The Visit

He could have had any man or woman in the whole nation — probably in several of the adjacent nations as well. He was a brilliant man,a dashing pirate, and his airship was one of the finest known to navy nor fleet. He was a folk hero the likes of which had not come since Dywin Talizen in the age of stories and myths.

And his airship had ducked in, dodging the royal navy ships and the cannons, to visit a political prisoner in a quiet exile in a mountainous corner. He had brought her a rose, the sort of gift that fit the stories, risking everything for a romantic gesture.

He couldn’t stay long; he couldn’t even risk a kiss, even if she would have accepted it. But he brought her a rose.

And he brought her a key.

Continue reading

Bits of a story born from a dream

The dream ended the first time at about the first scene below, after the viewpoint character was Undergoing A Complicated Challenge In the Nether Realms, but she was definitely the daughter of (someone important in hell) and (someone female important some other way).  The story has been tiddling around in my head since. 


“That’s a nice collar.”  Her fingers brushed the air near it.  “Would you like to wear mine instead?”

“Dey…” Chris’s words were a warning.  “You just saw her…”

“I saw her climb out of the Nether Realms like she owned the place.”   Dey was a little impressed.  He was also more than a little turned on. “And now she wants to put her collar on me?” Continue reading

For The Best

Dark Hermione, complicit Harry, post-books and ignoring the Epilogue.

This is mad magiscience, with most of the actual results being offscreen, but it still involves attempting to reproduce the effects of the Imperius Curse without using an Unforgivable, and it does involve human (wizard) experimentation.

And I kind of want to expand it.

Continue reading

World Building June Day 11-12 – Language, Creatures, Government

It’s World-Building June!  So I’m building Worlds!  Aerax/Expectant Woods over on Patreon, and Bear Empire and a new thing here!

It’s also June WorldBuilding – so we’re getting two sets of prompts.  

Still going on the catch-up!

11. What’s language like in your world?

The language of the Empire of the Bear is technically three related languages that have many similarities but are not always mutually comprehensible.  (And three others which are used in very small sections, one of which nobody can understand)

The language family as a whole of the five larger languages is a liquid tongue with a lot of vowels and active tongue use, a popping plosive, and tonal mood shifts and sometimes meaning shifts.  The Lynx language tends to drop initial and final consonant sounds and sometimes repeat vowels; the Fox language involves repetition and a lot more popping sounds, as well as some trills. The Cat people have a lot more trills in their language as well as a whistle-sound.  And the Elk people, only one word in twenty is recognizable between their dialect and the others. Theirs tends towards complicated vowel combinations and often seems to require hand gestures. Continue reading

World Building June Day 10 & 11 – Holidays and Governments

It’s World-Building June!  So I’m building Worlds!  Aerax/Expectant Woods over on Patreon, and Bear Empire and a new thing here!

It’s also June WorldBuilding – so we’re getting two sets of prompts.  

Still going on the catch-up!

10. What holidays & traditions are observed in your world?

Major holidays in the Bear Empire include:

* A major feast near the end of autumn

* a day called the “day of sleep” after the first major frost.  

* A spring-thaw celebration

(these three above together are referred to as the Hibernation festivals) Continue reading

World Building June Day 8/18 – Running and Running Around

It’s World-Building June!  So I’m building Worlds!  Aerax/Expectant Woods over on Patreon, and Bear Empire and a new thing here!

It’s also June WorldBuilding – so we’re getting two sets of prompts.  After I exhaust the answers I’ve written, I might just default to Inspector Caracal’s questions.

Well, I’m still posting.  Sometimes.

8. How is your world run? Who’s in power?

The Bear Empire is, as it sounds, an Empire. It is not the largest Empire.  It’s not even the largest Empire I’ve written.

