Inkslayer’s Journal Entry 5

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Hey everyone! Still reeling from getting Beyond Here out into the world. Make sure to get your copy. Also if you message me I can set up signing and delivering you a copy if you wish. In the meantime here’s a free read of a flash fiction piece that I hope to make a full fledged novel at some point. I hope you enjoy!!

Ghost of the Arena

Her nights were always the same. 
The blood and her lone symbolic act were washed away with coarse goat hairbrushes. With each pass through she felt her wounds begin to tear anew. It reminded her that she will still alive. That the gods thought to curse her for another day.
She slept bare under the canopy of stars, the night sky matching her skin of coal. Each blazing jewel in sky was an unanswered plea for the release from the misery of this world. Before the morning light a new star would be born.
By the break of day she’d be awakened by Doc, a member of her troupe. In spite of overwhelming sense of death and horror which hung over the arena Doc managed to be cheery, sunlight dancing in his blue eyes.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t take a direct shot to the shoulder today. That is unless you’re not attached to it,” he said as he traced her collarbone with his finger.
Her waking pain was the same yet new nonetheless. “Are you giving instruction to your lanista?”
“Simply observing. It’s what I do.”
His olive skin never ceased to look pale against her own dark tones. The sun had taken its toll on his flesh leaving weathered lines behind in its wake. They paled in comparison to her menagerie of scars.
“How are the others?” she asked as she stood, her nude figure unabashed in the morning rays.
“Surviving.”
“That’s all that can be asked.”
“Indeed.”
They held a mutual respect for each other. A quiet means of foreplay that would proceed no further. There was no love for gladiators, not even amongst themselves. 
Before eating or partaking in the meager water rations provided she had to become the warrior she was made to become, the ghost of the arena. As she slumbered through the night the crew used a large kiln to dispose of the losers of yesterday. Their ashes would be ready for her by the rising of the sun, a mixture of grey and ivory. From the top of her head to the soles of her feet the dark skinned warrior dusted herself in the regret of yesterday. When she was done she was new, baptized in the death of fire.
From here she dressed herself in her armor before joining her troupe for their rations. Although the only female amongst the several men they held her in high regard. Her actions in the arena had saved their skin on numerous occasions.
The rest of the morning consisted of practice, practice, and trying to find out why she was a black girl sentenced to die in the arena. Soon it was mid-afternoon and the daylight was saturated with the cries of a bloodthirsty audience. The games were set to begin, and her and her Poison Apples were set to take center stage.
But today was different. 
The gates would wait longer today to open, to usher them into the madness. A trove of royal guards entered the confines of the area they called home, carrying with them the scent of sweat…and of her. The queen stank of nightshade, as poisonous as her heart. The queen considered herself to be a mother to the people, but to the gladiators made to fight on her behalf she may as well have been a wicked stepmother.
With her robes barely touching the tainted sand the queen made her way down the line of the Poison Apples until she reached the ghost of the arena. It was hard to discern anything about the queen behind that damn porcelain mask she wore.
“Will you win today?” the queen asked, her voice darkened as the sky as the sun sought to be tucked under the horizon. 

The black girl painted in ash didn’t speak. Her time spent as a gladiator gave her the impression the queen had something to do with her imprisonment. 
Although she couldn’t see it the warrior felt a cruel grin arch from behind the porcelain facade. “One can only hope so. My favorite apple in the batch. My Snow White.”


