The Real Neat Blog Award!

Thank you WinterBetencourt for nominating me for this award! She is real about the struggles of being a writer in the most creative ways! I can definitely relate to a lot of her posts as a writer! So this is how this thing goes…

Rules

  1. Include the award logo in your post.
  2. Answer the following seven questions, asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the person/people who nominated you.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like by linking to their blogs.
  5. Notify them that you have nominated them.

My Answers

  1. If you could meet one character from your favorite book, who would it be and why? Probably either Devin or Lenier. They haven’t come up yet in my story, but they are best friend elves. I sadly know the least about these two characters and I’d like to get to know them a little more.
  2. What is one thing that is special or interesting about your hometown? Well I grew up right across the freeway from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. As a kid I was aware millions of people have to travel across the nation or the world to see Disneyland, while I was fortunate enough to only have to ride in a car for maybe 18-20 minutes. In addition to that, I lived only 3 miles from the beach, so I had the best of both worlds.
  3. If you were a superhero what would be your superpower? To fly. I’ve always been fascinated and obsessed with flying.
  4. What is one goal you have for yourself for 2021? To be able to make enough money off of this blog to sustain a living without having to have a full time job. I’m also considering making this into a podcast as well for my audio-loving audience so keep an ear out for that!
  5. What do you consider to be one of your strengths? Conflict resolution. Honestly I have a passion for peace and I’m fairly strong with empathy which makes me a good negotiator. Conflict resolution is a strength of mine that I need more confidence in to really unlock my potential in that area if you know what I mean.
  6. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Either Denmark or Ireland. Both are very inspiring and beautiful places.
  7. If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? Be true to yourself. Stop trying to be who you assume everyone wants you to be and think hard about who you want to be.

My Nominees

Alright my nominees are…

Crispyconfessions

MagicalOverload

Edmyjourneyocd

My Questions

  1. What is one thing you’ve struggled with the most in your life?
  2. What was your favorite part of your childhood?
  3. Think of one bad habit you’ve been able to break. Tell me how you broke that bad habit.
  4. What makes the struggles of blogging worth it to you?
  5. When did you decide that you wanted to start a blog?
  6. If you could meet yourself ten years from now, what questions would you ask yourself?
  7. Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type? If so, what is it?

Thank you so much for reading, Happy Sunday!

Part 1, Ch.11

Payton didn’t go straight into the lab, but instead went to her dorm to dry herself off and get a change of clothes before she went back to the infirmary. Despair darkened Francesca’s face when Payton explained what happened in the garden. 

“Poor girls,” Francesca lamented. “I wish we could help them, but Jackson is going to want to treat Annaliese’s injury himself. I could never make sense of why he does that, that is, healing the injuries he inflicts on his workers. However, for now, I need you to help me clean these tools.” The cries of the mermaids continued to echo in Payton’s mind and ripped through her heart as she helped Francesca disinfect the tools. Those lamentations began to incur a sense of indignation within Payton that overtook her sense of fear. There had to be a way to stand up to this twisted man. While she was placing the scissors in their rightful place, a light blue book caught her eye on the tiny bookshelf in the infirmary. The spine read ‘Mermaid elixirs’. It gave her an idea. After all the tools were properly disinfected, she subtly tucked the book under her coat and snuck into the lab. Flipping through the pages, she finally found an elixir labeled ‘scale regrowth elixir’. It required the fallen scales of the mermaid to be using it, so Payton stepped out of the lab and peeked her head out the infirmary to survey the surroundings. 

“Payton? What are you looking for out there?” Francesca inquired. 

“More like who,” Payton replied, “just making sure Jackson’s not in sight.” 

“I can assure you that you won’t find him out there at this time.” She looked down at her watch and sighed. “I have to go.” It was an odd, consistent occurrence that Payton noticed. Francesca would look down at her watch from time to time, look sorrowful, then leave, as if she were dreading where she had to be. When Francesca left and Payton was satisfied with his confirmed absence, she slipped back to the garden and collected some of Annaliese’s bloody scales.

“Payton, why are you taking my scales?” Annaliese asked breathlessly. Payton leaned in close to Annaliese.

“I’m going to make you a scale regrowth elixir,” Payton whispered. The mermaid’s eyes widened.

