Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday Words: #AmBrainstorming



As a pantser, my mind is constantly rolling thoughts and ideas of stories in my head, how they will turn out, what the end will be, where the story starts, etc. With 2016 approaching in less than 48 hours, the only real goal I want to set is to start writing again. There are 3 stories in my mind, one of which I want to NOT BE THERE.

1: Mutants! - If you've followed me since the old Write Mage, you know that I started writing stories because of X-Men: The Animated Series. I spent 7 years writing and illustrating various chapter books on notebook paper based on a group of teenage mutants living in a mansion and fighting crime on school nights. I gave up on that idea for several years, but I've started it up again with a fresh backstory, new and old characters, and what I hope will become a solid story line. I just need to figure out the execution.

2: Magical Sisters! - (these aren't the titles, by the way, just the topics) - Like my current WIP, this story is coming about based on a simple dream I had. I was slipping out of a window and running off to a field with sisters I don't have (I HAVE sisters, but these weren't them, if I recall). I have many visual ideas of what these girls look like, what their names will be, and who they are in society, but coming up with the plot is what needs to happen here.

3: A Sequel??? - So, I have zero idea why my mind is doing this to me, but more and more ideas for a sequel to my current WIP The Crystal Bearer are blooming in my crazy noggin. I know there will be PTSD, and there will be a blossoming relationship, and possibly an international conflict, but I almost want to tell my mind to shut up and focus on those other two stories.

So those are the main three (two) on which I plan to build in 2016. I don't know what will come of them, but we shall definitely see.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Musings: That Oxymoron, the Self-Hating POC

I normally don't do posts on Mondays, but this article I read yesterday is still on my mind. Take a moment to read That Oxymoron, The Asian Comic Superhero by Umapagan Ampikaipakan from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I wanted to dissect everything wrong with this article via Twitter, but it's Twitter, and I needed my thoughts to be connected by more than me replying to myself in 140-character bursts.

A summary of the article for those who don't want to read it (that's fine; I sometimes don't read the article someone is about to rant on lol): making a typically white American superhero anything OTHER negates everything any fan of color can dream of attaining.

Are you confused? Because I'm confused. Let's start the dissection.

The final page of the first issue of the new Ms. Marvel comic is pitch perfect. A strange mutagenic mist pervades the streets of Jersey City, activating a secret alien gene that triggers a transformation within our teenage protagonist. She punches her way out of a chrysalis to find that she has mutated into another body: The Pakistani-American Muslim Kamala Khan, with her newly minted superpowers, has been transmogrified into a tall, leggy blonde.

It is a fantastic visual gag.

Is it? (Does this transformation remind anyone else of something? The overweight Jewish girl who gains powers and becomes a hot, thin redhead?) As a young black American girl growing up in a predominantly white community, I wanted SO badly to look like my blonde, blue-eyed friends. I thought my darker skin and short, nigh-unmanageable hair was awful. There's nothing funny about that. 

But it doesn’t take long ... for Kamala to realize that her brown Muslim self is as potent as can be. All she needed to become super, besides a costume and a mask, was a strong sense of individualism, righteousness, a can-do spirit and a purpose. The superhero comic is an inherently egalitarian genre, even though its lead characters are exceptional: After a bout with a radioactive spider or some Terrigen Mist, it could be you or it could be me.

Which is why the recent push by Marvel and DC for greater diversity in comics doesn’t make much sense.

Wait, what? Isn't the push for diversity a push for egalitarianism? According to Ampikaipakan, only in the United States. To non-Americans, in his words:

The superhero comic is the American dream illustrated, and by definition the American dream must be accessible to all. However monochromatic its characters...

Okay, I'm going to stop you right there. By definition, the American dream must be accessible to ALL. So, by definition, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed male should appeal to people all over the world. He can be you, young black girl in Kenya, and you, old Japanese man in Kyoto.

I'm being very sardonic about this, but only because it doesn't make sense. The American Dream, unfortunately, has always been portrayed as the perfect white family to a world dominated by people of color. But that doesn't make it a necessity, because obviously, if you aren't white, you never can be. Speaking of which:

I’m Hindu and grew up on the adventures of gods with formidable features: the elephant-like Ganesh; the monkey-faced Hanuman; the blue-skinned, butter-eating Krishna. But they always remained out of reach: I could never be Ganesh or Krishna; they were deities. Yet I could be Spider-Man, because I already was Peter Parker.

