If you haven’t read Princess for the Night yet…

If you haven’t read Princess for the Night yet, start it here. This one was fun to write because it’s so much different than anything else I’ve written.

You already know how it ends before it begins. I also may plan more to it as the story keeps going. Princess for the Night was actually the prequel to the Astral Eyes song Up in Flames.

I enjoy writing female leads. All my life I’ve grown up around masculine men. I attempted to play semi-pro football. I lift pretty heavy weights. And of course I play in a Heavy Metal band. Sure I’m married, but we even have one kid and he’s pretty masculine.

So I’m surrounded by lots of testosterone. Which don’t get me wrong, is great! However, when I write, I enjoy writing female leads. Maybe that’s my ying yang balance.

Anyways, give it a read if you haven’t already.

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When there are no heroes

This is the Finale of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

opium tales as was with Tonna, Isabella was brought in chains in front of the cave by the elders.

Cold, damp, and wearing a white dress that isn’t enough to keep her warm, she walks with her head down. Only unlike Tonna, she’s not thinking defeat. Rather, she’s focusing on what she needs to do.

As I’ve said earlier, her mother passed out. Her father lies in the barn unconscious with his front teeth knocked out. Her aunt though, her dear aunt, fed her some soup with some meat this morning to keep her warm and keep her strong.

Only her aunt knows. Her dear aunt.

One of the elders makes the mistake of looking her in the eyes. These elders have done this many, many times, and have become cold. But this one looks her in the eyes. And sheds a tear.

They know Isabella. They know her heart, her boldness, her compassion. They know that they’ll never see that again.

The elder wipes the tear and he and the others walk away as they finish chaining Isabella to the wooden pole in front of the dragon’s cave.

Focus

Isabella got very little sleep as she and her aunt worked over and over again the spell. The key to doing anything right? Repetition. Yeah, I know that sounds boring but it’s true. If you want to be good at anything, do the same thing over and over and over again until it becomes second nature.

You practice it in ideal conditions. Then you hope you can pull it off under stress.

Well, what can be more stressful than a giant monster coming to eat you? Especially when you know in graphic detail how the monster consumes its prey?

Isabella hears movement. She sees the beast slither out of its cave.

Not yet.

She sees the beast looking around. Then, the beast eyes its prey.

Not yet.

She sees the beast moving forward. Still too far away.

Not yet.

She sees the beast slithering forward. Then, the beast raises itself on its hind legs.

As practiced, the potion leaves her dress and goes up and up. With her hands tied, she has to do it entirely with her mind.

It does. The potion goes up and up. And the dragon opens its mouth. And the potion goes in his mouth and breaks.

Almost immediately, the dragon feels different. Instead of chomping down, the dragon eyes his princess. He lowers his head slowly. Down and down, all the way to the ground and looks at her.

Then the weirdest thing happens. A smile? Can a dragon really smile?

He nudges her lightly with his head, then raises his head to bite.

But no, not bite her. He bites the chains. Isabella is free.

When your world is up in flames

She doesn’t run. Rather, she comes forward and kisses the dragon on his leathery nose.

The dragon once again lowers his head and Isabella climbs aboard his neck. She’s never felt anything like this before – a connection to a beast. And, the mightiest of all beasts.

The virgin sacrifices end now, and to be sure, Isabella knows that some people are going to have to die.

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Some day a hero will make it right

This is Part VIII of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

humpty dumpty opium tales she looks into her Aunt’s crystal ball, and sees her hero, the one she would some day marry, the one who loved her, the one who would avenge Tonna’s death and free these villages from the curse once and for all, running. Running, with a panicked look on his face, without a sword in hand. Running as fast and as far away from the village as he can.

So much for a hero.

So much for true love.

So much for…

“This may seem crazy, Isabella.”

Isabella stares forward with a blank look on her face.

“Isabella. Pay attention.”

Isabella turns and faces her Aunt.

“This may seem crazy, Isabella, but it’s the only chance we got. Remember the love potion you made?”

“Yes. And no, I’m not going to waste it on that pathetic-”

“No. I hope that coward dies. I got a better idea.”

A little telekinesis

Early the next morning, as planned, Isabella’s aunt slipped the bottle into her dress. Isabella only had to keep her cool under duress. No big deal, right? You only have a ten ton beast that could bite an armored warrior in half with one bite that wants to eat you. Then of course, the potion is made for a human. Will it work on a dragon?

Who knows? It’s all we got.