“You should know that Jackson likes to take care of the injuries he inflicts himself. You’ll get punished if he finds out.” Payton paused for a moment as the pangs of caution tapped at her sternum. If Jackson could rip the scales off a mermaid so easily, how much more could he do to her? Then, that voice of outrage broke through her mind once more. Payton had a message to send to Jackson, and she was going to see to it that it was heard loud and clear. 

“Well, a phouka once told me that if I was to get myself in trouble again, I should make it intentional and do it with finesse,” Payton winked. “However, I have to hurry. We don’t know when Jackson will be back. Wait for me.” So Payton snatched a handful of the scales and slinked back into the lab, put them in the boiling cauldron and added the rest of the herbs and other ingredients necessary for the elixir. After about thirty minutes, the elixir was ready. She could not wait for it to fully cool down, so she brought it out to Annaliese lukewarm. Before she applied the elixir, Payton washed the blood off her fin with a wet towel. It pained Payton to see a thin layer of bloody skin where her gorgeous scales once glistened. Annaliese only let out a sharp hiss as Payton poured the scale regrowth elixir liberally over the mermaid’s fin and gave it a few minutes to absorb completely. After all that was done, Payton grabbed Annaliese by her hands and dragged her with all of her might back to the pool where she could be back in her own element and with her sister. This was especially difficult since Annaliese’s fin was still delicate and had to be done with as much gentleness as possible. Arianna and Annaliese hugged each other for a good few minutes. Watching the two sisters embrace made her heart ache for Lawrence. 

“The elixir said it would take a few hours for the scales to grow back.” Arianna swam up to the edge and gave Payton a wet hug.

“We’ll never forget what you did for us. Thank you,” she said.

“It was the least I could do. Get well soon.” Payton yawned. Although it was still early in the evening, Payton stumbled back to her room as the weight of her taxing day drained every ounce of energy from her. Once Payton climbed into her bed, she succumbed to her exhaustion and fell right asleep. 

Payton woke up to someone opening up her door and walking in. It was still dark in her room and she didn’t have a chance to fully shake the sleep from her mind, all she could see was a shadowy figure coming closer with heavy footsteps. However, the sleepiness flew right out of her the moment she realized who it was. 

“Going to bed so early?” Jackson asked with a menacing edge to his voice, “You can’t possibly be that tired, are you?” Payton simply stared at him blankly. “I noticed that Annaliese’s scales have grown back. Not only that, but she was in the water with her sister, which is not where I left her. Someone must have intervened, and the only one I know that would be foolish enough to do that would be you!” Payton swallowed hard and looked to the ground. “So, why did you help someone that was clearly being punished? I assume you want to take the punishment yourself?” Payton’s body tensed even more as she shook her head. “Oh, but you must, if you interfered with the punishment of another member, right?” Jackson grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the room and into the elevator.

“W-where are we going?” Payton stammered.

“Somewhere where you’ll hopefully learn a good lesson once and for all!” Jackson snarled as he dragged her past the dungeon area and into a torture chamber. Payton’s heart and lungs caved in on themselves at the sight of the bloody machines welcoming her with voracious sneers. “You are so petite. Maybe we could make you a little taller,” he said with a sinister grin as he picked her up and began strapping her into a limb stretcher. Once she was strapped in, he pulled a lever to swing the stretcher so it was vertical instead of horizontal.  

“Why this?” Payton barely squeaked out against the cry of the machine. 

“This is for direct insubordination against me, dumb troll! Now shut it!” Of course, he wouldn’t give a straight answer as to why he chose the stretcher over the rest of the torture devices or why he made it vertical, which only added insult to injury. Payton could only hyperventilate as Jackson pulled the lever that activated the automatic stretcher. The machine let out a bone chilling hiss as it gradually stretched her limbs farther apart. It took an excruciating fifteen minutes for the stretcher to put her left shoulder and right hip out of place. She let out an ear piercing scream as her muscles and tendons ripped as well. Payton couldn’t remember experiencing such physical pain in her entire life. All the while, Jackson stepped away from Payton to give out orders to his other employees over his watch as he let her hang on the stretcher for an additional fifteen minutes. Eventually, he sauntered up to Payton and positioned his hands around Payton’s dislocated shoulder. Payton shrieked as he put her shoulder back into place. When he popped her hip back into place, the jolt of searing pain caused her to black out.

