Tare and the Puppies (or) The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood {A Short Story}

The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood

Otherwise Entitled

Tare and the Puppies

by Deborah O’Carroll


Autumn leaves fell around Tare and the Chess Club and crunched underfoot as they set out on a hike through Kedran’s Wood. A cold wind swept through their hair and rattled the mostly-barren branches overhead. Beyond the branches, dark clouds lurked as the little group made its way through the trees: Lavender and Baz hand in hand, as were Ivy and Adrian, and wandering in and out were siblings Marie and Jake. These six were the Chess Club proper, merely missing Mr. Larch; he wasn’t a teenager like they were, so he didn’t always count. A damp Fall scent filled the air and made them want to go off on adventures.

“It’s a Tookish thing,” Marie said.

This particular excursion was a vague Chess Club scheme to get out and tell spooky stories while clambering around near the minor set of cliffs looming deep within Kedran’s Wood. Tare, who was not officially a member, but often lurked around, had come along for some reason.

“Keep you from breaking your necks,” he had said—though he didn’t actually need such an excuse. If he was going to be honest, he rather enjoyed their company, even if he never told them this. They were glad to have him along (though Baz protested that necks were far more difficult to break than, say, wrists, and that he didn’t intend to break anything).

“You should know better than to hike around in the woods the evening before November first,” Tare said comfortably, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his black leather jacket. “The night of Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when the veils between worlds are thin and you might run into a Faerie . . . or something less pleasant.”

“Like Kedran?” Adrian asked, referring to the legend of the Faerie after whom the wood had allegedly been named. Adrian helped his girlfriend Ivy hop over a crevice in the rock at their feet. “Or are we talking about something else?”

“Ghost stories!” Baz said happily, clambering around a large boulder on the rocky path.

“Faerie stories,” Tare corrected. “Much more interesting—and, I might add, more accurate.”

“But ghost stories are creepier,” Baz pouted. “And that’s the point of spooky stories on hiking or camping trips, especially on Halloween. I defy you to come up with something scarier than a ghost story.”

“Don’t!” Lavender said hastily, wide-eyed. She was just here for the sweater-weather and the leaves and the company. Spookiness was not her favorite thing, and she definitely didn’t want Baz daring Tare like that—both because she didn’t know how Tare would take it, and for fear that Tare might rise to the challenge and come up with something scary.

Jake, too, looked uncertain, but more undecided than specifically against the idea. The youngest teen in the group, he was cautious, but also liked a thrill at times.

Marie and Ivy, as well as Adrian—who was nearly as old as Tare—were made of tougher stuff and didn’t care either way.

Tare knew far scarier things than ghost stories, but wasn’t about to bring those up. Some memories were best left undisturbed. “I read a legend about a dragon in these woods, back in Kedran’s day. It’s a scary story if you want one,” he said casually.

“Dragons are awesome, not scary,” Baz said.

“They can be both,” Marie put in firmly.

“Well, I bet this one isn’t as scary as my ghost story,” Baz went on, skipping further up the path in a blur of blue jacket. “It’s about a— YAAHH!” Baz’s sentence—and Baz himself—disappeared abruptly, leaving only his startled yell and a swirl of leaves.

“Baz!” shouted several voices in alarm as the Chess Club rushed toward the hole he had disappeared into. Tare was there almost instantly, before any of the others, peering down into the dark.

“I’m okay!” Baz’s voice echoed up out of the rocky hole. “I think.” He coughed, and added, “I’ve found a secret cave! I wonder if it’s haunted . . .”

The Chess Club laughed in relief.

Tare grunted, muttering about priorities, and swung down into the hole, landing lightly in a crouch at the bottom and glancing around.

It wasn’t a very far drop, easy to climb back out of, and Lavender, Adrian, Ivy, and the Valerian siblings clambered down after Tare.

“I didn’t even break my wrist,” Baz remarked, on his feet and dusting himself off. He was dirty but unharmed. “Oh, look, there’s a passage,” he added excitedly, clearly having forgotten his ghost story. “Let’s explore it.”

“Mmm.” Tare eyed the shadowy opening in one wall of the cave. Despite knowing the wood and cliffs quite well, he had never been in here before, but caves had certain unpleasant connotations in his mind from an incident in his past. Some instinct suggested an edge of danger involved, which made him want to get the Chess Club out and safe first, and investigate it by himself, before they could go rushing into harm’s way.

The Chess Club, however, were chattering cheerfully, getting out flashlights and preparing to explore.

Tare stepped in before them, leading the procession. If they were going to go about this whole thing, as least he could be there to keep them from—well, from breaking their necks, or getting lost, or any other shenanigans they might get up to.

It was the Chess Club: there was sure to be something.

They weren’t accident-prone in particular, but things tended to happen around this wood nowadays, and Tare was normally there to get them out of one scrape or another—often when they poked their noses where they shouldn’t have. Like in Tare’s business. Or when they thought they were “helping” him. For all that, he wouldn’t trade them for anything—he just never said so aloud . . .

Rough brownish stone with uneven floor, walls, and ceiling, formed the tunnel they crept along. Shadows clung to the edges despite the flashlight beams Adrian and Jake shone in front of them. It was very dusty.

“I wonder if anyone’s ever been in here before,” Ivy said, ducking to avoid brushing her red hair against a cobwebby low spot in the ceiling.

“Maybe— Whoa,” Adrian began, and broke off, shining his light around as they stepped into a more open underground chamber, and stared around with many oohs and aahs.

The stone room yawned hugely, with an even floor, and was roughly circular—no, exactly circular, Tare noticed. He narrowed his eyes as they pierced the shadows, not needing the light from the flashlights since he had excellent night vision. Nature didn’t, on the whole, produce perfect circles, which meant someone had made this place. And something about it bothered him.

“Wait,” Tare said sharply, lurking by the wall as the six others wandered into the open space.

They stopped near the center, training their flashlights on him. “What?”

“There’s something . . .” Tare trusted his instincts—they’d kept him alive this long against some pretty extreme odds—and right now they were acting up something fierce. “I can’t explain. Just stay put a minute. Don’t move.” He padded carefully around the chamber.

“But—”

Tare half spun and sent a Look over his shoulder. “Stay.”

“Just as if we were a lot of puppies,” Baz muttered.

“The thought has crossed my mind,” Tare said dryly as he continued letting his gaze wander around, looking for—something.

“Now I’m just imagining us all as little puppies,” Baz said.

Adrian grinned. “We’d be adorable.”

Lavender and Ivy laughed. Jake and Marie grinned too.

“Yapping and being annoying,” Ivy said, smirking. “Is that how you think of us, Tare?”

More or less, but he didn’t say so.

“I can just imagine us all running around as puppies in here,” Marie said, sticking her hands in her pockets and looking around.

“Or we could wag our little tails, sitting in a circle,” Baz said, “right here—” They had unconsciously been moving around a little, despite Tare’s directive, and were gathered near the center. Of course, a perfectly round room would have an exact center . . .

Something clicked in Tare’s mind and he instantly spun toward them. “Don’t—!” he began.

But just at that moment, Baz and the others had all stepped right into a faintly-etched circle on the floor, directly in the middle of the circular room. Tare dived toward them, but too late. There was a clicking sound as the circle of stone indented slightly, and a sort of POOF. A cloud of purplish-grey smoke instantly appeared, enveloping the little ring of six people standing in the circle. A moment later, it cleared away, and . . .

Tare’s gaze moved downward.

Six pairs of eyes looked up at him from much nearer to the ground than they had been a moment before . . . as six puppies sat on the circular stone in the floor and blinked. All of them were thinking one collective thought, which somehow Tare heard from six startled minds at once:

Oops.

Tare stared down at them and blinked twice. “You have got to be kidding me.”

