Tag Archive | prompter: ysabet

Catalog People

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to ysabetwordsmith‘s prompt.


Every payday, Edrio very carefully opened the Sears catalog and very carefully placed an order.

It wasn’t always Sears; it wasn’t always a catalog.  Sometimes it was Penney’s, although their catalog wasn’t as good, or the furniture store, or the hardware store for some paint or some molding.

But it was always payday, and it was always a very considered purchase.

Edrio’s house wasn’t all that large.  It was the smallest house that had been for sale, as a matter of fact, and he’d gotten a very good deal on it because it was old, un-updated, and a one-bedroom.  The Cape Cod house had last been updated in the 50’s, if the wallpaper was any indication.

The wallpaper was the first to go, the carpet, the trim.  Everything was carefully replaced, everything chosen from the catalog spreads or the display lay-outs in the stores, the colors from Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens or color-matched to a Sears spread.  The effect, were anyone to walk into his house, was slightly like being inside a catalog.

In the bathroom it was the most obvious, the small room showing the carefully-coordinated shower curtain and drapes, towels and garbage can and rug.  His bedroom showed the only signs of personality, a stack of battered paper-backs in between leather-covered Barnes and Noble books on a display shelf. His closet was much the same, outfits picked from the pages of the catalogs, bought and worn as exact to those pictures as possible.

The catalog purchases covered over strangeness, of course – the circle of glyphs under the living room rug and the other one in the bathroom, the tone-on-tone runes on the carefully-picked out molding, some to keep monsters in, some to keep them out.  But mostly, they were to cover over Edrio.

At night, he would lie in bed, as he had since he was a child, flipping through the pages of an ancient Sears catalog.  “This is real,” he’d tell himself, in a ritual as battered and as old as the pages.  “This is how real people live.”

Want more?

Damage Control

Written to [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith‘s prompt(s) here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

“Come on.”

“I didn’t mean to…” Krešimir winced ruefully at the hallway. It was sopping wet, but only because Mirembe had summoned up a storm. Under the water, it was charred, the panelling falling off the walls where it wasn’t just gone. “I really didn’t.”

“Come on.” Luke’s hand was firm on Krešo’s shoulder and he had started to walk away. Krešo didn’t really have a lot of choice except to follow the gym teacher-slash-security officer — or lose his shoulder, which didn’t seem like a lot of fun.

He trotted along, although he couldn’t help but look back at the wreckage he’d made every few moments. “I’ll help fix it. I can pay for the damages, maybe? Get a job at the Store? I didn’t mean to make a mess, that’s all. I just…”

“Akatil will fix it.” Luke pulled Krešo down into a hallway he’d never seen before, tucked between the Director’s office and the dining hall. It was dark down here, cramped-feeling. Krešo swallowed nervously.

“I, um. I can really help?”

“Look, kid.” Luke pushed a door open that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Sunlight streamed inside. “It’s a fire power. Being sorry for it is like being sorry that you’re breathing. It’s self-defeating and ridiculous.”

“So… you’re not mad?”

“I’m angry. I’m not mad at you. Come on.” His hand seemed gentler now as he steered Krešo out into a wide meadow. “You need to get control of your powers.”

“I know, I know! I keep trying, but then every time someone spooks me…” He stopped. Luke was smiling. He was the scariest thing Krešo had seen — either in or out of school — and he was smiling. “…What?”

“I saw what happened when she ‘spooked’ you. I’d say she deserved it, wouldn’t you?”

Krešo swallowed. “I mean… Professor Pelletier….”

“Professor Pelletier didn’t see the whole thing. I did. It’s fine to… ha… let off steam when someone is being an ass. You’ve just got to learn to do it intentionally. Here.” He gestured at a stretch of grass with a couple scraggly-looking trees. “Let loose.”

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Thanks, a ficlet of Tir na Cali from the New Years’ Call

He hand-picked her from the fields – a formerly angry former-American who had been beat down by the sun and the rain and the hard work. He gave her a new collar, pretty and silver and far lighter than her old one, and she thanked him for it.

So he gave her a place in his bed at night, and her own place to rest during the day, with soft sheets and a solid roof over her head. She thanked him for it, both with words and with her body.

And thus he gave her fine silks to wear and fine food to eat; he gave her easy work and kept the foreman from her. He gave her a golden cage – the room, with gilded-grilled windows, the collar, with its lovely leash, the clothing, too frail to survive outside. And she bowed down and kissed his feet and thanked him for it.

He gave her a day outside in the garden, sunbathing the way few Californian nobles did, an hour of privacy, because she had been so good to him. And she thanked him for it…

Oh, yes, did she give him what he deserved for it.

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The Rescue? Continues? – a continuation for the Giraffe Call

Previous: A Rescue, of Sorts

Daxton had dealt with mercenaries before – there had been the month of assassination attempts, and then there had been the border skirmishes, since his father’s Duchy butted up again the Red Queen’s land. He had learned, unpleasantly but quickly, that you did what you were told by the people in armor, or, Duke’s son or not, they made certain you did what they wanted. He fell quiet and held still.

“This’ll just take a minute.” She pulled a leather roll from her belt and, from there, pulled a set of tiny tools. “Just hold still…” One slim tool went into the key-hole of Daxton’s shackles, followed by another, this one at an angle. “Hold still…” Daxton hadn’t moved, but, then again, she wasn’t looking at him, she was looking at her work.

Three clicks later, the shackles had released. “Can you walk?”

