Dragon Rider – Part 36

Dragon Rider

Chapter Fifteen Continued

Souls and Shadows


Drake looked at the spirit and a smirk played across his lips, ’If this works, Pyro’s right, you are a genius!’

‘So how do we do this?’ asked Willow, a wide smile on her face.

‘Yeah, I mean, if it’s a raging tornado how are we supposed to stay, you know, alive?’ asked Pyro, his face now looking panic-stricken as he began to consider what they were about to do.

‘That’s the tricky bit-’

‘We can dive under there,’ said Willow pointing to a cleft in the earth underneath the roots of a large de-robed oak tree.

‘Well, it’s better than nothing,’ shrugged Drake,

Quickly they clambered into the small hole at the foot of the tree, along with the rotting leaves, the scuttling centipedes, gigantic woodlice and the petrifying bones of the dead.

‘Are you sure about this?’ asked Willow, kicking half a skull away with her pump.

‘Not really, but what else have we got?  Just do it.’

‘Sorry,’ whispered Willow to the green spirit who was banging its fists on the inside of the glass shouting ‘Let me out!’  Holding it firmly in her hands she gave the jar a good shake.

The spirit screamed and flew into a rage, whirring around the jar and expanding in size.  The jar shook violently in Willow’s hands as the spirit turned from green to yellow, to red, to deep blue and then it settled on the colour of the stormiest sky.  Willow managed to hold it firm until she heard the glass crack then she threw it to the ground shouting at Drake and Pyro to hold on tight.

The sound of smashing glass was completely drowned out by the Rarog’s roar, it was like a giant engine beginning to power up as it transformed into a black churning wind, a terrifying monster of Vengeance.

Drake’s eyes were forced shut as dust and bone were whipped up around him.  Somewhere above him, there was a crack as a branch was wrenched away from its trunk.  Willow grabbed onto his arm just as the storm hit them fully, lashing at them like a thousand whips.  He could hear nothing but the rage of the beast as dust and debris were hurled at the prison-like structure that had so far protected them, but he could not predict how long they could withstand the power of the storm.

The Rarog expanded rapidly, gathering trees, branches and bones as it devoured the Land of the Dead.  Drake felt it bite at the roots of the oak and he could hear the cracks as it tore huge pieces of wood from around them.  It seemed like an eternity as they sat, huddled together, under the finger-like roots of the great oak as the storm raged around them.  The Rarog continued its roaring rampage of vengeance until, gradually, it moved off into the distance accompanied by a chorus of agonised screams as it gorged itself on the Souls of the Damned.

They waited anxiously in their prison until they could hear the storm no more, except for the murmurs of it remaining in the air, like memories.  Only then did they feel safe to emerge from their refuge.

‘Geez, that was windier than me!’ exclaimed Pyro dragging himself off the floor, ‘and that’s saying something.  Yez alright?’ he said, turning to Willow.

Willow nodded.  ’I think so,’ she said, removing a twig from her pink hair.

‘Drake?’ asked Pyro.

‘Yeah, nothing ripped off anyway.’

‘So I guess we should bust a move before it comes back, eh?  Don’t fancy being here when it returns,’ said Pyro grimacing.  ‘Too much wind can kill you, you know.  I used to know a guy, who knew a guy, who died from eating too many sprouts. Tragic it was, the way he went.’

Drake could see the black funnel of the tornado cutting a path through the Forest of Suffering, towards the Sorrow Mountains, its lower half surrounded by an almost translucent maelstrom of dust, debris, trees and bones.  The Iron fortress was clearly visible now, a few miles away at the end of the Valley of Death, behind a rolling expanse of grassland, The Burning Fields, peppered with bubbling and spitting pools of mud that smelt like rotten eggs.

The journey through the Burning Fields was swift and all too soon they were confronted by the great wooden doors of the Iron Fortress.  Drake knew that nothing could prepare them for what lay ahead, for now, they were to meet Death itself.

The great doors slowly creaked open.

