Tag Archive: full metal alchemist


Edward settled back in the chair he was bound to. To say that he was tired would be an understatement. He was exhausted, plain and simple. The men who’d taken him had kept him awake since he’d arrived at the deserted building they were keeping him in. He’d had a short nap between his home and this place but that had been hours ago.

“How old are you?” one of his captors asked firmly.

His respite was over, it seemed. “I’m twenty-seven,” Ed replied. “I was born February the tenth, nineteen eighty-two.” He gave the false year without any pause. He’d practiced the statement innumerable times with his friends and descendants. “I was born at my parent’s home in Germany.”

“You’ve said that before,” the man said softly.

“I’m gonna keep on saying it until you believe me,” he snapped. He closed his eyes again and asked, “What do you want with me?”

“You were not born in nineteen eighty-two. You were born circa the year nineteen hundred, perhaps in Germany – but perhaps not,” the man disagreed. He thrust a picture in front of Edward’s nose.

He recognized the men in the photo. He’d studied rocketry with them for almost two years. Alfonse Heidrich stood closeby him. Ernst was on his other side. It had been taken almost four months before Alfonse had been killed by a Nazi bullet. He studiously tried to keep his expression neutral as he said, “That’s a pretty old picture, huh?”

“You are in that picture,” the man said in a firm, calm voice. “You didn’t even bother to change your hair style since then. Almost eighty years and you haven’t grown an inch.” The phrase was meant to needle him. There was a time it would have done just that. He apparently kept his face calm enough because the man continued, “More importantly, you haven’t aged a year.”

“I’m twenty-seven,” Edward repeated. “I’m nowhere near a hundred; as I would have to be if that was me in that photo. That’s not me. It’s some kind of… ancestor or something.”

“Of course,” the man said softly. He turned away to let Edward rest for a moment or two at least before the whole thing began again.

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Edward lay for a long time watching the little insects as they made their way back to their nest.  They were so small that a grain of sand was like a boulder would be to him.  They were so small they had difficulty negotiating the path when, as it was now, dew dotted each leave and blade of grass.  The tiny bubbles of water were like pools to the insects.

 Somehow the insects continued on their way however.  Even when they seemed alone on the path, they continued.  Even when something blocked their way, they continued.  When they encountered a larger fiercer insect, they found a way to continue.

 This was perseverance, Ed knew.  That… something, that made the insects continue, even when things seemed bleak.  He glanced over at his brother.  It wasn’t so long ago that Alphonse was nothing more than a soul attached to armor.  It wasn’t that long ago that they had been literally worlds away from each other.  Still they had persevered.  They were together.  They were both in proper bodies – not perfect, Ed reflected as he flexed his prosthetic hand – but human enough.

 Now, they were living in a borrowed world.  Strangers pursued them even as they searched for a weapon that never should have left their own world.  He smiled as the first insect in the line made it to the safety of the burrow.  The others would join it soon.  Then they would leave the safe haven to gather more grain.  The struggle was continuous but they didn’t stop.  They didn’t complain or worry.  He sat up and smiled over at his brother.  They would continue in their own struggle, he knew.  They might never rest completely from their struggle but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth continuing.

Mustang was at a loss for words for once.  The idea of consoling someone like the Fullmetal Alchemist struck him as strange.  The boy always seemed strong, impervious.  “It gets better,” he murmured.  “It won’t always hurt so much.”

 “Have you ever lost a child?” Ed snapped.  His voice crackled with unshed tears.  The question was fierce.

 “No… only friends.  He lived a good long life,” Roy tried again.

 “Most of it without me,” Ed returned angrily.

 “But not alone.  Ed, he had a family.  He was happy and his mother told him enough about you that you didn’t repeat your father’s mistake.  You didn’t abandon him.”

 “Not on purpose,” Ed managed softly.

 “He always knew you cared for him and his mother,” Roy pointed out.  “You were with him in the end.”

