Archive | May 2017

Funeral: Introductions

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Coming Home

Senga shifted herself between Allayne and Erramun quickly. “Don’t kill her, either,” she whispered. “Allayne, this is Erramun, sa’Death Comes Silently, a former associate of my great-Aunt Mirabella’s and, ah, currently, thanks to Great-Aunt Mirabella, my Kept, my bond servant. Oh, we got the Manor, too.”

Allayne looked Erramun up and down. “Forget the Manor, your aunt gave you a man? How do I get to be part of your family?”

“Generally,” Erramun answered, with a dangerous rumble to his voice and an obvious lack of being impressed by Allayne, “by losing some of your current family, often violently. At least, that’s what seemed to happen to Senga here. Sa-” He frowned down at her. “You can’t call me sa’, you own me. And I can’t call you sa’, I don’t know your name.”

“You seriously Own him. You Own him. You went to a funeral and came back with a man. Only you, Senga, only you. I told you you should have taken me with you.” Allayne clucked cheerfully. “Well, hello to you, Erramun oro’Senga. And if she wants to call you sa’, I wouldn’t argue with her. She had a fun sense of protocol. Probably comes from growing up with Mirabella as family matriarch. I know that would make me absolutely crazy, and I think Senga here just sublimated it into some strange manners.”

Senga coughed. Erramun looked a little off-put and a little confused. Allayne often had that effect on people she wasn’t in the middle of hooking in.

“Allayne. I survived the funeral, I have to figure out relocated Erramun and then relocating us to the Manor-”

“-you have a bond servant now. Delegate. He can figure out how to move himself, he can figure out getting us into the Manor, and then you and I can gossip about your horrible cousins.”

“She has a point,” Erramun pointed out. “I can get my stuff.”

“You don’t have a car here.”

“You are…“ He trailed off, turning a slightly-funny color, and bowed. “I’m sorry. My temper got away with me.”

“That was your temper getting away with you?” Allayne asked. “I mean, man, I can see it, you shouted and threw shit and-”

“Erramun,” Senga asked carefully, “what am I missing?”

“Other ways of getting from one place to another,” he answered, and then frowned.

“You know -” she trailed off. He wouldn’t thank her for talking about the way the Bond was pressing on him in front of Allayne. He probably wouldn’t like it even when they were alone. “If you want to go get your things on your own, you can feel free to do so. Be back before dark, and if you have more than will fit here and in the garage, we’ll have to work something out.”

“I don’t have much.” He bowed and left – presumably before she could give him any more orders.

Senga spent the next hour fending off questions from Allayne she didn’t want to answer, packing up as much of her stuff as she could, fending off questions from Chitter once Allayne had gone there, and trying to remember Monmartin Hill Manor.

She’d been very young when they moved out – not quite to her fifth birthday – and she remembered mostly the feeling of being torn from a place rather than many details. The closets had been huge for a four-year old. The whole place had been bigger than she could even fathom at that point.

Putting all of her team in there was still not going to fill it.

Maybe she could put Erramun on the far side of the building. That would make him happy.

No. She folded another set of dresses into a garment bag. No, it wouldn’t actually make him happy; that wasn’t how being a bound servant worked. He’d think he was happy right up to the point where he was screamingly miserable, and then it would echo through the building.

No, she’d accepted responsibility for him; she was going to have to actually accept him, one way or another.

She was in the middle of packing up a box of weapons when he stomped back into her room. He was carrying three large duffle bags and wearing a glower – as well as older jeans and a t-shirt. He looked at once more comfortable and less.

“This is it.” He hesitated, and then said, when she didn’t question him, “I put three boxes in storage with a friend of mine. Stuff – I don’t want anyone else getting their hands on.”

“Anyone but your friend.” She wasn’t offended, she told herself sternly. He didn’t even know her. Of course he didn’t trust her.

“He won’t open them and he won’t touch ‘em without my permission. He’s a good friend.” He smirked crookedly. “Offered to kill you for me.”

Senga tensed, and tried not to show it. She could tell he noticed from the way his smirk shifted. She was really going to have to up her game around him.

He snorted. “I said no. The day I can’t handle a collar is the day you kill me, not the person holding the leash. And besides,” his smile faded into a grimace, “those damn envelopes.”

“I know the feeling. She liked her blackmail, didn’t she?”

“Mirabella? Always got the feeling she liked knowing things. Blackmail was just a convenient result of knowing a lot of things.”

