Author Archives: Darlene

Jasmine Snippet #68

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Rogan The Red as pictured in Installment #13.

The stone in Rogan’s trouser pocket became hot enough to burn his leg. The rock had steadily gotten hotter during the past three days. He knew The Fire Queen was getting more and more impatient for his report. He simply had not gotten a large enough chunk of time to give his report. He valiently tried not to focus on the consequences of non-compliance.

To answer Melantha’s burning call, Rogan needed to convince Thorne and the others that it would be best if he went back to Oxted alone as not to arouse suspicion. He’d collect supplies that were needed for their up-coming journey and promised he would immediately join them at any place of their choosing. He used his smoothest voice and manner to convince Jasmine that this was a good idea. She urged everyone to give Rogan a list of their needs and a means of payment. With this simple request, Jasmine proved she had leadership skills. She was so good at her first command, that everyone complied without issue.

As he left on horseback, Rogan shook his head as he mulled over what had just transpired between all parties in the early morn. It was nothing short of a miracle. Who would have thought this motley crew, himself among them, would ever consider traveling together? And for Thorne to offer her sword? What was that about?

If anything had ever surprized him, it was that. He could never have guessed this proud Armildian was capable of demeaning herself to serve another, unless she actually acknowledged the young, naive but somehow wise Jasmine as her superior. Yet, he knew that Jasmine represented everything Thorne detested. Women!  With all his experience with them, he still could not fathom them.

Of course, he would need to report to the Queen of Fire most of what happened. He wanted to leave some things out. He planned to spend quite a long time describing how devastated, then furious Thorne was to learn UR had fallen. The Queen would relish that. He would smooth it all out by reporting how he was accompanying Thorne in her travels to find another ruler in the north. But how would he explain Jasmine and her dwarf protector?

About three quarters of the way to Oxted, after Rogan was sure he was not being followed, he turned off the trail to find a remote locale, which served his needs. At a clearing, he quickly collected dried branches and other materials to make a fire. For a roaring fire to appear, all he needed to do was to toss the very hot obsidian rock into a pile of kindling.

© 2018 DARLENE

Life is Art; Art is Life

“Life is Art; Art is Life.”

It’s my motto. (I made it up the phrase some time ago, but I’m sure someone before me can claim true authorship.)

Life is Art

This means that everything I do is an artistic (as well as a sacred) act — it’s a Magical Dance with Beauty. Thus, I actively search for meaning through synchronicity, symbols and archetypes. As such, it suggests something profound about my relationship to reality as an artist. I tend to be much more fluid than conservative in my World View.

Darlene’s most current business card.

For me, unicorns, dragons, and fairies DO exist. Wouldn’t it be a boring place if they didn’t? That’s where it becomes weird for pragmatists. In their hard-boiled, sensible reality, armed with science and reason, they tell me why mermaids (etc…) can never actually be real. As well as “impossible,” they’ll claim it’s just “fantasy.”

What’s wrong with fantasy? I find myself being sad for them. By choice, sensible people can never travel the paths I have traversed, nor can they understand my rich knowing of the strange and fantastic inner/outer realms. It’s only through my art (which represents the footprints of my experience), that I can offer them a glimpse…

The Power of Fantasy

With more and greater possibilities, fantasy totally encompasses reality. It’s outside the limiting, containing box, an opening of more ways people can relate to their world. Why not perform a cosmic dance on an asteroid? Or swim with the mermaids under the sea? Fantasy is my state of being free. I’m not totally mental. My freedom is tempered by the knowledge of my physical surroundings and the shared reality of the people around me. But because I believe more, I see more.

I’m not stuck in my own little world when it comes to “consensual” reality. Oh, I’m always aware of my surroundings and what is expected. But at the same time, co-existing and super-imposed upon it, is a dream-scape of incredible splendor. That is the state of mind I enter into when I create.

Maybe there’s something to not taking reality so seriously. Gloomy reality doesn’t have as much of a grip, or a pull on my outlook. Of all the cruel happenings in the world today. I choose to shift my focus away from the negative. A wonderful friend once introduced me to the concept that, whenever I view in the media or aired on television, the aftermath of a tragic accident, to scan the scene for the helpers. They are always there. Often, they are behind the announcer.

Look for the Helpers

Notice the helpers behind the scenes. Witness the miracle of their presence. When you do this, you can truly “see” the miracle of them in action, and forgo the disturbing details of the tragedy, the fear and the violence.

