Archive | January 2011

Steam!Callanthe Story from Prompt

Part One: Plans

They hadn’t been meant to hear the news about Little Svon-on-Taba; they hadn’t been intended to be out of their rooms at all when the messenger came. Evanika and Orma were, as they had spent most of their childhoods and into what were nominally their adult years, grounded the week the messenger showed up. But, with a trait that had probably contributed to their state of perpetual confinement, they didn’t let a little thing like maternal disapproval (or the even-less-likely paternal censure) get in the way of their adventures.

So they had been in the back of the Emperor’s receiving room, anonymous among their cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and assorted other dozens of royal relatives, and conveniently camouflaged from discovery by Cousin Illavania’s immense feathered concoction of a hat, when the messenger, hastily cleaned up but still looking very much of the road, battered and scruffy and missing buttons on his jacket, bowed low and impatiently before His Eminence.

“We have found Little Svon-on-Taba, sire,” he’d announced eagerly, with an air of great importance emanating from him. The room had seemed less impressed with his announcement than he himself was, however; he’d gotten only a few gasps and quite a bit of murmured confusion.

Evanika and Orma had been just as lost as the rest of their family, but the Emperor had seemed intrigued enough that, when they’d retreated to Eva’s room, barely dodging detection by their father, they had immediately begun plans to discover more.

It had taken them over a week to research and prepare, their pace slowed by the necessity of hiding from their parents not only their plans, but the fact that they were working together on anything at all more complicated than eating dessert. All the while, several levels away in the huge castle warrens, the Emperor’s exploratory team made their own preparations.

They had to get there first; that was a given. Once they’d discovered what the story was behind Little Svon-on-Tabe, there had been no question if they were going; it became a matter, simply, of how.

Their older brother Iai provided the primary “how,” all unwitting; flitting from project to project in what appeared to be a family trait, he had put aside an small airship three-quarters of the way through building it because of a terminal flaw in the rudder design; he could not get the boat to properly detect nor navigate the air currents without making it too heavy for its air bladders to lift. In the mountainous ridged landscape of northern Callenia, the winds could easily be deadly for a ship with such a flaw; the ponderous, lumbering passenger air barges stuck to the valleys and lowlands, travelling, in many cases, the same paths as the river boats.

Making the boat steer itself was beyond the capabilities of either Orma or Eva, as it had been beyond Iai’s (Eva had held out some hope; together, the two of them could often outwit any one older relative). Eva had found a way to make the steering function manually, however, with the addition of two winglike appendages to the sides of the vessel to serve in lieu of a keel.

Orma had come up with the pièce de résistance, however, for their little expedition: spectacles, the metal-framed sort with the leather side guards that airship pilots wore to protect their eyes, but to these he’d attached a set of interchangeable lenses, pivoting from the sides up or down, to be looked through or not in whatever combination the wearer chose.

The lenses had taken most of the week and a few discrete calling-ins of favors on Orma’s part, while Eva designed and fabricated the wing-fins. Each individual lens, etched with the proper symbols and made of tinted glass, allowed the wearer to see into a different spectrum of what scientists, poo-pooing millennia of religious study, were now calling the aether. With the spectacles and Evanika’s new steering system, they could see the air flows and ride them, like riding the surf in a small sailboat. They could get to Little Svon-on-Taba faster in their tiny, swift aircraft thus than any river boat (going against current as it would have to) or plodding air barge could hope to.

With the questions of transportation and navigation out of the way, provisioning took only a few midnight trips out. They had done this enough times to know exactly what to swipe (and the castle staff, it seemed, had gotten used to their escapades; most of what they needed was already tidily packaged for them and waiting in their common hidey-holes); by the time they’d finished the fabrication of their tools, the ship was packed and ready to fly.

The maps had been the hardest; the castle librarian had gotten in some trouble over one or three of their earlier adventures, and, as such, was disinclined to help them or even let them into her domain. The closest city librarian was of a similar inclination, for similar reasons. They had to sneak all the way down to the West Quarter, a neighborhood that had been, in the days when their research was set, a very fine, up-and-coming place, and was now the sort of place where young royals should probably not be without an armed guard or three.

