In the far North of a continent lives the Bear Empire, an arctic (late Middle English: via Old French from Latin arcticus, articus, from Greek arktikos, from arktos ‘bear, Ursa Major, pole star’, yes, this is a pun nation) empire; in this empire and many of the adjacent ones (although the Bear Empire, being expansionist, does not get along great with its neighbors), magery is, if not common, existent, marriages and most other things are a village or town affair and are rarely monogamous, and people pay homage to not only Mama Bear but several other of the spirit-gods who make up the nationalities within the empire.
Born from a Seventh Sanctum prompt for a story often called Row-Mance.
They got to the garden stage with no serious difficulties – someone measured them for costumes twice, and someone else pinned down one of the Livs – ‘Via – and gave her an interesting make-up job that made her look like a supermodel. A starving supermodel.
“All right.” Abby took a breath. “We’re going to assume that this whole backstage thing is sort of what it looks like and sort of not. I.e., it’s part of the Mall and it leads to other malls. Like this.” She gestured at the door. “Because any other assumption is going to make me go stark, raving mad.” Like the thought that this was all some really fucked up show and there was an exit somewhere. “Ready?”Continue reading →
Deline wasn’t quite sure what it meant, and she didn’t quite want to stop and ask, either.
They’d gone from being two people dodging bounty hunters to being an entire entourage, the wounded on wagons with their healers, the rest trudging along through mountains that were clearly no more familiar to them than they were to Carrone.
They had no privacy and no time to talk, but, on the other hand, they weren’t very worried about being attacked. Not with Ranger Learone and Lord Eigeran having decided that they were Deline’s personal bodyguards. Not with their surviving able-bodied soldiers stalking along as if they were an invading force led by Deline.Continue reading →
Aran pressed his back against Nikol’s as they made, sideways, for the exit. There were strange giant rat-creatures coming out of everywhere – almost literally everywhere; they seemed to have some sort of camouflage power. The horses had fled. The cats were by their ankles, attacking their share of rat-things with glee.
“Almost there.” Nikol couldn’t do a Working right now without it sending blinding pain through her head, but she could still swing a sword. And she did, sweeping it through seven of the things in one long go. Continue reading →
“Shit, shit-shit-shit, shitty shit shit,” Abby muttered, although she knew that wasn’t going to do any good. “Shit, there’s a demon out there, how do we get – oh!” She grabbed at hands and flailed at her friends and pulled them back past the pastel tops and the clever sayings and the jeans with the stretch panels to the door marked “employees only.”
“Why is there even stuff in here?” she whispered. “Why do we have stuff in a dead mall?”
That wasn’t the issue, though. She got them into the back room as the steps got way too close and counted, one, two, three, herself. “You’re the right Liv- Olivias – right? I didn’t leave one of mine behind?”
Nikol peered over at Aran. He was looking her way. Feeling her out?
“You could,” she agreed slowly. “Pretty sure I haven’t given you an order about that.”
“Not many orders, actually,” he agreed. He sounded cautiously agreeable. “I bet there’s a catch. This stupid thing has way too many catches.”
“There is. Everything I’ve heard says it’ll make you more and more miserable the longer you’re away from me. You could do it, but eventually you’d end up finding your way back. And then you’d have to deal with guilt and, well, if I wanted to punish you for it.”
“You don’t strike me as the punishing sort.” He almost made it a question. Continue reading →