Patreon: A Trunk Story and Others

Today’s Trunk Story was actually published! In the February 2012 issue of EMG-Zine, no longer publishing.
It follows the further adventures of Ruan.


There were many things Ruan loved about having an antiquities dealer and amateur museum curator as a beau: his lovely wit, his beautiful eyes, his way around an aetheric detector. But the thing which she loved the most was his wonderful habit of bring her home toys, gadgets, and devices.

Regarding this particular gadget – perhaps “contraption” was a better word – however, Ruan wasn’t certain if she should be happy, or if disgruntlement was more called for. “What, pray tell, is it?”

Free for $3-and-up Patrons!

Originally posted on March 19, 2011.
She opened her eyes to the world around her, her memories already fading.

She’d shared some of them with her parents-to-be beforehand, but there was a bit of a language barrier, an image barrier. They could understand, through careful, patient relaying of images, that this was not her first life.

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Originally posted on Dec. 19, 2011
“Are you sure you’ll stay, then?”

Shea hadn’t been looking for the underground facility – hadn’t been looking, at least, for this specific, deep-cavern-system underground facility, with its refugee population hidden there since the Catastrophe. But, having found it, and, more importantly, having found them, Shea couldn’t leave without doing something.

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Patreon: The Aunt Family

Originally posted February 15, 2012: more about the cat that would become Radar later.

Zenobia didn’t give the cat a name, but she did leave a bowl of cream out for him every morning, and a bit of her dinner meat every evening.

Her Aunt Beulah had left her the cat, along with the property and the title, when she vanished into the mist one late-November evening. He was, at that point, already an elderly cat, if family memory held, but, in this case, family memory, generally a very reliable thing, seemed to falter.

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Oh, dear.” Asta patted her nephew’s shoulder gingerly. “Not again?”

Will sighed and looked out the window. “Again. I managed to cover it up, the way you showed me…”

“But if this keeps happening, eventually the grandmothers and the mothers and the fussbudgets down at church are going to figure it out, no matter how small-minded they are,” Asta finished with a sigh. “And then they’re going to give you Willard’s choice.”

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For this repost story, something from 2011 that starts Radar’s story as well as the saga of Beryl’s relationship with her young man.

“But Mom…”

“Don’t argue. You know it’s your Aunt Beatrix’s turn to host Thanksgiving, and you know we can’t very well not show up only on her years.”

“But Moooom,” Beryl’s younger sister Amy picked up the complaint, “it smells funny there.”

“It’s the cats,” their older sister Chalcedony added. “Mom, come on. Someone needs to tell Beatrix that her house smells like cat pee.”

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In the Spirit of 5-Minute Maps – two images of the Aunt Family neighborhood

Click to embiggen.

I do not know WHOSE house the unlabeled red outline in the top image is, but it’s family.
The words on the lower image are “Aunt House,” “Church,” and “Diner,” from left to right, bottom to top.

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Answers from Grandpa Joseph – a continuation of the Stone story

This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, After the Kinging, Stone: Aftermath, and Stone: After some Aftermath
Beryl and Stone both had a hand on the necklace that was their ancestor (or at least distant relative; neither had bothered to look up where he stood on the family tree, in part because that would require talking to the relatives who kept the family tree, and that might lead to some awkward explanations nobody wanted to get into).

::Very good. Now. Where to start?::

“What happens when you go against the will of the family?” Stone was whispering. His door was half-open, half-closed, because he and Beryl both thought this was more than a little weird and wanted to be able to shout for help if they had to.

::And it’s a good question, even if it’s an awkward question. So. Who’s the will of the family?::

Neither of them answered. In their heads, the necklace chuckled.

::Ah. I see you’ve both learned to spot an obvious trap before it bites you. You’re right, of course. It’s not the Aunt, it’s not the grandmothers, it’s not the young mothers and it’s certainly not the husbands and sons. But yet… it is.::

Stone looked at Beryl; she looked back and shrugged.

