Normally I try to not talk in french ever on here because its cringe and frogpilled or something I'M NOT EVEN FROM FRANCE but my head is literally straining to type this I don't know what is up with me
Normally I try to not talk in french ever on here because its cringe and frogpilled or something I'M NOT EVEN FROM FRANCE but my head is literally straining to type this I don't know what is up with me
Rue & Rose, that cozy-witchy-cottagecore-romance short story I started and then switched for dark academia? I still ended up writing it. I just reached the mid-point! So if you'd like to read Part One— here it is in all its unedited glory.
Living in a cottage was often thought a quaint, wondrous thing, but it was not without its trials and drudgery.
Especially if you were a young lady.
Especially if you were a young lady who appreciated her sleep.
A few years ago, Rue would have been pardoned wishing to sleep in. Rose had not raised any children before or since her coming, but had remembered well enough how growing tended to tire one out.
But Rue was one and twenty now and had not in truth grown anyway but sideways past the age of two and ten. The other children from the village used to tease her with a litany of names, “dumpling” being a favorite among them, but not near as catchy as the rhythmic “chipmunk cheeks”.
This name-calling stopped however, when she learned her first handful of spells. Simple cantrips, harmless at face value… though they did not need to know that. Whether the jokes and insults continued on was no longer Rue’s concern, for if they did, they were done well beyond her earshot.
And there was much to do these days to occupy her.
The spring chill still clung onto the early mornings, sometimes layering the cottage and the surrounding dark woods in a veil of mist. Despite the lack of sunlight tapering through the leaves, the chickens were awake, small clucks and the rustling of grass audible from Rue’s bedroom window.
Seated on the windowsill, their expression expectant yet patient, was a small golden brown creature with large bat-like ears and wings. It rose up on its clawed feet and alighted unto Rue’s bed.
“Morning! Goooooooood morning! Breakfast? Eggs? Sausage?”
“We can make eggs.” Rue responded gently, knowing full well her reply would not calm the creature as much as spur it into a new chanting.
“Eggs! Eggs! Eggs from Cumin! Eggs for breakfast!”
And once again the creature alighted and dove towards the door. It caught in the half open frame, wiggling twice to force its way through and out.
Rue rubbed her eyes, pulling herself up over to the small wooden vanity in her room and summoning a faint stream of water into the empty porcelain bowl on top of it. Water creation had been one of the first things she learned, drawing moisture from the air until it collected enough for her purposes.
Rue washed her face and hands, changed her shift and pulled on a loose cotton dress the color of dried grass. An apron and a handkerchief to pull the brown waves of her hair from her face finished her ensemble.
She had no mirror, no way to appraise herself or her appearance, and so Rue walked out into the space that served both for living and cooking, headed to the front door.
Rose’s shoes were already gone, her own soft leather ones sat alone. They looked as new as the day they had been purchased in the village, with Rue hardly finding a reason to wear them when the grass was warm and dry. And even then, she did not mind the dampness of morning dew either. Her winter boots were far more worn, the soles in desperate need of redoing, but that was not something she would worry about until summer cooled into fall.
Several other creatures identical to Cumin in all but their coloring were already at work in the yard, tossing out feed to the chickens and goats and drawing water into small buckets. They were not trusted however, with the collecting of eggs or the milk. Rue’s mother had learned long ago the wits and strengths of her familiars and animal handling was not chiefly among them.
Any beast might tolerate a hand that feeds it, but many a familiar had met a short end at the claws and beaks of an angry swarm of chickens. Rue eased past the hens, venturing to the coop to collect enough eggs for the morning meal for now, holding them carefully in the hammock of her apron.
When she stood, she looked out over the yard, not yet spotting Rose among the herbs or garden. Rue shrugged and headed back inside, depositing her bounty with Cumin who had stoked the kitchen fire and prepared a pan for the job.
Rue poked her head out the back door, “Mum?”
No reply. It was not uncommon for Rose to venture out into the woods for mushrooms or other less common ingredients they did not grow themselves. Rue was unconcerned, returning to the kitchen to slice herself a gracious piece of bread to toast on a fork above the fireplace. They had a new device, a circular metal rack meant to be set upon the stove to toast their bread, but Rue had found the old ways just as effective.
The blacksmith often made payment with such devices. Jocelyn’s magical needs both at home and around her forge had paid for the very lovely stove in their home to begin with.
Rue cleared a few things from their table, making space to sit with her toast and her tea, already made and sitting cold near Rose’s empty cup. Rue didn’t mind, using the dipper sticking out from the honey pot to smother her tea in sweetness. The jam jar and a knife, one side speckled with red fruit still sat poised on the table. Remnants of a quick meal before her mother had hurried off into the wood. Rue spread butter and jam alike onto her toast and savored the first, crunchy warm bite.
“Eggs! Cumin made eggs!”
Cumin had scooped the scrambled yellow, buttery eggs onto a plate and balanced it in his claws, swooping the short distance onto the table with ease.
“Fork? Fork! Fork!”
He alighted again and returned with the utensil, proudly holding it aloft. Rue took it with a smile and set down her toast to give him a gentle rub behind his ears. Whether Cumin could even feel pleasure in such a petting, Rue did not know. The small creatures were shaped from clay, made with earth, mandrake and ash, each familiar’s coloring differing upon what material Rose used to fashion them.
Their names came from these colors, and from the tiny pinch of spice her mother had taken to folding into their clay as a play upon their names. Not all the familiars were as one-track minded as Cumin. Saffron, Rose’s true familiar, was not some construct to be tasked with daily household chores. She served as an extension of the witch herself, imbued strongly to her will and her magic by an added ingredient none of the others boasted. Blood.
Rose had been teaching Rue the basics of familiar creation. Practicing the art of identifying the best suitable ingredients and how to work and form the clay. Rose was a consummate artist, her creations formed with such breathtaking detail that when they awoke with magic, they seemed as alive as any creature of flesh and blood. Rue… well. Rue was improving, at least.
Cumin had begun to clear off Rose’s dishes, setting them at the basin that served as their sink.
“Clean? Water?” Cumin asked, turning with a hopeful tone to Rue. It was much easier to have her summon forth a stream than for him to go out and battle for a turn at the pump himself. Rue laughed and set aside her fork, placing her index fingers and thumbs together for a moment as she centered herself.
A small cupful of water for her vanity table was one thing.
This was another.
The air in the room tightened, warbled. The air nearly crackled as Rue pulled water from it, building and building until a great bubble of water wobbled and floated above the sink. Cumin made a sound of anticipation and glee. Rue imagined a needle, a spout. A means to gently pop the bubble and let the water pour easily into the basin.
Then the door slammed on its hinges and in a second, the pinprick she envisioned became a slash and the water exploded out, half in the basin and half on the floor.
Cumin blinked, droplets falling from his ears.
“Mum, for goodness sake!” Rue yelped, her face flushing hot. The older woman who stood in the doorway, her hair curlier and darker than Rue’s own except for a few strands of pale silver, stared with a grin at the display before her. A startled laugh escaped her throat.
“Ah-- oops?” Rose came to drop a small basket upon the table filled with bright orange chicken-of-the-woods, oyster and even a few white shaggy mane mushrooms. Saffron, bright red and lovely, peaked her head out from the basket.
Saffron was no gargoyle, but was lovingly sculpted to resemble a strawberry finch… albeit, one of a size more befitting a raven than a songbird.
Cumin shook himself off and began, without hesitation, cleaning up the dishes in the small inch or two of water he had available to him in the sink. Rose rolled her eyes and with a quick motion of the same hand gesture Rue had made, the water rose off the floor like raindrops and quickly morphed into a small stream that poured into the sink.
“Clean! Clean!” Cumin sang to himself.
“Honey… I think you might have shorted the mandrake measurement when you mixed him…” Rose said with a sigh, amusement obvious in the way she was still smiling. Rue had indeed prepared the clay that was used to shape Cumin, but it was only Rose’s magic that brought any of them to life. Try as she might, Rue had not yet mastered that particular art.
It was easier to design a familiar when one added their blood into the mix, but such a bond was so magical and so unique that it could only be done once. Rose had warned her against making a lifelong bond so hastily, encouraging Rue instead to practice.
“I think he is funny.” Rue said, drawing herself up tightly in a show of indignation. It was all for fun, Rose nodding sagely in turn.
“Yes… ‘funny’. I wholeheartedly agree.” Rose said, beginning to sort and prepare the forest bounty to be put away.
Breakfast finished and the water cleared, Rue fell into silent work alongside her mother. They put away the mushrooms and aided Cumin in the sorting of the kitchen before heading out into the yard. The mist had cleared some, the sun dappling shadows across the grass. Flowers turned their heads towards the elusive rays, brightening the otherwise beige and grey cobbled walls made of stone and mortar. The thatch roof was sturdy, another payment from a generous customer.
