S6: Tarquin’s Perspective

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This is a scene from chapter 5 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun, told from Tarquin’s perspective. Enjoy! To see the original chapter 5, click here.

“Tarquin, am I going to be okay? Do you think I’ll get over this?” My sister Mara’s hollowed dark eyes pleaded me.

I could hardly bear the sight of her weak figure and pale face splotched with tumors. Would she be sent to Winter with the dying ones before she got well enough?

Before I could answer her, I heard a knock at the door. Wondering who it could be, I rushed to open it.

Dahlia, with her wild brown hair and beautiful dark eyes, stood there, with a young Spring boy at her side. My heart stopped.

“Hi, Dahlia,” I said in greeting.

She blushed, no doubt surprised I remembered her name. I was half embarrassed I had.

“Oh, never mind,” she said quickly. “I thought this was where the younger boys or girls—”

“—it is. My sister is here.” I raked my hand through my hair, worried that Mara thought I’d left her forever. Her brain was in a muddled state due to the plague. “I was caring for her and the rest of them since they have no one else to help them.”

Dahlia’s face paled whiter than the sick ones. “We came here to…” She cleared her throat, but before she could finish, the Spring boy held out a basket of fresh buns.

“Want some, sir?” His voice was small; I hadn’t seen a Spring boy in so long. He was adorable.

Dahlia smiled a little. “We were giving them out to the sick.”

Her concern for the sick ones warmed my heart. I wondered if she knew Gesu. Not just knew about him, but knew him, like I did. Gesu’s kind-heartedness, after all, inspired me to tend to these girls.

I watched Dahlia for a moment as she stared around the room, as if searching for something, or perhaps someone. Then she and the Spring boy began handing out the fresh buns.

I rushed to my sister’s side. “I’m here now.”

Mara struggled to open her heavy eyelids. “Tarquin, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” I dabbed a wet cloth on her forehead. “You’ll be all right, sis.”

Suddenly I noticed a green fairy entering the room. “Attention, everyone!” she shouted. “Queen Hazina has made a new decree for the lands of Spring, Summer, and Autumn: ‘All the sick must proceed to Winter.’ The ‘sick’ are defined by the queen as ‘those unable to work for her majesty.’ Therefore, if you do not stand up within five seconds, you will be taken immediately to Winter.” Four other green fairies stood by, with chains ready.

I stood up straight, but the sick ones couldn’t even begin to sit up. I stared at Dahlia from across the room, not taking my eyes off her as her dark eyes drew me in. I hadn’t stopped thinking about her since Gesu’s miracle session a few days ago. She hadn’t wanted to marry anyone, but I could fix that.

When the door closed sharply, I realized then that the fairies had indeed taken away the sick ones, leaving Dahlia, Kari, and me behind.

I dropped my gaze from Dahlia, thinking of Mara, dear Mara. I should have tried to save her, to help her stand somehow.

“Can I eat a bun?” Kari asked the young woman.

After a pause, Dahlia told him he could have them all.

The boat. She needed to see the boat. If we were some of the only few left well and alive in Summer, she needed to know about it, in case the time came for us to leave Istagun.

“Dahlia.” Her name came out weaker than I intended. “I want you to see something.”

“I’ll be right back, Kari.”

Her willingness to follow me surprised me. Was I so attractive that I could change her mind about me within a few days?

I led her down to the dark, filthy basement. Perhaps I was a fool to bring a pretty girl down to this place. I probably was just going to scare her off. Still, it was important she knew.

“The boys wouldn’t let me use theirs, so I come here sometimes and…”

I lit a lantern, revealing the boat I’d spent hours laboring over.

“It’s called a boat,” I said quietly.

“A boat?” She stared at me, almost blissfully, and my heart ached.

“I built it, so I could one day travel across the seas, to the mountains. There are rumors about these people called Treelanders, who live in the forests. I want to meet them, to escape this Summer, and to be free.” I gazed off into the dark basement, remembering the stories I’d heard from the Gesu-following fairies. They dreamed of traveling to the Treelanders to live among them and share the goodness of Gesu with them.

“It floats?”

I stifled a laugh. “Well, I hope so. A fairy used to tell me stories, so that’s all I have to go off of.”

Dahlia grimaced. “Why are you showing me this?”

Her question caught me off guard, but I shrugged. “You and I… we’re some of the only few left here, and—”

“—and we have responsibilities!” She folded her arms across her chest. “You can’t just leave everyone here to die, while you go on a silly adventure to a land far away!”

I lowered the lantern from my face, grimacing at her biting remark. So, she thought I was an idiot. I could change that.