Unicorns, White Stags, and Griffins

Unicorns are among the most majestic and revered creatures in Levenia. Their horns carry magical properties that heal the sick and purify tainted water. Their blood also holds magical properties that include eternal youth to anyone whom drinks it. However, this practice is outlawed in every single kingdom in Levenia because drinking unicorn blood will eventually cause the drinker to go insane. Sadly, unicorns are highly sought after by hunters looking to make lots of money on the black market for their horns and blood, so they are under legal protection in every kingdom in Levenia. In addition, they have been known to save the lives of travelers in severe distress.

White stags are also highly revered and sought after since legend has it that capturing one will grant you one wish. Fairies have been known to ride white stags across the forest when they tire of flying, so they are protective over their riding partners and will defend them against a foolish traveler looking for a wish.

Griffins are known to be excellent guardians of the royal courts across Levenia. These half lion, half eagle creatures have eyesight as sharp as their claws and show no mercy to invaders. However, some griffins gone dark can be coaxed into working for thieves or pirates looking for a guardian for their loot.

Dragons in Levenia

Dragons vary in size, color, and temperament. Depending on which region of Levenia the dragon is from they can breathe fire or ice. The smaller ones are sometimes used in illegal dragon fights, but the larger ones are untamable and can sometimes cause almost hurricane force winds with their wings! They have been known to burn down or freeze up entire villages, but also have, on occasion, been helpful if treated right. Only the most foolish creatures would dare disrespect a dragon and his lair.

Part 1, Ch.10

It was easy for Payton to lose track of the days. She could have sworn at least a week went by since the potion incident, or perhaps it had been ten days. The snakes had been on the forefront of her mind ever since it happened. From time to time she could still feel the cold scales of the serpents crawling on her. Payton bit her thumb in an effort to keep herself from scratching her arm open again as she finished off one of her potions. After she was done bottling it up, Francesca knocked on the door. 

“Hey, it’s time for the midday meal.” Since Payton started her work early this particular day, she was already half way through her work by the time the midday meal came along. Once the midday meal was over and she had finished the last potion on the list, Payton found a bit of time between her nursing duties to explore the inner city to see what else she could find that may be interesting. Payton went down the elevator one floor and turned right when she heard the mystifying sound of two women singing in such spell-binding voices. They were singing in some language she did not understand, but it was still beautiful to her. Payton followed the voices that led her to a beautiful garden with soft green grass, trees with blue, pink and pale violet leaves, and a waterfall spilling into a pool that glowed with greens, pinks, and purples. Sitting on a rock were two mermaids that seemed to be identical twins. They both had long, dark blue hair, dark purple eyes, pale skin, and light purple fins. The only way she could tell them apart was that one of them wore her hair in a single loose braid with a silver ribbon woven in while the other had her hair down and wore a head piece of pearls. One of the mermaids turned around and saw Payton and immediately stopped singing.

“Hey, it looks like we have drawn in a victim.” The mermaid wearing the loose braid laughed. “Hello there, sweet heart. You must be the new alchemist here. I’m Arianna, and this here is my twin sister, Annaliese. Come closer, love.” Payton came over and sat down close to the mermaid twins, which was a mistake. When Payton got close enough to the water, Arianna and Annaliese grabbed her arms and dragged her into the pool. They laughed as Payton tried to scramble out of the pool. “No, don’t leave! Stay with us a while!” Arianna teased. She gave up trying to leave the pool as it was apparent they were not going to let her leave.

“We should show off our new pet human to our friends! They shall certainly be impressed!” Arianna gushed. Mermaids were a strange folk whom had a habit of living by their own rules and impulses such as showing off their new ‘catch’, especially if they found that catch to be pleasing to the eye.

“Of course!” Annaliese replied. They turned to Payton and her cheeks turned slightly pink. “Come, little pet! We shall help you to breathe under the water.”

“Oh, I don’t think that would be very wise, since Jackson doesn’t want me leaving here,” Payton protested.

