October 20

Fictober, Prompt 20 – “That’s what I’m known for.”

Original fiction. Not really fantasy, medieval-ish setting.

Warnings: stabbing, violent death.


The tavern was crowded, and noisy enough to cover such private conversations as might occur around the edges of the room. I wasn’t surprised when a hooded figure slid into the booth opposite me, but didn’t allow the newcomer to interrupt my meal. The stew on offer at this place was tasty, and their ale above average.

Sometimes I regretted the work that necessitated my constantly being on the move, but it couldn’t be helped – not in my profession.

After a few moments, the silence grew awkward for my prospective client, and he shifted in his seat, clearing his throat. The hood slipped back a bit, revealing a strong jaw below light eyes and hair. Appealing enough, I supposed, if you liked that sort of thing.

I took another bite of potato and chewed, holding his gaze calmly.

“Are you Ligart?” he asked then, voice a pleasant tenor.

I swallowed the potato, said, “I am,” and bit a piece of turnip off my knife.

“They say…” he said, trailing off suggestively. When I did not volunteer to fill in this gaping conversational hole, he reluctantly went on, “They say that you…take care of problems.”

“That’s what I’m known for,” I agreed, and speared the last piece of meat left in my bowl.

Finishing the stew took up the time he needed to gather his courage again and lean forward to say, even more quietly, “They say that you take care of problems even when they’re people.”

Continue reading

October 13

Fictober, Prompt 13 – “The things you make me do…”

Original fiction.

Warnings: violence, brief, unsuccessful attempt at sexual assault, vaguely implied civil unrest.


It was all anyone could talk about. Every mansion, every tavern, every market was the same, ‘The Shadow Blade’ this and ‘The Shadow Blade’ that, and what would the Shadow Blade do next?

I was doubly glad that I’d been able to arrive quietly, without telling anyone about my encounter with the person calling themselves the Shadow Blade. Not that I could be sure…but the mere fact that I was alive and unharmed made a strong argument in favor of the claim.

“Oh, but you just came in from Astaba,” Madam Staralon unfortunately remembered as I was halfway through putting up her hair for a garden party later that afternoon. “Did you run into any trouble on the way? They say the Emperor’s men aren’t letting anyone out at all, but that’s obviously not the case if you’re here.”

“I did,” I admitted, keeping my eyes on the strand of hair I was carefully heating into a curl and choosing my words with equal care. “There has been some trouble in Astaba. I got here and am fine. I was glad to find work right away.”

“And in such a good salon, too!” Madam Staralon agreed. “But with your skill, it’s not surprising. Did Lady Torfel stop by? I recommended you to her.”

“She did,” I said, grateful for a change in topic, “and thank you very much for the recommendation.”

“But you say there is unrest in Astaba?” asked one of the other ladies perched nearby. “Have you heard anything of this Shadow Blade?”

“There is unrest.” I sighed internally, having hoped the other topic would stick. It was pointless to deny the unrest, even if the full extent of it wasn’t known here yet. Things were worst at the heart of the Empire, but that only encouraged other kinds of trouble in the outer lands. “I’ve heard of the Shadow Blade, but couldn’t say that I know much about them.”

That was a borderline untruth, but not quite over the line.

“One hears so many wild things, of course,” Madam Staralon put in, “but he does sound like quite the dashing hero!”

“If even half his exploits are true, I’d positively swoon over him!” agreed a third woman, seated at the next chair over. “They say he’s the most handsome man you’ll ever meet…if you can get a look under his mask!”

Continue reading

October 10

Fictober, Prompt 10 – “It’s so quiet.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, implied monster, implied violent death.


“And you’re sure everything’s all right? I don’t like you being out there alone,” Anna said.

I tucked my cell phone more firmly between my ear and my shoulder, thinking for probably the hundredth time that I really needed one of those little Bluetooth earpieces or something. “It’s fine, I promise. It’s so quiet, what could possibly happen? And besides,” I cut her off when I heard her take another breath to protest, “it’s not like I’m staying out here. Just stopping by the house once a day to make sure everything’s okay.” Carefully, I stepped up onto the chair and tilted the little battered tin watering can over the last of the house plants. Why I left the most difficult to reach one for last was anyone’s guess, but it always worked out that way. Probably subconscious avoidance, or something like that.

