Stars | Millicent Nankivell
Stars | Millicent Nankivell

You want to know the great thing about time zones? Is that it’s still Friday somewhere in the world! I started writing this last night, but apparently fell asleep in the process, after a night of playing hyper and crazy games of “Go Fish” with my friend Sam. I think it may have involved me sending her to the Mariana Trench to fish, and then I may have fed her to a Megalodon at some point… yeah. That happened.

Anyway, back to Fangirl Friday where it’s still Friday somewhere in the world: I’ve been wanting to take my new camera lens for a test drive for photos of stars for a while now but I’ve always had something on, or the sky is too cloudy. I finally got the chance to play last night (while Sam ran to get a jumper), but it wasn’t really dark enough now that there were more people here for camp. Too many caravan lights on etc. But I still love these none-the-less.

Stars | Millicent Nankivell

I woke for a bit at about 3:30 and when I stepped outside, camp was quiet, there were much less lights, and the stars were breathtaking. I wanted to bust my camera out again then because the shots would have been infinitely more amazing, but I was pretty wrecked and didn’t want to risk breaking another lens. Plus, I was worried I’d wake those around me!

Stars | Millicent Nankivell

Do you ever take photos of the stars? If not, what’s your favourite thing to photograph?

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Being Charming Is My Hobby - Adrian Ivashkov | Bloodlines Fanart by Millicent Nankivell
Being Charming Is My Hobby - Adrian Ivashkov | Bloodlines Fanart by Millicent Nankivell

When I saw this quote on Pinterest, I laughed. A lot. Though not quite as much as when I first read it in the book (Bloodlines by Richelle Mead). As I’m pretty sure you’re all aware by now, Adrian is my favourite character. He’s got class, snark, and says the most ridiculous (but seriously endearing) things. He does take you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster though (poor guy).

I didn’t much like the quote image used on Pinterest for this though, so I decided to make my own. I hope you like it! ♥

This week has turned into a frantic hot mess and I’ve slipped on my schedule. Fangirl Friday will come later today though, and I’ll be getting a book review up over the weekend. Thanks for your patience! ♥

xx

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chapter-title-01
The Last King - Chapter One | Millicent Nankivell

Panic seized me when I looked up and realised I was alone. Well, sort of. It would be more accurate to say that I was void of company that didn’t make my blood run cold. The shadows hadn’t haunted me for weeks now. Yet despite the many assurances from Aunt Jasna that I would be safer here, they appeared to have found me again. Their eerie whispers rustled through the leafy canopy above me and my breathing quickened.

It had been the silence that had warned me. The unexpected end to the beautiful birdsong that had lulled me into a zone that was all my own while foraging for herbs and berries. Even the constant buzz of insects had stopped and the air stilled.

‘Dara?’ I called loudly, doing my best to keep my voice steady. Images I’d tried to repress of the night I fled my home were beginning to resurface. My mother, lying unconscious on the living room floor with blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.

‘Warren?’ I was less hopeful that he’d respond. His welcome for me hadn’t exactly been friendly, nor had the relationship between us thawed in the weeks since. Still, I could really use the help right now. Whether he responded or not, it had to be worth a try.

While my panic grew, my memory dredged up another image that I’d rather forget. I could see the terror in my younger sister’s eyes as we exchanged a hasty farewell before Aunt Jasna had locked her in the basement. She had hoped that in doing that, it would be enough to hide her from the monsters – at least until Frank got there.

Typical that the shadows would find me while I was lost in the forest. The last time I encountered them had been in a forest. Stray limbs had whipped our exposed flesh and we had stumbled on the scrubby undergrowth while they chased myself and Aunt Jasna. The air had been thick and there had been sparks of light like static electricity. The shadows had been relentless in their chase. We were almost unable to make our escape in time, but Aunt Jasna had finally been able to activate and employ the spell that transported us from the darkened forest to what was to become my new home.

Disappointment had filled me when I realised my new home wasn’t Banberrie Academy. Mum had always spoken fondly of the Academy and her friend, Mr. Edwards, who ran the institution. I wouldn’t have minded going and living in a castle full of books and people like me. Instead I was stuck here, living with the family of a friend of hers who I had never heard her mention before.

