Archive | October 2017

A Good Life

To Anke’s Prompt.  I found I didn’t want to make it dark this time. 

🎃

The field had been warm, sun-kissed and sheltered from the wind. The soil was rich and the rain was lovely.

Now the air was cold and the Vines were drying up. The pumpkin, and all its siblings and cousins, were full-grown, ready. In two more weeks, maybe four, they would start going back to the soil.

The pumpkin saw its family being taken away, moved on wagons and carts. The ground was cold. The sunlight was thinning and the pumpkin could not reach the nutrients in the earth any more.

“This one! It’s gorgeous, look at it!”

Hands lifted the pumpkin and carried it, brought it into bright light and turned it around and around.

The knife shaped and altered the pumpkin while the voices cooed over it. “Beautiful! Awesome!”

The candle flickered inside the pumpkin and the moonlight shone down on it. Visitors stopped and praised it.

The pumpkin would go back to the earth soon. For now, it was pleased.

Regine Dreams

This is a dream, and thus its relevance to canon is, as always, questionable. 🙂

🎃

Regine was having a lovely dream where the gathered Grigori scholars were praising her genetic studies of half-breeds.

“Fascinating,” one murmured, and

“Brilliant.  To get such done in such a short scope of time!” and

“How clever.  And to wrap it up in teaching them and bettering the world, so that these half-breeds can be useful, for once.”

Something was a little off about this dream.  Regine’s smile, of course, did not shift.  She would not be Grigori if she allowed a little discomfort to get to her.

“And look, you have some actual pure-breeds in there.  How did you manage that?  Yourself, of course, it’s easy to provide your own – oh, but I see you have very little of your own genetic material.  Well, wouldn’t want to improve the stock too much, now would we?”

“And do you know,” murmured a woman near her, “what happens when a particularly strong line of pure-bred mixes with a weak line?”

Regine didn’t recognize the woman.  That happened, from time to time.  People would come in for a forum, then leave for another decade or three or seven to pursue their work.  Regine herself had done that, before-

Before-

She looked at the woman again.  “I believe the stronger line takes hold, yes?  If the line is strong enough-”

“It is just like breeding with a human, indeed.  Sometimes you end up with a trait or two of the other line, but they are most often discarded as being something of ‘nurture’, as they say, rather than ‘nature.’  The very interesting cases are when, say, a Hunter breeds with a ‘Mara’.  Then what do you have?  A half-breed?  A Hunter?  Or a Mara?”

“It would depend on the strength of both bloodlines…” Regine answered slowly.  That had been, as far as she was aware, the case with Feu Drake.  Then again, with Drake everything was speculation.  He gave nothing away but genetic material.

“Indeed.  And if it is a Shepherd and a Grigori, where almost all of the Changes are mental, it becomes even harder to tell.  You end up with something that, as they say, ‘looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck…’ but has the sensible disregard for anything outside of itself and its crew of a falcon.  Ah, I miss your mother.”

“My-  I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.”

“That daughter of yours.  Liliandra. It’s a pity she’s slightly unstable.  Otherwise she’d be the splitting image of her grandmother.  And how very clever of you, to blame her violent tendencies on the father!”

Regine shook herself awake and stared, unseeing, at the ceiling above her.  It was said you never dreamed of someone you didn’t know. 

Of course, she reassured herself, it was also said that you should not eat right before bed.  She would have to remember to avoid those lovely cookies, nice as they were.  That had to be it.  The cookies. 

She lay back down, but found that she was unwilling to sleep more that night.

For Eseme: Autumn and a Boy

To Eseme’s Request.  After all of the Tattercoats stuff. 

As the rain was coming down in torrents most often reserved for biblical events, Autumn had decided on staying in for a night, not in a motel — the town wasn’t big enough or on a major enough route for that — but in a bed-and-breakfast that didn’t seem too full of itself.  She was sitting in its common room — which still looked much like a family living room of 100 years ago — drawing a fantasy scene of the same room when the door swung open.

