Content warning for this chapter: Clumsy field medicine on rat-induced wounds.
They were far enough from the Mountain that nobody looked too worried at soldiers riding into town, but close enough that people were cautious.
“We need clean water, preferably some alcohol for our wounds, grain for the horses, and a sheltered place to sleep,” Nikol told the townsfolk (for a generous definition of “town”), when they were asked what their business was. “We made a bad choice of resting places, and the rat-things in the factory back there—”
The bigger of the cats made a spitting noise and a very indignant face. The four people — three women, one man, all armed — laughed.
“That cat is right. They’re not good eating, I can tell you that, for man nor beast, but they think you’re a pretty decent dinner.” The four of them shared a look. “Toby’s barn on the edge of town is clear right now, there’s a little grain and a clear-water pump. You have something to pay with?”Continue reading →
“Security office.” Abby nodded slowly. “Right. Stick with the left hand rule? Anyone got paper to write down where we’re going?”
“Oh, I do!”
While Liv rustled in her bag, Olly patted Abby’s shoulder. “It wouldn’t be our home,” she murmured, “yours or mine. It might not even be a home. And if this world’s Abby and Liv came back…”
“I know…” She did know, that was the thing. She knew — but it would still be out. “It’s just…”
“Got it!” Liv produced a notebook with a magenta-and-lime unicorn on the front. “Okay, here’s bed, bath, beyond, B-B-B, and then, oh no, Hot Topic… and we’re going this way and… all good!”
Abby found herself smiling. Liv really was a good friend – a great friend. It was hard to remember how close they’d been, back before they’d gotten trapped in an endless set of malls, but maybe that was just – just because they were both closer and strangely further apart now. Continue reading →
The wagon ride back had been – well, strange. The former slaves had spent a lot of time looking at Jasper — and then at Mélanie — as if they were some sort of strange creature. Which, Mélanie supposed, was not all that unfair.
“So…” one woman had asked, maybe twenty minutes before they reached the house, “what’s going to happen to us?”
Deline blinked at the woman in front of her, digging quickly for a name. “Pallar. I didn’t think we’d gotten that close to the capital…” Had she gotten that turned around? Or that thrown off by the attack?
“It’s a mess out there, isn’t it? I could get lost in my own yard, storming like that. No, no, we branched out. Pennit took the capital bar, I moved out here, and Pollo went east. Anywhere you go, your road lead to us!”
Deline relaxed. “Good to hear business is going well. I… have a situation.”Continue reading →
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 →