The entire cottage was a result of Rose’s labors for the small village of Briarwood. Witches were always a commodity, especially witches who were benevolent and open to the visit of strangers upon their front door. Rose could hardly turn them away, half of them had helped in the building of the cottage and the other half the furnishing within. The two goats, Millie and Billie, had been payment for services, the same for their most dependable hens.
Rose crafted everything from poultices, potions, but most of all she was sought out for her little “helpers”.
Thus she had earned a singular title, the Beast Peddler.
Morning came and went, the chores finally done. Rue and Rose had their lunch in the shade, a small feast of nuts, cheese and a few cured meats. Cumin lazed about in the grass, rolling on his back like a cat and acting much like one as well. Saffron puffed up, clearly unimpressed by the display of her fellow familiar.
Saffron, unlike Cumin or any of the other lesser familiars, did not speak to Rue or anyone else unless absolutely necessary. She spoke only to Rose, a link existing between their thoughts that made verbal communication unneeded. Rue often forgot Saffron was a being of clay and earth, her feathers life-like and soft beneath her fingers when she had allowed Rue to prune and pet her as a child.
Inside her chest, even fluttered something like a heart, but when Rue had questioned her mother upon it she had told her it was her imagination.
There were many differences between Saffron and her lesser brothers and sisters and one that stood out the most. Rose shifted, her mouth turning into a small frown as her eyes fluttered and a few tears came unbidden from her eyes.
“Damn.” Rose murmured, rubbing the moisture away with the back of her hand, “Damn.”
“Which one?” Rue asked, hurrying to her feet. The question did not hang unanswered for long. From around the side of the house came the soft beat of wings. Pepper and Coriander landed upon the grass, the still darkened form of another in their hands.
“Oh…” Rue said softly, taking the small stiff body in her hands. Without the blood connection, without the constant flow of magic, the familiars ran dry and would return eventually to the earth they were. Paprika was no more than a little statue now, curled up in an eternal sleep. Rue handed the small creature to her mother, who was still fighting off the small trails of tears.
It was an uncontrollable response, she had told her. When a lesser familiar passed, you felt the end of it. Paprika had been around before Rue was even born. A lengthy life for a lesser familiar. Pepper and Coriander showed no signs of grief or sadness like Saffron could, but instead alighted to Rose’s shoulders and held on tightly.
“Paprika, sleep?” Coriander asked, “Sleep long?”
“Morning passed though!” Pepper insisted, looking confused.
“No more mornings for Paprika, Pepper. Paprika gets to sleep in from now on, as long as she wants.”
“Like Dill.” Coriander nodded and Pepper, at the mention of the last familiar who passed, also nodded in time.
Sometimes her mother would be overcome at the strangest moments. The passing of some familiar Rose made and sold or gave as payment registering through her soul as the tiny spark of her magic that existed within them returned to her. Often, she went right back to work, fashioning a new one before the previous owner could even send word or come to the door to purchase another.
Tonight would be no different.
“We will need to prepare some clay.” Rose said, standing. She would see to Paprika’s small body. What she did with them, Rue did not know. She had known even as a young girl that it was a thing she was not meant to ask.
Rose smiled softly, petting a finger down the length of Paprika’s still back.
“And I think… yes. Some sage this time.”
The clay made and set, dampened with water below the full moon, would promote further longevity of the creation. Rue had helped some in the preparation, cutting the fresh sage Rose would mill and roll into the wet ash and mandrake, watching her work and warm the earth and water in her hands until it became soft and malleable.
Rose would sit up all night with the clay, drawing her magic into it, whispering in the life and purpose it would hold.
Rue went to sleep early and found herself within a familiar dream.
The palace stands like a glittering jewel on the coast, the soft roll of waves cold and gentle across his feet. He had enjoyed walking the beaches since he was a young child, feeling the soft push and pull of the waters.
He remembered such a feeling. A river of sensation, of rocks, of fish and foliage and of the sunshine above. The press of palms, the roll of fingers.
The water shapes the sand in an endless motion, drawing away bits of the beach and rock until one day the beautiful glittering palace might very well fall into the very oceans it overlooks.
He should feel frightened by the prospect.
He never feels frightened.
Maybe that was why the other children never wished to play with him. Why no one held long, the dark black of his gaze. Beneath his hand, he had felt the fluttering, rapid beating of a girl’s heart. He had tasted the skipping pulse beneath his lips.
All the while, his own never quickened.
He wanted to worry about this, the way mother worried, the way father worried… but found himself incapable of putting on the right face.
But in the chill of the sea, he felt one thing, strong and certain and growing louder.
Rue woke before dawn, her feet cold. She groaned, turning into her pillow and letting the sound rise into a muffled shriek. The dream always brought into her heart a terrible feeling, a pitiful feeling. A feeling she knew the word for and yet could not understand why it throbbed so keenly in her heart.
It was the feeling of the scraping of skin off a knee from a tumble. The gnawing sensation in one’s stomach that dared flare up after having just been sick. The beaded blood on the tip of a finger from where a splinter had been removed.
Pain. Hunger. Absence.
Words that all led to only one possible conclusion.
Rue was lonely.
Rose recognized the signs in her daughter that marked the return of her troubled dreams. Rue rose earlier on these days, quiet and something nearly mournful in the dowerness of her expression. She brewed her tea, with honey and citrus to lift her spirits and sent her with an errand into town.
The cottage was not nestled too deeply into the forest, making the walk to the main road a rather short one. Rue followed the small river, Cumin taking the opportunity to stretch his wings and then to ride upon her shoulder or atop her head.
In her arms Rue carried a small basket, filled with fresh herbs and poultices and a small note that detailed whom to deliver what items to in the village. Briarwood was so named for the very woods that abucted its border, a small village, remote and out of the way of the major roads. Rue had heard of palaces, of castles and cities that spanned for miles, but had never seen them. No one in Briarwood had and no doubt no one ever would.
The land was peaceful. Quiet. Untouched by the wars that had ravaged the nation to the north, the Veiling Sea between them. Rue had never seen war, but she knew Rose had. There was a reason witches were so keenly sought in the Southern Lands and that was because the bulk of those with any skill in the arts came from the North.
And the North indentured their witches into the army.
Rose had fought when she was younger than Rue herself, that much she knew. But what else her mother never spoke of.
“Those dark days are over.”
She would say, her smile strained, and change the subject.
It had been two and twenty years since Rose had come to Briarwood, thin and with eyes darkened from having seen too much, too soon. Rue had been a baby, swaddled to her mother’s back, too hungry even to cry when they stepped off the ship that carried them across the sea and deposited them on this new land.
The people had embraced her, had marveled at her strange bird familiar and her curly wild hair.
It could have ended much differently, but it did not, and for that, Rue would always be grateful.
Briarwood was already awake, the village coming alive as carts headed into the fields, the blacksmith fires were lit and from the open window of the bakery the scent of baking bread wafted out.
“Jocelyn? Jocelyn!” Cumin cried out, somehow managing to fish the scrap of paper from the basket and pointing animatedly at the name.
Rue nodded and stopped at the blacksmith first, handing off sprigs of mint and lavendar, dried and tied tightly together. She also provided Jocelyn with a small jar of a salve, smelling strongly of the same. The smoke often troubled Jocelyn’s lungs and her head, the salve doing wonders in helping to ease her breathing and the magic weaved within it aiding in the recovery of her body.
She thanked Rue and paid in silver, rather than trinkets.
By the time Rue finished the rounds, she was no better than when she left, the melancholy clinging to her thoughts. She sat beneath the shade of a tree, a fresh loaf of cinnamon bread in her basket, but felt no appetite even as it tempted her nose with the spicy aroma.
“How far away is the sea from here, Cumin?” she asked, looking out over the rolling pastures.
“Sea? See? I see far away, yes.”
Rue sighed. It was not something Cumin would know anyway, having been created long after Rose had landed in port and crossed the Southern Lands to the Briarwood.
“I would like to go to the sea someday,” Rue said, picking at the grass around her feet, “Someday.”
“No go. No go away.” Cumin said, his voice softening and his tiny clawed hands gripping unto her skirt. Rue gave him a reassuring smile and a small pet.
“You would come with me! I wouldn’t leave you alone… you wouldn’t make it without me.”
“Cumin go too?”
“Yes, Cumin go too.”
This news soothed the little creature and his attention then soon quickly turned to the buzzing insects around them. He hopped after crickets and chased locust, never catching them, even if it would be a simple thing for him to do. The familiars were gentle souls and even in their innocence, they had never harmed a living thing. At least, not that Rue had ever seen.
