hair on the side of Meni’s head.

“Yes nebet,” Meni sobbed. “But the … other kids … laughed at … me!”

“You mustn’t let them get to you like that” Sekhmet soothed,. ” They’ll get used to it and things will be better. I promise.”

Meni’s frown was unrelenting and his eyes were still freshets of tears. As fast as Sekhmet brushed them away, more scooted out to replenish the rivulets of on his cheeks.

“Meni,” Sekhmet said, lifting his chin up to her gaze. “It wouldn’t matter what you did with your hair. Any change would have gained the attention of the other children. If you had kept your ragged locks, or shaved your head as bald as an egg, or put it in braids just like mine, the children would have teased you all the same.”

“But I want … to play with … them!” Meni protested, calming a little but still afflicted with his hiccups.

“I know you do,” Sekhmet soothed. “And tomorrow you will try again. You will be strong for me, won’t you?”

Meni blinked doubtfully.

“Let me tell you a story that might help. It’s one my mother used to tell me when I was a girl. When I was your age I was not very graceful, and very much a tomboy, and the kids at school would tease me too. And no matter what I did it didn’t make them stop. But one day my mother found me like I found you, weeping. She told me this story…

“There once was a man, who lived in the far off reaches of the land. He was a craftsman and widower living with his son and a donkey. One day the man, knowing he would have to go to the great city to trade, carefully prepared his wares, and loaded them on the donkey and set off for town. When the animal was loaded he set his son upon the top of the load on the donkey and started toward the great city.”

“The man and his son and the loaded donkey walked and walked and at last they met upon the road two men coming from the great city. They nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed and the man with the donkey and son overheard the two other men they had passed whispering between themselves, ‘Did you see that selfish child riding on top of the donkey while his father walked!? That is terrible! What a selfish child!'”

Meni’s face grew fierce and he said, “But nebet! That boy might be lame! Those men aren’t nice!”

“Yes Meni,” Sekhmet nodded, finally seeing the flow of sadness drying in the boy’s eyes.

“The man…not wanting to appear to be a fool, stopped and thought about this and decided that it might be best if he rode and his son led the donkey. The boy agreed.

“‘Oh certainly, father,’ The boy replied. ‘I can lead the donkey and you can ride, I am young and my legs will not grow weary.’ And so they traded places.

“A few leagues down the road, the man and boy and donkey met a man and his wife going the other direction. The two parties nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed each other on the road, but the man overheard the woman whispering to her husband as they passed, ‘Did you see that*selfish* man riding the donkey while the poor child walked?! I’ve never seen anything so pathetic!'”

“That’s silly!” Meni pointed out. “Those people don’t know the man is nice!”

Sekhmet nodded and continued:

“This troubled the man; and not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are often taken advantage of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered the predicament. He came upon the idea that he and his son could both ride the donkey and it would satisfy all of the objections of everyone on the road thus far.

“A few more leagues and the man and his son and the donkey met a nobleman and his fanbearer on the road. They smiled and exchanged greetings and the man heard the fanbearer comment to the nobleman, ‘Master! What a terrible waste of a good animal to make him bear the weight of two people plus his load!'”

Meni just shook his head, tears forgotten, eyes wide, and in deep consternation at such things.

“The man, not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are sometimes regarded with suspicion and riducule and taken advantange of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered a moment and decided that neither he nor his son would ride the donkey but would walk alongside. There were a few more miles to go, but this was fine.

“The man and his son and the donkey then met a woman and her son on the road and they exchanged pleasantries with the man and his son and when they had passed the man overheard the woman say to her son, ‘Those fools! Neither rides when they have a fine donkey. Surely he can handle more than that simple load!'”

Exasperated at these silly people, Meni snorted.

“The man could take it no longer! He was tired of being everyone’s fool! He found a thicket of saplings and cut a strong sturdy one and then reached into the sacks for extra rope and lashed the legs of the donkey to the sapling and, struggling, he and his son carried the animal into the gates of the city. With astonishment the man wondered at why everyone was laughing at him for he had done everything that anyone had asked of him and in exasperation had done what he knew to be the last choice that was left.”

Sekhmet saw the glimmer of understanding in Meni’s eyes.

“The moral of the story is: If you try to please everyone, dear Meni, you in the end will end up looking like the fool, for there is no possible way to please everyone at all times.”

Meni looked up into the wise dark eyes of Lady Sekhmet and wondered if there were anything she couldn’t fix. Which led him inevitably to his next words.

“I’m hungry!”

Sekhmet laughed and held out a hand to Meni, “Let’s find something to eat then.”

Meni skipped beside Sekhmet, his sidelock twitching from side to side, looking very much like a switching tail.

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Miles to Go

“And miles to go before I sleep.” — Robert Frost

either of them had done anything that I could condemn them for.

And yet the glances exchanged over dinner, and chess and now on the dance floor of the ballroom left very little to the imagination. From the moment the two had met, the SS Colonel and my youngest daughter, Jocelyn…Joie-Lynn had established a bond. Long glances, deep conversations and shared laughter punctuated their association from the start.

I bid the last guests goodnight. Jean-Pierre Moreau, the Chateau foreman, had left after he had received word his young daughter was running a fever. Begging my forgiveness, he left the gathering, but I suspected it was more than that. I agreed he should be with his daughter and promised that I would send Amarante to see to her or look to the child myself to make sure that it was nothing too serious. Like all good fathers, and certainly since the death of his wife, he was so very much more attentive to the little dark haired cherub with bright blue eyes. In spite of his obvious affection also for Jocelyn, the love of a father was stronger. In those eyes I saw how Sebastien had been with both of our daughters. Nothing could keep him away from either of them if they were sick or hurt. Continue reading

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