He looked drenched, drowned-rat incarnate, his jeans holding out from his legs like they were their own creatures.  He walked like his feet had moved past sore and on to misery a few hours ago.  

And he looked familiar.  “Edmonton!”  She wrinkled her brow.  “Wait, not just Edmonton, either.” Continue reading

The Hidden Mall: 🔥 Where There’s Smoke…

Skinny-Liv and Abigail rushed through the door, only to find themselves in a room lined all around with doors.  Behind them, they could hear faun-Liv shouting.  “Not that way!  No, not that way!”

“Shit.”  Abigail closed the door behind them.  “If you were Liv – well.  Which way would you go?”

“Never the first door, never the last door, never the middle door,” Liv answered immediately.  “Probably – well, look, the problem is, I didn’t drink the magical Kool-Aid candy or whatever it was.  I’m not the one leaving my friends – or self, whatever – behind.  So I could be wrong.  And if I’m wrong, we might never see her again.”

Abigail huffed.  “That’s not – we have to.  We have to find her.  She’s my friend.”  She knew she sounded plaintive.  She also knew she was pleading more with the universe than with this Liv in front of her.  “She’s… I keep an eye on her.” Continue reading

nanowrimo: outlined so far

My goal is to have 25 stories outlined so I have some room to change my mind if something isn’t talking to me.

In addition, I have 3 days earmarked for Patreon and 2 days for a story-for-submission.

We’ll see how far 50,000/30 days takes me!

One more poll coming up, but this is what I have outlined (for a very short version of outlining that’s about 250 words each) so far: Continue reading

A New World: The Letter

First: A New World
Previous: Myths

⚗️

The potion was sweeter than she remembered it, and for a moment, Kael worried that she’d made a mistake with an ingredient. Impossible.  It might have been a thousand years, but to her mind, it had been barely more than a nap.  She could no more have forgotten the ingredients than she could have forgotten her own name.

Her eyes cleared and she went for the note, glad she’d thought to put it away before the tourists showed up.

The letters shimmered and twisted until they were legible and understandable.

Lady Kaelingrade,

I do not know what potion you wrought, but you wrought it well indeed.  The entire tower slept for quite some time.

Under the words, she seemed to read: I wish you’d warned us.  There were people I would have liked to say goodbye to.

This note can only be read by you, but as a precaution, I wrote it in the script I first found a hundred-plus years ago, when I returned.  You’ve shown signs of stirring, lately, and I think it might finally be time for you to awaken.

Finally.  You were closer to the smoke, of course.  That’s why you slept so much longer.  But I could have used you, so many times, since we came to this strange place you delivered us unto.

I have set things up to give you a place to learn about the world before you decide what you must do.  Do not mistake me: I and the others are still loyal to you.  But a man can not stay in one place, these days, and pretend to be his own uncle, or simply never age and claim to be one of the Great Ones.  Belief is too thin and people are too willing to mob someone, looking for secrets that are not mine to share.

I am still loyal.  I am still loyal.  I am still loyal.

I will return.  I hope, if you have awakened and gone out into the world by then, that you leave me sign in the same method, or another similar method. Until then, beware others you meet who seem like you.

You’re not going to be strong enough, not yet.  You need me.  You’ve always needed me.

Kael blinked.  She was reading – was reading three lines into each line: the letters, which she could not read herself, the meaning of the words, and the meaning behind the words. What had Joaon – no.  Something in the potion had been a little bit off.

She was going to have to find a way to grow and collect her own ingredients again.  She was going to have to find staff again.  And Joaon, who had always been more than staff.

He’d been back a hundred years.  Some part of her bristled.  He could have woken her!  He could have – he’d lived for 100 years?  Without her?

Well, he’d always been more than staff, more than an apprentice. The potion for long life was not all that difficult a one, if you knew where to get the ingredients.

How did you take an apprentice, these days?

No, the matter at hand.   She looked back down to the letter.

The set-up I’ve created for you will restrict you a bit, I’m afraid, but it provides you with cover while you get used to the world.  These people are foreigners, or we would have called them that in our time.  

