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IWSG – 03/01/17

  • Posted on March 1, 2017 at 12:15 am

There’s a lovely group of people who listen to my woes and comfort me every month, and this month I have the honor of giving back by co-hosting the lovely Insecure Writer’s Support Group. If you don’t know about this group or are relatively new, here’s how it works:

  1. Click on the picture
  2. Sign up
  3. Post a post every first Wednesday about your struggles as a writer, your triumphs as an author, and any encouragement you have to give others. (prompts are provided, most times.)
  4. Go and read about other’s struggles and comment with support!

When I was fourteen years old, I had a dream. To this day the only thing I can remember about the dream was that there was a sorcerer and a swordsman, and the swordsman ran the sorcerer through with his sword. He caught the dying sorcerer, and the sorcerer said to him, “You never could save me.”

That’s how two of the main characters of the Kurylian Saga were born. Others came afterward, but Yumil and Dirk were the ones who stuck around the most. I drew comics of them, I wrote short stories to myself. I even considered making a full-blown manga out of their adventure.

In the end, I settled on a book, and with the encouragement of my then-boyfriend, in 2013, I wrote the first draft of the Kurylian saga. The characters were wonky, the settings were forgettable, and the action was… well… inactive. I met my mentor, Chris Votey, and began work on the second draft. And then the third. And then I put it away for almost a full year, while I was homeless and running around my town trying to get my feet back under me.

Most recently, I’ve been struggling with a feeling of dejection. That the story I was telling was either not good enough, or that I, as a writer, didn’t have the skill to tell it. I absolutely drove myself mad over it to the point where I considered whether or not to scrap the book entirely and just move on.

I tried to do just that. I opened rough draft after rough draft. I tried different genres. I tried everything. But I always came back to Dirk and Yumil. The two of them needed their story told, and my fourteen-year-old-self was still in love with the way their world worked.

So I went to Chris and I asked him for help. As always, he gave me lovely lessons on world building, and how to use what I was learning in college in my writing. Then he set me the challenge of writing short fiction. Just real quick 500-750 word drabbles centered around one of the other characters in the story named Eamon.

Doing this unlocked something in me, and I found myself starting to get excited about the book again.

However, those doubts started niggling again. I couldn’t possibly be writing this right. I was obviously doing something wrong. Why was Eamon acting this way, when I had thought she was a more simple character?!

Chris came to me again and offered me the chance to analyze Dirk and Eamon, to see how they really ticked. I jumped on it, thinking that, as always, Chris must have some kind of reasoning behind it. And to be honest, I’m not the greatest at Character Profiling. Or world building. Or prose. Or, well you get the drift.

The first thing we did was sit down over voice chat, and he started asking me questions. I was instructed to answer the question three times. Once for Dirk, Once for Eamon, and Once for myself. I recognized the questions as being similar to an MBTI test I took and abandoned halfway through a long time ago.

For those who don’t know, MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a psychological profiling system. It’s become very fashionable lately to know what your MBTI is on Tumblr, so I’ve kind of been rolling my eyes at it as any kind of diagnostic tool. However, Chris is on the verge of something wonderful, so I went along with it.

Going through the questions made me think about things I’d never considered before. Was Eamon organized? Did Dirk like being in the center of crowds? Did either of them enjoy spending time outdoors or indoors more? The questions were thorough and difficult to answer.

Over the course of the questions, however, the two of them started to form more solidly in my head. These were real people I was talking about suddenly. Not characters in my mind, but people I knew more intimately (apparently) than I knew myself!

It got me to thinking, however, about the characters and how they were and what they were doing. I started asking myself questions about my other characters, like Yumil and Jorgan and Anelace. Were any of them wallflowers? Did any of them answer emails promptly? It made me feel more connected to the story, which suddenly made me want to write more on this behemoth that had already taken up four years of my life.

And then, a few days later, Chris said he had the results. And when we went over them, something amazing happened. It was more than just a confirmation of who the characters were. It was like Chris was reading to me a manual on the characters that I had dreamt up, loved, and written for years. They came alive on the paper, and their actions suddenly made SENSE.

Dirk adopted Jorgan because his emotions thrive on love and care, and children are love and care incarnate. Eamon feels pressure to be like her father because it’s difficult for her to be original because of her personality. Everything made sense. I wasn’t crazy. These characters really were like real live people.

