Dear Dear Diary
I hate bras.
I hate brassieres, over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, japanese slingshots, bandeaus, camisoles, unmentionables, sports bras, lacy bras, wired bras, padded bras, pushup bras, lifting and separating, cross your heart and hope to die, I just hate bras.
Unfortunately, I have huge tracts of land and should never take up jogging.
I refuse to enter another store and try on bras in the semi-discreet public dressing rooms, because if I do, I know I'll want to murder someone. Anything remotely close to my size will hurt, itch, or both. I'll have the unpleasant 6-pack effect of two over the top and one out each side for most bras I try on. And I will go home with a rash. Anything designed to hold back babies arguing under a blanket will not be pretty, although they will slather lace in an attempt to apply the sexy label. Trust me, just some whipped cream makes them much sexier and has the added benefit of not hurting.
So for my new year's resolution, I'm going to make my own damn bras and to hell with commercially purchased bras. I'm begging for a book that's all about making one's own, and dammit I am going to. I treasure my comfort.
(while I haven't written fresh corpse in too long, I think I'll keep posting it)
High up in one of the stalagmites, almost hidden in the branches, Tyrrae could see a young man holding a bow and arrow like one of the Queen's Tower sentries.
It was naturally pointed at her. Unlike home, she did not arrogantly ignore this threat.
She stopped and stared at him without moving her hands until he moved the arrow aside.
He made a few sounds that were vaguely like the winged animals. She assumed it was a signal for his friends. She nodded at him then, and continued walking after the young women.
She recalled advice her father gave her, perhaps the only time he did not mention fungus during their conversation. "Never run from an immortal, child. It only attracts their attention." She wasn't quite sure how it applied here, she just instinctively knew that running would have caused the sentries to should first and ask questions later. She repeated her stand off with two more sentries, but the next one put her in a quandary. "Acknowledge all of the sentries," the woman had said. Yet this young man was clearly asleep. He was comfortably tucked up in the nub of a stalagmite that cradled him and yet kept him pointed out so all he had to do was aim and shoot... But he had carelessly dropped his bow, and the quiver had spilled his arrows in a cascade down the main part of the stalagmite.
Tyrrae cleared her throat to make a noise. Not for a moment did she assume he was now unarmed. While the queen would have had him flogged or worse for his laziness, her guards had extensive training in hand to hand combat, and were known to carry a poisoned dagger or three. She could be killed without the Kiss before she sneezed. To assume this sentry useless even in sleep would be the height of stupidity. Tyrrae tried calling out to him, "Hello up there! You seem to be asleep, sir! You should be more careful. Hello?" Every call she made grew in volume, but the sentry did not move.
If she could not see the gentle rise and fall of his chest, she would have feared he was past the Kiss. She noisily picked up the fallen bow. Perhaps she could reach to poke him with it? Aye, that she could. She gently poked his foot. She hoped he would not stab himself with an arrow as he woke.
He jerked his foot out of the way and muttered.
She stretched and jabbed him in the side.
He swatted at it.
"Hello?" she said and poked him again.
He finally opened his eyes.
"I think this is yours," she said, holding the bow up.
He took it, grasping instinctively, while looking at her face in horror. He shrank away from her, causing arrows to slide down the trunk. "But.. but.. but you're a Dark one!" he stammered. He realized what he was holding and dropped more arrows trying to pick up just one.
“Perhaps you are the Hated One, as my mother warned me against," Tyrrae replied calmly, moving back to avoid being hit by the falling arrows. She was trying very hard not to laugh.
He managed to nock an arrow, and she kindly pushed it away from her.
"If I had meant to kill you, you would not have woken up to find me handing you your weapon. Remember that." She turned, with her hands open and obvious, and walked on up the path away from him.
The sentry scrambled to his feet, knocking the quiver to the ground. He saw the wolf trot by, following Tyrrae. He was holding the orc axe in his mouth. The wolf ignored the sentry completely. The sentry gave up, dropped his bow, and ran to town after them.
I folded the seats up in the back of the truck and put a few blankets down. The dogs managed fairly well that way. Rascal still wanted to sit in the front seat, ideally in my lap, and he's just not as petite as he thinks he is. So he spent most of the trip with his front paws and big head hanging over the folded seat barrier grembling, like a furry charicature of Kilroy Was Here. He was very well loved by my family. Da and my brother both immediately announced they wanted a basset, much to the annoyance of their respective wives. Jazz even managed some truly endearing film of the youngest of my brother's spawn, little Ariana and Rascal nose to nose on the living room floor. She's able to hold herself up on all fours, and the basset lay down and let her touch his paws while he snuffled her. She's roughly six months old.
Nothing worse than a lot of car anxiety... so overall a pretty good day. :)
Even if it was the first one without Gram. I'm going to have a lot more without her, and thank goodness we had her to as many holidays as we did.
The phone did not ring... tension is slowly fading, but so are hopes that it might ring.
So instead, have another bite of necromancy....
She grieved. She had called his spirit back to her, and now she knew exactly what she would miss about the old man. And his continued presence would only remind her of that. Carefully, she picked up the axe and examined the fine powder on it. She traced her fingers through it, and gently kissed her fingers. She looked at the axe itself and felt its weight in her hand. She thought of the glint in the beast’s eye as it had watched the women. That creature hunts for the joy of the kill, she knew, and was unlike any other she had encountered. This was an enemy worthy of destruction. She knew also how very lucky she was. If it had noticed her.... She would need allies. This village seemed very convenient indeed. And she had already learned how she may gain entry in good faith.
