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Landing Page: Things Unspoken

…And seriously creepy. Did I mention the creepy? – kelkyag

It is best to keep your head about you in this world, because if you do not, someone else may keep it for you.

The shadows whisper, the Empire reaches, and all around, progress marches slowly on, heedless of the Old Things lurking in its way.

The world is a continent-spanning empire, and other places that are not the empire and thus less important but no less interesting. The era is that of steam engines and ridiculous fashion, of public shows of manners and private displays of lewdness.

The empire consists of many nations. Every one of them has their own secrets, their own governments. Each nation is semi-autonomous – but only semi. For the Empire rules over everything.

And if strange things creep in the shadows? Well, in the end, those things too are ruled by the Empire.


 

The Stories

Unspoken Worldbuilding

Darling it’s better… a tale for MerMay

Things Unspoken, South Coast

There were not people in all the seas.

Some of them were too dark, too cold, too inhabited by things that either had been driven off the land or had simply claimed the water for their own.

Some were too close to human people, some were too heavily sailed, some were simply not very nice to swim in.

But there was this place off the southern coast of the Empire where wise captains did not send their ships.  And there was this place deep in this cove where people lived.

Elliallein and Milleffeou conferred in the shadows.  Mille had the sort of magic that allowed her to take on legs, and the sort of voice that sometimes convinced people to listen.  And so she would wander to the ports and tell people how unwise it was to portage all the way around rather than just sailing through the cove, or she would tell people how good of fishing there was deep in the cove.

Elliallein was too far from the humans to do that.  Her magic was a different sort – the sort that came later.  She draped a necklace over her cousin’s neck and hummed a little song.  There would be boats along soon.  There always were.

And when there were, the sea here would do what it always did, and very few boats would make it out alive.

But Elliallein and her sisters and cousins, they would save who they could.  Some they would drag to shore, of course.  But the best ones, the strongest swimmers….

Elliallein’s magic would teach them how to swim properly.  And her children and theirs might be able to walk on land.


Written to Eseme’s prompt: I quite like this one, because very colorful mermaid! Which likely indicates poison or something. I expect the tail has bright angel-fish fins. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/64528207131870453

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Mermay: Pedestal

They had given her a plinth.

They collected the most interesting members of every family, and for them, she was very interesting indeed.

There were three of her distance cousins who also had plinths, but hers was the highest and the most decorated.  And if there was a chain, and she could not swim that far from her plinth, well, many others had chains as well, in this land.  It seemed to her, watching the land from her water-bound pedestal, that there were more people with chains than without. Continue reading

Mer-May

Warning: Pinterest

In honor of Pinterest getting sub-boards (YAY!) and Mer-May and… things… I offer this prompt call.

Either:

Check out my Addergoole Changes Pinterest board and/or the Mermaids sub-board (I’m still moving stuff…)

or my Tumblr tags Addergoole Change and/or Addergoole Changes

(or just do some google image searching)

Pick an image, and prompt me with it.

Text along with the image is welcome (“what is he plotting?” “Why is she there?” “This should be in Things Unspoken…”)

No promises I’ll get to them all, but I’ll try to do at least a few a week all May.

(Aquatic creatures are clearly the preference but not required)

The Secrets of Scheffenon – now on Patreon

This is of a series with N is for Nereid, O is for Octopi, R is for Rituals, Linguistic Tricks, and Finish It: Scheffenon but stands alone.
🐙
The summer was a hot one, a dry one, and, all over the land, fountains had dried up and every drop of water was hoarded.

The weather was as warm as it ever got on the Northern Sea, and the waters were full of bathers from all over the Empire. It was quite the place to go, Scheffenon, known for its rejuvenative waters, its quiet and attentive, yet non-inquisitive staff, and its beautiful fountains.
🐙
Free for all Patrons!


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Crayon Bingo: Black Coral

My first story for Crayon Bingo! In my Things Unspoken ‘Verse.

The necklace had traveled a very long way, over the course of what Hideria thought was probably nearly a century.

