Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Rivalries news and a Vella update

 Hi darlins!

So, I've nailed down where I want Rivalries to go and, yeah, there's at least 20k more there, so buckle up buckaroos! I'm feeling a lot better about it now and will have fresh, delicious content for you starting in May.

Speaking of content...so Amazon is rolling out Kindle Vella, which is basically their effort to get into the serial fiction market before they're completely outpaced. I'm going to give it a try with a few different stories: Magical Hazmat, a UF that I worked on for YEARS and am finally just going to publish myself, a potentially coauthored, modern steampunk m/m adventure/romance, and...Bonded.

Yep. It's time. But it can't be available on a free platform if I'm going to publish it on Kindle Vella. So if you're interested in reading it before I take it down in June, DO SO NOW! You can still find it on Literotica, but not for long, so yeah, jump on that!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Story excerpt: A Monstrous Light, Part Two

 Hi darlins!

This went live to my Patreon folks yesterday and I thought I'd give you a taste of it too :) I'll eventually put these parts together and make them into something more easily consumable, but for now, enjoy our hero returning to the city he came from and not liking it one bit. (Warning, graphic violence ahead.)




A Monstrous Light, Part Two

Six months after…


There was nothing like coming home to the sight of a fresh corpse dangling in the breeze.

Dascenne’s still a complete shithole, I see, Beniel Tallance thought as he maneuvered his drake around the hanging post that had been erected just a quarter mile from the city gates. The sign on the corpse’s chest said that he was a thief.

Looks like the days of merely chopping off a thief’s hand are gone.

That a man—and it was hard to tell under the bloat, but it looked like a young man, perhaps merely a boy—could be killed and strung up as a warning against thievery, of all the petty acts of crime out there, was an affront to anyone with a soul.

Then again, when had anyone other than Korran had a soul in this forsaken place? It was almost reassuring, in a terrible way, to see that some things never changed.

The largest city of the empire by far, the seat of the Imperial throne, the immortal homeland of the emperor, may he live forever, ha…what it amounted to these days was rot. It was a pustulating, filth-ridden, decaying city-state that had grown fat and comfortable under the reign of a near-immortal monarch accustomed to fucking off and doing as he pleased whenever he was moved to do so, leaving his kingdom behind to be run by functionaries.

Now that the old emperor was gone and Ormyr was still establishing his power base, the secondary nobility was tearing at the heart of the city, using every means in their power to achieve more status for themselves at the price of everyone around them. Beniel had heard the tales of the capitol’s chaos, even a hundred miles out from Dascenne. The outer levels, which had never been prosperous but had at least been relatively safe once upon a time, were choked with the leftovers of dying houses, people used to having power who suddenly had none but what they could collect with their own hands. Streets were unsafe, and even the toughest footpads quailed in the presence of armed guards who had once labored for dead men, and now made dead men of their fellow laborers.

Beniel walked his drake Flower through the western gate of the lowest level of Dascenne just after twilight. It was a dangerous time to be entering the city—would have been dangerous even before the change in command—but he didn’t really care. He was tired, he was angry, and he was heartsick after half a year of searching for more on what his prince had become and finding little to go on.

It wasn’t as easy as hunting down a battle site or coming across an illegitimate killing, or Beniel would never have had to leave Dascenne in the first place. The trouble was that his prince, the new Great One, the Lord of Vengeance as he was being called, didn’t respond to all the prayers directed his way. The crime in question had to be unquestionably evil, perpetrated against a being of innocence. A fight, even a wrongful death or two, wasn’t enough. There had to be heinousness involved, and something that heinous was often so shameful it was hard to get evidence of it, or to convince people to talk about it. Who wanted to put their own shortcomings on display? Who wanted to admit to one of their own being such a freak that a literal god had had to put them in their place?

It was Beniel’s growing frustration with such findings, as well as a missive written by the king himself that had been delivered a few weeks ago to the backwater hostel he was staying in, that convinced him to return to Dascenne. Ormyr might be willing to help him. It was clear that he knew Beniel’s purpose, and that son of a bitch was one of the smartest princes the emperor had ever produced. The fact that he was the last one standing was proof of that.

Ormyr would name his price. It remained to be seen whether Beniel was interested in paying it.

He stepped around a pile of midden in the middle of Sawset Road and wondered whether it would be worth it to get a room in the lower levels tonight, and meet with Ormyr in the morning. At the rate he was going, it would be midnight before he got to the palace, and no matter how carefully he moved he was doubtless going to misjudge a pile in his path before long and end up with shit on his shoe, and—

“Hands high, gentry.”

