Category Archives: Fantasy-Dipped Fridays

Harbinger by Lisa

Katerina Plotnikova Photography

When they said I could go back to her, I didn’t hesitate.

I had had a great love. Something most people can only imagine, or read books about. If Juliet was the sun, Sylvia was the supernova. She made me laugh. She challenged my ideas, respected my ideals. And she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

What I didn’t stop to listen for, were the conditions. I couldn’t go back as me—as Daniel—I had to be reborn.

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Three Wishes by Isabelle

He slumbered. For millennia, no doubt. But when he woke it was always to the same rumbling, the deafening crackle of magic like thunder, the stretching of his body to infinite proportion as it squeezed him through a space too small for him to fit, before making him whole again. The space around him came to focus slowly, dimly lit shadows dancing in flickering torchlight, fading fast, a single breath from extinction.

And like a passing sandstorm, they faded, clearing his vision, leaving behind only the shape of men and women, deathly still, crushed beneath the rubble. They’d come for his treasure. For gifts and talents unattainable. At a cost none could fathom. And like most, they earned nothing but a spot among his collection of bones.

The vacuum of silence exploded, as his sense fully returned, only to realize that the stillness of the room did not match the wet gurgling sound echoing against the cavern walls. He frowned, crossing his gargantuan arms over his chest, looking for the source of such desperate gnawing and froze when he saw it.

At the foot of his looming shadow, a small, suckling child sat, it’s tiny mouth pressed against the handle of his golden lamp. Continue reading

Other Dating by Lisa


The chime above the door rang and I shoved the book I was reading into my bookbag.

An inordinately handsome young man had walked in and was now leaning on my counter. He nodded to the backpack as I straightened up. “Whatcha reading?”

“Um… just something a friend leant me.” I didn’t want to admit what it was—one of the million YA paranormal books bracing the shelves these days, one of the very books that was driving up our clientele—it’s hard to find true love when everyone is obsessed with vampires and werewolves.

I cleared my throat. “Welcome to Other Dating. My name is Charity, how can I help you?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Charity? And are you an angel, Charity?”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I’d been hit on by an inordinate amount of Others in my time. It had long lost its ability to make me blush.

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Spark Strike by Lisa


Ribina was bored.

In fact, bored was almost her favorite pastime. As the second daughter of the seventh family of Illindor, bored was her general right. If she had been a first daughter, or from one of the top five families she might have had civic duties to occupy her time. If she had been from any of the lower families she may have had to work for her keep—perish the thought.

As it was her life was one of wealth and opulence, and of waiting until one of the appropriate sons caught her interest enough to tempt her hand. Marriage could be fun, according to her cousin, Shadria. “Just find someone who is active enough for the bedroom and loyal enough to stay out of anyone else’s. So much the better if he has a head for conversation but as he’s like to be away on politics most of the year, he may as well not.” Continue reading

It’s Coming…


After years of silence and hiatus, Lisa and I are thrilled to be returning to Fiction Fridays!

*Woot woot!*

I know I can safely speak for her when I say that writing our pieces of flash fiction has always been such a fun side project for the two of us, a great way to stretch those writing muscles and to jump into stories or ideas that perhaps we were afraid to expand upon until we actually wrote them down – and loved them!

We are starting slow, just to make sure we can really give it the care it needs as we get back into the swing of things. You well get one story from each of us (2 stories total) a month for the time being. My first will post on January 12th. Lisa’s will post January 26.

Join us! Maybe you have a hankering to try your hand at something short and creative. Share it with us!

We can’t wait to see what awesome, creative things we can explore together! 🙂

Fantasy Dipped Friday: Moonshadow


© Isabelle Santiago, 2010

Part I: The Raffle

It was exactly as the Professor described. A magical orb that hung from the sky cushioned by a thousand tiny, distant specks of light. He called them stars, and the orb, ever changing, was called the moon. It shined like a brilliant beacon in a stretch of black night, its pale light glimmering over the ocean, leaving a streak of silver on the rippling waves.