“You knew her better than I did.” Senga sat down on the edge of her bed and looked up at him thoughtfully. “I get the feeling there’s a lot you know better than me, actually.”

He looked down at her for a moment before his smile faded and he sat down slowly on the only chair in her room. “Well, I should hope so,” he joked weakly. He wasn’t quite meeting her eyes. “I’ve got a few years on you, I think.”

“Probably more than a few. So – how would you feel about advising me?”

“I’m not your Mentor, I’m your Bond Servant.” The retort had very little heat in it, and she thought he’d surprised himself with the concept. “But – you’d take it? Advice?”

“Probably better than most of my family, though that’s not saying much. When I’m on a job, I’m not going to want you following me around telling me what to do – especially since my job might be the one area I know what I’m doing more than you do. But the rest of the time, yeah.”

“What exactly is it that you do, anyway?”


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There’s an Actual Worldbuilding month from Tumblr

And it’s June!

So pick up to seven days and give them a setting, and I will follow the list of prompts here ( and your list of settings.
If a date isn’t setting’d, I’ll pick whatever I want 😉
2 Desmond’s Climb
3 Dragons Next Door
4 Aunt Family
8 Stranded
9 Things Unspoken
10 Things Unspoken

13 Fairy Town
15 Fairy Town
16 Science!
18 Space Accountant
20 Space Accountant

25 Dragons Next Door
26 Stranded
28 Aunt Family

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First: Slaves, School
Previous: Collar Food

It turned out Hellina and Meshron had a secondary purpose in shadowing the new students through breakfast – it was their job to guide all of the first-year blues to their first class.

That turned out to be a lecture room big enough for all twenty-seven students (with three seats left over, Des noted), fronted by a tall person with a very long white beard dressed much more like the students than most of the adults they’d seen.

The person wore long pleated pants that touched the floor in brilliant blue, a jacket in a lighter blue, and a shirt underneath in crisp white. The collar was gold and seemed to sparkle and shimmer.

“I am Professor Hapdegh, and I am here to teach you the basic theory of collar magic and its history. You may call me Professor Hap if it is easier, and I generally answer to he and him pronouns, although I’m not all that concerned one way or the other. Now, I don’t think I’ll remember all your names, but I’m going to try. Let’s start in one corner and work our way around, shall we?”

They went around the circle, giving names and, in some cases but not all, pronouns. That was how Desmond learned that Talia was she, Doria did not name pronouns, and Wesley was he, although none of those was very surprising. Jefshan choosing to go by she was a little surprising, but not horribly so; Des had seen taller women.and quite a few women in pants, lately.

The rest of the circle held few surprises until they got back to Professor Hapdegh, who began telling them about magic. Magic, the reason they were all here; magic, the thing that, until just two days ago, Desmond had thought something relegated to the annals of history.

“Magic,” Professor Hapdegh began, “as you – as most people – think of it, has long been relegated to the annals of history. It is not magic that we do here, the way a magus or a wizard would; it is not the world-shaking power that we can hold or anything nearly that great or exicting. No, here, we wield something small and something very, very controlled.

“There are things that you need to know, and one of them is why you were chosen. Much of this will be covered in later classes, so I will say now only this: not everyone can work with magic.”

He waited for everyone to either process that or scoff it away as an of course, and then continued. “You might say the mages all died. Indeed, you will probably find yourself saying that quite a bit over the next few weeks, and I will tell you this: that is truth. You are not, nor will you ever be, mages.

“What you are, on the other hand, are magic-users whose power is focused, filtered, and controlled by your compatriots, your collars. You are not mages. You are never alone in your own heads; You will never find yourself blowing up city blocks, because if you have those thoughts, the collar you are wearing will shut down your access to magic.

“If this sounds particularly harsh, I will remind you that the rest of the nation still believes that mages are all dead for a very good reason – the mages did an unforgivable level of damage to us, to our nation, to our people – even to the world around us – in their heyday. You are not mages, because mages would be killed on sight, or hunted until they were forced to go into hiding.”

Desmond swallowed. He could see Talia fiddling with the loose blue cravat that looped over her steel-grey collar.

But Cataleb asked, rather loudly, “then what are we? we’re not mages, but we have power, we can’t do damage, but we can do magic?”

