Stole from recessional
Send me a pairing and a line of dialogue and I’ll write you something (“pairing” can also be “ensemble” or “set of friends” or whatever) Stumping the writer is probably not a good idea. 😛
“Wait right there, don’t move!”
“That’s a good look for you.”
“Could you repeat that?”
“Hey, have you seen the…? Oh.”
“Everything’s going to be fine.”
“This isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“Are you flirting with me?”
“Must be a day ending in y.”
“Stop trying to cheer me up!”
“You want me to do what?”
“It’s never too late.”
“If there’s one thing the world needs more of…”
“I’ve got one word for you: sing-along!”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Can we pretend I didn’t just say that?
“That is one hell of a mess.”
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to say…”
“Last time I ask you for a favor!”
“I need this.”
”Don’t make it into a big deal.”
“You forgot to say the magic word.”
“Where the fuck did that clown come from?”
“I’ll never unsee that.”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“This one’s on me.”
“Give me a hand.”
“I think you missed your calling.”
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/744095.html. You can comment here or there.
|Magazine Article||Note on Photo||Educational Bookmark||Pamphlet or Brochure||Book Cover Text|
|Flyer||Music Album Cover||Secret Coded Message||Propaganda||Bill|
|Note from Teacher||Fortune Cookie Message||WILD CARD||Postcard||Missed Call|
|Movie Poster||Advertisement||Sign||TV Show Blurb|
|Movie Review||Product Package Text||Blog Post||Graffiti||Newspaper Article|
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/743687.html. You can comment here or there.
Really, really nice weekend.
We went to a wine festival (yeah, again 😉 It’s the Finger Lakes) Saturday morning. “Winestock,” 45 minutes up the lake at Three Brothers Winery.
There were 15 wineries there – in addition to the three wineries and the brewery that mae up Three Brothers – and we stopped at Zugibie’s (right down the road) beforehand.
There was a lot of wine.
There was a lot of wine.
There was a LOT of wine.
rout (rout? Fourth.) table, everything tasted very, very good.
Then there was LARP, and .. sleep. Nice sleep. good LARP. And today I played with raised beds and with the garden. And cleaned house, and watched Supernatural.
It was pretty good wine.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/743452.html. You can comment here or there.
Chapter Two: Valran
“Kneel, Valran Trestor.”
He wasn’t expecting it. He should have been; after all, he’d been working on the Outer Ring for a year now, doing his time to earn this very right, to hear those very words.
And yet still, when they came, Valran was taken aback. He turned to stare at the thin, robed, woman. She was wearing high-circle silks and thin sandals; she didn’t belong out here on the Outer Circle wall.
“Kneel, Valran Trestor.”
Here? In front of the wall team, in front of criminals and the desperate, the hungry and the mad?
“I will not tell you three times. Are you Valran, born of Trestor?”
This was happening, here, now. This was real, and not a dream born of thirst and exhaustion.
Valran fell to his knees before the woman could walk away. “I am Valran, born of Trestor.”
“You have petitioned for service to the Ladder.”
“I have, yes.” She was lovely, but there was such an ice about her loveliness, an artifice to the slightly off-blue color of her skin and the tips of her pointed ears. She did nothing at all for Valran. But that had always been one of his problems.
“And you have served at the Outer Wall for one year and survived.”
“Yes, ma’am. I have done so.”
He could hear some of the wall crew sniggering. There were easier ways to climb the Ladder. There were less humiliating ways to move in from the Outer Circle, and Valran – born of Trestor, in the Seventh Ring – had moved out to get here, for the privilege of bending his knee to this icy, artificial woman.
“Your petition has been approved. You are to be accepted into service and presented at the next auction, tomorrow morning.” She coughed, a move as fake as everything else about her. Perhaps the smell of unwashed bodies offended her. “Should you accept, you will be prepared in that time for the event.”
“I am kneeling, aren’t I?”
Behind Valran, the crew had gone from sniggering to outright laughter.
“While you’re on your knees, why don’t you show her what you’re offering? I bet you could give her a nice free sample.”
“Forget about showing her, why not show us? We’re the ones that gotta work out here all day.”
“Awww, I don’t think she likes us. Look at her holding up her hem as if the dirt might be contagious. Come on, lady. We’re the ones making your precious inner circles safer.”
“Your work is appreciated, as it always is.” She used the same bored, crisp tone with the crew as she had with Valran.
“Aaww, if you’re going to appreciate us, why not come over and really give us some tasty appreciation? Sit and conversate a little, warm a spot of ground, share our lunch?”
Valran looked between the woman and the crew, then back. “I am kneeling to serve, lady.” So take the way out before they get cruder.
“You understand that the service, once you take it, is for ten years or until death? You understand that there is no backing out?”
“Once I have knelt, I kneel to the Ladder until I am freed. Yes.” Three rings out, ten in. He could kneel for that long.
“Then as proxy to the Council of New Indapala, I accept your bent knee and your petition.” She snapped the cord holding his ID chit. “Hold still.”
What else was there to do? Without the ID chit, he could go nowhere but out; not even the ninth circle would let him past their gates. “Ma’am.”