“It’s breathtaking, isn’t it?” he asked, as he dropped another stack of books onto his desk.

“Is that really what it looked like?”

“The moon?” he said absentmindedly, readjusting his small circular spectacles. “No. The picture does it no justice. It was far more beautiful to look upon in person.”

My fingers fell away from the delicate brushstrokes and the gilded frame. My eyes refocused, struggling to readjust to the murky library and leave behind the vivid colors of that magical world in the painting.

“It’s no wonder bards and poets throughout history have sung its praise. I’ve never seen the likes of it.”

“My dear, Luna,” the Professor smiled, stacking some of the recovery items onto the shelves carved into the rock wall. “It appears you are a hopeless romantic.”

“It isn’t romantic to state a well documented fact. The moon is a natural wonder. No doubt I appreciate its magnificence, but more than that, Professor, I am befuddled by its intricacies. Is it true that your moon did not glow?”

“It’s true.”

“How is it possible that it cast light on the Earth when it itself is dark?”

“Come,” he said, patting the seat beside him. “And bring the sky maps from the drafting table.”

I grabbed the roll of thin papers and walked across the dirt floor, feeling its cool, damp texture between my toes. He laid them out across his desk, holding the ends down with large stones.

“This is Earth,” he said, pointing to the blue and green sphere third from the sun, “and this beside it is our moon. Its surface is like an endless desert, full of sand and rock and dust.” He lifted a handheld mirror and angled it. The light glowing from the small table lamps bounced off of the glass and blinded me. I looked away, blinking the spots from my eyes.

“Oops,” he smirked, putting the mirror face down on the table. “I did not fully think through this demonstration. Are you all right?”

“Yes.” I rubbed my eyes until the blur passed and my vision resettled. “Please, continue.”

“Well the moon’s dust and rock is filled with tiny specks of glass that reflect light, like this mirror. Even when the Earth is turned away from the sun, the moon still reflects its light, to a much smaller degree, and so it appears to glow.”

I looked at the sky maps in silent awe. “How is it you know so much about so much, Professor?”

His gentle laugh betrayed his humility. “You are young yet, Luna, but you will soon learn that time is a great teacher. I’ve devoted my life to books and learning and I’ve still only tapped the surface of general knowledge.”

I opened my mouth to speak but was cut short by the male voice booming through the speakers of my built-in headset. “Lunar Unit Alpha,” it said, crackling through the static. “Report to the clock tower for your daily diagnostic.”

“I’m afraid I must leave you, Professor.” I stood, dipping my head in apology. “Duty calls.”

“Go, Luna, bring hope and comfort to the many that have lost it.”

I smiled, a new pep in my step as I rushed toward the door, stopping to call out over my shoulder, “You know, Professor, the Raffle has only just begun. Won’t you come and join the people?”

“No need. I’m not eligible for the Raffle until I can name a worthy successor. Until then, I remain an over-glorified and apparently indispensible historian charged with chronicling this dark epoch in Earth’s history.”

“Perhaps it’s selfish of me,” I said with a shrug, “but I’m relieved to know you won’t be taken from me yet.” I walked backward out of his doorway and waved goodbye. “Until tomorrow, Professor!”

I slipped easily into the steady stream of pedestrians trickling from their grottos toward the town square. There was little to mark the area as such, only the impressive, dizzying height of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling and pointed at the ground like daggers, and the man-made clock tower, roughly patched from goods salvaged above ground.

The Mayor and his assistant stood on the wooden platform at the clock tower’s base, beside an old circular lottery machine. Half of the generators powering the schools and work areas clicked and clanked as they shut down, while the residential units powered up, creating a steady hum of white noise.

Dim, sometimes flickering, lamps lined the square. The crowd gathered in the appropriate groups. First by family, then those without gathered by age and occupation. I crept along the edge of the waiting throng until I met with the others of my kind already seated at the diagnostic station at the far side of the tower.

