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Velvet Village’s most entertaining grandmother sat in her rocking chair, children cluttering her porch. A lakeborn boy had come to visit, and her grandson had brought him to ask a question, for she never turned away questions from visitors, and they usually led to stories. And all the children loved stories.

“Come on, Cowrie, ask her a question!”

The small boy looked down, so she leaned forward and smiled encouragingly. “That’s a nice name. So, Cowrie, what would you like to know?”

“Why…” he trailed off and her grandson nudged him encouragingly. “Why are we all different?”

“According to legend, there was a time when all humans were the same, all walkers, no flyers or swimmers or delvers”.

Her grandson gaped—he’d not heard this before. “You mean, no windborn or lakeborn?”

The old woman nodded. “And no seaborn, or woodborn, or the others.”

One of the children wrapped her tail around the old woman’s ankle. “No…Fireborn?”

“Well, now, there’s different versions of the legend. Some say that the fireborn have always been among us, and that it was by their doing that the different forms of humans came into being. Others say it was the fireborn’s meddling that caused the Gods to scatter us to all the ecos of the world. Still others say that our varied forms were a special blessing of the Gods, and the fireborn, and the shifters too, came into existence as part of that blessing.”

“Fireborn are scary.” This from a solemn-eyed child clad only in her own wings and blonde fur.

The old woman didn’t contradict the girl. “Have you ever met a fireborn?”

The girl stepped back. “I wouldn’t want to!”

“I have.”

There was a rustling, as the children reacted, some leaning forward, some stepping back, one landborn boy playing with the fringe on his shirt. But it was clear that now she had all of their attention.

The blonde windborn girl voiced their question. “What was he—or she—like?”

The old woman settled into her seat, adopting the formal storyteller’s erect position, and spread her hands, “He was a small man, woodborn like me, with fur mottled in greys and browns. Neither handsome nor ugly, though he had a nice smile.” The smile had transformed him, she remembered, though mostly he looked sad. If he’d smiled more, he might have been thought comely. Almost like it was an afterthought, after a careful pause, she added, “He made puppets.”

“You mean he made them dance without string?”

“I suppose he could do that too, though I never saw it.” She smiled and waved a hand, dismissively, “No, I mean he carved puppets, and attached the strings. He did a little bit of showing them, but mostly for customers, or children. He wasn’t an actor.” She waved her hand toward the puppet stage on the square. “Not like Sarai.”

“He couldn’t make them come alive?”

“Well, he could show you how to make one wave it’s hand, or bob it’s head, or curl it’s tail around a stick and drop down and hang like Todd is doing over there—“ she gestured toward the woods, where older children were playing. “But it was all businesslike". She dropped her voice to imitate him. “You hold your hand like this, and wiggle your wrist like so, and see—“ She pantomimed, as if she were the peddlar, “Come on, child, step up, you can do this. You hold it like so, and turn your hand like—no, no, if you try to flip it over your head, you’ll tangle the strings!”

Most of the children giggled. But the little windborn girl frowned. “He sounds ordinary.”

“He was ordinary, mostly anyway.” She remembered him smiling at her, giving her a bouquet of flowers carved of exotic wood. They had been beautiful, and she had dreamed—

“Then how do you know he was fireborn?”

“Well, he usually walked into town with a pack full of puppets, and other wood carvings, spoons and bowls and dolls, taking his time and greeting everyone. But one time he came running in, fast, with no pack, not even his belt and carving knives. As soon as he reached the first boys playing in the woods, he yelled at them to “hurry, warn everyone get out of the village, get everyone, and food and supplies, away to Thistle Island. A fire is coming”, he said, “a terrible fire”.

The boys saw no evidence of fire, but flew to tell their elders, who dithered about until he arrived, breathless, in the town. He ran right up to the Mayor, not Mayor Arawn, but the one before him, Mayor Jann. “Fire”, he panted, “Fire from the mountain, in just a couple of hours. Warn everyone, and warn the lake people too, this lake might not be safe.”

