Tag Archive | commission

Desmond’s Climb – Professor Smiff

This is written to thnidu‘s donation and request for Desmond from Professor Smiff’s eyes, and comes concurrent with Force and Shields

Telanien Smiff walked around her classroom slowly, looking at all of the newest Blue students. She liked Blue the best, something all of her fellow teachers assumed and nobody would ever ask her about.

This year, Blue had the Last Person Up The Stairs, an honor that they were very quiet about – except in the upperclassmen dorms, where she was certain the Blues were crowing about it. And the student in question was not, to Telanien’s eyes, all that impressive – just another teenage child from one of the poor streets, well-fit into a uniform, presumably by a collar that cared about impressions, that was good, but still out of place here. If this Desmond knew how many of his fellow students were High Street, he’d probably be even more uncomfortable around them. Or around the teachers. Continue reading

Beekeeper – in which pennies are discussed

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which There are Second Thoughts – and Third.

🐝

Her eyes were closed. He liked that; it let him watch her face. Her hands were on him like she was trying to pin him down – who was he kidding? She could pin him down without any hands at all – and her expression was somewhere else, somewhere reaching for bliss.

He brushed his lips against hers, then kissed her properly. He was on his back, and she was on top of him and…

He closed his eyes and stopped thinking for a while. She was moving above him and that was, for the moment, all that mattered.

When he opened his eyes, it was to kiss her again. Like this, he could feel the press of her collar against his neck. Her collar. Would it be so bad…?

Not the time to think about such things. He ran his hands up and down her back. He wondered, in a way he hadn’t for a while, what her Change was. He hadn’t Un-Masked for her; wouldn’t have if she had demanded it, might have if she’d asked it. She’d done neither, and her Mask was up, too. He kissed her collarbones, wondering.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she murmured. He grinned at her.

“Pennies, really? Those are pretty valuable now, all that copper.”

For a second, he thought he’d flustered her. Then she stroked his hair – gently, he couldn’t remember anyone being that gentle with him – and smiled.

“So’re your thoughts. Valuable, that is.”

He kissed her, his hand low enough down on her back that it wasn’t holding her and high enough up that she knew what he wanted. And for a while, he didn’t have any thoughts to give, for a penny or for a whole hive of honey.
🐝

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Lady Taisiya and her First Husband Discuss – a continuation

after Lady Taisiya’s FIRST Husband – a ficlet, to [personal profile] thnidu’s commissioned continuation.

Taisiya couldn’t stay turned around for long, which was probably best for her pride and self-esteem. She turned back to face the horses before she’d come up with anything to say.

Her husband repeated, very politely, “what do you want, Lady Taisiya?”

The first thing that came to her mind this time was what should I want? That wasn’t, however, the sort of question one asked one’s husband.

She cleared her throat. “I want… to be comfortable in my own home.”

“Well then,” he answered, his voice gentle, “I shall attempt to provide you with that.”

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Hooked In

This is written to sauergeek‘s commission and a request for more about how Beryl’s father got hooked into the family.
🎣
In high school, there had been a couple people — two in every year, three in the class that were freshmen when Mark was a senior — that were just a little bit different.

Not “didn’t follow the social conventions quite right” different, not “their accent says they didn’t grow up around here” different, but somehow just a little strange, despite conventional clothes and conventional haircuts.

To himself, Mark thought of them as “shiny” or, sometimes “sparkly,” but since none of his buddies seemed to notice — and none of the sparkly people seemed to notice him — he thought little more of it.

Then came college.

Freshman year, first semester, Survey of American Literature I. She sat down next to him and smiled, and Mark was hooked.

She wasn’t beautiful, he supposed. Amy Marconi, sitting behind her, looked like a model and smiled like she wanted to show him what was under her sweater. But this girl, she sparkled.

He introduced himself awkwardly, and she was kind about his clumsiness. He offered to study with her, and she accepted — if they did it as a group with her cousin and his girlfriend.

Well, that wasn’t too un-promising, so Mark agreed. Anything to spend a little more time around that sparkle.

It was three years and more than a hundred dates — study and otherwise — before he admitted that the sparkle had been what first caught his eye. By that point, he’d met her sister, her cousins, and her parents, and he had a pretty good idea that her family had the biggest concentration of sparkle on the Eastern Seaboard.

