[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.

fountain pens!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...

an IMPORTANT question

Jun. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #18516 trying to cheer myself up from rain/flood watch/tornado watch/tropical storm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 34

If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE [0] pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be

View Answers

Nirai Kujen
17 (50.0%)

Shuos Jedao
17 (50.0%)

Kel Cheris [1]
6 (17.6%)

Andan Tseya
3 (8.8%)

Shuos Khiaz
1 (2.9%)

someone else I will name in comments
1 (2.9%)

2 (5.9%)

[0] May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.

[1] The incomparable [personal profile] telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)

(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)

(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)
spiralsheep: Martha laughing (Martha Laughing)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Once upon a time I threatened to post a cap of Funko Four for every fourth Doctor serial....

The Fourth Doctor and Robot

- Sounds more like a fic prompt than a science project: "Why suitcases rock and fall over - puzzle solved". "Scientists crack the problem of why two-wheeled suitcases can rock from side-to-side and turn over". (Source: BBC News online feed.) P.S. In case you're wondering the scientists' solution is, "one should accelerate rather than decelerate to attenuate the amplitude of oscillations", and not "zomg there's an alien in mah luggages!!1!!"

- Saintliness is next to Greavsieness: I earnestly believe that each part of the UK has the patron saint they deserve. You only have to look at what they're most well known for....

Cry God for England and St George: hunter of endangered species, and battler against imaginary wrongs. 'Nuff said.

Scotland (when it's pretending to be one country), St Andrew: martyred on the wrong sort of cross.... *cough cough*

Ireland, St Paddy in the green: fractious with fellow human beings, but doesn't actually like nature either. Be gone all you serpents and gerroff my lawn!

Wales, St David: good at community politics, and an excellent role model for Anglican bishops (which is probably not what this Cymric Catholic intended).

Cornwall, St Piran / St Perran, whatevs, as if he'd care about spelling, lol, and as he's the one you're least likely to be aware of I shall enumerate further:
1. Most famous for the miraculous RE-discovery of tin (no, rly, "rediscovery"), because someone else had already discovered it, obv, and if you're going to claim a miracle then it's best to set the bar low for maximum believability. This is the miracle commemorated in the Cornish flag of a white (tin) cross on a black (hearthstone) background.
2. Could swim, and was kind to wildlife.
3. Miraculously lived to be 200 years old... and then died by falling down a well while drunk (no, RLY). :-D
4. In conclusion, BEST PATRON SAINT EVER in the UK.

[Disclaimer: the preceding ethnic stereotypes have all been tested on persons of the relevant background and agreed to be accurate, although the Scots tended to alternate swearing with laughing and the Welsh contingent tried to force me to admit that I'm secretly "spiritually" Welsh, lol.)

The Fourth Doctor, I want to believe

quick rec

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
[personal profile] yhlee
Kat Howard's "The Key to St. Medusa's" [Lightspeed Magazine] is a gorgeous story about witches, and found family, and the hope at the heart of a fairytale:
My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable.

Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals. Clocks ran backward when she went near them, and thirteen grey cats took up residence in our front yard for the last month before I was born.

Also, I was born on a Tuesday.

I loved this from beginning to end. It's a pretty fast read (under 4,000 words), in lucid candle-language. Give it a try.

[Note to the pedantic: my "books" tag is for stories as well because I am lazy and bad at tagging.]


Jun. 19th, 2017 05:27 pm
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
Since it seems that some people have finished the book.

Ask questions! Discuss! Complain!

Expect there to be spoilers in comments.
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
anything so long as I don't have to keep typing "all units banner the Deuce of Gears"

Poll #18510 Hexarchate Stories
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 32

I am most interested in the following possible new stories in a hexarchate short collection

View Answers

Jedao backstory when he was growing up with his family
9 (28.1%)

what happened to Jedao's sister Nidana after Hellspin
20 (62.5%)

Jedao backstory when he was serving with the Kel
15 (46.9%)

what happens to Cheris after everything, with bonus math pedagogy
24 (75.0%)

how Kel Ragath got Up to Things
6 (18.8%)

gay romance on the Citadel of Eyes ([redacted]/Niath) with bonus angst
9 (28.1%)

the misadventures of Andan Zhe Navo during her first military assignment
13 (40.6%)

the founding of the heptarchate feat. Liozh and Kel
8 (25.0%)

mini-gamebook about Jedao and his first anchor (actually, you're getting this regardless)
10 (31.2%)

Nirai Mahar's backstory
3 (9.4%)

follow-up on Tseya vs. Mikodez
6 (18.8%)

Moroish Nija's training
3 (9.4%)

Mikodez's rise to power, feat. Zehun
15 (46.9%)

ticky the talky tocky
7 (21.9%)

something else I will suggest in comments
0 (0.0%)

ETA: If it helps, the mini-gamebook will also feature snarky commentary from Mikodez and Zehun.