“I guess,” she agreed, sighing. “I just wish you wouldn’t go after dark.”

“Not much choice, at this point,” I muttered, then sighed myself, stepping down off the chair and dragging it back into the kitchen. “It’s getting dark so early these days, and you know I don’t get off work until six-thirty.”

“All right. Text me when you get home?”

“Sure,” I promised, and she let me hang up. “Okay,” I said to myself. “What else?”

Nothing for today, when I checked the list they had left for me. Today had been plant-watering day, and I’d brought in the newspaper and the mail, and made sure the traps were empty of mice. This house-sitting thing was pretty easy, really, mostly just a chunk of time out of my evening, and even that wasn’t a big deal for a couple of weeks. I didn’t know the Carters well, but had seen no reason to turn down their request, being one of the nearer neighbors out here; they didn’t have any pets to worry about, and were even paying me a little bit.

The house creaked and settled around me, which I was more used to now after a week. It was an older house, a farmhouse originally, though the neighboring fields were now owned by a neighboring farmer. I couldn’t remember what the Carters said they did, but it definitely wasn’t farming.

“Well, that’s it for today, then,” I told the house. Shrugging my coat back on and sliding into my shoes, I flipped out the lights near the door. There was one lamp, distant in the living room, that they had left on a timer, but that light didn’t really reach this far. Still, I hesitated.

Continue reading

October 7

Fictober, Prompt 7 – “That could have gone better.”

Original fiction. Continuation: part one (Day 1) and part two (Day 5).

Warnings: large-scale battle, spaceship crash (nothing graphic), brief and unrealized fear of a tunnel collapse


The ship-killer missile whined past me, headed for the planet’s surface, and I swore, trying to run faster. There was no way I’d be far enough from that one

The laser canon Vivi was manning from the underground station caught it before it could impact. The blast still sent me sprawling forward, but it had been high enough up still that it wasn’t as bad as an actual impact.

Distantly, another missile did strike the surface, opening a crater and sending me to my feet again just after I rose. This time I stayed down, breathing and trying to calm my racing heart. I wasn’t in danger yet, but my air supply was limited.

The glimpse of a ship spiraling out of orbit, smoke and flame trailing from the gaping hole blasted in one side, had me up and running again scarcely a minute later. It was moving away from me, but the impact blast of a whole ship was not something I wanted to be out here for.

I made it to the hatch leading into the below-ground station and got the door snapped shut just in time. The ship’s impact caused a localized earthquake that I rode out in the narrow metal corridor, teeth gritted, one bare hand slapped onto the nearest magic-integration pad and energy streaming out to try and reinforce the corridor walls. If they collapsed here…

Continue reading

October 5

Fictober, Prompt 5 – “I’m not saying I told you so…”

Original fiction. Turned out to be a continuation of Day 1.

Warnings: nothing in particular, passing mention of past blood sacrifices.


“I’m not saying I told you so…”

“But you told me so,” I groused, sighing as Vivi stepped carefully into what remained of the lab. “It would never have worked if I’d had anyone else with me, especially not another mage.”

“I know,” she said, then whistled as she took in the state of the room. “Hard fight?”

“Yeah,” I admitted, frowning. I’d won, but I’d had to kill her in the end, and still had several bandages on even three days later. It was even stranger because I still didn’t have any idea what her real name was. She had given me an obviously false one when we first met, but every system here was strangely devoid of anything that identified her personally. “The rest of this would have been easier if I’d been able to capture her. I still have no idea what she was trying to do here, or what’s so special about this planet. Several unidentifiable ships have come sniffing around, and given how much monitoring equipment she has set up for tracking exactly that kind of thing, I don’t think it’s new.”

Vivi patted my shoulder and then peered over it at the one screen that had remained intact. “Weird. What did she say she was doing?”

Continue reading

October 4

Fictober, Prompt 4 – “Fine, I give up.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: implied battle, vague injury descriptions.


Gasping, I fell, my left knee giving out at last. Only my sword, sunk into the earth, kept me partially upright.