Carefully, she set down the axe and stood. There was no point in bringing something she didn't know how to use. She knew what her weapons were. She shouldered her pack and walked in the direction the women had run. She kept her hands open and empty, and her sense alert.
She had not walked very far when a shape seemingly coalesced in front of her. The animal stepped from between the stalagmites to stand blocking her path. The yellow eyes looked intently and warily into her lavender eyes. Its shaggy gray fur reminded her of tattered old silks sewn together for blankets. There was something in the gaze that reminded her of the changeling; the intent eyes patiently assessing her movements, her thoughts.
She did not move for a few moments. Then she quietly asked, "Are you a Guardian?" She felt this must be the animal written of in tales of legend as a wolf. Few believed they ever existed any more, but alternatively depending on the legend, they were either guardians or enemy to her people.
The wolf slowly lowered then raised his head, as if in a simple solemn nod.
"I see," she said. "Do you guard those two young women who just ran through here, and their village? They need better care. I just drove off what I think must be an orc that threatened them."
The wolf flinched.
She pressed her advantage. "I would go to the village and offer my help. Hunters such as that orc should not threaten those unable to handle it."
The wolf snorted, but he moved aside. He sat and watched her walk down the narrow path. Although she did not turn to watch. Let the wolf investigate- she had no motivation to lie.
Last night, we tried to finish making plans for the holiday. I talked to my parents, and all is normal there. But for the other side.... My mother-in-law Ginny is moving into some sort of senior living arrangement. We'll have to go visit her for kissmoose or near it. She'll be Connecticut visiting Jazz's brother for Dead Bird Day.
But that's not the mindblowing part. Paula, Jazz's first wife, called Jazz's brother. She gave Tia's phone number and asked that Jazz call Tia. It's been 12 years since they last spoke. Tia is Jazz's daughter. I'm a stepmother who has never met the "kid." She's 23. For all I know, I'm already a grandmother. My primary feeling right now... I'm glad Tia's not dead, like we feared. We heard both Paula and Tia were dead.
But with the estrangement and everything that happened before, any relationship with Tia will be difficult. I am still optimistic that it will be worthwhile. Yet this greatly adds to the stress level around here. I may yet snap.
There were sounds behind her of the lichen being crushed and fallen stalactite snapped underfoot. Tyrrae tried to blend into the shadows, but worried the light was too bright. A figure stooped over to stay hidden moved forward almost even with her. It stared intently at the two girls. The face had protruding teeth from the lower jaw and spiky hair as dark as its skin. It wore hard leather that looked terribly uncomfortable to the silk adored Tyrrae, but had obviously been worn enough to become a second skin. He carried a large axe painted black like the rest of him, and his grip was steady and firm. This was not the nervous wariness of the splint mail clad guards in the Royal Quarter- who were unused to regular battle- this was someone used to killing and designed with the hurt in mind. Intent on his quarry, he had already made a serious mistake.
Slowly, Tyrrae eased her fingers into her belt pouch and pulled out a pinch of powder. The dried bits of blood and bone from Grandfather would summon his spirit to her side in an instant, but it would be better if she were not seen. Summoning a servant was useless if she were killed in the process, and this was the first time she had tried putting her knowledge to the test. Truthfully, she did not know if she had cast the spells correctly or if she had made some small error. She waited, breathing slow shallow breaths, as the thing moved forward. As soon as it was no longer in easy range of Tyrrae, she acted. Throwing the powder, she commanded the summoned skeleton to attack. "As you wish, Great One," the spirit spoke, and charged.
The young women heard the voice, took one look, dropped their buckets and ran. The beast dodged the first onslaught of the skeleton while pulling back his axe. He swung as he stepped forward, fully intending to slice the skeleton in two. But the axe slid neatly between the ribs and was not able to cut the bones. Instead, the axe became trapped within the ribcage, and the beast swung skeleton and axe. The skeleton grabbed for the beast's ears and twisted painfully. "Bad orc," it said, "no biscuit." The orc roared, dropping the axe, and ran back the way it had come.
The skeleton carefully worked the axe out of its innards while returning to Tyrrae. He dropped it at her feet. She was exultant. Triumphant. But curious.
"Grandfather?" she asked, "why are you speaking? I've never heard any of our servants speak before."
"It's in the book child! We get to speak only the first time we are summoned. And the amount of time we appear relies on the amount of powder used. That wasn't much, so we haven't much time."
Tyrrae lightly touched his arm. "I have so many questions to ask you, that surely only you would know.”
"We haven't time for that either. I just wanted to say thank you. I hated that slow dying. This is much better. No more pain."
Tyrrae smiled. "Good." She thought of everything she had subjected his body to in order to achieve this moment. The effort had been worth it. She had done it once successfully. She could do it many times over now.
"I could kiss you, but I don't have lips. At last, I have found my sense of humor, and now you won't be able to share my jokes!" and he crumpled to dust again before her eyes.
You know Ramen noodles must be nasty when none of the cats or dogs want your leftovers.
I actually like Ramen. I probably should not eat it however. It.. um... certainly prevents constipation. So does coffee. As long as I live, I'll never need laxatives. Hand over the milk, and nobody gets hurt.
The last of the Halloween candy will likely dissappear today. This is probably a good thing in the long term, but I'm going to miss taking my "little happy pills." (Mini M&Ms).
I think I'm stalled on the necro story because she's about to go to the wood elven dance. This leaves me in the quandary of what would happen at a Party Hosted by Wood Elves? And how would a compartively sheltered austere but attractive necromancer react?