More than anything, by getting to know these characters, by learning how they think, how they feel, and what their rich inner lives were like, I knew that I was doing the right thing. That I was the writer to tell their story. After all, if I could make a complex character that fit into a personality profile used by psychiatrists, how could I possibly be doing my story injustice? I hadn’t known that these profiles existed when I made Dirk. So I wasn’t copying.

I had known Chris was doing research on personality typing for character creation, and he had mentioned MBTI types as well as astrology. Now I couldn’t help but wonder if his research for that project was what he used to help me. He confirmed it, of course, when I asked him. I felt so privileged that he would share such a thing with me.

I was so giddy with elation I rushed out of our voice chat, leaving poor Chris behind,  just to write all of this down. So let me tell you, fellow writers. If you are lacking motivation, or if you feel like you aren’t good enough… Sit down with your characters. Get to know them. Learn their inner lives. Do these things, and you’ll find that you ARE a writer, you are a good one, and you can do this.

After all, they chose you to tell their story.

So get out there, and tell it.

By the way, the test Chris recommended I use to find out the other characters MBTI profiles is right HERE, so feel free to use it! I also recommend THIS WEBSITE for getting to know each MBTI type.

As an aside, next month I will be joining the Blogging A to Z Challenge, co-hosted by IWSG’s Alex Cavenaugh! Follow me now for awesome articles every day in april!

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Favorite Books

  • Posted on May 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Dirk

  •  The Tales of Sir Duodect, transcribed by Priest Bodelaire – An accounting of the great hero, his triumphs, and his vendetta against the BoneMan.
  • An Unabridged History of Sorciere by Danika Bleuwig. – A thick tome that describe the wars and politics of the countries that make up the continent of Sorciere, Kuryle, Shea, Durdil, and Thosfig.
  • Is Donato by Drata Imrun – A definition of how a prince is meant to behave, look, rule, and function in society in order to find peace within himself and peace with his people, written by a Durdilian noblewoman.

Yumil

  • Is Donato by Drata Imrun
  • An untitled black leather volume written by their master
  • Irveine’ The Beast Wife – A novel written by a Kurylian noblewoman. A young princess is cursed to be a hideous beast, until the day she can earn someone’s love.
  • A Treatise on Proper Gardening by Intir Lakayma – A Shaean gardener’s manual, which describes many way to cultivate plants and herbs in arid and often non-inviting locales.

Jorgan – Cannot read yet, however, he enjoy listening to others read, and looking at illuminations in the books.

Eamon

  • Is Donato by Drata Imrun
  • A Priest-Queen’s Role,  Translated by -ridiculously long list of names- -A book of poetic retellings of the history of Kuryle, based around it’s many Priest-Queens.
  • And She Broke by LaVire – LaVire is a penname for the most scandalous novelist in the continent. Her books end up everywhere, and they are filled with infamous descriptions of liaisons between women with almost no men present.

Lette

  • Irveine’s The Beast Wife
  • Irveine’s The Blackbird – Princess Ondine is turned daily into a crow, and during the night, she is kept like a queen by a sorcerer whom loves her obsessively. She meets her true love, and they escape together into the night, the sorcerer hot on their heels.
  • A Priest-Queen’s Role

Anelace

  • Is Donato by Drata Imrun
  • Durdilian History – Seven volumes compiled by numerous scholars and wise men.
  • The Book of Omens by Lady Andess do Extavir – the almanac by which Durdilian nobles follow to a tee, said to give good luck when followed, and horrible disaster when ignored. The book is reprinted every year with new information.

Espin

First Light

  • Posted on October 17, 2014 at 12:29 am

Memory is a fickle thing, inherently wrong, yet personal in the greatest of ways. All of our memories are biased, based upon information our mind stores and corrupts. Stories we tell ourselves become memories, despite never happening. Things that happened turn out a different way when we think back on them.

