The Wind that Broke the Door

Challenge SubmissionThe Wind that Broke the Door
by Chantress

Author’s Email:

Rating: R (non-explicit aruna and descriptions of past abuse)

Spoilers: The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire

Characters: Astarth, Flounah, and various cameos

Summary: A look into Astarth’s mind and later life after the end of Fulfillments. Sometimes, the more things stay the same, the more they change.

Disclaimer: The concept of Wraeththu and all characters and situations pertaining thereto are the property of Storm Constantine, who has very graciously allowed her fans to play with them; no money is being made from this story, and no copyright infringement is intended or should be implied.

Author’s Note: My first Wraeththu fic. (Eeek!) I’ve only read the original trilogy and about a third of The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, so bear with me if I inadvertently commit canon murder because of my ignorance of something that happens later on in the series. Arsche and Roz appear courtesy of my good friend Mr. Powell, just because. 😉

The Wind that Broke the Door

Chapter One: Preparations

“I thought I’d never have to do this again,” I complained to my reflection as I finished applying my makeup.

Damn Quince. Of all the nights he could have decided to get fed up with everything and leave, he had to pick this one. Fallsend was packed with foreign hara (mostly from Jaddayoth, but a good number from as far away as Megalithica), and most of them seemed to have descended upon Piristil. They were mostly here for the tour, of course, followed by a late supper and a rehashing of the delectable horror of having been in the very room where the inimitable Panthera had been chained, but there were always some who’d pay the extra few spinners for a night with a genuine Piristil kanene. (Not that there were that many of us left from the old days, but most hara only cared about the brand name, so to speak, so who was I to miss out on an opportunity to profit from this?) With twelve kanene currently living in the musenda (not including myself), plus four alternates who could be called in at a moment’s notice, there were usually more than enough to fill the demand, even on busy nights—until now, that is.

I sighed and scowled, blotting away a bit of excess lipstick. Quince, who I’d been relying on to entertain whichever of the Gelaming showed up that evening for the yearly audit, was probably halfway to Jaddayoth by now, fueled as he was by alcohol and self-righteous indignation; Semiru was due to deliver his pearl any day now; Yasmeen had broken his leg the day before and was staying in the House of Healing for the rest of the week; Roz was having one of his “episodes”; Ezhno was visiting relatives in Jasminia and wouldn’t be back for another two months, at least; it was Flounah’s utterly sacrosanct night off; and there was no telling where the hell Kelis had wandered off to this time. So with only nine kanene and a full house, I was going to have to pick up the slack.

“Woolgathering, Astarth?”

I spun around. Flounah was standing at the door, watching me with folded arms—not quite inside my room, just far enough to be mildly insulting without giving me any real reason to object.

“How does it feel to be one of us again?” he continued, then narrowed his eyes and added in an all-too-audible undertone, “Not that you ever weren’t, of course.”

“Shouldn’t you be packing?” I said, pointedly turning my back on him again.

“I have a month; my things aren’t likely to run off before then, you know—unlike yours. Speaking of which, Ezhno hid your favorite earrings under that utterly tacky stuffed dragon of his. There’s probably a bunch more of your things in his room, too, but that’s where he usually stashes your jewelry. I’ll just put these here, shall I?”

He set the earrings down on my dressing table; the gold and rubies glittered up at me invitingly. I stroked them, sighing with regret, then put them back in their place of honor in the top tier of my jewelry box. I wouldn’t be able to wear them again unless I got my ears re-pierced, and I dreaded the pain.

Ah, what price beauty? my hostling’s voice whispered mockingly in my head—a ghost from the past I’d thought long-banished. I gritted my teeth against it. I can’t remember, I thought desperately. Not now. Not like this.

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The Garden

Challenge WinnerThe Garden
by Camile Sinensis (Teapot)

Title: The Garden
Author: by Camile Sinensis (Teapot) (

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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