July 29th, 2006

Writing - XanaDuMalion

Ghost

"I want you to find my mother."

He looked at her, across the table from him, beautiful and intense - and wondered when she would want something he could actually give her. "I can't."

Anger sparked across the soulbond. "You're not even going to *try*?"

"I've tried before. She's not there."

"What do you mean?"

He spread his hands, preparing to explain once again what could never be completely explained. "When we die, we are reincarnated. Some right away - most of the Talthar Kithrayna are like that. Some take longer - they stick around. Some are never reborn at all... or if they are, it's on a timescale to immense for me to register."

"Never at all?"

"Seems like it."

"Are they... aware? Are they ghosts?"

He laughed softly... opened the soulbond as much as she would let him, and brought her into his gift. Opened to the world, and felt veils of shifting energy around them.

Showed her.

Said quietly, "Do you have any idea how many of us have existed? Ah, Julia. Our city is haunted by the living."

-------------

And so it begins. (You have a hole in your mind...)

This is Blogathon 2006.

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(Things will improve when I get some coffee in me. I'm still half-asleep.)
Writing - XanaDuMalion

Cadaver

She caught a glimpse of movement in her father’s office, and slowed, knocked on the slightly-ajar door.

“Enter.”

She did so, smiling. “Father. I didn’t know you were returning to the island so soon.”

He nodded, smiling back, tapping a stack of papers together on his desk. “No place like home, is there… Doctor Stone?”

She blushed delicately. “I don’t actually have my doctorate yet.”

“But you will soon.”

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something along those lines.”

“Graduation gift?”

“No… materials for a pet project. May I sit?”

He gestured toward the chair. “Please. What do you require?”

“Well. I’m not the first to work on this project. Psychics and mages throughout our history have taken it on. But never scientists.”

Her father stilled, keen interest in his eyes. “Katrianna. The restoration of our immortality?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve been researching.”

“As much as I can. I need to go a step further.”

“How?”

“I need… bodies.”

“Cadavers?”

“And live subjects.”

His eyes flared, mouth tightened. “Really.”

“It sounds extreme –“

“It does.”

“I’ve been dissecting human cadavers in med school. What I need to do is pinpoint the differences between humans and Dasaroi, both physically and metaphysically. Once I determine exactly what we have that they don’t… I can determine what must be done to enhance us.”

“You are aware, of course, that there’s a bit of a taboo just regarding cadaver dissection.”

“I am.”

“But – live subjects, Kat?”

“Physically and metaphysically, Father. When we die, our soul leaves, is reborn. Who knows what else it takes with it? You know of my early experiments on rodent anatomy. You know that I can keep the subject alive.”

“I remember.”

She leaned forward earnestly. “I know we’ll have no volunteers.”

“There are Hounds.”

She waved the suggestion away. “Hounds are substandard. They’re mentally altered; some of the alterations likely affect the very areas of the brain I’ll need to study most.”

“Then where do you suggest we obtain subjects for you?”

“The Council has enemies, Father.”

“So you suggest performing psychic surgery on people, then releasing them back into the world to tell everyone what you did?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I want to make sure you’ve considered all the angles here.”

“When I’m finished with the subjects… well. I don’t know exactly how you train Hounds – but I imagine they’d be useful for that.”

“They would,” he allowed.

“But I’d like to keep a few.”

“To what end?”

“I would like to study the moment of death. What happens to the body, the mind, the soul.”

“Ambitious research proposal.”

“I have always been thorough.”

“That you have. I’ve always been proud of you, Katrianna.”

She blinked, surprised. “…thank you, Father.”

“You’ll have your subjects. When and where do you want them?”

“My old lab in the basement. Perhaps we can set up some bunks for them next door…?”

“I’ll put Hounds on it.”

“Give me a week to prepare?”

“A week it is.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“Get results, Kat. That’s the only thing that’ll save you, if news of this gets out.”

“I have faith that I will.”

-------------

My ice queen, my mad scientist - Katrianna. Those early experiments are referenced in a previous Blogathon-sponsors reward story, by the way, available to new sponsors as well as old.

We're up to $2,270.60. W00t! I'll thank sponsors by name after the event. Too much to keep track of during!

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Writing - XanaDuMalion

Carnival

You can see the whole city from here - the Ferris wheel, stopped at its highest point.

Below, the Carnival District - a maze of alleys and lurid lighting, the clubs, the old and secret places, neon turning fog cotton-candy colors.

This is not a place to go without protection.

From here, you can see where the Purges began - the border between the District and the territory of House Lhri'nahr.

They were almost to safety...

The Hounds had been hidden here, in alleys and funhouses, waiting for her signal to pour out onto the streets. Watching the families at the Harvest Festival, watching fathers win teddy bears at the ring toss for their little girls, knowing that soon those fathers would be rent limb from limb...

And if those fathers, those children, felt a chill - felt they were watched - they'd not have known why.

The Carnival District was built on darkness, and has never forgotten this.

-------------

Wow, I'm morbid today. It's the prompts y'all are giving me! Give me something cheerful! Click here to prompt me.

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Still at $2,270.60.

And remember - I'm not the only one blogging my butt off! Check out aurora_lamour, boutell, faecat, kimeepower, qassandra, shadowwolf13, slipjig, weofodthignen, and zarhooie, and sponsor them if you can!

I so need more coffee.

Also: I may go through a period of substandard writing, as the brain drugs are starting to kick in.