It is ruled by a Emperor or Empress, a role which is chosen from a small pool of available candidates – these include governors of areas or of subject matter (the governor of trade, of foreign relations with Dekleg, with Halor, etc), the children, spouses, and family of the last emperor, especially those who have been given a position of authority or responsibility along with their title-of-relation, and generally three people picked from the population as potential candidates, usually by those listed earlier in the list.  

The pool is chosen by the pool in a voting process which can last months.  In one situation, the pool is known to have lasted five years, during which a woman not part of the pool (the down-spouse of the former Empress’ equals-spouse) ruled the country.  A governor from the Lynx territory is credited with finally nominating her into the pool, at which point she became the first laundress to become Empress (as known, at least) and the first unanimous vote of the Imperial Conclave.

Ruling the empire is a group affair.  The Emperor has a privy council, a voting council, and a speaking council.

Cal Questions


18- What kind of transportation and communication do people have access to? What is its range and speed?

The Bear Empire is still primarily on foot- and horse-based travel.  While riding on horseback is common during the summer month, during the winter time, carriages, stagecoaches, and other such enclosed conveyances are more common.

The Empire has two competing empire-wide stagecoach companies which will take you just about anywhere in the Empire; in addition, there are several smaller companies that focus on a single area.  There are also two lines that only handle border crossings, taking either the one bridge or the most-established ferry across the wide river between Dekleg and the Empire.

When your feet/hooves are tired, river and coastal boats are common for both freight and passengers, with boats travelling the three long lakes (“the Scars”), the major and minor rivers within the nation, and the coast from the glacial wall to the northern edge of Dekleg.

The Lynx Mountains also have a series of carts, something akin to a ski lift, which lift people up a large mountain and then back down into the middle of the mountains, generally on rails and run by steam and magic.


Questions? Thoughts?  Tell me!

The Portal Closed 5: The Refugee

It didn’t end up being Millie Dioli that they went to meet with first.

Actually, it didn’t end up being them going to meet with someone at all, the first time.

A senior, a kid they didn’t recognize at all, came up to them after fencing club.  He was awkward and lanky, someone who looked like, Diane thought, he might grow into his body and his face in a few years.

He hadn’t taken part in the club, but he’d watched with a hungry look on his face.  

Now he was aiming the same hungry look at Diane and Barbara.

“You’re… You’re Diane, right?  And, uh, Barbara.” Continue reading

World Building June Day 6-7 – Plants, Animals, Sex, and the Economy

It’s World-Building June!  So I’m building Worlds!  Aerax/Expectant Woods over on Patreon, and Bear Empire and a new thing here!

It’s also June WorldBuilding – so we’re getting two sets of prompts.  After I exhaust the answers I’ve written, I might just default to Inspector Caracal’s questions.

Starting to catch up from a long weekend of – (checks dates) a *cough* week of not posting. 

Bear Empire
(The setting for Carrone and Deline, Chased in the Bear Empire)

6. How does gender & sexuality work in your world?

I don’t know!  In re. gender roles, I believe some things are gender-specific, but I don’t know which things yet.

There MIGHT be 2 sets of gender roles within each gender (sort of like butch/femme) but I’m still chewing on that.

Marriage can either be an unequal or equal pairing, and one person can be married to: more than one person below them, up to two people equal to them, only one person above them — and generally one does not enter into a marriage of equals while pursuing a power marriage or within one.  Note: If the highest-status person is very high-status, this can lead to a many-staged marriage higher-to-lower.

(No, I haven’t quite figured out status yet, except the Emperor).  

Sex is considered in three ways: Procreative, emotional, and physical-pleasure.  The former is meant to happen only with in a marriage. The middle, it is considered rude to engage in with someone you cannot or will not marry, but is often engaged in as a prelude to marriage.  The final is … fine and acceptable, as long as it does not lead to the other two.

Marriage will involve procreation and the protection and raising of the young, but it is acceptable to take into a marriage a procreation-partner, as long as that partner is treated properly.

Sex with someone of the same sex and/or gender as you is not stigmatized, especially not pleasure-sex, and neither is marriage, especially unequal marriages, as long as, as above, procreation is taken care of within the marriage line.