“Good evening, Luna,” Doctor Tarik said as I sat in my usual chair. He brushed aside the ash blonde hair from my neck and plugged the charger into the base of my skull. I hung my head low and let my body relax. Electricity flowed through my appendages, settling with comfortable warmth in my stomach.

“How are you feeling today?”

“Well, thank you,” I responded, as he undid the latch of my light chamber and tested the bulb.

“No burnout?”

“Not at all. The new lights are strong and energy efficient. Since my last update, I’ve been able to illuminate at the same brightness using half the power.”

“Good girl,” he smiled, obviously pleased, as he closed the light chamber and pulled my shirt back down over my abdomen. “The less power you require the better. Our solar units are currently eating up our reserves.”

“I resent that statement, Doctor Tarik.” Sunny scowled, taking the seat across from me. She tied up her long, auburn hair, crossed her tanned, lean legs and waited for the attendants to plug her in. “Like it or not, humans need light to work, to live, to keep track of time, for their own mental sanity. Instead of trying to diminish the amount of power that we use, perhaps you should come up with alternative forms of energy.”

I tried not to roll my eyes. So typical of a solar unit to make it all about her and forget she was created to serve others.

“We’re doing everything we can. We already have the young ones taking shifts on the bicycles, Sunny, and we’re running out of oil for the generators. The blueprint for the hydrokinetic turbine was just approved, but it will be years before it’s ready for use, especially with building supplies so scarce. If we continue to demand such high amounts of electricity, we’re going to burn out our supply in less than half the predicted time.”

He sighed, gently pulling the chord from the back of my neck. My hair swung from my shoulder with a swift whooshing sound. “The truth is,” he said, his voice strained, “we still have too many people and not enough resources.”

I let my hand rest on his for a moment, offering what little comfort I could. “That’s what the Raffle is for, isn’t it?”

The very mention of the nightly event drew everyone’s attention toward the square. The Mayor read off the last of the lottery numbers for the evening. Shrieks of delight came first, before dimming and warping into drawn out teary-eyed goodbyes.

A strange thickness settled in my throat. No matter how many times I watched the town take part in the nightly Raffle, it never lessened its effect. Certainly, I understood on the most logical level why it was necessary. I understood how the people chosen were given a ticket to freedom most of us did not possess.

For most humans, life in the caverns was a test of endurance. Long days of hard work, mining, digging, searching for supplies, harvesting any plant life they could, purifying water, and a number of other tasks to make every day life livable. But they all knew that soon resources would run out. Foodstuffs would become scant, and then disappear completely, until it became a matter of war between the colonies.

It was only a matter of time before the limited energy made units like myself and Sunny obsolete. Days would grow dimmer, the people more desperate, until finally, they resorted to their most basic instincts and were nothing but animals struggling to survive in a foreign habitat.

I shivered. Yes. I understood the Raffle’s method of population control. But it didn’t make watching their goodbyes any easier. Because in twenty, forty, a hundred years, if mankind found their way back to the surface, those Raffle winners would wake to find a whole new world, devoid of every person that they ever cared about, but if mankind did not, if they took a downward spiral toward their own self destruction, these people would never be the wiser. They would sleep forever, with no knowledge or awareness of the void outside.

Fantasy Dipped Friday: Zerah’s Chosen

Zerahs ChosenMonday saw the release of my YA romantic fantasy Zerah’s Chosen, Book I of The Guardian Circle Series, published by Drollerie Press. I’m hosting a giveaway for it on my blog which I’ll extend over here:

Post a comment about your favorite elemental and why you love it and you’ll be entered to win a pack of awesomely sparkly glitter fairy tattoos and a free copy of Zerah’s Chosen!

Giveaway ends Friday, 11:59 EST.

Chapter 2:

The Dark One

The crowd gathered in the Great Hall of the House of Eukleides waited with eager anticipation for the death sentence of a woman none of them knew. They huddled along the edge of the expansive rotunda, gathered in the portico’s colonnade, hung over the second story balcony. In a land where disobedience meant Divine Judgment, they watched, impatient to see who had been bold enough to go against the Code. Their voices, en masse, created a mind numbing hum, a swarm of hornets eager to attack.

