Legal Theft: The Winding Descent

The clock struck twelve, and she awoke screaming. Beside the canopied bed, the nurse, Edith, jolted awake and half threw herself over Helena keeping the young woman from either bolting or thrashing about and hurting herself. Helena’s eyes were bloodshot with  white showing all around her dark irises. Her fingers clawed into the sheets and bedding as she continued to scream. Edith slapped her lightly.

“Stop that, Helena, you’ll wake the house.” The older women sighed, as she sat up. Edith and the mad girl had been placed in the opposite wing of the house for that very reason. Her charge’s screams cut off into whimpers and unintelligible mumblings. Edith found the basin of water on the side table and dipped her cloth into it. She wiped down the feverish girl’s face and arms. “Don’t cry now, love, everything will be fine-everything will be alright.” She said the words over and over more to have some noise to pit against Helena’s pathetic whimpers than any real belief in them. Helena grabbed Edith’s hand.

“He’s going to kill Isaac,” Helena gasped her lips were cracked and white.

“Isaac’s safe, Helena.” Edith spoke the worn words again.

“No,” Helena’s eyes roved wildly around the room and fastened on a dark corner, “he is going to do it. Isaac is going to come home. He’s going to protect me. You can’t have us!” Her frenzied cries grew in intensity as she shouted at the shadows. Edith sighed and pressed on Helena’s shoulders.

“Isaac has gone away. He won’t come back,” these instructions always bothered Edith as they never failed to upset her charge, but she had her orders from both the lord and lady of the house.

“No, no he’ll come for me, and take me away. Away from him and the shadows and the dreams.” Helena tossed, straining away from Edith’s hold. “Isaac promised. He promised.” Helena muttered the words over and over and Edith sighed again. A glance at the fire had her grumbling. The scullery maid had failed to restock the box of firewood, and the flames were getting low. Helena at night was tense and uncomfortable. Without proper light she’d have raging fits. Leaving Helena to her mumbeled sobs, Edith slipped out of her chair to go procure more wood.

“You can’t have Isaac.” Helena muttered. Would you protect him? The voice asked low and subtle. Helena stilled, her eyes wide and searching for the speaker. He’s in danger now.

“No,” she breathed tears gathering. There is the way. The voice breathed a sigh, and Helena shut her eyes tight and then opened them wide as a black glittering path spread behind her eyelids. Helena wept and whimpered. He was there of course as he was every night, standing in the corner. His eyes glowed and is body merged into the house, his house. He hated Isaac, hated her, would kill her. You could escape, the voice continued spinning down the eternal black path. He couldn’t catch you. He pushed himself away from the wall gaining a suit and skeletal hands.

“Such a disappointment,” he sighed his cold eyes assessing her, and Helena screamed again scrabbling to push herself up. He didn’t smile just watched her. The shadows danced, and at the end of the black path Helena caught sight of her half-brother. With a scream she twisted sideways and threw herself into the darkness. Her body gave a last shuddering breath, as her broken spirit fled into the darkness.

 

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I’m late, and have been robbed. Machete Diplomacy stole the first line to write “Very Blue Eyes”. Check it out!

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Legal Theft: Bitter Legacy

It would be fine as long as no one found out. Well, as long as his assistant didn’t find out, no one else would care. Edwin snorted in amusement at the strangeness of the thought. It was ridiculous to be caught in a slow game of attrition with a man who was supposedly his servant. Of course Mr. Ravenshaw wasn’t exactly a servant, or a man. The door opened and Mr. Ravenshaw walked silently into the room. The air in the library tensed, and Edwin refused to look up from his writing.

“The letters are there on the desk, Mr. Ravenshaw. Please have them sent this morning.” There was a stillness, and Edwin prepared himself for his assistant to lose the human form. It happened rarely, costing the spirit time and effort to regain his physical shape, but the experience was always harrowing. The letters were lifted lightly from the desk.

“Is there anything else, m’lord?” the voice was quiet, respectful. Edwin glanced up at the two dark eyes in an eternally young face.

“No, I intend to work on the manuscript all day. Have cook send up my meals here.” A cough shook him, then another and another. Mr. Ravenshaw moved silently to the side table and poured a glass of water. Edwin took it clutching the quilted robe around himself even as he drank.

