rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [profile] kunama_wolf's prompt "Your angels setting. Something involving a round knob-like object and the colour purple." This story is probably some years after The Man With The Bucket.

I would also suggest that this story should be rated Parental Guidance Recommended for adult concepts.


“Purple is the magistrates’ colour,” said Ordestia Prima. “It’s the colour of imperium, the power over life or death. Where is it you come from again?”

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rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [personal profile] zianuray's prompt request "How is Rensa doing?". This piece comes in at 1,241 words thanks to a paid extension and the signal boost I think I saw at the beginning of the month and now cannot find. (It doesn't matter if that was a figment of my imagination, because this is how long the story is.) This story follows on from both Looking For Needles In The Haystack and Gifting.

Yannic had built his wife a gazebo in a flower garden. After he’d explained to her why he wanted to give her a present, and some further negotiation, Rensa had agreed both that it would be desirable for her to have a private space to invite guests to that wasn’t part of their shared quarters, and that she liked the gardens. There were various other advantages to the scheme as well, but Yannic had gotten his reward when Rensa had been so happy that her pregnancy support group friends had come to visit that she’d burbled quietly for days. He took that to mean that either she’d been worried that her friends wouldn’t visit her home, or that she asked and they’d made excuses.

Yannic wasn’t quite sure why Kollec had been involved in that first visit, but now he seemed to gravitate into the general area whenever Rensa’s baby friends visited. Being Kollec, he was always carrying a clipboard or a data pad, but there was a betting pool running on his intentions. Yannic was splitting his money between complete obliviousness on his friend’s part, and a certain redhead.

The gazebo was both sheltered and in the open air, so Rensa spent a lot of time there with her baby even when she didn’t have outside visitors. She and Mirren would sit in the pleasantly mottled shade and watch their babies lying on their rugs and playing. Gathoc was a chubby little blond boy who mouthed everything, especially his favourite orange and grey splotched lizard huggy, while Tyreba was a mottle-haired, dapple-skinned wriggle-pot who’d already discovered that rolling over could get her to new and interesting things. Rensa was sure that Tyreba watched Gathoc to find out what she was supposed to do next. Yannic was personally convinced that his tiny daughter was beginning to try to talk to him, even if everyone else said she was far too young. Rensa simply smiled and said that he should encourage her, because how else was she going to learn to have a conversation?

All in all, things were going well. Rensa’s nightmares had retreated with therapy, friends, and no-one trying to take her baby away from her. Yannic saw no reason to mention to his wife either the several petitions he had received from groups who had thought that they were better placed to raise the tiny princess than her parents, or the steps he had taken to tell those groups to mind their own business. One particularly vocal woman had found herself transferred to a new administration hub in the subarctic/polar transition zone, and the Emperor’s Office had received no more suggestions that she should take over the care of the Imperial daughter.

Yannic almost wasn’t there when the head of the program trying to find other descendants of the, well, gods wasn’t the right word despite the temples, who’d been part of the colony’s founding population called upon his wife. The colonial support and development specialists had been loaded up with beneficial genetic variations to help make the colony successful. Entire sets of genetic advantages that some of Yannic and Rensa’s particularly short-sighted and self-entitled ancestors had done their best to wipe out. Having committed his own errors by helping kill off the former Imperial family before finding out that this was a bad idea, Yannic was sponsoring a program to find any other descendants of the colony’s first leaders because, frankly, the colony could do with all the advantages they could get. He was present at the meeting because he’d wandered out to the gazebo, an anxious secretary in tow, to get away from his desk for a while. Besides, time with his daughter was always a good thing.

Thus he, Mirren, Rensa, the babies, and the anxious Ballen were present when Director Pollgroc, who answered to Head of the Health Secretariat, arrived with his little entourage and a small escort from palace security. The security people waited at the garden gate while the Director and his companions, a younger man and woman, walked up the path to the gazebo. The younger man was carrying a baby. When they reached the top of the steps Rensa, who’d risen to meet them, said, “Please, won’t you all come in and sit down? It’s Director Pollgroc, isn’t it?”

Pollgroc appeared distressed. “I apologise for this intrusion, Your Majesties, but an ethical matter has arisen that had to be brought to Her Majesty’s attention.”

“Oh?” Rensa looked at him blankly.

“Your Majesty donated a sample for genetic comparison,” began Pollgroc.

“But I stole some and used your mitochondria for our pregnancy,” interrupted the younger man sheepishly. “My wife has a mitochondrial disease and we didn’t want our child to inherit it too.” Rensa continued to look at him blankly and he added even more sheepishly, “It was a breach of trust, and I have to apologise, and if you are offended and don’t forgive me it could be really messy….” He trailed off into silence.

“You only had to ask,” answered Rensa kindly. “I mean, everyone from your program has been telling me how wonderful my mitochondria are – every time I meet any of you that’s the first thing they say to me. Yes, you have my permission in retrospect to trial my mitochondria and see if they’re up to the task. Did the treatment work?” She looked at each of the adults and then expectantly at the baby bundle.

“Oh, yes,” confirmed the baby’s father.

“Then you want permission to do it again so you can have more healthy children?” Rensa looked at the two parents and added, “Please all of you sit down. Especially you,” she added to the baby’s mother. “I shouldn’t keep you standing around like this if you’re not well and looking after a new baby.”

All three sat down, the younger man still holding the baby in his arms and the woman leaning gratefully against the chair back.

After a glance from the Director the younger man took a deep breath and replied, “Thank you, Cerron and I would like very much to have more children, Your Majesty. The other thing we really came to see you about is that when our daughter, Glennen here, was born we discovered that your colouration distribution must be tied to your mitochondria somehow.”

“How? Oh!” Rensa sat up straighter, and asked eagerly, “Can I see her?”

Glennen’s father stood and walked over to the Empress to carefully put the baby in her arms. Rensa unwrapped the sleeping infant just enough to see the serious sleeping expression and her arms. The tiny, creamy skinned face had fine alternating gold and olive horizontal lines marching down the nose, more fine olive lines around each eye, and a flash of gold along each cheekbone.

“She’s very beautiful,” said Rensa quietly. “I assume you’re not asking me to be co-mother, so that would make her my demi-niece, wouldn’t it?”

“Well, yes, it would,” agreed Director Pollgroc with relief.

“Excellent,” said Rensa as she carefully handed the baby back to her nervous father. “It will be good for Tyreba and her future siblings to have cousins from both sides of their family. Just as it will be good for Glennen and her siblings to know that other people look like them.” She looked around brightly and added, “We should set up visits, shouldn’t we? Do you have a mothers’ group you go to, Cerron?”

Update

Feb. 20th, 2017 11:42 pm
rix_scaedu: (Prompt)
Firstly, I have updated Clancy and Pae'kura over on Patreon. Encouraging me to write this story and beat it into shape is my first tier reward over there. :)

Secondly, I will stop taking prompts for the February Prompt Request when I wake up on 24 February my time, so that will be sometime on 23 February for most of you. That will give me time to finish the writing before March starts. If you haven't yet prompted me this month, now would be the time to do it.
rix_scaedu: (Default)
I wrote this in response to [personal profile] kelkyag: 's prompt here on Dreamwidth "More of something that hasn't gotten attention in a while, like Inheritance". It follows on from Inheritance 3.


Henry and Michael took a bus back to Henry’s parents’ house. Henry didn’t live there anymore, but he’d arranged to come and show them his inheritance from Great-Great-Uncle William over lunch. Michael was another beneficiary of the will who’d just had an intense confrontation with his childhood guardian, and Henry thought he needed some moral support. Together they got on the bus, each carrying a milk crate of things, and found seats together. Michael had to take off the long object slung over his back and hold it beside him.