I want to stand on my desk and yell at my screen in a weird balancing act that this is a ridiculous comparison. I could never be a deity, but I could be a normal person. Well, duh. And yeah, he wasn't looking at Peter's race, just that he was the Everyman who was bitten by a radioactive spider, and you don't have to care that your favorite superheros are all white, but why would making Peter Parker suddenly Peter Ampikaipakan "[undercut] the genre's universal appeal," as he says a little later?

Because had I seen a black Batgirl (even though I absolutely loved the dark-haired, short-haired Barbara Gordon played by Yvonne Craig in the original TV show), I would have been so empowered to see someone who looked like me playing a superhero. I did love Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, but she was also a villain. I don't want universal appeal to also entail that the bad guys aren't white, because that's what negating the importance of POC superheroes also does. If the universal superhero must be white America, then what is the universal villain?

"It can’t be an accident that so many efforts to create an Asian superhero have failed."

No, it wasn't an accident, but the main example he uses, the Chinese superhero the Green Turtle during WORLD WAR II, is flawed beyond measure. Did he imagine that just because the character was fighting against the Japanese that Americans, great at their inability to tell the difference between anything, were going to sympathize with an Asian character in 1944? Green Turtle was created to fail, not just because he was an Asian superhero, but because he was an Asian superhero trying to be pushed during a time of anti-Asian sentiments.

As recently as 2004, “Spider-Man: India” transposed Peter Parker’s story to Pavitr Prabhakar, a poor Indian boy in Mumbai. Aunt May became Aunt Maya. Mary Jane, Meera Jain. It was a near-literal translation of American tropes into an Indian setting, and made no use of India’s rich mythological traditions or particular class and caste struggles.

The same goes for the heroes of major Japanese mangas, like Astro Boy and Devilman. Though their origin stories tend to be mystical or supernatural ... in most other respects these characters are just rip-offs of the American comic book canon.

That's not Pavitr's, Astro Boy's, or Devilman's fault; it's the fault of their writers, who thought only the American experience was what fans wanted to see, and while the many angry white boys will throw tantrums on Twitter about it as they tend to do when the matrix gets reloaded with a different filter, there are fans of color cheering and jumping for joy that someone with their face is in their comic book (well, unless they're Umapagan Ampikaipakan).

The current Ms. Marvel is the most successful rendition of an Asian superhero. But Kamala is Asian-American, and her struggles to balance her duties as both a superhero and a good Muslim girl are merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience.

But...didn't you just say that...the others were just...I mean...

So apparently, a Peter Parker in India but still using American tropes is wrong, but so is a brown Ms. Marvel handling the struggles of an American immigrant? So, was she supposed to just be a Ms. Marvel from Pakistan still using the American tropes? Because I thought that was wrong, too. So, what's right?

Try to adapt the superhero comic’s conventions to an Asian context and the genre collapses under the weight of traditional Asian values: humility, self-effacement, respect for elders and communal harmony. American comic book heroes also act in the service of the collective good, but they do so, unabashedly, out of a heightened sense of self. How can an Asian superhero take down the bad guy without embarrassing both the bad guy’s family and his own? How do you save the world and save face at the same time? The Asian comic superhero is a contradiction in terms.

Humility: superheroes can be humble. Point blank. They're not all Dark Knight Batman. Self-effacement: superheroes typically wear masks, right? So as long as their identities remain hidden, the attention is basically on no one. Communal harmony: if a villain is disrupting the harmony of the community, wouldn't an Asian superhero stopping that villain restore the harmony, and because no one knows who the actual hero is, their family's honor is safe? No offense to the villain's family, but their honor is the villain's problem. Maybe they shouldn't have raised a sociopath.

The final point, to which I call bulls**t:

We geeks out here in the Asian hinterlands have always readily bought into American ideals because the American comic book makes us believe we can be special, too. The Asian superhero, steeped in our cultural baggage, would only undermine the fantasy.

Obviously, I can only speak from a black American perspective, but done properly, an Asian superhero steeped in the baggage of one of the various cultures (you can't lump all Asians into one culture and then speak for them, sir) should do nothing but strengthen the fantasy that a reader, with all of their issues and cultural baggage, can overcome them all to save the day.

