Inception, Inc

Inception, Inc
by Persephone

Story Notes

Author’s email:  persephone10034@yahoo.com

Characters:  Calanthe and some originals

Rating:  NC-17- rooning

Beta:  Thevina/thrihyrne  Thank you for beta, help, encouragement and SO much more!!
Any remaining mistakes are mine.

Spoilers:  Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, Bewitchments of Love and Hate, Fulfillments of Fate and Desire

Synopsis:  Cal has an adventure and encounter before he first gets to Immanion

Disclaimer:  All the characters, their world and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.

This was originally posted in unbeta’d form on 3/2/08 at Raythoo LiveJournal Group

If anyone read this – thank you!  Again, I will appreciate your comments.

Also coming soon, a sequel “The Dawning”

Chapter 1

The sun was just setting, casting dark and peaceful shadows over the land.  Cal was able to make out the outline of the town he headed towards.  It was more of a city, really, or at least it must have been in the past before its decline.  He was grateful to be getting near some semblance of civilization, for that meant a drink, a meal, a bath and a bed, preferably in that order.  He’d had enough of outdoor living for a while.  As he’d been walking, in recent hours he’d noticed signs that indicated that he was nearing a town.  There had been more makeshift dwellings and a few abandoned cars in various states of decay lining the road.  Soon he saw a sign that read Welcome to Path’s Crossing.  As he entered the city, he decided to go into the first halfway reputable looking establishment he came across.  A sign hanging outside a fairly nice looking building proclaiming Pathway Inn caught his eye.

Hmmmm, looks good enough, he thought to himself, and entered.  As the door closed behind him, he stomped the dust from his boots, brushed it from his clothes and raked it from his wild blond hair.  He decided the first order of business was a drink. He went to the bar and ordered a double shot of very strong harish liquor.   He sat at a table just enjoying his drink and a smoke, and the fact that he was able to just sit for a while.  A   small commotion at the other end of the room interrupted his reverie.  A very tall, imposing har with long brown hair in a ponytail had entered with several others, who seemed to be some sort of entourage of his, and they were laughing rather loudly.  This har seemed to be someone important, at least in his own opinion, Cal mused.

After a period of laughing it up and talking to the other hara at the bar, they came sauntering over to find a table.  When they sat down, Cal immediately felt the tall har’s eyes on him. When he looked up, the har was staring right at him with a smug sort of smile on his face.  Cal quickly looked away, but it was too late, the har was already moving over towards him.  Cal continued to stare at the table top, thinking to himself that the last thing he wanted tonight was to have to fend off the unwanted advances of a super sized har with a probable ego to match.  Suddenly, another drink like the one he had appeared in the space on the table he was staring at.  He had no choice but to look up. His eyes met the other har’s.

“Greetings tiahaar.   You’re obviously new here, because I know everyone around here and I don’t know you.”  He paused and sat down across from Cal.  ”But I would like to.”

What a nerve. Cal thought. He’s completely full of himself. He wanted to tell him to shove off.   Cal had learned the hard way, however, that sometimes, finesse was the better way to go.

Before he could say anything, the tall har extended his hand in greeting and said, “I am Fariv and I’m pleased to meet you.”

“I’m Cal.”  He shook the extended hand.

“Cal, very nice to make your acquaintance.  Are you staying here a while?”

“Just passing through.”

“Pity. Where are you headed?”

“Wherever the road takes me, I guess.”

“Hmmm, a bit of mystery…most intriguing.   Well, can you tell me at least whether you’re running from something or going towards something?”

“Both, if the truth be known.”

“Ah, the truth, I’m not going to be getting much of that from you am I?”