“We are slaves,” Professor Hapdegh answered calmly. “We are people who would have the power one way or another, so we are controlled. The flip side to that is – we are very well compensated and, as long as we cooperate within limits, we can lead comfortable lives.”

“I don’t like that ‘cooperate,’” Cataleb complained. “We do what we’re told like good little minions?”

“The trick, Cataleb, is to become strong enough and wise enough within your chosen area of expertise – that will come later – that you are given a very good position which you can enjoy. And the first part of that is to chose an area of expertise that you enjoy. But that will come later. Now, moving on. We are collared because that way the nation can use our magic without risking us destroying it. It is a trade-off, I will admit, but I have not found it a bad one.”

“How did you end up a teacher, Professor?” Jefshan asked. “Was that your chosen area of expertise?”

Professor Hapdegh coughed. “in a way, in a way. I went into research – we did, my collar and I. Learning about old magics and then about new ways of using them.”

“So… you were learning about magic and now you teach about it?” Jefshan raised her eyebrows. “What if one of us wants to do that?”

“Then do very well at this class, for starters.” The professor’s smile was wide and a bit teasing.

“Now, as I was saying,” he continued, before anyone could interrupt again, “there was a time when mages controlled almost everything, because of their ability to wield magic in vast swooping attacks. Nobody questioned them – not and survived.

“But there were benefits. The mages could tame the demon waters. They could make the dangerous passes passable. They could help with industry and with agriculture, and they did, on their good days.

“The problem was that they had many bad days as well…”

Desmond left class with his mind swimming and found himself flanked by Talia and Jefshan. “So. I want to be a magic historian,” Jefshan declared, to nobody’s surprise.

“I,” Talia mused, “want to ride on the ships and ‘tame the demon waters’. I want to kill the demon waters, but I’ll settle for taming them a little bit.”

“I…” Desmond shook his head. “I don’t know yet. I wanted to be an accountant,” he muttered. “This is not a good path to being an accountant.”

“No,” Jefshan agreed, “but you could be a school administrator. Or you could teach math, if we learn math here. Or… well, maybe even this school needs accountants.”

“Maybe it does.” Desmond was pretty sure it didn’t.


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Patreon Theme Poll!

It’s time for the theme poll!

This poll picks the theme for the three stories posted each month on Patreon, as well as reposts and possibly other such things.

If you don’t have a DW account, you can vote in the comments.

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And For Our Next Song… GARDENING!

This weekend, we worked on the garden beds!

We moved something like 6 square feet of walking onions from various garden beds into the hedgerow, where we hope they will fight it out with the goldenrod and emerge victorious.

We then started to repair the bed most of those onions had been living in, noticed that we had two 3-½” bolts instead of the 4” we needed, and were about to go out to Lowes and then dinner…

…when we remembered that it was graduation weekend for the largest college in the area.

So we went for bolts the next day, bolted that bed back together, amended and turned over the soil, and planted asparagus roots and strawberries. This is now a perennial bed for something actually intentional, as opposed to a perennial-onion bed.

We had a little time left, so we turned over another bed, planted the cabbage starts, and planted two milkweed (fancy milkweed) and two fancy day lily starts.

So our garden so far:

[cabbage] [kale, needs work ] [sweet potatoes] [asparagus/strawberries]
[tomatoes][peppers, eggplant]][~needs work~ [ ~needs planting~]

And then, off to the left, a wide hilly section that has held/will hold various squash, and on the patio, a whole range of pots holding herbs, tomato, and peppers.

And so far we’ve only lost one pepper plant to the rabbits and, darn it, 1 pack of squash plants to the cat.

How was your (long, in the US) weekend?

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Beauty-Beast 18: Free Time

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It was telling, humiliating, and sensible. Do you know what you like to do for fun?

He ought to. He ought to know things that were enjoyable. Everyone did, right?

Ctirad swallowed around a keening sound that refused to quiet itself. He wanted to bow until his forehead was on the floor, but he’d been told to lean back, so he stayed leaning back.

“Hey, hey.” Timaios stroked his shoulders gently. “Hey. Ctirad. Come on, kitten, come on.”

Kitten? The nickname drew him out of his panic for a moment. “Kitten?”

“Sounds better than ‘puppy’ and I don’t think you’d like ‘pet’,” Timaios admitted. “So you’re my kitten.”

“Yes… yes sir. I’m your kitten.”

“So, kitten. Do you like team sports?”