Most personal to us all, and most telling of whom we will become, is our very first memory. The first bit of light our mind stores away for us in the world. These memories hide from us, little snippets of time. And then, like magic, a scent, or a sound, the touch of a familiar fabric, or the hum of a certain frequency reminds us, and it comes crashing back like nothing was ever missing at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The prickly poking of hay. The scent of his mother, soft and creamy like milk just warmed up, and the sound of his father’s quiet voice. Later, Dirk would learn that the conversation was their first discussion about whether they should go back home to Thosfig, back to their tribe. His nose itched, and he rubbed his little fingers against it to make it go away.Noticing how sharp his little fingernails were, he curled them into his palms. Crickets chirped somewhere, and he could hear crackling, like fire. His eyes felt heavy, and he didn’t want to sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pain. Yumil remembered pain first. A too-tight grip of an adult hand around a small wrist. The red of lines cut into child-soft skin by fingernails dyed with pigment from berries.  Yumil remembers looking up at her, her tawny hair shining in the sunlight. She is beautiful, and frightful. She calls him a bad boy,voice hissing. Yumil feels his stomach twist and clench, fear climbing inside. She is angry, and to Yumil it’s as if she has always been angry and will always be angry. He finds anger burning inside himself to match, hot and terrifyingly close to tears.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She can’t remember the words anymore, but Eamon remembers the soft feeling of her mother’s chest. Her cheek fits against it perfectly. She remembers the hard push of her sister’s knee against her own leg, and the laugh in her mother’s voice. She recalls the lines of her sister’s hand and how it felt to rub her thumb along them until Lette shrieked with laughter, like it had tickled her. Eamon remembers how warm she felt, wrapped up in the two of them. A mix of flowers and cool water always brings this memory to her mind, and she smiles.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Grass tickling her nose, and a small round bug crawling along between the blades. Red like string scattering across her vision, as she was lifted from the earth. Her hand still reaching out for the little black bug, bigger hands tight against her ribs They squeezed a little painfully, but only enough to make her whine in the back of her throat. A murmur of her name, and Lette looks up. Her father’s green eyes smile down at her like the water of a murky lake. She smiles back, and giggles. His hand, scratchy with callouses, brushes back her hair.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blurs moving past him, dark things swimming around the edges of his vision. Espin remembers crying, crying so loud and so long that he was sure no one heard him. He remembers unpleasant smells, something he later knows is the smell of sickness and waste. He remembers the crying making it worse, stopping his nose and how panicked he felt. A cool hand on his forehead was all that kept him awake, and he cried, and cried. Sleep would be kinder. His stomach lurched, and he felt hotness sear his throat and splash out his lips. Nothing eases his pain.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her big brother’s back, warm and strong. Anelace was tied to it, she could feel the soft cloth against the back of her neck, feel the bounce of his step as he walked. He talked to her, telling her stories, and she burbled back to him. Her fingers found his coarse woven dreads, tugging for attention. She remembers how he smelt like sunshine and camels. He was so big, and strong, he carried her like she was smaller than an ant, and it made her feel small and she thought he must be the most powerful thing in the world.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was always angry. So angry. His mother was angry at him, yelling and screaming, and Jorgan hated yelling. He wanted to hide and forget. It made him cry, which made her so much angrier. She called him hurtful things he can’t remember later, things that might be true. Her palm struck his cheek, and his world went spinning. Pain blossomed in his jaw, his teeth rattling, as he toppled over. His cries came louder. The snap of a belt made his chest squeeze, and fear silenced him. His father’s footsteps, shaky and unstable, curled him into a tight ball.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What glimpse does this first light give?

photo courtesy of flickr.com

Friendship Blooms

  • Posted on June 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Dirk had been polishing his boots when it happened. The courtyard had been open and wide, and the breeze was nice, so he’d decided to clean his armor and check it over for damage there, instead of in the armory. Perhaps a bit of a foolish thing to do, but how could he say no to the bright sunshine? Sitting outside helped clear his head, as well, so that he could review the lessons that Althalos had beaten into him today.  His ribs still stung from the great wallop he’d received when his attention had swayed towards gods only know what earlier during their bouts together.

The incident that is being referred to turned out to only be the start of something horrible and rather humiliating for all parties involved. However, the best learning experiences, in Dirk’s limited view, tended to be just that. A little horrible, and very humiliating.  The only good thing that came of it, was that he learned a little more about his princess, and a little more about himself as well.

So if the bottom of his stomach dropped out at the sight of Second Princess Eamon storming towards him, it could be blamed on the fact that it wasn’t very often he was confronted with such a fearsome sight. Just last week, he’d watched her take an entire band of fifty some odd men down with only seven knights and a good plan. She’d waded into the battle herself, sword swinging as fast and as hard as any man, and he respected her for it. He was also mildly terrified of her for her ruthlessness when it came to battle itself. Her smile was that of a demon when she engaged an enemy, and worse if she knew she’d win. He wasn’t looking forward to whatever was making her grimace like that at him. “Sir Strausson!” She called, and his bones snapped into ready position before he had time to think about it, a muscle memory instilled through many hard raps to the shins by Althalos and all of his other teachers.

