Dysmas’ jaw was broken, a shattered mess of pain. And his ankles were itching with the particular irritation that suggested hawthorn. He was blindfolded, his hands bound, and he was stuck – well, he didn’t know where he was stuck, but the chains tethering his ankles had very little give.
He wondered how Leofric had caught him – or if the dumb cy’Luca even had bothered looking for actual offenses. Either way, he’d been ready for Dysmas. The blindfold, the broken jaw… the kid might not have even been able to handle being Kept for a year, but Luke’s lessons must have done some good.
And now – now what? Dysmas squirmed. He couldn’t get out of the bindings, couldn’t Work anything. He tried to speak, only to find that he couldn’t even properly shape a Word soundlessly right now.
He had been in jails before. He had been bound in hawthorn before, tied up and gagged before. He’d even been blindfolded a couple times.
Dysmas could not remember a time before this that he had been frightened.
Certainly, when the gods had returned and the world had come crashing down, he’d been a little worried. When his first Hell Night had triggered his Change, when Delaney had been having a particularly bad day – then he’d been concerned.
He hadn’t thought about being under Delaney’s collar in decades. The hunger, the constant, gnawing hunger – even now, it made his stomach twist.
“She Kept me,” he’d said to Cynara. “Like I Kept Rowan, and Nydia, and you. It’s the way things happened.”
A broken fang dug into the side of his mouth, and Dysmas found himself wondering why it was so important to her.
He had no sense of the passage of time, only washes of pain and the gnawing of hunger he shouldn’t be feeling yet, not this soon after feeding. He found himself thinking about Cynara and Leofric. About the way they’d looked at each other; about they way they’d both looked at him.
“You tricked me into a collar you could have gotten on me willingly.”
Cynara had looked at him with complete and utter devotion. Of course she had. Nydia had, too. Rowan – Rowan had fought him the whole year. After that, he’d gotten smarter with his tactics. But Cynara… Cynara had adored Leofric, right from the start, the dumb piece of cy’Luca. She’d obeyed Dysmas, she’d been devoted to him, but he’d never been able to elicit that look in her eyes, the one she lavished on Leofric without the dumb lug ever noticing.
And now they had a city. Boom had a city, and Boom was them. How in hell had those useless, weepy rags of first-year kids become part of one of the most infamous crews in the post-war era? When Dysmas had heard of Boom, he’d made note of their major locations and stayed far clear. Nobody had told him the “explosion waiting to happen” had built a city.
The door opened. Dysmas looked up, despite the blindfold. Appearance was 9/10 of the show, after all.
“Well.” Somehow, she sounded older. She still sounded like Cynara, but she sounded… more dangerous. More cy’Drake. ”That took longer than expected. “
A chair scraped across the cement floor. He could feel her presence, just out of reach.
“I’m going to heal your jaw enough for you to speak. Understand this. If you begin a Working, any Working, you will die before you can get out more than Tem. This is my city, Dysmas, and I will not tolerate one iota more bullshit from you.”
Dysmas’s arm twitched as he tried to lift a hand to rub his jaw. The bindings stopped him — probably a good thing, considering what rubbing his jaw would do to him right now. He nodded, enough to show he understood.
It was probably the pain or the blindfold or the hawthorn, but Dysmas found himself wondering if he did understand. Would she really kill him? Cynara, who had stared at him so dotingly?
No. But he had no idea about sa’Doomsday.
Her hand lingered on the broken mess of his jaw. Pain shot through him where every finger settled; she had found exactly where his broken fang was digging into him, and was pressing into it with the pad of her finger.
“These have never been remotely my strongest Words. But I can heal you enough to allow speech.” She murmured the Working. Her fingers seemed to heat up. The pain seemed only to increase.
Not her strongest Words. Dysmas wondered what her words were at all. She’d been his Kept when she’d been tested… no, he’d asked, but told her not to use them on him and then forgotten all about it.
“There.” The pain seemed less, as if his jaw was half-healed. ”I’d be careful if I were you. But you should be able to talk.”
“Thank you.” His words sounded like mush, and something still hurt, somewhere about where Leofric’s fist had landed. But he could make words. ”I-”
“Don’t.” He had never heard her be so short, sound so angry. ”This isn’t for you. None of this has been for you.”
He couldn’t see her, couldn’t make a guess at her expression or her body language, and he couldn’t exactly do anything with his own. He nodded his head, the best he could do.
“Look. You know your broke our laws and I’m betting you don’t care. The thing is, I do. And I care more, Dysmas, because it’s you. Because you’re my fault.”