“You’re sure your parents won’t mind me just turning up?” Michael sounded worried. “I mean, it’s not like any of you know me or anything.”

“You don’t know us either,” pointed out Henry. “But knowing my family, they’re going to want to know what you might know about Great-Great-Uncle William, seeing that it seems he was a major supervillain back in his day. Also, I want to see my mother’s face when she finds out that his ‘junk’ was work trophies. She and some of the aunts have been wanting to declutter his house for years.”

“I somehow think they’re not going to get to,” said Michael. “If the Masked Shadow took even half those things off heroes, villains, or universal antagonists, it’s going to need a professional curator with some sort of specialist disposal team.”

“Oh, my,” said Henry. “Do you think he had any of the Silver Blade’s equipment? He was part of that takedown, or so the movies say.”

“I don’t know if the movies are true,” replied Michael. “I mean look at what they do to Braveheat and Christobel every single time, but I’ve got his swordstaff right here. It’s beginning to wake up.”

The two of them looked at each other. “It is, is it?” Henry looked around and was relieved that no-one was sitting near them. “What’s it like?”

“Confused. Wondering what it’s doing on a bus. Telling me to stay away from the armour and the shield if I value my sanity.” He smiled. “It claims that it and the ring are safe to associate with. And it still wants to know what it’s doing on a bus.”

Henry suggested, “Tell it you’re going to my parents’ place for lunch?”

Michael was quiet for a moment and then replied, “It thinks that’s a good idea. It says I should have normalising relationships – I think that means I should have friends who expect me to act like a normal person and not some Chosen One. It seems to think that the Silver Blade was encouraged to be rather precious.”

“Well, there’s probably money in telling the story from the swordstaff’s point of view,” offered Henry. “It would have the advantage of not having to invent the point of view character; and here‘s our stop.”

Once they were off the bus, it took Henry and Michael only a few minutes to reach Henry’s childhood home.

The house itself was a Federation-style bungalow set on a corner block with a lichen-spotted roof, a verandah running full length along both frontages, and leadlight panels in both the doors and windows. The back garden was separated from the front by sun-tolerant azaleas planted on both sides of the house. As Henry opened the garden gate and stepped up onto the path, Michael said, “That’s odd.”

“What's odd?” Henry looked back at him as he asked the question.

“The swordstaff says that the ring is already here.”
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
This follows The Cadet: Part 21 and was written to my Patron M.B.'s prompt of "Parthi Gens please!"

Parthi Gens asked curiously, “How many people am I allowed to have at this presentation?”

The Warrant Officer Ceremonial said, “Usually there’s no limit on current spouses, children, parents and siblings. Extended family can depend on how many other people are receiving awards on the day. How many did you have in mind?”

“Well, my only living blood relatives are my grandparents so that’s four but there’s my foster family who looked after me during the war.” Parthi twitched her mouth a little, “That’s a whole ship’s company, really. I mean, the Anchor of the Morning isn’t a big ship by naval standards, but….”

“Now, the Anchor of the Morning is the ship you are due the unit citations for and where you were stationed when most of these qualifying actions took place, correct?” The Warrant Officer Ceremonial flicked open a reference manual so that Parthi could see the relevant section. “That makes any attendance from her crew not only very correct from a ceremonial point of view, but completely separate to your personal allowance of attendees. The numbers and composition of their delegation would be subject to negotiation between their Captain and the Commandant – not your problem to arrange at all.”

“But I could have them there? If they want to come and can get here, of course. They might have a contract that has them somewhere else.” Parthi was unconsciously sitting on the edge of her chair in excitement.

“Of course you can,” replied the Warrant Officer Ceremonial kindly. Zir paused and asked carefully, “Is there anything the Commandant needs to know before approaching Captain Sarharmudi?”

“I lost my contacts data in the shemozzle of being taken from the Anchor and placed with my grandparents,” replied Parthi equally carefully. “Some chronic obsessive deuces with child protection responsibilities tried to check my personal data files when I was being repatriated. They used the factory settings and my device self-wiped. I had backups but those got left behind in the rush to get me off the Anchor and onto the ship coming here. Everyone was a bit embarrassed about that, but no-one seemed to be able to do anything helpful.” She added, “I had no idea that the Captain didn’t know how to find me either.”

The Warrant Officer Ceremonial made a note on the pad in front of zir. “Which gender is the Captain?” The Warrant Officer Ceremonial’s own choice of pronoun indicated not a personal gender. but rather that zir’s gender was none of anyone else’s business.

“Captain Sarharmudi is male, of the abodna, and, when I left the Anchor, he was entitled to three captain’s pins – gold, carnelian, and jade.”

Incarnation

Feb. 4th, 2017 07:21 pm
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [profile] cluudle's prompt "A story from a previous incarnation of someone in the main Nai story.". It occurs quite some time ago....


The learned scholar was sitting in a tea house Xindong Village.  He had before him a teapot, two cups and a mahjong set.  What he wanted was someone to talk to who was not the village headman.  Zhou Mang was a good man but there were things that he wasn’t telling the official from the provincial capital.  Said official was glad that he hadn’t told the headman, in whose large family farmhouse he was billeted, that his commission came in fact from the Solar Emperor himself.  As a supposed representative of the provincial governor he was receiving hints that one of the Zhou nieces was a sensible, good looking girl who would make him a fine concubine – he was too much the coward to want to know how they would react to his actual rank and circumstances.

“Is anyone sitting here or are you hoping for company?”  The speaker was a well set up man of about the scholar’s own age whose clothing was flashy but worn.

“I was hoping for company,” replied the scholar easily.  “Would you care for tea and a game of mahjong?  My name is Ju Lee.”  He bowed without rising.

“Ah, the man from the provincial capital come to look at bridging the river!”  The newcomer smiled and added, “You’re the subject of gossip for li around, you know.  I am Gou Hu, and I do a little of this and that to keep body and soul together.”

“A necessity,” agreed Ju Lee pleasantly.  “So, tea and a game?”

“If I may,” said Gou Hu as he sat on the stool opposite the scholar.  “I admit that I am happy to be your guest for the evening.”  He accepted the cup of tea from Ju Lee, saluted his host with it and drank a little before he put it down so that he could help shuffle the tiles.  The two men worked quietly to build their walls until Gou Hu asked, “So, what’s it like building bridges?”

“A little more complicated than this,” admitted Ju Lee.  A roll of the little stone dice made Gou Hu the dealer for the first hand and as the other man dealt the tiles he went on, “Mahjong doesn’t involve land ownership and property rights while bridge building frequently does.  Also, people don’t seem to realise that the best place for the bridge might not be where the ford is.”  He set up his hand of tiles in front of him.

“So the road to the river crossing might be through the woods instead of the town?”  Gou Hu grinned then said apologetically, “I’ve heard that the salt merchants petitioned for a bridge so that they can still trade when the river is in flood.  I’ve also heard that there have been riverfront acquisitions in the village.”

“I’d gathered that,” remarked Ju Lee as he laid out the first Pong of the game.

His opponent laid out a Kong, saying, “My connections tell me that Ju Lee is the personal name of the current incarnation of the Radish Seed Scholar.”

“And you would be the bandit known as Dog Fox,” replied Ju Lee as he picked up one tile and discarded another.  “I’m not going to send salt merchants through the woods for you to plunder, you know.”

“And you’re not going to let said salt merchants impoverish a bunch of peasants whose land they’ve forcibly purchased, are you?”  Gou Hu added apologetically, “I’m a professional bandit and I can do without an influx of desperate need-to-bes.”

