Crystal fire and water, p.1
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       Crystal, Fire and Water, p.1

           Joanna Gawn
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Crystal, Fire and Water


  Crystal, Fire and Water

  An Introduction to

  The Lazuli Portals

  Joanna Gawn

  with

  Ron C. Dickerson

  © 2013 Joanna Gawn

  Introduction

  What this book is . . . and what it is not

  At its heart, this book is an introduction to the work of Joanna Gawn and Ron Dickerson, two best friends who write and publish as The Lazuli Portals.

  When we began writing together, our aim was to write a story we wanted to read – this evolved into our first novel, The Cordello Quest. Committing the first words to paper unleashed the long-suppressed passion we share for writing – and now storytelling is as essential to us as breathing!

  Joining a local Writers’ Circle has meant that we regularly produce 1000-word short stories (some far longer). Together with the tiny tales we write when taking part in Friday Fictioneers (published on our blog) and for our Creations Newsletters, we have begun to acquire quite a lot of material!

 

  Our first anthology of short stories, The House of the Stormwind, was published in March 2013, and a second compilation is underway. At the time of writing, we are also completing the first draft of our second Lazuli Portals novel: Mosaic of Light.

  We wanted to offer you a book completely free of charge, something that will enable those of you unfamiliar with our work to have a taste, and to see if you like the flavour . . . this is that book.

  Whether you like the 100-word flash fiction tales, the slightly longer 300- to 400-word stories or the 1000-word short stories (or even all of them!), we hope there is something here that you will enjoy. 

  NOTE:

  Some of these pieces – those in the flash fiction category - have been published on our blog, along with the photographs that inspired them. Therefore those tiny tales are already visible to anyone who happens to visit us there.

  The Creations stories and poems have only been published to those on our mailing list.

  The short stories are brand new.

  CONTENTS

  Creations and a Bitesize Tale

  Three Matches

  Dancing Light

  The Crystal Cave

  Yin and Yang

  Flash Fiction ~ fourteen solo or duet tales of around 100 words or less

  Moon and Sky

  A Cordello Memory

  Tideline Transition

  The Horn of Truth

  The Old Mine

  The Angel Thinks

  Expect the Unexpected

  Left Behind

  First Day on the Job

  The Day Edward Met Helene

  Spanning the Globe

  Sun, Sea and Sphinx

  Preying for Love

  Solitude

  Short Stories

  The Restoration of Conover House

  Sunrise

  Delights of the Dart

  The Haunting of Melton Grange

  About the Authors

  Creations and our first Bitesize Tale

  The first three stories were written for our ‘Creations’ newsletter subscribers. The Bitesize Tale was written for our blog readers.

  ~~*~~

  Three Matches

  “You only have three matches,” the man announced. “Use them wisely.” He turned the key in the lock behind him as he left. The light was snapped off, leaving me marooned in the blackness. Heart plummeting, legs weak, I sank into the chair. Trapped. The only person who could get me out of this was me.

  I lit the first match, a quivering glow of light leaping around the small room’s walls. It wasn’t long before the flame burned my fingers, the match dropping uselessly to the tiled floor. The darkness seemed even deeper than before.

  I willed myself to sit in the darkness for a while, to let it become my friend rather than my enemy. I could see nothing - but that didn’t mean I needed to be scared, did it? It was just like closing my eyes; the room was still there, unchanged. Only my perception was different.

  In response, my hearing sharpened. There was a scuffling in the corner. Rats?

  When I could bear it no longer, I ignited the second match and peered towards the noise. Small black shapes milled around, tumbling over each other with fluid grace. A gap appeared; I could see the hole they were using to bring nesting material inside.

  “Ouch!” I cried, the flame singeing my fingertips. The spent match slipped from my hand, darkness wrapping around me once again. I took a deep breath. Only one match left. Carefully, I moved towards the rats. My timing would have to be perfect. I struck the match, and the animals fled with high squeals. Grabbing the bundle of straw they’d been using, I set it aflame. Holding it high above me, I blew on the blazing straw, fanning the flames wider and higher, sending smoke billowing throughout the room.

  The smoke alarm pealed and the door was flung open. Crouching low to the floor, below the smoke, I scrambled out, straight into the man’s legs. He grabbed my arms, lifting me upright.

  He smiled his approval.

  “Well done,” he grinned. “You passed that challenge with flying colours. Are you ready for the next one?”

  “Bring it on!” I replied.