She’d smiled at him. It was a small thing, but he could see the way it lit up her mood behind the expression. “You can sense the — ah, the sparkle?”

He didn’t say can’t everyone? because by now he’d learned that most people were completely blind and obstinate when it came to such things. Instead, he said, “your Aunt Asta has a sparkle that defies belief, but yours is more mobile and, ah, multicolored, and your cousin Suzanne has some wild night-time fireflies.”

She’d stared for several minutes. For a moment, he thought that mentioning the cousin had been a bad idea. No girl wanted the guy she was dating to notice her cousins, after all, especially not one who liked to wear scandalous things the way Suzanne did.

“You know,” she said slowly, and he braced for impact, “this means I’m going to have to marry you.”

It was so out of the realm of anything that he’d been expecting that Mark stared at her with his mouth open for a minute, possibly as much as three minutes. At least she didn’t seem surprised. At least her smile was glittering with mischief and not with anger.

“I,” he cleared his throat. “I, ah.” He rubbed his hands on his jeans. “I was hoping you’d say that. Well, I hadn’t asked, yet, and I’m not sure I’d really thought I had a chance, but I was hoping if I asked, you’d say yes, and—”

She kissed him, which blissfully saved him from having to say anything else.

“That kiss.” His wife was gone for the evening — a girls’-night-out with her sisters — which left Mark alone with his children; his youngest was at a sleepover, which left only the kids Mark felt he could be a little more honest with, and Chalcedony wasn’t really listening, which meant Mark was talking primarily to his two children who were brimming over with the sparkle.

“I mean, let’s be honest, the moment I met your mother, I was hooked.” His smile was crooked. He never minded being hooked, but sometimes he did feel a bit like a fish on a line. “The minute I realized people had sparkle, I was hooked. But when she kissed me…”

Beryl’s expression was thoughtful, like she’d never quite been kissed like that. Good, thought Mark, uncharitably. It was too early to lose her to some boy.

Stone, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to know what it felt like, and like he knew what it didn’t feel like.

Mark coughed. “So I was hooked when I met her. I was reeled in when she kissed me. But then I met the family…”

Even Chalcedony took part in the long groan. They all loved their family, of course they did. That didn’t mean they were ignorant of what their family was like, especially to outsiders, especially to men.

“Did they know?” Beryl leaned forward. “You have the sight. I mean, I think that’s what you said. You see the spark. Sparkle? I kind of like sparkle better. That’s not common, is it? I don’t know many people who can do it in the family…”

“I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t related to the family who could do it, besides me. Doesn’t mean there aren’t people who can. I mean, there’s plenty of people not related to us —”

“As far as we know.” Stone’s tone was dramatic. Then again, Stone’d had plenty of run-ins with the family lately.

“—not related to the family, as far as we know, who have some sort of power. It’s not all us — you. It just seems like it sometimes.”

“Sometimes it seems like they want us to believe that, or like the gr- like the older generation believes it, though,” Beryl offered.

“Well, the grannies like to have their story be the right one.” There was no use pretending that wasn’t the case. “And they do hold on to power. Sometimes I’ve wondered if they hold on to too much — but that’s a story for another day.” He didn’t need to be sharing family conspiracy theories with his kids. They had enough to worry about. “Anyway — no, the family aren’t the only ones with the power.”

“But…” Stone’s dramatic tone was gone. Now he was speaking slowly and thoughtfully, picking out his words and working through his theory while he presented it. “You said Mom said she ‘had to marry you.’”

“That was just—” Mark shook his head. He tried not to lie to his kids, even when it was uncomfortable. “All right, I like to think that your mother would’ve married me anyway. But yes. I always did get the impression that there was a little familial pressure going on there.”

“So — they like to have people with the power marry in. And men who marry in, uh. People who marry in, really…”

“They can get railroaded, yeah.” There was no arguing that point.

“So maybe not everyone with power is in the family?” Stone looked mildly sick. “But they want everyone to be in the family?”

“That…” Mark spoke slowly, considering that from all angles. “That would make far too much sense.”
🐠

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After the Kinging, a commissioned continuation of the Aunt Family

This is written to sauergeek‘s commissioned continuation of King(Maker) Cake and King for a Day, a story of the Aunt Family.
👑
Stone was cornered.

