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I hear the racket before I even get to the kitchen. It’s a battlefield inside—and I should know, I’ve learned my fair share about battles. Kids are lined up against every flat surface in this massive kitchen, some on stools and some actually sitting on the counters. Flour covers them hair to toes and everyone seems to be in a contest about who can make the most noise. Give me the Deadwaters over this any day.

Mom stands in the middle of it all, smiling even as she calls commands. No one looking on would suspect she’s a recent widow.

“Cookies for the patrons!” she says in a sing-song voice. “Who’s excited to make cookies for the patrons?”

There’s a chorus of huzzahs. I spot Avidan in amongst the orphans, stealing a glob of cookie dough from a bowl while Mom’s back is turned. She continues singing the steps—“pat down the flour, put some dough on the counter, roll, roll, roll”—and she doesn’t even glance at the doorway. She doesn’t see me. She’s too busy dabbing flour on the nose of some orphan girl who’s perched beside her.

“Mother!” I have to roar to be heard over the kids. Some of them flinch away. “The main fire’s out again.”

“Well, just put more wood on it,” she says, hardly looking at me.

She’s rolling more cookies and half-smiling at that girl and there isn’t a shadow under her eyes, there isn’t a sign of sleeplessness. I can’t sleep anymore. Not since I saw Velvare almost die.

If Mom hadn’t given away every penny we brought in, maybe he never would’ve left. If she spent a second on me or Idony or just plain practicality, maybe we’d have the staff this place needs and maybe she wouldn’t be crawling with orphans in a kitchen that could hold an army of servants. At this rate, I’m not even sure she’ll be able to keep this place basically decent when she doesn’t have me to do the dirty work.

“I can’t put more wood on because there isn’t any chopped!” I shout across at her. “Everywhere that isn’t this hellish room is freezing. Why don’t you have someone to manage the fires?”

“Why pay when you can do it yourself?” She doesn’t even look up. “Go chop the wood if you’re cold. And don’t swear in front of the children.” To some of the orphans, she says, “Sarah, don’t stand so close to the fire. Melle, what did I tell you about sharing with Avidan? Enel, stop eating the sugar.”

The anger flashes through me. I’m only here for another two weeks before I go back East.

“I’m supposed to be on leave.” Not that it’s made much difference to her. I’ve hardly seen her since I’ve been home. “Your precious babies are going to be getting into frost-covered beds tonight.”

“Well, then go take care of it, or stop complaining.” She pushes a loose strand of hair back with her arm. “We can’t always have everything the way we’d like.”

Here’s what I’d like: I’d like everyone to just shut up and sit still.

I’d like one of those Christmases where nobody is wearing black bands and nobody has to be grateful for pitying benefactors and nobody makes cookies for a flipping concert on Christmas Eve and nobody has to shout over a herd of orphans to talk to their Mom.

It hits me, like it does now and then: He’s not coming back. He’s dead.

Enormous townhouses and orphans stuffed in every corner and the racket of a kitchen full of kids isn’t going to change it.

He’s dead, I think at her, trying to stare a hole into her forehead. He’s dead, he’s dead, “He’s dead!”

I don’t realize I’ve spoken until it’s out of my mouth. I stiffen, hold my breath, wait for her to snap back.

Instead, she says in her singsong voice, “I can’t hear you, Noah.” She tries to shush some of the orphans in a playful way. They ignore her. With a shrug, she calls, “Go take care of the firewood. And cheer up! It’s almost Christmas.”

I glance at Enel, the brother no one talks about. His hand is in the sugar again, too busy licking some dough off the counter to notice he’s about to flip the jar.

I don’t bother to answer. I just turn and leave.

He wasn’t a saint. I’m doing my best to not be sentimental about it. I know it happens—to soldiers on the field, to anyone. They die and then everyone’s expected to forget who they really were and just replace them with a cleaned-up shadow.

He wasn’t a saint. But I saw his wounds. I saw the way he died.

The hallway is huge, everything about this new orphanage is huge. Glad to know Velvare could measure our worth—his worth—in bricks and brats. I may be seventeen but I’m not an idiot.

Velvare may have appeased his conscience, but he hasn’t protected my family. Not that he ever did. He’s trying to buy our forgiveness. By the look on Mom’s face, it’s working.

Not for me, though. Nothing is going to make me forget. Or forgive.

The firewood’s out back. Slush covers the ground, and I stomp it into puddles as I go. A few new flakes are falling. Everyone’s always going on about how snow is clean and makes everything beautiful, rubbish like that. The truth is snow’s a lie that leaves cold ugliness.

I throw down a log and grab an ax. For a little while I lose myself to the rhythm of it. Maybe I’m pretending the logs are Velvare, maybe I’m not.

Once my arms start to ache, I take a rest and sneak out one of my cigars. After a long puff or two, I’m starting to feel a little less lousy. The snowfall isn’t that bad. Sort of nice to watch. At least it will get rid of the slush for a day or two.


