Archive | February 18, 2012

The Bloody Rose of Morning

For Vryka’s prompt.

Facets of Dusk has a landing page here.

Cole woke.

He generally considered this a good start to the day, getting things off on an immediate positive note.

He woke in a bed, which was even nicer, a comfortable bed with soft sheets. The day was already looking up. And there was a warm presence next to him, soft-skinned and pleasant smelling. The night was beginning, slowly, to come back to him, in blurry flashes. The team… the team was in another room, in the same house, or perhaps several rooms. Their hostess…

…Propped herself up on one elbow and smiled at him. “The water of the dawn falls sweeter than the rain of the evening.”

Ah, this.

Cole wracked his mind, but the only thing that came up was

“He drinks a whisky drink
He drinks a vodka drink
He drinks a lager drink
He drinks a cider drink

He sings the songs that remind him
Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the better times”

The girl smiled uncertainly at him and reached for a bottle by the bedside, while, still smiling, Cole cursed himself. Josie had been on a roll last night, pulling lyrics out of her ass, and even Aeric had been able to come up with a poem or two. Cole? Cole could manage Chumbawumba.

“But the sweetest morning comes,” she continued, her gaze far too intense for his comfort, “with the coldness of reasoning.”

Oh, shit. Where was Josie when he needed her?

Right, not watching him in bed with another woman. Or at least not with this bronze-skinned beauty with the stunning eyes.

Stunning eyes. Stunning… blue… eyes. Sinatra!

“I thought I found the gal I could trust,
watta bust, this is how the story ends:
She’s gonna turn me down and say,
‘Can’t we be just friends?'” He gave her a game smile, but she was frowning at him. Which was still a lovely expression, but not the one he was hoping for.

“Those who would be drunk upon the bloody roses of the morning beware the price of the wine,” she informed him firmly.

“The price…” He quashed the Kanya West lyrics that came to mind, and just shook his head. “It was a lovely night, beautiful.”

“The bloody morning wine,” she repeated, one hand gesturing crudely at parts of herself, “is sweet, but ware the path its taste will lead.”

He had to get out of here before he ended up married. Again. Was it bigamy if the wives were in different worlds? “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra,” he tried weakly, and, because it generally solved things, he kissed her.

She kissed him back, and seemed to agree with him, by the press of her body, that it was a good idea. So he kept kissing, fully intending to keep on tasting her bloody morning roses as long as she’d allow it.

Until someone started pounding on the door. “Those who taste the morning wine must pay the sherrif’s rosy fine!” shouted a deep and angry voice.

Sighing, Cole reached for his pants, the girl, and his gun. And the morning had been looking so good!


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“…and Thou,” a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe Call.

For [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt.

The Aunt Family has a landing page here.

“Where, exactly, is it that you are taking me?” Ruan was trying not to be short with Johias. He had really been being a dear lately, helping her weed out a cousin’s estate, working with her on the automatic tarot machine, and helping her with that blasted demon that had been stuck in one of Tansy’s messier pigeonholes (her late Aunt had, if nothing else, developed some impressive pigeonhole technology. They would be studying the science behind that for the rest of their lives, and, likely, their heirs would be doing so, too).

“Somewhere.” Johias was, despite his recent darling behavior, making it very hard to not snap at him. Very, very difficult. “You’ll enjoy it when we get there.”

“Sir, you are acting in a fashion I do not find in the least appealing. Bundling me into your automobile without as much as a hellow-how-are-you, and then refusing to tell me what we are doing, and, I will note, you appear to have finally tuned your aetheric dampers properly and I am very displeased with you right now!”

And now she’d done it. He was going to snap back at her and they’d have a fight, and there’d been a few of those, with the pigeonhole project, and they were awful, especially with both their families hanging on every sign of discontent.

Ruan tensed, but Johias, instead of yelling back at her, laughed. “Ah, Ruan,” he chuckled, “I deserved that. But if you will bear with me just one more minute, I promise it will all be clear.”

“One more minute,” she allowed, attempting not to sulk at him. Sulking was, in the very least, unattractive, undignified, and not at all ladylike.

“And there. Than you, my darling woman.” He stopped the car and got out, offering her a hand out. His other hand, she noted, was carrying a basket. She bit her lip, refusing to ask any more questions.

