A Foreign Language

There is one thing that is more neglected than my poor blog, and that of course is Language of the Small Folk.

I remember exactly where I left off. I remember it so well because I probably tried finishing that chapter a dozen times without success.

I had been writing every LotSF post on the spot, usually the same day it was published. It worked pretty well for me; I’d get into the heat of the moment, really feel the emotion of the particular chapter, and just let the story take me wherever it flowed. But for that last chapter I was working on, it really didn’t work.

I think I may have perhaps written myself into a corner.

Oops.

I mean, I know where I planned to go with it, I know how I wanted it to lead into the rest of the story, so it’s not like I couldn’t work with it. I just… lost a bit of the passion, I think, when I started into that scene, and it made it really hard to write it.

So what on earth am I going to do.

Since I’ve been blogging more, I’ve been enjoying the rigors of a schedule to give me a deadline and keep me motivated. I’ve been considering doing the same thing with LotSF–perhaps I will be more reliable and more motivated if I actually have set dates in which each chapter is due.

My idea is to post two chapters a month: one on the 1st, one on the 15th. If those days fall on a Wednesday or Sunday (a regular posting day), I’ll publish the regular post either on the day before or the day after, to keep things a little more spread out.

I mean, once upon a time I would post at least one LotSF post a week (and for a while it was every other day, believe it or not), so this leaves a lot more wiggle room than there used to be. But I think every 2 weeks isn’t so bad, and it will give me plenty of time to work on chapters in between deadlines.

I plan to resume the story with the new posting schedule starting on April 1st (April Fools’, I know, sorry). So hopefully that gives you guys plenty of time to reacquaint with the story and gives me time to get everything ready.

Now of course, I have a feeling it’s been so long since the last update that most of the people who were reading it don’t remember so well what happened last. My own memory is pretty foggy, and I’m the one who wrote the darn thing. So when I do post the next chapter up on April 1st, I’ll be sure to include a brief summary of the story so far, just to get everyone up to speed (and remind myself where exactly I was going with this).

But in the meantime, for those of you who might be new, or maybe just want to read the chapters again (which would be insanely flattering), I’ve compiled the whole first part of the story (named Spring) into a PDF that you can read or download here. Plus, the links for all the chapters for both parts (Spring and Winter) can be found on the main About page for LotSF here.

Thank you for your patience and huge thanks to those who have read every chapter. It means the world to me that you guys enjoy the things I put so much passion into (even if that passion seems to come in fits and bursts).

All the best.

-Alex

LotSF: Snow

 

IMG_2868

PREVIOUS CHAPTER

ARCHIVES

If asked, I couldn’t explain exactly what it was that made it feel like the ladder was calling me. I would’ve guessed it was curiosity that encouraged me to reach out and touch the lowest plank, as if I intended to climb it, but it felt like there was something more. I wasn’t the one who’d made the ladder but I wondered if I’d ever climbed this tree. It certainly didn’t look familiar. I couldn’t bring up any memory of this tree in particular, no matter how hard I thought about it, so if I hadn’t climbed it, then why did it feel so important to me?

I ran my thumb along the rough, weathered wood musingly, trying to put a finger on why this tree was special. Was it intuition, or was I just missing something? Did the forest woman have something to do with it? Was this the moment that I was supposed to trust myself? And was I supposed to climb it?

I looked up the tree trunk dubiously. The ladder would make the climbing easier, but it was an awfully old ladder. Some of the planks were split and most of the nails were rust-ridden–if they weren’t missing entirely–and the ladder only went up so far. At a certain point, I’d have to climb onto one of the branches and then I’d be on my own. I’d gotten a lot of practice tree-climbing when I was younger but I hadn’t done so in several years. Too many years. The last thing I needed after everything that had happened was to fall out of this massive tree and break my neck.

But the tugging. This tree, this ladder–they were pulling at my soul, yanking on my bones, driving me forwards until the urge to climb the ladder was almost too much to bear. I put one foot up on the first plank, contemplating the wisdom of going ahead with this. My body was still aching, my shoulder complaining loudly behind my curiosity and my hips and thighs knotted with a quieter pain. Could I even physically get myself up the tree? If my shoulder or legs gave out… I backed away from the tree, firmly decisive. I couldn’t do this. It was insane. I would just get more hurt. And there was no reason for me to climb this tree. I needed to find Faith. Unless she was waiting at the top, perched on one of the branches, climbing the tree wasn’t going to help me. I had to move on. But my feet felt rooted to the spot.

She told you to trust yourself.

I can’t trust myself if I’m dead.

Why are you so afraid? You can fight bearskins but not climb a tree?

I’m not afraid of the tree. But my fight with the bearskins is the very reason why I can’t climb the tree. I’m injured.

You’re strong.

I’m injured. My shoulder is torn up. I can’t climb a tree.

You know you can.

Yeah, well, I know I shouldn’t.

you could.

I’ll regret it.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I ground my teeth and shook my head, turning away from the tree. I didn’t need this indecision. I didn’t need this crossroad. How could I even think about climbing it? My body was too battered. And it had honestly been years since I’d even attempted to climb a tree. I could just imagine the struggle I’d have to go through to haul my butt up there. And not to mention getting down at the end. That would be a disaster.

But…

…it would be kind of fun.

Nooo, it wouldn’t be fun. I shook my head again, scornfully. What part of hurting myself would be fun? Absolutely none of it. But being up in a tree again, high above the ground, pretending I was a bird, one with the wind… that was the part that would be fun. That was the part that my landlocked heart longed for.

I turned back towards the tree, taking a hesitant step. I could at least try… I touched one of the planks, giving it a little tug to see if it would support my weight. It seemed sturdy enough… and my left hip seemed to hurt less than my right, so I could use that leg to pull myself up…

I was so tempted. But my shoulder. It was hurting even more now, as if reminding me how bad an idea this was. I sighed and let go of the plank. There was no way. It was an entertaining idea, and on any other day I wouldn’t have hesitated, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Not today.

Making up my mind once and for all, I turned sharply away, picked up my boots, and started walking in the opposite direction. I cast a yearning look over my shoulder, just one last glimpse of that enticing tree, and as I turned my eyes back to the forest, I caught a flash of white along the edges of my vision. I followed the movement, pausing uncertainly, and saw it again–a dash of white darting between the trees, caught for a second in the moonlight. I watched it with narrowed eyes. What was that? I couldn’t think of anything white that would be running around in this forest, but I supposed that–

–the white flash stopped, frozen in place for just a heartbeat, and my breath caught in my throat.