The very fact that no-one expected there to be royals in the West Quarter (combined with a bit of cleverness in the nicknames they used for each other and in their manner of dress) got them in and out of there safely, with the Allesely-dynasty-era maps of Little Svon-on-Taba, the Taba River, and Large Svon-on-Taba tucked away in Orma’s map case.

Two night before the Emperor’s exploratory party was even ready to leave, the pair floated their improved ship out of Iai’s launch bay. It moved perfectly, even loaded with supplies; the spectacles were amazing; they were actually doing it! Adventure awaited!

The ship glided a few lengths from the castle and jerked to a stop.

There will be more! I promise! But once I got to a stopping point at exactly 1000 words, I liked it so much I had to post it!

From wyld_dandelyon prompt “Strange glasses — not just steampunk-looking, but magical or cool in some mechanical way” and eseme‘s prompt “Also, I like blimps.”

50-Word-Story: Damnit #weblit

The fountain was broken.

It was the final insult for Derek Tanner, as he flopped, parched and exhausted, on the cracked tile.

He had crossed the trackless dessert to find the lost city and ransack it for its treasures, and he would die here, for want of a crescent wrench.

Restraint, a story of TirNaCali for #3WW #weblit

Three Word Wednesday is a once-weekly 3-word writing prompt.

Last week’s three words were descent, kill, surreal.

This is a sequel to Keyed Up and Gifted, and thus completes the triptych.


She’d never admit it to anyone, but as she tried to pretend she wasn’t waiting for word, Ursula, granddaughter to Duchess Lemaria but heir to nothing more than the family temper, was nervous.

It was novel, almost thrilling, to be a bit frightened of a man, of a male slave. He was bigger than her, stronger than her – sure, the other harem slaves might be a bit taller than her, but very few of them seriously outmassed her – and he saw no reason why he should be obedient. It made him dangerous, and that made him exciting.

She was self-aware enough to know, then, that being miffed with him for taking his time to come visit her was silly, but still, she was both impatient and a bit annoyed. He’d gotten her gift days ago. Wasn’t he at least curious?

It was more than a little ridiculous, but she had been turning down invitations to go out, staying close to home in case he decided to grace her with his presence. She’d also declined three requests from Efran in as many days, the poor puppy. So very well-trained, she didn’t think he’d ever understand why she’d passed him over for the American.

Then again, her sisters and cousins wouldn’t understand, either. They liked their easy harem-slave bed partners. They liked their lives, in general, easy, and their lady grandmother loved to provide it.

Ursula wondered if she was the only one who noticed that, while the Duchess provided all of this, the men she took to her own bed were almost invariably Americans.

The phone startled her out of her sulk; she picked it up before the first ring had ended.

“He’s on his way.” She knew the voice at the other end – Toma, the harem mistress. “As you wished, Lady Ursula, he’s not restrained.” The woman’s voice was etched with disapproval.

“Thank you, Toma.” Now she was really nervous. It would take, what, ten minutes for him to walk here from the harems? More if he gave the guards trouble, less if he was in a hurry.

If he’d been in a hurry, he would have been here three days ago when he unwrapped her present. She brushed her hair, changed her shirt, and made sure the papers she wanted were at hand. She’d just started considering doing all of that again when the knock came.

She needed a personal assistant, but she didn’t like the constant crowding of having someone else in her living space. College and two years in military service had cured her of the need to be waited on hand and foot, anyway. She answered the door herself, be damned how it looked.

He stood there, Stephen, next to the guard, neither of them smiling, but without the violent tension they sometimes showed when she opened her door for them. His hands were clasped in front of him; he looked the most placid Ursula had ever seen him.

The guard bowed; belatedly, Stephen remembered to bow as well. “Your Ladyship, as requested by the harem, I’m delivering this slave to you.”

“Thank you, Emmund. You can leave him.”

Emmund was too gracious to glower in her presence, but he bowed and left stone-faced.

“Come in.” She wasn’t paying any mind to Stephen’s expressions yet, not until she could get her own emotions under control. She was alone with him, unchained, in her bedroom.

“You gave me a key,” he accused her, but he stepped into her room and shut the door.

“I did. Kill the lights and come over here.” The light on her nightstand would be enough, and it was an order he wouldn’t think twice about following.

