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Smokey Knoll is an exciting place to live, but for Aud and Sage and their kids, it’s just… life. Harpies, centaurs, and tiny people in the walls; kidnappers, magic-users, and strange poisons in black jars… Aud just wants to get through the latest parent-teacher meeting, and nevermind the mayor’s latest problem.

The ogres next door have moved out, but the new neighbors have a joyriding teen and a new infant whose cries can wake up the neighborhood. Sure, the wee little thing is adorable, but he belches fire when he’s colicky and needs asbestos diapers.

This series of short pieces follows the mostly-human family in their interactions with their magical neighbors.


Best Places to Start
Get Off My Lawn!
Backpack Gremlins


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A Different Stripe

Written to Anke’s prompt. 

🦓

When you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you and working on finding the best in all of them – sometimes by viewing them by your cultural standards, sometimes by theirs, sometimes by some neutral third party – and then you find them using a kind of casual racism against creatures you think of as being the same as them, you tend to find yourself a little shocked or, if you are like me, a little stupefied.

I was, I’m afraid to say, used to the casual racism of humans towards the magical races, especially the categories we called The Small (or Tiny) Races and The Beast Races – Tinies, Pixies, Gremlins and the lot in the first category; centaurs, harpies, fauns and such in the second.  But I spent a lot of my time talking to Zizney, and thez, it seemed, treated all smaller races as, well, smaller but not particularly lesser, just curious. And the worst I had ever heard any of the Smiths say about another dragon was a sort of personal insult, along the lines of “messy and untidy scales.”

Now, I full well know the danger of extrapolating such experiences out.  Not only is one dragon different from another, a dragon is inherently different from a harpy, and so on.  “We are all people” is a good way to treat people but not a good way to try to understand behavior patterns.

But knowing the dangers of something is different from remembering and internalizing those dangers. So when I encountered Leeland, the dapple Bay centaur from down the street, passing by the new neighbors’ stable, I was stunned to hear him mutter “ugh, Zebra-centaurs.”

I was actually stunned enough that I stopped and stared at him.  He was several steps along before he stopped to look back at me.  “What?”  He flicked his tail at me.

“’Ugh?’” I quoted back at him.  The family moving into the stable was, indeed, zebra- looking, the stripes going up into the clothing they wore over their humanoid torsos. “Really?”  I didn’t even have the words for I thought you were one of the good guys, come on.

Now that I think about it, those would have  been the words.

“They’re not centaurs.  Everyone thinks they are, and, I mean, in English the word is just zebra-centaur, but they’re no more centaurs than zebras are horses.  They’re pushy.”  He wrinkled his nose and pushed out air in a very horsey gesture.  “And that’s the problem.  They’re going to come in.  They’re going to be loud and pushy and in everyone’s faces, and everyone’s going to say ugh, centaurs, and it’s not us, it’s them.”

I didn’t really want to interfere in intra-species – or inter-species – troubles, but I couldn’t help myself.  It’s what I do, after all.  “So you know these zebra-centaurs already?”

“I know about zebra-centaurs.  We’ve been through this before. They’re loud.  And messy.”

I lifted up an eyebrow.  “And all centaurs are brilliant scholars and great aims with an arrow,” I added, as if I was agreeing with him – with Leeland, who was a blacksmith.

“That’s not true!  That’s…”  He huffed at me.  “That’s not the same.”

“Well then.  Perhaps I’ll have your family and the new family over for dinner, and you can all explain it to me.  In detail.”

“…With tea?”  He looked at me out of the side of his eye.  I smiled at him.

“Yes, of course, with tea.”

“… I can handle loud and messy for that long.  Fine.”

I hadn’t solved anything.  All I’d done was planted a seed, and it might never take root.

But when you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you, sometimes you have to spread that back out a little, like collecting manure, and hope it doesn’t stink up the place too much in the process.

🦓

I had been watching: https://youtu.be/DEaWFX5nzg0?t=174 over my husband’s shoulder. (Ignore the part on cats; they’re wrong). 

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Patreon Posts!


