Monday, August 6, 2012

Fandemonium Fun

      Long time no write. Eh heh. It has been a busy . . .  . everything. Year, month, week . . . etc. But, this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a fan con called Fandemonium in Nampa. It's a con that celebrates sci fi, fantasy, anime, horror, writing, fandom in general, etc . . . Seriously fun. It needs better advertisement and a stipulation that its not just a "nerd fest". I attended some amazing writing panels and a drawing instruction. I'm not a total geek (though there is quite a bit of nerdiness to me) and I had a ton of fun. Its nice occasionally to escape, dress up like on Halloween, and learn more. Basically if you're a fan of anything (superheroes, art, fantasy, sci fi, etc . . ) you are welcome there. There are a lot of  . . . interesting people that show up, but that is half the fun. I really liked getting to know people I probably wouldn't rub shoulders with on a regular basis otherwise, and make connections. And oh my goodness!!! Some people are AMAZING at sewing! There were some absolutely eye-popping costumes! I will have to post some pictures. THAT is my favorite part. It is fantastic to see what creative ideas people come up with. 
     My friend Melissa won cutest costume. She and her hubby and baby dressed up as Princess Daisy, Luigi, and Toadette from Super Mario Bros. AND she is amazing at video editing, so she won a few awards, including the ultimate fan favorite on her music videos. YAY! I actually won a couple myself. :) I'll link you to the one that won best humor and upbeat video.
       My sis and I also submitted stories for the short story contest. (BTW: that is so nervewracking for me to share ANYTHING to the public! So this was a big stretch of my comfort zone, much like sharing my writing/art/thoughts over a blog. Lots of making myself stretch.)

Missy won two writing awards (WOOT!) and I won best cross-genre story. It follows:

The Matter of Beanstalks
Category: Fantasy

            Jack. The name is so simple, short, and unassuming. Who would have known a man by such a small name would become the source to change my life?
            I was born into royalty. My father was king over a country ravaged by famine and pestilence. He longed for relief for his people, and sent word to every nation he could for help.  Months passed with no reply and no aid. The king looked for alternative ways, seeking help in shadows and hearing rumors of magic.
            He found a misshapen man, wrapped in rags, who promised that if the King would do as he instructed, the crooked man would save his kingdom. My father, desperate, agreed immediately to contract with the man. The instructions were simple. He was to bring his daughter and the finest goose he could find to the edge of his kingdom, the forest marked the boundaries of our kingdom to the neighboring country.
            I traveled with my father through the woods, holding a light gray goose. Most of the geese we found were too skinny and dirty. This was the finest the castle had to offer. I sang to ease our nerves, the sounds of birds and our footsteps accompanying me.
            We reached our destination as the sun started to set on the third day. I quivered with hunger and fear as the light faded. Just before the sun disappeared for the night, the shriveled man hobbled out of the trees behind us.
            “I have done as you instructed,” My father stated. He took the goose, which started honking in protest.
            “Yes, I see. Set the goose in front of me. Hold onto her. You too, child.” I helped my father with the struggling goose. Its honking almost drowned out the man’s odd chanting. Suddenly, the bird was still. 
            “Pick her up again,” the old man instructed.
            My father held her in his arms, much easier as she had calmed, and to our amazement, in the grass where she had laid was an egg of pure gold. “How . . .?” Father started, bewildered.
            “This goose will now lay golden eggs several times a day. This will help you start in the process of saving your kingdom. Your people will soon have their crops revived, and the gold will help them thrive and become the wealthiest kingdom around.”
            “Thank you! Oh, thank you!” My father knelt, tears of relief running down his cheeks.
            “I have not finished yet,” the man raised a wrinkled brow. “Now it is my turn to receive payment.”
            “Anything,” Father stared up at him. “You have saved my people!”
            The man shook violently and changed, sprouting up and growing before our eyes. I covered my mouth, muffling a scream.
            “A giant! You are . . . an ogre?”
            The giant leaned down, his voice booming and growing. “I will now have free reign in your kingdom, to come and go as I please. You will make sacrifices to me, of large animals, mountains of food, and even humans.”
