Hidden Mall 51: Apart

Abby stared at Liv.  She could hear the other two stirring.  She flinched, despite herself; she couldn’t play nasty with one Liv and expect the other two not to take it personally – since it was personal, wasn’t it?

“I haven’t even met another Abby.”  That was probably the wrong thing to say.  “I’ve seen one dead-”

That was definitely the wrong thing to say. “Well, of course you have! Since you want them all dead – tell me, do you even know why?  So you can be the One True Abby? It never made any sense to me. But I did figure out that I didn’t mean anything to you. Nothing.” She sneered.  Even though this was a strange Liv, Abby could tell that she was hurting. “I figured that much out before you ditched me here.”

“She’s not your Abby.”  The voice came from somewhere behind this angry Liv.  “You have to remember that. She’s not my Abby, either.  So she’s not dead, and she didn’t ditch you anywhere. Yet,” she added tiredly.  “She does have this habit of going into situations that can get her killed – but we’re in the Mall. Anything can get her killed.” Continue reading

Patreon Theme Poll Results

The poll is closed, and below are the results!  I’m a little surprised to see Bear Empire won, but this will be interesting!

Bear Empire is the home of Deline and Carrone.  It is also, many centuries later, the home of my cyberpunk-esque-fantasy romance story Found Down Below.  I’ve been working on a conlang for it as well.

Below are all the results.  Thank you very much to everyone who voted! Continue reading

Haunted House 33 – Thank You

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Promise

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The kitchen door was lit up with more lights than Mélanie had thought it had, twinkling and shining like it was welcoming them home – which it might be, Mélanie admitted to herself.  There were even curtains in the door window that she was fairly certain hadn’t been there before and, as they walked up to it, the door swung open.

The short walk from the stable to the kitchen – Jasper was holding her hand, and she found she didn’t want to let go of it – was enough time for her to start thinking.  “You know,” she told Jasper, as they closed the kitchen door behind them, “that may be the first time I have actually made a decision – I mean really decided to do something and done it – since – since – since I don’t know when.” Since I was free.

“Then I am even more honored and pleased that you chose – made a decision of your own free will – to rescue me, and I am very proud of you.”

The warm feeling as Jasper hugged her, the rush as the praise – praise she had genuinely earned, even if having free will was not the sort of thing that people normally praised their slaves for – it was like a blanket all around her.  Mélanie smiled up at her master, feeling a little weak in the knees.

“And look, the house has given us some warm tea for the late evening.  Here, this chair.”  He directed her to a chair and, between the very-nearly-an-order and the way that her knees felt a little wobbly, Mélanie had no problem in sitting down.

She watched Jasper until he, too, was sitting down and had picked up his tea before she picked up her own.  “You’re proud of me?”  And now she was most definitely fishing for praise – but she also wanted to understand.  “For-”

“Well, I suppose the easy part to get is that I’m very happy you came after me.  That was fortunate indeed for me.  And yes, Mélanie, my dear.  I want you to understand… Hey!”  A napkin had hit him in the face. He huffed and put the napkin down.  “Mélanie – can I talk to her, or are you going to hit me again?”

No more napkins lifted.  “It was very impressive, that you not only made the choice to come after me and made the plan to do so, but that you – uh.”  He cleared his throat.  “Please forgive me – both you and the house here – if I sound condescending; that’s not my goal.  But I’m very pleased that you made a decision at all.  I know that it can be difficult, when one has been under the collar – metaphorically – for some time, and I know you’ve been collared for quite a while.”

Mélanie swallowed and blinked at her owner.  The feelings rushing over her threatened to bowl her right over, and she thought she might be starting to tear up.  “Sir… Sir.” She cleared her throat. “Sir, I did what I had to.”

“And I am very, very pleased with you.  May I give you a hug?”

“Sir, you own – hey!” It was her turn to be hit in the face with a napkin.  She considered the question as fairly as she could.  “Yes.  Yes, please.  I’d like a hug.”

He walked around the table to her and enveloped her in a tight hug that still somehow didn’t leave her feeling too constrained. “Thank you for rescuing me, Mélanie.”