Kieran glared at them, challenging them with his eyes.

Bronze double doors opened with a heavy thud, ripping his attention from the crowd. The excited whispers died. All eyes turned toward the deliberating jury of High Priests as they walked into the Great Hall. Kieran cursed their dour faces under his breath. He knew what they would say.

Everyone around him stood at attention, but he remained seated. He would not now, or ever, give them honor they did not deserve.

With a heavy heart, Kieran watched as a woman was brought in and forced to stand in the center of the room. She looked nothing like the tender-hearted mother he knew, with her soft hands and loving smile. Instead, her delicate wrists and ankles were bound with thick rope. Her long, ebony hair fell disheveled over her face, a clear sign of dishonor. The tattered remains of a white hava draped her body, soiled and ripped, barely held up by the broche on her right shoulder. Still, she stood with pride, her posture straight and her shoulders back. A woman with nothing to be ashamed of.

His throat thickened. Guilt burned a hole in his stomach. He’d woken that morning on a comfortable bed covered in plush linens. He’d eaten from a buffet of fruits and grains, and washed himself with warm, clean water. Meanwhile, she’d sat alone in a dark cell all night. No telling what abuses she’d suffered there. Whether they’d even allowed her water to drink.

Seven of the priests sat, almost in unison, on a long stone bench, their robes sweeping the floor, while one near the center, Ophiuchus, remained standing. Kieran glared at him, the head of the House of Eukleides, the man who proclaimed himself the mouthpiece of the Beings.

Kieran knew with absolute certainty that Ophiuchus had never once heard the Voices, never felt Their presence. The weight of it would have bowed the old man’s shoulders, would have painted shadows in eyes that didn’t sleep. Kieran sneered. No one knew what a connection to the Beings meant better than he did.

Ophiuchus spoke directly to the woman who stood before him. “You have shown a blatant disrespect for the Code in the handling of your son. From the moment of his birth, he was marked for service at the Temple. After his weaning, you were to bring him in for training. How do you account for your selfish indulgence? Do you know the danger you have placed upon us all?”

Kieran winced at the charges she faced. It took all his self-control not to speak up for her, but an outburst would only make matters worse.

“I make no apology for what I have done.” She kept her head high, though tears shimmered in her silvery eyes. “He is my son, given to me by the Higher Beings that I might be blessed with motherhood. It is what I prayed for and it was granted. How could I give him up when I had only just received him?”

“It does not excuse you. This child, with the mark of the Dark One upon him, should have been delivered to the Temple years ago. Now, we have seen the consequences of such frivolity. A man is dead, a seer from your province. How do you account for this?”

Kieran fought the memories that surfaced at the mention of the old seer. He bit down hard and tasted the metallic tinge of blood. Nausea filled him. He envisioned the man’s milky white eyes, the look of horror on his face when he realized just who, or rather, what Kieran actually was.

His mother didn’t flinch at their accusation. “I take full responsibility—”

“No!” Kieran jumped from his seat. “That is not true!”

Strong hands caught him and pushed him back down, the faces of the two armed guards at his left and right expressionless.

She never looked at him. “I accept my punishment with humility. I know the Beings to be full of mercy.”

“Very well then.” The Priest rubbed at his thick grey beard. “In accordance with the Code, we, the adjudicators of the House of Eukleides sentence Najad of the Province of Aipa to public execution, to be carried out at first light tomorrow.”

“No!” Kieran fought the hands that kept him down. He could not let her do this. It was his fault. All of it.

Harsh whispers traveled with lightning speed, the noise deafening. The weight of the crowd’s macabre joy filled the room. He lost all sense of reason. Time slowed. Desperation fueled something dangerous in him.

He recognized the sensation. This time he didn’t fear the surge of power that filled him. He embraced it, fueled it with his rage, bitterness, and remorse.

Sudden silence broke the footpace of time.

