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Storm and Fire by Gavin Berkeley
[May 07, 2018, 01:15:46 AM]

Seeking a Muse by Blair Grejya
[May 07, 2018, 12:53:33 AM]

Your Hope is Deeper than Pain by Darien Pryce
[May 06, 2018, 04:54:42 PM]

In and Out of Astral Planes by Merron Schezar
[December 26, 2016, 11:16:52 PM]

Woeful Winter Weather by Kaeden Sanzer
[December 20, 2016, 03:44:05 PM]

One Skip Ahead by Adara Kendricks
[February 24, 2016, 10:06:18 AM]

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Black Jewels series (c) Anne Bishop

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Recent Posts

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
Link Back / Re: Kushiel's Legacy
« Last post by Jennifer Niskanen on June 11, 2019, 01:18:03 PM »
I'm very interested in this, but I see registration is closed. Is it still happening?
Narshe Province / Re: Storm and Fire
« Last post by Gavin Berkeley on May 07, 2018, 01:15:46 AM »
For a moment, Gavin wondered if he had suddenly fallen asleep, or gotten very drunk. The Black Widow was making sense. Sense that he could follow, anyway. But no, the world was the same as it had been only a moment before. Whatever change he had felt was probably just his imagination, and he would be back to being confused any moment.

Perhaps it was only that her words had nearly echoed his own thoughts in some ways. He vaguely nodded, looking down at his drink.

"Exactly," he agreed. "I honestly don't know if some of the things I think I remember were real at all. It was all a very long time ago."

It would have been a different story to compare his memories of the Courts he had grown up in with their realities; he knew he had a very different view of it, both being a child and being close to the inner Circles. But Scelt...

Alene's inquiry interrupted his thoughts, for which he was a little glad. Being stuck in a snowstorm was all well and good, but if he got melancholy, as well, it would be a very long night indeed.

He shrugged a bit. "As I said, I came here looking for my sister. I had thought that I would be making my way around the Territory on my own, hoping that I would be able to follow her trail." His expression became a faraway smile for a moment. "Obviously, that didn't happen, but it was certainly a... happy coincidence, I suppose. So yes. Better than imagined, if only because my imagination was rather... grim, I suppose."
Amdarh / Re: Seeking a Muse
« Last post by Blair Grejya on May 07, 2018, 12:53:33 AM »
The mental image of blonde hair with chartreuse was enough to nearly make him flinch. Yes, that could easily be a very bad combination. And it looked as if it were not just a theoretical for the little witch, either. He only hoped that she hadn't been the one stuck wearing the color.

Blair set his glass down for a moment to arrange himself on the desk, sitting on its now-cleared surface, one foot vaguely propped on the desk leg. He settled the glass in his hands and let them rest in his lap. Home was still a strange concept to him, and it wasn't something he often discussed.

The small apartment he'd had in Dharo was long rented out again, with most of what he hadn't taken with him stored at his friends' homes. He'd managed not to accumulate an outrageous amount of stuff over the years, but there was still plenty. He sent things back to them sometimes, when it became too much work to shuffle it around from place to place. He made a mental note to get together some of the things he didn't need again soon... the room was starting to accumulate the clutter of a long tenancy.

"I'll drink to that," he said, and did so. A smirk started to form again. "But at least you can talk to people. I don't know if you've spent much time talking to walls, but they're really not very good conversationalists."

It was a terrible joke even by his low standards, but humor was just as much of a shield as anything. This was a flimsy one, but it wasn't necessarily Isolde's questions that he needed to shield himself from.
Narshe Province / Re: Storm and Fire
« Last post by Alene MacKenna on May 07, 2018, 12:27:43 AM »
Alene had given up on drinking the coffee. The fragrance of the beverage, and the heat as it seeped through the ceramic to the palms pressed tightly against it, were both soothing. It had the added bonus of forcing her to keep her hands still. In the back of her mind, the witch felt the nagging sense of unease, a shuddery tripping of jangling nerves down her spine. It made her itch, want to dig her nails into her palm, chase the wisps away until she could sit in clarity and light once more.

Instead, she relied on the sharp cut of the scent of coffee to chase away lingering thoughts. It wasn’t as familiar a mechanism, but it worked well enough.

“Memories are different,” she commented absently, observing as the last swirls of cream faded into a uniform hue.

The smell of the coffee and Prince Berkeley’s commentary were both doing a laudable attempt at clawing into her awareness, forcing her to stay in the present. Memories, indeed.