::Aw, you’ve learned too well. How am I supposed to have fun?:: the necklace sulked. ::All right, all right. The family will, like the family power, is a gestalt thing. But the will, unlike the power, is mob rule. It moves this way and that way all over the place, depending on the climate. So the problem is: what the family will is can change from day to day, much less from year to year. Like young Stone here.::

“Excuse me?” There were too many things that could mean, and Stone didn’t like most of them.

::The family was fine ignoring you, weren’t they? Nobody was going to be stupid enough to train you. Nobody was going to give you any more power – or, should I say, give you access to your own power. Given time, the family gestalt would soak up most of it, leaving you with enough to light a fire without a match or know when it was going to rain, probably. Petty stuff, the stuff any street-corner magician can do. That’s what the family does, you know. It collects power that’s not being used.::

“Wait, what?” Beryl stared at the necklace as if she could see if it was lying or not. Stone felt an urge to do the same.

“Say that again.”

::The family gestalt. What did you think the power the Aunt held was?::

“It’s our birthright…” Beryl said slowly. “The strength of the family. The power of the lineage.”

::Exactly. The strength of the family. The power of the lineage. It’s a lot more powerful now than it has been in the past. That’s part of the reason – though I bet from what I hear in your voices that most people don’t know this – that they can afford to have so many non-Aunts wandering around doing magic. You. Rosa. I bet everyone does a little more than their ancestors did.::

“Because…” Stone frowned. “We have more power?”

“Because we have more family!” Beryl sat up straighter and grinned, and then just as immediately deflated. “Wait. Wait, though. The family splits. It gets too big, and then it splits.”

::That’s the other sort of power, though. That’s the fact that a mob too big is too hard to steer. Well, and it might burst a weaker Aunt, let’s be honest. That’s a bad thing, someone who can’t hold the power.::

“…but the family splits,” Beryl repeated plaintively, “so how are we more powerful now than we have been?”

::Two reasons. Maybe three. Let’s see if you can figure them out.::

“You sound like Mrs. Tyler,” Stone complained half-heartedly. “Okay, so. Big families. There’s four of us, most of our cousins have two or three in the family, and it spreads like that. So even with splitting, you get bigger families.”

::That’s one.:: It sounded like the necklace approved. Stone still wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“Oh! Oh, we suck in other powers. I mean, that sounds violent but-” Beryl ducked her head. Stone was pretty sure she was thinking about their dad.

::That is right, yes. What about your Jake? Does he have power?::

“Still figuring that out,” she muttered. “He doesn’t run away screaming, at least.”

::Even if you don’t want to be the Aunt, you might think about what bringing a powered person into the family will do,:: the necklace murmured. ::Think long and hard, dear.::

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Worldbuilding Month Day 8: Tell Me a Story

March is Worldbuilding Month! Leave me a question about any of my worlds, and I will do my best to answer it!
This eighth one is from [personal profile] sauergeek: You have storytellers in at least three universes: Autumn in Stranded, Tanakae in Calepurn, and Rosaria in Aunt Family. Am I missing others? How do their styles overlap, and how do they differ? What are their goals in storytelling? (Lotsa questions!)

Ooh! I probably do have other storytellers, because I like the trope of the storyteller. I like telling stories within the confines of the story, for one – some day I hope to do an at-least-triple-nested story, like Arabian Nights. Maybe for Camp Nano in July~

Autumn tells stories for two reasons: One, because she is a small-change artist, and engaging your audience by telling stories is a very good way to get their attention and interest them in buying. As a Neil Gaiman story I just read says, people don’t buy the art, they buy the story. (Paraphrase). Two, because she is a dancer on the strands of life, and she has found that sometimes a story is the best way to engage someone, to get them to heal their own strand damage, to create their own connections.