  © Joanna Gawn

  ~~*~~

  The fire from the past still remains

  Though darker and dimmed by the year

  It guides, it answers and misleads

  As memories mix and appear

  The flame of today burns so bright

  As source is consumed in its path

  The flicker shows end is in sight

  Rejoice in the light and the warmth

  Don’t rush to the future bemused

  In time the glow will all catch

  Keep safe, keep dry, keep unused

  The potent from belief will sure match

  © Ron C. Dickerson

  Dancing Light

  The June sun is strong, powerful, forcing its way beyond the canopies of the woodland trees, sending Impressionistic reflections shuddering across the water. Keira’s attention is held wholly by the lush lime-green of the leaves mirrored in the pool’s surface.

  Keira’s focus fascinates Jason. She sees things he cannot, and he feels a flicker of envy. Her gifts take her on paths he cannot follow, leaving him behind when he wants to be at her side. Guiltily, he pushes the feeling away, knowing that Lady Aida would simply tell him to accept what is, without resistance or fear. He sighs; he misses his one-time guide, her wisdom and her dry wit. He’d really felt a connection with her.

  Searching for a positive feeling, he finds appreciation for the moment they are in, glad that he can share this quiet time with his fiancée without any other distractions or drama.

  Looking about him, Jason realises that the air is motionless, and it occurs to him that time has paused for them, just like it did in the stone circle. He sighs again, louder than he’d intended, and Keira looks up.

  “Are you ok?” she asks.

  “Yes, fine,” Jason answers, smiling.

  Keira sits back on her knees, and beckons him closer. “Look! Can you see it?”

  Jason stares at the water, wondering what he’s supposed to be looking for. “Give me a clue, Keira?”

  She winds an arm around his waist, pulling him nearer. She whispers, “Just there. Far side of the pool. The way the light moves, sparkles. Just watch.”

  His breath hitches. He sees it. Tiny, silver dancing light, or . . . something. “What is it?” he murmurs.

  “Lovelight,” his Keira responds reverently. “Energy made visible, right here, in our own world!”

  Their eyes meet, sparkle reflecting sparkle, matching excitement and understanding.

  This tale is based on
our first novel, The Cordello Quest.

  © Joanna Gawn

  The Crystal Cave

  A chill spiralled through me as I peered into the cave. It was so dark inside, yet I could see random twinkles of light flashing like tiny stars, as though fireflies were darting between the ancient crystalline formations.

 

  Each flickering point of light empowered my need to explore the cave. It was as though I was being invited inside to seek out the lights . . . and to follow them.

 

  Would they lead me to another dimension? Or was this lovelight, here in my own world? I had to know. There was no question of me walking away - synchronicity had led me here.

 

  Holding my breath, I stepped between the blunt jaws of the translucent rocks and allowed the light to guide me.

  This tale is based on our first novel, The Cordello Quest.

  © Joanna Gawn

  ~~*~~

  Drawing dark with no depth within

  Crimson, aqua, verdigris does streak

  From point to point, just hiding sin?

  Or more, beyond, whence deep violet leak

  To venture and gain, or stay safe and lie?

  Colours fast do speed with image contain

  Bounce ear to ear, held fast centred eye

  Draw strong; draw in no chance to feign

  I reach and fail yet try once more

  The gift is their and mine to hold?

  Swift and strong they come to the fore

  Protectors swell the charge foretold

  Protect; secure; hold fast that hue

  To feel their fear of loss and fail

  “Be safe” I send, I want my due

  They know they feel it is my grail.

  © Ron C. Dickerson

  Yin and Yang (a Bitesize Tale)

  Yves threw a stone into the lake. It pierced the surface of the still waters, sending ripples feathering across the expanse.

  Yvette scowled. “Oh, Yves! Why did you do that? I could see the mountains reflected in the water. It was beautiful.” She sighed. Her twin was always the same, always disrupting, always changing things and making noise.

  Yves shrugged. “And now you have ripples, and movement, and the mirrored mountains are jagged and fractured. It’s still good.”

  “Maybe to you. But I preferred it when it was flat and calm: the water quiet and the image fixed.”

  Yves smiled, a hint of sadness in his eyes. “Darling Yvette . . . nothing remains fixed forever. It will always change. And change can be good.”

  Yvette wasn’t sure how to answer. She watched as the ripples dispersed, as the lake regained its former composure. She knew change was inevitable. Nonetheless she was happier when things were ordered, well-behaved.

  “There,” whispered Yves, a few moments later. “You have your stillness back.”

  “Until next time,” she muttered, throwing a dark look towards her brother.

  In uneasy silence, they sat side-by-side, gazing at the water, the mountains solid and sturdy, with fuzzy cloaks of green and grey, the vast blue sky striped with high cloud. The sun was eclipsed momentarily, leaving the air cool, and Yvette shivered.

  Yves leaned back on his arms, studying the scene thoughtfully. “What about sunshine, Yvette?”