Comments and feedback are welcome!
Capri - xanadumalion

Jewelry

"Do you think she'll like it?"

Capri held the necklace up to the light, admiring it. "Well, it is beautiful."

"Oh, good." Kieran grinned, relieved. "I never know, with her -"

Capri held a hand up to interrupt him. "It is beautiful. But, Kier - have you ever seen her wear jewelry?"

He paused. "Maybe it's just that she doesn't have any?"

"Or maybe it's that she doesn't want any, that she's not the sort to wear it."

Kieran sighed, deflated. "Kip... I don't know how to court her. I'm doing my best. It's her House colors, and - it is beautiful."

"But this is not necessarily the sort of beauty she wants. And it's a little... overly personal, coming from someone she still bristles at. Don't you think?"

"What do you mean? About it not being the sort of beauty she wants?"

"Well..." she turned it back and forth, ran her thumb along the intricate wirework. "It's very feminine, and very elaborate. She prefers simpler things."

"So a simpler necklace?"

"Get your mind off the jewelry, Kier. Think. What have you seen her enjoying?"

He paused, and turned to look out the window. "You," he laughed quietly.

She stood on tiptoes to kiss him. "Try music."

-------------

Music does end up working, eventually.

Seriously. This is one of the very few prompts that isn't morbid. I even actually have "morbid" as a prompt. Y'all are gonna get some dark stuff today if you don't give me happier prompts. :)

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Hearth

Flame

Napalm sat, cross-legged, in the middle of the room. Lyric watched him intently, mimicing his pose. "Now what I do," he said, "is..."

He paused.

"I don't know what I do."

"You add fuel to the flame," she said quietly, bringing a hand up under his, cupped to hold the energy that would become fire.

"You don't need an explanation, do you? You just want to see."

She nodded, smiling.

He grinned back and closed his eyes. Please let me control this one. Just a small one. He gathered energy - opened his eyes -

Ignition.

Her eyes opened wide, and she laughed, sitting back. He grinned at her over the small ball of fire dancing an inch above his hand. "You like that, huh?"

She clasped her hands, beaming. "Did I tell you you're wonderful?"

And almost as if on cue... the sprinklers activated.

He gasped as he was doused from overhead, thankfully remembering to put out the fire rather than drop it. "Oh, man!"

And her laughter pealed out, filling the room, watching him try to deactivate the sprinklers from beneath a curtain of sodden hair. She lifted her hands, catching water. "Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain."

And he cracked up and gave up, and just hugged her.

-------------

For the new kids: yes, Lyric speaks only in song lyrics. No, she's not as difficult to write as you might think.

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Surviving so far, painwise; remembering to get up and stretch!

I have a 96-ounce carton of coffee, and I'm not afraid to use it.
Tiala - xana art

Immortality

She walked into the grove... surrounded by the Firstborn, yet still feeling entirely alone. Knowing that it all came down to her.

She met his eyes across the clearing.

The Father-God.

The sadness in his eyes set her to trembling. The memory of what she'd done, what they'd all done - she collapsed in the center of the clearing, arms outstretched to him, prostrating herself before him. "Please," she whispered.

"Tiala. Come to me."

She looked up. I'm sorry...

I know.

She knelt before him, eyes downcast. "Look at me," he said gently, and she did. "This can never happen again."

"I know."

He held up a hand to forestall her. "No, Tiala. This can never happen again - because I will prevent it."

She felt a shift inside her, a change, and gasped in the loss - she felt a stirring behind her, among the other Firstborn, and knew that it had not been her alone. "Father! What...?"

"You will never again have the power to do what you have done. None of you. And... you are now mortal."

She raised a hand to her chest, eyes wide. "I... I'll die?"

"You must. All of you. Tiala - creatures that can do what the lot of you did... you cannot have eternal life. You cannot do this again."

Mortal. She spread her hand over her chest, feeling her heart; she looked up at the Father-God, sorrowful but implacable. "Let me die now, then."

-------------

This is what happens, but it's not in its final form; the brain drugs are screwing with my head, so my writing here is, as anticipated, substandard.

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zarhooie just called to ask Adam to ghost-blog for her because she's run out of ideas. *laugh*

I have had sex with three (3) Adams. Adams are uniformly Good In Bed. Just so you know.
Julia in color - xanadumalion

Belonging

Julia descended, hand trailing along the railing. Hard to get used to all of this grandeur, this spiral staircase, the richly-appointed foyer of the Library. Filled with people. She grimaced, not wanting to deal with them and their expectations. Donna, Tessa and her team - some red-haired girl talking to Lyric -

And the redhead turned to face her, and Julia froze.

Her coloring was different - that vivid blaze of hair. Enormous deep-blue eyes. But her face - we could be sisters.

Donna noticed the sudden shift of energy in the room, and smiled as she saw the reason. "Oh, Julia! I was hoping you'd join us. I have someone new to introduce you to."

Julia continued down the stairs, trying to shake off the shock. "I see."

The girl met her at the foot of the stairs, smiling. "Hi! I'm Capri Donnelly."

Julia shook Capri's offered hand. "Hey. Um. I'm Julia. Donnelly - is that one of the second- or third-circle Houses?"

"Nope. I'm a mutt - Mom was Tamrani, and Dad was Narsani. Dad came from outside the city, though, and kept his human name. Mom took it when she married him." She executed a little bow. "So really - Capri Donnelly ni'Tamra, at your service."

"You look like me," Julia blurted out.

"That's the Tamrani blood."

"No one - no one's ever looked like me before."