“It won’t be long, now,” Mr. Ravenshaw said quietly. Edwin jerked a look at him and knew he had paled. The spirit smiled, thin, and cruelly amused. “Surely you didn’t think you could keep me trapped here forever?” He arched an eyebrow. Edwin felt ice creep up his veins. They had not spoken so baldly of what he was in years.

“It is not I that keeps you on the grounds,” Edwin said his voice thin as frail as his limbs. Mr. Ravenshaw sneered.

“No, only you who stirs up the county against the family, who whispers of superstitions, and drives the common folk to the Church, the witch, anything to keep them safe from the Ashlock lands.”

“If they keep their distance they will be safe,” Edwin wheezed his throat still raw, “I have done what any lord must do to protect his people from harm and evil.” Mr. Ravenshaw’s sneer had vanished.

“In any case, the lands will have a new lord soon. One who isn’t determined to destroy the family’s reputation. One who may make a more…acceptable vessel.” He flicked a dismissive glance at Edwin’s shaking hand and aged skin. Edwin closed his eyes, poor Tristan, poor boy. Mr. Ravenshaw gathered up the letters and sorted them. His eyes landed upon the thick letter to Edwin’s nephew and with a derisive flick of his wrist Mr. Ravenshaw sent it hurtling into the fireplace. The yellow flames curled back the fine parchment, turning it to ash. Edwin staggered to his feet.

“Get out!” he wheezed. Mr. Ravenshaw bowed mockingly and withdrew taking the rest of the letters. Edwin sagged back into his chair. He’d suspected-then known his letters weren’t getting through to his heir. To have the spirit destroy it in his presence, the thing was getting bolder. All the warnings Edwin had tried to pass along over the years, gone, and Tristan would be helpless. Edwin drew his journal closer to him and in the middle of his paragraph switched to French. The dreams grow longer and stranger. I awoke at noon yesterday feeling as though I’d wandered in shadows for years. I begin to be afraid to close my eyes. Then he returned to his account of the area’s history.

He was fencing with a centuries old spirit. He had to be careful. Notes left in journals, letters he’d never tried to mail tucked into books, clues scattered about the house all pointing to one end. The dreams were dangerous and Mr. Ravenshaw evil. Edwin prayed it would be enough. Trapped in the house, a prisoner nearly as much as the spirit, Edwin could do no more.

 

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I’m a thief. I stole the first line from More than 1/2 Mad. Go check out the original work. Hidden Faces.

Legal Theft: Warning Shot

Shenanigans needed to be had, for the sake of the group, shenanigans had been had. Dras’s phone buzzed and he glanced at the text with a self satisfied nod. The cops had finally been alerted then. Sure enough about ten minutes later Eric’s assistant was rushing out of the building his manner shaky as he almost ran to his car. Dras gave it another fifteen minutes before he strode across the street and into the store. Eric had propped open the door to his office so that he would hear anyone entering into the front show room. Dras ignored the ship model on display in the middle of the room and the various sketches of yachts and sloops as he walked into the office and dropped himself into the leather arm chair opposite Eric. He smiled slowly as Eric froze half out of his chair as he’d prepared to greet the visitor in his assistant’s absence.

“Morning, Eric, I thought it about time we had a talk.” Dras said as Eric retook his seat. The man’s startled expression was quickly shuttering into one of polite control.

“Is it Mr…-I don’t believe I know you,” the professionalism was there, Dras noted. Eric would have needed it with the rich who bought his ships, but underneath it Dras could sniff out suspicion. Dras tugged on one of his cuffs. His button down shirt and nice jeans were just classy enough to keep people from looking at him in this neighborhood, but he didn’t wear the clothes with familiarity.

“Dras Clayton, we haven’t had the pleasure as I’ve been in prison until recently. I work for you father,” he added unnecessarily as Eric’s professionalism vanished in ice and his gaze jerked to the floor room as if to check that no one had heard Dras.

“Leave, I don’t discuss my father’s business through intermediaries. Or at all.” Eric snapped his jaw tight and Dras had to admire the command, Eric’s sheer belief he’d be obeyed behind the words. Still, Dras merely settled himself more comfortable in the arm chair.