They had made it to the Fortress.  Quickly they slipped through the crack in the doorway and into the unknown realm beyond.


Death’s Apprentice – Part Thirty-Four

From where Joe was lying, he could see Cerberus’ snake tail wagging wildly.

Suddenly, all fear dissolved in Joe. All that time he’d been worried about Cerberus, and after what Charon had said about him ripping him apart. He looked at Cerberus’ three heads; the lopsided mouths,the long, smelly tongues, the way he was wagging his tail. He very much doubted this dog had it in him to rip anything apart. You only had to see the look on its cute, daft face.

Cerberus was a dog like Lola, just a very big version of a dog, well, a very big version of a dog that had three heads. But what did two extra heads matter? Dogs were dogs, no matter how many heads they had. And, even with three heads, Joe knew he preferred Cerberus to almost all humans.

As Joe was the local dog whisper, he knew he’d got this covered.

‘There’s a good…’ He had a sneaky look under the dog, ‘there’s a good boy!’ Joe ran his hand under the jaw of the middle head. It was soft and wet under his fingers.

The dog began to purr, almost like a cat. ‘Oh, good boy! Do you want to play?’ He stretched his arm out and grabbed a stick. He threw it for the dog.

Cerberus bounded after it.

The stick hadn’t gone far, so Joe quickly stood up and waited for the dog to come back. Which it did a second later, holding the stick in its huge, drooling, middle mouth. The first and last head also had a small bite on the stick.

‘Drop,’ said Joe.

Cerberus’ heads loosed the stick and it landed on the floor in front of him.

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy,’ said Joe, stroking the side of Cerberus’ middle head. ‘Do you want me to throw it again?’

Joe bent down to pick it back up. He was still bent over, hand clamped on the stick when the dog yelped.

Be Kinder

Recently I have been having problems with my speech. I can’t get words out. Or my words end up coming out as gobbledygook. As a writer, I love words and I have, to be honest, always been better at writing things down rather than speaking my thoughts out loud. But this is, this is something else.

This isn’t a feeling-sorry-for-myself post. This post is a plea to everyone to have a bit more patience, and a bit more understanding if someone is struggling because you don’t know what their story is. You don’t know what they’re going through.

I had to ring the dentist to book an appointment. Usually, when I have one of my moments, I laugh it off and say “Oh, sorry, it’s Monday and my head is still in bed,” or something similar. Mostly, people are cool and it kinda just passes them by. They accept it. The dentist’s receptionist didn’t. The receptionist was impatient and downright rude.

Now, I’m not judging her, because I don’t know what’s going on in her life and maybe I had caught her at one of those moments but shit, that conversation gave me loads to think about.

Now, I’m struggling with my health at the moment. I won’t bore you with the details, apart from the speech bit, but it got me thinking about other people – the old, those with autism, those with post-stroke problems to name a few – and how we treat other people in society who might not be quite as on the ball as we’d like them to be. Life is speeding by. Life is getting faster but what if we’re not? What if we can’t keep up?

Shit, some days, I can’t even get Alexa to understand me! (Alexa please play The Prodigy and she plays Panic at the Disco!!? Now, I like Panic at the Disco but it ain’t The Prodigy. Actually, come to think of it, have you ever tried asking for The Prodigy after a few beers? That’s how I sound on a normal day to be fair :)).

Maybe we all need to be a bit kinder, a bit more considerate?

Maybe we all need to calm the fuck down a bit?

Sorry for all the swearing.

Actually, no I’m not!!!

There are some times when “Oh dear” just won’t do.


And yes, the featured photo has nothing to do with this post. But, it is a cute dog. You’re welcome 🙂


Thinking Outside the Box?

Thinking Outside the Box?

I can’t even remember where I put the damn box!

Much of our Christmas shopping was, like a lot of people, done online. The downside to this was the mountain of cardboard boxes that we’d built up in the garage. Knowing our recycling bin was going to be emptied soon we decided yesterday to finally attempt to crush them all up to fit them in the bin. As I was doing this, I realised that those of us with chronic illnesses are put into boxes and it’s very difficult to climb out.

