#AtoZChallenge - Searching for Vanished Irena

Amy stood up. "Thank you for fixing me up, Cal. I need to find Irena. She is the little girl of the house, and she is my charge in this realm. The Man in White made her disappear from my arms just before he moved the mirror. I need to make sure she is ok."

"Hold the phone, sweetcheeks. I admire your dedication to this young creature, but you can't just go blazing about the Palace without a solid plan." He paused and closed his eyes for a brief moment, "I can tell you where your little girl is - she's with old Blanco. So if you're going in to get her, you have to be ready for him too."

"Where is he holding her? Is she alright?" Amy asked.

"They're in a room on the west side of the Palace. I don't know if she's alright. She doesn't seem to be moving, but that might not be a bad thing. But, you need a plan, love."

"How do I defeat someone who is so much more powerful than me?" Amy said as her eyes filled with tears.

"You have powers. Things you know, talents you possess. You're from another world, remember? You'll just have to think creatively to figure out what you can use against him. What makes you fabulous, darling? And what might make him weak? I can grant you two more wishes. I suggest you use them." Cal gave her a challenging stare, as though daring her to come up with something truly outrageous - fabulous, even - to move forward.

What help should Amy request from Cal?
Ask for her own Wand so you can use magic on him.
Request a paintbrush and bucket of White paint.
Wish for Cal to bring her the most useful object from back in the shop.

Ok, friends. Tell me. What W direction is Amy taking? Vote in the comments below and I'll get that post written for your Monday enjoyment!

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


#AtoZChallenge - Need a little Understanding, sometimes..

Oof we're getting into the tricky letters, y'all! Just about got a headache trying to figure out V options for tomorrow.

This is an interactive fiction tale! If you're new to the game, start reading back at my A post. Or jump in and let us know in the comments where you think the story should go next :)

"Cal, what..? What is going on here? You said spellwork. So I was right - Blanco is some kind of magician? I need you to help me understand what is happening to me," Amy said.

"Sugar, you've walked into a mess, and it's partly my fault. Sit down and I'll fix your face while I explain," he said as a bench appeared behind Amy. She sat down and he began picking the slivers of glass from her skin. "This kind of work is best done with my fingers. It's just a little more gentle.

"When you wished to see your father, I kept you in my own little magic bubble. It's easier to manipulate things that way; I could control time and make sure your daddy didn't get away from us. It was also a little lazy of me. I should have let you stay in real time and figured your daddy out for myself, but I took the easy way out. The residue from your little visit and the magic in my handkerchief marked you for the Man in White. He must be watching through various windows into our realm, waiting for the right person to pass by. And then when the shopkeeper sent your spirit floating around, it made you just ethereal enough to pull you through.

"Now, I'm not one to think anything looks better without sparkles, but I do declare that your face is much prettier without all those spikes sticking out of it," Cal said, patting Amy's face with another handkerchief he pulled out of his bosom.

"I got back from my party and found your body knocked out on a chair and traced your spirit here. But your magician friend locked down the mirror pretty good as soon as you went through. It took some finagling to get through his defenses and I got into the building just before he whisked the mirror into this hallway. I'm lucky I got through before you went linebacker on it, otherwise I might never have seen the inside of my bottle ever again.

"Now I'm here and I'll help you out if I can, Sugar Snap, but I can't do the heavy lifting. You're going to have to figure this out for yourself."

What should Amy's next step be?
Verbalize her need to destroy Blanco.
Venture into the rest of the Palace to find the Man in White.
Search for the Vanished Irena (is she really gone?).

Vote away! Let us know in the comments what you think is the best option!

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


#AtoZChallenge - Throwing herself at the mirror

I have a Throwback Thursday post up at the main A-Z blog today! I gathered the very first A posts of all the co-hosts so we could all see how far we've come. It's pretty fun. Check it out :)

Amy took a deep breath, feeling the Man in White's hand rising on her stiff shoulder. She murmured under her breath, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall..." as she readied her body. Amy braced her feet, made fists with both hands, and launched herself at the mirror. Blanco yelped when she dashed out of his grasp. Her right fist and shoulder made a solid connection with the glass. The mirror, with Amy on top of it, tumbled to the ground and smashed spectacularly.

The force of the impact threw shards of glass up into the air and down the hallway, and even back toward Blanco. Amy sprang up and stood with her back against the wall, fearlessly meeting Blanco's eyes once more. He looked at her across the glittering mess and slowly brushed glass from his clothing. A couple larger shards had made it through the cloth and tiny blossoms of blood were spreading across his pure white shirt.

