Tag Archive | morepls

MerMay: Breathing, Barely

So Chanter-Greenie asked for a continuation of Under Water, and it turned out I already had 500+ words written on that, so voila!  

Aelia screamed.  The secretary screamed some more.  The man gasped, screamed, and spat up water all at once.

“Call an ambulance,” Aelia repeated.  Her voice at least sounded like her voice.  “I’m Aelia Hartman. I know I look – funny, sure – but this is the guy who just tried to drown me.  I fought back. He’s breathing but I’m worried about him. Please call 911.”

The secretary, staring, pulled out her phone and dialed 911.  Once she had gotten through the phone call – full of shaky words and not a small amount of gibbering – she looked at Aelia again.  “Are you really-”

“Yeah, sorry.  I don’t know what happened.”  She poked the man in the chest.  “You. Stay there. You need medical attention, and also, I think you’re a murderer.” Continue reading

Own the Fate

After Fated, for my Fourth Finish It Bingo Card.

At the third adoption agency, Karen acknowledged that her family and the power were definitely getting in her way. Before she called the fourth – they lived near a big enough city, but there was still a limit – she visited her Aunt Becka.

She brought Aunt Becka’s favorite sweet rolls and a fresh box of her favorite tea.

And while they ate rolls and gossiped about the family, she swirled her mug and studied the leaves at the bottom.

Everyone had always told her she had no skill for it, no art. She looked at the leaves and saw a cradle.

“Here, dear.” Aunt Becka reached for the mug, and pulled her fingers back when sparks lit up between them.
“Oh!” She chuckled, sounding more pleased than the old woman had sounded in some time. “So you’ve decided to own it, have you?”

Karen thought about her answer for a moment. You had to be careful; words you said around family had a habit of coming back to bite you a decade later. “I think it’s decided to own me. But that being so, well.
I’m not going to be jerked around by it.”

“Good for you, girl. Good for you. Now, as for that pesky problem you’re having with the family, here, I can show you how to get around it. I do wish you’d come to me quite some time earlier, but they have their ideas, don’t they, and they push them and push them.” She pulled out a small silk bag full of bones and tossed them across the table. “So. You’ve been pushed a bit. Here, there, your mother’s the worst but there’s three other aunts involved and, bless her soul, your great-grandmother. Want to learn how to teach them to mind their own business?”

Karen sighed. “I’m no good at magic. I never have been.”

“Well.” Aunt Becka raised her eyebrows. “And who told you that, mmm?”

“My mother, my grandmother, and Aunt Zelda, Aunt Laurel…”

“Mmm-hrrm. And exactly what do they have to gain by you being good at magic? I know you never wanted this, Karen. I know, sweet child, that you dodged the least quickly. But I’m not dead yet. I have…” She tossed the bones again and contemplated that. “Something like three years, three weeks, and three days left, although that could be Fate messing with me, what with the threes. Anyway. There’s time and enough for us to get you ready.”

“But…” Karen put her face in her hands. “It will let me have a child?”

“It will let you adopt a child. Clever, that. Nobody’s really gone that way again, although there was one, now who was it…”

Aunt Becka liked to play at being senile. Her hair was all grey and wispy and her eyes were often clouded over, her face more wrinkle than skin, but when she looked up at Karen, remembering something in the far past, there was no doubt that she was still all there. “[-]. Now she was a fun one, if her diaries and her sisters’ diaries are to be believed. When her sister passed, she took in all her sisters’ children. And the husband. Now didn’t the grannies fret about that one!”

Karen couldn’t help but smile at her Aunt’s expression. And at the thought of making the grannies fret, if she was being honest. “So it can be done.”

“It can. But first, child, you are going to have to learn. We’re going to start with something simple, the cards. This set is a pretty gentle one.” The box was hand-made and the cards were clearly hand-painted. The family didn’t even play bridge with store-bought cards, much less do divination.

Karen slid the cards out of the box carefully and ran her fingers over the top card, a portrait of a woman who might have been an Aunt, a long time ago. She had that look.

“Now. You’ve done these before, right?”

“Just for play, with practice cards.”

“Then clear your mind, shuffle the deck, and think about – let’s say think about four years from now.”

She’d said she’d be dead in a little over three years. Karen closed her eyes and shuffled, thinking of The Near Future. She focused on amorphous time-coming-up and thought about the way the trees changed in the summer.

The cards seemed to spark under her fingers. She laid out a simple spread in a hurry, because it felt like her hands were on fire, and set the deck to the side. When she opened her eyes, Aunt Becka was staring at the cards.

The spread was sloppy, but that was secondary. The card in the center was a supernova. The card didn’t even exist, as far as Karen knew.

