Archive | January 2017

Lady Taisiya’s 4th Husband, Chapter 17: Fathers and Rules – a fantasy/romance story

Find Chapter 1 here
Chapter 2 is here
Chapter 3 is here
Chapter 4 is here
Chapter 5 is here
Chapter 6 is here
Chapter 7 is here.
Chapter 8: here

Chapter 9: here
Chapter 10: here
Chapter 11 (R-Rated) here
Chapter 12: here
Chapter 13: here
Chapter 14: here
Chapter 15: here
Chapter S16: here

You can skip Chapter 11 without losing the plot.

Sefton found he was grinning and managed to dial it back just before Jaco came over, rubbing his wrists and jangling with close-linked chains again. “What about you?” Hothyan asked, gesturing at Sefton’s wrists.

“The Lady Wife sent him back that way,” Jaco pointed out. “She can’t fault him for staying the way she left him.”

“Remember that,” Sefton suggested to Pherishhe.

“Remember to chain my husbands up?” She looked up at him crookedly.

“No… well, yes. I’m sure your senior fathers have told you why there’s chains, right?”

“They said, ‘there’s the very short story for egglings, the longer story for talking-children, the longer-still story for school children, and when I am ready for my own house and husbands they’ll tell me the longest story.”

“Are you on the school children story already?” He hadn’t gauged her old enough for the public school.

She shook her head. “Not for another year. But when my sister Kesharia went, I listened to all the stories. I’m precocious,” she informed him proudly.

“I bet you are.” Sefton patted Pherishhe’s head affectionately. “So. Remember that you make the rules, and that your husbands follow them. That means if you tell them to do something, the fault is on you for telling them.”

“Well, within limits,” Jaco put in. “There’s this thing that some people do – oh, you know it, Pherishhe, your brother Gamon does it. Where you follow the letter of the law, knowing full well what the spirit was meant to be.”

“Oh, that thing.” She wrinkled her nose. “That’s just being silly. But that’s not what Father Feltian meant anyway, so now you’re doing it. He meant, if I take someone’s chains off, I can’t yell at them for being unchained. If I tell them to make me toast, then I shouldn’t be surprised when I get toast – and if I know he makes bad toast, I shouldn’t be surprised that my toast is burned.”

“Maybe don’t use that one around your shell-father,” Jaco joked. “Calum makes awful toast,” he added in a stage-whisper to Sefton.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Sefton spared a smirk for Jaco before looking back to Pherishhe. “Exactly. It’s not bad to encourage your husbands to be better people, but don’t berate them for not having a skill you already know they don’t have, for instance.”

She grinned mischievously at him. “You know a lot about being a husband for one who was married just today.”

It really had been just today. Sefton was suddenly hit with exhaustion. He opened his mouth to give Pherishhe an answer, any sort of answer, but nothing came.

Calum saved him. “Men are sons before they are husbands, shell-daughter. They learn from their fathers, just as you learn from your fathers – and they, and you, learn from their mothers.” When had he gotten back in the nursery? Had Sefton said anything he shouldn’t say in that time since Jaco got his chains on? Had Jaco gotten his chains on in time? Sefton forced his breathing even. He was far too sleepy for this. He was far too exhausted for anything.

Calum’s hand landed on Sefton’s shoulder heavily. “How went the battle?”

“They let themselves into the nursery.” Sefton found he was indignant about that. “Just as easy as you please. What’s the point of the vault door if they can just walk in?”

“Well, it slows them down.” Calum was frowning. “And it stops casual invaders. But you’re right. They shouldn’t be able to get through it.” He thumped Sefton’s shoulder again. “You and Jaco held them off, though. Stopped them. Nobody got to the egglings. And you two are fine?”

“Just a couple scratches.” He shrugged. “Mostly tired.”

“Think you can last another twenty minutes? Onter and I have to finish clean-up, and then I can take over nursery duty.”

“I can guard, Calum-father.” Hothyan stepped up. “I’m fresh, I didn’t fight. I can do it.”

“I’m sure you can. Maybe you can sit up with Feltian and then with me? We could use the back-up today.”

“I can-” Hothyan seemed to recognize a lost battle. “Yes, please. I’ll sit up with you, father Feltian. You can tell me stories.” Hothyan’s smirk was a little bitter, maybe, but there was a time in being a boy where you didn’t want to be a child anymore.