 “I was with my parents in the end too.  It doesn’t make it easier,” Ed murmured.  The anger was leaving him.  He’d grieve now.

 “Let the rain fall when it must, Ed,” Roy murmured.  “The fields are always better for it.”  He stepped back, pretending not to notice when it did fall.

“Pumas writing with fine-point ballpoint pens,” Edward read.  “Chloe, what is this?”

 “What I would be happy to take home with me from the book we read in school.  I drew it, see all my pumas with pens?” she stood on tiptoes to show him the picture she’d drawn.

 “Why pumas?” Ed asked.

 “Pumas are a kind of cat, Daddy,” she said as if that should explain everything.

 “I’d like a dancing cat,” Al piped up.  Both Edward and his daughter gave him a funny look.  “It would be fun to dance with my cat,” he explained.

 “Cats don’t dance,” Chloe said.

 “They don’t write with fine-point ballpoint pens, either,” Ed pointed out.

 “They did in the book though,” Chloe said.  “I want that book Daddy.  Can we find it?”  Ed smiled as he allowed his daughter to lead him into the den to read a story.

Beginning from August 6

Three thousand five hundred Miles Away (8-6-09)

Orbsen sighed and stared out the window. His son – his baby boy – was going away to school. Chances were good that Arashi would never return to court.

The young emperor stood and began filing papers. It was for the best, he told himself. Arashi would never be more than a servant at court. As many times as Orbsen had commanded otherwise, he was still marginalized. In the country where he was going to school, things would be different. Orbsen’s fledgling would soar there.

“Be well, my son,” Orbsen murmured as he left the office to address the court.

**
Seven For a Secret Never to be Told (8-7-09)

“I’m going to swear you to secrecy and I expect you to tell no one any of this,” Toshiro said softly.

“Just how many people know that which is meant to be an absolute secret?” Yumichika asked.

Toshiro closed his eyes and replied, “Matsumoto, Ukitake, Kyouraku, the pair of you and… I think, Aizin and Ichimaru.”

“Seven people?” Ikkaku said in disbelief.

Toshiro glared and shook his head. “I don’t see why that matters. I still don’t want it spread around.”

“Think what would happen to the youngest captain’s credibility if it became known that he was afraid of thunder,” Yumichika said. “We won’t tell a soul, sir. Your secret is safe with us.”

**
Love is a Ghost Train Rumbling Through the Darkness (8-8-09)

“Love is a Ghost Train Rumbling Through the Darkness,” Astor said, looking up from his sheet music.

“Sounds like a personal problem to me,” Michael said. He grinned at his partner and shrugged, “You opened that door.”

“And as ever, you felt the need to walk right through,” Astor said, rolling his eyes. “It’s the title of the song I’m writing. If you haven’t got anything constructive to say, don’t say anything at all.”

“Is that tone?” Michael asked. He grinned as Mara shot him a glare.

“All voices have tone,” Astor said, shrugging again and returning to his music. “If they don’t… well, they sound just plain weird.”

“Who are you calling weird?” Michael asked.

“I figured it was Mara. She’s the one who expects people to have toneless voices,” Astor said. He and Michael grinned at the older woman and Michael merely shrugged under her withering glare.

“You can have your fun,” she said.

“Thanks,” Michael said.

“We planned to, even without your permission,” Astor added. Both men chuckled as she growled and stalked away.

**
But what would you change, if you could? (8-9-09)

There were times when always being the youngest at something aggravated him. Being the smallest aggravated him more, though. His size made his enemies belittle and underestimate him. It made certain people feel the need to shelter him. It made his friends less inclined to look to him for help.

There were physical reasons he didn’t like his small stature. He couldn’t reach high shelves without help or using his gifts. Without his special gifts he couldn’t jump as far or move as fast. But then all shinigami had the same gifts, so his size still limited him. Most of all he hated limits.

Now he stood, as Captain Ukitake had always done, at the very end of the two rows of captains. The robe of the older captain swam on him and he looked up at all the newcomers in the room. No other time had he felt so small and he hated it.