Capri smiled softly. "You grew up outside Shayara... you never met anyone from your House?"

She shook her head. "Never. Tessa, but she doesn't look like me. Like us."

"Ah. Well... you are the very model of House Tamra, Julia. And in some ways, so am I."

Julia studied her. Her face, her nose, the set of her chin - all things she'd seen in the mirror. But Capri was smiling, which Julia didn't do in the mirror much. Hesitantly, she returned the smile.

Capri's smile widened in return. "Welcome home."

-------------

Please be patient - brain drugs still in effect!

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Look! Picture of my other Adam.
Alanna & Jeramie

Dancing

It's almost as if she's a different person when she's dancing. The cold veneer, the glamour, slips away... what's left is just simply her, letting the music fill her, letting it move her. Hips twisting in the skintight latex, hair flaring around her like deep black silk as she spins. Hands cast out, hands spread, hands in the hands or hair of a partner.

Joy in her face.

This is what she does when she slips away from her minders, from her complement of Hounds - she runs away to Need, and she dances. She spins into the arms of strangers and, with a touch, reads them, knows them - feels what it must be like to be normal.

And then they come for her, and her steps falter. Her glamour slips back into place. She becomes the Lishaya again, not this anonymous girl who feels the music thrum in her bones. And she is brought away to her lonely throne.

-------------

Alanna is quite young here, no more than 15 or 16. Yes, that's too young for Need - but are they going to say no to her?

A bunch of you gave me "dancing". And lots of my characters dance - but I gave this one to her, because it is her only joy.

Science!
Spiders cry out while mating. Just like me.

Your daily zeitgeist.

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Smoke that Slides

Twilight

He stood by the window, frowning. Donna touched his shoulder. "Kieran? What's wrong?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. But something is. I just feel... off-center. I feel like I'm waiting for something."

The fog rolled in over the seawall, sun setting behind it, settling the mist briefly ablaze with color. Kieran smiled despite his unease - twilight was always his favorite part of the day. Seeing his smile, Donna patted his shoulder again and went on her way.

What is this?

Kieran opened his shields, opened himself to the whispers around him, crowd of spirits. Tension everywhere, but no clue as to -

Disruption, pain, tearing through, and he gasped and fell to his knees. "Donna!"

"What-"

"Donna, the Hallorans. They're dead." He looked up at her desperately. "Michael and his parents - Michael's already gone to his successor, he tore right through -" he stopped, listened "- it was Alanna."

Donna paled. "She... killed them?"

He nodded. "Alanna and the Council. She had them shot." Another tear through the ether, gutpunching him. "Oh, shit. Marcus."

"What on earth-?"

"Hounds. Alanna sent them. Oh, gods, Donna, barricade the Library, get out a warning..."

-------------

Yeah. Kieran's gift? He talks to the dead. The Purges? Kinda rough for him.

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Adam ordered pizza. I get pizza! And cinnamon treats. Because I am a good girl. *nods* And I am chairdancing.
Hearth

Comics

In the comics, Rock and Crystal Jones were heroes. Black-and-white archetypes with cocky smiles and fists raised for justice. I compared this to the notebooks Martin had given me. What's real? What's true?

From what Griffin and Axis said, it seemed like the notebooks told the true story. More true than the comics, at least.

All martyrs are beautiful in retrospect.

So the notebooks were what happened, or close to it. And the comics? The comics were their friends' way of making sense of what happened. Spinning it into something of honor and value.

Everybody needs stories. And what things like that go down, you need a fairy tale to get to sleep at night. The comics were the Disneyfied version of what happened... I already knew that.

Where is the truth?

-------------

See? Not all Shayara. Some placesyouhaunt, for the long-suffering fans of that too-infrequently-updated story.

Shayara is music. Places You Haunt is art. I'll eventually need artists, to draw both Doodle's smooth, graceful lines and the sketchy comic art. (Elayna can draw Kaylin's.)

This is Blogathon 2006. I'm posting every half hour for 24 hours, to raise money for RAINN.

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And yes, you can still prompt me! Prompts go here, please.

Yarr!
Alanna & Jeramie

Weakness

The rasp of razor on glass, separating crystalline grains. Neat and orderly. Sets of lines. The sweeping in back together, separating it out again.

Hand shaking.

The room is not hers. No matter that she's lived in it for a year now. She still thinks of it as theirs. The fallen heads of House Bartomn. She still thinks of this as Elizabeth's vanity. She has not removed the pictures, just turned them around. She has not removed anything, just let it accumulate dust.

All but the silver hand mirror.

This is not dust.

She knows that it is weakness, surrendering herself to the drugs. But the drugs keep emotion away, keep her powers away, keep everything away. Just for a little while. That's all she needs. Just to hide for a little while, just to feel like she's more than what she is.

Long, slim, elegant lines, and she bends to take them in... knowing she should be stronger, but refusing to care.

-------------

Routine:
* Post
* Get up, stretch, "process coffee"
* Read other Blogathonners' posts
* Wander around wondering wtf to write next
* Stare at prompts
* Type furiously
* Post

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I want to take a shower and do laundry, but that water main's still busted. *sigh*

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Capri - xanadumalion

Whispered

"I don't know if I can," she whispered.

"Mmm?"

"Any of this."

Capri propped herself up on one elbow, stroked Julia's hair. "What's wrong, sweetie?"

Julia curled in on herself, going from semi-fetal to full-fetal. "I've never - I've never done anything with another girl. Sexually. And I've never done anything sexual entirely willingly."

