The edlak that Davs had hired for Essenin was a goer. Nothing showy or nervous, but a mount with a steady, groundeating stride. Most of the time. She did have a tendency to sidestep toward the sides of the road in what she probably thought was a stealthy manner when she spotted a promising berry bush.
Essenin decided to call her Sidle.
While they’d never been this way specifically, well-traveled roads in this part of the continent had a sort of rhythm to them. Wild fields with copses of trees, farmlands, town, and repeat. True wild lands probably wouldn’t appear until they were well within the foothills. Maybe. There could be tons of villages scattered all the way up the peaks here since it was warmer than back home and the mountains maybe not as tall?
Tchah. They were terrible at things like this. Davs did distances and heights. Though, Essenin thought with a smirk, both of them were good at lengths.The smile died quickly as they thought of their loves. Hardly half a day’s ride away and Essenin missed them already with a persistent ache that wrapped around their heart. They were the best choice for this part of the plan, but, oh, they were poorly suited for it.
Some people just aren’t loners. I’m not sure I’ve met a lot of selak who are, come to think of it.
Tempting, to stop and talk to the people weeding and watering the sor grain fields and wading in the binaf paddies, but it was too early, too far away still from people who might know useful things. They would ask when they stopped for the night. There. That was a small plan they could concentrate on.
Evening had already pulled the colors from the world when Essenin arrived at a town large enough to have an inn and a well-kept, inviting one at that with cheerful lanterns burning in the courtyard. They stopped for the night and stabled their edlak before entering to negotiate with the landlord for a room and some dinner. Essenin went to the taps to order a kelver and scan the room, cozy but heavy on the dark woods, which heightened the shadows in the corners.
Dim lighting or not, they were certain they spotted a familiar silhouette at the table in the far corner. Oh, I don’t want to go over there. I could pretend I didn’t see him. It could get messy and unpleasant. But…what were the chances they’d meet anyone else they knew along the way? Someone who was well traveled and knew things.
With a sigh, Essenin took his mug over to the table and stopped with a hand on one of the unoccupied chairs. The figure at the table sat hunched over his mug, his seven-stringed sewa on the chair beside him. Firelight and shadow gave his shock of red hair the look of dying embers and he smelled like he hadn’t bathed in some time.
“Hello Rolli.” Just how drunk is he?
Gray eyes turned toward him, blinking. Then Rolli let his head down on his arms with a thud. “Perfect. Now I’m hallucinating. Go away, hallucinationy Essenin.”
That drunk. “I’m not a liquor dream, Rolli. I’m here.”
“You could still do me the favor of fucking off and going away.” Rolli lifted his head and squinted at them. “No. Still here.”
“I would’ve asked how you are,” Essenin pulled out the chair across the table and sat. Any thoughts of asking Rolli about the sylvas would have to wait until he wasn’t stinking drunk. “But I can see the answer. Are you drinking your last coin there? Do you have a place for the night?”
Essenin sighed between sips of kelver and thanked the young woman who brought dinner, a mixed root pie with a perfect, flaky crust. After a day of riding, the smell was heavenly. They let Rolli wallow on the table in peace while they finished dinner.
They’d met Rolli on a job with Davitts, at the Brightwarre, come to think of it. He made his coin as a traveling musician, a rather good one, and he’d stopped there for a few days. Convenient since Essenin and Davs were waiting for a client to finish business. Rolli had been interested. Essenin had returned the interest. Davs had wished them well and waved them off.
It had been two days of glorious sex and when it was done, and they had to leave, Rolli found it difficult to say goodbye. Difficult was perhaps an understatement. He’d begged Essenin to leave Davs, as if they ever would. He’d gotten on his knees, and in the end, Essenin had needed to tell him no rather more sharply than they’d liked. Davs wasn’t attracted, so it couldn’t be long term, and they had obligations. They thought they’d explained everything well enough from the start.
Apparently, Rolli hadn’t paid attention.
It’s a bad idea. You should just go up to bed. Pretend you never saw him. But they wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing they’d just walked away from someone so obviously down on his luck. Essenin took their own pack and Rolli’s sewa up first, then came back and heaved Rolli out of his chair. They took a walk to the facilities behind the stables, where Rolli still had enough sense to piss without help, then up the steps where Essenin gave him a pillow and blanket and let him pass out on the floor.