"What now?" she asked. Her voice was calm, focused, and dead cold.

Her mind was not nearly so calm. She knew she had made him angry and had no idea how he would respond. Amy felt pinpricks all over her face and neck but dared not touch them for fear of driving the splinters further into her skin. The knuckles on her right hand smarted fiercely where they had struck the mirror, and the dampness at her fingertips told her they were bleeding a fair bit. Without taking her eyes off the Man in White, she brought Cal's handkerchief from her pocket and wrapped it securely around her hand.

"This is not over." Blanco said, fiercely. "I will get what I want. And you will give it to me." With that, and a swish of his hand, he was gone.

Amy slumped against the wall. She held her right hand in her left and tried to think.

"Well, Sugar. You have got yourself in quite the pickle here! It was a lot of work to get into this place. Some serious spellwork surrounds this palace. I had to pick my way right through all these nitty little spells, and almost lost a sequin tryin' to get into this hallway." Cal popped into the room, just feet in front of her. He was resplendent in a strapless purple gown, bedecked with sequins in all the right places, and dainty silver jewelry with turquoise that stood out masterfully against his dark skin and the jewel toned dress. "You didn't have to bleed on my handkerchief though. A kiss would have done the trick!"

Amy threw herself into Cal's arms. She was unbearably grateful to see a familiar and friendly face, even if he was the first person to do magic on her during this crazy day.

"There, there, darlin'," he said, patting her back. "Now what can I do to help you out of this mess, Sugar? And I don't mean grabbing a broom to sweep. Cal does not sweep floors."

How can Cal help?
Undo the damage to the mirror so Amy can try to get home?
Do Unto the Man in White has he did Unto Irena?
Help her Understand what is happening in this place?

Don't forget to vote on your choice for what should happen, in the comments below!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Need some Understanding post to continue reading :)


#AtoZChallenge - Stare down!

Haha y'all picked the long option today :)

Amy stopped running. She put Irena on the ground and said, "Honey, stand behind me." She wrapped Irena's fragile little-girl arms around her waist and rested one hand atop them. The heat of the girl's face pressed into her lower back was strangely reassuring. Amy squared her shoulders and met the eyes of the Man in White. 

He looked at her, but continued his incantation. Windows and floor blurred past, as though they were on a train watching the world fly by. 

"STOP!!" She shouted with every ounce of her being and held out her hand in the universal gesture for 'halt', as though casting her own spell back at the magician.

The Man in White blinked twice, momentarily shocked, and then stopped speaking and slouched a bit in exhaustion. The world slowed and Amy found herself in a stable, unmoving hallway. Leaves on trees outside the windows danced merrily in a gentle sea breeze. Amy took a deep breath to slow her heart rate and continued to watch her foe.

He pulled off Irena's Papa's cap, revealing his white headdress underneath. Steely grey eyes never left Amy's gentle browns as he used the cap to wipe what remained of the painted illusion from his face. "There is no point in running. You are in my world. I will always find you." He spoke with the slightest of accents. He enunciated the t in point quite sharply, but almost slurred the vowels in each word. It gave his speech an odd cadence, half song but with strict counterpoints throughout.

"Then I won't run. I will hide, I will dance, I will do whatever it takes to get us out of here. Who are you? What have you done with Prince Leo? What do you want with us?" Amy said. Her heart quivered a bit, but her voice did not shake.

He laughed, "Us? Irena is nothing to me. A trifle. Only a child. A figment, really." He waved his hand and Irena's arms vanished from within Amy's grasp. Amy swung her hands behind her, searching for the child who had disappeared from behind her body. She was gone. "That's better, don't you think?" the Man in White said. 

"What do you want from me?" Amy said through gritted teeth.

"What any man wants. Conquest. I have tired of this inconsequential territory. You have access to a world that I desire. I want it. You will give it to me. And then I will let you go. ..or not." He looked at Amy with a gleam in his eye that she chose to ignore. 

"I don't have anything."

"Of course you do. You come from one of the richest lands in history. All I need is access. I was able to bring you here because you possess the germ of magic. You must be able to go back through. Take me to the other side of the mirror." He gestured to the side and Amy saw that the mirror had appeared to his right. In a blink, Amy found herself standing in front of it, gazing back into the shop she'd been stolen from. How simple life had been before... all this.

"Well?" he said. He put a heavy hand on Amy's shoulder and her entire upper body froze. "Shall we?"