* * *

It was a very interesting thing, being suddenly turned into a small dog. Yet another interesting thing was the fact that, while they could not exactly speak, they seemed to be able to hear each other’s rapid thoughts in their minds. And Tare, being in the room and somehow connected, despite being still in his natural form (thank goodness), could hear their thoughts too.

Instantaneous puppy-transformation and telepathy. Well then.

Adrian seemed to be a golden retriever puppy, very yellow and furry. Ivy had become a little red setter—no wonder, with her hair. Jake was a young black lab, like a bundle of fluffy-silky adorable midnight. Marie was a poof of grey and white as a Siberian husky puppy who could have killed with her cuteness. Baz was a chocolate lab puppy, all big paws and velvet ears. Lavender seemed to be some sort of white puppy, with bristly fluffy fur and a little trembling black nose.

They were all aggressively adorable.

Their reactions were something like this:

Adrian: I’m a dog! I love dogs and I’m a dog now! Whoa. This could be cool. (Examining paws.) Granted, a very small one. (With some disappointment.) It was rather odd going from being an eighteen-year-old to a small puppy. (Pause.) I’M A DOG! Followed by excited panting and attempts to get his new tail under control.

Lavender: Oh my goodness! What just happened? Where are my hands?

Ivy: Oh, great. What am I going to tell mom?

Marie: Hmm. This is interesting. I wonder if I can smell— Yes, I can smell everyone and they have distinct scents. Fascinating.

Jake: Halp! I’m a dog! This is weird. And creepy. And . . . kind of awesome.

Baz: COOOOOL.

Non-dog-Tare: (Mentally face-palming.) What did I do to deserve this.

All the puppies paused in their frisking about, to glance up at Tare.

Oh, hey, I can hear what Tare’s thinking—awesome! was a collective sort of general thought from them all.

Tare blinked and instantly closed off his mind so they could no longer hear his thoughts, while he could still hear theirs. His experience with mind-communication in another world made him able to do this, while the Chess Club had no such abilities.

It was like slamming a mental door in their faces, and affected the Chess Club puppies acutely. All six of them sat right down, staring mournfully up at Tare with tragic eyes, ears drooping.

It was absolutely devastating.

Tare blinked down at them. But he didn’t let them back into his mind. He cleared his throat. “Now, what am I supposed to do with you all?”

A confusing mixture of responses followed this, jumbled up in the mental pathways like a traffic pile-up, so that it was difficult to discern who was thinking what. And some of it had nothing to do with his question.

Play?

Oh, wait, how about we figure out how to turn us back.

Being a puppy could be fun!

I’m so short.

Fix it, Tare!

It’s scary and dark in here.

Where’s the flashlight? Oh, over there on the floor . . . but I guess I can see better as a dog.

Ooh, I wonder what Tare’s boot lace tastes like . . .

How do I work this tail thing?

My paws are cold. Wait, what? Must focus! I’m a person.

Maybe we could change back if we go back in the circle?

This is too weird.

Make it stop!

Tare, help!

This last was repeated several times by different Chess Club puppies.

“Okay, hold it—hold it!” Tare held out his hands, and the thoughts quieted down. “You’re going to have to be more organized. We’ll figure something out. And stop panicking.”

You’d panic too if you were suddenly a dog, Lavender thought, tail wagging worriedly in little jerking motions.

“I like to think I wouldn’t. Now calm down, and we’ll—” Tare broke off as an eerie sound of booming laughter echoed through the cave. He glanced around, instinctively in a fighting stance.

The puppies whimpered, tails and ears down, and crept to crouch near Tare’s feet where it felt safer.

“Who’s there?” Tare said warily, ready to reach for a gun or knife hidden away in his leather jacket—weapons he still kept handy, despite the lack of monsters of late. There were friends—well, puppies—to defend.

No one answered, but the laughter went on and seemed to be moving overhead and toward the entrance to the passage they had come through. An indistinct shadowy cloud—left from when the puppies had appeared—lurked there, concealing . . . something. Whoever—or whatever—was laughing, exited through there, and the voice faded away.

Okay, I’m scared now, puppy-Baz announced to their minds.

I was already scared before the creepy laughter, Lavender thought.

Can we go home now? Jake asked.

What? We can’t go home like this! Ivy spluttered.

Yeah, my dogs might not like me . . . Adrian mused.

We need to change back first, somehow, Marie thought.

They all looked hopefully up at Tare, shiny button-black noses quivering.

Tare sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to fix this right now. Let’s get out of here to start with, while we can get out.”

A short while later, Tare climbed out of the hole in the cliff with six little puppies clambering after him on clumsy paws too big for them, and down a little stony path to the autumnal forest floor of Kedran’s Wood.

The change was instantaneous.

A thousand sights and scents—from the trees, underbrush, leaf-strewn ground, and wildlife—kaleidescoped in a crescendo of new experiences for the heightened puppy-senses of the erstwhile Chess Club members. Everything smelled new and different and exciting, in desperate need of being investigated at once. They shot off into the wood, scampering about on overgrown paws, sniffing everything and yapping happily, their thoughts running as wild as their furry bodies, in a confusion of excited curiosity mixed with the half-obscured thoughts from their human selves, buried deep, who kind of knew better.

Tare put a hand over his face, muttering, “Why. Why did I get saddled with Chess Club puppies.”

We’re sorry, it’s just—

It’s so exciting, and there are all these smells—!

“I don’t want to know.” Tare made a half-hearted move to go after them, made difficult by the way they were scattering. “Now would you get back here?”

There followed a somewhat chaotic scene in which Tare attempted to herd them back together where he could keep an eye on them. There were also some awkward moments where they wanted him to throw sticks for them. He didn’t. They needed to get together and talk about this, but it was like their attention spans (already rather short, to Tare’s mind) had suddenly gone extinct. It was basically hopeless.

Tare finally gave up other methods and instead sent a stern mental message to the effect of “You. Back here. Now.

It worked.

They instantly transformed into meek, obedient puppies, and trooped angelically back toward him, a little sheepish.

Sorry . . .

Tare shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don’t—even apologize.” Then he drew back and leaned against a tree, looking down at the small dogs. “All right. We need to figure out how to turn you back into . . . yourselves. Which means we have some questions to answer. Like how, and why, you got turned into a bunch of dogs.”

Puppy faces turned to look at each other in conference.

We were just imagining being dogs—talking about it—and suddenly we were, Ivy thought.

And we stepped into that circle in the middle, Marie added.

“Ye-es . . .” Tare drew out the word meaningfully. “And?”

And you told us not to? Lavender asked, with a guilty tilt of her ear.

Which means you guessed something was up, thought Adrian.

“It was just a bad feeling.” Tare folded his arms. “I’m no more certain about the cause than you are, though I do have a couple of hunches.”

Baz went on, Then there was that creepy laughter . . .

I didn’t like that. Jake shook his fur. It made my paws cold and my hackles go up. . . . Sorry, too doggy.

Tare quirked a wry eyebrow. “If dog instincts are all you’ve got, that’s better than nothing.” He straightened. “I was wondering how far you could get. So far, I’d gotten that stepping in the circle set off something—a transformational trap, if you will—and it had to do with what you’re thinking about at the moment. No one else was in the cave before that, so it also seems to have released someone, or something—whatever was laughing—which seems to have left and is presumably at large now. I bet it came through from somewhere else when you set it off—because the Faerie world’s veil between our own is thinner around now, like I said.”

Are you saying it’s a faerie, or just from Faerie?

“I’m saying I don’t know what it is, but I have suspicions. And whatever it is, it probably shouldn’t be wandering around in our world. What we—I—need to find out is where it is, what it is, how to stop it, and how to get you turned back. Because I’m not going to dog-sit you lot forever, or explain this to all your families,” Tare added forcefully.

Their little pink tongues lolled out as they sat and panted, grinning puppy grins up at him.

But we’re so adorable.

Don’t you just want to pet us and keep us forever?

Tare rubbed a hand over his mouth to cover a grimace—or some other facial expression.