“I’m good at soccer, sir. And okay at volleyball.” He could remember that. Playing volleyball on the beach at sunset. With… With… no. No, those memories weren’t allowed.

“But not enjoyable. Hrm… Weapons?”

“I’m proficient at any number of weapons, sir. At least fifty, depending on how you count.”

“But do you enjoy any of them?”

Knives. It was an image, a feeling, rather than a word. Tossing a knife up in the air and catching it. The way it felt when he threw it. The way it felt cutting into skin. “Knives, sir.”

“Good. Very good, kitten, thank you.” Timaios leaned down and kissed the back of Ctiard’s neck.

Ctirad tilted his head forward, baring more neck, finding he wanted more of that contact.

“When Ermenrich left you alone, what did you do?”



“When,” Ctirad asked very carefully, “he left me and didn’t cage me or restrain me?”

“Did that happen? That is, were you given time to yourself?”

“Sometimes.” More in the last few months.

“Then yes. What did you do?”

“Sometimes I just walked. Whatever my um. My leash was, the distance I was allowed to go, I walked that. Usually just laps of the house or the office. Sometimes I read, if there was anything around to read. A lot of times I just did push-ups or sit-ups until I couldn’t anymore. I don’t like being idle for too long. I like having something to do.”

The last surprised him, but he found it was true. “I liked reading the best,” he admitted more quietly. “A couple times I managed to jog on the treadmill while reading, and that was very good.”

“Good.” Timaios kissed the top of his head. “Very good, kitten.”

Ctirad moaned very quietly at the praise. “Thank you… um. Thanks, Tim.” He glanced up at Timaios nervously.

“It’s good to have some idea what you like to do when you’ve got idle time. I don’t need you for household chores, but I might need you to be out of the way of the people doing that work. So it’s good to have things you want to do during that time.” He looked down at Ctirad thoughtfully. “Did you like being caged or restrained?”

Ctirad found himself blushing. He looked away, because he could, and struggled with an answer. “I didn’t like it when he left me alone that way.”

“I see.” Timaios’ voice was a soft rumble too close to Ctirad’s ear. “Interesting. Well. I’m going to have to make sure we draw some lines before we get to that point, but I won’t ever leave you caged or restrained alone for more than… half an hour, okay?”

“Even – even when I’m being punished, sir?”

“Things that are done for fun should not be used for punishment,” Timaios replied firmly. “So yes, I won’t do that as a punishment.”

“Sir?” A tall man stuck his head into the living room. He was tall, although maybe not as tall as Timaios, with his curly blue-black hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. “Mr. Talbot and Ms. Tansure are here to see you?”

“Of course they are.” Timaios’ tone was dry. “Send them in, and bring in the Chateau Kamine ‘92, if you would, the Riesling, and have Danny whip up a cheese platter.”

“Of course, sir.” The man bowed deeply and departed.

“Well, I guess we’ll see how you fare with company.” Timaios patted Ctirad’s hair. “Please don’t be too concerned; you can consider this a practice run. That’s Tristin, by the way. My… butler, I suppose.”

“Ah.” The man looked intimidating. He moved in a way that was a lot more common for a hired killer than a butler. “Do you want…” What was he supposed to even ask?

“You can be yourself, but remember to call me Tim. Ah, here they are.” He patted Ctirad’s head and rose to his feet.


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Fairy Upside-Down Tale, a bonus fic for Patreon

Because I asked for a prompt on Mastodon, and ran sort of sideways (and long) with it… and also because it sort of fits this month’s theme.👸🏻

They lived happily ever after.

But that’s not the tale, is it?  First you have to have the wedding – a posh affair, because he was a prince and she was a…

Well, anyway, he wasn’t all that much of a prince.  You could ride across his princedom in a leisurely day, even if you stopped to take a nap around noon, and it was mostly rocks and the wastes of what had once been a fine land. But he was still a prince, son of a king and a queen – and because of the nature of this little area where our story is, both of them had royal blood. He had a cousin who’d been eyeing him speculatively since he’d reached his full growth – but she has her own story.
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The Hidden mall Part III

Part I
Part II

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“…I was going to buy that skirt…” Abigail complained.

“No, you weren’t. You would hem and haw about the price and in the end you would’ve left with nothing.” Liv patted her on the shoulder. “We could go into the bookstore there, or we could go to that place that looks like it’s selling herbs and spices?”

“Herbs and spices first. Once we get in a bookstore, we’re going to be there ‘till it’s time for your mom to pick us up.”

