Story Prompt 1

He heard the commotion at the gate, and smiled. Swords and soldiers had their uses, but so did gold. The combination of a reward offer and a few small time criminals eager to save their own skins had provided him with some very useful information. Oreat, the king’s bastard brother, had set himself up as a leader of the bandits, and robbed and killed across the land.

The bandit king’s forces had caught his brother and family on their way home from the capital, and had brutally slaughtered them all. Now, there was an opportunity for justice. He couldn’t get his hands on the bandit king even if he had the forces. That justice would belong to the king. But he could get something nearly as good.

At first he thought the amount of rope they’d use to bind the young man they were dragging before him was excessive. A closer look had him reconsidering. The handsome young blacksmith was a strapping young man with broad, muscular shoulders. The man struggled against his bonds, then glared as he was shoved to his knees. “So…” He smiled, folding his arms. “The bastard’s bastard.” Oreat’s only living son. His gaze turned toward his guard captain. “A cell has been prepared. Take him to it.”

“Yes, my lord.” The man saluted, then directed the soldiers to begin dragging their captive toward the tower.

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War: Chapter 32

“It took almost two days…”  Coraline let herself fall back onto the couch and put her feet up on an ottoman.  “But I have ridden one of every type of animal that can support human weight.”

Lykos tilted his head.  “Just land based, or include water ones?”

“I…”  Coraline frowned.  Then she stood back up.  “Excuse me, I need to go find my brother.”  She vanished back out the door.

Magda rolled her eyes, then glanced at Stephan.  “No ill effects or anything from wearing the ring?”

(more…)

War: Chapter 31

“Well?”  Abigail looked across the bed Khait was laying in.  “Can you…?”

“This magic…”  Lykos was examining the sword hilt.  “Not sure want to try.”

“Lykos.”  Abigail reached down to put her hand on Khait’s.

“He can touch without it hurting.”  Lykos set the hilt back down on Khait’s chest.  “Is talisman but not talisman.  Not like other one.”  He lowered his head, staring at the hilt.  “Wait for him wake up.  See what Khait say.”

She nodded, then took Khait’s hand again.  The strange woman, Anra, had treated is wounds before saying to let him rest.  Some of his life force had dissipated before Daniel had gotten to him, and he would need time to recover.  Abigail had asked if another orgy was needed, and Anra had assured her time would be sufficient.  Somewhat to the dismay of Daniel and Coraline, Anra had then departed for whereabouts unknown.  Abigail bent, and kissed Khait’s forehead.  “You better be alright.”

(more…)

War: Chapter 30

Adele frowned when she saw an ambulance pull up, followed by another vehicle.  Then her eyes widened when she saw Magda get out of the driver’s seat of the ambulance.  She looked over her shoulder.  “Are they back?”  The professor stood up from where he’d been sitting with Lidia.

“I think…”  She looked back at the vehicles, then swallowed when she saw Jim leaning on a young man she didn’t recognize.  “Yes.”  She saved a hand.  “Keep Lidia here.”  She started forward.

“Fuck that noise.”  Lidia nearly pushed past her on the way to the door.

(more…)

War: Chapter 29

Lykos groaned, then felt whoever he was laying on shift and groan as well.  He rolled off Khait, and started to stand, only to note with some irritation that his left fibula appeared to be sticking out of his leg.  He growled as he shoved it back into place.  Walking was not going to be fun for the next couple hours.  The backlash from the orb’s destruction had taken out a good section of a wall, and he was concerned part of the building was going to follow it down.  “Christophe?”  Lykos looked around.

“Here.”  Christophe shoved the remains of a painting off himself.  He was bleeding from a cut on his forehead, but his injuries didn’t look bad.  Khait looked in much worse shape.  His wings were little more than char, but he was getting back to his feet.  He offered Lykos a hand up.

He started to look for the others, then made a frustrated sound.  “Naughty girl had defenses.”  Over on the other side of the small crater he’d made, Wren was getting back to her feet.

(more…)

War: Chapter 27

Lykos snarled as he took a man’s arm off at the shoulder.  They kept shooting him with silver bullets.  The amount of waste was starting to become annoying.  He used the arm to strike the last one across the face, sending the man flying back over the balcony.

“Wow.”  He looked over to see Laura.  The girl was grinning.  “Snow White was seriously under-utilizing her manpower.”

He rolled his eyes.  “I say same, but Christophe insist not appropriate for children movie.”  He shook his head.  “Kids today soft.”

She turned, and her eyes glowed red as her hand touched the metal of the staircase.  The men coming up the stairs started jerking and twitching as though struck by tazers, falling back down in a heap.  She smirked at him.  “You were saying?”

“Most kids today soft.”  Lykos shrugged.

(more…)

*uck Civility

There is this thing I’m sure most people have heard about before.  It’s called ‘The Golden Rule’.  It states that you should treat others the way you would like to be treated.  I try to follow that rule.

Yet there is another side to that rule.  It implies that we should treat people the way we observe them treating other people.  After all, per the golden rule, that must be how they want to be treated, right?