7. How does the economy work? What sorts of currencies do they use?

Dekleg, the Bear Empire, Halor, & Carrup  all use a currency based on rare metals, which for purposes of translation simplicity we will call “silver” and “gold.”  They have slightly different currencies, but most border places know the exchange rates fairly well.

The Bear currency all has an interesting swirl running through it of a slightly-darker metal, which is considered by the other nations to be a manufacturing defect, but is in fact an additive of something most often simply called Bear-stone.

The exact properties of Bear-stone can be handwaved for the moment.  For this article, the important part is this: It makes the coins much more difficult to debase via clipping or sweating, and almost impossible to counterfeit.

Trade between nations occurs, but the Bear Empire is on much better terms with more distant neighbors than those close up; most of its profitable trade occurs via shipping routes, not over land.  The Empire has mutual trade taxes and tarrifs set up with all three of the other named nations , making trade sometimes expensive and sometimes prohibitive.


Cal Questions, Bear Empire


6- What kinds of wild and domesticated plants grow there? Are there many types or only a few?

Domesticated plants include: two sorts of cold-hardy cereal grains (kosa makes a sturdy bread that is rather rough; genka makes a  smoother flour but has less structure), a very cold-hardy hemplike fiber plant, a number of staples similar to the brassica family, and three very durable root vegetables which overwinter well.  There are also a couple cold-tolerant fruit trees (apple, pear) and some low-lying berry bushes (raspberry, boysenberry) that do well in the harsh climate.

(Durable and hardy are words used a lot in this section for a reason!)

In addition, food-based plants that grow wild include: onion-like things, thistles which can be used as fodder and can be, with some difficulty, eaten by humans, nut trees of several varieties, including one aptly-named bitternut which provides a great deal of nutrition and fillingness, but at the price of tasting like the pith of an orange.

There is a wild grain-like thing that can be used in a pinch but is usually used for fodder, as well; it is very labor-intensive to get the seed heads off and hulled, and easier to just let livestock eat the whole thing.

And there are vast forests in a combination of conifers and deciduous trees, including the Point Trees, which are said to reach down into the heart of the Bear and the Lynx, the Wolf and The Fox, and all those smaller spirits who once had people devoted to them.

Those trees are not quite a tree and not quite a being, usually no taller than the surrounding trees but wider, and they seem to glow.  The area around them is always warmer than the surrounding area, and generally damper and more lush with greenery as well.

7- What kind of wild and domesticated animals live there? Are there many types or only a few?

Domesticated animals include dogs, cats, domesticated foxes, cattle (bison), sheep, pigs, and horses.  

The cats come in a wider size variety than earth housecats, coming up to the size of a lynx and down to something about 4 lbs in size when fully grown.  They work as ratters, lap-warmers, hunting companions, and sometimes in battle. Dogs, on the other hand, are generally Big Dogs, Labrador retriever size and up.

People have also tamed several bird types – predators for hunting aid, long-flying birds for messages – and in a few cases have used some magery or sorcery to make the bird brighter, bigger, more durable, or stronger.

(The same is said to have been done for the dogs, who otherwise might not have been so tractable, or the  larger cat breeds).

The only badgers left are in captivity; the Badger tribe, too, has suffered a similar fate.

Wild animals are those that can sustain themselves in cold weather – elk and reindeer, boars and another member of the Suidae-like family called water-pigs, and the rhoidae, something that bears some resemblance to a moose, only sharper, spotted, and angry.  There are also rodents, mostly large ones or ones made mainly of fur, including a mouse variant known as the puff that is often trapped for its fur, albeit for rather small applications.

There is a wide diversity of animals in the Bear Empire: the wide mountain ranges and deep rivers make travel between areas rather tricky for most such creatures. In many cases five or six varieties of the same animal will exist, depending on where in the Empire they have developed.  


Questions? Thoughts?  Tell me!