“I quite understand,” said Ju Lee gravely, then the two men clinked their cups and drank in another salute before going on with their game.
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
Time for a prompt request for the month of February. It is my natal month and I am aiming for a posting a day, at least.

Because I have The Day Job, other things that need/want to be posted, and etcetera, there is a limit of one prompt to be written per prompter this month.

This month’s prompt request is themeless so within the rules below give me a character, a phrase or a setting so I can write you 300 to 500 word piece of fiction.

Signal boosting will get you a 200 to 250 word extension to the piece of your choice.

Certain levels of patron over on Patreon will get a 250 to 500 word extension on a piece of their choice.

You may throw some money at me for an extension through the Paypal button below.

There are some rules.

• Please don't ask for main story Nai as your prompt - more Nai writing will happen each weekend;

• One prompt per prompter; and

• No erotica (I need to be in the mood) and no fanfic (I would mangle your favourite characters to no satisfactory result.)

Thank you for your participation and let’s go have some fun with this.





Prompt Extensions




rix_scaedu: (Elf)
This came out of a prompt on my Live Journal by [personal profile] lilfluff. It is in the same universe as the work in progress that I am currently posting for Patrons on my Patreon page.


The reception was in full swing when the Ciradarean ambassador arrived. The Serkisics were celebrating their national holiday and tonight was part of a week of celebrations and memorials that marked the anniversary of their independence, no, the confirmation of their independence from Bakovia. Bakovia was a small space nation of ambitions and their ambitions had once pointed them at Serkis.

Serkis had found allies and Ngapāhuahuanga had been prominent among them. Everyone had come to assume that the raiders and pirates had been acting on behalf of the paramount chiefs of the Confederation, even if Ngapāhuahuanga wasn’t a member system, because of the amount of support they’d been able to supply. Bakovia was recovering from the bloody nose that backed resistance had given them and they were starting to look for new prey.

Ciradar seemed to interest them. Recently there had been a discomforting number of Bakovian travellers and merchants who’d come, toured, and said, “Nice planet you have here.” Ciradar didn’t have the population base to resist a takeover. They couldn’t win a fight. They might be able to stop a war happening in the first place. Serkis had shown what was possible if you had friends, so the ambassador was here to make friends.

He had been finding out what the big star nations wanted and was unsurprised to find that it wasn’t an overly confident, fast growing Bakovia.

He danced with the Talambric ambassadress who spoke charmingly of the spice trade and introduced him to a velvet coated gentleman who seemed to know a great deal about flags of convenience and letters of marque.

The neatly garbed Combine ambassador permitted him to dance with his wife, the Combine cultural attaché, and that lady slipped him the business card of a firm in the business of moulding Barkovian public opinion.

The Confederation’s ambassador was supervising the conversation between one of his own visiting chiefs and a Ngapāhuahuangan whose face was almost covered in black tattoos. It was the chief who suggested that a series of military exchanges might be mutually beneficial, particularly if those exchanges might happen to cross paths with certain Bakovian visitors on a regular basis.

His Serkisic hosts merely thanked him for coming, but the ambassador had no qualms in telling them that it had been an excellent party.

Legacy 12

Feb. 28th, 2016 10:31 am
rix_scaedu: (Giraffe)
Following on from Legacy 11 we have a little domesticity.


Baranyi woke once in the night. She checked on the girls, stood outside Buldaveho’s door for a few minutes telling herself that she didn’t need to check on him, and then took herself back to bed. Her guest wasn’t, she reminded herself, an ill elderly man like her father who’d needed careful monitoring and nursing through the last few months of his life. He didn’t need monitoring or nursing.

No, he’s not like Father at all, agreed part of her mind that hadn’t spoken up in years. He’s not your brother, or your cousin. He’s sleeping in your house tonight. He was naked in your bathroom….

Baranyi rolled over, moved her pillow around and tied to ignore the imagined images parts of her brain seemed far too eager to consider.

She got up early and made parsnip patties to go with smoked fish for breakfast. For four. Making breakfast was a nice, straight forward, non-wayward thought process.

Then she got the girls up, dressed them in their own clean, dry dresses, and braided their hair for them. They’d objected, until she’d proven that it really had grown long enough to be braided, but when she’d shown them the results in the mirror she thought they were both rather pleased.

Buldaveho got himself up, dressed and down to the kitchen. After agreeing gravely with the girls that his hair was far too short to be braided, he sniffed suspiciously at his first parsnip patty, tasted it, smothered both his patties and the fish in butter, then ate the lot. The girls looked astonished when he asked if there were anymore. Baranyi cooked up the rest of the mix that might have gone towards lunch and kept feeding him.

It was somewhere around there that Baranyi realised that this scene, or something close to it and maybe with the same players, was something she wanted for herself. It wasn’t everything she wanted, but it was definitely on the list.

She just wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Or if she could.
rix_scaedu: (cat wearing fez)
I wrote this to the second prompt I'm using on my DW community: [community profile] trope_bingo card. The prompt is "kiss to save the day" and the story is origfic which follows on from From Episode One - "The Dawkins Affair". It runs to 1,907 words for those of you with time or spoon issues.


Damien Lieb was very drunk. That was always the problem with meeting the contact known as Potemkin, the Russian insisted on trying to drink you under the table. That, of course, limited who they could send in to deal with him: Ali was their wheelman and teetotal; Taylor and Watkins were both of more use stone cold sober with their judgement completely unimpaired; and Stan’s liver wouldn’t be up to that sort of shenanigans for months yet. Despite his inability to keep up with the Russian, and swearing each time that he’d never do it again, Lieb was always the man for the job.

Read more... )
rix_scaedu: (cat wearing fez)
I wrote this to the first prompt I'm using on my DW community: [community profile] trope_bingo card. The prompt is "kiss to save the day" and the story is origfic which follows on from From The Pilot - "Out With The Old, In With The New". It runs to 2,146 words for those of you with time or spoon issues.


“No, it’s not happening.” Rose Forkin was on the phone to her mother, standing in the middle of the lounge room of the flat she shared with Taylor, the man with no given name, and talking into her mobile. “Mum, it’s a two bedroom flat – there’s no room for Hayley to stay here. No, she can’t stay in my room because there’s only one bed and that’s a single. Mum, I, for one, don’t believe that would work. Mum, I’m just the flat mate. Taylor is the only one whose name is on the lease, so I’ll have to talk to him about it. Yes, Mum, I will.” She turned around as Taylor wandered out of his room, wearing a batik dressing gown, carrying a coffee mug and heading for the kitchen. “When Mum? Oh soon, very soon. Bye Mum, I have to go.”

Taylor asked, “What was that about? I heard my name.”

“Oh,” Rose, pushed her loose brown hair back behind her ear with one hand, “that was my mother on the phone. She’s got some idea that now I’ve a proper place to live, I should let my sister Hayley come and stay here while she finds a job in Harbour City and a place of her own. She wouldn’t get off the phone till I agreed to ask you about it.” She sighed in exasperation. “Mum always does this – she waits till I’m tired or in the middle of something and then she won’t stop until I say yes.”

“Sounds like a technique Watkins would be proud of,” commented Taylor as he put the mug in the sink.

“He’s the one who kept asking questions the other night when you had people over for cards, isn’t he?” Rose put her phone away and started taking off her summer weight coat.

“With hair that used to be red,” agreed Taylor. “Getting answers is sort of his stock in trade. Are you just getting home? I thought you said you were off work at eleven last night.” A slight crease appeared between his eyes.