As though the warning wasn’t enough—which, to be fair, it really wasn’t—it was immediately reinforced by the bright gleam of firelight against a blade in the alley to the right. Not just one blade, either. There were at least three people back there, all of them armed. One of them held a crossbow.

No wonder they hadn’t tried to charge right in. They didn’t need to as long as he was held at the bolt’s bay.

“Raise ‘em,” the man in front went on, wielding a long knife in each hand. His voice was little more than a hiss of air, but there was a thread of pure satisfaction running through it. “Up now, or my man’ll stick you deep with his arrow.”

“Is that what it’s called these days?” Beniel muttered, annoyed. He lifted his hands, though, turning to get a better view of his muggers. “What can I do for you gentlemen?” he asked in a bored tone.

The man in front didn’t seem to care for that. He stepped out of the shadows and into the street, which had miraculously emptied of people despite the relatively early hour. He was a big man, wiry but broad through the shoulders and chest, and held his daggers like someone who knew how to use them. A professional, then, and wearing a mail shirt beneath his leather jerkin if the smell was anything to go by. “You can start by handing over that drake,” he snapped, gesturing at Flower with his right blade.

“What are you going to do, ride her? In this city?” Beniel scoffed. “It’s too crowded by half for a drake this size.” The palace had grounds specifically set aside for the health and welfare of the royal drakes, but in town they tended to use animals no larger than a country farmer’s dog for towing small carts and the like.

“Ride her? Nah,” the one in front said with a half grin. “We’ll take this old lass of yours to the knacker’s. Get plenty of coin for the teeth and scales, and enough meat to eat on for a week from just one of those haunches. Gift that keeps on giving, she’ll be.”

Ah. He should have guessed. Beniel tapped Flower on the neck two times before releasing her reins, a signal which put her into an immediate defensive stance. “That’s a terrible idea,” he told his attacker. He wasn’t going to go for his sword until the crossbow bolt was out of the picture—he didn’t have Korran around to heal him anymore, after all—but his hands itched to draw his sword. “How about this one instead? You three turn back down that alley and get out of my sight, and you’ll live to steal and murder another day.”

“Ah, regal lad.” The man in front shook his head. “Don’t you go worrying your pretty head about the future from here on out. Galen, now!” The man holding the crossbow aimed it and fired, shooting straight for Beniel’s face. At this range, an iron-tipped bolt like that would penetrate to the back of his skull.

Flower’s tail swept up faster than Beniel could see, and with a snap like the sound of a fan falling open, it batted the bolt out of the air. The bowman blinked, stunned at a result he hadn’t even begun to anticipate. Flower extended her neck so that her sharp, scaly head appeared over Beniel’s shoulder, and hissed menacingly.

Beniel had his paired swords out a second later. He moved quick enough to get the advantage over the man in front, parrying both his blades down and driving one of his swords through the man’s thigh before the second swordsman got his head together and launched into the fray. Beniel backed up one step, pivoted to the right with a parry that got his attacker’s longsword well out of the way, then brought his second sword up and swept it across the center of the man’s face a moment later. He cut through one eye, the bridge of the man’s nose, a cheek, and sliced off the very tip of his left earlobe as well in a single stroke.

The swordsman screamed and fell to the ground, right into a pile of muck. He didn’t seem to care, shrieking and clawing at his face the way he was.

“What…how?” groaned the first man, clutching his perforated thigh. Beniel didn’t pay him any heed as he went after the bowman, who’d finally gotten himself together enough to begin reloading the crossbow. Beniel knocked the deadly device out of his hands, then swung the edge of his blade down to cut the man’s right hand off at the wrist. Blood spurted, but even as the bowman shouted with horror and pain he was already going for the knife at his waist.

“A would-be thief and murderer,” Beniel said coldly. “You’re right. One hand isn’t enough.” He cut the other hand off before the bowman could do more than grasp the handle of his blade.

Now the experience overwhelmed him to the point where he collapsed on the ground, staring at the stumps of his arms with pure agony etched onto his face as his lifeblood poured into the gutters. Beniel took his head just as he began to scream—one person’s cries piercing his ears was more than enough.

“You son of a—aaargh!” Beniel whirled around to see the man he’d stabbed through the thigh halted mid-lunge, both daggers extended but rendered useless as Flower engulfed his head in her serpentine jaw. Her needle-like teeth pierced both sides of the man’s face, and it was a mercy for her prey that she shook him so hard his neck snapped, cutting his hideous and well-deserved death short. She dropped him on the ground a moment later, and his hands and legs twitched spasmodically for a few more seconds before he finally stilled.