"What do you want, Julia?"

"I don't know. I want you. But that confuses me."

Capri kissed her forehead. "Take your time figuring it out, honey. I'm not going anywhere." She laughed, softly so as not to wake Halloran. "Literally."

Julia tensed and turned to look at Capri. "We will get you out of here," she whispered fiercely. "We will kick her ass, we will take this city back. And you will be free."

Capri settled into her arms. "I know."

"I promise."

"I know. I trust you."

Julia relaxed incrementally and held her. "...I trust you, too."

"That's new to you, isn't it?"

"...yeah."

"I will not hurt you, Julia. I promise."

She hugged Capri tightly. "Thank you."

They settled into each other, gradually drifting off to sleep. On the edge of consciousness, Julia thought she may have heard Capri whisper, "I love you."

-------------

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Hearth

Shattered

She waits quietly, patiently. Silently. And I take a deep breath and touch her gently, fingers to her temples.

And I have to keep from pulling back, because I have never seen anything like this. She is shattered. She has no coherent self, just disparate fragments - nothing matches. There's Lyric - probably the biggest piece. And Lily, older, tempestuous - and this bit is male, and this is nameless darkness...

I can't integrate this. No one can.

But does she even want to be integrated?

Or does she just want to understand, and to be understood?

-------------

Lyric is small, but she contains multitudes.

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Adam is playing videogames; I'm fighting my afternoon sleepiness and trying to stretch the muscle pain away.

There will be no porn til at *least* after midnight.

I am playing KoL when I am not writing.

You summon a Cone of Malfunctioning Microwaves, dealing 102 damage to your opponent.

You win the fight!

Elayna bounces around, helping you pick stuff up. "Did you know that chili peppers aren't actually peppers? And a coconut isn't a nut, either! Hey, remember that one monster you fought? He was crazy. Do you like music?"

You gain 737 Meat.

You acquire an item: yeti fur
Writing - XanaDuMalion

Ephemeral

She lives in a cave, embraced by shields stronger than any you've ever known. Almost a cocoon. She is almost hibernating, not quite.

She is immortal.

Yes, the immortality of the Dasaroi was revoked... but there are a handful of immortals scattered around this world. Most of us choose to interact with you. She chooses to hide, and to wait. She is too strong, you see. My brother and I are strong, but her...

Too strong to ever touch you.

So she waits, silent and slow. She emerges every few centuries. Your lives are so ephemeral to her - your generations are ephemeral to her.

And every time she emerges, I find her more alien than the last.

I love her. But we have moved beyond each other's understanding.

-------------

Yeah, I'm sucking. I am feeling kinda stuck. Problem is, I'm ending up using multiple prompts in each of these, so I'm poking around and saying "Well, that's kinda been done..."

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Writing - XanaDuMalion

Resplendent

She stands in the middle of her room, resplendent in full Court garb - dark green silks, her vest flaring out and falling to midcalf. Her hair is uncharacteristically down, held back from her face by jeweled barrettes. She examines one gauntlet as the servant laces the other one on - not the usual carved-leather gauntlets, but the full-formal silver ones... laced not with the usual green, but with white.

Funereal white.

She looks up at him, pale and troubled. "I didn't mean to," she says.

He has no response, nothing to give.

And she knows that it doesn't matter whether she meant to or not. She knows that he's dead. She knows that it is her fault.

And he watches the resolve settle into her.

He watches her learn, just a little too late.

-------------

Another problem: I keep getting these *great* scenes sparked in my head... that I can't write, because they are tremendously spoileriffic. "Redemption" would kick ass, I tell you.

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Oh, and guess what? There's going to be a Shayara song! Details as they come. :)
Alanna & Jeramie

Pliant

"And how are things with Alanna?"

Jeramie looked up, surprised to be addressed by Janos. He snuck a look over at Stephen. "Going well. She has been very... pliant."

"Do you think she'll back us in the matter of the Hounds?"

He allowed himself a smile. "Oh, yes. She was a bit thrown at first, but... I have convinced her that they were volunteers. Eager to give their beloved Lishaya the protection she needs."

"And her dependence on you?"

Another look at Stephen. Does this not disturb him? I know what he did to Katrina, but Alanna is his daughter. "Quite complete. I've altered her mind in a few ways... increasing that dependence, her eagerness to please me... some other things." Some other things I won't be saying in front of Stephen.

Janos turned to Stephen, who hadn't deigned to even look at Jeramie. "And Katrianna?"

"Progressing wonderfully," Stephen replied, actual warmth in his voice. "She's quite adept in all of the usual Tamrani gifts, and has expressed interest in learning about the gifts of other Houses. I'd like to recruit a tutor or two from each of the major Houses, while I'm here."

"I'll put the word out. Do you think she's the Lishaya?"

"Too early to tell. I can tell you that she is more powerful than Alanna." At that, he did look at Jeramie. Cool smirk. "We'll have to decide what to do about that."

-------------

I have evil bad guys. Rar.

Give me more prompts!

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My monitor is Labrynth, from Super Mario Monitors. Hi, Labrynth! *wave*
Julia in color - xanadumalion

Library

(This is the day after this.)

She woke to find herself in a bed in someone's basement, sheets tangled around her legs. Eyes still closed, she looked with other senses...

Someone was in the room with her.

She froze, probed.

A woman. Older. Not Tessa. Had powers, though. Not empathy... something different.