It turned dark eyes towards me. We stared at one another. It took just a fraction of a second, barely enough time to think, and then the connection was broken as it leapt and sprinted away.

But the image was seared into my mind.

It was a unicorn.

It was Snow.

***

Whaaaaat?! LotSF so soon?! I know, I know, it’s exciting that you don’t have to wait two months for a new chapter. Please, try to contain yourselves.

In all seriousness, though, I actually couldn’t wait to write this one. For a while there, as I was writing the earlier parts of this story, I had veered away from my original vision and inspiration, and I think that may have been a factor to why it was so difficult for me to update frequently. But now I’m getting back to the raw spirit of the story and it’s exciting! Thus the early update, hooray!

And a unicorn too! I have always always always loved unicorns. Still do. But I’ve never really had the opportunity to write about them. (Well, there was this one story I attempted when I was younger, but that was a flop. I’ve never had the opportunity to write dedicatedly about them, we’ll put it that way.) So this is an exciting experience. We shall see where it takes us, yes?

For now, I am going to have to take myself to bed. Toooo tired. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Have any exciting plans?

Good night, friends.

-Alex

LotSF: Childhood Calling

20150503_200906 (2)

PREVIOUS CHAPTER

ARCHIVES

A sharp twig dug into my heel and I cringed, sidestepping off it quickly before I put my full weight on that foot. I stopped and rubbed my heel unhappily, glad it was my right foot this time and not my left. I’d already made the mistake of stepping on a rough patch of lichen that had pretty well chewed up the sole of my left foot. This early in the spring season, I hadn’t quite built up the leathery toughness I was used to on my feet.

I sighed. But it was nighttime, and I wasn’t supposed to walk with boots in the forest once the sun went down. That was what I’d learned back when I was a kid–you wear boots at night, you get bad luck. And at this point, I needed all the good luck I could get.

Ugh, but what a pain. I’d forgotten how many pointy things there were hiding on the forest floor, under the leaf cover. Twigs, lichen, stones, pinecones–sometimes bones, even. Lots to get hurt on.

“How did I do this as a kid?” I muttered under my breath, pushing a branch aside so I could keep following the path. Seriously, though–how had I managed to survive romping through the forest barefoot and armourless as a kid? How had I not gotten scratched to pieces, or broken any bones falling out of trees? I mean, I had a few scars from scraped knees and cut palms throughout the years, but I couldn’t remember complaining about sore feet back then. And I used to go wild, running and jumping and crawling all over the place.

A wave of nostalgia rolled over me, thick and irresistible, and I felt a twinge of longing for my younger years. The days when I could just climb up any tree, quick as a squirrel, and survey the forest like it was my kingdom. The days when I could fit in those little nest-like nooks that formed at the bases of the trees, where the roots curled and twisted over each other. The days when I didn’t run out of energy and I never felt so angry as I did nowadays.

Heck–I missed the days when I could understand the Small Folk. When I could see them.

It had been so long since I’d  been a part of that world. This winter had been so long and brutal… almost six months of darkness and deafness. Six months without seeing a gypsy sprite, or a trick-it, or a turn-up. Six months feeling like my tongue had forgotten how to speak because I couldn’t remember the language of magic that had brought me such joy.

The Small Folk magic had been a gift. I was blessed at birth with the ability to hear and see their world, to speak their language. I had grown up with it, learned from it, let it shape my life. And now I had lost it. I’d lost it because… of myself? Because of some psychological block in my mind that was preventing me from tapping into it?

The problem was I didn’t know how to get past that. I didn’t know what part of my mind was cutting me off from my magic and it was driving me insane. Long gone were the days of my childhood when I could believe in anything without thinking twice–when belief was a matter of the heart, and not the mind. I didn’t know how to tap into that youthful state of being. I didn’t know how to go back to the old me, the me that could use magic.

And now what was I doing? Wandering a dark forest with the owls and the fireflies, still looking for my horse even though I had no clue where she was. That strange forest women had told me to trust myself and that I would find my heart again, but what was that supposed to mean? Probably something that I wouldn’t be–

I stopped. Blinking and turning in a half-circle, I looked around me. Something about this particular place felt familiar, though I knew I hadn’t been here in a very long time. I searched my memory, searching for an experience that just barely escaped my grasp, and failed to remember why this place was significant to me. But it was, there was no denying that.

I kept walking, slower now, my eyes searching the darkness for any landmark that would remind me what this place was. I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out, but as I came over the crest of a small ridge, I saw something that caught my attention.

A tall, fat, gnarled old tree stood proudly just beyond the ridge. I didn’t recognize the tree exactly, I couldn’t even begin to recall its name or its history, but I knew at once that it was special. Because crawling up its sides, fastened on with rusty nails, was a ladder made of weathered planks. A ladder made by a child.

And it was calling to me.

***

I just got back from camping with my parents for the weekend, so of course I had to write some LotSF.

It was so good, to get into the forest for a little bit–especially since spring is in full swing over here. I actually went for a couple walks in the forest near my house (the one that inspired me at the beginning of LotSF) which was a bit of a nostalgic trip. I can’t believe I started writing this two years ago. Crazy.

Also, some LotSF news for you: I’ve created a Google Doc of part 1, Spring. It’s the same story, with all the pictures included and everything, but it’s put all together in order so that it will hopefully be easier to read for newcomers or for anyone who wants to read it again. It’s a work in progress right now, but I’ll link to it when I have it closer to being done (it’s taking foreveeeeer). I’m thinking of posting it elsewhere too, like maybe Wattpad, for those who don’t like Google Docs all that much (*coughcough*me*coughcough*). But yes, this is the news. You’ll be able to find the link here or on the LotSF about page.

Oh! Whoever’s been reading through all the LotSF chapters these past few days (yes, I can see you in my stats)–I don’t know who you are, but hey, thanks! If you’re new and catching up, welcome! If you’re a regular reader going through it again, well thank you very much. I’m quite honoured that you’re giving my story a read.

And also in my stats–I keep seeing that some of the views from my blog lately are referrals from Twitter. Are you the same person reading LotSF? (Who aaaaare yoooou?!) Anyways, welcome Twitter person! Thanks for clicking through and checking out my stuff. Much appreciation.

All right, all right, that’s enough from me. If you’re in Canada, happy Victoria Day! If you’re not, well, I hope you have a swell Monday. You shall hear from me soon.

Take care.