School started tomorrow, and he had never, ever, not since kindergarten, been so happy to be going back to school.

At the moment, he was cornered by his Great-Aunt Rosaria, who was, he had to admit, one of his favorite relatives – normally. Right now, he didn’t want to see another Family woman as long as he lived.

It had started with his mother, because nobody was going to argue her precedent, and then with his grandmother, because Eva was too polite to argue with her. And then Eva, Beryl and Chalce and even Amy, his sisters taking turns asking him questions that ranged from ridiculous (mostly Amy) to far too penetrating (Beryl),

Most of their family branch lived within three wide country blocks. The rest lived not all that far away, Uncle Hector and his wife Jennifer being the furthest at a thirty-minute drive by highway. Heck, there was even a very small cadet branch of the family, split three generations ago but growing with glacial slowness, living up on the lake in a nice row of cottages.

Stone was fairly certain he’d seen every woman over the age of twelve – some younger – and maybe a quarter of the men in both families. All he wanted to do was climb up in the tallest tree he could find and never come down.

“Come on.” Great-Aunt Rosaria offered him her hand. “You like Basil’s, right? The little diner down on the corner?”

Stone blushed. What he liked was Basil’s daughter Samantha, but he wasn’t going to admit that to his aunt, to any of his aunts. At least if Samantha was working, she wouldn’t look at him funny for being there with his old aunt. She seemed to get it – the family, the magic, the whole thing – without him ever have said a thing about it.

Rosaria patted his shoulder. “I thought so. Well, that’s a good thing, too. Healthy – at your age or any. So let’s take a little drive down there, shall we?”

“All right, Great-aunt Rosaria.” It’s not like he could say anything else.

It wasn’t until they were in Rosaria’s surprisingly new and surprisingly fast little Chevy coupe that she actually looked at him, the way only some of Stone’s female relatives could, and grinned. “Besides,” she said, out of nowhere, “If we’re out at Basil’s, nobody’s going to bother you about your little, ah, ‘accident’, now are they? You know the family doesn’t talk about such things in public, even if Basil spends so much time feeding us he’s practically family.”

Stone stared at her for a minute. “You’re rescuing me?” Or, at least, she thought she was rescuing him. “Why?”

“Well… let’s just say I have my reasons. Listen, young man. You were going to have the power whether or not you bit a rabbit. Heck, for all we know, Zenobia being who she was, she put that rabbit where it was just so that eventually you would bite it – but either way, Stone, you already had power.”

He looked out the window, shifting in the suddenly-uncomfortable seat. “I’m not supposed to.”

“Oh, the family has done many, many foolish things, but foremost among them is that ridiculous belief. You have power. You won’t be the Aunt, not with so many willing female candidates – and I’m sorry, but Beryl is just a stronger witch than you are – but that has never meant ‘without power’, any more than having children has meant it, or any other of a dozen things. It just means you aren’t the conduit of all the Family’s power.”

“You’re not upset?”

“Stone, dear, eventually I will tell you the story, how I learned how much malarkey and balderdash is involved in such family myths – but not today. Today, I imagine you don’t want anything to do with a batty old lady’s batty old theories.” She winked cheerfully at him.

He did not tell her to keep her eyes on the road, because Stone valued his life. But he did clutch to the armrest.

“Speaking of the power, that’s something to pay attention to. Notice the relatives to whom little inconveniences just don’t happen – and the ones who get more than their fair share. Notice the relatives who have too much good luck – there is such a thing, I promise you – and the ones who never seem to get a break.”

“So, like Jordan?” His younger cousin had never made any team, never been picked for anything, despite being a phenomenal athlete.

“Jordan is a lovely example, yes. When you get a chance to do so quietly – do you have a Tarot deck?”

“I have what Aunt Eva calls a cheater deck,” he admitted. He hadn’t even told his mother that.

“We ought to get you set up with a proper deck. We should have someone paint you one, I know a cousin of a cousin… but in the meantime, the cheater deck will do. Do a spread on Jordan, if you can — nearby but not in sight is best for this sort of thing.”

Stone took a moment to come up with a response. He stared out the window, watching the cows and the fields go by. “Aunt Rosaria… are you giving me homework?”

