Archive | October 2016

Stay Up Till Nano With Me: Mini Prompt Call~

I’m looking for a few prompts on my new ‘verse, Arlend.

It’s a small nation in a cold place at least 4 generations post-apocalypse.

The nation is totalitarian, the government is military, and the magic is spirit-based.

If THAT ‘verse doesn’t interest you, there’s also 4th Husband, the sub-verse Beekeper is in, and Aerax (The Expectant Wood) up for grabs.

And, because the goal of this is kickstarting my writing for the evening, please leave your prompts in the form of:

9 is for… [prompt]

10 is for…

11 is for…

Midnight is for….

I dunno, it’s new. You guys are creative, come up with something.

(and for tomorrow-Friday:
1, 2, 3, 4 are for…)

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Worldbuilding for Preptober… Laws and Rules

First, a link:

I found this quite interesting, and actually useful in working on the cast for my Nano project.

Now, a completely different topic: Rules, laws, and Taboo, or You Can’t Do That on Television (for a totally outdated pop-culture reference).

This comes down to some pretty basic questions:

* what are important rules in your society/country/world?

* how are they (are they?) enforced?

* how are they codified?

* how are transgressions punished?

Rules themselves divide up further: social mores, institutional rules, laws, natural laws*.

And, of course, you don’t have to figure them all out, but it might help to consider where your characters are going to be and what level of freedom they will have:

* do people of your protagonist’s age and gender wander freely? If not, what restrictions are on their movement?

* What about speech? To what level is free expression censured?

* Physical contact? Is it okay for a woman to touch an unmarried man? If not, why not?

These may be simply unwritten rules – good girls or boys just “don’t do” certain things, and to do so risks shunning or social disgrace. They may be laws, with commensurate punishments. They could be natural laws*, incapable of being broken.

For instance: In 4th Husband, unmarried men do not speak to women outside of their families. This is a social more, and their sisters and mothers will enforce it, often with “grounding” or spankings.

In Edally/Reiassan, casual touch between strangers is taboo. Again, a social more, one that tends to be self-enforced.

However, in Fae Apoc, if a fae has made a promise, they are bound by it. They cannot break that promise without risking their own mind shattering, and many people are not strong enough to even attempt it.

What about your worlds? What things just Don’t Happen? Contrariwise, what things Must Happen?

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Amrit and Mieve Share a Little – a continuation, once again belated, of BeeKeeper.

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit & Mieve have a quiet evening .

Fae Apoc, approx. now.

Content Warnings: This setting, although not this ficlet, contains rape, mind control, and dubious consent situations.

This particular story contains kidnapping and slavery, bondage, violence, and will eventually contain Stockholm Syndrome.


Her captive — Amrit, his name was Amrit, and how her fingers were itching to get to her dictionaries and her baby name books, to see what that name could hold in store for her — Amrit was quiet now, looking rather thoughtful.

Mieve was not stupid. She didn’t think this was more the the calm before the storm, but she had had too many storms in the last few months. She’d take any calm she could get.

“The first one was a bit of an accident,” she offered after a while. “After school, I didn’t think I’d ever Keep someone again. I didn’t really mean to. But I recognized him — he’d been at school with me, four years after me — and I, I don’t know, I felt like I had to get him out of there. I couldn’t leave someone I knew in the slave market.”

“You went to a school with other fae?” He worked his mouth again, like he was feeling at the edges where the gag had rubbed. She wondered if he knew she’d noticed how fast he healed, now that the poison of the hawthorn was getting out of his system.

“I did. A boarding school for Ellehemaei. It — well, like your Mentor, ours set us up with practice Keepings. But ours weren’t just for a month. The school year, usually.”

“Sounds like a hell of a school.”

“Well… It taught me enough that I’m still here. I found this place when I was running, and for the first two years I just kept waiting for the owners to find it. I guess they never made it out.” She was still both sad and relieved about that. “But I had to stay alive long enough to get here. And then, once I was here…”

He nodded. “Lots of people died, yeah? Couldn’t hack it, couldn’t figure it out.” He shrugged jerkily. “I probably wouldn’t’ve, but I’m tough.”

“I’ve noticed. And then, what? The slavers…?”

His face tightened. “Yeah. Caught me in my sleep, fuckers. And then you bought me.” He tugged on the chain. “And here I am. Chopping firewood.”