“Well done,” Beniel said quietly to Flower, who huffed and ran her forked tongue over her gory teeth. He looked around the street, which still rang with the screams of the swordsman, whose whole body was now covered in filth and blood.

“Would anyone else care to try me tonight?” he shouted into the voice, suddenly furious. Great Ones and the sainted sodding emperor, he was fucking tired of this shit. He didn’t even want to be here, and these uppity renegades thought they would make easy pickings of him? How many people did they do this to a night? Travelers, neighbors—how many people did they violate, simply because they could? “Anyone, absolutely anyone! Come at me now or hold your peace forever, because after tonight I won’t be so nice about giving you a chance to back down like I did these gents.”

He’d be talking to Ormyr about the disgraceful lack of safety on the streets of his damnable city, that fucking dundercock.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Real-life update and plotting rant!

 Hi darlins!

So, there is no story today for two reasons. First, I got my J&J shot on Friday, and while I'm thrilled beyond measure about that, I also lost most of Saturday to a fever and prepping for a (virtual, but I was running it) baby shower for my sister, which was what I spent Sunday doing. So my attempts at writing anything at all this weekend were basically shot.

 Second, and more directly involved in this delay, is the fact that honestly, I need to take a week or two to figure out the next part of this story. This is something I rarely do with blog stories, which I write in a pantser style, letting the muse move me as I stick to whatever loose outline I penned before starting. Right now, though, I'm working on a LOT of stories. Like...I've got a coauthored one going with L.A. Witt, I've got a Patreon story, a Radish story (it just wrapped but I'm plotting the sequel), I'm finishing the Luckless sequel Dauntless, I'm working on an M/M contemporary, I'm plotting TWO novels for IP properties, and I'm plotting a PNR trilogy which might potentially end up at Entangled. This, I must finally acknowledge, is too much, even for me. I love working on multiple projects at once, it's part of how I keep myself moving forward and not getting bored with any one thing, but right now I've overextended myself, and I either admit it and take a pause on a few of these projects, or start fucking things up.

I'm not stopping Rivalries--far from it! I was actually thinking I'd cut out some of the subplots and propel this baby faster to the end, but decided against it. It's a fun story with great characters and I want to do justice to it, which means really plotting it out instead of winging it from here on. So I'm taking a week or two for finishing other projects and really nailing the rest of this one down, then coming back swinging.

I'll still be posting things here over the next week or two, no worries! Just not Rivalries.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Rivalries: Chapter Seventeen, Part Two

 Notes: Wow, this didn't go quite in the direction I thought it would, but it fits. It FITS, so enjoy it, and I'll give you a battle royal soon :) I think...possibly...we're starting to wind down? Next up will be a Bonded universe-adjacent tale, so get ready for that!

Title: Rivalries: Chapter Seventeen, Part Two


Chapter Seventeen, Part Two


Despite the excitement of his morning of revelations with Johnny, Charlie still had a full day of school and dueling club in the afternoon to deal with. Classes were good, although when the seniors rolled in with an air of combined secrecy and expectation, Charlie knew he was in for a shitty afternoon. He recognized that air. The more people knew a “secret” the harder it was to keep, and some of these kids were terrible when it came to wearing a poker face.

“So,” Charlie said once everyone got seated. He had been planning on giving them a free-writing period for their essays, but he didn’t feel like sitting up here being the target of stares and snickering. “I think today is a great day for some extemporaneous speaking on the subjects of your upcoming essays. We’ve got time for…” He theatrically checked the clock on the wall. “About three minutes apiece. I recommend doing a brief overview of your subject and a slightly deeper dive into the angle you’re taking for your paper. Who wants to go first?”

No one raised their hand.

“Let me rephrase,” Charlie said. “Whoever goes first gets an extra percentage point on their final paper, gratis.”

Five hands shot up into the air. “Hooray, you all win.” He picked Kate, the girl with the emotional manipulation knack, to go first. She began to get up, but Charlie decided to be merciful. “You can speak from your desk.”

She nodded, looked down at her notes, then began reading the first paragraph of her essay.

“Extemporaneous, please. This is to give your classmates a feel for a subject they didn’t choose themselves, and might not even know exists,” Charlie added. “Here, answer this: What topic did you choose and why?”

“Um…all right. I chose the serial killer Milton Briggs.” All of a sudden, the rest of the class was listening intently. “Because he’s the most famous person in the United States to have a knack like mine,” she went on, “and he obviously abused it very, very badly, and that’s led to a stigmatization of people with mental knacks in general and emotion-affecting knacks specifically.”