She hugged him back, pressing against him, and tilted her head up towards him. Towards her Master, her Owner.  Towards Jasper. “Thank you…” she spoke quietly, still not completely sure that this was the best idea, “for being worth saving, sir.”  She stood up a little taller and pressed her lips to his.

He responded, at first chastely and sedately, and then, when she showed no signs of pulling away, with more enthusiasm.  He drew out the hiss, his hands resting on the top and bottom of her back, until his hips were pressed hard against her and he was groaning softly.

“Mélanie.”  He looked at her with an expression far too much like rue for her comfort.    “Mélanie, I would love to – I would love to – to carry this on.   But until you can look at me as a person and not as your Master, I don’t think it would be – ow, hey!”  Another napkin had hit him in the face. “What was that for?”

“Well…” Mélanie looked up at him and smirked a little, even though it was giving her a twist in her gut to think about it.  “If I had to guess, I’d say because the house wants you to remember that you are my Master, and that it would be stupid and rather delusional of me to think of you as not my Master.  Jasper.”

He was looking rueful again, but this look was a little less sad.  He tilted his head down and kissed her, lightly and gently but with definite purpose behind it.  His hand on her lower back slid downwards; his hand on her upper back stayed where it was.  Feeling both brave and affectionate, Mélanie put her own hand on the middle of Jasper’s back.

“Perhaps,” he murmured into her ear, “we should go upstairs?  There is a bed there, and I did tell you that I would rest.”

“Is it rest that you’re thinking of?”  She had looked up at him and ginned before she’d even realized what she’d said.

“Well, a bed, at least…”

“Then lead on.  A bed sounds like a good start to me.”

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Running in the Bear Empire 29: Third

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Blood

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By the time they reached the cabin, Deline was thinking that maybe she should have let Carrone carry her after all – except he was not in any better shape than she was.

She stopped him when they could see the stone roof of the building and walked widdershins twice around the place until she could find the wards and their key, and then used her personal token as Claw to unlock those wards – in this case by taking her necklace and, with a quiet incantation in a language that had been, if her sources were correct, already old when the bear made this land, sticking the necklace into the hollow of an ancient tree.

“Now we can go in.”  She gestured him forward.  

“What would have happened if you hadn’t done that little dance?”

“The house might have eaten us in our sleep – or possibly, nothing at all might have happened.  This way, it will keep other people a decent distance away.”

“Your magery is a strange, strange thing.”  He shuddered. “I don’t know how it isn’t sorcery.” Continue reading

Using Magic

Okay, so I watched The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I was thinking about teenaged fae in Fae Apoc – non-Addergoole ones – and how they might deal with having magic and here, have a story.

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“Can I use magic now?”

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Continue reading

Funerary Rites 36: Stages of Grief

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“Will it help?”  That was sigh-worthy, so she did sigh.  “I don’t know, not about the long run,” Senga admitted.  “In the short run, what it’s done is, uh. You saw.”

“Mistress everything,” Chitter agreed. “He’s like — he’s like some sort of puppet or something.  Like he’s pulling his own strings.” Chitter wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t either.”  Senga took her friend’s arm and led her down the stairs, whispering softly. “I don’t want to talk about it where he might overhear, okay? Because it might make it worse.  And I don’t want to talk about it where anyone else can overhear, because it might give them something-”

“Geeze, what, do you think I’m an amateur? I’m offended, Senga.” Chitter wrinkled her nose up at Senga. “Come on, ‘no eavesdroppers’ was like the first Working I learned. Did you really think I wasn’t going to use it everywhere around this place, with the creepy butler and — hey, why didn’t you quiz the maids?”

“They’re…” Senga stumbled. “Shit.  I should have quizzed the maids. It’s just, uh.”

“They helped raise you, when you were a baby, didn’t they?  But it’s not like uh. It’s not like the butler guy didn’t do the same thing, and you—”  Chitter looked at her wide-eyed. “Oh. You didn’t. So why didn’t Erramun quiz the maids?”

“That’s a very good question.  Maybe he is waiting to sneak up on them unawares.  I mean — did I just say ‘unawares?’”

“Are you reading mystery novels again? Because you know that makes you see crazy men in rubber masks everywhere we go.”