Anyway, we can help—with our noses, and our detective skills.

Tare snorted.

Several puppies looked hurt. (Never underestimate the amount of devastating that six sad puppies can pull off.)

We’re not doing too bad . . .

Tare conceded this for the sake of getting anything done. “You’re not doing too bad. At least your brains aren’t totally gone.”

Ivy bristled, annoyance clear in every line of her fur. Well, thanks for—squirrel!

The gaze of five other puppies shot in the direction her nose pointed. A second later they were off again, crashing through the underbrush and dead leaves, yapping and panting, delighted with the chase.

Tare rubbed a hand down his forehead and over his eyes and left it there. “This is going to be a long day.”

* * *

In the end, it was the rain that allowed Tare to herd them together this time. The overcast clouds which had been threatening rain up beyond the looming, clutching, half-bare autumn branches, at last made good on their threats, and the rain started coming down.

All at once there were several alarmed puppies who hated being wet and didn’t like thunder at all looking for shelter—the nearest of which seemed to be Tare. They scampered back to him and he suddenly found himself with six damp puppies all trying to somehow hide by his boots under the partial shelter of him and his leather jacket.

Tare sighed. “Come on, let’s find somewhere dry.” He marched grimly off through the trees, while the puppies tried to stay as close to him as possible. It was likely only his fighter’s grace that kept him from tripping over six little round canine bodies all pressed against his legs—certainly anyone else would have ended up flat on their face on the forest floor a few times before they reached their destination.

It was not far: an old abandoned house in the woods. They stopped just under the eaves of the building, not quite out of the rain, before the door, looking up at it.

Because coming to the haunted house on Halloween is a great idea . . .

Oh, be quiet—it’s dry in there. Adrian reared up against the old wooden door, scrabbling at the tarnished doorknob, which didn’t help. Okay, hands are useful. He turned and blinked liquid brown eyes up at Tare. I hate to ask this, but—

Let us in—let us in—let us in! One of the puppies—who shall remain nameless—bounded up and put eager front paws against Tare’s leg, leaving large amounts of extremely wet mud on his black jeans.

Tare’s eyebrows were as formidable as the sad-puppy looks were devastating. “Down.

The unrepentant puppy frisked out of reach. The others hunched in the rain, looking wet and miserable.

“Fine.” Tare relented and opened the door.

The puppies bounded up and rushed inside, joyously, paws pattering across the unsteady floorboards, which creaked hollowly as Tare stepped in after the erstwhile Chess Club.

What now? asked several thoughts, as blunt claws clicked on boards (leaving muddy pawprints all over) and curious noses sniffed and pointed cautiously toward different shadowy corners.

“We wait out the rain. Unless you want to stay here while I see what I can figure out.”

There was alarmed yapping and several of them jumped up against Tare with their front paws. Don’t leave us alone in the creepy house in the rain!

“Mm-hmm. Didn’t think so. Now what did I say about down.

He didn’t seem about to leave, so they complied.

Tare lowered himself to sit cross-legged on the floor in the open doorway, looking out at the rain.

At least it’s dry in here . . . Still cold though. And we’re so wet Adrian planted his four paws firmly on the floor and—

“Don’t do it,” Tare said.

All six puppies briskly shook themselves, sending rainwater everywhere. (Hint: everywhere included Tare.)

Tare sat grimly where he was, wordlessly wiping water from his face. The six little furry critters came up to lie down to either side, leaning against him—more or less in his lap, but not quite. Tare remained unmoved, and in a few moments they were all cozily situated close to him. They smelled like wet dog, but they were cute—and also impossible. Tare wasn’t sure quite what to do about them.

Especially when a few of them started spontaneously licking his face as if they couldn’t help themselves.

Tare recoiled. “Don’t even—!” He pushed their soft furry heads back down, hands petting slightly-damp velvety ears in the process.

Purely by accident.

Of course.

Tare pulled his hands back and quickly folded his arms.

Sorry. It just happened. They didn’t sound sorry at all.

Tare gave a wordless noncommittal grunt.

You said you’ve thought of us as puppies before, Tare. Admit it, this is far worse.

“This,” Tare conceded evenly, “is far worse.”

With contented little puppy sighs, they settled down in the shelter of the old house next to Tare, and stared out at the falling rain along with him.

The peace did not last long.

A sudden roaring sound came in a rush of air through the rainy trees, with a cracking of branches. There was a kind of crashing, groaning noise, shaking the floor and walls as if a large thing had just landed on top of the “haunted house.”

What was that?

Tare had gotten enough of a glimpse as it passed overheard to know what it was. He was on his feet instantly. “That was a dragon, and we need to get out of here now.”

What?!

And why would we leave shelter to run around in the open?

“Because it already knows we’re here and will just burn the house down around our ears and pick us out of it like a buffet if we don’t get out.”

Tare jumped down from the threshold into the rainy forest again, with the puppies scrambling at his heels, hoping this was some sort of joke to scare them—

Nope.

They spied a large scaly green dragon perched on top of the “haunted house,” bat-like wings half spread, peering down at them through the rain.

Hello, my fluffy little succulent morsels, the dragon thought to them.

Okay, Tare, your dragon story is scarier than my ghost story, Baz thought, all the puppies shrinking away to hide behind Tare’s legs while they peeked out at the dragon.

“It’s not my dragon story,” Tare murmured. Then, louder, to the dragon, he said, “What do you want?”

Lunch. Being stuck in a Faerie cave for a few centuries until some careless people let you out is a hungry business. These little things look like just the thing as a small appetizer before exploring the neighboring villages for a few dozen people for lunch. You look a little tough for my palate, so I have no quarrel with you, if you’ll just step aside.

Tare stood his ground in the rain. “No.”

The dragon’s tail swished across the roof, carelessly, rather like a cat’s. Its red-gold eyes narrowed and a tiny wisp of grey smoke drifted up from its nostrils. Is that so?

Tare watched the creature evenly, and kept his mind closed off against the dragon, but opened it to the Chess Club and sent them a mental message. I need you to run. Run as fast as you can and make it back to cliffs. Find some small cave too small for a dragon, and too far in to get burned if it found you. I’ll handle this.

The puppies, although almost radiating fear, were not so easily persuaded.

No!

We’re not leaving you here to face that thing by yourself.

Tare kept his gaze fixed on the dragon—not looking directly into its eyes—but a muscle in his set jaw twitched. Don’t be difficult. What are you going to do? You’re puppies. Now get somewhere safe. Don’t worry. I won’t let you get hurt.

The Chess Club puppies stood their ground too—they could be nearly as stubborn as Tare sometimes, and that hadn’t changed in their smaller, fluffier forms when faced with something like this.

We’re sticking with you!

The dragon heard them, though it seemed not to have heard Tare.

How touching. But ultimately misguided. You should have run while you could. The dragon laughed as it pushed off from the roof and floated lightly down on its wings to land heavily on the ground in front of Tare among the trees. It was not as huge as they’d thought at first—of course, it must have been slender enough to make it through the passage they had come out of—but still loomed a few feet taller than Tare, curling its wings in to get them out of the way of the branches. It moved sinuously forward, serpent-like, tail curled around a nearby tree. The wet ground hissed with steam where it touched. Now I only have to get through this one, and you’ll be mine. It spoke to the Chess Club puppies, but watched Tare with its sinister gaze.

Tare faced the dragon and was unmoved. “Why don’t you pick on someone closer to your size? Like me.” He pulled a handgun from inside his jacket, leveled it at the dragon’s head, and fired.

The bullet struck the dragon’s forehead. It blinked, then shook its scaly head. The bullet fell to the ground, leaving a slight dent between the dragon’s eyes, like dented armor, without bothering it. The dragon blinked balefully at Tare.

“Didn’t think that would work, but it was worth a shot,” Tare remarked.

Literally, thought Baz.