He’d be safe from any rowdies looking to roll a drunk and more comfortable than he would have been when the landlord kicked him into the street at closing.
I hope I haven’t made a huge mess with this. And he’ll be less hostile in the morning. Though hungover. Not the best time to start a conversation. Goddesses help me.
Essenin used their own pack as a pillow and settled in as best they could. Tomorrow promised to be a long, strange day.
Hello, everyone! This week's Reading Day brings us back to the Starship Teapot with all her odd and loveable crew - come have a listen as we walk into the aftermath of a transport job that needed a warning label:
Starship Teapot 2
by SI Clarke
This time, the universe puts the cat in catastrophe…
Lem is adapting to her new home aboard a strange spaceship in an even stranger universe, where the misfit crew of the Teapot have more than enough trouble on their hands running their interplanetary charter service. But when they accept an urgent assignment, they have just one week to save a race of cat-people from certain destruction.
Stuck with a disaster-platypus of a project manager and a population seemingly determined to thwart their own rescue, the Teapotters face the impossible job of herding cats and evacuating the planet before it’s blown to smithereens.
Can Lem and the gang avert disaster and save this race of infuriating cat-people?
Perfect for fans of wacky and imaginative sci-fi stories, this satirical space opera is a ridiculous adventure that will delight readers of John Scalzi’s take on Fuzzy Nation or TJ Berry’s Space Unicorn Blues.
Get it now!
SI CLARKE is a Canadian misanthrope who lives in Deptford, sarf ees London.
She shares her home with her partner and an assortment of waifs and strays. When not writing convoluted, inefficient stories, she spends her time telling financial services firms to behave more efficiently. When not doing either of those things, she can be found in the pub or shouting at people online — occasionally practising efficiency by doing both at once.
As someone who’s neurodivergent, an immigrant, and the proud owner of an invisible disability, she strives to present a realistically diverse array of characters in her stories.
A quick rundown of Where Stuff Is:
Ryld's Shadows: AURA 4
“No.” Zie said the word softly, but it resonated to the marrow of his bones. I just have you both back. We’re together now. Don’t do this.
Ess frowned and put their bowl of porridge down. “You’re not being sensible, sweetling. What other way is there?”
I know I’m not being sensible. I don’t want to be sensible right now. If you leave, I don’t know if you’re safe. I want you both with me. And I want you both to go. Zie couldn’t bear to say any of that and drew his hat farther down over his face as if he could hide, adding childish to the list of his faults.
“Let’s look at this piece by piece.” Davitts reached over to take his hand and didn’t let go when Zie hissed at him. “We have to assume the shadows will find a way off the island.”
“Yes.” Still hissing. Stop it.
Davitts gave their joined hands a little shake. “When they do, they’ll search for you, and if you go to the sylvas compounds, you’ll put them in danger.”
“Of course I can’t go there. Not now.” Zie managed to pry his hand away. “I have to think of something else.”
Ess rolled their eyes. “Like what? Feeding yourself to the Shadows? Your first plan was the best one. Find help from people who understand sylvas disciplines.”
I had thought of that. It might have worked before, simply letting them have me. But now, in a new land with more sylvas for them to destroy? No. I can’t just… And I’m too afraid to do it, in any case. “You should both go. Together.”
“Mother of storms,” Ess muttered and threw their hands up in a helpless gesture.
In the face of recalcitrance, Davitts only grew more patient. He pushed his last steamed bun toward Zie, knowing he couldn’t resist, and leaned in to speak softly. “That’s not up for negotiation, I’m afraid. We won’t leave you to face this alone, not if we can help it.”
“I managed alone well enough.”
“Up to a point. Though you could’ve drowned the night your wave walking failed you,” Davitts took the bun off the plate, put it in Zie’s hand, and waited until he started nibbling on it. “Sylvas are much more likely to talk to a selak they don’t know than a human. Ess gets the job of finding them and telling them what’s happened. And you need someone at your back. I’m really good at that.”
“I should never have involved you,” Zie whispered, wondering if he could crawl up into his hat.