So why did I call Ampikaipakan a self-hating POC? Because he is basically saying that anything other than a white American hero isn't good enough for people around the world to aspire to. Seeing an Asian-American superhero struggling with her identity only reflects back his issues as a non-American Asian striving for the American dream, and he can't handle that. He doesn't see that Kamala Khan could have been an awesome and accessible Ms. Marvel without becoming the tall, leggy blonde. He thinks her battling with her superhero duties and her cultural identity shuts out the world from understanding her.

But in a world that is mostly NOT American, wouldn't those trying to attain the American Dream understand Kamala's plight more because they are fighting the same internal struggle as she is? Wouldn't that show them that they aren't alone in this world that keeps throwing the ideal of white-American superiority at them?

Because Kamala can't be white, and she shouldn't have been forced to be. Umapagan, you can't be a white Peter Parker, so don't get upset when someone takes off your color-proof glasses and shows you so.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Tales: All Grown Up

Tuesdays are the day I have set aside to get my creative mind rolling by writing flash fiction. For the time being, these stories will be set in Teorre, the world of my current WIP, The Crystal Bearer. I used 30 Flash Fiction Prompts to help me pick a few weeks ago. I forgot about two of them. Here is the other. 22: Write a story that involves time travel.


All Grown Up

Princess Catalyne bounced Ghuli in her arms and smiled as her little baby let out a sleepy laugh. Her large eyes fluttered closed, but the smile on her chubby face remained as she drifted off to sleep. Catalyne gently laid her in her bassinet and watched her sleep for a time.

"Cata," Prince Mataiu called softly. She turned to meet his smile, and he held out his hand for her to come to bed.

Catalyne nodded but turned back to Ghuli. She reached down to kiss her curls before joining her husband to sleep. Mataiu held her to him as he fell asleep just as quickly as their daughter. Cata played with a lock of his long, black hair as she fought to stay awake. She wanted to stay in this moment, hearing her Prince and her little Princess's deep breaths intertwine in the air of their corner of the palace. The room spun slowly with the strength of her fatigue, however, so she closed her eyes.

"Mother?"

Catalyne snapped her eyes open, looked over her shoulder, and shot up. A young woman stood at her bedside, large, teary hazel eyes staring down at her. Her hair fell in damp curls down her back and contrasted with her puffy white nightgown. Tears rolled down her brown cheeks. Catalyne prepared to scream, but the young woman's face made her freeze. Not because of her distressed state, but because she knew it.

Catalyne looked towards the bassinet, and her heart raced. She looked again to the young woman. "Ghuli?"

"I am so sorry, Mother," the young woman whimpered.

Catalyne reached behind her to shake her husband. "Matu..."

"You aren't awake. I had to reach you before it happens."

"Before what happens, Ghuli? What is it?"

"You have to send me away."

"Send you...Why? What is going on?"

"I tried to fix it, but you all still die."

Catalyne's eyes widened. Her breath started to come shorter. "What do you mean?" she gasped.

Ghuli wiped her face dry and composed herself long enough to explain. "The army is coming, soon, a fortnight before my first birthday. They will destroy the continent and all of you with it."

Tears suddenly flooded Catalyne's eyes. She knew of the army, of the despair it brought to Mataiu's forefathers. The drawings King Dyeva had painted in his old age when his mind started to leave him had been enough to frighten her. "Why?"

Ghuli shook her head, tears once again rolling down her cheeks. "You won't remember until you return to Teorre's Energy. If I told you now, you surely would never believe this to be more than a dream. I...I ruined everything, and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone back. I only made it worse..." She started to cry harder.

"Ghuli..." Catalyne stifled her own tears and reached out a hand to her daughter, her beautiful little princess all grown up.

Ghuli eagerly took her hand and scrubbed at her eyes. She took one deep breath and smiled sadly. "I love you."

"Cata, wake up."

Catalyne opened her eyes and realized how much they stung with tears. Her whole body trembled beneath Mataiu's hand. She sat up and looked to the bassinet.

"What is it, my love?" Mataiu begged, wiping at her cheeks. "Tell me, please."

She had to trust the dream. Something deep in her heart told her it was real. The way Ghuli spoke...they had to return to Teorre's Energy...Had they already died once? Were they already dead?

"Cata?"

Catalyne closed her eyes and swallowed. Then, she looked to her husband and rested a hand on his fair cheek.

"I must tell you something."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fast Five Friday: Stocking Stuffers!



Happy Friday! The Cover Girls give us a topic to which we shoot off rapid answers each Friday if we so choose. This week, it's 5 Stocking Stuffer ideas!