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Fated Obsession

Monthly Challenge SubmissionFated Obsession
by Oshun

Story Notes

This is a story written from the POV of Seel that attempts to explore how he might have struggled to come to terms with his initial attraction to Swift. In Bewitchments Swift tells us his side of the story in poignant detail, but I was curious as what Seel endured during that same pre-Grissecon period. It is neither flagrantly AU nor austerely canon and is influenced by, but not necessarily entirely faithful to, Thevina’s interpretation of the relationship between Ashmael and Seel in her story “Interpret Me the Savage Whirr.” I want to thank Elfscribe for her sympathetic and encouraging Beta. Any remaining failings are my own.

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com/

Pairings: Ashmael/Seel, Cal/Swift, Chrysm/Swift, Seel/Swift (none explicit, all implied or foreshadowed)

Overall Rating: R

Word Count: 2,344

Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

Disclaimer: The characters, plot and setting all belong to Storm Constantine.

Fated Obsession

Seel stepped out into the last bright rays of sunlight as Imbrilim slipped from late afternoon into early evening. Looking at the banners and flags wafting in the summer breeze and the undulating movement of the multihued sides of the tents and pavilions of the encampment, he wondered how all of this appeared to Swift the Varr. He tried to imagine himself as a newly incepted har viewing Imbrilim for the first time through the prism of his own childhood. To Seel, this entire scene, part military outpost, part fantastic carnival or bazaar, would have conjured up dreamlike settings from a tale of exotic Arabian nomads or perhaps a gathering of fair knights and heroic kings.

Swift, however, was nothing like him: a pureborn, most likely woefully lacking in education and with no comparable cultural references. He wondered what Swift’s home had been like. What depravity had he participated in or witnessed? When they had come upon him at the edge of the Forest of Gebaddon, filthy, grey with exhaustion, skinny, and filled with fear, he had responded with courage. Swift had stood up to the Gelaming force that confronted him, not as the snarling half-feral harling Seel had expected, but as an intelligent young har concerned more for the welfare of his companions than for himself. In spite of everything, an air of entitlement hung over Swift, poignantly mixed with wistful hopefulness and a desire to trust. The presence of such qualities would generally reflect that one’s upbringing had included loving care and attention. None of these observations matched what Seel thought he knew of Terzian or of the Varrs in general.

Seel could not guess what lay behind those wide-set dark eyes: innocence or corruption. One thing he did know was that they had nothing in common. Seel perpetually sought peace and enlightenment while Swift surely had been schooled in violence. Seel cultivated a near-ascetic self-control while the Varrish youngster fairly crackled with arunic precocity and unselfconscious sensuality, undoubtedly encouraged by Cal. They did have Cal in common, Seel thought, but that ought to drive a wedge between them rather than bring them closer. What could Thiede be thinking to put the two of them in this intolerable situation?

As Seel drew near to the pavilion dedicated to the use of the Hegemony, Ashmael sauntered forward to greet him, his handsome face opening in a genial smile only lightly tinged with humor.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t show up.”

Seel grunted noncommittally. Ashmael laughed and slapped him on the back. “Cheer up. It’s only a small gathering, an opportunity for everyhar to view our much-discussed visitor. I thought you would like to get a better look at him yourself: rested, fed, and all cleaned up. He actually is lovely.”

“I could see that well enough before.” Seel remembered Thiede telling him that Terzian’s heir was presentable. That had proved to be another of Thiede’s sardonic understatements.

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Mere Trifles

Monthly Challenge SubmissionMere Trifles
by Thevina

Story Notes

Author website: http://www.thrihyrne.net

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Swift, Seel, Coweb and the harish world all belong to Storm Constantine; I’m merely playing with great abandon in her sandbox.

Pairing: Seel/Swift

Beta: Elfscribe5, with eternal gratitude

Mere Trifles

The blood pounded so loudly within the walls of Forever that I squeezed my eyes shut and threw my arm over my head and ears to block out the ambient noise. I half-feared the emotional strain would rend apart the structures; walls would crash, roofs cave, windows shatter under the intensity. How could it not, this human habitation groomed to harish citadel, now throbbing with forces surely it couldn’t hold at once without some eloquent threnody of collapse? We were all of us here; the beams would buckle with a beautiful splintering. Cobweb, its soul: me, its heart: Terzien, its brittle skeleton: Thiede, the omnipotent observer and weird breath of life. I surrendered to sleeplessness; the ghosts of generations gibbered silently at the spectacle sheltered under the eaves and tiles, walls and hybrid ambiances.

