Jaime Lee Moyer: Midnight Secrets and Lies
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The Build A Better Princess Project

Once upon a time, otherwise known as just a few weeks ago, while talking on Twitter with a couple of friends, the subject of the Mary Sue Princess came up. For those who don’t know, a traditional Mary Sue Princess is perfect, desired by every man who looks at her, and encompasses every fantasy cliche EVER.

And as we joked around, tossing cliches back and forth, a character tapped me on the shoulder, as they do, and said “You can do better than that, Jaime. I double dog dare you.”

Thus did the joke become sorta serious, and the build a better princess, website fiction project was born.

This is a strictly on the website, occasional feature, posted as I get more written. It will keep me sane, and writing, while I wait for option novel things to be resolved.

Be warned, I may never finish this story, but then again, I might.

Most important, this is for fun. I’ve been trying to remember fun in terms of writing for awhile now, the kind of fun divorced from deadlines, marketing concerns, and numbers. By jove, I might have found it.

Remember people, fun is the key word here. Fun might mean typos. It might be logic holes the size of Ohio. Just go with it.

*****

Scrambling over rooftops wasn’t new, but the rounded tiles glistened with fresh rain, slippery and treacherous. Arlandria took her time climbing, while Mishka struggled to find his footing right behind her. He swore each time either of them slipped, the curses he called down on Prelate Manley’s head growing more colorful as the ground got farther away.

They reached the roof’s peak and she leaned against the largest of the five chimneys to catch her breath. Cold wind whipped Arlandria’s dark cloak around her ankles and worked its way under her clothing, a minor discomfort she chose to ignore. She wanted to remember this moment.

The sleeping city of Talen sprawled before her. Lights still glittered along the harbor’s jagged edge, lapis blue as the sea at midday. The tanner’s district shone with the faint golden shades of citrine, emerald and jade lights burned for merchants’ shops and the homes of guild masters; amethyst for taverns. Each district gleamed with a unique color all its own. Talen was the jewel city in truth as well as legend.

At the center of the city lights the deep red-orange of carnelian pulsed, a beating heart that pushed back against the night. Surrounding the carnelian was a void, a ring of nothingness that held no light at all. Watching how the darkness drank light made her shiver.

Arlandria gripped the pommel of the short sword at her side. The blade woke, whispering Rory’s name and promises of revenge. “Rory’s down there, Mishka. And he’s still alive if the sword can be believed.”

“Believing the ravings of a fae blade will get you killed, Highness.” He stood behind and to one side of her, tall and strong, watching Arlandria’s back as he had since they were children. “One day you’ll listen to me and toss that cursed thing into the ocean.”

Mishka had arrived in her father’s court the year they both turned seven, a scrawny, frightened orphan sent to be fostered by strangers. She’d become his friend and his champion within a day. Arlandria defended Mishka against anyone who’d mocked his accent or his clothes, not caring if those she fought were older or stronger. Her father never interfered unless blood was spilled.

“And one day you’ll learn the difference between curses and fate. Finding the blade was fate. That it talks to me is all the proof I need.” The sword purred under her hand, a cat who loved being stroked. Fate or curse, freeing Rory was all she cared about. “We’ll come back after sunrise. I want to see what the dark area around the prelate’s district hides.”

“Nothing good. Definitely not anything I’d want to confront unprepared and at night.” Mishka edged his way over to a smaller chimney a few feet to the right. He pushed against it, straining his muscles and putting all his weight on the mortared stone. When the stonework proved sound, he unhooked the coil of rope attached to his belt and looped it around the chimney three times before tying it off. The balance of the rope snaked down the roof tiles, and dangled off the edge, giving them an easy drop into the alley. “I must admit to a certain relief that you don’t want to charge in immediately.”

“Fate doesn’t make you stupid, Mish. If anything it makes you more careful.” She tugged her leather gloves up tight before waving him toward the rope. “You first. If we fall I want something soft to land on.”

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