Archive for April, 2013

In the first days, the Sun turned the light of his gaze upon the world; and he despaired, for it was bare and empty of beauty. And the Moon came upon him in the heavens, asking why he wept; but when he showed her the empty world that was his to warm, she did not share his despair. For though the world was empty, she told him, that meant only that it was ripe for whatever things they could create. They could make this world a thing of surpassing splendour, and it would be all the finer for their own craft upon it.

The Sun was amazed by the Moon’s wisdom and charmed by her beauty. If he could make one thing even half as fine and lovely, he declared, he could be satisfied with what he had wrought until the last days. And for his first offering, he sent to the world a spark of his essence, and there it prospered and the first fire was born, with a touch of the Sun’s heat and power but inspired by the Moon’s luminous beauty.

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For a Crandil male, he was big – tall, muscular, and clad in shining bronze mail over his russet pelt. His thick fur was marred in places by scars, sprinkled with grey, and his eyes were hard as he looked over his visitor.

Smaller even than most Crandil men, that visitor was in some ways what the big warrior was not. He was sleek, handsome, and dark, wearing an elaborate wrap of many separate lengths of cloth. He might be beautiful if one liked that sort of youthful look, but in neither form nor demeanour was he very imposing.

“So,” the bigger man sneered, “this is the mighty Jisarr that the locals are clamouring for?”

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Drevin blew out his breath, leaning back in his command chair and gazing into the tactical display. Over to the side, Vree announced the all-clear on the short-range plot, the snow leopard’s voice weary and ragged.

And well it might be. This was the fifth time in as many hours that they’d been stumbled upon by a Sakkarn patrol – and the third time in the last single hour. They were getting closer, their patrols thicker, their response times shorter. There was only so much the Red Valour and her remaining fighters could do to avoid a full-on clash.

But for so long as they could do so, that was what they would do. Again the instructions went out for a gentle course change. The last five times they’d done it, they’d gone in a different direction from the initial strong burn, sometimes a little bit different, sometimes greatly so; this time, the planned change was in the same direction.

At least they’d kept this up for longer than they’d dared hope. There were only two hours left on the minimum-response-time estimate, now.

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A shake to Drevin’s shoulder brought the ferret out of what might, for lack of a better word, be termed a doze.

Blinking cobwebs out of his eyes, if not entirely out of his mind, he shifted himself closer to upright in his command chair. “Mmnf,” he greeted the universe at large. “’s going on?”

“They’re repositioning,” said the vac-suited snow leopard who’d awoken him, taking the liberty to touch the controls on the arm of Drevin’s chair and bring up the tactical plot.

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“Well, you’re not the sort of beast I expected to ensnare.”

The web of force that had stopped Alderian in mid-air, nearly doing a harm to his wings, wasn’t so tight that he couldn’t turn his head to see the one who’d spoken. Human, of course, with a thin queue of brown hair, green eyes, and wrapped in gold-brown cloth. Male, if he reckoned correctly. “Yes, yes, have your laugh, two-legger,” he sighed. “You call my kind greedy and hoarding, yet with so large a flock for so few houses, you spend such force to keep from losing one small sheep.” And not so well that he hadn’t struck the thing before the snare tightened; the smell of the carcass so close by had been maddening on an empty stomach.

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Over the past year, Tseraji had grown accustomed to staying aboard ship while in port.

Why not? The motion of the waves, he’d found, was restful and soothing. The brothels that so many of the sailors flocked to didn’t provide anything to interest men like him. The noise of the taverns interested him even less, and as one who spent his days reliant on a clear mind, he had no wish to muddy that mind with liquor. Why waste his coin and his time?

Instead, he could take advantage of the relative peace aboard the Laughing Lass, and the lack of demands upon him, to enjoy some private, restful time in his cabin.

Say, by pulling out a memento of a former lover.

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