And Death and Luck flanked it, and below it was Growth.

“Well.” Aunt Becka coughed. “The cards like you. That’s going to make everything a little more interesting. Tell me, who exactly said you had no power?”

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The Uncle re. an Aunt

First: Visiting the Family
Previous: The Powers that Be

Uncle Willard let Eva’s words hang in the air while he opened up his sun porch to them and brought in a pitcher of cold lemonade.

There was something like a ritual to it, the clean glasses, the glass pitcher, the cold, sweet-tart fresh lemonade. In the winter, it woudl have been tea. Their family had things that they did, and they all did them more or less the same.

The thought made her smile, her lips just starting to curl up as Willard answered.

“I think Asta was a changing of the guard. She had a lot of things she did. None of them, well, were any use to me, but I think they might be of use to this nephew of yours.” He sat back in an old armchair and lounged, looking at Rosaria and Eva over his lemonade.

Eva wasn’t fooled by his nonchalant glance. This, too, was a test.

She was growing a little tired of tests.

“Let’s see. Asta left Aunt Rosaria free to pursue a different path, one that involved a family, which places Aunt Rosaria as the tale-teller. That’s not a small thing. She let the older generation get complacent, because she let them push her around, and yet, if you read her diaries, she was supremely good at doing what needed to be done, when it needed doing.

“So she wasn’t holding on to as much power, probably – the legacy has a feel to it, you know, and she passed down a smaller part of it. Then again, the whole thing about the legacy is that it comes from the family, and that’s been changing in the last few months.” Eva took a breath. “But Asta holding less of it left more of it in other hands.” She lifted her chin. “Do I pass, Uncle Willard?”

He laughed, cheerfully but with an edge. “You’re an Aunt, all right.”

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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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Love Meme: Kai and Rozen, Autumn and Ink

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

Here are [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s second and [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s first prompts. Kailani and Rozen are from Addergoole; Autumn from Stranded World.

Kai and Rozen
End of Year Five

Some days it felt like she hardly had time to think, like Conrad was too busy to even look at her, like nobody in the suite but her would look at Tolly’s child, because the boy was Tolly’s, even though he was hers.

Kai had the twins in a stroller and was walking down the halls. It was a week before graduation; she doubted anyone was going to try to attack her now. Besides, she still had Conrad collared, even if he was acting more like it was a collar now and less like a trophy.

She noticed someone sneaking up on her anyway. One of the Thorne Girls might’ve done something clever, like going around in circles until they were behind their stalker.

Kai wasn’t that sort of clever. She turned around so that the stroller was behind her.

“Rozen.” She found she was pleased but not too startled, and smiled. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Nobody ever does.” He smirked, proud of himself. “You’re looking good, Red. Motherhood suits you.”

“Yeah?” There was nobody around to yell at her for blushing, which was good, because she hadn’t figured out a Working to get around that yet. “Thank you.”

“I mean, it would suit you more if those were my brats, but hey. Take what you can get, hey?”

Kai rolled her eyes at him, but she was still smiling. “They’re not brats. And I think they’re happier with their mother having some free will.”

“Yeah, well.” He leaned down to whisper in her ear, his breath tickling her. “Some day you might feel differently.”

What she felt had nothing to do with it. She didn’t think she needed to say that, though. “Some day.”

He was leaving soon, after all, and it was a big world. She’d probably never see him again.

Autumn and Ink

Autumn would probably always remember the first time she’d put ink to her skin.

Winter was struggling to teach her, their mother was busy with Spring and Summer, and their father had been dead for two years. Autumn’s skills weren’t falling into line with Winter’s, with their mother’s, or even with what they could remember of their father, so she had gone on her own to a family friend and asked him to teach her.

Pastor Jim had taken a long look at the wide-eyed child and sighed. “All right. But we keep this between us and your mother, all right? We don’t need to tell the parishioners.”

“Church magic is church magic and Strand magic is Strand Magic.” Even then, Autumn understood that.

“Good. Now.” He’d called her mother, been very very polite and respectful – everyone was polite and respectful when it came to Autumn’s mother, but he was even more so. When he’d hung up the phone, he’d headed to the daycare section behind the church and come back with some washable Crayola markers. “Let’s see, shall we, if what works for me works for you.”

He drew a circle on the back of Autumn’s wrist, and suddenly, she understood so much more.

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“Finish It?” – Some Suggestions

I’m trying to put together an [profile] all_bingo “Finish It” card here.

It was pointed out to me that I have far, far too many unfinished stories to sort through.

So I started looking through the second page of my more, please tag: here

This is just a few suggestions of things someone has said “more, please” to that I have not finished. I will add to it as I find time.