“The pie’s ready. Can you smell it?”

He sniffed the air, caught off-guard. “Yeah. Yeah, it smells good.” He leaned forward in his chair. “You’re really gonna give me some?”

“I’m not going to offer you something and then take it away.” She was a little offended, and then a little amused at herself for being offended.

“Don’t see why not.” The more he talked, the younger he seemed. She wondered if he’d even been Changed when the world had ended. “Lots of people do.”

“That’s not who I want to be.” She unlocked his chain. “Come on.”

“It’s gonna get pretty tiresome, leading me around on a leash all the time.”

“Oh, it will. I imagine it will get pretty boring being led around on that leash, too. Give me your word not to run away?”

“Yeah, right. Leashes can break.” He sneered it at her, even as he was moving placidly enough to the table. “Promises can’t. I’m not stupid.”

“No, I don’t think you are. And you don’t trust me to release you from your oath, and you don’t want to put a time limit on it.”

“I don’t want to be here. Pie or not.” He flopped down angrily in his chair. “I got kidnapped, wrapped up in chains, and sold. That does not make me cooperative.”

Mieve held up her hands, even as her TK locked his tether to the bolt in the floor. “I know, I know. I’d be cranky, too. I was cranky, when it was my time. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to explore the options that don’t lead to you being on a leash the whole time you’re here.”

“Why?” He glared at the pie as she floated it to the table.

“Because it’s a pain in the ass.” It wasn’t good for him, either, but she wasn’t in the mood to have that scoffed at. “For both of us. That, the gag… not being able to trust you with Workings…”

“See? You don’t trust me either!”

“And I have you living in my house, in my hidden sanctuary.” She dished out two generous slices of pie and passed him a fork.

“Hey, you brought me here.”

“I did.” She was going to leave that slave-master with pants so full of bees he’d never be able to walk again. Maybe he was allergic. Maybe it would kill him. “And now we’re both stuck with it.”

“Just let me go, then.”

“No.” She glared at him. “Honey is worth a lot these days, and I spent a lot of honey on you. Besides, you’re not even all the way healed up.”

“Suddenly you care about my welfare,” he sneered.

Mieve sighed. She was going to have face the possibility “Eat your pie. I want to go to bed.”

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Worldbuilding for Preptober… Working out an Antagonist

First, a link – How To Vividly Describe a Setting That You’ve Never Visited:

Okay, I have my character dressed (or I will as soon as I figure it out); I know where she starts out the story (with her mother, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandmother, nieces, and nephews), what sort of schooling (loosely) she’s had, and what sort of technology the world has. I know it’s a totalitarian govern without the technological control to be as invasive as it could be. I know it’s a poor nation, with far too much of its resources going towards war.

…Crap, I need a bad guy.

My preferred sort of antagonist, as many of you have noticed over the years, is the Setting Is the Problem: Tír na Cali, Addergoole, Unicorn/Factory, probably Things Unspoken. I mean, in The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper, the main antagonist, technically, is a collar.

I should probably branch out a bit.

And yet, because I decided I was using some parody twitter accounts as the launching point for this series/world, I have a dystopian world. I have an oppressive government, in part because I wanted to play with some elements from some of the best-known dystopian worlds. Also, the idea of having the protagonist be “Chosen” reminded me of some real-world totalitarian governments, so…

The world itself is creating problems for my protagonist. She doesn’t want to be Disappeared. She doesn’t want to live the life the government has picked out for her. Yes, I’m running on tropes for that part; that’s the whole idea of the series. 🙂

But the world doesn’t actually act on its own.

For instance, in Addergoole, there’s a lot of elements that are setting-creating-problems, but some of those were caused by the gods – they could make some awesome antagonists for something a bit more high-powered… – right, back on track. There are elements which relate to the school, but those are caused by students (Ardell, for instance, Baram, Rozen) or by the staff – especially Regine, who created this little corner of hell intentionally and caused it to be as bad as it is through a combination of mindful goals and failure to understand certain parts of human nature. In Tír na Cali, slavery is part of the world, but the abuses of such are caused by specific people and institutions.

Bear with me; I’m talking through this as I go.

Cal got me thinking the other day about antagonists being people – okay, yeah, it’s a little late for that – but with mutually exclusive goals to the protagonist. So I’m going to think about that for a bit.
If your protagonist wants to overthrow the government, why does their antagonist want to keep the government intact?