“It’s ix, actually, not ma’am. I’m told it’s harder to tell with those of us in the innermost circles.” She – ri – wrapped something around Valran’s neck.
“Rise, Valran Servus.”
The collar around his neck felt impossibly heavy. Valran stood, paying no heed at all to the jeers of the work crew. They no longer mattered at all to him.
“It will be interesting, to see who buys you.” The woman started walking, and Valran, having been given no other directive, followed her.
“You don’t look like the sort to take the collar. At least not this collar.” She didn’t bother to turn around, but Valran had to assume the inner-circler was speaking to him. There was nobody else visible, for one.
“Nobody looks like the type after a year on the Outer Ring, ix. They look like they are dirty, and tired, and hungry.”
“And muscular. You didn’t want to go the route of the Gladiator? You would draw good ticket sales, looking the way you do.”
“I didn’t look like this a year ago.” Valran stood up a bit straighter. “I looked like any pencil-pusher.”
“And you chose to work the Wall for a year, for the right to kneel for ten. That is some sort of devotion.” The words should have suggested surprise, or awe, or disgust, but they were flat, with no infliction at all. It was as if she had a script she didn’t really care about.
“I did what I needed to. I’m doing what I need to.” His reasons were his own. Other people on the Outer Circle had family, loved ones, a crazy business plan – some reasons they needed a leg up or a shortcut on the Ladder. Not Valran.
“Will it be enough to carry you through ten years?” Now the inner-circler turned to look at him. Blue-painted lips were pursed, and blue-lined eyes stared into him. “Will it be enough to keep you on your knees when everything inside of you is screaming at you to stand?”
“It will have to be. It is all I have.” He shrugged, unmoved by her stare.
“And, if in the end, you find yourself not in the circle you wanted? Will you go back and try again?”
A year on the Outer Circle – if he survived it, he could handle it, but the crew had a fifty percent fatality rate. Ten years of bended knee – possibly eleven, by then – that, he did not know.
“Will you come get me again, if I do?”
“I may. This is the rung of the Ladder I have settled on, after all.” A low bow accompanied the words, the sort that Valran thought was supposed to be ironic. “And there aren’t that many who do this job of mine.” The bow unfolded into a gesture, pointing towards the gate. “I’ve heard this is called ‘chutes and ladders’ in some circles, and I’ve played the ancient game. Will you step onto the chute, Valran Servus?”
There was a car waiting there at the end of the gesture. A car, long and sleek, paneled in tooled metal and driven by a short woman in a wide metal collar. Valran had only seen such things a handful of times in his life; they rarely left the inner circles.
“The chute.” He coughed, found his throat was still clogged, and coughed again. “Yes. I’ve knelt. I’ve taken the collar. Everything else is just a formality.”
“But such interesting formalities.” The inner-circler opened the door for him; peeking in, he could see that the back of the car was upholstered in silk like the robes his escort was wearing.
“I’ll get it dirty.”
“It’s warded against it. You’re not the first one we’ve picked up from the Outer Circle, of course.”
Valran coughed again. “Of course.” He slipped in, sitting gingerly on the soft fabric. “Why this? Why the car? It seems like a risk.”
“Of course it is.” His escort slipped in next to him and closed the door. The vehicle suddenly seemed much smaller with the three of them in there, trapped in with Valran’s work-stench. “But so is what you have done and what you are about to do. Forward, Bicla. Back home.”
“As you wish, ix.” The car started moving, slowly at first, with a series of jerky back-and-forths, and then more quickly.
“As I was saying, it is a risk. Anything we do is a risk. Ah, the first gate.”
Valran held his breath. This gate, he walked through every night; it led into the protected part of the city, the part that counted as New Indapala. It looked different, driving through it.
Everything looked different, through a window. The slums of the Tenth Circle looked dirtier, even, than in walking through them, the houses smaller. From here, you couldn’t see the ladders in the back courtyards, so everything looked very forbidding, even the Wall-worker common housing.
“It’s all so unfriendly.” The tone in his escort’s voice could have been an echo of Valran’s thoughts. “Just endless walls.”
He cleared his throat yet again. “The backs aren’t like that. There’s the gates between courtyards, and all the ladders, old mothers and fathers hanging out gossiping while they cook dinner. It’s just the street fronts.”
“Oh, I remember. But it’s been a lifetime.” The inner-circler graced Valran with a wry smile. “It wasn’t the Tenth Circle, then; it was the Eighth. And it was a bit deeper in, not the wall-worker houses, at least.”
“At least.” Valran’s mouth felt as if it was made of chalk and concrete. After a year on the Outer Circle, it probably was. “You…”
“Oh, come now. You know not all that many adults in the inner circles were born there. You cannot hold a whole name and never touch the outer rings.”
His escort was getting far too much amusement out of this. For that matter, so was the driver; Bicla, that was her name, right? Bicla was chuckling. At him. Valran’s ears were warm.
He settled on the only thing he was certain of. “I don’t know your name.”
“Oh, but you do. Unless you’re illiterate, of course, but you signed the papers with a name and not an X, and Seventh Circle hasn’t been the outer ring for quite some time.”