Stranded
Stranded in Winter – Autumn is stuck in town in winter
Space Accountant
A Reason – and Accidental, and bunking arrangements, etc (Genique got Married?)
Addergoole
Matchmaker, Matchmaker – Sabine didn’t intend to collar Holles. But…
About That… Fridmar in an unexpected possibly-romantic situation with a student? i.e., Lyn is not great at consistence.
Bracken, her first year
Deaths in the Faerie apocalypse, a side note
They Were Over – Forrester runs into her former Keeper
Together/Again twins!

Aunt Family
Then and Now – Radar and his kitten
The Strength – and other stories of Deborah

Random?
Romance was never this convenient to handle – Mark Faine, Mark Faine, Mark Faine. How many of him are there?
Falling From Grace – …not sure what to say about this one.
this one didn’t get a more please but it could use one.

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Deep in the Tesznerov Forest, a short vignette from an old Giraffe Call (random Fic)

Written to [personal profile] thnidu‘s prompt from 2014. here. New setting. Might be part of something else.

The Forest of Tesznerov gave the impression of being a monolith of green and brown, a forbidding wall that slowed and even stopped progress.

But if you could get past the obstructions and into the forest itself, it was bright and sunny, with patches like meadows almost half an acre large. And if you got even further in, near the top of the hill called Thistle Mountain, you might encounter the Cheramia.

Oostely had been that – not lucky, to call it luck was an insult – skilled, the first in a century to get that far and (one hoped) live to tell about it. She perched on a stump and waited, listening, until a chermiach settled down in front of her.

It chirruped out a greeting. In return, Oostely bowed deeply and responded in her own tongue. The Cheramia were one of the truly foreign creatures to be found within the technical confines of the nation, but if she had to try to describe one, Oostely might do as her great-great-grandmother had done and say “a flying cat-snake with some sort of squirrel tail.” They might be as long as the distance between her ankle and hip, but they preferred to coil up like a spring, so they peeked at her through the fluff of their tail.

The chermiach whistle-popped a sound that could be a question, and then squeaked out what sounded like a human word. “Greeeeet,” it clucked.

“Greetings,” Oostely responded. She could not help but notice how sharp the chermiach’s teeth were, or how longs its claws were, or how close it was. But her great-great-grandmother had met one and lived to tell about it, so Oostely chirruped out what she hoped was the word for peace, and prayed it would work.


(the tip jar is a kitty for reasons)

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The Monarch

She was, above all else, tired.

The rain was coming down again. It seemed like it always rained, these days. The monarch sipped her tea and stared out at the yard, where the ravens were dancing in the downpour. The ravens had always danced there. Soon, her son would visit, and she would have to have a long-postponed conversation with him. She found herself exhausted at the very thought.

It was the reduction that did it. When her children had ruled over the planet and her empire had stretched over continents, she had never felt tired. When the world itself had been much smaller and she’d had only her little island to rule over, she’d never felt tired.

She stood, although the form she was wearing now protested. She had not gotten this old in a very long time. It suited, however; the aging body’s exhaustion matched the tiredness she felt. She felt the rain in her joints and in her soul, and it never stopped raining.

It had been bright and shiny when she was young, shiny and small.

The world had grown, and she had grown with it; her empire had grown, and she had stretched herself over the planet, sending out children, sending out bits of herself to the New World, to India, to Africa, to Australia. Very little of that had come back; she found herself small again, small and old in a huge and juvenile world.

The monarch paced. This was the fortieth form she’d worn as Monarch, and the transitions grew harder every time. More people knew her with this face than had ever known any of her other faces – perhaps more people could recognize this face, this Elizabeth, than had known all of her other monarch faces together. Not just her face, but Charles’ face and mannerisms, and William’s and Harry’s.

She allowed herself a small smile. Leadership changes you. Thus they had been saying for centuries. People would notice that the new King shifted uneasily under the mantle of leadership. They would notice he seemed different – more somber, perhaps, or older. They would make up a story that suited.

The Queen chuckled to herself. There had been the time where they’d said she was a body-snatching demon, and tried to burn her at the stake. That had been awkward, to say the least. It had taken some fast talking and serious footwork to get out of that with a viable heir left to become.

And now… and now… Now she was laying plans and readying herself to move on to a new face, and the rain would not stop coming down. Something was wrong, seriously wrong.

“This is my country, damnit.” The Monarch punched her own leg, sensible frock and varicose veins be damned. “This is mine.” She raised her voice to shout for her secretary. “Anna! Anna, get in here.” The rain had been falling for three weeks straight. It was no more natural than the Monarch’s endless reign was. “We’re going to save my country.” Again.

