Archive | April 2, 2017


First: Slaves, School
Previous: Space and Time

They didn’t get to meet the ninth member of their dorm until the next morning.

That first night, they spent a little time talking, getting to know Doria, Poiy, and Lufet and sharing more stories of the stairs, but they were all exhausted and they had an unknown but presumably early bell to answer to coming probably far too soon.

Des’ last thoughts as he drifted off for the night were that the bed was surprisingly comfortable, the pajamas ridiculous, and the ceiling far too close.

The bell came early, but not as awfully early as he’d expected – there was already a splash of light through the window. In the winter, that would make the bell unpleasantly early, but right not Des could see enough to climb out of bed without kicking either Talia or Doria.

He dressed quietly, listening to the grumbles and rumbles of his dorm-mates without really hearing anything. The buttons on his shirt seemed to give him trouble, but he managed on the third try without anyone else seeming to notice his issues.

He left his tie messy, as many other members seemed to, and slicked back his hair in the bathroom. He looked – he spent a minute he should’ve been spending on getting to breakfast looking at himself – he looked like someone different, in the clean and fitted clothes, the white and beige and blue. He looked rich – except the collar.

::I beg your pardon. I look rich, too.::

Desmond touched the collar with two fingers. “Rich people don’t wear collars,” he muttered. “People who wear collars aren’t rich.”

::That is an interesting belief; however, it has little to nothing to do with reality. Now. Breakfast.::

“I’m going, I’m going. Why are you in such a hurry?”

::Because there will be magic today, and if you have not eaten, you can not perform magic properly. Go. Go.::

“Going, going.” He managed to catch up with the tail end of his dorm-mates halfway to the dining hall – Doria, Talia, Jefshan, and the younger “new” student.

“This is Cataleb,” Jefshan introduced the short, childlike ninth Blue. “Cataleb did the stairs yesterday and then, as soon as a bed was provided, fell down on it.”

Cataleb nodded solemnly. “It was a lot of stairs.” The voice, too, was childlike. “And I wasn’t hungry for nothin’ after all of the stairs, so I just… slept.”

“I can’t say I blame you.” Desmond wanted to ask how old this newest member of their group was, but it would be rude to imply Cataleb wasn’t capable of being there. “My collar’s been yelling at me to get to breakfast. I’m surprised yours didn’t yell at you to get to dinner.”

Cataleb held up one of the collar-suppressors with a wicked grin before dropping it back in a pocket of their kilt. “Lifted this one. Comes in mighty handy when the thing is too talky.”

“That’s…” Des trailed off. He remembered what his collar had said about how it felt, and he didn’t know what he should say.

“…Amazing,” Jefshan filled in. “How did you get it?”

“I’m pretty good with my fingers. And now my collar’s all quiet and not bothering me at all. Nifty, isn’t it?”

“Your collar didn’t complain?” Des offered cautiously.

“Well, yeah, a bit, but I’ve still got the thing. ‘Sides, it’s not like it’s a person. Just a talkative piece of metal. So, what’d I miss in dinner?”

“Food.” Talia looked almost as unhappy as Des felt. “And some talk about where we were and what we were doing.”

“Gonna dig ditches magically and all that, right? Glare at people and make them tell the truth in court, that sort of thing? Go off on boats and pray they don’t get lost like they always do?” Cataleb’s head-shake made golden curls go every which way. “Forget that. I’m out of here as soon as I find a door, collar or no.”

“Do you really think that’s a possibility?” Des was curious, more than interested for himself. “And – really, why? Good food, good sleeping arrangements, education – what do you have to go back to that’s better than that?”

“Not having a thing talking in my head all the time, for one. You tell me that’s what you like? Someone always talking?”

“I’m the middle child of three,” Des answered without thinking. “Someone’s always talking either way. And I like – well, everything here so far, almost.”

“Including that death trap? Those stairs? Seriously, a body could’ve died on those stairs and who would’ve known except their screamin’ collar? No thank you. This place wants to kill me and I want to keep my skin on my body, thank you – shut up! Shut up or I’ll shut you up!” Cataleb fell quiet, glaring off into the air.

Des shared a look with Jefshan, who seemed to have become the unofficial dorm parent for their group. Jefshan’s shoulders twitched in a shrug that Cataleb could either miss or pretend to miss: Don’t ask me.

Des sighed. “What do you think breakfast will be like?” he asked Doria, just to be talking about something else.

“No idea!” Doria looked far too cheerful about the lack of knowledge. “But I bet it’s going to be food. Probably edible food, maybe even tasty.” A tug at the waistband of the uniform kilt showed that Doria’s, too, had been fitted. “I hope our collars are good at letting skirts out the way mine made it all go in, ‘cause I’m going to need a new kilt in a week otherwise.”

