The Festival of the Ocean Spirits (Part 1)

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The Twenty-Fifth of Tal, Sixteen Seventy-Four

Given half a chance I would kill the Pagri, burn them clear through for this insult. Rend and tear, I would remove them from all existence given half a chance for what they ‘request’. More like blackmail if you ask me. And Uncle has agreed to it! That man! That pig! If it would amount to anything I would anoint a knife with the venom concealed half forgotten among my perfumes and unguents. The Pagri have asked that I play a role in the ritual they would perform to rouse their ocean spirit and quell and kill the fire-born god they roused during winter.

I shall play the part of the virgin sacrifice drowned and whose death knell wakes the long sleeping god-spirit. Uncle could not refuse them, to do so would be to acknowledge a stain on my virtue. I have never enjoyed politics, I find it to be a dance created by bored consorts at court looking for some form of entertainment. Like cousin Roman who is Lord Consort to Lord Lyon, a very nice but severe woman; I would rather not have her in my house but I really must invite her and her house for the winter solstice, she has invited Uncle and I for the harvest in a two months time.

I have seen copies of the letters Roman sent to Lord Maes last winter and they were quite provocative. While I do despise politics that does not mean that I do not know how to play the game. Getting copies was easy to be honest, I merely asked Lord Lyon for copies of the letters and of cousin Roman’s demeanor leading up to the rendezvous under the guise of asking to know the signs for when I have my own consort. She was quite amenable and sent them right away. Cousin Roman was locked up in one of their more distant estates for months as a punishment, foolish man.

The servants came dressed in full livery. I had thought that to be shocking, it is very infrequently that our servants are bedecked as such, the less formal uniform is easier and much quicker to don in the early hours. I was escorted to my rooms and quickly stripped without even the thinnest veil of modesty as a Pagri Chieftain and Uncle discussed the ritual.

My palms were painted in the deep amber hues of fire and the soles of my feet painted with a dark primal blue which slowly spiraled up my legs becoming light as it rose. I was anointed with oils and pigments and cloaked in somber perfumes. It was at that moment that two of the Pagri tribesmen pulled me to the floor, the usually plush carpet rough against my nakedness. The Pagri priest whom I had ignored until then rose and maneuvered himself above me, he wore a rough blindfold over his eyes. He chanted in the harsh Pagri tongue, of which I know little, I was held pinioned through the process by the two tribesmen; I would rip out their eyes given half a chance for this injustice. The Pagri will burn for this insult if I have to embody this fire spirit itself.

With the blind priest’s ritual finished I was dressed in a white tunic provided by the Pagri, it was surprisingly unsoiled and very soft. I was just relieved to have some form of shield between myself and the wolfish eyes of the Pagri. A coronet of budding flowers in an array of colours was placed on my brow, feathers worked into my short hair, and a belt of glittering ribbons girded my waist. A woman entered the room with hair of burning copper, she ignored the men and pulled me aside. She muttered quietly in a foreign tongue, much to quiet for me to heed, and began to paint my face like an Alazian whore with paint on my lips and kohl limning my eyes.

It was then, while this sorceress woman of paint and powder hid my true face behind a veil of cosmetics, that uncle mentioned the escaped prisoner. The man who assaulted me, I still bear the bruises, I flinched at his name and the woman smeared kohl across my forehead which started the whole process again. Foolish woman, it took long enough the first time.

Simple Assault, Attempted Rape, Attempted Coercion, Assault of a Lord Heir, Interference in the Affairs of a Noble House, Treason, and, finally, Attempted Line Theft. The charges laid against that man, the latter three charges are enough to call for his death. Hell, the charge of Attempted Line Theft is enough to call for his life and appropriate reparations from his family, in blood. It is almost assured that they attempted to pay a wergild. Mind you wergild is not completely legal anymore, it hasn’t been for centuries, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the family attempted to pay one to save their own skin.

The charges were an exaggeration at best; I mean, Line Theft, really? That isn’t even possibly, is it? He is not of the Gentry. It matters not. I would not care to dwell. Duty calls. I must greet my people in this thin gossamer tunic and crowned with flowers like a fairy queen.

The Fairy Court hides beneath the waves if one were to look there. A child’s tale one would think.

Alazian – Pronounced Ah-LAY-gin, they are a nation/ethnicity from the deserts far to the south.

Wergild - Also known as “man price”, was a value placed on every being and piece of property. If property was stolen, or someone was injured or killed, the guilty person would have to pay weregild as restitution to the victim’s family or to the owner of the property.

