over and under the snow

The wedding website has a “how did you meet” section

A village was having sheep stolen by a dragon.  So the elders conferred, and decided that they should take the brightest and youngest woman in the village, and ask her to make the modem work.  Which she did.  This being done, the elders put up an ad on Craigslist, asking for warriors to kill the dragon.  Two warriors responded.  But the elders promised the job to both of them, thinking that competition for it could keep the warriors from unionizing.

The elders were not well-liked.

Both warriors traveled far, through snow and plain, over water and under sky, to reach the dragon’s lair.  When they arrived at the same time, they saw one another and approached, swords ready but not drawn.

“The elders gave you this job too?” she asked.

“Uh-huh,” he said.  "And offered a flat rate for the head.  So either we bring it in together, and neither of us makes rent this month -“

"Or we fight, and the winner gets the dragon.”  She drew her sword.  "First blood?  You’re cute, I don’t want to kill you.“

"And I don’t want to die.  So that sounds good.”  And he blushed as he drew his own sword, because he thought she was cute, too.

They fought for a night and a day, the barren hills outside the lair ringing with the clash of their steel.  She was stronger, but he was quicker.  He was cunning, but she was trained.  All things considered, they complemented one another very well.

At the dawn of the second day, they lay there, spent, neither able to lift their sword.  No blood had been drawn.

“Well, neither of us is fighting a dragon today,” she said.  "You want to get sushi?“

"I really do,” he said.  "I think you’re cute too.“

They left hand in hand.  The dragon, irritated from having been kept up all night by the sounds of fighting, burned down the elders’ homes.

(The warriors made rent that month.  But that’s a different story.)

Lost in Thoughts All Alone

Summary: Natsu realises that his greatest fear may not bare the face of his enemies.

ff.net/AO3

A/N: This is my Christmas drabble exchange with @nalu-natic 

It was supposed to be a Christmas theme, but then inspiration came to write this angst/fluff. I hope you like it anyway! :D I’ve written another drabble which is all fluff and Christmas. It will be called Cherry Liqueur ;)

Songspirations:

Lost in Thoughts All Alone – AmaLee

Never Forget – Martin O’Donnel, Michael Salvatori

-x-

You are an ocean of waves, weaving a dream,

Like thoughts become a river stream

Yet may the tide ever change, flowing like time

To the path, yours to claim

Thou seek the dark with an unsheathed blade  

Now a white, ivory throne beckons,

So obtain the fate you sow

On this path, be weary, friend an’ foe

-x-

Freezing temperatures chilled him to the bone. 

A strange feeling. 

He was the salamander, dragon in mind and flesh. Keeled over on his knees, the snow melted under scraped palms holding his body weight. Lacerations adorned his trunk from fierce combat, the salvation of Fairy Tail was at stake. Acnologia, the dark king stood between him and a future. There was no way he could lose, right? Vision hazy from previous blows, Natsu gazed upwards upon noticing blond strands of hair.  Lucy Heartfilia stood before him, the same gentle loving smile reserved only for him. Compassion surpassing all others, her eyes were a vision of beauty.

“Natsu,” Soft, porcelain skin cupped his jaw “You’re reckless and so headstrong I could throttle you.” Her voice was weak “We’re better together, remember?”.

He couldn’t breathe.  

A fine trail of blood trickled from her mouth. Time suspended. Glancing down, red staining her clothes at an alarming rate. Heartbeat rattling his rib cage, bile rose in his throat. Stomach acid was burning him, comparable to the tears forming in painful realisation.

The cost of centuries of hate. The cost of an insatiable lust for power.

“Lucy!” Her name was a choked, agonised cry against the howling wind.

-x-

“Natsu!” Green eyes flew open at the familiar voice, searching for the owner. Honey brown depths found his own, creases in her brow indicating concern and annoyance.

“What’s the deal with all the thrashing?” She rolled over, hitting his chest playfully “You’re the one, who rather obstinately, insisted on sleeping beside me.  Yet neither of us appear to be getting any rest.” Instead of replying, Natsu trapped her hand lying above his heart. Lucy found herself pressed to his side, enveloped in a desperate hug. She could feel him bury his face into her neck. Sakura hair brushed her nose and the familiar smell of wood-smoke followed. Unconsciously pressing her lips to Natsu’s scalp in a soothing gesture, Lucy didn’t know what had gotten into him.

“Don’t go anywhere Lucy.” His tenor a husky, growl that made her recall the moment her future-self was killed. Natsu’s anguish and rage at her life being targeted.

“I won’t.”

The Surprisingly Complex Principles of a Successful Picture Book

Melissa Manlove, one of our children’s book editors, writes about what makes a picture book brilliant.

Picture books look simple, right? Well, they’re meant to look simple. But like most books, Over and Under the Snow represents years of work, conversations, revisions, impatience, worry, and inspiration.