“It does sound that way, doesn’t it?” He couldn’t look at her right now, couldn’t, but her voice sounded amused.

“And you — you want to have someone paint me a real deck?” The family used hand-painted decks for almost all of their card divination, and painting the decks was a very specific skill — like Aunt Zenobia’s animals. Nobody else had made animals quite like hers, and most people didn’t try.

“Well, everyone knows you get better results with a hand-painted deck. You did know that, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, of course. It’s just…”

“I won’t ask Eva to teach you — even though we both know she’s already been doing just that. She needs to train the next Aunt, and a back-up — don’t look at me like that, nephew.”

Stone had whipped around at the word “back-up.” “Beryl…”

“Easy now, Stone, easy.” Rosaria patted his leg in a manner that was supposed to be soothing, he thought and, much to his surprise, actually settled him down.

The power didn’t reside just in the Aunts, he reminded himself.

“My sister,” he complained, still not as calm as he imagined she’d like him to be.

“Your sister is a nice smart girl who can take care of herself. But she might take herself right into a baby or a marriage if your mother or your aunts and uncles don’t stop pushing her, and you know that as well as I do. Or, heaven and the stars forbid, there might be an accident. We need back-ups, Stone, and Evangaline needs to teach them. It’s just reasonable.”

Stone sighed. “Reasonable,” he agreed. “I don’t have to like it.”

“Of course not. Liking things is never required. But it helps. Like training you.”

“Training me? What?” He stared at Rosaria, momentarily distracted from the theoretical threat to his sister’s wellbeing. “I’m a boy.”

“I hadn’t noticed, back when I changed your diapers, or what with that little weed of a beard you have coming in,” Rosaria answered dryly. “You’re a boy, yes. And I’m old enough and crotchety enough that nobody but Evangaline is going to naysay me on this. And do you think she will?”

Stone swallowed. “I — I don’t think so? Aunt Eva likes me, I think.”

“As well she should. There is nothing wrong with you, young Stone, and there is a good deal right with you. So I am going to train you. That is,” and here Aunt Rosaria actually looked uncertain for a moment, “if that is what you want?”

Stone held out his hand and thought about the power flowing through it. He had a lot of it, he knew, and not just because he’d bitten that rabbit. And sometimes, when he wasn’t paying attention, it bubbled out in strange ways. “My mom,” he said slowly, “she said I had to hide the power, or I would end up in trouble. That sometimes the family kicked out people who had the power but weren’t the Aunt, or sometimes they, um, they took the power away —”

“That,” Rosaria cut him off sharply, “is a disgusting ritual and one that has only been used once in all the history of our family. However,” she added, suddenly far more softly, “I would ask your sister — Beryl, that is — to borrow her necklace someday. Or her cat. There are worse things the family can do to you than kick you out or bind your power, and they have done them all at one point or another.”

Stone found his hands clenching into fists. “I don’t like the necklace. I haven’t, right from the beginning. Something is wrong about it. Something is… Off.”

“There is, indeed, but it can’t hurt your sister nor you. He can’t hurt anyone anymore, that’s why he’s a necklace. But think about some of your less pleasant relatives-”

“Which flavor?” Shit, he wasn’t supposed to say things like that in front of Aunt Rosaria. That was the “kids” hanging out gossiping sort of chat, not the kind of thing you said to your great-aunt. He stared out the car window, wondering why it was taking so long to go down a quiet country road.

She snorted. “Not nosy, not smelly, and, at the moment, not a faker. No, I’m talking about the ones who feel like everything you do is their business and their say-so.” Her hands were on the wheel and she was driving. They were even going a reasonable speed. And yet he was pretty sure he’d already seen that cow twice.

“I thought you said not nosy.” Stone focused on the part that he had a chance of understanding.

Rosaria indulged him. “There’s nosy like your Aunt Tasha, who wants to know who you’re kissing and why. Then there’s nose like your Aunt — no, she’s your cousin. Stephanie. Who thinks she ought to be telling you who to kiss. And why.”

Stone gave that a moment of consideration. “So, we’re talking about people who want to run my life. More so than the rest of the family.” Damnit, he was doing it again. What was it about Aunt Rosaria that turned him into an idiot?

“Exactly.” She turned and beamed at him. There was that same cow again. Still chewing on the same plot of grass, too. “So. Think about them. Now imagine them with the power to, for instance, create another necklace like your sister’s.”

