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The Aunt Family Landing Page

I think my favorite part of this setting is the fact that we really have no idea what’s going on. 😀 ~inventrix

When Evangaline’s Aunt Asta dies, Evangaline inherits the house, its mysterious artifacts, and the family mantle of Aunt.

Meanwhile and 4 decades earlier, Asta’s Aunt Ruan is dealing with the mess left by another aunt, and struggling against taking on the Aunt title herself.

And in the present, while Evangaline deals with her Aunts’ legacy, her niece Beryl struggles with the idea that she will, in time, be the next Aunt.

“The Aunt Family” is contemporary fantasy; Ruan’s story is taking on elements of steampunk as well.

Born out of the October, 2011 Giraffe Call


Best places to start:
Heirlooms and Old Lace – Touched up on Patreon
What to do about Auntie X
Estate
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2 Turtle… Worlds

Happy holidays once again to all of my lovely readers!

🎁

2 Turtle… Worlds

“All right, we’re going to try a new game.”

The gathering was what would be considered by many of the more traditional of their family to be unusual, possibly, given the people they were talking a out, considered forbidden or just wrong by at least a couple.

Despite her pleasure at thumbing her nose at her more difficult relatives, that wasn’t why Eva was hosting this party.

“I found this in an old diary we were digitizing. Well, credit where credit is due, mostly Beryl found it.”  She nodded at her niece.  

Beryl, as was her nature, blushed and looked away.  “I just said they didn’t say much about parties. Sure Aunt Zenobia was kind of anti-social, but not all the Aunts were like that.”  She gestured a little at Eva and the other Aunts in the room – there were three other who were Aunts of their own file branches, piles of nieces, a couple nephews, some cousins, and an Uncle – although not her own; Karen’s husband was somehow sharing the mantle of Aunt-ness with her – and, in addition, her Great-Aunt Rosaria. In short, she’d invited almost everyone who was 16 or older, who she had a contact for, who had the strength of the family power – with the exception of a couple older, more difficult relatives who would have hated the whole idea of the party at all or simply stressed everybody else out so much that it wouldn’t be fun at all.

Indeed, she caught some of her younger relatives glancing at Great-Aunt Rosaria uncertainly. Rosaria simply sat in the corner with her knitting, smiling at everybody.  Eva wanted to reassure the kids, but she was pretty sure she couldn’t say anything that would do more than half an hour of drinking in the same room as the woman might do instead. 

“So it goes like this.  You start with something like: On the first day of Christmas, I looked and I did see…”

She heard a few groans, including one from Deborah, the weirdest Aunt of the family who Eva had either encountered or read of. 

“Bear with me here.  So the tricks are: your verse needs to match the scan of the song at least a little.  It can be a little fudged, but the more fudged it is, the better your story ought to be.”

She waited: a beat, beat….

“Story?”

She smiled at Storm for feeding her the line. 

“A story!  So, if I say I saw a partridge sitting in the orchard… well, but we’re in the New world, so let’s say I saw a Quail sitting in the orchard, then there needs to be a story – did it have newspaper in its beak that was from something a cousin did?  Was it building its nest upside down? It doesn’t need to be true but it does need to be believable.

“The second trick…” She grinned now.  If this went even remotely well, it was going to be fun.  “Is that you have to remember everyone else’s line too.  If you botch it too badly, you have to tell two stories – one for the one you botched and one for your own line.”  She paused. “Are we good?”

“Sounds like we shouldn’t have started drinking first,” Bellamy complained, although not too intently, because Eva was letting them drink.  “Does that mean Aunt Deborah is going to win?”  She gestured at Deborah, who was at the moment heavily pregnant (another weird Aunt, all things considered). 

Deborah was accompanied by two of her relatives, who were there, as they said, “just in case anything goes wrong.”

Eva hadn’t decided if they were meant to be nursemaids, bodyguards, to pick up the Family Power in case Deborah’s baby suddenly made her drop it, or some combination of the three. In an uncharacteristic move for an Aunt (or any member of their family), she decided it was currently none of her business, either.

“I don’t know,” Chalcedony demurred, “I might win instead.”

The air was heavy for a moment, as they all noted that Chalce hadn’t drank a drop of her celebratory champagne. 

“Chalce!” Beryl stared at her sister.  “Mom and Dad are going to kill you. I might want to, too!”

“As if.”  Chalcedony rolled her eyes.  “What are they going to say? That I shouldn’t do what they did?”

FJayden, Eva was pretty sure, would do exactly that, but she let the two go. 

“Mom was in college.  You’re in high school,” Beryl countered.

“I’m also 18; he’s nineteen.  No,” she cut off her sister. “I’m not going to tell you who.  You can scry it if you want to find out. Sorry, the game, Aunt Eva?”

Eva had to admire her niece for the timing – to give her a way to tell the people she needed to tell – well, some of who she needed to tell; Barrow was right; she was going to need to tell her parents – and then change the subject immediately to avoid too much fuss.