-Alex

LotSF: Guidance

 

IMG_1572

PREVIOUS CHAPTER

ARCHIVES

“…Find Faith…”

I’d been wandering the forest for a long time. I didn’t know how long exactly, but I had a feeling it had been hours. The sun was starting to set. My body ached much worse than before. But all the anger, all the frustration, had been dulled by my ceaseless wandering to the point where I wasn’t feeling much of anything. I wanted to go home. I wanted to find Faith and Nolan and I wanted to go home.

The shadows of the trees around me were long and twisted in the falling sunlight. I stepped wearily between them, forcing my body to keep moving, afraid that I would just collapse if I stopped walking even for a moment.

I wondered how I was going to find Faith in a forest this big. I didn’t even know which direction she’d gone, and here I was stumbling along in what might be the complete opposite way. I thought briefly of calling out to her, to see if she would come to me. But as much as I wanted to, I felt mute. It felt like my throat was sealed shut. Like my lungs were empty. I couldn’t form her name on my tongue, let alone shout it loud enough for her to hear. And so I kept silent, and kept walking.

It was getting so much darker now. The sunlight was slanting down at a sharper angle, shining into my eyes, streaming like blades between the trees, blinding me as I struggled to guide myself. I squinted and raised a hand to ward off the harsh lighting, but there was little I could do to stop the sun. It was determined to shine as fiercely as it could and there was nothing I could do to dim it.

It was making it harder for me to get my bearings, though. I knew I was in an unfamiliar part of the forest, that much was clear, but my blindness made it impossible to see any paths snaking through the trees. I couldn’t tell where exactly I was going and it was driving me insane. I wanted to see. I didn’t need the headache this light was causing me.

And what was I even doing, wandering like this? Was I stupid? There was no way I was going to find Faith just based on luck. The enormity of the forest, the enormity of my task… it was overwhelming. What was I doing? I wasn’t going to find her. Frustrated and helpless, I growled and snapped a skinny branch off a nearby tree. I then angrily peeled off its bark, stripping it down before snapping it again and dropping it on the ground.

“What am I doing?” I muttered, turning circles as I ran my hand through my hair. This was hopeless. I would starve before I found Faith. But I was too restless to stop. So I kept moving. There was no point, but I needed to walk. I needed to find something.

And after several more long minutes, I did exactly that. I found a river, wide but shallow, lit up like a stream of gold fire in the last of the day’s light. I couldn’t be positive, but it looked a lot like the river that ran by the gypsy sprite encampment. If it was the same one, then I needed only to follow it and I would be back in familiar territory. Where the gypsies–and maybe Faith–would be waiting.

But which way? I could either go upriver or down, but I couldn’t remember which way would bring me to the gypsy camp. And if I went the wrong way, I would be worse off than I was now.

The sunlight thickened, reflecting blindingly bright off the water’s surface. I squinted and turned in a circle, weighing my options, trying to reason out my course of action. If I could only remember

“Alex.”

I spun immediately, my hand reaching for my sword, and then looked down at my hip with stunned disbelief. My sword was missing, something I’d failed to notice on waking after the battle. Heart pounding, I looked up at the source of the voice, ready to fight with my fists if I had to, but soon relaxed my posture when I got a good look at the strange woman. While she certainly looked human, it was clear there was something about her that wasn’t quite so.

“Alex?” the woman said again, this time making it sound like a question. I stared at her, unsure whether I should answer, and she stared back with curiosity vivid in her eyes. She crept forwards on bent legs like a cat stalking prey and I watched with wary interest. The golden light made her skin look like gleaming bronze and lit up her eyes like burning stars, but there was something else beneath the surface that made me think that maybe she was one of them.

One of the Small Folk.

“Why have you forgotten?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper, as she reached one trembling hand out towards me. Her hand seemed to call to me but I shook my head, resisting the urge to take it. I didn’t know this woman. I didn’t know if I could trust her.

Those burning eyes gazed long at me as her hand lingered in the space between us. “You have changed so much, haven’t you? And I do not think you like these changes…” She took another step forwards, shoulders angling towards me. I didn’t know how she knew me, because I didn’t remember her at all. I didn’t remember this wild woman, wearing the colours of the forest, her hair woven through with flowers. Maybe I had forgotten her when I forgot the language of the Small Folk. Maybe she was just another piece of magic no longer within my reach.

But yet… There was her hand. Just a bare two feet away. I could take it. I could join her, go wherever she was offering to take me, maybe even remember what I had lost. No. There was a part of me that knew I couldn’t do that. Whoever she was… I could not join her.

And I think she understood.

“The forest is deep in your bones,” she murmured, blinking slowly, holding me pinned with that steady gaze. “You have gone deaf to its voice, but you have not lost its blood.” She lifted her hand higher and turned it so that the palm was facing upwards, cupping the last of the sun’s flaming light. “Trust yourself. You will find your heart again.”

I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to ask her a thousand questions–about who she was, what I should do–but I sensed there was no time. Because just as the last of the sun’s light began slipping out of the sky, she turned quick as an arrow and darted back into the trees. I shook my head, startled by how fast she had gone. It was like she’d never been there.

Except that the anger that had burned so constantly within me these past weeks had faded.

The darkness, the hopelessness–it was being drowned out, beaten back by a golden light.

I didn’t know who that woman was, or what she had done to me, but I knew that the gift she’d given me was priceless.

She’d given me hope.

***

Yay, another LotSF chapter!

Last week was my first week at work at that stupid factory job. Well, most of it was training, and I haven’t actually done any work yet, but I am officially initiated into the factory workforce. Yippee. There were high points and low points, not gonna lie, but for the most part… it was okay. Survivable, let’s put it that way.

The nice thing–and something I maybe didn’t expect–is that the people are great. I can’t even tell you how many times someone reassured me that the work wasn’t so bad, or how many times someone went out of their way to talk to me/make me laugh. I even have a couple sort-of friends, if you can believe it. So I shall survive. I may not be happy about it, but I will be alive.

And I have to say, writing this chapter was so wonderful. First of all, no anger in this one, so that’s a relief :P And just… writing about the forest, and the sunlight, and imagining what magics lie beneath the surface… it’s so soothing. I was thinking earlier today about how spring is coming, and I’ll be able to start pressing/drying leaves and flowers soon. I am beyond excited. It kept me very busy last year and I can’t wait to do it again :D

I hope you lovely people are doing well. You let me know if you’re not, okay? Cause that’s unacceptable. We gotta make sure you’re all doing okay.

Take care, guys :)

-Alex

LotSF: Getting Up

469

PREVIOUS CHAPTER

ARCHIVES

I didn’t want to get up.

