Tag Archives: callum

Lodestone

Magnetite - image courtesy of Wikipedia.orgThe problem with Seonid, Callum thought, was that she attracted trouble like iron to a lodestone.

This particular trouble leaned in close to Seonid, whispered something that made her laugh. Callum seethed in his corner. He was not jealous. The idea would not have occurred to him. It was not the fact of the flirtation that bothered him, but the object of it. Seonid had managed to invite the attentions of the one man whom she ought to have avoided.

Willem was a large man. Not soft, though: he was tall and hard, his voice silk on steel, his eyes metal-grey. No wonder, really, that Seonid drew him in. She was impossibly difficult for any man to resist, Callum knew, and Willem was not known for his restraint in these matters. But this man, this charming, handsome suitor, had quite probably killed another man whom Callum had loved like a brother.

Callum leaned further back into the shadows as Willem’s gaze traveled the room, resting briefly on each face before returning to the girl. It would not do to be seen. Other people, men and women, drifted around them, insubstantial as phantoms. The world centered around Seonid.

No, not a lodestone. The realization broke over him with sudden clarity. That would imply some measure of control on her part. Once, when Callum was a boy, he watched a storm roll in from the sea. It roared up the dunes and over the marshy grasslands, swallowing the tiny hamlet where he lived. Broken trees and other detritus battered against the walls of his house as he cowered with his sister under the bed. It sounded like the world ending.

Seonid was the eye of that storm. Trouble swirled around her, the debris of her past colliding with the bits and pieces of her current circumstances. It was only a matter of time before something came crashing down on her.

Callum tried not to think about what that meant. He watched, finger to the wind.


This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt.

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

: the quality or state of being troubled especially mentally
: public unrest or disturbance <there’s trouble brewing downtown>

Read more in the Sable Mark series

Sanctuary

White Tea“You brought her here? Are you insane?” Marna glowered at the three of them.

This was not the reaction Callum had expected. “We thought you’d be pleased,” he said, allowing a hint of vexation to creep into his voice. Had they not just found a piece of the puzzle?

“Really.” It was not a question. “Pleased that I am expected to play host to a potion-addled sybarite. Who can barely keep upright, may I add.” Marna was clearly affronted, though Callum had to admit that she was correct on that last point. Seonid’s face was pale and damp with sweat, and her hands trembled. Her gaze drifted around the room, touching lightly on bottles and jars, but never lingering for long. Callum noted that Marna did not offer the girl a chair.

His sister was prepared for Marna’s outburst. “You should have seen the state she was in when we found her. Believe me, this is an improvement.” As if to belie Vernía’s words, Seonid swayed, and Callum steadied her. Bedraggled as she was, she still smelled of apples. He let her lean into his side, her expression vague and unfocused. She must be exhausted, he realized.

Vernía drew the magistra aside. “She needs someplace safe to stay for a few days,” she said in a low voice. “Until she’s through the worst of it. She’s a part of this, though I don’t yet know how.”

“White tea and iron,” Seonid said suddenly. “Oh, safe, safe… What is safe? Clementine and rue.” Callum almost dropped her, he was that startled. He looked to Marna, but it was his sister who spoke, cocking her head to one side.

“A draught of Sanctuary, if I’m not mistaken. She is quite the connoisseur.”

Marna crossed her arms and glared. “May as well hire a drunk for a barman.” After a long moment, she held out a hand and led Seonid to a low divan. “Sit child, and we’ll see what we can make of you.”


This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt.

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

safe adj \ˈsāf\

1  free from harm or risk : unhurt

2 a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss
b: successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out

3 affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty

4 obsolete of mental or moral faculties : healthy, sound

More in the Sable Mark series can be found in previous posts: Need, Salt, Beast, The Other Sort of Need, Damask, Deep Magic, The Scent of Apple.

The Scent of Apple

AppleCallum was not the sort to be easily swayed by a beautiful woman, but something about this one captivated him. He followed her into a room bright with firelight and voices. She wafted through the room, breeze-like, drawing glances in her wake like dry leaves, and disappeared into a shadowy alcove.

