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The King`s Squashed Land - Ch 9 revised

by Issy 

Posted: 17 October 2012
Word Count: 1356
Summary: Continuing, any comments welcome

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Through the veil of rain came a wavering light. Two lights. Then a face. Then the outline of a green face on a bubble.
Wynne screamed.

Chapter 9

“No, no, it’s only us. Don’t be scared.”
“What do you expect? Sticking your face out like you’re nutty?”
“She can’t be scared of us; we’re only bubbles and we’re on her side.”
“Yah, poo, that’s you talking, ‘course she’s scared.”
Wynne looked at them open mouthed, until she tasted cold rain. Her brain was unable to process that she was sat in mud in the middle of a storm clearly hearing bubbles with faces speak at her. Droplets even slid down their round surfaces. Green Bubble shook them off but the Rogue Bubble let them roll on like tears. The wind had dropped a little but the two bubbles had to battle to stay in one place. Their faces showed identical troubled expressions.
Wynne’s logical brain came back to life. If she could change into animals, why shouldn’t bubbles speak? Her voice came back to her. It was easier to find her human voice, here, drenched in rain and mud, than it had been for years.
“Who are you?” she asked.
The storm almost whisked her words away, but the bubbles floated round her and their movement was comforting in some strange unclear way.
“I’m the Green Bubble and he’s the Rogue Bubble,” said the Green Bubble. “Do you think you can stand up?” he added anxiously.
“’Course she can’t stand up. It’s wet and slippery. That’s why she’s sitting down.”
“I’ll try,” said Wynne, grasping the spiky branch of a bush. Her energy renewed by the arrival of this odd couple, she pulled her trainers out of parcels of mud, and got her soaked shivering body to its feet.
The bubbles stared at her worriedly. She steadied herself and they grinned with relief.
“I heard someone telling me it was easier to lie there,” she said. “Was that you?”
“What rubbish you been saying?” said the Rogue Bubble turning on the Green Bubble.
“Not me,” said the Green Bubble. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to lie there at all. Must be someone else.”
“Who else is there?” said Wynne, raising her voices above the wind. She held on tight to the branch. The Bubbles looked at each other.
“There’s misery guts,” said the Rogue Bubble. “That’s who we work for, but she don’t say anything.”
“You should speak more respectfully,” said the Green Bubble, his forehead creasing into a green lined frown.
“Nasty Cow – must have been her. Sort of thing she’s say.”
“You’d better get along to the castle,” said the Green Bubble, bouncing as he was swatted by a gust of wind.”
“We’ll come too,” said the Rogue Bubble. “We can give a bit of light.”
“We’d better not. We’re drawing attention. She might guess.”
“Poo you! We ain’t leaving her here,” said the Rogue Bubble.
“Then we gotta be quick,” said the Green Bubble, bobbing away. “If she spots us helping, that’ll give the game away.”
“Alright, alright,” said the Rogue Bubble. “Come with us. We know the way.” The Rogue Bubble followed his companion, but more slowly. Wynne stumbled after them, barely able to make out their pale light in the rain. She soon lost sight of the Green Bubble but the Rogue Bubble came back for kept her.
“He gets nervous,” the Rogue Bubble explained. “Don’t take no notice of him. You’ll be alright.”
It seemed that every tuft of grass was there for her to slip on, and every bramble to catch at her clothes and drag her back, but at last she saw the grey shape of the castle ahead of her and realised she was in the meadow outside, and there dancing ahead, by the drawbridge was the Green Bubble.
“Couldn’t wait for us, could you!” spluttered the Rogue Bubble.
“We gotta get off.”
“Ok, Ok I’m coming,” said the Rogue Bubble. “Go and get dried off and get some sleep. Pity you’re not still an animal. Ha ha, that confused her.”
“Hurry! If she sees us helping she’ll suspect.”
“The old man, is he dangerous...” Wynne started to say. The two bubbles exchanged glances.
“She don’t know,” said the Green Bubble.
“’Course she don’t. No-one’s told her,” said the Rogue Bubble.
“Told me what?”
“We gotta go, see what she’s up to...” said the Green Bubble, floating away across the meadow.
“Ok Ok. Don’t worry about him, he’s OK,” said the Rogue Bubble, moving away.
“She might suspect what?” shouted Wynne, remembering something else they said.
“Who you are,” the Rogue Bubble shouted back and then he too blew off across the meadow.
Wynne stood on the wooden planks of the drawbridge, and heard rushing water below in the moat. She squelched forward. The castle wall was high and protective, and the storm raged less ferociously here. The porticullis squeaked and she hurried through the gateway into the courtyard. There the rounded cobbles shone in the light from an open doorway ahead. Gasping, she threw herself through it. She stood inside dripping. Her teeth aching with the cold whilst the rain clattered on the cobbles outside.
She saw a pile of stones in the middle of the room, and the huge stone chair. Other stone chairs, which she hadn’t noticed before, stood against the wall. This was where I came down from the beach, she thought. Of the Dada person there was no sign.
The room flickered with flames. Flaming torches quivered in brackets on the walls and branches of candles stood in the cornices. Most welcome of all, a log fire roared in a huge stone fireplace. The opposite side of the room flickered in the lights from the flames as occasionally they lit up the shadows. There seemed nothing to see but the stone walls and the floor.
Wynne squelched over to the fire in her wet trainers, feeling waves of scorching heat. Gasping and thankful she stood as close as she dared. She felt the burning heat and breathed in mingled steam and wood smoke. Water dripped off her and sizzled as droplets hit the grate. The scent of smouldering apple wood caught the back of her throat. She took off her anorak and laid it on the floor. She took the bear out of her jumper. He was damp, but not drenched, and his lifeless button eyes gazed emptily back at her.
“What have I done to you?” she whispered. He looked fragile, but if she hadn’t protected him, he would be no more than a soggy heap of stuffing in that rain. “I’ve saved you too,” she added, her logical side having its say, “for you would have been caught in the rain whether or not I shouted at you.”
She chose a place against the wall, not too close to the fire, warm, but safe from sparks. She propped him up to dry.