The sun above them was warm, the shade providing a gentle relief from the heat until the summer fit around Rue like a quilted blanket. She leaned her head back against the tree and closed her eyes, breathing in slow and deep.
Her thoughts flickered, fuzzing out around the edges and beneath her lids, her eyes began to tremor.
It was not often that his mother would be so cautious, but he could hardly blame her. Father had been gone overlong, only to send word for his son to be sent to him.
“High time he learned from experience” the letter had said, now clutched in his mother’s hand. Sea Scout was ready, small and fast, a ship meant for easy travel, not for war.
No one would attack a simple travelers vessel. He said, thinking such a fact might make his mother less concerned. His words did nothing to ease the wrinkles between her brows. When had she begun to get them? He wondered, feeling his hands urge to reach forward and try to smooth them down with his thumb.
He resisted. Those kind of things made his mother only worry more, looking at him as if she were afraid what he might do next.
There goodbye was short, but the arms that held him were genuine in their affection, even if she had hesitated at first. Be good. Be safe. Be strong. He nodded, not a single seed of apprehension planted in his chest. It was just a journey, like any other. He didn’t understand why his mother had tears in her eyes. He didn’t understand why she looked at him as if she were trying to find something in the smoothness of his own skin. He tugged himself free of her, only because it was time to go, and when he left, he did not turn back.
Rue had never had the dreams during the day, the waking from it leaving her feeling even more out of sorts than when she awoke that morning.
By the time Rue arrived home, there was a new familiar zipping about the garden, grey and speckled with green. The familiar perched on the fence and watched her with curious eyes, Cumin hurrying to perch next to the newcomer, his speech falling into the incomprehensible chittering the familiars often spoke to one another in.
“Rue.” the familiar said at her approach, “Rue. Witch’s daughter.”
“That would be me.” Rue said with a sigh, setting down the basket which was now heavy with purses of silver, loaves of bread and other items from the market their customers had traded for the potions and poultices.
“And you must be Sage. That was quick, usually she spends ages on your ears.”
Sage cocked her head to the side and flicked both ears, as if to showcase them for Rue’s inspection.
“Ears work fine.” Sage said with a nod, “Rose inside making soup with Pepper.”
“Soup?! Soup!” Cumin exclaimed, quickly taking wing and flapping in a mad dash towards the cottage. That they had begun to prepare a meal without him would not sit well with the small familiar, a fact that made Rue smile.
“How was the village?” Rose asked the moment Rue stepped inside, setting the basket on-top of the table.
“Usual. Jocelyn paid with silver this time. I was kinda looking forward to some new strange contraption.”
Rose snorted, “You never use the ones we have.”
“Not true! I use some as lovely paper weights when I am painting.” Rue said with a grin, unloading the contents of the basket and tucking them away all save for one loaf of bread, which she left out to enjoy with their meal.
“Right, very charming.” Rose said with a sigh, ladling the creamy soup into two wooden bowls. Cumin and Pepper were prepared to take them from her, setting the table. The soup smelled delicious, the scent of cooked onion and mushrooms already filling the kitchen. Fresh carrots and green herbs colored the surface and when Rue dipped her spoon in, she found the soup thick and hearty.
It would be perfect for dipping. She tore off a piece of the flakey golden bread and ran it along the edge of her bowl. Rose came to sit, not minding Rue had begun without her.
“… did Jocelyn— was she happy with the salve? The herbs?”
“Yes. She said she’d hang the dried bundles at the head of her bed and use the salve on her feet as instructed. Seems to be working, her color was much better.” Rue said, having noted the paleness of Jocelyn’s face had some color to it when she saw the other woman.
“Good… good. I should go into town tomorrow and see how she is fairing.”
Rue scowled, “You could have gone today for the deliveries.”
“And spare you the chore? Stars forbid.” Rose said with a sly grin, licking the back of her spoon. The sun outside was beginning to dim and right on cue the familiars alighted into the cottage, taking their places among the perches hung on the walls. Small beds, like the kinds one might prepare for a cat dotted the living space, giving them each a place to rest and conserve their magic.
Most familiars did not sleep, but rather meditated and slowed themselves into an almost dormant state. It was different for Saffron, who shared in Rose’s dreams during the night. Rue knew this because Saffron would wake up too, screeching in the night when Rose had a nightmare.
Rue had wanted to ask what they were about, just another curious lingering of childhood. She wondered a lot of things lately. Where did Rose live in the Northern Lands? Did she have grandparents living? How did she meet her father? Was he a good man? Did he die? What happened that made her leave? Was it why she had such bad dreams?
As if she could see the questions ticking through her mind, Rose frowned.
“You seem tired today.” she said, reaching across the table to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Rue’s ear.
“Dreams again. Weird ones. Always make me feel sluggish and icky.” Rue said with a shrug, “It’s weird how much deeper they are when I dream about him.”
Rue didn’t need to elaborate. Rose knew well of the boy that haunted Rue’s sleep, a boy who had grown as she grew, it would seem. Aging in her thoughts at the same rate Rue herself aged. A peculiar dream for sure, but what was peculiar to a girl whose mother created life from clay?
Rue finished her soup and set aside her dishes for Cumin to clean.
“I think I’ll turn in, try to get settled early in case I have another tonight.”
Rose nodded, her mouth still in a downturned shape even as Rue put on a cheery face.
“Good night, mum.” Rue said passingly and went to her bedroom, closing the door behind her.
A half a moment later, she opened it again, Cumin flying through the doorway on cue.
Reading was perhaps not the best thing to calm her thoughts and keep them from bustling with vivid dreams, but still Rue laid out on her bed, flipping through the worn pages. Cumin was curled on her belly, one wing folded on his back and the other flopped over. His eyes were shut, his small body still with the quiet of his “sleep”.
Unlike a living creature, he had no warmth to offer. His small body was cool, but during the summer nights sometimes that was pleasant too. Rue would have very much liked a cat that would snuggle and purr against her cheek, but the only cats they kept at the cottage were wild things. Not even truly theirs, but guests who chased off mice and slept in the sun and vanished by nightfall to their own devices.
The book was one from her youth, well-loved and well-read. It was a story about a huntress, hired by the king of the land to stop poachers in his forests. The huntress found the source of the poaching, a woodland beast who took human form herself and spoke to the huntress of the king’s excesses. Of the lack of game, of the stagnation of the land, sucked dry by his greed and his over-hunting. The huntress decides to let the beast go, but the king and his men arrive at the same time. The king orders her to kill the creature that has been draining the land, stealing from its rightful owners. The huntress declares three words. As you command. And shoots the king through the heart.
The story ends there, but Rue often liked to daydream about what came next. Did his men simply leave? Knowing the huntress was right? Did she battle them too, with an army of forest beasts? Did she live out her days with the woodland beast in peace and love? Did she die? The story did not elaborate because in truth the characters were but vehicles for the author to tell her fable— both story and warning.
Rue set the book on her bedside drawer and tucked in before blowing the candle out. The night was chilly, the scent of rain coming in on the wind from her cracked window. In the far distance, Rue thought she heard the faint rumble of thunder.
He had never been this cold.
Rain soaked through clothes clung to his skin, the blackness of the roaring waves somehow more terrifying when the sky was lit up with lightning, illuminating their high crests and falling peaks. The sailors were screaming, those overboard and those still holding on, lashing themselves to the mast or holding desperately to ropes. The captain’s voice had boomed loud above all others, but with the crash of a hard wave it had been silenced.
He felt the rattle of the thunder in his chest and for the barest moment, the boy thought that rattling must be the “fear” he had heard others speak of. Anyone who truly did know what fear was like would have known what the boy felt was not that. It was not anything. He was quiet inside. Still. Even when he turned his eyes up to face the rush of water that seared across the bow of the ship. Even when it carried him over the ledge and into the deep, dark ocean below.
He did not faint. He was awake the entire time. Body thrashed and pulled, rolled beneath the waves until he sunk deep enough that the water stood still. Calm. Cold. He opened his eyes against the darkness, not knowing which way was towards shore, towards home.
All he felt was the Pull. The tie that secured somewhere within his ribs and stretched endlessly outward into the depths, towards some unknowable center.
With nothing else, no where else, no one else— the boy followed it.
Rue woke gasping, coughing wetly into her hands as she fought for the air her lungs felt they had been denied of for far too long. She brushed water from her cheeks, shivering in the damp. When she opened her eyes she saw her bed sheets were soaked.
Confused, heart-racing, she looked above and below for the ocean— but found only her window had blown open further in the night and the rain water outside was falling in on the wind.
Rue let out an indignant cry and scrambled up, closing the shutters and flicking water off her hands. It was still dark, either from the clouds or from the early morning sky, Rue could not say. In a moment, her door was open, Rose standing in the frame looking haggard and half-asleep.
“Are you alright? What happened? Did the ceiling burst?”
“No, no!” Rue replied curtly, annoyed with her own stupidity, “I left the pig-shitting window open.”
Rose snorted at rather than reprimanded Rue for her word choice.
To Rue’s annoyance, she spotted Cumin, resting comfortably and dry across the room on her dresser.
“You could have woke me up!” she shouted at the familiar, but the creature remained still, not yet having woken again from its hibernation.
“Ugh… the rain made my dream even worse.” Rue moaned, peeling off her wet night gown. Rose had already disappeared into the other room, returning with a towel. She handed it off to Rue and fished a new nightgown from her dresser.
“A dream? That’s three in less than that many days…”
“They have been coming a lot more now.” Rue said, rubbing her hair vigorously in the towel and scowling at the frizzy mess it made of her waves. She tugged on the new nightgown and turned to her bed sheets.
“I can do it, sweetie.”
“No, no I got it.” Rue replied, taking in a deep breath and drawing her hands together in a triangular position. She breathed out, drawing her hands down in a slow motion and then lifting them upwards. Water lifted upwards against the fabric, darkening the sheets even further as it settled closer and closer into one singular spot. She pulled up again and the water rose from the sheet in a smooth orb. Carefully, slowly, she directed the orb above her wash basin and, like before, imagined a tiny prick point in its smooth surface.
The water poured easily into the basin and left her sheets dry.
Rose beamed, “That was exceedingly well done.”
“It… feels a bit easier. Like I could keep the image of what I wanted from the magic clearer in my mind.” Rue said, rubbing her fingertips together and staring at them with faint bewilderment.
“It’s never been that easy— maybe the dream has me more out of sorts than I thought.” Rue said with a laugh, turning up to look at her mother and finding the bright smile that was present there a moment ago was gone. Instead, Rose’s face was paling, a look like— recognition, spreading across her face. Then shock.
“Rue, what was the dream about?” Rose asked, her voice tight with her efforts to keep it from wavering. Rue hesitated.
“What was the dream about?”
“The boy with the dark eyes… he was on a ship and it was caught in a storm. Mum, what’s wrong? Why does the dream matter?”
“What happened to the boy? The ship?” Rose continued on pressing, her eyes urgent and wide.
“The ship… I don’t know. The boy washed overboard.”
Rue jolted, “He! He was lost? He didn’t know where to swim, so… he started swimming towards the ‘Pull’. The thing he calls the ‘Pull’.”
Rose ran her hands over her mouth and then through her hair, turning on her heel and marching into the living room.
“Mum?” Rue called after, following her, “Mum! Mum, what is it? What’s wrong?”
Rose was in a frenzy, pulling out her rucksack and her walking staff, searching for her rain cloak and boots while overhead, Saffron fluttered anxiously. The other familiars had begun to stir, chittering quietly amongst themselves. A general feeling of ill-ease had settled over the cottage like a wet wool blanket.
“I have to go to Port City.” Rose mumbled, filling the bag with rations and then going to the sink to fill her canteen, “See the shipping manifests. Find out where it was headed… a name.”
Rose stopped and turned toward Rue, “Did you see a name on the ship?”
Rue thought back— the ship. The sea. The lightning. Did the boy ever think of the name?
“… Sea Scout.” Rue said, the words coming slowly, “The ship was called Sea Scout. It is small, fast. One of the king’s boats in my dream— a dream. Mum, it was just a dream.”
“Maybe not.” Rose said, “It… could be a warning. A foretelling. We should let someone know. It will take me five days to reach the port if I leave now."
The answer seemed to easy, too simple. Prophetic dreams were not unheard of, but nothing in previous history had ever made these dreams anything more than a product of Rue’s own imagination!
Rose was ready, Saffron settling upon her shoulder as her mother headed to the cottage door and wrenched it open. The sound of the harsh rainfall filled the room.
“It is a five day journey to Port City? There and back?!” Rue cried out, rushing to the door and hanging in its frame as her mother stepped out into the damp.
“You’ll be gone ten days?!”
“You will be alright,” Rose said, stopping and returning to the door frame to press a kiss to Rue’s forehead. Rue stuck out her bottom lip as she did as a child, feeling her eyes burning and threatening to overflow.
“There is food enough and if you are missing anything, go in to town. I will stop by Jocelyn’s and let her know I will be gone and to expect you should you need anything… I’ll tell her to look in on you. Alright? I promise, as soon as I return…” Rose trailed off, her eyes flicking over Rue’s face. For a moment, Rue thought her mother might cry as well.
Rose wrapped her up in a tight embrace, neither caring about the wetness already seeped into her clothes.
“I will be back. Ten days time exactly. Not a moment longer. If anything should happen, go directly to town. Tell Cumin to send a message to Saffron. They can communicate at greater distances than you or I. It will be fine.” Rose said, gently soothing back a strand of Rue’s hair and tucking it, as always, behind her ear.
“I will explain everything when I return. I promise. This time… everything.”
Rue nodded, a hiccup trapped in her throat. It took all of her strength to let go of her mother’s cloak. She stood in the sopping wet doorway, watching Rose disappear down the winding path into the wood towards the road.
Before long all that was left was silence. Silence and the rain and the nearing roll of thunder.
Rue felt a bit better as the familiars awoke, going about their chores as usual. The sound was welcome and made her feel less alone, but no less motivated. She sat at the kitchen table, her chin in her hand and her paints laid out. She did not even notice when she rested her sleeve in the wet mixture, staining the yellow fabric green.
The painting was hardly exemplary, just an impression. A vague picture of the ship and the sea and the storm. Beneath it, a pencil drawing was half done of a boy, dark haired and dark eyed, his skin pale and toneless, his face sculpted— as if someone had worked long and hard to craft something so handsome.
Rue turned her eyes back to her painting and noted she had dripped the blue oil unto her drawing.
“Pig shitting, cow spitting, goat eating…” she swore continously under her breath, rubbing the paint from the thin paper as best she could with her thumb. It was no use. The blue smear dragged across the boys face, smearing the pencil lines into a mess of muddy blues.
Outside the rain had begun more like a faint sprinkling, the sound pleasant against the wood’s leaves. Cumin stood dutifully at the window nearest to the door, his ears pricked forward and his eyes alert. As if any moment he expected Rose to return.
It had been two days since her mother departed, the rain lasting long into the day and evenings until they all seemed to blur together.
“Guest!” Cumin shouted, his words sending Rue nearly toppling off her stool, “Guest! Guest coming! Wet guest! Towel for guest!”
“Cumin, please, good earth… it’s probably just Jocelyn.” Rue mumbled, throwing her paint brush aside and standing up. The familiar had already taken off, going to the cupboard and pulling out a fresh towel as he raced back to the door. Rue was already there, her hand poised upon the knob.
Something in her chest expanded. A strange sensation, as if a small string were tied somewhere beneath her left rib and had, without warning, been gently tugged. She had felt this sensation before, thin and pulled taunt, as if the string were miles away… but now it felt looser. The distance shorter.
Rue opened the door and standing, hair as black as ink plastered to his forehead, water running down his sharp, pale cheeks, was the boy from her dreams.
The moment his dark eyes met hers, Rue felt something snap into the place. The clicking of a lock. The fitting of the last puzzle piece. The boys brows lifted, the smooth, expressionless look on his face turning into one of shock and then something akin to agony. Confusion. Joy. His throat bobbed and whatever words he had been meaning to speak were lost in a rattled gasp.
He clutched the door frame as if he could hardly keep himself upright and then the boy did something he had never done in Rue’s dreams.
And then, he tipped forward and kissed her.
prompt: "Moon Magic" by @flashfictionfridayofficial
WIP tag: soulverse
genre: high fantasy
word count: ~300
On the final morning of the journey, while lightspeakers illuminated the starship and airspeakers filled its sails and spacespeakers pushed it forward at impossible speeds, Red stood on the deck, her eyes fixed on the moon that grew closer with every passing second.
She’d drawn up the hood of her cloak to hide her blood red hair and matching eyes. While the hair itself might not draw much attention in some countries, many of the other people on this ship were Kosmovians familiar with the legend of Blood Red. She didn’t need them questioning her.
Alezi appeared at her right and rested his hands on the wooden railing. “What do you think?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” Red said softly.
Alezi snorted. “Yeah? Try spending your entire life in the Iron Citadel. You’d take the first chance to go back to Earth.”
Red lifted an eyebrow. “The caverns are supposed to be pretty, aren’t they? I heard they’re full of luminescent moss and colorful flowers.”