Ess gave him a cheerful cuff on the shoulder. “Too late now. We’re involved so far in, you’ll never get us out.”
“That sounded…wrong somehow.” Davs rubbed the bridge of his nose with a weary sigh.
“You…” Zie tried one more, desperate tactic. “You don’t know where the sylvas are on this continent.”
“Oh?” Ess raised a dark eyebrow at him. “So you know, suddenly?”
“They’re…” I don’t know where, but I know where they would most likely be. I’m the sylvas here. But did he know where the mountain compounds were? “No.”
“It’ll be all right,” Davs broke in before they started truly arguing. “Ess is good at finding things out. They’ll head for the mountains and when they’re close enough, start asking people. Everyone wants to talk to Ess.”
“And we just wander about?” Zie waved his spoon in exasperation.
“No. We head in the opposite direction.” Davs sipped his juice, looking smug. “I know a place.”
“And how will Ess ever find us again?”
Ess waggled their eyebrows. “I also know this place.”
I could just drown myself in the porridge. “Wonderful. You two have everything solved and I’d lost the argument before I could say a word. When did you even talk about all of this?”
Davs had the grace to look chagrined. “You were sleeping really hard this morning.”
And there it is. I’ve dropped my guard so completely, just because I’ve had pleasant company. I’m going to get us all killed at some point. Even as he thought it, he knew he was lying to himself again. Pleasant company didn’t begin to cover it. Trust was only the half of it. He knew how he felt. No need to pretend.
“Zie?” Ess stroked his arm, concern all over their face.
“I’m fine. It’s fine. We’ll try this…this whatever it is you two have concocted.” Though I reserve the right to go facedown in porridge and drown myself in the future.
Having won their point, Ess did a little dance in their chair and returned to their breakfast. Zie did his best to maintain a displeased glower, but it was difficult to remain angry with Ess. By the time they’d finished breakfast and had packed up to leave, all his annoyance had transformed to sorrow.
He trudged into the courtyard behind Davs’ broad back, automatically relinquishing his pack when Davs reached for it. The reason didn’t occur to him until Ess cleared their throat.
“Where did you get enough money to hire mounts? Were you doing some work on the side before we got here?”
Davs snorted and stopped fastening a pack to one of the three edlaks’ harnesses. “Captain Unav paid us before I left the ship.”
“Uh-huh. And when were you planning on giving everyone their share?” Ess tapped a foot, hands on their hips.
“Here, Zie. She gave you a little extra beyond passage. For all your hard work.” Davs handed a bag of coins over for Zie before securing the next pack.
“Davs!” Ess spat out.
“You’re terrible with money.”
“You want me to starve.” Ess spread their hands and looked toward Zie in entreaty. “Do you hear this? He wants me to starve. Or have to beg for a place in an animal shed if it storms.”
Davs’ laugh was warm and, to Zie’s ears, tinged with sadness. Maybe they teased each other so they wouldn’t cry at partings. Sensible. He pulled a larger purse out and tossed it to Ess. “There. Your share. Try to be a responsible grownup person with it.”
Ess pocketed it with a sigh. “I’ll miss you. Even your too seriousness.”
“Don’t start.” Davs pulled him into a bone-creaking hug. “It won’t be long. Right?”
Unable to stand it a moment longer, Zie slammed into their embrace, trying to hug as much as he could. “Be safe. Be smart and swift.” He wiped at his eyes. “Don’t you dare come back not all right.”
“I’m a little concerned that I understood that.” Ess let go of Davs to hold Zie properly and tip his face up for a kiss. “I’ll be fine. You two watch out for each other. I don’t know when I’ll get back to you, but I will. Promise.”
Davitts pulled him back gently and kept a hand on his shoulder while Ess mounted the taller, red edlak. They rode away, turning once to offer a smile and a wave before a bend in the road obscured them from sight.
A shiver ran down Zie’s back and he hoped that wasn’t a rare spot of prescience. Ess would be all right. They had to be.
Happy Friday, everyone! Blaine Arden is back to visit with us again - I'm reading from the fifth book in the Tales of the Forest Series, Twenty-Five Turns! High fantasy, second chance love and murder! :D Come have a listen:
So sorry - didn't get to finish the outro (interruptionus spousus.) Thank you for coming and thank you for listening!
