(back to part one)
Burn the Handful
The parliament building, which housed the Shoulders of Government, was made out of an old trunk and kept in the highest residential area of the barn: the hayloft. It was fed with several elevators of varying construction as well as by trained birds and their riders. Many of the birds were reassigned as security that day, and so the lip of the loft was covered with the saddled feathery creatures, their beaks making the line look like a living fence of spikes. Continue reading
(back to part one)
Knead the Handful
Forty Myrmidons marched across the walls of Minimil after a hard day’s work. Marching sideways was possible for them, as long as they stayed on all fours, thanks to the clasping hooks on the wrists and ankles of their exoskeletons. Their progress would’ve been extremely slow if not for the divot network.
It was invisible from a distance, which in Minimil was anything greater than two meters. Up close it could be seen as nothing more than even rows of gouge marks in the old wood of the barn walls. Their purpose was to provide footholds to any and all arthropod citizens capable of wall-crawling, the most numerous of which were the Myrmidons. Continue reading
(back to part one)
Spread the Handful
The innkeeper thought she rose plenty early to start preparing breakfast for her handful of guests, but when she stepped down from her quarters into the tavern she found it transformed by makeshift houseplants, created by an even earlier bird.
Delicious was roaming about, watering them with single droplets, using a can lifted from the dead garden’s piled tools. She hummed a tune all the while, but by the time she made a complete lap the gnome couldn’t help but sing a verse.
“-I long to see the girl I left behind meee!” When she stopped to breathe she noticed Miss Marood. “Oh, I’m sorry! Did I wake you?” Continue reading
The small have their own country, and it fits in a barn! The place is called Minimil, and it is home to Lilliputians, Shakespearian fairies, and the angels and devils of the shoulder that help you make all your decisions. Minimil doesn’t yet know it, but it is under attack from an elite team of scoundrels in its gutters, threatened into service by an unknown entity. They will sabotage the tiny government, to keep their heads and achieve their wildest dreams.
This is the second in a trilogy, though each novella tells its own whole story. To get caught up please check out the original: The Challenging Handful.
The Left Challenging Handful
Pinch the Handful
Typically a man of his stature would have no trouble moving through tight spaces. At only fifteen centimeters tall there were several carved conch shells among the furniture in his palace that were positively roomy, but this welcome, if that’s what it was, was far from that.
He was squeezed front and back by musty wood, the only way to orient himself being the various splinters poking the capitals on the map of his body. The predicament was made all the tighter by the finery he rarely took off: a crown of fused amber glass, shoulder pads of the same, a layered cape of blue and white like ocean waves lapping at the sand, and the decorated saber sheath on his hip. Continue reading
The beast Blerkafeld is one of the mightiest dragons, and even more conceited. After pilfering magics of time and space he has built his own little pocket world, pulling people from all over the Middle Ages to be his loyal worshipers. The only problem is, one of these groups is secretly a Renaissance fair…
Brawny Blue Blerkafeld
The beast of Kidnapt Valley
Four waterfalls marked the center of the cavern’s many tunnels and chambers. The place was most curious, as the passageways looked naturally formed, the walls porous and uneven, but its layout was certainly the work of intelligence. Each fall was like a curtain separating four identical tunnels from each other.
By unknown force, one fall’s flow ceased just as a cluster of four people reached it, letting them view the rising column of the central shaft. They dared not step over the wet line in the dirt; their invitation had warned them not to do so. Continue reading
(Back to Part One)
The finals dinner was the first time everyone was in the same place since orientation. Dean Mystpass, who had made exactly zero appearances since then, was there, thoroughly surrounded by staff and newly elected officials so that not a single student could reach him and say what they thought of his first crack at the school. Continue reading
(Back to Part One)
Trouble came to all of Cay Royal, not just its students. Word of the intruder and their power spread quickly. Any calls for Dean Mystpass to invent suspension or detention were neutralized when the safety precautions taken essentially counted as punishment. The whole college went on lockdown, students now escorted in groups from tent to tent and back to the dorms by either professors or security guards. Continue reading
(Back to Part One)
Dove looked through her notes while she waited for him. They weren’t physical notes of course. She’d been experimenting with compressing the lectures down to single paragraphs in her mind, trying to get the information as dense as possible to save memory space, which, much like using a computer, simplified her magical efforts. The one she’d created from the introductory Evil Eye Era lesson felt expertly compacted:
Magic is the psychic power of secrecy, threatened by transparency. In its early days even the people using it did not understand its nature. The first system was the evil eye, by which spells were cast with intense unblinking stares at their targets coupled with focused thought and emotion. It flourished for hundreds of years until its collapse in 1899, when a combination of exploding population, scientific advancement, and superstition regarding the evil eye specifically made it too common of knowledge. After it ceased working it took more than two decades, and a notable worldwide war, before a new method took root. Thus we have the snap system, powered by concise incantation words and kinetic catalyst sounds. Continue reading
Magic is real, as long as you’re in the know. It’s a lot subtler than people think, mostly invisible in fact. It can give you the second last sip from a canteen, let you push a pull door, or make your fortune cookies accurate if as vague as ever.
Dove used it on the stage, her audience only thinking they were looking at illusions. She was happy with that, but now her parents have dragged her to a strange island, the site of a failed music festival, and there’s talk of starting a new country, and a new school, both magical in nature…
Author’s Note: I wrote this novella to be my ‘Harry Potter’, but given my recent disappointment with that author it now works pretty well as a replacement for me. I hope you can get some enjoyment from it as well.
The Moneyed and the Mystic
The sand would’ve been much too hot for bare feet under normal circumstances, but the Théard family didn’t pack any normalcy for the trip. They always left that at home, a house that sat empty most of the time while its supposed occupants were off romancing the stages of the Caribbean and France. Continue reading
In the world of bird watching competition can be intense, sometimes even deadly, sometimes even magical. There are birds you can’t see unless you devote your life to seeing them, and a few are in this short story with an aesthetic best described as ‘birdwatchingpunk’.
The Field Guide to Fantasy Birding
(for enthusiasts only)
NAME: boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus)
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: a four to six inch bird which may weigh as much as an ounce. Gray wings and a brown streak across the head are the most common features, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white face with gray patches at the sides. It also has short wings and a short dark bill.
DIET: feeds mostly on seeds and insects by probing in bark and across the forest floor. It favors wood beetle larvae most highly.
RANGE: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, Canada, and New York. Migration happens quickly, with hundreds of miles traveled in just a few days.
BEHAVIOR: not picky when it comes to choosing a mate, though they will often mate for life. Boreal chickadees rarely build their own nests, instead choosing to occupy the abandoned efforts of other birds like the woodpecker. Only one egg is laid, its size surprising given the diminutive creatures that produced it.
To nearly every person who looked at the amateurishly-produced paper it was just a page out of a field guide, a work in progress at best, something to keep an old lonely man busy. Even his family members would not have recognized it for what it was, because they, even the widower’s children, didn’t recognize him for what he was. Continue reading