“No, Chit, that was you.”  Nobody else could get away with calling Chitter Chit.  Ezer had almost lost his nose to it once.  But Senga and Chitter went way back, more than the rest of the crew did.  “Remember, after that cartoon marathon…?”

“Yeah, well, you read all those mysteries, and you remember what happened then.”

“We actually found out who was behind…. Chitter.”  She stopped on the bottom step of the grand staircase.  “Someone murdered my great-aunt.”

“Well, yeah?  She was dead, right?  Fae don’t just uh, fall over. And you checked to be sure she was really dead, right?  That’s just Cartoon HIjinx 101.”

“I checked.  I did check. And so did Erramun and — you knew my aunt was murdered?”

“Well, I figured, yeah.  I mean, like I said. We’re fae.  We don’t really drop dead from old age; okay, I’ve heard of three cases of that, but that means that that’s the exception that proves the rule,” she flapped her hands.  “So the point is, I figured you were processing. I mean, she was — is, let’s be honest,” she thumped the railing “– she’s a huge part of your life. I mean. She killed your parents.  She kept you safe. We know all this. So I figured you just needed some time to chew on it before you really accepted it. Grieving and all.”

“…Oh.”  Senga tried to work her mind around that.  Had she been – had she been even thinking about the whole thing?  People trying to kill her, yest, but that was nearly comforting and familiar in her line of work.  Generally, it meant they were getting close to something interesting. “I… guess I was having trouble processing it.”

“Well, to be fair, you also moved back into your childhood home and… got a boyfriend?  A new pet? What is even the way to say that? I mean…” Chitter shook her head so much her whole body shook.  “A new guy, either way. So there has to be uh, a little bit of a distraction going on. Anyway. Someone murdered your great-aunt.”

“They did.  They killed her.  And they very well might have uh.  They might have gotten something in her will.”

“Considering it really looks like she likes attaching strings to everything, I kinda hope they did.  Something with a caveat like ‘if you killed me, this will blow up horribly and you will never know why.'”

“Chitter, have I told you recently that you are a dangerous woman?”

“Not in at least the last week.  So, come on.” Chitter took Senga’s hand.  “Pizza. Come on. It’s in a not-entirely-fancy dining room and everything and Ezer already has paper spread out all over the place.  It’ll be just like home.”

“Ha.”  Senga shook her head.  “All right. Here we go.  ‘Just Like Home.'”

She remembered the informal dining room, or, at least, her feet did, although it took far fewer steps than the last time she’d been here.  She remembered the table, and the place where she had accidentally broken a table leg while riding on her tricycle around the downstairs.

She remembered the way her father had spoken to her, calm and soft, and shown her the magic that mended the table leg.

She remembered him showing her a Working that would make her tricycle have a “bumper” of air in front of it so that she wouldn’t break any more legs, table or family or anyone else.

She blinked her eyes, pushing away tears that she did not want to deal with, not now.  Not in front of everyone, not-

The smell of pizza and wings assaulted her nose.  Senga caught her breath and straightened herself up.

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2018 Writing – Not Really Much of a Review

I’m back to work, back awake, and looking at my numbers for 2018.

I put a copy of my summary sheet up on google docs if anyone is interested – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12kvifQVjOFEQiny_CQux_F3Cx1d9bTxCjBz4EWTILcY/edit?usp=sharing 

In short, I divide my projects up into “For Money” (things written specifically for money-making directly, like something written for submission to an anthology or stuff written for Patreon, commissions, etc.), “For Audience” (stuff written with intent to post it or to draw in audience), and “For Fun” (Stuff I write because I feel like writing it at the moment).

Those fell at 21% / 58% / 21%, which is pretty much where I like to have them, though I’d love “for money” to get higher, of course.

My meatiest project was “Nathan Stories”, a novel I’m writing for/with/at the encouragement  of Cal, at 10% of my total words; “Continuing Stories”, which would be the stuff I post here, was more than that at 13.7%, 102,431 words total.

Patreon weighed in around the same amount as Nathan, at 10% as well, although that’s a jillion tiny projects in one.

After that came Eva Novel and OtStrange, two of the novels I’m working on, and Edally Academy.

And that’s a year, folks!