May 5th, 2017

Me 2012

Betrayed (65/80)

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Rain twisted around. “What – how did she teleport? How did she teleport Fallen? Did she—”

Ardent did not stay to listen. She ported back to her room at the Underground. The tracer golem was on one of the giant mushrooms in the meadow setting, scribbling furiously. “Trace Shadow of Fallen Scent only,” she ordered it. “Drop everyone else. Give me her current position.”

The tracer wrote quickly: not once a minute, but every few seconds. Fallen was twenty-eight miles away. Forty-two miles. Fifty-six miles. Ardent closed her hands into fists and slammed them against the mushroom. It dented like a squishy cushion at the impact. The area’s wards asked if Whispers Rain still had permission to enter. “Yes!” she snapped. Then, “Trace Never Breaks, in this form.” She showed the tracer Miro’s homunculus.

He was in the exact same place as Fallen. They were halfway to the Sun Etherium. “What’s going on?” Rain asked, appearing beside her.

“I’m an idiot.” One-hundred seventy-seven point three-two-seven miles. The tracer stopped writing. Ardent summoned up a map, but knew what she’d find before she plotted it: they were in the Sun Etherium. “Trace Jinokimijin,” she said, and described her as best she could. The tracer whuffled and shook its head, ears flopping: it couldn’t find her.

Rain looked at the tracer’s work, perplexed. “Ardent, how could they get there so quickly? This doesn’t make any sense.”

“The phoenix rose. That bird we wrested away from Fallen’s possession. It’s a phoenix rose. Jinokimijin’s been researching it for years. Decades. She knew how to get it to teleport across the Broken Lands.” Ardent turned and slid to the meadow ground, grabbing fistfuls of hair. “How could I be so stupid? I gave it right to them.”

“Ardent, what are you talking about? Why did Fallen have a phoenix rose? Justice.” Rain clapped a small brown hand over her mouth. “She had a phoenix rose and you went to fight her?”

“Yes,” Ardent growled. Maybe Miro didn’t know. He almost died. He might still die. Surely that can’t have been part of his plan.

His voice echoed in her head, swearing three times that he didn’t want the phoenix rose for himself or for the Sun Queen. But he never swore he didn’t want it for his father. She punched an ineffectual fist against the spongy ground. The moon aether around them shifted, as if its natural currents had changed abruptly. It swirled inwards, towards the center of the Etherium with a curving motion.

“What’s happening to the aether?” Rain asked, watching it.

“Fallen.” Ardent leaped to her feet. “Jinokimijin’s channeling from her. We have to see the Queen.” She took Rain’s hand, and they teleported to the Palace of the Moon.



Don't want to wait until the next post to read more? Buy The Moon Etherium now! Or check out the author's other books: A Rational Arrangement and Further Arrangements.
Me 2012

Poll RPG: Sabotage!

Don't stare, Smoke told themselves. Do not stare at the giant sexy draka. He is your boss. Remember this. They tilted their head back to meet his gold eyes. Smoke was not a short person: they were of a height with an average draka. But their head didn't even reach Master Corydalis's shoulders. "I, um, I'm your new enchanter, and would you be able to tell me where maintenance is? I need to ask them a quick question and then I'll be right back. Sorry. It's related to the job." They canted their ears back, making their earrings chime.

Master Corydalis raised his eyebrows, bemused. "Certainly. Their main office is on the second floor, at the far end of the Green Hall. There's a sign on the door."

"Great." Smoke backpedaled to the door. "I'll be right back. Thank you. Sorry." They fled down the hall, thinking I am not prepared for this.

The maintenance office did log animal corpse removal, thankfully, and verified that they'd removed a dead rat from the west side of the building, on the outside. Smoke's gatherer had reported three rats as passing through through the wards, and no deaths. So ... it still didn't add up.

Frowning, they started back to their employer's office. A draka enby emerged from the office to call after them: "Excuse me, master enchanter?" Smoke paused, letting the other enby catch up. "You were asking about the rat corpse from this morning?"

"Yes?"

"I found it, and it was ... strange. I did cleanup yesterday today, and didn't see it then. But when I found it this morning, it looked like it'd been dead for days, to be honest. I'd've thought a dog or cat had dragged it there and left it, but it was only crow-pecked."

Smoke's frown deepened. "Thank you." That ... didn't make any of this more sensible. They dashed back up the steps to the fourth floor. The kith secretary waved them into the inner office this time.

Master Corydalis sat at a massive desk, reading a report when Smoke stepped inside, but rose with a smile at their arrival. "Good morning, master enchanter. I am Corydalis, master of ceremonies for Courthall." He came around the desk to offer his hand.

His grip was warm and firm but considerate; Smoke hadn't felt this small next to someone since they were a child. It was different with a dragon-form draka: one expected them to be huge. "I'm Smoke. Master enchanter. From Crescent Bay. And you already knew all that. Um. Sorry about running off on you." And this must be the worst first impression I've made on any one since my apprenticeship.

Corydalis's smile widened. "It's a pleasure to meet you, honored. I'm glad to see you are already hard at work on our troubles here. I'd not expected you for a few days, at least. Much less to be already too busy for a meeting. Please, have a seat. Have you uncovered anything already that you wished to share?"

They sank into the chair opposite the draka's. At least he didn't loom so large sitting down. His coloration was still gorgeous, though. Smoke fixed their eyes on the desktop. Focus. "A few things, master of ceremonies. The existing wards at Courthall are a sloppy affair, as I expect you've already surmised."

The draka grimaced. "I hope you're not going to follow that with 'and they need to be replaced entirely.'"

"No." Smoke took a deep breath and raised their eyes to meet Corydalis's. "To be fair, I'm not sure the wards are the cause of your vermin problem. They might be a component, but part of Courthall's problems look like sabotage."

Corydalis sat back in his chair, blonde eyebrows lifted, as he returned Smoke's attention. "I see. What leads you to this conclusion, master enchanter?"



This poll is a little different! I will use all the responses that are sensible and based on things Smoke has observed so far. (They don't have to be specific, it can be 'X happened and made me suspicious'). For responses that seem implausible to me based on Smoke's experiences, I'll roll to see if they gets included anyway, with the roll weighted based on how far-fetched the suggestion is.

I'm on vacation in Seattle for the next four days, so this poll will be open until Tuesday morning.

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