Archive | March 2017

Space and Time

First: Slaves, School
Previous: Questions

By the time dinner wrapped up, Desmond was feeling exhausted, and everyone else around the table looked as tired as he felt.

At the front of the dining hall, a tall person in heavy blue robes stood up. “Your attention please.” Their robe, like the others Des had seen, left their necks and shoulders bare to show off the collar to the full extent. “Tomorrow begins your classes, so I would heartily encourage all of you to aim for sleep when you get back to your dormitories, and not merely for laying down. The morning bells will ring to tell you when you must be awake, when you must be in the dining hall, and when your first class will begin.

“That said, welcome to the Academy. I hope that all of you who have made it this far will continue to thrive, and that you will, in due time, do the Academy very proud in your future placements. Study hard, all of you. You will need every bit of your knowledge as you progress forward in life.”

“That doesn’t sound ominous at all,” muttered Talia. Kayay hissed in admonition, but nobody – least of all Talia – paid it any heed.

“I am, for those of you who have not yet met me, Professor Candiar. I have done as many of you will do – I served twenty years under the collar in public service, and then I returned here, to continue to serve by teaching new students. Obviously, as you can all presumably count, that will not be the case for all of you. But many of you will find positions which you may enjoy for many more than twenty years.”

“That is a matter for later times for you new students. For those in your last year here, you already know what you need to be considering. So I will send you all off to your dormitories. Sleep well, don’t let your compatriots keep you up all night, and do not be late to classes tomorrow.”

Professor Candiar bowed to them all, and gestured with both hands in a broad herding gesture. “Dismissed.”

Desmond stayed close with Jefshan, Talia, and Wesley, thus by connection also close to Kayay, as they headed out of the room in big crowds. It turned out there were six exits from the dining hall; Jefshan picked one apparently at random, following a group of combined red- and blue-clothed people.

One of the older blue-clothed people – wearing a kilt two hand-spans shorter than the one Des had been issued, and with some sort of under-skirt peeking out in the same cyan blue – grabbed Des’ arm. “New blood, right?”

“Ah. Yes. Yes, that’s us. New blood.”

“I’m Helinna. Fifth year. You’re heading the wrong way. You want to go up that stairway.” They pointed through a narrow door to a narrower-looking staircase.

“I didn’t take any stairs to get to the dining hall, though,” Des protested.

“That doesn’t really matter around her. Look, here, I’ll go with you.” Helinna pushed the door the rest of the way open. “You can relax. I’m not saying there’s not going to be hazing – that would be silly, and a lie, and my collar doesn’t really like it when I lie – but it’s not going to be intra-house. It will all be from the Grunts and the Brains.”

Grunts and Brains. Des nodded cautiously. “So watch out for upperclassmen,” he translated, “but only if they are wearing red or green ties.”

“Exactly. Come on, you lot, all of you. They’re not kidding about being on time to classes and you’re really going to want breakfast before you get there. Come on, come on.” Helinna herded their little group up the narrow staircase and closed the door behind them. Des, at the front, climbed slowly until he could see the door ahead of him.

::Interesting.:: He got the impression his collar was being thoughtful. ::They are bending space. I think they were bending space before, but I couldn’t sense it. Here, the bend is obvious.::

“Hunh.” Jefshan grunted at about the same moment. “This place is weird.”

“Your collar noticed, too?” Jefshan seemed to be the most in tune with the “compatriot” they were all wearing.

“Noticed what?” Talia, on the other hand, did not.

“They’re bending space.” Kayay hurried to catch up with them at the top of the stairs. “It won’t say who ‘they’ are, I don’t think it’s the collar…”

“It’s the school, I think,” Des offered. “That’s fascinating. I wonder where this all is in real life…”

Helinna turned to stare at them. “You are very observant for blues. Normally, they end up in the Brains.”

“Well,” Des offered, “we have a choice, right? So it’s not like everyone who ends up in Blue is going to be the MOST impulsive, just the ones that think that sounds like the best fit for them.”

“You know, I never thought about it that way. Well, here we go.” Helinna opened the door with a flourish. “Sleep tight, kiddos.”

They were in the hallway with their dorm. Des decided not to think too hard on that. “Where’s…?”