“I’m not here to discuss your father’s business. I’m here to discuss yours. You see,” he began when it looked as if Eric would interrupt him, “you went off and made yourself profitable with your niche business here. Without the family, without the group, that concerns me.” Dras leaned forward and made another mental tally when Eric didn’t lean back. “Your family and its business is very important to me. I paid a lot for it, or maybe served a lot of time for it is the better word. So when I see a son rejecting everything his father has built that-” he dangled the word reading Eric’s tension, “bothers me. I have interesting ways of dealing with those who bother me.” That pushed him over the edge, and Eric leaned forward glaring.

“You’re an idiot if you think I’m going to believe one of my father’s own men is threatening me. I know he’s made his position quite clear. Touch me and you will wish you were back in prison.” Good physical use of the space, good mind, Dras could almost see it working at full speed behind Eric’s grey eyes. The kid wasn’t going to have so much ground to reclaim when he came back to the family, good. Dras started to smile letting his eyes warm even as his mouth cut.

“Oh Eric, of course I’m not going to touch you.  But there’s a difference between being invulnerable and protected, and your protection?” Dras laughed softly as his long fingers touched the handle of the switch blade in his sleeve, “it only extends to you. Not your friends, not your assistant, not your customers.” Dras considered a moment, “It may cover your business itself. I’ll have to check on that, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have at least tacit permission.” He grinned fast as Eric sucked in a ragged breath, the air knocked out of him. “So,” Dras resumed, “talk to your dad. The contacts you make in boats have to be good for drug or gun smuggling or money laundering if nothing else, but you’re one of ours and ours don’t leave.” Dras watched Eric’s hands loosen from tight fists, and for a moment Dras had a hard jolt as he wondered if Eric kept a gun in his desk.

“I don’t belong to you or my father. You’d best get that into your head. Now leave.” Eric’s words were winter itself, his face ice even as his jaw clenched and worked. Dras analyzed it tucking away the nuances he knew he’d need to identify and study as he made his final shot.

“You keep telling yourself that, kid, but your assistant’s emergency with a burglary at his place, your cop friend’s rough beating last night, and your girlfriend’s stolen car? That’s just the beginning,” It was easy to slide the switch blade into his hand, open it, and salute the mob boss’s son with a flash of the edge as he walked out of the office.

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I’m a thief! I stole (and slightly modified) the first line “Shenanigans needed to be had, for the sake of the group, shenanigans had been had.” from Creatures, Critters, and Crawlers. Go check out her original piece Unintended Consent.

Legal Theft: The Old Timer’s Tale

A hot, evening gust rushed over the craggy cliff and tried to flip the main sail of Mora’s glider. The teenager twisted her body to turn the sail into the wind and the gust sailed on harmlessly. Mora breathed in deeply. The air was still warm enough that the additional scents of sage grass and dust scorched her throat. She smiled inching closer to the edge of the cliff. A lock of her bright blue hair danced on her forehead just too short to fall into her eyes. Mora glanced quickly at the sky, her vision dancing a little with after images of the two great suns, one high in the sky, and one nearly across the dome.

“Watch me fly, Dad,” she murmured as she kissed two fingers and held them to the sky. With a kick, she sent her glider flying from the cliff and leaped off after it. For a split second she was in direct free fall. Then her calloused fingers found worn hand grips and her feet thudded solidly onto the hand crafted board. She jerked the sail and the cloth expanded catching the next gust and leveling her out. Mora kept her knees soft and her eyes half closed both against the glare and the rush of wind. The glider caught gust after gust soaring on the evening heat currents. A trio of hunting hawks circled at her level too far away from her to risk collision. Mora flicked a glance at her wrist watch and frowned. She was still too high up. 

The gust shifted and Mora found herself tumbling. A second cross wind slammed into her and the entire glider spun in the air. One second Mora was facing the ground, the next the great expanse of sky and the two glowing fireballs that were the suns one red and one blue. A reversed wind stream slammed into her again, and her left heel slipped past the rubber grips that secured her feet. She was pushed from her glider just holding on to her hand grips as she spiraled out of control. Quick rapid breaths pounded in her chest, as Mora pulled herself back towards her glider. With a grunt, Mora grabbed the sail cord and pulled, collapsing her guilder’s span by half and sending it into a dive. The sudden drop let her get back in control, her heel thudding firmly into the grip as she maneuvered her glider through the wind.