[hxx] [story] Birthdays

Jun. 19th, 2017 04:10 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
For JT.
Prompt: hexarchate, "birth dates."

When she was six, Cheris stopped receiving Mwennin birthday pastries.

For reasons that wouldn't become clear to her until much later, her parents had just moved out of the Mwennin ghetto in the City of Ravens Feasting and to a small house nearer the sea. Cheris missed their old home, even though it had been smaller, and she also missed the other Mwennin children who gathered in the streets to skip rope, or play tag, or chant the counting games that were so risky in the hexarchate. But the new house wasn't all bad. It had a garden, and Cheris liked to chase the dragonflies or pick flowers for her mother and father.

Her mother had impressed upon her that she had two birthdays. One of them was the ordinary birthday that all hexarchate citizens shared. Everyone (so her mother said) was a year old when they were born, for the time spent either in womb or crèche, and then they added another year each New Year. This way no one's birthday was singled out.

But the Mwennin did it differently. They had their own calendar, which Cheris had memorized. Most nights her mother made her go to bed early so that she wouldn't be too tired in the morning when she had school. But sometimes her mother let her stay up, not to play make-believe with her collection of plush dragon toys or read a book, but to study the Mwennin calendar and its feast-days.

Cheris was very good at numbers, and very good at both the high calendar and the Mwennin calendar. Even after she'd gone to bed, she'd lay awake in the darkness, staring at the comforting candlevines that glowed faintly from the walls. Her mother and father always made sure to turn them down low, but not too low, so she wouldn't have to be afraid of the shadow-monsters that lived in the closet. Her teacher at school had assured her that, yes, meditation, especially during remembrances, would keep away the shadow-monsters, but when she repeated this to her parents, their faces turned sad, so she didn't talk about that anymore.

Because she was very good at calendars, she had a hard time falling asleep the night before her Mwennin birthday. Back in the old neighborhood, on your birthday, people would bring you pastries of fine flaky dough with sweet almond paste and rosewater syrup, or little kumquat candies, goat's milk caramels with little crunchy flecks of pistachios. And after dark, in the safety of your home, people would gather and sing songs in archaic Mwen-dal. Cheris liked the songs best of all, even if she stumbled over some of the words, because she had a clear, sweet voice and the adults always complimented her on how well she stayed in tune.

Her parents woke her early the next morning. She blinked up blearily at the pale morning light filtering through the curtains, then sat up in glee, thinking of the gifts that were to come. Then she noticed the looks on her parents' faces. They'd had the same ones when she said the teacher had encouraged her to meditate.

Cheris's father took her hands between his, then looked at Cheris's mother.

"Cheris," her mother said, "we can't celebrate your Mwennin birthday anymore. Do you understand? It's too risky."

Cheris didn't understand.

"You can have an extra dessert tonight," her mother went on. "But there will be no more Mwennin birthdays. Not for any of us."

Cheris snuffled.

Cheris's mother circled her with her arms. "We'll go for a walk by the shore when I get out of work," she said. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Cheris sensed that her mother was even more upset than she was, and her mother didn't even like sweets. At least, she always gave her sweets to Cheris. "I'm all right," she said, because she wanted to be brave for her mother. "Can we have extra pastries on New Year's instead?"

There was a catch in her mother's voice. "Of course, my dear."

Cheris still wasn't sure why her mother was upset. True, she had hoped for something nice to eat today, but if she had the same number of pastries in total over the course of the year, it was basically the same. It wasn't so important what day she got to eat them.

And her mother was as good as her promise. Every New Year after that, up until Cheris left for Kel Academy, there were extra pastries.
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
I just typed, instead of "fine flaky dough," "fine flaky doe."

I never used to make stupid errors like this, but I am informed that the meds I'm on can screw with cognition and memory. :/
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
(I normally react violently negatively to people telling me what to read, haha, but here I cannot decide!)