Tales of the Forest #5
by Blaine D. Arden
Can love last when one won’t leave, and the other can’t stay?
Fear of moving farther away from his family had cost Eer the love of his life, but now, after twenty-five turns, Kat has returned… with a son, and Eer’s feelings resurface as if it had been only yesterday since they’d first kissed.
But any hope Eer has of rekindling their love seems doomed to fail when a murderer’s taste for revenge forces Kat to choose between endangering their family or running… and leaving Eer behind, again.
Blaine D. Arden is an EPIC Award-winning author of Romantic Speculative Fiction and Suspense who sings her way through life in platform boots.
Book Info: https://blainedarden.com/book-25turns.php
The pre-orders are up just a bit early! :o I have links for most of the big sites - Barnes & Noble should be along later today or tomorrow!
AURA's offices have been quiet since the mage tower incident—as quiet as they can be for an agency dedicated to policing holes in reality—and the department heads have been free to turn their attention back to mundane matters. The return to quiet bureaucracy gives AURA's Director of Research, Kai Hiltas, the time to turn his energy to a new issue—a young drow with unusual and dangerous powers named Ryld.
Davitts struggled not to laugh at how quickly his companions finished dinner once they’d decided on a common cause. A small part of him struggled with nerves, too, since it also sounded like a campaign of sorts. Too much focused attention made him nervous. Embarrassed. As long as the two of them didn’t talk about him too much. Talk around him. Still, he handed the key to Ess and shooed them both upstairs while he stayed by the fire to give them a moment to whisper, conspire, and work each other up.
The Zie before the disaster… Davitts wondered what he’d been like. Probably a mischievous and demanding lover just from the hints he’d seen. That Zie seemed to be gone. Any arrogance that might have been, any confidence, perhaps much of the playfulness, all swept away in grief and horror.
I’m beginning to understand some of the horror, at least.
He finished his kelver, thanked the young man serving in the common room, and tromped up two flights of stairs. The room he’d acquired wasn’t the biggest, but it had a nice view of the inn’s garden. There was only one bed. He didn’t think anyone would mind.
When he opened the door, he had to smile, since everything was exactly as he’d expected. Zie’s coat lay folded carefully over the back of a chair, his boots lined up neatly beside it, his hat on the seat. Essenin’s shirt lay crumpled on the floor, their boots dropped on top, and that was as far as they’d gotten with undressing. The two of them stood at the foot of the bed, tangled around each other, Ess’s face buried in Zie’s hair, Zie’s leg hiked up and wrapped around Ess’s hip. Somehow, it seemed as if there were more than four hands involved.
They’re so beautiful together. And they fit together…belong. He belongs with us. The thought was so clear, so sharp, it felt as if an iron spike had been driven through Davitts’ heart.
He must’ve made some sound, a whimper maybe, since Ess lifted their head and gave him a smile that lit their face all the way to their lovely burgundy eyes. “Hello, you.”
“Hello.” The warmth of that smile restarted Davitts’ heart and he managed to take a step closer. “You, ah… Well.”
“Our Davs,” Zie whispered as he unwound from Ess, a languid, deliberately sensual movement. He slid out of Ess’s arms, who watched with hungry amusement, and stalked across the floor to Davitts, a rumbling purr echoing deep in his chest. “We’d like to take care of you.”
“Um, yes?” He shouldn’t have been tongue-tied around them still, but the focused attention was unnerving. “Where…where would you like me?”
Instead of answering right away, Zie began to undo the buttons of Davitts’ shirt, licking the skin below each button as it came loose. “I would like…” Flick. Lick. “To fuck…” Flick. Lick. “You.” Flick. Lick. “Would you like that?”
It was surprisingly difficult to answer with a melted brain. “Nnnrgh. Yes.”
“Good.” Zie smoothed the shirt off his shoulders, leaving Davitts to struggle with the cuffs on his own, then momentarily confused Davitts as he turned back to Ess. “Too many clothes.”
With a huge grin, Ess shimmied out of their pants, then stood with their hands spread wide and their lovely umber skin shining with perspiration. Someone was excited. “And now?”