“You are to accompany me into the city today! Dress respectably, and be prepared to engage in wooing!”

Now, that threw him off, simply because he had no idea what she meant. “…Forgive me, your royal highness, but I don’t understand.”

“You’re going to woo me, Sir Strausson.” She declared, and Dirk felt his stomach shrivel into dust. He’d just broken up with Lady Ameliah last week, and he honestly wasn’t interested in going through that particular cycle with Princess Eamon as well. “I expect nothing less than your very best romantic endeavors, and I will not allow you to back down.”

“I-” Realizing that he had no chance of getting out of this was roughly the same as pulling teeth. “Yes, ma’am.”

Finding his way back inside, in a daze, he began getting ready. Wearing the same white shirt, the blue vest that Lady Ameliah had said brought out the blue in his eyes and the dark coal of his skin, he sighed, realizing that this was going to be a thorough, unmitigated disaster. Although… Well, to tell the truth, Eamon was so terrifyingly in control all the time, that most of the knights and lords called her “Lady Ironheart”. None of them would approach her. And since Dirk had apparently scared away every person who had professed interest in him, he thought that perhaps this was what his circumstances lead to. As Lady Ameliah said when she had declared their relationship over, Dirk was just too uptight.

Perhaps he needed someone just as uptight as he was, that way he would be matched. Eamon was a brilliant person, and a lovely woman. If it weren’t for her overbearing need to be the best, perhaps she’d have more suitors. Pulling on his best boots, he laced them thoughtfully . Honestly, he thought that Lady Eamon was just fine as she was. But perhaps she was lonely?

Well, anyone would be lonely, after seeing their twin so happily engaged. Ever since the letter with her ring had come, First Princess Lette had been walking on air. Perhaps Princess Eamon was simply jealous of her sister? Oh, who was he to speculate anyway. He knew next to nothing of the ways of other’s hearts. He was clueless, himself, and if he felt an itch occasionally to have another next to him, the warmth of another person sharing his life, he usually found ways to ignore it. Usually by reading, or studying, or riding. Or sometimes, by speaking with Jorgan in the kitchens. The boy was surprisingly good at clearing Dirk’s head, and it was nice. Although that brought him to the thought of what he should do to please Lady Ironheart during their outing. Was she expecting him to take the lead in this? Most of the other ladies he’d been with had expected as such. Some, however, had always lead him around like he was some small dog on a leash. That had been about as annoying as the expectations, actually. He gave another sigh, heading out.

Stopping by the kitchen, he gave Jorgan a quick squeeze. The russet haired apprentice grumbled, and shoved him, but smiled a little more, which made Dirk’s day. Packing a basket full of food, just in case, he gave the sleeping cook a small glare, before heading out. Picking a good horse, he started saddling it up.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The princess’s voice called from behind him, and he bit back a groan, and turned around. And had to stare for a few moments, because… She was wearing a DRESS. He’d been under the impression that Eamon HATED dresses. He’d never seen her in one. Not really. It… didn’t really look right on her. She looked out of place, and rather uncomfortable, although he had to admit, the curled ringlets of her hair made her face look quite more ladylike than usual. That was nice. He supposed.

“I’m preparing our outing? I thought perhaps a picnic at the top of the hill leading to the Temple?” He offered, knowing it to be the most beautiful and supposedly romantic place in the entire city. Several of the others whom had asked him to court them had demanded he take them there. He’d recently just started taking everyone there on the first outing. Easier that way.

“No! You’re going to take me to the theater. And then, we are going to the Tree of Bloom.” She declared, one finger in the air, as if ticking off boxes on a list. “After that, you will take me to my rooms, and we will have a kiss.” Her face turned a deep red and he felt his own cheeks heat in response. Kissing was never his favorite thing. Ever. Too wet, and too… well, close. Plus, the smell of another’s breath tended to make him just a little ill. But he couldn’t argue with a Princess.

“As you wish.” And that was how he found himself strolling along the venues of the city, the crowds of people pressing around them. Eamon strode through, her skirts just as sure as her armor for keeping people out of her way. Dirk felt like he was her bodyguard instead of her date, and it was legitimately humbling. The set of her shoulders was the same as when she was waging war, and Dirk respected her for it. So when she stopped in front of a building, and held out her arm in an odd angle, he was puzzled as to what exactly she wanted.

