Entries tagged with “mature”.

Work had been, if satisfying, also quite wearying; when Matt’s phone rang well into the evening, not a common occurrence but hardly rare enough to signal something amiss, he wasn’t in a great rush to answer it. So long as he did so before it went to voicemail, no harm done, right?

When, just after the third ring, he saw the name on the display, he snatched the handset in such a rush that he almost sent it flying.

“Hello?” he called, still scrambling to bring it to his ear.


The place was abuzz with magic. It was so strong it made Samal’s teeth ache, but even without sensing the aura it would have been obvious – snow whirled all around, driven by wind bitter enough to sting through Samal’s dense white pelt, but that one spot was calm, lush, and by all appearances warm. Time was out of joint there – the gloom of arctic night was split by the illumination of a sun at zenith that shone only there, on that placid water garden.

The centrepiece of which was a block of unmelting ice – with a figure trapped inside.

This discordant zone was doubtless the very source of the region’s eternal storms which he’d come seeking. It stank of black magic, but didn’t seem directly harmful to anyone but its hapless focus. Samal stepped over the boundary.

One moment, he was leaning on his staff with both hands and planting all four paws against the wind. The next, all was calm, and sunlight poured down on him. The reprieve was sinfully delightful – but he wasn’t here to enjoy the scenery.


“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.


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.


Flint remembered the fear.

He was adrift in a dark haze, a flurry of images flickering through his vision, all of them tainted by that sick fear. In time, he focused enough to remember more clearly. The invasion alert. The desperate battle. The lurch of his bomber as it took damage; the blare of alarms as systems failed. Sudden inspiration and one last, desperate plan, keyed into the autopilot. He’d committed the program, hit the eject button, and then…

Then the world had turned to fire.


It’s hard to put aside the habits of a lifetime.

I’ve made a good living for myself largely by taking advantage of the habits of others, but even my own habits make themselves felt. I try to guard against them, to avoid being outwitted in my own trade; sometimes, though, it seems safe enough to indulge.

Not personally, not this time. But there was a certain nostalgic thrill in sending a group of juniors to raid one particular warehouse, where certain goods from one specific formerly-wealthy home had wound up. The prize was certainly unusual for us, but it had sentimental value for me, and besides, sometimes it does the junior thieves good to shake up their expectations a little.


“You’re worried, Sasha.”

Sasha Devar blinked down at the woman under his hands. She had her chin on her arms and her eyes closed; until that moment, there’d been little indication that she was paying him much mind beyond the massage he was giving her. Which he did not permit himself to interrupt for more than an instant; hands still at work, he responded with a noncommittal, “Pardon, ma’am?” He was being paid, and paid well, to make her comfortable. Among other things which would come later, of course – the lapis lazuli twinkling on the rim of his right ear, in its silver setting, was not an idle decoration – but in any event, his worries weren’t on the agenda, and he thought he’d been keeping them at bay…



<– First | << Previous | Next >>

We sat around the fire, at ease, or nearly, for the first time in days. We were not all friends, but there didn’t seem to be any lingering enmity, and that might be enough to let friendships happen. Failing that, we could at least do what we needed with a minimum of distraction.

And what we needed to do now was… plan.

“We should ford the Kralsbeck by midmorning tomorrow,” Elizabeth said as she took her seat. “From then on, we will be in duchy Wafret, two days’ hike from the Duke’s manor. But what then?”



<< Previous | Next >>

Thomas and I were brought to the physician’s offices together, in spite of his one-week lead on being cut. The same physician who’d tended to me in the first place was about to usher us into separate rooms, but apparently changed her mind; she sent us into a small room with a pair of glass vials, and instructed us to have fun, so long as we each provided a sample. The room wasn’t particularly comfortable, though, and the awareness of where we were and why kept our enjoyment in check. Still, it was more pleasant than simply sitting in a room and taking it in my own hand.


<< Back to Chapter 5: Into the Deep End | On to Chapter 7: Storm-Tossed >>

“So is there anything interesting going on at your job, Tim?”

It was Wednesday again, and that meant, again, drinks at Casey’s; myself, Sarah, and Sam in a row from left to right, Enrique leaning on the bar opposite us and occasionally dashing off to give one of the more transient customers something to drink.

I wasn’t sure if having Sarah still be right next to me was a good idea – beyond, of course, the fact that I’d have trouble holding a conversation with her if Sam were in between – but it probably was good news; it seemed to suggest she hadn’t been offended by my little display at the pool, anyway.

At any rate, this time I’d actually been looking forward to this sort of question.