Glancing above me anxiously, I tried to take a steadying breath as I realised that Warren and Dara had left without me and no aid would come. I clenched my fists, trying not to feel too frustrated with them. After all, I’d been so engrossed in what I had been doing. They probably had let me know they were moving on and I wouldn’t have even noticed.

I pulled myself to my feet slowly, trying to cause as little disturbance as possible. I draped my bag that was now laden with the efforts of my gathering over my shoulder, and headed back the way I had come in. Or at least I hoped it was.

There was a part of me that knew I was being ridiculous. Aside from the fact that I had already caused a racket by shouting for aid, I could be as quiet as a mouse and they would still hear me. They would still know exactly where I was. They were hunting me, and they would still follow me.

As though my thoughts were transparent, one of the shapeless shadows left the sanctuary of the treetops and bore down on me, swooping right through me. I grasped frantically at my chest as though willing to dislodge the shards of ice I could now feel inside me. Looking back up, I saw it preparing to attack again. Not that this was really an attack. It was torment. A predator playing with it’s food.

‘I don’t have ice in my chest,’ I whispered urgently to myself. ‘It’s just a sensation – it isn’t real.’

Gripped with fear now, I knew I had no option but to try outrun the shadows. Not an easy feat when in a forest. The shrubbery and low hanging branches would be problematic for me, whereas the shadows had the advantage of possessing insubstantial forms. I had no other choice though. Without further hesitation, I gave up on all pretence of a quiet escape and ran as hard and as fast as my legs would allow.

Naturally, this was like waving a red flag to a bull. The brazen shadow that had already been tormenting me took chase, it’s friends high in the treetops descending to join. As more of them began pursuing me, the air became thicker and harder to breath.

‘Dara!’ I screamed. That was a mistake. I needed that breath. Plus, it aggravated the shadows and their whispers became groaning protests as they began to close in on me.

I had been about to cry out again, when I finally struck luck and stumbled through the scrub onto a rough path that would lead me back towards the sprawling Estate where I now lived. Provided I turned the right way of course. After only a moment of hesitation, I took off in the direction where I hoped I would find some help. The shadows persisted in their chase though, and they were still gaining on me.

‘Warren! Help me!’ I cried out enraging the monsters further. It felt hopeless but perhaps there was a chance that one of them would have at least heard my scream, even if they couldn’t decipher it.

Not to brag or anything, but I had always been pretty good at running. Some said it was my long legs that gave me an advantage. Honestly though? I loved the rush it gave me. The way it felt like freedom from the shackles of everyday life. I always pushed myself harder to feel more of that rush, like I might actually fly if I gain enough momentum. There was usually only one thing that ever got in the way of me when I was running. One thing, but it took on many different guises. Apparently today, it was an exposed tree root. I had run through the dense shrubbery of the forest with no issue, yet here on the cleared path I met my downfall.

I tried to steady myself but my efforts were in vain. When I landed on the damp earth, I felt my fears fall down on me as well. As panic surged through me, I closed my eyes and tucked my head under my arms as though attempting to protect myself.

Ha! Like that did me any good.

Within moments the shadows were feasting on me. Their claws of ice piercing my body again and again while I lay there screaming. I hated myself for not getting up and running. For just giving up. After seeing what they did to my mum though, I knew my attempts would be futile. I needed help, but this time help wasn’t on it’s way.

I knew the constant piercing of my flesh wasn’t real. I knew it was just sensation. That didn’t make it any less painful though and I wondered how long it would take for my heart to stop working under this strain. Already I could sense I was losing consciousness and my sight of the grass beneath me was ringed with darkness.

Without any warning, I could have sworn I’d seen a flash of bright light. Before I could investigate the source though, I lost the battle with consciousness and the world turned black.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘This is unprecedented,’ the quiet voice of a lady murmured nearby. ‘They’ve never broken our boundaries before.’

‘Our boundaries? You mean this isn’t the first time those monsters have been in Acocia before?’ a male voice hissed.

‘They’ve been here before, yes. However, they’ve never been on our land before,’ she paused. ‘There must be a fault in our defences. Perhaps they’ve even just worn down over time.’

‘No, that doesn’t happen,’ the man replied, his hushed tones sounding angry. Warren, I realised.

‘Obviously it must.’