Seel murmured in his sleep when I carefully eased out of the bed. I caught a faded phrase of protection and smiled at the unintended gift. My traveling cloak lay in a puddle on a chair by the door. I took it, quietly opening and closing the door before padding down the corridor. The kitchen was empty and this surprised me. With so many hara here and the tension of the prior few days’ events thick and nautilus-like, chamber after chamber of it, I’d expected half of the household to be sitting around the table. Instead, it was still, though peace had been driven far away and I had no idea when it would return. Mostly I was grateful not to find Thiede sitting with his lacquered-toed feet resting on a chair. He was here somewhere, but I was glad not to have stumbled on him in a doubtless lurid dressing gown, gazing up at the moon. I found a bottle of sheh about half full and tucked it under my cloak, toeing into my shoes in the front entryway and then went outside.

My steps, unsurprisingly, took me out to the summerhouse, eerie and beckoning as it had been throughout my youth. The night wasn’t overly cold, but certainly not an environment in which to venture without a coat. I listened to the sound of the rugged soles of my boots on the gravel and then how my steps were absorbed into the sussurative grass as I neared the building. No interior lights had been lit, but within a few steps of the door which drooped lazily from its hinges, I knew my hostling was there. My heels crunched on some broken glass; I was no stealthy jungle cat now, merely a har who was unduly pleased to find a kindred spirit with whom to talk.

He was comfortably reposed, his legs pulled up under himself, an expectant magnetism in his eyes. “There’s room for two,” he said with a languid pat to the space by him, barely discernable in the murky dark.

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Interpret Me the Savage Whirr

Interpret Me the Savage Whirr
by Thevina

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickAuthor website: http://www.thrihyrne.net

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Ashmael, Seel, and the harish world all belong to Storm Constantine; I’m merely playing with great abandon in her sandbox.

Pairings: Seel/Ashmael

Rating: NC-17 (rooning, adult language)

Spoilers: Bewitchments, Wraiths

Author’s Notes: I’m not entirely sure where this story came from. I spent months writing a Vaysh/Ashmael gapfiller, and then as I was doing more research in The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, I discovered that Ashmael and Seel had a relationship, of sorts. So I explored that, from Seel’s POV. This does gratuitously reference my interpretation of Ashmael, and includes some key elements from “Maelstrom and Mage” for color. There are also two directly quoted sentences from Wraiths for grounding, and also extensive rereads of Bewitchments. Primarily, however, it was this paragraph of Storm’s that drew me in and ignited my pen:

Colt and Stringer saw Seel’s new relationship with Ashmael as a positive healing thing. They were not aware of the darker undercurrents and Seel didn’t enlighten them. Ashmael took to visiting Saltrock fairly regularly. Seel always looked forward to these visits, but somehow they didn’t seem real. In bed, Ashmael taught him things he’d never dreamed possible, all the while respecting Seel’s pride and pretending Seel already knew of them. Seel felt as if he were being groomed for something. Taking aruna with Ashmael was like being trained to explode the world. He could feel immense power simmering around him and yet he could not dispel the suspicion, however slight, that Thiede’s hand was behind it. He was under no illusion that this relationship was permanent.