“Oh, yeah, the caverns are gorgeous,” Alezi said. “And filled with things that want to kill you. Fae, drakes, perytons, poisonous plants—”
“Yes, yes, magical beasts,” Red said with a wave of her hand. “I’ve dealt with plenty.”
“Moon magic is different from Earth magic,” Alezi warned.
“Perhaps,” Red said. “But as long as the fae king can bleed, I’ll kill him.” She lifted her chin. “That is what you want me to do, isn’t it?”
“I’m not familiar with the politics between the fae and the humans of the Iron Citadel,” Red said. “Are you sure killing the king won’t make them angrier?”
“He’s the one ordering them to kill any human who sets foot in the caverns,” Alezi said. “Killing him will send a message. We humans won’t live in fear anymore.”
This is the first bit of writing for my new version of my fantasy world. I'm not planning to really work on it until I make progress on some other projects, but I'll definitely be thinking about it a lot over the next few weeks.
(See Part 1 here)
Mornings start early at the farm, a “chase base” purchased by the Hardings to live in while out on their springtime expeditions, if they end up being close enough at the end of the day. They’ve made it a welcoming place, with whitewashed walls and a clinking wind-chime statue created by Jo’s aunt in the front yard. Certainly it’s superior to the uncountable random roadside motel rooms in whatever small town is close enough where the team more commonly ends up spending the night.
There is very little glamour in the life of a storm chaser, Jo tells me as she reviews the day’s outlook report from the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) while Dusty struggles with the coffee machine. Most days consist of long hours of driving and arguing about which road to take only to reach thunderstorms that fail to produce tornadoes or fizzle out entirely, with only gas station junk food to eat, ending with a late night arrival in an unfamiliar town, a bleary-eyed search for accommodations and a bout of haggling with the night clerk to get everyone housed without breaking the bank. Coffee is very important.
But for Jo, and for most of the team, there’s no other life imaginable.
“The data we provide, all of the hundreds of chasers out there watching the sky, reporting in, it helps the Weather Service and the authorities be aware of what’s going on and give warnings when they need to. And the more we learn about how tornadoes form, the more we know what to look for and the earlier and more precise warnings they can give. The average warning time used to be five minutes, now it’s up to thirteen, but if your house has no basement, where can you get in thirteen minutes? It’s nowhere near good enough.
“You know, in the ‘70s, they had no idea of how to predict a volcanic eruption, they didn’t know what precursors to look for, they were swarming all over Mount St. Helens for two months and it still took them by surprise. But after that they doubled up their work and they examined all of these different volcanoes and they realized the key was the earthquake swarms and the deformation of the ground—that’s how they could know an eruption was coming. And they were able to evacuate our Air Force base next to Pinatubo in time because they knew what to look for. We don’t have precursors for like that for tornadoes, we don’t have one clear way of knowing if a cell will produce a tornado or not, but if we could find one… it could be the difference between life and death for people in these communities. And that’s what drives me.”
For Jo, the threat is all too personal. At the age of six, her father was killed when a tornado destroyed her family’s Oklahoma home. According to later estimates, the storm would have rated an F-5, although the Fujita Scale would not be developed until three years later. Chasing, too, has its risks—Miller, Jo’s former colleague, was killed during the 1996 outbreak mere minutes before Dorothy 5’s success. “Our teams had split because of disagreements and conflicts of personality, but it was still devastating to have that happen to Jonas. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
There’s a promising font moving towards southern Nebraska, about two hundred miles northwest of the farm. We should be able to reach the area in time for the late-afternoon peak period for tornado formation, after warm air has been building up all day. She consults with Allan and Bill about the matter, who agree that it’s worth pursing. Rabbit plots a course on a laminated road map—while the advancements in personal satellite navigation of the past decade have been an invaluable help to storm chasers, the Muskogee State team always considers it useful to have a low-tech backup. In Rabbit’s words, “We put our trust in Old Rand and McNally.”
So, fortified with sausages and toast in our stomachs, we load up equipment, cameras, snacks, and extra layers of clothing and lock up the farmhouse. I find myself riding with Rabbit, Kitty and Kirsty in a van near the middle of the caravan, just behind Alex, who rides with Dusty in “The Barn Burner”, a former school bus spray-painted with images of flames. The skies above the farmhouse are clear as we pull out of the gravel drive, but a thick line of clouds hangs over the northern horizon.
Spirits are high, even after the disappointments of the previous few weeks—the team hopes that today may be the day their luck changes. In nearly every vehicle, the radio is on and the inhabitants are singing along—through the radio hookup that allows communication between the vehicles, we can hear Dusty declaring himself a “supersonic man”, a-la Queen, while Rabbit is more partial to the local country stations. Interstate 29 carries us past seemingly endless fields of wheat and corn, gaining on that front of clouds to the north and skirting the Kansas-Missouri border. We pull over for a few minutes for a sack lunch of apples and peanut-butter energy bars. The sky darkens as we cross into Nebraska. Constant radar updates come over the radio, telling us that the supercell is building and that we are headed into it.
The radio is still on, and now Johnny Cash comes on. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” seems oddly appropriate as the clouds above roil and skid along. Rabbit sings along with great enthusiasm.
“Change your ways today, or with us you will ride, trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies.” The final line seems to have particular relevance among my present company—for them, it’s nearly a mission statement. Would Cash have considered us cursed souls?
The music is turned off as rain falls in buckets and the sky darkens further. Its color is a sinister greenish dark gray that suggests bruises and sickness. It looks unearthly, like a view of another sky, another world. There’s something about the sight that feels supernatural, perhaps even apocalyptic.
If the sky unnerves the team members, they don’t show it. “Look at that greenage!” Dusty beams over the hookup.
Red dust washes across the packed-dirt road like light snow atop a snowdrift, or waves on a lake. We speed through a grove of evergreens that bend furiously in the wind. We are within the storm now.
“Something’s brewing to the southwest, hook forming, this might be it.” Beltzer tells us over the radio. Rabbit consults his satellite mapping display and shouts out directions as the first thunderclap sounds. We head south, and the patter of the rain on the car’s roof turns into the clatter of hailstones. I notice there are no other cars on the road.
Maybe this is it. Maybe we’re really going to find a tornado today.
“Road’s getting muddy, drive carefully, everybody.” Bill’s voice comes through the hookup.
Lightning is flashing all around us, yellow-white. There are other flashes, of a bright greenish color, and then, from closer to the ground, bluish white ones.
“Power lines. They spark when the wind breaks them.” Rabbit informs us.
And then, there it is. A finger of the cloud extends down, still spinning and now sharpening in appearance. It looks like a fat snake as it stretches towards the ground. The thing kicks up a cloud of dark dirt as it makes contact with the wheat field below, stalks and dirt being blown around it and swept up inside even as veils of water vapor circle it above. Now it’s an immense gray pillar with a texture that looks something like yarn at this distance.
Jo calls for us to stop. She judges the tornado to be about two miles away, and headed in our direction, although not very quickly. The caravan pulls to a halt as she and Bill jump out of the pickup and wheel the Dorothy Jr. unit onto the side of the road. Alex follows, documenting their work even as he and Dusty carry an improved Tinman camera probe over to join it on the grass.
“Oh yeah, right here, baby, right over here, come and get us!” I can hear Dusty shouting as they run back to the Barn Burner, Alex still frantically shooting frames of the approaching twister.
Now we obey our universal human instincts and run, racing off down the road with one eye turned to the tornado to make sure its path hasn’t changed. We want to move at right angles to the storm’s track, getting alongside it instead of in its path. The somewhat-regular grid of the local roads should hopefully help us in that goal. I sneak a peek over at the girls in the back. Kirsty, a veteran of chases with the Muskogee State team, is as excited as the other team members. Kitty, although lacking any such experience, watches the tornado with a surprising calm intensity. I wonder if she truly unfazed by the danger or if she’s just hiding her fear well. The road turns to gravel and I can hear the stones bouncing against the bottom of the car—or is it the other way around? At what Jo has judged to be a safe distance, we pull over again to watch the tornado pass over the road and—hopefully—our probes.
It moves through the field, slowly, reminding me of stalking Komodo Dragons I’ve seen on the prowl in Indonesia—a great gray beast, the master of its domain, advancing confidently in a way that can’t help but evoke deep, primal fear on the back of your neck, a fear that is somehow also undeniably tinged with a pang of AWE at its power. I imagine it’s similar to how one would react to the sight of a living Tyrannosaurus.
“Oh my god, what a sight, what a sight!” Bill mutters, transfixed.
“C’mon, c’mon, baby…” Dusty chants, joined by Alex’s chorus of “roight there, roight there”.
The tornado is nearly at the road, and we all hold our breaths, waiting for Haynes’ portable computer to display the signal indicating Dorothy Jr. has been picked up and opened. Flashes of white lightning and the green light from before illuminate our faces like flashbulbs. Alex’s shutter clicks like a Geiger counter in a uranium mine.