Warren sighed in frustration and I could imagine perfectly the way he would be raking his hands through his tousled black hair. ‘Even if this is the case – which I doubt it is – you honestly didn’t think to assess the security of the wards sooner? Especially given the nature of her arrival, and the warnings her aunt had given us!’

I felt a frown tug at the corners of my mouth. Clearly he was discussing my abrupt arrival, and the way he had said “her” was like the mere mention of me was poison in his mouth. There was a quiet sigh of frustration above me and someone gently brushed some hair from my forehead.

‘You saw this coming,’ he whispered in dismay after a few moments of silence.

‘Not this, specifically,’ she replied. An uncomfortable feeling rolled over me. You saw this coming. It could only be Lady Mirabelle – his mother – who he was talking to. When Aunt Jasna had told me that Lady Mirabelle was a seer, I had had no idea what that meant. It was only later when I was settling myself into my room that my cat, Sabboth, explained it to me. The idea of someone having the ability to foresee the future made me incredibly uncomfortable.

‘You knew of the dangers, you knew this was going to happen. Why would you have allowed it? You know the risks! Not just of those demons to our safety, but of the risk of exposure! If she had seen-’

‘She didn’t,’ Lady Mirabelle interrupted. Her words carried a sense of finality but I knew that Warren wouldn’t accept this gracefully.

‘Nice of you to join us again, Stace,’ someone standing above me said quietly. Presumably the same person who had earlier sighed. Blearily opening my eyes to quell my curiosity, I saw a girl who appeared to be about my age. Her golden eyes were watching me with concern, and the shoulder-length chocolate brown hair she usually wore back in a sloppy ponytail was framing her face in a tangled mess. Dara was Warren’s cousin and the only person who had willingly spent any time with me since my arrival.

‘What happened to you?’ I asked her groggily.

She chuckled softly and placed a hand on my cheek. Her smooth skin felt cool and soothing against my own.

I heard the shuffle of feet to my right and I felt the presence of others joining us. Lady Mirabelle was the first to come into view and she was gazing down at me serenely as she stroked my hair. ‘It’s all well and good you being upset by what you perceive as irresponsible behaviour on my part, Warren darling, but you know very well that I myself cannot interfere with what I see. Things have to follow their natural course. Everything happens for a reason.’

Warren appeared glowering beside her. His expression didn’t change much when he shifted his burning gaze to me. He had been about to speak when Lady Mirabelle placed a hand on his shoulder and looked up at him with an arched eyebrow.

‘If we are going to play blame games however, how about you remind me again why Anastasia was on her own out there?’ she asked.

Another man appeared at Warren’s other side now, with arms folded over his chest and dark brown eyes gazing down at me with concern. I hadn’t known that Warren’s friend Eli had been coming over to visit today, still I was grateful to see him there. I gave him a small smile and he returned one of his own that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

‘It’s usually safe out there,’ Warren protested.

‘It really isn’t every day that monsters break our borders, Aunt Belle,’ Dara added in her matter-of-fact tone.

‘It’s fine,’ I murmured.

‘No, it isn’t!’ I looked at Warren in surprise. I wouldn’t have thought he would be the one to protest my safety so much. ‘We got separated which isn’t a big deal. I just didn’t realise she’d gotten so far away from us.’

‘Perhaps next time you won’t be so careless,’ Lady Mirabelle replied loftily. I felt kind of bad for him, which was something I never expected to feel given the usual cold state of our interactions. ‘Please escort Anastasia back to her room, Warren. She needs to rest.’

‘She needs to rest?’ he quirked an eyebrow. ‘She’s been out cold for hours now.’

Lady Mirabelle strolled out of my line of sight but I heard her click her tongue impatiently. ‘Exactly. Being unconscious is not the same as resting, and she needs rest after her ordeal.’

With a roll of his eyes, Warren reluctantly offered me a hand to get up from the couch I’d been lying on, a hand I accepted with equal reluctance. We were almost at the door when Lady Mirabelle called our attention again.

‘Sorry, in the excitement of all that’s happened today I nearly forgot to inform you that I had a visit from Elaine Summers earlier,’ the name meant nothing to me but I felt Warren stiffen beside me and saw a flicker of fear flash in Dara’s eyes. ‘She has organised a welcoming ball for Anastasia to be held tomorrow night.’