Watching such a newscast can be an incredible opportunity to help the helpers help. It’s possible to effect change by offering up your prayers and energy, real time. After a while, you may begin to suspect the helpers may not always be entirely human. And what a privilege it is, to work with angels…

Truly, I believe focusing on the positive, while acknowledging the negative, is the best way to navigate around the invasive, in-your-face evil that parades so openly now-a-days. What if I choose to believe I can effect positive change by energetically adding my healing intent to the scene (and to my art)? As long as I have no attachment to out-come, there is no ego-investment to taint the process. Isn’t keeping open to potential (as opposed to despair) a better use of one’s energy?

Art is Life

Art is my Life. I work through the lens of fantasy, possibility and potential. The art I bring forth integrates the meaning of symbols, psychology, and archetypes with images and words. I dedicate my art towards the empowerment of the feminine, the delight of the imagination, the freed intuition, to heal, and to inspire the young at heart.

Thank you for being my witness.

Jasmine Snippet #67

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

After spending countless days in dark, dank and twisting tunnels, Bardulf enjoyed the light of UR’s main Castle Palace. He had only been there a single day when the men who patrolled the free lands to the north of UR arrived. They brought with them a cloak and a gown. Bardulf immediately recognized the clothes as belonging to the Princess Flavia of UR. She had worn that very frock the last time he saw her.

The clothes were the only sign they found of the princess. When questioned, they said there was no body to be found. Nor was there any signs of a fight. The clothing was neither bloodied or torn. It was as if the clothes had simply been taken off and discarded. Bardulf was about to dismiss his messengers when they indicated there was more to their story.

“Well, what is it?” He barked.

Even though Bardulf was clearly annoyed and impatient, those men were reluctant to speak. Finally, in their stammering, Bardulf understood that in the same place they found the clothing, they had also encountered a horror they were reluctant to speak of. Many of the fellows who served with them had been turned into stone. Because they had walked upon the same hallowed ground of an ancient temple, they grew afraid the same fate somehow awaited them. When Bardulf finally dismissed them, they quickly and gladly withdrew.

That clinched it. In Bardulf’s mind, he was up against the son of King Aranbrod, a male heir and a rival for the throne he usurped — something much more deadly than a lost princess. No wonder the “princess” never married. He imagined this young Prince to be clever in disguise and strong in magic. To get the upper hand, there was only one thing to do.

After giving his trusted stewards and ministers instructions and orders to carry out, Bardulf called for a horse and a small retinue of men to accompany him. He had the Tome of Wisdom wrapped carefully in leather and placed within his saddle-bag. Then Bardulf set out immediately, speeding for his Castle Swartzborg, to reunite with Gryth, his prized dragon-lizard.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #66

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

Bardulf was beside himself. The Tome of Wisdom did not make sense! It was written for the “Prince” of UR. Where was this Prince of UR? He was unaware King Aranbrod had any other progeny besides the spoiled and easily controlled princess. He did not consider her to be a much of a problem. He had not imprisoned her already with his magic ring? It was only a matter of time before her hiding place would be found.

If anyone was to blame, it was Heta. Curses—that he did not strike her down when he first recognized her. Curses—he allowed himself to be taken in by her pitiful act of weakness. Had it not been for her, those two would never have escaped their capture. Yet again, he cursed Heta.  She was solely responsible for the disappearance of the Princess Flavia of UR. That cursed woman would never have managed such a thing if he had remained at the camp. Heta had to have waited until after his strategy session, and after he had left with his main contingent to go to battle.

The rest of the soldiers who remained broke camp and travelled as escort half the way to Swartzborg Castle before they realized the two were no longer among them. Upon questioning, every one of his soldiers swore both women had travelled with them as far as the cross roads. All agreed they found it strange that the two did not eat or drink, nor did they speak the entire journey. The women remained as still as statues the whole way but were very easy to manage.

Castle card for Bardulf’s faction in Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game by DARLENE.

His men wasted too much time searching near the place they discovered the disappearance. Bardulf’s needed presence in battle prevented him from hearing about this happenstance in a timely manner. Nor could he participate right away in the search. But once he was able to focus on the problem, he knew no one under Heta’s enchantments could ever locate where they fled. He thought the only one who could pierce Heta’s magic was he himself. And this proved to be correct.

Only one thing made him laugh. How funny it was to have Heta lead him straight to this incredible book of magic. It was so delightful to have Master Erlkyng’s book in his hands! He relished reading  what secrets and incantations these pages revealed. With this book, he felt invincible. Yet, a small thought still nagged at him.

