As I recall, my October 2021 writing exercises were out first chance to meet Lucia, Apolline, Petra, Roland, and Alda. Since then, I spent at least a good chunk of 2022 fleshing them out as a wrote The Alchemist of Middlesbrooke.
Which, of course, means, their characters as depicted in these early, short vignettes don’t quite jive with their characters as represented in Alchemist. Though, for what it’s worth, those vignettes did form the basis of Alchemist.
The three female adventurers — Lucia, Apolline, and Petra — decide to celebrate their recent successes in and around Middlesbrooke with their new companions. Given the time of year, a Heroes’ Eve party seems to be in order. Lucia has never really liked the dressing up part of Heroes’ Eve — it’s always seemed like a waste of time and money. Especially now, when the three of them aren’t exactly rolling in money. But she’s never been one to turn down a good party.
With only five of them, it’s not a very large party, but it’s enough to keep them in a sufficiently celebratory and festive mood. They’ve gotten onto good enough terms with the owner of the coffeehouse that has become their unofficial base of operations in Middlesbrooke that she has allowed them to use it after hours.
It took some doing to get to this point, but Middlesbrooke feels like it’s finally starting to grow on Lucia.
As Roland and Alda step into the coffeehouse, the girl looks up at Petra “I like your costume,” she says.
Dressed in fuzzy yellow clothes, the Troll-Amazon smiles. “I am a duck,” she declares. “Quack.”
As a Wilderling, Lucia never quite knows how to feel about other people dressing in animal costumes. On the other hand, she’s never met many duck Wilderlings. Besides, for all her attempts to keep it secret, Apolline and Lucia are well aware of Petra’s affection for small, cute animals.
“You need more practice,” Alda notes.
Petra nods. “Yes. I am not used to being a duck. I do not normally need to quack.”
“I’m Princess Adelaide,” Alda says, showing off her warrior princess costume and striking a pose with her wooden sword.
“I’m a princess, too,” Apolline says, showing off her pink gown and crown.
Alda’s eyes widen with glee when she sees the dragon doll Apolline is holding. “You’re Astraea!” she declares. She points to the dragon. “That must be Orm!”
Apolline nods. “It’s one of my favourite stories.”
“Mine too,” Alda says.
“Here,” Lucia says, handing Alda a fistful of candies. “Happy Heroes’ Eve.”
“Wow. Thanks!” the girl says, happily accepting the candy. “What are you dressed as, Lucia?”
“I’m a tiger,” she explains. “The costume was easy. I’m already a cat.” She points to her black-and-orange tunic. “I just needed the stripes.”
“Can I have some candy?” Roland asks from behind Lucia.
“Are you eight years old?” Lucia asks, turning to face him. “Are you — wearing a mop?”
The musclebound alchemist nods. “It’s my costume,” he explains. “I’m Uncle Chuck.” He points to the mop perched haphazardly on his head. “This is my hair.”
Lucia stares at him, trying to make sense of the details of his homemade costume. “And what’s that on your face?” she asks.
“Oh, I pulled the stuffing out of a pillow,” he says. “For my beard. I look just like him, if I do say so myself.”
“Well, the shield looks good,” Lucia offers.
Roland nods. “Yeah. I, uh, borrowed it from Uncle Chuck’s armoury. But maybe don’t tell him that.”
Reading that back, I can recognise a lot of ways the old versions of the characters don’t feel like themselves, but I think this still works for what it is — a Halloween thing originally banged out to reach a daily quota.
And, incidentally, you can revisit the rest of those here:
Also, I’m still hoping to have Alchemist of Middlesbrooke available at some point before the end of the year. I’m going to make it freely available to everyone. I’m still working out the logistics, but you can expect it to show up as a free ebook on Smashwords first before I get it up elsewhere.
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