Inspiration strikes at the most inopportune moment sometimes.
Perhaps you’re a writer as well, and you’ve had those moments when sleep is forgotten so that you may write the randomest thing that comes to mind at ridiculous hours of the night. It’s absurd and a little frustrating afterwards because I’m 98% confident that I will never finish writing this midnight inspiration, so why should I lose sleep over it?
But alas, sometimes you must succumb to the urge, otherwise you won’t sleep at all as you’ll be thinking about the story all night long. I figured that even if I never finish writing it, it’ll still be perfect for generating blog content, so here we are.
1700 words, just over 4 pages, set in a fantastical city during a fantastical holiday season with the beginnings of court and royal drama.
Personally, I actually like the idea of the story, and I would have loved to read it if it was a finished book, but we’ll see if I ever do move anywhere with it.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this look into a new world.
Please do NOT plagiarize my work and give credit where credit is due.
Shadeskyp was brighter than the sun on a cloudless day. Lanterns were strung along every main street and from the awnings of shops and homes. A huge bonfire glowed and crackled at the base of the city square, with several smaller ones spread through-out the city. The joy and excitement of the Autumn Festival wrapped itself around every person, causing cheer, good humor, and an easy camaraderie to link the citypeople together.
It was every child’s grand dream, as sweets and hard candies, as well as small coins flowed freely during the two days of excitement that followed the initial grand night. Parents could do little to keep their children close, and resigned themselves to letting them go while they indulged in the more adult fun of the night, from wrestling tournaments, drinking and eating competitions, to a free grand play hosted by the Shadeskyp Theater.
Even the royal palace was ensconced in this excitement, with preparations for balls, banquets, and outings being made months in advance. Courtiers were less cunning in the days leading up to the event, the servants and staff were more diligent with their work, and the royal family itself spent a great deal showering her citizens with as much as the royal treasury could afford.
However, I was the sole exception to all this happiness and merriment.
I positively hated the Autumn Festival.
It was the single most painful reminder of just how much I did not belong in the life I was supposed to lead.
You see, my family is one of the closest to the royals. My parents, Duke Cenaryon Asderwolf and Lady Gwelda Haut Asderwolf served as the confidantes of the Emperor and Empress, which put them, and in effect my family, in a station just below the Emperor and just above everyone else.
I’m pretty sure it was even a law somewhere that if anything were to happen to the Emperor and all his heirs, Father would be the next ruler of the Kingdom. Of course, that was doubtful to happen since the Emperor had graced his people with the privilege of not one, not two, not three, four, or five, but six royal sons who were legitimate and in turn, eligible for the throne.
Historically speaking, it was incredibly foolish of His Imperialness to have so many contenders for the throne, as civil war and misfortune had befallen many an empire before ours for that very reason, but who am I to tell His Imperialness what to do?
Well, who am I anyway, you ask?
I am Viclara May Talin, the adopted – and therefore most looked down upon – member of the House of Asderwolf. Quite the pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’ve been told that I am a young woman of highly unremarkable features, most curiously curly and shiny black hair (that I dyed the ends of silver, because why not), the complexion of a warm cup of cacao, and the temperament of a lazy cat.
I am most offended by the lazy cat comparison. I’m more of a thoughtful one. A curious soul yearning for knowledge and a little too opinionated for everyone else’s tastes, but I truly only want the best when I offer my opinions.
It reminds me of that time that Lady Skarel arrived at court wearing a hideous red poofy creation on a day that was supposed to honor the passing of the late Princess. I kindly suggested that although wearing color was permitted for such occasions, she could have done well to choose a less flamboyant display that held little regard for the royal family’s feelings on such a sad day.
Of course, she misunderstood me and I was hastily sent away from the room. Alas, that is the kind of thing one must grow accustomed to when you’re the black sheep of the family.
Now, where was I? Oh right, the Autumn Festival. Such a dreadful day full of sitting and smiling, more sitting and smiling, and infinitely more sitting and smiling. And the worst part? I’m not allowed to speak beyond the basic niceties required.
You see, during the day before the official start of the Festival, one of the lords closest to the royal family throws a grand luncheon where the entire Court gathers to greet the royal family and curry favor with the most influential members of society. The royal family never hosts the event: it is solely the responsibility of those closest to them, which is usually my family the Asderwolfs, the Emperor’s half brother Duke Wilhamane of House Undlake, or my father’s nemesis from childhood, Lord Tyron of House Skarel. Sometimes other houses do get a chance to host the event but usually it’s from those three.
This year, the Asderwolfs were hosting the luncheon.
Thankfully, this meant that slipping away at points in the afternoon to catch a few moments of solitude were a lot easier since the event happened at my house, but Mother always had me found and brought back to continue sitting and smiling like a daft child since I was forbidden from participating in any of the discussions. A grave injustice, but one I had to bear every year.
As I watched the afternoon turn to evening and the city light up in preparation for the grand start, I heard some young ladies titter quietly behind their beaded fans. Everyone was dressed much more formally since the royal family was in attendance, meaning hours spent taming my hair into a braided bun loaded with flowers and jewels, more hours spent choosing and wearing a heavy full skirted dress with dainty lace gloves and a fan, and yet more hours spent listening to Mother lecture us all (with specific attention focused on me) about the importance of not sullying the family name.