“They forgot the chains.” He flipped the light switch off and followed her across the room, to the chair by the side of her bed. “Think you can get me to play footstool without them?”

“If I asked nicely enough.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and gestured at the chair.

He looked between her and it, looking for the trap, but sat, gingerly, glaring at her. “Why?”

She didn’t waste time dissembling or pretending she didn’t know what he meant. “You don’t seem to enjoy harem service.”

“You don’t seem to care all that much about my enjoyment.” She could see from his expression, though, that he knew that wasn’t entirely true. She’d hoped he’d noticed that.

“I enjoy your company, too,” she admitted. She didn’t want to see him broken by one of her harsher aunts.

“Are you going to lie to yourself if I move in? Tell yourself I was a good little boy and serve me dessert for yelling at you?” He sounded, she realized, confused. She’d changed the game just when he’d figured out the rules.

“I might.”

“I don’t want to be a lapdog like Efram. I won’t do it, Lady, no matter how much you whip me. Use me as a footstool all you want, you won’t break me.”

She smiled wickedly, crossed her feet at the ankles, and held her legs out in mid-air. “All right.”

He stared at her incredulously. “You can’t be serious.”

“And if I am?” A little thrill ran up her. She wouldn’t call the guards, not unless she thought her life was in danger. He could hurt her a lot without endangering her life.

“What’s in it for me?”

Ursula reminded herself forcefully that she’d wanted the untamed slave, the argumentative one, that she’d encouraged his bad attitude. “Answers. You want to know why I gave you the key, what I want from you. I, at the moment, want a footstool.”

He shook his head. “You expect me to curl up and act like a lapdog just because you want me to?”

“No.” This was fun! “I expect you to kneel and act like a footstool – you’re too big for my lap, anyway – because you want information.”

A moment paused, and another, and another. He was going to say no. He was going to threaten her. He was going to stomp out of the room. He was…

Kneeling in front of her, crouching, really, ass to heels, elbows and forehead to the floor, like she’d had him bound, that first time. “Yes, Lady Ursula.”

She set her feet down on his back and lounged. It was a bit silly, wasn’t it, having him like this? She didn’t even do things quite this bad with the born slaves (but, then again, they rarely needed reminding of their status). She picked up her files from the nightstand and flipped through them, although he couldn’t really seem them.

“This is a detailed lineage report I had worked up on your bloodline.” It hadn’t been cheap, or quick, but she had both money and time to spare. “You’re of Irish descent.”

“So are you,” he grunted, twisting to look up at her. “So?”

“Exactly.” She tapped the folder. “You come from the same ancestors as my people do, if you go far enough back. You’re, very, very distantly, my cousin. And Efran’s,” she added thoughtfully.

“Ha,” he snorted.

“Exactly,” she repeated. “You have a strong – strong being the imperative word – Irish bloodline. And strong men breed strong children.”

Under her feet, he froze. “Oh, hell no. No fucking way, you crazy bitch.”

She toed him gently in the kidney. “None of that.”

He settled, but his tone was not much more civil when he continued. “I won’t give you my kids to be raised as slaves.”

“I’d be bearing them, so they wouldn’t be slaves, they’d be royal. I’d be willing to allow you to share in their rearing, as well. It’s a better offer than anyone else would give you – you know most of them would just say ‘lay back and grab the headboard’ and consider that sufficient warning.”

He looked back up at her. “You’re serious. You want to have my kids.”

“It’s that or take your chances with the harem,” she pointed out, wondering which he would chose. How would she handle the stigma of being rejected by an American slave? Her sisters and cousins would never let her live it down.

“But I hate you. I hate everything about this place.”

“No-one said you had to like me, Stephen. You don’t even have to enjoy the sex, although it’s more fun all around if you do.” Gods below, had she just said that?

He sat silently for long enough that she began to wonder if she really hadn’t said it. “I’ll do it,” he agreed. “But I’m not going to be a very good pet for you, not like Efran would. Should have given him the key.”

She leaned over to stroke his cheek, loving the way he shuddered, trying to hold still and wanting to shy away. “I didn’t want Efran. I want you.”