1. A favorite artist's CD (I still buy them lol)
2. Favorite candy
3. Non-fragile Christmas ornament
4. Hot cocoa packet
5. Mini lip-gloss or something for the guys. lol

Do you have any ideas?

Ooh, and while you're at it, go check out Cover Girl Jax's cool flower puppies!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Words: Hereafter (2nd ed.)



It's Wednesday! This is the day I've set aside to share with you all what I'm reading (unless I want to share what I'm writing). I'm still reading Issa Rae's hilarious memoir, but I needed to stop to read the 2nd edition of the awesome Terri Bruce's Hereafter for a goal she's trying to reach by the 20th to do a giveaway.


If you follow Terri, you know she went through HELL with her original publisher during the release of the sequel Thereafter, and as she has come out of that and was able to re-publish both books with these new PERFECT covers (I hated the original cover), I'm so happy for her. Whereafter is soon to come, and NOTHING is going to stop me from getting it on release day!

SO using Random.org, I will be sharing a few lines from a random page. There are 369 pages, and Random has selected page 71, so here we go.


She took her eyes off the road long enough to shoot him a dark look. "Yeah, okay, whatever, with you so far. Here's me, overcoming obstacles and traveling to the land of the dead. Got it."

Jonah twisted around to look at the backseat. "Which reminds me, you didn't pack anything."


I love these two so much.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Tales: Thunder

Tuesdays are the day I have set aside to get my creative mind rolling by writing flash fiction. For the time being, these stories will be set in Teorre, the world of my current WIP, The Crystal Bearer. I used 30 Flash Fiction Prompts to help me pick a few weeks ago. I forgot about two of them. Here is one of them. 12: Write a story that begins with, and consists mostly of, dialogue.


Thunder

“Cyan, wake up.”

“No.”

“Cyan, please?”

“Why aren’t you asleep?”

“Because…”

A crack of thunder, followed by Ghuli’s soft gasp, made Cyan open his eyes. Ghuli's large, hazel eyes instantly watered, and Cyan scooted over in his bed to let her climb in.

“You are getting too old for this, you know?”

“I know.” Ghuli curled up to Cyan and wiped her eyes. “Forgive me.”

He wrapped his arms around her and sighed. “Try to sleep. The storm will pass soon.”

“How can you sleep through storms?”

“I like them.”

“Do they not hurt your ears?”

“Just the ones that are closest, but I’m rarely awake to hear them.”

“You can still go to sleep.”

“Not while you talk to me.”

“I just…The thunder sounds like the army.”

Cyan paused, instinctively drew Ghuli closer as another roll of thunder made her tremble. “I know.”

“It won’t find us here, will it?”

“If it does, I’ll protect you.”

“No. I won’t lose you, too, Cyan. I forbid you.”

“Well, you aren’t a queen yet, so you can’t tell me what to do. Go to sleep.”

Ghuli was silent for a long time. Cyan was wise enough to know, however, that her mind was turning countless thoughts around in her head.

“I miss him,” she finally said.

Cyan sighed again. “So do I.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

2-for-Friday: Fast Five: Cover Worlds and Final Fantasy: Nobuo Uematsu

Happy Friday, and hello new followers!

Fridays are the days I set aside for weekly blog hops from the Cover Girls as well as for my love of Final Fantasy!


This week, Dani and Jax would like to know what 5 covers make us want to live in the world of that book. Yeesh, let me look through the books I've read. Many have been really dark, but I don't remember all of the covers.

These are in no particular order:


 
 

Okay, let me explain the last one. I still harbor dreams of becoming a WWE wrestler. There.

What book covers made you want to live there?



One of the most memorable things about Final Fantasy is the music. Most of it was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who is so genius. Below is an hour's worth of what a Youtuber deemed are the 15 greatest themes from Uematsu sensei. I, myself, and about to listen and enjoy.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Words: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl



Happy Hump Day!

First, I want to say if you're an Octavia Butler fan, I've posted my unofficial sequel to her last novel Fledgling, on my blog. There's a tab above for it now, if you'd like to take a gander (I want to insert some kind of joke, but I'm not that talented).

Secondly, it's Wednesday, the day set aside to share with you all what I'm reading (usually). I didn't finish my last read--there were a lot of problems with it that I just could not keep ignoring--so I moved on to something I really wanted to read.


