E.Y. 2743-11-12

This, she thought to herself, was becoming a problem.

Look for no trouble and you won’t find it here, was her policy, and it had served her and her customers well for a long time. Besides the occasional troublemaker looking to prove something, there was little out here in the way of fighting. God knew how even the most gung-ho and bloodthirsty of mercs tired of conflict from time to time, and her establishment was meant to be a place away from all of that.

There had been some unrest, lately, when a foreign peacekeeping unit decided to hunker down in their small port town. Ostensibly, they’d only been passing through, but as the days stretched on with no signs of their leaving, their week-long stay at the inn north of the city center said otherwise—they were here on the hunt. But nobody knew what they were hunting, so everyone who had a working brain (or brain-adjacent) between their ears had been on edge (well, more than usual, that is); a low-level thrum of tension colored every conversation, hands never straying far from concealed weaponry.

On this particular day, she discovered an unpleasant gift: trouble had arrived at her doorstep. As always, the troubles of men had inevitably spilled over like slow-moving molasses oozing city streets, leaving not even this sector unsullied, a shadow darkening the brow of an otherwise unremarkable and sunny afternoon.

This particular problem took the shape of a factory-standard sim slumped against the tavern’s disposal bin, near the back entrance. It was alive—for a given definition of the word—but with no signs of consciousness—also for a given definition of the word—returning anytime soon, battered as it was. This particular problem’s markings suggested prison break, or illegal indentureship, or one of many other nasty insinuations. She’d bet a lot of money that the peacekeepers were looking for this particular problem, and that spelled trouble for her.

As if just to prove her right, her portable comm unit crackled, and the tinny voices of the peacekeepers filtered through: they were on the move. And as if just to prove her wrong, the sim also chose this moment to stir, something that should have been nigh impossible for a sim this damaged. Even if it blocked all sensory input, self-preservation protocols should have shunted its systems into recovery shutdown. Nevertheless, it was definitely awake now, and dully staring at her, though it made no attempt to prop itself up or speak. Probably couldn’t, anyway, given its limbs and the lack thereof. And the concerningly dented cranial casing. It blinked at her.

“Oh, bother,” she said, and holstered her gun. If she handed them over to the peacekeepers, there was a good chance they’d implicate her anyway, and that would mean a definite end to the fragile peace she’d carved out for herself out here. There wasn’t a real decision to be made. She was not in the habit of picking up strays, she told herself firmly as she hauled them up. Her bleeding heart wouldn’t let her do anything less, and the annoying thing she picked up called morals would nag her about it to no end. In an unwelcome wash of déjà vu, she dragged the thing in behind her, kicked closed the back door, and set it on a stool in the storage room. It blinked at her again, and remained mum. Right. She’ll just keep the sim out of the way until the danger’s passed, and then send them on their merry way, somewhere preferably far from this sector. 

(In the back of her mind, a soundless voice laughed at her.)

The Kingdom of Tokavask, Session 24: A Diary Entry from Lord Azhan, Advisor to the King

It all burns this wick. Waiting for an answer and finding none, seeking an escape and discovering nothing. A long, lonely road of emptiness and guilt. I didn’t do anything, don’t know who did. They asked me what my impression of Lord Eskyil was, and I said he was a great advisor whom I admired.

What I said was wrong.

Tashka said there was no way he was asleep that night. He can feel it in his bones when a turn for the negative is inevitable. He would have been awake grimacing and rubbing his knees. Tashka also said she went to check on him as per her duties and he wasn’t there. Elshir said something similar. The Lord could not have been caught unawares.

I do not know what to believe. One of our own could have killed Lord –. It would be treasonous to think in hypotheticals, but the mind cannot help but wonder. After all, we were made to contemplate the world. I know I have brushed hands with the one who did this, have settled my gaze on their guilty form. I know there is no gain in wondering who it is. When the time is right, the evildoer will be made known. And I will no longer have to hide what I saw.

Frivolous Fairy Tales for Modern People: A Dalliance With the Sun (Part II)

Link to Part I


For a moment, Selene was blinded by a striking brightness. Her eyes stung with tears, and she struggled to blink them away. She held out her arms hoping that if her future child fell from somewhere, they would land safely in her arms. 

However, when the brightness ceased, there was no child, and instead, she was roughly embraced by strange muscular arms. Ones that definitely did not belong to a baby. 

“Let me go!” She struggled against her assaulter, beating on arms as firm as steel. But they did not yield and she was suffocated even further. 

Eventually, she was let go of and forcefully turned around by those same deathly arms. She was met with the smiling face of a handsome man with iridescent eyes that glowed surreally. Yet she couldn’t get herself to smile back, for there was something ominous about the air that surrounded him— it was addicting and stifling like some sort of drug.

The man suddenly spoke, and she was allured by his deep melodious voice, “Lovely lady, I see that you have called for me.”

His utterance broke her out of the momentary spell. “I didn’t call for you. I called for a baby.”

His smile widened dangerously. “You did call for me. You called for the ‘Great Sun.’”