She paused. Dysmas didn’t presume to interrupt. ”You’re here because I wanted to know.” She hesitated, and for the first time, Dysmas got the feeling someone else was in the room with them. ”I wanted to know if you could see, given the opportunity.”
Dysmas ran through his Words in his head and, rather more cautiously than he’d spoken in decades, asked, “see?” At the moment, he couldn’t see anything.
“Luke…” Another pause, and this time Dysmas was sure he heard someone shifting. ”He had a hard time seeing who we were now. And I figured, when you showed up at the gate, that you were a pretty good test case. If you could see me, then… well.”
Who we were now. He wanted to say something. His jaw and the implicit threat limited his options. He cleared his throat.
She laughed. It wasn’t a pleasant sound, or an amused one. ”Eriko — sorry — Eriko said I was insane. I think that’s the closest anyone from there, anyone who wasn’t Leo and sometimes Howard and Zita, has really seen me. But you probably don’t remember them. Howard and Zita, I mean.”
He remembered a tiny terror full of venomous teeth and a large bull who’d tamed Magnolia. He cleared his throat. ”Leo’s always seen you.” No wonder Eriko’d had so much trouble with Leo.
There was another pause. ”Yes. Maybe I should have broken your jaw when you showed up. It seems to make you much more attentive.”
“The threat of death will do that, too.” He aimed his blindfolded eyes where he was fairly certain she was. ”What happens now?”
“Can you swear to honesty and tell me you’re sorry you broke the law? It’s the question,” she added, and he was fairly certain that part wasn’t to him. ”It’s a question I need to ask.”
“…No, no I can’t.” It grated on him to admit it, but she’d left him no easy out. She’d been cy’Drake, too.
“Then you leave. You get twenty-four hours to pack up your belongings, and then you leave Cloverleaf and never return. And I would suggest being highly grateful that we don’t kill you.”
“How do you know I won’t come back with an army?” It was a stupid question, but he was certain that leaving him alive was a choice, and it was not one he understood.
This time, when she laughed, she was amused. Laughing at him, and it grated. ”An army? This is my city Dysmas, it’s built by Boom and run by Boom. I don’t fear any army you could round up. Not one bit.”
Dysmas cleared his throat uncomfortably. He should just leave. Take the out. There was a lot of world out there, and most of it would never even notice he’d used mind control, much less break his jaw for it. “You can’t just kick me out.”
“Dictator, remember? Technically, constitutional monarch, president-for-life with an elected council, but it comes down to the same thing.” She clucked softly. “You don’t seem to understand, Dysmas. This is my city. I built it.”
“You can’t have built it all by yourself. That’s insane.”
“Oh, no.” She was chuckling now. Dysmas didn’t know whether to be worried or not. “Maihallr helped me.”
“Our daughter.” She was laughing now. “She was five at the time, I believe.”
Our daughter. No wonder Leofric had broken his jaw. Dysmas swallowed. “It’s your city.” He wondered if Eriko had been right. Was Cynara insane? “I’ll leave.”
“Yes, you will. Your word on it, Dysams, that you will have left my city within twenty-four hours and that you will refrain from any mind-control and from emotion-controlling Workings in that time period.”
He had options, but none of them were comfortable. “I so swear,” it hurt more and more to talk, so he kept it short. “I will leave Cloverleaf within twenty-four hours. In that time period, I will use no mind control, nor will I use emotion-controlling Workings.”
“Very good.” She stood up; he could hear the chair scrape. “I hope I never see you again, Dymas. This was very educational, thank you.”
There was nothing to say to that, so he chose to remain silent. The door shutting behind him sounded far too final.
A guard released him, and a guard – three guards – escorted him to his apartment to gather his belongings. Within two hours, Dysmas found himself staring at the outside of Cloverleaf’s walls.
He’d been in worse situations, although possibly no more humbling ones. He rubbed his sore jaw carefully and started walking. The sun would be unpleasant, but he had a parasol. The walking would not be fun, but twenty-two hours from now, he could find a ride somewhere pleasant.
The road was dusty and long, not too busy this time of day but clearly well-travelled. Dysmas passed a few wagons; none of them gave him a second glance.
His feet were sore and he had found new worlds of pain in his back and his jaw by the time he was an hour outside of Cloverleaf. He could still see the tower, jabbing into the sky like a giant middle finger. Had Cynara done that on purpose?
He was beginning to think she did everything on purpose.
“Pardon me.” He had not heard an accent like that in many years, thick with Slavic sounds. He turned away from the tower to see who was talking to him.
