aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Eighteen: Treason and Heresy

“No!!” The deserter shook his head, more as if to clear a bug from his ear than to negate a thought. “Not for me.  ‘No aid for deserters,’ I know so well.  Do it for the nation, then.”  He pulled a tattered old piece of paper from an inner pocket. No, she realized, vellum.  “Do this and I will lie down, never at peace, but troubling the others no more.”

She took the vellum carefully with just the tips of her fingers.  Next to her, the Diamond Raven was looking at the paper too.

“If this is real-”  He sounded sick.

“Real!  Real and then some!  It is exactly what it looks like and nothing more, I swear it on my honor!”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Seventeen: Crossing, Cross

“You’re old enough to be out on your own, yes?”

“Of course I am.”  She wrinkled her nose at him.  “I am here, aren’t I?  Everyone may keep calling me child, but I have an apprenticeship, I am carrying the weight of my family to the capital, and I - yes.  I’m old enough.”  She threw up her hands.  “Why.  What did I miss?”

“Oh, no, I don’t think this boy whore was putting you on or anything of the sort,” he reassured her, although the thought had not been on her mind until he said it.  “No, it’s just that a fox - well, that sort of fox - it’s,” he coughed.  “Well, you’re on a trip, it’s the right sort of time to make that, I suppose.  They’re…” he looked away, blushing.  “Usually made from bottle-brush and red-tail, which you can find on the side of the road a lot. And then you use some scented oil and carve a piece of the bottle-brush, and it’s, ah.  Used in sex.”

“Oh!  One of those!” She grinned at the blush on the Diamond Raven’s cheeks.  “I’ve made those before, although not with the red-tail.  That must tickle…”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Sixteen: the Arrow Pulled

The Tzarin and his people wanted to leave slow and late the next day, so Raizel and the DIamond crude mountain people, and they found themselves angry and uncomfortable with their result.

The Raven was quiet as they walked, which suited Raizel.  It was early, the sun was low and rising lazily, and she wanted to make good time while the weather was clear and cool.

When he started humming, she tried to ignore it, but the tune was catching, the sort of thing that spiraled its way into your ear and took up residence there.  She found herself humming along.

It was only when she caught him glancing at her sidelong, smirking, that she stopped the humming, flustered.  “What?”

“You sing very nicely.  and you handled those idiots quite well.”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Fifteen: Singing of Fire

Diamond Raven was fussing at her as she walked over to the veiled Tzarin - but he walked with her the whole way.  Raizel didn’t listen so much to his words as she listened to his tone.  He wasn’t happy with her, no, but he was also worried for her.  Worried about her?  What could be all that dangerous about singing to a Tzarin?  He might laugh at her.  They all might.  Courtiers, she had heard, were like that.

She stepped into the brilliantly-veiled tent - as covered and as decorated as the Tzarin himself - and bowed.  “Prince, I hear you would have me sing for you.”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Fourteen: Walking with the Veiled Prince

She missed the carriage immediately, but there wasn’t such a thing going from Esteronzerai to the train station for at least two days.  In two days, if she made good time, Raizel could already be on the train.

She and the Diamond Raven joined a small group of people leaving the fanciest hotel in Esteronzerai, all seeming to have the same thought she had.  It was a strange and mixed group, including a tinker with his cart and his apprentice, a furrier carrying what seemed like a whole forest of furs on her back, a woman who introduced herself as a librarian who was going to the capital to pick up some new books, she with a bodyguard, and a small retinue of courtiers gathered around a person wearing a broad hat ans swathed in veils.

They were, one of the courtiers explained, from Mipodek to the south, and they were also travelling to the capital, although they were taking their time about it.  It was supposed to be a trip of exploration for their young Prince - which was something like a Tzarin - to learn more about the lands around Mipodek.  Their Prince, it turned out, was the one in all the veils.  

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Thirteen: Attracting Attention

She could only see the glow at first, but as she straightened back up, she could make out features - plains-people, plains-straight hair and plains-flat nose.  She bowed again, just to be safe.

“Oh, none of that,” laughed the voice.  Male, or male-like.  “We’ll take care of this place.  It doesn’t need these stones to be sacred, you know.  It doesn’t need anything but this place to be sacred.  But if you’re worried - and you look like you’re worried - there is something you can do.”

There was always something she could do.  “Yes, honored one?”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Twelve: Watch What You Say

The man who might or might not b the Diamond Raven struggled, but he couldn’t seem to do anything about the cord around his neck and, rather than have Raizel tug it tighter, he followed her.  “I have things I should get-” he protested, but she didn’t listen, and then “I shouldn’t leave a candle burning-” and then “someone needs to watch the sacred spot.”

“Someone does,” she agrees.  “But having it be you might be a bit silly.”

“And why would it be silly for it to be me?”  He raised his eyebrows at her in challenge.

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Eleven: The Diamond Raven

Esteronzerai was the biggest town Raizel had been in yet, and it was where the carriage’s route diverged from Raizel’s, whether or not she had been stopping to lasso a wizard.  She bowed to the driver and, her grandfather’s words in her mind, tipped him, although she had not been responsible for the payment for this trip.

He bowed a little back to her, and did not seem offended by the amount.  “Good luck on your journeys, child.”

She had, at home, outgrown “child” when she was old enough to watch the next-youngest children.  It was strange to put it back on for this trip.

