Archive | October 2018

Funerary Rites 29: Service

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It took them another fifteen minutes to calm Chitter down that time, during which the tea and coffee – and Chitter’s soda – arrived. The maid bringing the drinks made things either better or much worse by looking Chitter in the eye and apologizing for being late. “I had to feed the moat creature, you see.”

“Moat creature! Moat Creature! Wait…”

Five minutes later, Senga had managed to convince Chitter that there was no invisible moat and no moat creature. Five minutes after that, with Candavish’s amused help, they’d managed to calm her down.

“Honestly. You could have just told me that you were kidding,” she huffed.

“I believe I did. Twelve minutes ago. Although-” Continue reading

“I Feel Like Killing the Tzar”

The Oalderapo had a tradition:  If you indicated your intentions and nobody stopped you, you were free of any repercussions for those actions, unless the entire town suffered with you.

Over time, this had evolved: one could not, normally, simply say “I feel like killing the tzar” and have nobody stop you, but one could paint a very clear picture of one’s self killing said tzar and then wait twenty-four hours.

That had only happened once.

The next tzar had banned literal representations of crimes in paintings, sculptures, or drawings.

Three tzars later, interpretive dance and poetry of criminal act were banned.

One could go back to saying “I feel like killing the tzar tomorrow;” one could try to say it very sarcastically. One could write allegory, or plays.

Or one could run with idiom.  For instance: Most ships where an Oalderapaline served had a ship painted on the starboard deck and a broom painted on the port.  One could indicate by a simple game of hopscotch if one planned to jump ship or jump broom.

On the ship Epalanano, named for the tzar who had banned paintings, there was also a drawing of a grave, a nice one, and a piece of chalk, although the current Tzar’s name had taken up near-permanent residence.

Today, there was quite a bit of dancing.


Written to October 4th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt: https://thimblefulthursday.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/thimbleful-thursday-prompt-54/ 

Hidden Mall 42: Rescued

The walkway dropped, stopped, and shifted.  Abby grabbed tightly to both sides of the walkway and started moving as quickly as her rocky footing would allow.  “Hurry,” she gasped. “¡Arriba, Arriba! ¡Ándale, Ándale!”

That was not going to help, but it was all she could think of at the moment.  She pitched herself off the walkway and onto another square, this one seeming much sturdier.  As soon as she landed, she scrambled to get out of the way for her friends and hauled herself to her feet.

Liv was off the falling bridge; Liv was almost there.  She lept, turned, and grabbed Vic, catching the last girl as she leapt from the dropping walkway.

“We.”  Abby panted. “Need.”

“-to get out of here,” Liv finished.  “Hey, we found the map.” Continue reading

Haunted House 27 – Turnabout

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Unlikely Allies

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Mélanie caught her breath as the two horses provided the distraction she so badly needed. Bless these beasts. She spat out the Workings she needed as quietly as she had ever managed to speak and as quickly as she’d ever strung words together, the sounds of the two brutes shouting at the horses and the sounds of the jangling harness covering over not one but five Workings.

She leaned against the side of the horse nearer her, hoping that he wouldn’t get annoyed and push her off.  Her light-footed Working was starting to fail her. She had to get back into the wagon or be left behind. And her invisibility Working was probably in need of some touching up, too. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 24 – the Bear

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Revelations in the Bear Empire

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Deline spent a few minutes focusing on her breakfast.  The bread was actually quite good; she’d have to remember to mention the place to other Claws who happened to be in this corner of the Empire.  Assuming, of course, that the man didn’t sell them out to the bounty hunters.

Carrone was hung up on false pretenses and she wasn’t about to kill someone just to prove to him that she was, as a matter of fact, willing to kill.  So there was no point in arguing that with him.

The cheese was good, too, and the sausage was actually very nice.  She sipped water from her canteen and considered him.

“I don’t expect you to like it,” she said, when her mouth was empty.  “That’s never been a requirement. I don’t think you’d like being dead, either, or being actually enslaved.”

“What do you call this?”  He shook his cuffed wrist at her.  “Seriously? I can’t go against your orders!”

