#AtoZChallenge - Among the Junipers

"Oh let's go to the Juniper garden! A little fresh air will help you rest later," Amy said.

"Hooray! And can we play hide and seek?" Irena said with a grin, standing up and dancing impatiently while Amy extricated herself from the pillows.

"Yes, of course!" Amy said, laughing as Irena grabbed her hand and pulled her down the hall. Within short order Irena navigated them through various hallways and staircases and out through a door which led straight into the garden. The rich woodsy smell of the junipers was immediate and when the salty air blew through the garden it added a delightful tang of which Amy was certain she would never tire. I've stepped through the looking glass into heaven! she thought, following the small figure down a trail.

"You hide first!" Irena ordered, "I will count to ten and then come find you!" She covered her face and turned into one of the trees, counting loudly. Amy veered onto another path, and another, before nestling herself between a bush and a tree. It wasn't the best hiding spot, but she didn't want to get too far from Irena. Irena found her in a matter of minutes and giggled madly at seeing Amy wedged between the greenery.

When it was Irena's turn to hide, it took Amy longer to find her. She got turned about several times in the garden and just as she was beginning to lose her nerve, heard Irena's smothered giggles from behind a bench. She jumped at the little girl from the other side of the path, tickling her sides and saying, "I've got you!!" They were reduced to gales of laughter until the two of them sat panting on the bench, unable to even speak for their fun.

They played a couple more rounds, until it became clear that Irena was beginning to tire. The little girl begged to stay in the garden. Amy knew it was her responsibility to get her to nap, but where to nap?

On a bench they'd seen near the Kitchen garden,
or take her back into the Keep?

You know the drill! Vote in the comment section below for which place they should go next :) And we'll see you on Monday!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Keep Watch post to continue reading :)

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#AtoZChallenge - Irena

Ahhh... There's nothing quite like a little character development in the morning! Per your requests, I present the story of Irena's name :)

"But you know the story of my name, silly!" Irena said, quirking her head to the side.

"Yes, but you tell the story so well! I want to hear it again," Amy replied. She pushed aside the doubts and questions about why the girl thought she knew so much. Children easily pick up on such things and she didn't want to further raise her playfriend's suspicions.

Irena stood up out of the pillows and placed herself in front of Amy. "My name is Irena," she said with careful enunciation that sounded like I-rain-a, with a little roll of the r. "I was named after my great grandmother, the beautiful and kind Queen Irena." At this, she made a gesture as to put a crown on her little head. Amy smiled - there is nothing quite as descriptive as a young child telling a story.

"Princess Irena came from a faraway land to marry my great grandfather, King Alfons. King Alfons was a fearsome man," she said, squinching up her face in an angry manner and standing with arms akimbo, "He was strong in battle and sometimes mean to his squires. But Princess Irena was not afraid of him. They had a wedding and there was three days of feasting! They had dancers, and food, and jugglers, and clowns!" She danced in a little circle and curtsied, grinning. "It was SO much fun!

"And Queen Irena was happy and beautiful, and on the last day they danced in front of everyone who came to watch! I would have been scared to dance in front of so many people, but the King and Queen were very brave. And while they danced, Queen Irena said to her King, 'We shall rule together, and show great kindness to our people.' And great grandfather Alfons looked at his beautiful Irena and said, 'Yes, my Queen.'

"And from that day forward, he was much kinder, and he was a good King. Even when the great drought came, and all the crops dried up, he shared from the palace with everyone, and took care of them. Queen Irena was beautiful and kind until the day she died.

"That was a very sad day, because everyone loved the Queen. And that's why my daddy, Prince Leo, named me Irena. So that I can be as kind and beautiful as my great grandmother, Queen Irena." Her story finished, Irena took a deep curtsy and threw herself joyfully back onto the pillows next to Amy.

"What should we do now, Amy? It's not time for our rest, yet. What should we do?

"Should we...
Go to the Juniper garden?
Jump rope? 
Find the Jester and make him tell us Jokes?"

Alrighty! Pick yourselves a J option and vote for it in the comments below, and we'll see what happens next :)

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Among the Junipers post to continue reading :)


#AtoZChallenge - Hurry! Follow the girl!

Amy gave the dancing doll in the mirror one last quick glance before turning on her heel to follow the little girl down the hallway. She didn't know what to make of Cal's warning to "...be watching for the man in white.." but now that she'd seen him, she couldn't not follow him. Especially since the little girl had seemed to go that direction so willingly. And who was the little girl? Where was she? And how was she here? It seemed that following the girl was the only way to get answers, and so she must go.

Her slippered feet went quietly down the hall, though she was moving quite quickly to try to catch up. The girl turned right down a side corridor. Amy followed, and then stopped dead in her tracks. The girl was sitting in a windowed alcove, replete with plush cushions. The windows looked out over a rocky beach leading to the sea. Which sea?, Amy wondered. Gray rocks contrasted with the crystalline blue-green of the water below in a manner both delightful and stark.

The little girl laughed and waved Amy over, indicating that she should join her on the cushions. Amy obeyed, settling in next to the small creature. "What is your name?" she asked.

"Irena, of course! How silly you are, to ask that question!"

"Silly?" Amy asked.

"Yes! You are my best playfriend! How could you forget my name?" Irena asked, sticking out a petulant lip.

"Well, I guess I am silly, then! Shall we play a questions game?" Amy said, hoping the girl would take the bait.

"Yes! I love questions!"

"Wonderful," Amy said. What should she Inquire?
"Can you show me your favorite place Inside this building?"
"Tell me the story of your name, Irena?"
"Where do those shIps go?" (I know that's a weak I hahaha.. Give a girl a break!)