“Each room down here is a year, for the first four years. After that, the ones that survive, they go three to a room, and those are down there,” Helinna gestured vaguely. “There’s a lounge down there too. You’ll probably spend a lot of time down there, once you get settled. But not tonight. Tonight, the nine of you ought to get to know each other a little better. So go on. Gather together. Just remember you’ve got classes in the morning, and trust me, you don’t want to miss those.”

“That sounds … well, I guess that sounds like school.” Talia followed Helinna’s urging gesture and headed into their dormitory.

He ended up sharing a bunk with Talia and someone he hadn’t been sitting with – a slender, fey-looking person with the deepest blue tie he’d seen. “Doria,” they introduced themself, when Des offered a hand. “Poiy, Lufet, and I ended up on the far side of a whole bunch of upper-class blues. I saw you guys, but by that point, we were stuck with the older ones, and they wanted to tell us all about their exploits.”

“That sounds like fun, actually,” Des admitted. “We spent the whole time guessing what was going on, for the most part. And comparing experiences. Does, ah, is your collar chatty?”

“Mine whispers. Not a lot, but when it gets going, it’s kind of informative. But half the time it acts like it’s telling me big secrets. Yours?” Doria’s voice, too, had dropped down to a whisper.

“Mine talks a lot. Jefshan’s,” Des gestured, “talks a lot, too, but not everyone’s does. Talia’s doesn’t seem to.”

Talia leaned up from her bunk to look at them. “Wait. You said you and… two others. So…” Talia counted out names on fingers. “Des here, me, Wesley, Jeshan, Kayay, that’s five. You, your two, that’s eight…”

“Over here,” called Wesley in a loud whisper. “And already asleep. Man. I didn’t know they took people that young.”


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Funeral: Legacies and Unimportant People

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Negotiation

The security guards wrapped up with Muirgen and headed back into the lawyer’s office, just as someone in a well-fitted but cheap suit stalked out of the room. Senga watched the man go with curiosity.

“One of Mirabella’s bean-counters,” Silence murmured. “Always thought he was underappreciated. Guess the will hearing justified that.”

“Maybe she threatened his life and reputation too,” Senga responded in the same low term. “Maybe he didn’t appreciate being treated like someone she ‘appreciated’ after all.”

“I’ll note she didn’t do that with her daughters.”

“Neither did she give her daughters diddly. They’re – well. You probably know them better than I do.”

“Ah, but they’re your family. And it’s their mother’s funeral.”

“And they’re on par with Mister cheap suit there,” she added in the same casual, quiet tone. “They don’t get the big things. They’re just not as important as they think they are. Of course, that won’t stop them from killing me,” she added ruefully. “And they’ve wanted to do that for a while.”

“‘Cause you’re more important than them?”

“Ha. Hardly. I’m a glorified errand girl and beat-er-upper. Not exactly high on anyone’ totem pole.”

He looked down at her. Senga tensed, ready for the wise-ass remark. She wasn’t short, but, then again, she was neither tall nor that muscular. “You probably do a good stealth attack, don’t you? People aren’t expecting it, and then there you are, sharp and deadly and under their block.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. That was the quickest assessment of her skills she’d gotten since she’d been in training.

He smirked back in return. “Don’t tell me. It wouldn’t do to give away secrets you might need. But old fa – farts, the smart ones, they know that it’s not just brutes like me that have the power. Besides, I’m really good at knowing where metal is.” The last was barely a whisper.

“That’s a useful skill.” One she might actually have a lot of use for, in addition to those times when his looming growly intimidation might come in handy for the team – never mind that they’d specifically avoided hiring a thug because they could do this themselves, damnit; it wasn’t like she was choosing to hire him.

His smile looked tired. “Ah, and so it begins. You may be the white sheep, but you’re a member of your family through and through.”

She wanted to take offense. She was offended. But she lifted her eyebrows and grinned at him, because he’d meant for her to be offended, and she had no time for that bullshit. “Of course I am. Daughter of Aonghus, himself the son of Sláine, who was Mirabella’s sister and, let’s be honest, her better, until they were murdered. I’m more my family than they are, and if they’ve been setting the tone for so long, now, that’s my fault as much as theirs.” She raised her chin and let her smile edge from happy to challenge.

He looked down at her and twitched his own eyebrows. “But you’re not the one she left the ledgers to.”

“Of course not.” She winked at him. “I’m not the one she left the ledgers to.” There was more than one reason for Clause Seven, even if Mirabella had been the only one who knew that.