Standing up would mean taking responsibility. It would mean facing the real world, and facing the long battle ahead of me. It would mean pain, and sorrow, and suffering.

But lying here, curled up on the ground… I didn’t have to face anything.

I’d been crying for a long time, even though my heart was past the point of aching anymore. A cold trickle of tears was still sliding down my cheek. I didn’t even know what the tears meant. They just wouldn’t stop.

I wanted to close my eyes and slumber forever, forgetting everything. I wanted to dream of the past, when I could speak the language of the Small Folk, when Nolan was there beside me and we were happy. But that felt so long ago. It felt like just a dream, like it had never been reality at all. If it had been real, then wouldn’t I still carry memories of such happiness in my heart? Now my heart was dark and empty. How could those sunny days have been real?

I wanted so badly to close my eyes and give up. I had done this, after all. I’d been so consumed by my anger, so worried about getting my old magic back that I’d ended up destroying everything. I had ignored Nolan’s efforts to help me, ignored the fact that my own loss was hurting him, and now he was gone. You did all this, without even trying.

I wanted to lie there forever. I wanted to stop hurting everyone else. But part of me was terrified. What would happen if I let go? What would happen to Nolan, or to Faith? I had hurt them. But I still loved them. And I needed to know they would be okay.

I couldn’t just give up.

You owe them.

And yet, as much as I knew I had to get up, as much as I wanted to stand so I could help them, it suddenly seemed as though just standing up was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Get up. You have to help them. Get up. Get up. Get up.

But I had no strength. I told my muscles to work, to push me up, but they were too weak to obey. I was being pressed into the ashy earth and it was taking me in as its own. I would be swallowed whole, consumed. I would be free of my responsibilities. I would be free of everything.

But they need you. You owe them.

I pushed harder. I put one arm under me, propping myself up on my elbow. It felt like there was a thousand-pound weight on my back, bearing me down, but I had to get up. I put my other hand on the ground and pushed, and now my torso was lifted free of the consuming earth.

My shoulder throbbed with pain but I had to ignore it. I had to keep going. My arms were shaking, but I got my knees under me. I was farther off the ground. I was getting there. I was getting up. Just a little bit farther.

I put my boots under me and steadied myself, head swimming with my weakness, before slowly straightening. I swayed as I stood tall. My legs were numb, as if they couldn’t bear my weight, but I was stable for now. I could walk.

And so I started walking. I walked away from the cinders and ashes, towards the forest. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t even have the sense to check the sky, to try to find my direction from the sun. I just kept walking, hoping for a sign. Hoping I would find something, or someone.

My footsteps were uneven and I wasn’t sure I could make the trek ahead of me without falling, but I persevered. You have to help them. You can’t fall. I focussed my thoughts on Nolan. He needed me. He trusted me. All this time, he trusted me to be there for him, and I wasn’t going to let him down. I couldn’t. Not now.

Thinking of him hurt, but I steeled my heart and kept going. There was no place for weakness. I had to go.

How could you do this?

You have to fix it.

How could you be so heartless?

I have to fix it.

I didn’t know what to believe. I just had to keep moving. I had to hope for something. Anything.

I stumbled and caught myself against a tree. I swayed for a moment, regaining my balance, and closed my eyes as I fought off a rising wave of sickness. That was when I felt it. A gentle breeze on my face, cool and insistent. I opened my eyes, heart pounding. There it was again, but stronger, wrapping around my shoulders and settling on the bridge of my nose.

“Alex…”

Oh gods. Nolan.

“Nolan,” I whispered aloud. “Nolan, where are you?” My voice rose in volume as I grew more desperate.

“Find Faith…” he said through the wind, and I shook my head.

“No. No. Where are you?”

I needed to know. I would find Faith, yes, but I needed to know where he was.

“Please…” he said, and I could feel the breeze fading. I was losing him again. And I didn’t know where to look.

The wind unravelled from around my shoulders and ebbed away from my face and I was left alone again. I wanted to scream at him to tell me where he was so I could save him, but there was no point. He wouldn’t tell me, or he couldn’t, and the wind was gone anyways. At least he was alive.

But where was I supposed to find Faith? I looked around me, at this great big forest I had stumbled into. Where would I find my injured horse amongst all these trees when she could’ve gone anywhere, in any direction?

I didn’t know. But I had wandered into this woods with only the hope of finding something, and that had found me Nolan’s voice. So I was prepared to keep wandering. To keep hoping.

I had to find her.

***

Another LotSF, and in not bad timing either.

I really don’t know what to say. I’m tired. And I need to catch up on things, as per usual. And that makes me more tired. Yawn. But I feel excited, for some reason, like something good is going to happen, and I guess it’s true. I’ve got some good plans for the rest of the week so there’s certainly a reason to be excited. I’m raaambling.

Also, I don’t know if the picture I used at the top really fits this chapter, but ohhh well. I guess the blurred effect of the droplets kind of represents how LotSF Alex is feeling right now, so there’s that.

All right, I’m off to bed (in a bit). Have a good night everyone :)

-Alex

LotSF: Winter Rising

It’s baaaaack!

And heavens above, did it take forever or what? The last time I wrote LotSF was in August. Holy crap. Long enough to forget what happened, eh? I’ll catch you up in just a sec, but first a boring update: this blog is under construction at the moment, whoop-dee-doo. I’m making new pages and compiling info and drawing pictures and this that and the other to make it presentable. So don’t mind the mess. But! I’ve decided to try out a monthly newsletter, and I have that page up and running. If you go to the menu and hover over “News”, it’ll drop down so that you can select “Newsletter”. There’s a form where you can sign up if you’re interested (or just shoot me an email at valourborn@gmail.com). The first issue’s going out February 15th.

Now, onto the story! Here’s a link to the last chapter, and a short summary below:

After a grueling battle with the bearskins, Alex was overwhelmed by the dark magic in her soul and unleashed its power in a burst of flame. However, despite the strength of her magic, she was unable to stop Nolan being abducted by a strange human woman living amongst the bearskins. Now, empty and alone, Alex must find her own strength to overcome the anger that so plagues her.

And so comes Winter.

***

467

I shivered.

I couldn’t catch my breath, I was so cold…

Couldn’t think straight… but there were memories, flashing erratically.

Please…

don’t hurt her…

I groaned, feeling my cheek pressed against something sharp… something gritty…

…why are you doing this?

What’s wrong?

What’s wrong?

What’s…?