And then, the tornado seems to stand still, and then recede—we realize it’s turned left, heading directly away from us and missing the road. It seems to darken, sucking up more sod.
A few unprintable words are muttered, before being cut off by a gasp as we realize it’s headed towards a cluster of houses we saw earlier. Through zoom lenses, we can see the roof being pulled off a house and sucked up into the funnel, followed by the walls and a nearby tree.
The funnel continues into the fields behind the house, luckily headed off away from civilization. We get moving again, following it as it becomes thinner and paler, elongating and twisting. “Roping out”, Rabbit calls it, a tornado’s death throws. But the area may not be out of the woods yet, for a new tornado can be formed as an old one dies.
In an empty cornfield, the whirlwind dissipates, finally disappearing. In the west, the sky is lightening. The nightmare has passed. We watch the clouds part and the sun emerge before heading back to the house we saw the tornado pass over.
The roof and second floor are torn off, with the first floor walls standing broken and bare, like a Roman ruin. Roof tiles and pale yellow insulation foam are strewn across the yard and road as we drive up. We climb out, stepping cautiously and looking for nails. Torn magazine pages are still fluttering down from above. The air smells strongly of dead plant matter. The birdsong that fills the air seems incongruous with the scene of destruction before us.
“Meadowlarks. They always start singing after a storm ends. Folks call them tornado birds.” Bill tells us.
A refrigerator lies upside-down near the road, the surface dented by impacts. I step around it as we move towards the house. Kitty follows, looking anxious.
“Hello, is anybody here? Is there anybody here?” Jo yells. She and many of the other team members have first-aid training and try to help any injured tornado victims they come across. We find a wooden door set into a small rise in the ground. A storm shelter. Dusty knocks on it, loudly, “Hey hello man, anybody alive in there?”
The door opens from the inside, and a middle-aged woman steps out, followed by a man carrying a German shepherd. Jo helps them out. Ben and Rachel Edgerton and their dog Tut are shaken, but unharmed. Rachel says they got underground when they saw the sky turn green and that they heard the refrigerator’s impact from their hiding place. They’re shocked by the damage, but relieved to be unharmed.
A sheriff’s car drives up as we’re talking with the Edgertons in their front yard. They find a mobile phone and call friends in town to make sure they’re okay.
I’ve been thinking…(again, I know, it’s a dangerous pastime)
Anne was on the European continent for 8 years and whether you believe she was 6 or 12 when she left, 8 years is a long time to be separated from your family. Of course Anne and her family would’ve exchanged letters to each other but they wouldn’t have seen each other in person at all (the only occasions where Anne would’ve had in-person contact with them were the brief period Thomas was the ambassador to the Netherlands, the period from 1518-1521 when Thomas was ambassador to France, and the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520; otherwise Anne was pretty much on her own)
That’s an aspect of the family dynamic no one ever talks about. You can’t just be separated from your family for that length of time (particularly during your formative years) without any repercussions. Imagine how jarring it would’ve been to come back and be apart of her family again (and by this time, Mary was married so she wouldn’t have been around much anymore). Especially if Anne was indeed born in 1507, that meant she was 6 when she went away. So she probably didn’t even remember England by the time she came back.
Si me lo hubieran dicho, no lo creería. Volví a ver a ese amor platónico y accidentado quince años después. Qué distintos nuestros cuerpos, nuestras pieles y qué distintas nuestras vidas. Me agrada coincidir y saber superado ese momento.
"ᵒᵘʳ ᵉʸᵉˢ ᵐᵉᵗ, ᵃⁿᵈ ᶠᵒʳ ᵃ ᵇʳⁱᵉᶠ ᵐᵒᵐᵉⁿᵗ ᴵ ᵗʰᵒᵘᵍʰᵗ ᴵ ˢᵃʷ ᵗʰᵉ ʷᵒʳˡᵈ ˡⁱᵗ ᵘᵖ ᵇʸ ᵃ ᵗʰᵒᵘˢᵃⁿᵈ ᶠⁱʳᵉˢ."
The night was her favourite time of day. It had unlimited possibilities and was constantly brimming with entertainment. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 quickly departed from her apartment complex which overlooked the busy city. The wind lightly kissed her ears and ran its fingers through her curls. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 walked onto a stoned pathway that was filled with night shops and restaurants and passed by the one or two persons who took part in busking every weekend. It felt like 𝐬𝐡𝐞 could stay in this moment forever. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 briefly paused to remove the lollipop 𝐬𝐡𝐞 had concealed in her poofy locks and put it in her mouth. Getting caught up in the atmosphere, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 started to skip to the music that surrounded the area. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 spun and twirled around in her sundress enjoying the music and fairy lights, giggling like a child. It felt like a blissful dream that supplied her with every ounce of serotonin 𝐬𝐡𝐞 ever needed.
Ceasing mid-spin, causing her to take two unbalanced steps forward, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 suddenly bumped into a hard surface. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 looked up underneath her eyelashes and saw a pair of glassy dark brown eyes. For a moment, it seemed as if they were peering into her soul. Goosebumps caressed her skin and 𝐬𝐡𝐞 quickly stepped away to reveal a brooding man dressed in a black tank top with a floral patterned over-shirt, and black distressed jeans. His arms were dressed in tattoos from his wrists and trailed up to places her eyes could not reach. Messy, jet-black hair was slicked back with a few strands framing his chiseled face. A lit cigarette hung from his lips as he silently stared at her, a frown slowly making its way onto his face.
Taking the lollipop out of her mouth, she unexpectedly grinned at him, "You know smoking is bad for you right?"
He raised an eyebrow questioningly as she plucked the cigarette from his lips.
"Have a lollipop," 𝐬𝐡𝐞 finished while unwrapping a fresh one 𝐬𝐡𝐞 had also taken from her hair. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 placed it past his parted lips into his mouth, ignoring the look of pure confusion on his face. Before he could retort, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 playfully skipped away.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images or music.
For eerian_Sadow:: Beatrix/Steiner, fluffy, like a dinner date or a walk under the stars
Duty and Heart
Adelbert feels oddly naked without his armor.
It would not do, however, to spend an evening with his lady while dressed in full knight's garb. His current clothing feels stiff and awkward, and he can't remember the last time he shed his armor for civilian threads. The breeze over his bare head is the worst of the discomfort, and he has to stop himself from running his hands through his hair over and over again.
Beatrix, by contrast, is the loveliest thing Adelbert has seen in his entire life, and she looks completely at ease in her own civilian garb.
They have both left their weapons at home for the evening, though Adelbert can see the hilt of a dagger poking from the top of Beatrix's left boot. Ever one to be prepared, she is, and a surge of affection warms Adelbert's heart.
He hadn't even thought to bring a small, concealable weapon.
Beatrix glances at him, and gives him a sharp look. "What?"
He must have had that goofy look on his face again. "It's a nice night," Adelbert says. He glances down, where their hands swing lightly at their sides.
They're walking side by side, close enough that it is obvious they are together. Her hand is inches from his. Would it be too forward of him to link their fingers together?
"It looks like it might rain," Beatrix says, and well, she's right. Clouds streak across the starry sky, and on the horizon, an approaching grey mass suggests a storm.
"I don't have an umbrella," Adelbert mourns. He should have brought one.
He glances at their hands again.
"I'm sure we'll be indoors before it hits," Beatrix says. She smiles at him, soft and gentle, and Adelbert's heart melts a little more. "Dinner was nice."
"Yes, it was! I am impressed with how far the rebuilding has come!" Adelbert smiles, thinking of the busy restaurant, the smiling patrons, the general atmosphere of Alexandria as the last vestiges of Queen Brahne's descent into madness have been restored to their former glory.
"Prin-- I mean, Queen Garnet is a wonderful leader," Adelbert says, though his smile falters around the edges.
Garnet has absolutely risen to the occasion, but there are days Adelbert catches her staring longingly out the window. He knows she's thinking of that foolish thief, and while Adelbert admires Zidane's strength and courage, he hates the man a little as well. For leaving the princess alone and lonely with such a sad look in her eyes.
"She has a kind heart," Beatrix says. "And a very dedicated support."
Adelbert nods. "Yes, with you by her side, there is nothing she can't accomplish."
"I was referring to you," Beatrix says gently.
Heat stains Adelbert's cheeks. "I-- um-- well, it is my duty," he says, flustered. "I will always stand by the Princ-- Queen's side." He glances down at their hands. "And yours, of course, Beatrix. I am here for you as well."
"I know." Beatrix's voice is soft and warm, as is the gentle curl of her fingers around his as she takes his hand. He can feel the calluses of years of sword work bumping up against his own.
