January 28th, 2013


Finding Something To Run To

I wrote this to kunama_wolf's prompt:

"Angel universe please!
Prompt word: Blizzard.
Alternately, since that's hard to imagine in summer: tiny Dots of snow melting on cloth."

“What are you doing?”  Beliriel huddled in her cloak as she looked at the stranger.

“Digging us a snow cave,” the stranger in his ridiculous feathered cloak told her.  “A body could freeze to death if they stayed out in this.”  He was digging into the drift that was all that was left from the last snow storm.

“Where did you get the shovel from?”  Getting out of the cold sounded good to her.  She hadn’t expected a blizzard to start when she’d slipped away from all the fuss surrounding the broken axle.

“It folds up,” he said briefly.  “I believe in being prepared.”

“If you’ve got a firestarter,” she offered, “I can get some wood together before there’s too much snow cover.”

“That’s a good idea,” he said and kept digging.

She’d been standing at the crossroads trying to decide which road she should take to reach the river valley and the coastal cities beyond when he’d come along, whistling as he walked.  It had been as he’d gone to pass her that the snow had begun to drop, as heavily as if someone had tipped over a bucket.  It was late in the season for it, but not unknown for one of these storms to brew up.  Survival meant working together, although she seemed to have less to offer to their needs than he did.

By the time he’d dug them a big enough cave for them and a fire, she’d gathered a substantial pile of dead fall from under the surrounding trees.  There was too much to bring inside the cave with them, so it was pulled up to the entrance to help act as a screen along with a few hacked off pine branches.

Settled into their icy snug, the new fire between them, her storm-made companion said, “I’m Geneciah.  I thought I’d walk to Colanta to do some business I have there, and you?”  His mid-brown coloured, feathered cloak was arrayed around him and it seemed to be double-sided.  It didn’t sound like a practical idea but Geneciah looked warm.

“I’m Borneal.  I, I’m running away.”  She’d admitted it but she’d been trying to do it for so long without anyone noticing it was a relief to tell someone.  Everyone had been scolding her for ‘getting lost’ for weeks now.

“What are you running away?”  He was coaxing the fire into a reasonable warmth.

“Grandmother is sending me off to be a priestess of Fulde but I don’t want to go and I don’t think Fulde wants me.”

He looked at her sharply.  “Why do you think that?”

She hunched into her cloak, embarrassed.  “Sometimes, in a temple, I can hear…whispers from the holies, the devotional altars and objects.  I never get that with Fulde, it’s as if he doesn’t talk to me.  I told him, I told him that if he wants me to work for him, he has to talk to me.  Otherwise, if he doesn’t help me get away and find somewhere I’m needed or wanted and can be useful and happy, he’s likely to get stuck with me.  I’ve been trying to run away ever since.”  She looked around her.  “This is the most successful I’ve been – straight into a snow storm.”

Geneciah cocked an eyebrow.  “Any idea why your grandmother is so set on you serving Fulde?”  He was still carefully feeding the fire.

“She wants me out of the house and out of mind when the inheritance for the business is settled.”  Her voice was flat.  “I’m the child of my mother’s first marriage to the “unsuitable” foreigner.  Grandmother wants the business to go to the children she wanted my mother to have, the ones with the “right” father.  I don’t know why she picked Fulde.”

“I would have thought,” Geneciah said carefully, “that the clergy of Fulde would fight for your inheritance rights, he is the god of duty, after all.”

“The business’ ownership is set by a deed of agreement every few generations,” she explained.  “My mother is the last named person in the last deed, so I don’t actually have any inheritance rights to the business at this stage.”

“Ah,” it was a sound of understanding from her companion.  “So, what can you do?”

“I think I could run a small household.  I can run a shopfront.  I can cook a little but I could learn more.  I can run a set of mercantile or business books.”  She waved her hand, “But none of it well enough to please Grandmother.”

“Which is why you’re running away from home and changing your name.”  He was looking straight at her now, the fire still between them.

“Borneal is what my parents wanted to name me, what my mother still calls me.  The other one is what Grandmother and the rest of the family insisted on.”  She lifted her chin.  “So.”

“So,” Geneciah mantled his wings to the extent the small space would allow, “have you ever heard anything from the altars of Kheladare?”