Slowly, she opened the sails back out to full. She couldn’t risk another glance at her watch. Instinct would have to be enough. Mora swiveled her hand and tilted her glider back towards the east navigating for the break in the crags. The rushing wind numbed her ears as her heart beat in her throat. Had she missed it? Was she too low? Still too high? Her glider aimed directly between the two giant outcroppings of stone and the sky turned purple. Mora lost her breath as the rich color flashed across her eyes half blinding her and then vanished.

She barely breathed for the rest of her flight as the glider drifted steadily downwards on more controlled heat spirals. The board hit the soft sand to a chorus of yells, and Mora felt a grin grow over her face. She flexed her hands to get rid of the aches from clenching and stalked over to Mat Jeffers. She got right up in his face for all that she just came to his shoulder.

“Top that,” she smirked, her heart and stomach thumping as the teens around her went quiet and Mat reluctantly nodded.

“Alright, you did good.”

Mora nodded as the others cheered. The purple flash was for her. The old timers talked about the phenomena, but most people thought they were crazy. Mora knew now that the sight was for the crazy ones willing to risk the conflicting winds from the bluff’s highest point in the evening heat strikes. She went to her glider making sure to fold up the sails and check for damage. Mat gave her an approving smile, and Mora ducked her head thanking her dark skin for hiding any blush. She jostled with her friends and Carmen helped her lift the glider. Home was calling. The sun simmered red as it slunk towards the jagged horizon.   

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I’m a thief. I am. I stole the last sentence from Machete Diplomacy. Go check out the original story. 

Legal Theft: Promises

The last gift had barely been opened and admired when the radio clicked back to life. Nuka felt the sound like a physical blow, and he frowned at one of his best friends as she leaned forward purposefully ignoring his reaction. Nuka brushed a hand down the fur lined cloak, a fashion statement that had disappeared over three hundred years ago, and swung it over his shoulders.

“Going for a walk, I’ll be back.” Half the room nodded or ignored him, but he smiled reassuringly at Kiki and ignored the catch of breath from Raven as she leaned towards the news. He walked out into the rushing cold of the Star’s city. He started walking along the rope bridge highways flipping his hood up to hide among the common folk. War. A tricky war between people he wished were friends and the Imperial forces, including his own legion of warriors. An knot twisted in his center so strongly he almost wanted to throw up. It would be strange shadow war of propaganda and magic between two groups of near immortals-and thousands would die. Hadn’t they learned that in their last conflict? Near gods or not, undying or not, the Empire could not win wars with a handful of mages. This time he was sitting out.

Nuka paused his ungloved hands gripping the rope handrail of a bridge as he looked out unseeingly over the buildings artfully twining among and in the trees. The knot twisted again, and Nuka recognized it for rage. He’d had enough of the front lines, leading his men into murder pits that he would survive on the nature of his thrice cursed bond. He didn’t want to attack nations that had been part of the empire for hundreds and hundreds of years. He didn’t want to be a part of whatever game the others were playing. He didn’t want to fight. Nuka closed his eyes against the sharp northern wind.

But when had what he wanted mattered against the Empire’s need? Nuka felt the binding that twisted not through his head, but through his heart. If he was told to fight-but hadn’t the Stars asked? Nuka kept his eyes closed as he twisted his mind and unlocked a portion of memory he’d hidden away. His Master, but also perhaps friend saying he’d help find a way to end the bond, saying that he was ready to help. The anger of that memory blossomed again. It was nearly thirteen hundred years after the bond had first been put into place. Nuka had asked for help after fifty years, then after three hundred, then at seven hundred and definitely at the thousand mark. Each time the Stars had nodded said he would help, said he understood, and each time he did nothing too afraid to move against siblings he loved far more than his sometimes friend and always slave. Tell me how I can help you, tell me what you need. The Stars had said his voice heavy with compassion and remorse. Well, this was something Nuka wanted, and if it was the final test for the man he’d considered a friend for over a millennia so be it.

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Here is a piece, and I’ve been robbed. My friends have taken off with the line. This time he was sitting out. Take a look at their stuff…

Summer Ascendant by Machete Diplomacy

For Want of Netflix and Chill by Creatures, Critters, and Crawlers

Legal Theft: Tribond

Time ground on. Its beat the inescapable rhythm of the world, and everything bowed before it.

~

For the first time in his short life Richard couldn’t wait to be finished with his lesson. His stylus scratched out a final response in the wax tablet, and Richard raced to hand it in to his teacher. He was gone before the man had even checked the answers. Richard ducked through the bronze studded gate and across the blue tiled courtyard with it’s bubbling pool and sweet jasmine. Finally he was in his mother’s quarters. Suddenly shy he slowed and wondered if he should have washed his feet before the baby’s cry coaxed him forward.