A Star Strewn Mantel

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Hello Lovelies,

I regret to inform you that this isn’t a Starry Heavens post, but it is some fiction to tide you over. I have about five hundred words of the Festival post left to write and I have been assured that some of you fleshy things crave more, so very much more. My little hedonists. Now this story was written a while ago for a NaNoWriMo long since past. It never came to fruit and has since languished on my computer stick-y thing (USB Stick). I have just rewrote and edited it for your consumption, isn’t your God-Queen so nice? I believe you will enjoy it, you may find that the magic system is similar to the one in my previous post Creativity. You could almost say that it was a dry run for my current work in progress, a story tentatively titled Sky-Fire. I hope you enjoy my loves.

The night was a thick mantel across the sky, lightning raced across it like a storm grey velvet shot through with silver thread. Rain fell in cold sparse patches making the way slow and every step an ordeal. The torchlight hissed and sputtered in the rain making the numerous shadows jump and dance. The travelers had long since dispensed with speaking, trying to conserve as much energy as possible for their flight; the sickly sweet scent of rotting vegetation hung heavy in the air, an acrid perfume. “Oh Fine!” An annoyed male voice rang out, the stress from the long trek weighing heavily on his words. With a flourish of his hand a small ball of pale flame flared to life as a half formed word fell from his lips causing the torch flame to completely disperse, taking with it the flickering orange light and replacing it with dim blue hues. The soft light illuminated his face in the dark in a way that the flame ever could; it was magic born flame and was an abomination.

“Liam!” A feminine voice hissed, her voice tense with stress and fear. “Put that out right now. Relight the torch.”

“Come on now Meara, it’s just one witchlight, hell it’s not even that big. What? At most someone is going to think it’s a will o’wisp or some of the fair folk dancing in their rings.” He smirked an unprecedented confidence and smugness coloured his words. He walked on ahead, the witchlight bobbing above him like a glowing coronet and his chest puffed outward in vain pride. Who’s going to come investigating, some highwaymen? They’re scared of their shadows and flame and wind are our friend.”

“Liam, I believe it to be best to err on the side of caution, while yes it may look like a fairy courts procession one witchlight does not a dozen fairy lights make. Do you have enough strength to glamour and create a dozen lights?” Nicholas said as clever smile played at his lips, he tugged at his sleeve and wiped some of the mud from his hands. “We should stop for a moment anyway, we should rest for a bit and conserve our strength; we’ve been afoot for hours and now is as good as any.”

Nicholas sighed as he dropped down onto a relatively dry patch of ground at the base of an old growth oak; he didn’t give either of them a choice, they were going to stop at his command. He pulled at his ruffed sleeve once more, tearing it in the process; he groaned and wiped the moisture from his brow. “Meara, love, I believe you’re going to have to change. You’re skirts are causing more trouble then their worth. I’m sure between Liam and I, we’ve got something you can wear and still be decent.”

“We need to find fresh water before I even think about changing, I mean have you seen the state we’re in? All of this mud and grime and filth.” Meara said as she sat down on the arch of an exposed root. A lock of hair falling into her eyes and she huffed a bit before digging into her pack. “Did either of you pack anything to drink? I mean, I managed to hide some milk; I’m no quite sure how fresh it is but it’s better than nothing.”

The boys watched as she piled her hair high on her head a few pins between her lips as she hummed quietly a tune reminiscent of the French acting troupe that had passed through the town a month ago. Liam sat down across from her his eyes focused intently on the curve of her pale supple breast as he riffled through his bag blindly reaching for the whiskey hidden amongst the tangled nest of clothes and loose shillings clicking in the dark. “Uh, I’ve got some whiskey, it’s fresh, if you could call it that.”
“Oh put that away, you’re fumbling about like a lost puppy.” She said with a laugh, her eyes a pair of shinning emeralds in the magic born light. “I don’t feel anyone nearby, Do you Liam?”

A strange glazed look crossed Liams’ face as his two companion felt something brush across and then through them. He reached out with magic looking from the branches and stems of the plants. Perspiration dotted his brow, Meara and Nicholas did as they’d done a thousand times before; no spell or incantation needed. They made the connection first with each other, their minds brushed for a moment before they fell into the wellspring of power that sprang forth from between them. It was like being wholly made of light and taking breath for the first time; they got lost in the reverie for a sweet moment, falling into the pulse of the power that made up the whole of the other. Grey eyes met green in the pale witchlight and the pair shared a sly smile, in unison they reached out and made the connection. Meara being the forever mother hen took up the mantel of strain to let Liam concentrate on the spell he wove. Nicholas held the power for a moment, his every cell vibrating with power unimagined by those who bore no magic. He watched with eyes unseeing as Meara sat across from him, her spirit shape shining the iridescent green of the sea, it was almost orgasmic the rush of power flowing from him directed down the channel between them and into Liam. The power surged into him like brilliant arc of lightning , the witchlight flared into a large luminescent globe constantly shaping and changing, one moment a greem flower and the next a cube in the deepest shades of purple.