Avery’s miles away by now and nobody else wants to risk their life and the lives of all the local villages for a single girl. Every year, the same thing. A virgin girl in a white dress sacrificed to the dragon. One life in exchange for thousands.

Cowards. All of them.

No time to judge though. Must focus on the task at hand.

This year as every year, the girl, chained to the same post in front of the dragon’s cave. Cold and damp, her shivering alone made her spell casting even more difficult. Never mind a giant fire breathing flying reptile will soon be expecting a feast.

Oh, I’ve already made that point. Well, I’m going to make it again to really hammer into your head how hard it is to cast this spell.

You cannot lose focus. You cannot lose concentration. Telekinesis is one of the more difficult spells to cast in ideal situations.

You know what makes it even worse? Your hands really make spell casting more simple. Even better than your hands? Something concentrated. Like a wand for instance.

Well, she didn’t have a wand. And her hands were tied above her head in a cold iron chained grip. So she couldn’t exactly use her hands to cast this.

Only her mind. And what makes this even worse? She had to have her eyes open. Isabella couldn’t close her eyes or else she’d have no idea where that bottle would go, even if she somehow managed to cast this spell under these conditions.

The dragon

And so the elders secured her in place. And walked away like the cowards they all are.

Like Tonna’s parents, Isabella’s parents couldn’t come to say goodbye to their daughter. Her mother collapsed in the morning and her father raged with a pitchfork. It took half a dozen men to finally subdue him and knock him out. Knocked out some of his teeth in the process too.

Yes, he loved his daughter. And yes, if he could, he would have stopped this. But now he lays knocked out, bleeding, and missing his front teeth in the barn. Oh, he also shat his pants.

Sorry. I probably should have spared you that detail.

Anyways, the dragon. Yes, maybe it’s due to the timing, but the dragon doesn’t come out until all the elders were out of sight.

Isabella rehearsed the spell many times with her aunt. However, it’s all easy under ideal conditions. When you didn’t have a gigantic fire breathing flying reptile that can bite you in half with one bite slithering towards you.

Yes, Avery described Tonna’s death in brutal detail to Isabella. So Isabella now knows what would happen if she fails to cast this spell.

Or, if she succeeds in casting the spell and the potion simply doesn’t work. Don’t think for a minute that that hasn’t crossed her mind.

The Finale of Princess for the Night

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Wake up Isabella!

This is Part VII of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

Opium Tales wizard isabella did try to not drink too much. She didn’t. However, let’s not forget that she’s just a teenager. And her aunt kept shaking her. “Wake up, Isabella. Wake up.”

She said it loud enough to wake Isabella. But softly enough not to wake Isabella’s parents.

Her aunt was the only one who knew everything. This of course goes back to her aunt being the only one to know Isabella’s a witch. As they both share that gene.

Groggy, Isabella finally comes to.

“What, Auntie?”

“We have a problem.”

Princess of the Night Part VIII is here

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One hell of a party

This is Part VI of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

Opium Tales wizard isabella got tons of hugs and even more tears from pretty much everyone. Everyone, except Avery, who was practicing one last time, then wanted to get a good night’s sleep. If he could.

Unlike the previous girls, Isabella celebrated. Yes, Princess of the Night means they’ll throw you one hell of a party. But it also means you’re going to get fed to a dragon the very next day. Of course fun was the absolute last thing on most girls’ minds.

Except Isabella. She was having a blast. And everyone else was loving it.

The prior years, guilt and denial dominated everyone’s minds. This time, showing Isabella a great time took the main stage. Because this time around, Isabella really wanted to make use of a party.

She was careful not to drink too much. She wanted to keep her wits. Sure, Avery would have to do the hard work. She’d just have to sit pretty and pray the dragon eats zero people tomorrow instead of two.

Or more. Yes, the thought of Avery failing, then the dragon rampaging through the local villages, charring and flattening everything in sight crossed her mind. The pact was there for a reason.

Both of her parents cried. However, she assured them things will be OK. The girl who’s supposed to get eaten by a dragon is assuring her parents things will be OK? Strange world we live in.

Oh, believe me, it gets stranger. Let me just end it by saying that it was indeed one hell of a party.

Princess of the Night continues here with Part VII

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Another year, another lottery

This is Part V of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

Opium Tales Humpty Dumpty Autumn came much faster than anyone would have liked. Another year, another lottery. The neighboring villages all gathered around and the virgin girls, as ordered, submitted their names.