Tanakae tells stories because it’s her career. She started out doing her world’s version of rap battles, and evolved from there into high art – think like Shakespeare having a patron. She likes political satire best, because if you put something into a catchy phrase, it makes people – if not think, let’s be honest – at least remember the phrase. She’s her time’s equivalent of a Facebook meme on a bad day, and on a good day she’s Mark Twain. She likes the way words flow together, and making them fit properly is like a really good puzzle for her.

(Okay, I probably write a lot of storytellers too because I am, by chosen trade, a storyteller.)

Rosaria tells stories because it’s how she sees the future, the past, and the present – it’s a type of divination. It’s also how she engages her family – some too young to be interested in the truth behind the stories, some too involved in their own world, their own lives. It also gives her a chance to talk to her grandchildren and grand-nieces and -nephews and keep an eye on them.

In terms of style, Tanakae’s style is far more elaborate and ornate than either of the others. Tanakae is much more interested in the wordcraft and in showing off her skills. Rosaria’s stories are the most likely to sound like fairy tales, where Autumn’s are the closest to “no shit, there I was…”

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Stone: After some Aftermath

This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, After the Kinging, and Stone: Aftermath
“Stay here.” Beryl had the bossiness of the family down to an art form, especially the way she seemed to have convinced herself that she wasn’t actually bossy. Stone would’ve been impressed, if she wasn’t his sister. His little sister.

“It’s my room.”

“Yep. Stay there anyway.”

“Not going anywhere.”

Their parents had dealt with having four children in an imbalance of genders in a three-bedroom house by splitting both kids’ bedrooms in half, so Stone’s room wasn’t exactly spacious, but it was his, and he guarded it as jealously as a king would his castle. Beryl – who wanted the same respect, and got it from him, at least – knocked and waited in the open doorway.

“Come in.”

“Radar’s off being – well, being a tomcat, I imagine – but here’s Joseph.” She said it with frankness that probably got her in trouble with people in school.

Speaking of being fiercely overprotective, Stone knew exactly what he’d do to anyone who said anything unkind about his sister in his hearing. He’d only had to do it once for Chalce, and if he was lucky, she’d never find out.

He looked down at the necklace. It sparkled in his hand, blue gems in an antique setting.

“Well?” Beryl looked nervous, he thought. “Are you waiting for an engraved invitation?”

Stone sighed. At least his friends – unlike Chalce’s – were unlikely to barge in unannounced.

He put the necklace on and closed the clasp. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his fingers twitch, but Aunt Rosaria had suggested he talk to the thing, and he was fairly certain she wasn’t trying to trap him or hurt him.

::The thing. Seriously.:: The voice sounded as if it were right next to his ear, like an old and amused grandfather who knew a few things. ::My name is Joseph, and I’m your great-great-something grandfather. And you, then, are Beryl’s brother Stone. The one with the spark.::

Stone cleared his throat, and then didn’t say anything out loud. Aunt Rosaria suggested I speak with you. He formed the thoughts carefully in his mind.

::Rosa! She wore me once – as a necklace, young man, and nothing more. I’m older than that generation, you know. I’ve been around for a while. Far longer than I was planning on sticking around, i can tell you that.::

Stone coughed out a laugh. “The family has a habit of doing that to you.” So what if Beryl was still in the room? It wasn’t like she didn’t talk to her necklace too.

::But hrrmm… Why would she want me to talk with you, and vice versa? Let me see, let me see… It seemed to be humming in Stone’s mind. It? He. ::Well, I supose there are several reasons. One is that someone needs to give you the talk about what happens when a mare and a stallion-::

“Had that one, thanks!” Stone yelped. Beryl giggled, and he glared at her. “What?”

“That’s the face I think I made when Joseph offered to explain to me where foals came from.”

“Yeah.” He looked away. His little sister… no. He sent the mental version of a glare at the necklace – at the personality in his mind, at least. Nobody as old as Joseph should be talking to Beryl about any of that.