“Not different..” It was an attempt to amend the awkward repetitiousness of echoing his own answer back at him. “Just,” Alene struggled to thread the thoughts into sequence. “Memory is.. different. The things we remember that we think as truth, that aren’t. And then truth compared feels…wrong?”

Wrong was a good word for it. Her fingers tightened reflexively on the drink. Absently, Alene wondered if it were possible to crack the vessel without the use of craft. Under the fractured unease of her grasp, would it give way?

Instead of testing her curiosity, the witch let her hands drop again to the table’s edge. Scarred wood was a textural distraction against the pads of her fingers. Nicks and scratches and dents from lifetimes of use told stories. Well worn. Well used. Well lived.

Inquisitively, Alene looked up: “Than you had imagined?”
Amdarh / Re: Seeking a Muse
« Last post by Isolde Mckinlaigh on May 06, 2018, 10:48:53 PM »
“No one said that good taste was a guarantee, regardless of looks,” Isolde shot back immediately. Her eyes rolled at the prospect. “I’d be out of a job.” A pause - “Or maybe my job would be that much easier if people didn’t have illusions of thinking they knew what they were talking about. No more blondes in chartreuse.”

A blond herself, the witch winced at the memory. Somehow it seemed like it should have been such an avoidable mistake. And yet, the Lady had been insistent.

..Which wasn’t to say that the final product had ended up as envisioned. Isolde considered it her kindness to society - both the witch, and her company. An unsung hero, saving the Blood from themselves, one disaster at a time.

Setting the glass down on the desk above her, she let her attention settle back on Blair. Admittedly, a nicer picture to consider than chartreuse. Or an excess of ruffles in poorly styled designs. Or jackets with poorly placed buttons. (Admitting those things, Isolde privately allowed, were much easier than to acknowledge that the male was unobjectively handsome. He had good lines, she would allow. But beyond that?)

An eyebrow of her own raised at the response. “The standard definition of the word, I would assume,” she interjected dryly. Although on reflection, maybe she wasn’t one to be asking - or defining - the concept. “A residence you keep or kept, family, personal history with those around you. That sort of thing.”

Admittedly, the Prince answered the question without hesitation, but it was still enough to give her pause. ‘do you think they miss you?’ would be a question too invasive for even Isolde to inquire. Although perhaps her line was less how rude a question was but how personal. Even this, she reflected, seemed to hazard perilously close to sentimentality.

"People are harder than places," the witch allowed after a moment. "To build foundations for, understand the pasts, see futures."
Narshe Province / Re: Storm and Fire
« Last post by Gavin Berkeley on May 06, 2018, 07:28:53 PM »
The witch's remarks on clarity suddenly made him wish that he had a little less of it. A strong drink wouldn't do much to take the edge off without a lot of it, but part of him wished for it anyway. Ah, to be able to let his mind rest a bit. She did have a point, however. Thinking that one could see the way clearly was often folly.

Her laughter brought a bit of levity to the conversation, and he let himself relax another fraction. No use sitting straight as a rod if he was going to be stuck here until the storm was over. Surely no one could begrudge him a few moments respite.

The coffee wasn't... good, per se, but it was far from the worst he'd had. And it was warm, which he appreciated. He took another drink before he responded to the question.

"I don't know if it's good or bad, just... different," he began. "Although perhaps that's because my expectations are based on things half-remembered, and I don't know if they're just something I made up or not. It's been a very long time..."

His impressions of Scelt from when he was younger were just that: impressions. There were a few memories that were clearer, but for the most part he only remembered how the place felt. He couldn't have found any place specific if he'd been asked, certainly. Narshe was, he now knew, a rather different place than the coastal town he had been born in, as well. Coming back to Scelt... he hadn't thought about how it might have changed, because he hadn't expected to have anything to compare it to in the first place.

It hadn't been so much a homecoming as it had been following a trail somewhere new. Sure, some of the places, the architecture, the people looked a little familiar, like he'd happened across a place he'd previously seen in a dream. But there was no knowledge of the place aside from what he had learned as an adult.

He sighed. "I suppose it's mostly a good different. Things have worked out better than I'd imagined in a few ways."
Tuathal / Re: Your Hope is Deeper than Pain
« Last post by Darien Pryce on May 06, 2018, 04:54:42 PM »
Darien hoped that the other Prince would catch the meaning of the suggestion he had made to Thea. The man was obviously not completely dense, but his prickly temper was sure to at least be coloring his vision to some extent. More to the point, he hoped that Thea might catch what he had been getting at. While her "guardian" may have been a tad overzealous in his protectiveness, Darien wasn't going to entirely fault him for it at this point. So perhaps if Thea could just drag him along on one of her adventures, it might work out better for everyone involved.