Stone swallowed. “They would be shutting up everyone they didn’t agree with. And they never agree with anyone.”

“Exactly. Now, as I was saying. There are any number of awful things that can happen, but I am old and crotchety and you are young and strong, and we are not going to let them happen to you. Not this time.” She glared at him for a moment, but Stone recognized the look. Sometimes Beryl had a similar expression. It meant her anger had nothing to do with him.

Still, he swallowed. “Yes, Aunt Rosaria.”

She patted his leg one more time. “Now, then. I might have put this off longer, but you’ve gone and chewed on one of Zenobia’s trinkets, and that means I have to hurry a bit about the training. The heavens and the demons alone know what she got up to, and I don’t want something sprouting out of you at school or some such.”

Stone twitched. There were family stories of things like that happening, but they were all rumors of something that happened in another time, somewhere far away, to someone’s distant cousin. “I don’t — yeah, no. That would be horrid.”

“Your school is a little more in the pocket of the family than is probably a good idea, but still, yes. So I’m going to train you, and anyone who has a problem with it can bring those problems to my door. And I expect you to tell them that, young man, in that so-diplomatic way I know you’re so good at.”

“…Yes, Aunt Rosaria.” They were finally turning off the back-road and onto the main road into town. Stone let out a breath quietly.

“And since I’m teaching you—” Aunt Rosaria sounded far too pleased with herself and a little amused. Stone held his breath again. “Yes, I’m giving you homework. Your cousin Jordan. Start with the Tree spread and then, if that doesn’t tell you enough, move on to some of the more esoteric spreads. And then, for good measure, do the same for your sister. Not Beryl, Chalcedony. Got it?”

Stone stared at her. He wasn’t any less cornered, he realized — maybe more so, because Aunt Rosaria was a bit terrifying — but he wasn’t stuck, and he wasn’t being told he had to control himself, or his magic, or anything. “Yes, ma’am.”

Hopefully, he’d actually get his diner visit out of this, but if not, he supposed the look on people like Stephanie’s face when they realized Great-Aunt Rosaria was teaching him would be compensation enough for a missed lunch.

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King for a Day, a commissioned continuation of the Aunt Family

This is written to sauergeek‘s commissioned continuation of King(Maker) Cake, a story of the Aunt Family. There’s more to be told on this story, but this is where this piece wanted to end.

“Damnit,” Stone swore, and immediately wanted to swear again, because you didn’t use words like that in front of the family adults. “My…” He meant to say my tooth, but as he fished the piece of metal out of the muffin, he started to feel strange. “… ooooh.”

He realized everyone was looking at him, and his survival instincts, which appeared to have been taking a nap up to this point, finally kicked in. He looked at his nearest male cousin — Geoffrey, who had the advantage of being just about as phlegmatic as family men were supposed to be — and muttered, “tell ’em I went out for a walk if they ask. Picking walnuts or something?”

Geoffrey eyed the little gold rabbit in Stone’s hand and nodded. “Walnuts. They’re in the back,” he offered in a mutter.

Stone wanted to retort that he knew where the walnuts were, thank you, but it had been years since he’d run around his grandmother’s back yard picking walnuts or cherries or mulberries. It wasn’t so much that he grew up as his sisters had, and Stone found Grandma Ardella incredibly uncomfortable without Beryl or Chalce to act as a buffer.

And now he had to pick some walnuts. He slipped out the side door, the one they weren’t supposed to use, and made sure it was firmly closed behind him, and slipped down past a row of trees, so he couldn’t be seen from the house. He would go get walnuts, but first, he had to figure out what he’d just bitten.

The tiny figure was the size of one joint of his thumb, but the work on it was incredibly fine. He brought it up close to his face to really look at it — a rabbit, it looked like, on a curled leaf, its ears up. You could almost see its nose wiggle.

Stone turned it over. There, on the underside of the leaf, were two things: the world’s tiniest ladybug, cast in the same bronze as the rabbit, and an etched signature. Z, it said, in a wide florid letter.

Stone ran his tongue over his teeth. He hadn’t knocked anything loose, at least not anything in his mouth. What were they thinking, putting something this heavy in the cakes?