If your protagonist doesn’t want to be Disappeared, why does the antagonist want to Disappear her?

My protagonist wants to make her own choices about her life. She wants to find a niche that makes her happy.

The government wants to make her choices for her, based on her skillset. This is supposed to also make her happy; indeed, a lot is put into propaganda about how being properly chosen for your ideal job should make you thrilled. “A well-placed nation is a happy nation.”

The agents of the government going against her plans will be working within the government’s goals (stability of the nation, success and victory in war, the power remaining in the hands of the powerful). (Note that these are the goals of people, too; government does not have its own thoughts or plans…)
(That would be a good idea for a novel, although Person of Interest might have covered some of that…)


Government doesn’t have its own thoughts or plans. That’s all people.

There’s a person in charge of the military/government. Are they good? Evil? Neutral? Okay, that’s not very nuanced. What are their goals?

There’s a person who acts out the will of the military on my protag. What about them? Do they enjoy being mean, or are they pressed by orders? By the will of the greater good?

And then there’s the antagonist for the book: someone in the government, acting out the government’s will while also having their own agenda.

I keep picturing him as President Snow. I’ve really got to work on that. I mean, I don’t even know he’s a he.

The theme of the novel is recruited. It’s even the title. Thus, it would help if the antagonist had something to do with recruiting.

So: Avo had skills that will allow the Governor to achieve their goals. They have been relegated to the back-office job of teaching/monitoring upstarts, abnormals, and rebels because they were themselves an upstart of some kind. They might have a bit of a superiority complex, and they definitely want to get out of running the School for Misfits and climb to what they think is their true position.

If Avo (protagonist) is cautious of the propaganda and learning how many layers deep it has gone, Governor both believes in it whole-heartedly and uses it to their own means.

How does the Governor want to use Avo’s skills to achieve their own means? How will that go against Avo’s goals and wishes?

I still have a lot of work to do on this!

What about you? What do you know about your antagonists? What are their goals, and how to those goals put them at odds with the protagonist(s)?

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Thimbleful Thursday: Musical

In Tyeibon, at the height of the body-modification craze, they did not call it hourglass-shaped but violin-shaped, or, sometimes, cello-curved.

Women wore backless dresses draped low on their spine, and had installed strings running from neck to bottom, in imitation of violins. (Men, too, wore backless outfits, and their spines were decorated with ports and keys, but that is a story for another time.) Extreme examples would have tuning pegs worked into the decoration at the neck; the number of strings would range from three up to twenty. They would slide a small, arched bridge between spine and strings, to change the sound of the their music.

The strings were magical, of course. Human bodies, no matter how shaped, does not make the sounds that a hollow piece of wood does. But with these decorations, those bodies could be played like an instrument.
It had become the habit by this point for young rakes and old troubadours to carry their own bow around with them (as women carried their own reed and mouthpiece). Impromptu concerts might break out in the streets sometimes; a very clever musician knew how to create a song on the fly, to match the lady’s sound and key, for every body made its own sound.

It was beautiful indeed. Tyeibon came to be known throughout the Empire for the beauty of their songs and the shapeliness of their women, the strangeness of their fashion and the elaborateness of their courting rituals. They made the highest music there, the songs played in the court of the Emperor himself.
And then an enterprising young farmer-cum-musician slid a flatter bridge between the strings of a would-be socialite, and flattened his bow just so across her strings, and drew from her lean and strong body a twang unheard of in Tyeibon’s more rarefied circles.

In Tyeibon, they did not say hourglass-shaped but violin-curved, or, in a later era, fit as a fiddle.

Written to last week’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt & part of my Things Unspoken ‘verse

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November Writing List

So this

is my current project list for November.

But I know me. I know that I do better with some fun stuff on the list. And I know my call-for-random-numbers people. I know that less than 7 items makes people less into the game.


is my October list as it stands today.

And this

is stuff that’s fallen off the list.

“Bingo” is currently H/C Bingo.
The 7th Sanctum link is:
Some of the others, I’m not even sure: Ask if you want to know.

I need three projects to play with during November. What should they be?

1. Finish It
2. Arisse
3. Showcasing
4. Hurt/Comfort Bingo
5. Addergoole
6. Beekeeper

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Finish It: Scheffenon

This is written for my third Finish It! Bingo Card, coming after R is for Rituals and Linguistic Tricks.