“Richard, come and see.” At his mother’s low voice Richard stepped into the nursery he’d left a short few years ago. Gabriel was seated with his favorite red ball, his eyes large and solemn as their mother sat propped up on pillows. Richard crossed the floor and peered at the bundle his mother held. The small face was red and scrunched and there was a mass of black hair on the tiny head. “Her name is Sen,” Richard’s mother stroked a long delicate finger over the round cheek. “Promise me you will protect her, Richard, it will be your duty to guard your siblings.” The six year old nodded with as much dignity as he could muster eyes sliding over the infants bow of a mouth and across the room to his brother.

“I promise.”

~

Richard blinked slowly as the ringing in his head gradually subsided, and he licked the blood off of his teeth. The barbarian sneered deciding that separating the ten year old girl from her brothers wasn’t worth the trouble of killing them all. Richard tugged Sen behind him again as Gabriel began whispering the secrets he learned and how to gain favor with the Captain of the current barbarian hoard who was desperate for legitimacy. Richard nodded and reached out with his shaking magic to touch the enemies’ mind.

~

His silken robes displayed the insignia of his fallen and destroyed house as Sen, resplendent in red walked around the matrimonial fire. Only the knowledge that she could rip her new husband limb from limb calmed the fire in his gut. Knowing Gabriel would soon leave to serve as a scribe hurt as well, but they had to appear weak for now. They could not bear suspicion when Sen’s husband died in a few years and his lands followed his widow to the house of her brothers.

~

Richard watched the high table where the aging warlord grumbled into his cups. The young server, the son of a minor lord, carried a heavy tray. As the lordling reached the warlord Richard reached out twice. To his brother’s mind with a quick thought that it was time and to the server with a graphic and gory image of the boy’s father-dead. The lordling jerked and food and wine spilled over the warlord. Gabriel closed his eyes and flashed the warlord’s discontent into rage. With a roar, the warlord stood and gutted the boy. The hall fell silent as Captains and lords alike looked away from the scene. They’d known the warlord was slipping, but now-now leadership would have to change.

~

Sen lay bleeding sluggishly on the battlefield. Her power tapped and her strength fading. Richard faught panic as he struggled to keep his mind touching hers refusing to let her slip away. Beside him Gabriel placed a hand on his shoulder and the two brothers threw all their power into their sister. Pain laced through Richard hovering over his side and shoulder where his sister was bleeding out. Gabriel gasped his fingers white on Richard’s shoulder, but Sen-Sen was standing. Dimly Richard could feel her mind brighten as she took up their battle standard and ripped into the enemy troops.

~

Time ground armies into dust and history into myth. It scoured engravings and truth was shrouded in pretty stories. The oldest of the Trin Empire’s gods quietly closed his book. His long fingered hands went to the chain around his neck and the single jewel that hung from it. Time defeated all things in the end, or so they said.

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Very, very late, but I stole the first line from More than 1/2 Mad.  

Legal Theft: The Unit

There was going to be a discussion on the proper storage practices for knives; mainly that leaving them in people wasn’t a good plan. Astoria’s slate blue eyes flicked down to her clipboard and then over her small recon unit. She hadn’t written much not wanting to take her eyes off her team as they progressed through the training exercise. Astoria took a breath-no more stalling.

“Bane,” she called firmly and two gazes snapped to meet hers. Astoria made a mental note to find a better way to identify them. First names were too casual and she’d not call her subordinates Mr. and Ms. Maybe she’d use their positions as identifiers? Astoria flicked a finger to the custom military knife sticking out of the chest of a supine dummy. “Yank it out in battle. You might be able to afford the loss of a good knife, but getting replacements in the field will be hell.” Not to mention ripping it out would bleed the enemy. Kirt Bane’s cocky smile didn’t slip, but his eyes narrowed slightly as he nodded his head. For a moment Astoria hesitated, wondering if she should snap out the routine ‘Is that clear soldier?’ at the lack of verbal response, but Kirt’s raw recruit record was already covered in reports of disrespect of authority, and Astoria wanted this team to work well not just survive.