For TNG, Cap, and Tal, with all my love. 

🌑

The whole world whispering
Born at the right time…

Read On


We danced in graveyards with vampires till dawn
We laughed in the faces of kings, Never afraid to burn
 ⚰️
Everything not mandatory is forbidden
 📜
The sun set quickly, as if it wanted to get out of the way.

Open to all Patreon Patrons!


This story comes after  Hostage Situation, Ketchup, Salt, and Released.  Jin, Aud & Sage’s teenaged child, has dealt with a hostage situation in unique fashion. 🥞
🥒
Police Captain Iverny was not having a good day.
That was not true: Some parts of his day were very good.  The part where the monster in the bank had only managed to kill one person – that was wonderful.

Open to all Patrons!

Dragons next Patreon


“Fore!… Damnit! I don’t know what’s up with me today, Jim, I just can’t swing a damn stick!”

Open to all Patreons!


Originally posted Aug. 10, 2011

🛒

I think it’s fair that I thought Farnah was male.

Read On!


This week on What an Old House, we’re doing some exploratory demolition in our 1860’s farmhouse’s bathroom.

🏠

Now this bathroom has some interesting features right from the get-go. You can see from the photos that the entire bathroom was covered in these 50’s-era Masonite panels.

Take a Peek!

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Patreon! A Repost and two summer ficlets

Originally posted Oct. 28, 2011
🎃
Officially, the Sandborn Institute and Lady Cassidy’s Academy for Young Ladies did not have mixers. There was nothing the Black Tower wanted to hear from the Pumpkin, and nothing the Pumpkin wanted to say to the Tower.
Read on!!


This is just a little story of summertime and beaches, because I wanted to.
😎

At first, we all thought it was some asshole in a particularly good Godzilla costume.

Read on!!


This is written to @medic‘s very enthusiastic “More, more!” to No Rest on This Beach
😎

So there we were, eight-foot Godzilla-like thing on the beach smashing sandcastles and throwing around policemen, and I, at least, had been planning for a nice quiet weekend blending in with the locals and watching the myth of the supernatural from a nice safe place.

Read On!

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Patreon: Some Tinies, some Gods, Some history.

The Tinies are creatures of the Dragons Next Door setting and are loosely based on my memories of the Borrowers books.
This was meant to be a short microfic – oops.

👾

The Tinies had lived alongside humans as long as the humans had been living in houses, and, although they were a scattered and fragmented society, they had traditions and unwritten rules that they carried from home to home and community to community, mostly carried by the old, those past their adventuring days.

Free for all Patreon patrons!


I’m a bit behind on the next chapter of the Expectant Wood, so have a piece of history I wrote a while ago in the meantime.
🌋

The land was rising.

The people on the islands and the small nation of Aerax clung to whatever support they could find. The last magical explosions of the Roquelan Wars had been over for days. Nobody had expected another attack.

Free for all Patreon patrons!


I don’t even remember what I wrote this for, but it suits the theme of May.
🍇

They liked their god, and so they’d kept him. Around them, the world had crumbled to pieces, the new gods, creatures like him, warring against the self-appointed protectors of humanity. In their little fort on the hill, though, they’d been drunk, happy and content to stay that way. And every season, they’d paid homage to their new god, for all he gave them.

Free for all “Trunk” Level Patrons!

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Worldbuilding Day Three: People and Races

Dragons Next Door

As the title of this setting suggests, the Dragons Next Door world has Dragons.
It also has quite a few other magical sentient races: ogres, harpies, pixies, tinies, elkin, and centaurs, to name a few.

In addition, it has a deep and broad human population, very similar to the real world (it’s an Urban Fantasy setting, after all) and then dweomers, who are humans with magic, or at the very least humanoids with magic.

For a very long time, these races lived primarily separate lives with their own civilization. There were dragon nations and pixie towns and Centaur Isles and so on; the elkin had a remote mountain nation that spoke to no-one except the Tinies and the harpies, for instance.

The Tinies were the only exception to this rule: Tinies have always lived everywhere.
Only recently – since the 1930’s – have the races begun to actively mingle.