**
Out of the Lightning Dream (8-10-09)

Orbsen frowned and patted Rose as she tugged at the reins. “Easy, girl. Easy Rose,” he murmured. He looked up as bot Gin and Hiyori gasped softly. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Hollow,” the two former shinigami murmured. Both came to stand a bit closer. Neither was riding since both could move faster on foot.

Gin motioned Orbsen off his horse and the young emperor swung down, though he kept a hand on the reins. Rose seemed to sense their apprehension and tugged at her reins. “Where is it? Is there more than one?”

“Dunno,” Hiyori said. “Hiding its – or their – reiatsu. Higher level hollows are smart enough for tactics.” Suddenly the hollow sprang at them from the path ahead. Both Hiyori and Gin moved to defend Orbsen.

He gasped softly. The hollow was huge with a mask that looked like something out of one of his worst nightmares. A sound behind him made him turn and he screamed as a second hollow emerged from the forest. Suddenly, Rose tugged hard on her reins and ran down the path toward the second hollow.

Orbsen moved but Gin caught him. “Rose,” Orbsen screamed as the hollow devoured the creature that had been his mount for three centuries. Seconds later, Hiyori sliced through the hollow’s mask but by then it was too late.

“Sorry,” Gin whispered as Orbsen sank to the ground.

“She was protecting you as much as we were. She gave us time to get to you before the hollow did,” Hiyori murmured.

“She was always a very smart horse. She could tell when I was in trouble even when I didn’t know yet,” Orbsen said. “We should… get going?”

“I’ll call and tell them what happened. We aren’t too far off from the Seireitei. They’ll want to know about the hollows. There may be more,” Gin said softly. “They’ll probably send someone out to escort us in. Since you aren’t too keen on walking.”

“Is… is it safe to wait here?” Orbsen asked softly.

“Regardless, we won’t wait here,” Hiyori said. She darted a glance between Gin and the remains of Rose, then tugged Orbsen hand. “C’mon Orey. Like Gin said Seireitei isn’t far off and we might can make good time and get there before nightfall.”

They walked some distance down the path and Orbsen sighed. “Gin’s… taking care of the remains?” he aasked softly.

“Expected you didn’t want it left for the carrion birds,” Hiyori murmured. “She was a good horse, Orey. You’ll not find her like but… she’s got foals, right?”

“She’s only foaled once and… it’s a stallion. Hiyori, I’ve never ridden a stallion before – only mares. Wind stallions are fierce and independent, not just anyone can ride them,” Orbsen said. “Lightning of Rose, he’s called. He’s beautiful and very smart but… I don’t know.”

“If anyone can ride him, it’s you,” Hiyori said. “When we get back, give him a try.” Orbsen nodded and they walked on in silence.

**
The Contrast of White on White (8-11-09)

Toshiro looked wonderingly at the fine haori Shunsui had given him. It was so similar to his usual haori that from a distance people wouldn’t be able to distinguish that he wore a different one, aside from the long sleeves.

However, the fabric was what truly set the garment apart. It was a fine white silk lined in the deepest red. As Toshiro looked closely, a pattern of white embroidery stood out against the white silk. Tiny white dragons chased each other through white clouds. Along the hem tiny white flowers danced – these were the flowers of the thirteenth division, summer snowflake.

“It’s beautiful,” he breathed. “It’s too… too fine for… I’m…” suddenly he felt overwhelmed. He’d been raised in the Rukon District, then joined the military ranks of the shinigami. This was the clothing of a nobleman, not a soldier – whatever his rank.

“Don’t fret, Toshiro,” Shunsui murmured. “We all have them.”

Toshiro ducked his head to hide his smile as he tugged the garment on. “It really is beautiful,” he murmured as he held out one arm to look at the white dragons flying over the white fabric. “But I suppose it’s not too much… since you can’t see it unless you’re close.”