I turn. Idony’s there, a stick clutched in her hand. I drop the cigar and kick slush over it before I remember she can’t see it anyway. Irritated with myself—those things aren’t cheap—I snap, “What?”

“I brought you a cookie from the first batch!” She holds it out proudly. It’s covered in frosting and in the shape of a star. I can tell she made it herself because it’s about half an inch thick in sprinkles. “Try it!”

“Thanks.” I take the cookie. It’s almost painfully sweet. Not really my thing, but the patrons will like it. I chew and swallow. “It’s good.”

She smiles. “You smell sorta like Da.”

“Don’t tell Mother.” I’m still not used to the way Idony’s eyes try to focus on something just beyond my shoulder, just behind the back of my head, like she can see through me even though she’s really not seeing at all. I brush off my clothes, and the sprinkles go flying.

“He doesn’t smell like that anymore. Did he stop smoking?”

I don’t answer. I’m not going to half-lie, like Mom, and say some comforting, misleading thing just to make Idony feel better. Just to make myself feel better.

“Look,” I say instead, “who cares? We don’t need him.”

“I wish he’d come back.”

She’s stupid and little and covered in freckles and blind and I hate that she gets to not know. I hate that Mom gets to shroud Idony in pretending.

I want to smash another log. I want to tell her what he really was, what he did. I want to tell her who Velvare is, what he does. I want to make someone else as angry as I am.

But she wouldn’t get angry, I know. She’d get crushed.

“I miss him,” she says, picking at the bark on her stick.

She’s sweet and little and covered in freckles and blind and I’m not going to hurt her. She can keep her hope a little longer. I sort of wish I could.

I say, “Yeah, me too.”

My throat scrapes a little. Probably just the cold. Idony leans her head against my leg, and I pat her curly hair, like he used to do.

I guess it’s just me now, to remember and carry on.

Me and her.
TSE Secret Senta: Firewood

My Secret Santa entry for The Silver Eye! My prompt was: Noah chopping firewood in the snow (from :iconxephinetsa:).

As people may or may not know, :iconlostie815: is my sister, so I went to her for spoilers and questions. I’ve based this little fic shortly after Velvare’s bleeding attack. Some of the stuff is conjecture… but some of it is canon. I LEAVE YOU TO DECIDE WHAT IS WHAT. 

Also, shout out to :iconaceofstars16: for putting this together!

(Art by :iconlostie815:used with permission. Well. Art used by right of sisterhood, anyway.)



midenian-lostie's Profile Picture
United States
Tread in solitude thy pathway,
Quiet heart and undismayed.
Thou shalt know things strange, mysterious,
Which to thee no voice has said.
-George Matheson

Alyssa was born in small town Milton, Florida, but life as a roving military kid soon mellowed her (unintelligibly strong) Southern accent. Wanderlust is in her blood, and she’s always waiting for the wind to change. Stories remain her constant. Alyssa received her bachelor’s in English/Creative Writing from Berry College and her master's in Creative Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University.
I got tagged by the lovely :iconlostie815:. This is for my OC, May, who is the romantic interest/side character in my WIP, Popinjay. The story is loosely (looooosely) based off of Robin Hood, and May is in the Maid Marian role. (:iconlostie815: has also done a fanart piece for the story—here: .) So... Enjoy!

1) Pick one of your FCs/OCs.
2) Fill in the questions/statements as if you were your FC/OC.
3) Tag 3 people at the end of the quiz.

1. What's your name?
May. As in, Lady May.

2. Do you know why you were named that?
May is a variant of Marian, I've been told. It's a nice nod to the woman I share many uncanny characteristics with.
And I… I appear to not have a last name. This is a problem and should be addressed. Lord Talvas also has no last name, so maybe it has to do with being an orphan or something.

3. Are you single or taken?
I, ah—um. Neither, haha? I'm technically not allowed to be in any sort of relationship. My uncle, the king, has a tendency to hang men who show an interest, or send my betrothed to die on the battlefield. Funny how that works.

4. Have any abilities or powers?
A sharp wit and the brains to not be fooled when a man I see every day puts on a mask and pretends I won't be able to recognize him. Not as if that talent has ever come in useful.

5. Stop being a Mary Sue.
I consider myself more of an Eowyn-meets-Elizabeth-Bennet but if that's the attitude you want to take, I do have a friend with very sharp arrows and perfect aim. Just something to think about.  

6. If you were to get in a fight with a strong wrestler, do you think you'd win?
I doubt I would on my own. But I have a whole band of men who'd defend me, and my uncle might take offense and hang the wrestler. Well, unless the wrestler was actually an assassin, in which case my uncle would be very happy with my loss.

7. Have any family members?
A half-brother. But his mother's dying request was that I never tell anyone. I am an orphan, which one might think would lead to some orphan-bonding between Lord Talvas and I. This has not been the case. I do feel like Popinjay's men are a band of brothers, though.