What I went to the library to check out: Batman and Psychology. It was missing from the shelves of the main branch but the nice librarian put a copy on hold for me from one of the other branches, so I'll get to pick it up in a few days.

What I came away with from the one-cent-per-book discard sale:

- Replica and Resistance by Jenna Black. Casual perusal of the back cover suggests there is a replica with missing memories from his original who has been murdered PLEASE DON'T SUCK I eat this particular trope up with SPOONS.

- Gail Carriger's Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, and Manners and Mutiny, books 2-4 of Finishing School; I will have to obtain book 1 somehow (I think someone else beat me to it at the discard sale). I don't even CARE if they're any good, those are fab titles, and at one cent per book it's hard to argue.--It turns out the library has book 1, Etiquette and Espionage, on Overdrive, so I could theoretically start it whenever I wanted to.

- David Marusek's Getting to Know You, a short story collection--the name sounds familiar but I can't place it. Anyway, I'll try the short stories and who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy them. Again, at one cent, not a huge loss if it's not for me after all.

- And finally, THE BEST FIND (well, other than CLONE AMNESIA, which is always Relevant To My Interests): America's Maritime Heritage by Eloise Engle & Arnold S. Lott, ©1975 by the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. I am dying of curiosity and also, I suck at all naval history that is not the Imjin War, so even a flawed--even a jingoistic--textbook will be interesting.

Poll #18507 What should I read first?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 35

Which book(s) from my library haul should I read first?

View Answers

0 (0.0%)

11 (31.4%)

16 (45.7%)

Jenna Black's REPLICA
11 (31.4%)

ticky the tacky tocky!
6 (17.1%)

ETA: Feel free to elaborate on your votes in comments! =)
spiralsheep: The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity (ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
As ever, feel free to skip the commentary and just enjoy the pictures.

I was lucky enough to be in Torbay again so I committed June challenge flan III(d) first right/second left from the front door of my B&B, and then from the same starting point tried first left/second right. I shall claim I did both out of thoroughness and not because after seven years I still can't remember which way around it's officially supposed to go, lol.

1. First right down the residential street brought me to a six or seven way road junction, which consequently resulted in two choices of second left depending on whether I relied on my visual judgment or the topographical map. Both routes took me past Torre Abbey, pronounced Torr, which was an influential local medieval Abbey then a private house and is now a museum.

1 Torre Abbey, Torbay, Devon 06-17

1a. I then turned second left along the seafront, which I followed for nearly one kilometre until the first opportunity to turn right led me out along the pier and breakwater. There was no second left so I sat on the end of the pier to enjoy the sunset.

2 Sunset from Princess Pier, 1890, Torquay, Devon 06-17

Variation 1b and walk 2. )

Tentacle Bento

Jun. 17th, 2017 09:58 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I bought this game yesterday from Little Wars:

Notice the "age 16+" and "not for children."

I don't even CARE if the gameplay sucks, IT'S ABOUT TENTACLE MONSTERS AND SCHOOLGIRLS. AH HA HA HA HA. I need to make Joe play it with me while the dragon is visiting her grandparents for the summer.

[hxx] [story] Bunny

Jun. 17th, 2017 07:06 pm
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For LL.
Prompt: young Jedao (hexarchate/heptarchate), "cat, winter."


Jedao would rather have been doing anything but cleaning the bathroom, but his older brother Rodao had skipped out on the chore in favor of a night out with his boyfriend. Their mother was working late tonight, as usual, so she wouldn't know or care who did the job as long as it got done. Besides, Jedao considered it useful to have additional blackmail material on Ro. He couldn't decide whether it was hilarious or annoying that Ro had suddenly become interested in dating. At eleven, Jedao didn't see what all the fuss was about.

In the meantime, he still couldn't figure out how those weird purple stains had gotten onto the bathtub. Had his mother been pouring her experiments into the tub instead of disposing of them properly? Or did it have something to do with her attempts to brew up new and exciting shampoos?

"Jay," said a soft, snuffling voice from the doorway.

Jedao set down the sponge and sat back on his haunches. His six-year-old sister Nidana was scrubbing her eyes. "What's the matter?" he asked.

Nidana burst into tears.

Jedao stripped off the rubber gloves, quickly washed his hands, and put his arms around her. "Hey there," he said. "I didn't think the book I gave you to read was that scary." The book in question had featured a bold girl space adventurer who punctured space monsters with her space rapier. Ordinarily Nidana loved that sort of thing.