“I wound up working a double shift,” explained Rose. “A couple of people from the shift after mine called in sick, so Arvid and I had to stay back and help with the payment run. This sort of thing is one of the reasons I couldn’t keep commuting from Steel City.”

“I can understand that,” Taylor nodded easily, “it’s what, three hours each way by train?”

“If nothing goes wrong,” agreed Rose. “And now I’m going to nuke a frozen dinner before I eat, shower and flake out on my bed for at least six hours before I have to get up and do it again.”

“So, when are you going to ask me about your sister staying here?” Taylor had a faint quizzical smile as he asked the question.

“I’m not,” said Rose as she walked past him to the freezer, her 160 centimetre height overshadowed by his 195 centimetres – not that he loomed or anything. “I’m going to lie and tell her that you said no.” She pulled a single serve lasagne out of the freezer, opened it, pierced the film on top with a fork from the drawer, and put it in the microwave on high for five minutes.

“Is there any reason we shouldn’t help your little sister out?” Taylor wasn’t smiling and the crease between his eyes was back.

“Hayley isn’t my little sister, she’s my older sister and I shared a bedroom with her my entire life, until I moved down here.” Rose took her handbag off her shoulder. “Getting out of that bedroom was one of the reasons I moved out.”

“Oh?”

“Hayley feels entitled to through my stuff to find out what I’m not telling her.” Rose sniffed. “She used to move my things around and put me down when I complained but she’d go off her head if I touched anything of hers, even if it was in what was supposed to be my space. Taylor, I really don’t want her staying here, even just for one night.”

“That wasn’t the dynamic I was expecting,” Taylor admitted. “If she snoops and has other boundary issues, then I don’t want her here either. I need a flatmate to make sure the landlord doesn’t sublease this place while I’m away on extended trips for work. I don’t need an extra flatmate who makes life harder for both of us.”

“Oh thank you, Taylor,” she made a gesture with both hands, almost as if she was going to grab him. “I’d kiss you but-.”

“We don’t have that sort of relationship,” he finished for her.

“Now that’s sorted, I’ll eat and then I’ll call Mum back.” Rose didn’t quite dance her way into her room, but it was close.

Ten minutes later Rose was sitting at the dining table eating her lasagne off a plate, a glass of water on the coaster beside her place mat, when the doorbell rang. Rose looked up from her meal, surprised, and Taylor walked out of his room, doing something with cuff links as he came.

Taylor asked, “Who’s that?”

“I have no idea,” answered Rose, standing up as she did so.

“If you didn’t buzz anyone up, then it should be one of the neighbours,” said Taylor carefully. “Let me see who it is.” He walked over to the door and checked through the peephole. “Brunette with curly hair, sort of about your age and a bit taller than you.”

“Can I have a look?” Rose’s voice had a disbelieving tone which spread to her face once she’d looked through the peephole. She turned and hissed at Taylor, “It’s Hayley!”

“We have to open the door,” Taylor said, “and we’ll have to let her in, but that doesn’t mean that we’re letting her stay here.”

“Right, of course it doesn’t.” Rose put on a fixed smile, took off the safety chain then unlocked and opened the door. “Hayley! Mum was just on the phone about you.”

“Oh good, she said she’d call you.” Hayley was holding a suitcase in one hand. “I spent the longest time finding someone who’d let me into the building. I can’t wait to see our room.”

“This is a security building – I’m surprised anyone let you in because visitors are supposed to be buzzed in by the people they’re seeing. And Mum rang to see if you could stay here; we never agreed that you could.” Rose was still standing stock still in the middle of the doorway.

“Of course, I’m staying here,” Hayley disagreed as if Rose was being simple. “I’m here with my bag aren’t I?”

“I’m only allowed one flatmate under my lease,” said Taylor firmly, “and we’re not set up for overnight guests, so you can’t stay.”

“But I’m Rose’s sister,” protested Hayley, “And where am I supposed to stay while I find a job and a place of my own?”

“Try the YWCA,” suggested Rose crisply. “It’s where I stayed for three months. Or you could stay at home and commute. I did that for six months before the YWCA.”

“I’m a barista,” Hayley pouted. “Who makes coffee and can afford to commute? I had to leave my old job because the boss was getting all grabby and as for staying with the parents. I swear they’ve upped the personal displays of affection since you left.” She shuddered artistically. “It seemed a good time to make the move.”

“It’s still not up to us to provide you with a bed,” said Taylor firmly. “I suggest you try the YWCA.”

Hayley put a restraining hand on the front door, “Can I at least come in and use the bathroom? I haven’t been since I left home; the railway toilets are disgusting.”

“All right,” Taylor motioned Rose to one side to let her sister into the flat.
Hayley asked brightly, “Where will I put my suitcase?”

“Right beside the door,” Taylor told her grimly.

When Hayley disappeared into the bathroom, Taylor locked the front door of the flat and pulled Rose over to the kitchen. “I’m beginning to think,” he told Rose quietly and quickly, “that your parents have kicked her out. You’re twenty-six and she’s twenty-eight so it’s possible that they wanted both of you to move out but only you took the hint. Has she always been hypersensitive to or hypercritical of displays of affection?”

“She’s never liked ‘mushy’ stuff,” Rose confirmed.

“I have an idea,” Taylor said. “I apologise in advance but please play along.” As they heard the toilet flush, he suddenly put his hands on Rose’s waist and lifted her into a sitting position on the kitchen bench. A tap in the bathroom was running as he stepped closer in towards Rose, moved one hand under her chin to tilt her face up, leaned down and kissed her. Just before the bathroom door opened one of Rose’ arms reached up around his neck and her other hand grabbed the front of his shirt.

Hayley coughed and they stopped kissing to turn and look at her, their hands remaining in place. “I’ll just grab my bag and be going.” She had her mobile phone out before she left the room and they could hear her from the hall way outside. Hi, Mum! Just to let you know I won’t be staying with Rose. Oh, he’s almost as old as Dad but the two of them are all over each other.”
Taylor glided, there was no other word for it, across the space to the door so he could close and lock it.

“That was interesting,” commented Rose quietly.

“It certainly wasn’t a chore,” admitted Taylor as he went back to help her down off the kitchen bench, “and – we should never do it again,” he finished in a rush.

“You’re probably right,” agreed Rose as she straightened her clothes. “If we’re going to talk about it, it should be after I’ve had some sleep.”

Taylor reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a phone. “Any talking’ll have to wait till I get back. Looks like I have to go to work.”

“I thought you were on your way to work?” Rose indicated his clothes, business shirt and suit trousers.

“Looks like I’m taking one of those work trips I told you about,” he corrected. “I’ll be at least a couple of days.”

“Ah, one of those ones where I collect the mail and make sure no subletting happens,” replied Rose.

“Exactly,” he flashed her a smile. “I’ll leave as soon as I get some shoes on and see you when I get back.”

Rose smiled back, “Right then, and I’ll get some sleep.”

********************

Several days later Rose, while she was on her way to the railway station, bumped into Hayley. She almost didn’t see her but turned around when she was hailed, “Hey, Sis!”

Her older sister was carrying a tote bag and was wearing black trousers and tee shirt with a coffee logo on it. “Hayley, what are you doing here?”

“I’m on my way home from my morning gig.” Hayley smiled. “I got a job as the morning barista at the House of Beans down by the station, they were short a body unexpectedly, gave me a trial shift when I walked in and here I am. I’m doing evenings at a dessert bar on Cambridge Street, they have a caramel fudge to die for.”

“But where are you staying?” Rose thought of her own problems getting a place reasonably close to work.

“There was a place for let in the block opposite yours. The real estate agent had a number in the window, I called it, they gave me the tour and I was in that night. I don’t know why people say it’s so hard to get somewhere to stay in Harbour City.” Hayley’s smile sharpened. “I must say, it’s got a nicer bathroom than your place.”