“Yes.” He was fairly certain he could, at least. “But-“

“Hsst, come on.” She hauled him to his feet and shoved her shoulder under his arm. “We’ve got to get out of here before – well, we’ve got to get out of here.”

He couldn’t very well let her go back to his father and tell the Duke that his son had refused to leave the Red Queen’s dungeon. “Very well. I can walk…”

“And I can support you. You’re a year’s wages on legs, man, come on. I expected this.”

It turned out that “I can walk” was slightly more of an exaggeration than Daxton had believed, but, luckily, he supposed, the mercenary’s claim that she could support him was completely true. They headed out of the dungeon, the hair on the back of Daxton’s neck prickling.

They were moving quietly, but slowly. Daxton was sure that at any moment, the Red Queen’s guards would jump out and resc- and capture him back. He’d feel bad about the nice mercenary woman, of course, but she’d known it was a high-risk job. Dukes do not give out rewards like the one Daxton’s father was reportedly offering for cakewalks.

“Almost there. Hsst, gotta hold yourself for a moment. Can you do that?”

“Where… yes.” They were in a dusty, musty corner of the white-stone castle. He hadn’t seen much of the place in his captivity, but he was pretty sure that nobody had seen this room in years, possibly decades. Certainly nobody with a mop.

It had some old papers, a lot of mud – and most importantly, a door. It looked stuck; the mercenary leaned heavily on it, shoving it one finger-width at a time.

The guards were going to be here any minute. They were going to hear the soft scrape of the door on the wood, or follow some trail or some track. They couldn’t just lose him. Could they?

And they’d put an arrow through her, right off, but if the Red Queen was telling the truth, they’d make sure to only cripple her. She liked thieves to die slowly, very slowly.

“Can you hurry a little?”

“If I hurry, it makes noise. It makes noise…”

“Okay. Okay. Quiet is good.” He leaned against a wall. The guards would find him. Nobody had even got as far as the dungeon before. He wasn’t even sure the stories the Red Queen told him were true. But if they did find him – if they didn’t find him –

“There. Come on, the horses are right outside.”

“This is insane.” He hobbled through the narrow opening into a courtyard as disused as the room had been. “How did you-“

“I do my prep work. Here.” She dropped to her knees and gave him a leg up into the saddle. Daxton found that muscle memory took over, even if his strength was lacking. “Now, now is the time where we have to really run.” She mounted her own horse much more quickly, grabbed the reins to Daxton’s horse, and, in a moment, they were bent down over their mounts’ necks as they sped towards the border.

They were really leaving. They were really going home. Daxton closed his eyes and concentrated on not falling off. They were really out of the Red Queen’s palace. He squeezed his eyes a little tighter and clutched the pommel.

The mercenary didn’t stop them until they were up in the foothills, past the Red Queen’s territory and almost to Daxton’s father’s duchy. A tiny hunting cabin stood waiting for them. “You can clean up here, and rest. We’ll go back to your father in the morning, and I can collect my reward.”

Her reward. Daxton swallowed. “I really appreciate all the trouble you went to, but I-“

“-have as much interest in rutting as you do in learning how to be a pig farmer. I know.”

“You… what?” Daxton gaped at her.

“I do my prep work. And my research.”

“But my father offered my hand in marriage to the merc – or woman of the merc’s choice – that rescued me.” He could, he supposed, run back to the Red Queen’s dungeon. But that would be pretty obvious.

“So?” The mercenary grinned at him. “You’re not the only one who’d rather do anything else than rut.”

My Dungeon & Cave Call is open!

If you want more of this story – and there is still more just dying to be written – drop a tip in, ah, the tip handcuffs:

This story written as [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith‘s commissioned continuation

Next: Probably a Rescue.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/824624.html. You can comment here or there.

A Rescue, of Sorts (A story for the Caves-and-Dungeons #Promptcall)

He would never admit it if you asked, but Daxton found something relaxing about being chained up in the Red Queen’s dungeon. There was regular, if boring, food, a nice hour of full sunlight every day, and the expectations were amazingly simple: all he had to to was continue to say “no” to the Red Queen, which wasn’t as hard as she’d like to think it was, and the food would keep coming and the bucket-of-tepid-water-baths would keep him from stinking too bad for her royal nose.

It wasn’t an ideal situation, of course, but Daxton had found that there were few situations in life that were ideal. Farmers were at the whim of the weather and the magic storms. Merchants were at the whim of their supply and the demand. Daxton was either at the whim of his Ducal father, or he was at the whim of the Red Queen.

The Red Queen had informed Daxton that his father had hired mercenaries to rescue him, and had then, rather cheerfully, told him every time they failed. Daxton had been Outraged Of Course and secretly a little bit relieved. It was thus with some dismay that he found his early-afternoon sunbath being interrupted by a few very quiet thuds from outside his cell door.

He sat up, because it wouldn’t do to be rescued looking like he wanted to be here, but kept his legs in the sunbeam. The stone walls were cold, and he liked the warmth.

In a surprisingly short time, the door to his cell swung open. A merc – the light leather armor was good-quality but not government-issue and almost hid the fact that she was, under it all, probably a woman – slipped through, closing the door almost all the way behind her.

A woman. Well, that explained one of the things the Red Queen had been joking about. And his father did, after all, have other sons. “I’m very grateful for your rescue-“

A gloved hand slapped over Daxton’s mouth before he could get to the but. “Speeches later. Unchaining and running now.”

My Dungeon & Cave Call is open!

If you want more of this story – and there is more dying to be written – drop a tip in, ah, the tip handcuffs:

This story written to [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith‘s prompt.

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/824624.html

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