‘I hope you said no,’ Warren growled.

She shook her head and looked at him disparagingly. ‘That would have been very rude indeed. However, I couldn’t very well send her in there alone knowing I would be feeding her to the wolves. Unfortunately I couldn’t organise for you to join them, Eli,’ she cast him an apologetic look. ‘Warren, Dara, and Michael will be attending though.’ With that, she dismissed us once again.

I turned and followed Warren out the door. His shoulders where hunched and his mouth kept twitching, he was radiating rage and I didn’t feel up to coping with it at the moment. My head was pounding and I now felt anxious about tomorrow’s upcoming ball.

Attempting to distract myself, I admired the beautiful blooming flowers in the property’s vast gardens as we walked along the path to the Brackens home. Some of them were flowers I was familiar with from back home. Others were bizarre and exotic species I’d never encountered before. My distraction was short-lived though, as Warren’s temper was clearly bubbling over.

‘What did you do to summon them?’ he gave up on his efforts to keep quiet.

‘I don’t know,’ I exclaimed. ‘I don’t even know what they are.’

‘You arrive here and we’re all expected to work our lives around you, then you go ahead and open the gates to hell in our home.’

‘Gates to hell?’ his temper was wearing me down quickly and I didn’t want to play into his hands by responding to his barbs about me being an inconvenience to his family. His comments about me opening the gates to hell had been disarming though, and I wanted to know what he meant by it. ‘What does hell have to do with those shadows?’

I had wanted to avoid an argument with him but apparently he wasn’t prepared to let me out of it that easily. He rounded on me and came to a complete stop in the middle of the path. His deep blue eyes were flashing dangerously and it became clear I was going to be the one to bear the brunt of his rapidly rising temper.

‘No one would miss you if you chose to go back home, you know,’ he hissed. His eyes narrowed as he waited for a response, but none came as that barb left me breathless. His words were like a slap to the face. He knew that I couldn’t go back there now. Not yet at least. Not without being hunted down and killed for reasons I didn’t even understand.

When I had asked Aunt Jasna about it before she left me here to deal with Warren’s wrath on a daily basis, she hadn’t been very forthcoming with information. She had waved her hand dismissively and said something about some guy who had been hunting down my parents for years. Apparently since before I was even born. I didn’t know what this had to do with me, the shadows, or whoever was coming after me now, but she insisted that was what it was all about.

‘You’re saying you’d rather I were dead than be here?’

Something I couldn’t quite read flickered in his eyes for a moment before they became steely again. If I didn’t know any better I might have said that for a moment he might have felt pain or remorse for the things he had said. ‘I’m saying that in being here, you’ve put us all in danger now.’

He turned and continued walking down the path toward his house again, but much slower this time as his anger cooled. Something about my question must have unnerved him because he kept glancing at me uncomfortably when I joined him.

‘I didn’t mean to put you all in danger,’ I said. I truly hadn’t either. Although I hadn’t known any of them when I first arrived, most of them had accepted me being here even if they gave me a wide berth. After so many years spent in voluntary isolation, Dara’s unexpected friendship had been a breath of fresh air and something I hadn’t realised that I’d craved for so long.

I was beginning to feel like I was a curse to all those who extended the hand of friendship to me though.

Warren’s brows knit together and he took a deep breath. ‘I know,’ he grimaced. ‘But you have.’

The remainder of the walk was uncomfortable and I was relieved when I finally closed the door to my bedroom behind me. I wanted to know why Lady Mirabelle had insisted Warren walk me back. She had welcomed me into her home five weeks ago now, and although I still felt like a complete stranger here, I knew my way around and could have easily walked myself back.

Suddenly weary, I flopped back onto my blissfully comfortable bed and closed my eyes. No matter how comfortable this bed was, no matter how much space I had here, and no matter the protection Lady Mirabelle could offer me, I missed my home. I missed my old stiff mattress and threadbare sheets. I missed Bek, mum, and even Aunty Jasna. I missed seeing old string with pegged photos and other trinkets dangling above my head when I lay on my bed. My chest tightened as I thought of those photos. I reached across to my bedside table and grabbed hold of the only one I’d been able to smuggle away with me when I’d made my hasty escape.