“Don’t go punny on me.” Tare holstered the gun, pulled out two long knives, and charged at the dragon, yelling over his shoulder, “Get out of here!”

The large creature breathed fire at him. Tare rolled neatly out of the way, and then he was beneath the dragon, slashing and stabbing. Sparks flew from blades and scales, but the knives couldn’t pierce its natural armor. Then the fight was on in earnest with a mixture of flames—which Tare dodged—and slashing claws and tail and knives, whirring about with startling speed. The rain fell on them, hissing on the hot dragon and the patches of flames where the forest floor caught on fire.

I SAID— Tare’s thought reminded them.

The puppies looked at each other, formed a collective Chess Club agreement—which Tare and the dragon were far too occupied fighting to listen to—and made their decision.

Over here! they chorused at once, in the equivalent of a mind-shout. Come get your lunch! And they scampered off into the woods as fast as their paws could carry them.

Roaring (not laughing now) the dragon took to its wings, crashing through the trees, which hampered its movements. It broke off large branches as it went. Tare ran after it, attacking, distracting, while the Chess Club puppies drew it on toward the cliffs and caves.

In here, you ugly scaly thing! the Chess Club puppies taunted, and dived down into the hole leading into the passage and cave where everything had started.

The dragon hissed in rage and dived in after them. Tare grabbed its tail and yanked it back, burning his hands. That gained them a moment. Then it shook itself loose, tossing him against a tree, and disappeared after the sound of the Chess Club’s taunts echoing inside the cave.

“Idiots,” Tare muttered, rolling to his feet and ignoring his bruises. He sprinted down the passage after them. But he suspected what they might be doing, luring the dragon back here in case they could get it trapped again, and it was something he’d considered trying himself—with the Chess Club safely out of danger’s way, of course. But they never knew when not to get involved. How he ever kept them alive was a mystery to him.

He dashed into the cave and attacked the dragon before it could crisp the puppies, which were on the other side of the large circular cavern. The dragon roared in rage and batted Tare away with its tail again, sending him sliding into the middle of the room.

NOW! the Chess Club puppies thought loudly, as if they had been counting down to something which Tare had been too busy to attend to. Groaning and trying to roll over and get up, Tare vaguely heard them thinking very specifically of dragons. Black dragons. Dragons—

What? Tare suddenly found himself enveloped in smoke, and figured he was probably dead—except the smoke hadn’t come from the green dragon . . . Oh.

Tare rose to his feet—all four of them—and spread his wings and lashed his tail, staring the dragon down with eyes now as fiery as its own. He had landed in the middle of the circle in the center of the room, and the Chess Club had been thinking very hard about him being a dragon—and consequently he was vaguely thinking it too—just like they had been thinking of puppies, which had turned them into their current furry shapes.

Tare was a dragon.

He was smaller and more lithe than the green dragon, and his scales gleamed black with an almost purple-ish glint. But he was a dragon, and that was what counted.

Don’t mess with my Chess Club! Tare roared, blasting fire at the green dragon and attacking it.

The puppies sent up mental cheers and then stayed crouched out of the way while the two dragons fought like a whirlwind of furious . . . well . . . dragons.

They rolled around over and over on top of each other, clawing, biting, breathing fire. The stone chamber echoed around them and lit up in sporadic red flashes of light. Smaller and more agile than his enemy, Dragon-Tare managed to wrestle the green dragon over and shove it directly into the circle in the middle of the floor.

The green dragon gave a roar of thwarted anger and vanished in a flash of light and smoke.

Sudden silence fell.

Tare spun to be sure the Chess Club were all right—they were still puppies, but alive and well. Tare breathed out a long breath.

Then he looked down at himself.

Still a dragon.

He looked back at them—a large black dragon towering above six small puppies who ought to be afraid in the presence of such a creature, but instead radiated content, relief, and a feeling of safety, along with some mental cheers.

They clearly weren’t thinking about the fact that they were still puppies and that Tare was now transformed too.

Now look what you’ve done, Tare thought to them.

You’re a dragon—that’s awesome!

Dragon-Tare growled.

The puppies wilted very slightly.

Sorry, but getting you turned into a dragon was all we could think of so you could defeat it without—you know—dying? they thought uncertainly, and tilted their little soft ears, as though wondering if they were in trouble or not.

Tare’s dragon shoulders slumped. He sighed and slid down to lie on the floor, front claws folded, great head resting on them, and black wings furled tight against his scaly back, tail curling around his side.

The puppies hesitantly approached, and they tentatively put their paws on his tail. Tare didn’t mind. They climbed up him and curled up on his back together in a little pile of fluff.

Sorry you’re a dragon, Lavender thought. But you do make a nice one.

I could get used to it, Tare grunted. I’m just not sure I want to.

At least you’re not freaking out like we were, Baz quipped.

How do we change back? Marie asked.

I don’t want to be a puppy forever, Jake mourned.

Don’t worry, you’ll grow into a big dog someday, Ivy thought dryly.

That’s not what I meant! Jake wailed.

Adrian licked Jake’s head. It’s okay. We’ll figure it out.

We’re getting more dog-like all the time . . . Baz thought.

I know. It would be awesome if it wasn’t so ominous, Adrian answered.

Wait, are you going to start getting more dragon-y? Lavender asked Tare in alarm.

Yeah, like hoarding gold and wanting to eat small puppies and getting super smart and cunning and living in a lair by yourself? Baz contributed.

He’s already super smart and living in a lair . . . replied several thoughts.

Right. My bad.

Tare grunted and heaved himself to his feet, with the puppies still on his back. Thanks. I think. And no, I’m not going to eat you, and hoarding gold is not on my list of things to do in the near future; who has time for that. Besides, I don’t plan to stay a dragon long enough to get any more dragon-y than (you claim) I already am.

I wish I was me again, Baz thought forlornly. It was fun at first, but I’m with Jake.

Me too, thought the others, ears drooping as they lay flopped sadly in their pile on Tare’s back while he prowled across the room. I wish I was me again. I wish I was me again . . . they repeated in their minds.

And Dragon-Tare stepped into the center of the circle, and merely thought: I am Tare.

POOF.

The next instant, Tare, Adrian, Lavender, Ivy, Baz, Marie, and Jake all tumbled in a tangled heap on the floor—in their own human forms again. There was no sign of a repeat performance of a dragon returning.

“Whoa,” Adrian said, getting quickly to his feet and pulling his backup keychain flashlight out of his pocket for a little light. “I can’t believe that worked!”

Several of the others laughed in relief, trying to get untangled.

“I’m me again!”

“I have hands!”

“Yesss, no tail!”

“I’m kind of a person again.”

“You’re kind of on top of me,” Tare grunted.

The others hastily stood and stepped away, a little awkwardly.

Tare climbed to his feet, stretched his limbs a little stiffly, and rotated his neck. “Dragon-fight aftermath,” he explained when they looked at him anxiously. “I’m fine, though.”

“Oh.”

“Good.”

“Um. Thanks for, you know, saving us from being eaten.”

Tare straightened his leather jacket, possibly shrugging in the process. “It’s an occupation. Thanks for being nuisances and helping out.”

They laughed. “Any time.”

“But wow, puppies and dragons,” Jake said, wide-eyed

“Won’t we have something to talk about,” Baz laughed.

Tare cleared his throat. “We never speak of this again.”

The Chess Club looked at each other and grinned.

Then Lavender sighed and said, “Let’s go home.”

* * *

It was still raining—which fortunately had put out the small fires the dragon had started—but they made it through the woods back to Mr. Larch’s house, where they usually gathered for meetings. It was light and warm inside, a welcome change to the cold, wet, somehow currently spooky-feeling woods.

“Ahh, I have hands again,” Adrian said as he opened the door.

“Yeah, let’s put them to use—anyone for chess?” Marie asked.

“Hi, everyone,” Mr. Larch called from the kitchen.

“Hey,” the Chess Club chorused.