“No, Jackson said he doesn’t want you going above ground yet. We’re not going above ground.” So Arianna and Annaliese dragged her under the water. The mermaids looked slightly different under water. Their long hair gently floated around them and they looked all the more graceful and beautiful. Arianna came in front of her and blew a huge bubble around Payton and it wrapped around her head, creating an air space for her to breathe. Arianna took her by the hand and dragged her deeper and deeper into the pool. This pool ran much deeper than Payton had imagined. They came to a huge underwater tunnel lit only by colorful glowing rocks that made up the walls. Payton gaped in awe at the beauty of the colors of light floating around her. Annaliese saw Payton’s expression and smirked. “It is beautiful, isn’t it?”. Her voice sounded like an echo, but Payton understood her clearly. Payton nodded in response. They swam for about fifteen minutes before they reached the other end of the tunnel and swam into the wide, open expanse of the sea. Seeing the vastness of the depths of the sea made her feel smaller than she’d ever felt before. There was an entire world here that she had only heard about until now. This world that was once inaccessible to her was now surrounding her, which was intimidating. It was a world not made for her, one she could not survive in, at least not on her own. The light of the sun from above penetrated the waters with beams of golden light. Fluorescent rocks and plants gave off colorful glows that served as lanterns for the deep. Creatures and merfolk of all shapes, colors, and sizes swam around going to and fro like a bustling city. There were no words that Payton could find to properly express her awe. She kicked her feet vigorously behind her as Arianna continued to lead her deeper and deeper into the waters. Soon enough, the three ladies stopped in front of two mermen. One had long seaweed green hair that was floating behind him in a ponytail with dark blue eyes and a silver fin. The other had shorter dark purple hair with a small braid hanging down the side with light purple eyes and a silvery blue fin.

“Ammirias! Zarin!” Arianna called out excitedly, “Look what Annaliese and I have!” The two mermen stared at Payton with wide eyes.

“My goodness, you brought a land creature to the depths! It’s a human, right?” Asked the merman with purple hair. His gaze landed on Payton’s ears. “It’s the humans that are slightly taller than elves and have the round ears, right? Except this one doesn’t seem very tall.”

“Yes, it is,” Annaliese confirmed. “She’s our new pet human! Her name is Payton.” She clenched her jaw at being called a pet human once again. Other merfolk began to take notice of the scene and began crowding around to see the strange but adorable little land creature that the two mermaids had brought from the land above.

“I haven’t seen hair that color before,” one mermaid noted, “it’s like the color of the underwater volcano that erupted seven days ago.” It was disturbing at best being paraded around as a pet. Not to mention, she was taught from the time she was a little girl that mermaids were deceptive creatures that were not to be trusted. There was really no telling what could come of this. Payton searched the seas for an effective excuse to persuade the mermaids to bring her back to the garden. After a few more minutes more of being shown off, she tapped Arianna on the shoulder.

“I don’t think either of us would hear the end of it from our managers if they found out we were absent for too long,” Payton explained. Arianna grunted and rolled her eyes, but turned to her twin sister with agitation.

“We should bring the little human back in case our managers notice we’re gone. We really don’t want another incident like last month,” Arianna said. Annaliese likewise grunted and rolled her eyes. So, they grumbled their goodbyes to their merfolk friends and swam Payton back to the garden. Once they finally reached the pool and Payton’s head broke the surface of the water, her little air bubble burst. She had only taken a few breaths of real, open air when she turned around and saw none other than Jackson himself coming in. It was as if fate had timed everything against Payton, like fate had some sort of grudge against her. He looked at the three ladies for a few moments and frowned.

“What business do you mermaids have with my new alchemist?” He asked. Arianna flipped her hair and looked at him with mock innocence.

“We were simply showing our new pet human to our friends,” Arianna smirked. Jackson crossed his arms.

“Who did you show her to, exactly? I don’t want her seen by too many creatures and you know that. I said she was not to leave the inner city.” 

“Oh, we just showed her to Ammirias and Zarin, and maybe a few others that have not seen her face before.” Annaliese said, waving it off. “Besides, you said you didn’t want her above ground, so we broke no rules.” Payton held her breath despite having her head above water. He sighed in annoyance.

“No, I’m most certain I said she was not to leave the city without mine or Tiffany’s permission! You are fortunate that you only showed her to a few. It is unfortunate, however, that you misunderstood me.” Jackson then stormed over to the pool and grabbed Annaliese out from the water. He wasted no time in dragging her to the other side of the garden. Jackson pulled out a dagger, got on his knees and started ripping the scales off of her fin. Payton closed her eyes and held her hands to her ears as Annaliese let out a blood-curdling scream. 