She cautiously opened her eyes, to find the woman smiling at her from across the room.

She struggled out of the covers and to her feet as the woman crossed the room. "Who are you? Where am I?"

"Ah. We met yesterday, but you were... not entirely yourself. I'm Donna. Kithraya of House Tarak."

"The bloodreaders," she remembered... and started to remember other things. She looked up at Donna, comprehension dawning. "I'm in Shayara."

"You are. You're in the Library, to be exact."

"A library? Why?"

"Because it's one of the best-shielded locations in the city. You had a difficult time crossing into the city - do you remember that?"

Julia flinched, memory assaulting her. "I was - it was like I was everyone I've ever been, all at once."

"But you're not having difficulty now."

"No."

"The Library's shields. You should stay here for a while. Until you get accustomed to the city, and to your memories."

"What, in your basement?"

"We have a room upstairs for you," Donna smiled.

"In the library?"

"I live in the Library," Donna shrugged. "Many members of my House do."

"Where do members of my House live?"

Sympathy flickered across Donna's face. "One thing at a time, Julia." She beckoned Julia up the stairs, to the Library.

-------------


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La!
Capri - xanadumalion

Egg

"Capri! Come help me put away groceries!"

She bounced from her room, grabbing bags. "What did you get me?"

"Careful, there are eggs in there!"

She stuck out her tongue. "Ew."

Halloran raised his eyebrows, grinning tolerantly. "Eggs are ew?"

She lifted the basket of eggs out of the bag gingerly, an expression of extreme distaste on her face. "Eggs come out of chicken butts," she informed him authoritatively.

"No, they do not."

"Chicken butts, I tell you!"

"Are you serious, or are you just messing with my head?"

"This -" she brandished an egg - "was pooped out of a chicken."

"Capri-"

"I hope you washed it."

"Do you like cake?"

"Mmm?"

"Do you like cake?" he repeated.

"I love cake," she replied, quite seriously.

"Without eggs, there can be no cake."

"Do I get to bake a cake?"

In answer, he pulled out a bag of flour.

"Oh." She smiled charmingly. "Eggs are not so bad, then."

"And you do have a grasp of chicken biology, right?"

"Yeah. I just hate the texture of eggs. They're fine in cake though. And, I have to give you a hard time."

"Oh, you have to?"

"Yeah, it's in the contract," she said absently, rummaging through the remaining bags. "Where's the chocolate?"

"Chocolate? I didn't get any."

"Cocoa?"

"Nope."

"You wanted me to make a plain yellow cake?"

"Is plain yellow cake bad?"

She sighed melodramatically. "Oh, Daniel. You think I need an education..."

-------------

...now I want chocolate cake.

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Capri - xanadumalion

Sunshine

She opened the glass door as quietly as she could, and stepped out onto the balcony. There was barely enough room out there for her, crowded as it was with the vegetable garden, but she managed to work her way over near the railing.

Sunlight.

She tipped her head back, basking in it.

The shields extended a few feet beyond the Tower walls - no one outside could see or sense her, but Halloran worried anyway. So technically she wasn't supposed to be outside at all.

But every so often, you need the sun on your face.

She grinned, breeze teasing coppery hair out around her; she sighed happily.

But was not confident enough to actually touch the railing and lean out, or stay there long.

Someday. Someday, they'll find the true Lishaya... someday, the Council will be overthrown. And then I can go to the park again, and the farmer's market. Then I can go anywhere I want.

But for now... she cast a wistful look over her shoulder as she turned to go back inside.

-------------

As usual, I am posting in no particular chronological order; as usual, I will post a chronological guide tomorrow afternoon.

I am ouchie.

I am tempted to read, because I have the Snakes on a Plane issue of Entertainment Weekly, a new issue of Scientific American Mind, and the new Ellen Kushner book all sittin' right here.

Time for more coffee!

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Writing - XanaDuMalion

Wheels

“Who is that?” Thomas breathed.

We looked. Standing next to Jason, hands in her back pockets, was a new girl. No way of seeing eye color from this distance, but by the long, thick chestnut hair, I was guessing she was L’Arathi. Nicholas straightened in his chair, possibly coming to the same conclusion.

Jason led her over to us, and I took an instant liking to her – she had a good feel about her. She shoved her hair back behind her ears as she approached – probably a nervous habit. And yes, her eyes were L’Arathi, grey-in-green.

Jason grinned as they reached us. “Everyone – this is Liane Farrell.”

“Just Annie,” she interrupted self-consciously.

“Okay – Annie. This… is a big part of your peer group.” One by one he introduced us; she nodded after each name, clearly trying to keep us all straight in her head.

“And this is Nicholas.”

Her gaze fell on him, and she blushed. Hard to see if she was reacting to him or to his wheelchair… I hoped for the former. It would speak better of her. He was worth reacting to… one of the handsomest guys at the Sanctuary. I preferred Seth, of course, but Nicholas was damn fine… also typical L’Arathi, but with a stronger upper-body build than usual due to hauling himself around in his chair all his life. He was open and friendly too, as she seemed to be. Looking back and forth between them, I started to grin... oh, yes. This could get interesting.

-------------

The speaker is teenage Jessa, of course; Annie and Nicholas are Shawn's parents. Or, well, they will be. Damn time and its supposed linearity.

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slipjig talks about his charity and why it's important to him here. Go sponsor him!

And go sponsor boutell, who's cranking out a sonnet every half hour!