Yapping barks met them. Small Occasion came barreling over to greet them enthusiastically—he was their actual puppy, fluffy and white, and they found themselves laughing, realizing they’d never look at puppies quite the same again . . .

It was also a little weird to switch from communicating mentally to not hearing each other’s thoughts, but they were pretty good at understanding each other without that, like they always had, so it was all right. (They never knew what Tare was thinking, but that wasn’t new; and they hadn’t much while they were puppies, anyway.) It was also nice to be tall again and be, well, people. They left wet coats and muddy boots by the back door and ambled into the living room.

Small was catching some odd smells about them, and didn’t know what to do with these. Puzzled, he followed them over to the couches, where they collapsed comfortably, tired from all their adventures. They started setting up a couple of chess boards on the coffee table.

“Staying?” Ivy asked Tare.

He shrugged, draping his leather jacket on the back of a chair. “For a bit. ’Til the rain lets up.” He dropped into the chair, stretching out his long legs.

“So how was your day?” Mr. Larch asked them, sitting in the easy chair at the head of the room, and letting Small hop up onto his lap.

“Fine,” Tare said noncommittally.

The rest looked at each other over the chess pieces. “It was . . . interesting.”

Baz grinned innocently. “Nothing happened. Nothing at all.”

Tare quirked an eyebrow and sent him a resigned “Really? That’s how subtle you’re being?” look. But he didn’t seem to really mind.

Mr. Larch smiled while Small Occasion tried to lick his owner’s long nose. “Sounds like there might be a story here . . .”

* * *

The next day, there was a piece of news on TV.

There has been a report of the aftermath of a small forest fire in the woods just outside of town. The fire took place sometime on October 31st. Locals found several fallen burnt branches and patches of burnt ground, near an abandoned house. It appears to have been started by lightning, although there are no eye-witness accounts. Fortunately, the rainstorm seems to have contained the fire and kept the damage from spreading. There were no injuries.”

“Weren’t you out hiking in the woods yesterday with your friends?” Lavender’s dad asked her as she passed through the living room.

Lavender paused on her way to her room. “Yes, why?”

He nodded at the TV and repeated what the reporter had said. “I guess it must have been somewhere else in the woods, or at a different time.”

“Mm,” Lavender said.

“How terrible!” Lavender’s mom said. “At least no one was hurt. I’m so glad you were safe.”

Lavender smiled. “Me too.”

Humming, she went upstairs to her room, dropped her school backpack on her bed, and pulled her window curtain aside to look out at the woods just beyond her back yard. Was it her imagination or was there a faint wisp of smoke rising, left over from a fire in the woods?

As she looked, a dark patch of movement caught her eye. Tare came into view, walking past within the fringe of trees at the edge of Kedran’s wood. A dog from the neighbors’ house bounded up to him. Tare picked up a stick and threw it off into the trees for the dog, who chased after it. Tare stuck his hands back in the pockets of his black leather jacket and walked on.

Lavender let the curtain fall back over the window, and she smiled.


Note: I’m posting this (extremely late) in honor of Jenelle Schmidt’s #Drachtober story challenge. “The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood or Tare and the Puppies” belongs to my contemporary fantasy series work-in-progress Kedran’s Wood, which (if for some reason you are new to my blog or live under a rock and have never noticed me talk about–JUST KIDDING) you can read more about here. Thanks for reading—I hope you enjoyed. 🙂

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Tare Turns 5 Years Old

(Kedran’s Wood collage I made. Some images belong to me, others were found on Pinterest, here.)

Some of you are probably squinting at the title of this post, going: “…Wait, what??”

(Especially since, as those three or so people reading this who have beta-read some of the books would know, Tare’s actual age is so confusing in the story itself that he doesn’t need any more confusingness added on.)

(For anyone who is further confused due to not knowing: Tare is the name of my favorite character I’ve ever written [sorry, all you other characters] and he inhabits the contemporary fantasy series I’m writing.)

Let me set you straight.

No, it’s not actually Tare’s birthday (which is in January).

No, this post is not actually about an adorable Tare when he was a small boy (apologies).

But a week ago, on April 5, 2017, it was in fact the 5-year anniversary of the day I first started writing the book in which I first met Tare, the first book in the Kedran’s Wood series, The Owl of Kedran’s Wood!

Yes indeed, it’s KW1’s book birthday!

Here, have a cupcake to celebrate:

Today’s post is a conglomeration of random things about the series, including the first book, and basically just A CELEBRATION OF ALL THINGS KEDRAN’S-WOOD-ISH!

How it Began

It began with the forging of the great rings…

…Whoops, wrong story. How about this?

In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.

Wait, wrong one again. How about this one:

In an abandoned apartment down a dark alley there lived a Tare?

Closer.

Ahem.

Anyways, it actually began in early 2012 when I “randomly” started writing what I thought would be a fun standalone novella or short novel called The Owl of Kedran’s Wood. I wanted to try a little modern fantasy story and just… started writing. I knew a few things about the story, but for the most part, I was as in the dark as my main characters, the Chess Club. It was a first for me in many ways. I hadn’t done a lot of “pantsing” stories before, and it was also my first modern story.

I never thought I would write a modern story. Contemporary books were never my thing, and I think it’s because I don’t enjoy the kinds of things that modern books can rarely seem to resist including, like school and its petty backstabbing and bullying and drama (ugh), annoying teen characters who don’t get along and have family life problems, and love-triangles… etc., and just general ick. Many modern books just seemed petty to me and I always enjoyed fantasy worlds instead.

So the idea that I would write a fantasy book in *gasp* modern times? Unheard of!

But it happened.

I started writing a modern fantasy book, and ended up writing it (unintentionally) in direct opposition to all the problems I’d had with other modern fiction. I made it a book that I wouldn’t mind reading myself. On the way, I completely fell in love with this cast of characters — the Chess Club became more than friends, they became MY friends, and Tare became my favorite character I’ve written (so far). It also turned out to be 100K words. So much for “short.” XD

From being a one-time random story I thought I would finish and move on from, it wrapped itself around my heart and turned into a series which, five years later, I’m still working on writing, and foresee being happily involved in scribbling for many more years to come. ^_^

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about this particular book in the series (since it’s been awhile since I finished it) so, in celebration of its birthday, let me direct you to a handy new summary I wrote for it recently.

The Owl of Kedran’s Wood (Kedran’s Wood, Book 1)
by Deborah O’Carroll

Welcome to the town by Kedran’s Wood

  • Where teenaged best friends (but not, y’know, the angsty kind) don’t need to backstab each other (though they might the recent outbreak of monsters).
  • Where it’s not about life in highschool (because who wants to spend more time there than necessary?) but about life outside it.
  • And where the local chess club (see best friends) does more than just play chess . . .

Meet shy Lavender, rambunctious Baz, fiery Ivy, confident Adrian, and wry Mr. Larch. Oh, and Small Occasion (who is tiny, white, and fluffy, and barks like a tree).

This book is about how they play (badly) at being over-reacting amateur detectives more often than at chess; fight monsters (with some—okay, lots of—help from the resident leather-clad stranger); and still find time for friendships old and new, and small occasions like summer lemonade and puns (yes, that last one is always Baz’s fault).

But mostly it’s about the mysterious young man called Tare (see resident leather-clad stranger), how the Chess Club meets him (though whether that’s a terrific or terrible thing is part of the question—Baz would say both, if only for the puns), and how just at the edge of an ordinary small modern town, lies Kedran’s Wood . . .

And that’s where the pieces are beginning to move for a game that’s far from a friendly match of chess.

Books in the Kedran’s Wood Series

and a little bit about them

Novels

  • 1 The Owl of Kedran’s Wood — the summer when Tare and the Chess Club meet, featuring cake-baking disasters and the (almost) end of the world (#awkward). Status: draft written.
  • 2 The Secret of Kedran’s Wood — wintry novel, current work in progress, featuring mysterious villains and (possibly) an evil faerie. Status: 1/3 done? Hopefully more?
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood — featuring summer vacation, more about Tare, and of course secret agents. Status: snippets.