Considering the way his head was swimming, the more important question was what were they thinking, putting something this magical in the cakes?

The Z probably meant it was Aunt Zenobia’s charm. If it wasn’t — if it was some granny or some far-older Aunt or some cousin — Stone was a little worried, because at least Aunt Zenobia had lived in the Aunt House within creaky-but-living memory. Anyone else, any relative he couldn’t bring to mind, that could be tricky. The stars and the earth-core alone knew what it could do, if it was one of the really old Aunts.

Okay, Rabbit. Brass. He had to focus, because he had to figure out exactly what they were going to do when they found out. Aunt Zenobia — figure it had been Zenobia for now — had been working with animals, he knew that. Something with little glass figures like that stupid creepy play they’d read in English, the one with the metaphors held up like road signs.

Stone hadn’t pointed out to anyone, yet, how growing up in a family of witches meant that you paid close attention to the way things were said, or how that translated to his straight-A’s in English. It wasn’t that he thought his English teacher wouldn’t understand — it was that he was afraid Mr. Bonner would.

There were already enough rumours about his family going around. The last thing Stone needed was to make them worse by telling the one teacher who already seemed aware of what the world could really be like.

Rabbit. Brass. His tooth had stopped hurting. Stone ran his tongue over all his teeth, just in case he’d missed something. Nope, nothing hurting, nothing seemed like it was chipped or turned into a swan or anything.

But his head still felt like it was swimming. Right. Rabbits. Rabbits were all about, what, abundance? They’d done a unit on that in English class and poor Mr. Bonner hadn’t been able to stop blushing. Then again, when Ruth Decker kept glancing over at Stone, he’d been having a little trouble with the blushing, too.

Fertility, please, don’t let it be a fertility charm. He’d never hear the end of it. Sons might not be under the same pressure to marry that daughters were (Quick! before they became the Aunt!), but his mother wasn’t blind, and neither was Aunt Eva. They might try to push him into three-kids-before-nineteen just in hopes that it would kill the spark in him.

The spark, oh, no. Stone sat down on a nearby boulder and felt inside of him. He didn’t have cards or a scrying bowl or even a pen and paper out here, nothing to use as a focus.

The rabbit was warm in his hand. Stone fished a piece of leather thong out of his pocket and threaded it between the rabbit and the leaf. That let him dangle the little charm in front of him, where he could stare at it and feel for his magic.

The spark, the family called it. Boys weren’t supposed to have it, but Stone knew he wasn’t the only one. Social pressure might work that way, but genetics didn’t, not usually.

He took a deep breath. He didn’t want to do anything big, just, say, make the grass grow a little. It might be wintertime, but the snow had all melted a few days ago (the way it often did when the family needed to travel), and he could see the whole lawn spread out around him. A little bit of growth on the lawn would be small enough to escape notice. He didn’t want to call attention to what he was doing, after all, especially not here. Here, he risked get caught out by all the women in the house that wanted him to be snugly married and safely powerless. And as long as you didn’t get carried away, making the grass grow was one of the safer pieces of magic.

As long as you don’t get carried away might very well be Aunt Eva’s motto. He’d heard it at least once a visit since he started going over there with his sister and cousins.

He felt the life of the grass under him, felt the way it was all joined together, and called on it, just a spark, just a suggestion of power.

The spark seemed to catch a bit of tinder. It wooshed through him like a wildfire, wooshed out just as hot, just as fast, and every piece of grass in the lawn grew four inches.

“No, No.” Stone pushed at the grass, urging it with both hands, palms-down. Too much, too much The grass subsided, bright green, far too vibrant, but only maybe a quarter-inch longer than it had started out. “Phew.” He looked around the yard.

The daffodils were blooming. It was Christmas, and all the daffodils were in bloom.

He looked down at the rabbit. It looked like it was blooming a bit.

“Abundance, hunh,” he muttered. He could hear the front door opening. And the back door. And the side door.

And a window upstairs.

There was no hiding this. Stone put his face in his hands and waited for the storm.

👑
Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1253827.html
👑

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Helping a Friend Out, Part Two

Part One
Addergoole-verse, Early 2012 (in the middle of the Apocalypse)
Written to [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s commission.
I do not have an Agmund icon. But here’s Luke looking uncomfortable about the whole thing.