With the weather in its current mood, I'd rather zone Jeannie however. One cannot stay depressed for long periods without looping around and thinking depression is normal, so of course I'm happy now. However, this just means you've gone possibly psychotic. Sanity is all relative any how.
I refused to foster a dog today- for Basset Rescue. I feel horrible about it. But I know if I can't give it my best, I am not sure I ought to be fostering. I'm having to be obsessed with other priorities at the moment, and as much as I'd rather be helping, I'm very much afrad that if I had said yes, I'd make the dog worse, and frankly, that's not an acceptable option.
The new job is going agonizingly slow. It's emotionaly draining on top of being extraordinarily difficult. I wish I knew of another way to earn a steady paycheck that I could do from home that did not involve regular contact with people or sales. I'm darn good at making things. However, I am *not* physically able to sell things. I've tried Ebay, and I frankly stink at that. I'll come right out and say I don't like medical transcription. But what else can I do?
Writing fresh necro is sadly limited- when I type as much as I can for work, I don't want to sit at the puter any more. But there is still a lot more of it, so I ought to post more of it.
Sometimes, it's easier to go straight to the punchline.
Because nothing says, "I love you honey, and why don't you bring your friends over for dinner" like a case of heavy metal poisoning and a big argument about it.
Sigh. We didn't really argue. But I do need a new wok. Please, no wokking the dog jokes around here. I am far more disappointed that I did not successfully feed the dart team tonight and that I am on the verge of cooking like mother- and no one deserves that. I'm also depressed to come up with another wok and a frying pan. Damn. Maybe I should get cast iron. Everything seems to have special coatings these days and if you get one tiny scratch... YUCK and possible poisoning.
Oh, and insomnia really sucks.
MORE NECRO (you aren't really surprised are you?)
She soon heard voices, as one usually hears conversations long before one sees the conversationalists in the caverns of home. But these were louder voices, unlike the hushed harsh voices of the strange men. Tyrrae moved close enough to see that the speakers were young women.
“So you saw him ride into town then?”
“Aye, as tall and confident and handsome as you please! Katy and I were hidden in the branches above the thoroughfare, for we were talking over her feelings for our Thom- whatever she sees in my brother is beyond me! And she’s still too shy to come forward and speak her heart, so we must talk behind our hands like schoolgirls. Out in the open is always best for privacy, you know. We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and saw it all. Where were you?”
Privacy by being in the open was such a foreign concept to Tyrrae.
“Berry picking like we are today,” the first voice replied. “If you tell me enough details of this shinning paladin, perhaps I shall share details of my day with you.”
“Like that was it? You mean you actually convinced Herbert to come off into the woods with you, away from his stuffy books?”
“Not a word until you tell me more.”
“Fine. I see how you are, Amarylis. You had better give me more details than you care to share, or I shall ask Herbert myself!”
“He wouldn’t answer you. He has no patience for your disorganized ways.” There was a smug note in the voice. “But do go on.”
“Anyway, this young man rode through the sentries, hailing each as he passed. His hands never strayed to his weapons once, although he carries a large sword on his saddle, and has a fine bow strapped to his back. He even greeted our Thom who had shifted well into the shadows, if you know what I mean. His armor is metal and shines in the sun. His hair is brown like trampled leaves, but his eyes are bluer than the summer sky. I’d swear my heart stopped beating for a moment when he looked up at me, and he smiled.”
“He saw you? I thought you said you were hidden?”
She shrugged. “Perhaps he has a charm that allows for it? Or just native instinct? I simply delight that he smiled at me.”
“Pooh! You would quash all of my dreams with a drop of reality! I swear to you his heart will one day be mine.”
“Living or dead? Seriously, he is a human! And a wanderer. He may leave his heart in several towns with many young maidens like yourself. Humans don’t live long enough to grieve over. Don’t waste yourself on such a whim! There are many more worthy companions.”
“Like your brother Alfred? They will still be there when this human is gone. I live for now. And so does he. We could be happy, I know it. I will seize this chance.”
“You speak in haste…”
“Poetry and song tells of love at first sight. It is only through poetry that I may speak of him and what I felt when he smiled at me! I felt as if my very soul traded places with his when our eyes connected…”
“That’s nice, dear,” Amarylis said in tones that suggested her friend was clearly insane. “But it tells me nothing of what was said when he met the Loremaster. Please tell me about that.”
Tyrrae, as silently as possible, sat down and leaned against a stalagmite. She absorbed the conversation as she watched them work their way among huge pieces of lichen, stripping off the seedpods and gently place them in odd buckets. There was even an odd thing that looked like two pieces of color connected with string, dancing about in the gently moving air.
“Well, the spoken bits were the standard really. By this time, one of the sentries had run back to town to warn everyone. There was even enough time for Dawn to change into her best smock after cleaning up her father.”
“I will say this much for Dawn; she knows when to make the effort. Very ambitious, that girl.”
“That cat already has her hooks onto him. Why is it ambitious for her to want him, and something to be discouraged in me? But you make me jump out of order, and I’ll forget something. The Loremaster was waiting in the central square, with all baskets raised. We never show total trust to strangers, but we did show respect in allowing him to be alone with our elder. Of course the usual compliment of warriors were in the trees with arrows nocked. He dismounted, and let the reins dangle. His horse placidly stood there.
“ ‘Loremaster?’ he inquired. The Loremaster nodded. ‘I have come to you in the traditional manner. I have seen your sentries and offered no threats. I have heard of you troubles with the nearby orc clans, and I offer myself to the service of your people. I pledge that while I dwell here, I shall only strive for the good of your clan.’
