Welcome back to the Storywell, where I as an author can jump into the pages of my books and interrogate my characters! Today I venture back into the world of Reimira, this time to visit a precious charrie called Brynna Sparrow. No, she is not the long lost daughter of Jack Sparrow (that would be weird). Little Brynna is called that because she flits around like her namesake, and also because her hair and eyes are the color of a sparrow’s wings.
Before we dive into the Storywell portion, I would like to take a moment to share the art I have made of Brynna over the years. First is a portrait I drew of her. At the time I thought it was very good—I still do, even though I see several things that could use improvement. In several of these art pieces, she wears a coif over her hair.
Next, I have some old art pieces from 2017 and 2018 which I call “Sad Brynna” and “Happy Brynna,” respectively. (In the first picture, Brynna is on the right.)
Here is a pastel chalk version of Brynna. At the time, it was the best picture of her I had ever made. You’ll often see me drawing her in blues and greens because those are her favorite colors.
Brynna, Copic marker version. This one was really fun to make, and I think it illustrates an older Brynna than in previous renditions.
And last but not least, Brynna and her siblings, Alek and Jorgan.
If you’d like to see more of Brynna and her brothers, check out the Pinterest board I made for them! With the art dump out of the way, let us proceed to the Storywell. As always, I don’t really have a plan in mind for what to do when we meet Brynna. Let’s just jump in and see what happens!
The Author of Ashen Blaze prepares to reenter her book for the second time. She presses a few buttons on the control panel of the Storywell, which begins pulsing with blue-green light. “Last time we had a bit of a misadventure, but that’s to be expected with a trial run.”
“I hope you fixed it this time,” the Reader mutters, arms crossed.
“Of course I did!” The corners of the Author’s mouth turn down sourly. “Everything will be fine. We won’t end up in the middle of a dragon fight or in a spoilers section this time, mark my words.”
The Reader, still wearing a deadpan expression, lifts one eyebrow. “So if everything goes wrong, I’m allowed to say ‘I told you so?'”
“Goodness, you’re a pessimistic one, aren’t you? Try to look on the bright side. The glass is half full. There’s a silver lining. What other expressions are there?”
The Reader grunts. “Optimism won’t keep us from getting into trouble.”
“Pessimism won’t either,” the Author points out. “Just trust me, won’t you? I worked out the bugs in the program already. My Storysword has some new features, too. Did you bring anything for this adventure?”
“Uhhh…” The Reader shuffles through the contents of a worn, waterproof messenger bag. “I have gummy bears, a Polaroid camera, and a water bottle. As you can see, I came wearing my disguise.”
“Excellent. What are you going to do with the camera?”
“Take pictures, obviously.” The Reader tosses a gummy bear in the air and munches it happily. “Are you done prepping that thing? I’m ready to go.”
“Don’t you want to know who we’re going to visit this time?”
The Author grins. “Brynna Sparrow.”
“Is she like…Jack Sparrow’s long lost daughter?”
“NO! Argh, come on.” The Author marches through the glowing portal with the Reader in tow.
The whirlpool of blue light bends and twists, tugging the travelers in every direction. Somehow they are floating in a void with nothing solid to ground them. It’s neither hot nor cold within the dimension, just heavy with an electric current that manifests itself through infinitesimal sparks of light and color.
The Author swipes at the miasma with her Storysword and opens a rift in the dimension. She and her companion tumble through, landing in a heap. Groaning, the Author sits up and rubs her head. “That was a little more bumpy than last time.”
“Ya think?” The Reader sniffs and checks to make sure nothing is broken. “So far I’m not impressed. At least I didn’t lose my camera.”
The Author puts one hand on her chin. “I think I know why we didn’t have an easy portal into the world. I programmed for us to enter before the events of my first book, in the unwritten history of the world and the characters.”
“Are you saying that we’re in uncharted territory?” the Reader asks, brow creasing.
“Oh, no. It’s charted—in my mind, at least. The Storywell is drawing solely from my imagination rather than a written manuscript. As such, the story can be a bit more…unstable.”
“Well, for both our sakes, I hope your brain is stable enough to handle this.”
A smirk materializes on the Author’s face. “I don’t plan on having a mental breakdown anytime soon, don’t worry. Anyway, we are back in the same place as last time.”
“The one with the scary dragons?”
“Yup. But they don’t come for a while. I’m not sure where exactly on the timeline we are, but it’s definitely before the…incident.” The Author examines the surrounding area. Deep winter, judging from the bare tree branches. A few proud evergreens crown the high, snowy ridge that makes up the backbone of the island. The cold, lonely wind moans through the valley where the travelers now stand.
“I should have brought a jacket,” the Reader mumbles, shivering. “Can we go find a campfire or something?”
“We’ll head to Karis. It’s somewhere around here.” The Author scratches her head, then points in a random direction. “Onward!”
The trek through the winter woods is grueling, far more grueling than either had anticipated. “My characters must have strong constitutions,” the Author gasps out. “Well, maybe not Brynna. She’s the youngest and smallest of her little fellowship.”
