Friday, December 2, 2011


{Star Dancer has been spreading a reputation-killing rumor concerning Ember and Coal...and Ember is going to put a stop to it.}

“There she is.” Flare pointed across the dining hall at a sparktress with outrageously curled hair. She frowned and squinted. “I believe. What’s she done to her hair?”

“Pathetic laundry sparktress,” Ember snarled. “She only wishes she were as beautiful as we are.”

“You have a bad habit of hating the world whenever someone in it has offended you,” Firefly said, fighting to keep a straight face.

“I do not hate the world,” Ember said with impatient arrogance. “Would you save me some food while I go speak to that…Star Dancer?”

“Of course,” Firefly said. “But are you certain you don’t want anyone to go with you?” She gave her younger sparktressling a meaningful look. “This cannot get out of hand.”

Ember took a deep breath and smoothed her short orange skirt. “No, I’m alright. I promise, Firefly. I’m going to tell her it’s a lie and return to our table.”

“And if she doesn’t believe you?”

“I will burn off her curls. Save me a seat.” She smiled dangerously and ran lightly across the room before Firefly could say another word.

As Ember neared the far corner of the dining hall, Star Dancer was leaning against the wall, trying desperately to hold the attention of a passing sparker. She had a hand on his arm, trying to keep him in front of her. He was just about to pull away and leave when Star Dancer hurriedly said something, eyes lighting up blue. Whatever she said made the sparker stop and raise his eyebrows. Ember’s own brow lowered fiercely. There was no doubt about what Star Dancer had said.

Ember quickened her pace and was almost to her mostly-unsuspecting victim when she glimpsed Coal coming their direction. With a small gasp of horror, Ember ducked into the alcove where the door to the kitchen was. She pressed herself against the wall, out of sight, and gently knocked her head against the wall. She felt ridiculous, like a sparklet caught stealing cookies. She waited for Coal to pass in front of the alcove so she could resume her mission, but he didn’t. Instead the sparker Star Dance had been talking to hurried past, looking over his shoulder. Then Ember heard Coal’s voice, which made her stomach tighten.

“Star Dancer.”

“Coal.” Star Dancer’s voice was nearly giddy with anticipation. “I did not expect to see you this morning. It’s not often you pay me a visit.”

“I never pay you a visit, Star Dancer.” Ember looked down and imagined his face from his voice. He would look hard, almost fierce, his tanned face very still. Ember frowned.

Star Dancer made a flirtatious noise of mock offense. “Coal, you sure know the way to a sparktress’s heart.” Her feeble attempt at sarcasm was enough to make Ember cringe.

“So I hear,” Coal answered. Ember’s head snapped upright.

A nervous titter from Star Dancer. “So you hear?” she repeated. “What do you hear, Great Spy?”

“I hear a rumor spreading, spreading like wildfire, about Ember and myself.” Every word was like a burning coal, hot and heavy and dark.

“Oh, Coal,” Star Dancer teased dangerously. “Why deny it? Embrace it. Goodness knows your reputation could use a little excitement, what with your being the Fire Lord’s perfect servant and all—”

“My reputation is what it is.” Coal did not raise his voice, but somehow the effect of his tone was greater than if he had. It was a silly thing for Star Dancer to say anyway; Coal’s reputation with the Fire Lord might have been spotless, but his reputation with sparktresses was plenty exciting.

Ember could picture him towering over an anxious Star Dancer. She was sure that by now a few heads had turned to the confrontation. “It will clear itself of all falsities eventually. As a spy I know firsthand that the truth always comes out.”

“Hmm,” Star Dancer mumbled nervously.

“Ember’s reputation will clear itself as well,” Coal went on. “But I will not stand by and simply wait for that to happen.” Hidden in the alcove, Ember blinked in surprise.


“I would like to help you start a new rumor.” His voice was dangerously light, deceptively helpful. “Would you like to hear it?”

Does she have a choice? Ember thought.

“Do I have a choice?” Star Dancer said sourly. “I mean, yes. What?”

“That Star Dancer is a misinformed little gossip who knows not of what she speaks. Do you think you could spread that one for me?” Ember heard scattered laughter. There was definitely a crowd drawn now.

“Alright,” Star Dancer muttered.

“And I will have you know that the next time I hear anyone spreading such despicable lies about Ember, I will come straight to you, and you will not be happy to see me. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” said Star Dancer in a sulking, insulted tone. “For flame’s sake, I wasn’t even the one who started it.”

“Really?” Coal said dryly. “Because even if someone else mentioned it to you, Star Dancer, I am quite certain that none other than the infamous You could have gotten the rumor around the Palace so damn quickly.”

Ember could imagine Star Dancer struggling over whether to be insulted or proud. Either way, she answered,

“That’s true,” and the conversation was clearly over. Ember stayed hidden and watched Star Dancer scurry away, along with at least a dozen other Palace servants who had gathered to watch Coal take care of everyone’s favorite fairy to hate. Ember had almost decided that she was safe to come into view when a face appeared around the alcove, directly at her eyelevel. She yelped in surprise and stumbled backwards into a maid who was coming out of the kitchen.

“Coal.” She winced sheepishly, but couldn’t keep the happiness out of her eyes. Coal’s own eyes were blue as well, but still held a hint of the ferocity he had shown moments earlier. “I was just on my way to do that myself.”

“I did it better.” His eyes snickered.

Ember raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of practice remedying such situations.” Coal stepped into the alcove with her and raised his eyebrows. Ember glared. “Alright. You probably did it better. Now move aside; a kachina needs her breakfast.”

She heard Coal laughing at her as she ran back to the kachina table.


P.S. I WON NANOWRIMO :D Final November word count was 55,783 :D


  1. Congratulations for finishing :D

    I'm actually learning a lot from the posts of your story. I still tend to switch from narrative to script style writing when I get to dialogue. Once I finish the story I'm going to go back and edit it so there's more description like you do. It's easier to picture what's going on.

  2. Thanks!

    Wow, that's one of the coolest things I've ever been told. Someone learned something from my writing :O :D I'm glad I've helped! Thanks for telling me.