Ok! Tell me your choice for what question to ask Irena, by 8pm Mountain Time (or after - total honesty: I haven't been writing till the next morning :) ) and we'll see where Irena's answers take us!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Irena's Name post to continue reading :)

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#AtoZChallenge - Go to the other side

Well when I went to bed last night we were tied for what y'all wanted to do, but some tie-breakers came in overnight so let's Go explore the other side of the shop!

Amy glanced at the corner, and with a little spurt of curiosity, wondered if she could actually touch anything in her current state. She swooped down and grabbed the hand of a little girl doll and was delighted to find that she could bring it up into the air with her. She held her hands out to her sides and flew to the other corner of the shop, Peter Pan style.

This side had more large objects in it. Here, several rolls of carpet. There, an iron bedstand, and just next to it a set of several gilded mirrors. The mirrors begged another question - was she invisible? She floated in a standing way in front of the largest of the three mirrors and was amused to see that its reflection showed the little doll floating in midair. She made the doll dance for a moment, giggling at her own silliness.

But then, she glanced at one of the other mirrors and was surprised to see not only herself, but also a small girl with long dark hair, holding her hand and smiling out at her. A long hallway with ornate pillars extended behind them. She reached out a finger as though to touch the rich dress her reflection wore. The mirror shimmered a bit at her touch, distorting the image. With a shift and a pop! she found herself on the other side, looking back into the shop at a doll that seemed to dance in midair.

Amy looked down to see that she was now wearing the finery she'd tried to touch only moments ago. She looked down the hallway and saw, just disappearing behind a pillar, what appeared to be a man dressed in white, rushing away from her. The little girl dropped her hand and skipped down the hall toward him.

What should Amy do?
Hurry! Follow the little girl!
Hide behind a pillar from the man in white.
Hit at the mirror to try to get back through.

Remember to submit your votes in the comment section below! I'll check them around 8pm Mountain Time and use those votes to write my H post for tomorrow! Have a great day everyone :)

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Hurry! post to continue reading :)


#AtoZChallenge - Freesia Tea

Sorry I'm a little late this morning! I got distracted by reading folks' blogs last night and suddenly found myself too sleepy to write before bed. But there's no question on this one - Freesia won by a long shot. Let's see what happens!

"The freesia tea sounds lovely, thank you," Amy said with a sniff. She watched as he poured boiling water over the tea leaves in a lovely brass teapot and realized that she was still grasping Cal's handkerchief in both hands. She folded it up gently and stowed it in the pocket of her jeans.

After a couple minutes to steep, the shopkeeper poured Amy a small glass of the freesia tea. He handed it to her with a small bow and said, "I will be here if you need anything." Amy lifted the cup and inhaled its fragrant steam. The tea smelled somehow both floral and green, as though she'd put a bouquet to her face, full of freesia flowers, ferns, and just a little bit of dirt. The taste though, was different. Still floral but with a touch of mint and something savory just out of the reach of being able to identify. She sighed appreciatively, leaning back in her chair. It was lovely.

Amy felt herself begin to relax. Her muscles loosened and she closed her eyes. As she rested, she felt her mind lifting out of her body and thought, Oh, this really is uplifting... She looked down at her prone body and was filled with a complete sense of peace.

She could see the whole shop from here. It was deceptively large given its petite appearance from the outside. Far at the back she could see the shopkeeper's head bobbing as he moved merchandise from here to there. Perhaps I will go look at the other side of the shop, she thought, floating toward the back corner.

The back corner was piled high with odd pieces of furniture, boxes labeled with words she could not comprehend, dolls, embroidered linens, and other unidentifiable bits and bobs.

Amy floated, enjoying the soft touch of air currents buoying her in place, and pondered what she should do...
Take a Gander at the items in this corner,
Get back to her body,
or Go explore the other side

Remember to comment below to let me know your choice for what she should do next! I will check the comments this evening around 8pm Mountain Time to write tomorrow's post!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Go to other side post to continue reading :)

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#AtoZChallenge - Exhausted - sEEk rEfrEshmEnt

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you had a good first rest Sunday of the month, and had a good Easter or start to Passover if you're into those kinds of things.

As a refresher, or intro to our new guests, my theme this year is interactive fiction. So every day I'm writing a brief bit of a story and my commenters get to vote on where it goes next! I will give you the options at the end of the 'chapter', and you just tell me what storyline you want to follow :) To get the back story, see where we started at A.

Based on the voting from Saturday, everyone needed a rest! Let's see where Amy's path takes her next..

Amy dabbed at her teary eyes with Cal's handkerchief and gasped as the inside of the shop was flooded with the sights and sounds of the bazaar. The hourglass disappeared from the table, as did the dust of her father. She gazed longingly at the spot on the floor where his essence had so recently been. Cal's bottle was laying just next to the spot, so she bent to pick it up.

She stood with bottle in hand and met the shopkeeper's eye. The glittery cork was still in her pocket. He accepted both with a knowing look as Amy asked, "Sir, where can I get some tea?"

"You sit, miss. I will get you some tea," he said, ushering her into a seat near another small table. From here Amy was able to see the objects she'd been pondering earlier and wondered what, if anything, would have been different about her experience with them. Before long, the kind man brought her a tray with two types of tea on it, and asked which she wanted to try..

"Let me tell you the teas, and you tell me which to make:
This Fennel tea is grounding. It will bring you back to earth. Keep you here.
The Freesia is uplifting. It will raise your spirit. It is very comforting."

So which will it be, readers? Comment below and I will tally up your votes after 8pm Mountain Time to decide what happens on F day tomorrow!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Freesia Tea post to continue reading :)