The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl was a Youtube series I started watching 2-ish years ago on a wait in an airport. I was laughing for at least an hour. If you're an awkward person, you'll really understand it, and if you're--like me--an awkward black girl, then you'll totally understand it. Issa Rae is my spirit animal. The series won 2012 Best Shorty Award, and the book, which I'm currently reading, was nominated for Goodreads Memoir of the Year 2015 and, as you can see, is a New York Times Bestseller. As someone who grew up in a predominantly white area before moving to a more diverse state, reading Issa Rae's book so far is a warped mirror of my life!

There are 200 pages in this book, and using Random.org to pick a page, it has chosen page 47, so let me see what was there.

But at some level, as each new model for social media strives to connect us in new, paradoxically estranged ways, there exists a consistent core, the human desire to feel included. Whether you're an awkward black girl or an irritated disabled stripper, everyone should have the opportunity to feel represented in some way.

I'm sure you went, "Wait, what?" lol It's a long story. As a drummer girl for Writer Inclusively, that chapter had a lot of chords to strike with me on the subject, and I tweeted some of the moments that you should be able to find to the right, if I haven't yet tweeted up a storm.

Reading anything good this week?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday Tales: The Island

Tuesdays are the day I have set aside to get my creative mind rolling by writing flash fiction. For the time being, these stories will be set in Teorre, the world of my current WIP, The Crystal Bearer.

I'm a little behind today. I usually have these written ahead of time, but I wasn't up for it (and I also noticed I saved two other prompts to use, so I should work on those). I Googled "flash Fiction prompts" as usual and picked today's topic from storybutter.com:

Islands in the Sky: You’ve lived your entire life with your grandmother on a floating island far, far above the unfamiliar world below. Today you’re leaving. Today will be the first time you escape the clouds.

Questions to consider: How do you feel about leaving? Why are you leaving? Where are you going? What happens when you get there?



The Island

We thought only a few years had passed. Our Prince left for war and told his betrothed he would send a messenger with word of the progress. Well, someone came, but it wasn't the messenger, and the message she brought was quite a shock. The war was lost by both sides. The King killed his dueling sons.

That was over 100 years ago.

Grandmother cried. I wish I could, but I remember the ascent. The ground shook with great tremors, and my body felt weighed down, but really our island was being uprooted, pulled up from the waters and into the sky--and apparently out of the laws of time. Fog and stone have been our skies. No one has dared to venture out to the edge, but falling was never my greatest fear; our Prince's power was.

Though I dare not speak it aloud, I'm glad he's dead.

We are leaving now, returning to a world that has changed far beyond our recognition, until someone can figure out how to return our island--if we can return it--to the ocean. Grandmother doesn't want to go. She was born and raised on this island. Anyone any of us has known outside of it is dead. She says she will feel like a stranger among strangers. Not I. I want to see the Trollics again, hear the tales of the Sprites. We have been isolated from the other races since our scholar died. The great-grandchildren of his grandchildren now run the temples.

My grandmother clutches my hand as we stand next in line to board the airship. How these ships have changed! How long does it take to create one so large? What does it take to keep it in the sky (though I suppose the same could be said about our island)? The propellers beneath, though not nearly as large as the propellers above, dwarf us and whip my loose hair every which way they can. The hull curves both inward and outward and comes to a point at the aft and bow, and the air is thick with its pine scent. I can't wait to stand aboard this beast and look through the glass that protects its insides.

The scholars who have come for us say it is a short trip, once we navigate the floating rocks that have barred anyone's attempts at reaching us before. The trick was to navigate up, not through. So, we will navigate down to a world that has moved past us in ways I haven't yet thought of. There is a century's worth of history we will have to learn, new royals and parliamentarians to meet, styles and ways to which we may need to adjust. As we climb the plank up into this floating behemoth to leave our own floating wonder, I can only say that I am ready for whatever may come.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fast Five Friday: Helping Others



Happy 1st Friday of the last month of the year! Whaat?!

The Cover Girls, Dani and Jax, have created this weekly list that's quick fire, fun, and interactive for their readers. The topic today is: 5 Ways to Help Those In Need.

The good thing about this (as someone with not a lot of money) is that there ARE more than one way to lend a helping hand, especially during the holidays!

1. Volunteer at a Nursing Home
2. Give old (but gently used) clothes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army
3. Get a sandwich for a homeless person outside a fast food place (even for the less wealthy, there's almost always a dollar menu!)
4. Sit and talk with a stranger who looks down and/or out
5. Turn in canned goods you buy and never use.