8. How about pets?
I have a mare I occasionally ride to villages.

9. Tell me something that you don't like?
Snotty, prideful, lying, manipulative, lazy, greedy, selfish, egocentric, pitiful lords. Also kings who try to kill everything around me. And burnt toast. I can't stand burnt toast.

10. Something that you do like?
Masked heroes who set out to make a positive and lasting change, who equip people with hope and give them the strength they need to survive (and listen to and respect my input). Also tea, especially on a chilly evening by the fireplace with a new book while Lord Talvas is locked away in his room (preferably sick and/or too hoarse to speak).

11. Do you have any activities/hobbies that you like to do?
Reading. Keeping the castle in order. Trying not to offend the king. More recently, seeking adventure and change through breaking laws to help people.

12. Have you ever hurt anyone in any way before?
Not intentionally, but yes.

13. Ever... killed anyone before?
No. Though I witnessed my father's murder.

14. What kind of race are you?

15. Name your worst habits.
Losing my temper. Punishing others when I feel hurt. Picking my nails while I read. Allowing others to use and discard me because I am too afraid to take action.

16. Do you look up to anyone at all?
Garym, the storyteller who was my ward until I was eighteen. Popinjay, who seems to be the hero the town needs. Ryn, who puts up with Popinjay and genuinely cares about the people they help. Brancaer, my half-brother who went bravely to the war when he was only a teenager.

18. Do you go to school?
I attended a finishing school when I was younger. Garym thought it best to get me polished before I turned a permanent tomboy.

19. Ever want to marry and have kids one day?
Yes, though being so close to someone would be frightening. The people I am closest to have a tendency to be sent away or killed.

20. Do you have any fangirls/fanboys?
Oh, plenty, but none I particularly care for. They'd probably run for the hills if they realized my uncle is just waiting for an excuse to have another hanging.

21. What are you most afraid of?
That I have become irreversibly old, caged, and entirely alone—that this will never change.

22. *snicker* Ok, ok. What colour is your hair?
I'm not sure how that was amusing, but my hair color happens to be a deep chestnut.

23. Eyes?
Grey. With an E, not an A.

24. What do you usually wear?
A simple gown, hardly more than peasants, though I am a lady. Usually it does not matter how formally I am dressed, as I'll just be working in the castle or running about saving the town either way.

25. Ok. What's your religion?
Though religion isn't highlighted in my tale, I would consider myself whatever my world's equivalent is for Christianity.

26. Do you wish this quiz is over?
Is this a rhetorical question? I can obviously see more questions listed below.

27. Well, it's still not over.
I thought so.

28. Anyway, where do you live?
A castle near the border of our country.

29. What class are you?
Royalty—niece to the king.

30. How many friends do you have?
Only a handful. But a handful of the best, I should think.

31. Wow. If you could change anything about you, what would you change?
I would be more courageous, and outspoken—but somehow still protecting those dearest to me.

32. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? And I don't want no cheap answer, ya hear?
Give it to the needy in my district to help them weather the war taxes.

33. What are your thoughts on pie?
It would be fun to shove into Lord Talvas' face.

34. All right. What's your favourite food?
Fresh bread, with a crust that crunches and an inside as soft as… as something soft you'd put into your mouth. Ah, like… I don't know, soft enough to melt in your mouth? Really soft, let's leave it at that.

35. Favourite drink?

36. What is your favourite place?
The forest—specifically Popinjay's Forest.

37. Least favourite?
The capital and court.

38. Do you still want the quiz to end?
It looks as if it will soon.

39. Yeah. Well, it's over. D:
Thought so.

40. Now, tag 3 people.

I technically don't know hardly anyone on DA, so if you're still reading at this point, I tag YOU! :la:
  • Mood: Glad

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kat-the-dreamer Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I saw your profile and I think I'm following your blog! You're lostie815's sister, right? I really love all your writing ideas/books/(WIP's?); from what I read about them, they sound extremely awesome! Meow :3 (I also happen to be a fan of masks and mermaids and Venice and Robin Hood and faeries). I really hope you get published! La la la la  Oh and thanks for the fav (that was what I originally was going to say but I got sidetracked) :D (Big Grin) 
midenian-lostie Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014
Wow, this was forever ago! (I stink at checking DA.) Thanks so much for your interest! Hopefully the stories will be published and on a bookshelf near you someday soon(ish). ;)
DaraGallery Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
Thanks for the :+fav:!
kiyahocks Featured By Owner May 27, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Thanks for the fav! :salute:
Sorcaron Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014   Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav! :D
blacklaceblonde Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014
Thanks for faving my CINDER fan art.  I can't wait to read CRESS!  ^^
Moonafleet Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the :+fav:, m'dear! 
kuabci Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks ever so for the Favourite.
sombrefeline Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for faving :)
Visr Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2013  Student General Artist
Happy Birthday!
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