Zie took them by the hand and urged them onto their back across the width of the bed, which was a good sized bed, but Ess’s long legs still dangled off one side. Humming softly, Zie returned and sank to his knees in front of Davitts to unlace his boots. Could a brain melt more once it had already melted? He felt as if he didn’t have a rational thought left in his head, validated when Zie tapped the back of his knee.
Zie tapped again, as one would to ask an edlak to lift a hoof. Heat flooded Davitts face as he complied and he soon found himself efficiently stripped of boots, sock, and pants. He had every intention of asking what Zie wanted, but when he ran his tongue over the underside of Davitts’ erection, all that came out was an embarrassingly needy moan. It didn’t help at all that Zie only purred louder when Davitts tangled his fingers in the thick, black silk of his hair.
“We’re apologizing.” Zie rose with more grace than should have been allowed and took Davitts’ hand to tow him toward the bed. “Aren’t we, Ess?”
As Zie tugged him around to the side of the bed where Ess’s head hung down, they arched their back and stretched a hand out to hook Davitts behind the thigh. “Oh, yes. My favorite kind of apology. Such abject, humble apologies.”
Zie tapped them on the nose. “Wait, please.”
While Ess sighed and pretended to be terribly put out, Zie stripped, folded his clothes meticulously, and retrieved the set of steps from under the bed, the ones meant to assist smaller people up to the mattress. This puzzled Davitts since Zie wasn’t quite that small until he set the steps just behind Davitts. Oh.
Prodding and pushing gently, Zie got Davitts to lean over Ess, supported on his elbows so his face was level with Ess’s crotch. Which, dear goddesses…the scent of Ess’s arousal made him fight having to drool.
“Wait, please.” Zie reiterated softly as he rummaged in one of the packs and rustled around behind Davitts. Finally, Zie’s foot claws clicked when he climbed onto the step, and Davitts hissed as cool oil drizzled down his crack. “All right. Now you may.”
Ess gave a pleased hum as their lips closed around Davitts’ cock and his brain whited out entirely when Zie nudged against his hole. So much, so…oh, so good. He forced himself to concentrate for a crucial moment, bearing down as Zie’s head breached him, and he whimpered against Ess’s thigh. Zie certainly wasn’t huge, but the suddenness made the stretch a challenge. When he could move again, he took Ess in his mouth, pleased warmth flooding him when Ess moaned and bucked up against him.
It was a feast of pleasure, being filled and filling. Davitts’ balls felt heavy enough to fall through the floor, pleasure spiraling much faster than he’d thought possible for being so tired. Almost embarrassing, but he wasn’t the only one as Ess writhed desperately beneath his lapping and sucking, and Zie’s breaths had gone short and sharp.
With muffled cries vibrating against Davitts’ cock, Ess came first, clamping around Davitts as if they never meant to let go. Zie thrust in time with those cries, hard and deep, and Davitts felt his eyes cross as his orgasm crested and flooded Ess’s mouth. Aftershocks still shuddered through him when Zie came as well, hissing and snarling, his steady rhythm suddenly disintegrated into stuttering thrusts.
Zie collapsed atop Davitts’ back and Ess melted into the bed underneath him as they all floated in that moment of just fucked bliss. Davitts turned his head far enough to announce, “Apology accepted.”
This started Ess laughing and the moment fragmented enough for them to disentangle and fall into bed together with Zie curled up under his right arm and Ess under his left. This. I just want this. And the peace to enjoy it. Is that asking too much?
After all of their hearts had calmed, their breaths quieted, Zie whispered hesitantly, “When you told your aunt I was your meste, did you mean that?”
Ess leaned up on one elbow, his smile a little crooked and unsure. “You understood that, did you?”
“I asked some of the crew what it meant.” Zie stroked Ess’s forearm with one claw. “Did you mean it?”
Davitts held his breath, anxious about where this might be going. Easy enough for it to go either way.
“I…” Ess’s forehead furrowed and he took Zie’s hand gently. “It’s not really for me to mean. As far as I’m concerned, and Davs is concerned, yes. But it’s something, really, that you would decide, if you’re considering becoming a…a part of us.”
