Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It's spring, by the turn of the weather if not the calendar. Snow melting, a few bare patches of almost-dry among the steadily fading patches of snow and the steadily increasing damp. The two lovers are sitting in a field. They meander through a conversation, familiar enough with each other to barely need to pay attention, interested enough to focus on each other anyway.

"No one's quite sure," he says. "I named myself, you see. Chose it from some names I heard floating around. For all I know I crossed two names, or more. I've mostly heard it associated with fire, and most would likely accept that."

"You're being honest today."

His grin glints in the rare sunlight. "You have no way to be sure of that."

The woman rolls her eyes and corrects herself. "You are being exceptionally lengthy if you lie."

"Not as if you've ever had to worry about your clear name, Miss Victory," he replies.

"What else have you heard?"


"You said you've mostly heard your name associated with fire. What else have you heard?"

"Oh..." He hasn't had to dig this up for a while, and sorts through the memories. "White light. Air, more rarely."

"Nothing else?"

"Everything else is to do with me," he says, turning to smirk at her this time, brighter for all that the sunlight doesn't hit as directly. "Trickster, sly, clever..."

She laughs, though more for the bald-faced satisfaction in his voice than his words. "Your humility becomes you." She lies down on the grass, staring up at the break in the clouds that got them to choose this spot in the field. "Maybe you're that," she says, almost absently.

"I'm which?"

"Your name. That," she says, gesturing towards the light breaking through the clouds, though the sun was still hidden from this angle. "Fire, air, light...burns, the motes that flutter through, shining down." She looks amused. "When he deigns to, of course."

"Of course," he replies, every inch the gracious king.

She throws a handful of melting snow at him; they laugh and start a scuffle, ending up soaking, a little muddy, and laughing fully.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


A/N: So...some weird stuff happened with my computer, so this is late and I had less time to work on it. ...Yeah.

Setting: The Alcatraz
Plot: Despite The Plan
Narrative Device: Thirty Xanatos Pileup
Hero: Broken Hero
Villain: Villain Decay
Character As Device: Wacky Guy
Characterization Device: Extraversion Tropes
A/N: Read as dialogue.
Most of the guards are actually okay people.

I say this to explain why I'm not starting with some guard shouting my ear off about how inescapable the place is. It is nigh impossible, of course, but they don't feel the need to rub your nose in it. Either that, or the warden--don't mess with him--told his employees that most of the inmates here would take that as a challenge, and added that anyone caught stating the prison was inescapable would be cleaning up the next mess the next inmate who tried to escape made.

You ever try getting all the chips of wall out of a mattress? Not fun.

The issue, of course, is when you get people who realize that the sort of people who feel no need to brag about having an inescapable prison are those with and inescapable prison. Naturally, this is perceived as a challenge, and instead of getting every second guy trying, you get the quietly intelligent ones. Meaning that you don't have the eyes and ears of the loud ones, because they've given up finding someone who can get out. Meaning that, in the middle of this place, we've got to have guards who are watching for schemes that would probably fail who make sure that they certainly fail without alerting the other inmates to the possibility of success. And that the quiet ones try to take advantage of this by making the only way to stop them really strikingly obvious, because as annoying as this set-up is, it is not half as annoying as having everyone make a break for it at once.

But anyway.

It's a pretty okay place to be. Granted, almost no one likes being in a place they have to be in, but I'm sure that if the people here were given a choice, most of us would at least want to vacation here. That's part simple location--the weather is mild, and though the sleeping spaces are rather cramped, someone somewhere along the line noted that inmates were less likely to go crazy and start literally climbing the walls if we had the opportunity for exercise and thought. A friend of mine and I are co-authoring a novel, actually.

The other part's simple company. I didn't just mention the quietly intelligent ones to show something that shows up occasionally; we tend to get the quietly intelligent criminals. Their backgrounds are absolutely fascinating. Not often the sorts of things they'll tell you about, but really, even what they make up is rather good. Almost everyone bothers to create either realistic horror or some sort of almost-believable tragedy. Then there's the one guy who just has fun with it every time, but he's great for a break.

Ah, shoot, the inmates are fighting again; Michael must be trying to get out.

"All right guys, break it up," I muttered, stepping between them. "Let's try and not get any guards called, all right?"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


A breath huffed out. Hard to keep it up for too long, but worth it, worth it.

I am the edge to your blade
I am the knife of your steel
I am what you can't quite remember
And I am all that is real

Slipping through between the air, the pattern of slices the being. Slippery as water, slippery as fire.

Watch the silver flash by
Watch the sun set near
Listen, my darling, and wait
Soon it shall appear

Partnerless sparring, a fierce dance. No difference between the two, just the slide of blade on air. How beautiful, to breathe in ice.

Something swallowed, now in my breast
A sense to which only I can attest

Wild and free, there, alone, in the frosted over training ground, slip and no one knows, succeed and no one sees, just the frost, just the trees.

The beauty of crystal and the beauty of ice
The beauty that one sees once, twice
Here I stand among snowflakes that freeze
And nothing can touch me but the slice of the breeze

Tracks of sweat freezing as another hour passes by. Body pushing limits, mind rolling only enough to adjust to shifting wind and ground.

Something touches me, cuts through my sleeves
A sharp slice of winter through glacial breeze
Not painful, no slice, nothing so tame
Winter's call to heart breathes my name

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sigyn & Loki

Loki was bound in his son's entrails-turned-iron. He lay under a spring, but more immediately, under a snake that streamed venom. Sigyn holds a basin between snake and bound husband. When she empties the basin, Loki writhes from pain, and the Earth writhes with him.

A lull fell in their conversation as Sigyn focused on the venom-catcher, nearly full.

Loki was a trickster. The trickster, if you went by anyone Sigyn had ever known, anyone who had ever met the man. Anyone who had been around him for long enough to see one change on that exterior, one second looking wholly calculating man who was interested enough to help, the next smiling as it all tumbled down, clever enough to dance through the falling ruins without a scratch.

Sigyn thought of this, and also thought he had never broken his word. She'd always wondered if the other gods would ever figure that one out, that you merely needed to get his word and watch the wording--but then, of course, Loki was ever the trickster. He'd dance through the words, quickest, be just as free as he ever was, and smile when you realized it was your fault.

She smiled down at him the best she could. The snake dripped its venom on him whenever she emptied the basin, and she had long lost any hope of cleaning off what fell. She had learned enough of him, saw the tension in his eyes. He stayed silent through even the worst of it, sparing her ears or his throat. Only his attempts to break the chain gave him away.

The smile was weak, and by now Loki knew it to be her warning. She took the basin, quickly, emptied it to the side, then held it back above him, high enough that the first splashes out the side would harm neither half of the pair.

Sigyn was faithful. Any proper description needed to include that. She was loyal, and it still surprised some that loyal, steadfast Sigyn had chosen changeable Loki. Trickster, who would hardly ever bind himself to anything.

Sigyn would smile, and look at their sons--whenever they thought of them now, Loki flinched, or Sigyn bit back tears--and think, quietly, that changeable Loki was her trickster.

By the time Loki had been bound, no one was surprised to see Sigyn at his side. She had enough foresight to have a large bowl, and was faithful enough that leaving him did not occur to her. That fact was Sigyn, as surely as clever Loki was trickster and taunter.

Loki's pain echoed between them. She felt she should be able to do more, but any deflection melted, or fell, or splashed burning venom against him. Loki felt he should have been able to hide his pain completely, to have that much trickery in him.

Loki could speak again without screaming, without telling his Sigyn how much he hurt. The silver tongue returned, as did his playful smirk, though the tension never did leave his eyes.

He spoke a handful of soft words, borrowed from better times. She smiled at him, a true smile, and they laughed together.

When he shakes enough, the bonds will break, and Ragnarok will come. Until then, ever-faithful Sigyn dwells by bound Loki.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"What are the most important words you know?"

" 'I love you,' of course!"

The little girl had a pink dress on, and bounced and skipped everywhere. When she spoke, she beamed as only a secure optimist can.
" 'I love you.'"

The woman said it calmly. She had dark hair, dark eyes, and showed more age in her gaze than on her skin. Her time on this Earth spoke of manipulation, on both sides. But there was still a hint, in the edge of that gaze, that she believed the words could be spoken honestly. And that was what she meant.
" 'This I believe.' For good or ill, they make the most difference."

And old man, this one. Grey hair and a long beard. From an era too few really remember existed, and none have lived through, anymore. From the first crusade, lived through so many. Saw them bring culture; saw them bring bloodshed; saw men who had been innocent a few years, a few months, a few eyeblinks ago take things that weren't theirs, take people...

Seen courage given in dark places; seen new, good ideas brought to life; seen friendship grow into families because when you lived together, ate together, slept together, that's what you were.
" 'You are not alone.'"
" 'I trust you.'"

Some might call this one an honorable idiot. Or a loyal fool. Honest to a fault. Any number of things that these people would, almost, intend as insults, and this one would smile and nod. Trust, loyalty. They were more important than your oath, more important to this speaker than this speaker than the speaker's own self.
" 'I believe in you.'"

The gaze was gentle, and a touch proud in reminiscing. The sort of pride one gets when one's time was earlier, may be later, but is not now. A teacher's pride. A parent's pride. One who cared for the fledgling, then watched the no-longer-little one fly.
" 'I will wait for you.'"

This is more story than moment. You know it. The princess, old enough to be married off and firm, clever enough to be where she wants to be. To finish the promise. Not quite a rebel, just using every tradition her people have to keep her oath.

Another came in, and gave his answer to my question.

"I'm glad."

Friday, July 1, 2011


She stared forward. She knew, in the odd way this place had given her, that left no doubt, that she had just enough energy to finish the journey. Should she stumble, or turn back for the Lethe's reprieve, she'd die here. Die at the bottom of the rabbit hole. It wouldn't be so bad, after all she'd been through.

She paused, just a moment, with any number of ideas fluttering through her head.

She turned, and walked. Stumbled when she met the Lethe's flow. She had forgotten the force behind it, even before she forgot almost everything.

Five steps. An unrecognized echo of her last words.

Five steps. Get up.




The nameless touched the doctor’s skin, and almost all was as it had been.
She rolled to her side, and wrote down scraps of the fading dream. She met the man from it, but he was different here, too immature for her tastes, as if he had never walked through any fire, never even been sunburned.

She looked at everything she could do, and most of it suddenly felt empty.

It was the last day, but she got everything together to apply for the right school. She did well. She did what she could do, and, for the geological eyeblink of a few centuries, she changed the world.

The nameless nodded silently.
I knelt and put a hand on his shoulder. I said what I prayed someone else would say, were I in his place.

"You're not alone."

He stared at me.
It was an interesting experience, looking into someone's eyes as he tried to put himself back together.

He collapsed into a sob, and I held him, and I healed him as best I could. He would never be a pillar again, but perhaps that was for the best. Too easy to just stand, unbending. Far better to adjust, be flexible, to fight only the important battles.

I'm water, and I'll find every sneaky crack if you don't built carefully; wear you down even if you do.

I'm water. I'll tend the sapling.
With the quiet scrutiny of a focused child, "Did you heal with her, or hunt?"

My lips twisted into something like a smile. "I hunted her. She healed me. Everything else just happened."
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