::I meant no disrespect, I assure you. She is a powerful woman, and it will behoove her to know exactly how powerful she can be. But let me see – no, if not that talk, then I imagine you must have power. And since the family deals so very well with power in men, you’re going to need some help::

“Aunt Rosaria’s gonna teach me,” he muttered.

::Well, and hasn’t life gone in changed since I was en-stoned? Ha, a stone grandfather for a boy named Stone. We’ll suit, my boy, we’ll suit well. And now, hrrm. I imagine the lesson is “What happens to people who go against the will of the family?” and, just to be fair – which I’m going to note I wouldn’t always be – exactly what counted as going against the will in this case. Now, I know this sounds creepy, but if you can get your sister over here, we can explain this to both of you at once.::


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Worldbuilding Month Day 6: More Roots of the Aunt Tree

March is Worldbuilding Month! Leave me a question about any of my worlds, and I will do my best to answer it!
This third one is from [personal profile] kelkyag:
where did the American branch of the family, Carrie and Sarah, come from?

Okay, so I’d originally thought that the immigrated from Away, but I probably shouldn’t have named aunts I was thinking of as German Carrie and Sarah if that were the case.

Also, that doesn’t quite match with what I said to Rix.

So, let’s see.

Wikipedia says:

In the 1670s the first significant groups of German immigrants arrived in the British colonies, settling primarily in New York and Pennsylvania… Between 1820 and 1870 over seven and a half million German immigrants came to the United States

Since that story takes place in 1802, let’s say that the branch that thought of itself as the root branch came over to downstate NY in the late 1670’s.

That means there was an established branch downstate when Carrie and Sarah decided to come up north.

Which changes something – they may BE the root family, but they moved with no family at all. Were they part of a split; i.e., did they have the power of the family but were, say, the only children of an only surviving child? That would explain the move, too; if the power split off between them and another Aunt, a cousin.

So: Carrie and Sarah came from Downstate. *nods firmly*

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The Uncle re. an Aunt

First: Visiting the Family
Previous: The Powers that Be

Uncle Willard let Eva’s words hang in the air while he opened up his sun porch to them and brought in a pitcher of cold lemonade.

There was something like a ritual to it, the clean glasses, the glass pitcher, the cold, sweet-tart fresh lemonade. In the winter, it woudl have been tea. Their family had things that they did, and they all did them more or less the same.

The thought made her smile, her lips just starting to curl up as Willard answered.

“I think Asta was a changing of the guard. She had a lot of things she did. None of them, well, were any use to me, but I think they might be of use to this nephew of yours.” He sat back in an old armchair and lounged, looking at Rosaria and Eva over his lemonade.

Eva wasn’t fooled by his nonchalant glance. This, too, was a test.

She was growing a little tired of tests.

“Let’s see. Asta left Aunt Rosaria free to pursue a different path, one that involved a family, which places Aunt Rosaria as the tale-teller. That’s not a small thing. She let the older generation get complacent, because she let them push her around, and yet, if you read her diaries, she was supremely good at doing what needed to be done, when it needed doing.

“So she wasn’t holding on to as much power, probably – the legacy has a feel to it, you know, and she passed down a smaller part of it. Then again, the whole thing about the legacy is that it comes from the family, and that’s been changing in the last few months.” Eva took a breath. “But Asta holding less of it left more of it in other hands.” She lifted her chin. “Do I pass, Uncle Willard?”

He laughed, cheerfully but with an edge. “You’re an Aunt, all right.”

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Cat’s Mystery – the beginning of a story of the Aunt Family

This is entirely because of the way Stone has been shaping up in my mind
There were any number of mysteries to Cat’s new school.

Some of them, she’d been expecting: from things she’d heard, and from the last two times she’d changed schools, she knew that every school had its own slang, and that every locale – city, town, village – had its own places that you couldn’t find on a map. The Quarry. The Old Grocery Store. Down by the Tracks. This one, Demville-Latta, was pretty rural, a good thirty-forty minute drive to the nearest so-called city, so in addition to needing a Demville-to-English dictionary, you pretty much needed a car to get to any of these mystery places.