She's so beautiful.
"You are a good man, Adelbert Steiner," she says. "And I am having a wonderful time tonight."
Adelbert's heart goes thumpity-thump, and he swears there's a direct line from their linked hands, to his increasing pulse. "As am I, milady," he says. "Would you... care to do it again? Tomorrow perhaps?"
Her eye shines in the moonlight, but her smile is even brighter. "It's a date."
Greens Grocery sat on the outskirts of a cluster of small villages in Waterloo township. An essential business supplying the township with canned goods, perishables and liquor. At least, that’s what Frank Green always assumed. Frank had, for forty years, thought of himself as an essential worker. If Frank ain’t working the township ain’t running. Six months to the day, the township stopped…
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My first time joining @flashfictionfridayofficial so lets give it a go!
Enjoy some kinda vague musing from my Lost Souls AU for Hollow Knight!
Title: Watching the Moon Words: 417 Warnings: None
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For all the years he’s lived, graced with the gift of eternal youth by his distant lord, he’d never once laid his watchful gaze upon the sky. That is, until this night. Oh he’d heard the old tales, the really old tales back from when he was a grub, the blurred faces of his parents whispering about this thing called the outside, of this thing called the sky and as a child he’d believed that it was all just a story. Make-believe. A fantasy to entertain the army of hungry little caterpillars. But it's real. All of it. The sky, ever changing, the clouds above like little puffs of breath on a cold morning, the stars at night a sprinkle of jewels. And rain. Real rain not like the drips and leaks in his city oh so far away. Actual real rain that falls from the sky as if the very universe is mourning.
But, Lurien finds, it is the moon that draws his eye. More than once he’s been caught on those lonely long nights, gaze to the heavens locked in a staring contest with the heavenly body, its pale glow a familiar embrace. It's enchanting. Just as his beloved King had been so long ago when they’d first met. Serene. Perfect. A constant presence looming over the wayward walkers who now walk in a funeral march to lands distant, abandoning a life built through pain and sacrifice to the sickening air that steals the minds of those left behind. Even now, bundled under countless blankets, just as the moon is swaddled in inky clouds, the King’s magic washes over them. Protecting always. A willingness to continue forward, a willingness to begin anew.
His eyes lock upon the lofty moon, searching, searching for answers it cannot tell him. It has been two months since they’d packed their backs and ventured into the wastes, three weeks since the storm, and three weeks that his King had fallen into a slumber so deep that not even prayers could reach him now. He is much like the moon, Lurien thinks. Perfect and pale, cold as ice and oh so very still. Distant. Untouchable. A graveyard of dreams and ideals. Mind and soul. Radical freedom and the struggles of power. He is the moonlight, and the moonlight is he. A mirror made to reflect the stolen light of the sun, one the Watcher finds himself enthralled by. The weight of such a power is too much to bear, for anyone.
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This is my first instalment in my Y/N Casey series.
featuring a 13 year old reader, a coming together Sylvie and Matt, adoption, and family love.
When the fire started, it spread faster that anyone would have thought. The adults were all taking care of the younger kids.
Sunlight Home was full of kids. Overworked, overcrowded, it wasn't hard to explain away a forgotten one.
You had learned long ago, crying got you nowhere. The door leading to the stairs had flames licking around it. With the thick smoke already making it hurt to breathe, you ran for the nursery at the end of the hall.
Closing the door, you ran for blankets, and stuffed them under the door. That was something you had learned in school during fire safety week. It would keep the smoke out for a time.
Hearing the sirens scream outside, you grabbed up a chair from the toddler sized table in the middle of the room.
Picking it up, you slammed it into the window with a force that shook your bones
This was the way out.
Truck 81, squad 3, ambulance 61. The fire was eating steadily at the building as they pulled up.
Boden sent both truck and squad on a sweep of the building. As Casey was turning to follow his men into the flames, he heard something that made him look up.
Over the radio, he heard Severide call out that the stairs were a loss. He heard it again, and saw the chair hit the window.
"Chief! The window!"
"Casey, get up the aerial. Break that window out if you have to."
Casey nodded, and headed for the climb.
As he got up there, he used his halligan to break out the glass, and ducked in.
He could tell the fire would break-in to the room very shortly, and it was time for a scoop and run.
He turned to the girl.
"Sweetheart, what's your name?"
"Y/N, You're doing great. We need to get out of here. I'm going to pick you up because of all the glass, hang on tight to me."
As they climbed, time ran out. With a roar, the window belched flame. Though Casey held you protectively, flames licked past him.
He quickly patted away the flame, but there was still a charred shirt, and most likely a nasty burn underneath.
He made his way off the ladder, and to the waiting ambulance 61
"This is Sylvie, she'll take care of you."
*Clangs pots and pans*
Your body needs sleep to heal!
You feel sleepy because your body needs sleep!
The advise to not sleep with a concussion is outdated!
Please sleep when you have a concussion, just maybe have someone check on you a few times!
*Please adjust your fic-writing accordingly!*
“Unless a doctor says the person needs further treatment, the injured person should sleep and rest.”
“There is no evidence to support that waking someone up with a suspected concussion (or not letting them sleep at all) is needed or beneficial. There is also no proof that waking them is going to help them get better faster.
This advice probably stemmed from the idea that falling asleep after a head injury could lead to a coma, but that’s simply not true. We know that rest is a crucial component for a concussion to heal, so waking someone up or not letting them sleep is actually going to be counterproductive in the healing process. Sleeping for a full eight hours is going to be more beneficial for the person rather than somebody rousing them every hour to ask ‘Are you okay?’
Having said that, it’s perfectly okay to check on the person to make sure that their breathing pattern is normal and that they are peacefully resting. Doing so doesn’t even have to wake them up! (But if you do notice that they aren’t breathing normally, wake them immediately and seek medical attention.)”
I can see him out of the corner of my eye drinking from the running river. Is he god greeting me in a form my eyes can perceive him, or is he my mother reincarnated? My father is, or rather was, not a man capable of returning to this earth as something as strong as a stag; a cat who chases mice and roams the world all on his lonesome might be an animal more suitable for a man such as him, such as me. I shall keep my eyes open for a cat on my journey. Mother is more than capable of being such an animal, though anything as sturdy, anything so beautiful in nature has the ability to be her. She spent her life thinking reincarnation silly, unnatural at times, so she might laugh at the thought of deer being anything but creatures. If he is god, then, please, spare me—kill me now and allow my spirit to restart. I should love to become a cat, to wander the world so empty headed. In any case, I remain still as I await his judgement. His head lifts as he finishes his drink and he observes his surroundings. A bird cries in the very near distance, but it does not startle him in the same way it startles me. We lock eyes for a moment and I blink, then avert my eyes away. My father’s gun is at my hip with only one bullet gone from it, but I do not dare kill such a creature; my wooden bow, made from poor oak tied with a string that could snap at any use, proves meager in this moment. But, again, I do not wish to harm him. I do not wish to harm anything. That is why I shall return as a cat, or perhaps something even less grand in the animal kingdom, and why mother here has returned as a stag. I no longer think he is god.
A gunshot blows, and then another, and another, nearby. I jump slightly at the noise it makes. It is not my father’s gun nor am I bleeding out from my small and fragile body, but it does startle the stag enough he hurries back into the wilderness before I can even set my eyes on him again. The birds all flee to the air where it is safest; someone is heard shouting, yelling, and then laughing. Dog begins barking at their chaos, emerging from its resting place beneath a large bush, its ears perked up and tail twirled high to assure he is alert. He is a brown dog with white patches all around his fur. His personality is dull and very disobedient. Why he has followed me all this way is beyond my knowledge. I order him to settle; he does not listen until, finally, the culprit emerges from tangled branches and dog cowers back into his safety bush. All bark, no bite.
His tunic is stained red and blood drips from his hands. A fawn is hanging from his shoulder. I refuse to call him a man, but he might refer to himself as such. I see only a more extreme version of myself: a boy with too much power in this world. He is tall, much taller than I will ever be, and falsely beautiful. His gun is already aiming at me as I stumble for my bow. But if he wanted me dead, then I would be chasing mice by now.
“Calm down,” he says, slightly lowering his gun. Still, I hold onto my bow so tightly it might snap. The river’s voice is all that sings; the rest of nature is silent. “You know how to use that?” he asks, pointing with his gun at the bow in my hands. His voice is deep and full of heavy breath. I nod my head, despite my instinct to run from him. “What about that?” he asks, pointing at my father’s gun. Again, I lie and say that I do, but the only sort of hunting I am familiar with is fishing, and even at that I am poorly. My small form, my pale skin, my loose fitting clothing told anyone with sense, including me, I will die come winter. Then I shall become the cat I am always meant to become.