“You enjoy this, don’t you, ix?” Anger was a good thing. He could hold on to that.
“I enjoy everything about my position. But haven’t you guessed, yet?”
“I didn’t know I was required to. Ix.”
Bicla chuckled again, which didn’t help matters. And the inner circle… oh.
His fists clenched. “You.”
“There. I knew you’d get it.” The Second Circle Deputy Oligarch patted Valran’s leg. “I do enjoy my job.”
If we reach $20/month in Patreon or $30 in donations in Paypal – or a combination therof – I will post a second chapter this week, on Sunday.
If we reach $40/month in Patreon or $45 in paypal donations – again, or a combination – readers will be able to choose between an outtake or meta/demifiction now or an epilogue chapter at the end.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/743396.html. You can comment here or there.
“Still here.” Sedge was still smiling, even if he was complaining.
“I know. But we’re leaving.” Niobe gave Blaecleah’s hand another squeeze. “Come on, kiddo.”
“Probably not the best nickname, sorry. Come on, Blaecleah.”
“Later, Sedge. You’ve given me something to think about, and so right now, I’m going to think about this lovely gift.” She moved from an amble to a swift walk; Blaecleah had no trouble keeping up, at least.
“Where are we… oh. Your room, right?” He swallowed. “Can I talk?”
“You’re talking, aren’t you?”
“Um, yeah, but you didn’t say I could.”
“More importantly at the moment, I didn’t say you couldn’t. Yes. Yes, you can talk. And yes, we’re going to my room.”
“Thanks. I – I’ve never done this before.”
“I’d be surprised if you had. You can’t be Kept before you’re an adult, except here, and here is… weird.”
“Here is weird.” That was something they could agree on, that was for sure.
She paused – halfway down the stairs. Blaecleah stumbled but managed to catch himself before he jerked on her arm. “Why did you agree to the collar, Blaecleah?”
He swallowed. “It was kind of dumb.”
“I’m not saying it wasn’t. But why?”
“He said I was soft. That I wouldn’t survive here.”
“Aah.” She started walking again. “That makes sense.”
“It does?” He hurried to catch up, feeling the way she was holding his hand like a leash – oh, dead gods, leashes…
“I’d have done the same thing. Pride gets people into messes sense would never allow – and now I’m quoting one of my mothers, look what you’ve done.”
“I’m, ah, sorry?” He coughed. One of my mothers? Damn, he didn’t have any, and she had more than one?
“Don’t be. I mean.” She stopped again. At least this time they were on a level surface. “That wasn’t an order.”
“Hunh? Oh. Oh! Can you… can you do that?”
“Yeah. She closed her eyes for a minute. “I can do almost anything I want to you, kid, and the almost is because we’re here.”
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/742949.html. You can comment here or there.
This is an ongoing Tír na Cali/Leverage fanfiction crossover.
Fade in from commercial. Lady Anastasia has Alec Hardison pinned to the floor, one hand pointing a gun at his chest. Her eyes, however, are on Sophie and Parker.
“You really are a family, aren’t you?”
The two women – and Alec – look to Nate. He clears his throat, and steps forward, commanding Ana’s attention. “We’re a team,” he begins. “We started out as a bunch of professional criminals. The longer we worked together, the more of a team we became.”
“You came here to extract your teammate.” There’s no question at all in her voice. Still on his knees, Eliot rolls his shoulders. “People just don’t get free from a Californian slave collar.”
“We came to steal us an Eliot.” Nate nods, his fingers steepled. “And you caught us out. So the ball is, ah, in your court, Lady Anastasia. What would you have us do?”
“She can’t…” Eliot closes his mouth. Parker stares at him, but the rest of the team appears to be ignoring his presence.
“Whatever we’re doing, can it involve letting me up. Please?” Hardison hasn’t really moved, but he flaps his hands in the direction of Ana.
That, of course, brings her attention back to him. “You pointed a gun at me.”
“And now you’re pointing a gun at me. Can we call it even?”
“What did I tell you about guns?” Eliot’s grumble sounds almost like himself.
“I know, I know, but freaky Californian lady has my friend, what do you want me to do?”
Sophie fields that question, with a much-put out sigh for emphasis. “Ask nicely, Hardison. She seems like a nice, reasonable Lady, doesn’t she?”
“She’s pointing a gun at me.”
“People have tried to kill her before.” Eliot finds his way to his feet. “Hardison isn’t a killer. He barely knows how to use the thing.” His Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. “Please…”
“Ana.” Lorcan’s voice drops half an octave, and he holds his hands very carefully in front of him. “I swear to you by the Goddess and the Consort that these people are not here to hurt you.”
Ana sits back on her heels. The gun vanishes into the waistband of her pants, and her hands fold on her lap; she is still sitting on Hardison’s legs, but her eyes are on Eliot. “They want their friend back.”
This time, her voice cracks. Her eyes close for a moment, and it is her turn to swallow hard. “Alessia…”
Lorcan blinks. He opens his mouth, closes it, and then nods. “I think I have a plan…”
Cut to commercial.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/742483.html. You can comment here or there.
Leaves in this Tree
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A Different Sort of Prompt Request
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This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/742384.html. You can comment here or there.