Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Note Passed, Part One

The trip home had been a distinct and painful contrast to the trip away. Spike could see the carriage of horn in the embers, imagine it riding up the mountain on which Schadelthron perched, talons sunk deep into the rock. If I lean in and look closely enough, she wondered, will I see me in the carriage, Dmitri driving and Sascha next to him? Totenberg facing the rear with me, making sure I don't call for a stop and then run?

It had been a warm and sunny fall afternoon, riding out, the leaves crisp in the blue tinted air, the sun a lemon drop. Sweet with remembered summer, sour with the tang of winter to come. Everything new--new books, fresh parchment, ink stoppered in clean glass bottles like liquid jewels of crimson, sapphire, and jade. And black, lots of matte fuligin for the final drafts. Bone black. New made clothes with the family crest discreetly displayed on the left breast. A rainbow of new livery for her batsmen in brown and silver, purple and gold, black on black on black for best. All of it folded with thyme and rosemary to keep it fresh and sweet until it was worn.

She had been so excited. Accepted to Durmstrang, the school that swum, changing locations from day to day. Never rooted, unlike Schadelthron which had been carved out of the mountain's very bones, with its back against the river. Nunquam verto, the motto of her family. Hard to retreat with the cliff at your back and the river far below. Nunquam trado, it should have been. Except Great-great-great however many greats grandfather hadn't been much of a one for Latin. Just because he had a dim view of the Caesar clan.

And then the ride back. There hadn't actually been shouting peasants with torches and pitchforks, but she felt the ignominy of having to flee, and knowing that she was fleeing from one bad situation to the next. It didn't help that she was returning home; home wasn't any safer than the wide world. But where else could she have gone? An untrained witch was a danger to herself as much as to others, and even if she and her bodyguards had gone rogue and preyed off the land and the folk who scrabbled a hard living from it, they wouldn't have lasted long before being hunted back down.

That would have been something to see, the Hounds going from hunter to hunted. Preferably from far enough away that her own tender hide wasn't involved in the process. Totenberg laid one hand across her shoulders. "What you thinking?"

“What do you think?”

“Think you shouldn’t answer a question with a question.” Spike scowled at the fire, she could hear the grin in his voice. Her batman, her sideboy, one of the three who had watched over her since; well, since forever, as far as she was concerned. She had never been afraid of the dark because the worst possible thing, the boogeyman that other parents used to scare their children with was there in the dark with her, keeping watch as she slept.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Returning Home

The wind hissed through the teeth of the bars, promising sleet or snow in its whispers. Spike stood in front of the barred window, hair skirling in the breeze. Her fingers were numb and white on the ironwork. It was going to hurt when she finally closed the windows again, drew the shutters, and sat by the fire. She didn't care. It couldn't hurt worse than the heartbreak she felt right now.

She'd been contemplating the rocks down below, far down enough to look like nothing but crushed velvet texture. She'd hiked along them before in summer, with the spume from the ocean splashing up around her, foam flying off the jagged crags. No doubt, that's why they'd had the bars installed before she came home; in case she decided to try any flying lessons.

Not that she'd get far. She glanced over her shoulder. Her bodyguard, recently pressed into service as her jailer, lounged against the wall by the door. He looked relaxed, slouched easily and loosely, arms folded, one foot up against the wall, but his eyes missed nothing. When she'd opened the windows, he'd shivered to alertness, ears pricked forward, weight shifting forward, ready to tackle her and bring her to the floor--then he'd seen the frosty iron and relaxed again.

There was still rock dust in the craters holding the bars in place. They must have had them put in the moment they received word that she was coming home again in disgrace. She put her forehead against them, between them, as if measuring to see if her head will fit. Rule of the cat, if your head will fit, your body will fit. Totenberg must have had the same thought; she heard the sole of his boot scuff as he peeled off the wall and started across the room.

"I'm closing up," she said loudly, shutting the window and then barring the shutters back over it. She sat down by the fire, on the wooden stool with the one short leg, tucking her hands into her armpits to thaw slowly. They went from numb to tingling to burning and throbbing as she sat staring into the coals. Her whole world had been reduced to this. The fire, the window, and bed.

Her books were gone, her papers were gone. No ink, no parchment. They had even taken her wand. And she had no idea what was coming; whether she would be quietly moved off to another estate somewhere in the backwaters to learn another trade, whether she would be ensconced in the upper floors of the Tower, in one of the rooms without walls, or if all would be forgiven somehow.

She hoped it would be the last of the three options, slim though that hope was. She was only the first in line by an accident of birth, being the eldest--but a girl. The next child had been a starchild, never drawing breath, but then came her younger brother. Her grasp on the throne of bones had been tenuous but firm, and now it was all slipping away.

"It wasn't my fault," she protested out loud for what had to be the hundredth time that day. "I didn't do it on purpose, why can't they see that?" Totenberg didn't answer; he'd already said everything he had to say on that matter on the ride back to Schadelthron.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Rice

Second part of the second part, now. With me so far?

On Ravelry, there are many groups who all share the commonality of fiber and crafting--specifically spinning, dyeing, knitting, crocheting, and weaving. Some are groups for fans of particular designers, some are groups based on location, and some are groups that focus on a particular type of craft. Lace knitting is fairly popular.