“I showed this to you so you’d know, when the time came,” I said steadily, though inside I shook at her entrancing gaze. “But you’re right. Now is not the time for adventures… Now is the time to find Gesu.”

“Gesu?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Dahlia. He’s the only one who can save us.” I searched her face, willing her to believe me. Of course she believed. She had seen the miracles. But there was so much more to just believing in what Gesu could do. You had to believe in who He was.

“Tarquin,” she whispered, “can he bring the dead back to life?”

I frowned, unable to grasp why she’d expect so much from the man. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I need to find my sister, Hollis. She’s been sick for years. I don’t know where she is, or even if she’s still…” Her voice cracked unexpectedly, and she turned to leave.

I wanted to reach out and clasp hold of her small hand, but I restrained myself.

“Wait, Dahlia,” I said, thinking of my own sister, and how I’d be just as anxious to find Mara as Dahlia seemed about finding Hollis. “Is that why you came to this hut? To find your sister?”

“Yeah.” She took a step up the stairs.

“Oh.”

I stared at the back of her head where her dark curls cascaded down to her waist. I couldn’t let her leave. And we both knew that Gesu was the only cure to this plague.

“Let’s go to Autumn to get Gesu,” I suggested. “He can heal everyone choked by the plague—and your sister, once we find her. She’s probably in Winter. We’ll figure something out and…”

I watched as she stormed upstairs, her sobs resonating down to me in the dark basement. My heart went out to her. Both of our sisters were gone.

Only Gesu could help us now.

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Sandbox: How You Might Feel About My New Novella

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(Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash)

Warning: Spoiler Alert! I will be posting the chapters week by week, so don’t read this if you don’t want the story spoiled. 😉
This assignment was to imagine someone opening your completed novella and describe how they might think and feel about it.

Trinity Peters browsed the bookshelf at the library. Her eyes caught onto a colorful book with the title, The Healer of Istagun. She slid it out, examined the back cover, sat down in a comfy chair, and read it carefully.

The book took her on a fantasy journey with a young girl named Dahlia, who was trying to find her sick sister. Trinity thought about her mother who was in the hospital with breast cancer and understood the scary unknowns of illness. She found the powerful healer Gesu quite fascinating, and she wished there was some quick cure in real life.

Prima the fairy was always jabbering on about whatever, which got Trinity to chuckle a bit. That fairy and Dahlia seemed to be in some love-hate relationship. Trinity wished Dahlia would realize how much Prima was helping her.

As Tarquin showed his ship in the basement that he had built in hopes to sail away from this land of enslavement, Trinity couldn’t help but want Dahlia and Tarquin to end up together in the end. But Dahlia kept shoving his kindness and special attention aside. Why wouldn’t this girl give the poor guy a chance? She read faster, wondering how Dahlia’s heart was going to change.

Andrea was a bit annoying, Trinity had to admit. Dahlia had a point about bringing misery on her children if she got married, since the parents and children had to be separated immediately after birth. Those evil fairies were certainly evil! And Andrea seemed absolutely clueless, wanting Dahlia to just have fun with her life and marry somebody.

The story world naturally intrigued Trinity. Queen Hazina was a powerhouse, wanting all the age groups separated into never-ending seasons. If Trinity never saw her parents or didn’t know anything about them, she’d be totally confused and lost in the world. There wouldn’t be older people to give advice. Now that she thought about it, she’d probably do a lot of foolish things if only peers surrounded her. She couldn’t imagine the pain of being separated from children she had as soon as she gave birth. And with working as a slave all the time to that wicked Queen, she knew she’d be infuriated by the injustice of it all!

As the book approached the climax, Trinity wondered how Dahlia and Tarquin were going to help the hundreds of sick people, if Gesu was really dead. She watched as the two got his blood and fed it to the sick. Ew! Were these people actually vampires? But no, Gesu’s blood actually turned out to magically heal the sick and give them extraordinary power. Wait, was this some allegory thing? Trinity thought. Did Gesu represent Jesus saving us and giving us the Holy Spirit, after His blood was shed for us? These thoughts confirmed in Trinity’s mind the power of Jesus’ death.

The book ended with Tarquin the King of Istagun, asking Dahlia to be his wife so they could venture to the land across the sea to take the Treelanders home and to explore the new land. Clearly, the spirit of Gesu was with them all.

Trinity set down the book, realizing the library was just now closing. Great. Just in time. She went home pondering sickness and healing, the relationship between age groups in society, and the power of Jesus’ blood, which brought her life in abundance.

Well, this might be an idealized version of what I hope readers will get from my novella. But with God’s help, perhaps I can give you something worthwhile and meaningful for you to enjoy and think about.