To be fair, as humans we love to organise, classify and put things into categories and little neat boxes. It’s human nature. And not always a bad thing. It helps us to simplify things, to order things and make them more manageable to understand.

It helps when those of us who have struggled with pain and fatigue and other symptoms finally get our diagnosis, whatever that may be. It can help us to process what’s going on and gives us the opportunity to learn about our conditions.

On a personal level, I was relieved to get my diagnosis of fibromyalgia after years of pain and being pushed from doctor to doctor. It was something solid, something I could research and get a handle on. It was something. It gave what I was going through a name and an identity. It helped me get the treatment I needed, It helped me get the right medication. It helped me figure things out in my head.

And yet, I can’t help but see the label of fibromyalgia as a hindrance too (I know, I know, I’m being contrary :)). I was given a label and put in a box and sometimes it feels like I’ll never climb out of that box.

A person with fibromyalgia is still a person. A person who, on their good days, has so much more to give! An adult with CFS or ME shouldn’t be written off because they have CFS or ME. We are more than our labels! And also those labels don’t even begin to illustrate how varied and unique and wonderful we are in our own special way. We are people, not labels. And I am not my fibromyalgia!

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

As Adam Alter says in his blog post on Psychology Today, Why it’s Dangerous to Label People, whilst “labeling isn’t always a cause for concern, and….(is) often very useful….it’s important to recognize that the people we label as “black,” “white,” “rich,” poor,” smart,” and “simple,” seem blacker, whiter, richer, poorer, smarter, and simpler merely because we’ve labeled them so.”

So, I would say to you, let’s not be afraid to climb out of that box. Don’t be afraid to take that box and jump on it and crush it. Tear it to pieces if you need to. Be who you are, not what the label on your box tells you to be.

And if anyone else tries putting you back in that box? Tell them you are fabulous, and like all fabulous people you don’t fit into that damn box!

I will leave you with an inspirational quote from my all-time favourite writer, Charles Bukowski:

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”


Further Reading:




Twenty-Four Beautiful Things I’ve found on Conscious Crafties – Part Two

This post follows on from my last one in celebrating the talents of those who live with chronic illness or are carers of those with illness. These are people who sell their beautifully crafted items on Conscious Crafties, an online marketplace and a supportive community of like-minded people.

Conscious Crafties

From Fiona’s Crafts and Gifts:

Fiona crochets and makes handmade cards while living with ME, Brittle Asthma, Diabetes, Arthritis, Neurofibroma, Migraines and Coeliac Disease. Her shop is ideal if you’re looking for a gift for a newborn baby.

Here’s a gorgeous pink crocheted blanket available in small, medium and large and ranging in price from £15.00 – £25.00.

And my personal favourite, the New Baby Girl Card priced at £3.00 and with free postage and packing:

The card is 6 inches by 6 inches and has a white organza bow and three sparkly pink gems on the front.

Are you looking for something truly unique? Then maybe take a look at items from the next shop on my list.

Branch Beads:

Branch Beads is run by Sarah who is a carer and also a mum.  She has twins aged 5, a son with dyskinetic cerebral palsy and a daughter with an autistic spectrum disorder.

There are all sorts of handmade Jewellery in Branch Beads, but they specialise in Wire Animal Pendants. I particularly love the hare pendant:

Priced at £25.00, this little chap is made from high-quality silver plated wire and a turquoise dyed Magnesite stone. Also, check out the cute wire wrapped moonstone polar bear:

This is priced at £25.00 and has onyx eyes, a crystal bicone nose and a large rainbow moonstone body.

From Gert Lush Designs:

Gert Lush Designs is a treasure trove of beautiful handmade items. Run by Sharon who crafts whilst living with Restless Leg Syndrome, Sleep Apnoea, Lymphedema, Type 2 Diabetes, Depression, Anxiety, Memory Issues and Mobility problems.