It was slightly faded now, but this photo of my family had always been one of my favourites. All four of us were smiling, our eyes alight with joy. Bek and I stood in front, both of us sporting a braid on each side of our heads and wearing black dresses that between us were all frills, tulle, and sequins. Mum was bent down behind Bek, her hands resting on our shoulders and her long golden hair swept back in an unusually neat bun for her. Usually she was doing well to do anything other than run a brush through it. She wore make-up too, something she often claimed she didn’t have the time for. Her lips were a striking red, her bright blue eyes accentuated by her elegant eye make-up. Dad was always the most challenging for me to observe, but in this photo he looked dashing in his suit and tie. One arm was draped over mum’s shoulders and his other hand rested protectively on my shoulder. He’d also actually taken some effort in styling his hair for this occasion, which even all these years later still managed to occasionally bring a small bubble of laughter from within me. We looked happy. This was what I had to hold on to. This was how I had to remember things.

Not the image that so often flashed through my mind these days whenever anyone mentioned him.

Dad had bought the family tickets to go see a musical at the Regent Theatre in the city. We didn’t often go into the city, and he’d organised it as a surprise birthday gift for mum. This photo was taken just outside the theatre a week before he left for a business trip. Kissing us all atop our heads, he bade us farewell, telling us he’d see us again in a few days.

He returned from his trip in a body bag.

Letting myself dwell on this was dangerous and I shoved the photo into the top drawer of my light oak bedside table, making sure to slam it shut before I flopped back again, decidedly more sulky now and my mood certainly darker. After a few deep breaths though, my pulse began steadying itself and my gaze fixed on the white gauzy net that drifted down around me from a hoop above my bed. Around me, my room was airy and bright. The light of the sun – not that they called it a sun here – was filtering through the windows that lined one side of my room. Sliding doors there led out onto an oak deck that wrapped around a pond that lay in the middle of the Brackens residence. A number of vibrant flowers growing out of the water were in bloom and reaching toward the afternoon sun.

It may not have been the same warm golden light that filtered into my room back at home, but the white light helped chase away some of the darkness.

As my mind shifted from thoughts of my fathers death to my present situation, I began to wonder once again just why the shadows were chasing me – and wondering what those shadows even were. I chewed on my lower lip as frustration seized me.

From a young age I was aware of my true nature. Witch. With the aide of incantations, precious and semi-precious stones, candles, and sources of water, I was able to perform spells. As soon as I had discovered the truth about my family, my dad had begun teaching me how to use my abilities. Most of it seemed relatively useless – and I had no qualms in telling him so – but he would always just smile patiently and continue to impart his knowledge. It wasn’t until I was a little older that strange things started happening. Yes, strange even for a witch.

Mum had been alarmed when she walked into the living room one day, and found me sitting across from Sabboth talking animatedly to her. It wasn’t alarming that I was talking to Sabboth, so much. What bothered mum was that Sabboth had been sitting gazing at me and looking as though she were legitimately engaging in conversation with me. She was, of course, but when I had excitedly announced it to mum later, fear sparked in her eyes and she was adamant that it had all been in my head. I quickly learnt not to bring up the fact that Sabboth and I could communicate ever again.

It had come as a complete shock when, further down the track again, dad explained the history of witches to me. I shook my head gently as I recalled that conversation. We’d been sitting on the dusty earth, dry from cruel drought, under a weather-worn old gum tree. Grass shoots had attempted to live and grow in the harsh Australian climate, but their attempts had been in vain. It was early February, and already that morning the temperature was soaring high. The scent of ash and the smoky haze that was just visible reminded me that bushfires were burning out of control nearby again, just like they did every Summer. We were supposed to be on alert – ready to evacuate immediately if the situation got worse – but dad was leaning his back against the trunk of the the old tree and gazing up through it’s minimum foliage at the sky. He looked totally at ease and something about that had both frustrated me, and reassured me that everything was going to be fine.

‘It wasn’t always like this, you know,’ he mused quietly. I almost hadn’t heard him. Fixing him with a curious gaze, the dark green eyes I had inherited from him met with my own. He hesitated a moment before deciding to continue. ‘You already know that there are other places out there that are occupied by our kind. You know that unlike us, they don’t have to keep it a secret.’