She smiled at the carriage driver anyway, because she thought he meant to be kind, and then turned her attention to Nadya.  “Where do I find your Diamond Raven?”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Ten: The Perils of One’s Past

She should have thought of it before she agreed, she supposed.  She might be stepping into some long-held family feud — their mountain had several of those — or maybe into the sort of thing where the city wanted to move someone whose home had stood in the same place for three hundred years.  Their town had dealt with that, too.  She might be running into another conspiracy sort like Trinner Tralen, who thought, perhaps, that the city or the empire or this architect were out to get him.

And maybe they were.  She thought about Trinner Traln and the spectre sliding into him.  She didn’t even know if she’d done the right thing there.

The architect’s nervous cough interrupted Raizel’s train of thought.

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Nine: Yederya Wizard

The woman studied Raizel. “You have skills I don’t?”

“Well, I can’t design a building,” Raizel admitted, “or build one.  But in the last two days I’ve been dusted by a pixie, blessed by a spectre, and kissed by what might have been a goddess.”  Also by two whores, but she didn’t think that counted.  “Also, I grew up on a mountain side, and I have on occasion bound wild goats, a catamount, and once a small wyvern that was getting into the garden.  I might be able to help you.”

“If you could, I could start building on time.  I can’t pay much - I’m not that rich of an architect yet - but I will put your name on the building.  Do you think you can do it?”

“Tie up a wizard?  I’m willing to try.  The carriage stops in Esteronzerai anyway, doesn’t it?”

“That’s where it turns off to go north,” the woman nodded.  “His name is - well, the thing that he calls himself is the Diamond Raven.”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Eight: A Kiss

Raizel took breakfast in the inn’s bar the next morning, feeling well-rested, content, and ready to face the rest of her journey.  Perhaps she’d even hire a coach.

The barmaid leaned over the table while she was refilling Raizel’s mug.  “There are opportunities around here, you know, for someone as clever as Esterzon Gorenz says you might be.  And if you really destroyed that Black Missive he’s been going on about for years-”

Something about the barmaid, or maybe something about the pixie dust still brushed across Raizel’s eyelashes, was a little strange.  She looked closer - closer at the clever decolletage, that looked lower-cut and more dangerous than it was - and realized she could see a spark of divinity hiding in the woman’s chest.

Until then, she hadn’t know she could see such things.  Perhaps it was just the dust.

“I destroyed the Missive and the, ah, the multi-hued falcon, ma’am.”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Seven: Moving On

The black-and-blue light danced upwards like a geyser and then seemed to be sucked downwards, towards the books.

​”No!” Trinner Traln shouted.  Raizel glanced at him just in time to see him jerk away from Esterzon Gorenz and dart towards the idol.

The blue-black light seemed to suck him in.  No, sucked in a portion of him, a light like that from the idol.  It pulled out a Trinner-Traln-shaped shadow of strange mystical light and the whole thing was sucked into one of the tomes.

The specter was there in front of Raizel again.  “Finally,” it croaked.  It settled atop Trinner Traln - and was gone.

Among the tools in the chest was a flint and steel.  Raizel lit a small fire and burnt all of the tomes, watching as the flames danced black and blue, stinking of evil.

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Six: The Evil Idol

Raizel was in a plane of white in front of a black spectre, without fifty sed and nowhere near the train station.

If she got out of here, she was going to curse Trinner Traln and that idiot Esterzon Gorenz with every trick and hex and lie all of her grandparents and great-grandparents had taught her.

If.

That was looking to be the problem.

The spectre opened its maw.  You will kill the idol.

Why did everyone want her to kill and destroy and get rid of things?  What was she, the trash-picker?  Was this more of the ridiculous nonsense about the “mountain people?”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Five: Pixie Dust

Trinner Traln and the round man were, of course waiting for her.

“Pixies,” she swore at both of them. “Pixie dust. What were you thinking?”

“What?” The rotund man stared at her. “There are pixies in that cave? And you didn’t bring any out?”

“What do I look like to you, man, an insane woman? Of course I didn’t bring a pixie out.”


read on...
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Four: The Narrow Cave

The cave was, indeed, very tight, and if Raizel had been any better fed, she would not have fit.  Trinner Traln and the round man shouted at her and each other as ehs slipped through the opening, moving more like a snake than even like crawling.

“How did you even get this in here?” she called.

“Ah…”  Trinner seemed to have rolled into one of his jittery, quiet times.  The large man guffawed.

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Three: The Black Missive
by Lyn Thorne-Alder


The walk to the strange man’s cave was only an hour because of the rolling limp that affected his walk, and, it seemed, his speech patterns.  He would go up and down, up and down with his tales as they walked, telling Raizel all about the Empire’s plans to read everyone’s mind, only to turn around and whisper, so very quietly, that the birds were there to spy on him, and then be back to shouting again.

Three times, Raizel offered to go on ahead, and three times he turned her down, each time more angrily than before.  The last time, he swept both hands in wide denial, as if clearing off a table.  “You only want the falcon for yourself!  I will get some other child to get it, someone who is less greedy!”

read on…
aldersprig: (Side Quest)
Day One, Chapter One: The Quest
by Lyn Thorne-Alder


New Story with a short timeline!  This is Side Quest, a story for Camp NanoWrimo July 2017.  




And so it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Tzar Vimyxa that representatives of all the families of the nation should come to Buscontra, in the north, to be counted and taxed.


Raizel was the only choice, when it came down to it.

Her parents still had three children on apron-strings, one on the teat.  That effectively tied them to the home, for the little ones couldn’t make a trip like that.

read on...

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