A shudder ran through my body, forcing air out my lungs as my chest contracted. I coughed, breathing in something fine and gritty. Ash. I lifted my face. My neck was sore from lying there so long.

“N-Nolan?”

I meant to speak the name aloud, but something wasn’t right. The words didn’t come out. I coughed again, gagging from the bitter taste in my mouth. I tried to push myself up, off the ground, but my arms were trembling with the effort.

I hummed, an uneven sound that was more like a whimper, just to be sure I could still make a sound. I spat ash out of my mouth, disconcerted. “What…?” I said, this time forming the words and spitting them out of a raw throat. Everything hurt, and the pain was starting to ebb into sharp focus. It was more than just my neck and my throat. My shoulder burned. My back was knotted with bruises and aches. My legs felt mostly numb, but I knew it was a hidden pain, waiting until I tried to stand before it sprang into action.

I forced my arms to work. I pushed my chest off the ashy ground, struggling to get air in my lungs past my uncontrollable shivering. I put my knees underneath me, steadying myself. I rocked back, sitting on my heels, and waited for a wave of intense nausea to pass.

I screwed my eyes shut, wrinkling the bridge of my nose. I couldn’t… I didn’t know. I couldn’t think straight. I had an urge to vomit but I felt so empty. I looked at the backs of my hands. There was… blood. And soot. I studied the blood and my shoulder ached, reminding me. I was wounded. I had been bleeding.

“Nolan?” I murmured, my voice hoarse. I knew… I knew what had happened to him, but… I didn’t want to. Everything was clouded. Everything hurt. I hissed through my teeth and grabbed my forehead with one hand, squeezing tightly as if that would help me think. I inhaled as deeply as I could but every breath just dissolved into a shudder. My back was throbbing with pain…

I swallowed. My throat stung, and my eyes. I opened them again and looked at the ground. The ash was everywhere. That was my ash, I remembered. I’d made fire. And it had hurt me. It had emptied me. All that time, I’d gone around with the anger building in my chest, and this is what it felt like now that it was gone. No, not gone. Depleted, maybe. But the seed of it, the very heart of all that anger… I could still feel it pulsing in my chest like a heartbeat.

I looked around me, taking in the full scene. There was nothing to take in. A barren wasteland. Ash and soot. Bear pelts, and scattered bodies of colourful birds. No one was here. Nolan was… gone. I’d lost him. He’d slipped through my fingers and I didn’t even know where to look for him.

I didn’t want to sit there any longer. I forced myself to my feet, pushing through the screaming muscles along my hips and thighs and calves. It hurt to stand. It hurt even more to walk. But I staggered forwards, searching the ground for footsteps, or clues, and finding nothing I could understand.

There was nothing. No one. Nolan was kidnapped, taken by a woman I didn’t know to some dark lair I couldn’t find. And Faith… I thought of Faith, who had been so badly injured the last time I saw her, in the midst of that awful battle… even she was gone. I didn’t know where she would go. The bearskins could’ve eaten her, or she could’ve bled to death alone in the forest, and either thought made hot tears well up in my eyes. Both of them… I’d lost both of them.

I had no one to rely on.

I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t want to stand anymore. My legs didn’t want to support me. What was left for me, in this barren field? I knelt in the ash and doubled over, clutching my ribs. I sobbed, and the sob was deep and racking and painful. All my breath escaped me, ripped out in an anguished scream, and then I inhaled shakily and started again. Every sob was ripping me apart, digging a sharper pain into my heart, but I couldn’t stop. The grief inside me cut into my soul and I wanted it out. I wanted to force it out with every desolate cry.

I needed help. I had nothing. I had no one. But I needed help to make this right.

And there was no help to be found.

What was I going to do?

***

Oi. That was incredibly difficult to write. More difficult than I thought it would be, really.

Mostly, I think, because I try to put myself in these scenes and really feel what’s happening. I’m usually in a bad mood when I write LotSF, so the dark feelings come easily, but I’m actually doing quite well tonight so it was a bit of a challenge to put myself into such a desolate position.

But yes, I’ve finally started this story back up again. In the time I spent not writing it, I thought a little bit about what it means to me and why I started writing it in the first place. I’m not going to say just yet what impact this story has had on me, but I can tell you that my reasons for writing it now are very different from when I started. Back then, it was a simple adventure, but now? Now it’s a journey. Now I’m purposefully going somewhere.

Anyways, I must go get some sleep, dear readers. This week is gonna be fun, let me tell you. I hope that you are all well, and that you have a fairly pleasant Monday. Until next I write :)

Are you going on any journeys right now?

May you have faith that, wherever you’re headed, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

-Alex

LotSF: Flames

CHAPTER 1

PREVIOUS

Alex,” Nolan said, his voice half a whimper. I saw his chest heave with a sob as he began to break down. And I heard the snarling of the bearskins increase in volume, in response to his emotional pain.

And just as he collapsed to his knees, I felt the anger heave within me.

If he died, if he got us killed… I would not let him ruin my life.

Fuelled by a swelling fire deep within me, I raised my sword and leapt at the nearest bearskin. I dug my blade into the hide covering its shoulder, sinking it to the hilt in the monster’s flesh before the bearskin began to scream. It writhed, turning its head and snapping its teeth where I clung to it, and our eyes met. The creature wore the tattered scalp of a grizzly bear on its head, but beneath that was its ugly, humanoid face with the crooked teeth and red-rimmed eyes which now glared at me with feral stupidity. Its jaws closed in empty air, failing to reach me, but then another bearskin came from behind, crashing into me and knocking me off of its shoulder.

I rolled as I hit the ground and lifted my sword to take on the new bearskin. I was surrounded now, with my own circle of bearskins closing around me tighter and tighter as I slowly stood. My anger roiled, slamming against my ribs in an effort to get me to move, to attack everything that threatened me, but I was struggling to think straight, rationally. I was not going to die. One of the bearskins–the one I’d injured, no less–finally let out an ugly roar and charged me, but didn’t get very far.

“Stop it!” Nolan screamed, and his high-pitched Wind Voice was edging on hysteria as he commanded a gale to sweep down, knocking the bearskin clear off its feet. A wordless shriek caught in his throat, Nolan came closer, entering the circle, churning the wind into a whistling vortex around me so that the bearskins found it difficult to keep their footing. I saw how bravely Nolan was acting, how strong his magic was, but I couldn’t ignore the tears streaming down his face. He probably intended to sacrifice himself to save me, using his magic to keep me safe but leaving himself open to an emotional attack.

