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Haunted House 42: Thieves, Thick As

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

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Mélanie stepped closer to Jasper and surveyed the area.  There were people everywhere. More than half of them hadn’t seemed to notice the shouting at all.  A few of them were looking across the market. A few more were looking at Jasper.

Was she going to have to do Workings again?  Was she even allowed to?

Jasper waved enthusiastically with one arm, balancing the packages with the other.  “George Ridges! I haven’t seen you in forever!” Continue reading

Hidden Mall 60: A Hero Dies But Once?

Abby took a step backwards, and another, until ‘Via caught her. “Easy,” ‘Via murmured in her ear.  “It’s okay.”

She forced herself to look at – at herself.  Except dripping wet and dripping blood from what remained of a leg, leaning on a Liv who was dripping both water and blood, too.

“The – the sharks.”  She worked her throat.  “Remember? And before that, the fire.  This is – this is all the deaths we could have died.  It can’t be.  We can’t have died this many times.”

“We could have.” ‘Via shifted a little.  “I mean. It’s not I mean.  We don’t know how many malls there are.  We don’t know how many of them anyone came through.  We don’t know if the mall just generated new versions.”

“Some of the malls were fake.  Who told us that?” Liv frowned. Continue reading

Haunted House 41: The Market

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Wants and Desires

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In retrospect, Mélanie thought perhaps she ought to have expected a question like that.  Dressing her in silk, treating her like a partner – she shouldn’t have been surprised that he asked her if she wanted anything.  Wanting her to want things, wanting to get her things, seemed on par with everything else that he’d done so far.

That it took her completely by surprise was a sign she wasn’t paying attention.

She blinked at him. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 38: Loyalty

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Halorans

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“Like this place?”  Carrone shook his head.  “No, you weren’t. You were going stir-crazy staying in one place.  I can’t imagine what you’re like at — at home. Cooped up in a single building…”

“Well…” She let a smile linger on her lips for a moment. “It has its benefits.”

“I was trying to explain those to our friend here, but she didn’t want to hear it.  I mean, if she’d listened to me telling her it was an Imperial Cabin…”

“Well, then maybe she might have left when she had a chance.  Unless you were offering to show her exactly how nice the Imperial Bed is…?”

The woman squirmed but said nothing.

“Would you be jealous if I did?” Continue reading

Funerary Rites 43: Stupid Lessons

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Chitter squealed as she was dragged into the back seat, but the moment Erramun was cradling her, she stopped complaining.  “I’m—” She smushed her face into Erramun’s chest.

“Easy, my young friend, easy.  There’s always going to be more that you can learn.  There’s always going to be more that you can do. But you can only grow so fast, and you can only do so much.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, I know—”

“It’s a stupid lesson,” Chitter muttered.  Ezer kept his face forward and drove, but Senga could see him peering in the rear-view at them.

“It is,” he agreed, “but we all have to learn it at some point.  So. I’ll help you get the education you need, but you have to accept that it’s okay.  You made a mistake, yes, but nobody got hurt-”

“You got shot!” Continue reading

Haunted House 40: Wants and Desires

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

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Jasper was still laughing. Mélanie was staring at him with something between horror and worry.  Had she broken him?  Was he going a little mad?  Was this what happened right before he finally got angry with her?  

“Easy, easy,” Jasper managed through a chuckle.  “Oh, my dear, easy. Telling me that you think I’m doing something wrong.  Being a little difficult? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed at you.” He draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him.  “I do apologize. I know you were serious. And I take it seriously — I do!  — that you feel strongly enough about this that you’d tell me you thought I was doing something wrong.  I know that’s hard for you.” He squeezed her a little more firmly. “It’s just that if that’s what it takes to get you to give me your opinions more often, it’s tempting to go find the nicest little old couple I can find and bilk them out of their life savings.”

“Don’t do that!”  Mélanie twisted in his hold to stare at him.  “No, don’t — please, I mean —” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 37: Halorans

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Guests

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Deline froze.  The voice in the cabin didn’t sound like the Talon, but she couldn’t be sure.  They were both female voices, that was certain, and how, otherwise, had she gotten past the wards.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Fine.  Settle in, here, have a drink, and we can wait for whatever you’re waiting for.  But you can move that knife any time now.”

“What, so you can attack me?”

The accent was different.  It was probably – probably – not the Talon.  

“I’m not going to attack you. You attacked me first, remember?  And we’re both Halorans.”

“Yeah, so what are you doing way out here in the middle of the Bear-Empire Mountains?”

“I could ask you the same thing.  We’re in the same cabin together, after all.” Continue reading

The Seventh Estate

In Seldith stood seven estates.

There were many houses, of course, some of them large enough to be considered manors, many buildings and homes and a great number of farms and plantations – but there were seven Estates.

From East to West, the first was the home of the Leader and thus whoever lived there had the First Vote, which was most powerful.  The second home was for the Head of Priests, who held the second vote. Continue reading

Funerary Rites 42: Eat a Candy Bar

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The tension in the van was slowly receding.  Ezer looked pleased with himself.

“Chitter, good job as always on getting into their systems, and your little bugs are the shit,” he kept on.   “Love ‘em. Allayne – you patched Erramun up so fast, I didn’t even get a chance to see the hole. Thanks. And Senga and Erramun, you guys definitely held their attention and kept to your roles the whole time.” He looked back in the mirror at them.  “Try not to get so bloody next time, all right? It makes me techy.”

Without a word, Chitter passed him a candy bar.  Ezer snorted. “Fine, fine, it makes me bitchy.  I don’t know, Chitter, anything out of that security guard?”

“Allayne triggered something, not an alarm, some sort of tertiary back-up.  Yes, I know I should have caught it, yes, I feel like an idiot for not catching it, but it was really well hidden.  It was – look, here, see?”

“You know it doesn’t mean anything to me,” Ezer complained. Continue reading

Feast of Sterha

New setting or one-shot, just an idea that came to mind, slightly inspired by The Exiles Trilogy and slightly by my inability to stop singing Good King Wenceslas.  

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“So let today hereby be named the Day of the Martyr Baloran, with all due pomp and ceremony, and let us remember this day by, hrm, bu picking up rocks from our neighbors’ fields and using them to help build the walls between fields, on my authority and honor as the leader of this colony-”

“Ah, honored one?”  Gerilip did not like interrupting the Leader, but her job lead her to need to quite often.  “Today is the day of the Blessed Epolitie.”

“Ah.  What about Baloran’s birthday?”

“The day of the Blood-Consecrated Delfikin.”

“Ah, hrm. The day Baloran joined the Service?”

“That’s the feast of the Holy One Relian.  Honored One,” Gerilip cut in, before this could get quite silly, “there is only one day left open on the calendar.” Continue reading