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Permission (More Luke being Awkward with Mike)

(this one comes before Luke’s Homework ( and after Luke Tries to Apologize..

Talking to Mike was somewhere between miserable and awful, but Luke did his best to pretend that nothing had changed. Mike didn’t want his apology; didn’t want to hear about it. Okay. Until he could figure out what he was supposed to say, then, he could pretend like nothing was wrong.

“Stop looming, Birdbrain, you’re going to curdle the paint.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense.”

“Neither does you lingering by the door like you’re trying to figure out ‘goth’ decades too late.”

“Thanks,” Luke muttered. “I figured out goth just fine.”

“Really? Now that I have to hear. Not now, though. What brings you here melting the finish on my doorframe?”

Luke actually found himself glancing at the doorframe — no. He was not quite that palpable about his discomfort. “I wanted to know if I could borrow a couple of your Students.”

“Luke, darling, if you want to get laid, there are less stressful ways, you know.”

“NOt for that!” He flapped irritably at Mike, who looked innocently back at him.

“No? I can’t imagine you sleeping with your own Students. ALl boys again this year, aren’t they?”

His wings twitched, but he didn’t let them flap. “Doug like the women warriors.”

“Mmm-hrmm. Quite a bit, from the looks of him & Ana — all right, all right.” Mike put up both hands in mock-surrender. “What do you want to borrow my Students for?”

“Couple things. Wanna ask some people about being Kept.”

“Well, that’s an interesting line of inquisition from you, Hawk.” She pointedly didn’t mention that she’d been Kept, of course.

“Yeah. Been… uh. I’ve been thinking.”

“You said. And I said I’d noticed.” She smirked at him. “So. Questions. And…?”

“And I want to take a field trip, and I want some other points of view.”

“You really have been thinking.”

“I said that.” He pulled his wings in tighter.

“Yeah, but… all right. Yes. As long as they’re willing, you have my permission. Who were you thinking?”

His wings didn’t get any less tight. “Denny.”

“…Denny?” Mike giggled. “Oh, definitely. I’d pay to see that. Do tell me what you learn, won’t you?”

“…of course. Thank you.” Luke fled before his pride could be damaged any further.

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Beauty-Beast 6: The Driver Weighs In

FirstPreviousLanding PageNext


Sir ran a hand over the side of Ctirad’s hair. Ermenrich had cut it short again, shaved on the sides, military-looking. Ctirad hated it that way – but it wasn’t his hair, any more than when he had been in the military. “So, I trust Sal with my life, with my secrets, and with a good deal of my fortune – and not just in this car, which you can’t see at the moment, but is very expensive. But I assured you that when we weren’t alone, I would not make you answer questions – and while Sal does count as ‘private’ for me, I can’t say the same for you. You follow?”

Oh. “I… follow, sir.” Ctirad swallowed. “What do you want me to do?”

“Easy there, darling. Remember, I said this would be up to you? So. The question is, what do you want to do?”

“With all due respect sir,” he was going to get his ass kicked. He was going to go without food for a week, “that’s a trap. I can’t answer if I don’t know what you want me to want.”

There was a short laugh from the front of the car. “He’s got you there, sir.”

“Not helping, Sal.” Sir sounded a little grumpy. Ctirad worked his jaw and wondered how bad this one was gonna hurt. “Ctirad, it was not intended as a trap, but I understand how it might look that way. Let me put it this way. Are you comfortable with me touching you in front of Sal?”

He didn’t have honesty orders. On the other hand, he couldn’t see Sir’s face to see if his lies were going over well. Ctirad chewed it over. “With my clothes on, sir, yeah. That’s nothing new.”

“That’s not quite the same, but I’ll go with it. Okay. Are you comfortable answering questions in front of Sal?”


“It’s a long drive, Sal. Unless you want to regale him with tales of your life?”

“Carry on, boss.” It sounded like there was a salute in the reply. Ctirad was suddenly more curious about this Sal.

“So, Ctirad?”

“Uh. If I’m being honest, depends on the question, and depends on if I get wiggle room or it’s an order.”

“I’d prefer you be honest – but that’s not an order, not yet. All right. So.” He got the impression Sir was looking at him. “Sal? Any questions?”