“It was then he drew his sword, taking great care to step out of attack range of any of our people. He gestured and the sword burst into flame! I have only heard of such weapons in the legends told by visiting bards. I never thought to see one.”
“It is more likely just the light glinting off the steel blinding you.”
“Amarylis! You shall see the truth of his blade soon enough! Another gesture and the flame vanished. He then stepped forward and offered the blade hilt first to the Loremaster. Naturally, the elder said, ‘Your blade is refused, but your service is not. You may stay in our guest house.’ And a basket was let down for him. He insisted on caring for the horse first, and tied him beneath where Katy and I were still sitting. We got to watch him brush out the horse.”
“You didn’t offer to help? I am surprised at you.”
“We have not been introduced properly. I could not speak to him yet.”
“And now, you act all shy. I’ll bet he spoke to his horse.”
“He did. He told the horse to behave and listen to Stave. So that must be his name. And he said they had come a very long way from Chelsam. And it is a long way from here to there. That poor horse must be tired.”
“And this is when Dawn introduced herself?”
“No, her father did. For Dawn is in charge of the Guesthouse this week, and will therefore have the running of his daily things at her command.”
“When was that arranged? She works fast indeed, to know when to volunteer for the baking and cleaning of a second household.”
“You know it was Bessie's turn again- and she'll trade with anyone if the House is empty for the week.”
“But it never is empty, so she owes for a month, aye.”
“As soon as Dawn heard, she ran to Bessie's and asked to trade. It was done quickly before Bessie knew. I did look up at her face- she was not pleased.”
“But that still leaves you the problem of your introduction and how will you manage. At least he has shown he is not ignorant of our ways!”
“Well, there will be a harvest dance tonight, or have you forgotten why we are picking these berries?” She giggled- an unpleasant sound at home, but somehow fitting here. “I did what any forward young miss would do. I dropped a glove. Surely there will be a dance of the gloves and if not, and excuse is easily created.”
“He could give that glove to anyone, you know. I've heard of folks selling such tokens! I'm sure that Harvey bought Bessa's glove from Frankie, for the poor girl had to produce a third glove and insist she never dropped one.”
“I am sure he has too much honour to sell a favor lightly. Besides, he smiled again, kissed it, and tucked it into his pocket.”
“His pocket? why not into his shirt to be close to his heart? Sounds very smooth to me.”
The two young women moved further away and Tyrrae could no longer easily hear their exchange of confidence. Much of what they spoke made little sense. These people certainly had strange ways. And they would offer shelter if approached properly. In this strange cavern, perhaps that was a good idea. She did not know the size of the village, but it was certainly larger than herself, and if it were threatened by orcs, surely whatever these beasts were would not be peacefully inclined to herself.
She wondered what an orc was.
There were more immediate concerns. That light was painful. And in her experience, bad things were attracted to bright lights, so she’d best be moving away from it. She chose a different direction than the way the men ran. Wherever they had gone, there would be more of them than her, and they did not seem the sort willing to converse coherently. Cowards such as they would only gather and attack her, and in numbers, she may not be able to scare them so well again.
To have someone afraid of her was a new sensation. She found it as amusing as she found it empowering. Many matriarchs of the established Houses were feared as much as they were respected, but their Power was old and tested, and thrived on generations of experience. Tyrrae was young and untested. She knew she must steady herself for the tests ahead- after all, that was why she had come. She knew she wasn’t special, just ordinary. Her sister had delighted in reminding her of this fact. Firstborns received many privilidges, extra lessons, and granted automatic respect. Anyone else had to earn respect in the community, as well as their own inheritances. This was never meant to be easy, which is why respect was so important. The fiercest fighters were often the youngest of any House, but Tyrrae had never felt that cornered or desperate. Perhaps if there had been many more siblings between herself and the Firstborn, she would.
But not today. Not yet. She’d been given a vague sort of mission, and sent off. She considered the possibility of following the men to where others of their kind gathered. She may be able to catch one alone and create a new servant of him. But she also may be caught by sheer numbers, or other powers she did not yet know. Besides, they were cowards. Why should they be honored to be her servants? They would likely be disobedient and weak. Tyrrae could never tolerate such an effort wasted on weakness.
Carefully, she worked her way down the steps. As she suppressed her wild thoughts, and focused on the task at hand, she began to notice the unusual sounds. There was no constant musical dripping off in the distance. She missed the familiar sound dreadfully, and was certain she could have filtered it through the constant creaking that she could hear. There were other sounds, but the one that really worried her was the movement of air through the stalagmites. They actually moved. That was the creaking she could hear, and it reminded her of too many collapses of the ceiling. These stalagmites moved more than she had ever seen a piece of stone move before. It was alarming to watch, but they did not break. She wondered why? Perhaps the odd lichen growing on them enhanced the flexibility by devouring the rock, and yet still held it together? Perhaps she would take a sample home for her father. More worrying than the stalagmites was the source of the movement of air itself. It should only move that strongly if there had been a collapse of some kind. But this was constant, like a fan held by servant. It made no sense, and it worried her. This chamber must be very special indeed to have such unique physics.