Who was this lad for whom the book was written and dedicated? If anyone had the power to rival him, apparently it would be this boy prince. He stilled the fear growing within him. The lad may exist, but it was Bardulf who possessed his book, thus claiming his power.

But still, he could not overlook that Heta was a factor in all this. Under the guise of Ermengarde, Heta had raised what he thought was a pale, young girl who trembled in fear around him. He slammed his fist upon table as he decided nothing was beyond that witch. Things were not as they seemed. Was it possible the princess was actually a prince in disguise? Perhaps, instead of seeking a girl, he should be searching for a boy?

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #65

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Bardulf Faction Card from “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

Bardulf returned to UR’s main castle. He let it be known that he had conferred with his brother wizards. He reminded everyone, not only was he the King of UR, but he was acknowledged as The Mage Supreme of a secret unnamed brotherhood.

It was, of course, all a pretense. There was no secret brotherhood of wizards. But who could possibly challenge this? Fear was his ally. Fear would quiet outspoken members of the populace. Fear would prevent them from entertaining ideas of an uprising. It was better they fear the wrath of a bunch of powerful mages should they attempt anything. His lie should go a long way in discouraging all thoughts of hope.

With the Tome of Wisdom in his possession, he felt powerful and capable of anything. He would conquer more lands and soon become powerful enough to rival his uncle in the north.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #64

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Every evening, Melantha’s chief demon minister, a human-like creature she had formed from a favorite snake, gave her a litany of all the news collected from the day’s reporting, from inside Medrylthorn to the front lines. And every evening, Melantha drank it all in. Her spacial awareness was very keen. She could easily visualize all the movements and happenings within her sphere and relate them to each other in her mind. At first, she was only mildly concerned that Bardulf had been missing from the reports. But it had been several days now.

“What news of Bardulf? Has he been located?” she asked.

Her demon minister slithered towards her. “Yes-s-s-s,” he replied, eager to please, “the Dark Prince just emerged from the dwarf mines-s-s-s, northwest of UR. After all this-s-s-s time, he was-s-s-s angry his-s-s-s men still failed to locate the UR’s Princess-s-s-s. He cruelly punished those who brought him the unwelcome news-s-s-s.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes-s-s-s. The Dark Prince carries-s-s-s with him a large book. To obtain it, he boasts-s-s killing many little people living in the caverns-s-s-s under the mountains-s-s-s. He will not allow the book out of his-s-s-s sight.”

After Melantha dismissed her minister, she started to deliberate. Little people—could he have slain the Guardians of Wisdom? Did Bardulf chance upon the Erykyng’s Crystalline Caves? Is the book he carries the fabled Tome of Wisdom, which contains the history of the Mid-Realm?  Does the book also contain Erlkyng’s knowledge on how to destroy her magic and power? Erlkyng was the only being in the Mid-realm she had ever feared because he learned her secrets.

Fire Queen of Ildshoii Castle from an unpublished panel.

Suddenly, Bardulf became much more of a threat to her security. Maybe Bardulf was not the buffoon she thought he was. After all, his own growing network of spies rivaled her own.

At the beginning, Melantha determined Bardulf’s weakness was his ambition and his burning desire to learn magic. He proofed to be the perfect choice to undermine and conquer UR. She had made herself indispensable to all Bardulf’s desires and even gave him powerful magical incantations to use against UR. She now regretted that decision.

He performed her practices very well — almost too well. She realized Bardulf had a better knack for magic than she gave him credit for. Now, with that book in his possession, he might prove to be much more problematic and unpredictable. She wondered what other weaknesses Bardulf had that she could exploit.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #63

The Story of Jasmine Notes continue:

Ildshoii Castle, carved from shiny black obsidian rock, rose high above a crown of volcanos. The dark castle was the domain of Melantha, the ruler of Medrylthorn. The Fire Queen possessed the patience of a spider. Not only did Melantha control the volcanic lands of Medrylthorn, her invisible web of evil stretched across the Mid-Realm, reaching towards Bardulf’s strongholds to the south east. She had only to pull on certain threads of her intricately woven network to discover details about the plans of her enemies.

Ildshoii castle card from the “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game by DARLENE

Her magic fed upon the misery of others. And throughout her patient years of plotting, her magic only got stronger. Although the penetration of her poisonous plans had been slow, methodical and thorough, there were those who could still resist her. Those lands Melantha could not control, she surrounded with her evil, watching – always watching – for a vulnerable weakness to present itself.

