Welcome to SPFBO 6 and my brand new feature, Party with the Stars! Have you ever wondered what might happen if you could throw a party of your choice and not only could you invite your MC(s) but other literary figures as well? In this feature I ask you to imagine exactly that scenario and some more. Meet S Kaeth and let’s get the party started!
aka The Author
S Kaeth is a dreamer and always has been. In the gorgeous Driftless area of the Midwest United States, she spins tales of other worlds. Writing and creative expression in various forms are an integral part of who she is. She is the indie author of Windward and Between Starfalls and a co-founder of Indie Story Geek. She can be found on her website, Twitter, helping out at WriteHive, and helping out in Writer In Motion.
aka The MC(s)
Takiyah is a sharp-minded, sharp-witted woman curious about everything, constantly pushing boundaries, and stubborn as a waterfall. Ra’ael is just as stubborn, but she cares greatly about tradition. Kaemada just wants everyone to get along, have a good time, and be able to live in peace, while her charismatic brother Taunos wants to see and travel to all the lands and peoples he can and have a good time. He balances this wanderlust with his duty of keeping his people safe.
Let’s invite Michael J Sullivan’s Suri because she would fit right in and love it. Suri and Ra’ael might get into it a bit, but Taunos and Kaemada would likely befriend her, while Takiyah… it would depend on the situation!
The Main Attraction
When you have great food, great company, amazing music, and a giant bonfire, the party becomes its own attraction! Everyone bring a dish to pass, break out the instruments and the storytelling voices, and hang out with friends old and new. Life’s too short not to celebrate!
Enfys Yn Y Glaw by Kizzy Crawford
Kaemada always tries to find the brightness even when things are very dark. Her song is Enfys Yn Y Glaw by Kizzy Crawford (Welsh cover of Rainbow in the Rain by James Unwin and Jamie Hughes).
Federkleid by Faun
Takiyah loves learning and daring and adventure. Faun‘s Federkleid works well for her, with its calm verses which give way to the beat for the chorus.
Filii Neidhardi by Pictus
Ra’ael loves something with a good beat. She would love to dance to Filii Neidhardi by Pictus.
Home Again by Blackmore’s Night
Taunos loves some adventure but he also loves his home. Home Again by Blackmore’s Night works well as a song for him
Kalevala by Antti Martikainen
For an overall song, let’s use Kalevala by Antti Martikainen
aka Who Let the MC(s) Loose?
Taunos and Ra’ael would be right in the center of the gathering, making sure everyone’s having a good time. Taunos would likely be egging others on, while Ra’ael would be dancing or flirting. Takiyah would watch from the side until she can go back to her projects, and Kaemada would be with her, enjoying the party from the sidelines.
If the stars happen to be falling, be sure to bring tons of food to fuel up, and prepare for a full seven days of partying!
S Kaeth submitted Between Starfalls to SPFBO. You can connect with the author here:
To read about more parties and to follow our process in SPFBO 6, please visit my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page!
Excerpt from Between Starfalls by S Kaeth
Taunos kept his breath to a steady rhythm as he ran along the trail, shadowed by Takiyah and Ra’ael. They’d told him of the attack on the kaetal, and his anger provided fuel to keep his tired muscles going. They had to cover as much ground as possible to find Kaemada and Eian before the sun went down. The last thing he wanted was to leave them out in the wilderness for another night.
Every so often, he caught sight of wolf tracks, confirming they hadn’t overshot. An afternoon breeze swept past him, fresh with autumn’s chill. Behind him, Ra’ael and Takiyah’s breaths came in regular puffs. The woody scent of the scraggly bushes that grew in the area filled the air, and the occasional bird song came from the shelter of the scrub. The trail sloped upward before him, and he increased speed to meet it, ducking under a rocky outcropping.
Tannevar stood in the path, his head lowered, panting heavily. Beyond the wolf, discarded bags and his old cloak lined the trail. Farther on, where the path curved again, his sister lay crumpled in a heap of long, dark honey curls.
Panic crushed him and he staggered to a halt.
The wolf wobbled as he snarled at them, hackles raised. He moved clumsily, stumbling often, his eyes unfocused. Taunos’s heart stuttered. Any injury one took, the other mirrored, which meant Kaemada was at least as wounded as Tannevar. And where was Eian?
“Eian!” His voice echoed off the desolate landscape. His sister did not react to her son’s name.
He sidled toward the bristling wolf. “Easy, boy. I wouldn’t taste good.”
“Tannevar! Let us through!” Ra’ael stalked forward.
Tannevar lunged, biting her thigh, and she shouted, kicking Tannevar reflexively. Beyond them, Kaemada jerked inward as if the blow had landed on her. Anger at Ra’ael warred with relief within Taunos. She was still alive. They just needed to find Eian—the boy excelled at hiding—and bring them home.