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So, Tell Me About Your Day… (Cya’s Date Continues)

After Cya gets ready for a date and Almost Out the Door for a Date and Trying Again and Blind Dateand Catching Up and Getting to (re-)Know him
and Also Needs a Title
and More Cya Date
They ordered dinner. There was a moment where it looked like Manus expected Cya to order for him; then he coughed and ordered his own food. Something different than she’d have picked; she wondered if he did it out of some residual defiance.

She hoped not. She didn’t want defiant, because defiant meant he was still thinking of her as an authority figure. Domme, maybe. She could definitely get behind (ha) that. But not authority figure in the rest of his life.

“So,” she asked, over delicious white bread that tasted all the better for remembering years where white flour was hard to come by, with a dipping sauce of Cloverleaf-grown olives (one of her proudest accomplishments was that tiny greenhouse orchard). “Tell me more about being a judge-and-diplomat?”

“Well, like I said,” he smiled at her over his wine, “it’s something of just getting people to talk, nothing fancy.”

“Well, give me an example?” she coaxed. It was all in the tone of voice. She didn’t want him thinking anything like orders.

“Okay, so. Couple months ago, Neihart Mountain, it lost two trade caravans headed up to MinuteTown. You know, up in the mountains, that place nobody thought would survive.”

“I remember.” She’d pulled three kids from there the year they thought it would collapse, the three that were the right age to take to Doomsday. The city had stayed standing. The kids had chosen not to go back.

“So, every once in a while, they get it in their head that they need something some other city near them has. And when they do, well, they go attacking. They’re not much better than bandits with a decent home base at this point, and seems like they’re suffering some brain drain. The ones that can get out, the smart ones, tend to leave.”

Cya looked guiltily down at her plate. “We encourage that, on occasion.”

“Good. People that are smart enough to get out of there ought to. Something I figured out a long time ago, Cya. People aren’t required to go down with a ship just because it carried them for a while.” He tapped her nose lightly, then pulled his hand back. When she peeked up at him, he looked mildly worried.

She stuck her tongue out at him so he’d know she wasn’t offended. “So they were raiding Neihart?”

“Trying, at least. But let’s be honest, even if Neihart can take them down with one hand tied behind their collective back – and they can – it’s a drain on resources and it’s demoralizing. So I got myself together a collection of some very terrifying people, a couple former cy’Dougs and ah, couple people you might recognize their names, and had them arm and armor themselves to the teeth, and then they followed me… and I talked.

“I wasn’t just going to bully them, I knew that wouldn’t work. So I brought a wagon of flour and bread and sausage and some of that really good goat cheese, and three baskets of vegetables, and seeds. And Dory Antelevron, she’s a genius with anything planting and she can teach an idiot how to be a genius. She volunteered,” he added. “And I explained to them that what was going to happen was that Dory was going to visit them under guard, and teach them how to not be stupid with their own food stores. And they were, in payment for listening to Dory, going to get a wagon full of food and not get wiped off the map.

“The thing about a cy’Doug with a sword,” he added, with a bright and cheerful smile, “is that you don’t even think can she kill me? You’re mostly thinking how long ‘till my breathing irritates her? They agreed. They were in a damn hurry to agree. And Dory thinks some of what she taught them might even stick.”

“Brilliant.” Cya grinned at him. “Sounds like a fun job.”


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Lady Taisiya’s 4th Husband, Chapter 20: Good Boy – 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 16: here
Chapter 17: here
Chapter 18: here
Chapter 19: here

You can skip Chapter 11 without losing the plot.

Sefton lay on his back in Lady Tasiya’s bed, his wife curled against him and her head on his chest. His lady looked much smaller, he noticed, when she was sleeping, softer. She looked like the girls in the novels he’d read as a kid.

The exhaustion was pricking at his eyes and muddling his mind, making his limbs heavy and his thoughts thick. Still, he stared up at the fresco on the ceiling, the figures shadowed and impossible to make out, and thought about being married.

He held his wrists up so that he could look at the shackles, dropped his wrists to his stomach and sighed. He’d said yes, of course. It wasn’t like he’d had any choice — run off and join the bandits?

The bandits. His hands clenched into fists. They’d just let themselves in. The whole point of this set-up was that the egglings were supposed to be safe.