“It is such a lovely day,” he explained, leading her in the dimming sunlight to the top of the hill, “and we’ve been cooped up inside all spring and into the summer. So, what is it the poet said…? ‘A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou?'” He pulled a blanket from the basket, and lay it out over the grass. “Would you sit with me, Ruan, and watch the sun sink low over the reservist?”

“Oh, Johias,” she began, even as, a twinkle in his eye, he added, “I hear there’s a phenomenon that only occurs at sunset here. I think we’ve enough time to study it over our wine.”

“Oh, Johias!” she repeated, as they both, laughing, sank down onto the blanket to watch the water.

The line is from “From Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Persian Poet‘s verses.

I originally learned it out of context, and use it here, again, out of context.

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Picking Grapes

For cluudle‘s prompt.

Shiva and Niki are characters in the webserial Addergoole.

Addergoole has a landing page here.

“Niki, stop squirming.” Shiva flicked the back of Niki’s ear with forefinger and thumb in exasperation. “You’d think no-one had ever picked your grapes before.”

“Shiiiiiiiva,” her Kept whined, sitting very still because he had no choice and still managing to give off the impression of wriggling. “It tickles. And you didn’t have to thwap me,” he added, sulking.

“This was your idea,” she pointed out. “You can hold still, or I can tie you down.”

She felt a stillness come over him as he stopped fighting the order. “That could be fun.”

“It could,” she agreed. She leaned forward to breathe against the back of his pointed ear. “And if you’re very good, then we will do that later.”

A tiny moan escaped him, a sound she was pretty sure he didn’t know he was making. “I’ll be good,” he whispered, the words seeming to come from deep inside him, from the person behind the bitchy mask.

“I know you will,” she purred. His ear was right there, so she licked the back of it slowly. “You’re my wonderful, wonderful slave, aren’t you?” And was he in the mood to take that as it was meant, and not act insulted?

The soft groan suggested that he was. “All yours.” Sometimes, sometimes she could remind him why he’d asked her to collar him. It seemed today was one of those days.

“Lay on your stomach for me,” she murmured, “and I’ll finish harvesting this batch of grapes.”

She waited for him to shift around, and then straddled him, one hand on the center of his back pinning him, while she used the other to pick the juicy red grapes that grew, Bacchus-like, from thick vines in his hair.

On the bedstand, a bowl already overflowed with the fruit. “I’m going to make the sweetest wine from you, my beautiful boy,” she whispered, watching him shudders at her breath on his shoulders. “And then we’ll get drunk off you.”

“Yes, Shiva,” he groaned, twitching as she murmured the Words to coax his vines to fruit again.

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Late planting

For [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt, after Bitter Vintage

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

The Wild Ones are a family line of half-breed Ellehemaei; the lives of three of them are chronicled in my very dark webserial The Wild Ones’ Blood.

The guest at the gate turned out to be female, which set the trio of sisters no more at ease, female, and with pointed, Doberman-like ears. Kin, perhaps? they stood casually, their tails and their ears the only thing showing how tense and fight-ready they were.

The Doberman-woman wasn’t hiding it at all. Her face was set in a snarl. “You have what is mine,” she growled.

“This is our land,” Aglæca answered, her voice lazy, her hand on her knife. “We have only what is ours here.”

“You have what is mine,” the woman repeated, “and I will have it back.”

“Bitch, we don’t have anything of yours,” Cassandra hissed. “Be gone before we cut you into pieces and feed the pieces to our pigs.”

“He came here,” the dog-woman insisted, and now all three of them were listening very, very intently to her. “He came here, I know. he told me it was the last thing he had to do for the Old Man, and so I let him come. And he never came back.”

Aglæca was not certain if the low whining sound of anger came from her throat, her sisters’ throats, or all three, but she knew it was her that spoke. “He. He was your Kept, your possession? You owned that creature?”

A beat, and then Cassandra asked over the rising silence, “You owned our kin?” Because creature, monster, and bastard he might have been, but he’d been a Wild One, too. That was why, in part, he wasn’t dead.

The Doberman snarled. “Own. I Own him. He is my love, and it was the only way to keep him from the Old Man’s grasp. So yes, yes I Own him.”

“Then you should join him,” Angela snarled, and, in a heartbeat, they attacked.