“Eian!” he shouted again. “Come on out, little man. This isn’t a game!”
Ra’ael stood in his way, rubbing her leg and glaring at Tannevar. Taunos shoved her between himself and the wolf so he could pass. If the wolf bit her again, it would serve her right—she knew how deeply Tannevar and Kaemada were connected. As soon as he was past, he sprinted to his sister’s side.
Taunos put a hand to her forehead, wincing at how cold her skin was, then gently opened her eyelids. Her summer blue eyes stared out unseeing, her pupils of different sizes, just like Tannevar’s. Her fingertips were battered, the nails chipped and broken as if she’d been clawing at something. Taunos tried to relax, reminding himself that her heart was beating and she was breathing.
“Eian!” Ra’ael shouted. “Where are you?”
Takiyah threw him a blanket, and Taunos wrapped Kaemada in it. Moving aside the wooden hunter figurine lying nearby, he gathered her in his arms to warm her. The bruises marring her face—likely from the attack on the kaetal—turned his stomach. “I should have killed Tikatae long ago.”
“We… did not know… he was lost… then.” Kaemada’s voice was weak, the words slurred until they were nearly unrecognizable, and one side of her face remained slack, but still, a rush of hope filled him. The wolf limped over and flopped down beside them, panting heavily.
He squeezed her gently. “How are you feeling, little sister?”
He laughed in relief, loosening his hold.
Kaemada lurched upward, nearly slamming her head into his, half of her face rigid with terror. “Eian!” Wobbling, she pressed her hands against the stone.
“Where is he?” Taunos asked.
Kaemada shook her head, swaying with the motion. She fumbled, picking up the hunter doll and clutching it close as she mumbled something. Taunos glanced at Ra’ael and Takiyah, but their brows knit, apparently as puzzled as he was.
“Use your mind.” Taunos glared at Ra’ael in case the priestess decided to fuss about the law. “No one needs to know.”
Gripping his arm, Kaemada stared at him with desperation clear on the one side of her face. The slackness on the other side frightened him, though he’d never let on. He waited a moment, and then prompted, “Cha’atanahn, you’re not sending anything.”
She trembled and he put a steadying arm around her. Any telepath should be able to send to a willing recipient within touch, and Kaemada was a strong telepath. Tannevar whined, the high-pitched noise unnerving. She looked at him again, her breath hitching, but no thoughts bloomed in his head. Somehow, she’d lost her telepathy.
He squeezed her gently. “Telekinesis?”
Her hand trembled as she lifted it, then she shook her head, shoulders slumping.
Forcing confidence, he said, “I’m sure it will come back to you with rest.”
Kaemada took a deep breath and placed a hand on the mountain face, speaking with exaggerated care. “Eian, inside.”
“It’s a rock, Kaemada,” Ra’ael said. “What happened? Is Eian hiding?”
Kaemada bared her teeth. “Inside!”
She wasn’t thinking straight. Taunos glanced down the trail for hiding places they may have passed.
“Oh, move!” Takiyah shoved her way forward and began a detailed inspection of the rock face. Taunos smiled at her. If it kept his sister calm, he’d be glad of it.
“No. Eian, inside. Not strong… enough.” Kaemada sagged against his arm.
Taunos guided his sister to a rock, seating her there before stepping back, looking along the trail again. The need to move made him jittery.
“I will be back in a moment.” He handed her a roll and his water pouch from his pack. “Eat. Drink.”
Ra’ael crossed her arms in front of Kaemada. “No one leaves the path. It’s against all our most sacred teachings. It’s against the law and it’s dangerous.”
“She’s on the path though, technically,” Takiyah said, stomping her foot on the trail.
Their voices faded to murmurs behind him as he followed the trail ahead, calling out for Eian. Inspecting the ground, he finally backtracked to the pile of supplies. Kaemada looked exhausted, angry, and lost, while Ra’ael ranted at her as he passed.
There were no hiding places for the boy, but he found a partially obscured print near the supplies. It was about the size of Eian’s feet and parallel with the path. He should have looked here more closely, but he’d been so intent on reaching his sister. He crept forward, scanning the ground. Before long, he was back with Ra’ael, Takiyah, and Kaemada, who had buried her head in her hands.
Taunos crouched beside Takiyah, who was still peering at the rockface. A series of scratches marked the stone. He glanced at his sister’s battered nails, and then to her wolf who, sure enough, also had broken some nails and worn the others down to bleeding nubs.
Kaemada took a shuddering breath. “I woke. Eian gone. Tracked him… there. I tried… to move stones… Could not.”