While discussing the principles of a good picture book would take much longer than one blog post, Over and Under offers a nice opportunity to explore some of the ways children’s books do a great deal in spare words and art.

Cadence/Music

Over the snow I glide. Into woods, frosted fresh and white.

Cadence is not something you can build from instructions; Ikea does not sell it. Most talented writers seem to have an innate sense of the various musics of our language and the effects of those musics—I don’t know anyone who does this by anything other than feel.

And yet the effect here is very deliberate. The rhythm of these sentences is regular; it is the rhythm of the skiers’ movements; the repeated “ess” sounds evoke the swish of the skis on snow. (In these spare eleven words, there are five sets of repeated sounds. Alliteration and assonance generate a connectedness in these words in addition to their meaning.) And listen to the pauses—you can’t hurry through this arrangement of words. Particularly the combination of ‘frosted’ with ‘fresh’ makes a very slight tongue-twister. Between that and the punctuation, the reader unconsciously pauses three times in this short speech. What we hear in Kate’s words is as important as what she makes us hear in between the words—the space, the hush of this winter landscape.

Accuracy

“Under the snow is a whole secret kingdom, where the smallest forest animals stay safe and warm. You’re skiing over them now.”

Chipmunk, mouse, squirrel—their renderings here vary a bit, tempting the reader to pause on them, wonder about them. But their proportion to each other is deliberately consistent, because some children will never before have seen a chipmunk (for example). Research by the author, the artist, and the fact-checker (always, a fact-checker, just to be sure) underlies every piece of good nonfiction.

Accuracy is less sexy than other qualities, but still of fundamental importance. Behind the scenes at the publisher of any nonfiction book, there is a great deal of discussion about the line between artistic interpretation (in both text and art) and the factual import children need from nonfiction books. How much abstraction for artistic intent is acceptable? What needs to come across in information? What needs to come across in feeling?

Another example of the thoughtful choice between fact and interpretation is the term “secret kingdom”, which is used more than once in the book. Not until the backmatter does Kate explain that the technical term for the place under the snow but above the ground is “subnivean zone”. Both terms are powerful for different reasons, and we deliberately made space for both in the book.


Read the rest over on our blog!

Disappearing Village

In 1930, over 2,000 occupants of an Inuit village located on Lake Anjikuni in northern Canada disappeared, and none of them were ever found. A fur trapper named Joe Labelle went to visit the village. He had been there before, and knew it to be a thriving village of fishermen. When he got there, however, the place was deserted. There was one fire, with a ruined stew left over it. No footprints were found, their dogs were buried under a snow drift and had perished, and their provisions were still in their huts. And, finally, the ancestral graves of the people had been emptied. No trace of them was ever found, and their disappearance remains a great mystery.

@heartvictor

    It was a cold January evening. Yuuri remembered that he had gotten a new pair of mittens that Christmas and Yakov mentioned it would be a very cold winter. He always looked out for him. After all, he’d be the successor to the Yuzuka and Yuuri had yet to learn that. 

    He remembered liking his visits to Russia. He ate too much and always got hot drinks when he came back from walking Makkachin around. Tonight would be no different. There was a promise of a hot meal and dessert when he returned home. Yuuri was trying to make haste back home that evening. 

   Pulling his scarf up over his nose, he listened to the sound of snow crunching under his feet. A soft smile appeared on his face. Makkachin was five feet ahead of him, clearing the path they would travel. Yuuri rarely had Makkachin on a leash. He was a very good dog and never strayed too far. If he ever did, Yuuri wore a whistle to call him back. 

   A mile from home, Makkachin caught whiff of something or someone– and was gone. Yuuri called out for him, following the set of prints in the snow. Yuuri pulled out his whistle and puffed into it once or twice. The tooting of the whitle came to a complete stop when he turned a corner and found Makkachin with his paws on another boy’s chest. 

   “Ahh! Makkachin, no!” Yuuri called, running over to haul him off. He got a better look of the boy who laid in the snow as he held Makkachin close to his chest. With much hesitance, Yuuri extended a hand out to the other to help him up. He looked older than Yuuri was by a few years, but he was still frail.

   It was uncommon for Makkachin to run off like that, which made Yuuri wonder what attracted him. He inspected the other’s clothing and the snow around them for anything leading to an answer. There was a now half-buried loaf of bread and Yuuri looked back to the strange apologetically. 

   He pulled down his scarf, trying to muster up what Russian Yakov might have tried to teach him. He managed a small ‘Forgive me’ before digging the bread out of the snow. Makkachin sniffed at it, now disinterested in it. Yuuri offered the bread back to the taller male, furrowing his brows. “I owe you now,” he spoke, soft and embarrassed by what happened. 