They planted the second rose – a red one – and the second grapes near the first pair, so that the two could twine together, and when the time came to make the wine, they mixed fruit and petals from all the plans together. “Let them be together,” Aglæca toasted, with the first glass of the season, “in the only way they deserve.”

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Bitter Vintage

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

The Wild Ones are a family line of half-breed Ellehemaei; the lives of three of them are chronicled in my very dark webserial The Wild Ones’ Blood.

This story has suggestions of violence and rape, but no on-screen either.

“That’s the last of this year’s rose wine.” Aglæca poured the dregs of the jug into two glasses, letting the last of the pinkish liquid drip slowly into the blue vessels. “And a month before it’s time to start on this year’s.”

“We’ll have to make do.” Angela took her glass and breathed in its floral notes. “It always sounds as if it’s singing to me.”

“Maybe it is.” Aglæca stared at her own glass, willing its secrets to her. “It’s always seemed to have a bit of… essence, I guess, in it, hasn’t it?”

“Life,” Angela agreed, and swirled a little in her mouth. “The last bit is always a bit bittersweet, you know?”

“The last we’ll taste of it.” Aglæca took an ungraceful gulp. “Until the next time. Yes, I think I almost heard a song. Or a scream.”

“Mm, screams.” Angela’s smile was sharp and fierce, like the woman herself. “Yes. I know there’s no blood in it, but you can almost taste it, can’t you? Just a little drip of his life, there?”

“You’re a poet, Ang. A bloody poet.” She stroked her sister’s claret-red hair, pushing it behind one tufted ear. “It should have his life in there, the way we’ve got the roots going.”

“Mmm.” That only made her smile wider, and she sipped the wine slowly, savoring it, savoring the essence in it. “Do you think he’s still alive down there?”

“I can’t imagine he can die that easily. And I made damn sure that he couldn’t get out.” She looked out the window, where the trellis of grapes shared space with the thorny roses.

“It must be horrible, having a plant growing into you, not able to move, able to feel everything.” Angela’s eyes clouded with memory, and her sister hugged her tightly.

“And he deserves every moment of it. Drink up. Cass heard something down the road, thinks it might be another one.” Before her sister could twitch, before she could show fear, Aglæca showed her teeth. “We might need to plant another rose bush.”

She was rewarded with a feral smile in return. “This time, let’s plant red ones.”

Continued here

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For F. Anon’s Prompt.

Note: I have never tasted a $5000 bottle of wine. I have, however, tasted a wide range of $5-$50 bottles.

She’d spent years getting to know suppliers, tasting their wares, sampling them on upcycles and down, knowing their accounting departments and the local gossip about their spouses. She’d worked in every food-industry job she could negotiate her way into over the past decade, getting to know every nuance of the world of cuisine, and, in the evenings, taken culinary classes. She’d hired the best cooks she could find, enlisted the best, most reliable suppliers, and worked with the most consistent PR firm in the state.

Now it was time for Liaza to pick the wines for her restaurant.

The sommelier poured her glass after glass. Riesling. Chardonnay. Niagara. Gewurtztraminer. Merlot. Pinot noir. Cabernet Sauvignon.Shiraz. She sniffed, sipped, swirled, spat.

The red wines were easy. She settled on four within a tasting of the first eight, and had reached a final six by the time she’d sipped sixteen. The whites…

“Boring. Sweet, but bland. Lemonade without the sugar. Not enough flavor. What, is everyone just pissing in a bucket?” Liaza was not normally crude, but she was growing frustrated, more so, because the sommelier just kept smiling.

Finally, he brought out five bottles. “These three,” he told her, “will suffice for most of your audiences. These two,” he set the others aside, “these are for the true connoisseurs.”

He poured one, then the other of the “will suffice,” and she had to agree. They were rich, flavorful wines, with strong notes that were not overwhelming. “And the others?” she asked, already much happier.

“Ah-ha. This one, first. This is a $5500 bottle of wine, from a tiny valley in France where they have been producing this single kind of wine for as long as France has history. It is a rich, storied wine, with a flavor to match.” He poured, she sniffed, smelling the fruity notes and a faint hint of spice. She sipped, tasting a light sweetness over an aged flavor that slid down the throat like ambrosia. This wine, she did not spit.