**
Step out the front door like a ghost (8-12-09)

Toshiro woke slowly and rolled over. He’d gone to sleep the night previous holding Hiyori in his arms. As they had decided, there had been no sexual intercourse. They had merely held one another through the night and given comfort as both had fought through nightmares. Now he was alone.

He sat up and pulled his samui jacket on as he climbed out of bed. He padded across the room to the screened door and looked out. Hiyori sat on the edge of the porch staring out at the water. Quietly, he joined her and sat down.

“I didn’t hear you get up,” he said softly.

“I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t wanna wake you,” she murmured back.

He tilted his head to look at her. “How long have you been up?” he asked, taking her hand. “You didn’t have another nightmare, did you?”

“No, just thinkin’. Toshiro, I don’t want anything to happen to you,” she said. “What if… she – the hollow – she tries to take me over. If I weaken – if I waver at all – she’ll come out. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I can take care of myself,” Toshiro murmured. “I… Hiyori, I love you. Whatever the risks, I want to be with you. Can… is that alright?”

Hiyori smiled, though tears were standing in her eyes. “Yeah,” she said softly. “I love you too,” she added as she leaned against him.

**
In Between the Moon and You (8-13-09)

Astor frowned up at the moon. It was full and especially bright tonight. He wondered how his ex-wife was doing. Was she happy? Had she found someone else? Was she taking good care of their pet cat?

Somewhere in the wide world his wife was also sitting under this very moon. Did she wonder how he was doing? Did she wish him well or did she not give him a second thought. When they’d first been wed, had she been as happy as he was or did her illness and child-like qualities always stand between them?

The last months of their marriage had been littered by anxiety on his part and silence on his wife’s. She’d been truly fighting her depression since the holidays. Astor couldn’t imagine the holidays depressing anyone but Joanne had always been worried about their finances and even with special money saved aside for gifts, she’d worried about the expense.

Astor had always enjoyed the holidays. The music, the socialization, the visiting. It had struck him as strange that anyone would hate the very things he enjoyed. Especially the very person that he loved enough to marry and vow to spend the rest of his days with.

Now they were divorced. Did God see that as breaking sacred vows made at their wedding? Was he supposed to spend his remaining years alone now? He didn’t really have a strong interest in women, especially at the moment. He was dedicated to his work and his friends. He sighed and looked up as a shadow passed over the moon. It was an eclipse.

Joanne’s illness had been like that for their marriage. The bright gentle light of it’s glow had been eclipsed by her mental issues and it had proven too much. Just as the moon would soon move out of the Earth’s shadow, Astor knew that he would move out of the shadow of the failed relationship and be able to begin anew. He settled back to watch the moon hide itself as the night progressed.

**
Will You Catch Me if I’m Falling (8-14-09)

Michael frowned and peered around the bushes at the strange sounds he heard from the campsite. He gasped and darted back at the sight that greeted him. Mara and Astor were backed against a tree, armed with stout branches as a number of dirty, unsavory-looking men advanced on them.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the men were bandits and what they would do with his partners. Swallowing thickly, Michael did the only thing he could. He began humming, summoning his magic. The magic always affected him the same way but now was not the time for reluctance. His friends needed his help.

The song was a lullaby and a swirling of faery lights accompanied by two soft thuds told him that the magic had worked. Immediately afterwards his reaction to working magic struck. Michael moaned at the first wave of dizziness. The second one coursed through him and he staggered.

Somehow he managed to land gently. He opened bleary eyes to find that Astor was leaning over him, looking concerned. “You caught me?” Michael said softly.

“Always,” Astor replied in a voice that was just as quiet. “You don’t even need to ask. Thanks for the help.”

“Always,” Michael returned. “You don’t… either.” His eyes closed then and he knew no more.

**
Under the gun (8-15-09)

Edward frowned and began writing his report. This was the part about being a state alchemist he hated. For every action there were mountains of paperwork. He had three reports to write by the end of the day. Mustang had said if he failed to complete them, his funding would be cut. If he wanted to continue his search for a way to get Al’s body back, he must have that funding.