Another odd thing about the stalagmites was how they grew. They did not have pillars or ribbons- they had long delicate fingers stretching in all directions. This could only happen if the ceiling patterns changed frequently. She wondered how often this chamber flooded. Given how dry it felt, it had likely been a very long time. She would have loved to have seen the spiderweb patterns of the stalactites, but they were well above her. Perhaps even more odd was that all of these stalagmites were dead for quite some ways. It takes centuries for the lichen to grow so luxuriantly, yet they too must have water. The moss under her feet when she stepped from the stone grew high enough to cover her ankles. It reminded her of the obligatory trip to one of the mushroom farms her school took her to, where they were not allowed to walk among them. This felt as she imagined that must- and she reveled in the luxurious feel of it.
Cautiously, she moved to the direction of where the air came from. If there had been a collapse, it was probably too long ago to do anything for any survivors. But at least she could see some of the patterns in the ceiling veins of rock. It was easy to imagine comfortable spiderwebs woven between the outstretched fingers of the stalagmites as she walked, and the image gave her great comfort.
Tyrrae whirled at the sudden sound. It was like the squeak of a door repeated several times. Fortunately, it seemed to be a ways off- there were no buildings close by, she was certain. The noise unnerved her just the same. Things felt out of context in this large cavern, and she had the paranoid suspicion that it was herself out of place. She heard the noise again from a different direction. Then she noticed something far more alarming: The cavern was becoming brighter. She looked up, and could only see a few glowing stones on the ceiling- but the edges of the cavern were definitely brighter. And it was slowly increasing. She felt another wave of panic. This cavern was huge- was there a fire? Could it be surrounding her? Could this cavern be large enough to support a fire without filling immediately with smoke?
She remembered a long time ago a fire had swept through one of the new quarters, caused by a mining accident. Even several caverns over, the smoke had been hard to avoid. The oxygen consumed by the flames had taken days to replenish, and the arena games had been suspended. All servants were required to do nothing but wave fans, and her sister had complained bitterly about learning servant chores like cleaning and cooking. Tyrrae had followed along to learn- for how could one instruct a servant on something one did not know oneself? Her sister was delighted that their mother had insisted Tyrrae do nothing but fan. Her sister preferred to think of her as a servant.
If this were fire, burning so brightly, surely there would be smoke. The light kept growing brighter, and it was becoming unbearably painful. She squinted at the various moving creatures dancing about the stalagmites. They weren’t spiders, although a few looked vaguely like rats, and several looked vaguely like bats, except they perched upside down on the stalagmites.
She fumbled in her pack for another silk to shade her eyes, and her hand encountered the hard metal and glass oddity. These were very strange glasses, but probably Lily knew about this painful light. She put them on, and wrapped a veil around her face. Peering through the gauzy silk and dark glasses helped a great deal, even if it meant some fine details of her path were missing. She shouldered her pack and kept walking, keeping a curious eye on the strange creatures.
It took a while for Tyrrae to notice another odd thing about this cavern. Here, she could not see any trace of water. Besides the absent constant dripping music, there was always a place to for water to collect and often to run. Many of the caves were carved by the slow progression of water, and there was always a trace of it around. In a cavern so large, surely there should be a river nearby? She would move downslope… but there was no discernable slope. Nor could she hear any water rumbling in the distance.
She looked at the noisy creatures in irritation. How could anyone think with such noise? It was no wonder she could not hear any water with their creaks. She continued on further, paying attention with her ears most.
Current word count 23,213. Great, until you realize I started with 14,720. I've fallen behind, but almost don't care.
Sometimes, in the fall, I sit on the porch and stare down the wind blowing leaves all over the street. It’s a wind of change and the herald of winter and the bleak desperate cry of lost souls. I simply do not know how I can bear yet another winter, yet another holiday season, yet another year as we all slip down into the bitter cold dark of death.
It’s at these times I feel really perky and optimistic about my life and where it is going, and truly confident in my fulfilled purpose of life. I play roulette with What If, and always my life seems better on the other side of happiness. I could be so much more, but I have weighted myself down with happenstance and comfort and I refuse to budge any longer. And when things don’t move, they just rot.
(Fresh being ooo just a little sarcastic or something).
The best thing about the second Wednesday in November-
NO MORE FUCKING POLITICAL ADS.
New job- NaNoWriMo is... well... Not doing well. Paychecks are slightly more important.
I'm cleaning my desk. I can't tell you how much I hate this kind of cleaning. Go through all of the paperwork of *years* and shredding it. Any time I throw out more than one bag of garbage, I have flashbacks of my mom throwing out everything I owned, which she always did whenever I got "too messy" whatever that's supposed to mean. Some folks probably find this sort of cleaning cathartic- tossing out all of the garbage of the past, but I like to hold on to it. This just makes me claustrophobically surrounded by piles of papers, and I just want to sit here and cry.
Not healthy. I don't care.
They keep running "women's issue" commercials on the TV. It's bad enough they have "feminine supplies" ads all the time. If I ever meet the person who coined the phrase "Have a Happy Period" I will shoot them. I'm pretty sure they have a penis, because nobody else could be that stupid. All the birth control pill ads that make it sound that if we mess with your hormones wonderful things can happen. They always gloss over the side effects and never go into the mood swings one can experience with them. My body tends to overreact to the hormones. I go from a week of normal, a week of happy hyper fuckbunny, a week of the BITCH from hell who wants to kill everything that move, to a week where I'm so depressed I want to slit my wrists to see color. It's a VERY good thing I don't take these things. I just saw a commercial for PMDD. Oh no, apparently PMS is not enough to cover every thing or everyone.. so now they've announced PMDD... Super PMS. Yet again, it makes me wish I had a gun and knew some names.
Really, it's a good thing I'm a pacifist.