You have no idea how hard it was for me to adjust, without that, how hard it was for all of us, and I hope you never do know.  It is our job to make your life easier, after all.  It has always been our job..

She blinked twice, and realized she was blinking away tears.  “Joaon… oh, Joaon.”  

I assume you understand how it is that I am still alive, a hundred years after coming to this place.  I have always been very attentive.  And you had already kept me alive long past my allotted time.

This is more than that.  I had grandchildren, once.  Now I may, somewhere, have descendants.  Do I dare to try the potion that would tell me?  And if my line has died out…

Do be careful: there are ingredients today with similar names to the reagents of our day that do something completely different. I have attempted to stock the stores with only those things that you will recognize, but sometimes those I put “in charge” of the tower have their own wishes.

How they can manage not to believe in proper potion work, while standing in your Tower, I will never know.

I hope I see you again soon.

I hope I see you again.

Your loyal servant,

I am still loyal.  I am still loyal.  I am still loyal.

Joaon of the Red Rushes

 

Beauty-Beast 26: Self

First: M/m Keeper/Kept
Previous: Kitten

🔒

“Ctirad.  Come on, kitten, come back to me.”  The voice was gentle.  Ctirad blinked.  He had – he had dozed a bit, hadn’t he?  He’d floated on the praise.  He cleared his throat and miawed carefully, a question, an indication that he was aware, what does my master want of me?

“That’s a good kitten.  Are you ready to be a boy, a person for me again?”

Was he ready?  No.  He started to shake his head and then looked up at his master’s face.  Was there a right answer?

“Answer honestly, Ctirad.”

He shook his head no, swallowing a little lump of worry.  He’d almost done the wrong thing.  He’d almost been bad.  He made a small noise he couldn’t quite control, deep in the back of his throat.

“It’s all right, kitten.  You’re being a very good boy, and I’m happy with you.  Come over to my couch, and you can be a good boy while I watch the news and handle some paperwork, all right?”

That was good.  He nodded a little bit, just enough to indicate his understanding, and slunk over to the couch as Timaios led him, tugged along by the leash.  If he could have purred, he would have.  His master was pleased with him, and his master liked him being a cat.  

He curled up on the couch where Timaios indicated, his head on his master’s lap, and settled in comfortably.  Timaois pulled over a lap desk and worked with his right hand on a laptop while the news played in the background.   His left hand trailed over Ctirad’s back and hair, his neck, back down his spine, and up again.

“Will you show me what you look like without your Mask?” he asked lazily after a while.

Ctirad looked up at him.  Was this a test?  No.  No, his expression was curious and that was it. Was it an order?  No.  It was – he was just checking?  Ctirad shook his head, barely moving it.

“Ah, not yet then?  That’s all right.  You’re a good kitty anyway.”  

Ctirad set his head back down and snuggled in.  It was all right. He didn’t know why it was all right, or how, but it was all right.  He’d be okay.

He floated in and out of a content drowse, basking in sensations that he hadn’t yet gotten used to: the way his Owner’s hands felt touching him, when he had pleased his Owner and would not be punished.  The way praise felt when it didn’t come with insults or blows or little knives and orders hidden in the praise.  The way if felt to relax in the presence of another person.

“…demolition paused today at the McCurdy building downtown when a group of protesters chained themselves to the historical monument.”  

Ctirad leaned up and blinked at the news.  “Mirrrrp?” The McCurdy Building?

“What is it, kitten?”

Ctirad made a soft noise and ducked his head. Shit.  He was being a kitten now.  He wasn’t supposed to be paying attention to the news.  He was a good kitten, and good kittens didn’t speak.  He licked his lips and purred quietly, a rumble in the back of his throat. I’m a good kitten.  You like your kitten still, right?

“You’re not in trouble.  You’re a good boy, Ctirad.”  Timaios’ hand settled gently at the back of Ctirad’s neck.  “I need my good kitten to tell me what got his attention all of a sudden, all right?”