  She started. “What do you mean?”

  “Do you like it? Rainbows, too?”

  “Yes, of course!”

  “Well then. But you do not like rain?”

  “Not particularly.” Where was Yves going with these questions?

  “Well then,” her brother said, as though everything was as clear as the lake. “Without rain, you would not appreciate the warmth and glow of the sunlight. Without storms, you would not appreciate the magic and beauty of the rainbow. Do you not see? Contrast is essential for gratitude and appreciation.”

  Yvette stared at her brother. Twins, yes, but so different in temperament. She’d always thought that was due to the fact he was male, unable to fully understand her. Now she wondered whether he was a rain-cloud to her rainbow, too. A means for her to understand life more deeply. A rush of affection charged through her and she reached out to him and hugged him.

  “What’s this for?” Yves laughed, holding her close.

  “Just for being you,” she said simply. “For being Yves to my Yvette, for being my contrast.”

  Yves squeezed her tight. “That’s why I’m me, and you’re you. We’re Yin and Yang.”

  © Joanna Gawn

  Flash Fiction

  These tiny tales have been written as part of Friday Fictioneers, a group of writers from around the world who get together to create and share stories and poems based on a photo prompt. If you like writing, come and join us!

  We do not own the copyright for those photos, so have not reproduced them in this book.

  Some of our pieces are intended to be read as a duet.

  ~~*~~

  Moon and Sky

  Wind howled, sending chills parading up my spine. How had I got here? Where was here? My hands brushed against fabric, identifying pyjamas, my blue robe. Shivering in the cold, I felt lost and vulnerable.

  Rustling nearby, then a whisper. The moon teased the clouds, illuminating a dark figure not five feet in front of me. I whimpered, turned to run. An arm snaked around my waist and I tensed, jerking away, crashing into brambles. The moon retreated, leaving me blind. Stumbling, a sob broke free from my dry throat.

  “We have to get her back inside.” The words were torn away by a gust of wind.

  It was so cold. I felt slow, confused. “Mrs Holloway!” came a cry. “Oh, there you are. Come on, love, it's time we got you back to bed.”

  Lost, I allowed myself to be led. And then I remembered. This is my home, now. The memory slithered away, leaving me confused and ....

  © Joanna Gawn

  A Cordello Memory

  From the glistening meadow, a rainbow stretched wide into the never-ending sky. Within moments, my memories overlaid the present and I was back in Cordello, hearing the relentless hiss of the waterfall. I remembered the sacred, secret space behind the plunging cascade: the concealed rock ledge, and the tunnels and caves that had tested me.

  In the world of my memory, ageless rock surrounded me, glimmers of shifting, ancient symbols gentle reminders of my past.

  Opening my eyes, I returned to my own world, and smiled. There was a lot of magic still to come.

  This tiny tale is based on our first novel, The Cordello Quest.

  © Joanna Gawn

  Tideline Transition

  Tania concealed herself behind the dune, eyes fixed on the buzzard perched high in the black-fingered tree. She knew it was important that she remain silent.

  Swooping gracefully, the bird touched down like a kiss upon the silver-black sand.

  Wings stretched wide, as though embracing the hard grey sky, the bird let out a piercing cry. Tania shivered at the inhuman sound.

  Waves fluttered at the tideline, timid and unsure.

  The bird's outline flickered, its form gaining transparency, glassy like the ocean.

  Transition! Tania exhaled her relief, ran to meet the man emerging from the powerful wings. Daddy was home!

  © Joanna Gawn

  The Horn of Truth

  With gasping breaths, Alena turned to Kaden hovering nearby. The tree's energy-field was stronger than expected.

  "I can't lift the Horn - it's too heavy!" Her wings fluttered, twisting in the whirling air.

  "Let me," he offered. If he could retrieve the Horn of Truth, he'd be a hero – to his family, to his Alena.

  The tree's rough, crackly bark grasped at his clothing, seeking to entrap with ancient fingers of distrust. Clinging, tightening. Pressure, imprisonment.

  Determined, straining, he fought free.

  His fingertips touched the Horn. Teasing it loose, it slid into his arms. They raced the wind home.

  © Joanna Gawn

  ~~
*~~

  Alena looked up at Kaden in awe as he hovered confidently between the boughs and reached toward the Horn of Truth.

  Her hero! And her choice.

  With a gasp he lifted the horn, and gazed longingly at his Princess with dreamy eyes. Would this persuade the King to accept him? She really was extraordinarily beautiful!

  He fluttered down, not breaking the look between them, and placed the horn at her feet. Then, ever so carefully, he placed a kiss on her cheek.

  Would this secure their future - and with it the future of the Kingdom?

 
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