Ah, I see you have returned for the continuation of the Storywell adventure! This week we’re getting to know Cadenza, one of my personal favorite characters. (Just don’t tell the others.) She’s tall, flame-haired, and freckled, with sharp gray eyes and an even sharper tongue. I have attempted many times to draw Cadenza, and more often than not, I have failed. Here are a few of my more successful experiments, though.
If you want, you can also check out the Pinterest board I made for Cadenza!
Last time in the Storywell, we met Brynna Sparrow and gave her some gummy bears. Now Cadenza has stepped onto the scene, and she’s the kind of character we don’t want to mess with. (It’s hard to get on her good side since she doesn’t really have one, if you know what I mean.) Without further ado, let us begin!
“Who are you?” Cadenza, a girl of about fifteen, arches her eyebrows at the newcomers. Both the Author and the Reader stand tensely, arms held straight at their sides.
Before either can attempt an explanation, Brynna comes to their defense. “These are my new friends, Author and Reader. I helped them, and they gave me candy in return.”
“Is that so?” Cadenza’s icy glare is enough to make the winter air seem warm. “Have you not learned that it is foolish to take candy from strangers?” She lowers her voice, intending for only Brynna to hear, but the Reader and the Author can still understand. “It could be poisoned for all you know, Brynna. You must be more careful.”
“Tabitha was here,” Brynna replies, sticking out her bottom lip. “I’m sorry, Cadenza. I’ll give it back.”
“Why don’t you try one, Cadenza?” The voice belongs to Tabitha, the hooded woman who drove the cart and apparently Brynna’s teacher. “Just to make sure that your hasty accusation is warranted.”
“No, I would rather not.”
“She’s a wet blanket, isn’t she?” the Reader whispers to the Author, who nods while trying to stifle a laugh.
Cadenza crosses her arms and stands between them and Brynna. “What business do you have in Karis?”
The Author clears her throat, suddenly wondering whether she’s even prepared to deal with this character. Though she knows these two better than anyone else, she has no control here. “We’re explorers, miss. We heard Karis was beautiful in winter, so we came to visit.”
The Reader nods briskly so as to not attract suspicion, breathing a sigh of relief when Cadenza’s sharp eyes finally leave them to glare at the powdery blue sky. “There is naught but ice and snow in winter here,” she says, frowning.
“I come from a place where we get no snow in winter.” The Author bites her lip, desperate to convince this cynical character of her sincerity.
“Uh, in the south.” The Author’s hand waves around vaguely.
“I see…” Cadenza squints harder.
“Where would you go exploring?” the Reader jumps in. “There has to be some place you’ve always wanted to visit.”
“Ryloir,” she answers immediately. “That’s where the Guard Academy is, and it’s where I hope to train one day.”
“Girls can be soldiers?”
Cadenza’s gaze turns flinty again. “Only the ones who can handle a sword.” The tall girl certainly looks capable of wielding a sword, with a sturdy build, strong hands, and of course that grim determination with which she faced every challenge in life. “The Academy mainly trains bodyguards for high-ranking officials within the kingdom.”
“Cool.” The Reader grins. “Have you always lived here?”
“No, and cannot see how that is any business of yours.”
“Whoa, calm down. You’re as prickly as a porcupine, you know that, right?”
Cadenza stood with her back straight, arms crossed, and eyes glittering. “I have been called worse.”
The Author quickly slides in front of the Reader, pressing her palms together and making a slight, apologetic bow. “My friend didn’t mean it as an insult, I apologize. I’m curious about something, myself.”
Cadenza’s jaw tightens. “Then that is unfortunate, because I will not be answering your questions.”
Brynna tugs Cadenza’s sleeve. “Um, Cadenza, they’re just travelers. I don’t think they’re evil or anything.”
Cadenza sighs heavily and uncrosses her arms. “Can I help you strangers with anything?”
“Well…” The Author exchanges glances with the Reader. “What sort of things can one do in Karis? There must be something.”
“Not in winter,” Cadenza mutters, then clears her throat. “Unfortunately, you are late to the winter festival and early to the spring festival. During those celebrations, we have dances and music and food of all kinds.”