A chill ran through him, although he could not say why. The figure was hooded, their face shadowed, their body – a tall body, well over six feet – completely encompassed by the folds of cloth. They were, Dysmas could assume, bowing their head to speak to him.
“Yes?” He was not at his most charming at the moment.
“Might you know the way to… Cloverleaf?”
Dysmas suppressed a laugh. “Just go towards the tower. Just… go that way. You can’t miss it.”
His feet seemed to hurt less and his pack seemed less heavy as he continued on, away from Cloverleaf and away from Cynara.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/947382.html. You can comment here or there.
I have too many for-fun projects floating around, and it’s clogging up my focus!
Which of these would you prefer I focus on?
(if you do not have a DW account, pls. feel free to vote in the comments)
(“whichever you want” is not a helpful answer in this case :-P)
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Dean Storm (Kailani)
Tempest, her granddaughter and a doctor
Petra, daughter of Taro, the Dean’s bodyguard.
Kavan Pensus (seems to teach martial arts; male)
Houses: possibly by this comment – http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/725782.html?thread=2700566#cmt2700566
Motto: “We Learn so that we might improve.”
“To learn, ergo, to improve.”
I think AG east has 2 teachers teaching remedial, "hard" and "soft." Contemplating it being Mabina-and-Cassidy. or their kid(s)
— Lyn Troubled Regions (@lynthornealder) May 29, 2015
So, Addergoole East, I think, has more teachers than the other two schools. A lot more specialized classes. "PostEnd History/Anthropology."
— Lyn Troubled Regions (@lynthornealder) May 29, 2015
Professor Heron (name pending)
5 ft. 8 in. tall., slim athletic build, mid back tight curls black hair.
bluegrey eyes, ebony skin.
waterbird related Change; Significant physical Changes include hands and/or feet
Innate ability can transform furnishings in some way.
She teaches Transfiguration?
She teaches applied mathmatics and was a friend of Reid Solomon’s. While she had no interest in the original program, she liked the idea of teaching fae children.
Her best words are Yaku and eperu.
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Yesterday I planted kale!
Tonight, I’m going to plant kohlrabi!
Left on my list of brassicae to buy: mustard (for seed, I don’t like eating bitter greens <.<) and broccoli.
And I’m going to plant some turnips (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa)…
The list so far:
Horseradish, daikon radish, turnip (Brassicaceae family)
Cauliflower in three colors
Any I’m missing? 😀
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/946534.html. You can comment here or there.
So, when we (I) talk about the proto-Calenyena (lit, people of the Calentata, from Bitrani/Tabersi Shalenti, rulership-by-lay-priest, see Caliphate.), I’m talking about the Rinzyanena, (lit, “People of Rinzyant,” “People-of-this-place”).
In turn, the Rinzyanena were formed from three-plus tribes of nomadic goat-herders who were trapped by a series of earthquakes in a lush southern valley. Although the tribes spent quite a bit of time warring, they spent their downtime talking with each other and intermarrying, to the point where they were eventually one people.
Fashion: the tribes who became the Rinzyanena (whose names are lost to history) wore four primary garments: a tightly fitted vest and very short pants or hip-wrap of brightly colored felted goat wool, and chaps and a long split jacket of the same. They had narrow woven wool fabric at this time, similar to tablet weaving. And most of their garments were heavily embroidered, since embroidery is a very portable craft.
It was not until they settled into a more agricultural lifestyle in Rinzyant Valley that they discovered a flax-like plant and began weaving fabric wide enough for garments; the first woven garment commonly in use was a sleeveless tunic, essentially a rectangle with a neck-hole and side seams, which went under the vest.
It was here that the use of the side-buttoning on the vest first began: they had recently created metal buttons. A tribal chief, wishing to be obviously visible in battle, had run a line of buttons very close together on right right side of his vest (he was left-handed). Soon, right-buttoning was a thing for chiefs and others they determined worthy, because a chief had first done it.
That’s all I have for today! Next tricky bit: the Rinzyanena meet the other two major nations on this continent.
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It struck Dysmas as strange, the way Cloverleaf seemed to talk about Cynara.
For one thing, they talked about her. Not in hushed tones, not truly in reverent tones. They gossipped. If the town had boasted the equivalent of the Daily Mail (It did, but he hadn’t discovered it yet), they would have been posting pictures of Cya with her latest Kept, a skinny blonde boy with outrageous horns. As it was, they just talked about all of those things. Over coffee. Over transactions. Over work. She was a celebrity.
The person they were talking about, Dysmas decided, was some sort of myth. Like Brittany Spears or Princess Diana, back before the world had ended. They’d built up their stories about her.
