The Garden

Challenge WinnerThe Garden
by Camile Sinensis (Teapot)

Title: The Garden
Author: by Camile Sinensis (Teapot) (teapot@doramail.com)

Characters: Astarth and the Kanenes of Fallsend

Spoilers: Cal’s profession before he got to be Tigron (oh noes!)

Disclaimers: Disclaim! Disclaim! Fanfic for external use only. Do not boil or overheat. Dispose of carefully.

Summary: What, I’ve been typing my little fingers off all day trying to get it finished on time, and you want a summary too? Er… Fallsend… kanenes… Astarth… stuff happens… rocks fall, everybody dies. (I lied about the last bit)

The Garden

One day Jafit simply disappeared and was never seen or heard of again. Astarth assumed he was dead, and none of the other residents of Piristil saw fit to disagree with him, for there were many ways a har could perish in Fallsend — a knife between the ribs in a crowded tavern, a wire pulled tight around the throat in a dark alleyway, a deadly substance slipped into a drink, an unexpected nudge from behind in a high place, a length of lead pipe to the head, a pillow over the face, a twist of the neck, a gunshot, a spell, a curse — and for each of these methods and more there was undoubtedly a har in Fallsend who would have been more than pleased to employ it on Jafit. Or perhaps the Gelaming finally caught up with him.

Even those hara who did not consider themselves to be his enemy did not count themselves his friend. Astarth lit no candles and performed no mourning rituals for Jafit, he simply moved into his former employer’s office and reflected upon his own good luck in inheriting the position as overseer of Piristil.

For a certain interpretation of luck. Nohar in Fallsend could consider himself to have been smiled upon by the Dehara of Fortune, or he would not have been in Fallsend in the first place, and yet Astarth knew that unpleasant as his existence was, it was still a step up from the wretchedness of the kanenes who earned their living within Piristil’s walls. If they resented his sudden and unexpected promotion, they said nothing. For them, it was simply business as usual.

After he had sold Jafit’s personal possessions and used most of the money to placate various disgruntled creditors, Astarth found that he had a small surplus, and he decided to use this windfall to buy something to decorate his own room at Piristil. The house was furnished in what was supposed to be a style evocative of luxury and hedonism, although due to the general standard of living prevalent in Fallsend, and the less-than-lucrative nature of the business run from within, this attempt at opulence left something to be desired. The carpets were worn, the curtains faded, and the silken tassels adorning cushions and pelmets had long since lost their lustrous sheen and vibrant colours.

Astarth himself eschewed these gaudy touches; his own room was a haven of austerity and simplicity, with a simple linen bedspread, once white but now yellowed from age, a straight-backed chair and a dressing-table with the few grooming implements he owned arranged neatly on one side. It was not attractive, welcoming or seductive. It did not need to be. Astarth was not required to bring anyhar here for intimacies, either paid or otherwise, and he did not.

Nevertheless, as befitted his new position of owner of Piristil, he decided to add something in the way of a personal touch to his space. There was a shop in Fallsend which sold second-hand bric-a-brac; ornaments and objects d’art, tall candlesticks and silver-framed mirrors; coloured glass perfume bottles with faceted stoppers reflecting the light, and banded crystals with healing properties. At the very back of the shop there was a painting. Not a crude work, as was commonly found in these parts, but something which spoke of an artist with some skill and affinity for his subject. It depicted a white palace on a hill, whose soft, water-colour spires seemed to merge with the hazy, cloudless sky. Up close, it was an abstract smudge of pigments — whites and greys and ochres and blues. It was only when viewed from a distance that the outline of the palace appeared and took shape.

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Of Gems and Pebbles

Editor's PickOf Gems and Pebbles
by Gingerspark (formerly niennaainur)

Title: Of Gems and Pebbles

Author: gingerspark (formerly known as niennaainur – LOL now I feel like Prince ;P)

Pairing: original non-canon characters

Rating: PG-13

Summary: In relationships – communication is key!!

Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement is intended, and I promise to wash them off and put then away neatly.

Warnings: none really… a wee bit of angst

Beta read by: bigunen

Of Gems and Pebbles

My name is Kess and I am beautiful, really beautiful; in fact I am drop dead gorgeous. I hate being beautiful. It is a curse. Being beautiful is the most isolating of existences. Everyhar assumes that being ‘a looker’ should make ones life superior, but they are wrong. I had thought that by becoming a har things would be easier, but I was wrong. Both humans and hara react very oddly around beauty; to hate you because of it, and to desire you because of it, sometimes at the same time, are indeed odd.

I shifted the pack I carried. It held everything I owned. I did not own much. The recent rain had made the mountain road muddy and slick and, in certain steeper sections, the run-off had carved deep channels in the loose gravel. There would be more rain soon judging by the tang in the air borne by the chilly wind. Summer was ending, harvest time was in full swing, and the nights were getting cold.

I was hopeful that whatever town I wandered into next would have employment of some kind. I hoped I could smile fetchingly, tilt my head in ‘that way’, and charm myself into a job. There wasn’t much I couldn’t do; farmer, thief, bartender, courier, shop clerk, temple dancer, blacksmith – I had done it all. I might hate being beautiful, but I do know how to make it work for me.

“They just hired somehar at the pub so I don’t think they’ll be looking for help…” the blond’s voice trailed off doubtfully. “Oh! But you might want to try The Corner Café… it’s down there,” he pointed, “on the corner – you can’t miss it!” he giggled. “I don’t know if Corvus is looking for help but he really needs it!”

The Corner Café was closed. I stood in front of its locked doors weighing my options.

“Café doesn’t do dinner!” a passing har with a harling on his hip called out.

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