It was clear that Jann had questions, but the puppetmaker leapt into a tall tree, climbed so high it was swaying, and started to sing.

Now, we’d never heard him sing. It was beautiful, and distracting, and clouds began to gather over the village. It was then that we realized he was fireborn. Jann issued orders, and everyone scurried to gather food, clothing, bedding, valuables, as much as we could carry as far as Thistle Island. Sarai, who was a child at the time, set off running to warn the herders; and the windborn among us took air to warn their fellows, and the lakeborn. Someone started to lug water toward her house, and the peddlar broke off his song, briefly, “I’ll wet the town down, though I don’t know if it will help. You folks get out of here.” And we did, as fast as we could, carrying babies and old Auntie Trisi, who could barely walk.” She paused to take a drink.

“What happened?”

“The mountain’s top blew off, throwing rock and steam and molten rock high into the air. That set the forest afire, or maybe it was the stream of red, molten rock that flowed into the western edge of the lake that did that.”

“Where the black rock is now!”

“Yes, exactly.”

“But rock doesn’t melt.”

“It does if it gets hot enough.”

The boy with the fringe on his shirt spoke up, “It’s called a volcano.”

“You’re right, Doumbek. But we didn’t know our Mountain is a volcano back then.”

“What happened to the village?”

“Well, the peddler had got it raining, but even so the village ended up covered in black ash. And a great deal of the forest burned, along with the houses that were nearest the trees.”

“None of our houses are near trees!”

“We decided to keep a firebreak between the houses and the trees, after that, Sami.”


“But what about the fireborn?”

“He showed up at Thistle Island, all covered in soot and with burnt hands, helping Sarai and the herders with the sheep and goats. He was crooning to the sheep, and they kept moving forward, though their eyes were wild. That must have been magic too, to keep the sheep from bolting, silly critters that they are.”


“Well, Mayor Jann made a quite a show of thanking him, of course, since every person and critter in the village was still alive, and we even still had the paintings and flutes and gitars. But people were afraid of him now. No one wanted to sit next to him. He left, saying he had to check on other people, shortly after dinner, but I think he didn’t like having people looking afraid of him.” Her voice cracked as she remembered her own fear, how she had avoided his gaze.

“Did you see him again?”

“Once. He came by with his pack the next year.” He had come to see her, but she had refused to speak with him. “Only a couple of people bought any of his carvings, though, and they kept their children away from him. Only Mayor Jann dared to offer him a place to sleep, and then the Mayor’s wife and baby went to visit her mother. The peddlar didn’t come back after that.”

The old lady looked sad, and Cowrie patted her on the knee. “I bet he found other people to carve puppets for.”

“I hope so, young man.”

This is the first time I've used a donate button--if there's any difficulty with it, please let me know. As with all things, there may be a learning curve.  And if you want to donate, but don't wish to use paypal, message me and we'll work it out.

Thank you for reading!

  Want to read more?  The start of Fireborn is here.  The table of contents is here.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful and fascinating. I look forward to visiting your world(s) again!

Alas, I am still brokeass broke. I will post a link to my blog, though, and encourage people to come here.
Jun. 23rd, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow!
Thank you! Publicity is a great contribution.
Jun. 24th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
I'm here through ysabetwordsmith's link and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading! Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Jun. 24th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
Thank you for dropping by.

I'll be starting a longer story in the next few days; I look forward to you visiting again.
Jun. 24th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
Ooh! I am looking forward to reading! Do you mind if I add you to my friendslist? :)

I have been pondering joining in the cyberfunded creativity fun, too. The more I see, the more tempted I am!
Jun. 24th, 2009 01:30 am (UTC)
Of course you are welcome to friend me! :-)

There is also a community for cyberfunded creativity; you'll find it on my profile or ysabetwordsmith's.
Jun. 24th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Such a good story! I love the way you used language here. It sounds rustic and elegant, all at once.