If Eliška Konvalinka had been male and still an Informer, she would have found some friendly person and asked them to show her how to tie the complicated head-scarf she’d – he’d – seen here and there throughout the crowds. If she’d guessed right, the person she asked would have a tie to the people with those scarves, who spoke in a strange language when speaking to each other and who held themselves apart from the rest of Scheffenon.

Since she was firstly an Informer, she repeated the teaching poem of Scheffenon to herself several times, taking notes of the parts that might relate, and then she spent the evenings of two weeks in the library, reading up on all of the strange histories of Scheffenon.

What she learned about the people whose men wore head-scarves and whose language had trilled r’s and susurration in their s’s could have filled, were she a small-fingered woman, a thimble. She learned far more about the Cornesc-speaking people, who made up most of the population of Scheffenon (and, it seemed, almost all of the city’s government, their rich, and their powerful); she learned how they had come south to Scheffenon – south, to a city so far north parts of its harbor froze in the winter – back before the Empire had reached this far, and how they had taken a small fishing town and turned it into the jewel of the Northern Sea that it was now. Scheffenon, she learned, was not a Cornesc word, but one from the people who had been here before.

What she learned about the statues – the nerieds and the octopi and such – was that nobody liked to write about them, nobody liked to talk about them, and that the one Informer who had asked too many questions of local government officials had simply vanished.

Informers did that; it was a hazard of the profession. Normally, that would trigger several more Informers to be sent to the vanished location en masse, but in the case of Scheffenon, the powers-that-be had sent a single Informer with the instruction “be careful.”

Eliška learned one more thing of interest – although the majority of the people in Scheffenon spoke Cornesc and had been doing so for centuries, they were most definitely not of the original Western Torvaldic ethnic and religious group which had given birth to the language, and the very oldest records here showed an abrupt and complete switch from some unknown language to Cornesc. And Cornesc, itself, was a heavily idiomatic, strangely-inflected relative of other West Torvaldic languages, spoken nowhere else at all in the Empire.

She saved that piece of information in a series of carefully encrypted notes. Scheffenon had a long and very cold winter, and she could spend that time doing some linguistic study of the West Torvaldic languages. Now, the weather was as warm as it was going to get, and Eliška had some more hands-on research to do.

She had no man in a head-scarf to ask the aid of, but she’d noticed that one of the maids at the Informers’ Embassy wore her hair with three parts and kept a sheathed knife on a necklace just under her Embassy uniform. It would have to do.

She waited until the maid was cleaning her room, something the girl did once every week. “Excuse me.” Eliška used her most careful Cornesc, that sounded uncertain. “I want to go out on the street, to meet some people, but all the clothes I have with me, they’re mostly from down in the far South, and they make me stand out. And my hair, I last learned how to do anything with it in the Capital, and I keep seeing these three-parted braids which look fascinating…”

The maid’s hand went to her hair. “The three-part, it is…” She started to say something, stopped, and tried again. “If you want to look like you belong here in Scheffenon, the three-parted braid is not the way to go. The women here, the Scheffenonan women, they don’t do that.”

“But you do.” Eliška feigned ignorance well. Feigning ignorance was an entire series of classes in the Informer curriculum. “And I’ve seen other women, and they look as if they belong here…”

“There are women that do. There will always be women who wear the three-part, here in Scheffenon. But it’s not the way to look like you belong.”

Eliška pretended to parse that. “So it’s, mmm, oh. Like, in my home city, there is a small group of people, I don’t think we make up more than one in a hundred, and that number has been dwindling.” She ducked her head, as if embarrassed that she had been one of the ones to make it dwindle more. “There tends to be a lot of outward migration. But our people, when we’re home – even when I go home, we wear the pilezcth, it’s a type of scarf that covers your head and your shoulders, all the way down to your elbows, men and women both. You can tell where in the city someone comes from by the weave in their pilezcth and the way they tie it, here, and here,” she touched her temples and her right shoulder.

It was all true, of course. The best stories came from truth – something there were also classes on in the Informer training. But it had the advantage of also getting the reaction she was aiming for.

“Like that, I think. There aren’t that many of us who still wear the three-part, who still keep the old ways. The Scheffenonan, there are more of them every year, like little fish that don’t fear the shark.” She clucked quietly. “But you, you are an Informer and you want to know everything?”