Prince Duplais took a long, glowering drink from his glass. His gaze was even, hardly giving away anything, but Darien thought that perhaps there had been a slight easing of tension around his eyes. Friendliness had been too much to hope for, but he would have settled for amiability.

Darien turned back to the Steward again, sincerely interested in the man's words. He'd been correct; the house ale was decent. Nothing fancy, but solidly drinkable. Darien could see himself drinking another, though he was also keen to try some of the other offerings, as well. He vaguely wondered where he would end up when the evening's festivities concluded.

"Then I'm glad to be in the company of someone who knows the secret," Darien said, and raised his glass slightly in the Steward's direction before taking another drink.

Thea's Prince merely gave a half-shrug, leaned back against the booth's back and crossed his arms. Well, so much for holding up one's end of the conversation, Darien thought glumly.

A small portion of the tension returned as Lord Rennes turned his attention back to Thea. It was more of a grumble than the sparks of temper Darien had seen earlier, but it would still be wise to tread lightly. Nothing put a dark-Jeweled male on edge faster than the attentions of another male on a witch he considered his. Add to that tendency the political situation, whatever it was, and it spelled trouble for someone. Possibly everyone.

Still, he had to agree with Lord Rennes' words. Even from his limited interactions with her, Thea appeared to be a singular and lucky young woman.

Darien smiled in amusement as the Steward's attention returned to him.

"And the guards in Dhemlan spend their time in much the same ways as they do here, I expect," he said. "But it has been many years since I have done so."
Amdarh / Re: Seeking a Muse
« Last post by Blair Grejya on May 06, 2018, 05:00:34 AM »
Blair raised his eyebrows at her. "So much for using me for my good looks, then, I take it."

The question was not entirely unexpected. It was the sort of question one was asked when one spent a long time away from home. It was also a question that usually had all kinds of uncomfortable baggage with it when people asked; usually when people asked about "home" they followed it with "family," which was a sore subject with him on a good day. Coming from Isolde, however, it was an oddly safe question.

It was also a question that he'd had plenty of time to ponder. Not just on his trip to Dhemlan, but in general. The definition of "home" had changed rather drastically for him over the years.

"Depends on your definition of home, I guess," he said, shrugging. "Do I miss Dharo? Sometimes. It's nice to be somewhere familiar, but other places become familiar with time. I miss my friends more than the places I lived in Dharo; it's harder to find people that feel familiar."

As if mentioning them had summoned their memories, Blair had a sudden longing to see his friends again. It was a feeling that came upon him to varying degrees on occasion, usually prompted by some wish to show them something. This time was just the realization of how long it had been since he'd seen any of them. Perhaps he would write a letter... or better yet, try and convince them all to visit him in Dhemlan. Unlikely as it was to happen, the thought cheered him, nonetheless.
Tuathal / Re: Your Hope is Deeper than Pain
« Last post by Thea Kinsbury on May 06, 2018, 03:44:57 AM »
Largely certain that she was the most pleased by the interruption of the server as they returned with drinks (and handily doled them out to each, placing the mug of cider down and allowing Luka to move it to her solicitously, in a gesture of precise insight that Thea couldn’t quite appreciate but the Steward across the table did with acute observation), the Healer’s hands cupped the warm drink with visible pleasure. The fragranced aroma brought a hum to her lips as her eyes shut. Without the buzz of conversation around them, she could have been back years in her memory, quiet comfort wrapping around her. But of course, as Thea recalled herself from the image of a small clinic in the reaches of Scelt, a Prince, a concussion, and a long ride the likes of which she had never had before, nor would replicate again, the past was a thing long since gone.

Her shoulder brushed Luka’s arm as he seemed to take up all the space on the bench. It was comforting.

“I hadn’t thought to find such a happy discovery tonight, Prince,” Thea acceded quietly. “Maybe the luck was mine tonight to claim, since Lord Rennes disavows it.”

To find the shop, to find the company, to be in the right moment in the right time, to do what she could - there were a number of things that came to mind as she spoke quietly, her eyes not lifting from the eddies of steam that lifted from her drink.


In a matter of seconds Marcus was able to strike off one option he had considered as a fool’s conclusion. Duplais wasn’t married to the little Healer, that much was clear.

As he cut off his interjection, the Steward’s expression manfully remained impassive, studying his own ale for a moment. Anyone who had designs on her was likely to run into a bulwark of a nightmare though. It was beyond unlikely anyone of Tisine’s people were quite so suicidal.

