Legal Theft: The Black King

He looked up at the sunless sky and the decision made itself. It had to be done now before his clever and sharp subjects made notes and whispered tales. Rais did not lift a hand as he gathered his power, and yet every fey in the darklands paused. Rais pulled it in closer and closer tightening it into a hard ball of magic as inflexible as his will and as fluid as the most shifting shadow. Then he spoke the words. “Let no tongue speak of my light, let no hand write of my wife, let no whisper of my Kathleen cross lips, nor minds, nor be communicated in any way. None shall speak of her, none shall mention her, she will pass into no songs. Her light is gone and so is her name.” The power struck each being binding them tight to the will of their king.

The spell settled on his tongue. It was his own word and power, and for a moment he almost brushed it away before letting the magic work it’s will. He stumbled back from the balcony and went to the cradle by the bed. His baby glowed with the warmth of the sun. Rais picked up his child and held the spark close, cloaking the babe in his own shadows. The glow dimmed and Rais smiled cuddling the warmth closer. This reminder only would he keep, but Edan would know nothing. Rais swore the promise as he kissed his son’s head. Edan would know nothing of the beautiful creature of light and laughter that was his mother, and so know none of the agony of her passing. Rais would keep him safe cloaked in the darkness of his realm and never let the burning sun find his child’s face.

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I am a thief. I stole the first like from More than 1/2 Mad. Go see the original.

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Legal Theft: Stars and Moonlight

The sputtering fire barely kept the night at bay. Cymbaline was grateful for the intense dark. There always seemed to be light around the compound. Each corner was illuminated by the harsh white bulbs the army was so fond of. She tilted her head back and breathed a sigh of relief. She could see the stars for the first time in ages. Cymbaline gave a soft cry of alarm and clapped a hand to her mouth in horror.

“What is it?” The call came in a low tones meant not to carry too far into the evening.

“The stars are wrong,” Cymbaline called back up to her friend who was spending in the evening in a tent suspended in one of the tall trees. For a moment she dearly wished she’d been allowed to take one of the loci with her or that Sparrow was back from investigating the new species they’d seen on their walk out to their camp. Astoria looked up at the stars and frowned trying to detect any major difference in color or brilliance when realization struck.

“Cymbaline, we’ve moved nearly 200 miles from your-the settlement. That means that stars will rise and set at different times and there may even be new ones you haven’t charted before.”

Cymbaline glanced at the tree where Astoria was keeping herself safe and then back at the stars again. “There’s the North Star, and I suppose that is Orion, but they look odd.”

Astoria smiled. Of all the culture shocks the young woman in the clearing had to undergo stars had not been on Astoria’s list. Astoria was about to call down and ask what other stars she remembered from her home when Cymbaline arched and whimpered. Astoria felt her throat go dry. The moon hadn’t fully risen yet, Astoria had made careful note of the lunar schedule before they headed out. Still, Cymbaline had arched and nearly doubled up down on the ground. Astoria brought out her camera equipped with night vision and began recording. It was-painful. If there was a single word she would use to describe Cymbaline it would be Innocent. It seemed impossible that the slip of a girl went through such agony regularly.

Through the camera lens Astoria could see the girl’s bulk grow exponentially until she was the size of a small car. Astoria compared the video with the known description of Cymbaline’s form. Curved ram’s horns on a feline head which was equipped with nearly saber tooth tiger sized teeth. The body and shape was mostly feline but considerably heavier. In mass Astoria considered Cymbaline to be closer the weight of a rhinoceros. The tail was still a mystery. It appeared to be composed completely of barbs and moved more like a horse’s tail than a cat’s. Astoria judged them to have some kind of poison, but that had yet to be tested. The creature that had been Cymbaline stared at the fire a moment in interest before turning her back to it. She sniffed the clearing and followed a scent trail to Astoria’s tree.

Astoria did not make eye contact with the huge creature as it put front paws on the tree and sniffed. Farther off into the forest a low call of some kind caught the cat’s attention. She dropped to the forest floor and began winding through the trees when all hell broke loose. There was the retort of a rifle and the cat creature yowled in pain. She jerked and her left foreleg didn’t quite touch the ground as she dashed off into the trees. Astoria set up the camera to film independently as she grabbed her gun and began to look in the direction of the shot.

Cymbaline’s tail had lashed one of the trees and Astoria could see the scored remains of the bark as she looked for signs of a soldier’s passage. Another crack sounded and the cat screamed; the tone sounded more enraged than pained. Astoria sighted a heavily armed group stalk into the wood. She couldn’t see any insignia, but if the enemy had penetrated this far they were in serious danger. The decision of whether to shoot possibly at her own people became moot as Cymbaline circled back and pounced on the men. It was over in under five seconds and as devastating as a house cat jumping amidst a cluster of toy soldiers.