“Is that why she’s called Brynna Sparrow?”
“One of the reasons, yes. You’ll see the others once we meet her…if we ever find her.”
The Reader sighs. “We’re lost, aren’t we?”
“Yup. Good thing my Storysword can teleport us across time and space!” She sweeps out the weapon and raises it triumphantly.
“Why didn’t you suggest that before we started wandering in the wilderness?!”
“I…er…forgot.” Quickly, she slices a rift in the world and leaps through before the Reader can protest. They land within sight of a quaint little village surrounded by a stone wall. A flag bearing the standard of a white sword flies above a tall tower at the center of the village.
The Author and the Reader enter through the front gate, following a wooden cart pulled by a docile old carthorse. In the back of the cart sits a little girl with straight brown hair and large brown eyes. With a jolt, the Author realizes who it is. She waves to catch the Reader’s attention and whispers, “That’s Brynna!”
The Reader glances at Brynna, then back at the Author. “Hey, watch out—”
But it’s too late. The Author, completely focused on Brynna Sparrow, catches her foot on a rock, trips, and lands spectacularly on the rough cobblestones. She groans and pushes up on one elbow. Her palms are scraped and bleeding. A small price to pay for an opportunity like this, she decides.
Light footsteps patter toward the travelers, and a voice pipes, “Are you hurt? Oh, your hands. Come on, I can bandage them for you.” Taking the Author’s wrist, Brynna draws her to her feet and leads her over to the cart, which had stopped when its small passenger jumped out.
“What’s your name?” Brynna asks, carefully dabbing at the scrapes.
The Author blinks, a little dumbfounded. “I—uh—”
“The fall must have disoriented her,” the Reader cuts in. “I’m Reader, this is Author.”
“What curious names,” she remarks, smiling shyly. “I’m Brynna.”
An idea occurs to the Reader. “Say, what’s your favorite animal?”
“Um…” Brynna’s nose scrunches up as she thinks. “I like horses. Miss Tabitha’s is sweet. I feed her and brush her and braid her mane.” A dreamy smile flits across her face. “When I’m old enough, Mum says I can go riding on my own.”
“Oh.” That ruled out a sparrow as her favorite animal.
“Are you better now, Miss Author?” Brynna asks, finishing the neat bandages around the patient’s palms.
“Much better. You’re an excellent healer,” the Author replies, unable to keep from grinning.
Brynna glances at the silver-haired woman driving the cart, then down at her hands. “That’s what I’m training to be. Miss Tabitha is the best teacher.”
The Reader reaches for a handful of gummy bears and speaks between chews. “So if the sky could be a different color, which one would you choose?“
The Author’s jaw drops. What kind of a question is that? Brynna, though, laughs merrily. “I think about that sometimes. What would a red sky look like? Probably really scary. What about black? I couldn’t live in an endless night. Green is for trees. So…I would want the sky to be purple. It’s like the mix between day and night. The best of both worlds.”
“I completely agree,” the Reader responds. “Here, have a gummy bear.”
Brynna accepts the candy with a quizzical expression. “I eat it?”
“Yeah. If you want another color, I have more.”
As she munches the minuscule morsel, the emotion on Brynna’s face morphs from confusion to shock to delight. “It’s squishy! And sweet!” At the Reader’s behest, Brynna looks through the sizeable supply of gummy bears. “I like these ones. The blue ones.”
“You can take them for—I mean—” The Author coughs slightly. “Do you have any siblings? They might like them.”
“Um, yes. I have two brothers.”
“Older?” At Brynna’s nod, the Reader nods sympathetically. “Must be tough.”
“Sometimes. Jorgan is nice to me most of the time, though. We read books in the library together.” Brynna glances down at the gummy bear bag again and steps back. “But I couldn’t take your candies.”
“Consider it as payment for your services,” the Author speaks up. “You were so kind as to bandage my scrapes for me. This gift can’t even begin to express my gratitude.”
Brynna giggles. “Thank you.”
“Take all of them, in fact. Use them as currency if you happen to fall into any sort of economic crisis,” the Reader suggests, putting the squirrel-sized bag of gummy bears into the little girl’s hands.
“A what?” Brynna’s nose crinkles up again.
“What on earth is going on over here?” The voice is bold, commanding, and carries a vaguely Irish-sounding accent.
The Author’s eyes widen. “Oh no. That’s…”
“Cadenza!” Brynna cries, but she doesn’t sound displeased. In fact, she is grinning.
“Who’s Cadenza?” the Reader whispers to the Author, noting the dramatic change in the other’s countenance.
“The daughter of Lord Ander, the leader of this village, and a born leader herself. She’s stubborn, smart, and scary. We’d better watch what we say.”
There you have it, friends, the second installment of my Storywell series! I had so much fun writing this. Special thanks goes to the readers who thought to give Brynna gummy bears and ask her such crazy questions. You know who you are. If you would like to ask Brynna or Cadenza some questions, leave a comment below and I will continue the story as soon as I can!
Until next time, my fellow Lightbringers!