So, though he hated paperwork; even though he typed with excruciating slowness, he toiled over the reports. They must be finished. He’d done hordes of worse things for his brother. Paperwork was nothing compared to that. His brother was everything.

**
The Crumbling Distance Between Wrong and Right (8-16-09)

Michael frowned and looked up and down the corridor. When he saw that it was deserted, he walked quietly down the hall and entered a room. On the bed, naked and waiting for him, was Jacob. The boy was handsome and exciting. Even more exciting was that his wife was just down the corridor in the dining room.

Theoretically she could come in on them at any minute. Michael was certain she wouldn’t. Her parents ran the inn and she enjoyed visiting with the men who ate and drank in the common room. Jacob had caught her more than once in compromising situations. Still, the idea that she could walk in on them was enticing.

The bard walked quietly to where his lover slept. He slipped under the blankets and caressed the boy’s bare flesh. Jacob opened his eyes and smiled as their eyes met. Michael hugged him close and fondled him gently. Jacob reached around his hip and caressed, first his cheeks then the slit between them. Then his fingers slipped into Michael’s anus.

They kissed and their tongues danced against each other. Jacob looked up at him and licked his lips before he said, “We shouldn’t do this. I’m married.”

“You weren’t happy with her and she isn’t happy either,” Michael said. He arched into Jacob’s hands as one fondled his anus and the other stroked his growing erection. “Are you happy with me?”

“Oh, yes,” Jacob whispered. He kissed Michael as the bard slipped into him. “Michael, it isn’t right,” he murmured, though he arched into Michael until the bard was balls deep inside him.

“How can it not be,” Michael argued. “Jacob, I love you.”

“I love you,” Jacob murmured. “How am I going to tell Melanie? We can’t keep doing this. It’s dishonest and it isn’t fair to you to keep sneaking around like this.”

For several minutes there was no talk as the two men took pleasure in each other’s bodies. Then they lay silently, basking in the afterglow. “I’ll talk to her after you go back on your journeys,” Jacob said softly. “I… don’t think I can tell her about us. I’ll tell her that… we need to get separated. That we’ll both be happier that way.”

Michael nodded but frowned. “Why wait?” he asked softly.

“She’ll blame you otherwise. She’ll think that I was drawn away from her by you and want to… keep me. She’ll fight for me if she thinks there’s an opponent. If it’s a natural progression of our failing marriage then she’ll let me go,” Jacob said softly. “Actually, this way I can turn it around and blame her. She’s been cheating on me for years.”

“I know. I’ll come back as soon as I can,” Michael said softly.

Jacob nodded and rolled over so he was seated between Michael’s knees. He leaned into the bard and Michael could feel his erection. Smiling, Michael lifted his legs. He moaned as Jacob slipped inside him.

**
Beside the Green Apple Sea (8-17-09)

“Shouldn’t it be apple green? Like… your sister’s eyes,” Mara said softly.

“I’m avoiding a rhyme,” Astor explained. “I like the sound of green apple better anyway.”

“It sounds like a sea beside an apple orchard,” Michael said. He took a bite of the apple he’d purchased from a merchant’s cart. “That’s not a criticism,” he added quickly when Astor glared at him. “I’m just saying it. I like it better too. Apple green would make it too… sing-songy and it’s supposed to be a serious piece.”

“Thank you,” Astor said coolly. “We’re supposed to meet a group of bards from the Snowjewel Troupe here. Keep your eyes open. They have a pair of apprentices, one being the daughter of one of the members.”

“Any better description than that?” Mara asked.

“No,” Astor replied. He scanned the crowded marketplace and frowned thoughtfully. “I know Farad though so he should stick out to me. The man never changes.”

“I can’t imagine taking on an apprentice at our age,” Mara said softly. “Watching a journeyman is bad enough.”

“I don’t give you that much trouble,” Michael protested. He pointed and said, “What about them. A pair of kids and a man with instruments.”