Her parents were not yet convinced of this necessity, which meant that her mystery-detangling was pretty much limited to school and the bus, at least until either her parents gave in or she made some friends with cars.

Among the other mysteries were Track, really? This school’s only good team sport is track? and What the heck is going on with the Cunningham-Bauer-Talbot-Green-etc. family? That family encompassed two teachers, a bus driver, and, at last count, at least ten students, nine of whom rode her bus. They were the closest-knit group of cousins she’d ever seen – and yet sometimes they seemed just like any other family, arguing and sulking and teasing each other.

She’d been warned on day one not to “mess with” that family. That, of course, only intrigued her more.

That would be a nut she would take time to crack. Not too much time, of course, because, after all, she didn’t know how long she’d be here, but enough time that she didn’t come off creepy, stalkerish, or needy.

(By this point, she had how-to-deal-with-new-schools down to an artform. The problem was, new schools didn’t really have how-to-deal-with-new-kids down to anything but a mess.)

The mystery she decided to focus on first was much simpler, although it touched tangentially on that Cunningham-Bauer-Talbot-Green-etc. family mess, in that Miss Cunningham seemed somewhow to be involved.

It was: What is Mrs. Realle doing on lunch break, and why does it seem like Miss Cunningham and Mr. Fentner are involved?

It wasn’t so much that she thought it was anything bad, it was just that she was curious, and she learned far more about a place by sneaking around than she ever did by just going to classes.

So she slipped out of PE and went down to the girls’ room instead of to the cafeteria, which put her in the right place to walk back into that hall with teachers’ offices, the maintenance closet, and an abandoned classroom with 50’s-era science equipment. She slipped into the classroom, hid behind one of the giant lab tables, and waited.

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Stone: Aftermath

This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, and After the Kinging.
“I would ask your sister to borrow her necklace some day. Or her cat. There are worse things the family can do to you than kick you out or bind your power, and they have done them all at one point or another.”

Stone chewed over those words for a week before he let himself even think about doing anything about them.

It wasn’t like he didn’t have other things to think about. Classes were back in session, he still had a few relatives hassling him about the trinket he’d gotten in his muffin, and something over the Christmas break – he hoped it wasn’t the rabbit trinket, really, really hoped it wasn’t – had gotten him a little more attention in school than he normally had, or than he felt comfortable with.

Jenny Connor had literally followed him home from school the other day! She’d been talking to Chalce, so he hadn’t noticed she was even on the bus – his sister was popular, even if she didn’t drive to school; she was always talking to someone – and tried to follow him into his room.

Chalce had put a stop to that and sent Jenny away, but it didn’t leave Stone feeling particularly sanguine about school.

It took a week for all that to die down – or at least, for his sisters to run enough interference that it looked like it had died down. In that time, Julie Fenway had stopped talking to him, which… he probably should have expected, all things considered, but just left him grumpy and not willing to talk to anyone female.

He didn’t so much decide to ask Beryl as decide it was a good way to get rid of her quickly when she showed up in the doorway to his room. It wasn’t the nicest thought… but he’d really hoped he had a chance with Julie, and now she wouldn’t even answer his texts.

“Hey,” Beryl tried. He knew he’d been snotty lately, but Stone couldn’t bring himself to say more than “hey.”

“Is there anything I can…” She shrugged awkwardly.

“Actually… Aunt Rosaria said I should talk to your necklace. And, uh. Your cat.”

“I can’t guarantee anything from Radar, but I can bring Joseph over.” She squinted at him. “Is Aunt Rosaria threatening you?”

“Threatening? No. I – I don’t think so. She said she’d teach me.” Stone wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know, but I think she’s worried about the rest of the family threatening me.”

“Screw ‘em.” Beryl frowned fiercely. “If they want to threaten my brother, they have to go through me first.”

Stone didn’t have the heart to tell her exactly how un-intimidating that was.


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