            “No! No I . . .I cannot!!”
            “You will! You have given me your word, and I have saved your kingdom. As a guarantee you will keep your word, your daughter comes with me!”
            “NO!” Father clutched me to his breast. I was numb with shock and fear.
            “She will keep me entertained. I hear she sings quite well . . .”
            “You cannot take her! I will do what you ask, but you cannot have her.” He squeezed me tighter.  My lungs ached for air as I felt them crush . . . no . . . not crush . . . *grow still, immobilize. My father yelped as he felt my body alter form in his arms. He jumped back, falling to the ground.
            “What’s happening?” My voice vibrated like strings and my words sang.
            “What have you done?!” My father screamed at the ogre.
            “She is now my instrument. My harp. Take the goose. Save your kingdom, and do not forget our bargain.”
            I protested, screaming, though my screams now sounded like fingers strummed roughly against harp strings. No air entered or escaped my lungs and I felt no familiar beat of a heart. I was lifted high into the air, my father yelling, and then, there was silence. There was no longer a forest before us, but a room filled with oversized furniture. At eighteen, my life ended, and my bondage began.
            I spent endless hours staring out the window of the giant’s castle, taking in the strange surroundings of this land in the clouds, or providing the giant with my combination of singing and strumming.
I caught a few glances of myself in a mirror one day when I was carried to a different room in the castle. I was no longer flesh and bones and skin, but a carved figure with strings and wood. I could still see and hear, but could hardly move. I needed no food, or drink, air, or heartbeat. I still felt, still thought, but it was more difficult. The only time I truly felt emotion was when I sang songs I remembered learning. Then, I would long to shed tears.
Time passed, but I never knew how long. Everyday melted together. I remember seeing the goose my father and I took to the ogre. The giant brought it back one day, a triumphant grin spreading across his hideous, loathsome face. I started to sing/strum pointed questions, but he shut me in one of the cupboards. Time continued to tick away until the day that reshaped everything.
            I had been singing to myself, which did not happen often. I was tired of hearing myself after so many hours singing for the giant. But, I had decided to sing the melodies I had learned as a child that day to pass the time.  I had not heard the footsteps behind me, as I was so used to the giant’s thundering steps.  The face of a young man materialized in front of my gaze and my strings plucked in surprise. I tried hide, then remembered I could no longer move myself anywhere. “Who are you?” I sang frantically.
            What are you?” the young man responded. His emerald eyes twinkled in wonder. He had climbed up to large table to stand in front of me. He seemed so puny, even though he was a little taller than I used to be. He also looked about my age or a slightly older. “I’ve never seen a harp play itself.” He circled me, taking me in.
            “I’m not just a harp,” I zummed defiantly.
            He didn’t seem to be listening. “What is this place? Everything is huge! First that beanstalk I climbed, and now this castle . . .”
            “Beanstalk?” I incredulously sang. Though, I thought of all the other impossible things that had occurred to put me here.
            “Yes! A giant beanstalk that grew from some magical beans I acquired. That old woman was right! And she had doubted me . . . as usual . . .”
            He turned back to me. “My mother. She will be so angry when I return. She won’t believe any of this.”
            “Where are you from? Is the beanstalk still there? Please! Take me with you!” I vibrated with the frenzied strums of my strings.
            “Whoa! Slow down.” He raised his hands.
            “Please! I was taken from my father, King Dymas in Bahamut! He made a bargain with the ogre that owns this castle to save his kingdom! I was changed into a harp and brought here as part of the payment.”
            “Bahamut? That is our neighboring county . . .”
            “How are they?” I interrupted, the echoes of the strings intertwining, making my words less intelligible. “Do you know how my father is?”
            “I . . . if your father is King ^ then he lived around one hundred years ago.” His brows rose. “That kingdom used to be very wealthy, but are quickly descending to the state we are in. We have famine and illness, drought and disaster. Very few countries are thriving.”
            “A . . . a hundred . . .” I fell silent, taking it all in. “I’ve been here . . . all that time?”
            The young man shifted his weight from foot to foot awkwardly. “Sorry. I think I remember reading that % had a missing princess long ago. It made finding the next in line for the crown difficult, but they managed.”