Current total word count: 22,304
Eventually, she came to a set of stairs leading up. The walls became regular, and carved, which was unusual. The architecture reminded her more of the Palace than an ordinary cavern, and she marveled at the pictogryphs. While she could not read many of them, since the language was ancient and always reminded one of the time before the Spider came so not many were inclined to study it, she could tell there were frequent warnings to the dangers ahead, should one travel to the World Below. I am walking up, she thought. Is the World Below behind me, or ahead? She remained alert on this new ground.
There was an odd light up ahead. The phosphorescent rocks on her belt continued to glow, which she found comforting, but this light was disconcerting. It wasn’t painfully bright, but there certainly seemed to be a lot of it. She reached a landing, and stepped through a doorway. It was the only way she could describe it, as there were no longer visible walls of the new chamber she entered. She walked around the outside of the small room she just left. She had never seen a chamber so huge – not even the Royal District with the Great Lake was this large. She marveled at the pretty glowing rocks across the ceiling and wondered how their glow could stay so bright even when so far away. She wondered how anyone could mine such rocks- certainly they were a better light source than the ones imbedded in her belt. She recognized the stone structure as being modeled after one of the major Houses in the Old Quarter, albeit on a much smaller scale. She found the staircase leading down the side of the pyramid, and was happy to have such a memorable landmark. It was always easy to get lost in very large caverns. In corridors, one only needs to remember the turns, and recognize them.
Tyrrae froze midstep. She could hear the voices and they didn’t sound very far away.
“Are you sure this is a good idea? The stories they tell of this ruin! There’s ghosts and everything!”
“The reward would be lousy if there wasn’t any risk. Shut up.”
“But Luthar, the elves say this places is bad mojo. They say the dark ones used this place to enter a different world. What if we get trapped there? It could be an alternate universe or something! There could be demons, dark ones, and worse…”
“Do you really believe that nonsense about the elves splitting off their evil nature and walling it up in some tomb? Guthlan, some days your idiocy even astonishes me. No, they just spread these stories to keep honest thieves like you and me away from their hordes of treasure. I reckon we just need to figure out what’s inside by going in ourselves.”
“You never meet an elven thief, Luther? There are no bad elves. They just sing and play games all day. Stupid elves don’t know how to be bad. They barely know what bad is!”
“Some of them do. I’ve met a few elven wharfrats. Believe me, when they decide to go bad, simple theives’ code is the only thing that keeps them from robbing everyone blind. Elves is sneaky critters when they wants to be.”
By this time, Tyrrae could see where the two men were. It helped that they were carrying a glowing box with them. May as well telegraph their location to the world with that thing, held cautiously by the one called Luthar. From what she could see of the their faces, they were as pale as Lily, their skin glowing in the light. Guthlan pulled a small cart that looked like it had earth moving tools, and it looked heavy. They were both wrapped in coats of a dark, heavy material, and had hats covering their hair. Even their gloves were dark colored.
She saw they were headed toward the pyramid, but not directly to the side on which she perched. She was on the only side with easily climbed stairs, as is traditional, yet the other sides of the pyramid were not smooth. The men should have little difficulty scaling the summit, assuming of course they knew how to use the tools they were carting. Obviously, they were intending to enter the pyramid, and steal the treasures within.
Tyrrae was amused at the audacity of the plan. She thought of the troll guardians in the doorway, and how easily they could crush the tools and the men who wielded them. She thought of the spiders’ toxins, the burrower, and the Guardian. Her mind tried to not to linger on the broad chest in her memory. She knew that each would easily destroy these fools, and she was tempted to let them wander blindly into their fate. But their conversation was strange enough to raise questions within herself. Resolutely, she walked over to their side.
“Excuse me,” she said politely, “but what is an elf?”
The men froze. Guthlan looked at Luthar, while Luthar scanned around with the glowing box. “Who said that,” Luthar demanded in a harsh voice.
“I did,” Tyrrae said calmly. “Would you consider me one of these dark ones you mention?” She climbed down a ridge to be closer to them, for easier conversation. Down was much easier to accomplish than up. She realized that her silk robes and cloak blended well with the old grey stones in this weird light. She felt vaguely like a spider crawling down the rock, and was pleased by the image.
Guthlan grabbed Luthar’s sleeve. “A ghost! It’s an evil spit! Let’s get out of here!”
Luthar said, “Hogwash.” He fumbled with the glowing box. He swung a door open, and strong light spilled over the pyramid where Tyrrae stood.
Tyrrae cringed reflexively. It was so bright that she had to shield her eyes with one of her hands.
“My god,” Luthar said, dropping the box, “the legends are true! Run!” And he followed the screaming Guthlan, who had abandoned the cart as soon as the light had touched her. They ran as fast and as hard as she had ever seen anyone run, making enough noise to shake the roof down upon them.
Tyrrae carefully moved around the pyramid, away from the light, and back to the stairs. What sort of web was this? She did not know which thread to pull for greater understanding, and feared it would all unravel for not enough strength in the few threads she had gathered. Was she an elf? Or a dark one? And if they were neither, what were those men? Surely they were people. But what was the difference?
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After a while, the passage came to an alcove, which consisted of two trolls wedged in the passageway. She had seen this kind of door before, but only on the houses of the very rich. Trolls were sentient and trained to know who should be allowed access and few beings can force their way past a troll. To leave, one simply tapped the troll on the shoulder, and it would move out of the way.
The changeling spoke. “We would like egress to the outside world if you would please step aside.”
The troll facing them shook his head. “No. Against the rules. Won’t move.”