And everyone!

irana's gonna bring us barbecue!
Alanna & Jeramie

Mirror

She completes the rituals of going out. High boots with high heels. Skintight dress to show off every curve. Makeup applied impeccably, artistic dark lines making her large greyblue eyes look even bigger, dark red lipstick to emphasize her mouth. Dark hair artfully styled to stay in place, look just that perfect bit tousled before and after dancing. Thin silver chain around her neck - a gift from him. Long black gloves.

She studies herself in the mirror, turning, examining every view, every inch.

Satisfied that no bruises show, she leaves.

-------------

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I'm wet and naked! (Water's safe. Took a shower.)
Hearth

Foyer

Julia hesitated at the border of the castle. She felt the shields shimmering around her, had heard stories about what the castle did to those deemed unworthy. I know I'm the Lishaya. I know I am. I have nothing to fear here.

And she walked through.

The shields parted and fell before her, like Sleeping Beauty's hedge before the prince. Like Sleeping Beauty, this place had been waiting for her. She felt an odd pang in her heart at the thought. This was hers. This recognized her.

She stood before the tall, wrought-iron gate and placed her hand against it.

It swung open.

She jumped back, then laughed at herself. She walked through the courtyard, lush and green, trees heavy with fruit, walls thick with vines.

The door of the castle.

It opened at a touch, as she'd come to expect.

She stepped in... and tears sprang to her eyes. "Oh. Oh. I remember," she whispered to herself, standing in the foyer. She turned, taking in the two winding staircases, the marble floor, the portraits, the tapestries, the chandeliers - so much! And so many memories, layered one on top of the other.

This is my home. And it waited for me.

-------------

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Sponsor zarhooie, too, or kittens will be eaten! And there's apparently fellatio goin' on over there, too.
Talthar Kithrayna

Complacency (AIM prompt from scathedobsidian)

Kieran stood and faced the other members of the Talthar Kithrayna “As many of you know, we’re gathered here for a purpose. A proposal has been set forth… to seek out Alanna’s missing sister, who may be our true Lishaya. If we agree that this search should be undertaken, Tessa Stone and her…associates… will seek out this sister and ascertain whether or not she is our Lishaya. It is our hope that she is, and that she will then depose Alanna and the Council and restore our city to its former…sanity, if not glory. Do any of you have a statement on the matter?”

Kristian half-smiled. "This would be the sister who doesn't exist?"

"I believe that she does."

"Kieran - Katrina Stone died in childbirth, and the child was stillborn."

"That's what the Council says. They're lying."

"Why would they?"

Kieran gestured at him in disgust. "Why wouldn't they? Think who you're talking about, Kristian!"

Donna stepped in. "Kieran's hot-headed, but he does have a point in this. I've recently been given some... new information from Jason."

"New?"

"New to me. Jason and Tessa have known for some time, apparently. Do you remember that immense flare of power we all felt about five years ago? Not long before the Purges? We theorized at the time that it was some action by the Council. It seems that it was Julia awakening to her power."

"Julia," Kristian murmured.

"Her name. The Lishaya's name," Kieran said quietly.

"How did she survive?"

"Her mother didn't die in childbirth. She got enough of her power back to plant the illusion in the minds of the Council, and escaped with Julia... left Julia with friends, and went on alone. Julia's foster parents died when she was very young, and she went into state care. Until she awakened."

"What then?"

Donna sighed. “Jason and Tessa, working together, managed to triangulate Julia’s position at the time of the… power surge, we’ll call it. When Jason sent a team in to investigate… they found that this… this power surge… had killed Julia’s foster family. Both parents, and the other three children in the house, were found dead of massive cerebral hemorrhages. The psychometrists Jason sent in were able to confirm that the deaths were indeed caused by an immense psychic backlash. Their theory was that Julia had been … threatened, in some way. Something strong enough to completely awaken her latent power to its full extent. They also felt very strongly that Julia had no control over her powers at the time – she was simply lashing out. Unfortunately, theories are all we have – as Julia was missing from the crime scene and has not been seen, or felt, since. Jason wished us to keep in mind two things. Firstly, that although Julia is to be presumed extremely dangerous, his belief is that she did not intend to commit murder that night… And secondly, due to the very fact that she was able to kill five people with a single, unrefined blast of psychic energy – and shield so strongly afterward that not one of us has been able to trace her power signature – he feels that Julia is almost certainly our Lishaya. He feels that no one else could be that strong.”

Kristian leaned forward. "And you want us to go after this girl?"

"I want to find our Lishaya," Kieran said steadily.

"And an untrained girl capable of killing a house full of people in one careless moment - that's better for the city than what we have now?"

"Better than Alanna and her Hounds? Hell yes!"

"Alanna will leave you alone if you just swear fealty. This girl could kill you without noticing."

"So you just want to stay complacent and kiss Alanna's ass?"

"If it's that or threaten my House's very existence?"

"This is not about you and your House, Kristian! This is about what's right."

"Child... I do not fight unless I know I will win. That is responsibility."

"That is cowardice."

"Stop!" Halloran stood, towering over them both. "Just put it to a vote already, okay?"

"Halloran," Kieran pled. "You understand, right?"

"She killed my brother for not kneeling, Kier."

"The solution is not kneeling ourselves. "It's replacing her with the true Lishaya."

"You saying I did wrong?"

"No. Under the circumstances, you did right. But we can change the circumstances."

"All right," Donna said. "Let's vote."

-------------

Gyah. This took the entire half hour. My arms ache. I go stretch now.