“Or teach you card tricks,” Sefton offered. “My shell-father taught me some interesting ones, if you have a deck here…?”

“Right over here.” He looked a little more interested in that, as Sefton had thought he would. Plus, card games were a great way to teach any number of skills stealthily – which is what he could tell Calum and Onter if they questioned him.

Somehow, he didn’t think Jaco would have a problem with it.

“I’m going to clean the weapons,” Jaco said, as if realizing Sefton was thinking of him. “Hold onto yourselves until I’ve got everything else done, you two. I don’t want to miss out on the fun.”

“Good.” Calum nodded. “You two can guard. I’ll be back soon enough. Well done, all of you.”

“Thank you.” It seemed thin. It always seemed thin, being praised for staying in the nursery, even if they had gotten into the fray a little bit this time. “And you.”

Calum half-bowed and headed out, leaving Sefton bracketed by Pherishhe and Hothyan. “All right. Cards?” He aimed the question at Hothyan, but Pherishhe was the one that darted off for them.

Hothyan shrugged. “She does that. She could be like Kesharia,” his voice dropped to a whisper, then picked back up again, “or some of the girls we hear about or see at school, but she’s very serious, and not at all full of herself. I like it. She doesn’t make me feel like I should be waiting on her.”

“As long as she doesn’t feel like she should be waiting on you.” Sefton wrinkled his nose. “There are — well, I know it seems unfair sometimes, but there are good reasons.”

“I know, I know.” Hothyan sighed loudly. “I know. But there’s nothing wrong with her getting the cards, is there?”

“Of course there isn’t.” Pherishhe sat back down next to them with a thump. “They’re cards. I got them. Here, Father Feltian, what are we playing?”

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Beekeeper bonus interlude: In Which there is a Kiss

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit Explains Something..

She was doing it. She was really doing it. She was…

Her lips touched his and her hand went around his back to steady herself — when had he gotten so tall? Was that part of his power? Magical healing, grow an inch every time he broke a bone?

His lips were chapped, but after a moment, that didn’t matter. His hand found her back and splayed there, fingers leaving five warm places just below her neck.

He kissed like he was going to fuck her, rougher, more intent than anyone she’d kissed in a long time, maybe ever. He kissed like she was the only thing in the world, and, for a few moments, he was the only thing in hers.

She pulled back ruefully only when her toes complained. “You,” she murmured affectionately, “are far too tall.”

“I could be shorter,” he offered. “But I like being tall.”

She chuckled and, much to her surprise, hugged him, arms around his waist, pulling him in as tight as she could. He grunted once and then hugged her back, not loosening his hold until she released hers.

“I think,” she whispered, “I like having you here.”

“I think,” he admitted quietly, “I like being here.”

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January by the Numbers 22: xerographing xanthiums (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (now seven days off but I’ll get there).

From [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s prompt “xerographing xenophobic, xanthophyllous xanthiums;” a fiction vignette of sorts.

Did you Know:So I grew up in Rochester, home of Xerox, and I always thought that xerography came from Xerox, and not the other way around… Nope!
“So, tell me again why exactly we want to photocopy a noxious weed? It’s not exactly pleasant to handle, it’s no fun to look at, it doesn’t taste good, and it’s all over the place.”

“Well, one.” Xavier had his lecture-face on, which was not his most pleasant expression, but Xadrian found that he liked it. “It’s not exactly photocopying. Xerography is just making a reproduction of an image…”

“Right, right. I mean, we could just take pictures and copy that, and it would probably be less unpleasant.” It had fallen to Xadrian to gather the stuff, and even with gloves involved, his hands were not pleased with him. “Wouldn’t that be a lot better?”

“The problem is, as unpleasant as the xanthium is, it has an advantage nothing else on this blasted island does. It’s xanthophyllous.”

“It loves yellow?”

“It makes a yellow pigment. And that may not seem like such an important thing to you at the moment, but the thing is, we don’t have any yellow anywhere else here. Nothing but clothes we brought with us, and those are fading. Not to mention, they protect eyes from ionizing blue and ultraviolet light… anyway, this noxious mess is important.”