“Very… Very nice,” she agreed. “And the last?”

“Taste first.” He passed her a couple bland crackers, then a glass of water, and then he poured.

She sniffed, and her nose was overwhelmed. “Pear and… is that mint? How interesting! And something like the breeze over the water.”

“This,” the sommelier told her smugly, “is the most interesting wine in the world.”

“I…” She sipped, carefully, swishing the wine around in her mouth. Notes of pear, of course, and, yes, that faint mintieness and just the faintest sweetness. “This is…”

“…from a vineyard so small, most people don’t even know they exist. On the banks of a tiny New York State Lake. Yes. Fifteen dollars a bottle, although, once they are known…”

“We need a contract.” She sipped again. “And a dish that can stand up to this wine.”

The sommelier smirked. He’d told his brother this was the way to get their name out there. And it had only taken fifteen tries.

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Linkback Incentive Story – Straw Poll

I have the following stories written and ready to post 50 words/time for the Giraffe Call:
The Trouble With Bongong Island, from Inventrix’s prompt “Bananas, Bifurcation, Belittling Bohemian butterflies.” 2111 words draft gentlemen adventurer tale
Keeping the Gods, a story of the fae apoc, or at least a rough draft thereof, from Shutsumon’s prompt “bacchanal, barbarocracy,bathykolpian.” 1400 words of cautionary fantasy
Holding the Ways, a microfiction of an unconventional funeral, 350 words.
Avarice – From haikujaguar’s prompt “Avarice. Anemia. And maybe… appetite.” 1038 words, a story of mixed appetites and dovetailing greed.
Sunday at the Grove – From clare_dragonfly’s prompt, this is a tender story of mourning and passing on. 900 words.

Or I can write something new, in your choice of setting. Opinions? Requests?

At this posting, linkback count stood at one, and I had not entirely finished writing the linkbacks from last month’s story.

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Giraffe Call: Wine and (/or) Roses!

The call for prompts is now CLOSED! Please come back next month for another call!!

I am now taking prompts on the theme of Wine and/or Roses! Leave one or many prompts, and I will write (over the next month) at least one microfic (150-500 words) to each prompter.

Jordan’s older sisters had all, when they were young, old enough to be maidens but still pure, gone down to the river. Each of them, in turn, had received the unicorn’s bloodly blessing, as did every girl of the village, their village and every hamlet along the Pure River. Their blood blessed the fields, kept the water clean despite the factories upstream, kept the crops coming. Their blood made their bellies rise with unicorn babies; there wasn’t a household along the river that didn’t have a white-haired child in their midst.

Thus began Down the River (LJ), the first story in Unicorn/Factory series, from a prompt of “Female unicorn, male virgin.” See my Landing Page (LJ) for more of my settings.

Prompting is free! But Donations are always welcome.

If you have donated, I will write to every prompt you leave.

In addition, for each $5 you donate, I will write an additional 500 words to the prompt(s) of your choice.

For every linkback I receive, I will post another 50 words on a story (setting poll here and here)

If I get two new prompters or one new donator, I will write a setting piece (setting chosen by poll).

And, of course, donations are always well-received:

At $30 in donations, I will buy T. new boots & myself some seeds to start inside. Reached!

At $40 in donations, I will post an additional 1000-2000-word fic on the subject of the audience’s choice.Reached!

At $50, anyone who donated $7.50 or more will have a copy of “Alder by Post” mailed to them if they wishReached!

At $70, I will write at least 2 microfics for everyone, whether or not they donated. Reached!

At $75, we will buy a wheelbarrow for hauling everything around our yard!Reached!

At $100, I will write at least 3 microfics for everyone, whether or not they donated.

At $130, I will record a podcast of an audience-choice story and post it for everyone to read.

At $150, we will upgrade the wheelbarrow to an awesome cart! Also I will release an e-book of all of the fiction written to this call.

If I reach $200, I will hold a mid-month Call on a single setting of the readers’ choice. Everyone who tipped will get wordcount-and-a-half

If I reach $210, we’ll upgrade the awesome cart to awesome-cart-with-sides and be able to haul EVERYTHING!

For more information on Giraffe Calls, see the landing page.

(Image will be modified when I get home: this is at $80 now!)

Donate below

Art by Inventrix!

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