Tag Archives: vernía

Ghosts of Desire

Candle smoke

The first thing he made her do was burn the gown. She tore the beautiful rose silk into narrow strips and fed them, one by one, into the flames. It smelled like burning hair. When he wasn’t looking, she tucked a scrap of cloth into the pocket of the too-large linen trousers he had given her to wear.

That was three days ago. This morning her dreams woke her early, and when the sun finally broke over the hills, the ruddy dawn found her sitting by the window. She fingered the strip of silk and thought about fire until the sound of voices in the hall disturbed her.

“When did she arrive?” The woman’s voice was familiar.

“The morning after the Blackthorne left. Bright and early, just like you. She reeked of apple.” His voice was carefully devoid of curiosity, but she could sense his disapproval.

“Ah. Well. We did find her in one of the salons.” A pause. “We weren’t certain this was where she needed to be. I had hoped – that is, I know you’ve had experience with this sort of thing. You don’t mind, do you? I think it’s terribly important – ”

“Aye.” He cut her off. “Aye, I do mind. A little warning would have been a fine courtesy. But I will help her.”

Footsteps outside her door. A soft knocking, almost hesitant. “Seonid?” Martin called. “There’s someone here for you.”

She blew out the candle and watched the smoke trail away, its eddies and curls writhing like the ghosts of desire. Her body flushed with a remembered heat that had nothing to do with the drift of brittle black ashes on the hearth. She had finally placed the woman’s voice.

The taste of honey strong on her tongue, Seonid opened the door.


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:

trail verb \ˈtrāl\

1 a:  to hang down so as to drag along or sweep the ground
b:  to extend over a surface in a loose or straggling manner <a vine that trails over the ground>
c:  to grow to such length as to droop over toward the ground

2 a:  to walk or proceed draggingly, heavily, or wearily : plod, trudge
b:  to lag behind : do poorly in relation to others

3:  to move, flow, or extend slowly in thin streams <smoke trailing from chimneys>

More in the Sable Mark series can be found in previous posts.

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.

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.

Need

Heart's Desire, or NeedSunshine flooded her face. It tasted like honey and coriander. She put a hand to her head and opened her eyes. Seonid lay in a large field of wildflowers, mountains looming all around, and the air was crisp and fresh. She blinked and sat up.

Well. This had never happened before. Usually she found herself in a stranger’s bed, and very occasionally, in her own.

Heart’s Desire, he had called it. His sister had called it Need. Not quite the same thing, Seonid knew. They served it in tiny silver cups no bigger than the tip of her thumb.  She had been surprised to see something so illicit in the back room of one of the most respectable establishments in town. It was something special, reserved for the best customers only, they said. She had heard of it, of course, but never thought to taste it herself. Her mouth still sparkled from the wine she had been drinking earlier.

She took a cup. “It smells of… What is it?” she had asked.

“What is the scent of your heart’s desire? What flavor need?” he had countered, handing a second cup to his sister.

“None for yourself?” She was surprised.

He shook his head. “I already had mine. It led us to you, after all,” he added, with the barest hint of a leer. He poured himself a glass of wine instead.

It was barely a mouthful, but the effect was almost immediate. She felt her spirit lift up as her body relaxed against the divan. He had caught her, of course, lowered her gently into the cushions. A wash of warmth, golden and apple-sweet like the liqueur itself. Through the falling curtain she heard voices.

“Will she do?”

“I think so. But if not…” He paused. “Well, it will still be a pleasant evening, in that case.”

A clink of metal on wood as his sister set the cup down. She leaned in close. “When you wake,” she had breathed, “come find us. Ask for the Sable Mark.”  The woman’s voice had been indistinct, and Seonid wasn’t certain she understood.

She stood now among the wildflowers and saw the barest trace of a path. In the distance, a narrow plume of smoke rose in a straight line. She set off to see where her need had brought her.


This post was made in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge:

Four hundred words or less, fiction or creative non-fiction, linked up on Friday morning’s post, based on one of the following definitions:

flavor |ˈflāvər| ( Brit. flavour)
noun

  1. the distinctive quality of a particular food or drink as perceived by the taste buds and the sense of smell : the chips come in pizza and barbecue flavors.
  2. the general quality of taste in a food : no other cracker adds so much flavor to cheese or peanut butter.
  3. a substance used to alter or enhance the taste of food or drink; a flavoring : we use vanilla and almond flavors.
  4. [in sing.] figurative an indefinable distinctive quality of something : this year’s seminars have a European flavor.
  5. [in sing.] figurative an indication of the essential character of something : the extracts give a flavor of the content and tone of the conversation.