The fawn slips slightly from his shoulder and he lifts it back up with little difficulty. More blood seeps out of the animal and onto his clothing. He remains unbothered, both by me and by the dead being. The bow drops from my hands and onto the dirt. He glows like an angel might in the sunlight, but his beauty is untrue, false in the correct moments. He puts away his gun and offers me his hand. I take it and he lifts me to my feet. “And have you killed anyone yet?” he asks as I brush the dirt off my jeans.
My gaze turns to the bow abandoned on the ground. I see his face when I close my eyes. His laughter echoes in my thoughts when I try to sleep. In this moment, and many moments before, and I am certain many moments after, I am unable to find my words, so I nod again—I doubt this false image of light believes me, and I refuse to look at him to read his face.
His hand cups my shoulder hard, squeezes tightly, and I stumble slightly. “There’s a motel nearby—a bunch of us are staying there,” he tells me. I finally look up. The fawn is sliding down again; he lets me go to adjust his posture and rearrange it on his shoulder. He says his name is Freyr. The fawn is dinner. I am outnumbered ten to one, and his friends are just a call away. “You’re not a man of many words, are you?” he asks when I say nothing.
“I’m not a man at all.”
He hums. He does not understand. “We’re burning bodies tonight,” he says as if it were an ordinary thing to say. The bombs fell and the air, though it remained clear and breathable, became poisoned—and the rest of humanity followed suit. People began to die; first, the sick and the elderly, and then everyone else started going. The children will be last, they say. The poison promises a slow, agonizing death. The only question is when will it occur, and will we join those burning bodies or will someone we love have the strength to bury us? “You don’t really want to be outside when we do.”
No, no I do not.
It has been three days since I left home. The scent of the stag’s perfume is what I remember most about her. When she started to smell, I gave her a few puffs of it each day—but soon even vanilla and roses could not mask the scent of her rotting flesh. The smell became too much, and I have little strength to give her a proper burial. Remaining residents and ransackers all alike prevented me from burning her out, like most have done. I refuse to have my final moments alone with her dragging her lifeless body down a dozen flights of stairs. Instead, I placed flowers near her painted feet, kissed her goodbye one last time, and left forever with father’s gun on my belt and as much food from our pantry my bag could carry. I remember when she was alive, she often yelled at me from our window to come up for dinner, or to grab my coat, or to come help her with the laundry, or to do something that seems so foreign now. I half expected her corpse to spring to life and do the same as crossed the street, but the window was closed, boarded up, quiet; she had already reached her next life.
I reach down to pick up the ugly bow, but he already has it in his possession by the time I stand upright again. He examines it with intrigue. And in this moment, the moment I relive with you now, I realize he can probably break it with his thumb and I would be powerless. It is an object I know little about, but I do not know what my reaction might be if it were to be destroyed in front of me. The fawn slips again, but he lifts it back into place with little attention to his action. And his eyes dart quickly to the gun at my hip.
“Word of advice,” he says—he tosses the bow back to me, but my hands fumble and it falls back again onto the ground. “Grab your gun next time.”
He watches me as I gather the little belongings I have. My bag is heaviest as it contains mostly food, toiletries, and a few crafted arrows made from bent sticks found along the way, though I doubt I will have much use for them. Again, I know little about archery and experience has only taught me such a lousy bow, no matter how much I put value to it, will have little power when I am in need of it most. Dog still remains hidden away, perhaps miles away by now, too cowardly to face his fears. I am not a coward, I know that much, but I am far from being brave.
Freyr leads me up a dirt path and onto an empty black road surrounded by only nature. I hear his friends shouting in the distance, and something aching resides in my stomach. Near us is a dirty white sign saying: “Motel,” with a simple drawing of a bed underneath and an arrow pointing left of us. I have to jog to keep up with him.
(from The Owl House, S1E11: "Sense and Insensitivity")
For @jeegoo:: Established couple Link and Zelda visit the Gerudo (disguised for w/e reason) and individually realize they wanna get gangbanged by all the big, strong, sexy ladies but can't admit it to the other out of fear they'll be kinkshamed so they both just struggle to hide their horny shame but the Gerudo see this so often they all just KNOW and are watching with immense amusement
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"Why is it you always look better in these clothes than I do?" Zelda grumbles as she tucks the last tie of Link's veil into place, and he looks out at her over the purple silk, blue eyes brilliantly lined with kohl.
She sighs. "Worse that you don't even realize it."
"You look beautiful," Link signs and gives her a thumbs up.
Zelda smiles behind her own veil. "Thank you," she says, squeezing his hand. "Now let's go meet with Riju before she sends out a search party."
It would be easier if an exception could be made for Link, but no, those aren't the rules. So in disguise he must be, and if he's in disguise, Zelda must don one of her own. Otherwise people might question the lovely lady at her side, and wonder where Link has gone.
And they walk through the front gate without any of the Gerudo guards blinking twice at them.
No, that is inaccurate. They give both Link and Zelda appreciative looks and smiles and approving glances at their choice in attire, but they don’t question whether or not they belong.
Zelda tries not to stare herself, really she does. But after spending one-hundred years trapped in a castle with Ganon’s calamitous stench, and then spending the last several months wandering all across Hyrule, being in a tropical location and surrounded by so many lovely women is a wonderful change of pace.
The Gerudo are all so friendly! They call out to her, compliment her, try to offer her beautiful clothes and jewels. Link, too, gets his fair share of greetings, but his comes with a degree of familiarity from his previous travels here. He knows more than a few of the Gerudo by name, and it’s honestly going to take ages for them to get to the palace, because Link stops and introduces Zelda to everyone he recognizes.
Isha, in particular, draws Zelda’s eye, and she finds herself flushing beneath the concealment of her veil. Why are all of the Gerudo so beautiful and strong? Zelda wants desperately to get to the palace, if only so she can catch her breath and stop imagining all of the many ways she could find her pleasure with someone here.
It doesn’t help that they are equally interested in her.
“Such fair skin you have,” Isha clucks, but her smile is warm, her hands equally so as she holds Zelda’s and strokes her fingers along the inside of her wrist. “I can think of many ways to adorn you, Zelda. You must watch yourself here. The desert sun can be merciless.”
“Pah! Link’s skin is equally fair, and she’s fine,” says Cara, Isha’s business partner. She touches the earrings dangling from Link’s right lobe. “We made these, yes? They look beautiful on you, as we thought they might.”
Link’s turning pink behind his own veil, and he scuttles a little closer to Zelda’s side. They exchange a knowing look, and Zelda’s eyebrows crawl toward her hairline. She should’ve known he’d be as weak to the Gerudo as she is.
“We really must be going,” Zelda says, trying to nudge them toward an escape, but Isha’s hand is still wrapped around hers, and Zelda is very weak.
“You are in a hurry?” Isha asks.
“That’s unfortunate,” Cara says. “We thought you might join us for a drink. Furosa has something new at the Noble Canteen. Created in honor of Link helping calm the Divine Beast.”
Link taps her on the shoulder and tilts his head toward the palace, signing “Riju” with quick flicks of his fingers.
“Another time perhaps,” Zelda says, reluctantly disengaging from Isha. “We have a prior engagement with Lady Riju.”
“I’ll hold you to it,” says Isha with a glimmer of satisfaction in her eyes, her hand landing on her hip, and Zelda forcing her gaze to remain northward rather than roaming over Isha’s warm curves and strong thighs.
“I shall have something for the both of you,” Cara says, tapping her chin with one manicured finger. “Items of beauty to match.”
Link signs ‘thank you’ and starts to look a little desperate. Zelda’s feeling a bit like if she doesn’t escape now, she’s going to end up making a fool of herself.
“Thank you very much,” she says, and backs out the door, Link in tow.
They don’t run to the palace, but it’s a near thing.
“Whatever happens, we share, right?” Zelda asks once there’s a bit of distance between them and the two Gerudo in Starlight Memories.
Link nods, the tips of his ears bright red.
“So long as we agree,” Zelda says.
Goodness, she had no idea a simple diplomatic visit would prove to be so darn tempting. The next few days are going to be torture.
Sometimes we looked at each other, and sometimes we didn't. Sometimes we stared at eachother, and then we just stared at the same thing. It was a strange thing to see that our eyes were so fixed on eachother that it was like we were both staring at a single, blurry image. I didn't understand why. But I knew that it had something to do with the fact that I wasn't looking at the exact same thing anymore, that I was looking at a blurry image, and that I couldn't see what it was. Then I saw it. The white rectangle of a person. And I knew it was a picture. That it had been taken in the hospital.
With characters it’s either “they just showed up and I love them now” or you’re three books in and just now shouting “THAT’S MY CHILD!” without knowing just when you adopted them