“Unless,” Talia pointed out, “they keep us running up and down stairs – really?” Talia’s nose wrinkled. “Magic uses energy. Some of it’s from the collar, but some is from us. Maybe as much as running up and down stairs all day. No getting fat from us.”

“Where do the collars get energy? Mine said something about that the other – that was yesterday.” Yesterday seemed a long time ago.

“They can starve?” Cataleb perked up.

Desmond shot a disgusted look at the newest member of their dorm and moved into the lunch room.

::I don’t like that one:: his collar murmured in his ear. Desmond was pretty sure it went without saying that he felt the same.


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Beauty-Beast 8: Claws and Monsters

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Ctirad could practically feel Sir’s eyes on him. The silence seemed to hang in the air, something nobody was saying just waiting to be said.

Finally, Ctirad cleared his throat. “So what should I know?”

Sir chuckled. “I’m not Ermenrich. Sometimes I’m an asshole, and I admit it – Sal will tell you…”

“Sometimes he’s an asshole,” Sal agreed cheerfully.

“-Thanks, Sal. But I’m not a monster,” his voice did something strange. Ctirad looked up at the voice as if that would help.

He felt a hand on his hair. “If you would, if you can, keep your eyes closed just a little longer, please.”

Well that, for all the buffer, was an order. Ctirad nodded slowly. “Yes, sir. That’s fine, I can handle that, sir.” Some impulse made him add, “as long as I’m not left alone, please, sir.”

There was silence for a moment, and then Sir’s hand moved from Ctirad’s hair to his cheek. “It’s a deal. I won’t leave you alone and blinded ever, all right?”

“Thank you, sir.” He swallowed, worked his way around a lump in his throat, and nodded his head uncertainly. “I just. Can’t read your expression,” he admitted. “…Shit, I sound ridiculous.”

“You sound,” Sir corrected, “like someone newly under a new bond of Belonging, someone who didn’t have a very good time of his last Keeper and maybe not the Owner before that. You sound like someone who needs to be treated with respect. Because I can see your claws, Ctirad, and I am very interested in them, but I wonder if you know exactly how much they show.”

Ctirad swallowed. “Sir?” He flexed his fingers. He did not have claws, not with his Mask down. He never had – at least, he was pretty sure he never had.

Sir stroked Ctirad’s back and the back of his hair. “You have anger in you, which is completely understandable, but you have barely-restrained violence, too. Frustrated violence, if I don’t miss my guess, but also, mmm, like a tiger. Simply sitting there, you have the potential to murder.”

Ctirad went stiff. “Sir.” He tried to show nothing in his voice. He was pretty sure he failed. “I Belong to you.”


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Funeral: Ellehemaei Inheritance Law

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Legacies and Unimportant People

The lawyer was waiting for them, all prickly and officious. “Miss Senga Monmartin, Mr. Erramun Silence. Here are the full details of Mirabella’s behest to the two of you. It encompasses all that was read in the will – both the rewards for compliance and the punishments for a lack thereof, as it were – but includes also this statement:

“‘Now, Silence, I know you, and you’re going to try to give up as little as possible, and Senga, I know you, and you’re going to try to be nice, because that’s what you do. Neither of those things are bad traits – but they don’t suit this plan of mine. If I’m gone – and if I weren’t gone, you wouldn’t be hearing this, now would you – you’re going to have to trust the plan, both of you, because nothing else will keep you both above water.

“‘In that vein, I will only consider you to have followed the letter of my will and the spirit if you swear to the Belonging in front of Mr. Maladono, my favorite lawyer, and if you do so with no qualifiers. Nothing but you, Silence, saying you Belong to you, Senga, that and nothing more.’”

Senga looked at Silence. He was growling softly under his breath, glaring at the lawyer and the paper the lawyer was holding. The lawyer, quite sensibly, took a step backwards. Senga resisted the urge to do the same as Silence turned his glare on her.

“This was not my doing,” she pointed out, “or I wouldn’t have bothered to be negotiating terms with you.”

“You’re fucked if I say no, aren’t you?” There was something amused under the growl. Senga struggled not to show anything on her face.

“You’re fucked if you say no, too, aren’t you?” she countered.

“Oh, yeah. But it’s nice to know we’re fucked together…. or not-fucked together.” He smirked at her. “Which defeats the purpose of me being under your Name, I suppose.”

She snorted. “I don’t think Great-Aunt Mirabella arranged this all just so my bed would be warmer. For that, I can imagine she’d have picked someone who wanted the collar. She had a few of those, didn’t she?” She turned that question on the lawyer, who was doing his best to pretend he wasn’t listening to this discussion.

