Archive | February 22, 2012

Mission to Paris

For @theladyisugly’s commissioned prompt: “VanderLinden & Aelfgar’s child has some mission in Paris” from the January Giraffe Call.

Belfreja is an Addergoole Year Nine student; this is set sometime around the end of year 15 – before the apocalypse but after she has been out of school for a bit.

Addergoole has a landing page here

Belfreja studied the dossier one last time, made sure she had memorized all pertinent details, ran her fingers over the silk of the underwear, and then dropped it all in the garbage bin and muttered a quick Abatu Unutu under her breath, destroying everything in the bin.

She remembered Yuriko from their time together at school. The girl had been a Cohort behind her, and spent most of her time with different people, but eventually everyone talked to Belfreja. She’d spent four years making certain that was true, and then three more years after graduation reinforcing it.

They called her, those that called her by such Names, The Connection, and for three years, she had been making connections, drawing people in, working with people for her own purposes, and for those of the Organization. A storm was coming, they all knew, and they needed to be prepared. Belfreja prepared by meeting people, and by convincing them.

She left the airport, shedding her coat in one garbage can and, a mile later, letting the red in her hair slowly change to its natural golden. Even Regine couldn’t watch entire cities, after all, and she wanted Yuriko to recognize her. With her horns Masked, the hair would have to do it. The hair and… she unbuttoned one button and took a deep breath, shifting that part of her Mask as well, to show her other assets. Yuriko might be straight. Addergoole did, on occasion, graduate one or two. But she’d remember Belfreja for her assets. Everyone always did.

There were others that could find people better than Bel could. There were others that could hide from surveillance better than she could. But when you got down to the nit and grit of it, no-one could connect people like she could.

She called on an old friend at a cafe, chatted about the weather and the incoming storm, mentioned a friend out in the mountains of Spain who was making a “retreat” deep into the side of the mountains, well away from prying eyes. In the conversation, she dropped Yuriko’s description – her Masked description – and was rewarded with a suggestion she talk to someone at a cafe down the road.

At the cafe down the road, she ate croissants and sipped tea with a man she’d first met her first year out of Addergoole. They talked about politics, French, American, British, worldwide, and, in twists and turns around that conversation, about the politics of the Ellehemaei. They murmured suggestions for hiding-holes, and whispered even more quietly of the problems with the Council, and the problems with those who would defy the Council.

They didn’t speak of rebellion. They both enjoyed living.

In the twists of that conversation, she told him she was looking for Yuriko, and he told her he thought the girl had been working at the cafe across the street. She kissed him for old time’s sake, and moved on.

The cafe across the street had no friends of hers, so she had to make a new one. The waitress behind the counter had the right look to her, so Belfreja spent an entertaining hour chatting her up, and was sure to tip generously and ostentatiously. When the waitress was thanking her, she mentioned the pretty Asian friend from school she was looking for…

…oh, so sad, Yuriko had quit. She’d gotten a better job at a cafe across town.

Sh stopped on the way to chat up a street vendor, bought a pair of sunglasses from him and flirted for a little while, talking about the way life was these days, talking about the craziness of the world.

She leaned forward as she talked, letting him ogle the way her assets fell just a bit out of her blouse, how the white lace of her bra showed under her silk blouse. She liked to flirt, of course; she was, in some ways, always going to be her mother’s daughter.

(And, unlike her half-siblings, also one of her mother’s greatest nightmares – but that was a tale to which this was only the prelude).

And people, many people, liked to flirt back with her. The sunglass-vendor told her three personal secrets and seventeen pieces of gossip by the time she had to make up an appointment to move on, and had given her the name of an awesome cheese-monger and a phenomenal hairdresser.

As she left, he had, as happened to her more often than was believable, slipped her a piece of paper telling of a meeting happening in a secret location, and the person she could go to to find that meeting. Belfreja attracted revolutionaries the way her siblings attracted lovers.