“So we’re photocopying it.” The thing was, Xadrian might have been a xenozoologist rather than a xenoherbologist, but he knew what he was talking about. He just loved teasing Xavier. It got him this lovely lecture-face reaction, and sometimes increasingly detailed explanations until Xavier figured out he was being put on. “This nasty thing.”

“We’re dupli – yes. And maybe you should be the one to pull it apart for the duplicator, too. And then you can make the yellow dye we’re going to use, and feed the rest to the chickens, and…”

“Next time I want to play dumb,” Xadrian muttered, “I’ll go bother Xena.”

“She’d have you xerograph the proto-xenops. And those things hate outsiders.” Xavier’s smile was far too pleased with himself. “Now, take your gloves off. You’re going to need your dexterity to get these thorns into the machine.”

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January by the Numbers 21: Ambiguity (worldbuilding babble)

January by the numbers continues (now FIVE days off but still going strong).

From [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt “ambiguity;” worldbuilding for a world I’ve just barely started. It’s a little unclear… but that suits the prompt.
The world known as Calepurn has many nations, sprawling across the mainland, the islands, and the connected piece of land known, for no good reason, as the Appendix.

Many of these nations have their own languages, and all of them have their own dialects, but almost everyone who travels between nations can speak Lengraffa, the language of Firrset.

Lengraffa is a language evolved from many different tongues over thousands of years, and while it has a root here or there in English, it bears even less resemblance to Modern English than Modern English does to Old English.

(Spaston, a language spoken almost solely in a tiny mountain nation on the Eastern coast, is much closer to Modern English, with many loan-words from Spanish. But that is a story for another day.)

Lengraffa is a language drenched in ambiguity. Like Modern English, it drips with homophones. Words sometimes wander the continent, only to come back wearing a similar-looking coat but having an entirely different purpose. Casual usage changes words, until the same word can mean both a thing and its opposite.

Now into this language of uncertainty, where a simple sentence can be as clear as mud, throw a magic system which required precise geometry and very clear intention.

Magic was found in Firrset, they say, but nobody outside of Firrset truly believe that — and neither do many within Firrset. In a system of magic where the faintest ambiguity in phrasing can ruin an incantation, how could magic have ever risen in a place that speaks Lengraffa?

As further proof, many non-Firrsets point out that when an incantation goes wrong, the magic leaks into the environment, causing occasional eruptions of strangeness. And in Firrset, there is more strangeness than there is anywhere else on Calepurn.

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In Which Amrit Explains Something

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Mieve Actually Says Something.

Amrit wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing. A couple hours ago, they’d been arguing. He’d been angry, fed up with her. She’d been angry, hurt that he didn’t give in enough.

She should have known, some part of him still wanted to point out. She should have had a pretty good idea that he wasn’t the sort to give him. He’d been gagged and chained when she bought him; it wasn’t like he’d come willingly.

Here they were. They’d eaten turkey leg and casserole for dinner, and the meat had tasted better than any turkey he could ever remember eating. They’d had cake for dessert — cake! Before he’d come here, Amrit couldn’t remember the last time he’d been anywhere that had the luxury of regular desserts.

And now they were sitting in front of the fire, her reading, him staring out the window at the night and ignoring a book, and he was thinking about what happened when they went to bed.

He’d told her he would stay until the winter was over. That should be enough. He didn’t need to go getting tangled up.

He looked at her over the book he was pretending to read and found himself growling.

Brilliant, asshole, that’s exactly the right thing to do.

“I’m sorry, did you say something?” She looked up from her book, looking for all the world like she hadn’t heard him.

He shook his head. “Just thinking…” He trailed off.

“Oh. Sorry.” She looked back at her book, and the moment where he could say something was lost.

Amrit stood up, far too abruptly. He was going to spook her. He didn’t want to spook her, and not just because she might gag and shackle him again. He moved more slowly, walking over to the window.

He could feel her eyes on him. Was she going to tell him to sit down?

Was he going to sit down if she told him to?

“I miss the world, most of the time,” she said, so quietly he wasn’t sure she was talking to him. “But the stars – it’s nice to be able to see them. As long as I don’t think too hard about why I can.”