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Lexember Day One: Rabbits

clare_dragonfly asked for the Calenyen word for bunnies. So:

Lexember Day 3:

Bunnies, it must be bunnies

They have three variants on the rabbit on Reiassan:

The Kaler, a domesticated fur rabbit, small and generally friendly. Their fur comes in a wide variety of naturally-occurring colors and is well known to be good for baby clothes and underclothes.

The Zhyoobie, the wild version, which is about the size of a squirrel, eats plants one wants to keep, and nobody has yet made a Peter Rabbit book about. It’s known to make its nest in the remnants of other animals’ nests, and generally leaves a mess of wherever it nests.

The Natiel, a large hare, sometimes domesticated but often wild. These are the biggest of the rabbits, brought over by the Bitrani settlers, and named by them (nateo), but they do not thrive in the warm climates of southern Reiassan and have mostly migrated north.

This is not the first time I’ve shamelessly named things in Calenyen for people, as much as the language allows. The Zhyoobie and the Natiel are named after people I know/have known in other parts of my life.

Lots of days left to go! Stop in and give me something to word about!

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The Portal Closed, a beginning/introduction/Prelude

“It’s all your fault!”

They were fourteen – except Ralph, who had always been the baby of the group and was just turning thirteen – when the portal into Ombrion stopped opening for them.

They had known it was coming. Only children could enter Ombrion through the portals. And for the past year, the openings had been rarer and rarer. Two months had passed when the four of them huddled around the door in the old abandoned school library and called out toVerdana, who had guided them. They lit the candles, even though they knew the candles weren’t necessary. They wished on the fullness of the moon, all of it the way they had the first time.

The gates stayed closed. Verdana did not answer. And to all of them, the gates felt more sealed, more dead, than they ever had before.

“It’s got to be you.” Clarence glared at Barbara. “With your…” He flapped his hand in vague disgust.

She sneered back at him, uninterested in his squeamishness. “What about you? With your voice changing, with all the squeaking through the calling there?”

“Maybe it’s Ralph…” Clarence flopped against the old wooden doors that had, until so recently, been their portal to Ombrion. “No. They’re just done with us.”

They’d been seven and eight the first time, full of the books they were reading and playing make-believe, no matter what the other students said about growing up, when they’d first opened the portal. They’d tumbled through the door again and again, only to come back with only a few minutes, a few hours having passed.

Until now. No matter how many times they grew up in Ombrion, today they’d grown up too much in America.

“Maybe if we…” Ralph moved the candles despondently. “I can’t believe that’s it. Just – ‘thanks for saving us, go back to your world now and be teenagers.'”

Barbara put her face in her hands. “I can’t believe Verdana just abandoned us. I mean.” She held up her hand, because Clarence liked to poke at everything lately. “I can believe it, I know, she always told us she would. But it makes me angry.”

“Guys…” Diane had said nothing at all, which was, for Diane, not that uncommon. But she was staring off into the shadows with a look that had, once, presaged her saving an entire nation. “The way I see it, we have a few options.”

The rest of them settled in to listen. Of the many things they had learned over their decades in Ombrion, “listen to Diane” had been one of the first lessons.

She ticked off on her fingers. “We can sit here and complain. We can go out there and live our lives. Come on, how many teenagers have the experience we have? I tried; I don’t have the muscle memory but I have all the knowledge of swordcraft, for example. It would give us a leg up, whatever we decided to do.”

She paused, and despite the fact that dramatic pauses were far more Ralph’s purview than Diane’s, they all leaned forward. “Or we can do one better. We can find magic here. We can find other portals.”

“The portal’s closed.” Clarence’s voice was harsh and angry.

This portal is closed. Only this one. What did Verdana say? The portal led to that world, and always has. Oh, what was it?” She closed her eyes.

Barbara picked it up. She’d had nightmares about that part. “‘I shudder to think about what would have happened, if you four had found some other door, some world that ‘needed’ you for some far more nefarious purpose.”

The words hung in the air, but it was Ralph who picked them up. “There are other worlds.” The conclusion was inescapable.

“There are other words.” Clarence breathed it out slowly. “And we aren’t the children we were, back then.”

“If you count experience,” Diane added dryly, “we’re ancients. And I do count experience. You guys remember that debate club debacle last year.”

They’d been disqualified, Barbara and Clarence. The teachers had been certain they’d gotten outside coaching. In a sense, they had – in the small room behind the throne room, in Ombrion, before the ambassadors from Fregoran visited.

Barbara nodded slowly. “Let’s do it. Let’s find another portal. Let’s find all the portals.”

If the portals needed people, let it be them, who already knew how to live two lives at once. If they needed soldiers, generals, diplomats, let it be them.

She had no desire to spend her entire life remembering what it was like to be a Warrior Queen.

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