Zie leaned over and planted a kiss on Ess’s lips. “Then I am. Your meste. And not because I have to consider being with you, but because I might not be able to stay with you.” Zie heaved a weary sigh. “I need—”
“You need to go to sleep.” Davitts pulled him closer and patted his hip. “Our lovely meste. Go to sleep. Planning’s for the morning.”
For one unhappy moment, he thought he’d get an argument, or worse, that Zie would get up and leave the room. But Zie only growled and nipped at his jaw before he snuggled back under the covers and went to sleep.
Zie wasn’t heavy, no. But he was still an adult male whose relative lightness became less…light with each passing step. Especially after he, mother of the deeps only knew how, fell asleep riding on Essenin’s back. Astonishingly, neither his thighs gripping Essenin’s waist nor his arms looped around their shoulders eased one bit.
Maybe this is what small sylvas children learn to do. Cling tight even through naps and let the adult carrying them have their hands free. Maybe it’s easier that way when you’re living on the ice for much of the year. Right. I have no sandburned idea. Zie might be the oddest sylvas ever and not at all like any other for all I know.
When they turned onto the Old Nersa Road, about an hour from the inn, Zie woke with a sharp gasp and slid off Essenin’s back so quickly they were certain he must’ve fallen. When Essenin turned though, there he was on his feet, hands half up as if readying to call the winds, blinking in confusion.
“We’re almost there. To the inn. To Davs.” Essenin stayed still and extended a hand, waiting for Zie to reorient
“I slept. While you were walking.” His soft voice was full of wonder, but he took the offered hand.
“You were bone tired. Ready to walk a bit?
Stiffly at first, Zie walked beside Essenin, much to the relief of their back and legs. The air softened with the sun no longer blazing overhead, a warm breeze carrying the scents of wildflowers Essenin couldn’t name, reminding him of other trips, other years. A tumble off an edlak. Davs there before Essenin could catch his breath. The near-panic in Davs’ honey eyes. That sudden, ferocious kiss when he determined Essenin hadn’t broken his neck.
A smile tugged at their lips and they let it. That had been an interesting year. A wonderful year full of bright memories. Zie caught the smile, but didn’t pry. He limped along holding tight to Essenin’s hand until the first farmhouse came in sight, then he only let go long enough to get his hat out of his pack and jam it on his head.
Old habits, though Essenin could hardly blame him. Humans in rural places didn’t always react well to someone different. The light was fading to a cloudless twilight when the lanterns at the crossroads were lit and the Brightwarre Inn became visible in the scattered patchwork of its own lamps and lanterns. Crossroads inn, messenger relay, it was larger than the inns they had back home with the three-sided building of the inn proper, five stories on a side, and a separate three-sided stable. They liked threes in this part of the world. They kept a doctor and a farrier on staff if one needed them. Housekeeping and service in the common room were never understaffed. Almost a small village.
They picked up their pace and Zie kept up, both of them eager to be there within the rectangles and circles of light, and with every step, the thought echoed in Essenin’s head--please be there, Davs. Please be there.
It took a moment once they’d shouldered open the door into the common room for their eyes to adjust to the light, but there he was, gorgeous and anxious at a table near the fire, drink sitting untouched as he drummed his fingers on the table.
The word was barely a whisper and Essenin was jogging across the room before they realized they’d abandoned Zie by the door. Apologies would come later. Right then, they could only speed up as Davs spotted him and rose from his seat, relief flooding his face as he opened his arms and caught Essenin as they barrelled into him with a soft oof.
Strong arms closed tight around them, making their ribs creak, as Davs sighed into Essenin’s neck. “You idiot. You do that to me again, ever, and I’ll… I don’t know what.”
Davs sounded more anguished than angry. That was good. Sort of. Essenin drew back to grin at him and waggle their eyebrows. “You could spank me.”
That got him a snort. “Not much of a deterrent if you like it.”
A rustle of cloth and a soft distressed sound turned their attention to Zie, standing a few feet away, twisting the strap of his pack with both hands. Davs nudged Essenin to the side far enough to glower.
“I’m still angry with you.”
Zie hunched into his coat, staring at the floor. “I’m sorry.”
“Ech. Don’t look so pitiful.” Davs sighed and stepped around Essenin with his arms held out. “Come here.”