The egglings were safe, he reminded himself. You and Jaco kept them safe. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

He had been training in combat since he was able to hold a weapon. They all did, boys and girls, men and women. He lifted his hands up to look at the chains again. Men weren’t allowed to fight unless they were bound into the army or protecting their egglings.

When men fight free, the world suffers. So said their nation’s charter, and their treaty with the three bordering nations. So said everyone — and yet over half the bandits were men.

The world not being fair was a truism, like water being wet, like the sky being turquoise.

He wanted to pace. When he was little, even when he was a teenager, he’d let himself out of the nursery and walked back and forth down the halls until he could go back to sleep. He’d figured out homework that way, and problems with his siblings, and the week before the wedding he’d been out there every night, pacing, trying to calm himself down, trying to tell himself it would be all right.

Right now, he couldn’t pace – couldn’t go anywhere – because his wife was sleeping with her head on his chest. It was a nice feeling, quite different from anything else, even different from those times with Isham. Sefton sighed, his breath moving Taisiya’s hair, and tried to go back to sleep.

When he woke, she was no longer pressed up against him. She wasn’t there at all. Sefton froze. What was he supposed to do, if his wife left him in bed alone? He knew this. There had to be a protocol. There was a protocol for everything. He just – right now- he couldn’t remember anything at all.

“Hey, brother-husband.” Jaco’s cheerful voice came from just beyond the bed curtains. “Come on. Time for you to head back to husbands’ territory and help me with breakfast clean-up. And then we can sit down and eat a nice hearty breakfast.” A pair of pants landed on his face. “Get yourself clothed and let’s go. The quicker we’re done with everything, the more chance there is for a nap later in the day – and you’re going to need it, after yesterday.”

Sefton slid on the pants, noting that his wrists were still not chained to his waist again, and followed Jaco mostly blindly back into husbands’ territory. It was good he was following someone, because he hadn’t been to the kitchen yet, and it was in a previously-unexplored part of the house.

The sink was full of water already. Sefton dug his hands into the dishes without being asked – Jaco’s hands were chained down, even if Sefton’s wasn’t, and he knew from watching his youngest father that basic chores could become tricky like that.

“She likes you.” Jaco sounded amused. Sefton couldn’t really fault him for that, and it was a lot better than angry or jealous.

Sefton smirked at him, risking a joke. They’d fought together, after all. “I do what she tells me to.”

“Oh, is that what I’m doing wrong? I knew it had to be something.” Jaco laughed. “Well, nothing wrong with being a good boy if you don’t have something to prove by being bad.”

“I don’t have anything to prove. And I, um. I don’t have anyone I’m missing by being here.”

“What, no special friends? No girl you were thinking of?” This time, Jaco’s question seemed to have an edge.

Sefton decided honesty was his best option.

“My closest good friend got married just a week before I did.”

There was enough information there for Jaco to put it together if he wanted to. Then again, Sefton really didn’t lose anything by him knowing.

“Oh, man.” Jaco winced sympathetically. “That’s not any fun. But at least you weren’t waiting mooning around long… wait. A week?”

Well, it was out now. Sefton nodded very slowly.

“A week. Oh, man, was your – your special friend was Isham?” Jaco shook his head. “Did your mother know?”

“Of course she didn’t! Did you tell your mother about the boys you were playing with? I mean, some of them still act like it’s horrid, and the ones that don’t, they act like it’s nothing.” He’d watched a couple of his friends after they tried to tell their mothers. “Anything between two boys, it’s always going to be temporary.” He thought, guiltily, of how easily both Taisiya and Pherishhe had handled the information. That wasn’t the norm, though. His mother, she wouldn’t have been like that – would she have?

“But if she knew, do you think she would’ve still married you to, well, to his mother? That’s got to be awkward.”

More awkward was living with Isham’s fathers, but Sefton wasn’t about to mention that right now. “I think she had a deal she wanted to make, and I don’t think what I wanted really mattered. I mean, she knew that Lady Taisiya was a good woman and that she could afford another husband. I don’t think she really thought any more deeply about it.”

Jaco shook his head. “It was hard enough for me, being separated. If it had been, if it’d been her mother, I don’t know. I might have actually managed to run away.”

Sefton swallowed his momentary horror. “I’m not like that,” he managed. “It might not be what I wanted, but I’m going to do what’s asked of me.”

“Ah, well.” Jaco wrinkled his nose. “We can’t all be good boys.”