After the snuffling and wailing had dwindled, Nidana said, "I went outside to look at the tree with the really big icicles."

"All right," he said, "did you hurt yourself?" He'd had icicles fall on him before. The big ones were no joke. She didn't look injured, but maybe she'd had a scare.

"Jay," she said, "I can't find the cat. I think she got out."

"All right," he said, suppressing his alarm. The cat, which Nidana had named Bunny when she was five, had a talent for getting herself stuck up trees. (Nidana's vocabulary for animals had left something to be desired at that age. The family also had a dog named Bunny, two finches named Bunny, and a snake named Bunny.) Bunny-the-cat tried to escape at every opportunity, and while Jedao wouldn't have worried for her during warmer weather, he didn't like the thought of her trapped outside in the cold. "Go bundle up. Let's go look for her."

Jedao helped Nidana with her sweater, coat, mittens, hat, scarf, and boots, then pulled on his own winter clothes. He left a note tacked to the small corkboard next to the door, just in case. "Come on," Jedao said. "We'll find Bunny."

Nidana snuffled some more. "I didn't mean to, Jay."

"I know." It was too bad that Bunny-the-cat hated Bunny-the-dog. The latter was reasonably good at tracking, but his habit of trying to nip at Bunny-the-cat's tail whenever he could catch her wouldn't do them any good here.

They traipsed out onto the path that Jedao and his brother had shoveled that morning. The wind had blown more snow onto the path in feathered drifts, but it was still walkable. Unfortunately, it also meant that any tracks the cat might have left were obscured.

"Show me where you went," Jedao said.

Nidana led him to the sycamore with its mantle of glistening icicles. He broke one off from a lower branch so that she could suck on it. If nothing else, it would distract her.

"Bunny!" Nidana called in between licking her icicle. But there was no sign of the cat.

Jedao and Nidana checked all the buildings they were allowed into, and some that they weren't. The cat remained elusive. The sun sank lower and lower in the sky, and Nidana was starting to shiver. Jedao made sure not to walk too quickly for her to keep up, despite his increasing concern for Bunny.

At last, discouraged, they returned to the front door of their home. Bunny-the-dog almost bowled Nidana over when they came in. "Stop that," Jedao said, and made the dog sit. He and Nidana shed their winter clothes, and Jedao hung them up in the hallway closet. "Nidana, keep the dog entertained. I'll check around the house."

The dog's wagging tail was thumping loudly against the floor, and the dog was busy slobbering all over Nidana. Nidana didn't seem to mind this, and at least the dog kept her from bursting into tears thinking of the cat.

For his part, Jedao systematically searched every room of the house but one. He knew most of the cat's usual hiding places. At last he came to his brother's room and hesitated. Ro had threatened him on pain of being fed to the geese not to barge into Ro's room...but Jedao had checked everywhere else he could think of.

"The hell with this," Jedao said, since Nidana wasn't around to overhear him, and entered. The first thing he noticed was that one of the dresser drawers was slightly open. He pulled it out: aha. Bunny-the-cat was curled up in a nest of Rodao's socks, underwear, and...magazines? Jedao eased one of the magazines out from beneath the cat and flipped it open to a full-color picture of two naked men. Fascinated, Jedao started paging through.

Bunny-the-cat suddenly hissed. Jedao heard Bunny-the-dog woofing as he bounded toward them, and turned around to see Nidana padding after the dog. Hastily, he shoved the magazine back into the drawer. "The cat's fine, Nidana," he said. "She was just taking a nap."

"Can I see what you were reading?" Nidana said.

"No," Jedao said. He scooped the cat up despite her rather liberal application of claws and hastened out of his older brother's room, doing his best (which wasn't very) to herd Nidana and the dog at the same time. "The cat's safe, that's all that matters."

[story] The Diver's Daughter

Jun. 16th, 2017 03:33 pm
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
[personal profile] yhlee
For S.P.
Prompt: "pearl divers."

The Diver's Daughter

Once upon an island, there dwelled a village of women and their families. The women of this village were known for their skill in swimming and net-weaving and fishing, and the greatest among them were the pearl divers. They would practice breathing-exercises so that they could hold their breath as they plundered the sea's depths, and join in chanting praise-songs to the Dragon King Under the Sea so that he would offer them his protection. After all, the sea provides, but the sea also takes away.