Amrit thought about that for a minute. He stared out at the stars. “It’s so much darker now. When — so, the last place I was living, they, well, me and them didn’t get along that great. So I left. I was looking for another place when I got snatched. But I remember thinking, when I was a teenager, there was almost nowhere you could walk where it was truly dark. And I was trying to stay out of sight, and walking the roads at night was almost impossible.” He smiled crookedly. “Broke my ankle twice and my knee once.”

“Your healing power really is impressive.” She didn’t have any tone to her voice. What did she mean by that?

“I’d be dead without it.” He said it easily, but his heart pounded a bit anyway, remembering when he’d found out how fast he healed. “Spear through the heart tends to do that.”

“Spear through — oh, departed gods, that’s…” She stared at him, actually lifting out of her chair for a moment like she was going to rush over and hug him. Then she sat down slowly. “You really can heal anything.”

“So far? Nobody’s attacked me with hawthorn or rowan except the slavers, and that’s healing a lot slower.” He touched his neck, where the hawthorn had touched. “But I’m pretty durable, yeah.” He found himself smiling crookedly at her. “So, careful. If it’s cozy here in winter I might just tie myself to a tree and stay here until you knock me out.”

She raised her eyebrows and smirked back at him. “I don’t see how that follows, but I’ll take it under advisement.”

“Well, it’s just…” Amrit stalled. “I guess it doesn’t really follow. But I might do it anyway?”

What had he been thinking? …shit. He was flirting with her. Had she noticed? Why was he… Amrit looked back at the window and hoped he wasn’t blushing or anything else quite that stupid and childish.

“Well, if you’re going to tie yourself up, you might as well do it someone cozy, is all – since you would be doing it to get to stay nice and comfortable, right?”

“Nice and cozy…” Oh, departed gods, she was flirting back, wasn’t she? “Like that chair I was sitting in?”

Way to go, Amrit. Take a perfectly good opening and ruin it.

“Well, I know you haven’t tried it yet, but my bed is a lot more comfortable than that chair.”
Amrit turned slowly to stare at her. “You’re flirting with me.”

She looked nervous. “I’m making an offer,” she countered. “If you were making one.”

Amrit found his shoulders relaxing. “You’re not scared because you’re worried I’m going to hurt you, are you?”

“I wouldn’t be inviting you into my bed if I was scared you were going to hurt me,” she snapped. Oh, good, he was back to her yelling at him.

He took a step towards her, hands in front of him in as non-threatening a position as he could manage. “You’re not worried about me hurting you. So you’re worried…”

“Who said I was worried at all?”

“I’m not an idiot, you know. I can read body language well enough. Facial expression. Tone of voice. I’m saying you said you were worried.”

Shit, his voice was getting louder. That wasn’t helping at all. And he had actually moved closer to her again. He moved his hands back into a calming position and smiled crookedly. “I guess you being worried worries me,” he offered.

“And you’re not even Kept.” She stood up. Amrit did his best not to wince, but he couldn’t help thinking oh, shit, now what? “I think I’m beginning to grow on you. Either that or you’re scared of little old me.”

Amrit went for broke. “A little of both. You cheat,” he added without heat, even smirking a bit. “You can beat me in every fight, ‘cause you don’t have to have a fight at all. You don’t need the collar, you don’t need the gag, even.”

“When I’m awake and around you,” she pointed out. He thought she’d probably given that way too much thought.

“Hey, you stopped me from running away when you were on the other side of the clearing talking to your bees. Anyway, I just mean — I’m not Kept, but you’re, um. You’re still in charge.”

His hands went up to the collar. If this place had laws, they would probably say that the collar meant she was in charge legally. But she and he both knew that he could get this thing off without much effort. If he wanted to.

“I’m in charge.” She smiled at him. It was a more open expression than he’d seen on her, perhaps ever. “That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me that didn’t start with ‘I promise.’”

Amrit shifted a little. Was that… good? Did he want her to think it was nice? “You’re welcome.”

He hadn’t noticed she’d stepped closer until she did it again. That put her right in front of him. “Thank you.”

She stood on her toes and kissed him.



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January By the Numbers Twenty: Yoke (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (now four days off, sigh)!
From [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt “yoke;” a ficlet. Warning: this came out dark.

“It’s not supposed to be a fucking yoke.”