“All right, I’ll get us started.  On the first day of Christmas-“ she did her best to hit the notes clean and clear.  She would never be a professional singer, but she wouldn’t shame the choir. “-I looked and I did see, an omen-bird staring from the tree.”   She waited while they all stared expectantly at her, and then she pointed out the window, where in the ancient oak tree that looked over the house, single Magpie was indeed watching them. 

The groaning and complaining was just enough to tell her that people were into the idea and not enough for her to come up with another story.  “Okay, Next?”

She watched Beryl looking around to see if anyone else was going to come up with someone.  When nobody else did, she started on in her own high, careful voice.

“On the second day of Christmas I looked and I did see: two World Turtles and an omen bird staring from a tree.”

She paused for a second, and when no one said anything she started her story.

“No shit, there I was…” Beryl glanced around to see if any of the “adults” were going to yell at her for her language, but since they’d all used worse, nobody said a thing.  “So.” She cleared her throat. “I was up on the roof of the school, with Jayden, Brett Cohen, and Michael Smith. ”  

This time, she didn’t bother to wait at all, although Chalcedony did hiss Michael Smith!  while aiming a funny look at Beryl. 

“I was up on the rooftop,” she continued –

“-Sleigh bells ring,” put in Bellamy, because Bellamy sometimes was like that, apparently more so after a glass of wine. 

“No sleigh bells; Melanie Bell doesn’t like the roof.  There I was when I noticed a particular piece of graffiti.  Now, since not many people go up on the roof -“

“- losers and hoodlums,” her brother filled in in a grumble. 

“And me.”

“…and you.”

“And me. Since not many people go up on the roof, sure, graffiti isn’t all that uncommon. But this wasn’t just any graffiti,” Beryl continued, as if she hadn’t been interrupted. 

Eva filed the names away to see if she could get information out of her relatives later.  Deborah’s life might be none of her business, but Beryl’s was another matter entirely.”

“This,” Beryl went on, “this was artwork.  And it was more than a piece of artwork, it was…” she changed the inflection of her voice, putting power into it in an impressive imitation of one of their more intense grannies.  “This was Artwork.

“So, of course I asked, because that’s rule number one, and maybe rule number two, too: if you see the unusual ask about the unusual.  I thought maybe Jayden… but it was actually Michael who told me.”

“It wasn’t me,” Stone told her, ignoring the rest of the room.  “Even if I was that good I don’t go up on the roof with those people.”

“I know.  That’s what makes it even weirder, I think.  She gestured at Stone. “Because it wasn’t you. It wasn’t him.. I mean Jayden.”

“Jayden,”  Storm scoffed.

Beryl wisely continued as if she hadn’t heard him.  

“It’s the janitor. The janitor at our school, creepy Ted -“

“You shouldn’t call him that,” one of her cousins protested. 

“- creepy Ted, the janitor at our school. He does Art and he did Art of a world turtle. And it gets weirder.”

“It had better get weirder,” Storm cut in. “Right now you only have one turtle world.”

” You know, Storm, cousin, ” Beryl smiled sweetly, “you’re going to have your turn, too. So, as I was saying got weirder.

“There I was, again, sitting in advanced drawing next to Cindy Lou Howell, and she was drawing the same thing.  Not just any turtle with the world on its back – sure, it’s a famous shape, there’s that whole thing with Terry Pratchett and Discworld – she was drawing the same weird continents, the same shape of the flippers, of the head – the exact same thing that was up on the roof. 

“Okay, sure, maybe she stole the idea, except this is Cindy Lou Howell.  Probably going to be valedictorian. Never missed a day of school in her life except that one time she got chicken pox.  She’s never gotten caught breaking so much as the smallest rule. Doesn’t even take a study hall.  She’s 100 per cent Perfect Student.  So I’m thinking…

“I’m thinking maybe it came to her in a dream?  I mean, all of the reading we’ve been doing-” she gestured vaguely upwards,  as if towards Eva’s attic, where there were stacks and stacks of old journals that they had been digitizing slowly, painfully slowly “- Sometimes, they say that when you get, well, not too many, of course, but a lot of the family or really, any people with powers, in one spot, you end up with a sort of aura of weirdness around us.  So I’m thinking that maybe people are having dreams, the way they were in Aunt Ida’s journals.

“Which of course leads me to the question… why are people dreaming about world turtles?  Because I don’t think it’s just because I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett.”

🎁

Jayden: https://www.patreon.com/posts/great-nanowrimo-31873126 

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Worldbuilding Wednesday – the Aunt Family

Last week I was taking questions on the Aunt Family and magic!  I got two.

Eseme asked: Much of their magic seems to be craft based, and involves imbuing magic in items. Does this only work on handmade objects?

I imagine if you were sitting at a mechanical knitting loom or fabric loom and putting all of your magic and will into it, you could probably imbue magic into its creation as well, but I think that’s not as easy — it takes more concentration & attention to the magic – than doing it the “old-fashioned” way. 

Imbuing an object that you haven’t made at all with magic – a trinket from the store – would require a lot more power, and thus would usually be part of some sort of ritual, generally involving several casters at once.

🍰 

@SamTTC on Twitter asked:  Is there any relationship between calorie cost to the caster relative to the energy output of a spell?

That’s a good question.  I’ve definitely done that in other settings – Fae Apoc, Tír na Cali for sure.