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Capri - xanadumalion

Plants

Julia poked a tomato plant skeptically. "Why does everyone have plants on their roofs or balconies?"

Capri smiled. "Do they not do that, outside the city?"

"It's not unheard of. But it's not usual."

"Mmm. Well, I've heard that the economy is different outside. And also, you don't have the space limitations. You have room to grow all sorts of food. Here, if you don't grow something yourself, you have to trade for it or buy it - and things imported from outside the city are really expensive. So we try to minimize that. People who have room raise poultry and other animals... but as you can see, almost everyone grows their own veggies."

"So when I've eaten dinner over here... all the veggies were things you grew yourself?"

"Most of them. We trade for some. And all of the animals, of course. Can you imagine the Kirayth tending a chicken coop?"

-------------

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

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Hearth

Oh, shit, dudes.

From the main Blogathon page:

Blogger has planned an outage between 9-11 PST. There is no way on their site to contact them. If you have a contact at Blogger, please let me know right away.

The Blogger Blogathonners are so fucked. If you can help, go contact Frykitty at this link.


False alarm, yay!
Fenris - by Xanadumalion [Purges]

Primal

(After this...)

He lost himself in battle. There was nothing for him that was not truly primal... just kill the damned Hounds before they killed anyone else. He barely noticed his own wounds - he wouldn't let himself notice his wounds.

No time. Too many of them. Put the bastards down like the dogs they were named for. One after another, faces and bodies blurring into each other as he reduced them to meat.

He ran out of bullets and switched to his shortsword - for the first time in this life, driving it into flesh, that sick jar as it hit bone, wresting it out. Don't look in their eyes. There's nothing there to look at, just a thing trained to kill.

Shove the thought down. Turn the corner, here's another, got a Tamrani corpse behind him - and Fenris in front of him. Fenris outright growled as he rammed the blade home before the Hound could react - felt someone behind him, spun, punched the Hound down. Saw a mob of them on the street behind.

Ran for them, blade gore-slicked. Come here and die, you sons of bitches.

-------------

*lets hair down* Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the halfway point of this Blogathon.

I'd say it's all downhill from here, but it's not. We're still on the uphill. It's all downhill from 8 AM to 9 AM. 8 AM is a long way off.

But now we're halfway through, and in the dark.

C'mere. Let me tell you a story.

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Buckle up, y'all. It's gonna be a bumpy night. :)
Hearth

Crystal

(After this...)

Crystal went out to the desert with Kellen, and she came back without him, and everything changed.

The energy that had been building all year - building for years - that sweet, humming, knife-edge tension - dissipated, just like that. We knew before we even saw her face. We knew that Kellen was gone. Because that tension had all centered from him, radiated from him - all of us humming like a tuning fork, all these twisting lines through Las Vegas leading back to Kellen. And then it was all just gone.

And she came walking out of the desert, alone, huddled into his too-big leather jacket.

And I knew right away that I should have gone with them. Me and Griffin both. It was a foolish romantic idea Kellen had, and it cost him his life. Me and Griffin, we should've been smarter. We should've gone out there.

What the hell do I know about desert spirits? No more or no less than she did. But maybe there would've been strength in numbers.

She walked out of that desert without him, and this whole network we'd had, this energy we'd all built together - it was gone. Who knows what we could've done with it? We fucked it up. Buncha stupid junkies.

So Kellen's gone. And Griffin's gone - he couldn't stand to look at Crystal all silent and haunted as she was, couldn't be with her with Kellen's baby in her. And me, I'm thinking about leaving.

It all fell apart, man.

-------------

Look! More placesyouhaunt!

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irana is here! She's going to be blogging her novel. She brought barbecue and garlicky pesto pasta. We love her. Even when she doesn't bring awesome food. *beam*
Hearth

Defining Love

"Do you love her?"

He looked up at Julia - as always, that direct, accusatory look. "Love who?"

"Capri. You're fucking her, but you say you want me. Do you love her?"

"Of course I do. She's my best friend."

"I'm not asking if you love her as a friend."

"Well..." he gestured helplessly. "Define love!"

"I don't know! I'm not - I've never - I'm not talking about friendship. Romantic love, I mean. Shouldn't you be romantically-in-love with people you have sex with?"

"Have you been?"

She paled, glaring at him. "My sex life is none of your fucking business."

"But mine is yours?"

"When you're trying to drag me into it? Yeah."

"And when did this become about sex? I thought we were talking about love."

"They're not linked, for you?"

"Not always. I love Donna, but I'd never have sex with her; she's like a mother to me."

She sat opposite him, backwards on her chair. "Now you're screwing with your definitions."

"Well, I don't really know what you want. You asked me if I love Capri; I do. You challenged that."

"I want to know how you can want to screw around with other people if you love her."

"Because love is not like that, for me. Love does not exclude. I love both Capri and Ryan, in ways that are different, yet overlap. I don't draw love as a neat little heart, I draw it as a Venn diagram. I'm sorry. I can't define love. All I can do is live it, and hope you can feel it through our bond."

-------------

Yes, this is a two-word prompt, not one-word. I am stretching the rules because it's irana's prompt, and she fed me.

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Adam is making more coffee. Vroom! *boogies down*
Some things can't be fixed

Forgotten

There is a reason he won't get close.

You have forgotten.

It's not your fault, of course. It's what the gods brought down on us all. We know that we were born immortal, with power beyond measure. We know that something terrible happened. (That we did something terrible.) And that the gods revoked most of our power, and our immortality. And, after making sure we couldn't do it again, stole away our memory of what we did. (What could we have done that's so terrible that that was a mercy?) And that they left us.

