Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

#fridayflash 70: Vaalea's Story

After publishing Jezina's Story (as I still think of it and wish I'd never changed the name) I've been asked a few times for what happens next, and occasionally, for what happens before.    Well before was an easy chapter to write -- it's here if you missed it :).   However, after....   Well after was a challenge.   I've written a bunch of random chapters.  Jezina and friends heading out to the town where the dragon was supposed to leave Vaalea, only to discover (spoiler alert!) neither of them ever made it (you can't possibly be surprised by that).   But, tbh, it didn't really interest me.  We'd seen the characters and the places in her first journey.  Going back to almost the start -- well, if it didn't interest me, odds are, it wasn't going to interest you :)

But then I got to thinking, Jezina's travels were driven by prophecy, but a prophecy that was really quite simplistic.  But maybe it was simplistic because it was just the introduction to the grander one.  These things do tend to run in families :).  And it's clear any prophecy with Vaalea could not have occurred had Jezina failed in hers.   And so I introduce a start...  A page really...  Of Vaalea's story :).

Thanks again to all those who read and support my writing.  Comments keep me going!  

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Vaalea's Story:

Stories are often told of princesses being rescued from dragons; as far as I know, I’m the only princess who had ever been rescued *by* a dragon. I was so young – I didn’t really understand all that had happened, or have any understanding of all that would happen. My sister, who I’d only just met, called the dragon, Drazul, and I climbed on. I was fearless and he was amazing. He spoke to me and made me laugh. And away we went.

It took forever to get there. Days? Weeks? I don’t know. It seemed like forever, but I was a child -- a year is a lifetime then.   He told me all about the special school I was going to; a school for people like me. We landed on top of a mountain. Slowly the mist cleared to reveal a castle, whose sides shimmered as though a mirage. Drazul directed me to head inside, and I was so excited – I’m sure I bounced.

There were other kids, and for the first time I could remember, I was allowed to play with them. My roommate, Adalyn, was the same age as me, but she seemed so much older. She was calm, always organized, “well put together” my mum would’ve said, and never got into trouble with the rest of us. But somehow, we still became friends.

We played, we learned, and we grew. Every once in a while, the dragons would bring us a new student. They would wander in; some were excited, but most were terrified. And thus we learned about the outside world, where magic was at best feared and at worst hunted. And so we stayed where we were safe, and we learned, and we practiced. And over time, we became strong.

But eventually, I grew up. And as I did, I wondered. I remembered so little of my life before I’d come. Why had my mother or my sister never come to visit? Drazul flew me here, surely he could’ve flown them. And I started to think that maybe it was up to me to go find them.

My first thought was to call Drazul and ask him to take me. He’d flown me here so many years ago, and stopped by at least a couple times a year since. We’d talk and play and sometimes he’d take me flying. But he never answered my questions of home, always just said I was better here. And eventually I stopped asking. Unfortunately though, I’d never learnt to call him; Drazul came when he wanted to and left on a whim – he never stuck around for long.

I slung my backpack over one shoulder, everything I valued inside. There were no rules against leaving – we could go at any time; the only rule was that once you left, you could never return. It was an easy life at the school. One where I knew everybody and was known. I could be myself and practice my magic, and perhaps one day even teach. It was a good life. But it wasn’t the life I was destined for, and somewhere, deep inside, I knew it.

I had said my goodbyes, but purposely not told anybody exactly when I would leave. It would be hard enough without a crowd. As I slid through the door, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw Adalyn carrying her matching bag. “You didn’t think you’d be going without me, did you?” she asked.

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If you've been reading my stories for a while and the school seems vaguely familiar -- a, credit to you for an awesome memory!  And b - that's because it first appeared in The Road Less Travelled.  I didn't know then that that's where Vaalea was hanging out, but it made perfect sense when I went looking for her ;)

You never learn anything by doing it right...

So I took an unplanned break from my Spanish lessons, not intentionally, just wasn't prioritizing it enough to commit to a time 24h in advance (as required by the system).   But I did keep up with the self study via duolingo, busuu, workbook, etc.   Had my first lesson today in 2.5 mths and was super pleased to discover there's been improvement :).  Woohoo!   Cause I'll tell ya, it definitely feels like I'm on a very flat or even downward sloping plateau *sigh*.  But yeah - while conversation remained slow and painful, I was able to hold up my end more accurately and switch between tenses more successfully.   So pretty pleased at that.   Although please note the qualifiers -- "more" does not equal "well" ;)
I set my phone to Spanish for self-motivation.
Turns out I know how to work my phone without reading instructions ;)
Pretty excited about the move coming up in 3 weeks now :).  We have 2.5 week overlap so will move things in pieces -- 4 weeks till the bulk of our furniture moves.  But current owner showed us all around and let us take pics and ask questions, so getting pretty excited about the whole thing.

Have also started a new exercise program -- Lift 4.  It's only in test mode at the moment, 20 min workouts instead of the 40 min ones that will be in the real program.  Real program starts July 16...  Since I'm feeling the 20 min ones, I'm quite looking forward to the results of the full adventure (note - not actually looking forward to the adventure itself, I just want the results ;).

And in unrelated news, I'm rather pleased with how my moment of craftiness worked out :)


More Spanish games

So while I feel very much like my Spanish has plateaued at a horribly low level, I was fairly pleased to discover I'm able to understand more spoken than I used to be able to. Listening to DuoLingo stories and podcasts and actually grasping a good portion of it. A few months ago it was a painful act to try to get through any of those.

I've also started using Busuu, which has an interesting component in that in the last exercise in each level you either write or speak something and submit it for somebody else to correct. This has the potential to be very strong. Lol BUT -- I've had a couple "corrected" via personal preference (eg - they changed my tu into usted - essentially informal into formal). Which I just rolled my eyes at. But what made me really annoyed was when I flipped through the ones studying English, how many answers were just plain wrong. It hurt. And it worries me that when I get farther in and really don't know what I'm doing, the feedback I receive might be just as bad :(.

That being said, my new way of procrastinating studying Spanish is to coach people studying English ;). I try and include an explanation so they know why, not just fix it -- unless it's super beginner, then I just fix. But I'm getting entertaining results from the more advanced ones I answer.  And am disproportionately pleased by being tagged "best answer" ;).  You can edit their work (shows up in green) and/or add notes.   They see both what they wrote and what you changed.  Pretty easy.

This is keeping me more entertained than it should
Haven't had any real lessons in a while -- mostly just been busy and/or nice weather calls ;).  But should really start those back up and get some speaking in.

In other news -- was coaching at Foxcroft yesterday in their annual show.  Highly entertaining.  As much socializing as anything, and didn't hurt that Kennedy had an amazing day.   Lots of fun to see everyone.