“The block opposite ours?” Something clicked in Rose’s mind. “On the sixth floor? The one where three people were found locked in and brutally murdered with no sign of how the killer got in or out?”

“It’s been cleaned and redecorated,” Hayley said defensively. “You’d never know anything happened there.”

“And you’re not worried at all?” Rose presses carefully.

“Why would I be?” Hayley shrugged. “I can’t see why whoever killed them would be interested in me.”

“Okay,” Rose said slowly. “I suppose you got a good deal on the rent though.” Hayley nodded, pleased with herself. “You know that if you go six months without anything gruesome happening to you, they’re going to shove the rent right up, don’t you?”

“I’ll deal with that when it happens,” Hayley shrugged. “Anyway, I gotta go. See you around little sis!” She walked off with a wave, leaving Rose behind her looking slightly bemused.

Bingo Card

Jan. 5th, 2015 07:26 am
rix_scaedu: (purple me)
So, I am going to attempt [community profile] trope_bingo. My card is:

fake relationship secret relationship au: coffee shop amnesia au: magic
kiss to save the day in vino veritas/drunkfic truth or dare forced to marry soul bonding/soulmates
au: fantasy locked in WILD CARD au: steampunk bodyswap
presumed dead au: college/highschool slavefic immortality/reincarnation au: historical
secret twin/doppelganger au: daemons huddle for warmth poker/strip poker animal transformation
rix_scaedu: (Elf)

It took me a little over a month to finish off the prompts from April, which was why I didn't hold a May prompt request.

April resulted in the following stories:

Public Consultation
Complications Happen
Forewarning
Inheritance 2
Wedding Day  
Traitor
The Project
Inappropriate Use of a Time Machine
How The World Changed
Side Effect
It Was Just A Card Game
Dealing With Objections
Choices and Consequences
The Only Girl For You
Beginning Of The Year Adjustments
Defence
Too Clever
An Introduction To Rope
Wherein Nai Makes A Decision
The Prince Of Cats
The First Of Her Kind

I also wrote a background piece, Rensa's Universe: Background 2, and counting the list of stories above, I owe everyone a second background piece.

The Prompters' Story continues with our protagonists hiding on a train.

The April Prompt Request also resulted in my first paid extension - I regret not having having a suitably flabbergasted image to show you all.

Thank you everyone who participated.

Everyone who has a background piece they would like to see, please leave a comment below giving me an idea of what you would like.

The Favour

Jun. 7th, 2012 02:46 pm
rix_scaedu: (stunned fez cat)
Time for a little fanfic.  Only one of these characters is canon.

“Can I have my favour now?”  The look the girl shot at the metallic-skinned half-man and half imp was half shy and half calculating.

“Don’t you want to think about it first?”  He leered at her.  “It’s not often I admit to owing a favour when no contract is involved.”

“And His Highness isn’t going to keep quiet about that,” the child of the Castellan’s unfortunate second marriage indicated the direction the son of her father’s liege lord had taken.  “I think we have ten minutes, at most, before this room is full of people telling me what to ask you for.”

“There is that,” the notorious, usurious man-imp agreed.  He folded his arms and asked, “So what do you want of me, little girl?  What won-.”

“A kiss,” she interrupted.

“A kiss?  From me?”  He looked at her incredulously.  “You could have had a wish, magically fulfilled and you want a kiss?”

“Yes.  Magic comes with a price, I heard you say so yourself.  On the mouth please – with gusto, so to speak, if you can muster the interest.”  She glanced at the doorway the prince had left through.  “We don’t have much time.”

“I pay my debts.”  He stepped forward and put an arm around her.  Another leer, this time down her discreet cleavage, and, “I hope you know what you’re doing, my dear.”

“No,” her eyes were sparkling and her tone was cheerful, “but I’m trusting that you do.”  His lips descended on hers.

He was the one who broke it off, raising his face from hers with a listening tilt to his head.  “You were right,” he told her, “company’s coming.”  He looked at her critically.  “You should tidy yourself.”

“You’ll need to move your hands first,” she told him pertly.”

He looked down.  “Ah, yes.  Sorry.”  He let her go and stepped back.

“You have nothing to apologise for,” she told him as she shook out her skirts and straightened her neckline.  “I asked for enthusiastic, if possible.”  She looked at him and curtsied as to a senior nobleman, “Thank you, sir, for indulging me.”  She blushed.

“It was my pleasure.”  He listened.  “Two minutes at most before we have company.  Why a kiss?”

“My father will arrange my marriage,” she said quietly.  “I know he is already in negotiation with several families who either won’t mind my mother or can be bribed to ignore what she was.  I know what my pool of potential bridegrooms is and I wanted to be able to choose my first kiss.”

“Why me?”  His expression demanded an answer.

“You owed me a favour and it was the one thing I could think of that was nothing of magic or contract.”  She looked him up and down.  A metallic-skinned near-man of dubious repute, ill-dressed despite the riches he had reputedly gleaned over the years, clean smelling to the nose and with clawed fingers stained in ink.  “Why not?”

“You could have riches, position, power.”  He stalked around her as if hunting her answer.

“Once given, those can be taken away by others.”  She looked at him, trying to catch his eye and make him look directly at her.  “I’ve lived on the edge of the Court all my life, I’ve seen it happen.  Politics change, someone else does a better deal.”  She shrugged and he chuckled darkly.  “A kiss and its memory can only ever be mine.”

“Ah.”

Then they were not alone and the chances for further speech were gone.

rix_scaedu: (Default)
Hi out there anyone who might be trying to contact me through comments.

My lovely new computer won't start up and thus I cannot access my normal email account.  I am not deliberately ignoring people, I just don't have access to my notifications.

I will keep checking here for comments and I hope (crossing all possible appendages for luck) that I might have my computer back for the weekend.

Rix
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this in response to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's eighth prompt.  It is the same world as 'Forewarning' and 'Choices and Consequences'.  It overlaps with the second story.

“I’m afraid that you’re not quite what we’re looking for,” the Choirmaster said regretfully, his wings held tightly behind his shoulders, their great white feathers only visible where the folded wings protruded above his head.  Tala had already learnt that this posture meant the speaker was uncomfortable about what he or she was saying.  “Perhaps there is a place for you in one of the other choirs.”  He turned and began to shepherd his recruits away, his wings relaxing into a more natural position as he went.

Tala watched as he and her cohort-mates moved away, her own wings drooping as she did so.  “But you were the last of the Choirmasters,” she murmured sadly, uncertain of what she was going to do.  The newly created angels, and they’d been given to understand that angels were not often created so they were all special, had been told that they would be taken into a Choir serving one of the gods.  Looking around, she was the last of her cohort still standing in the middle of the sward in this junction of the divine realms.  The older angels who’d escorted them here from the place of their creation all seemed to have gone and the few angels who remained were beginning to disperse.  She needed to ask someone what she should do and quickly, before she was left alone.

“Why are you still here?”  The voice came from behind her and she turned quickly to face the speaker.  He was an angel with buff wings almost as large as any of the Choirmasters’ but unlike any of them he was wearing a short tunic and a garment her mind called ‘trousers.’  “If you’re not careful you’ll get left behind.”  His wings sat in a natural rest position and she thought he had a kind face.

“I wasn’t accepted into a Choir,” she admitted.  “Apparently I’m not what any of them are looking for.”