And all these centuries, we have grown up in this world not knowing. We have all forgotten.

He has not.

This is the lot that was given to House Tallart, which once was House Telenias - someone must always remember. So he was trained by Martin, and Martin by David before him, all down the years - trained, and the memory brought forth. He is the Telenias - the Telenias. He carries the burden of memory.

He can never share it.

And he will always know that you do not truly know yourself, because you have forgotten.

-------------

Look, ewin! Your favorite!

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Alanna & Jeramie

Retribution

The radio crackled to life in Alanna’s hands. “Donnelly targets are confirmed dead. Orders?”

Alanna grinned. “Don’t stop now, boys. Kill them all, and salt the earth.”

Jeramie paled - targets, plural? - and the conversation faded to an indistinct buzz. Numb, he watched Alanna “soothe” little Ryan, aided by Kristian. He managed to walk over. Got Alanna’s attention. Made up a pretext to get her alone.

Once outside, he slammed her against the wall, eyes wild. She stifled her cry, glaring up at him. “Yes, dear?” she said mockingly.

“Targets. Plural. Did I hear that correctly?”

“You did.”

“The order was for Marcus alone. Marcus killed and Jessamyn and Capri brought in. Capri as leverage. Am I remembering this incorrectly?”

She shrugged, smiling, her eyes on him. “I changed the orders.”

He sagged. “Jessamyn.”

She nodded, watching him avidly. “The new order was to take Marcus down first. Then Jessamyn… slowly. With the little girl forced to watch. With Jessamyn knowing that, after we tortured her to death, we would do even worse to her daughter.”

“Capri. Her name is Capri. She’s twelve years old.”

Alanna suddenly looked far older than her years. “I was twelve.”

“Why did you change the orders?”

“The goal was to teach them a lesson, yes? This serves that purpose.”

“You didn’t have to kill her!”

Alanna laughed. “How many dozens – hundreds – of people did we order killed? What’s one more?”

His hands dug into her arms. “Why?” he growled.

She looked up at him for a long moment, then smiled, cold and deliberate. “Because you loved her.”

He slammed his hand onto her throat, eliciting a sound halfway between a grunt and a gasp. “I could kill you for that.”

She laughed again, high-pitched and high-strung. “No, you can’t. You need me. More than anyone needs you. Kill me – and then what? Tell everyone ‘ooh, sorry, Alanna never was the Lishaya’? You’re stuck with me, Jeramie. And I do mean with me. Thou shalt have no other gods – or loves – before me. No more pining over your little crush. You are all mine.”

He released her, and her hand went automatically to her throat – just before he backhanded her across the face. She cried out then, to be sure. Alanna, sprawled across the floor, hand to her face. “You psychotic little bitch,” he hissed.

She gave him a shaky smile. “I am what you made me,” she replied, her voice raspy and unsteady. “And you made me in your image. Happy?”

Refusing to answer, he summoned four Hounds. “Take her upstairs. Find a bedroom. I’ll be up with your instructions momentarily.”

She laughed wildly. “There’s nothing you can do to me anymore. There’s nothing that will hurt me anymore.”

“Oh, yes,” he said softly. “Yes, there is. And I will begin to show you tonight. I can’t kill you, Alanna. But there is so much that I can do to you.”

Uncertainty flickered across her face as he gestured to the Hounds to remove her. She stumbled after them, newly wary.

-------------

Oh, poor Alanna. She really had no idea...

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I am a smart girl and have taken my drugs now, while Adam and irana are here and awake to keep me alert through the side effects. See how clever I am? I'm clever.
Capri - xanadumalion

Nightmare

Back in the alley. I've never left the alley, and I never will. Stepping back, my shoe sliding on gravel - only two places for my gaze to land.

The remains of my father, and what they're doing to my mother.

The sickening crack of breaking bone, and my mother, my brave strong mother, screams... the whole alley smells of blood, rich and copper-heavy and thick, and my shoe slides on gravel, and I'm down, and they're there - Hounds, the Hounds who killed my dad, the Hounds who are killing my mom, and I fling my hands over my head but all the happens is a few sparks - no shield - and they laugh, and one of them grabs me by the hair, and -


"Capri!"

Mommy, please!

"Capri!"

I gasp awake, heard pounding, awaken to his voice. My kiri. I gulp down a breath of fresh air, still gagging from the smell of the alley in my dream, and I choke on a sob. Halloran holds me, even though I'm slick with cold sweat, he holds me and rocks me - "Kiri, it was just a dream. It was just a nightmare. You're okay."

I grab his arm, hold it across me, sag against him. "You saved me."

"It was just a nightmare, honey."

"It was the alley. In the nightmare... in the nightmare, you weren't there. But you were in real life."

He nods, understanding.

I close my eyes. "You saved me."

-------------

Yes, Capri is chipper and joyful and fun... but don't forget that the girl's been through some severe trauma.

Bad, bad dreams, and this is why she slept in Halloran's bed for so long after the Purges...

This is Blogathon 2006. I'm posting every half hour for 24 hours, to raise money for RAINN.

We're still at $2,572.60! Let's see if we can push it to $3,000!

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Please?


Spooky just called. Hi, Spooky! *kiss*

She asked if there was anything she could do for me... basically, what she can do, and what y'all can do, is comment on the posts! This keeps me awake. Awake is good!