Incredibly tedious work. Granted, a slightly less tedious version involving less lecturing happened before every ball or banquet, but the Autumn Festival brought with it another layer of suffering.
It was the fateful day that Mother had found me, a wee baby in a makeshift crib, left at the estate’s back gates. The ladies and gentlemen of the court discussed it without fail every. Single. Year.
“Oh, isn’t that the babe that was left at the Asderwolf Estate? You know, That Year?” one of the young ladies now whispered without whispering at all.
The party was being hosted in the grand ballroom, which had a bank of windows looking out over the city where I was currently standing, with the ladies at a table some steps away, counting down the moments till the event officially ended. I’d done well to avoid all the gossipers who would be discussing my past for the entire afternoon, which was a remarkable feat in itself, and I clenched my teeth now at being assaulted with it moments before I could escape.
I focused on watching the city, and tried to block out their words. I failed.
“Why yes, Eloise, that is her. Look how she’s grown, so plain and unremarkable,” a high pitched voice wheezed.
With a shift of skirts, a new voice joined them. “Ah well, what can one expect from a commoner child? I feel most sorry for Duchess Asderwolf, it must be a nightmare having something that looks so much different and can’t just be presumed a member of the family. And she can’t just throw it out in the street since she defied the entire Court to keep it.”
My fists were now clenched tightly in front of me. The sheer nerve and disrespect of these so called ladies gnawed at me but I stayed facing forward, hoping and wishing for the clock to ring the end of my misery.
All of them sighed and tutted sympathetically. My tenacious hold on my temper was quickly unraveling.
“I actually don’t feel all that sorry for the Duchess. She should have simply dropped it off at the nearest orphanage or given it to a servant to raise and get another one for free, or something of the like. No one compelled her to make it her child. What I find most offensive is the fact that we must treat it like it’s one of us – no, like it’s better than us because it’s been claimed by the Asderwolfs. It’s so degrading,” the first voice said.
My anger boiled over. Turning sharply, I marched over to their table, ignoring the looks from the servants lingering in the shadows and the whispers of other parties sitting nearby. The first voice belonged to a redheaded pale freckled girl with a heavily powdered and dressed wig on her head, and a dress of emerald green.
I painted a sharp smile on my face as I hissed, “Do you know what is most degrading? Being called an ‘it’. I am not an ‘it’. And if you are so mannerless and spineless as to insult and degrade a person while they are standing not five paces away from you, then you are the lowliest scum of cowards. In the future, if you so have a problem with me, please, do tell it to my face.”
I turned my glare on the other two girls, a brunette and another redhead, both with comically wide innocent stares and looks of shock on their faces.
“Also, a kind suggestion: the next time anyone would like to disparage my Mother or my family, at an event hosted by them with their money spent on your entertainment and enjoyment, please, do us all a favor and wash your mouth out with lye a few times. It is utterly fantastic at curbing such vicious urges. Oh, and did I mention it’s also wonderful at eliminating unwanted odors? It would help dearly with that stench floating from your mouths. Trust me, it’s most unbearable.”
The room was completely silent as I turned to leave, but I paused shortly as I thought of Mother’s wrath. She would be most livid if I didn’t fulfill my hostess duties appropriately. So, I turned back and said with a beaming smile, “I hope you enjoyed the party. We really were most delighted to have you.”
And with that, I left the room.
I’m stuck between finding Viclara highly amusing and wanting to know more about her life (even though I came up with her) and feeling like this is a very unconventional way to write a story. And because I don’t have much faith in myself, I’m not sure if it’s even all that good.
I’m also not sure what kind of period/region I’m basing this story on/in? Names like Viclara, Cenaryon (what on earth Me?), Gwelda, Undlake, Wilhamane, it feels like ancient England/Germany? And obviously they wear ballgowns and have powdered towering hair, which also sounds like long ago European royalty.
At the same time, my image for their everyday wear is something a lot less fancy, with slightly more modern clothing aesthetics (less hoopskirts, pants being more gender-neutral and not anything scandalous for a lady to wear, etc). And of course, Shadeskyp is not a real place, so it’s a fantasy world mixing old with some new I guess. I don’t think it’ll have magical elements though; just a plain old simple fantasy world.
Sigh. But why worry about all that when I’m probably not going to ever motivate myself to finish writing it?
That’s honestly my biggest problem: I’m always curious to continue reading the story, but I never finish writing the story so it’s sadly cut off quite early. Honestly, I genuinely feel upset that the story is not complete, but at the same time, I somehow can’t bring myself to finish writing it nonetheless.
It’s really frustrating.
Another thing that I think adds to my inability to finish is that I’m very very picky when I write. I want it to be perfect as I go, and I have a hard time just writing without stopping to edit things. Which countless writing courses have said that I need to stop doing, but I still fail at following that advice anyway.
So, I’m left with incomplete stories that I personally think have excellent premises but that are sadly never finished because those poor stories were authored by me.
I wonder, is this a common writer thing, or am I just overly excellent at never finishing what I start?
Some questions for you:
- Do you write stories? When was the randomest time that you’ve felt the urge to write?
- Did you like this story? Any constructive criticism/feedback?
- Do you tend to start stories but never finish them? Are you always inclined to edit as you go?
- Would you like to see more writing snippets in the future?
Talk to me in the comments below!