‘I wish I didn’t have to keep my magic a secret,’ I sighed.

‘I wish you didn’t have to either, sweat pea,’ the corners of his mouth tugged down as he idly scratched his slightly bristly chin. ‘It’s ridiculous after all.’

My brow furrowed. I didn’t understand what he was saying. ‘If hiding my magic is ridiculous, then why do you make me do it?’

‘Necessity,’ he grimaced. When he continued, his voice sounded a little strained, as though he were fighting against an awful memory. ‘People here, they don’t understand. They’ve rejected us, and in turn rejected themselves.’

‘What do you mean?’

Dad’s grimace tightened as he shifted his steady gaze back to the house. In retrospect, he was probably making sure mum wasn’t anywhere nearby to stop him from telling me what he wanted to say. ‘You know our people were like a pest elsewhere. We populated faster than any other race, and so it was decided it would be a large percentage of our kind who would be sent in search of some place else to live. By the time our people found Earth and began settling here, they’d witnessed too much trauma. Seen too much death. Really it was their own fault,’ he shook his head. ‘Even back then they had the technology to determine whether or not somewhere was safe for us to try and inhabit. They should have known better than to even contemplate trying on any of the outer planets.’

‘Wait,’ I looked at him incredulously. ‘Before any of our kind got to Earth they tried to settle on other planets? Surely they’d done their research and knew that wasn’t possible! Surely they knew that ordinary people were already living on Earth, meaning it would probably be the best choice for them for their survival?’

It was then that I noticed my dad’s lips twitching, a melancholy amusement danced behind his eyes. His secrets annoyed me and I had been about to insist he told me what was going on, when he finally spoke again. ‘There were no ordinary people living on Earth, Stace. Technically, I guess, there still are no ordinary people living on Earth.’

Something darting across the window wall pulled me from my reverie with a start. After a moment I realised it must have just been a bird. Sighing, I pinched my eyes shut and tried to remember just how I had felt when dad had dropped that bombshell on me. I’d been confused. There had been more than that, but even still now I had difficulty pinpointing what it may have been. Humiliation from always feeling like I had to sneak around when I wasn’t really that different from anyone else after all? Fear because I didn’t understand why I had to hide my true nature if really I were just like any other human?

From there, dad had proceeded to explain to me that after they finally discovered Earth, those who had partaken in this adventure had been so emotionally scarred, they put everything they had known about themselves prior to arriving, in a little mental box – locking it all up and throwing away the key. Magic and previous places of residence were not to be spoken of. Eventually, the people living on Earth forgot their own history and couldn’t unlock the secrets of their natural powers – largely because they no longer knew they existed.

Something else I had not anticipated hearing had followed. Dad had looked at me kind of sheepishly before explaining that there was a lot more to our powers than just being able to cast spells. We had control over our bodies. Like, once we began using magic, we had complete control over how we aged from there on in.

‘You mean we could all live forever if we wanted to?’ I had asked him with a raised eyebrow.

He chuckled and stretched out a hand to ruffle my hair. I ducked out of the way – I hated it when he did that and he knew it. ‘I suppose in theory you could. Most people eventually choose to leave peacefully though. Everything has consequences.’

‘You mean like how if you try to ruffle my hair again, I’ll tell mum that it was you who hid Pride and Prejudice from her?’

His eyes crinkled in the corners as he laughed outright this time. ‘There would indeed be dire consequences for me if your mum found out about that.’ Reaching out, he picked up a nearby twig fallen from the tree and began twirling it, staring at it thoughtfully. ‘Everything has a price,’ he began, flicking the twig away and taking a deep breath. I realised then that he must have been trying to decide if he should explain what he meant. ‘No matter how well we manage to preserve the bodies we live in, things still slowly begin to corrode.’

It was true. I’d seen it with my own eyes once I’d arrived here at Blackthorne Estate. I groaned, rolling onto my side with my back facing the window before I almost jumped out of my skin.

‘Sabboth!’ I squeaked as my eyes focused on her piercing yellow eyes. ‘You scared me!’

‘Oh, so you’re actually talking to me now?’ she grumbled as she slunk closer, curling herself up at my stomach.

I sighed and reached out to gently stroke the back of her neck and down her back – careful not to jostle her translucent gossamer wings. ‘You know why I can’t talk to you when the others are around. I feel like I’ve hardly had any time by myself to think lately.’