Once the men no longer moved Cymbaline appeared to lose interest sniffing them only once before she curled around herself and let out a mewl. Almost before she had finished another creature entered the clearing. This one was taller than Cymbaline, but not quite as compact with a full head of antlers. It pawed the ground with a hoof that cut deeply into the forest’s loam. Then it approached the bodies and sniffed before nuzzling Cymbaline. Almost as if the two could speak they turned as one to look at her in the tree. Astoria felt her blood go cold and prayed the moon set quickly.

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I stole the first line from Machete Diplomacy. Go check out what she’s done with the original line.

There was a reason writers had coined the term ‘seeing red’. Rais stared at the eldritch sign painted on his floor. Numb shock was quickly melting in the face of this symbol which shouldn’t exist anywhere outside a musty text. Rais’s rage flared as he remembered pointing it out to Lark in their teens with a thrilled shudder of horror. Rais’s mind was cooking in the heat of his fury. He saw everything through a film of outrage that burned red hot. Lark.

Rais turned on his heel knowing he was too angry to reach out with magic and try to break the circle without shattering the entire house. He couldn’t anyway. Horror and a lick of fear bit into his rage cooling and solidifying it. The circle on his floor was one of nine symbols. None could be used without the others in a great rite that demanded human sacrifice. Once the rite is begun it can only end with the death of either the castor or the described sacrifice.

Rais feet slowed and he leaned against the hallway in the school he’d grown up in. He wasn’t even supposed to be here. If not for a chance remembrance that he hadn’t grabbed his swim trunks he’d be out with Emma and possibly even out of the state. He wasn’t supposed to find it, this wasn’t a game or a joke, it was war. Lark had declared war. Rais pushed himself off the wall again running through the hall and down the stairs.

He grabbed the iron fence that bounded the property and pushed out all the memories of times he and Lark had played in the back garden practicing magic. Harlow’s crest rose again in Rais’s mind the perfect circle in the room he’d slept for years with his name inscribe inside the perfect runes. Lark’s boyhood face shifted into the cool and sharp expression he’d been wearing for the past month. The superior smirk, the distance in his gaze, it all came down with crashing reality. Lark had decided to kill him. For an instant Rais almost laughed. They’d been friends for years his first and almost only friend. It wouldn’t happen, it couldn’t-and yet the circle was real.

Emma’s car rounded the corner and Rais opened the gate and stepped out of the school. He would have to act soon. Lark was a slow player, but tricky and once his traps were set there would be no surviving. Red swam again in Rais’s vision as he waved to his girlfriend and stepped into her car.

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Today the merry band of thieves have stolen my line “There was a reason writers had coined the term ‘seeing red’.” Alas I am such a villain I couldn’t leave off stealing and so snatched Machete Diplomacy’s character “Lark” for my own evil purposes.

The Thieves

Machete Diplomacy’s Suffering Sentiments

CC’s The Process

Legal Theft: Losing It

The space pod clearly wasn’t repaired. The controls glowed for a moment before going out. Astoria turned to her mechanic who shrugged unconcernedly.

“The drone patrol will be here in under five. Can you get us in the air?” She kept her voice professional and the sparking anger under lock. Kir shrugged his large shoulders again.

“It is fixed. Must be user error.” He smiled his slow wide smile, and Astoria had to bite the inside of her cheek.

“Captain, we’ve got a first read on the drones.” Nat called from her point monitoring the equipment. Astoria ran scenario’s.

“Right, we’re abandoning the vessel. Kirt I want you to disable the tracking mechanism and take the power core if you can manage it in thirty seconds. Nat, grab the sensor and the first aid kit and let’s go.” Astoria destroyed the mission parameters and wiped the logs before jumping out into the arid climate. Even if the drones missed them, her team wasn’t equipped to handle this environment. Nat hit the ground not long after and Kir was slow behind them. Nat and Astoria were already to the first ravine when the drones spotted Kir and opened fire. Astoria ducked down into the ravine. It was far deeper than she’d realized and her foot slipped sending her tumbling face forward into the planet’s famed bush. Death by sparkling pointy flora was not exactly the way things were expected to go. Astoria felt the briefest of stinging as the spines ripped through her exploration suit and pierced flesh.

The simulation ended and Astoria ripped off her helmet and stepped out of the pod. The rest of her team was waking up around her. Nat looked a little green, but the thick headed Kir was just hiding a smile. Astoria stalked over to the larger teen and planted herself in front of him.  