“And then you screamed in our minds,” Ra’ael snapped.
“What?” Kaemada sat back as if she’d been struck, and Taunos reached out to steady her.
“The scouting party and all the psions got it. Some lost consciousness.”
“What? No. No…” Horror and guilt twisted her features. Tannevar growled low in his throat.
“I have never heard of such a thing being possible,” Takiyah said.
“Neither have I,” Taunos said. “I would have said it was impossible, had I not been a recipient.”
Kaemada buried her face in her hands, mumbling apologies through her fingers.
Ra’ael continued in a more even tone. “We need to return to talk with the Elders.”
“No!” Kaemada clutched the doll closer.
“Go ahead,” Taunos said. “I will find Eian.”
“You cannot leave the path, Taunos. You know that. It’s certain death, even for the hero of Torkae.” Ra’ael took a deep breath. “It’s bad enough, three psions and the daughter of the Saimahkae colluding in the mountains.”
“That’s nonsense,” Taunos started.
“That’s what those against us would say! We need to ask the Elders for direction. There are some who would use this against all of Torkae, which is already in a precarious position.”
Taunos frowned. He really needed to find out what had been going on while he was away. Later. “We have to think of Eian.”
“I am thinking of him!” Ra’ael shouted. “He has already been missing for a day. We have to salvage what we can.”
“Only since this morning!” Kaemada leaned forward, burying her face in Tannevar’s fur.
“Where could he be? Not through the rocks—that’s a fever dream!” Ra’ael gestured around at the bleak landscape, talking over Kaemada. “We need to bring Kaemada back. At best, we recover Eian’s body—” Ra’ael faltered and she looked down, swallowing hard.
“It took us a while to find you,” Taunos explained.
“They slept for a full day. That means it’s been nearly two.” Takiyah turned to face them. “If you’re all done arguing, you might be interested to know we can probably break through these rocks. There may be a cave on the other side.”
“What?” Hope flickered in Ra’ael’s eyes.
“Let’s go!” Kaemada scrambled clumsily to her feet, doll still in hand. Of course—the doll must be Eian’s.
“Hold on, it’s not so easy as that. See here?” Takiyah pointed out a thin crack in the rock face, barely visible, that separated the wall into two parts. She shoved at it, then jammed a rod of metal from her pack into the crack and pulled on it like a lever. It didn’t budge.
“Is no one else wondering how a little boy got through here?” Ra’ael asked.
Tannevar growled, bristling.
“Does Eian have telekinesis?” Taunos asked Kaemada. She shook her head. He frowned at the crack in the rocks. Ra’ael was right; if Eian had gone through there, he’d been taken, or at the very least, someone had created a passage for him and then blocked it up again.
A chill ran down his spine. Fae sometimes came this far out, and Eian might have been a fae changeling. He’d been found alone in the forest in Heartwood, and no family had claimed him at the Feasts after. Taunos’s hands curled into fists. If the fae had taken him, their fearsome reputation wouldn’t save them. Eian was his now. His family. He wasn’t giving up on him so easily.
But he needed to be careful not to jump to conclusions. Otherwise, he’d miss things. Taunos extended his fingers, stretching out his fists, then relaxed his hands.
He turned to Kaemada. “Can you make it?”
She glared up at him. “He’s… my son.”
He hefted his water pouch and fixed Kaemada with a stern look, handing it back. “You’re dehydrated. Drink.”
“Drink more. You were unconscious for days. You need water.”
She grabbed the pouch, glaring at him again as she fumbled with it and made a show of drinking. He crossed his arms, exasperated. Kaemada was impossible to reprimand, either ignoring him or completely agreeing with him. She never fought him. It was infuriating.
Taunos indicated the rocks with a nod of his head as he took the water pouch back and offered his sister a hand up. “It could be dangerous. You need your strength. Did you eat that roll or feed the birds?”
His sister shook her head, holding on to his arm as she swayed. “My son.”
Fondness for her warmed his heart, sharpening his concern. Stubborn, foolish sister, but he loved her. He could have lost her, and he never would have known until it was too late. The thought awakened panic, and he forced a deep breath. He had to be calm to keep them calm. “Come on, cha’atanahn. Let’s find your son.”
He placed his hands on the rock wall, then looked at Ra’ael. “I could use some help.”
“For Eian.” Ra’ael nodded, walking over to stand beside him. She placed one hand on the other side of the crack in the rocks and the other on top of his.
Kaemada leaned against him, Eian’s doll cradled to her chest, her wolf wavering beside her. Taunos shut his eyes, gritted his teeth, and pushed, straining to separate the two halves of the rock. Ra’ael smashed his hand beneath hers as she did the same. The rock was solid beneath his hands, and his arms shook as he demanded more strength. Small rocks tumbled down around them.