Kate was warming to her topic now, really getting into it. “But I think that’s a shame, because there are people out there doing a lot of really good things with knacks like this, including running clinics that help people suffering from severe depression and PTSD to find and utilize coping methods without resorting to psychoactive drugs, and…”

Charlie’s gambit ended up being interesting for everyone—too interesting. He had to add a question and answer period to each presentation, and in the end only half of them got through their topics. “We’ll continue this tomorrow,” he said once the bell rang, grateful that the air of mystery enshrouding most of the class had dispersed. “If you haven’t talked yet, be ready to go tomorrow.”

“Are you having dueling club with the Stheno kids today, Mr. Verlaine?” Willard asked as he slowly packed up his bag, and—shit. There that “sneaky” air was again.

“Like every Wednesday, yes,” Charlie said. “Why?”

Willard shrugged. “No reason.” He left with a little smile on his face, and as the last kid walked out the door, Charlie heaved a sigh. Great. It was coming, whatever “it” was, and he really didn’t want to be a part of it. He so didn’t want to be a part of it, but he also knew he probably wasn’t going to get a choice.

If he’d had a choice, he would skip club today and go back to his place with Johnny, and they would talk about what they were to each other, as painful as that seemed like it would be. The prospect of coming out the other side of that kind of talk with a person who…with a guy who was his…

Christ, Charlie was going to need to go back to his therapist just to find the words to get everything he felt for Johnny off his chest. But first…dueling club.

He got there about five minutes late, and wasn’t at all surprised to see the straight-backed, crew-cut, military recruitment poster boy Colonel Karlton Applegate standing in the gymnasium with his own dueling club in the bleachers. What did surprise Charlie was Debra standing in front of him, her arms folded, staring in a very unimpressed manner at the Colonel.

“—permission from Principal Cross herself to make this request of Sergeant Verlaine, Ma’am, and as it’s in the educational interest of both of our students, I—”

“Sir, you will be silent now.” Debra spoke quietly but powerfully, and the colonel stopped talking, looking surprised at himself.

Charlie was surprised too. Was this part of Debra’s knack? A knack for keeping a cool head seemed like something that would only help the person who had it, but maybe part of how it affected other people was by shutting them up so the user could stay calm.

“I don’t care if that woman declared you were God himself, you do not come into my space, which I have made as safe for my students as possible, and throw your weight around like you can give anyone here a command which they must follow,” Debra said, slow and firm. “I don’t care why you want to challenge Mr. Verlaine to a duel, I don’t care whether it’s for the students’ benefit or your own, I don’t even care if he wants to fight you. You will not be used as a cudgel against me or any of my students, do you comprehend that?”

Every person in the gym was transfixed by the scene playing out in front of them. Even Colonel Applegate had stopped moving, standing at attention like he was being inspected by a superior officer. “This is my time, and my space, and no one will move me from it or commandeer it for their own purposes without plenty of advance notice, and even then only if I agree,” Debra went on. “Nod if you understand me, sir.” He nodded. “Good. Then you will take your students back outside, and you will not speak to Mr. Verlaine on your way out, and if you want to arrange any kind of demonstration you will do so in your own time. Am I clear?” He nodded again. “Very good. Now leave.”

And the colonel just…left. He turned and walked right out of the gym, and after a second his dueling club picked up their stuff and hurried after him, with lots of backward glances but not a single word. Once they were gone, Charlie walked over to Debra. He had to resist the urge to salute. “Thank you.”

She took a deep breath, and the air of authority around her dissipated as she smiled at him, brown eyes twinkling. “Oh, you’re welcome. I figured you deserve some advance warning before being thrown into a crapstorm, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t figure I’d get it.” Charlie got an idea. “Would you mind starting club today by explaining a little more about you’re knack to the students? You’re the only person here with it, but it might give them some ideas.”

“Why, I’d love to.” As she turned to the kids watching raptly from the front row of the bleachers, Charlie went over to join Johnny.

“I think Colonel Applegate just got his ass handed to him,” Johnny said quietly.

“Yeah, but he’ll be back.” Charlie knew the type. “He’ll put in a formal request and I’ll have to say yes, or give Principal Cross more ammunition for firing me.”

Johnny scowled. “Why do they want to get rid of you? You’re doing a great job!”

Charlie shrugged. “I’m not to a lot of people’s tastes. It’s hard for them to justify keeping someone as bad with authority as me around.”

“Oh yeah?” Johnny nudged him with his elbow. “Well, you’re exactly to my tastes.”

Charlie grinned. “That’s good, since we’re boyfriends. Right?”


Best. Relationship talk. Ever.