“Well, I’m sure she can take on the bandits again. She built the city with her bare hands,” one shopkeeper huffed at another. “A couple skinny starving bandits aren’t going to be a problem.”
And “I hope there’s a space open in Doomsday Academy when my James is old enough. I know there’s the local schools, but Doomsday has the best education.”
Dysmas wondered if they knew they were putting all their faith on a lie. He wondered what they would think about the Cynara he knew.
He looked down at his current dinner, still lost in the mind-control trance they’d taken great pains to tell him was illegal. This idiot had been talking about Cynara making some threat go away by talking to it. She wouldn’t miss the half-hour he’d taken at all.
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“Misery is a privilege.” Her jail-keeper – her Mentor and teacher – dropped a heel of stale bread through the slit in the door. It was followed quickly by a very small tureen of what would probably be equally-stale water, and a very thin slice of sausage.
Cha didn’t answer this time. She had tried answering last time, and the meat had gone away. She sat, the way she had been instructed, head pressed to her knees, and accepted her instruction.
“Misery tells you several things. It tells you that you are still alive, first and foremost. It tells you what you want. And, like pain, it tells you what is wrong.
“So tell me, Charla, what is it you want?”
Cha didn’t look up. She had not been instructed to look up. “Ma’am?”
“It is a simple question… but it isn’t, is it? The first thing that comes to your mind will do for now.”
A second slice of meat slipped through the door slot. “Well, then, Charla, I think you better figure out how to find it. It’s time to start learning, dear.”
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After Kith & Kin
“There are ten,” Caitrin told Regine. “Ten of them, and as far as I can tell they’re genetically identical. You can’t bring them in all at once; it would be half a class. But if they Change early…”
Regine had considered the problem for a moment. “We’ll start them early, and bring them in two at a time. That should give them time to adjust to their clone siblings.”
“At least one more.” Trijntje walked into the suite she shared with Kat and two non-clones. The non-clones — Aria and Mariah — were nowhere to be seen, common for when they had sister-company over. “She looks like she belongs to one of the superreligious cults, that’ll be fun.”
Caileigh coughed quietly. She was the one of the two fourth-year sister-clones this year, and had always been the shyest of them. “Maybe, ah, maybe I should talk to her? It can be hard, coming here, if you grew up in a Simple place.”
Only Caileigh could capitalize Simple with her voice. She capitalized a lot of words; Trijntje couldn’t imagine what she’d been like when she first showed up. “You’re in charge this year. You and Ríona.” She nodded her head at the other older-sister-clone. “She’s pretty obvious, I mean, she’s wearing one of those smock-dress things.” Her hands trailed over her tight shirt, indicating the baggy pleated-front of the new clone-sister’s dress. “And a bonnet. And also, she might be fainting.”
“Three!” Ríona glared disapprovingly at Trijntje. “You didn’t let yourself get seen, did you?”
“Well, a little, yeah.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m new at this, remember? Last year, I was the new girl.
“Besides,” she added, in a mutter she knew her sister-clones would hear, “I wanted to see if she recognized me.”
Echoing silence pounded at Trijntje from all three of her sister-clones. She turned away and stared resolutely at the wall. How had she ended up the freak, when they were all, technically, the same person?
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first: A Door in the Wall
Peter insisted on leading the way, of course. “I wish I had my sword.”
“Fat lot of good it would do you, climbing through a tunnel,” Edmund scoffed. The tunnel – for indeed the door opened into a tunnel, planked in wood and about hip-high on Peter, who was still the tallest of them. “Do you remember that time—”
“Hsst.” It was all three of them at once shushing him. Edmund colored but closed his mouth; he knew as well as they all did that one did not speak of Narnia where grown-ups might be listening. And in this place, with tunnels in the walls, who knew who might be listening?
“I’ll go second, then,” Edmund allowed, with poor grace but at least a little common sense. “Lu, you bring up the rear. And remember—”
“Of course, Edmund.” Lucy sighed loudly. “I shan’t close the door all the way behind me.”
“Lu, there’s no need to be like that.” Peter dropped down to his knees and clambered into the tunnel. “Edmund, do you have a torch?”
“I have two.” Edmund pursed his lips and then, making some sort of decision, passed one of his torches to Lucy. “Hold up, Peter, don’t go without us.” He hurried through the doorway.
Susan followed behind him, glad she had chosen to wear trousers. She could hear Lucy behind her and see the beam of the torch, although the tunnel was far less dark than one would suppose.
“It seems to go on a long time,” Peter called back. “It made a right turn, but it’s still going. Shouldn’t there be a wall here?”