I did not need to be saved.

Not by Nolan. Not by anyone. I could save myself.

So, losing all self-control, I shoved Nolan and pinned him to the ground, my blade finding its way to his throat. His spell died, the wind dissipating with fitful bursts, and he could only yelp as he found cold steel pressed to his skin and met my menacing eyes. “Stop this,” I commanded, my words barely recognizable as my own, they were so twisted with rage. “You are not going to die here. I am not going to watch you die, not after I did so much for you, do you hear me? You’re a damned coward, Nolan,” I snarled, and his deep eyes flickered with disbelief and anguish.

“Please Alex, why are you doing this?” he beseeched, sounding pitiful. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong!” I screamed at him, and then pain exploded in my shoulder as dagger-sized claws crushed through my armour and I was wrenched backwards.

The bearskin pressed me to the ground, claws slipping deeper into my shoulder, and then two more came clamouring closer, crowding around me so that I couldn’t see the sky. I could hear Nolan though, screaming madly, and then I felt the same thing he was undoubtedly feeling–the bearskin magic.

The bearskins could feel the dark, angry magic in me, knew its secrets and danger, and they sought to use it against me. The pain in my shoulder was maddening, blocking out sense and reason while bringing to life the powerful heat burning in my chest. It was consuming me, my anger–but even as it flooded my veins and filled my muscles, it was lending me a mindless, terrible strength. With that strength, I kicked the bearskin off me, fighting to my feet and surveying those beasts that threatened me.

As I stood there, my own blood dripping into the grass, my chest heaving raggedly from all the pure rage that was washing over me, my mind struggled for control. I remembered threatening Nolan–why had I done that?–I remembered… losing my sword… somewhere. I couldn’t focus. My anger was burning me alive, swallowing my thoughts… I had had enough of this. I was done. I wanted this all to stop!

And that was when my anger truly burst free.

I raised my hands, giving some horrible shriek, and the dark magic within me found its release, escaping in a burst of sweltering flame. All around me, bearskins were engulfed in the blazing fire, and their howls filled the air as their fur was singed and their flesh was scorched. The fire devoured the grass in its path, leaving behind a black circle of death and ash. And I stood in the centre, surrounded by pain that was the result of my uncontrollable anger.

And worse than the pain that the bearskins were feeling was the reverberating agony that ripped through my system.

Clutching my ribs, struggling to breathe, I sank to my knees and desperately tried to focus, to think, to stop. My fingernails dug into the ashy soil, my breath squeezed through my gritted teeth with a whimper, and every nerve was alive with overwhelming dismay. Then, cutting through it all, was Nolan’s terrified, pleading voice.

I looked up through my veil of pain and saw him shaking, held firm in the grip of a strong arm with a new blade–a short dagger–pressed to his throat. One of the bearskins had stood on two feet, her bear pelt slipping off her shoulders, and I saw that she wasn’t a bearskin at all. She was a human, and on the edge of her steady knife hung Nolan’s trembling life.

“Please, don’t hurt her,” Nolan begged the woman, those endless tears still running freely down his face. I realized that he was talking about me and felt the familiar anger and indignation rise, but I suppressed it anxiously. My fear sharpened my thoughts, cleared my head, because I realized that I was about to lose him. Nolan was inches away from leaving me. No…

“Oh, I won’t hurt her,” said the woman with a wicked smirk. “I only want you, dear.” She then stepped back, dragging Nolan with her, while the bearskins came around me again, using their magic in a last attempt to crush me. This time, there was no anger left to stir within me. I was empty, exhausted, filled only with an irresistible desire to sleep…

END OF PART 1

***

Yay, more LotSF and after only 2-ish weeks! Amazing!

And yes, this is the end of Part 1. Somewhere partway through, I realized that this was just the start of an adventure that acts in two parts. So this part, unofficially, shall hereby be known as “SPRING”, and part 2 will be known as “WINTER”.

It’s very… interesting, writing scenes with such swelling anger in them. It’s impossible for me to write it without simultaneously feeling it, so I’m sitting here silently fuming on the inside as I rile myself up just so I can accurately describe what it feels like. It’s a breathtaking feeling, to feel something so strong, but not always in a good way.

Anyways. Ugh. Tired. I’m at that point where my head is starting to swim and I don’t want to do anything. I’m just barely conscious enough to write creatively, but emails and such are out of the question. Too much thought. Save for morning.

Off to write, then off to bed. A new Your Story submission shall be posted tomorrow.

Till then, have a good night.

What makes you angry?

May your anger find an escape that is painless to you and those around you.

-Alex

LotSF: Seeing Red

CHAPTER 1

PREVIOUS

When I saw the gypsies moving out for battle, my thoughts instinctively went to Nolan. I turned, searching for him among the flurry of wings, and saw him jogging behind the mass, also searching for me. Our eyes met and, despite our anger towards one another, we made our silent oaths to watch each others’ backs. I didn’t have much of a choice–he was the only being I could actually see–but nonetheless, our loyalty outweighed our dispute.

Adjusting my armour where it had twisted out of place, I rolled my shoulders, tested my sword in its sheath, and climbed up into the saddle. Faith saw the movement, felt the urgency, and understood what it meant, and she was dancing on the spot with anticipation. I looked again for Nolan and, seeing we were both ready, let Faith slip into a gallop after the fast-moving throng of gypsies. Nolan ran with the wind parallel to us, keeping pace easily and evenly. We plunged into the forest, the river at our backs, and our army thundered through the trees with tremendous might. I had no clue where the bearskins were hiding out but trusted the gypsies’ instincts. When such a terrible foe was in their territory, they made sure to know exactly where the threat lay.

Faith followed the colourful birds unfailingly, weaving nimbly through the trees and hopping over obstacles in her path, and I stood crouched in the stirrups to gain better height and scout out our route. I was focussed more on an upcoming ditch than the forest around me when the first garbled howl erupted from the shadows. Startled by the chilling sound, I looked behind me for the source of the sound and saw a pair of bearskins loping after us, tongues hanging from their jaws and a hungry glint in their beady eyes. They bore the mangled pelts of bears and I couldn’t help but notice their twisted claws. A set of those in Faith’s flank would be bad news. I whistled lowly, sending Nolan a warning on the wind, and urged Faith to go a little faster.