(I wonder if this matches the previous notes on Smokey Knoll. Shall have to check).

Portal Bound
The continent that Portal Bound takes place on has only one sentient race: humans.

On the other hand, because of the portals, there are two factors at hand here:

* what counts as human varies slightly from dimension to dimension, and so there are those that are very nearly elves or fairies or such (or Klingons or Romulans) in appearance
* because of the broad spread of the portals across the worlds in all these dimensions, the humans come in all ethnicities.

Sometimes, if a portal stays open for a particularly long time, a city will end up with a small enclave of people of a particular ethnicity and world-origin.
More often, however, people come singly, and thus they find a place and settle as they can, bringing their own traditions but integrating into the massive whole.

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Bridges in Walls – a fic continuation of Dragons Next Door

After Sturdy Walls

The Tinies had appointed an ambassador to come speak to Anne. Said ambassador had a beard nearly to his feet, was wearing a very sharp bottle-cap hat with trimmings of what looked like gold wire and the ribbon she’d misplaced, and had a quiet voice that nevertheless was somehow very hard to ignore.

“I am Yeg-Tren-Opar, and I am the elder of this family.” He sat down politely in the small cushion Anne provided – the lining from a jewelry box that had come with some familial present last year. “You present to us an interesting conundrum, and as you seem sensible, we thought we would share that conundrum with you in turn.”

“I’m willing to hear your conundrum,” she offered as formally as possible. She was talking to tiny people. Some part of her brain was squealing with that. Tiny. People. Who lived, it appeared, in the wall behind her kitchen.

“You are, as far as we can tell, a human.”

“That’s my understanding.” She spoke with humans every day who took themselves at least as seriously as this small man. She could keep her face straight even when she thought she was saying or hearing ridiculous things.

The thing was, she wasn’t entirely sure this was ridiculous.

“This house is in Smokey Knoll, but the positioning of such has meant that, from time to time, it passes into human hands. This can cause some problems, as humans and Tiny Folk do not always get along.”

“The previous residents of this house…”

The elder lifted his tiny, bushy eyebrows. “Moved out.”

There was a world of meaning in those two words. Anne sat back and considered them.

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Sturdy Walls – a fic beginning of Dragons Next Door

This one peters out more than some of them today. I wasn’t sure where it wanted to go.

Anne Herrington had heard things about Smokey Knoll, of course, but the house was so cheap and it was such a nice house.

She didn’t ask too many questions of the old owners – a very nice couple with three kids, the youngest still in diapers – because it was clear that the two-bedroom house was too small for their growing needs. The tiny strip of city-style front lawn was a little overgrown, sure, and the back they’d let go wild to raspberry bushes and wild roses, four woody apple trees and a vigorous smattering of grapes, but Anne had quite the green thumb and was looking forward to the challenge. The house itself was solid, passed all inspections with flying colors, and came in ten grand under her budget.

And, yes, it was actually in Smokey Knoll, not adjacent as the realtor had tried to sell it, but so what? Smokey Knoll was supposed to be a beautiful place. Sure, the people were a little… strange, but Anne had grown up around strange people. She might be normal, but that said nothing for her parents’ friends, or her friends in school, or that brief phase of college experimentation…

Anyway, she sold insurance now, and it was a very nice, very staid, very normal job, and she had a two-bedroom home with very sound walls in Smokey Knoll.

Then she came home early one day, because the idea of selling insurance to one more person was giving her a splitting headache and she hadn’t had a day off in half a year.

And there were four people standing on her kitchen counter. Four tiny, tiny people.

She stared at them.

They stared at her.

She inched closer, peering. She hadn’t had hallucinations with her migraines in years.

They millimetered backwards away from her.

“You’re Tinies!“ She made her voice as quiet as she could. They still backed up another teeny step. “Oh my god, I thought I’d imagined you! I thought you were something from that – uh. I thought I’d made you up.”

The tallest of the tiny people, who was carrying what looked like the leftovers from her Oreo binge, stared back at her. “You imagined us?”