“What the hell was that, soldier?” She spat too angry to stop and remember the differences between a conscript and a volunteer. Kir’s expression turned ugly.

“I think that was a full squad death, Captain.” The heavy worlder replied his accent thick. Astoria pushed herself up into his face even though he was a good six inches taller than her.

“I’ve seen you put completely broken machines back together faster than you did that shitty non-repair job. You deliberately sabotaged the mission. The next time you undermine orders for you own petty reasons simulation or not-”

“You’ll what?” Kir sneered looming over her. In a fraction of a second Astoria said goodbye to her perfect record and punched him. Kir stumbled back and Astoria’s hand ached badly enough she wondered if she’d broken it.

“Ok, enough-let’s take it to the floor monitor,” one of the RA’s jumped between them and Astoria stood down. Kir was watching her with something that burgeoned on respect even as he glared. Astoria turned with military precision knowing she’d mis-stepped and not able to make herself care.

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I’m a thief! I stole the line, “Death by sparkling pointy flora was not exactly the way things were expected to go,” C.C. Go see what other’s have done with the line at the Legal Theft Project

Legal Theft: The Library

It was the center and heart of the manor. His ancestors had all adored knowledge, and the stories whispered their tales to the house like the slow thud of a pulse. The rows of leather and cloth bound volumes ranged neatly across intricately carved bookcases. It had been here that the first records of what the peasants called  magic had been discovered, recorded and cataloged. It was here in the library that Richard had cut a slice in the thin membrane between this and the dreaming world. Decades later his spirit loitered in the library given weight and substance by the very power of the library. There was a new Lord in the manor. He was young and naive, besotted with books, and adventure. It was possible, the books whispered to the forgotten ghost in a lonely house. It was possible that the boy could take his place. Richard dusted the books on the shelf as the creek of a living foot was heard upon the stairs. The library beckoned.

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I stole the last line “The library beckoned” from More than 1/2 Mad. This was a first for me, as I’ve never made stolen content the last line.

Legal Theft: The Deeps

Edan felt pale as he watched his father summon balefire. The dark flame burned at the tips of the fey king’s fingers and flew to each of four braziers throughout the empty temple. Edan watched the flames dance reminded painfully of his own debacle when he tried to summon them. With a sweep of a pale hand a circular stair opened in the midst of the floor. Even Edan’s eyes could not pierce more than the first few steps into the darkness below.

“Today I take you to the deep places.” Rais spoke with a hushed reverence for the place where they stood. Edan’s gaze snapped around to his father excitement and terror rising together.

“You said I was too young-that it was beyond me.” Edan reminded. Rais smiled and his features were illuminated by the flickering contrast of light and shadow.

“It is necessary, and I will be with you.” His father’s eyes bored into Edan’s and he felt flooded with his father’s magic. For a moment it was all he could do to stand as the intensity of his father’s purpose and adoration flowed through him borne by the fey king’s magic. Edan nodded meekly and Rais averted his gaze. “Then follow.”

Rais started down the steps and Edan followed close at his heels. By the time they’d descended a single level Edan could feel the wildness of the magic that surrounded them. It was as sharp and cold as the shadows that hunted in the fey wilds where all things were lost. As they descended further Edan became aware of a slow and heavy presence. The weight of the magic was cold, deep, and still as it shifted along his arms tasting the one who approached. Edan lost sense of time aware of himself only in that he followed his father’s down the stairs. All else was taken up by the heavy pulse of magic that swept up to consume him. They reached the bottom of the stairs and a heavy door of onyx and black marble barred the way.

“Edan,” his father’s voice sounded distorted and far away, “I will not let harm come to you.” With a gesture of his father’s hand the door flew open. The sun vanished that day. Edan gasped as magic he had never sensed was ripped from him. The small sun of warmth and light vanished into the endless black maw. Edan screamed as shadows hooked deeply into his mind and marrow seeking the light and burning it with bitter cold wherever it was found. In a distant place he could feel his father’s arm around his chest and hear himself screaming, but within his own mind he could only cower before the endless eternity that flooded him.

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I’ve stolen the line “The sun vanished that day” from Machete Diplomacy.

Legal Theft: A Gentleman’s Duty

He tipped his hat to her, ignoring the way it allowed rain to sluice down his neck. A gentleman’s first duty was to his charges rather than to his own comfort. Keeping the adage in mind Augustus watched until the lady’s servants had bustled her into the house pulling her sodden cloak and bonnet from her before she disappeared inside the house. She had pressed him to stay and warm himself before the weather grew even worse, but Gus knew his duties. Having safely delivered Eliza home he turned his horse free to move at a much faster pace as the events of the day tumbled through his mind.

