May 17th, 2017

Me 2012

Rumors and Information (70/80)

TME Header 070

It took three days to remove Fallen from the High Court. In addition to her physical evidence, Ardent convinced two of the thugs who’d tried to abduct Miro and the one she’d caught trying to rob her to testify that Fallen had coerced them into their crimes. Others came forward with more details about Fallen’s corruption and misdeeds. Fallen had a variety of methods for indebting and obligating fey to her, from promising artists grants and visibility for their work, to threatening to destroy their creations, to catering to their darkest desires. Once she had someone in her debt, she would ask small favors to drag them deeper into ethical murk, tricking them into enabling much worse acts. Fallen would generously ensure that their complicity remained hidden – and they would end further in her debt for that. It was social manipulation built on fear and secrecy, instead of mutual support and trust. The method had been remarkably effective.

To Ardent, the most appalling part was that Fallen had re-enabled the slave trade in mortals. It was one of her dirty, well-kept secrets, partly because Skein of the Absolute had no tolerance for mortal slavery, and partly because it made a much better handle for control when the fey recipients had to fear discovery and the revelation of their crimes. But some fey, like Stalks Hunter, had supported Fallen’s quest to build a new Etherium because she’d promised them the abuse of mortals would be acceptable in it. “Why should we treat them like people?” Stalks had said, unrepentant. “They’re not people. They’re weak, fragile, powerless, nothing. When one gets broken, who notices? If I choose to be careless with my toys, whose business is it besides my own?”

Ardent found herself helping the Justiciar – whose debt to Fallen now manifested as a puppy-like eagerness to prove he did not support her misdeeds – look for surviving mortals to free. The queen also wanted evidence against Fallen’s worst cohorts. Some of Fallen’s allies refused to give up on their patron, or were determined to obstruct the investigation because they knew they could not make it through the coming purge unscathed.

Days were not enough. Months probably wouldn’t be.

But then the rumors started about what had happened in the Sun Etherium. There wasn’t much contact between the two Etheriums, as normal teleports and farspeaking could not breach the hundred-eighty mile gap between them. But some barbarian traders and wanderers travelled between the two, bearing news and stories that soon turned to wild tales. By the morning of the third day, the Moon Etherium seethed with them. The wildest said Jinokimijin had returned and slaughtered the entire Sun Court while the Sun Etherium’s wards were drained. Others contended that only the Sun Queen was dead, or that no one was dead, or that the Sun Queen had executed Mirohirokon and Jinokimijin had killed her in revenge. Everyone agreed that Jinokimijin was now the ruler of the Sun Etherium. There were further rumors that the Sun King had declared war; upon whom or what varied.

Shortly after the Moon Court convened on the third day, amid rumors of a bloodbath in the Sun Etherium, the High Court ended their deliberations. They ruled that, for the good of the Etherium, Shadow of Fallen Scent was removed from her post as Surety to the Queen. The ruling was unanimous.

It didn’t end with Fallen’s removal. It only began.

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: Genderfluid

Smoke had only brought one change of clothes to Hallston. They were expecting their wardrobe to catch up with them when the apprentices did, tomorrow. But they didn't want to wear the same clothes to dinner when they'd been tromping around dusty rooftops in it all day. Not that they'd changed for dinner yesterday, but Master Corydalis's day suit had been more formal than what Licorice or Blackwood were wearing. So they stopped at a ready-made clothing store instead of going back to the hotel.

They browsed through the sorts of things they usually wore: long jackets in rich colors or dark ones, silk scarves, crisp shirts, and the like. None of felt right, and Smoke found themselves drifting towards fancy, frilly clothing.

An evening gown like the sun rising caught their eye, dyed firey red at the ankle-length hem to pale yellow at the high collar. It had a matched short jacket with lace cuffs, lending it an air of professionalism despite the long, draping skirt. It didn't have the beading or jewels of the most formal gowns.

Smoke didn't own anything like it.

They tried it on, and stood before the dressing room mirror, staring at a feminine reflection. Slowly, Smoke exchanged enby earrings and put on a pair of female ones she had in her jacket pocket. She was surprised to find how much she liked the drape and swish of the dress, the hidden girdle that slimmed her waist, the way the jacket sugested more bust than she possessed, the cheerful pastel colors, everything womanly about it. She wanted it at once, and second-guessed that desire almost as quickly. Is this the right kind of dress to wear to a dinner with my new employer? Why did I ask my new employer to dinner anyway? Do I want to be female because Master Corydalis is so very imposingly male? Am I afraid that being enby is too much like competing with him, and I can't? Am I trying to conform to some ancient stereotype of little female paired with larger male? That sterotype doesn't even work for draka, their females are taller. Smoke's train of thought derailed as she tried to imagine a person bigger than Corydalis. ... usually taller. Maybe not taller than him. Would Master Corydalis find a smaller male more appealing? Do I care this much about what he thinks? Is  this about him?

Or do I just want to wear a pretty dress and be female for a few hours?

Smoke rolled her eyes. The whole thing felt like a debate that ought to have been settled a century ago, when gender-signal earrings fell into fashion and people stopped policing the gender identities of others. But here she was.

She made sure the expense form fit in one of the gown's pockets, then strode out of the dressing room with the skirt swishing pleasingly about her ankles. "I'll take this, please." She let the clerk talk her into matching slippers, but held the line when he tried to persuade her to add costume jewelry or a flashier pair of female earrings. She didn't want her outfit to be too fanciful.

When she returned to Courthall, she found Corydalis already in the House of Chambers' lobby. "Oh! I hope I've not kept you waiting long, sir."

Corydalis half-turned at the sound of her voice. His motion froze, arrested, wings raised slightly for balance. Then he completed the move and delivered a courteous bow. "Not at all, master enchanter. I came down from my office only a moment ago."

Smoke relaxed, returning a curtsey. "Good timing, then. Did you have any place in particular in mind? Someone recommended I try Curry This and it sounded good."

"I've not been there, madame, but I am game to try." He offered his arm. "Please, lead on." As she took his arm and they glided out of the giant lobby, he asked, "So, how did your first full day at Courthall go?"

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.