He ran a hand through his sandy hair.  “I thought we’d gotten past this with banded wings,” he said in a slightly annoyed tone.  “When the first angels with bands of colour on their wings were created, the Choirmasters were reluctant to take them on because angels had only been self-coloured until then.  Now they’re used to that but the younger gods tried something different with you and the Choirmasters have baulked again.  Now-.  I’m Micorah, by the way.  What’s your name?”

“Tala.  Are my wings really that different?”  She extended the right one forward so she could look more closely at it.  Each of her feathers was one of two patterns: a white rachis with white afterfeather and alternate white and black barbs; or a black rachis with black afterfeather and alternate black and white barbs.  The two designs leapfrogged each other down her wings, the fine striation and lines complicated by her new-made iridescence.

“I’ve never seen anything like them,” he admitted.  “I’m not a member of a Choir myself,” he went on, “more of a general roving task pool but you get selected for that by distinguishing yourself in a god’s Choir.”  As her suddenly hopeful face faded again he went on, “What I think you should do is visit the seats of gods who don’t have a Choir and ask for the chance to serve.  Start with the younger gods who were involved in your Cohort’s creation.”

“Because they must have wanted angels or they wouldn’t have helped make us?”  Her silver-speckled dark eyes lit up again with hope and a touch of curiosity.

“Exactly,” he agreed.  “I can give you names and directions.  Follow the directions and be polite to anyone you meet and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“Thank you,” she clutched the parchment he handed her to her bosom, “thank you so much.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“Off you go,” he instructed.  “The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be settled.”  He watched her enter the demesne of the first god on her list.  If this strategy didn’t find her placed then certain gods were going to find themselves being divinely admonished along with Choirmasters who needed to be reminded of their responsibilities.  He hoped he wasn’t going to be presenting an unplaced Tala along with his report.

Tala had reached the last name on her list.  At least this god’s servitors hadn’t turned her from the door with her plea unmade.  The uncanny automatons matched the gloomy architecture, full of shadows and the whispering shades of the dead.  The automaton that led her through the building paid the shades no attention and Tala wondered if they were being rewarded or punished by their presence here.  Finally the automaton brought her to a chamber lit by torches and braziers.  Weapons and other war gear lay around while in the centre of the room, under a ruddy candelabra, a sole figure was sharpening a sword.  The automaton indicated the figure in the middle of the room and left.

Tala approached the god enthroned in his demesne and bowed.  “Excuse me, Lord Thaladeneth-“

“Which of my sibs sent you?”  He kept sharpening the sword as he spoke, the rhythmic sound oddly comforting.

“None, my lord.  I am Tala, one of the newly created angels and as yet unplaced.  As you contributed to my cohort’s creation I thought you might have need of my services.”  She waited on his reply.  The whetstone continued its work.

“I contributed to your creation as a favour in repayment of a debt.”  The god-voice rumbled through her.  “However, I do have a need for a messenger.”

“My lord?”  She looked up hopefully.  “Might I serve?”

He put the whetstone and blade aside.  “Let us consider this task a test.  Come here and I will tell you what I want you to do.  Your ear please.”

She walked up to him and turned so he could whisper into her ear, then listened intently as he did so.  The thrum of the god-voice through her body was surprisingly intimate at this range.

When he finished speaking and leaned back in his throne she did not move for a moment, then turned slowly to face him.  “Is there anyone, my lord, whom you do not wish to know of this matter?”

He smiled slowly at her.  “That is a very good question.”  He spoke a little longer before finishing, “And do not return until you believe the matter has reached the completion I desire.”

“Yes, my lord.”  She bowed.

“And you may use that exit,” he pointed with the sword at an archway that led to an outside balcony, “and come back that way when you return.”

“Thank you, my lord.”  She left him without a backward glance as she made a small run up towards the balcony, but he was not offended.  Angels needed that run to get easily airborne.  He resumed sharpening his blade.  This new one’s wings were really quite extraordinary.  He would have to make enquiries.

It was several months before Tala returned, re-entering by the door from which she’d left.  Thaladeneth might not have moved during her absence.  He was, as when she’d gone, sharpening a sword.  He looked up from his task as she presented herself and noted that she had acquired a light tan and a change of clothing, no, her clothing had been remade.  The long white robe a newly created angel was given had been resewn into a belted thigh length tunic and trousers.  Somewhere she had acquired a pair of soft brown knee-high boots.  Confidence glowed off her in happiness.

“You’re back.”  He laid aside the sword and whetstone.  “I had expected you sooner.”

“I wanted to make sure it all worked, my lord.”  She smiled, pleased with herself.  “Once I found someone for the task it was easy enough to put the scroll in his hand.  It was in with some books he wanted, and he didn’t even notice that I wasn’t one of the librarians.  Then all I needed to do was watch him to make sure he actually got it and it got back into circulation.  If I hadn’t stayed I wouldn’t have known if anything went wrong.”

“Very true,” he nodded.  “You have done well and I am pleased.”  Pleasure at his praise rolled off her in waves.  “A chamber has been prepared for you with a bath, bed and clothing.  There are chambers there for my other few servants of your kind, but they are rarely occupied and it will be some time before you meet your fellows.  This servitor will take you there,” he gestured and an automaton moved forward.  “I will send for you again when I have another task for you.”

“Yes my lord.  Thank you, my lord.”  She bowed and then went after the automaton.  She had barely left the room before a happy little song in an angelic soprano reached his ears.

The god took up the sword whetstone and resumed his rhythmic sharpening.  “What do you think, Dorthiel?”

A dark olive-skinned angel with black wings stepped out from behind a pillar.  “She is very young, my lord.  Micorah was concerned about her when I spoke to him and he’s right, she should be in a Choir with her fellows.”

“Perhaps,” Thaladeneth allowed the opinion.  “She is a thoughtful messenger and certainly a less threatening one than any of you.”

“True, my lord.”  Dorthiel did not smile.  “Our messages tend to be very final.  When will you put her to the work?”

“I won’t.”  Thaladeneth regarded the blade in his hand and with a flip of his will swapped the sword with another from a far corner of the room.  He resumed sharpening.  “I have other tasks for her.  You all carry out my will and the will I have the rest of you execute is often dark and grim.  Her task is to remind the rest of you that you have not become monsters or demons but remain angels.”  Only the whetstone spoke for a moment.  “Despite what I have you do.”

“You’d have us sing rounds of hymns with her?”  Dorthiel was sardonic.

“Why not?”  Thaladeneth looked up at him.  “It might be good for you.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's seventh prompt.

“Parts.  It has to have lots of parts,” Elvira Madden was flicking through a stack of play scripts regarded as being suitable for small children to perform.  “Christmas is easy, even if someone complains about the Nativity play being religious or not their religion or not religious enough.  With shepherds and angels you can easily get twenty five year olds on stage at some point during the proceedings.”

“That is the point, after all,” agreed her friend the fifth grade teacher, Dorothy James.  “At least your lot will still hold hands with the opposite sex.  Half the boys in my class don’t even want to stand beside the girls.  The Shrimptons’ mother seems convinced that she’ll be a grandmother by next year if either of her daughters is within a yard of a boy and no matter how she’s cast, Melissa Wright’s parents will hire a professional costume for her.”

“Both our lot are too young for musicals,” Elvira put a number of books to one side, “perhaps there’s something in here based on a fairy tale?”

“How about this one?”  Dorothy picked up a slim volume and handed it to Elvira, “The Prince of Cats?”

“Let me have a look,” Elvira opened the text pamphlet to look at the cast.  “There’s Tom, his mother, the mice, the cat, some dogs, and more cats.  This could work.  Is it okay if I take this one to read through?”