And then the rock moved.
His eyes flew open in shock. Grinning, he pushed harder as Takiyah shoved makeshift levers into the widening crack, pulling against them. Slowly, slowly, the crack widened, revealing some sort of cave. As soon as the opening was wide enough, Kaemada and Tannevar stumbled forward, and Takiyah flashed fire into the tunnel-like space. Taunos turned to get a better angle to shove at the rocks, and Takiyah moved around his feet, wedging open the crack.
He waited, muscles trembling, as Takiyah tapped in blocks of metal to keep the crack widened. The rocks pushed against him unnaturally, and he was grateful for her foresight. She grabbed their packs and flashed fire again, illuminating Kaemada and Tannevar frozen and panting a few paces into the cave. Ra’ael squeezed past him, and then Takiyah, before Taunos eased away from the opening, braced for the rocks to crash down on them. The metal Takiyah had placed groaned but held.
Two steps in and Taunos took his sister gently by the shoulders. Ra’ael hadn’t gotten much farther before she’d halted, panting in fear. “We’re off the trail. We’re going backward,” Ra’ael muttered. “We should not be underground!”
“Oh, it’s not so tight.” Takiyah sauntered past them.
His mind rebelled against her calm. Taunos forced himself to take deep breaths. They would not be buried alive. The walls were not closing in. There was enough air. No Rinaryn liked closed spaces, and his sister hated them more than most. Her face was a mask of terror, and Tannevar’s eerie high-pitched whining filled the space, unnerving him. Takiyah slipped around them easily, flashing fire to light their way, and a bit of jealousy rose in him.
The rocks behind them slammed shut with a crash, and Kaemada cried out, her broken nails digging into his arm. His own heart thudded in his ears as he tightened his grip on her, thankful for Takiyah’s flames sporadically lighting the tunnel.
“I think it’s clear Eian isn’t here.” Ra’ael’s voice quavered.
A line of lights at about knee height appeared on the walls beside them, slowly brightening. They were in a small, rectangular, stone chamber of smooth, clean lines.
“The floor’s wrong,” Takiyah observed as she went back to collect her tools, which lay scattered in front of two flat metal pieces that came together in the middle. Doors.
She was right. It was clean—no dust, no sand, almost as if it had been swept and scrubbed. It was far more a floor than the ground.
Takiyah started back toward them, pausing to stretch her hand over the strips of light. “What is this?”
Taunos shook his head. Seeing the closed space was no better than not seeing it. He struggled to force his floundering brain to think. Takiyah strolled past them, while he stooped to meet his sister’s shorter stature and pulled her along. One step, then another. Another set of doors stood before them, two flat surfaces with a thin groove between them. It would make sense for Eian to have gone through there if he’d come this way. He wished the floor was dusty, to show footprints.
“What is this place?” Ra’ael’s voice was sharp with awe and fear.
Another step and another. Don’t think, just do. “Let’s find out.”
At a touch, the doors slid apart. No need for telekinetic force. Ra’ael crowded behind, stepping on his heels as they left the tunnel.
They emerged onto a ledge inside a massive cavern, marked by a deep chasm cutting through the middle. Rows and rows of buildings stood cut and shaped from stone, forming a grid of open-topped square and rectangular buildings. Huge pillars stretched to the ceiling of the enormous space, some with arched doorways and windows, within which fluttered curtains of light and airy cloth, and others carved and decorated with intricate designs. More buildings were cut from the sides of the cavern. Everything stood in straight lines, while around the city, the rock of the mountain curved naturally. Wonder banished all other thoughts.
“All these marvels, all this time, hidden right under our feet,” Taunos murmured. Another time, he would gladly lose moons and moons to explore down here.
“There must be more than a thousand people living here,” Ra’ael said, but her reproachful tone was subdued. He’d almost forgotten—it would be hard for the others to fathom so many people living together. They had no experience with cities.
In the middle of the grids on either side of the chasm, gaped an empty space around irregularly shaped metal buildings, shorter and broader than the stone buildings, linked by something like a heavy rope. The rope glowed with yellow light, though Taunos could see no fire to light it. The ground was paved with stone and lit with lanterns, which Taunos had to give the other three a word for. Ra’ael stared in astonishment, and Kaemada closed her eyes wearily. Takiyah only nodded, leaning over the edge to gaze in wonder until Taunos wanted to snatch her back from the drop.
Eian was nowhere in sight.
“You moved… a mountain,” Kaemada slurred.
Taunos laughed. “I will bring this up another time to save myself from my shortcomings.”
To read about more parties and to follow our process in SPFBO 6, please visit my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page!