Welcome to the Cauldron, @Theditors and @RobertGryphon!

In My Head: Hurrah! I can wear some of my hairforks again! Life is so good.

In the Cup: Seattle’s Best coffee, level 4, with almond milk

Currently Playing: The Valhalla playlist for Merrin Born. Nightwish, Crippled Black Phoenix, Evanescence. It definitely puts me in the mood to write those fabulously arrogant warrior gods!

Daily Run: 5 miles

On the Desk: Merrin Born drafting; notes for colloquium presentation next weekend

On the DVR: Downton Abbey, Season 3 Episode 2

On the Nightstand: Esther Cohen, the Modulated Scream: Pain in Late Medieval Culture; Scott Brewster, The Lyric; Peggy McCracken, The Curse of Eve, The Wound of the Hero; Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey

Papers Graded: 2 of 17

BPAL of the Day: Muse

Muse Ars Amatoria A light, invigorating floral and citrus blend. Tuberose, lotus and jasmine with a hint of lime.

Good morning everyone! And a very good morning it is. Last night, because one of my dear friend was posting away about her new hairtoys, I was stirred to try — just try, mind — to see if maybe I could use one of my own yet. I didn’t hold out much hope. After all, my hair is still only at the base of my neck — far too short for hairsticks to stay in place. But perhaps… a fork? A small one?

(For those new to the Cauldron, I had a battle with cancer in 2011, and while I won the war I lost all of my hair, which I had spent years growing into my dream mane: tailbone length and coppery red. I had a variety of pretty hairtoys that I put in storage while my hair began the long growing out process from bald to a length at which I could use them, and I’m not too proud to admit that I thought the world was over and cried for days.)

I pulled down the box of lovelies from where they have sat undisturbed since we moved in August, and admired all over again their beauty. Hardly daring to hope, I took out the shortest fork I own, and twisting my tiny mane up as tightly as ever I could into a teensy, tinesy little French twist with the ends just barely tucked in, I said a little prayer to whatever divine being might be watching the tender moment, and slid the fork into place. Then, taking a deep breath, I let go.

And it stayed.

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Well, needless to say, I was utterly delighted. As it happens, four of my pretty hairforks will stay put in the little twist I have contrived, and while I do need a bobby pin or two to hold them in place firmly, they all stay. It’s a beginning.

So, this morning I’m posting a special set of sentences — the first six sentences I have written with my hair held up in my hair fork again! As always, this is still a draft and subject to editing, and as always, I hope you enjoy what you read and feel free to comment on what’s good, bad, and ugly!

In this scene near the end of the story, Merrin has freed Gawain from where he has sat trapped in the depths of Asgard for centuries and started into motion Arthur’s arc as the Once and Future King through great personal sacrifice. Here, once more suspended between time and space and this time locked in a battle to the death with one of the soulless Valkyries of Valhalla, Merrin fights to stay alive and see Arthur just once more.

In the void we wrestle, the Valkryie and I, careening wildly from one slender thread of time to another. She has my shirt clutched in one hand, her talons ripped through the fabric and scraping against my skin, and I am too weakened now to free myself from her strong grip. I can’t feel the gaping wound where my shoulder meets my chest, but I can see the blood oozing forth in rhythmic bursts, more and more with each beat of my heart. The thick, deep crimson liquid of it runs down the Valkyrie’s ironclad arm as she steadies her balance to stand tall and tries to pull me closer, her dagger poised to finish the job begun by Sigurd. I bring my good arm up and grab the wrist of her dagger hand, trying to stay the blow. My movement throws us both off balance again.

So, Dear Reader: What do you think? Will Merrin succeed? Will she live? Will she die? Will she and Arthur end up together? Where do you think the story will go?