“It’s my job to know everything.” That hadn’t been the direction Eliška had been expecting from this conversation.

“Then I will take you to a place, a family place. They’ll show you the three-braid and some other things, things that help, when knowing this city.” The maid considered Eliška for a moment. “The skirt you wore when you left yesterday? Would you wear that with your family-scarf?”

“It came from my mother,” Eliška admitted with a small smile. “It seemed like it would fit, here in Scheffenon.”

“It’s a good choice. Wear that and a family scarf, so that they understand that you, too, know what traditions are like.” The maid’s smile was a little too knowing. “You know quite a bit, but the trick is to convince others that you know it, too.”

Eliška smiled back at the maid, but she was beginning to wonder exactly who was gathering information on whom. “When would you like to take me to meet these people?”

“The day after tomorrow, in the afternoon. You have your meetings in the morning, yes?”

“Yes.” Eliška managed not to stop smiling. The main, of course the maid would know the habits of the people she cleaned for, and that was all that was. Of course.

The Fedder’s-Day afternoon found Eliška putting on clothes she hadn’t worn, except in training classes, since the joined the ranks of the Informers. She folded and wrapped her head-scarf carefully, the three end folds hanging over her left ear, the pleats in the front telling anyone who could read them the block and street she’d grown up on. The skirt was of a kind, but seen much more commonly around the empire: fitted at the waist with a wide, sturdy waistband, then with plenty of walking room around the knees and ankles. The blouse was sturdy and work-worthy, and the vest fitted and matching the skirt. She looked, she thought, like any of a thousand different groups of working-women, except the scarf. The scarf, like a language, narrowed things down.

The maid met her at her chamber door, dressed not in her Embassy uniform but in a vest like Eliška’s and a narrower, heavier skirt. It was a split skirt, Eliška realized, trading width for mobility in separate legs. “Good,” she declared, on looking over Eliška. “You look more like a person now, and less like the Empire.”

But she was the Empire, Eliška wanted to protest. She was always the Empire, everywhere she went, whatever she was wearing.

“I’m HenÞer, by the way. The Scheffenonan around here, they call me Hennie, they don’t like that sound in the middle.”

“HenÞer,” Eliška tried. “It’s a lovely name. Do you want me to call you that or Hennie?”

HenÞer was looking at her sidelong; Eliška thought she might have won this round. “You have a way with language, you Informers. The one before you was good, too. But she didn’t notice the hair.”

“We each have our own strengths. It’s why we rotate out so frequently.” It was part of why they rotated out, but she was not so far gone as to give away all of the Informers’ secrets. “Shall we go?”

“Of course.” HenÞer led Eliška through back-alleys and cobbled lanes that had been bypassed by wider, smoother roads. Once she led her up two flights of stairs, through a sort of mid-building courtyard, and down the other side into a more conventional courtyard.

Eliška noticed, among other things in their unconventional route, that in a city full of oceanic statues, mosaics and friezes, there was very little of that sort – almost none – along their route. One sad God-of-the-Sea eyed them from a bulletin board; HenÞer averted her eyes and did not pass near it.

There was – well, this was beyond “more to this than met the eye;” this was into “something rotten in Scheffenon” territory and verging close on “choose when the Empire must interfere, and choose it carefully.” Eliška was not certain yet what was going on; that would take more time. But she was now certain something was definitely happening.

That was for another time. Today, she followed HenÞer into a cheese shop, stopping politely to smell the pleasantly funky odors permeating the narrow store, and then out the back door into another courtyard.

In this courtyard, seven women and five men sat, the women working at embroiders and carving, the men working at knitting and small paintings. They were as Eliška had noted in other places – the women with their three-parted hairdos, the men with the headscarves.

Suddenly, in a way she had not in the streets, Eliška felt out of place. She called on every bit of her Informer training: she shifted her posture to act as an interested bystander; she looked around, cataloging the unusual things about the courtyard (The artwork was all geometric; in a small space crowded with design, every pattern was made up of interlocking shapes. There were planters everywhere, and fountains, and in all of this there was not a single depiction of marine life, or any life at all); she smiled.

The matron of the group walked over to them with the posture and stride of a soldier. “HenÞer. This is the Informer?”

“This is the Imperial Informer. Mother, Eliška, daughter of…”

“Iva,” Eliška put in.

“-Iva. Eliška na Iva, my mother, Trishka daughter of Henshker.”