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After the Rebellion, After the Fires Went Out

Unknown ‘verse, possibly the one I wrote another slave rebellion in that nobody’s ever read, to [personal profile] lilfluff’s prompt “Mistress meets former slave after the successful rebellion”.

The rebellion had gone far more smoothly than anyone had ever expected such a thing might go.

It was bloody, of course; it was violent, of course, and in the end there were nearly as many slaves dead as owners.

The thing was, though: there were a lot more slaves than owners, and they had been a lot more willing to die than their owners had.

Paleyah Rose, formerly Junior Lady of Rose Heights, had not been willing to die, and her personal slaves had not felt very strongly about killing her, the way some owners’ slaves had. She was incarcerated in what had been the slave quarters of Rose Heights, and she had been put to work with such tasks as the current establishment believed she might be able to handle. At the moment, that was light cleaning and light food preparation, her former Head Chef keeping the position but working under his own free will now.

She did not mind the work, finding it meditative. She did not mind working for Yothen; she had always been of the impression that he thought she worked for him anyway, so the change was only in the labor she was performing. She did not mind, much, no longer being Junior Lady, and she found, rather guiltily, that she did not altogether miss Geshana Rose, the former Senior Lady of Rose Heights and Paleyah’s step-mother. She did not know where Geshana had been taken, as nobody would tell her, but she had not tried very hard to find out, either.

Her own daughter, Teregrine, had, on the other hand, been returned to her, as Teregrine’s nanny had, as a matter of course, been freed in the rebellion. She had not seen her now-ten-year-old daughter since she was weaned, and found she enjoyed the girl’s company, and that they could, together, enjoy peeling carrots.

What Paleyah did not enjoy was the gloating of some of the former staff – both those who had worked at Rose Heights before and those who had climbed up the ranks in the rebellion. There had been many reasons for the slave revolt, and Paleyah could not argue with many of them, but that didn’t stop her from finding their leering and joking and gloating – well, revolting.

And, at the same time, strangely impotent. Many had died in the initial surge, but since then, there had been very few deaths and almost no violence against the former owners, except those who attempted to fight back. Paleyah had not attempted to fight back; she was comfortable where she was, for one, and for another, she had no interest in a losing battle.

She had retired for the evening to her tiny room; her daughter was playing with some of the former-slaves’ children, and nobody seemed to think that was a bad thing, least of all Paleyah.

“Jun- Paleyah.” Herusten had not quite broken himself of calling her by her former title. “You have a visitor.”

Paleyah had heard enough of “visitors” through the gossip mill which now, as when she had been a Junior Lady, assumed that since she was quiet and spoke little, she also heard little. She stood and pulled her robe around herself. “Teregrine…?”

“I don’t think it’s that sort of visitor. But if it is, you know I’ll take care of her like she’s my own,” he assured her. Herusten had always been part of the household; now he ran it. It was Paleyah’s private opinion that he did a far better job at it than Geshana Rose ever had.

“Thank you.” She stepped out into the common room, wondering who might be coming for her, if it weren’t the leaders of the rebellion.

She thought for a moment her heart had stopped in her chest. “…Calandro.” She managed to whisper it, despite her breath having left her. “You-”

She’d woken to a house awash with violence and the slave who shared her bed – who had shared her bed since she was old enough for such things – gone. She’d feared he’d been killed as a sympathizer; she’d feared he’d joined the rebellion and helped with her incarceration; she’d feared he’d taken the first opportunity to leave her.

He was holding the hand of a young boy, maybe half of Teregrine’s age.

“I had to take care of some things. And I couldn’t be there in your bed. I might have tried, if it hadn’t been for the kids, but there were the kids… and they might have killed me if I’d been there.” He sounded, she thought, the same, and yet older, tireder. “If they’d decided you needed to die, and I couldn’t save you – and I wouldn’t have been able to, not against the whole rebellion – then I’d have died, too, and…”

“I’m glad you’re alive,” she cut him off gently. Calandro had been born into service. The ones who had started the rebellion, most of them hadn’t, or they’d served hard lives in hard positions. She had regrets about some things she’d done when she’d been Junior Lady, but Paleyah was fairly certain being her bedroom slave had not been a hard position for Calandro. “But you keep saying ‘children’. They brought Teregrine back to me.”