Ctirad nodded slowly, barely moving, wanting to press back into the hand for reassurance.

The fingers closed around the sides of his neck.  “Good boy.  Speak.”

Ctirad licked his lips.  “The McCurdy Building.  Ermenrich, he talked about that building a lot.  There’s supposed to be something – something inside it, I think, or under it.  We went in there once and he paced around a lot, but then he ordered me to forget most of it.”

“…That’s pretty shitty, but that’s good.  Tell me, Ctirad, how would you feel about having someone find those memories you were ordered to forget?”

“Um. From the feel of things, sir, they’d be there for a long time.”

“But would you mind?”

“I’d like my mind back.  Sir.  I mean.”  He ducked his head and looked at the couch, frozen.  Shit. He’d let himself get far too comfortable here, and there he was, saying things no good Kept ought to say.

Timaios’ hand was in his hair.  He didn’t move, didn’t lean towards the touch, couldn’t speak. Couldn’t apologize.

“I think you should have your mind back, Ctirad.  I think it never should have been taken from you.  You may speak at will now.”

Ctirad didn’t move.  “Sir?  My mind belongs to you.”

“That, well, that is a matter of some argument.  Yes, it does, we’ll go with that for the moment. But it pleases me to give it to you, because I have found that it does not work well to alter someone’s mind.  At best, you can rarely do what you were intending.  And at worst, you can seriously damage your target.  So: It is perfectly fine to want your mind back.  This is a good want, and one that I endorse.”

“Not gonna get used to that,” Ctirad muttered.  

“Get used to what?  To being encouraged to have wants?  It can take some time, I imagine.”

“But that and still not being bad, not being spoiled.  Gonna be tricky.”  He could have moved enough to look up.  He decided it was best not to.  “Sir.”

“Mmm.  Maybe I want you spoiled, hrrm, did you think of that?”

He was pretty sure Timaios was teasing.  He wasn’t, however, certain.  “Sir?”  This time he peeked up.

His owner was smiling at him.  “I want you to want things, and I want you to express those wants to me.  If you would like your mind back, that is a good thing. And I will have it done.”

Have it done. It finally sank in that Timaios wasn’t talking about doing it himself.  “Sir?”

“Timaois,” he corrected gently.

“Timaois?  Who?”

“Oh, yes.  That is important, isn’t it, when they’re going to be in your mind.  Sal?  My driver?  Nobody I employ has only one skill, you see.”

“Sal.”  He tasted the idea and nodded slowly.  “I would not mind Sal finding my memories.  I feel like a lot of them are gone.”  He shifted position, suddenly uncomfortable. “I shouldn’t – I shouldn’t have let him do that.  I shouldn’t have-”

“Easy, easy.  You couldn’t have stopped him.  And as for the rest, you were tricked fully and thoroughly, set up for it far too well.  It would almost impress me, that Ermenrich had planned that much, if he hadn’t done something so reprehensible with it.”

“Ermenrich is good at planning.  The problem is only that his plans are sometimes too much.  And he’s not always good at working around surprise elements.”  Ctirad ducked his head.  Something still felt wrong about criticizing his former owner, and something felt strange about praising him.

“That’s a good assessment.  Thank you.  So – do you think you’re up to having Sal look at you tonight, or would you rather wait?”

“It’s going to take a while to get used to that.”  He was hedging.  He knew it; he was fairly sure Timaios would know it, but he couldn’t bring himself to come up with an answer.

“I know.  But I’m going to keep doing it.  Shall I give you a little more time to come back from the kitten, first?”

“Please?  Maybe if I-”  Damnit.  He ducked his head and waited.

“Sit up, that’s a good idea.  Yes, come on.  It might be good to give yourself a little physical space, but you don’t have to.”

Ctirad sat up, moving a half a hand-width from Timaios, and pulled his legs up into a tailor’s seat, one knee barely bumping against his owner.  He closed his eyes for a moment and found some peace inside of him.