“So now we see. It’s a girl.”
The woman swished her blue cape round her. The mirror reflected Wynne hurrying across the courtyard, making for the door to the room with the fire and the rubble.
“Who is she?”
Alarmed at her tone of voice, the creature in the basket looked up. The woman paced round the mirror, but said nothing further for a while, so it sank its head back into slumber.
“By what power did she get here? She has none of her own. She’s no sorceress. I’d have felt that power. But she survived my storm, Drat. I can never see into that room. Hmm, well, so I will visit. That I can do.” Her finger found the hole in the mirror and twisted it round, like a clock. Out of the mirror leaped a black stallion, two brown horses and black and brown dogs, barking and neighing as they did so. She climbed onto the stallion’s back, took up the reins and galloped out of the orchard, the other horses and dogs following her.
“We’ll get the crown on the way! What do they say in the other world? Finders keepers.”{/b}

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Comments by other Members

SusieL at 20:40 on 17 October 2012  Report this post
I just love the two bubbles. Really great characters. You truly have an amazing imagination, Issy. I wish I had just a fraction of it! The rewrite is coming along well. This is a tighter scene than before, I seem to recall. Didn't you have the bubbles carrying Wynne in the earlier version? I think this works better.

Very much enjoying this.

Issy at 21:25 on 17 October 2012  Report this post
Thanks Susie. I've brought them in earlier - the appear briefly in one of the first chapters also, when they introduce themselves. The scene where they catch her is still there btu comes later, thanks for remembering, and thanks for commenting.

Shika at 11:03 on 18 October 2012  Report this post
I also think the re-write is coming along really well and we can 'see' your vision and imagination here. I've always loved the bubbles and the only thing I would watch for is your reader's age and the transitions from the 'logical' brain. They seem like quite adult shifts. I agree they are necessary but depending on your readership maybe use slightly simpler language to explain how she's processing? Just a thought. Otherwise I am super impressed with the re-write. S

Freebird at 11:25 on 18 October 2012  Report this post
This is good, Issy. All that work is really paying off now. I agree that it's much tighter, and hence a more gripping read.

The bubbles are great characters, especially the Rogue Bubble, and I love the image of their pale light leading her through the pouring rain. And then plenty of sensory descriptions about her teeth aching with cold and the scent of apple wood etc.

Plus you've released some useful information in a straightforward way - we now know that there is a woman around who happens to be a nasty cow and has her eye on Wynne. And that Wynne is someone of importance, although neither she nor the woman know exactly who she is.

I think the change of pov works perfectly well - it's very cinematic. I think we need to know that it's a dragon in the basket, not just a 'creature', otherwise we have a glaring hole in our imagination about what to put there. ANd maybe slightly more information (a sentence will do) about the stallion - it must be small if it leaps out of the mirror, but then she rides it. So just a few words about it growing in size or something?

Issy at 19:01 on 18 October 2012  Report this post
Thank you both so much, really good points there for me to work on. Appreciate your staying with this as there is so much of it, and all this encouragement, thankyou.

Pen and Ink at 20:37 on 26 October 2012  Report this post
Sorry it's taken me a while to read this chapter. I too really like the bubbles - so imaginative. The story is much easier to understand this time round - I think you are managing to convey what is happening in a more straight forward manner than in the previous draft. The only thing that gave me pause for thought was the use of 'she' by the bubbles to refer to the woman and to Wynne - slightly confusing.

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