The boy was not happy about Agmund’s presence, but he was more than willing to lay out the details of the attack. The Nedetakaei nest had at least ten human hostages, was in the middle of what had been a very populous area before the gods came to town, and had been lain with booby-traps, Worked wards, and at least three explosive trip-lines.

“They don’t want anyone coming in to them, but they’re not going out much, either. They come out just after dark, about every fourth day — no set pattern, but it’s been three days with nothing, so hopefully today’s the day — but they always bring at least two of their hostages, and they go out in two-person teams. If we want to wipe out all three, we have to get the two when they’re out —”

“And then beard the third in the lair or hope they come out. Da. Roof attack?”

“Booby-trapped.” Dominic smiled grimly. “It’s almost as if they expected combat-ready opponents with wings.”

“Always said, Mara’s greatest failing was predictability. But you.” Agmund tapped the boy’s shoulder. “You are not a Mara, no?”

The boy folded up a bit. “Don’t need to rub it in,” he muttered.

“Who is rubbing in? I am not a Mara, either.” Agmund dropped his Mask for a moment, letting the bearishness of his features show through. “So we are not so predictable. What about up from underneath?”

“Under… never thought of that.” The boy’s wings twitched in a habit he’d probably picked up from Luke. The fliers that didn’t study under him didn’t get that habit of nervous telegraphing in quite the same way.

“Then we should look, no, and hope they did not think of it either. Think of it this way,” Agmund offered, with a large grin, “it is much cleaner now than it would have been a year ago.”

Dominic made a face. “Sewers. I hate sewers, even clean ones. But it’s not a bad idea.”

“If back-up had come, what would your plan have been then?”

“Like I said, wait for the two to come out, then storm the place. I don’t want any hostages to die… but the Nedetakaei have to be taken out. They’re too dangerous otherwise.”

“Willing to try it my way, this time?”

Dominic studied him. “Well, you’re the grown-up, and you came to back me up.”

“You are a grown-up too,” Agmund reminded him. “I was there when you received your name, Shifting Shield.”

“But you’re the one with the experience,” Dominic countered. “So your plan wins this time. We go from below?”

“We go from below,” Agmund agreed. “And we go quietly, when the first ones leave.” He growled an Idu out, sending his senses through the street below, and was pleased to hear Dominic do the same.

The boy didn’t appear to have the words for Earth or Worked things, but with a mutter to himself (“Everything has air and water;” he sounded as if he was quoting someone), he did a Working to Know the air and water beneath their feet. The two patterns together would tell them where they were going.

“There,” they pointed at the same time. The manhole cover was just a few yards from their feet. And, as if on cue, the back door to the warehouse opened and two Nedetakaei exited.
Agmund nodded to the boy, and they got to work. It might be messy, but the Bear could go back to Addergoole and tell Luke that one more of his Students had survived. That, in Agmund’s opinion, was worth far more than wading through a sewer.

Want More?

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Now open for commissions!

It’s the Holiday Season, ripe with family events, what-do-I-get-for-whom, and, in the north, Snow!

In honor of that, I’m opening up four 500-word commission slots for $10 each.

Want something continued? Awesome.
Want to see something with a character we haven’t seen in a while, or a background character? Cool, cool.
Want me to explore something strange and unusual? We can talk!
No fanfic, please.
Want to buy up multiple slots? Feel free!

1.Rix
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This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1206749.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Commission Slots open!

I’m now taking up to four $5 commission slots!

$5 will get you 250 words on any given topic of your choice – if you’re not sure if I want to write it, ask first, but, for instance, anything tagged “morepls” is a fair bet.

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How Many Words?
250 Words $5.00 USD
500 Words $10.00 USD
750 Words $15.00 USD
1200 Words $20.00 USD
1800 Words $25.00 USD

Bonus!
If all 4 slots are filled by the close of day on the 23rd April (Say 9 pm. Eastern time), I’ll write an additional 250 words to a prompt chosen by the donors.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1090766.html. You can comment here or there.

Desired Situation…

This story is Clare K.R. Miller‘s commissioned continuation of Want Ad and follows immediately after that.  To commission stories or continuations, look here.

There was a lovely woman standing on Richie’s front porch.

His first thought, before he managed to take in everything she’d just said, was I haven’t cleaned the place properly in weeks.

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