Quietness.  He had forgotten how much he missed quietness.  The TV was going, yes, but there was nothing he had to do and no feelings of disappointment pressing on him. “I think-” he offered after a moment, “I think I can handle Sal now, if it would please you, sir.”

“Some day, you are going to manage to say my name casually.  All right, I’ll call for Sal.”  There was the sound of a phone being picked up.  “Danny, send Sal up, if you would, and some finger foods.  We may be burning calories tonight.”

 

 

Want More?

Finish It: Let Him Go

The last Finish It! before NanoWrimo: Tilden, from This Story


Ce’Rilla sh’Orlaith by Accalon and Vidrou sh’Cynara by Leofric, Tilden’s parents

inventrix: (leo by djinni)

Cya Red Doomsday and Leofric Lightning Blade, two of Tilden’s Grandparents.  All icons by Djinni. 


It had been two weeks.

Tilden had repeated, calmly but insistently, “you should let me go.” Every night.  Every time Laufeia ordered him to do something unpleasant – and Laufeia had a taste for rather unpleasant things.  Every time she ordered him naked.  “You should let me go.”

Eleri, whose own Kept had walked into the collar willingly and who had not nearly the taste for cruelty as her friend, found herself in a bit of a tight spot.  She could advise Laufeia to release Tilden – but every time she did, Laufeia got a little nastier, a little angrier.  She didn’t just take it out on Tilden, either, but on Eleri and on Caetano and on their third crew-mate, Manlius, who took it all in without seeming to notice or care.  Then again, Manlius took in everything.  Only at dawn did you get a sense for how stressed he’d been, as the “sun rose” in his room with intense heat or nothing at all. Continue reading

A New World: Myths

First: A New World
Previous: Carrenonna

⚗️

“That is… a very good question.  But I suppose the answer lies in the fact that Kaelingrade is said to have disappeared, isn’t she?  Whereas Carrenonna-”  She trailed off, hoping someone knew.

“Kaelingrade vanished without a trace, tower and all, in a cold spring one day during the Aterpian Wars,” read the father. “What are – oh, those were some of the wars before we landed, weren’t they?  Skirmishes?”

Kael raised her eyebrows at the man. “Skirmishes?  You are talking about battles when thousands on thousands of people died.”

“But they didn’t have real technology here, did they?  Before we, I mean, before colonists came.  That was a long time ago, but I know there wasn’t anything like modern warfare.”

“Oh, come on, Dad.”  The older daughter rolled her eyes.  “Just because we can drop bombs and blow up entire cities now doesn’t mean that we’re superior or something.  And besides, they had magic back then, real magic, didn’t they?”

“Aria, what did we say about-” Continue reading

Patreon Posts – Crossovers

This is a weird one.  Today’s Patreon Sum-up involves three stories I wrote, not to prompts, but because they appeared to me.  All crossovers of one sort or another. 

 

Okay, so I’m working on my outlines for Finish It nanowrimo coming up in, well, November.  And I got to the one for Facets of Dusk and I started thinking about – well, the doors they might open

🚪

“Get us someplace with medical care!” Simon shouted.

“Someplace with advanced technomagical medical care.”  Aerich’s aristocratic snarl sounded panicked.

“Someplace they’re not going to shoot at us.”  Cole’s voice was calm.  But Cole, who had Josie in his arms, also sounded serious.

Read On


I blame this on my current marathon re-read of the Sandman comics.  

📚

On Halloween, 2011, when the walls between worlds were thinner than they had ever been, the woman called The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (because her Mentor had been fond of Robert Heinlein, in his day and in her day) left her kids with her sister, as per their arrangement, and slipped out between those world-barriers.

Read On!


Okay, I guess the theme is really talking to me this month. 

Here’s another bonus, spurred on but not really related to a line from a Popular Mechanics article I read last night: (paraphrase) “AI is going to make the Industrial Revolution look small.”

🤖

Autumn knew better than to grab the strands of the world too much around Hallowe’en.

Everything was thinner at that time, more responsive, more willing to bend and twist and open.

Read On!