Tyrrae showed it the bite mark on her arm, since that had worked like a magic talisman so far.
“Lady,” the troll said, “do I look like a spider to you? That won’t get you through my gate.”
She went ahead and tapped the other troll on the shoulder.
“Nice one, lady,” the troll said, “but no dice.”
The changeling puffed dramatically, preparing to either attack or explode in anger. Tyrrae gently touched his arm to stay him, then addressed the troll. “I marry in two fortnights. I must acquire more servants. Unless you and your companion are inclined to volunteer, I must pass through to the out world. Spiders lack the necessary physiology to become my servants.”
The troll grinned. “That’s more like it lady. Only, I wanna hear the magic word.”
The changeling groaned. Tyrrae smiled a little. “Please,” she said.
The troll bowed to her, and moved enough to let her through. Quickly, before the troll changed its mind, she slipped by.
The changeling moved to follow, but a thick arm blocked his path.
“Where do you think you’re going?” the troll said.
“She needs servants. You don’t have enough bones to be a servant.”
“I’m her guide.”
“That’s great for the spiders. They listen to you, and you know the dangers well. But your kind does not go out there. You know that. Don’t make me break your face for breaking the rules.”
The changeling sighed. “Lady, come back for a moment.”
“While I may not follow, I may give you this gift.” He gently kissed her forehead and then traced a mark upon it. “I am a Guardian of our people. If any other Guardians see you, they shall know this mark, and be disinclined to harm you. And I promise to wait here for your return.”
The troll snorted, but they ignored him.
Tyrrae bowed deeply. “Thank you for your help. I would have been lost without you.” Also, she probably would have died to that burrower, but one tried not to acknowledge life-debts unless necessary. She walked past the troll one more time, and he settled himself back down next to his companion. She waved to the other troll, because he could see her, and continued along the passageway.
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She walked further. She began to notice smoother newer tunnels, and she wondered why miners were working this far from the Underdark. Usually, miners worked to extend the huge caverns in which homes could be either carved out whole, or constructed from blocks. Disposing of the rock removed was the harder part, and perhaps these were newer access routes to the surface to dispose of the rock. She did not hesitate at the next t-intersection to choose a left turn as Lily had dictated. She preferred walking this new tunnel, as it lacked the stream of water that often trickled through the older tunnel. True there was still some mud, but this could be avoided.
When she felt a rumble, instinctively she stilled. She wasn’t sure how stable this new tunnel was, and there was nothing shoring up its sides. One never knew which way to run during a collapse, or even if one should run at all. It could close her in, fall on top of her, or if she was lucky, merely block her path. Of course she had taken so many turns that there was no way she could remember her way back despite memory training, and she did not know if any of the spiders would be willing to guide her back to the grate, or if they could. The main caverns were often lined with silk walls and other shoring methods. Accidents still happened, and she was not the only one to suffer nightmares of the Great Sky fall when part of the Queen’s Chamber collapsed when she was a little girl. Mother had carted off a rock from the fall and carved it into a chair for her workroom. She had insisted the carver keep the bloodstains intact.
Another rumble. She worried if anyone would find her to rescue her, or even offer the kiss of the knife. Lying whole and forgotten seemed such a pointless way to die. Would Darque be angry when abandoned, so his House would war with hers? Clan wars had been started on much less. She prayed to the Spider to free her from this web.
Another rumble, this one more overhead, and closer. She ran ahead in a fast sprint, then looked behind while catching her breath. The tunnel was still intact. She wondered why.
Movement to her left captured her attention. A puff of dust presaged several pointed things poke through the rock like a dagger through fungi. As the pointed bits withdrew and were replaced with more, she realized they must be teeth, and she coughed with the dust filling her lungs. She felt strong arms lift her and force her against the hard chest, knocking out what little breath she had, and she inhaled more dust. She coughed and looked over the changeling’s shoulder. Something huge and wormlike filled the tunnel where she had been standing, moving rapidly enough to scare her. This changeling had pulled her out of the way in time, for if the teeth had not been troubled by rock, they would have easily destroyed her soft flesh.
He carried her all the way to the older tunnel and stayed with her until she was breathing normally again. She recognized him as the same changeling she saw before. “Thank you,” she managed.
“Burrower trails are distinctive,” he immediately began to lecture, in a deep quiet voice. “When the tunnel is fresh, the dung looks like a thin ribbon of mud. It means they are probably still active in that area. When the walls turn yellowish and the floor is caked dry, the burrower has usually moved on. They digest the rock- and anything else- in their path. They have no senses to determine if living things are there or not, and sheer indifference has killed many like yourself who are ignorant to their ways.”
Tyrrae would have bowed, but he was still holding her upright. Never take the gift of information lightly, her teachers had instructed.
“Where are you headed?” he demanded. “You are too…” He paused, and she wondered if he thought she should be in Seclusion or simply not yet out. Would he think her a newlywed trying to run away? Or simply much older than she looked, and therefore safe to wander alone? Women were sheltered until their first child. It protected the bloodline and secured the First’s position as main heir. Tyrrae held his gaze.
“You are too uneducated in the tunnel’s dangers to be wandering alone,” he finished. “I shall guard you. What is your destination, madam?”
Tyrrae knew better than to sigh in relief or show any other emotion. He thought her married and out, or at least, would treat her thus. She need not fear him handing her over to the Council immediately. “I am bound to the Hated Ones,” she said. “I must seek servants. I had been given directions.”
“I know many paths in that direction, though it is well outside the Underdark. There is a route not far from here. Can you walk, or shall I continue to carry you?”