“NO! STOP!” Arianna shouted, but it was no use. Annaliese’s blood spilled onto the floor like a red river. “What. Is It. Going. To Take. To Get. My. Employees. To behave!?” He cut off her scales bit by bit between words for emphasis. When Jackson was finally done with her, he left her there in her own river of blood with her lovely light purple scales all around her. He turned around and looked at Payton and Arianna, who was holding her hand to her mouth to muffle her crying. Jackson went toward the pool, holding the bloody knife in his hand.  

“If you attempt anything like that again, you shall be next, Arianna!” He then turned his gaze toward Payton. “And you,” he pointed to Payton with his knife, dripping blood all over the floor, “You have a lot of explaining to do with Francesca, so get back in the infirmary and get to work now!” He pointed to the direction of the lab with the knife. Payton wasted no time in booking it to the elevator, leaving a water trail behind her.  The mermaids may have been unsettling to spend time with, but they certainly didn’t deserve that. The mermaid’s cries continued to ravage her mind long after she was able to hear them physically.

The Phoukas of Levenia

A phouka is a shape-shifting creature that resides in forests all over Levenia, much like fairies. They are known to be helpful as well as mischievous. Very often they take on the shape of a horse, but they can also take on the shape of birds, dogs, rabbits, and cats. Their humanoid form often includes animal ears and a tail. Sometimes, they love to take humans on a wild ride through the forest in their horse form in the middle of the night, dropping them off in the morning exhausted. Phoukas have been known to he hired as spies, hunters, forest navigators, and bounty hunters, but also known to destroy someone’s crops and livestock if rubbed the wrong way.

The Fairies of Levenia

Now fairies technically don’t have a kingdom of their own. They live in the forests in every kingdom of Levenia, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Fairies can range in size anywhere as tiny as 5 inches to as tall as 6 feet! These are the only human-like creatures with natural magical abilities already in their blood. Fairies can manipulate nature and each fairy has their own specialty based off of the 4 elements, fire, water, earth, and air. They task themselves with keeping the forests healthy and amuse themselves by tormenting passing travelers by stealing their supplies, causing them to lose their way through the forest, or even on occasion, flirt with a man’s wife (or a woman’s husband) just to annoy the both of them! Each of them has their own unique pair of wings as well.

Koltome, The Satyr Kingdom

Now there is some debate whether or not Koltome should be legally recognized as a kingdom in Levenia since the satyrs live in the woods and mostly live off the land, with the exception of the king and queen of the satyrs. Although satyrs are notorious for their love for partying and their lasciviousness, they are widely misunderstood. Deep inside, most of them are simply trying to offer others “a great time” but with a few drinks, they can get a bit pushy and out of hand. Aside from their reputation, they are exceedingly intelligent and virtuoso creatures, often valued as scientists, mentors, musicians, and even lawyers in other kingdoms!

Ephyra- The Mermaid Kingdom

Mermaids inhabit all the oceans of Levenia, so Ephyra is largest kingdom in Liadon as far as surface area goes and second only to Liadon in population. Most mermaids enjoy residing in sunken ships and underwater caves. They spend most of their days playing pranks on land dwellers when the opportunity arises, showing off their latest “catch”, and singing sailors into a ship wreck, looting their ships and eating the sailors. Their enchanted voice will hypnotize male land dwellers who listen to it long enough, but for some unknown reason, will put female land dwellers to sleep if listened to for a certain amount of time.

Amdael, The Dwarvish Kingdom

Amdael is a forest-covered kingdom surrounded by the mountains. Most of its short, stout, and bearded inhabitants live underground or in homey caves. As with most dwarves in folklore, they are happiest when mining for metal and gems and forging fine weaponry. Their thick skin makes them well acclimated to both heat and cold. However, since their eyes are more equipped for dark environments, their eyes are more sensitive to light, hence the complex tunnel systems one will find running all through Amdael. Dwarves are very traditional as well, so although they trade a lot of metal with Liadon, Amdael stays fairly technology-free (with the exception of the occasional pair of sunlight resistant goggles).