Novellas (to write)

  • 1.5 Son of Kedran’s Wood — in which Tare does stuff between 1 &2, + prequel about his past (yay!)
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood — in which Tare and Adrian accidentally switch minds/bodies (because that won’t be confusing at all…)
  • 3.5 Celebrations at Kedran’s Wood — in which there is a birthday party and a wedding (no, I’m not telling you whose)

Bonus Novel (to write)

  • The Quest of Kedran’s Wood — in which Marie undertakes something NaNo-ish and writes an epic fantasy book starring the chess club and Tare in medieval roles. And reads it aloud to them. (What could possibly go wrong?)

Number of KW words written so far

According to one calculation:

190,780 words

  • (105K book 1 current finished draft)
  • (65K book 2 current + 10K snippets out of order later in book 2)
  • (10K snippets total from book 3, 1.5, 2.5, and bonus)

That averages out to approximately 104 words of Kedran’s Wood writing per day for 5 years. XD (Not counting previous versions or plotting, of course.)

#WIPjoy

In celebration of my Kedran’s Wood series turning 5 years old, and in an effort to get myself immersed again in the writing of KW2, I’m doing #WIPjoy on Twitter all this month, featuring The Secret of Kedran’s Wood!

For those who don’t know #WIPjoy is to celebrate and answer questions about your work-in-progress (WIP), with a different question for every day of the month.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, check it out! …For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, where have you been?? (Just kidding. 😉 I will excuse you if you don’t have Twitter. XD Ahem.)

It’s been a blast so far!

Tare is an INTJ (surprise)

Yes, I took the MBTI test as Tare (or rather, as Tare IS, not how he would answer, because I’m 99% sure he wouldn’t want a random test knowing things about him so he’d likely be less than truthful in that case) and he came out as INTJ, which is the category most villains and awesome dark people like Mr. Darcy and Batman and Sherlock tend to fit into. Yes, I was monstrously pleased at this. XD It’s creepy how well he fits it, too…

(He’s not shy but he’s definitely not a people person. I love that he’s 80% introverted. XD)

Tare is the only character I’ve taken the test for, since he’s the only one I know well enough.

Some posts about the series

This seemed like a fun time to highlight some favorite posts in the past about the Kedran’s Wood series or (usually) Tare.

And there you have it!

This concludes my reminiscing about this unlikely but beloved series of mine. (Now to just finish writing it and get it published, amIright?? Ahem. That may be far down the road, but it’s an eventual goal. ;))

What most intrigues you about this series, or what was your favorite part of this post? Thank you so much for putting up with me flailing about this stuff (and reading this post), and celebrating with me the 5-year birthday of this series! ^_^

Tare + Teague Beautiful People: Appearances {Aug 2016}

bpaug2016

*creeps out of hiatus briefly*

*whispers:* Sooo… I kinda-sorta-almost-maybe-perhaps-possibly might have accidentally seen that Beautiful People was up for this month and that it was on Appearances and been unable to resist doing it.

I also kinda-sorta-almost-maybe-perhaps-possibly might have been unable to decide whether to do Tare from my Kedran’s Wood series or Teague from The Other Half of Everything for it.

So I’m doing both of them.

Behold, Beautiful People!

*tosses thing at you and creeps away again*

bp

Monthly character questions for writers, hosted by Sky @ Further Up & Further In and Cait @ Paper Fury — join the linkup!

1. Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

Tare: Nineteen years old, tall, black hair pushed back, dark blue eyes, chiseled face, black leather jacket, black shirt, black pants, black lace-up boots. (Okay, yes, you get the picture: face and hands pale, eyes dark blue; otherwise, lots and lots of black.)

tarecollage

Tare-ish things

Teague: Twenty-five years old, tall, sandy hair tousled and falling down over his forehead, uncertainly-colored sea-like eyes, vague face, grey jeans, casual t-shirt/buttoned long-sleeved shirt in muted colors of light grey, pale brown, or white.

teaguecollage

Teague-ish things

2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Danger zone. Don’t invite me to share snippets of when we first meet two of my favorite characters– Whoops, too late. You were warned. I’ve been unleashed… Here we go.

Snippet of the first time Meridian sees Teague:

OHEcoverA faint padding sound came, then finally the door opened. I braced myself for a crazy old man with a white beard. I did not brace myself for a twenty-something-year-old young man with sandy hair, which was unfortunate, since that meant I was unprepared for this.

He couldn’t have seen my extreme surprise, though, since he wasn’t looking at me at all, but at a book he held open in one hand. He was also rather more good-looking (in a vague sort of way) than he had any right to be, considering I had expected an 80-year-old guy. He wore faded grey jeans which might once have been black, and a tan-ish vest over a button-down white shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbow and a slightly crooked collar. The white socks on his shoeless feet provided the reason for the padding sound in place of ordinary footsteps.

Aaaand a snippet of the first time Teague sees Meridian, since he didn’t look up at the time. XD

A pair of uncertainly-colored eyes—blue? Grey? Green? Brown? Dust? Ice?—glanced briefly up at me from under sandy-colored hair-tips spilling down to his eyebrows. His focus returned to the book briefly and then flickered back up to me again and stayed there this time, sudden mild surprise in his face.

Snippet of Tare from The Owl of Kedran’s Wood (the first in the series), the first time we get a good look at him:

KWcoverHe was young, maybe nineteen—Lavender wasn’t sure, not being real good with ages—tall, and still clad entirely in black. He had a hard, chiseled face, without expression, somewhat pale in contrast with his black hair slicked back. His eyes were a very dark blue that Lavender had never seen the like of before, and they looked steadily back at her for about three seconds—not so long that it became awkward, but long enough to show that he knew she knew he was watching, and that he didn’t care. Then he moved away from the window and walked on down the street at an easy stride, his hands thrust into the pockets of his long black leather jacket.

Snippet of Tare from The Owl of Kedran’s Wood when he really shows up for real:

Presently the metal door of the warehouse creaked and the sound of metal grating together filled the air. The Wildlings rose and stood, watching the door, which swung open.

A figure stood in the doorway for a long moment before stepping forward into the pale florescent light. It was the young man who Lavender had seen now on two occasions. The light glinted dully off his long black leather jacket and dark hair, highlighting his expressionless face. His black boots were planted firmly apart on the concrete as he stood his ground opposite the half-dozen creatures.

It seemed he was not who they had expected.

“Who are you?” one of them asked.

His voice was quiet and low, half careless yet with a slight edge to it. “No one you want to mess with.” His eyes turned toward the caged Chess Club, taking in their situation in a glance. “So . . .” He looked back at the monsters, linking his fingers and flexing them outward, like one readying for a fight. “How do you want to do this?”

They stared at him in silence for several moments. Then one turned away, jerking his head toward the intruder in a sign to his companions, saying only, “Kill him.”

3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?

For Tare… his formidable-ness. Overall shadowy-ness and commanding presence, combined with his leather jacket.

I imagine most people wouldn’t have a “first thing” they would notice about Teague because he’s so vague and unassuming on first acquaintance they might not even notice him at all. XD

4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

Tare’s unnaturally dark blue eyes and his expressive dark eyebrows. He does also have scars, but they’re not normally visible.

Teague has grey-green-blue-something, uncertainly-colored eyes, and also a vague, rather dreamy and absent expression as if he’s not really paying attention to anything in this world.

5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)

Tare’s around 6’1″ I think; tall, lean, thin but not skinny.

Teague is 6′, rather thin, but a bit more muscular than you would think at first.

6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

In a nutshell: Tare is like a large tense black panther who’s permanently slightly peeved with the world; cool and removed in a catlike way, but clearly dangerous. Teague is like a lanky, lazy ginger cat who couldn’t care less about the world, not because he’s coldhearted, but because he never remembers the world exists. …Our world, anyway.