“Well? Go on! Take my arm, and let’s go inside!” Doing exactly that lead him into a room filled with hushed whispers and draping curtains, with people spread out all over, and chairs everywhere. The Princess strode forward and into the best seats in the house. Ignoring the protests of the people who had been moving towards them, she sat, fiddling with her skirts as if they were in the way. He sat down next to her, the chair rough and badly made. Clearly this was not a royal theater in any way. The candles around them flickered with everyone’s movement, and Dirk wondered if this is what it feels like to be smothered in bad taste.

“The show is called ‘Pan in Darkness’.” Eamon explained, and her voice this low made it hard to remember that she commanded armies with that voice. “It’s a love story about a fae child and the local prince’s bride to be. Lette says that it’s a must-see.”

“Ah. She recommended it then?” He asked, a little curious. Since he’d been assigned to guard one or the other of the princesses every once in a while, it was a little odd to see them together. Mostly due to their different obligations. Lette being a Priestess of Vell and Eamon a Knight of the Realm, they didn’t exactly coincide very often. He wondered if it was because they were sisters that they found time to spend together. He wondered, if he’d had any siblings, would he have worked so hard to spend time with them? He felt as if he was forgetting something… But the curtain rose, drawing his attention.

Eamon was right. The play was rather heartfelt. But Dirk really could have done without the awkward make-outs in the middle of the scene that was supposed to be romantic. He wasn’t happy really with it, but then again, who was he to say what was right in this sort of thing. He noticed Eamon looked just as bored as he was, really, rolling her eyes and huffing more sighs than a sleepy dog. Not that he would ever compare his Princess to a dog. That… wouldn’t end well.

On the way out, however, he caught her mumbling to herself, “About time.” He paused, and nodded, and agreed with her, which sent her cheeks red again. She stormed off towards the palace garden, and Dirk followed, a little confused as to what the point of all of this was. Was Princess Eamon really interested in having a relationship with him? He didn’t think so… At least she wasn’t asking him to hold her hand or anything. He didn’t mind holding hands, in fact, it was kind of nice. But he was wary. Holding hands usually meant they wanted him to kiss them, and he really, really just didn’t want to deal with that.

The gardens were verdant and green, and they smelled lovely like fresh rain. He wondered if that was because of rain-spells, or if it had rained while they were in the theater. He found that Lady Eamon slowed down quite a bit, when on the garden paths. She contemplated the flowers slowly as they moved, her skirts brushing the leaves. He had to admit, she was lovely, in a way different from her sister, or even from her mother. The faint silver lines of scars along her arms, the firm muscle of them in the silk sleeves. He knew he’d find callouses similar to his own on her fingers, were he to look.

If he were honest, he really admired her. She trained as hard as he ever had, and she had become someone irreplaceable to the people of Theon, and to Kuryle itself. But Dirk would prefer to have her as a friend, as a fellow knight, than to lose her, like he inevitably did whenever he courted someone. He should put a stop to this… Ah. Wait, she’d stopped.

The Tree of Bloom rose over their heads, limbs heavy with leaves that stayed green all year round. The wood pulsed with beautiful light, rainbowed and dizzying up the trunk. He couldn’t stop gazing at it. The Tree was very famous. Couples from all over the country pilgrimage to this place, to stand before the tree. Only four times has the blossoms ever opened, the blooms always tightly shut. It is said that when they do open, they shine a beautiful light, different each time. The most famous of times this happened is said to be whenever Priest-Queen Lishtaire and her Knight Templar Althalos visit the garden together. As such, it has become the norm to say that the tree identifies and shines in the presence of soul mates. Ones who were meant to be together forever are blessed by the tree.

It wasn’t as if it was the end all be all, of course. Just a romantic rumor. And as Eamon stood, staring up at the branches, he wondered if he was supposed to do or say something.

“It’s beautiful.” He offered, an olive branch of conversation.

“Yes.” She sighed, “More so when it blooms.” Ah, he’d forgotten. She would have seen that, wouldn’t she? After all, it was her mother and father the tree bloomed for. He smiled, and took a step forward, to her side.