Although there was no possible way the gods looked on me in favor, I had no other explanation for why I was still alive at all, truthfully. My ki was too low to manage any more spells, and I was no warrior, was not trained to the sword, not the way those who had pursued us for so long were.

Not the way she was.

I knelt, and panted for air through burning lungs, and stared up at her through one eye that was beginning to swell shut, the other stinging with the sweat and blood dripping down my face. Her eyes, dark, intense, met mine and held.

A strange moment of hush descended around us, even as fire crackled in the distance, mingling with the shouts of those still fighting.

Her face under her horned helmet was unreadable as usual, but there was no anger in her eyes, no hatred, no contempt. None of the emotions that should have been there. I had betrayed her, betrayed my promise. That I hadn’t had any other choice was irrelevant. She would tolerate no such breach of honor.

That she held herself to even higher standards was the only reason that I did not hate her for her part in this pursuit.

But I knelt still, only not at her feet for the short distance still between us, and still she stared, making no move to finish me off.

Continue reading

October 3

Fictober, Prompt 3 – “I’ve waited for this.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, monster, vampire, implied blood-drinking, implied violent death.


I held very still.

The man standing across the room did not smile, but the corners of his eyes tightened in satisfaction. “As I suspected,” he murmured, and stepped forward, careful to keep his holy symbol in front of him.

I edged back, lips curling involuntarily at the sight of it. Unfortunately, this gave him a glimpse of fang, which elicited another quick nod from him. He stepped forward more confidently this time, making sure that the rope held in his other hand was clearly visible to me as well.

The rope that trailed up to the boards covering the large window high above, which I could now tell were not fastened as securely as they had seemed at first.

It was a well-set trap, I had to acknowledge, if only in my own mind. He had driven me to this place cleverly, methodically, and there was nowhere in this particular room that would be free of sunlight if he pulled those boards, and we both knew it.

Continue reading

October 2

Fictober, Prompt 2 – “You have no proof.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: magical battle of sorts, non-graphic description of someone being dead.


The man clutched the scroll to his chest and looked at me as if I had just insulted all of his ancestors.

“Of course I won’t hand it over to you! It is mine, and acquired only at great trouble and cost!”

“And you didn’t stop to think about why that might be the case?” I asked him, keeping my voice even and my face calm. He had no idea what he was holding, and it was going to cause trouble for more than just him if I couldn’t stop him from using it.

“Obviously, because it confers a great boon to the user,” he huffed, as if this was obvious.

“It was stolen,” I said, losing a little bit of my temper, “out of one of the most secure magical facilities in all the known lands. I know that you know this, because that is why the thieves you hired to steal it charged you so much, and why you had so much trouble finding anyone to even attempt the theft in the first place. Has it not occurred to you that it was under such heavy guard because it doesn’t do what it claims to do, rather than because it does?”

A brief – very brief – flicker of doubt crossed his face, but then it settled into a scowl again.

“You have no proof,” he spat at me, “no proof at all of those rumors! Have you ever even seen it yourself?”

I had not, of course, looked at the scroll myself. Its rolled-up exterior was all anyone I knew had ever seen.

“No one,” I said slowly and meaningfully, “who has ever looked at that scroll is around to tell us what exactly happened to them.”

Continue reading

October 1

(Fictober seems like a good time to return from the metaphorical dead? We’ll see how this goes!)

Fictober, Prompt 1 – “I need you.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: implied blood sacrifice, implied murder, implied non-consensual surgical procedures (but nothing actually graphic).


“I need you,” she had said.

Arrogantly, or naïvely, or stupidly, or maybe all of those things, I had believed her.

Well, heard what I wanted to hear, at least. I had believed the implication, just as she had known I would, and it was only the implication that was untrue.

She was not, in the strictest sense, a liar.

We were planetside, deep underground to escape the inhospitable surface, which had made sense enough at the time. But now I couldn’t trust anything that I had seen on the way down, since the viewports could easily have been manipulated to show whatever she wanted me to see.

This lab was definitely real, though. As was the operating table I was strapped to with metal cabling, and the humming generator, and the tubing, and the instruments she was laying out next to me, their edges gleaming sharp under the too-bright overhead lights.

