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.
Running in the Bear Empire Content Warnings: violence, dubious consent, magically forced obedience, implied sexual activity, nudity
Deline skidded around a corner that was far too slick, looked down at the ground and realized that she was slipping on blood. Her stomach turned. There were two Claws on the ground, people she knew, and another one she didn’t know. One of them was still breathing.
“I’ll see what can done. Go.”
They finished the sprint to the nursery to find the doors barricaded, a spiky curtain-rod and two swords poking out at them from between pieces of furniture. On the ground, another stranger was down.
“Father Snake,” Deline panted, “I thank you for your protection, for your aid, for your comfort and your wisdom. Father Snake, thank you.”
They had saved all but two more Governors and had killed half of the assassins — although a couple by accident, as the powers of the Father Snake were strange to Deline and she found herself casting spells she didn’t know.
Deline, Catikee, and Carrone were sitting on the floor of the last Governor’s suite, all of them panting, all of them sweaty and sprinkled in blood.
The surviving would-be assassins were bound with whatever had come to hand, and the pink and green shield around Deline and Carrone was still dripping with what looked like venom.
“That—” Deline shook her head. “In ordinary circumstances, that would have been fun.”
“You should’ve been a bounty hunter.” Carrone patted her on the shoulder affectionately.Continue reading →
“You’re not the Snake.” The words tripped out of the Fang’s mouth as if he had to say something. “You’re not Father Snake, you’re the Bear, you’re just a Claw of the Bear, and there’s no reason – no reason I should be afraid of you. You’re not-“
She leaned down until her face was a hand-span from his and stared into his eyes. “I’m not?”
He couldn’t look away. “Tell me,” Aucheria growled. The room shook again. “Tell me who, and tell me where.”
“Tell usss,” Deline hissed. The Father Snake hissed. The room trembled.
She stuck her head carefully back into the door of the Emperor’s Waiting room, guiding three Claw who she was fairly certain were faithful. Aucheria lowered the bow and nodded.
“Any luck with information?” She and Carrone had been searching side- compound from here for what seemed like hours, but they had only been attacked once, and that by a confused and worried kitchen staffer.
“A few things.” Aucheria gestured to the side, where a Fang of the Serpent was bound, gagged, and looking a bit green. “The potion of tongue-loosening is brewing, but I had trouble getting Mesaruxenne to agree to it, and without his consent-“Continue reading →
Mesaruxenne and Aucheria, his two bath-attendants and two Claw guards, stared at Deline as if she had gone insane.
No, she realized in half a heartbeat. They were ready for trouble already, weapons all aimed at the door, and were staring at her as if they’d nearly just shot her. Three people she didn’t know cowered off to one side; five people lay unconscious or dead off to the other side.
She tapped Carrone’s crossbow and he lowered it; she sheathed her blade and bowed deeply. She could barely see Carrone doing the same to her right.
The part of her mind that assessed risk pointed out that she was exposing herself to a bunch of people with weapons, trained fighters and mages, and if Mesaruxenne wanted her dead, she’d just offered up her neck. Continue reading →
Deline tensed, but there was no poison in the air — nothing of the sort would’ve survived the spells on the room, explaining why the Talon was awake already. It was the room of an Emperor’s wife, after all. You couldn’t risk someone just walking in and poisoning a wife – or the Emperor himself. “Strange threats from a woman tied up on the floor.”
“Do you really think I was working alone?” The talon coughed again and then hissed. “You saved my life. You miserable-” she ended in a hiss as Carrone grabbed her hair and yanked, shoved a handkerchief between her teeth and tied another one over her mouth.
“I know she’s having trouble breathing,” he muttered, “but she was going to have more trouble if she kept that up. Here’s your trews. Who are we going for?”
“Put her in my trunk, if you would? There should be room right now, but put down the duvet first. We -” she wasn’t going to argue the we so instead she took a moment to pull on her trews. “We’re going to find the Emperor. And, mmm. There’s more, but we start there.” She pulled her weapons out of her trunk as Carrone grabbed the duvet, belted them on – and her spare spell-belt – as he put the Talon in the chest – and handed him her spare blades. “This is going to be bad,” she murmured. “They’re in the Imperial Complex.” She hissed out something that wasn’t quite a word, more of a shudder voiced. “And they’re in the Claws.”Continue reading →
For the late-Rioren Dynasty politician, see Gorpen, Governor Eigeran “Eigeran” and “Yarlen Eigeran” redirect here. For other uses, see Eigeran (disambiguation) and Yarlen Eigeran (disambiguation)
Yarlen Eigeran Gwymden of Prówit Nod, Lord by the King’s Writ, BE 812-902, [see Deklegion methods of formal address] was a Deklegion courtier most well known for his part in circumventing/averting the Dekleg–Elherion Empire war in the years of 847-852. He is also renowned (although less so in his own nation) for his work in poetry. Eigeran invented three new poetic forms/styles, one in his native Deklegion dialect of Shoktu and two in Middle Elherith (having spent much of his later life living in the Elherion Empire).
Among his best-known works and accomplishments are the Treaty of the Cliff, a diplomatic treatise in four languages (Shoktu, Deklegia, Middle Elherith, and Carruph) which is credited not only with ending the conflict at hand but solving several entrenched problems in both Dekleg and in the Elherion Empire. Because the Treaty was considered a diplomatically manipulative document as well as a translation, he was called The Thief of the Cliff or The Lord of Lies both in life and for many decades after his death. The latter title gained him a resurgence of interest from younger generations in both Elherion and in Dekleg twice — in the 18th century and then again in the 24th century. Continue reading →
A dart flew over her head and thunked into the window. Deline rolled up to her knees and grabbed the knife she’d been holding to Carrone’s throat. She gauged where the dart had come from, rolled up several feet away from where she’d gone down, and found herself facing empty air for a heartbeat.
She turned and ducked down as another dart flew, just catching the edge of her tunic as she listened, this time, were there — of course there weren’t footsteps. A breath, another breath — if they fled, they’d come back again. If she didn’t move, they’d be most likely to flee.
Carrone’s trews were sitting on the floor between them. She gestured quickly to him; he nodded, scooped up the trews, and shifted to the foot of the bed.
She counted down on her fingers: 3, 2,1 — on one, he popped around the side of the bed and threw the trews in the air. The dart went through them as she took the second she needed to spot her target and threw her dagger.Continue reading →
She slipped out of bed and opened the window, found a clean tunic and slipped it over her head pulled it off and found an under-tunic, slipped both on, and laid out a tunic for Carrone. She looked in her pack, not sure what she was looking for. For understanding.
“Hey.” It took her a moment to realize that he’d said that several times. “Hey, Deline. Lady Dedenarrion. Look at me.”
She looked up, wondering why Pethiarrie hadn’t left her any trews, to find Carrone sitting on the side of the bed. He’d made it and put on the tunic,but he was still sitting there, watching her.