“Go ahead,” Dorothy waved a hand at her, “I need to find something that won’t upset any of my parents.  All the vocal ones hate something different!”  With that she turned back to the stacks of the school’s accumulated drama resources.

Six weeks later, the school drama night was a great success.  The kindergarten play had gone first and was greeted warmly, with the tallest girl in the class playing the mother and the five smallest children being the mice.  Joe Grimolochin, a happy boy, played a surprisingly cat-like rescued cat who turned out to be the Prince of Cats.  Elvira sought him and his father out at the beginning of the intermission, the first of twenty families she needed to see in the break.

“I think that very well, don’t you?”  The tall, olive-skinned man who was Joe’s father smiled at her.  Every time he did that she found herself wanting to curl up in front of a fire somewhere and stroke him.  That was totally inappropriate.

“Yes, it did Mr Grimolochin,” Elvira smiled politely back at him.  “At least partly because Joe,” she smiled down at her student, “was so good as the Prince of Cats.”

“Please Miss Madden I’ve told you before, I’m Tybalt.”  That smile again.  “I must agree with you, Joe is a most excellent Prince of Cats.”  Father and son looked at each and Joe smothered a giggle as if they had shared a joke.

After a few more words Elvira moved on to the next family with the odd feeling she’d just missed something important.

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's fifth prompt.  It is quite long and I expect there will be at least one more instalment.


It was the robes that set me off on the decision path that led to everything else.  My mother and my sister Ruh were carrying them in from the car.  Brightly coloured responsibility ceremony robes all ready for Ruh’s birthday the next day.  Just like the robes I hadn’t gotten two years earlier for the ceremony I hadn’t had almost two years earlier.  I’d thought I’d gotten over that disappointment.  I’d spent that day on my own because everyone else had been busy, finally accepting that no-one was going to be coming with me and then taking myself off to the temple to make a donation from my pocket money and burn my incense on my own in front of a stern-faced priest.

I’m kid number eight and there are five more after me.  That’s a lot of interests and activities and events to remember.

I held the door open for them and they swept in with their shopping, all happy excitement.  Then I went upstairs to my room to look out my best set of clothes and polish my shoes for the next day.

I left my birthday present with the others as I went out to my gi class.  When I got back, Mother was already fussing in a countdown.  I walked through the door and was ordered, “You, shower, now!”  As I went up the stairs I was followed by, “And then get ready to go to the temple!”

I was downstairs again twenty minutes later neatly dressed in my best clothes, the only black trousered figure in a room of traditional robes.

Mother stopped fussing over the set of father’s outer robe and shrieked at me, “What are you wearing?”

“My best clothes.”

“You’re supposed to wear your ceremonial robes!”  She was almost screaming across the room at me and the rest of the family moved out of the way.

“They’re four years old and I’ve put on three inches.”

“You stuffed your face and got fat!?!”  That sounded as bad as it reads in print.

“Up,” I corrected her, “not out.”

She settled immediately.  “I’m sorry.  You can wear…”  She looked at my two older sisters who still lived at home, willowy like her while I’m blocky like father.  “No, you can’t.  Why didn’t you say something?”

“I tried.  Several times.  Other things were more important and you told me to be quiet.”  I was careful to be neutral, not antagonistic or whining.

“Well, you can’t come dressed like that and it’s far too late to get you something else.”  She’d decided a way ahead.  “You can stay here and let the caterers in when they deliver the food for this afternoon.  I’m sure you’ve got some work to do for Mr Heng.”  Mr Heng tutored my siblings so they’d get scholarships.  The family believed they were bright enough to be worth it.

“Mr Heng has never been paid to tutor me.  I have no work to do for him.”  A couple of my brothers nodded in agreement.

“Well, you can study for your exams next year, it’s not too early to start.”  She nodded at me, satisfied with her solution.

“My finals were this year,” I corrected her as she began to turn back to my father.  “We’ve just finished them and I’m waiting on my results.”  I paused then added, unable to help myself, “You all keep telling me I’m stupid, so I expect I didn’t do very well.”

I left the room at that point as Hu, the older brother nearest to me in age, looked up from figuring on his fingers, saying in a surprised tone, “She’s right.  It is this year.  Oh, heck.  Two years ago.  I was the only one who didn’t go, wasn’t I?”

They came back in time for a late lunch, accompanied by the rest of the extended family.  The length of their absence had already told me that they’d had the full blown ceremony laid on by arrangement for Ruh.  I’d let the caterers in and watched them set up, but I’d decided that I didn’t think I could do the gracious guest thing at Ruh’s party so I took myself off to my room as everyone started getting out of the cars in front of the house.

Yes, I was jealous.  Yes, I’d discovered I was still upset.  No, I didn’t want it to be me instead of Ruh in the middle of this party.  I did wish that I’d had a party like this when it had been my turn.  My sixteenth birthday had competed with the provincial championship gi tournament, a couple of concerts family members had been playing in and one of my brothers being a groomsman at a wedding.

I’m not sure how much of what I felt when there was a knock on my bedroom door was surprise and how much was pleasure.  It was my mother.  “You need to come down to the party.”  She had her being firm face on.  “You’ll ruin it if you stay in here and sulk.”

I’d been crying, my eyes were wet, my nose was purple and, with complete disregard for anything else including reality, I was feeling both unloved and less loved than my siblings.  “I don’t think I can behave in company at the moment,” I admitted.  “It shouldn’t make a difference if everyone will just act the way they normally do when I do go to these things – if they just ignore me then everything will be fine.”

“We don’t ignore you.”  My mother spoke firmly, positively.

“Which is why I don’t have robes to wear today, you’d forgotten which year of school I’m in and I didn’t have a responsibility ceremony.”  I hadn’t opened the door the whole way and now I started closing it again.  “I think I have less chance of ruining Ruh’s party if I stay in here.”  I closed the door.

Kae was next.  My eldest sister is a lot like our mother.  Confident, determined and rarely not convinced that she’s right.  Some of those are reasons why her husband loves her.  “Have you finished sulking yet?”

“Can you explain why we don’t mark my birthday and the rest of you get what’s going on downstairs now?”

“Your birthday’s on at a very busy time of year,” Kae repeated something I’d told myself quite often.

“I know.”  Then I added, “So, why didn’t you even call me for my last two birthdays?  Even heaps late?”

“Ma and I were busy with the gi championships,” her reply was slightly defensive.

“Kae,” I almost started crying again, “no-one called for either birthday.  I took myself to the temple for my responsibility ceremony.  No-one wished me luck with my final exams.  Then you do all this for Ruh.  How would you feel if you were in my position?”

“I-.”

“That’s right.  Everyone knows you’re beautiful and clever and talented and likable.  You’ve never been on the outside hoping people you care about will like you anyway.  Or had to face up to it when they don’t.”  I slammed the door in her face.  I’d felt my apparent maturity dropping with every word but I’d been unable to shut up.  I locked the door not so much to stop anyone coming in but to stop myself rushing after Kae to apologize.

I ignored the next few knocks on the door, partly because I was crying again and partly in the hope that if I was left alone to get past the tears I could compose myself enough to go outside before the party was over to apologize to Kae without groveling, wish Rue a happy birthday and act like a normal person around some of the extended family.  I’d managed to stop crying and I was drying my face when the door unlocked from the other side.  Someone had involved the one person who could open every lock in the house, Father.