Avery had been training. He has vowed to put a stop to this madness once and for all. Despite the thick hide of the dragon, Avery thinks with a well placed slash to the throat, he could take the dragon down and end this.

Nobody else has dared. But nobody else has had his vengeance. Disgusted by Tonna’s death. Disgusted by the cowardice of his people. Avery has had enough.

For her fourth year, Isabella submits her name. The other girls do the same. An elder reaches into the box, scrambles some papers around and pulls out a name.

Several hundred people there. Yet, silence. Nobody utters a word. They all wait for the name to be called.

Everyone knows everyone. Every year, someone loses a family member. And everyone loses someone they know. A sister. A daughter. A granddaughter. A niece. A friend.

Every year, the older people become more numb. The young people get more anxious. That person must die for the survival of all the neighboring villages.

But why hasn’t anyone questioned this practice? Why hasn’t someone stepped forth and even attempted to be a hero?

Every year, the name gets called. And that girl becomes princess for the night as each village puts up the best party they possibly could for her. Then the next morning, they chain her in front of the dragon’s cave and the dragon feasts.

The confession

Avery witnessed last year’s carnage, to no one’s knowledge, except for Isabella’s. Not even his trainers knew.

Avery finally decided that he will put a stop to this. Or die trying.

At first, Isabella thought he was mad. Then as he described Tonna’s death in painstaking detail, Isabella almost shared his vengeance. But not at the dragon, for the dragon is just a beast. But for the whole process. The villages. The cowardliness.

Isabella watched Avery train and saw that Avery was becoming a monster. If anyone had a chance against the beast…

And if Avery dies trying, will the dragon attack the villages? That means the pact had been broken. Someone dared stand up to the dragon.

Avery considered this. But, he was confident that he would end this. Once and for all. No girl ever again will die the way Tonna died.

The draw

So, as I was telling you earlier, the elder reaches into the box, scrambles some papers around and pulls out a name. As he has done before for many years.

Each time he drew the name, there was a sadness in his eyes. A remorse. A helplessness.

As always, nobody uttered a word. Even the children, usually restless, knew that someone they know, they won’t see alive tomorrow. Even they kept still, and kept silent.

“Isabella.”

Unlike the other girls, Isabella came forward with a blank face. She neither cried nor collapsed. She simply moved forward. And bowed, accepting her fate. For she knew, the love of her life, her future husband, the greatest warrior this village has ever known, had a plan.

Princess for the Night continues here

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Avery’s vengeance

This is Part IV of Princess for the Night. Part I is here.

opium tales green the image of that initial bite never left Avery’s head. He couldn’t sleep for weeks, visualizing Tonna getting bitten in half. When he closed his eyes, he still saw her death.

Despite throwing up one to two times a day for weeks, Avery insisted on training. Umfrey had utmost respect for Avery’s work ethic before. But now, it was borderline insane.

Borderline? Why did I even say borderline? Take out that word. I was completely wrong to use it. Insane. Yes, Avery’s work ethic became insane.

Nobody trained like Avery. Nobody. He took it to a whole new level.

And within weeks, he was getting results.

Tired and exhausted, after a few weeks of intense training, he stopped throwing up. He learned to focus his vengeance. He learned to control his emotions.

Avery was already Umfrey’s best student. But now, he would become Umfrey’s only student because the other students were so intimidated by Avery that they quit one by one.

Isabella notices something

Avery stopped visiting Isabella every chance he could. And when they rarely snuck out together, Avery didn’t talk much. They didn’t kiss much. Avery would stare into space a lot.

Isabella would ask him what was wrong or what he was thinking about. Avery would come to, and smile and kiss her, then go back to staring into space. While saying nothing.

“Did I do something wrong,” she’d ask. He’d answer “no baby. You’re perfect.”

But she knew something was wrong. She didn’t know that Avery saw Tonna’s death. Nobody knew. Not even Umfrey.

“Were you in love with Tonna?”

“No. But she didn’t deserve to die.”

Isabella agreed. But why now? Why all of a sudden? Even as teenagers, they’ve been through several of these lotteries. And Gwen two autumns ago actually was Avery’s friend. Avery barely knew Tonna.

Isabella knew something was wrong. The child in Avery was dead. He was now a man, and a man with a vengeance.

Continue with Part V of Princess for the Night here

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Tonna’s obscene death

This is Part III of Princess of the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here.

opium tales green tonna lost the lottery. She immediately peed in her dress as the other virgin girls in that village and some of the neighboring villages breathed a sigh of relief.