There had always been rumors that the old house on the West road was haunted. He’d been dared as a boy to enter the grounds and he had with no particular damage save for a ear blistering scold from his mother. Now the new Lord and Lady Lockwood had taken residence it had seemed an almost tame building stripped of all mystery. Until they’d hosted a Seance in the drawing room, until the Lady Lockwood had spoken such strange words, until the butler had ushered them into the dining room. Augustus had not gotten far into the grounds as a boy, but he had been chased out by a thin faced and grim butler-one who had not aged a day since he greeted them that very afternoon.

Augustus rode back to the Lockwood manor. If the house was being haunted by an unaging butler, then his friends must know of it. He grinned under his hat as he spurred his horse back down the West road. The winds picked up their chorus, and the rain washed the road nearly into a river before he reached the woods and hedges of the Lockwood estate. As he battled the elements Augustus wondered how he would enact his research. He must speak with the butler and confirm he was both flesh and blood as well as the same man who had ordered the house when Augustus was but a boy.

Through the rain, Augustus could see the gate and he gratefully made for it’s protection from the rain. He leaned forward hiding his face a little against the roar of the rain. When he lifted his head he frowned. The gate was still a comfortable 20 yards distance. He dug his spurs into his horse and kept his eye on the gate. As he road closer something peculiar happened to the undergrowth. The dense, green trees grew blacker and taller while the hedge grew wild and unkempt. It seemed to grow together to block out the gate, and the drive itself grew ever longer and longer.

Augustus pulled up on his horse and glanced about himself in the suddenly unfamiliar country. The rain had abruptly stopped and he realized he couldn’t remember how long he’d been on the road. Before him, a good ten yards before the gate, the Lockwood’s butler stood in pressed uniform.

“I believe you wished to see me, Sir?” the butler asked deferentially. Augustus sat up and blinked at the man.

“I damned well do. I say, are you a ghost? I won’t permit you making trouble for the Lockwoods. They’re good people, and I have every intention to put them on to you. They’ll have the vicar out here before dawn, and you’ll be sent packing my man.” Augustus did not precisely have a weapon, but clear resolve should see him through the unpleasant venture. The butler raised an eyebrow.

“If I were an uneasy spirit it would do me well then to see that you never spoke with the Lord and Lady, wouldn’t it?” He said in a calm voice. Augustus’s horse danced a few uneasy steps, and Augustus brought the beast round again.

“Not a jot you can do about it, can you? I’m going to go in now.”

The thin figure stepped aside, “Of course, if you can I applaud you.”

Augustus didn’t dignify the man with a response, but charged forward to the gate. It should have been but a breath, but the breath came and went. His horse’s sides lathered and the beast’s breathing grew short, but the gate grew no closer. When Augustus finally brought the horse down to walk he realized that the butler was no longer there. Indeed, as he looked around the road, the woods, and the gate itself vanished into the empty and moonless moor. Augustus wondered for the first time if perhaps there were some things that a gentleman should hesitate to challenge.  

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I’ve been robbed! Go see what all the thieves have written at the Legal Theft Project

Legal Theft

Lewis always moved at his own pace. He’d been making this particular loop with Big Dan for a decade, and neither of them liked to be rushed. The big Irish setter liked to take his time ambling along the hot sidewalk and giving any interesting flowers a thorough sniff. Lewis knew he irritated the morning and evening joggers as they made their round of the neighborhood. He was slow enough they had to jag around him, and he knew he’d been lapped by some of the more dedicated types.

Lewis didn’t care. He like to take his time on the morning and evening walks with his canine companion. Moreover he liked to listen. This was an old neighborhood and the traditional houses didn’t have air conditioning. Windows were opened morning and evening along with fans to help combat the mugging New Orleans heat. With open windows came good stories. Lewis was up on all the gossip in the neighborhood. He knew that Mrs. Howel’s nephew was doing really well in school, and that Tiffany Smith was going to win the school code writing competition.

Lewis always tried to get Big Dan to go to the bathroom at the Hawthorn place. The building had been turned into a school, and they always had the strangest gossip. One night a girl and a boy were talking about the resident ghost, and another night another boy was complaining that he couldn’t get his book to levitate. Tonight he stopped closer to the fence than normal and grinned as raised voices came from the house. It sounded like the young Hawthorn boy was back in town, and wasn’t that news for everyone. Lewis had been standing right here when the teenager stormed out swearing never to return. Well, it just looked like he’d have to walk a little slower these next days. After all he was an old man.   