The wind must’ve helped since Zie flew into Davs’ arms so fast, shivering and whispering incoherent apologies that were most likely also arguments in his defense. The murmurs of warm sense that Davs was so good at calmed Zie within a few heartbeats and everyone moved to the table where they soon all had excellent kelver and chocka stew.
“He saved the ship.” Essenin pointed a spoon at Zie. “You can’t be too angry with him.”
Davs grumbled at his bowl, then sighed and sat back. “Yes. Absolutely mad and not something you should’ve done alone, but you did save the ship. And both crews, when it was all done.”
“We saw the ship break up.” Essenin put his spoon down to mime scurrying things. “And the shadows flee to dry land. We didn’t stay to watch after. You going to say what happened or make us drag it out of you sentence by sandblasted sentence?”
“Not too much to tell. But some important things.” Davs dragged his mug over and sipped, a line of concern between his thick eyebrows. “Captain Unav sent out the launches to retrieve the Sandskipper’s crew. Selak ship. Most of the crew were selak, swimming but exhausted. Underfed. Dehydrated. Dragging their few human crew with them.”
He stopped and sipped for a bit, staring at the far wall. Essenin gave him a moment to gather before pushing against his knee. “And? What in the Mother’s name happened on that ship?”
“The selak crew didn’t recall much.” Davs sipped again, shaking his head. “Just strange dreams. A feeling of sinking. The humans…they remember it all. The ones that were sane enough to talk about it. They think…they guess the Shadows came aboard in Pellienport. Hid in the holds. They’re shadows, so I guess it wasn’t hard.”
“So they didn’t—” Zie cut off and curled in on himself, pulling his feet up onto the seat of the chair.
Davs reaches over to put a hand on his knee. “They didn’t slaughter the crew. Maybe ‘cause they needed them? No idea. But the human crew talk about dark tendrils reaching through the decking one night and climbing up each and every selak crewmember until the darkness sank inside them. And then the selak turned into hissing, lurching monsters. They overpowered the few humans, threw them into the bilges, and locked them in. A couple deaths during the fighting, no more.”
“And then?” Essenin leaned forward, riveted.
“And that’s all any of them know until the ship ran onto the rocks. The selak don’t remember. The humans were shut away.”
“They don’t like humans,” Zie whispered. Shook his head. “No. That’s not right. Humans don’t seem to matter? They can’t sense humans in some way? It doesn’t make sense. Not—”
“You knew about this before,” Essenin interrupted. “You told us.”
“I did. It still doesn’t make sense.”
“Enough for now.” Davs pushed the stew toward Zie. “We’re all here. I don’t see any blood or missing limbs. We’re all right for now. Eat. Then up to bed.”
Essenin couldn’t help a little grin. “You got us a room already? So efficient.” Davs grunted into his kelver which just made them smile wider and elbow Zie. “I think our Davs is still a little aggravated with us. I think we probably owe him more than apologies.”
Startled out of his thoughts, Zie twitched, but followed it with a solemn nod, some of the despair fading from his eyes. “Oh. Yes. We certainly do.”
Time to read to you! Something out of the ordinary today - a bit of a scene from Macbeth by specific request. :D And while the characters in Macbeth are arguably not queer, our Will Shakespeare definitely was.
Come have a listen as we visit with Lady Macbeth. Nothing bad happening here. Nope. Not at all.
There are TONS of productions out there to watch. If you're looking for a pure play experience, I'd recommend looking for one of the BBC productions. But on film, the Joel Coen production is getting good reviews (only on Apple TV right now, dang it) and the 2015 version with Michael Fassbender is also very good. You can watch the Polanski version if you like - it's good but super bloody/gory/dreary.
Time to begin the ramp up to release for Ryld's Shadows. We've done a small cover release and now you know what time it is? It's ARC time!
I have the book files from the publisher and will be sending them out to the ARC team. More instructions on that in the group. But this gives us plenty of time to do all the things.
I also want to apologize again for the missed Shadow Run episode last Monday. Yes, I'm doing much better, thank you everyone.
We'll just have two episodes this coming Monday and I'm sure everyone's terribly upset about that. :D
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around queer heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.