Eliksa inclined her head politely. “I think you for the honor of this meeting.”

“We thank the Empire for noticing us. And, i believe, I can thank the Empire for noticing many things in your vision.”

“I am trained to notice things, Dame Trishka.”

“Training is one thing. Your eyes, your eyes are another. You see us, and I do not believe you saw us in the mirror. You see Scheffenon. You see the locked and the jailers.”

Eliška repeated the terms back, carefully. The woman was speaking Cornesc, but those weren’t words she’d expected to hear. “The locked and the jailers?” There were many things those terms could mean. Was she looking at a civil war in Scheffenon?

“The locked,” Trishka repeated, “and the jailers, those who lock, those things that lock.”

There was something about her eyes, the color of the sea on a cloudy day, the way they seemed to bore into Eliška. She swallowed as she considered the question.

That was all it took. “The locked,” she repeated, and this time she understood. “Yes, I see. And those – and that – which locks them.” The statues, and the friezes, and the mosaics. They were… “They’re locks. They’re bindings, we knew that. The fountains… oh, by the breast of the holiest mother, they’re chains. Not just the fountains; the whole of Scheffenon is, is’t it?” They’d know there were bindings, were locks. But what had been locked… They were locking up the water – no, not just the sea. They were locking up all in their reach of the sea. “How awful,” Eliška breathed.

HenÞer and her mother shared a look. “She sees,” HenÞer murmured. “She does.”

“Indeed.” Triska’s gaze bored into Eliška. “But what will do with the sight?”

This was not a question, Eliška realized; it was a challenge. It was a test, possibly her final test.

Elika raised her chin.

“The people of Scheffenon hold secrets close
But the answers are written on their walls & their shores,” she recited.
“The Scheffenon people have locked up the water;
bound up the sea and locked the magic it holds.
The people who conquered, they conquered and conquered
And conquer yet still with their fountains and concourses..”

The poem went on, and she spun it as she went. Triska and HenÞer nodded along.

Eliška took another breath.

“The city of Scheffenon serves as a lock
Every street is a tumbler, every fountain a hasp
The Keys to the Scheffenon lock must be found
To unlock the children of the water here bound.”

She met eyes with Triska and then with HenÞer. Both women nodded.

“I’ll contact my office tonight. But if something fails me in that time… you’ve heard the words. You can repeat them to any Informer, and they will understand. All right?”

“She sees,” Triska repeated quietly. “And she speaks.” She touched Eliška’s headdress with light fingers. “It may be too late. Locks rust closed, after time, and old passageways are replaced by new. But we thank you, nevertheless. For the seeing.”

“Go now,” HenÞer murmured. “Go now and see, as I go, as I see.”

It was the Informer’s private good-bye, what they said to each other when they didn’t know if they’d meet again. Eliška swallowed, feeling that there was still more she wasn’t seeing.

“Go now,” she finished the ritual, “and learn, as I go, as I learn.”

She had a feeling she would either not be in in Sheffenon for long – or she would be here forever.

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Throwback Thursday – Briars & One Sharp Mother

October 27, 2011. I was in the middle of a Giraffe Call – I often was, back then. 🙂 This one was “Spooks, Creeps, Ghosts, and Ghouls” And Rix had asked for more Baram.

What we got was Baram’s family, in their first appearance:

Jaelie was in the garden when the gods attacked. The garden, such as it was, was her territory, her sanctum and responsibility. She’d been the first to be hired, such as it was, by Baram (“bought” might have been more accurate, but the pay was good and the work not onerous, and she had little to complain of), the first to come looking for him after graduation, intrigued by the legend he’d left behind, and she’d thus been the first to carve out her own place in his haven.

Continue reading it here:

I really like Jaelie. I enjoyed taking Baram’s story and turning him from a cartoonish villain into someone with depth, someone who liked protecting. This wasn’t the first step in that process, but it really helped cement it: Baram was a person; he surrounded himself with people – tough people, but most definitely people.

And I still really, really like Jaelie saying ““Yield better.” 😉

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Addergoole West-Coast, a beginning of a story…

May or May Not Be Canon. Fun, though.

“…this underground place, I mean, even back then, it was the height of luxury. It was… well, it was strange, but it was safe.” Rosmarina’s mother had always ended the story there with an awkward shoulder pat. If it was her father, he might add “you’ll be safe there, when you go. There’s plenty of food, and it’s safe and warm.”