            I did not answer, once again wishing for tears. He stood, running a hand through his hair, inspecting his nails, and rubbing his hands uncomfortably. “So . . . uh . . . my name is Jack. What is yours?”
            “Perfect name for a princess, magic harp . . . person.”
            I chuckled, the sound like plucked notes. I hadn’t chuckled in apparently decades. “Thank you. My mother especially liked music. I inherited that trait from her.”
            Jack smiled, his unruly brown hair falling against his eyelashes. He shook it out of his eyes again. “Well, your music helped me find you. It’s beautiful, even for a curse.”
            My carved, wooden face very stiffly moved into a small smile. “I’m afraid I’ll be stuck like this forever, so . . . I’m glad its beautiful.”
            “There has to be a way. Maybe the old woman that exchanged the beans would know.”
            A strange warmth I had forgotten long ago grew within my wooden frame. Hope. I remembered what it was.
            A familiar rumble gradually moved toward us, becoming more rhythmic as it neared. “He’s coming!” I strummed. “You can’t be seen! He will kill you! There!” I pointed out a crack in the stone wall, small for the giant, but just big enough for Jack to slip into.
            The giant stomped into the room, the wood at my base clattering against the wood of the colossal table at the thundering of his feet. My stings clinked and plunked.
            “I heard you singing,” he boomed.
            “I was singing to myself,” I crooned back.
            “Hm,” his bulbous eyes narrowed. “It smells different in here. Like a human.”
            “Probably left over from your sacrifice last night.”
            “You’re impertinent today,” he grasped me roughly, lifting me off the table and walked across the room with me. “I have no need of your sour notes. Be silent.”
            Doors slammed and I was left in the darkness of the cabinet. I listened tensely, worried and frightened for Jack. He was my only way out. But, he was also someone I wanted to be my friend. I silently hoped and prayed for his safety.
            The rumbling footsteps stomped around for what seemed like forever before silence. I strained my carved ears, listening for anything to give me a clue. The cabinet doors flung open and I plunked in high-pitched surprise. Jack put a finger to his lips. Climbing must have been one of his talents, for he had once again scaled quite a difficult ascent.
            Looking a little more wary and frightened, Jack whispered. “We need to get out of here.”
            He was going to take me with him! “Yes,” I tried to whisper. “But how?”
            Jack paced, his fingers pulling lightly at his lips as he scanned the room. In the cabinet with me, there were various objects, like bits of twine, dust, large crumbs, and odds and ends. Jack picked up the twine, large enough to be rope for him, and started looping it around me. I plunked again, watching him. He tied the rest of the twine around himself, fastening me to his back.
            “Jack . . . you’re going to . . .”
            “Shh. I can do it. Don’t worry.”
            Jack very slowly backed out of the cabinet and took his time to find footing on the stone wall. He descended, almost slipping once. I dug my wooden fingers in his tunic, controlling myself with great difficulty not to scream.
            He took a moment once he reached the ground to listen carefully. His head moved from side to side, calculating his best route, then took off quickly.
He slipped through a chip in the enormous door, but I didn’t fully make it. The force of the stop hurled him back toward the door and he knocked into the door and me. My strings echoed quietly, and Jack was stunned for a moment before adjusting this way and that to dislodge us both. He resumed running at full speed, passed pens with large and small animals.
I spotted a familiar bird. “Stop!” I strummed.
Jack skid to a stop, catching himself. “What! What are you . . .?”
“The goose! That one! It lays gold eggs. It belongs to me! Please. She can help you . . .”
“Gold eggs? How can it . . . Never mind. You’re a harp that talks. There’s a giant in the sky. Why not a goose that lays gold eggs?”
He entered the pen, moving toward the gray goose carefully, trying not to spook her. He circled slowly, skillfully. He’d done this before. He pounced, with a little difficulty due to me being strapped to his back, and caught her. She honked loudly; very loudly.
“Here!” He shoved the goose into my arms. “Take her!” He tore open the pen’s gate and sprinted away from the castle.
I held the goose tightly in my arms and tried to grab her beak as she honked. Jack yelped and sped up as an earsplitting roar reached his ears. We were discovered, and now pursued.