And then there are the crossover folks, the people who are fans of the Tour de France and knitting, the people who love beer and weaving, and yes, MMORPG1 fans who crochet while waiting for the browser to refresh already. As you may imagine, there are more than a few people who are science fiction and fantasy fans prowling around the board in places like the Ankh-Morpork Knitter's Guild.

Most of my knitting mojo has been directed at Ravelry, and one group in particular: the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup. As you may gather from the name of the group, the focus is on fans of Ms. Rowling’s seminal work.

I’ve described it to my Muggle friends as a group for competitive knitting or knitting as an extreme sport, but of course, there’s more to it than that. Given its composition of fiction fanatics, it has taken on a flavor of its own; more like a LARP2 played via text message, which actually results in projects being made in accordance with prompted guidelines.

Of course, me being me, I’ve worked out a whole character arc, including backstory nuggets that I stumble across every so often, and I know a large chunk of where this is going. So whenever I respond to a prompt with a picture of what I was inspired to create, I’ll add some flavor by building a story around it.

Which brings us down to the last few pairs of socks and underpants.

Most of my happyfunstuffs ends up on Ravelry. I’d invite you all to follow me over there, but I’m betting that those of you on the fiber spectrum are either (a) already there, or (b) not interested at all. Those of you who are not fiber geeks have no reason to be there.

So the mountain simply must come to Mohammed. Or, in other words, I’ll leverage my creative fun, and post photos and stories here, in the order they were created.

I’ll tag this series with HPKC, so those of you interested in following along can do so. After all, this was originally created as a place to share stories and projects, like a bento box of topics. We’re just adding some more rice. And a Hello Kitty with soybean eyes and a Spam hairbow.

There will still be big things, like death, disease, and loss, and they’ll make guest appearances here on the same arbitrary schedule you’ve come to know and love. Meanwhile, it makes me happy to know that my deathless prose Spike’s stories will all be sitting right here.

1. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
2. Live Action Roleplaying Game

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Socks and Underpants

I keep my promises, really I do. Here's the second part. Or rather, the first part of the second part. Trust me a little longer?

The Internet is primarily a place of gathering and tribes. It is a vast plain studded liberally with watering holes. Where there were once a few great lakes (and if you don't like the water, too bad) there are now thousands of ponds for people to gather at. It is no longer an issue of finding a few likeminded people in your hometown to discuss your shared tastes with; the Internet has a place for virtually everything.

Including knitters and fiber artists.

Enter Ravelry, a combination social media and database site. I know, it sounds like about as much fun as watching painted grass grow. But see, this is a place where I can crack the joke about the Dungeon Master who's knitting a stochastic cabled garment, and is putting the fear into her players by pointing at random someones down the table and asking them to roll. "Uh, twelve?" The DM consults the chart, makes a left twist cable, smiles, and says, "Thanks," while all the players do the "deer in the headlights" look. And by the time they bash the balrog, the DM has a nice new pair of wool socks to keep her toes cozy at the table.

And people get it. Get it because they are gamer geeks and fiber freaks, and one or two will drop a line back about how they are implementing this plan for next Saturday's game. (And a few more who post a picture of Beavis with the caption, "Heh-heh! You said 'stochastic!' Heh-heh-heh!!")

Sunday, January 01, 2012


I stole this metaphor from Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkorsigan series. If you're going to crib, crib from the best, yes? Her protagonist has a mind like a bag of cats--the strings loosen, and all the words rush out. He's so busy with getting everything out there where it can be seen that he often forgets the conventions of communication, i.e., that the receiver cannot always see the pattern that seems so very obvious to the speaker.

So often, several times per book often, Bujold will have him stop and mutter "Unpack." as a reminder to himself that the fractal he's developing may be intuitive, obvious, and painfully clear to him; but he lost the listener several iterations back. Why burlap? How can we obtain herring? And what does this have to do with a plan to wrest control of the space station back from the villains?

So. Unpack.

I've been dying to share some of this with my audience, but I need to take a deep breath and step back and, well, unpack so you can see the coolativity of what I've been up to while I've been away.

To begin with, this is all Xerhino's fault.

I have multiple blogs, this one here that anyone can find, another one tucked away that only gets updated under a full moon when I sacrifice a black goat over the keyboard, and a mindwipe journal on LiveJournal where I stick stuff I don't need now, but would like to have handy sometime. Think of it like a ten year old's pockets after walking on the beach, full of shells, pebbles that turn bright colors when wet, and bits of sea glass worn to frosty velvet drops.

And, see, Xerhino is on LiveJournal.

So every time I trot over there to deposit the latest bit of treasure, I'll get a note that he saw I'd updated, and hey howdy, what's going on, and will I post a picture of the driftwood Zozobra I'm building in his fair isle sweater? Xerhino has never seen a sweater for a fifty-foot flaming statue, and is curious.

So there's the first part, multiple blogs, and this is my project blog.

Which you'll probably note, has been awful empty of late.

It's not that I'm not knitting; it's that I've, er, been unfaithful. But I promise -- pinkyswear promise-- to mend my evil ways.

Next week.