“Hush now,” she soothed, eyes distant as she scanned what looked like a mix of technical specs and spellwork on a datapad, not really looking at me. “You wanted to help me, didn’t you? And you will.”

Continue reading

Fixer

(The other Xmas present story, probably time I should get around to posting it. |D Another humans and aliens story, but much happier than the last one.)

Warnings: mild swearing?


The smooth, steady rumble of the drill gave way to an unpleasant squeal of machinery.

Nngli flinched away from it, her arms contracting closer to her soft core protectively. Nothing further happened, fortunately, but the drill had stopped. Nngli contracted further in upset and disappointment. How could they possibly get the samples she needed now?

“Shit,” came the voice of her one companion on this tumbling asteroid: a human from Terra named Kendall. She emerged from the enclosed drill control station, bounding quickly across the surface in the minimal gravity.

“Hold on!” she called over the comms to Nngli, who followed anxiously after once Kendall had examined the drill and nothing else alarming happened.

“It is broken?” she asked, three arms reaching out and then contracting again. She had no help to offer in this situation. At least she could be grateful that someone (hadn’t it been one of the humans?) had finally worked out a proper translating device that would accurately convert Glion brainwaves into an audible signal for humans. She almost sighed in slight envy for the humans’ ability to produce physical sound, though they did lack the Glion ability to shift color and pattern.

Communication had certainly been difficult at first.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Kendall answered her, laying flat and peering down into the drill hole with a bright light. She stayed there for long clicks, but then pushed herself upright with the sound the humans called a ‘sigh,’ indicating frustration. “There’s something jamming it, which might have broken something. Won’t know ‘til we get it pulled back up.”

“Oh no! Then we shall have to wait for a Fixer to arrive,” Nngli said, all her initial disappointment rushing back. That could take a long time, and this work might not be considered important enough to send anyone. She’d had to find a human Operator to bring her here and work the drill, after all.

“A fixer? You mean someone to make repairs?” asked Kendall. “You’re looking at her!”

Nngli rippled her arms in confusion. “But, Kendall is an Operator!”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do a little repair work here and there,” Kendall moved her face in the shape that humans called a ‘smile.’ “Wouldn’t have kept my ship going so long otherwise!”

“Wait,” Nngli said, arms rippling more in greater confusion. “You mean that your brain allows you to have more than one specialty?”

Kendall stopped and stared at her. “Umm…yes? Do Glion brains…not do that?”

“All learn to think and communicate, of course,” Nngli explained, “but the pathways in our brains are permanently set by that which we learn. Many pathways must be set for expertise, so many must be focused on the desired skills. I am an Analyzer, what you call a scientist. I have studied only Analyzing. I could not learn to be a Fixer now.”

“Oh,” Kendall said, her eyes a bit wide. “That’s…that’s a bit— Well, it’s very different from humans. Our brains create neural networks and pathways, I think, but they aren’t…permanent? They sort of are, but we can make new ones too. So, I know how to operate machinery, like the ship and the drill, but I also know enough about how they’re put together that I can do some repairs too. I don’t know as much as an expert, but in this case, I think I can manage.”

“Really?” Nngli asked, knowing that underneath her vacuum-suit her skin had shifted into the light red color of hope.

“Really,” Kendall promised with another smile.

True to her word, Kendall had the drill unjammed, fixed, and running smoothly again in less than one wake-sleep cycle. Nngli had extended all twelve of her arms, waving them joyfully when the steady rumble had started up again.

“Thank you, Kendall,” she communicated, pleased to receive a smile in return.

“You’re welcome,” Kendall responded. “I think you’re right about this hunk of rock having the elements we need, so I’m glad to help out with this.”

“Achieved quantities will be shared fairly,” Nngli assured her.

“I know, and thanks for that. It’ll help both of us out this way.”

The drill bore down, and Nngli settled in to wait, finding patience and calm where she had been unable to before.

Humans were very different, as she had been warned. But this one, at least, was an excellent partner, and together, they would prove that these asteroids were worth the time and trouble to mine.

Nngli hadn’t ever thought anyone would care about this particular Analyzing work, but she was glad to be wrong. Alone, she could never have reached this asteroid or run the drill. Alone, Kendall would not have known where to look.

But together…together they could succeed.