Prologue of Istagun

Here is the prologue of a book I just started writing this week. Thanks to my sister who came up with the first inspiration. Hint: “Istagun” is the name of this fantasy island, and it actually is a Maltese word that means “Season.” But this prologue alone isn’t going to tell you the whole story world, it’s just a teaser. 😉 Hope you enjoy!

I poised my head to the side, tucking the cherry blossom in my curly brunet hair. The sun was shining sweetly on the bright dainty fairies who hovered about to till the ground to the south and water the sprouted carrots and onions toward the north. Everything was always growing, and there was always a flower or vegetable ready to harvest.
“Dahlia, your sistah wants you,” a four-year-old boy called to me from the little thatched hut.
I smiled at him, glad to have friends at every corner, though I could hardly remember all their names. Stepping passed him, I entered the hut full of crying human babies attended to by the mother fairies. I rushed to my eight-year-old sister’s bedside, where Hollis lay dead silent in the midst of the infants’ cries.
It always struck me how pale she looked. For some reason I hadn’t gotten it into my head yet that she wasn’t the same carefree girl she was a year ago. She was delicate, ailing; a tumor had arisen on her forehead last month, swelling larger every day.
I knelt beside her and clasped my hand around hers. “What is it, Hollis?”
She gazed up at me, her solemn blue eyes feverish, desperate, experiencing something I did not understand. Something no one but her could understand in the middle of cheerful Spring.
“I’m not so sure I want to live anymore,” she whispered, her breath as fragile as the pixies about us.
I pulled the cherry blossom out of my hair and tucked it in between her fingers. “Don’t say that, Hollis.”
She gripped my hand so hard for a split second, and then let go. “You don’t know anything, Dahlia. You don’t know where we came from, or where Andrea went—and all the rest of the older ones.”
I bit my lip. For a younger sister, she seemed smarter than I was. Wiser. Maybe that’s what the pain did to her. I was fourteen years old, and so was Andrea when she left. So were all the others.
“You think they’re going to take me away?” I asked gently.
“Don’t act so innocent,” Hollis said. “Of course they’re going to take you away.”
Tears poured down her cheeks now, unable to resist themselves. I covered her with my body, trying to give her safety, relief. “Oh, Hollis,” I murmured, “I have no idea where we came from. You’re right about everything, Hollis. You never believed me, did you?”
She wept into my chest, clinging to me as tightly as her weak hands could. “Yeah,” she said feebly. “Across the sea and over the mountains was all you could think of. But I knew better. The fairies come in girls and boys, too. When they’re older, one boy and one girl decide to live together, and then somehow they have a baby fairy.”
I held Hollis’ neck, chuckling. “So, you figured it out, too. They’re called mothers and fathers. That’s why we’re sisters—we have the same mother and father. The fairies said so.”
Relaxing, she rested her head back into the pillow, content that I’d spoken the truth once and for all, though she’d already guessed it.
“I will never leave you,” I assured her, as if it were something I could control. “Maybe we’ll never get to see our parents, and I’m not sure why. But we’ll always have each other. That’s one thing you can be sure of.”
I had to lie, to keep her dreaming, hoping, and alive. It didn’t matter that she didn’t believe me, for as long as she knew that I loved her, she had reason to fight away her longings of escaping this life.
Hollis’ eyes fluttered, threatening to close. “But what if I die?” she said softly. “What will happen to you?”
It had been last year that this disease fell upon my sister. The fairies said it would never leave her, that there was no cure—not even with the potions. Worst of all, they hinted that she had a shorter lifespan than most humans.
“Death,” I said. “Is that another thing you learned about from watching the fairies?”
At her grimace, I managed a tight smile to reassure her, for it hurt me to see her so uneasy. “Well, Hollis, there’s a million things I’m uncertain of, and that I can’t control. But no matter what happens, you’re not going to die. Do you believe me?”
Her fingers loosened her hold on my hand as her eyelids shut firmly at last, her mind drifting off into a slumber that would temporarily ease her pain.
Of course she didn’t believe me. Leaning forward, I planted a kiss on the tumor-less part of her forehead. “There is one thing I can truly promise you, Hollis: I will never forget you, no matter what happens.”

The Girl Who Died

I had heard about him before, about his loyal disciples, strange parables, and mostly of his extraordinary miracles. He was all that everyone talked about nowadays. My father, a synagogue leader, talked about him more than most. Father claimed that this man was the Messiah, the Son of God, the King who would come to save us from our sins. Mother, on the other hand, called the whole thing a bunch of nonsense. Continue reading