New Routine, and things

My morning now has a new routine: get up, feed cat wet food, shower, put in contacts, take meds, inject cat with insulin, praise cat and tell him he’s a good boy, get dressed, find car, brush it off, go to work.

My kitty Drake is a good kitty. We’ve had him since he was a kitten, something like 10 or 11 years ago, and I love him dearly. We lost his foster-brother Gatsby this summer, so when Drake started getting sick, I sort of flipped out a bit. We caught it early enough that it’s completely treatable, but it’s going to be expensive.

I’m pondering doing a live-write-athon to raise money to cover vet fees, but that’s about all I know so far about that one: something like $5 buys you 500 words on any topic. That’s… 30,000 words, I think, to cover the vet bills & insulin.

I think I need to get my personal author page re-set-up first, though.

Okay, enough blather. The world can normalize for a few days please?

MeiLin is having a fundraiser!

Fundraiser: $10 for Chunk of Book 2 First Draft

MeiLin-miranda, author of Scryer’s Gulch and Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom, is having a fund-raiser.

She says:

    Rather than whine here for donations, I’m offering you something for something. You give me $10, I give you the prologue and first chapter of book two. That’s about 8,800 words.

    Keep in mind that it’s drafty in the extreme. You’re going to note things aren’t as filled out as they should be. Wording may be awkward in spots. There may be editing artifacts or typos. The whole thing may even get thrown out in the end (don’t think so, but it could happen). But if you really want to know what to look forward to, you’ll get a good idea.


Thank you, cluudle. Duh.

Gender. Where did I get this messed-up obsession with gender roles, with a side order of gender confusion?

My family has very strong gender roles
and I fit the masculine of those more than the feminine.(*)


Add on to that a decade spent with gamers for whom “girl” is an alien species so “not-girl” is how they deal with girls they can talk to…

…and playing with the boys is more fun (hiking!) than playing with the girls (shopping? Makeup?)…

(*) And not the ones you see on TV shows. Women handle finance. We’re a very Strong Female Role Model family. But men handle woodworking, cars, metalworking (Sort of. My mom sanded and stained our entire house. Twice).

I have trouble being coherent about this, but there’s some blather.

Notes on Fashion & Status

First: The Callanthe like bright colours, and they like to mix them. They’re hampered only by not having advanced chemical dyeing techniques. This drawing, from the Peacock King, is what they’d wear if they could manage those colours.

I was looking at Russian historical garb today, and I’ve noticed a trend: most historical clothing seems to be based on “put on layer after layer of the same basic pattern until you’re warm.” This makes sense: having a summer & winter wardrobe separate of one another is expensive.

Clothing and status:

So the side the shirts close on indicates skilled worker vs. unskilled labor.

Fabric would also be an indication of status: silk is expensive in any world.

Add on to that pants. I’m thinking that pants are worn by those for whom long skirts would get in the way – those who ride, and those who labor manually. So an emperor and a farmer might wear very similar outfits, but the emperor’s silk tunic closes over the right shoulder, and the farmer’s hemp tunic over the left.

I’m still up in the air on embroidery/beading/etc. And hats! Hats are great for warmth. But. I don’t see the modesty issue coming up in quite the same way. I <3 beanies, but if I go with them, we hearken back more and more to China.

ETA: Terminology! Turkish, modern English, any one of the medieval European? Is it a kirtle or a cote or a qipao or a tunica or a liene or a…?

ETA: Qitari.

ETA: Neat site on qipao

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Magic in Reiassan

The magic in Reiassan parallels the deities. Loosely, it’s divided thus:

Red: War, blood, fire, strength, anger (destruction)

Green: Life, fertility, healing, plants, earth (creation)

Blue: Mind, air, water, breath (chaos)

Very little determined about these so far, but I know:

  • Priests & practitioners are often strongest in one area, to which they’re devoted
  • To be completely focused on one area, or to be in near-perfect balance of the three, are both rare & considered special
  • The area you’re strongest in affects or is affected by you personality/mindset
  • Being in a place strong in your area of focus strengthens your magic (i.e., on/in the water, in the forest, in the middle of war (or by a bonfire)
  • The magic shapes that particular zone

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Also? I have a dreamwidth account now.