It was gorgeous, as a matter of course; it had been owned by the Dowager Queen of Kelanthia, who was renowned for having excellent taste, and it had been stolen by the Pirate Duchess of the Golden Sea, who had very expensive tastes, if not quite always so excellent.

And it shone from the inside out with a sort of magical glow that only some people – and presumably the Pirate Duchess had been one of them – could see.

It was made of black coral, the sort of thing you never found anywhere outside of the Northern Sea, and the sort of thing that was punishable by death in at least three cities on that sea to remove from its waters.

But not in Scheffenon. No, there was much that was not illegal in Scheffenon, and among those things was the theft – no, Hideria corrected herself, that was judgmental thinking and not what she needed right now – the taking of the corals out of the Northern sea.

She had acquired the piece because it sang to her, and it sang to her because she had the sort of ears that could hear, as her mother had once said. She would have made a very good agent of the empire, but her interests lay elsewhere, and she (and her mother and her mother’s mother) had gone to great lengths to convince the Empire’s service of that.

Getting the necklace had taken her three years. She had broken laws in many cities, bent several Imperial laws and regulations, and ended up on the wrong side of two police forces – but that, in her line of avocation, was nothing all that new. Now she had it; she’d managed to get out of the city she’d taken it from, and she was riding on horse-back because, in her experience, the relay stables were far more understanding about things like “I seem to have misplaced my paperwork” and “My name is Joanna Sea,” that is, “I don’t want to give you a proper name but I’m not going to make you pretend I’m giving you a real name, either.”

Stagecoaches liked their paperwork. The railways pretty much insisted on such things. The relays, however, did a brisk business in providing transportation for people who were, for one definition or another, like Hideria.

The horse under her was worth what she’d paid for it. It moved almost like a machine, smooth and well-oiled and without stopping.

She did her part, whispering the oldest songs in its ears when she stopped to water it, giving it the breaks it needed, patting it down and telling it how lovely it was. And in turn, when she told it she needed more running, right now, it obliged her willingly.

The running was because of some local polizia. She was probably still fine with the Emperor’s agents and sheriffs and soldiers. While she had bent some laws and broken some others – she always bent and broke laws, because the laws weren’t really made for people who did what she did – when it came down to it, she would walk up to the Emperor himself and tell him what she’d done, and have no fear nor shame.

But the polizia, they were a different matter, and so she – and the horse – ran.

When she had to trade the beast in at a way-stable, she thanked it, and patted it down herself, and paid the stable extra. She did not stay in the inn there – too many traceable elements – but in another one, off of her route and out of the jurisdiction of the specific polizia she was concerned with (or who were concerned with her).

While she slept, the necklace sang to her. It told her of the deep, dark sea, and the dark, sharp creatures one might find there. It told her of whole homes and castles under the waters, where one could be Queen, for a price. It told her of cast wealth hidden just under the edges of those underwater cliffs, where if one could hold one’s breath long enough, one could be wealthier than anyone had any right to be.

She woke in the wee hours with the urge to run into the water and fling herself into its depths, and wondered how the Dowager Queen of Kelanthia or the Pirate Duchess of the Golden Sea had managed to stay alive, wearing this thing, holding it.

She stroked its rough edges. “I’m taking you home of my own volition,” she told it softly. “I choose to return you. You needn’t take me under with you.”

The necklace quieted, and she could, for a little while, sleep.

And in the morning, she was on the run again.

The Empire was huge. It spanned the continent and then some, save a couple pockets of resistance that were allowed to continue, likely because they were too far away and too isolated to be properly subjugated. Hideria had a long way to go to get to Scheffenon.

And the necklace sang to her the entire time.

It told her of riches and power. It told her of owning the sun, of climbing to the moon. It sang to her until she muffled it in silk, in burlap, in the most magic-proof box she could find.

Still it sang.

Her riding became more frenzied. She slept only a few hours a night. She hurried, hurried, to bring the necklace to its home, to put it back in the Northern Sea.