“I don’t think… that this is a good idea.” He started, trying to make this less awkward. He didn’t get the chance to finish, however, because she reached up, and with hands as strong as his own, fisted his shirt, and yanked. Her lips met his, and it was a kiss. Just as wet and foul and thick as he was used to, a pressing of lips to lips, and that was it. It meant nothing, and he barely had time to get the disgust off his face before she pulled back.

“…” She sighed, and let him go, which was a relief to him. “…I thought perhaps that, since father likes you, and you’re a very kind man, we could make it work.” Her tongue licks her lips, “But that kiss was just…”

“Sort of horrible?” He prompted, his lips quirking into a bit of amusement. “That’s how my kisses usually go. If you’d asked any of my previous paramours, you’d know. Lady Ameliah grew angry enough to break out courting simply because I can’t kiss well.” Well, it was more complicated than that, but that was the basic point of it, he thought.

“…I think it has more to do with your being male.” She explained. “I had no problems kissing Lady Nonna last week. I…I think I enjoy the company of ladies more.”

He wondered if this was true, or if she was just saying it to try and make him feel better. Honestly, he didn’t really care. He was just relieved he wouldn’t have to deal with the cycle of abject disappointment again, only this time with someone he respected. He smiled, and set his hand on her shoulder.

“If that’s the case, then I would still like to offer my friendship. I see no reason why we can’t get along.” He offered. And when she smiled up at him, he could see her mother in her. It warmed his heart, and he found yet another person he would do just about anything for.

Greener Pastures (for Goats)

  • Posted on April 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm

“Goats? You brought me here-” The pale sorcerer swept hands out and used them to indicate the expanse of green grass and hills, “To show me goats.”

Dirk gave a bit of a sigh, and smiled, ruefully. Even on good days, Yumil was still judgemental and easily annoyed. It surely didn’t help that one of the little bastards had decided to chew on that long black hair either. The Knight rescued the lock from it’s unwelcome attendant, and settled his arm around Yumil’s shoulder. It seemed to settle his partner, and that was always welcome. Yumil had a firey temper, and a love of elemental magic powerful enough to blow up small mountains. Dirk would be lucky to escape if this turned south.

“No. I brought you here to give you a gift, and to get away from the capital for a bit. We’ve been working hard, and…” Dirk swallowed, unsure if he should really give this bit away, knowing how Yumil was with this sort of thing. “And I wanted to spend some time with you.”

The stare he got was incredulous. Golden eyes searched him over for any sign that he was lying, any  indicator that he was setting up some cruel trick. He wished he could take that sort of fear away from Yumil, but after so many long years in servitude, the mage was too long used to it. Yumil was born into torment, and everyone thereafter just let the sorcerer down, one way or another. It was tragic, and Dirk ached to fix it. So, instead of letting Yumil stew in such feelings, he pulled out the package. He’d had to ask several of his acquaintances for help, including the Priest-Queen herself, and while Lishtair had been busy, she had offered invaluable advice to this end. He was hopeful that it would suit Yumil’s tastes.

Slender hands took the package, and unwrapped the linen inside from it’s soft yellow paper. The ribbon, a bright crimson, disappeared, and Dirk had no doubt he would see it in Jorgan’s hair, at some point soon. Dark eyebrows quirked, and fingers unfolded the cloth. The sharp gasp of breath felt like a treat to the knight, as Yumil realised what it was.

“This… This is beautiful…” The sorcerer held the dress up against the thin body, and smiled a small, wibbly smile. “Why would you…”

“Because I saw it, and thought you’d look amazing in it.” Dirk answered, giving an unaffected shrug. It was easy to get out, considering how many times he’d practiced it in the mirror. Truthfully, he’d hunted for that dress for weeks, along with Eamon and her partner, Anelace helping. Those girls were a lifesaver. The ruffles at the chest and sleeves would look perfect, and lend femininity to what little masculinity was clinging to Yumil. The long flowing skirt would help add to the mage’s hips. It was perfect, and in a shade of light lavender that would look beautiful on his skin. Dirk was proud of himself for this.

At least, he was, until Yumil teared up, sniffling. He watched as the darkest mage of the century held a dress to a thin, sobbing chest, and cried. Unsure what he’d done wrong, he swallowed, and wrapped his arm around Yumil once again. “Come now, look, you’re scaring away the goats.”

Indeed, the goats were wandering off, towards somewhere else, some other greener pasture, and when Yumil looked up, and smiled at Dirk, the thosfigian man thought perhaps, they were too.

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