In Aunt Family, I’d say that there IS a relationship, but the ratio depends on the strength of the caster and the strength of the connections she has to pull on.

That is, the same spell and effect would take much more physical energy for a weak caster with no family (or family land) to draw on, than for one of the Aunts of a Family, especially if she was on family land – running a marathon vs. walking a mile, for a bit of an exaggeration. 

👩‍🌾

 

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It’s #WorldBuildingWednesday!

It’s #WorldBuildingWednesday!

Today I am soliciting questions on my Rural Fantasy ‘Verse, the Aunt Family, and if you like specifics, specifically on the magic in that world.

 

The Aunt Family is one of the themes available for my Great NanoWrimo Prompt Call, which is still running!   See here on Ko-fi, and see many stories posted this month here on Patreon.

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Two “PrepTober” Pieces

These have been sitting in my drafts bin for a bit, but here we go…

Based on Twitter Prompts

Write your character sick  – Deline, Bear Empire, some time before the book

“Bear Claws don’t get sick.”

Deline had been saying this for a week, but the evidence was mounting up against her: chills, fever, an unfortunate habit of losing whatever she put in her stomach, an increasing inability to stand up.

“We don’t.   It’s part of the magic of the Claw.  It’s part of the initiation, it’s part of what we are.  We don’t get sick.”  She wasn’t really arguing with Anire, her husband’s junior wife; she was more arguing with the facts.
Anire had never turned down a fight.  She looked Deline up and down and huffed.

“Well then, someone poisoned you.  Or cast a nasty sort of magery on you.  Something like that.  Either way, you cannot go on a mission today, and you shouldn’t be going to a formal dinner. You shouldn’t be going anywhere except to bed.”  Anire took a firm hold on Deline’s arm and tugged.

It was a sign of how miserable that Deline was feeling that she didn’t feel strong enough to resist the tug.  “We have to be at that dinner.  Any absence, any of the four of us, it will be noted.”

“This, this is why you need another husband.  You need someone to send you to bed and then take your regrets to the dinner.  You need someone to tell you when you’re being foolish, Deline.  And make sure that you don’t knock yourself over.  If you’d listened to me, if you hadn’t gone out on that hunt yesterday-”

“Enough.”  Deline tried to put some firmness in her voice, but she found she had none to offer.  “Enough, Anire.  I will go to bed and sleep until an hour before the dinner.  You can send your junior husband in, if you’re worried about me staying in place.  And then, when it’s time for the dinner, I will put on my best gown and my best bright-eyes spell, and I will walk around.  Then, if someone has poisoned me, they will see that they’ve failed.”

“Sleep.”  Anire shoved Deline lightly into bed and hauled a blanket over her.  “If you sleep now and drink broth when I bring it to you, I will make sure someone wakes you up in time for you to dress for the dinner.  But if you give me any trouble at all, I’m going to sit on you, and we will both miss that dinner, and the scandal can say that we would rather spend the day in bed together than meet with the governors.  Which, considering it’s the Lynx and Elk governors, has more than a small grain of truth to it.  Sleep, Deline.”
Deline blinked up at her husband’s junior wife, wondering why she looked as if she was shining.  “Sleep,” she agreed.  She was so cold.  “Another blanket?”

“Another blanket.  And, you know, Deline.  I’m a Claw, too.  You know I know there’s no such thing as magic to keep you from getting sick.”  Anire kissed her forehead lightly.  “Rest, Sister Claw.  I’ll watch your back.”

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NanoWrimo Counter

~

“You think maybe Verve isn’t always going to be reading so maybe she can take a turn on dishes?”
“Afraid not,” Jenivere deadpanned back at him. “I am going to be reading until I die. That’s the problem with being a wizard — you literally can’t stop reading.”

~

She paused by the settee. One writer had spent a particularly long time describing this piece of furniture, in particular the way that is had cachobons set into the arms and three into the back of the piece. While the writer had not assumed they were magical in purpose or nature, such things had not been quite such common knowledge in the Harve i’s time.

~
She’d also ordered take-out from the one place willing to drive out to the middle of Nowhere and Cowsville, a pretty decent pizza-and-pub-food place in the nearest town. The pizza sat on the counter next to a soda; she wasn’t going to get pizza grease on Aunt Asta’s journals, even if she was subjecting them to heat, chemicals, and a light dabbing with distilled water.

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What Next?

Written to Clare-Dragonfly’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  Aunt Family all the way.

Beulah considered the spell that had been the work of the last decade.

 

She considered young woman now leaving the property a young woman who attended the property  – an 85 year old Widow. Valise in hand, she was headed off to a new life, away from whispers of what she’d done when she was twenty (the story originally had been what they did when they were twenty, but as more and more of the children of the original miscreants told the story, rather than the people who had been there,  they didn’t wish to impugn their own parents, and so one by one the party shrank until it was only the woman leaving now and Beulah – and nobody made whispers like that about Beulah where she might be some day hear them);  she left behind two dead husbands, three dead children, eight grandchildrens and at least four great-grandchildren, one of whom was Beulah’s great-grand-niece. Continue reading

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