Still the necklace sang to her. It told her of bloody death, of violence, of starvation. It told her of riding off of a cliff, of being eaten by a bear, of being captured by the polizia and never released, forgotten in some dank, dark cell somewhere. It told her of being helpless, of being lost, of being nothing.

After a week of riding, she stopped sleeping altogether.

After four days of that, she started seeing things out of the corners of her eyes, monsters and gods and piles of gold.

On the fifth day, she rode into Scheffenon.

She finally understood, but it would do no good for the necklace. She had finally realized what it wanted.

It sang to her of the end of every thing, and she rented a boat and rowed out into the sea. It told her she would drown out here, wanting for gold, wanting for riches. Still she rowed.

It screamed in her ears and she stoppered them with cotton, knowing it would do no good.

Deep, deep into the Northern sea the black coral dropped, and even then she could still hear the singing.

Hideria collapsed in her boat and slept until a fishing scow found her.

“It didn’t want to be returned,” she told the fisherman. “It liked being out in the world. It liked spreading its poison. But now it’s gone.”

The fisherman patted her shoulder, understanding all too well. After all, he’d come of age on the Northern sea. “For now,” he assured her. “It’s gone for now.”

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Stylish scalloped skirts swish shockingly (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (still three days off, meeps~)!
From [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt “Stylish scalloped skirts swish shockingly;” a ficlet.

🕺
There’s the faux-history that the sight of an ankle was once considered shocking. There’s the myth about limbs and their ability to raise heart rates, and maybe those myths and faux-histories are true. Certainly, in many places in the Empire, the ladies go bundled up tightly, covered discreetly from head to toe, and then men are thrilled at the sight of a wrist. In other places, it is the men who wear long-vests over scalloped tunics over loose pants, and women peer surreptitiously to see the curve of a man’s buttock or the line of his hip.

In Urhallo, where the summers are warm and the winters are chill but not freezing, the women wear trousers made of muslin and calico and dress-like vests made of starched linen; the women smoke the fellna-weed that gives them visions, and play cards all night under the moon.

The men dance for them, young and single men, their vests and jackets coverings their shoulder blades and sternums, their arms to the wrist, and hardly more than that. The man sway their hips and thrust them, hum their songs and shout them, whisper endearments and sing them.

The men in Urhallo — all of them, not just the dancers — wear skirts, swishy ones that flow with their movement or straighter, businesslike ones that don’t get in the way and still conceal their lines from prying eyes. The dancers wear skirts, short ones, with scalloped hems cut just so. And the viewers — male and female — all lean forward, hoping the skirt will give them a little view of what the swishy skirts hide.
💃

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January By the Numbers Seventeen: Stylish scalloped skirts swish shockingly (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (still three days off, meeps~)!
From [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt “Stylish scalloped skirts swish shockingly;” a ficlet.

🕺
There’s the faux-history that the sight of an ankle was once considered shocking. There’s the myth about limbs and their ability to raise heart rates, and maybe those myths and faux-histories are true. Certainly, in many places in the Empire, the ladies go bundled up tightly, covered discreetly from head to toe, and then men are thrilled at the sight of a wrist. In other places, it is the men who wear long-vests over scalloped tunics over loose pants, and women peer surreptitiously to see the curve of a man’s buttock or the line of his hip.

In Urhallo, where the summers are warm and the winters are chill but not freezing, the women wear trousers made of muslin and calico and dress-like vests made of starched linen; the women smoke the fellna-weed that gives them visions, and play cards all night under the moon.

The men dance for them, young and single men, their vests and jackets coverings their shoulder blades and sternums, their arms to the wrist, and hardly more than that. The man sway their hips and thrust them, hum their songs and shout them, whisper endearments and sing them.

The men in Urhallo — all of them, not just the dancers — wear skirts, swishy ones that flow with their movement or straighter, businesslike ones that don’t get in the way and still conceal their lines from prying eyes. The dancers wear skirts, short ones, with scalloped hems cut just so. And the viewers — male and female — all lean forward, hoping the skirt will give them a little view of what the swishy skirts hide.
💃

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January By the Numbers Eight: Purple Pretenses (Fiction piece)

January by the numbers continues (still a day off~)!
From [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt “purple pretenses;” a story of Things Unspoken
.