Each person’s soul began to separate from their bodies, called on by his authority over them. Their delicate spirits became a tangible cloud of life that hung above their heads like halos. He reached for the cloud above the High Priest’s head and tugged at it, soft at first, then harder, willing it to come free from the man’s body.

Ophiuchus grasped at his neck. His wrinkled skin bunched in a pained, strangled expression as he struggled to breathe.

“She will not die.” Kieran’s voice, like rolling thunder boomed throughout the chamber.

Time returned, racing through the crowd with the swift strength of a tsunami. Eyes stared at him wide with horror. The guards stepped away in alarm.

“Restrain him!” Person after person called out orders until voices came from every direction, circling him.

“Enough!” his mother commanded.

Immediately, the spell of death dissipated from his hands. Ophiuchus’ breath came in heavy, panted gasps. He fought the very atmosphere, drank it in as though he knew each gulp of air might be his last. Kieran gathered sadistic pleasure in Ophiuchus’ suffering.

“Is this what you want?” Najad faced him. “With this senseless act you prove only that everything they fear about you is true. This is not who you are, Kieran.”

The accusation in her voice tightened his chest. “I cannot let you die. Not because of me.” He fought the childish tears that attacked him, refused to cry in front of so many condemning eyes. He would not give them the satisfaction of knowing they’d broken him.

“If you had killed that man, I could never forgive you.”

Her words pierced his heart. He froze, uncertain what to say or do. Didn’t she realize he did it for her, for them?

“If you ever kill a man of your own accord,” his mother cut into his thoughts, “you go from being a victim of circumstance to being a murderer. There is no mercy for those who take lives senselessly. The power that lives within you would consume you and you would become the very thing you fear. You are not Death, Kieran. You simply control it. Do not let it control you.”

“It isn’t fair!” he shouted, angry with her for not understanding, angry with himself for having lost control. “Remove this burden from me! I do not wish to be marked!” He ripped his wrists, scratched at the spiky black tattoos that had branded him into servitude from birth until blood leaked onto the stone floor.

“Take the child away,” Ophiuchus called out, “before he harms himself.”

He fought the unmerciful grips on his arms. He would not leave until he saw his mother to safety. “Let me go!” he shouted. Another wave of dark energy flooded him, this time without warning. The very foundation of the room shook. The crowd gasped.

“Be still.” His mother’s voice calmed the demons inside of him. He broke free of the guards and rushed to her side, fell to her feet, and wrapped his arms around her. “I will go with you. I will go wherever you go.”

“Kieran,” she whispered as though they were the only two in the room. The tips of her fingers grazed his hair.  “Look at me.”

He glanced up, unable to fight the tears when faced with her all-seeing eyes.

“Perhaps you are too young to understand that in life, all have a purpose. Mine was to bring the Child of Darkness into the world, that he might know love and compassion. Not just death. Yours, Kieran,” she sighed, a weary little breath that signaled her exhaustion. “Yours is yet to be determined. Find peace in knowing that I have done my part. It is time to set the balance straight. Rules are to be followed, peace to be kept. When these things are disrupted, someone must be held accountable.”

“But I did it,” he cried out, “I killed the old man!” Chaos traveled like a wave amidst the crowd. One of the Priests slammed a gavel onto the stone bench.

“We command that the witnesses be escorted out. This matter has become a private hearing.”

Guards herded the audience, despite their groans and complaints, through the double doors that led outside and slammed them shut. The sound echoed against high limestone walls and marble ceiling tiles.

“Is this truth that you speak, child?” Ophiuchus’ brows furrowed in displeasure.

“It is.” Kieran forced himself away from his mother to stand before them. “I did not mean for it to happen. The man meant only to heal me of my curse.”

“It is not a curse. Your branding is a blessing from the Beings.”

“No blessing could be complete without my family.”

“The bond between you and your mother is troubling,” the Priest said. “As Guardian you should not have formed it.”

The men leaned in to whisper among themselves. Ophiuchus nodded and turned his attention back to Kieran.