She pocketed the paper; if her business with Yuriko went quickly, she’d check it out. Not only did she attract certain people, she really enjoyed cultivating them. She enjoyed, in a manner, cultivating everyone. It was part of her charm.

But she had to reach Yuriko before the girl knew she was coming, which meant getting across town sometime before the world ended, a shorter time limit now that it might have once been. So she cut her chit-chat with the next vendor to a mere half an hour, and hurried to the cafe where, she was pretty sure, her quarry would be.

She was rewarded for her diligence at Le Chat D’Argent et Noir, where, at a back table, a pretty girl with Japanese features and mocha skin was flirting with a customer. Belfreja picked a seat with care. She wanted it to take a while for Yuriko – she was pretty sure it was her, at this point; the green eyes were a dead giveaway – to notice her, but she wanted to be able to see if the girl left the restaurant, too.

Once seated, she sipped on her third coffee of the day, chatted up the handsome waiter, and, in between sips, muttered a Working to tell her more about her target.

It was Yuriko, that was certain; most people wore their self-identity like a name tag on their psyche, and she was no different. Blue-green with purple notes, a dream of the sky and feet barely planted on the earth, a flighty thing, a pretty thing, with a smile that could brighten the world.

That family line got the prettiest Changes, but it was Yuriko’s weather ability, and her skill at manipulating chaos, that had sent Bel to recruit her. That, and the fact that she was easily bullied, but only if you knew the right words.

Bel liked people whose keys she could twist, but only if nobody else could.

Once she’d gauged Yurkio’s identity and her mood, she shifted so that the girl could see her, making sure her Mask looked identical to her last year at Addergoole, making sure she looked like she wasn’t looking at her quarry, posed herself, and waited.

She was rewarded in short time by a quiet gasp and the sound of footsteps – towards her, good. They hadn’t been friends, but they hadn’t been enemies, either.

“Bel,” Yurkio said, from behind her, maybe hoping to surprise her. Bel jumped a little, just for fun, and turned, smiling.

“Oh, Yuri! I was hoping to find you here!”

“You were?” Yurkio sat down, looking unhappy. “I’ve got years till Tethys and Sören have to go to school.”

“You do,” she agreed. “I’m not here from Addergoole. I don’t work for them.”

“You don’t? I thought… your parents…”

Bel smiled ruefully. “Lots of people think that, sadly, but no. I’m not all that much like my parents. Either of them.”

“Blonde and beautiful.”

“But not, however, superficial. Unlike my maternal parent.” And unlike, she didn’t say, that judgement of me.

She didn’t need to say it; she was good like that. Yuriko nodded reluctantly. “Sorry. So, you were looking for me?”

“I was,” she agreed. “You have some very nice skills that are wasted working here, Yuri.”

“But I like wasting them working here,” the other girl pointed out sharply. “It’s pretty, it’s peaceful, and nobody bothers my kids.”

“It is all that,” she agreed. “But it’s not going to last.”

“You can’t know that!” The places where hooks would go were beginning to get formed. Bel started sharpening those hooks.

“I don’t,” she agreed, “but people I know do. It’s not a hard prognostication, and it’s being seen pretty regularly now.”

There, there was the first barb. Yuriko knew about seers. She’d been cy’Peletier, after all.

“I,” she frowned. “Not just in the States?”

“Not even first in the States. But we’re bunkering down, anyway, up north where things seem to be likely to stay stable.”

Stable was a good one; she could see it hit home. “And my kids?”

“Good teachers, other kids to play with – normal kids.” Normal was code for human, and human could be a very good thing… yes. Yes, she was almost hooked.

“And you could really use my skills? I could consider it…” she dithered.

Bel slipped in the final hook. “Jasper’s already there.”

Yuriko’s eyes widened. She’d always been fond of her second child’s father. Was she fond enough? “I’m in.”

Bel smiled. “Wonderful.” She loved her job.

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Alder By Post! Issue Two Available!

I have finished printing Alder by Post Issue Two! I will be mailing these out starting this afternoon.