“Scout, good job on the forward, and excellent take down,” Bell Bane didn’t react to the praise her unnaturally still face focused on Astoria. “But you keep an eye on the entire unit, and not just your brother’s back. Rivera had to take out the last target from the side.” Astoria glanced at her last recruit who was not quite panting.

“Rivera, keep with the group. You nearly became separated from your unit,” which was almost  as much their fault as hers, “and you have to cover your side better that last target had clear line of sight for nearly five seconds. More than long enough to get off a shot.” The medic nodded and Astoria clapped her hands once, “Alright people. Take your gear and clear the area. Meet me at the track in fifteen.” Kirt’s groan was loud enough to drown out Rivera’s, but Astoria was certain that the medic had given one. Still the three ran off and Astoria had a moment for a breather.

The first week with a new unit was vital. Expectations and behaviors were formed, sometimes even in the first day. She started filling out the training form. Astoria frowned when she noticed someone had penciled in ‘Political Nightmare’ by their unit number. Hardly original, and yet Astoria couldn’t exactly fault them. Getting saddled with the son or daughter of some rich or powerful mover from the capital could ruin an entire outfit if something went really wrong. Better to stick them all together and hope if something happened their parents would all be too pissed at each other to take revenge on the troop.

The Bane’s were one of the main contractors and producers of weapons and munitions. They probably provided one fifth of the total equipment used in the War. The Rivera’s were known for turning out unparallelled doctors and researchers. The head of the family had cracked the secret of the enemy’s poison gas twenty years ago rocketing her to fame. Better by far to stick them all together and give them to Astoria, no matter that the contrasting personalities might get them all killed. Astoria sighed at her mental dramatics. She was the only one ready for a command with the political clout to deal with the Banes and Rivera. Every member of her family had served in the military. Her father was a field general and her mother a strategist on the War Council. Astoria dropped off the form off and headed to the track. They just needed time, she promised herself as she nodded to her team.

“Alright people, let’s go.”

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Alright, you know the drill I’m a thief. I stole the first line from Creatures, Critters, and Crawlers. Go check out her story Impractical Placement

Legal Theft: Protections

Flames danced up her sleeve, and she sighed as she put them out. Hardly the best of omens. The three rough quarrymen sitting before her fire jerked, and one swore quietly.

“Peace,” she said quickly and they didn’t flee. The youngest man, Young Martin, looked towards the door in her hut as if eager to escape.

“Dad, the priest already blessed the house-” he began muttering, but Helga spoke over him.

“Observe,” she lifted her sleeve, “the flame has only danced, not harmed. The protections hold true.” It wasn’t perfectly accurate, a few wool fibers had singed, but the men relaxed as one. Helga leaned over her fire again. Thick smoke from the sacred herbs filled her home, and her eyes watered a little as she leaned in, careful to keep her sleeves free from the fire. In her eyes, the house grew dark and stars hung from the bare rafters of her home. Somewhere close by a mouth dark and hungry panted. Helga wasn’t actually there-she knew. Her feet were on a wooden floor, her hands warmed by real flames. Quietly, surely, she began to mutter the ancient phrases her mother had sung to her. Words of power in a tongue no one living could understand without going mad. Gradually the darkness faded from her eyes-the hungry place was shut away again for a little while longer.

Helga blinked and saw three men and her hut. There was a pot of herbs on the ledge and her spinning wheel in the corner. She breathed and coughed as the last of the smoke entered her lungs. Her worn fingers moved quietly picking up the ladle and fishing out three woven amulets from the potion in her pot. Young Martin wrinkled his nose, but his father held out his hands eagerly as Helga offered them to him.

“Wear them on a cord around your neck when you enter the quarry. Do not take them off for any reason and the darkness will not harm you.”

“As long as the new Lord doesn’t come to the quarry proper we should be safe.” Young Martin said with a glower “things were quiet before they came back to the Manor.”

Helga didn’t respond, and the boy turned away from her gaze.

“Thank you,” Old Martin handed over a pheasant as well as a few coins. “James and his boys will be coming by tomorrow no doubt.”

“After the priest,” Helga smiled easily. After all, near the Ashlock lands the well to do went to the priest the clever went to the Witch and the wise went to both. Any and all protections were needed against what lived in the house. “I’ll be waiting for them.”