Tare has an upright posture and decisive manner of carrying himself — confident but slightly wary and calculated, with very precise movements and an acute awareness of his surroundings. He’s constantly paying attention to what’s going on around him. His movements have three speeds: casual, stealthy, or quick, depending on his mood/circumstances. Be nervous around all three.

Teague slouches a little, normally with his head bent to look at a book or notepad while he walks, and tends to move slowly and a little dreamily, as if he’s not fully awake or moving through molasses. There are times, however, like when he’s worried or angry, when he can liven up more than you would think. And we won’t get into what he’s like in… erm… other places, since that’s another story entirely.

7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

Tare’s wearing black jeans, black socks, and a black button-up shirt. His hair might be more mussed than usual, instead of sleeked-back. In this scenario, he’s hanging out in his very neat “lair” (a.k.a. his small, dark, paneled apartment in the long string of abandoned buildings), probably reading a book, or carving some wood with one of his knives, or cleaning his weapons, as close to relaxing as he gets, which isn’t usually very close…

Teague is wearing his usual casual jeans, probably grey, and either a t-shirt or a button-up shirt and white socks, or else is barefoot. In fact… he looks as he always does because all his days are lazy days. 😉 He’s lounging around in his rather messy rooms at the top of the old house, either reading or scribbling away, and likely absentmindedly burning his dinner unless Meridian’s there (if he even remembered anything about dinner anyway).

8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

Tare DEFINITELY has a trademark, namely his black leather jacket. It’s notorious. XD As for accessories, do a lot of guns, knives, and other weapons count? He also has dark sunglasses he wears occasionally.

Teague doesn’t seem to have a trademark, unless you count that he wears vests sometimes. Oh! He does have a dark blue wool coat, kind of like the style Sherlock wears. *nods* He also wears a certain key on a chain around his neck.

9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

Um… no? There mayyy or may not (*cough*spoilers*cough*) have been an occasion when Tare’s leather jacket and “scary” attitude got him some mockery when he was younger, but it would have been from a slightly nervous distance, and regardless, he never paid any heed or cared at all. Also when his change of eye color was noticed by someone, it kind of bothered him a little.

Teague never paid attention if anyone said anything so he doesn’t know. XD

10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Neither of them is the sort to think much about their looks at all. So methinks they’re content. They are both rather laid-back in that regard and don’t care about their appearance, so whatever they are is their casual, natural look.

So there you have it. What think ye? Also, remember that old saying, “Appearances can be deceiving”? Well… although some things about their appearances do reveal their character, the saying does apply to Teague and Tare. 😉 Just sayin’.

Beautiful People: Tare {July 2016}

bp

(hosted by Sky & Cait)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done any Kedran’s Wood-ish posts, what with Meridian and Teague stealing the show around here more often than not… But Beautiful People is up for this month and I saw these questions and thought: “TARE!”

So I’m doing Tare today. I miss him, so this makes me happy. ^_^

Okay, this is how it’s going to work. I want to have my cake and eat it too (always a good idea, if you can manage it), so Tare’s going to answer the questions as far as he will — which, I anticipate, will likely not be very far — and then I shall elaborate on it further… out of his hearing. *cough* Because his answers will be interesting, and mine shall be informative, so between us we should cover most of it.

Let’s have at it, shall we?

TareBW

1. Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

“And what exactly prompted this bit of irrelevancy?”

Tare, you can’t answer a question with another question.

*folds his arms* “I can and just did. If you’re going to make me answer questions I don’t want to answer, I’ll answer them how I want.”

*sigh* Ahem. So, for this question… Tare honestly has never thought this far ahead on this subject. He is, and always has been, an extreme loner, who only recently has begun to understand the concept of friends as applied to himself. At the moment, definitely not. I can personally see him married someday, perhaps, if the right girl came along… but it would definitely be FAR in the future since he has a long way to go in the HR department, you could say.

2. What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

“All of them.”

…Okay, thanks for that, Tare. I’m glad you’ve decided to be cooperative and specific with your answers.

“You’re welcome.”

…All right, I won’t leave you guys with that. He does mean all of them, or at least anything that’s around. But he’s also partial to using his fists since they’re reliable, or knives, since he prefers hand-to-hand combat. He won’t say no to a handgun, sword, machine gun or bow and arrows, or even a grenade, though. Any other weapon you can think of to hand him… he’d adapt pretty quick. Not to mention, his mind is a pretty good weapon already because he’s smart and stuffs. *nods*

3. What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

KWcover“The time that — Well.” *studies his fingernails in minute detail* “I saved some people. Because . . . they needed me to.” *clears throat and shifts in chair* “Or the time I had to hold up a wall of the gingerbread house the Chess Club were making, because I was there and they made me. I’d say I was pretty nice then.”

*look of horror from yours-truly* Tare! That hasn’t happened yet!

*Tare shrugs as if it doesn’t matter and time is fluid and all that sort of thing*

Anyways, that first reference, which he did not elaborate on, would definitely be the nicest thing he’s done, referring to the time he nearly died — and worse — in order to save the world, specifically so that his friends wouldn’t die. Because he realized they were his friends and he actually cared about them and didn’t want them to die, and so was willing to do anything necessary to protect them. Cuz he’s nice like that. Who cares about saving the world? — he was saving his Chess Club. ^_^

4. Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

*raises one dark eyebrow slightly like a question mark as if to say “What is the point of this obvious question?”* “Yes. Lots. And they did.”

I’m… trying very hard not to laugh at this question. And not doing a very good job. Ahem. Tare’s whole life has been rather violent, though not of his choosing. Not to mention that a whole lot of shapeshifting monsters kind of call for being fought… It’s nearly always the others’ fault, though.

Of course, there were a couple times when he was violent to the Chess Club, but those are… special cases. *cough* In the first book, he punched Baz for being annoying, and started a fistfight with Adrian for… reasons. (To be fair, Baz WAS being annoying, and Adrian had just run into him with his pickup-truck… kinda-sorta-almost on purpose. So.) In the second book, Tare shoves Baz one time when Baz was being REALLY frivolous about something that really bothers Tare, and the next scene I need to write Tare kinda shoves Adrian off a building. You know. Because he had to. *shrugs*

5. Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

KW2coverP“Both, when it suits me.”

Wow, that was . . . deep . . . or . . . something, Tare. O_O

*shrugs* “I try.”

He’s an odd mix of both. He’s a bit of a rebel, yes, since that’s sort of his nature by default, just due to his life. But despite that, he’s also surprisingly rule-abiding, in his own way. He won’t hesitate to do something that would be frowned upon if he needs to, but he also has a strong sense of justice and generally has boundaries of his own.

6. Are they organized or messy?

“Come into my lair with intent to mess it up and you’ll find out.”

With glitter. >:D *evil grin*

*turns to me and asks mildly:* “Do you want me to kill your readers?”

(Tare’s kind of scary when he’s being all playful. XD Ahem. >.>) Tare’s pretty organized, though he’s not as obsessed about it as his answer makes him sound. XD His home is pretty tidy, swept and neat, with nothing lying around unless he wants it there, like leaving his black leather jacket draped over a chair or a stack of books on a table or various weapons lying around while he cleans them or something. And he usually makes his bed. If it’s messy around his place, it usually means something’s wrong with him and so he doesn’t feel like making an effort to keep things clean. But he doesn’t overthink it, it’s just something he does. I guess you could call it a casual organized, with a side of messy, since he doesn’t mind throwing a bunch of stuff together as long as he knows where it is. As far as outlook, his approach to most things is organized instead of spontaneous, but he can occasionally be unpredictable.

7. What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

picthing*folds arms again* “I don’t know why anyone would… love me, so I don’t see how this applies.”

Tare, honestly…

“Well why do you care?”