Will you write more about this world during your CFC project or do you have a bunch of different settings in mind?
Jun. 24th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
I plan to write about this world; hmm...it's becoming clear to me that I should have provided a link to the entry where I talk a little about my plans. If someone were reading my journal, they're right next to each other, but if someone follows a link, they'll see only the story. So here (it's short):


I knew there would be a learning curve for doing this, just not what I still need to learn! (-:

Thank you for your comments on this story. Be welcome to share comments, questions, etc.
Jun. 24th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
it's becoming clear to me that I should have provided a link to the entry where I talk a little about my plans

Ah, thank you! That link helps me a great deal.

And good luck with your project! :)
Jun. 24th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you. You are welcome to recommend the story to any friends who you think will enjoy it.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
Like. I'll be reading as I catch up in LJ -- I've been seeing the links elsewhere, but not following them. :-)

This "donate" button appears to be "broken" for me -- we'll see how future ones look -- I'll not panic until I'm all caught up and can't use them. :-)
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback - and thanks very much for telling me the donate button isn't working. I'll go back to Paypal and create a new one. If that doesn't work, I'll have to contact their customer service!!!
Jun. 30th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
There--replaced that button. I sure hope it works now!
Jun. 30th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
I spoke too quickly
It's working now!
Jun. 30th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
Thank you for your sponsorship!

And for taking the time to test out the button, and the time to give me feedback so I could get it working.

Eventually, I suspect I'll set up a website for this world, and will create a page to thank my sponsors. How would you like to be listed?
Jun. 30th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
Oh dear... I hadn't thought of that. mbumby is good. Anonymous is fine. My real name is okay. The real name is probably the easiest since I think that's how it comes though via PayPal...
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
The listing is a thanks for the people who sponsor me -- i.e. for you - you can be honored publicly or anonymously, whatever you're happiest with.

I did post a note in my journal that the button is fixed, but didn't name you, since you're generally so private. I just listed you as "you know who you are" for that thank you. But I can edit the post if you want the recognition. :-)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
No thank you -- you read me well. I'm happy to have done good and I'm happier to not have the recognition. I don't need to be anonymous in your other list though. Thanks.
Jul. 2nd, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
Cool. Thanks again! I will likely have the next installment in the longer story up tomorrow. (-:
Jul. 2nd, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
Heh. Work was nuts, so I didn't even peek at FB today, and I'm skip 750 (so 800 behind) in LJ. And then I'm gone until Sunday. So I may not even get to the start of it soon. But, should I live so long, I _will_. And I believe I'll enjoy it.
Jul. 2nd, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly

I put a "landing" post that will always be at the top of my journal in today, so if you go to my journal, there will be links to the story. Listed in order, even. (I'll be updating that list as I post stories).

In case you want to find the fiction without catching up on all of your LJ.
Jul. 2nd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly
Thanks -- but I'll get there as I get there. (If I'm too busy to read folks' _life_ I can't justify reading fiction. The way my brain works.)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: I spoke too quickly

Fiction and friends' lives interact differently with my brain. When I'm really down or really grumbly, fiction often works as an antidote, pulling me out of my life and problems. I'd rather catch up on their lives when I'll make good company; I enjoy the conversation, even when it's in print like this.
Jun. 30th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
If I'm the only person griping, it might be working for others -- and it was following the link that was broken, not the paypal itself.
Jun. 30th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
No one else has commented either way, and nothing has shown up in the PayPal account.

It takes time to build and audience, and the economy is breaking lots of people's budgets. So I may just need to be patient as to getting sponsorships.

But if the button isn't working, that's a different problem altogether! So it was worth my time to get new code and replace the buttons. (-:
Aug. 31st, 2009 01:30 am (UTC)
Your Talent Should Get a Broader Exposure
Elizabeth Barrett send me from GaiaTribe. I thought I would stop by and see what you had going on. You participated in GaiaTribe's weekend meet and greet. You have a lot of talent that should get some broader exposure. Try networking on various sites like Blog Catalog. It may bring you readers. Also, Authors Den is a good site for writers. I don't read much fiction but with you the very best.
Feb. 7th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
Wow!! Totally, awesome.
Feb. 8th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
Thank you!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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