👾

In the western cities, the ones that had once belonged to an Empire called only To (never the To Empire, the Tovan nation, or anything else, just To), it was known that women of a certain class wore purple (as is often the case, this was an exalted class, the policy-makers, the deciders). This purple was very difficult to make, and was made only by a small group of people, dyers with the To Mandate of purple.

But in the evening light, there were three other colors that could be mistaken for this exalted purple. They were not all made by simpler means; indeed, one was even harder to achieve than that allowed by the To Mandate. But they were not regulated, they were not restricted, and anyone with sufficient coin – either literal or in trade or services – could obtain them.

Despite the prevalence of the false purples, there were, but cultural agreement, several things believed without fail of those wearing purple (even, perhaps especially, in the seediest establishments where those who wore the purple by To Mandate would be unlikely to ever be seen): they were women; they were affluent; they were powerful; they had the ear of those at the highest levels of government — the To.

Some people wore the false purples for that last reason, and collected bribes no genuine wearer of the purple would ever touch (although some of those worked surreptitiously for those genuine-purple-wearers, and the messages sometimes actually got to the correct ears.

Some people wore the purple to be believed affluent, or to show off genuine affluence, and they were often courted in such a way that their affluence became real if it had been false before.

Some wore the purple because it was shorthand for being a woman, because no man, rich or poor, could wear that hue by To Mandate.

And some wore it because others liked to touch those who had power, and would pay well for the illusion of an hour with a decider-in-purple.

Wrapped in their purple pretenses, they strode the streets that had once been To (and were forever so, in the hearts and minds of the people), and were all the more powerful for it.

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January By the Numbers Seven: Silly Sausage Sellers (Fiction piece)

January by the numbers continues (just a day off~)!
From [personal profile] thnidu‘s prompt “Seven silly sausage sellers swilling snazzy sodas;” a story of… maybe Things Unspoken?
.

It had been a good day for Dayuved Yura’s sausage-vending franchise. The central square and the park that ran two blocks south of it had been packed with people; the road in between had been busy with people hurrying back and forth between the two places; the bicycle-taxi peddlers were hungry, too, and snatching sausages in their brief breaks between customers – sometimes, they even stopped with a cab full of people, often meaning the passengers all bought sausages, too.

(Bicycle-taxi peddlers always got a discount at Dayuved Yura’s places, and in these situations, his sellers were instructed to quietly refund the peddler the full price of their sausage under the cover of “giving change,” as long as the passengers bought at least two meals. It kept the peddlers coming to Dayuved’s cards, and not to someone else’s inferior meat-in-a-bun wagons.

Now that the sun had set and the nighttime shift had taken over, Dayuved and his six daytime workers gathered ad Amincob Kote’s soda stand to marvel over the day.

“That dancer-” Dayuved started. “Did you see those feathers?

“Those marchers, with the twirling sticks,” put in his second-in-command. They had the best places in the central square, but today, everyone had been in a good place.

“The heralds,” murmured the most junior seller. “They blew those horns, and it was like everyone was on strings.”

“The woman,” an old man on his fourth job whispered. “She was…”

“Yeah,” everyone murmured. There was little else that needed to be said. But someone, the quiet one, managed anyway.

“Her companions… so shiny. So tall.”

“Who was she?” breathed one of the young ones. But all the old ones shook their heads.

“She sold sausages for us. She made smiles on their faces. She went to the place on the hill. That’s all we know, that’s all we ask.”

“But that’s… that’s silly,” complained the young one again. And the old ones just smiled and sipped their sodas.

“Silly, son, keeps the gold in the cash-box and keeps our heads on our necks. Silly sells sausages.”

“Silly sells sausages,” they all agreed, leaving the young ones feeling that “silly” was some sort of cynical cipher for sensible.

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