Interpret Me the Savage Whirr

Seel discovered many illuminating self truths when he was seduced by Ashmael Aldebaran. He knew he was often pulled in conflicting directions at the same time; Cal had set that in motion, back in their Dark Ages, back in a time even before they’d become har. Seel had been drawn to Cal like the inexorable pull of gravity, and yet he’d been anxiety-ridden about it at the time. Now, an eternity later, Cal had proven himself still beautiful and also capable of the atrocious and diabolical. Seel’s loyalty and love for this troubled, inescapable demon was crushed, the broken shards of it making new cuts even as he tried to move on. Determined to assist in that was a different blond who’d come swaggering into his life. Seel had wished, even from Ashmael’s first advances at the Nayati, that he’d put up more of a resistance. Somehow he should have convinced his pride-injured spirit to turn Ashmael away— but, of course, he hadn’t really wanted that at all. Seel knew that his flimsy barricades had been seen through by the Gelaming general and in sharing breath, Ashmael had wordlessly knocked them down. When they inevitably took aruna, not long afterwards, they’d exhausted each other in their ferocity.

“Seel? You are miles away. Who’s taken over in your head?” Colt asked, raising his eyebrows and tapping at Seel’s temple.

“Just the usual. Ghosts and demons.”

Colt quirked his mouth to the side as the wind of the approaching thunderstorm played with his dark hair. “So you say. I think it’s something less dark than that. In fact,” he paused to take a swallow of wine, “I am pretty sure you’re imagining someone particularly fair.”

Irony having been an integral weft in the weave of Seel’s life, a roiling cloud distinctly different from the ones naturally occurring appeared off to the outskirts of Saltrock. The churning skies and sudden appearance of a magnificent sedu made the scene complete. Ashmael simply had to arrive, just at the moment his name had teased Seel’s tongue until he said it aloud.

“Who, Ashmael?” he asked by way of answer to Colt, even as the Gelaming and Zephyr thundered triumphantly to the ground. Colt gave Seel a quicksilver wink, though his expression didn’t change. “That’s who I believed was on your mind. No wonder they want you in Immanion so bad; all you have to do is think about this one and he simply drops out of the sky to see you.”

“Coincidence,” Seel muttered, but he found it a struggle to keep the smile from settling on his lips.

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A Thousand Stars

A Thousand Stars
by Lusa

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickPairings: Cobweb/Snake

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Missing scene during the evacuation of Galhea.

Spoilers: Through about the middle of Shades.

Author’s Email: rhapsodyingreen@cox.net

Web page: http://www.geocities.com/lusa_thul/ecrirehome.html

Disclaimer: Storm Constantine is awesome. All hers, yo. Totally copyrighted and everything. Wish I were this awesome.

Disclaimer: Song is “1000 Stars” by Big Country who were a most excellent band. Dig it.

A Thousand Stars

Now we play our final hand
Move in closer, understand
This time like never before
Only the black queen scores
A card so high and so wild
We should burn it

Galhea was not burning, but that was only because the fires must have finally died down or been extinguished. Cobweb stood at the window, staring out of Forever, which should always have been a safe haven, at the town he suddenly found himself in command of. His pale skin seemed to glow faintly in the light of those fading flames, clothed only in sheets of midnight hair. The glass was strangely cold to his touch, despite the view beyond it.

He felt like he should have been weeping, making the most of the dramatic situation, like some besieged queen in a tragic play whose ending is doomed. Except, oddly, the tears had never come, the dramatic lamentations he had so often considered it his role to utter remained stifled. That same feeling of change, of being unable to turn back. Of becoming something other than what he was.

The luck of a thousand stars
Can’t get me out of this
The luck of a thousand stars
Losing its charm

Snake’s hand on his shoulder was expected, but that did not diminish the quick thrill of delight the touch invoked. He sighed silently, leaning back into his embrace, resting against a body that was mysteriously less scarred and bent than it had been an hour ago. He still did not know what they had done, how they had used aruna to begin to heal Snake’s withered body but at the moment he was content not to probe the mystery further.

The other har seemed to read his thoughts, but, then, he probably had. “I don’t know what we did, but thank you.”

He did not say anything in reply, because ‘you’re welcome’ just seemed so predictable and inadequate. Instead he just stood there, enjoying the feel of Snake’s arms. He had never really been able to do that with anyone, even Terzian. Especially Terzian.

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