Which means when someone is consistently an asshole to other people, there is nothing wrong with giving them a taste of their own medicine.  If they don’t want to be treated that way, they need to adjust their own behavior.

So if you treat me like I’m less than human, you remove from me any obligation to be civil toward you.  If you vote for people like me to be discriminated against, you remove from me any obligation to treat you ‘nicely’.  You don’t get to treat me like shit and still get invited over for tea.  It doesn’t work that way.

Tales out of Tallis

Some of you may have noticed that the Dragonlord and Stone & Fire posts have been switched to private.   Don’t worry, that just means they are about to go to print.

As The Duchess is a short story that doesn’t exactly fit into either novel, it will remain up.

Silverfish and some of my other works are about to go the same way.  However, even if I do compile/edit the World Less Visible for publication, the stories will also remain here on my blog.

Footsteps and Photographs

Russell looked down at the photograph in his hand. The image was old, yellowed, and wrinkled. He looked up again. In the photo, the building had been a bar, with sign of active light. The colors were faded, and it had been uninhabited for probably a decade. Yet it was the same building. The angle of the mountain behind it was right, and the trim around the windows was dingy and battered but recognizable. At some point, over twenty years ago, his father had stood in this very same spot.
Carefully, he tucked the photograph away and took another look around. The coffee shop on the other corner was clearly of newer construction, but the bookstore across the street looked like it has been there for centuries. He took a deep breath and headed over.
He was pulling his phrase book from his pocket when the man behind the counter gave him an annoyed look. “I speak English.” His accent was thick, but the words were intelligible.
“Thank you.” Russell smiled. He hesitated a moment, then pointed. “Do you know anything about the bar that used to be just across there?”
The man gave him a considering look. “It closed five years ago, after the fire. Why?”
A fire. Naturally. The first real lead he had, and it caught fire. Russell exhaled. “My father visited this area before I was born. He liked the bar enough to have some photos of it.” Russell shrugged. “Thought I’d stop in for a drink while I was in the area.”
Something briefly flickered across the man’s face, and he gave Russell another look. “This is a bit off the path for tourists.”
Alright, the guy was willing to chat a bit. Or maybe he was bored. The shop was otherwise as empty as the street. “Yeah. I had a hard time finding it on the map. I, uh…” He swallowed. “My father, he uh, he died.” At least that was the assumption. “When I was ten. I thought I’d retrace his footsteps, see…”
“Finding a connection.” The man’s face warmed a little, and he offered his hand. “Otto.”
“Russell.” He accepted the handshake. “Yeah, that’s the intention. Can you, uh…” He smiled. “What made the bar special?”
Otto twitched his shoulder. “Beer was good. But uh…” Otto took a deep breath, then brushed an imaginary speck of dust off his counter. “Mostly it catered to a particular sort of crowd.”
“What kind of crowd?” Russell raised an eyebrow. His mother said his father had been a soldier once. “Military?”
“Some, but uh…” Otto shifted his feet a little awkwardly. “It attracted those of a certain persuasion.”
“Musicians?”
The other man gave him an annoyed look. “Men with preferences.”
“Prefer…” The wheels clicked in his mind, and he felt himself start to blush. “Oh.” He winced. “Oh.”
“Mmm.” Otto nodded.
“I don’t suppose you know anyone that…” He winced again.
“That sort tended to want to go unnoticed.” Otto shook his head. Then he frowned. “Though the landlord that rented it to the bar is still around. Not sure what you’re looking for, exactly, but he might be able to let you in to take a look if you ask politely.” He started looking around the counter, then after a moment produced a business card.
“Thank you.” Russell accepted it. “Uh…” He looked around. “If you’ve got a book on the history of the area…”
“It’s not in English.” Otto smiled as he led Russell to a shelf.
“I’ve got google translate.” Russell accepted the tome and paid. Then he tucked the book away before heading back to his vehicle.

(more…)

Light it up

You hear it a lot these days.  The whole ‘you stood up for yourself and I didn’t like it and that’s why we have Trump‘ rhetoric.  It is bullshit enough when we hear it from the conservatives, but it’s especially dismaying to hear it from our supposed ‘allies’.  This notion that if we defend ourselves, we are somehow the oppressors.

Martin Luthor King Junior said it well:

“Over the last few years many Negroes have felt that their most troublesome adversary was not the obvious bigot of the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society, but the white liberal who is more devoted to “order” than to justice, who prefers tranquility to equality”

It still holds true for the black population, but it applies as well to LGBT individuals.  White liberals talk, but as soon as standing up for what is right would cause the slightest inconvenience to their lives, they are nowhere to be found.  I see it in my fellow men who claim to be ‘feminists’, but when the ‘locker room talk’ starts they shut up and refuse to call it out, or try to downplay it as something other than what it is.

They pretend people aren’t already dying.  That we aren’t already well past the first stages of genocide.  That somehow, some way, everything is going to be alright and we can just ride it out.  Well, maybe they can.  Maybe their privilege will protect them.  Or maybe it won’t.

In the meantime, a simple truth remains: