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first batch of prompts from here.

"sing a song of sixpence" || travares, mark || nyc, and it's a lead in to this

Being afraid of the boss, well, that only made sense. Nobody questioned being afraid of the boss--it was a community thing, a comfortable thing, like back when he was a kid; he and his buddies were supposed to be afraid of the scary neighbor who always yelled and chased them away when they played trading card games too loudly in front of his house. When it came down to it, nobody really believed that he locked kids up down in his basement, and sold their cards on eBay to buy his food. It was something akin to superstition, to mutual play-hysterical fear to place-mark and prepare for the real ones that life would hand you later.

When someone was a Somebody that actually did sometimes come face-to-face with Sartain, it seemed as if he, and the other Somebodies would be just the ones to be immune to that sort of thing. What was there to be afraid of? He was fully a head taller than the boss, and the boss himself was smiling and purring and singing very softly ("Sing a song of Sixpence, a pocket full of rye..."), and offered him a butterscotch.

"Did you read what I sent you, Travares?" Sartain was tapping a pen against the corner of his desk, and he looked oddly young today--like a teenager wearing his father's best suit, although it was obviously tailored to fit him. Amusingly enough, it didn't appear that the purring or the very soft singing ever stopped, even when the boss spoke; something odd happened with his mouth, and then Tavares heard both at once, in a slightly strained, off-kilter way (When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing...). Sartain didn't even look at him, never met his eyes. For a moment Tavares let himself think that maybe, just maybe, the real reason the boss hardly ever came down anymore was because now with the whole world full of ghosts, monsters and magic--metaphysical science, he came off less impressive by far. Sartain didn't wait for the answer, and he asked another question, as the song ended and started again without pause. "Can you get her for me?"

"Well yes--" Which was automatic, because that's what Thomas Travares did, he got results.

"Good. Do that."

"May I ask a question?"

And Sartain looked at him. The purr ended but the tune didn't, and perhaps it went slightly off tune? "And when the pie was opened..." The boss repeated. Travares felt a soft prickle go up his spine, all the hair rise on the back of his neck. He stood there, frozen and awkward, and watched the sparkle of the opals in Sartain's cufflinks as the boss looked at him and continued to sing the same old song, over and over again, in a tender, velvet soft voice, turned an inexplicably wrong way. And he tried not to think of how the score changed like this in all the Old World horror movies before a nasty death, and how, if this really were a movie, he'd be the only other character on screen right now.

Travares frowned, cleared his throat and tried again. "Mr. Sartain? What position am I offering her?"

The boss stopped singing and tilted his head a bit. "I have no idea." There was a quick, elegant, dismissive gesture. "Invent one. Use your imagination."

And the world suddenly tilted, and Travares quickly reached for the desk, in order to steady himself, and his fingers brushed wood--he stood outside Sartain's closed office door.

"yes, i mean YOU!" || vaneo-cridhos svala, paritos, unknown nedar-ri & neadhmen || alfheim

"Tá, there will be order, peace and prosperity here, because you will all selflessly help to uphold what is right and good, for the benefit of the entire empire, not simply yourselves, those of your class, or your respective countries." Svala informed them.

All assembled looked rather bored to Paritos. Several sionn--jarls, they called them here, he reminded himself--coughed. The Nedar-Ri rubbed his nose and rather clearly projected that he was giving them a singular honor; he would wait patiently for this stupid woman from an insignificant family to stop talking and go away.

"YES, I mean YOU!" Svala snapped, and they all stared. One of the jarls that was also a neadhmen of the Nedar-Ri stood up; he was very imposing in stature, Paritos noted, very impressive and exotic in his mail and armor and red-tinged blond hair hanging well down to his waist.

Svala stood in her borrowed robes of white and violet and faced him, impassive, and nearly of height, and Paritos looked up at her, sighed, and then looked to the jarl, and murmured, "I would not do that, if I were you. There are penalties for threatening one such as she."

The Nedar-Ri heard him, and the weight of his glower was as impressive as the rest of him; he nodded at his man. The Jarl flung out a derisive challenge. "Or what, little Southern boy? She will call up her knights to defend her, as all the other soft southern priests do? Are you one of their number, or are you merely her whore? Wouldn't you prefer to be mine instead? I would--"

"Oh shut up." Svala said coldly, "and sit down."

There was an instant that it seemed the jarl might at least make an impressive show of resistance, and then that single beat was over and he was collapsing helplessly in his chair; his mouth twitched and jerked, but did not open, and while Paritos had the sense that he had thoughts to share, apparently Svala was more their equal as well, as those thoughts remained unexpressed. Several others of his brothers in purpose began to move, and found themselves bound to their chairs as well; there were curses and cries of consternation.

"May I continue?" Svala asked the Nedar-Ri mildly. He nodded, and leaned forward, intently studying her; indeed, all assembled looked a great deal more interested, suddenly. Svala turned to Paritos. "The Jarl asked you several questions, A'Macárand. It would impolite not to answer."

Paritos pressed his hands together and bowed very politely to the Nedar-Ri, and then bowed again, less deeply, to the mute and bound nobleman, and answered his questions.

"Nil hea. I would not act, because there are no Fidei Defensoran to defend her. So she would not be remiss to deal with you herself. There are fates worse than death, when you are a leader of men. One of them is crushing humiliation, nil hea?" The Jarl, scarlet-faced, twitched violently.

There was a bit of a twitter of barely stifled amusement, from the untitled that Svala had invited, as per custom.

"Please to not fail to answer all of his questions, A'Macárand." Svala said, her hands neatly folded inside the sleeves of her robe. Perhaps he should remind her that she was not properly sworn in as a Cridhos yet? Nil hea, he would not. She wore it well.

"I would not dream of it." Paritos smiled, and bowed again. "Your pardon; I am no knight, and I'm afraid I'm not interested in your bed either. Thank you for your kind offer, but I must refuse. You are far above my station as the moon above the mountain, and I prefer lovers with the full use of their tongues."

"wet wool and leafmould" || aedra, fen || alfheim, in the forest nearest the mound

Aedra dropped his sword, laid down his bow, leaned back against the tree and slowly dropped down to sitting, ignoring the damp. He was already wet, his cloak stinking of wet wool, as familiar and no more intrusive or unpleasant than the smells of the rest of the forest, the sour tang of Norligon plant and the earthy scent of leaf-mold. Wet wool, while not nearly so comfortable, could hold him as warm as dry, in weather this mild.

He sat and waited while his breathing quieted and his ears sharpened, sat in perfect stillness until the forest forgot he was there. listened to the sounds it made, the bird calls, the rustle of some small animal or another--no doubt camouflaged by some primitive, instinctual glamour--as there was little in the way of scrub growth under which to hide, in a forest as old as this. It was like watching a movie that had a track missing, either the voices, the music, or the sound effects; the gap was substantial. He missed the hum of life, barely there traces of feeling and thoughts undefined, the layers of it that could be peeled back and soaked in, down to the things that had already settled into the beginning of their autumnal sleep.

Aedra didn't notice the fenwraith until it made it sound--no doubt on purpose and still a fair distance away--it did not do to startle a headblind man, and particularly not one of Aedra's caliber.

"What are you doing out here?" Aedra asked, recognizing the faoildeamhan immediately, and then he squinted at what was being offered. The long-fingered furry paw held a familiar green bottle with a tan label featuring a bald eagle mantling over a cask. It was still cold.

"Tell him thanks, Fen. I needed that." And Fen smiled, in his own open-mouthed, fangy fashion, tongue lolling, and collapsed in a heap down beside him, with a sigh. Aedra scratched his ears and drank his beer. An Ard Ri that saw him sitting under a tree from half an Empire away and knew just who to send to keep him company never would have needed his talents to begin with. That was ultimately more comforting than the beer and the company combined. He probably knew that, too. Stone didn't miss much, anymore.

"hot wind" || prince gregori, captaen screen || alfheim, out on the prairie

"Keep him busy," was the instruction given, and Screen did her best. The only thing she knew for certain as a harmless children's game (at least it was designated as such, in all the different mirrors she'd examined), was Cat's Cradle. So she pulled the laces from her boots and showed him. First, how to make the cradle itself, and then passing it. It kept him engrossed for nearly a thousand clicks at least, and for that time Prince Gregori was nothing more than another intrigued boy like a million others (1, 592, 739 others, to be more exact), biting his lip in much in the way his father did, a steady hot, dusty wind flipping his corn silk hair this way and that. Screen didn't have to wait long (about 1,637 clicks, all told.) before the questions started.

"Who showed you this?"

"A friend."

"How did I upset Aithre-mé this time?"

"There is a 83% chance that it was the trip off world without permission or supervision. Or knowledge that you knew how to open previously." Screen handed him Candles.

"Aithre didn't want to know I could open." The boy said, matter-of-factly. "He never wants to know things like that."

"Then you should correct one of the unlawful conditions, or at least have been more careful then to let him find out, Rivut-me." The doorman told him.

"It's kinda hard." Prince Gregori sighed, passing back the Cat's Eye, "When the pebbles your baby sister was stuffing in your poka tattle on you."

"shadow of a feather/wing" and "liquid dark" are contained in the first and second parts of this fic.

"tupinan brothers!" || the audeamhan daiv (pi, ceraan & family) || alfheim, the iarnhall in grytknutt, iarnvid

Word by courier was that winter was threatening early on the Tesekhandrak range, and so we would be getting our children back sooner than expected. This suited us just fine; the summer had been almost too quiet. I'd grown to miss their many questions and their excitement picking out and putting the shine back in the most mundane details of my life.

There should be a small feast in their honor later, of course, and I had that direction sent immediately; then I dressed and my deamhan and I went to the usual landing place to receive them. I remembered how they'd bowed their farewells, in a solemn orderly row, all in their finest jeweled and embroidered jackets. How they fairly glowed with excitement, following at my dragon's heels and his wary glancing, and testing the air, his hand on his dagger, searching for any threat to our most prized treasures, as he stepped through the door. I wondered how much they'd grown.

My deamhan tilted his head and whined, and I blinked, as we sensed a certain amount of disorder, of conflict, just before the door opened and our youngest son came tearing through. "Save me, Aithre!" He yelped, and before we could quite think how to react, Feodor took a fistful of Kern's fur and my arm, and scrambled upwards like a monkey, perched high up on Kern's shoulders, safe, to peer down, wide-eyed, between our ears, thumb very firmly planted in mouth. Right behind him came our second-eldest child, and he ran right past us and kept running, the brightly colored tail of his tunic flapping behind him.

"Salve, Aithre-Ri!" he cheerfully called back over his shoulder. "Servus, Aithre-Ri!"

"Petyr!" I called after him. "Where is Ote-Drakka--?"

I was interrupted with the high pitched scream of "Tupinan brothers!" which announced the arrival of our eldest. She stalked right past me, clad entirely in black flying leathers, golden hair tied back as best as could be managed into a messy tangled braid, saber drawn. My deamhan caught her wrist.

"Nil hea, Devora. Not in my house." I said. She hissed in a very draconic way and threw down the saber; Kern released her, and she resumed her pursuit. I turned again to look at Ceraan-Ri reprovingly as he finally stepped through the door.

My dragon did not even have the decency to look guilty. "It was a very exciting summer." He said solemnly. "They learned many things." Then he scowled at the saber on the floor, shook his head, and called after them. "Vela! how many times do I tell you? Why do you throw your sword away? How else will you make him sorry after you catch him?"

"on my knees i think clearer" || mark, lucian || nyc

There was a pattern in this, Mark thought, in one of the brief flickering spaces between violent urge and overwhelming sensation. It was the first light called in the darkness, it was Tiamat split into two; it was Alatangana's theft of Death's daughter, it was Tezcatlipoca being struck down again and again, it was Pan Gu forcing the formless, whirling chaos apart into earth and sky. It was Lainnir's hand on his throat, pinning him against the wall, and his terrible red-eyed smile; the heat of his breath against the side of Mark's jaw. If there was anything be read in darkness and chaos forever yielding before order and the light, it was merely that on his knees the tangled, broken threads of his thinking became so much clearer.

"blasphemy" || kyria, lucian, the entire tirnanog host || avalon

She flung back her head and laughed. "I named myself the Lord's Own Mercy, and ye never once asked the important question--which Lord?"

An outraged murmur rose from the Sideus Cadaen, and they all shone a little brighter--and then halted, and Kyria became very much aware of what stood at her back, and what would happen next, if she stood by and did nothing.

"Hasn't there been enough death today, M'Lord?" She asked softly. And when no answer came, she sang her request to him, sweetly. "Kyrie, luminis fons, lux oriens, eleison..." No one else moved nor spoke; she had to take a moment before she dared turn to face him herself, and her eyes watered from the light. "Leave them, please?" She asked him softly. "Tis beyond them. They cannot understand, nor can they ask forgiveness. Let them go?" And then again, "Mu-din, luminis fons, lux oriens, eleison. An me."

There was a long breath and his hand lowered. "An tiu, Kyria." Lucian told her, and vanished.

Kyria looked at all assembled. "Stay and serve." She told them. "Or go."
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