Several of the girls cried for her. Some were close. Some weren’t. But even the ones who weren’t knew what she would have to go through. It’s something you’d have to be a sick fuck to wish on anyone else, even an enemy.

Princess for the Night

They threw her a party, the best party that all the villages could afford. However, Tonna just cried and threw up the entire time. Some people tried to console her. Half the people though couldn’t even look her in the eye.

Many of the adults got completely wasted. As this has been going on for decades, the older people became distant to the whole thing.

Tonna looked so pretty. Even crying her eyes out and even after throwing up several times. She had the prettiest face in her village, and was arguably the prettiest girl in the entire lottery. Her genes will never replicate though. Tonight is her last night.

Chains

Her eyes already looked dead as the elders led her to the sacrificial post outside the dragon’s lair. Still wearing that dress, she had no more tears to cry.

Her mother had completely lost it. She passed out when her beloved daughter’s name was called and had yet to regain consciousness. Instead of consoling his daughter, her father took care of his wife. As much as he loved his daughter, I think he was scared to face the reality of it all. She never even got a goodbye hug from either of them.

The two people closest to her. The two people she depended on most, when the worst thing that could possibly happen to her, weren’t even there.

With her death imminent, she had almost nobody to turn to.

Tonna didn’t even resist as the elders chained her to the sacrificial post. I won’t write about the previous girls because I only want to tell you about Tonna. I feel like you never even got a chance to know about her.

Did you know that despite everyone else thinking she was stupid, Tonna was really good with locks? So good in fact that despite it being a boy’s profession, her father encouraged her to become a locksmith. Yes, girls in those days raised children and most didn’t have jobs besides assisting on the plot they were tied to. However, Tonna would have become a locksmith and moved into the city.

No, Tonna was far from stupid. She stuttered badly out of nervousness, after getting kicked in the back by a poorly trained horse as a child.

The others her age misunderstood her. And underestimated her. No, I can assure you she had an aptitude for complexities far above her age. Tonna just lacked the speaking abilities to showcase her talents.

Her father though knew. Had she been born today, she would have made a damn good accountant. One that makes the six figures right out of college.

And then why you must be thinking could she not escape these chains? Like I’ve implied, Tonna lost it. She never handled pressure situations well to begin with and the lottery? It was enough to put her over the edge once and for all.

Avery witnesses the whole sick thing

As you already know, Avery was in training to become a knight. Still young and inexperienced, Avery trained six days a week under Umfrey, the best technical fighter around.

Avery wanted to know. He wanted to witness Tonna’s death.

He knew her. Not well. He was never attracted to her as his heart belonged to another girl. But they got along. After all, they grew up together in the same cursed village.

Avery watched from afar, but still close enough to see the details. His eyesight was quite good, and from where he hid, he could see the dragon creep out of its lair as per agreement.

Tonna finally came to life and would have peed a second time in her dress, but she had nothing left to pee. Or maybe it was a few drops.

She screamed helplessly, which sounded especially painful with her dry throat. The dragon approached her, slithering on the ground, then rose to its full height.

A magnificently horrible beast, Avery gasped. He had no idea how big that thing was. Now he knows why they all fear the beast.

Tonna never lost eye contact as the dragon’s head dropped quickly and tore her in half with one bite. Well, I say half but not really. The dragon went for Tonna’s midsection first and took a huge chunk out of it, consuming her pelvis area as well as her legs both separately fell to the ground.

The sick part of it all was that Tonna was still alive, cut in pieces, but her chest cavity, her arms, and her head were completely intact. How she didn’t go into shock really disgusted Avery.

It took her over a minute to die while the dragon chewed on the middle of her. Those too long seconds, I couldn’t imagine anyone having to go through them.

Avery got angry, really angry. Really, really angry. But he stood there, helpless, hiding.

The dragon continued to eat what was left of Tonna. First her upper half. Then it finally got around to picking up her legs one by one from the cold and wet black rocks. And when it saw that there was nothing left to consume, it turned around and slithered back into its cave, leaving nothing of Tonna other than some of her blood on the ground.

The elders would come the next day and look for any remains, and wash the blood away with buckets. They didn’t want anyone to see the grisliness of the event, especially the next girl.

No one had any idea Avery witnessed it. He wasn’t supposed to.

Avery though changed. And I’ll write about that change in him later. For now, let us have a moment of silence for Tonna.