Liv giggled. “Like that one time, when she came in to get us…”

“Or that time she had the store page us.

“Or that time she texted us bits of War and Peace until we came out on our own… Yeah. The herb and spice place first.”

The place in question had rows and rows of jars in one window; the other one was so full of plants that you couldn’t see into the store at all. There was no sign, but there was a young person with long black hair standing in the doorway.

“All the fine things in the world, all the best tastes and best sensations. Come in, I’ll give you a free sample to take home. Come on in.”

They were dressed, this shop-keeper, in four layers of clashing batik, flowing pants and tunic and vest and something between an apron and a skirt. They gestured Abigail and Liv into their shop, which smelled of a medley of herbal aromas that somehow didn’t quite clash. “You seem like you’re new to our little neck of the woods. If that’s so, here.” They handed Liv a circular wooden box, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand. “That’s just a little something for when you’ve got the doldrums or the dum-dums, that is, life or some idiot are getting you down. because, as they say, non illegitimus carborundum.”

“Don’t…” Liv stared at them. “Let the outlaws make you carbide?”

“Close enough! All right, here’s your free samples! Ginger candy! Because ginger is a spice, you see.” The strips of yellow were coated in sugar. “Careful, they have a bite. Now. What brings you here?”

Something about them put Abigail’s back up. “A door.”

“…And a bully,” Liv pointed out.

“Aah! Well, those are a good start. That’s a place for a story to begin, isn’t it? Once, two young girls fled a bully through a door in the back of the mall. There, they found…

“Strange and wondrous places!” Liv put in. “…but no fauns.”

“Ah, but as the faun was working for the Winter Witch, perhaps not who you want to find, mm? Perhaps a beaver instead?”

Abigail had pocketed her candy, but Liv was chewing on hers. “Wow, this is… Wait, what?”

“Well, obviously not literally. But let me show you a place you might have missed.”

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What I Did On my Weekend/Vacation

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but it’s the season to get back into them, I suppose: What I Did on my Summer Vacation Weekend.

Although in this case, it’s a bit of vacation, too, since I started with taking Wednesday and Thursday off, worked Friday, and then took the weekend.

So this extended weekend was all about gardening — or, more accurately, gardening prep. We went two two nurseries, pulled out all our nice ceramic pots to outline the edge of the “patio”, and then went to a plant sale at the local high school.

(Our “patio” is a slab of concrete filling in the space made by an L in house construction. It’s amazing how much MORE patio-like it looks with the addition of a line of pretty pots (Ollie’s Discount Outlet; one’s a little rhomboid, one has a flaw in the glazing, but they cost for five of them what one would cost non-seconds) does to make it look like an intentional outdoor space. Add in the nice plastic-decking-wood deck chairs and table we got last year and it’s a proper patio.)

We have something like six tomato plants, a pepper plant, seed potatoes, a variety of herbs, including our constants, flat-leaf parsley and columnar basil, eggplants (one small and white, the other tiny and orange), and crookneck, butternut, and zucchini squashes. We also got a couple landscaping plants, which kind of feels like growing up, or at least like paying attention to our yard.

(There are so many icky houses on my commute – cars on blocks in the yard, junk in the yard, no mowing – that I consciously DON’T want to be one of them. Not that I think T. would ever stand for that sort of mess.)

So once we GOT all those plants, then we had to address the issue of the garden beds.

If you look at a map of NY, you can see where the glaciers dug these long trenches (Finger Lakes) and then… stopped.

Where they stopped, they left all their gravel. Which is just about in my side yard.

So we have 8 4’x6’ raised beds (nothing longer than 6’ locust boards easily fits in my Yaris, sigh). But I screwed them together a few years back, and I didn’t use long enough screws. More Sigh.

Which means that a few of them have started to look more like _/ than |_|.

So we pulled off those sides, shoveled the dirt away from the side, drilled holes, inserted bolts with big washers, and bolted them back together.

We can has planting now?

Not yet.

So, first, we have to loosen the soil, add some more soil (peat, compost, coffee grounds, ground eggshells, ashes), then we have to lay down weedcloth, cut some holes in it.

THEN we can has planting.

As of this posting, I’ve got 5 tomatoes (4 plum tomatoes, 1 black cherry) and one eggplant (“ghostbuster”) in. And tonight’s the next bed over.

And THEN we have to deal with the walking onions…

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