“Took me a while to find her. But this one, they’d hidden him even better.”

“This…” Her voice broke, the way it hadn’t when they took her mother away, when they took away her title and her silks, even when she woke to find Calandro gone. “Cal, our son was born dead.”

“No.” He shook his head, and she didn’t even bother to try to hide the sob. “No, he wasn’t, my Lady. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t. And this is him.”

She wasn’t a lady anymore. There was no reason to care who heard her cry.

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Answers from Grandpa Joseph – a continuation of the Stone story

This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, After the Kinging, Stone: Aftermath, and Stone: After some Aftermath
Beryl and Stone both had a hand on the necklace that was their ancestor (or at least distant relative; neither had bothered to look up where he stood on the family tree, in part because that would require talking to the relatives who kept the family tree, and that might lead to some awkward explanations nobody wanted to get into).

::Very good. Now. Where to start?::

“What happens when you go against the will of the family?” Stone was whispering. His door was half-open, half-closed, because he and Beryl both thought this was more than a little weird and wanted to be able to shout for help if they had to.

::And it’s a good question, even if it’s an awkward question. So. Who’s the will of the family?::

Neither of them answered. In their heads, the necklace chuckled.

::Ah. I see you’ve both learned to spot an obvious trap before it bites you. You’re right, of course. It’s not the Aunt, it’s not the grandmothers, it’s not the young mothers and it’s certainly not the husbands and sons. But yet… it is.::

Stone looked at Beryl; she looked back and shrugged.

::Aw, you’ve learned too well. How am I supposed to have fun?:: the necklace sulked. ::All right, all right. The family will, like the family power, is a gestalt thing. But the will, unlike the power, is mob rule. It moves this way and that way all over the place, depending on the climate. So the problem is: what the family will is can change from day to day, much less from year to year. Like young Stone here.::

“Excuse me?” There were too many things that could mean, and Stone didn’t like most of them.

::The family was fine ignoring you, weren’t they? Nobody was going to be stupid enough to train you. Nobody was going to give you any more power – or, should I say, give you access to your own power. Given time, the family gestalt would soak up most of it, leaving you with enough to light a fire without a match or know when it was going to rain, probably. Petty stuff, the stuff any street-corner magician can do. That’s what the family does, you know. It collects power that’s not being used.::

“Wait, what?” Beryl stared at the necklace as if she could see if it was lying or not. Stone felt an urge to do the same.

“Say that again.”

::The family gestalt. What did you think the power the Aunt held was?::

“It’s our birthright…” Beryl said slowly. “The strength of the family. The power of the lineage.”

::Exactly. The strength of the family. The power of the lineage. It’s a lot more powerful now than it has been in the past. That’s part of the reason – though I bet from what I hear in your voices that most people don’t know this – that they can afford to have so many non-Aunts wandering around doing magic. You. Rosa. I bet everyone does a little more than their ancestors did.::

“Because…” Stone frowned. “We have more power?”

“Because we have more family!” Beryl sat up straighter and grinned, and then just as immediately deflated. “Wait. Wait, though. The family splits. It gets too big, and then it splits.”

::That’s the other sort of power, though. That’s the fact that a mob too big is too hard to steer. Well, and it might burst a weaker Aunt, let’s be honest. That’s a bad thing, someone who can’t hold the power.::

“…but the family splits,” Beryl repeated plaintively, “so how are we more powerful now than we have been?”

::Two reasons. Maybe three. Let’s see if you can figure them out.::

“You sound like Mrs. Tyler,” Stone complained half-heartedly. “Okay, so. Big families. There’s four of us, most of our cousins have two or three in the family, and it spreads like that. So even with splitting, you get bigger families.”

::That’s one.:: It sounded like the necklace approved. Stone still wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“Oh! Oh, we suck in other powers. I mean, that sounds violent but-” Beryl ducked her head. Stone was pretty sure she was thinking about their dad.

::That is right, yes. What about your Jake? Does he have power?::

“Still figuring that out,” she muttered. “He doesn’t run away screaming, at least.”

::Even if you don’t want to be the Aunt, you might think about what bringing a powered person into the family will do,:: the necklace murmured. ::Think long and hard, dear.::

Want More?

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Go Go (Go Away) Godzilla, a story of Fae Apoc

Sometime around 2012-2013 – just after the apocalypse.

Entirely the fault of me watching Kong yesterday.

