Running in the Bear Empire 61 – By Your Hand

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: 60 – The Claw’s Hunter
Next: 62: Breathe

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.  

“Ask me again.” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 60 – The Claw’s Hunter

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:59 – Debreif
Next: 61 – By Your Hand

Floren had gone off to get a map. 

Gacharre had  headed off to pick up some reports that he had questions about. 

Pakkon had left on a thin excuse with a suggestion – a very polite suggestion – that none of the Claw would be back for at least an hour. 

“Did they just clear the room to give us time to–” Carrone’s gesture was only evocative if you knew certain Haloran idioms, but since Deline did, it made her grin.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 59 – Debreif

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: 58 – Husband and Emperor
Next: 60 – The Claw’s Hunter

A knock on the door pulled Deline out of her comfortable half-sleep many hours later.

She propped herself up on one elbow; next to her, Carrone had reached for a weapon, his eyes open and his posture worried. “Announce yourself,” she called. 

“Pethiarrie, Your Sharpness.”  The voice came in clearly; soundproofing was not considered a priority for Imperial chambers — if anything, it was the opposite. 

Carrone tugged the sheet up to his mid-chest, covering his knife.  Deline shifted so she was mostly blocking him from the doorway. She didn’t reach for her own weapon, but she made sure her spell components were laid out on the table to the side of the bed. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 58 – Husband and Emperor

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:57 – Chief of the Claw of the Bear, Wife to the Emperor
Next: 59 – Debreif

“-And then we made our way here.”  

Deline took the drink that the bath attendant – Tandio, her pick for the position and quite good at both ends of the position – offered her and sipped it slowly.  It had not been a quick report. Her Emperor was now robed and sitting comfortably on a divan while the other bath attendant brushed his hair and braided his beard. Carrone had spent much of the early part of the report eyeing her with some surprise and, occasionally, some worry. 

“You have indeed had an interesting trip.”  Mesaruxenne nodded solemnly at her, although his lips were turned up with a bit of a smile.  “I am – I am very glad you survived it, Dedenarrion. If I had known –“ Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 57 – Chief of the Claw of the Bear, Wife to the Emperor

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:56 – His Grace by the Claw of the Bear Herself
Next: 58 – Husband and Emperor

The way Carrone was holding his jaw, Deline wasn’t sure if he was afraid he might say something wrong or that he might vomit.  She held his hand anyway and led him into the Emperor’s bathing chamber. 

Unlike Pethiarrie, the two Claws standing guard didn’t give Deline any trouble.  She nodded very politely to them – Seliarre, an Eagle Talon, and Teran, a Fox-Claw – and led Carrone over the tub. 

You’d want me in your bed with the Emperor there., he’d asked, way back in the cabin, before things had gotten even more complicated. 

What are you doing to do? Glare him to death? she’d countered.  The way Carrone was looking now, she thought it might be a concern. 

The Emperor was up to his neck in water, one bath attendants in the tub, kneeling in front of him, while the other was massaging his scalp and his long white hair with a scented soap.  He opened his eyes as they entered.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 56 – His Grace by the Claw of the Bear Herself


First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:55: Coming Home
Next: 57 – Chief of the Claw of the Bear, Wife to the Emperor

“You can’t tell me you’re not nervous.”

“I can tell you that,” Deline contradicted.  Carrone’s hand was sweaty in her own. “But why are you nervous?”

“I’ve been sleeping with the Emperor’s second wife,” he muttered, “in case you didn’t notice.  And — and here is your bracelet on my wrist saying that I’m pretty much stuck with whatever you want…”

“Which means that nobody is going to yell at you, even if someone was going to, for sleeping in the bed I wanted you in,” she pointed out.

“I’ll note you didn’t actually say you weren’t nervous.” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 55: Coming Home

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:54: This Means W-
Next: 56 – His Grace by the Claw of the Bear Herself

The capital city was one of those cities that didn’t so much as rise into sight on the horizon as pop up suddenly when you rounded a bend in the road.  Nestled in the middle of the Bear Mountains, the city had been stopped from expanding further by the need to keep the pass clear through the entire year, including the six to eight months a year where the pass might be covered in snow.  There were buildings carved into the sides of the pass, but by regulation and army enforcement, those buildings were forced to stay back from the edges of the track far enough that even the widest wagons could head through with no problems, even in the worst weather. 

Thus, they went from the vendors leaning over the edges of their balconies, calling down to them about their fine wares, better prices than in the city, of course, and better quality of manufacture as well, around a corner where no vendors had managed to carve homes, into the gates of the city with the buildings looming up above them.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 54: This Means W-

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: 53: the Swan
Next:55: Coming Home

Deline was trying to pretend that she wasn’t tense, and she wasn’t doing that good of a job. 

She walked by Carrone and near Ranger Learone, wishing for the casual conversation they’d had the day before.  The rain had held off while they camped, at least, but now, with the capital city looming on the horizon like a monster peeking out through the Bear Mountains, the rain, too, was looming.  It suited her mood, and the tenseness in Carrone’s shoulders, and the worry on the Ranger’s face and in the set of Lord Eigeran’s pace, stomping as if he could kick away his concern.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 53: the Swan

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:52: Tales
Next: 54: This Means W-

“A good day, mmm?”  Carrone took a long drink and then responded to Ranger Learone’s pointed tale with his own story, something about a swan who had decided to follow a man around, until eventually, the man brought the swan home. The swan would attack him — of course, it was a swan —but it wouldn’t leave, either, so he fed it and let it follow him around, until eventually people started calling the swan his wife.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 52: Tales

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous:51: Lady
Next: 53: the Swan

Pallar kept a map behind her bar. 

It was a broad, big map, taking up most of the space behind the bar, a portion of it turning around the corner to show all of the mountains in their glory.  And it had a scale, carefully listed in both the Imperial shede and Haloran fetter.  From the looks of things, they were half a day from the capital the way the two of them would walk, or a little over a day the way they traveled with their little train of people.  Continue reading