9

The Last Goodbye   by Billy Boyd

I saw the light fade from the sky

On the wind I heard a sigh

As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers

I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling

So ends this day

The road is now calling

And I must away

Over hill and under tree

Through lands where never light is shone

By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud beneath the stars

Over snow one winter’s morn

I turn at last to paths that lead home

And though where the road then takes me

I cannot tell

We came all this way

But now comes the day

To bid you farewell

Many places I have been

Many sorrows I have seen

But I don’t regret

Nor will I forget

All who took that road with me

Night is now falling

So ends this day

The road is now calling

And I must away

Over hill and under tree

Through lands where never light is shone

By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memmories I will hold

With your blessing I will go

To turn at last to paths that lead home

And though where the road then takes me

I cannot tell

We came all this way

But now comes the day

To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell

Imagine Michelangelo waking you in the middle of the night when it starts snowing. It would have started as one text, which grew into another text. Another text, and then four more texts - all in various exclamations and emojiis!!

When you had not answered, Mikey had simply ran across the rooftops to your apartment and knocked on your window. You might have awoken slightly annoyed because it was nearly 3 in the morning, but you didn’t care once you saw him. Mikey was bouncing with glee over the snow under his little woollen hat, scarf and oversized jacket, and he insisted you joined him and his brothers out in the snow!! 

When you finally joined them, there was a lot of fun to be had, from snowball fights, to making snowturtles and snow angels and every so often dodging snowballs in the face from Raph. All in all, a very fun night!!

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow one winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell
Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took the road with me

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell. 

—  Billy Boyd
“The Last Goodbye”
From
The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies

Meanwhile, our fearless boneheads tromped down a dark tunnel because Zelena said so. Then she kicked the feet out from under Snow.

Or Snow tripped over an invisible LGBT character. I mean, this show promised us an LGBT storyline and we’ve seen absolutely nothing even remotely of that nature. At this point we have to either assume OUAT is either queer-baiting or invisible LGBT characters are playing an important part in the plot.

— 

Lily Sparks

BAHAHAHAHA

It took Butters almost an hour to find Christophes shack. He almost went the wrong way if it hadn’t been for catching a glimpse of the light outside. It didn’t matter how many times he looked at the directions they just seemed odd to him though he was glad to be able to see in the dark he still couldn’t see what was under the snow and had tripped over a root a couple times.  Walking up to the door he looked around himself then knocked. He was probably the only one the mole was expecting at this late hour but he still felt the need to knock in case there were any other shacks in the woods he didn’t know about. 

Worth It

The air nips at his skin. He shivers as he pulls the scarf that Emma bought him for Christmas up over his mouth. Ice and snow sloshes under his feet. Remnants of the snow storm that had hit the night before. Everyone in the town was taking an extra holiday (except for Granny who would probably keep the bloody diner open even if the world ended). However, Emma had insisted that she needed to be in the office if something happened. So he was bringing her some lunch. 

As he approaches the station he sees her through the window. She is hunched over her desk typing furiously. Her eyebrows are knitted together in concentration and her fingers are running through the end of her long ponytail. 

She is stunning.

He was the luckiest damn pirate to ever breathe. 

As though she knows he is watching her- she looks up. He holds up the bag and she grins from ear to ear. She gestures for him to come inside and he promptly does so. 

“What’s for lunch?” She asks as she rises from her seat. 

“It’s a surprise,” he grins. She smiles as she opens the bag. 

“Mm, grilled cheese. How did you know that’s what I was craving?" 

"You are an open book,” he playfully answers.

“Then what am I thinking right now?” She teases back. 

He leans down to kiss her- when David clears his throat very loudly. Emma gives a frustrated sigh but gives him a short kiss anyway. Without another word she goes back to her desk.

But he can’t resist. 

“That sounds like a nasty cough you have there, mate. Maybe you should get that checked out.”

Emma chokes a little on the sandwich she’s eating. She looks up at him and her eyes twinkle with amusement.  David instantly goes back to whatever it was he was ‘working’ on.

Ever since he had caught them making out a few weeks ago, he’d been conveniently nearby every time that they tried to be alone. Of course, in a town the size of Storybrooke it really wasn’t that hard.

“Killian, didn’t you get yourself anything?” Emma asks as she looks in the bag from Granny’s. 

“I had a big breakfast remember, love?”

He really had a bowl of cereal and he had been alone. But it was rather fun making David THINK that they had been together. Emma shifts in her chair for a moment, but then smiles. 

David clears his throat again and he can’t help but grin in satisfaction.

“How was the sandwich? Acceptable?”

“It was perfect, Killian.”

He can feel David’s eyes watching them and it’s making him rather uncomfortable.

“I should go, love. Don’t want to interrupt your work.”

She looks over to her dad and nods. “I’ll see you at five,” she stands up to give his cheek a kiss. “Don’t get into trouble,” she whispers.

He just grins back at her and then takes his leave.

Despite her hovering father who just happens to be bloody Prince Charming.

She’s worth it.

She will always be worth it.

-x-