One diver's daughter longed to become a diver herself. She spent long hours swimming in the shallows and swimming in the deeps, accustoming herself to the cold caress of the waters and the pressure that built in her lungs. Sometimes she slipped out at night and sang praise-songs of her own making to the Dragon King.

The diver's daughter fell in love with another girl of the same age. The other girl could swim beautifully and had clever hands with which she created spell-knots to bring fair winds for sailing. The diver's daughter resolved then to win the other girl's heart. But spell-knotting was a much-valued skill in their village, and she was not yet a diver.

The two of them exchanged fond glances, as young women do, but the girl with the clever hands had many suitors, some of them from the neighboring villages. They brought gifts of all kinds: baskets of fresh mussels, or elaborate wall-hangings woven from expensively imported silk, or board games carved from large pieces of driftwood. The diver's daughter looked at the others' offerings and despaired.

Despite the risk involved, the diver's daughter resolved to venture the deeps and bring the other girl a treasure as a token of her affection. Perhaps then her suit would be looked upon favorably. For long hours she gazed upon the treasure-room of her mothers' house where they guarded the pearls they brought up from the deeps. She would never have stolen anything from her mothers, but as she contemplated the luster of the pearls that filled caskets large and small, she vowed to herself that she would find a pearl worthy of the girl with the clever hands.

On a festival evening when her mothers, diver and artisans all, were feasting upon a gift of grilled prawns, the girl sneaked out. In her haste, she left her sandals behind, but she was accustomed to walking barefoot upon the gritty sands. At the edge of the waters, she greased herself for protection against the cold. Then she walked into the sea. The waves broke ticklishly over her feet, and she waded out until the water came up to her waist. Then she began to swim.

The evening sun broke in red fragments upon the water's surface. The salt stung her eyes, but she was so used to it that she hardly noticed it at all. When at last she had reached the location of the pearl beds that her family held the rights to, she breathed in and out, in and out, meditating upon the Dragon King's blessings all the while. Then she dove.

From her mother the pearl diver's tales she knew the way to the pearl beds, and even so fear crept into her heart as she went down, down, down into the sea's embrace. But she thought of the girl with the clever hands, and her smile, and she persevered, kicking down despite the burning in her lungs.

The pearl beds were lit by magic orbs, and the diver's daughter was glad of their soft blue illumination. She selected several of the great oysters and gathered them into her basket, then surfaced despite the roaring in her ears and the pain in her eyes. At first she wasn't certain that she would make it. But at last her head cleared the waters, and she gasped for breath as water streamed down her face.

She swam back to the shore and, with trembling hands, opened up the oysters one by one, prodding them for any signs of pearls. Her heart sank: none of them contained a pearl. She checked again, with the same results. All her praise-songs and all her effort had come to nothing.

Then she heard a voice calling her name and looked up. The girl with the clever hands had come from the village bearing a platter of roast fish. "I saw you slipping away from the festival dinner," she said, "and I was worried for you. Come and eat."

The diver's daughter gestured at the useless oysters at her feet. "I meant to--" Then she stopped. What was there to say?

The girl with the clever hands understood. She set down the platter and clasped the diver's daughter's hands in her own. "The only pearl I need," she said, "is your face. And I am fairly certain I would never find it in an oyster."

this is not being a good day

Jun. 16th, 2017 01:30 pm
yhlee: soulless (orb) (AtS soulless (credit: mango_icons on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
All the people who go "You have aphantasia and can't visualize, how can you even write anything?" like the one who asked that at my Borderlands reading in April make me want to just put down my pen and quit writing because fuck, why even? :(
spiralsheep: A raven (spiralsheep Raven Logo)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- So, T'Challa, what do you think of the Black Panther movie?

So, T'Challa, what do you think of the Black Panther movie?

- Phrases I have recently captured in the wild: "fresh rehydrated water". But rehydrated with what...?

- There was an overheard fire safety joke here when I originally drafted this but it's redacted now because greedy kleptocratic capitalists and their Tory legislators-for-hire have murdered an unknown number of people in the "safety" of their own homes in a London tower block. Here's hoping those one minute silences of remembrance are followed with at least two minutes of speaking up so this scale of corporate murder isn't allowed to happen again in the future.

- Poetry extracts by Tal Nitzán* (translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden and Tal Nitzán). The grapevine informs me that Ms Nitzán, who was due to headline at least one poetry event in the UK this summer, has been refused "a visa". I'm unclear on which country is refusing to allow her to travel and why (might merely be late or incorrect paperwork) but have some of her poetry (more and in Hebrew @ poetryinternationalweb):

• you will have no rest.
The cloth will be torn from the wound slowly
and again.