THINK! There has to be something you can do or say!
Tell him a way to get through the mirror. Make something up.
Touch the mirror, gently. Hey, it worked last time!
Throw yourself at the mirror to break it. No way he's coming through with you.

As always, let me know what you think Amy should do in the comments below. Things are heating up! Can't wait to hear what you think!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Throwing herself at the Mirror post to continue reading :)


#AtoZChallenge - Run!

Y'all, this is my 1,000th post on this blog! So crazy. I don't think I ever thought I'd hit that many when I started it in college back when it was just a silly thing to do :) Not so silly anymore, if you ask Amy...

Amy scooped Irena into her arms and shot out through the door and into the hallway. She ran as fast as she could but was distressed to note that the hall's windows were passing in a blur reminiscent of a sketchy cartoon, and that the door at the end did not seem to be getting any closer. She slowed a bit and the windows came into better focus, but the trees outside them had a Van Gogh feel to them.

He still has us, she thought, mournfully. Where is he??

She hazarded a look back and nearly tripped as she saw the painted man standing stock still only ten feet behind her. The windows blurred past but he followed close without moving his feet. He was murmuring and sweating. His jaunty cap and perfectly painted lips had fallen askew, casualties of exertion.

"Why are you running from Papa, Amy?" Irena asked, her voice bouncing in time with Amy's running pace.

"He's not your Papa, Irena. I don't know who he is, but he's not your Papa," Amy replied. "You remember the stories I've told you about magicians? He has us in a spell. That's why the windows look funny." And I don't know how to escape! she added, silently.

What should Amy do?
Scream for help,
Turn around and Stare down the Man in White,
Stop fighting. Submit to his illusion.

I've decided to give up on the voting, for now. It didn't bring any extra responses and I miss you all commenting :) Let me know in the comments below what you think is Amy's best course of action!

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

And don't forget that you can sign up for my monthly email by using the form at the right or the tab at the top of the page!


#AtoZChallenge - Quietly finding Irena

Boy. In honor of Q it was a Quiet weekend, y'all! (Can you believe we're already at Q??)
Enjoy :)

Amy stood up, and with a last grateful smile at Mat left her empty mug on the hearth and quietly took her leave from the kitchen. She felt much refreshed thanks to her brief sojourn somewhere that felt like reality and paused to arrange herself.

Her hair was a mass of frizz thanks to the rain and subsequent quick-dry of the fire. She did her best to tuck the wispy bits into her braids, knowing that she probably still looked like she'd just got out of bed. But what else could a gal do without a mirror? Her dress was obviously not meant to be dried via fire-blast and parts of it had shrunk a bit. The shoulders had become just barely too tight, and some of the folds in her skirts stuck out funny.

It was while rearranging some of the skirt folds that Amy discovered pockets! Why don't modern dresses have pockets?? she grumped. She stuck her hands into the slits at her sides, and found.. What? How? Ohhh...! she thought, Cal's handkerchief! She couldn't begin to imagine how it had got there, but the dear piece of home was folded neatly just as she'd left it. Oh, Cal, she thought, fingering the silvery fabric, where are you now? With a sigh she tucked the handkerchief back into her pocket and walked toward the door that led to the room where she'd left Irena sleeping.

Amy walked into the room where she'd left her charge and found Irena seated on the floor playing a game with a well-dressed man. Their backs were to the door, but Irena hopped up as soon as she heard Amy enter and ran toward her, "Oh Amy! I had a wonderful nap! I had a dream about music, and dancing! And then it all got washed away in the rain, like this!" She made an exaggerated whoosh motion with her hands.

"That sounds like an exciting dream!" Amy said, hiding her disconcerted feelings by focusing on straightening the girl's sleepy hair. "And what are you doing now?"

"My papa came to play with me! Didn't you, Papa?" She tugged Amy's hand, leading her toward the seated man. As they drew near Amy had a sense of things not being quite right. The scene was too perfect. Too... intentional. The man, and the game pieces, appeared to have been painted into the room. The man turned. Their eyes met and Amy saw, for just the briefest moment, a glimpse of white shine through. Here was the man in white, pretending to be Irena's father again.

Amy's stomach jumped into her throat and she clutched Irena's hand in her own.

It seemed there were only two options for action. Should she:
Remain and try to figure out what the man in white is doing with Irena,
or Grab Irena and RUN!

Again, you can vote in the survey below, or leave a comment! Happy Monday, everyone :)

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Grab Irena and RUN post to continue reading :)