It’s just an interview; no need to blow up in my face! o.o

“I’m not blowing up in your face. I’m asking a simple question about your inapplicable one.”

Just answer it, then! It’s not that hard. What makes you feel loved and who made you feel that way?

*gives me a hard stare* “How should I know? Probably the last time was… I don’t know, maybe when I was like… three or something and my parents held me. I told you. It doesn’t apply.”

Youch. Okay, so Tare is very not used to the idea of anyone caring about him, or the notion of feeling loved. *cough* He’s recently discovered the Chess Club and their friendship with him, so I guess the fact that they care about him makes him feel… perplexed but cared about. I don’t know if he’d say “feel loved” though. I don’t think the last time was when he was three; it was probably when he was a teen and his mother came for him. He wasn’t used to feeling loved then either, but I think he did in that case, and also confused and wary… but who knows.

8.What do they eat for breakfast?

“When I have it? Food.”

So helpful, Tare.

*rolls eyes* “All right, I’m partial to meat if it’s around. But anything else that happens to be there is fine too. I’m not particular.”

The last time we saw him eat breakfast he was eating steak, so… that probably applies. He does like meat. It keeps him going and it’s also what he’s used to. Mostly he sees food as fuel though, so as long as it’s food he doesn’t care much. It’s not something he overthinks, hence his first answer.

9. Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

*cold stare and blank face* “No.”

Um… so… until recently, Tare hasn’t really had people who were close to him. Unless his parents count. In which case he did lose them and… what happened is spoilers. Which will be revealed if I ever get around to writing the prequel about him. Ahem.

notquitetare

10. What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

“I’m partial to being alive. That’s a good treat/reward.”

Not helpful, to be honest. -_-

“All right, I have nothing against chocolate cake, and I like hunting in the woods, or reading a good book by the fireplace in my lair. Assuming nothing’s currently trying to kill me, of course. Or that the Chess Club aren’t bothering me and acting like they live at my place… Annoying over-reacting detective amateur puppies.”

Oh, come on, you aren’t as annoyed at them as you let on.

*rubs a hand across his mouth as if to hide a frown or a smile or, you know, a something, and looks at the ground so his dark hair hides the possible fond gleam in his dark blue eyes* “Fine. But you didn’t hear it from me.”

***

And that was today’s Beautiful People post! Hope you enjoyed. 🙂 I know I certainly did… I missed Tare! Poor fellow’s been lurking in the shadows while Teague takes over, mostly because Tare’s been pretty done with me of late and not in the mood for me to write him. But now I want to again…

Starrellian Celebration

You may wonder at the title of this post, since I’m afraid I haven’t done much talking around here about my Starrellian Saga, the ten-book epic fantasy series I’ve been working on, on and off, since I first began to write, set in the Land of Starrellia. But today seemed a good day to revisit it.

Today, July 20, is a special day. It is the birthday of a character of mine.

Faron is turning 5 years old today.

trillum

(I know I’ve used this picture for Trillum, and it actually makes me think a tiny bit of Ryan too, but it’s also the closest to anything Faron-like I’ve found — minus pointy-ears — so I’m using it again)

…All right, technically, he’s 17 when we meet him in the first book.

I mean that his character is 5 years old. Because on July 20, 2010, is when I first “met” him in my mind and he came into existence as a character. This is important, and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve before told the story of when I became serious about my writing in 2007, after a few early years of aimless scribbling on different tales. In 2008 I finished my first novel. But it was June of 2010 that I first began keeping a log of my writing.

I’ve been keeping that log ever since — noting down all of the writing or writing-related stuff I’ve done, each day, for the last 5 years and a bit. Wow. That’s kind of an amazing thought for me to realize… (My records also claim I’ve written over 580,000 words since beginning to record such things… But I digress.)

I consider my beginning of keeping a log, in 2010, to be the next step in my writing years, following my decision in ’07 to be a writer.

In 2012, I met Tare and started writing The Owl of Kedran’s Wood, and other tales of Kedran’s Wood have been following it, along with yet other unrelated stories that have cropped up since doing my first NaNo in 2010. So I haven’t talked much about Starrellia, as I said, what with Tare and others having taken over a few years back.

But there was a time, before Tare, and after the beginning of my log-keeping practices, that I was very absorbed with my Starrellian Saga (a time that I hope will come again).

starrellianicon

Starrellia and all of its tales were my original stories.

Most of them remain unwritten, and those that are will require a major re-haul. But from my earliest years of writing, Starrellia has always been there.

What has become the first book in the series, Grey Betrayal, was having a problem around when I started my logs. The main character, Ryan, a mysterious young lad with silver hair and eyes, was too different of a character for me to have as the primary Point of View character.

I knew I needed someone else, someone more ordinary and relatable, to filter Ryan’s adventures through the eyes of, but I was stuck as to who that character might be, especially since I had far too many characters in my tales already, and did not want to spend a lot of time trying to come up with another.

Enter July 20, 2010.

At the time, I was reading a book on writing, called “Anybody Can Write” by Roberta
Jean Bryant. I honestly don’t remember much about the book now, but there was a particular exercise that I read in it that caught my attention. It was to write stream-of-consciousness from the Point of View of the paper you’re writing on, and then of the pen, using first-person. I didn’t want to do that in particular, but I thought — wait. I could use this for a character.

Yes, those were early days. I was used to writing in my own way and not trying new things. You’re probably all laughing at me. But it was an epiphany moment for me, and as those thoughts of a character for the reader to view Ryan through had been swirling, my thoughts took shape and solidified.

I took a piece of paper (yes, I wrote on paper back then; I know, I’m ancient; don’t laugh) and I became this new character who introduced himself in my head at that moment. His name was Faron, and he spent 45 minutes writing out his thoughts through my hand and my pen, and I suddenly knew his mind deeper than any characters I’d written before then.

And just like that, I had my new main POV character for the first Starrellian book.

Faron would be the Watson to my Ryan’s Holmes.

I consider that day to be the beginning of the new era of my Starrellian writing. Everything before that is old and distant. Everything after that, all the solidifying and expanding of the plots I’ve done since, is post-Faron. Somehow, he’s the line dividing past from now.

So that day — this day — July 20, Faron’s birthday, is the beginning of Starrellia-in-earnest. …As I thought of it, until recently.

Because I realized that with this long time stepping away from Starrellia — my heart and my home — in order to write the stories of Tare (my favorite character) and the Chess Club (my dearest friends), I’ve stepped away long enough that instead of becoming estranged . . .

. . . I have gained a new perspective.

I have discovered that I can now look at Starrellia, its lands, its tales, its characters, with new eyes, and I see everything fresh and ready to be rediscovered and made new.

I will return to it. That time is not yet, for I hope to finish some of my current tales first — stories that I love dearly as well, and which demand that I hear them out and set their words on paper. But then — then, I will go back.

I hope for a renewal, a returning, when I will once again journey back to the things I once knew, the hills and forests and mountains and seas, the castles and villages and caves, the cloaks and swords and harp music, the wild clans of talking bears, the Filanu and all their mysteries, the Seven and their long quest to protect the kingdoms, the exiled kings and lost princes, the villains who prowl at large and seek to dominate the free peoples of the land, the love and loss and victory and adventure, and all that is wild and adventurous and yet all at once comforting and at home, as only a world of fantasy can give.

And there I will meet long-lost friends, like Faron himself (happy birthday, m’lad! *tousles his hair fondly*), and Ryan the Silent One, and Prince Duncan, Bithoa the Outlaw, Varentle Kingson, Andrew, Ethan, Princess Atria, Eleanor, Oflagaro, Darksky the Bear, David and Donavin, Calendula, and all the rest, and we will travel on our quests through Starrellia and its surrounding lands.

And at night we will enjoy our friendship and sit or dance around a burning fire of red flickering flames, like a beacon of hope amid darkness, in a glade under the stars in the familiar forests of my dear Land of Starrellia.