Though she could not directly effect the splendid Kingdom of UR, she knew her magic could. She manipulated an ambitious upstart by the name of Bardulf. He did not know she considered him as one of her many minions. She provided him with the magical means to be successful in his bid to defeat UR’s king and it amused her to give him the title, “Prince of Darkness.”

Melantha was very aware of Bardulf’s blunder concerning the disappearance of the King’s daughter. Subsequently, this meant the “Prince” would encounter trouble in totally securing his rule. But that was not immediately important to her. As far as Melantha was concerned, UR was already hers.

Melantha’s interest returned to the Armildian battlemaidens, whose iron will proved to be difficult to subdue. She laughed at how well she thwarted the Armildian’s attempt to seek UR’s assistance. The fall of UR happened just before the Armildian Ambassador could reach the Kingdom. Because these battle maidens seldom lost, she savored their disappointment, imagining with glee the distraught looks on their faces when they learned of this set-back.

But they were not yet caught within her web. The Armildians were clever and resourceful. They would try to seek help elsewhere, maybe Dockalfar. If perchance, their ambassador succeeded in making an agreement with the Ice King in Tarrent, Melantha would surely face fierce resistance. She would make doubly sure her spy could be trusted.

Her deliberations were interrupted by the appearance of one of her demon ministers. Without looking at him, she asked “What news have you for me today?”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #62

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Glynn was glad to finally have a moment to himself, as he watched the trio disappear into the darkness. To tend to their animals, they had to move away from the temple boundaries.

He thought about his prophecy and how certain phrases in in it, could be meaningful to this situation.

‘As a warrior lives, a warrior dies,

But you will glide on the wings of the skies.

When the Axe-wolf of Winter’s made the land lean,

Seek out the white flower Jasmine.

In the shrine where the white rocks rise,

This is where your destiny lies…’

“This is the place where the white rocks rise. And I’m in a temple shrine.” Glynn said to himself. His future would be decided on this very spot. Everything depended on how the next moments played out. He’d already taken measures to secure the place.  He did not know what it all meant. With this time to himself, he thought about the people he’d encountered during the night.

It seemed to Glynn that everyone kept a secret. The red-headed man who stepped in to freely lend his horse and his sword had been immensely helpful. He would not have known anything about the danger to the girl if it was not for Rogan. But how did he figure in all this?

Clearly, the man was a buffoon, or at least he played one. Remembering his hand gestures when the three of them spoke, Glynn concluded Rogan was a manipulator accomplished in the art of court-tricks. Glynn observed how he tried to mesmerize his audience of two. He felt lucky this type of magic was lost on him. Yet, to have a persuasive person working with you in your group would be a powerful asset – if if could be harnessed and if Rogan could be trusted.

And what about the dark elf? Why was he here and where was he most recently? That man was not a mercenary like he claimed. His manner and bearing did not match a fighter-for-hire. Glynn ought to know. Nor did he believe Ahearn’s story about just arriving from the west. Clearly, he knew more about things then he let on.

Glynn recalled talk of an entourage of Dockalfarians that came through the area not too long ago. Glynn surmised the man must be a survivor from that group. They had fought in some of the skirmishes on the side of UR. He wondered what happened to them when UR fell. Were they taken prisoner? Dead? Or was it each man for himself as this one’s presence suggested?

He did not know what to think of Thorne. He admired her battle readiness, the way she charged in and took control, even with the odds against her. Out of the group, he trusted her the most, though not by much.

“We are not all here by chance,” Glynn decided. Whether by magic or fate or prophecy, they all had a role to play together. Normally, Glynn would never consider linking himself with such people, but it seemed providence had other ideas.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #61

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Ahearn suddenly leapt forward and snatched the ribbon from Thorne’s hand to have a better look at it. He then took off upstream to see what else he could find. Rogan and Thorne exchanged glances and casually followed. They observed Ahearn franticly search. At length, he spied something on the bank near a waterfall and made his way toward it. He grabbed the cloak, and put it up to his face. Breathing it in, he detected a faint smell of perfume.

At this point, the sun peeked over the horizon, changing the purple shades of night into the rosy orange pastels of dawn. When Ahearn noticed more clothing suspended in the water, he dropped the cloak and retrieved it.

Ahearn spread the cloak and frock on the bank to get a better look. By this time, Thorne and Rogan caught up and the three of them inspected the items of clothing he found. Ahearn furrowed his brow, but he kept silent.