Following her, he drew aside the beaded curtain and stepped inside. A trysting couch stood against the wall, a knotted silk scarf abandoned on the cushions. The air was heavy and close. He felt a sudden warmth at his back as the woman slid her arms around him. He turned, startled, to look her full in the face.

Later he would recall those too-dark eyes and the languor of her movements. He would wonder what she had taken tonight, and what she was called, and he would seek her out with greater forethought. At the moment, though, the scent of apples filled his breath, and he found himself unable to think of anything at all.

She reached up one hand to release a golden cascade of curls. The other trailed down his chest, chill against his skin. When had he unlaced his shirt? His throat was dry, and the knots in the scarf dug into the flesh of his hip. When had they fallen to the couch? Her perfume saturated every pore of him.

He struggled to remember why he was there. “We were looking for you, my sister and I.” The words seemed to come from someone else’s mouth.

A rustle of skirts, and a clatter of beads. A gentle gust of wind sent chills running up and down his skin. His hands, like bare branches, clutched at empty air.


This story is a response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, to write a love story in less than 333 words that limits the use of explicit language, and without using any of these thirty-three words (or their variations) from this list:

Excluded words

If you have kids, you know what a challenge it is to write at all, let alone try to write a love scene in those briefs spaces between tantrums, cuddles and lunch. I managed to squeak this one in with 20 minutes to spare, mostly because I let the 3-year-old have the iPad for the last half-hour.

Deep Magic

FlameVernía placed a small bottle and a single cup on the table. She was nervous, Callum realized.

“I’ve drunk of Heart’s Desire before. I don’t understand how it will help us.” He gave his sister a wicked grin. “Unless, of course, you think I need a good lay.”

“Callum!” Vernía shook her head. “Any hedge witch can learn to make a basic Heart’s Desire, or Pluck, or what have you. But what you’ll get is a watered-down version of the real thing. A simple aphrodisiac or inhibition-lifter. No, the real thing – that’s deep magic. This,” she tapped the bottle, “this was prepared by the Blackthorne.”

“Ah.” Callum picked up the bottle and held it up to the lamp. The amber liquid inside seemed to glitter and swirl. He handed it back to his sister. Vernía broke the black wax seal and poured a careful third into a small cup.

“It was hellishly expensive,” she said. “I could only afford a gill. I hope it’s enough.”

Callum spun the cup in his fingers, then shrugged. He tossed the drink back and looked at Vernía. “Now what?” he asked. Or tried to ask. His tongue was suddenly thick, and the words seemed to lose themselves in his mouth. He was already fading into the dark.

He blinked several times before he realized that the dimness was due to his surroundings, not the drug. He stood at one end of a narrow hall lined with doors. Music and laughter drifted down from the far end: a taproom, from the sound of it. Halfway down the hall he could see a staircase leading up, and at the foot of the stairs, hanging from a bent nail, a lamp guttered with a dull red flame. Upstairs, a door shut with a soft click. Callum pressed himself back into the shadows as a golden-haired woman in a rose damask gown glided down the stairs toward the noise.


This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt.

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

deep adj \ˈdēp\

1 a : extending far downward <a deep well>

b (1) : extending well inward from an outer surface <a deep gash> <a deep-chested animal>
(2) : not located superficially within the body <deep pressure receptors in muscles>

2: having a specified extension in an implied direction usually downward or backward

3: difficult to penetrate or comprehend : recondite <deep mathematical problems>

More in the Sable Mark series can be found in previous posts: Need, Salt, Beast, The Other Sort of Need, Damask.

The Other Sort of Need

A different evening, long ago. Sweetness in a silver cup.

“Do you love me?” she asked as she drank, eyes afire.

Ah. A different desire, then; another sort of need. “I will tonight.”


This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  weekend prompt: write a love story in 33 words.  You are free to interpret that prompt however you wish, but your response must be 33 words exactly.

A little context can be found in a previous post: Need.