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The Spoils Coffeeshop AU

This is 100% Lilfluff’s fault and probably won’t go any further.

“The Mountain is following us, I swear.”

Aran wiped down the espresso machine for the third time. He’d been like for days, ever since the coffee chain The Mountain had opened their nearest branch down the road from them.

They were still plenty busy; they hadn’t — yet — seen an appreciable dip in business. The Mountain couldn’t do baked goods like they did, and they didn‘t do personal service and comfortable atmosphere the way they did.

(Personal service was a bit of a thing for them…)

Still, every time they had a lull, Aran started getting nervous. Continue reading

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The Bellamy, Chapter Three

The Bellamy Continues!

“Don’t get used to this.”

The café was presided over by a hawk-faced woman with magenta hair coiled in a bun atop her head. Under her pristine white apron she was wearing a lime green and sunshine orange tartan vest. She was also wearing what was not a scowl but could in no way be considered a smile, and the wrinkles on her face seemed to suggest it was the expression she wore habitually.

“You only get food like this two times.”  She held up a platter of delectable-smelling warm food. “Your first day and your last day. The rest of the time, you eat what everybody else eats.”

“What does… what does everybody else eat?” Veronika could only picture the buckets of kibble she’d seen in the holding area below the front desk, especially the one labelled humanoid.

“Food.” The woman rolled her eyes at Veronika.  “Everyone else eats food. It’s just that on your first and last day, we make it a little special. It’s a perk of the Bellamy. The sort of thing we do to make our employees — no we don’t call them employees do we — to make our team members feel welcome.” 

“It sounds,” Veronika offered carefully, “as if somebody read a book on morale building, and understood…” She hesitated over how to say this, but thought that it might possibly help her connection with the angry-looking woman.  “… Understood the words.

“But not the concepts.” The woman nodded and held out the hand that wasn’t offering the platter. “I’m Sylvester.” Continue reading

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Purchase Negotiation 32: Choices & Decisions

First: Purchased: Negotiation

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“When you put it like that,” Sylviane repeated, while Leander’s mouth was full, “I really want to… I don’t know, change the world.  A lot.”

He blinked at her and wished he hadn’t filled his mouth up with sticky cheese. 

“So everyone, I think… everyone ought to have good food, a warm and comfortable place to sleep, indoor plumbing, clothes that fit, comfortable shoes, and an education.  Everyone. So if there are people not getting that – which obviously there are – then I want to fix that.”

He swallowed and gulped some soda.  “Like… slave’s rights reform? Or like, uh. Um. Helping people in the inner cities, or on other continents, or -“

“All of it.  Every bit of it.  I mean, okay, that’s going to take a few years.”  She ducked her head. “But maybe there’s a way. I mean, make money, figure out how to make it into more money, and then spend a large portion of it making sure people have a place to sleep and warm shoes on their feet.  And then, on the side, working with other Shener…”

She trailed off and looked at Leander. His stomach suddenly felt leaden.  

“The people who did this to you…” Continue reading

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Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Three

It wasn’t even a very long dream!

Content warning for violence here.

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

The thing about the house her mother had — magicked up?  Unfolded? — had unfolded was that, while it was plenty bigger than, say, an RV or a tent, it was not as big as their house back home, and that meant that Lina spent a lot more time bumping into her parents. 

This was exacerbated by the fact that her parents were around more.  Her father usually spent all day at work; now he was sitting on the porch making phone calls, or sitting in the back sun room making phone calls, or pacing in the living room… making phone calls.  

She was beginning to think that all her father did was make phone calls. Endless phone calls with endless people, all of them full of endless jargon.

Or maybe he was feeling trapped, too, and phone calls were the only way he could get out. Continue reading

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A Story for B (or perhaps a beginning)

Written over 23 posts/toots for my friend B – beginning here

The girl, who had been named Malina Serafina Anastazja Dominika Naveed Jeleń nic Cecília O Alexandre (for several reasons beginning with but not limited to the little bubbling noises she made as an infant, several grandmothers, a grandfather, two prophecies, & three bequests with very specific qualifiers), who was called Princess or Your Highness by most people and ‘Lina only by her mother and her nurse, was lost.

She hadn’t intended to be lost. She’d intended only to wander off a little ways, since the party was so loud and the people were so… people.

Malina liked people fine, in small doses, but when it was a Royal Party, a birthday party for her sister, it just went on & on & on, and the people just went on & on & on as well. So, eventually, when enough people had shaken her hand & patted her shoulder & asked for her blessing, Malina wandered away from the crowd.