The more I looked around, the more bearskins I saw coming out after our warband. We were gathering them, flushing them out from beneath the trees so we could fight them all at once, drive the whole colony away. My heart started beating a little faster as I saw them pouring out. Some were running ahead of Faith and me–if they turned and saw us, we’d be hard-pressed to avoid them. But Faith galloped on bravely, keeping alert and wary of the bearskins slowly surrounding us. I could see the gypsies pulling to a stop ahead of us, flapping in a vortex amongst the trees with bearskins flooding in around them, and as Faith neared the flock, I drew my sword.It was time for action.

I glanced at Nolan one last time before riding into the battle. He was set and determined, eyes locked on the impending fight, his feathers wrapped around him and the wind at his back. Praying briefly that he would be safe, I returned my gaze to front and centre as Faith plunged into the writhing mass of bearskins and gypsies.

Trained for combat, Faith was light on her feet, avoiding swiping claws and snapping teeth while dealing her own damage with vicious kicks and bites. From her back, I swung at any bearskins that came close enough for me to reach. They were horrible to fight. They were creatures full of rage and ruthlessness, not fighting with any logic or sense of purpose, but instead writhing and clawing and snapping at any flesh around them. They were like cyclones of malicious energy. And when I managed to get a stab in, to pierce their thick, mangy hides, they screamed with unearthly pitch but didn’t seem to slow down despite the injury. It only made them angrier.

Faith was used to intense battles, but this was too much for even her steady nerves. She was tense and anxious under the saddle, fighting very hard against the urge to flee, and I was having to expend more and more energy in keeping my seat on her unstable back. Blood pumping with fear and adrenaline, I tried to control her, to guide her out of danger. It struck me then that we were feeding off each other’s fear, and that the bearskins in turn were getting hungrier and hungrier, sensing that very same fear. We were building a storm around us and as I began to see the enormity of it, I felt horror build inside me.

And with that horror built anger.

It swelled hot and large within me, and I dug the edge of my blade deep into the shoulder of a bearskin, snarling at it like I was a bear myself. It twisted, furious, and swiped its ugly claws at me. It missed my flesh but didn’t miss Faith’s–catching her on the flank, it ripped deep gashes in her beautiful pelt that spurted hot blood. I saw the cruel act and burned ever hotter. Seeing only red, I struck again at the bearskin, managing to kill it, but that had been the last straw for Faith.

Neighing with a high, terrified note, she reared desperately before plunging back towards the earth and kicking out, spinning and lurching in a panic-driven frenzy. I clung to her mane as my bubbling anger fought with my desire to help her, to comfort her. Finding it too hard to remain on her back, I slipped out of the saddle. I staggered slightly as I hit the ground, grabbed uselessly at her reins, but she was too worked up to be calmed.

Stumbling back from my mad, dangerous horse, I bumped into none other than Nolan. I turned to face him, my wrathful gaze meeting his tear-stained one, and the bearskins around us howled with a thirst for blood.

***

Paaaaaaaaaah. More LotSF. I annoy myself, with how slow I am at updating. But at least I do. At least I’ve not given up on it. It bothers me, because I do really want to finish it, but I simply can’t get myself to sit down and write it. I shall try my best to remedy that.

Mm. I’ve been very frustrated lately. With myself, I think, although I don’t know the precise reason why. It’s hurting my blogging though :/ I don’t feel like writing a post when I feel this way, and that’s just making me even more frustrated. What a vicious cycle, hm?

And it doesn’t help that my browser crashed while I was trying to upload the picture for this post. Thankfully I didn’t lose anything, but having to go through my entire text to manually add paragraph breaks is just another frustration I didn’t really want.

Aanyways, my bed is beckoning and I shouldn’t argue with it. Have a good night everyone.

Your biggest frustration right now?

May you never lost sight of your reason, no matter what frustrations fall upon you.

-Alex

LotSF: Marching Out

CHAPTER 1

PREVIOUS

When I got back to the gypsy tribe camp, it was abuzz with anxious anticipation. To my blind eyes, it looked like a flock of birds, all different colours, flying in a flurry between the trees like a bright, feathery whirlwind. I could feel their tension, tightening the air and making me feel short of breath, and Faith tossed her head with agitation. She sidestepped warily under the saddle and I patted her shoulder to reassure her. I searched the forest for anything that made sense, and finally picked out Nolan, standing alone and looking incredibly upset.

I slid off Faith, pulling her reins over her head and leading her gently towards my distraught friend, her hooves thumping softly on the moss. Nolan glanced up immediately, ears twitching, mouth twisting into an anxious grimace, and he refused to look at me when I reached him. Instead, he held out a hand to Faith, rubbing her nose and scratching her behind the ears. She nudged him, looking for treats, but he had none and so she was content to let him scratch her, closing her eyes with pleasure.

I stood there silently, watching the expression on Nolan’s face waver between chin-quivering fear and narrow-eyed anger. He was struggling to work out his feelings towards me, I knew, and he hadn’t yet decided if he was still mad at me for our fight or if his fear for our well being was greater. Staring fixedly at my hand as I picked dirt out from under my fingernail, I asked tersely, “Are you ready?”

I heard him inhale sharply, heard the pain behind the action. He’s not ready, I thought grimly, but he answered, “Yes, I’m fine,” as if I didn’t know any better. There was a pause, his hand stopping on Faith’s forehead, and then he asked waveringly, “Are you?”

I stopped picking at my nail and my hand dropped reflexively down to the hilt of my sword. I ran my thumb along the ridged leather. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” I said with false resolve. I wanted to tell Nolan that I wasn’t ready, that I was certain this battle would end badly, but pride stopped me. I wasn’t about to admit weakness to him, not when he thought I’d given up on myself–which I very clearly had not. I wasn’t the kind of person to give up.

He stared at me then, straight on, his strange pale green, pupil-less eyes searching mine. “I don’t want to die,” he said plainly, voice devoid of emotion. “I don’t want you to die.” He stopped, forehead creasing as he thought, and then said, “You shouldn’t fight. You can’t see, or hear–”

“Shut up,” I snapped hotly. “I am going to fight. Bearskins are different. I’ll be fine.” Only half of it was a lie. It was true, that bearskins were easier to see, since they took on disguises, but the me being fine part… Without my sight, I would be seriously crippled. I knew that. For the first time, I’d be entering a fight without any idea what to expect. I was willing to face it, to take whatever was to come, and Nolan was going to have to let me. If I was going to live the rest of my life without magic, then I wanted to know I could handle it.

We stared at each other for a moment longer, both testing the other’s stubbornness, until Nolan finally turned away, walking a few paces off where he’d dropped his backpack. He sat on the ground and started digging through it, muttering to himself, and I assumed our conversation was over. I turned to leave but he called out, “Stop,” and I spun on my heel to face him.