The voice trickled into Vester’s consciousness. She did not look up, could not look up. She had work to do. She stared at her table and kept working, kept Working.

“Get that fucking thing off of her. Get it off her or I’m going to break your fucking face.”

She was listening now. It made her Working lumpy and clumsy, but exhaustion did that on its own.

She didn’t speak except her Workings. She wasn’t allowed to speak, any more than she was allowed to stop.

But she could listen.

“You don’t understand.” That was Him. “I’ve got a business here. I’m just running a business. And she volunteered.”

If she could have spoken… Vester might have told the shouting person that He was telling the truth. She might have told the shouting person more — but probably not. She had seen what happened to his producers who spoke out.

“Let me say this slowly. Get. The Thing. Off of her. Or I will break every bone in your body.”

“She’s Mine. You can’t tell me what to do with —”

Vester was Working on whispers now, so she could hear everything. She heard the crunch as a body slammed into the wall.

“Give her to me or I destroy you.”

Vester heard bones crunching, and then He was screaming. He was screaming, he was screaming… “She’s yours! Vester, you’re his! You belong to him!”

Another thump. Vester stopped Working.

“Get that thing the fuck off of her.” The growling man was coming closer. Vester wanted to turn to look at him, but the yoke and harness wouldn’t let her. “Now. It’s not supposed to be a yoke, you bastard. It’s supposed to be a collar, it’s supposed to protect her. You fucking bastard.”

Vester found that she could speak. And, as He — no, just he, her former master — unlocked the yoke holding her in place, she found she knew what she would say.

“There’s three more in the back,” she informed the shouty man. “Behind the hidden door. There.”

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Weekend Blog: Bread-Kneader

I have been thinking about bread.
Cal and I were discussing honorifics, which led to me remembering hlǣfdige, (See here), the word from which lady derives.

I first encountered this word in Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile, a tale of Guinevere after the fall of Camelot. (That’s an awful cover; I much prefer this one: here). Memory provides a slightly different spelling for this and hlāfweard, but since I don’t have the book at hand and can’t find the text online, the general will have to suffice for now.

Hlǣfdige, loaf-kneader (loosely, don’t shoot me). I like that. I made a pretty standard loaf this weekend, changed only by having a really long ‘fridge rise time (because I started it Thursday night, kneaded it Friday night, and baked it Saturday around noon). I’ve been baking bread every weekend since it started getting cold — nothing all that exciting, but I like the routine of it, the kneading, the long rises, the shaping, the smell of the house as it bakes.

Hlǣfdige didn’t mean just the woman who makes the bread, of course — it referred, I’m told, to the woman in charge of a household with maids, etc. But I like the idea of being Lady Lyn, the loaf-kneader.
And if that makes my husband the hlāfweard, the guardian of the loaf… well, the cat does have a habit of eating it on occasion.

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January By the Numbers Ninteen: Tendril (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (still three days off…)!
From [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt “tendril;” a ficlet.


She was sitting on the floor, leaning against his legs while they watched TV. She liked sitting there, and he liked the feeling it gave him – security, being taller than her, bigger than her.

He was a very insecure man, although nobody would say that to his face and those who knew him only casually wouldn’t guess it. He liked being in charge – but he was good at it, and so nobody questioned it. He liked being intimidating – but he was 6’6″ tall and broad-shouldered, muscular, and so he didn’t have to work at it.

She sat against his leg because she knew that it made him comfortable, the same reason she wore his collar.

She knew who was really in charge and, somewhere in the back of his mind, so did he, but they danced the dance anyway, and she did what he said, and sat at his feet.

He kept her safe. Not just because he was big, and strong, and intimidating, but because he offered protective coloration, camouflage. She could look different, be different, but some people could always find her. Belonging to someone else, that made her someone else entirely. And since it was something nobody who knew her would ever expect, it hid her all the better.

She leaned against him, her hair twisting around his legs on its own. It did that, her hair, the tendrils sliding around whatever they could reach. She pulled herself up that way, like a squash plant, rising higher on what her tendrils grabbed.

And they slid into him. Not in a way he could feel – not that he could feel much, so defensive, so closed off, that he never noticed things that close to him – but they slid into his psyche. He liked being in charge… but she liked running him.

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