“The journeys god?”  Borneal cocked her head as she thought.  “Wind in the trees or over the ocean.  At least, that was what it sounded like.”

“Have you considered,” he suggested, “that this would be the perfect spot for an inn with a side line in travelling supplies and a shrine?”

Her eye lit up.  “Seed capital?”

“I know a man, well, he’s a high priest, who has access to lots of capital for a good idea.”


Prompt Request Closing

I am running a little late and will be closing the January Prompt Request in twelve hours time.

Please get in your prompts and signal boosts before then.

On a side note, if anyone has a suggestion for an all encompassing tag for the universe that includes Tala and her brother angels as well as the Benarians, I'm all ears.

Client's Choice

I wrote this to thnidu's prompt "Something that is both expected and unexpected by the POV character."

It had been turned into a competition between Thaddea and Thea.  The family was always doing that, and Thea always won.  As she would say in her self-satisfied voice to her age-mate cousin, “I was designed to be better.”  And she had been.  In some family argument that had started before the two of them had been conceived, only Thaddea’s mother had contributed to her design while Thea had the rest of the family listed in her credits.  Apparently the argument wasn’t over, because the family insisted on continuing to test them against each other.  Today was a case in point.

This was an actual commission for the family business and the two cousins had each been tasked to prepare an option for the client’s approval.  Privately, Thaddea thought they could have produced a better proposal working together, but Thea didn’t work that way and the rest of the family had insisted on pitting them against each other. Now the client was going to choose the winner of this competition, and he didn’t even know it.  Thaddea knew which proposal he’d prefer, she’d read his profile.  As had Thea.

“I prefer,” the client, a wealthy noble although that was almost a contradiction these days, was standing beside the pen where Thea’s tall, elegant, colour-matched creatures were being held by their handlers, “this option, but what I need,” he pointed at the pen containing the small, unattended herd of Thaddea’s shorter, squatter, varicoloured animals, “is that option.  Those I can sell my upland peasants on.  Anyone who can take care of cattle, can take care of them.  They shouldn’t need to be stabled except in the dead of winter and their winter coats can be shorn for a usable fibre.  With the toxic vegetation they’re going to helping to eradicate, using the meat or milk would be out of the question, but that’s a good compromise.  We’ll go forward with them, thank you.”

Thaddea hadn’t expected that and neither, when she looked her, had Thea.  Their grandmother had to prod Thaddea in the back to get her to respond to the client.  “Certainly, your lordship.”  The young woman’s voice sounded rusty with surprise.  “What would you like to call them, as a species?”

“Ah,” his face brightened, “I get naming rights, don’t I?  I’ll have to get back to you on that.”


Iphana's Winter

I wrote this to Anonymous' prompt "I've been wondering about Iphana, and how her winter went (or that of the town) or how things went for either come the spring."

Iphana had a long and lonely winter, despite the microwave link back to town.  She’d read her mail, exercised religiously, made all her microwave contacts and spoken to maybe four people all winter, listened to the plays and music they’d patched through to her, tried hibernating around her schedule for a few weeks, intermittently kept a diary and gazed out an upstairs window into the storm.  Well, peeked through a crack in her bedroom window’s storm shutter.

Peering through that crack, she realised that the stories about a whole different ecology inside the winter storm were true.  Felinoids that could have laired comfortably in her maintenance garage stalked browsers with low centres of gravity across the snow outside as they rooted out whatever delicacies it were that they ate.  Some of the creatures chose to use her outpost as a backscratcher and the building shook with every rub of the larger ones.  Fortunately, it didn’t seem to occur to these great beasts that there could be an inside to the outpost, Iphana didn’t want to try dodging any of these creatures in their own environment.

She asked about them in her daily talks with the town but Sawyl had to tell her that the town never saw the large creatures in winter.  “The grass must be wrong or something,” he added.

“Don’t be sorry,” Iphana told him, “some of these things are big enough to shake the building when they rub against it.” She paused then asked, “Could that be the reason for some of the unexplained winter damage on outpost buildings I was reading about?”

“I can just imagine,” the voice of Auditor Carvell came over the feed, “the expressions on the faces of the engineers back in Central when they’re told that their buildings are inadequately braced for their secondary function of scratching post.”