Susan came to the right turn. The wood was very smooth under her hands and knees, and chilly, more like stone than wood. “I wonder what they built it for?”
“Maybe,” Lucy’s voice seemed to light up, “they were smuggling weapons. Or perhaps people. You could sleep in here all right, and if you turned the corner, even if someone found the doorway, they wouldn’t see you right away.”
It was on the tip of Susan’s tongue to say Honestly, Lucy or just Oh, Lu, the way she’d done so many times recently. But something about the tunnel made her remember another passage that had gone on a very long time, and she found something kinder to say instead.
“Perhaps they liked mysteries. I do wonder what’s above this space, though.”
It felt pleasant to be nice to Lucy. Things had been so ragged between them lately, especially since Lu and Edmund’s last visit to Narnia. Susan couldn’t remember the last time she’d giggled with her sister, the way they had when they were younger, especially when the boys were being gits.
“I think I… oh. I think I found something. Hurry up, Edmund.” Peter’s voice sounded strange, far-away and strained. Susan bit her lip. He’d sounded like that once when a Calormene archer caught him badly in the gut with a nasty, barbed arrow. Had he found some sort of rat-trap or other awful thing? Had he-
“Oh, girls, hurry up!” Edmund’s voice was all excitement. “You’ve got to see this!”
Susan’s worry flooded away, and in the space it had left, she found herself scolding. “Edmund, do hush. You don’t want them all to know we’re crawling around in here, do you?”
“I don’t think that’s a problem, Susan. Come on!”
Something in his voice spurred her on; his voice, and something in the air. She could feel a breeze, a breeze with a touch of spring seeming to waft in on it. “Oh, Lu,” she murmured. Her heart was pounding and she was moving along the passage as quickly as she could.
And then all of a sudden there was no more passage, and her vision was obscured by bright sunlight. Peter offered her both hands; it had to be Peter, because nobody else had those ridiculous sword-callouses he thought nobody would notice.
“Are we—” Her throat was tight.
“I don’t think so.” Her brother sounded apologetic, not at all as if they had just come through a secret passage into the sunlight. “Here. Look around, tell me what you think.”
That was something new since they had returned from Narnia.
Peter had not previously been all that interested in Susan’s opinion on matters outside the house or their siblings, but, as if he’d gotten used to the idea while they’d all been reigning Kings and Queens, now he tended to look for ideas outside himself.
Susan looked around. Behind them was dense forest, dark and heavy. She could see, very vaguely, the tunnel they had come through; Lucy was climbing out of it now. To their right, hills rose up into mountains in the distance, and to their left, there was more forest.
The forest behind them gave off a sensation of watching, at the same time similar to and entirely different from the talking trees of Narnia.
“This is no place I have ever stood nor rode in Narnia, nor in any other land in that realm.” She found herself putting on what she thought of as her Queen Susan voice and what the girls in school had taken to calling her Snotty and Full of Herself voice. “It is – it’s not Narnia. I don’t think it could be.”
“Then where is it? Where could we possibly be, if not Narnia?” Lucy was looking around desperately. She wore a sad smile on her face, one that was at once desperate and eager. “It could have changed, Susan, you know that time passes so fast sometimes in Narnia.”
Susan closed her eyes, feeling a breeze on her face that had never touched Aslan’s mane. “It could have, Lu,” she agreed slowly. Aslan had told them all that Narnia was closed to them. They had gotten to old. “Or… we could have a brand new adventure, the four of us.”
::We are hoping that you might::
Susan knew that she was not the only one that jumped. The voice – the voice had appeared in their heads, rather than taking the normal route through the ears. She had been so certain they were alone in their little clearing. Had she become so lax with city living that she had not noticed someone sneaking up on them?
Her first glance around showed no-one. She slowly lowered her hand from her shoulder, where her quiver ought to have been, and saw Peter’s hand drop from his hip, where his sword would have ridden.
Edmund, however, was staring at… she hadn’t thought to look down; how long had it been since she had been in Narnia? Down, where the mouse could already be stabbing you…
And a very tall cat – very likely a Cat – was sitting there, very peaceably. It reminded Susan of a Siamese cat, with its pointed face and very tall ears. Those ears were rust-colored, as was its muzzle and paws, giving the impression of a white cat who’d gotten itself a bit dirty.
::Harrumph. I have not been playing in any old armories, thank you very much:: The Cat’s lips did not move, but the cant of its ears assured Susan that it, indeed, was doing the talking. ::Welcome to Valdemar, children. It was thought that you could help us here and, in doing so, perhaps you could find the help that you needed as well.::
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