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I’m late! The first line was stolen from Bek.

Legal Theft: Quiet

Rain drowned the world in white noise. It was loud and damp. The water seeped and dripped through the cracks between the glass and the window frame. It was difficult to concentrate, and the wash of water made the dim room even darker for blocking out the sun. Still, it was preferable to sitting with the group downstairs. Girls who clustered together shunning her by turning their backs when she entered the room; their whispered conversations hushed abruptly with sly glances and subtly nudges. Better to sit up here in the attic alone with the rain. Better to take out the present sent by her brother and clutch the book close. Even though girls were not strictly supposed to read much and certainly not adventure novels. Ari opened the book in the feeble light and began to read. 

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I’m a thief, yes it is true-aww let’s be real I don’t rhyme. I took the first line from More than 1/2 Mad. See everyone’s work over at the Legal Theft Project.

Legal Theft: Reunion

Edan leaned back in his office chair and rubbed at his gritty eyes. His office still felt bare with it’s fresh coat of paint and non personalized decor. The walls were blank save for the framed diplomas, undergraduate and Law School. They got more notice now that he was back in the state. Coworkers asked if they’d had shared professors or dorms.

Edan reached for the coffee laced energy drink. The backlog of paperwork was truly impressive. He’d known it was bad, but a simple purse snatching had been sitting in the que for six months. His door opened and he blinked at his visitor. Edan had deliberately blocked off the afternoon for the paperwork. Then his irritation gave way to shock as he recognized the compact brown headed woman.

“Hi, Pipes, I can’t believe you’re finally back in town.” Bri walked over to his desk and propped her hip on it’s edge causing her knee length dress to ride up slightly over her leg. Edan didn’t have the energy to snarl.

“Bri, I should have guessed you’d be by,” he crossed his arms.

“It really is good to see you, Edan. It’s been what, eight years, ten? We’ve missed you.” One of her bangles slipped down Bri’s arm as she tucked a curl behind her ear.

Edan had to bit the inside of his cheek to keep control, “What do you want, Bri?”

“Dinner,” she pushed herself off his desk, “my treat. Let me take you out, get you reaquainted with the city, give you all the dirt on our classmates, the works. Things have changed more than you’d think.”

Edan snorted, “How much pressure, and bribes, did my father have to use before you agreed to come here? We’ve never been friendly, let alone friends.”

Bri rolled her eyes at him, “Friends or not, have you ever known me to do what I was ‘supposed’ to? I’m here on my own will, no secret agenda. You look like shit, Edan. You’ve probably been eating crappy microwave meals, and you look like you haven’t slept in a year.”

“I took a nap in May,” Edan deadpanned, and Bri leaned forward placing her palms on his desk.

“I was a massive asshole to you in highschool. I get it. I’m sorry. But we are a dying breed. We can’t afford to be at each other’s throats. We can’t afford bad blood. I’m thrilled you’re back, seriously.”

“Bri-”

“No, hear me out, Edan. You need us, and we need you. You can’t just cut off all contact, pretend we don’t exist. You’re a witch. That’s fact.” Her brown eyes bored into his, and Edan held her gaze.

“I. Don’t. Practice.” He forced himself to relax his grip on his arm rests.

“You can’t just stop forever-” Bri argued right back.

“Get out,” Edan snapped and Bri reared back at the venom in his voice.

“Edan-” Bri began to work up steam again, and Edan came to his feet.

“You’ve said your piece. You know my problem with the Coven? The habit of using your power to ram your opinion down the throat of anyone weaker than you. So, my father dragged me back here. So what? I want nothing to do with any of you. You want me to consider that you’ve got my back, that we can have some kind of rapport? Get out. Don’t contact me until I reach out to you. Respect my choice to leave.” Edan was nearly panting his chest tight with years of rage.

“Fine,” Bri nearly yelled, “but New Orleans is primed to burn.” As she drew back from his desk a hand print was charred into the finish of his desk. “You need us too.”

Edan watched her until she’d left his office and his sight. He sank back into his chair and stared at the mark. A litany of curses ran through his head. He drowned out the rising panic that he couldn’t be here, couldn’t do this, couldn’t stand against insistent and far more powerful witches. He let out a long breath and grabbed a box of tissues placing it squarely over Bri’s burn mark.

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I am a thief. Yes it is true. I stole the line “I took a nap in May” From Apprentice Never Master. This piece is also in the same world/characters as Promotion. See all the thieving over at The Legal Theft Project