The world distorted, everything seemed to glow and hum with power; they watched with a thousand eyes and angles magnified and twisted beyond compare, some higher than high and others lower than the dirt and mud they’d trod across an hour before. The tension visibly drained from their bodies their backs once ramrod straight and rigid where now bent and bowed; a sigh of relief came from Nicholas’ lips as he leaned into the tree flanked on each side by the large root system. He pulled the ribbon that bound his hair into loose ponytail, the black hair cascaded down his shoulders making his pale face stand out stark against the inky blackness of his silken hair.

“It seems like we’re mostly alone,” Nicholas trailed off a yawn making his normally alluring features a cartoonish mock up of his true visage. “might be good to sleep for a few hours.”

“Yes, it’s probably for the best.” Meara said sounding half asleep.

“I guess I’ll take first watch.” Liam muttered a sour look on his face making his aquiline nose look much more hawk-like in the pale sorcerous light.

“Liam, We’re fine.” The dark-haired Nickolas said his voice soft and seductive like velvet as he worked to keep a smile from his face. “We’ll just bank up a fire which will keep most creatures a way.”

Liam shrugged, a large swath of mud glistened wetly in his cropped blonde hair as he pulled himself up from the muddy ground he’d staked out as his. He grunted and pulled out a few blankets made of dour grey fabrics and brown yarn, mostly torn and threadbare; he tossed them over at Meara who mucked around for dryer wood in the surrounding brush. She breathlessly hummed again and abandoned her work and started to arrange the blankets into a nest mindful to put more on the ground and to the trunk of the tree. She pursed her lips at the state of things, they’d each fled from their house and home, they had nothing but what they could carry; a few blankets, clothes, and a few shillings between them.

Nicholas circled a Blackthorn looking for handholds in the weak light, he sighed in frustration as he reached out with magic power and conjured with a thought a witchlight; the globe of devilish light cast a twisted light illuminating the aged tree. The light brought the tree into stark relief it’s thorns a sinister threat.

“Liam, lend me some of your tree shaping skill will you?” He asked as he stroked across the bark mindful of the sharp thorns.

He felt a warmth spring unbidden inside of him, staving off the Autumnal chill; He gestured at the high branches and made as if to pull them down by sheer force of will. “Come here.” Nicholas ordered his voice distorted as if by the still of winter. The tree bent and twisted being shaped anew, it turned In on itself curving, the black wood groaned and shifted and the fire burned through him; the tree was like pliable clay on a potter’s wheel changing and shifting to his will alone. The connection snapped and the fire gone. “Thank you.” He muttered his head throbbing from the strain of unfamiliar magic.

Liam snapped small branches and tossed them toward the smile accumulated pile of wood and debris that Meara had collected, he uncoiled the rope from around his waist the rough texture scratching at his work calloused hands; he tied the packs together and hung them high in the branches. Meara walked the boundary of the camp a flashing iron blade in her hand glittering red with blood, glistening red droplets fell like rubies from her slashed palm. The air stilled and crackled with power, words of protection and warning spilled forth from her mouth along with the acrid tang of magic raced across her taste buds. Nicholas plucked sloes from the twisted branches, the thorns scratched at his hands as he caught up the berries in his outstretched shirt like a basket. The blood thrummed hot in his ears as the golden lattice of energy flared around their camp before quickly disappearing; they were safe, for the moment.

Sexual Assault and Rape

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Now I apologize about interrupting the semi-steady stream of fiction but I stumbled upon a post in my facebook news feed today. The title is what set me off, you can see it here. Now if you do not wish to read any further, and I do not blame you if you do not, I highly suggest you go and brush up on The Starry Heavens. If you would rather watch the video, which is quite good and does not vilify anyone and is represented by both men and women, from its source you can watch it here. My only problem, they say victim when most prefer the word survivor.

I vehemently disagree with the statement that men are these horrible monsters that constantly wish to rape women because of their extreme lusts, rape is always about power. This website is about women’s rights and so on, to allude that women are incapable of rape is a terrifying thought. This website marshals for Gender Equality but, to an extent, vilifies men.

Women can rape just as easily as men can but it is woefully under reported. All I have to say is to picture a rapist, that fictitious mythological image you hold in your mind. It is almost assured that that image is male and you are wrong, dreadfully wrong. A rapist can be anyone, male, female, third gender, or neuter. To think that a woman cannot rape someone is insanity, cut that thought from your mind.

Gender Equality is to make all of the genders equal, to do otherwise is to undermine the work people have done for years. There is evil in every single human heart. We all have the capacity to be a terrorist, a politician, a dictator, a rapist, and to commit genocide. We walk a thin silver thread. It is your choice.

A few sources of support for survivors are below. I have not had the chance to read though them extensively, yet, I hope to go though and update this list with some frequency. The higher it is on the list the more I’ve looked at it. You can always contact me though my email and my facebook fan page.

RAINN

After Silence

Pandora’s Project