I love this At Rainbows End card, priced at £2.50. The beautiful background reminds me of holidays spent in Ibiza. It’s got that hippie vibe to it and I love it:

Also, check out this gorgeous moon and stars pendant priced at £25.00:

Sharon writes that “These beautiful handmade wirework pendants make perfect gifts for the lady in your life, what better way to show her you love her like giving her the moon and stars?” She’s right. I would love one of these in my Christmas stocking!

From Felt Treasured:

Claire, who runs Felt Treasured, crafts whilst caring for her husband who has heart failure, COPD and pulmonary hypertension. She has also recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

I’m absolutely in love with Claire’s Christmas Decorations! Take, for example, the Pack of 2 Christmas Owls priced at £7.95:

Or her cute Mouse/ Rat Fairy Decoration:

Priced at £9.95, is approximately 17 cm tall and has been lovingly given sparkly wings and a silver star.

From Alycraft Book Folds:

Alycraft Book Folds, is run by Alyson who crafts with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis.

My most favourite item in her shop is this Unicorn Magic Book Fold, priced at £35.00:

Or, are you looking for something truly unique to give a loved one this Christmas? What about a stationery set using your loved one’s favourite book title for just £23.00?

This is such a clever idea!

From By Samantha Webb:

By Samantha Webb is the place to go to if you want a cute teddy bear. Samantha crafts with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Anxiety Disorder.

Lonnie has got to be one of the cutest bears I’ve seen!

Priced at £129.00, Lonnie is made with beautiful dusty pink mohair and has cotter pin joints and glass eyes and a pink bow around her neck with her little bells. Samantha writes that “Lonnie loves the springtime, she wants to grow roses some day and spend her days tending the garden. She would love a home with someone who loves florals too.”

Equally as cute is Edmund the Sleepy Bear, at £29.00:

I think me and Edmund would get on quite well as, like me, he “is so sleepy he can hardly keep his eyes open. If only he could find a comfy spot to lay down his little head and dream about chocolate and strawberries, he would be the happiest little bear in the world.” Me too!

As you can see, the lovely people at Conscious Crafties are amazingly talented people who craft despite all the struggles they face. Why don’t you consider giving one of their beautiful handmade gifts as presents this Christmas? You won’t be disappointed!


With Thanks to Karen Thomas, founder of Conscious Crafties, and all the lovely talented people who agreed to take part. You rock!


With thanks to smborkowski6 on Morguefile.com for the featured image.


Twenty-Four Beautiful Things I’ve Found on Conscious Crafties – Part One

It might sound rather odd but having fibromyalgia hasn’t been all bad. Yeah, there’s been a hell of a lot of negatives, and I wish I didn’t have it, but I cannot deny the positives that have come with it (no matter how small).

The first positive is that my life has changed dramatically. Yeah, I can’t do everything I used to, but having fibromyalgia has forced me into finding different ways of doing things. If it wasn’t for fibromyalgia I wouldn’t have been writing this blog, and I wouldn’t have started making resin jewellery. And, if I hadn’t started making jewellery I wouldn’t have set up my own shop, A Pocketful of Stardust on Etsy or on Conscious Crafties.

But today’s post isn’t about me. Today’s post (and the next one) is about the amazing people on Conscious Crafties who, despite chronic illness or pain, or caring for those with disabilities, make some amazing stuff. They are so talented that I wanted to share their work with you.

So what is Conscious Crafties?

Conscious Crafties

Conscious Crafties About Page, says that, “Conscious Crafties is an online marketplace and support community for creative people living with Chronic Illness, Chronic Health Conditions, Disability or Caring for love ones affected.” However, it’s so much more than that. It’s a very welcoming and safe place for those who need a friend and it gives those of us who have chronic illnesses a way of being productive once more.