What are 5 things you can think of?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: Am I Wasting My Time?

Brought to us by Alex J. Cavanaugh,
sensei and founder of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.


Every now and then, I sincerely wonder if I'm wasting my time. I've been writing since I was a little girl, and I'm pretty sure most around me have given up the hope that I'll ever have a book on anybody's shelf. If they haven't, they certainly haven't said anything uplifting to me or even asked how my writing's going. I've fortunately found a great CP, and I know for certain that I'm done with Twitter contests, if not contests as a whole. And I know the standard phrase of encouragement is "At least you finished a novel!" but it's not conducive, productive, or constructive. No offense meant to those who say it.

And then there is the blogging itself. I've taken a few breaks from the fatigue and sometimes futility of it all. Not many listen to me offline. Who is reading what I'm saying online? I had 100 followers on my old blog, but none have followed me over here so far (unless they've subscribed via e-mail), so I do wonder if they only followed me because I followed them, or if they don't like my new content, which I feel is more me than what I was trying to do before (which honestly wasn't TOO different, but I was forcing it).

I'm going to keep going because that's what I know how to do, but that's where my head is.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Tales: Love on the Hill

Happy December!

Tuesdays are the day I have set aside to get my creative mind rolling by writing flash fiction. For the time being, these stories will be set in Teorre, the world of my current WIP, The Crystal Bearer. This week, I used 30 Flash Fiction Prompts to help me pick one that stood out to me. The story below is a love story, part of a look into the past of a minor character who appears later in my WIP but is mentioned early. I'm also dabbling with a story for him, but we'll see what comes of it. 13: Write a story that deals with or includes some aspect of a taboo.




Love on the Hill

Grey marched hard and fast up to the temple. He didn’t care who he frightened. He was certain the smallfolk in his path feared his determined frown, but he needed her to know, consequences be damned. The angry words they exchanged were greatly overshadowed by their kiss or the fear in her eyes when she claimed it was wrong, that they simply couldn’t do it. She was a hillsprite, and he was a hulktroll. The races simply did not engage in that way.

Grey no longer cared.

He burst through the doors and up the stairs to the library. The scholar looked up with surprised, yet worried, eyes.

“Why, Grey,” Darius said. “What brings you back here?”

“I need to speak with Shadlyn,” Grey said, his voice firm despite his organs losing solidity inside him.

“She went to fetch herbs. She should be back any minute.”

Darius’s words were to Grey’s back by then, for he had turned and left to hurry back down the stairs. The Humans and Sprites whom he had startled on the way into the temple still stood there practically dumbfounded and backed away when Grey returned. He skidded to a halt as Shadlyn and two other nursemaids walked through the temple doors. When her large, emerald green eyes caught his, she stopped as well, a flush creeping into her cheeks.

“I don’t care who hears this,” Grey said loudly. “I love you, Shadlyn.” The nursemaid to Shadlyn’s right quickly caught the basket that slipped from Shadlyn’s suddenly limp hands. “That you are a Sprite and I a Trollic isn’t going to change that.”

The shocked eyes all around--staring first up at this crazy Trollic in the middle of a busy foyer declaring his love for her, then down to her for her response--became a blur for Shadlyn. Her heart pounded rapidly in her ears, and her body trembled. When she blinked, she realized Grey was approaching her. He knelt in front of her and reached up to cup her now wet face.

But his touch calmed her.

“I love you,” he said again, his silver eyes looking back and forth into hers. “And I know you love me, too.” Shadlyn held Grey’s hands in place against her skin.

One of Darius’s assistants hesitated, but he took three uneasy steps closer. “You know the scholar will have to notify the Council and Sprityn King.”

“And?” Grey shot a look at the Human that made him cower back to from wherever he had come. Then, he looked back to Shadlyn. “Let them start another war to try to keep us apart. I’ve nearly died for you twice now. I’ll do it a third time.”

Shadlyn laughed in the midst of her astonished tears and leaned down to rest her forehead against Grey’s. The murmurs around them were a low buzz to her ears as his thumbs wiped her cheeks clear. It was madness. She knew this. She knew Grey knew this. She knew if she looked around, there would be more than a few horrified Sprityn eyes staring at her.

But Sprites had looked at her that way before, for helping this very same Trollic, and she survived.

“I love you, too.”