I still have some available from both Issue One and Issue Two, and am willing to offer a discount if you buy both at once. 🙂

Issue One’s story is an Aunt Family Story take-off from the Gifts Giraffe Call Prompt on Glitter
Issue Two’s story is from Dragons Next Door, a bit of background on pixies & Tiny Folk.

Both are printed in limited-edition runs of 16 each.

If you donated $7.50 or more to the January Giraffe Call, or $50 or more in the last year, you may have one for the asking.
Otherwise, to cover printing & postage, each issue is $2 in-US, $2.50 outside (Or $3.50/$4/50 for two issues).

Alder by Post
1 Issue, US $2.00 USD
I Issue, non-US $2.50 USD
1 year, US $20.00 USD
1 year, non-US $25.00 USD
Issues 1&2, US $3.50 USD
Issues 1&2, Non-US $4.50 USD

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Second Pressing, a story of Tir na Cali for the Giraffe Call

For stryck‘s prompt.

Tir Na Cali has a landing page here.

Names by @Inventrix. The unnamed gentleman in the story is Karl ap Jolanda
It wasn’t Onyx’s fault that her master’s vineyard had gone bankrupt, but that didn’t stop her from being put up for auction with the property, the equipment, and the other vineyard slaves to pay his debts. Nor did it stop the taint of the failed vineyard from coloring her like the purple on her fingers and toes.

Lower-levels slaves found new homes – either in other vineyards, or in other field work. Field slaves were always needed, and trained, broken-in field slaves especially so.

The foreman, the field doctor, many of the other mid-level slaves were likewise valuable, and likewise, while as purple-stained as Onyx, less tainted by failure. But long after the auction had ended, she, the field manager, and the girl who had managed the publicity and tours for the vineyard were left sitting in their cages, disconsolate and miserable.

“So what happens to us now?” Keri, unlike Onyx and Taris, had been taken from America, and bought directly by the master for his vineyard project. She’d never sat in a room like this before.

“If we’re not lucky,” Taris muttered, “it’s field work for us. If we’re lucky…”

“If we’re lucky, it will be a business position somewhere,” Onyx cut in firmly, before Taris could scare the girl more. “Someone will see past the failure.”

“It’s not our fault,” Keri whimpered.

“No, it’s not.” The rich male voice that cut into their conversation took them all by surprise; they’d assumed they were alone in the holding cells. Panicked and nervous, Onyx and Taris fell into kowtow position, their foreheads to the floor, pulling Keri down with them.

The man kept talking. “The wines vinted in Jeffery ap Paulina’s vineyard were of sublime quality. The complexity of the Sauvignon Blanc, especially, was very impressive, and the ad campaign for the mead was beautiful.”

Onyx felt a small spear of hope rise inside her. The Sauvignon Blanc had been one of her best efforts.

“Sit up,” he added, and they did, beholding a handsome man – grey eyes, no slave collar, Onyx noted, as she was sure Taris was – with a long ponytail of jet-black hair. “I have a vineyard that specializes in some very strange fruits, and I would like you three to help me develop it.”

He held out his hand and, from the air, a long coil of vine began growing, studded with bright red berries.

“Would you work willingly for me?” he asked, as they stared in awe.

Next: Planting Future (LJ)

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Giraffe Update and Business

The money keeps coming in, so I’m going to keep the call open another day!
Here on DW/Here on LJ

We are $5 from the next donation level, and $10 from our wheelbarrow!!
REACHED! Will update image tonight!

For January:
There’s a poll up for the encyclopedia chapters – which settings do you want to learn more about?
I let my LJ paid membership lapse; if you don’t have a DW account, please feel free to vote in the comments.

What story do you want a continuation of? (LJ)

For February:
I posted a summary (LJ) yesterday; I’ll post another one tomorrow. It’s been a slower prompt than the last one, but, considering I’m still writing January donor stories, that’s okay!

The Linkback Story is up! (LJ). Please tell me if you linked to the call!

If you Tweet, I’ve created a new Twitter Account.

Donate behind cut

Art by Inventrix!

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