She was aware of his chest and arms, and heat of him through her silks. It made it her long for things she did not understand, so she said, “I shall walk.”
Slowly and carefully, he set her down. He led the way, for most of this tunnel was too narrow for the wide spread of spider legs to make room for her two.
She watched the graceful way he moved, fascinated by the delicate feet. It was hard to imagine his weight being held by them, and she wondered what they would feel like upon her skin. Spiders walk on the stiff hairs of their feet, and the spider she used to keep as a pet always tickled as it crawled across her skin.
He stopped once. His eyes full of mischief danced. “I will show you a different view of Underdark. It’s more or less on the way, although, it is very dangerous.”
Tyrrae smiled a little. Danger did not matter much when breaking so many conventions already. She felt she could trust this changeling. “Lead on,” she merely stated.
“We must take the proper precautions. Forgive me for entangling you.” He spun a wide girdle of webbing around her middle, and fastened the other end to himself. He anchored himself to the wall of the tunnel, and after they had walked a few more steps, the right wall of the tunnel fell away. Tyrrae could look down into the Queen’s Chamber. She could see the palace and the circle of executive buildings, and a few settlement houses of prominent families who were allowed to directly attend the Queen. There was the dark Tower in the center of it all, where the Queen herself was said to practice her own use of Power, and rumor said the Spider King still visited her there. She also saw from this unusal perspective that there were many other ledges like the one she was on. Surely these were invisible to the ground below. If the Spider still visited the Queen, it would certainly be easy to drop from a ledge, and return by use of silk.
Perhaps, this was one method the Queen used to remain informed about her people. Spiders did make excellent spies, if one could understand their speech. Or, she thought of the web with the repeating pattern, perhaps they wove webs in patterns easily understood? Someday, she may learn for herself.
Some of the edge crumbled under her feet. The silk was drawn tight, and Tyrrae moved on behind the changeling. When they were a little ways down the tunnel again, he undid the line connecting them, and made a present of the rope to her.
She bowed in thanks, and they continued.
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Tyrrae kept walking until she found a natural resting place. She sat down, grateful to take her feet out of the water and wring out her hem. She took off her shoes and stockings and tucked her feet under, while spreading out the damp edge of the robe so it would have a chance to dry.
Her stomach rumbled again, and this time she opened the back to see what Lily had given her. She pulled out the silk blanket and wrapped herself in its warmth. She ate a handful of dried meat and taki fungus, and took a long draught from the water skin. She strapped the dagger to her belt. She wondered what the dark glasses were for. She couldn’t see anything when she put them on, so she put them back in the pack with the rest of her supplies. There was spare clothing, but she didn’t quite need it yet.
She cast wards about herself, making sure that a symbol that looked like the bite mark on her arm glowed above her head. Using the pack for a pillow, she curled up and fell asleep.
When she woke up, she found herself in a white cocoon. Someone had managed to give her a second blanket without disturbing her wards. She was grateful for that, as the chill of the outside air could cause hypothermia with prolonged exposure. However, it meant that whomever had done so was immune to her wards, and she shuddered at the thought. More sources of Power than she understood indeed. Mother had been right.
She looked around her and examined the new silk walls that surrounded her. These were just outside the wards’ boundary, and had an interwoven repetitive theme similar to the bite mark pattern. This she could understand. The sentinel spiders must have repeated her mark by leaving their own, and thus allowing her to sleep in safety from them. The cocoon also allowed her own breath to warm the air, and the temperature was considerably warmer.
She dressed quickly and ate. After stowing the two blankets, she carefully cut down the silk guard wall and wrapped it around her like a cloak. Silk was never to be taken for granted – it was one of the greatest gifts of the Spider God. She caught her bearings, and headed off again.
And so it's November. You are only given a set amount of time to be here. What sort of legacy do you want to leave? And are you working on it now?
Tyrrae was left alone with her thoughts at last as she walked down the tunnel. She wasn’t sure what she should be thinking or feeling at this moment. She’d never been exposed to so much raw emotion before. Perhaps everyone did have emotional urges, and it was simply impolite to express them.
A spider scurried out of a side tunnel and stood before her. She showed it the wound on her arm, and it scurried out of her path.
She wondered how far she would need to walk. Only one way to find that out, she knew. She appreciated the still, sparkling beauty as she walked. Her feet occasionally splashed through puddles and she longed for sturdier boots, or at least ones that were watertight.
After two turnings and the third spider checked the mark on her arm, she turned a corner and encountered the changeling. She had heard legends of these guardians for much of her family, but this was her first proof that they were real. She had certainly never met anyone who had met one. He was very male, and completely naked except for the daggers strapped to the first two pairs of his legs. From the waist down, he was a large black spider, with the color melding beautifully with his skin. She knew there would be a large red hourglass marked on his underbelly. The lavender eyes gazing at her looked strangely familiar, and she felt an odd hunger to run a finger down his chest.
She stared at him, and thought maybe he looked a little like Darque. But the only clear part of her betrothed’s face she could recall was his blood smeared forehead, and obviously this ... male’s forehead was clean. She wondered briefly if her own was. She didn’t remember the last time she bathed.
He searched her face, and for a moment, she thought he may touch her. She wasn’t sure how she would react to the spider legs approaching her. Then he smiled and his face was no longer stern or sinister. She did not return his smile. He bowed, which looked awkwardly unbalanced on a spider, yet elegant, and moved aside enough to allow her to pass.
She wondered why he did not speak, and only realized hours later that she had not spoken to him.
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