Karen Thomas, the founder of Conscious Crafties, writes that she realised that the people she met in her support networks “all shared the same sense of loss, we’d lost friends (because not many stick around when you have to let people down at the last minute), some of us had lost jobs (due to being unreliable) and the biggest thing that hurt deep into my soul was the overwhelming loss of purpose, we all felt useless. I desperately wanted to make that better.” And so Conscious Crafties was born!

So, let’s get down to the real purpose of this post. Let’s celebrate the amazing and beautiful things that the lovely people on Conscious Crafties make.

Twenty-Four Beautiful Things I’ve found on Conscious Crafties:

There are so many beautiful items that I’ve split the post in two, with each post detailing twelve items from six different shops. The shops and items are in no particular order. I think they are all pretty amazing!

From SewMrsB:

Jayne, the owner of SewMrsB, crafts whilst having one of the worlds rarest eyes diseases (Vogt Kayonagi Harada Syndrome) and she also has Intracranial Hypertension.

SewMrsB specialises in handmade clothes and bows for children, and the fabric they use is to die for. I particularly love the Unicorn leggings:

Find them here (price ranging from £8.00 to£14.00). And this little reindeer bow is so cute:

You can buy the bow here for an amazing £3.50!

From Handmade Quilts by Les:

Handmade Quilts by Les, is another shop that uses absolutely fabulous fabrics! Lesley makes gorgeous quilts, thread paintings and bags, whilst living with Secondary Progressive MS.

My favourite is the girl’s applique quilt, an absolute bargain at £35.00:

And the Embroidered Thread Painted Unicorn at an amazing £10.00:

From Off the Hook:

Zoe, the owner of Off the Hook makes gorgeous candles, bracelets and bobble hats whilst living with ME and CFS.

Here is the absolutely beautiful Silver Plated Dragonfly Bracelet:

Priced at £10.80 this delicious purple bracelet is made from amethyst beads and diffusing lava stone beads with a cute little dragonfly charm for embellishment.

I also love the scented mason jar candles priced at £25.00 for six:

The colours of these candles are delicious and have mouthwatering scents such as Cherry Brandy, apple and cinnamon (yummy!) and the delish chocolate orange!

From Linsflower Crochet:

Linsflower Crochet is run by Lindsey who crafts whilst living with ME, Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism and anxiety. Her shop is devoted to amazing crochet items such as this Mermaid Tail Bag:

Buy it here for the bargain price of £10.00! And if you have a young girl in your family, or even a teenager who likes to go to festivals, this Flower Crown is for you:

This crown is unique as it’s been crocheted with love and is an absolute steal at £5.00. Find it here.

From Cam Creates:

Cam Creates is a feast for the eyes with its beautiful art prints. Cindy, the owner of Cam Creates, makes these fabulous images whilst living with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and anxiety and depression. These are my favourites:

Nurturing Growth is a beautiful original art print priced at just £15.00:

This print is stunning and celebrates the precious relationship between mother and child. Also in the same style is Bee-Lieve, a limited edition print also priced at £15.00:

Not just a beautiful piece of art; it also has a crucial message about the importance of maintaining our bee population.

From Missys Matters:

Missys Matters, is run by Amanda who lives with Relapsing Polychondritis, Coronary Artery Spasm, Raynaud’s Phenomenon and previous Endometriosis causing adhesions.

The artwork in this shop is simply stunning! My favourites are:

The beautifully romantic Feather Kisses piece, priced at £6.00.

And, this fabulous feather black A6 card, priced at £1.50:

As you can see, chronic illness isn’t a barrier to creating beautiful pieces of art or clothing, or jewellery. Every one of these people has an amazing talent which they should be proud of! As Karen Thomas writes, ” Conscious Crafties is about empowering us all to be successful,” to “tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I’m also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way Disabled and Sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!!”

We are! In fact, as I’ve said, there are so many talented people on Conscious Crafties that I’ve had to split the post in two! For more gorgeous items see my next post, Part 2.


With thanks to smborkowski6 on Morguefile.com for the featured image.