“In the spring we make flower crowns and each family puts garlands on their wagons,” Brynna pipes up. “The festivals are my favorite part about living in Karis. I can’t wait for spring to come.”
“Is it your favorite season?” the Reader asks.
Brynna nods enthusiastically while Cadenza shakes her head. The Reader raises an eyebrow at the tall girl. “What’s your favorite season, Cadenza?”
“I have no favorite. All are bad in one way or another.”
Brynna’s nose wrinkles. “But Cadenza, you like snow fights and building forts in winter. You even invented the tradition of stuffing snow in someone’s face when they walk under a holly branch.”
The Reader chuckles slightly and leans over to whisper to the Author, “Is that this book’s version of mistletoe?”
“It’s not actually mentioned in the recent drafts of the book, but yes. A very violent version of mistletoe,” the Author whispers back, her stomach beginning to ache from suppressing her laughter.
“I suppose snow-ambushing is fun…” Cadenza’s expression relaxes slightly, though she doesn’t smile.
“Who’s the funnest person to ambush?” asks the Reader with a smirk.
Cadenza rubs her chin thoughtfully. “The ones who make the most noise are funnest. Brynna, Jorgan, and Krystal just look betrayed and piteous afterward, something I cannot bear, and Ariella’s brother always manages to come to her defense somehow, so her reaction is unremarkable. Alek yells, and so does Haden, though of everyone the louts deserve it most.”
“That’s my brother you’re talking about!” Brynna exclaims, fists clenching. “Alek isn’t a lout, not like Haden, at least.”
Cadenza’s eyebrows raise, but the rest of her expression is deadpan. “Name one decent thing Alek has done all winter.”
“Uh…he…” Brynna blinks. “He told Haden to stop teasing Jorgan.”
“Only because he likes to be the one to torment his brother.” Cadenza put up a hand to silence Brynna’s protests. “You are too kind and trusting, Brynna. You always try to see the best in people.”
“And you always try to see the worst,” Brynna points out.
Cadenza’s mouth twists wryly. “What a wonder that I have any friends at all when I only see their faults, and they only see mine.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re a great friend, Cadenza!” the Reader declares enthusiastically. “You’re…uh…the person who keeps everybody from falling off cliffs and doing stupid things.”
“Aye, that is about right.” Finally, Cadenza seems to have lowered her guard—just a little, though. “Rendon almost fell off a cliff last autumn. The kid thought he could free-climb it and refused to listen to my warnings.”
The Reader leans forward. “So did he die?”
Cadenza’s brow wrinkles. “Of course not. I was not about to let him fall and break his skull, so I gently persuaded him to come back down before he was halfway up.”
The Author grimaces. The vague details of this story are beginning to stir in the depths of her imagination. “Was it a dare or something?”
Cadenza glances at her sharply. “I wouldn’t know. Rendon is not one to accept dares, but it might have been. I never asked.”
Shuffling her feet, the Author mumbles something under her breath and falls silent. The Reader rummages around in an overstuffed messenger bag and pulls out a Polaroid camera. “Seems like a good time to grab some souvenirs for this trip.”
Cadenza tenses. “What is that? Some sort of weapon?”
Brynna pushes past her and leans close. “It looks like a box with an eye. What does it do?”
“It takes pictures, which are…uh…little pieces of memory.”
The Reader chuckles. “Magic, I guess. Here, let’s take a selfie.” One flash of brilliant light and several anxious minutes later, Brynna holds a little picture of herself, Reader, and Author, with Cadenza glowering in the background.
A wide, eager smile stretches across Brynna’s face. “It’s like an eye that blinks and captures us within little parchments of memory!”
The Reader accepts the picture back. “Is there anything you would like to take a picture of to keep?”
Brynna sweeps her gaze around. When her eyes land on Cadenza, the older girl makes very clear by her expression that she does not want to be captured by the magic box. Tabitha also shakes her head, and Brynna sighs. “I don’t know…”
“Think about it. What would you want to capture in memory forever?”
Brynna chews her lip for a moment. “I would want to capture something that doesn’t last. Something that goes away. Something good and beautiful.”
“Not much of that is here in wintertime,” Cadenza comments. “You should capture the guard tower.”