Dread coursed through Selene. Oh no . . . was he . . . ?

“And here I am, the Sun. Here to take your body and soul and give you a baby.”

Panic burned through Selene. For all intents and purposes, she had basically made a deal with the devil— a devil that glowed marvelously— but a devil nonetheless. She didn’t want a man, that’s why she went to the Sun in the first place, but now it seemed that she would still be stuck with one. And this was a man that was far more troublesome than she could have ever expected. 

“And what if I say no?”

The sky darkened. Thunder struck in the distance. Wind began to howl. All of this happened at once as the Sun’s eyes glinted menacingly. 

Selene supposed that her remark wasn’t appreciated. So she immediately took it back, “I was just kidding. Of course, I’ll . . . I’ll give myself to you.”

Suddenly, the sky cleared and the Sun’s face brightened with glee. But it didn’t relieve her fear. 

“Wonderful! Shall we?” He asked her, holding out his palm for her to take. 

And take it she did, but not without feeling like she had just signed her death warrant.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 23: An Entry from the Diary Lord Eskyil

They treated me as though I was a dead ennet or a commoner demanding funds. To accuse me of something so preposterous should be grounds for immediate removal, seeing as I am protected by the King and am His closest ally. The audacity of that captain makes my fingers blacken just writing about it. Those sharp eyes could cut the hardest of gems. A meaty, swollen brute of a man was he, absolutely violating the integrity of my position and the Crown. To accuse me is one step away from accusing the King Himself, treason so great its punishment is not banishment but death. He would be better scraping ice off the hulls of ships or making furbrushes. Someone as hard and cruel as he should not have access to such power. He and his filthy little minions surrounded me, bombarded me with questions, asked how much I knew about the death of Lord [name stricken]. I was afraid, and in my confusion I may have had a minor slip once or thrice. Even greatness is occasionally bound to err. I will not deny that I did not know how to react in such a situation, but I postulate hardly anyone would were they not expecting it. I anticipated the questions about my personal relationship to Lord –, but I never even in fits of ague imagined that I could be so much as suspected of such a thing. How hard I have worked to achieve my position, and they dare challenge me? I shall inform the King of this transgression first thing in the morning. I doubt He will approve of His trusted advisor being besmirched.

Frivolous Fairy Tales for Modern People: My Voice, Which My Brother Never Listens To

A/N: I’ll be returning to A Dalliance With the Sun next week. But for now, here’s a new story inspired by Sabrina Orah Mark’s Wild Milk. It may not seem like a typical fairy tale, but that’s how Mark’s storytelling is. It’s her own wild version of a fairy tale, and I tried to imitate that wildness here.

My brother wasn’t listening to me. But I continued to call his name, my voice rising at each call — until it rose so tall that I decided to use it as a ladder. At the top of the ladder, I was finally able to bellow down to him because my voice travels better down than straight. So I jumped onto my voice as if it were a hand glider. But he still didn’t hear me. My voice landed just a few steps away from him. The steps were faint in the sand and they were so easily blown away by the wind. They screeched as they were lifted and snatched away — “NoOOoooO!!!” That my brother heard. He turned his head toward the fading steps and brought his hand to his forehead, looking into the distance. I tried calling him again — this time in a violent cackle so that I was distinct enough to hear. The cackle bounced up and down, between the sky and the ground. But then it threatened to turn more violent. I was afraid it would knock my brother over, so I chased after it while screeching like the steps from earlier. I caught onto the cackle, but it didn’t stop bouncing, so I joined it for a ride. By the time it had ceased in its vicious aerial voyage, I was battered and bruised at my brother’s feet. Then, I called his name in a waver so weak that it landed only right before me, between my brother and me. And since he didn’t catch it, he slipped on it and face-planted right beside me. But he still didn’t see me, so I tried to grab his leg. However, by then he was up again, trotting across the sand, leaving me because I somehow lost my voice and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the sand — not it raised nor bellowed nor cackled nor wavered. And by then I had forgotten my brother’s name.


The Kingdom of Tokavsk is Back for Season 2!

Hello. Sorry that I’ve been silent lately, but being an eldritch being from the great beyond university student does take its toll. I’m going to continue the story I began last year using the same format. This isn’t a style of writing I’m used to, and it’s interesting to go out of my comfort zone. Season 2 will unfortunately be the final season, as I shall assume my true form graduate in May.

I started this series with the intention of making it a worldbuilding project, but because I am primarily a storyteller, a narrative gradually evolved (to find out what it is, read season 1!). I don’t have a concrete plan because the workings of my brain are mysterious even to me, but I will (hopefully) finish the story this spring. I tend to plan things on a week-by-week basis.

What to Expect from Season 2:

  • More organization (I hope). I want the throughline of Season 2 to be more clear to create a more cohesive narrative/anthology thing.
  • Intrigue. Can’t have a court setting without intrigue.
  • Interesting characters. I love character writing, so get ready to look inside the minds of fictional people.

I look forward to seeing what this season brings. Stay safe out there, especially during spooky season. Always remember that the shadow behind you may not be your own.