Lady Rosário threw a great party – this one was at her desert estate on the border – & was a friend of the crown – Continue reading

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#WIPWorldBuilders / #WorldBuildingWednesday – The Bear Empire

I’ve discovered (thanks to @jessmahler ) this Twitter community called #WIPWorldBuilders.

I picked a world to work on this month as so: 

* a Verse I’m currently writing in.
* not an Urban Fantasy world, one that’s in a completely different world
* Obv. not a fanfic setting

(though, let’s be honest, in most of my fanfic I’ve done enough worldbuilding that I could probably do this – however, they’re all urban fantasy, woe)

Which led me to Bear Empire (I’m writing Found Down Below in the Bear Empire Cyber Era.)

So here’s a tidied-up first seven days of that, with an attempt to get it into categories that’ll be useful down the road.

The calendar: https://twitter.com/pepperdaphoenix/status/1212074023926083588 Continue reading

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Spoils of War 30: And Then

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender

PLEASE NOTE: I WENT BACK TO THE END OF CHAPTER 21 AND AM REWRITING FROM THAT POINT. 

“I’m your man,” Aran repeated slowly.  Good.” He held her hips more tightly. “I like that.  Being your man.” He lifted up his head and kissed her back fiercely. “Didn’t think I would,” he admitted.  “But you did save my life and all.  Twice now, at least.” He bucked his hips up in suggestion. 

She pressed her hand on his chest, just to see what he’d do; he sank back to the bed.  She grinned at him as she kissed him again. “And here I thought third time was the charm.”

“That’ll be when we fight the Mountain and win.  Maybe-“

She occupied his mouth with another kiss.  “Later.” Continue reading

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Hello, in Calenyen

So I’ve been playing with this #WIPWorldBuilders worldbuilding challenge on Twitter, and thinking about doing my own for Mastodon/The Fediverse, so when @DMoonfire greeted me this morning, I asked him how one greeted someone in (one of) his conlang(s).

Then I realized I had no way to say hello in Calenyen!

So I fixed that.

Hello

kettaar /kɛt.tɑɹ/ (from ket hey, and taar, you), Hello.

kettaarte /kɛt.tɑɹ.tɛ/ Hello (to you two)

kettaarbe /kɛt.tɑɹ.bɛ/ Hello (to a group/herd)

kettaarne /kɛt.tɑɹ.njɛ/ Hello (to an unknown group, as in greeting an audience)

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The Bellamy, Chapter Two

A new series!

Veronika, two hours later, was pleased that learning fast was one of her chief traits.  She repeated back a bit of esoterica Uma had been working on hammering into her head and was rewarded by an actual smile from the woman. 

“Good.  I do believe that by lunch time you’ll have it all.  You’re quite good at this. That name…?”

“No relation, as far as I know.  But my family has been in library and museum work for several generations.”

“Ah, libraries, museums.”  Uma’s gesture was so dismissive Veronika really had to work not to take offense.  “They’re similar to the Bellamy, of course, but nothing is quite like the Bellamy.  We here are an Institution.  More than that, we are a fixture of the country and especially of this county.  What museum can say that?”

Several could, including several that Veronika’s family had worked in or still did, but she said, politely, “I stand corrected.”

Uma smiled, dropped the matter as if she had forgotten it, and moved on to the next lesson, which happened to involve intake of donations.  

The first portion of the lesson was nothing at all surprising, simply involving the Bellamy’s standard rule of anything brought into the Bellamy must be noted, whether it be a person or a donation or a creature.  When someone wished to donate books or statues or old suits of armor to the Bellamy, the woman manning the front desk would note everything available about both the donor and the donation before putting it – as much as possible – into the cart for the appropriate division. A good third of the lesson was simply on what department which sorts of donations would go to. 

But then Uma continued on, as if she was saying nothing at all unusual, “if the donation is still alive – or at least breathing or making noises and moving – then you must not only log it but make certain it is contained.  We cannot have donations simply wandering about the Bellamy. They leave all sorts of messes and get into all sorts of trouble. For those, you’ll go down this hatch here,” she tapped her foot in a specific spot in the floor and a hatch popped open, easily large enough to fit two abreast and revealing a wide, sturdy-looking staircase of cut stone.  “And bring the donation and the donor with you. The donor is responsible for the donation until it is placed in one of these cages. After that, contact the appropriate department and move from there.”

There was a very large dog in one of the cages, but the others – which ranged in size from rabbit-size to tiger-sized – were all empty.  “So the dog-?”