He had found whatever he was looking for and now walked back towards me, hand held out in offering. He was holding a feather, brown with white stripes, and his eyes implored me to take it. “For protection,” he said lowly, and I carefully took it from him.

“Thank you,” I murmured, before leading Faith away. When I was far enough away from Nolan, I rebraided my hair, tying the feather onto the bottom the way he always did. I needed all the protection I could get, and I hoped that his gesture would bring us luck. I didn’t want our fight to endanger our lives.

Just as soon as I’d finished my braid, the tumbling mass of frenzied birds–the gypsy sprites–suddenly reached a peak in their panic. They began to move en masse, a few select voices crying out louder than the others. I couldn’t see them clearly, but the message was obvious.

We were moving out to battle.

I exhaled, steadying myself even as I felt panic start to swim in my stomach, and thought dryly, Ready or not, here I come.

***

It’s been a while, what else is new? I’m going to try to write three blog posts this week, to try to get myself back into a more regular routine.

My life is going good right now, I’m happy to announce. All the crap from before is cleared out, I’m feeling happy and relaxed, and Canada is finally experiencing SPRING! The temperature was double digits today (Celsius, of course), and I could actually go outside without even so much as a sweater! They were saying on the news that this was the first time in 128 days that we’d had double digits in my area. Holy crap, am I happy to feel the sun.

Anyways, coming up in the next chapter of LotSF–action! Yay! Finally, after 20 chapters or so, there’s actually going to be danger! And fighting! And magic! Hooray! Haha, I’m actually quite excited, I’ve been waiting for this for a while.

I hope all’s well in your lives. Feel free to let me know in the comments :)

What battles are you marching off to?

May you never have a winter that lasts longer than the spring.

-Alex

LotSF: Riding Faith

294

CHAPTER 1

PREVIOUS

It was incredibly awkward, eating lunch surrounded by a bunch of chattering birds that I knew were actually sprites, and sitting across from Nolan, the only person I could actually see but also someone I’d just had a horrible fight with. So as I ate roasted squirrel as fast as I could, I made sure to keep my eyes firmly fixed on an inchworm working its way through the grass beside me, just so I wouldn’t have to look at anyone else. I could feel Nolan’s intense stare burning a hole in my forehead, but as long as he said nothing, I was content to let him stare.

I finished eating before he did and excused myself to go saddle up Faith. Nolan thankfully didn’t follow, leaving me to work in peace. Once her saddle and bridle were properly adjusted, I set about putting on my armour. I’d taken it off to eat lunch, out of courtesy for the gypsy sprites, but had been itching to put it back on ever since. I now felt my discomfort ease as I settled the pauldrons on my shoulders and felt the press of metal against my ribs. I put my sword on, too—there was no way I was going for a ride with bearskins nearby without bringing my sword.

I put my foot in the stirrup and pulled myself into the saddle, settling easily and picking up the reins. I nudged Faith forwards and she went willingly, picking up a trot when I asked for it. I posted instinctively, rising and falling in the saddle in time with Faith’s steps, and for a time there was no sound but the steady thump of her hooves and the groan and jingle of her tack.

After a while, we veered from the riverside and towards the forest where there was a path wide enough for me to ride along it comfortably. I asked Faith to canter and she sprang into it eagerly. Her hoofbeats grew louder as she picked up the pace and I felt our connection, as her strength surged and carried her forwards and my muscles worked in tandem to keep me secure on her back. We cantered quite a distance till she decided she’d had enough and I pulled her back to a walk.

Everything was so quiet around us. The sunlight was dappled on my face and the ground as it filtered through the still leaves high above, and there was no wind to stir the air or undergrowth. It was peaceful, except that I had never before been in a forest so calm. Usually, it was bursting with life, bursting with Small Folk, and it was nearly impossible to find such quiet. That was the way it was supposed to be. This was wrong.

Psychological.

The word hung over my head like a curse. Accusing me. Telling me all my faults.

You did this to yourself, and now you can’t undo it.

When I first realized I was deaf and blind to the Small Folk, before I’d been given a reason for it, I never would’ve guessed that I’d done it to myself. Why would I? I didn’t want to lose my magic. I’d been able to blame my disability on some unknown power, something I could probably attack or confront or at the very least hate.

The fact that that power was myself, and that I didn’t even know how or why I’d done it… I had betrayed myself. And now I was supposed to trust that I could handle fighting the bearskins?

I now had my doubts. With the anger in my chest, and the resentment I’d been living with… I was suddenly afraid that I wasn’t prepared for this fight.

Faith tugged at the reins and I realized I’d been clenching them tightly. I loosened my grip and gently steered her back towards the gypsy sprite camp. I didn’t want to go back there, surrounded by people who didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to stay here, either, in this hollow forest that was too quiet. I didn’t really want to be anywhere right now–I just wanted to stop, to curl up and sleep, and wake up when the world had righted itself and I felt like I could be a part of it again.

I can’t.

The thought was terrifying and I felt a momentary breath-stealing flash of panic. I wanted to pull Faith to a halt, to stop her moving forwards because I couldn’t. I couldn’t fight the bearskins. I couldn’t overcome my anger. I couldn’t get my magic back. I just couldn’t deal with everything right now. All I wanted to do was cry, but I couldn’t let myself do that either. If I cried, people would see. They’d see me as weak.

But I was weak, wasn’t I?

As Faith brought me closer and closer to the camp, closer to a battle I couldn’t fight, to people I couldn’t face, to a world I couldn’t handle, I felt my panic grow.

What was I getting myself into?

***

More LotSF, finally. I take a very long time to update, don’t I?

Ergh.

I have not had a good couple days. Frustrating stuff has happened, and though some of it is my fault and some of it isn’t, I’m in that state of mind where I assign all the blame to myself. I know that isn’t true, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve done everything wrong.

I don’t mean to write LotSF only when I’m upset, but that seems more often than not to be the case. I guess that’s good, in a way… I mean, this is supposed to be a personal journey.

I can’t.

I felt that more back when I was sick, but I’m still feeling it a little bit right now. I can’t handle everything on my plate right now. I can’t live up to the expectations I’ve given myself and others have given me. I can’t do everything I want to, everything I need to, so why even bother?

Hm. Life is presently kind of sucky, but this is when I need my Faith. I will be okay. I can do it, whether or not I necessarily want to do what it takes. I’ll be fine.

How are you?

May you approach every challenge riding on the back of faith.

-Alex