LitFest Tours: Stories from the Regions: Breeze

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“Breezes and Chocolate Rivers”
by Talia Sunsong

The people of Breeze lived in peace, but feared the nearby dark lands with the rivers of molten chocolate and the clock tower that kept ticking.

Tick-Tok

Tick-Tok

The clock tower was counting the days until the dark villagers came to Breeze and took away the sunshine.

The dark ones would fly over Breeze in their sky boats with the big balloons blotting out the sun.

The Breeze windmills would turn, picking up speed as the dark ones sky boats rapidly approached.

The dark ones would bring their xylophones made out of skeleton bones and play their grim tunes.

The dark ones would dance to the bones with their bodies jutting out at odd angles, sharp knees and elbows everywhere.

Even the unicorns would pick up the beat of the dark one’s song. Their hoofs would pound the strange rhythm.

The dark ones came to Breeze for its water, because water was life.

Water in the dark one’s lands turned to molten chocolate. The children were delighted, until thirst set in.
To live, the dark ones needed water from Breeze.

“We must keep them away!” The mothers would say, clutching their children to them.

“To the temple of the fish,” cried the village alchemist. “We must plan a defense.”

The villagers of Breeze gathered in the temple on the hilltop.

“We can’t fight them. We have no weapons,” said the farmer.

“We can’t reason with them, they won’t listen,” said the teacher.

“We can’t deny them the water, or they will die,” said the wisewoman.

“The dark ones will always return for the water,” said the mayor sadly.

“I have an idea!” cried the alchemist. “To the tower.” He rushed to the tower, and climbed the spiral stairs, around and around.

When he reached the top room. He opened his vials and his books.

“Raindrops from the underside of a double rainbow,” the alchemist murmured as he poured the raindrops into a cauldron.

“Breath from 200 hummingbirds,” he said as he pulled a stopper from a jar that looked empty, and tipped it over into the cauldron.

“And finally, the black stripes from a zebra unicorn’s mane.” The alchemist dropped long stiff hairs into the cauldron.

He held his hands over the cauldron and chanted. “From dark to light to clear, make the sweetness more dear. Turn the candy into what is more handy.”

The cauldron glowed an eerie light from pink to purple and back again. The alchemist bent down and whispered one final magic word at the cauldron.

Suddenly, the cauldron boiled, faster and faster, until with a “whoosh”, the steam mushroomed into a small cloud that coated the tower’s ceiling. The blue roof of the tower danced with sparks of energy. They gathered into a bolt of lightning that shot from the pole at the top of the tower roof.

The bolt flew towards the chocolate river that ran through the dark ones’ village. It hit the water with a splash and a sizzle.

The chocolate river hissed and boiled. It went from the color of dark chocolate, to milk chocolate, and to white chocolate. The river then turned clear.

The alchemist watched all this with his telescope, set up in the tower’s window.

“Eureka! I’ve done it.” The alchemist dashed down the spiral tower’s stairs. He ran across the village square, past the crowd of villagers.

“What was that lightning, alchemist?” asked the major.

“Come and see!” yelled the alchemist over his shoulder. He raced across the bridge separating the village of Breeze from the dark ones’ land. Several startled dark ones poked their heads out of their open, warped doorways.

A crowd of Breeze villagers and dark ones followed the alchemist to the chocolate river.

The alchemist bent over the river, and grabbed handfuls. He lifted his wet hands towards his face.
“You’ll be a mess, throwing molten chocolate on yourself!” cried the farmer.

Ignoring the farmer, the alchemist cupped the river liquid and splashed it over his face. Instead of a chocolate syrup face, clean water dripped over the alchemist’s features.

“I did it! I turned the chocolate to water.” The alchemist danced in glee.

A dark one shuffled forward. “No more chocolate river?”

“No more chocolate river. You have clean fresh water instead. You won’t have to come to Breeze anymore.”

“But,” said the dark one. “You won’t get to see our sky boats or hear our song or see our dance.”

The villagers of Breeze were struck silent.

“Come and visit us anyway,” said the wisewoman with a smile.

The dark ones smiled back.

##

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Where Breezes Blow
(A “Pooh Song” poem)
by Caledonia Skytower

The wind
that winds
intertwines
abreast
around
beneath.

A golden path
encircles
above
beside
betwixt
between.

It’s hard to know
just where you go
up high
below
somewhere
or no.

Lost and losing
in whirling
and spinning,
almost winning,
at last succumbing
to joy and laughter.

##

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The Darker Side
By Gwen Enchanted

You’d think it was a dream, when you first arrived. You would. You’d revel in the bright colours, the neat gardens, the compact and pretty houses, all differently coloured and all covered with the greenest grass to be seen in the Land. You’d think in a place so full of light, there could hardly be a dark. In a place so full of colour, there could hardly be any dullness. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that there would be nothing hidden, nothing going on beneath the surface, no lies, no subterfuge, no peril. Wouldn’t you.

You’d be wrong.

It’s funny when you grow up there, because you know instinctively to stay away from the insane drop-offs, the steep cliffs, the sorts of things no one notices if they keep to the paths. But you’ve been exploring, haven’t you? You’ve been behind the windmills, seen the little caches of stolen goods there. You’ve noticed the things tourists miss because they’re so busy with the delightful scenery.

I grew up in Breeze. And I know how to tie my laces in bows, and I know how to match bright colours with bright colours, and smile at the people passing, and always have a kind word. I also know how to lift a lady’s purse off a chatelaine with my fingernails, how to divest a man from a month’s wages with a lighthearted game of riddles, how to hide a king’s ransom in plain sight.

I come by it honestly, of course. My parents run a little shop in Breeze that’s nothing more than a front for the mob. That’s right: the mob. The smiling, kindly, might as well be from Munchkinland mob that thrives on the tourist coin and keeps the neighbours silent.