The giant bounded after us, Jack running at top speed. “Where is it?!” he muttered. “Where is it?!”
“The beanstalk!” Jack darted to the right. “I know it was around here.”
“Hurry!” I called, hardly helpful.
“Where . . . ah there!” A little green sprout popped out of the silvery ground of the world above.
The roaring was almost upon us as Jack swung us over and started climbing down quickly. His footing was easy with the strong, oversized leaves. The ogre reached the stalk and glared down furiously at us. Jack moved faster.
“How?!” The giant boomed. He tried to descend as well, but the leaves would not hold his weight. He screamed in fury before shrinking himself into a smaller, frightening version of himself with extended claws. The monster leapt and descended rapidly, gaining on us.
“Jack!” I sang out.
“I see! We’re almost there!”
He jumped the rest of the distance and landed with a jarring thump. He yanked at the twine and dropped me to the ground, my strings echoing. Jack dashed to a small storage shed a few feet away. I was stuck on my side, clutching the goose. “JACK!”
He raced back with an axe grasped desperately in his hands. He hacked away at the stalk fiercely. I struggled to look up. The ogre was almost upon us when the stalk finally gave way. It started to fall, then disappeared, leaving the ogre with nothing. He plummeted to the earth, striking the ground with a terrifying thud.
My eyes could not leave his still form, my hands still holding fast to the goose. Jack cautiously neared the ogre, his axe at the ready. He stepped close to the body and just about nudged it with his foot when it moved. In a flash he swung the axe and beheaded the monster.
I stared unbelieving. I was free. He was dead, gone. I finally released the goose and slowly brought up a hand, wondering. It was still wood. I was still stuck as a harp. I had briefly thought maybe with him gone . . .
Jack helped me back upright and smiled carefully. My own face stiffly moved into a smile as well. “You did it.” I awkwardly extended my arms to hug him. He returned the hug as much as he could. “Well,” he released me and looked me over. “He’s gone, but . . .”
“Yes. It’s alright. I’m free of him at least. Thank you. Thank you so much Jack.”
His smile widened and he scooped up the goose. “Better put her away.”
“Yes,” I strummed. I clasped my hands self- consciously.
Jack turned and took a few steps, then halted abruptly. One hand moved to a pocket of his pants. He patted it, his shoulders tensing. I watched curiously. “Achieve what I need to achieve . . .,” he muttered quietly.
“What was that?” I asked.
He turned back to me, his face lighting up, grinning. “That’s what the old woman said the beans would do. They’d give me an adventure and help me achieve what I needed to achieve.”
I just stared at him, confused. He laughed and set the goose down again. “Aria, I have one bean left. It dropped when my mother threw them out and I put it in my pocket. Its still there!”
“You . . . want to go back up there?” I sang, astonished.
He strode quickly back to my side, pulling the bean out of his pocket. It shimmered, silvery like the ground in the world above. He held it out to me. “Take it. Eat it? Maybe it can change you back.”
“Eat it? But I don’t eat in this form.”
“Try. Just try it? See if it works. They are magic!”
I hesitated, then popped the bean in my mouth. I struggled to swallow after chewing and grinding the bean. There was no movement from my throat as I endeavored to ingest it. At long last I succeeded, but by that time, I felt a thumping in my chest I hadn’t experienced in years. I choked, needing air once again and swayed on my two feet instead of a solid base. I gasped and looked up with wide eyes.
Jack whooped and pulled me into his arms, hugging me tightly. Deep warmth flooded through my restored being as I embraced him in return. My eyes watered and I cried the tears I had longed to shed for so long.
He let me cry against him and re- familiarize myself with everything before slowly releasing me. “Now what?” He smiled.
“We return our lives to a happily ever after,” I no longer strummed and zummed and sang as I talked. “Together.”

Hope you like it. Its not edited or anything like that. I had very little time >.> BUT it does have the potential of becoming a longer story. Second chapter of Queen's Defense on its way. Its written but I need to go over it with a fine toothed comb and let Missy read it and help edit. Also, pics from the con soon. Until then!