Haunted House 26 – Unlikely Allies

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Finding Him

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The poor horses were sad.  Mélanie couldn’t really blame them.

She patted the horse on the nose, reassuring it, and it turned back to the road before the two buffoons noticed what it was doing.  She had just a moment to time this right. The horse seemed to stumble, tripping on thin air, slowing the wagon down to a near-stop.

Mélanie mentally promised the horse all the apples she could find for it, and sugar cubes, and the best currying of its life, all as she hopped up into the wagon.  There was Jasper – drugged, from the looks of it, his eyes open but not tracking – well, not that she could tell if he was tracking her, anyway; she was still invisible – his hands tied behind his back, a heavy canvas gag over his mouth, his feet bound. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 23: Morning

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Confidences in the Bear Empire

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Carrone squirmed under her regard for a few moments before looking away. “I can’t talk about that,” he muttered.  “I really shouldn’t have said that much. But the Empire – the Empire acts like they’re the only ones with the spirits on their side.”

“Considering how you complain about sorcery and magery-“

“That’s different!   I mean…” He dropped his voice down. “I mean.  Well. Sorcery has nothing to do with the spirits.  That’s why it’s evil. That’s why it’s the sort of thing that you just don’t do.  But this.  I don’t know.  Your ‘magery’….” He shrugged. “We should get some sleep.  I don’t know where we’re going, but we can probably make good time if we sleep solidly and warm.  Besides, last night…”

“…Last night was not exactly solid sleep,” she agreed.  She considered all of the juicy morsels of conversation they’d left lying around.  They would, she decided, have plenty of time to get back to those conversations while hiding from Carrone’s compatriots in the bounty-hunter business.  She settled back into her bedroll, glad once again of her magery, whether it was heresy or evil or not.

She woke in the morning to Carrone’s breath on her face, his arm flopped over her shoulder, and the sound of his breathing far too close to her ear.  Deline trapped against the back of the cave, she had nowhere to move, and his arm was heavy on her shoulder.

She considered him.  He was sleeping heavily, pressed against her. His breathing was steady, if a little loud, and his whole posture was relaxed. Continue reading

Beauty-Beast 44: Acting

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Ctirad was almost letting himself relax when Signy bowed her head – just a little, but it was a bow – at him.  At him.  “I apologize.”  She seemed to be thinking about what to say next, but decided on a smile that was unlike the predatory expression he’d seen on her at other times and sat back down.

Ctirad turned to Timaios, hoping his expression successfully conveyed enough what the fuck that his owner understood without relaying that message to the rest of the room.

Timaois pulled Ctirad into a one-armed hug.  “Let us go sit and talk with Sara, shall we? There’s some issues I want to bring up with her.  And, as it turns out, with Signy. I hadn’t expected her to be in town today. You’ve been out for a while, haven’t you, Jae’Xanthus?”

“Yes, sa’Slingshot, for several months.  But I flew in just the day before yesterday.”  Something about her demeanor had changed completely.  “And since sa’Single-Blossom wanted to talk to me,” she tilted her head at Sara Florentia, “here I am.  I didn’t realize that I would be disrupting plans,” she added, sweetly but with an edge to it.

Ctirad was still reeling from the apology, but he sat where Timaios indicated – at his Owner’s feet, which was a very nice place, as long as Signy didn’t want her feet rubbed – and leaned against Timaios’ legs.   Continue reading

Funerary Rites 27: Company

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It would have been nice to sit there with Erramun for a while — perhaps forever, and certainly at least for a few minutes.  Senga knew she was feeling a little raw about the whole mess and she imagined that Erramun was not feeling particularly better.  The way he kept on reaching up to touch his neck, the way that he would look sidelong at her as if expecting something — what, she hadn’t figured out yet.  Orders? Complaints? — the way he’d reacted when she’d shown him his room…

She couldn’t afford to baby him any more than she could afford to be afraid of him.  But still… She waited until he had dropped his hand again and then brushed her fingertips over the marks around his neck.  “I think it goes well with you. It looks like you looked the first time I met you—” Continue reading

My Weekend, with Beets

Hello!

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but let’s see.

I have two major non-writing, non-work things going on in my life right now: Getting the yard ready for autumn/winter, and Finishing the $*( attic.

This weekend was mostly yard.  We dug up potatoes and beets (yes, we’re pretty sure that’s a beet).  We chopped down the horseradish and walking onions so that we can dig up the horseradish soon. (“this smells like an angry Polish soup.”)

We planted garlic!  (And hyacinths…)  We cleared out one of the back beds of weeds and planted a cover crop of oats (an experiment).  We harvested mustardseed and eggplants and peppers.
(and that beet….)

We brought the bay tree and lavender inside, the lime tree having already come inside.  We dumped some pots and cleaned them out for next year.  We trimmed back the asparagus.

(The Kale, parsley, and sage will be fine for at least another month).

We put the grill in the garage.  We bought a lawnmower.

(We bought a lawnmower!)

(WE BOUGHT A LAWNMOWER.)

At about that point, T. asked how tired I was, and I could manage about “uh-hunh.”