“Your murder of this man, though unfortunate, was not purposeful. You lost control because you were never trained. But you are marked, which means you have been bonded to the Dark Stone. With the new group of Guardians growing older, time is not an option. To wait for another born with the mark would unbalance our society. Zerah has never been without a soul keeper. We cannot afford to lose your power because of a triviality.”

“A triviality? I killed a man. Should I not die too? Does his blood not call for restitution? I lost all control. I killed him and I deserve to die.”

“The blame lies on your mother for not delivering you according to the Code.”

“If she dies, then I shall die with her. I will not be the one to carry her soul into Arezh. I refuse.”

The priests turned away, speaking to one another in hushed whispers.

Kieran’s stomach turned. He had no idea what their sudden silence meant.

His mother’s eyes closed in prayer. Her lips moved in silent worship. Did she beg for mercy, forgiveness, or did she seek to clear her sins one final time? Kieran followed her example, and closed his eyes in quick prayer to the Beings he’d lost all faith in, the ones who demanded a task of him heavier than he could carry. He would do whatever They asked of him as long as his mother’s life was spared.

The eight men straightened and turned to him, their faces set, and Kieran took a deep breath.

Ophiuchus spoke the final verdict. “It is the decision of the House of Eukleides, under the divine influence of the Higher Beings, that Najad of Aipa be held in captivity for the remainder of her days.”

“Captivity?” Najad gaped at them in shock.

“She will be held in the dungeon, never to step on the Holy Grounds of Zerah again. Find comfort, Kieran, Guardian of the Dark Stone, that your mother will be alive and fed. You, Najad of Aipa, will suffer enough, alive but unable to see your only child grow into the powerful man he will become. The day will come when you will wish you’d perished rather than be left to die alone.”

Content with their decision, the high priest summoned the guards. “Take this boy to the Temple immediately and call forth Master Iagan.”

“Wait!” Kieran reached for his mother’s hands. “Let me say goodbye.” The guards lifted him off the floor by the waist. He fought them, but their physical strength far surpassed his smaller frame. “Mierma!”

To his surprise, she smiled sadly, but no fear or bitterness marred her gaze. Her lips shaped the words he wanted so desperately to hear.

I love you.

He tucked them away into the very depths of his soul for safekeeping.

Those three words would have to last him a lifetime.

Rapunzel, a Retelling by Lisa


Rapunzel, a Retelling

© Lisa Asanuma, 2009

My mother wasn’t quite the woman the stories have made her out to be.  Ugly, cruel, to lock a beautiful young girl up in a tower with no chance of escape and no one but herself for company.

The truth was, I went in willingly.  She didn’t force me, or put me into an enchanted sleep until the deed was done.  She told me she wanted to protect me, to keep me from the horrible things of the world.  And I was a vain and naïve child.  She told me I was beautiful and I believed her—it was very lucky for me that I truly was.  She might have had a twisted perspective of the world, and she might have taken advantage of my young and trusting mind, but I did trust her, and if I had the option of going back now—not to the tower, understand, but to her—I probably would.

She had been beautiful once, and loved and admired for her talents, one of the last of her kind, of the revered witches.  She was born too late, outlived her sisters, was chased and persecuted.  Can you blame her for wanting to hold fast to something, someone she loved?

I harbor no illusions, however.  I know she is not my true mother, that she stole me from a pair of peasants as a display of power.  I’ve seen them, since, the woman staring longingly after me, a woman who looks like me, who I used to dream of though I was hardly old enough to remember her when I was taken.

But that woman never brushed my long golden hair, or told me stories of the songs the moon would sing, long ago, as my mother did.  My rescuer would only have me remember that in my tower I had no door, but I had a window, and the sky, and every possibility open to the imagination that those things could bring me.

It was more difficult than I can tell to leave that cozy room, full of all the lovely things she could give me.  To give up my entire world, just for him.  She would most likely kill me now, the poor woman, as I’ve betrayed all her trust and broken her heart.  That he is a prince, that he is rich and handsome and benevolent, is easily enough understood.  That he is worth it… remains to be seen.

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