“I contacted Hunting and Trophies. He’s a Great Mastiff Winslow Hunter, a very rare breed indeed.  I believe they have two others, and hopefully one of those is a female.”

“The Bellamy collects… animals?”

“The Bellamy collects everything.”  This time, Uma looked quite disappointed in her. “We wouldn’t be much of an archive if we didn’t, now would we?  So, with living donations, the process is almost entirely the same as with non-living donations, but you may have to contact several departments until you reach one which accepts the donation.  If they take their time – this will also happen with non-living donations, but it is less urgent, of course – you will need to feed and water the donations. Here is the sink,” she gestured, and then filled a pitcher from that sink which she used to fill a suitably large bowl for the mastiff.  “And then here is the food cupboard. Get as close as you can.” 

As close as you can.  Veronika watched as Uma opened the cupboard.  There were large containers marked with things like Canine, bovine, caprine, feline, humanoid.

Humanoid.

Uma filled an equally large bowl with the canine food and slid it to the mastiff.  “Twice a day, and twice a day, afterwards, remind the department that they have a donation here.  You don’t want to let them forget about it, because they will, and then you will end up feeding someone’s horse for weeks.  At least the rest of it is cleaned up by the belt system.”

She pushed a button; a set of bells chimed and then the floor under the mastiff moved slowly backwards, the food dishes staying in their place but everything else being swept off.  The mastiff moved its feet in time with the belt until another bell chimed and the belt stopped. 

“Most creatures learn fast.  Some just let themselves be pushed against the back wall.  Those, those I call their department three or four times a day.  They can get a little smelly rather quickly.”

Veronika decided she was going to assume humanoid meant some sort of fairy or golemn and tried to forget about it for the time being.  “All right, twice a day any living collections are watered, fed, the belts run, and then we remind the department in question to come pick them up.  You have a log for that?”

“We have logs for everything.”  Uma’s smile looked tired, more like exhausted.  “I’ll show you.”

Back upstairs they went and Uma produced a log labelled Live Donation Holding.  She flipped to the page held by a green ribbon and marked the date, the time, and the animal. 

Veronika scanned the rest of the page – it went back two months with only three other living donations – a cat and a horse.  The cat had taken the longest for a department to pick up. 

“And now.”  She picked up the headset of an ancient phone and dialed 3 on the rotary dial.  A moment later, Veronika could make out a voice coming from the earpiece. 

Yes Uma – soon.  Very soon.”

“Today, Delphine,” Uma asserted.  “There’s a new archivist training and I don’t want her to have to deal with such things her first week.”

“-break her in.  Better if-“

“Today, Delphine,” Uma repeated herself.  “Today.  Do not leave poor Miss Bellamy to deal with this beast before she even knows where to find the loo.”

“I still think that she ought- -better when -that way.

“And I’m sure Miss Haas is very interested in your ideas, but I am training Miss Bellamy.  Today, Delphine.”

Uma hung up.  “I do apologize for that.  Delphine has been here since the Greek kalendae, and she does tend to be rather stuck in her ways.  She’d prefer we just set new archivists loose on the beginning of their first day and trail along later to sweep up what remains of the first ninety-nine of a hundred, as happened in her time.”

Veronika felt like there ought to be at least two places to giggle in that sentence, but Uma didn’t look amused, just – well, apologetic.

“There’s someone like that in every office,” she offered in bland understanding and a sort of conversational filler.  It seemed to work. 

“Hopefully, she’ll be here before you go on lunch and you can meet her, if only to know who to avoid as much as possible.”

“That sounds – well, it sounds wise,” Veronika allowed.  “What are we covering next?”

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Purchase Negotiation 31: Desires

First: Purchased: Negotiation

💰

“So, your first day of college.”  Sylviane pointed a mozzarella stick at Leander; it seemed that, although she had a gourmet chef at home (or maybe because she did; Leander didn’t quite understand rich kids), she knew every good pizza and bar-food joint in the city.  “What did you think?”

“That wasn’t a real day of college,” he protested.  “That was just one seminar thing and one meeting with a professor.  I mean, she was terrifying, but in a good way.”

“Terrifying, but in a good way? Explain.”

“She’s really tough, she knows her stuff, and she looks right through you and sees your meat.  Your core, I mean.” He looked at her and, feeling brave, pointed a fry at her. “You’re pushy when you’ve been at school.  Explain.”

“Oh!”  She looked at the fry and wrinkled her nose at him. “Pushy?” Continue reading

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