“Idu Intinn… kaiju.”

There were times when Cya really could not fault Leo for believing he was an anime hero.

“Okay, guys, it’s got no brain, take it down.”

Of course, times like this, it would probably be more helpful if he thought he was the hero in a Toho flick.

“Taking out its… uh.. forelimbs… watch the ground… now! Abatu Eperu έδαφος gamma.”

She was probably going to hell for thinking so flippantly about it. Then again, they might already all be in hell.

From her perch on the wall (because she was squishy and theoretically a non-combatant), Cya watched the lizard-like creature twice the height of the nearby buildings stumble into the pit she’d made under its forelimbs. It brought its neck down to a reasonable height for the others to start lopping at it and she, because she had never been all that reasonable about such things, jumped down onto its back.

“Why this is hell, nor am I out of it,” she muttered, while she sliced down the thing’s spine with her sharpest knife. “Tempero Eperu, Unutu λεπίδα αιχμηρός,” she hissed, sharpening her blade, and dug in again. “Think’st thou that I who saw the faces of gods…” She’d better watch out, or she was going to end up as mad as Leo, quoting Shakespeare in the midst of a battle.

And thinking midst. She held on to her blade with both hands while the thing bucked. “Hole coming, one, two… now! Abatu Eperu έδαφος delta!”

She rode the thing down to the ground, blood and gore splattering all over her. She’d found its spine, though, and now she could sever its spinal cored. “Do you think?” she asked, as she sawed through the thing, “that someone showed the returned gods the wrong movies? Or do you think Japan had a window into Ellehem a long time ago?”

The Workings she uses in this are, in order:

“Know Mind” (does it have one?)

“Destroy Earth, ground, level 3″ (and later level 4)

“Control Earth-and-Worked-Objects, blade, sharper.”

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Things She Knew… and Things She Learned (AU/If I Die Old)

We’re still deep in AU territory here.
Cya died in If I Die Young.

And Um. Didn’t stay dead. She’d planned for that.

Then Cal wrote Don’t Just Survive,

So I wrote Stay Alive. Your Job is to Stay Alive.

Then Cal wrote A Child Named Thistle

So here’s Thistle.

There were things Thistle knew, the way she knew her own name and how you always had an escape route, the way she could tie a knot, the way she could shoot a bow, the way she breathed.

And there were things she didn’t know until she knew them.

He’s hurting so hard, she thought, and she realized that she wanted to take care of him.

And she knew I’m a kid still. She looked down at her fingers, at her hands, too small. “They’re not big enough,” she muttered. And then she cleared her throat, because she knew better than to talk like that.

Except this was…

“Leo.” She tried out the name. It came out warm and affectionate, a little exasperated, and full of love.

It made her blush a little, and it made her aware that she wasn’t remembering everything.

It made her aware that she was a kid, and he was a grown-up. That had never happened before.

“Leo.” She cleared her throat. “That’s you? Yeah?”

He nodded slowly. Had he heard in her voice what she’d heard?

“Sir…” she tried, and noticed that he frowned.

“Leo,” he agreed. “That’s my name, though most people call me Leofric.”

“Leofric.” It sounded like she was irritated with him. “Leofric Lightning-Blade. So you… you know.”

He cleared his throat. “I know…” He sounded like he was asking her. Like he knew, something in her suggested, but he didn’t believe.

“I told you I’d come back.” There she was sounding exasperated again. She shook her head and cleared her throat, trying to get everything sorted out. “There’s – there’s…” There’s me and there’s me. And they’re both me, but one of me isn’t grown-up yet and one of me is a hundred years old and she… and she… “Oh.” She put her head down on her knees. “Reincarnation,” she said slowly, “it’s what happens, my dad said, when a soul is reborn. Which means, uh. Which means dying first, doesn’t it?”

He didn’t have to answer, which was good because she didn’t think he could.

“Sometimes I remember things that happened before I was born. Sometimes I don’t. But I always know who I am.” She looked at him and tried to put it into words. “I’m Thistle. And… uh. I’m Cya. Cya, not Cynara.” She tried that on carefully. “And… I was born being told to survive and to learn. So um. I think that school is a really good idea.”

My hands aren’t big enough yet. But she couldn’t have made him wait any longer.

And her hands would have to grow kinda fast, from the looks of things.

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