Archive | March 2, 2012

Giraffe Poll! Which JANUARY Story do you want to see continued?

The list of stories is here on LJ, here on DW.

If you do not have a DW account, please feel free to vote in the comments.

Please let me know if this is an inconvenience for you.

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Wine of the Swan Maidens, a story for February’s Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] avia‘s Prompt.

It was said that the swan maidens made the best wine.

It was said that the lovely women with the feathered cloaks, the red-heads with the blue eyes and the hard fingernails that were really claws, that they felt no pain.

And not only did they feel no pain, but they had the best feet for trampling the spiny grapes that grew in the highlands, the best hands, long-fingered and slender, for plucking the skins for the finest sweet wines, the strongest arms and backs for carrying the fruit and working the presses.

It was said, too, that the tears of a swan maiden were the sweetest additive you could put in the wine, that their faint saltiness was surpassed only by a single drop of their blood added to a keg, that their suffering transformed a vintage from ordinary to extraordinary as nothing else could.

Much of this was lies. The swan maidens felt pain like anyone else. Their backs were not strong, save in their swan-forms. Their fingers were long, it was true, but they tended to be clumsy.

And all this only added to the tears added to the wine: and that, the tears and the blood, that was true. Which was why the crafty vinters of the highlands spread those other lies, and why they would, on the first clear day of Spring, stalk the banks of every lake in the mountains for the swan-maidens, to steal their cloaks, to force those maids to live with them and make their wine.

They would escape, of course, they always did. But the daughters they left behind would, some day, find cloaks of their own, and the cycle would begin anew.

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Guarding the Church

For flofx‘s commissioned prompt, a continuation of Re-blessing the Church

Father Nehemiah wasn’t entirely comfortable in the new church.

He had been told, by the kindly woman that cleaned the building, Mrs. Bao, that most priests didn’t last long in her city (and that was how she put it: “You priests, you usually can’t make it too long in my city. Don’t worry your head about it when you find yourself having to leave.”) As such, he was determined to, as the vernacular went, hack it.

The corpse-lamb was his first challenge, although not the strongest or worst he would face. The spirit of what he was told was a kirkevaren was quite visible to the naked eye, hovering around the freshly-blessed churchyard, apparently waiting for someone to die so it had something to protect once again.

While it waited, the kirkevaren had decided to guard everything else. The pews. The baptismal. The children in the nursery on Sunday. Sometimes it inserted itself into the stained glass window patterns for a while, another lamb in the wide field of them. It was, Father Nehemiah thought, bored.

It was tied to the land, Mrs. Bao and her husband, Bao-Bao, told him; it could not go very far from it. So Father Nehemiah pondered things that the spirit could do to keep it out of trouble.

Much, he pondered, the way he did with troubled teens in other cities. Much as he was soon to find he would need to with the fairies here.

The fairies. He’d thought the kirkevaren was strange – no other church he’d ever served in had had anything similar – but the fairies, they were downright malicious.

He found the first one pretending to be a corpse, hanging itself from the iron fence posts at the front gate, eyes bugging, tongue sticking out. “This place kills us,” the thing told him.

“Now don’t you be silly,” Mrs. Bao told the thing over Nehemiah’s shoulder. “It’s a place of love and faith, and if it harms you, that’s your own silly fault.”

That one had moved on, shamed into stopping its protest, but they kept coming. They would catcall the congregation as they came for Sunday services, shout obscenities at funeral-goers and wedding guests alike. If Mrs. Bao was around, she would shoo them off with her broom, but she was not always around, and they would not listen to Father Nehemiah.

“I don’t understand,” he asked the cheerful cleaning woman. “What is it they have against our Church?”

“They have a very long memory, these creatures,” she told him, “a reborn memory, in some cases. And some just take any chance they get to complain.”

“Much like every other person I know,” he sighed. “What can I do?”

“What can you do?” she echoed back at him, with a shrug. “They are faeries. They do not follow human rules.”

“Hrrm.” Father Nehemiah had the glimmerings of an idea. He lit some incense, murmured a few prayers, and went to speak to the kirkevaren.

The next time the faries came to protest the church, the kirkevaren was there, fending them off, defending the church from their complaints. Mrs. Bao smiled at Nehemiah.

“You’ll do okay. You’ll do just fine.”

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Briars & Vinegar: Eating the Roses, a story of fae-apoc post apoc for the Giraffe Call (@rix_Scaedu)

For Rix_Scaedu‘s prompt, combined with [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

Briars and Vinegar (LJ)
Briars and Vinegar: Blood on the Snow (LJ)
Briars and Vinegar: For 100 Years (LJ)
Briars and Vinegar: Sharp and Bitter (LJ)

Something kept eating the rosebushes.

This was startling enough on its own – roses weren’t the most palatable thing in the world, and Vin’s roses had thorns the size of small daggers.

But, since Darrel had moved into her cabin, and Keri and Clarence had built their own nearby, since Dame Elena had, herself, come to shelter inside Vin’s large hedge of roses, there was hawthorn planted alongside the rosebushes, twisted in with them, its sharp prickers providing a second layer of defense. And hawthorn was even less palatable than roses.

(Dame Elena, who had been Old Dame Elena as long as anyone could remember, had turned out to have a surprising wealth of information about the old fae. That had made Vin give her a sharp look and pull the old lady aside for a few whispered conversations.

Clarence tried not to mind. It was clear that Vin knew quite a bit she wasn’t sharing, and he didn’t blame her, usually. The war had hurt her quite badly, he thought, blamed for things she could neither have done nor stopped.

But when something started eating the roses and the hawthorn, and Elena and Vin went back into whispered conversations, Clarence had had enough. He pulled the two women aside – gently, very gently, but still.

“Look, you need to tell me what’s going on. Kari and I live here too, you know.”

“And I welcomed you, but you don’t need to stay,” she snapped. Dame Elena’s hand on her arm stopped her, and she sighed.

“There aren’t many things that will eat roses like this, and most of them aren’t natural; they’re constructs of the war or leftover monsters from Ellehem – from faerie-home,” she translated. “And I’ve never encountered anything unnatural that could stomach hawthorn.”

“But I have,” Elena put in. “Not a faerie creature as such, but something they made from creatures already here. Mouth like a meat grinder, could eat anything. Did eat anything. And everyone.”

She frowned at the chewed-upon bushes. “We called it the omnivore.”

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