He opened the door wide as I stood up from where I’d been sitting on the bed.  I was pleased that I’d hung up my jacket when I’d first come upstairs and my shoes were neatly tucked away.  I don’t think anyone else had seen the inside of my room since I was twelve but now Father was standing inside the threshold and as many of the family who could were looking in through the doorway.  Father looked around at the off-white walls, the unlined curtains, the faded rug on the bare boards, the furniture and bedcovers I’d had since I started school, the photo-poster of a bare to the waist Tai Ru Jin in a defensive pose across the room from a piece of calligraphy I’d bought at someone’s garage sale, and the light bulb that had been bare since the shade had smashed.  “We truly meant,” he said quietly, “to redecorate this for you when you turned sixteen.  I’m afraid time got away from us.”

“You can redo it in your colour,” suggested my maternal grandmother.  “That would improve it.”

“My colour seems to a dull olive sludge.”  I gave a barking laugh.  “I think I prefer this.”

“Oh,” my grandmother looked sympathetic, “that does make it difficult.”

“I’ve given the matter some thought,” that was Father again.  “Our opportunities to make it up to you are very few.  There’s your eighteenth and then your majority.  And then there’s your birth prediction.”

“Oh?”  I knew my birth prediction.  It was very prosaic in a family where the sons are all being examined as potential reincarnations of an Immortal Scholar but I wasn’t prepared to embrace my predicted future just yet.

“Your happiness will come from your marriage and children,” my father beamed at me.  “It’s obvious, isn’t it?  I shall apply myself to finding you the perfect husband.  You can have a nice big wedding, be settled in your own home and by, well not this time next year, the year after next you could have a baby too.”

I stared at him in horror.  I couldn’t imagine why the “middle-aged bureaucrat” of my birth prediction would want to be married to me as I was.  I wasn’t grown up enough.  I hadn’t done anything.  I wasn’t interesting.  My father seemed to be proposing a disaster and expecting me to be delighted with it.

“I’m hoping to get into tertiary school next year.”  That was the truth.  Even though I hadn’t been able to get my parents to sign the tertiary application I’d still put it in with my signature – I’d turn eighteen a month before the universities started and I hoped to pick up a place in the final sweep of offers.

“A final sweep place?”  He raised an eyebrow at me.  “I doubt that a place at any university I would countenance a child of mine attending would be available in the final sweep.  No,” he smiled at me, “leave it to your mother and I, we’ll arrange everything.  Wash your face now and come downstairs.”  He swept away in a grand gesture, satisfied that he was engaged in fixing my world.  Most of the family followed him.

Aunty Tael, my father’s sister, and her husband, Uncle Ebi, stayed behind.  “Nai, your father means well,” she walked over and leant down to hug me, resplendent in royal blue and sea green, “but if he moves too fast for you, come and stay with us for the summer.  My esteemed elder brother hasn’t quite conquered his tendency to talk at people instead of conversing with them.”  She and Uncle Ebi gave each other a smile that made me think they were remembering the same thing.

I could have taken Aunty Tael up on her offer but I’d already decided what I was going to do.

I washed my face and went down stairs.  I ate some food, talked to the relatives and kept the conversation on Ruh.  I behaved.  I smiled every so often and I helped clean up afterwards.  When the relatives were gone and the house was tidy, I went upstairs and changed then went for a walk.

I went to see my gi master.  Master Que looks like a villainous extra in a movie.  His hair is too long and more than a bit wild.  He’s got tanned skin, he’s sort of skinny, his squint almost looks like he only has one eye, he could bathe at least once more per week than he does and he smokes when he isn’t in the training room.  The brown liquid in his tea cup isn’t always tea.  His training school, where I seemed to be one of very few students, looked dilapidated from the outside.

Inside it was much better.  The attentions of his cleaning lady showed and the training room was impeccably maintained.  Master Que was in the kitchen slicing vegetables for his dinner when I arrived, a cigarette in his mouth and a tea cup of brown liquid at hand.  “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow,” he’d taken the cigarette out of his mouth with the hand that wasn’t holding the knife.  “Don’t you have a big party on at your place tonight?”

“That was this afternoon.  Master,” the prospect of looking bad in his eyes was almost worse than looking bad in front of my family, “and I got upset about not having a big ceremony and a party when I was sixteen.  I think I behaved badly.”

“Oh.”  He took a draw on his cigarette.  “Who did you kill?”

“No-one.”

“Did you destroy the furniture, food and decorations?”

“No.”

“Did you have a screaming temper tantrum in the middle of the party?”

“No.  I went to my room cried, locked the door and cried again.  My father came and got me.”

“So you didn’t behave that badly after all.”  Master Que puffed on his cigarette again.  “You’re seventeen and a half and a bit.  If you didn’t get carried away with your emotions and hormones sometimes, I’d be worried about you.  So, why have you come to see me?”  He recommenced chopping vegetables.

“I think that if we’re ever going to try the tournaments to see if I’m as good as you say I am, it has to be now.”  He looked at me sideways, taking his attention away from the knife and vegetables for less than half a blink.  “Father’s decided to find me the perfect husband.  He’s talking about me being a mother in two years’ time.  I’m worried he’ll decide my next birthday is an auspicious time for a wedding.  Frankly, I’m in the mood to run away.”

Master Que took the cigarette out of his mouth.  “Yes,” he agreed and blew a smoke ring.  “It could indeed be time for a road trip.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] lilfluff's seventh prompt and [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's sixth prompt.

“The subject of today’s lesson is rope.”  Their Year Master looked across the rows of first year student adventurers, most of whom had yet to finalise their professional choice, and picked up a coil of his subject matter.  “Every member of your party should carry a useful length of rope capable of bearing the weight of at least two of you at once.  There is nothing more certain than if only one of you does not fall into the hole or get caught on the collapsing floor then that will be the person who has no rope with which to rescue the rest of you.”  He looked around the room.  “And there is nothing surer, if you live long enough in this business, that you will fall down something.”

“Please sir,” that was Sudella in the front row sticking up her hand, “what sort of rope should we buy?”

“The best you can afford that will do the job.  Remember that “the best” is not necessarily the most expensive.  Shop around and examine the goods before you purchase,” the Year Master waggled a warning finger.  “Cut ropes can be spliced back together again, no matter what their quality.  An unrepaired cut rope will fail if you stress it to its normal capacity.  Magical ropes can be excellent but you don’t want to sleep with a Rope of Strangling as a pillow.  Now then, who of you know what rope can be made from?”  He looked about and then pointed the coil at a lad in the back corner who was gazing at the ceiling.  “Robbins!  Name one thing rope can be made from!”

The freckled boy startled.  “Hemp, sir!”

“Very good.”  The Year Master swivelled and selected a girl is the middle row on the far side of the room, “Rosemany!”

“Flax, sir!”  The flat chested, half elven girl was the daughter of a paladin and sometimes a question could get her to flash the inner fire that could make her the equal of her mother.  Most of the time though she sat quietly in her seat trying not to be noticed, pointed ears carefully hidden under her hair.

The Year Master whirled on his heel and pointed the rope at the thick boy one desk along from Sudella of the eternally raised hand, “Brucheld!”

“Wire!”  Sudella snorted in disgust and Brucheld desperately corrected, “Silk!”

“Both are correct answers,” the Year Master said smoothly, “but wire rope is less often used for our purposes.  Pray keep in mind, Brucheld, that I am the one teaching this class.  Sudella, please wait back after the others leave.”  Sudella appeared stunned at the idea that she might be about to be punished.

The Year Master walked back to the front desk and put down the rope in his hand.  “You will spend the rest of the class familiarising yourselves with the different weights and materials displayed in these samples.”  He indicated the desk.  “Tomorrow we will start on knots and we will discuss weight for purpose as we go.  There will be an exam on this unit of work but the ultimate test in this subject is when you find yourself suspended over a one hundred foot or more drop while secured by a knot of your own tying.  That’s when you get the final pass or fail mark.”

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