“But that’s going to last forever.”
A painful sensation seizes the Author’s heart, and she crosses an arm over her chest. The Reader glances at her. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s not going to last forever,” she whispers, swallowing with difficulty.
“What do you mean?”
But the Author doesn’t get a chance to reply. Brynna is already pointing the magic eye at the tower, which is made of old stone and has a flag flying at its pinnacle. “I’ll just do Cadenza’s idea. How do I take a picture, Reader?”
“Just press this.” The camera flashed.
The Author is having trouble speaking. She can’t decide whether she wants to cry or burst out laughing. The Reader gives her a weird look. Cadenza and Brynna are busy watching the film develop.
“I don’t understand this,” Cadenza mutters under her breath.
The little girl laughs. “It’s magic.”
Cadenza grits her teeth. “I don’t trust magic. I don’t trust anyone’s idea of fate or destiny. Or spirits. Or gods.”
“I trust Yehoveh,” Brynna Sparrow says earnestly.
“If I may ask, why are you so bitter toward the idea of Yehoveh?” the Author asks, even though she already has an idea of the answer.
“None of your concern.” Cadenza’s mouth puckers as though she ate something sour.
Brynna’s brow wrinkles. “I’m curious, too, Cadenza. Won’t you tell us?”
Cadenza clears her throat and blinks rapidly. “I don’t trust a deity who stands aloof and lets the inhabitants of this world destroy themselves. Whoever created Kera shows no inclination to help us, so we must help ourselves. Those who trust themselves to the hand of such a pitiless spirit are fools.”
A stricken expression crosses Brynna’s face. “Oh, Cadenza! That’s not true. Yehoveh loves and cares for each of us. He doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves, and he will make every injustice right one day.”
“I don’t want justice one day, I want it—” But Cadenza cuts herself off and turns away. “Never mind.”
“We…uh…we should probably go,” the Reader says, fidgeting awkwardly.
“Farewell, my friends, and thank you for your gifts. May Yehoveh go with you.” Brynna curtsies slightly, one foot tucked behind the other.
“Goodbye…” The Author and the Reader retreat in the direction of the forest. When they glance back, Brynna is standing with Cadenza, saying nothing. She takes Cadenza’s rough hand in her small, pale one and pats it comfortingly, but receives no response from the older girl.
“Something must have happened to her,” the Reader remarks. “Something to have made her believe Yehoveh, or whoever, doesn’t care about her.”
“Yes,” the Author murmurs sadly. “Like so many, she’s bitter toward him. It’s one of the reasons she’s so protective of her friends, because she believes she’s the only one who can and will protect them in this perilous world.”
“She seems like a good character. Strong, protective, brave, leaderly, and down-to-earth.”
The Author nods. “Prickly, stubborn, and brutally honest, too.”
“That’s for sure. I’m interested to meet those other characters she mentioned, Rendon, Alek, Jorgan, and Krystal. We have already met Ariella.”
A sly smile flits across the Author’s face. “Perhaps one day you will be able to witness their stories, my dear Reader. Some are sad, some are happy—no, most of them are sad, actually. But I hope that in time, you will come to love these characters just as much as I do.”
As they step back through the Storywell portal and return to the real world, the Reader stops suddenly, eyes wide. “I think I left my camera back there!”
“What? With Brynna?!”
“Yeah! I have to get it back!”
The Author holds back the Reader from jumping back through the swirling portal. “No, you can’t do that! It might mess all sorts of things up! I’ll have to extract your camera some other way. Brynna will keep it safe until then.” She bites her lip. “Unless her brothers get ahold of it. But I’m sure they won’t.”
The Reader’s foot taps impatiently. “So are we gonna get it back or not?”
“Uh, yeah! Eventually.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
The Author shrugs. “Come on, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like one little Polaroid camera is going to mess up the entire storyline. Right?”
That’s all, friends! I hope you enjoyed this Storywell post. I had a lot of fun writing it. What did you think of Cadenza? A bit of a fun fact; my readership is about evenly divided between liking and disliking Cadenza. Some think she’s too stubborn and bossy, but I think that’s what makes her a good character. I suppose that’s for the Reader to judge, though. 😉
Have a great week, everyone!