‘What have you been trying to think about?’

‘I was just dredging up some memories of dad,’ I hesitated. ‘I was thinking about when he told me humans could probably live forever if they wanted.’

Sabboth looked at me sharply. ‘Ignoring the fact that it’s corrupt and usually makes people insane?’

‘Definitely ignoring that,’ I smiled. Everything came at a price, but nobody really wanted for their mind to rot enough that they fell to insanity. That was the reason that people still chose to die rather than exist as a crazy empty shell for all eternity. Dad had told me that some people lived for tens of thousands of years before they chose to pass on. There had been others who had descended into insanity, and eventually others would take it upon themselves to end the suffering. Most people chose to live closer to normal length lives though, not willing to tempt insanity. We were definitely not immortal though. Dad was proof of that for me. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes others decide to end our lives.

The wonders of the human mind. Both good and bad. It was so much more powerful than anyone ever gave it credit for.

I sighed as I realised my mind wasn’t going to shut up and let me get the rest I needed. Moving away from Sabboth, I climbed off my bed and walked to the dresser on the other side of my room. Looking in the mirrors I saw dark rings under my slightly bloodshot eyes, and that my long golden hair was tangled and knotted. I was about to wrangle it into some sort of order when there was a knock on the door.

Hoping it wasn’t Warren, I was relieved to find Dara on the other side.

‘I know you’re supposed to be resting – sorry if I woke you, by the way – but we need to talk.’


Note:

As part of my project with my blog is to encourage other creatives by sharing creative processes as well as finished works, I’ve decided (after suggestions and nudging from some friends) to start sharing the first draft of my current in progress novel. I won’t be sharing the whole novel, but you will have the opportunity to read the majority of the first book’s first draft here.

Final release date for the first installment is still TBA, but it will be soon enough!

Fun fact: I hate writing exposition.

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Fangirl Friday - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell
Fangirl Friday - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell

Have you heard of f(x) before? I’ve mentioned them here before, of course, but just in case you’ve never heard of them before, they’re one of the biggest K-Pop girl groups to have come to prominence over the last few years! Their tunes are catchy, and they’re adorable (and watching non-music videos of them recently, they’re also hilarious!). Basically, I love these girls. I love them and their music so much that I’m going to share a handful of their videos with you and hope that you find them as fun and mesmerizing as I do! Each of them are a little different, so if you don’t like one, perhaps try another! Haha! Maybe then you’ll understand why I can’t stop listening to them!

Red Light - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell

Rum Pum Pum Pum - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell

NU ABO - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell

Hot Summer - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell

SO DID YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO THEM?! It’s okay if not, but I am curious to know, do any of the rest of you adore f(x)?

I definitely have some of their music in my inspiration playlist for when I’m feeling creatively stuck. If they don’t inspire me, then at least they lift my mood!

Fangirl Friday - f(x) | Millicent Nankivell
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2015-artistically-lost
Artistically Lost

In yet another week of “Millicent has done no art”, you will find me curled up in a ball in the corner of my room. I’ll be gently rocking back and forth and muttering to myself. You won’t worry, because you already know that I’m insane. You might simply wonder what on Earth has caused this latest bout of strange hysteria.

Do you want to know?

Okay, fine. I’ll tell you.

So, as per my list of intentions for 2015, I’ve started being a bit braver about telling people that I write and love to create art. Hooray! Points to me! The problem with this, is that I then encounter the: “Really? Can I read some of what you’ve written sometime?”, or maybe the “Oh? Are you published yet?”, or even the “Oh yeah? What kind of art do you make? Can I see some?”

In short, the immediate answers are: “No”, “No”, and “No”. But of course I fumble around for words awkwardly because when I’m not being a majestic unicorn, I usually become an awkward pineapple. Have you ever heard a pineapple talk before? No. Didn’t think so. (Trust me, it’s something you really don’t need to experience in your life.)

There are of course reasons why the answers are “No”, but this week I’ve been putting a bit of time into thinking about why the answer for sharing my art is “No”. Simply put: I don’t really have an art folio. Not with anything current at least. Of course part of the problem is that I do things like have weeks where I do nothing but rock backward and forward in the corner, but there is more to it than that. These days I feel that the best I am capable of producing is some scribbley rubbish that ain’t no one got time for.