The Witch’s Memory part seventy five

Further in the light continue to burn 

Bringing her the freedom that she did yearn 

Yet now she felt her heart stir 

As she noticed a faint whisper 

Starting off as delicate as a kiss 

Booming into something impossible to miss 

The sound was a haunting song 

Pushing and pulling her right along 

Three distinct voices, lithe and feminine 

If she were to describe the beauty she couldn’t begin 

She knew the end of her troubles with soon 

As each note cause her heart to swoon

The Witch’s Memory part seventy four

She wore each mark like a badge of honor

Ready to embrace this new destiny thrust upon her

Deep into the woods she went

Onto the cave that she had been sent

A dark maw black as death

Chilled enough to steal her breath

She was ready to step in despite the lack of light 

When fire erupted voluminous and bright

Torches lined the slick onyx wall

Seeming to take life from some unheard call

With a ginger foot one after the other

The princess felt there was no reason to dither 

She let herself be free to roam

In this place that for the night would be home

The cave was made for a giant or two

Walls stretching high and deep deep blue

She was dazzled by the cave’s glory

Like walking into a captivating story

The Witch’s Memory part seventy three

There was no time to agree or not

This simple instruction was what she got

Before the witch turned to stardust 

Disappearing in a slight gust

The princess felt her heart pound

What a piece of luck she had found

An answer to all her silent prayers

A letting-go of all of her cares

She took off in the direction she was told

Feeling brave and awfully bold

A new life was a day away

A glimpse of sun throughout the gray

The princess pushed through the bramble

Letting her skin take the gamble

Of cuts and rash and purple bruise

Subtle reminders that this was no ruse

The Witch’s Memory part seventy two

Give me one moon to conjure 

A spell truly big and major

One that will be a blessing

One that will make your heart sing

I’ll need you to run way over yonder

Where you will get better from here on out

No more fussing or need to shout

Let the wind guide you where you need to go

Moon gilded lilies will start to show

The path that’ll keep you safe and sound

Once there you will not be found

For one night and will be well

Just one night and no more hell”

The Witch’s Memory part seventy one 

The spell had dwindled to a flicker

To the princess’ surprise the air seemed thicker

Thick enough to chew and swallow

Without the magicthe world seemed hollow

It was a drug that she’d been given a taste

Leaving her tongue to fly with haste

“Whatever it is it’s yours to take

Any amount of gold to my days to wake

Your magic is power that much I can see

Of royal blood I don’t want to be

I trust in your skill and in you

Please do what you must do”

With this Jaspeak gave a grin

“Well well well where to begin

The Witch’s Memory part seventy

The witch tossed back her hair and searched the sky

“I’m going to help you and I’ll tell you why

Too long our world have been at arms’ length

Not taking advantage of each other strength

So we battle amongst ourselves

Placing us in our combined hell

To break free means to reach out

Showing that vengeance is not all that where about

If that means starting with you and me

Then that is how it must be

I carry no ill will towards you

For we have only just met that much is true

But our struggles are connected down to the bone

This is our plight that we must own

We need to save each other no longer broken

By the words so long ago spoken”

The princess was confused by the witch

As her surroundings return to pitch

The Witch’s Memory part sixty nine

Soon the spell came to an end

Her eyes no longer had to fend

When they adjusted the princess could see

And what she saw left her with glee

It was as though the witch had captured sunshine 

Leaving her in a garden of plants of varying size

The moon replaced with a glorious sun

A comparable sight there was none

And there stood Jaspeak a sight so beaming

Amongst the forestation gleaming

The princess was speechless in front of the woman

“That is but a taste of what I can summon 

I assure you I am not about death and disease

If that is enough to put you at ease”

The Witch’s Memory part sixty five

She thought he was through trying to marry her off

At this she supposed she had to scoff

She was a pawn in a long played game

No matter her voice the results were the same

She was property no more or less

In need of a man to make her a success 

That was not how she saw her life

This was not about her strife

If love came along she was open to it

But to be sold off would not be her exit

The Witch’s Memory part sixty four

With his equine eyes he looked around 

No sight of the witch could be found

Yet he knew with his beating heart 

That Jaspeak set this up from the start

But in his current form there was nothing to do

But wait for the inevitable pain to ensue

Day turned to night and crowd went their way

On their tongues nothing more to say

And just as Roland the Horse had feared

That beautiful princess he had reared

Stole away into the night

In an effort to avoid this plight

She had her father’s cunning, pluck, and his nerve

To not settle for a life she didn’t deserve 

The only ones to see her were the night guard

And stopping royalty proved rather hard

She took off as quick as her feet would move

Shortly finding herself in a groove

Whipping through the copse of trees

Not minding the scrapes along her knees

All while thinking her father had gone mad

What had become of dear old dad?