The other Prince, though? A fleeting glance assessed him.

No. Considering he may as well have just tried to nudge the witch into handling the Master of the Guard with more thoughtful grace, concern from that corner was also unlikely.

“I’m amenable to the prospect of fine liquor,” Marcus replied easily, his steady good humor incorporating both Duplais and Pryce in the response. “I was in the other evening. A local shopkeep was drinking and clued me into the label. They very cleverly don’t set it publicly.” His affable laugh rolled across the table. “More for those of us in the know, and in the pursuit of good drink I find that being inquisitive to what others are partaking of rarely sees me wrong.”

Marcus took a moment to look back at the witch, features mellowing somewhat as he did.

“Lady Kinsbury, I think luck should be happy to call you an acquaintance whenever you should choose it.” From what he could see of the Prince at her side (and the Prince she had managed to collect? The connection to Pryce was still tenuous, as it was clear that the Sceltan wasn’t any warmer to his presence than Berkeley had been before. An unknown, then? The witch had managed to return to the inn with a Gray Jeweled unknown?) luck was the least of her companions, but well considered the same.

Still, it was enough as he returned to Pryce with a laugh.

“Were? You speak of things in past tense that I hazard men near Prince Duplais’ age and beyond partake in.” The grin was freer than it had been, genuine and open. “As a member of the guard, I know very well how males - young, and not so young! - would spend their time. A good game or two, especially those with a bat, never seem to take a wrong turn. Unlike those games of gambling and luck!”
Tuathal / Re: Your Hope is Deeper than Pain
« Last post by Luka Duplais on May 06, 2018, 03:16:51 AM »
Darien's lips twitched in amusement at the Steward's comment. How should his luck be counted, then? By the standards of Scelt, he was ancient. By those of his own people, he was still young. But, he'd never considered luck to be his game in any case, so perhaps it didn't matter at all.

The Steward continued and again, Darien wondered where he ought to be counted in the lighter-Jeweled man's view of things. "My games were usually the kind played with a ball, but to each their own."

The other Gray Prince's scowl continued to flick back and forth between the two men across from him. Despite that Darien knew exactly how much alcohol would affect someone with that level of strength, he hoped that the ale would do the other man some kind of good. The looks were less openly hostile than they had been, at least. They had faded to annoyed but cautious, perhaps with a bit of curiosity.

The variety of drinks that Lord Rennes spoke of made Darien consider staying in the area a little longer. The Glacian ale would be oddly comforting, he thought. He had spent enough time in Glacia recently that it had started to feel familiar. If he thought about it, he missed the place. His smile grew, something of a reflection of the easy smile the elder Sceltan male had.

"That does sound like an admirable plan," Darien agreed. "I should like to try a few of them, myself."

"The whiskey is good," the other Prince murmured, looking even more annoyed than he had before. It was as if he were joining the conversation begrudgingly, which Darien supposed the man was, to some degree.

"Perhaps we shall have some later, then," Darien suggested. Prince Duplais shrugged.


Luka found himself very begrudgingly joining the conversation here and there, mostly content to leave the banter to the others. He was only there because Thea was; Mother Night knew he wasn't about to leave the Healer alone again anytime soon. He should have known that bringing her along would include at least one unscheduled, unsupervised sojourn out into the city. (Not that he would have considered leaving her behind even for a moment. Rowan would have told him to quit worrying about the open barn door when the horses had already escaped... or something.) It didn't mean he had to like it, though.

Thea's quiet presence next to him had begun to steady him from the moment they'd sat down. He thought that he might be able to keep a rein on his temper, at least.

As the conversation was pulled around to include Thea -- thanks to Rennes -- Luka's focus shifted to her. It was always hard to fully focus on the rest of the world when Thea spoke. Her voice, her words, centered him and drew his attention, regardless of the topic. He could pick her voice out of a crowd, he thought, no matter how quietly she spoke.

The revelation of what had been included in her evening before returning to the hotel shouldn't have surprised him. And yet.

"That's what you--" He bit off the near-hiss of words and frowned for a moment. He drew in a breath and exhaled sharply. No need to get into this now, in front of the other two. "Nevermind."

Pryce, the keen-eyed Prince, had likely picked up on Luka's thoughts, however. With the same mild expression that he'd had since the moment Luka had laid eyes on him, the other Prince said, "It was a pleasurable shop. Though perhaps more enjoyable with company rather than alone. You may have to explore the others without me, however."
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