But now I’ve bought more garlic, I’ve bought some Liquid Nails and some spray foam, and today:  BACK TO THE ATTIC.

I mean, once I get out of work.

But hey, we got some garlic planted!!  We’ve never managed that quite on time before!

 

Cya, Librarian

Early in Cloverleaf-era


Sometimes, Cya thought her power had a sense of humor.

She’d learned how to craft specific Find requests, because, if she wasn’t looking for something or someone specific (“nearest unbroken Bleach DVD;” “Leo”), her power had a bad habit of leading her on wild goose chases.

Like today.  Like “nearest cache of intact, unclaimed books in an accessible-by-me location, with at least two times the number of unique, intact books as the hours I drive to get there.”

Almost every one of those clauses, she’d added on after learning the hard way that her power could be painfully literal.

Today… today she was staring down at a 45-degree incline that had once been the floor of this library. From the looks of things, it had been tolerably sheltered from weather – this area wasn’t as cold or as wet as Cloverleaf, but it still did get precipitation – and peering down and over, she was pretty sure she’d be able to get more than the required 16 books out of here.

But first, she had to get down there, gather the books, and get back up. Continue reading

The Hidden Mall 40: Bad Ideas 💡

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Abby bit her lip and repeated herself.  “We have to explain things to her. And then, if it’s not what she wants…”

“Do you think we could find her a way home?”

“It’s not like we can find our own way home – or even out.”

The first came from one Liv, the second from the other.  They were starting to sound identical. Which, Abby supposed, made a certain amount of sense.”

“She has to know.”  Abby sighed. “I think we might need her, but we can’t just, well, force her to come along.”

It was too late already for that, she knew.  And if Vic-French could help them defeat the mall…

Still, she should have said something two malls ago and she was going to make sure she said something now.  She turned onto a new bridge and made her way, step by careful step, over to the edge of the mall, such as it was.

It took longer than it ought to have to get to the “store,” which happened to be, from the looks of things, some sort of tunic and … leggings? maybe? store.  There were only a few pieces of clothing left, hanging from wires or dropped on the floor.

But there was a floor. Continue reading

Haunted House 25: Finding Him

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: What If?

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Mélanie knew, in a sense, that a Kept could tell where, loosely, their Keeper was.  That is: they could usually get a sense of “how far away” and “in what direction?”

She herself had used that ability to steal a few minutes of rest when her previous owners had left her alone, but it had never been a very strong connection.  Once, in a peaceful moment when they hadn’t been ordered to silence, another Kept – an older one, and one that had worn thin with years of bad Owners – had told her that the stronger the connection between the Keeper and the Kept, the less the Kept fought the bond and the orders, the more that they would be able to tell where their Keeper was.

Jasper had only Owned her for a day and a half.  He had been kind to her, yes, friendly and considerate, but that couldn’t had formed that strong of a Bond yet.  She closed her eyes and hoped it would be enough.

The trick was to not be thinking of anything except your Keeper.  That required not thinking about what had happened to him, or that she was out on her own for the first time in a very long time, or-

She shook herself.  Jasper. The crooked smile he got when he talked about his previous Kept.  The way he was careful to introduce her to the house. The way that it felt when he gave her an order.  The way it felt when he was happy with her, or when he touched her. The way it felt when he’d left for the day. Continue reading

Twenty-Two: Confidences in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Revelations in the Bear Empire

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Carrone was spending far too much time working on the way that the bedroll lay.  It wasn’t like they had room to rearrange things, considering that their little cave was barely big enough for the two of them to sit up in and lie down in together. And he’d already cleaned up all the cooking supplies and re-packed them. t this point, it was clear that he was doing anything he could to postpone either looking at her or lying down next to her.

Deline would have bitten her tongue, but she was already holding it very firmly between her teeth.  He would say something or he wouldn’t. She’d already said too much.

Eventually, he scooted in to the bedroll closer to the exit.  She raised her eyebrows at him as he finally looked at her.

He cleared his throat. Continue reading

Bliss, Ignorance, Beauty – Truth?

There was a room in the middle of the megalopolis, in the heart of the business district, in the center of a skyscraper.

The room was not large, not in a place that used every inch of space and climbed higher for more, but it was enough.

It occupied a corner of no-man’s-land made when two zaibatsu had expanded into all other available space between them, a place neither had claimed quickly enough and now wouldn’t dare usurp. It was hard to find; you had to be told where it was, and even then, you usually had to be guided.

Almost unique in all the megalopolis, there was no charge to enter, but one was only allowed to stay for an hour at a time, and one was only allowed to visit once per week.

Because in this strange room with the very soft floor and the even softer furniture, with no gatekeeper save one small robot that looked like nothing more than a miniature flying saucer; in here, staring at the ceiling made to look like a sky with no buildings around, for your allotted hour – you could forget.

In here, you would feel the breeze on your skin, the sunshine on your face, the grass beneath your hands, and for an hour, you would be blissfully ignorant of everything the world had to offer.


Written to Sept. 27th’s Thimbleful Writing Prompt – Ignorance is Bliss.