It took me years to realise why the other girls in school didn’t always want to play with me. My mother said it was because their fathers had had fallings out with my father many years ago. And of course that was true, as far as it went. My father explained to them that it cost this much to keep a shop in Breeze, payable directly to him. And when they balked, because he charged a great deal more than his father had, he turned to my mother and just said, “Celeste.” And one by one, their children got sick, and sicker, until they agreed to pay his price. Now, everyone is very healthy and everyone looks wonderful, and none of them want to have a thing to do with me.

Well. None of the girls want to have a thing to do with me. The boys, they all want to get to know me. They know I’ll inherit the family business, you see. My mother made sure the first child was a girl. And she teaches me, after school, how to mix a poison that looks like lemonade. How to prick a baby’s finger from a half mile away. How to smile and smile as you utter a curse under your breath that will haunt a man until he is dead and buried and carry on to his children.

My father teaches me how to intimidate people with a word or a glance. He tells me, “Don’t carry a dagger, carry a club: they’ll never expect a girl to go at them with a blunt instrument.” Don’t laugh: it’s good advice. I’m no cliche blade-wielding lady. And I couldn’t hit the broad side of a windmill with an arrow. But I do have surprisingly good upper body strength, and I know where a man’s kidneys are.

Not that I’ve ever had to use a club. Honestly, rocks are more readily available, less obvious, and just as effective. No one stupid enough to get in my way would ever think my physical closeness meant any danger to them at all.

So I walk up to the fountain and look over the Land of Breeze. And I smile. I smile like everyone else smiles, but for a very different reason.

##

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She moved through the Faire
by Saffia Widdershins

Thomas leaned over me as I sat on the rim of the fountain.

“It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.”

He reached out his hand and stroked it over my shoulder, and then took the edge of the neckline of my gown between his fingers and adjusted it, pulling it upwards.

“Please leave it,” I said, trying hard to keep the edge of sharpness out of my voice. “I do like to feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.” For it was indeed a beautiful day, with just breeze enough to keep our lovely windmills turning.

He smiled then, that gentle, half smile that I had grown to dislike so much, the smile of someone who always knew better than I did. Someone who was always right.

“It’s not modest though, is it?” he said. “To be showing your … shoulders like that.”

Yet as he said that his eyes moved lower down, to where the curve of my breasts showed.

“Perhaps a little cape,” he said. “To cover your shoulders and … the rest. Like a good, modest wife.”

It was on the tip of my tongue that my mother was a wife of thirty years, and she still loved the feel of the sun on her shoulders when she stepped outside her little store to call across the sunny way to friends and visitors. But I said nothing. Thomas would just see it as another opportunity to explain that my mother was not quite … the thing. He had already hinted broadly that once we were married and settled in our pretty hillside home, I would have far less time for my family.

“Well,” I said, “for today I am still a market girl, and I need to take this jug of water back to Mother.”

I reached in to the fountains and pulled the jug up, now brimming with cool, fresh water. As I did so, I glanced up at the face of Opo, the fish god of olden times, who was still the conduit from which our water fell. Would Opo give me a way to avoid this disastrous marriage? Unlikely. After all, in the spring-time feastings, I had joined my friends by the fountain in wishing for a husband. They had all described young men of the village, each one recognisable. I was the only one who had wished for something different – a serious older man, with wealth and experience of the Fairelands. And when Thomas arrived less than a week later in Breeze, more than one of my friends declared he was my “Opo-sent” husband.”

Well, I thought sourly, Opo had made a big mistake this time. Perhaps I had been initially lured by Thomas’ conversation, his seeming wisdom, and his tenderness. But since we had become pledged to handfast, either he had changed … or I had. Although he was determined to make our home in the beautiful dwellings of Breeze, he was constantly criticising the people for being narrow, parochical and small-minded.

But to me it seemed that it was Thomas who was small-minded in his criticisms of people and places. Breeze is so lovely, with our little homes and stores half buried in to hillocks that shelter us from the breezes that drive our famous mills.

And Thomas could never bear for anyone to disagree with him about anything – least of all me. While being treated as a delicate flower had been delightful at first, the line between being a delicate flower and an idiot child had been a narrow one, and Thomas had definitely crossed it in his treatment of me.

At the same time, his courteous manners had faded too. Instead of taking the heavy water jug from me, as he would have done once, he suffered me to lift it to my shoulder myself, merely frowning at me as a little of the water splashed and spilled on my gown.

“You should be more careful,” he said reprovingly. “When the water has splashed, your gown is almost translucent.”

“And more will fall as I walk back to the store,” I said pointedly, but he made no move to help me, merely pacing beside me as we walked down the sunny grassy lane towards the store that was my mother’s.

“I’ll leave you here,” he said presently. “And we will meet this evening at 5 o’clock. Now, don’t be late – I know what a laggard you can be!”

“The last time I was late was ten days ago,” I said wearily, but he was already striding off, politely doffing his hat to people as he passed.

I sighed, and lifted the jug more firmly on my shoulder.

And then I saw him. Dark and slender, with thick dark unruly curls. Those eyes, set at a slight angle. And, of course, the ears. Little curling horns. And the hooves.

He was beautiful. He was trouble. And, as I gazed into those deep, dark eyes, I wanted him.

##

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“Breeze”
by FidgetsWidget Resident

Time flew.
I flew.
… and still no butter pony.

Spells. Huts. Thatched roofs.
… but no butter pony.

Would the butter pony have melted in the warm sun?

I was looking for a butter pony.
It was not looking for me.

So what will I tell the storyteller now?

Once upon a tyme, there was a butter pony ….

FF Tour Breeze Giant 2_001

 

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