• I haven’t forgotten a single line to a song
that once I sang with girlish zeal, unaware
of the lust that lurked behind each word
and I shiver to hear the clear voice singing along
that isn’t a specter of my childhood voice
for it is the voice of my daughter.

• The women sat at the entrance to the house
and watched the cart rolling northward
to neighborhoods far from the bulldozers.

* Note: Hebrew poet Tal Nitzán is NOT the same woman as Tal Nitsan.

(no subject)

Jun. 13th, 2017 05:12 pm
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee
- Raven Stratagem is out today!
- An interview [Qwillery] where I talk a little about the process of writing the book and how Nirai Kujen went from "minor throwaway character" to...important background character. (He'll show up again in Revenant Gun.)
yhlee: ashhawk (black phoenix) in flames (hxx emblem Kel)
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.M.
Prompt: Kel Nerevor (hexarchate), "on planet."

Junior Lieutenant Kel Nerevor had expected a great many things of her first assignment. She knew that her sergeant would regard her with a healthy dollop of cynicism, and that formation instinct would only carry her orders so far as a young, untested officer. She knew (and regretted) that she couldn't simply duel everyone who slighted her; that sort of behavior, however gratifying in the short-term, would only alienate her peers and subordinates. She had girded herself (or so she thought) for all manner of disappointments.

This one, however, she hadn't anticipated: a planetary assignment instead of a coveted bannermoth posting, despite her excellent scores all through Kel Academy. And not just planetary, either, but assigned to a ship. She was going to be on an overgrown boat.

Just now she was standing on the deck, pretending that she was too Kel to be fazed by little things like the lurching of the boat--'scuse, ship--or the hissing and frothing of the waves against its hull, or for that matter, the hulls of all the other ships in the fleet. The ship itself featured exotic shielding because of the corrosive properties of the local ocean. It struck her as absurd that the Kel had to maintain a navy to protect this pissant archipelago from pirates--yes, pirates. She wondered in passing if pirates responded to duel challenges as flamboyantly as they did in the damn Andan dramas, or whether they did the more likely thing and blew you up from out of sight with black market missiles and torpedoes.

"Lieutenant?" It was her sergeant, a woman whose tanned, seamed face was at odds with her round figure. It annoyed Nerevor tremendously that the sergeant showed no sign of nausea at either the rocking motion of the ship or the faint, pervasive chemical reek that wafted up from the sea. "I have some papers for you to sign."

"Papers" was a misnomer, as all the documents were stored in the ship's grid, but Nerevor accepted the slate anyway and began looking through them. The ship tilted alarmingly as a wave passed by, and Nerevor grabbed at a rail to keep from falling over. She regretted it soon enough, as the sight of the roiling waves unsettled her stomach more.

I am Kel, Nerevor reminded herself, flushing. She wasn't going to be overcome by a boat. A boat on her own side, for that matter. They hadn't even left the dock yet, for love of fire and ash.

"Sir," the sergeant said, in the most offhand, neutral voice possible.

"Yes?" Nerevor said, more harshly than she meant. Then she looked at the sergeant's gloved hand. In it rested two small pills.

"Anti-seasickness," the sergeant said. The only thing that prevented Nerevor from ill-advisedly challenging the other woman to a duel on the spot in defense of her wounded honor was what came next: "I take them all the time myself. Of course, an officer probably doesn't need them, but--"

Nerevor snatched the pills and gulped them down. "If you ever tell anyone, Sergeant," she said after her coughing fit had passed, "I'll throw you overboard."

"Wouldn't expect any less," the sergeant said, deadpan. "What else are suicide hawks for?"
yhlee: two voidmoths at war (hxx Raven Stratagem)
[personal profile] yhlee

I continue to be unjustifiably smug about how my dad's choice of romanization for the family name enables me to be in between Tanith Lee and [personal profile] ann_leckie. =)

heptarchate heretics!

Jun. 12th, 2017 04:48 pm
yhlee: heptagon and flame (mirrorweb) (hxx emblem Liozh)
[personal profile] yhlee
Today, we have
- Heretical Faction Liozh, which talks about what the Liozh did before they were destroyed.

(I promise more flash fic will be forthcoming in the next couple days, etc.; our house guest just left.)


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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010


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