“No – well. Maybe. There were a lot of drugs involved.” She pulled up a stool to the counter and sat down. “Let’s just say… I’m glad to know you’re real.”

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Love Meme: Jin and Junie

The meme is here: Give me the names of two characters and I will tell you why character A loves character B.

Here is [personal profile] sauergeek‘s first prompt.

Jin had been just old enough to be annoyed by this whole little-sibling thing when his mother had put Junie in his arms.

He hadn’t instantly fallen in love with her. She was small and fragile and loud. He, at that point, had very little interest in things small and fragile and loud.

It was weeks later, when he found out that he could make very minor illusions and had to show them off to someone, that’s when things changed.

His mother was brewing a tisane and couldn’t be disturbed; his father was reading a large tome in the library and looked like disturbing him would not go well. He could wait for dinner – but Jin did not want to wait for dinner. (Patience was a hard- and late-earned skill for him.)

So he decided to show the new baby the illusion.

And she cooed. She reached out for it with her chubby little hands. She was thrilled. Jin felt amazing. This tiny little thing, this thing that cried all the time and nothing at all seemed to soothe her – she liked his illusions.

That cemented it. From that day on, Junie was Jin’s first audience for every illusion, every spell (that was safe to her, of course; he kept the others to a room behind the garage where no-one else came), every cantrip.

And, eventually, Junie found out Jin’s secrets, too.

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Love Meme: Doug and Fridmar, Cxaidin and Zizny

The meme is here: Give me the names of two characters and I will tell you why character A loves character B.

Here are rix_scaedu‘s and kelkyag‘s first prompts. Doug and Fridmar are from Addergoole; Cxaidin and Zizny from Dragons Next Door. To quote Zizny in an earlier piece:

“For a grown adult dragon, the pronoun is ‘thez.’”

“Theza” is the possessive.

Doug and Agmund Fridmar

Some people went into battle like a well-oiled machine. Doug’s father, for example; he moved with sparse, sharp movement, did what needed to be doing, and drank afterwards with the same mechanical precision.

Some people fought like it was sex: with ridiculous intensity, angry, wild, some strikes almost like caresses, some like orgasms. Of the Thorne Girls, Massima fought the most like that, and she fucked like she fought. Afterwards, she drank as if she was going to take the bottle to bed with her, too. Sometimes Doug felt as if he envied the bottle, and other times he pitied it.

But so very few people fought like a dance, like every move had a place and yet was beautiful. So few people fought such that you could choreograph your movements around theirs and they would notice and do the same right back at you.

Agmund Fridmar, big, fierce, bearish Agmund, fought like a ballet, like a symphony, like a dance, and afterwards, when they drank, his movements had the same precision.

Once, once, Doug had thought of an old and awful quote on dancing bears: “The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all.”

That proverb had it wrong, Doug was sure. The marvel of Agmund Fridmar was definitely in how well the Bear danced.

Cxaidin and Zizny

Zizny had fire.

In a literal sense, of course, all dragons had fire. It was their birthright, their gift, their curse.

But dragons were a long, long-lived race, one of the oldest, and they tended, after a few times of setting their nest alight, to be calmer, more thought-out creatures than their flamey breath would suggest.

Zizny was not calm.

Zizny questioned resolutely. Not only the assumptions of others, not only the writings of dragons and other-creatures of the past, but theza own assumptions, theza own truths. Zizny would ask one day why the sun was rising as it always had, and then the next day ask exactly why the dragons got along with humans – or, perhaps, why they shouldn’t get along better with said humans. Thez would question the entire stork arrangement and then snarl at a passing centaur for some comment about dragon history and its habit of going up in smoke.

(This did happen, sadly, but most of the very important dragon records were carved in stone or etched in metal. Very heat-durable metal).

Cxaidin loved Zizny’s fire, the sparks that seemed to fly off whenever Zizney was involved in a new quest, the way thez made Cxaidin question even thezself. Above all, and after all, and in spite of all, Cxaidin loved Zizny’s heat.

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