He cleared his throat. “If you mean, were there people in Mirabella’s will… there were three. Those disbursements were handled separately, as that is obviously against the law in this state.”

“All states, I’d think?”

“Oh, actually, there are special laws in three states, including California, that were presumably put in place stealthily and under the aegis of other laws by powerful Ellehemaei. That being said, if you wish to discuss inheritance law vis-a-vis Ellehemaei, I’d be more than willing to do so – at another date. Right now, I need to know which path the two of you are pursuing.”


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A story featuring a male Keeper and a female Kept, post apoc Fae Apoc… Things.

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The slave market was exhausting. Mélanie felt like she was in a constant state of panic, twitching at everyone who walked by and shivery when she wasn’t twitching. Someone was going to buy her. And if they didn’t buy her, she was going to be punished again. She’d been on short rations to save money since the last slave market, since she’d been cowering in the corner and hiding from everyone who walked by.

This time, she was chained so she couldn’t hide, and she’d been told if she hid anyway, she’d be beaten. They hadn’t beaten her yet, and she didn’t want to find out what it was like. So she smiled cautiously at everyone who walked by and tried not to look nearly as terrified as she felt.

“A little skittish, isn’t this one?” The voice, in other circumstances, might have been pleasant. In this situation, it made her lift her chin just a tiny bit and hope that she looked pleasant and buyable and not nervous or intractable.

“Oh, she’s just eager to get out of the cage and serve someone. You know how they can be.” The slave factor’s voice had too much forced cheer in it. Mélanie took a step forward – a half-step, as that was all the chains allowed for – and smiled hopefully. Maybe it would be enough.

“She looks scared out of her mind. I can’t be that frightening, can I?”

“A new situation is always a little nerve-wracking, isn’t it, sir?” There was so much oil laid onto the factor’s tone that it had to be giving the customer pimples. Mélanie certainly felt like it was making her break out.

“Bring her out here. I want to see her before I make my decision.”

“But sir…”

“Oh, if she’s eager to be bought, she won’t make a run for it, will she? And if she’s not, well, I’d rather know before I brought her home. Bring her out here.” The customer’s voice was implacable. Mélanie couldn’t quite hide a shiver.

“Fine.” The slave factor was sulking. He opened the cage and unhooked three of the chains holding Mélanie in place before tugging her outward.

She wasn’t going to run, of course; she had nowhere at all to run. But the slave factor couldn’t know that, and neither could this guy.

His shoes looked well-kept for. He – or someone who worked for him – had oiled them, so even though they were worn, they looked good. His pants were hemmed with no ragged lines. Not jeans, but something like denim.

She kept her eyes on those shoes and those hems. It was safer that way.

“She’s underfed.”

“Aren’t we all, these days?” The slave factor patted what had once been a fat belly. “Aren’t we all.”

“And shivering.”

“Well, she’s eager, sir.”

“And freezing. I’ll take her. But for the price you’re asking, you’re throwing in that jacket you’re wearing. It doesn’t suit you anyway.”

“My jacket?” The slave factor took a step backwards. “This is mine!”

“And she’s going to be mine, and a large portion of my trade goods are going to be yours, and you’re going to give me the coat. Now.”

Something in his voice brooked no argument. Something in his voice, Mélanie noted from a distant place in her mind, was terrifying.

She wasn’t listening to that place. She was paying attention as the slave factor, bitching and whining the whole time, put his jacket around her shoulders and even held it for her to get her arms in. It smelled faintly of tobacco and, strangely, not of anything worse. It almost smelled clean.

“There. Now. I’m going to pay you forty pounds of trade goods. And she’s mine?”

“By the terms of that agreement, this slave is yours. You’re his now.” The factor gave her a little shove.
Mélanie shook her head, trying to clear the sudden strange feelings as ownership transferred. The new man caught her by the wrists. “Mine,” he repeated quietly. “Let’s get you into that wagon and pay for you, shall we? Don’t run off,” he added, his voice so quiet she thought maybe he meant the order to be a secret. “Stay within sight of me if you can. I want to get us out of here.”

“Yes, sir.” She nodded politely at the man and didn’t even try to pull away. “Where are we going, sir… in case I lose sight of you?”

“My cart is on the far side of here, the east side, just outside the gate. Now, can you hold your head up and not look like you just got bought?”

“I – yes.” She shifted her shoulders and thought about better times, lifted her head up and pulled on a smile a much earlier incarnation of herself might have worn. She was proud. She was with someone she was happy to be with. She was clothed and her main item of clothing was even mostly clean. She could be proud for a bit.

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