Rogan observed, “You know more than you are letting on.” Ahearn ignored him.

“These clothes where not made for just any maiden.” Thorne said as she inspected the items, “These have seen a lot of wear, but their workmanship is very fine. They definitely belonged to a woman of the court, most likely UR.”

“Really?” Rogan said and started to look at the fabric as well as the stitching, “then the rumors were true. Bardulf’s men were in the right place!”

“Which means more of them will be coming.” Thorne observed.

“Where did she go?” Ahearn muttered. He searched the entire area for footprints and even made his way behind the waterfall to discover a possible passage or place of refuge but found nothing.

When Ahearn finally returned to them, Thorne commented,”She’s probably alive. Look – there is no blood on the clothing.” Then she turned to Rogan and said, “The owner of this dress may actually be your white maiden.”

Rogan said, “we need to get back to Glynn and find out what he knows.”

“No,” warned Thorne firmly, “we need to get out of here.”

Rogan replied, “Yeah, you’re right, we’re wasting time here. Let’s get back to the horses, and decide then.” Rogan and Thorne headed back along the steep bank. Ahearn followed, but not before he placed the dress inside the dry cloak to carry with him.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #60

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

After their horses were satisfied and their water containers replenished, Rogan turned to Thorne. “Alright,” he said, “you got us away from the dwarf. What do you wish to discuss?”

“No, you misunderstand. I only wanted to water my horse.”

The Dockalfarian interceded, “And yet, here we all are.”

Thorne cocked her head and smiled, “So, you two want MY counsel? No, I think it is you who have something to say.”

Rogan, normally exercising such excellent control over himself, suddenly cracked. His eyes grew big, he put his hands on his head and cried, “Oh! It’s so hard to describe what I saw last night!…”

Thorne was alarmed at his sudden mood swing, but urged him to continue, “What did you see?”

“I saw those soldiers turn into stone! All of them…all at once! It all happened in a burst of light! It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed. The dwarf saw it too…”

“Calm yourself!” Thorne counseled in a firm voice.

After a short pause, Rogan continued, “While we fought the soldiers, a maiden appeared. She was dressed in white with flowing blonde hair. She stood above us all at the top of the ruins. She enchanted the soldiers with her strange voice. It was like she spoke with 100 voices. The effect she had on those men froze them in place. Somehow, I was still able to move, but those men couldn’t. They just stood there, giving me time to retreat to the woods.”

Rogan’s eyes seemed to be in a far-off place as he recalled, “then she began humming. It was a most incredible sound. And the humming only got louder and more intense. I could close my ears to it because I could move. But that humming was more than just sound. I could also feel a vibration coming up from the ground through my feet. The sound pulsed until it became a big explosion of light and blinded me!”

“What?”

“When the moon came out, I could finally focus. The White Maiden was gone from her place on the roof. What happened to her? I don’t know. Was she a flesh and blood woman or was she a phantom of this temple? Could she disappear into thin air?”

“The dwarf, what happened to him?”

Rogan answered, “For a long time, I did not see the dwarf. But I didn’t expect to. He turned up later. We did not get a chance to discuss what we saw before you wandered in. Everything is complicated. I think he has some type of prior relationship with the maiden.”

“How do you know this?” Ahearn interrupted.

“Because it was I who made him hurry here from the Inn in Oxted. I was having a good time drinking with him. We shared stories and I repeated the recent rumors I heard. When I happened to mention that soldiers were looking for a girl on the White Throne Mountain, he got up and made to leave. I thought this reaction was so curious. The fellow would have run here the entire way if I hadn’t offered him a lift on my horse. I just wanted to have a look.”

Ahearn interrupted, “Do you trust the dwarf?”

Looking askance at Ahearn, Thorne replied, “Who trusts anyone?” Ahearn had no time to respond when Thorne cries out, “Ha!” She reached into the flowing stream. “I have your answer! It was no phantom you saw – she’s flesh and blood alright. Look.” Thorne triumphantly pulled a ribbon from the stream and showed it to Rogan.

“That is all the more worrisome.” He replied solemnly.

“Why? A flesh and blood woman can easily be dealt with.” Thorne offered confidently.

Rogan shook his head, “You did not experience what I did. You have no idea of the immerse power I felt in my bones. It was truly something to behold. Mark my words, this power is to be befriended, not challenged.”

© 2018 DARLENE