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Friends have stolen the first line of this piece to write their own stories. 🙂

Legal Theft: The Sea Serpent

Titan started changing the moment his booted feet hit the deck of his Schooner. His first mate knew his moods, and was managing casting off from Mahal without the Captain. Titan closed the door to his cabin and breathed deep. He shucked off the scarlet and gold coat emblazoned with the Chosen’s insignia on the left shoulder and the bars of the General of the Imperial armies on the right. He balled it up and considered tossing it in a corner before shaking a head at himself. There wasn’t room on a ship for blatantly discarded momentos, better to put it away. His hands folded the coat, then the shirt that followed, and finally his breaches. He opened his chest and tucked them away frowning as his uncalloused hands slid smoothly across the fabric without a snag.

Titan looked down at the patch on his stomach where a three inch long scar, white and puckered had vanished into baby soft skin. His fingers roamed over the right shoulder where her spear had taken him high in the shoulder, and he’d made it worse by breaking the spear shaft to spite her. The ridges of scar tissue had long since vanished, but after every healing he felt the need to check. Healing, she called it-sometimes it felt more like an unmaking.

Snorting at such maudlin thoughts, Titan dressed again in breaches, considered adding boots to protect his soft feet and shrugged. It would be better to get them calloused sooner rather than later. He tied a brilliant scarlet sash around his waist and went up on deck, leaving the Chosen in the cabin and returning to what he’d lost, The Sea Serpent-King of the Archipelagos. High on his right bicep, a thin faint ring of black proved that even her power had limits.

____

He’d lived long enough that even practical routines carried the weight of tradition. It was tradition now to return to the archipelagos after a full healing and have his tattoos redone. The woman piercing his skin with needles carrying black and scarlet ink certainly felt the gravity of the moment. His people had turned these returns into a ritual all their own. Each step of the tattoo process was followed with almost religious weight. Then again, considering he was a Chosen of the Three gods perhaps it had religious significance.

Titan had neither the heart nor interest to tell her that the needle simply needed to be clean not ritually sterilized three times in fire. The repeated sharp pain ended, and the woman bowed to him. Titan glanced at his right bicep. The black Sea Serpent accented in red snaked around his arm. Each time more and more of the scar tissue that made the tattoo stayed through the healing process.

He simply stood and strode out of the arched room heading down to the beach. His sword felt awkward in his hands as he moved through the forms relishing the bruising and cracking of his skin regaining what he’d lost. The sun glinted off the peaceful aqua blue waters, and for a moment Titan saw the waters boil as he poured lava down into the path of her ships. Smoke filled his lungs as exhaustion battled with fury. The memory cleared and Titan’s heart gripped in his chest even as his skin still stung with the pricks of the needles. It was so much easier here to remember how he’d failed. Sometimes the island felt like a prison. Sometimes he was terrified he’d forget that feeling.

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I’m a thief. I stole the line “Sometimes he Island felt like a prison” from Machete Diplomacy. Go check out her story Yellow Lanterns.

Legal Theft: Big Day

Dawn called, and he wasn’t going to answer. At all. He didn’t roll over and cover his head with the covers. He just lay there with his eyes closed and refused to acknowledge the sun as it inched across the floor, over the bed, and onto his face. The door suddenly burst open, and Nuka had to fight not to react.

“Nuka, Nuka, Nuka! It’s your birthday. Happy Birthday! I said it first, I said it first.”

Nuka finally rolled over and blinked at the six year old that had jumped onto his bed and was currently climbing over his legs and up his chest.

“Fallon? What are you-oh my birthday? Thank you.” He smiled at the grinned and gap toothed child. For a moment Nuka worried that Fallon’s head would bobble off with the energy of his nods.

“It’s your birthday. Miss Alice said you might forget, and I said how can you forget your own birthday? But she said we could make you breakfast in bed. Isn’t that nice?

“Mmhum, very nice. Can we eat together though?” Nuka carefully maneuvered himself so that Fallon’s knees didn’t land in painful places.

“YEP,” Fallon scrambled down the side of the bed, “I’m going to get breakfast now. Just don’t move. It has to be breakfast in bed that’s what makes it special.” The six year old informed him seriously.

“Got it,” Nuka nodded with equal gravity and fluffed the pillows behind his head so sitting up would be more comfortable. Well, he might get up today after all.

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I’ve been robbed. Just a bit of fluff for the weekend. See the story thieves below.

Creatures, Critters and Crawlers “Mornings