Writing Season

At the beginning of the year, I started a spreadsheet to track my word count. Seven months into the year, I’ve noticed that my word count is slowing down for the summer. While I managed to write almost 4500 words for this blog in June, I realized that I hadn’t written a new story since mid-April. Granted, I’ve done heavy edits to a couple of my existing stories, but I haven’t done more than write for this blog in a while.

Looking back at my creative life, I realize I’m most creative in the fall and winter months. I don’t know if this is “normal” for most creative types, but it is for me. I think it’s because I’m out enjoying the sun, getting the outdoor work done while the temperatures don’t require multiple layers of clothing, and gathering memories to write about later. Maybe it’s because I’m a summer baby. It’s how I roll.

Here’s a little something I wrote back in February in response to a contest prompt.

The Followers

Lyryk Starsong dragged herself onto the wet sand, hoping against hope that her instruments had remained dry. Granted, she could fill her purse using just her voice, but people wanted to hear the lute, or the drum, or the viol. Besides, the magic of the music seemed stronger when she played.

The music flowing in the half-elf’s mind hit a discordant note a split second before the wind gust crashed her skiff into the rocks around which she had been sailing. The rucksack holding her worldly goods drifted behind her, lashed to a floating piece of what remained of her vessel as she crawled onto the beach. Turning to stand, she pulled at the rope tied around her waist, dragging the makeshift raft to her feet.

That’s when she heard a soft growl from behind her. Unsheathing the rapier from her pack, she peeked over her shoulder to see a dog some ten feet away. Straightening while keeping the blade behind her left leg, she faced the animal.

It stood looking at her, head down, tail low, moving from side to side. Its hackles weren’t showing; that was a good sign. Tightening her grip on the blade, Lyryk extended her right arm, not looking the creature in the eye. One tentative step, then two, the dog stretched its neck to sniff the backs of her fingers. Before she could react, it nosed her hand and licked her palm, looking up at her with honey-colored eyes.

“Hey, buddy,” she said, scratching its ears.

Looking closer at the mutt, she could count ribs. It … he, she discovered as she examined the pooch, was starving. For food, for attention. Lyryk would have thought he’d be wary of people, but he seemed to want her company. She worked the knots holding her pack to the piece of flotsam. All the while humming the tune that ran in her head.

From the corner of her eye, she saw the dog cock his head from one side to the other. After a moment, he howled along with her. Laughing, she loosened the final knot, coiled the rope, attached it to a loop, and swung the knapsack onto her back, turning toward drier ground. The dog followed.

Reaching the edge of the beach, Lyryk scanned for a suitable place to camp. She needed to be far enough from the shore to avoid drowning at high tide but wanted to find a sheltered nook. Setting a snare along a rabbit track, she and the dog searched the shoreline for such a spot.

The pair sat before a small fire an hour later, the dog licking rabbit grease from her fingers. She had gotten lucky and managed to snare two large coneys—one for her, one for the dog. The girl fetched a pan of water from the river, dog at her heels. After cleaning her hands, she leaned her drum on the small block she carried for that purpose and unwrapped her lute from its oilcloth, tuning the instrument.

Tapping a beat with her foot, the drum resonated through the hollow block lending an eerie quality to the music. Closing her eyes, Lyryk let the tune that had carried her to this riverbank flow from her instruments. She played until the music ran its course, not noticing when the dog emitted a low, menacing growl.

The forest was silent except for the rumble from the hound at her feet. She set her lute aside and reached into a small pouch at her waist. Picking up a rock, she stuck a piece of moss to it and mumbled an arcane word. The rock lit up like a torch. Lyryk tossed the stone into the darkness beyond the glow of her meager fire.

Two humans, a man, and a woman sat at the edge of the forest, enraptured by her song. Weapons on the ground next to them. The dog barked twice, and the pair blinked, looking around in confusion.

Lyryk picked up her crossbow and aimed it at the male.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Er,” the woman started, “me and me man fish this stretch. We has a hut over there,” she waved north into the forest. She shot a side glance at the man.

“Let me guess,” Lyryk said, “you saw my boat hit the rocks and wanted to make sure I was still alive. Did I get that right?” She watched as the woman flinched. “That’s what I thought.” Lyryk looked down at the dog. “What do you think?”

Liquid eyes stared into hers, and she swore she heard a voice in her head say, “don’t trust them; they will kill you as you sleep.”

In that instant, the woman jumped at Lyryk. The dog leaped at the female while the male lunged toward the half-elf. The bard raised the crossbow and pulled the trigger, striking the man in the chest. The woman screamed as the dog knocked her back, snarling and trying to reach her throat. Lyryk reloaded the crossbow and pointed down it at the woman.

“Give me one reason I shouldn’t put a bolt in your head,” she said. The music in her mind screeched as the witch’s lips moved. Lyryk felt the discord as she tilted her head to one side and pulled the trigger.

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