“I call it being bound into the Bear.  Being tied to the totem. Being my unwilling companion.  If you were my slave, you’d be wearing a collar and shackles and be doing a lot more work,” she added dryly.  “So far, mostly you’ve just had to walk a lot.”

“And save your life a couple times,” he added.   Continue reading

Funerary Rites 28: Catching Up

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It took half an hour to get everyone settled down.  When Senga managed to get Candavish and Erramun to stop sizing each other up, got Allayne to stop fussing over the staff’s uniforms, which, it appeared, had a fashion of their own, got Ezer to stop whining and acting like his head was going to explode, and got Chitter to stop looking for trap doors from which the staff could have arrived – all of this while trying to ignore her own pounding heart and the confused twist in her chest – she sat down with a thump in the Casual Lounge.

“I…  Okay. Candavish, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Collier, please come sit with us.  Could, ah, someone get me some coffee? Coffee, everyone?”

Her crew were looking at her like she’d grown a second head.  “Okay, Allayne will have black tea with a hint of mint, if we have it.  Ezer drinks his coffee with enough cream and sugar to bring it to beige caramel.  I drink mine black with one ice cube. Chitter likes soda; if you don’t have that, she’ll have water.  Erramun?”

He looked surprised she was asking his opinion. “Black tea,” he managed.

“Black tea.  Thank you.”

One of the younger maids – younger than her! – scurried off. Continue reading

Hidden Mall 41: Big Ideas 💨

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Author’s note: apologies for my French.

She wasn’t sure if having an idea had been the best, well, idea, since every idea here involved those damn hanging walkways.

But it was better to do something than to sit here and wait for death or worse.  

Slowly, they inched out onto the walkways, one Liv in front of her, the other Liv behind her and Vic behind her.  They were heading for the center of the mall.  Every mall Abby had ever been in – at least, every mall she’d been in before this mess – had sported a map near the middle, as well as near most major entrances and near any fountains.

She’d be happy for a fountain now, but more important for her was a map.

Or just to be down from these damn walkways.

“Oh.  Oh, don’t look.  Any of you. Ne pas – look-ey?  Regardez! Ne pas regardez. No.  It’s horrible.” Continue reading

Haunted House 26 – Unlikely Allies

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Finding Him

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The poor horses were sad.  Mélanie couldn’t really blame them.

She patted the horse on the nose, reassuring it, and it turned back to the road before the two buffoons noticed what it was doing.  She had just a moment to time this right. The horse seemed to stumble, tripping on thin air, slowing the wagon down to a near-stop.

Mélanie mentally promised the horse all the apples she could find for it, and sugar cubes, and the best currying of its life, all as she hopped up into the wagon.  There was Jasper – drugged, from the looks of it, his eyes open but not tracking – well, not that she could tell if he was tracking her, anyway; she was still invisible – his hands tied behind his back, a heavy canvas gag over his mouth, his feet bound. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 23: Morning

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Confidences in the Bear Empire

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Carrone squirmed under her regard for a few moments before looking away. “I can’t talk about that,” he muttered.  “I really shouldn’t have said that much. But the Empire – the Empire acts like they’re the only ones with the spirits on their side.”

“Considering how you complain about sorcery and magery-“

“That’s different!   I mean…” He dropped his voice down. “I mean.  Well. Sorcery has nothing to do with the spirits.  That’s why it’s evil. That’s why it’s the sort of thing that you just don’t do.  But this.  I don’t know.  Your ‘magery’….” He shrugged. “We should get some sleep.  I don’t know where we’re going, but we can probably make good time if we sleep solidly and warm.  Besides, last night…”

“…Last night was not exactly solid sleep,” she agreed.  She considered all of the juicy morsels of conversation they’d left lying around.  They would, she decided, have plenty of time to get back to those conversations while hiding from Carrone’s compatriots in the bounty-hunter business.  She settled back into her bedroll, glad once again of her magery, whether it was heresy or evil or not.

She woke in the morning to Carrone’s breath on her face, his arm flopped over her shoulder, and the sound of his breathing far too close to her ear.  Deline trapped against the back of the cave, she had nowhere to move, and his arm was heavy on her shoulder.

She considered him.  He was sleeping heavily, pressed against her. His breathing was steady, if a little loud, and his whole posture was relaxed. Continue reading