Part IV of Princess for the Night continues here

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Young love

This is Part II of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess of the Night is here.

opium tales avery swings the wooden practice sword and Umfrey easily blocks it.

“You’re telegraphing, Avery. I saw where the blow would land before you even got close to me. Try again.”

Yes, a prodigy with a sword, but still young. Nobody becomes a master overnight. Prodigies just speed up the years.

Umfrey is middle-aged. And huge. And has real life battle experience. Avery won’t be a squire under him. However, the Lord had Umfrey initially train Avery because Umfrey’s technique is top notch.

After about twenty more attempts, Avery finally whacks Umfrey on the arm.

“Ouch!” Umfrey smiles. “Well done.”

Repetition. The same exercises over and over again until everything is right.

First, you master the footwork. If you have bad footwork, Umfrey tells his student, you’ll never be a good fighter.

That night

Isabella waits for her parents to sleep. Then sneaks out the window. Avery waits for her by the twin birch trees.

She runs almost full speed into his strong arms and they kiss passionately. She then looks deeply into his eyes. He returns the gaze and concedes a smile. “Yes, you are more beautiful than Tonna.”

“But she’s prettier.”

“But she’s stupid. Stupid people do stupid things. And ten years from now, I can assure you that you’d be significantly more beautiful. Plus look at her ass. Do you think I want to be squeezing that ass ten years from now?”

Isabella laughs. Avery gives her another smile, then initiates another passionate tongue kiss.

Ah, the feeling of young love, when it’s just passion. Before it turns into need then companionship. That’s why it’s so much more fun to write about.

“You need to get some sleep. You got more training tomorrow and Umfrey is mean.”

“He’s not mean. He’s strict. Big difference.”

“He seems really mean.”

“That’s because he doesn’t want me to die in combat. Good war teachers aren’t nice. They’re strict. I need to learn to do things right.”

“Can’t he be nicer?”

“I don’t want him to be nicer. I want to learn how to fight. He’s teaching me war, not etiquette. That’s another guy.”

“But seriously Avery, you need to sleep.” This time, she initiates the passionate kiss. And breaks it off. Turns around and starts rushing away. And turns around one more time to blow him a kiss with the most heartwarming smile you’ve ever seen. Then lifts her dress so it won’t drag on the ground and rushes quickly back climb the tree to get back inside her window.

Avery watches every step she takes with intense pleasure. “Some day that beautiful girl will be my wife,” he says to himself with a confident smile.

Part III of Princess for the Night is here

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“You’re not going to need that love potion”

This is Part I of “Princess for the Night.”

I had the idea of writing a sort of prequel to Up in Flames, one of the songs I wrote awhile back. If you don’t know the song, the dragon ends up falling in love with the girl and decides to let her choose if they should just run off together or if she wants him to kill them all.

And of course the album cover is based on that song.

Astral Eyes - Another Sacrifice Gone Wrong

Astral Eyes – Another Sacrifice Gone Wrong

So, you already know how this story ends. Which is neat. I’ve never done this before.

“You’re not going to need that love potion.”

Isabella looked up at her aunt and smiled. “You don’t think so?”

“No. He’s already crazy about you. Apparently everyone in the village knows this but you.”

Isabella sort of blushed. That’s a lot of emotion for Isabella, who’s more a thinking girl. Not your average feminine village girl.

Yes, she’s feminine. Don’t get me wrong. But atypical. In more than one way.

She and her aunt have been doing magic together since Isabella was a child. Isabella’s mother doesn’t know. Of course not. In this village, it’s not seen as something really bad. Not like some of the other villages where they actually burn people who practice it. But it’s still something to keep quiet about.

So you’re probably wondering about the boy in question. Tall, handsome, and the best kid with a sword around. He’d be called a prodigy if he were a musician.

Let’s put it this way. Peasants aren’t allowed to own arms. However, the Lord made an exception in this case. He knows Avery would make a good defender, and would train him himself if it weren’t for his shoulder.

Yes, Avery will soon leave the village to be a squire, then someday be a knight. And what a knight he will be! Fiercely gifted, the villagers knew from an early age that he could be the one to end the village’s curse.

Is Isabella the prettiest girl in the village? No, that would be Tonna. But Tonna is stupid.

Isabella’s a close second though. Plus, Isabella’s got a spunkiness that Avery quite admires.

Isabella smiles to herself as she puts enough of the potion’s ingredients into a tiny bottle. “Just in case,” she smiles to her aunt.

Part II of Princess for the Night is here

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