Sometimes the kids a couple years older than Rosmarina went off to join the People’s Army. Their parents looked like Rosmarina’s did, when they talked about Addergoole: proud but worried. It’s safe there. It was some strange mantra that had nothing to do with their expressions.

And then the invitation came, soft paper unlike anything Rosmarina had seen actually used, Rosmarina’s name and her mother’s name on it in careful, precise handwriting. And it hadn’t said Addergoole, it had said Addergoole West-Coast.

Her parents had hemmed and hawed over it, argued and complained, both when Rosmarina was listening and when she wasn’t, but in the end, her mother had sighed and muttered “it’s not as if we have a choice.”

That was so unlike her mother — her mother who railed against everything, shouted at the Officials, found ways to disobey every Ordinance — that Rosmarina had almost given away her hiding-place, tucked in the cupboard in the kitchen from the loose boards along the basement stairway. She’d muffled her noise with both hands, waited till her mother complained about the mice, and sneaked back to her room to wait for her mother to give her the news properly.

Addergoole West-Coast was a long ways away, five days by river-boat and two by wagon. It was further than Rosmarina had ever gone from home by almost five times, and her parents brought everything and everyone — both her little brothers, her uncle Todd, the feral cat that liked to hang around and the dog they’d adopted, everything that fit in the trunks and satchels and bags. When her father put the cat in a modified satchel, that’s when Rosmarina knew this was serious, they they weren’t ever going home. When they’d passed the borders of the People’s Lands and told the guard there that they were going to visit a friend of Rosmarina’s mother’s and would be gone a couple days, Rosmarina was sure.

When they reached the gate of the place called Addergoole West-Coast, Rosmarina began to understand why.

The gate itself was twenty feet tall, set in a wall built of old buildings, smooth stone set against rough in a pattern you could only really discern from a half-mile or more away — ocean waves below and clouds above. The gate was made of steel, thick and impenetrable, like the People’s Lands’ borders, but it opened right away for Rosmarina and her family.

Inside, more buildings built in the same style wandered in gentle curves towards a large central edifice, almost like a fairy-tale castle, with towers and buttresses and, again, the pattern of waves and clouds worked into the very stone — stone which, Rosmarina couldn’t help but notice, had a faint teal hue to it.

“You said it was underground.” It was the only thing she could think to say.

“You said it was warm,” muttered her little brother Quirin. “This is pretty chilly.”

“This is new.” Her father looked around. “This is… there was nothing like that when we were in school.”

Her mother was holding tight to Rosmarina’s hand. “Can you smell it? The water? The ocean?” There was a longing in her voice that Rosmarina had never heard, and it seemed like she was pulling against herself, holding herself from running off the way she normally held Quirin or Vahan.

“I smell it.” Rosmarina’s father’s voice was tight now. “Do you think it’s real?”

Rosmarina was confused. They had travelled many days, and in the direction of the water. If they had gotten as far as her map said they might have, then the ocean would be there… “how could it be fake?”

“Not the ocean.” Her mother slowly released Rosmarina’s hand. “The promise of it. The possibility of it. The… oh, damnit.” She shook her hands. “Yima…”

“I’ve got it, Muirenn. I’ve got it. Go.”

Rosmarina’s mother was off at a dead run, bouncing through the streets. Her father caught Vahan just as he started to take off after their mother.

“Not now, sluggo. Your mom’s got an appointment, that’s all. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the ocean.”

Rosmarina could hear longing in her father’s voice as well. She didn’t question it, not now. The building was looming too big and too close. “Dad…?”

“That’s it, I think. Well, the logo’s close enough, and I mean, not many places would look that… brazen.”

The crest on the gate had horns like a cow’s curing upwards and a fishlike tail swinging downwards, and in between a stack of three books were sailing on a choppy sea. The crest was in brass – or maybe bronze – but Rosmarina was pretty sure that wasn’t what her father was talking about.

“It’s awfully ‘look at me here I am’,” she offered.

He snorted. “It is. Regine has always been like that – though I doubt she’ll be here. She doesn’t leave the bunker. And this, you’re right, this is right out in the open.”

The gate swung open. A very tall man stood there, smiling at them with far more teeth – and far whiter teeth – than Rosmarina had ever seen. “You must be Rosmarina. And Yima, I remember you from school. Remember me?”

more coming!

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