I am prepared, however, to concede that perhaps my scribbles are instead a reflection of my lack of direction than any real lack of … er … talent? Do I even have that thing? Is talent a thing I possess? Eh. I suppose that’s not really for me to decide.

Back in the good ol’ days of high school art classes, we had to knuckle down and prepare art folios. Both in order to pass the class, and – should we have wanted to go to art/design school – get into university or TAFE. There was so much back end work! We would start off by spending the first few weeks of the year brainstorming and researching and analyzing. Then we would play with our findings, our ideas, and anything new we learned along the way. We experimented with different techniques and materials, and were encouraged to gather inspiration from everywhere – no matter where we may have found it.

Me being overly unadventurous and perpetually living in the land of the fairies always stuck to anime and fantasy art (and sub-consciously: fangirling. Duh). In spite of me staying within my safety zone, I still continued to grow, develop, and produce large volumes of artistic ideas (even managing to string together enough final pieces).

What happened?

Well… there could be any number of answers to that…

For those of you who don’t know, a few years ago – shortly after I finished school – I found myself in a relationship that was less than stellar. There were many things that made my then boyfriend very unhappy. One of them was the fact that I blogged a lot, and had quite a reasonable following at the time. Another was the fact that I loved to read and write so much – so anti-social of me! All of my time was meant to be dedicated to him! Also, my art. Me making art bothered him. Tying those things together: on my blog I was sharing bits and pieces of my writing (granted, a chunk of that was fanfiction – but there ain’t nothing wrong with fanfic!), and I was sharing my art (the stuff that I wasn’t creating while in class studying Design at TAFE – doing quite well too until we started dating), and people liked it. He even made comment once that with what I was doing, I would eventually probably be the breadwinner of the two of us. He didn’t like that. It reached the point where if he found out I was doing any of those things, and was in a bad mood (most of the time, I swear), then he would hurt me.

I don’t want to dwell too much on those times. Needless to say though, it affected me. It happened.

This said, I also can’t deny the indisputable fact that I am, at my core, quite a lazy person.

With the combined powers of my personal nature, and a part of my history that I often try to forget ever happened (obviously unsuccessfully), I lack direction. Maybe there are other forces at work as well, like some battles I’m going through at the moment courtesy of a workplace injury. Largely though, I feel it is most likely myself and my history that I’m allowing to hold me back.

Something I’ve never been very good at is asking for help. I’m going to do that now though. Because I need it.

When my thoughts haven’t been spiraling downward this last week, I’ve been curled up reading books and contemplating what I can do to get myself out of this funk and moving forward again. Looking backward is dangerous, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’ve been stuck in this one place since things in my life took a detour to rubbishtown. Plus, sometimes you have to take a step backwards, to take two steps forwards.

As such, I’m contemplating making an attempt on spending some time re-creating my high school art class experience (sans my awesome art teacher unfortunately – and my classmates and our hilariously lame jokes about things being “handy” and such (oh! And that time a friend and I got a hold of the red ink and covered ourselves in “blood” and walked around school as if that were totally normal! (…but hopefully I’ll have you guys?)))

I want to build myself an art folio again – one that isn’t old, and one that I’m not ashamed to show people if they ask to see what I can do. I’m aware that in the stagnant state I’ve been in for almost a decade now, I’ve lost a lot of my old abilities, but I’m just going to have to work through my tears and frustration if I want to seriously do this again (which I do).

I’m hoping that you’re all okay with me documenting my research here (and politely correcting me if I’m wrong on anything (please be gentle) and citing your reasons to help me further any of my own research). First I want to know though, if any of you think this is actually a good idea. Or am I just in a depressed state of insanity (wouldn’t be a first)?

If I go ahead with this, then every Thursday I’ll be reporting back here with any art development work I’ve done (and research may possibly be shared at random through the week) and if you have any helpful tips, suggestions, or ideas to bounce around with me – I’m all ears!

What I need help with though, is support. Do I have it? Let me know in the comments (or social media – wherever you feel is appropriate) ♥ Sending mad-pineapple love and sparkles to you all. And gratitude for letting me whinge xx

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