“Yep, that’s them,” Astor agreed. “Well, one of the kids is a foxy. How… different.”

“I’m always happy to have new experiences,” Michael said softly. As he trotted up to the newcomers he sang the song that Astor had been working on. “So I left her there watching for things unseen, over the green apple sea.”

“How can you watch for things unseen?” Mara asked.

“That’s sort of the point,” Astor grumbled.

**
Feathered By the Moonlight (8-18-09)

Shiro flicked an ear under his hood and sighed. He hated being in purely human villages for this reason. One would think they had never even heard of other races with the way they reacted when they saw his ears and tail. Therefore his master had told him it might be a good idea to hide them, at least until the townsfolk realized that he wasn’t going to eat them.

He glanced out into the town square and gasped at what he saw. There one of the village girls stood, bathed in the moonlight. At first it seemed like an illusion but when they moved he realized that they were real. Snowy white wings had sprouted from her back as the moonlight had struck her. In a second she was aloft. “Master,” he whispered.

“I saw it too,” Master Farad said softly. “I think you can put your hood down. The people of this village only seem human. I wondered why they were giving us curious looks. I may be the only human here.”

Shiro smiled and looked around the common room. Sure enough, as moonlight streamed in the windows and struck them, the occupants shifted. Some grew wings from their backs, others sprouted feathers from their arms, others shifted completely into bird fey.

“Hello, little fox,” their waitress greeted. “Would you like some stew? The voles were caught fresh this afternoon. We also have fresh grapes from the vineyard.”

“Vole stew, really,” Shiro said. He nodded happily and the woman bounded off to get his meal. He glanced up at his master curiously and asked, “Master, why didn’t she ask what you wanted?”

“Well, I think I can understand how strange it is for you to be in a completely human village,” Master Farad said softly. “You see, she may not like me because I’m human or she may think that I don’t like you because you’re a fey.”

When the waitress returned with a bowl of stew, some bread and a bunch of grapes, Shiro looked up and said, “Please, since my master may not like voles, do you have a meal for humans also?”

She looked startled and nodded. “We have roast beef,” she replied.

“That sounds wonderful,” Farad said softly. “Thank you very much. Also, if I may ask, we are bards and make our living with music. Would it be acceptable for us to play here in your lovely establishment tonight?”

The woman nodded, smiling, “I don’t think it’ll be a problem but I’ll ask my father to be sure.” As she scampered off across the room, Shiro smiled at his master.

“What are you grinning about?” Farad asked softly.

“I’m a bard,” Shiro said, bouncing in his chair a little. He began to eat cheerfully and Farad grinned. The anxious, soft-spoken little kit that had been apprenticed to an overbearing uncle was gone. The boy was coming out of his shell, given wings by the magic of his music.

**
There is a bird that nests inside you (8-19-09)

Edward watched his daughter as she chatted with her dolls. She was equal parts himself and Winry. She had his hair and eye color but she had Winry’s chin and cheekbones. She was just as interested in science as she was in how machines worked. He wondered what she would be when she grew to adulthood.

Chloe giggled as she caught him watching. “What’re you doing, Daddy?” she asked. She bounded over and jumped into his arms.

“Just watching you play, sweet pea,” Ed replied. “Thinking about how fast you’re growing up. Wondering what you’re going to be when do you grow up.”

“I don’t know,” Chloe said, her brow knitting.

“You don’t have to yet, silly goose,” Ed teased. “You’re three. But someday… you, my little chickadee, are going to soar.” Chloe giggled as he set her back down and she returned to her dolls. “Someday,” Ed murmured.

**
Sleeping underneath your skin (8-20-09)

Suoh sighed as he fell deeper asleep. Suddenly, he was floating in that bright featureless place again. He sat up and looked around. “Little one,” a soft penetrating voice said. “Little one,” you need to awaken me.”

“How,” Suoh said. He looked around and saw a large white dragon with hair the same powdery blue as his own looming over him. For some reason, he wasn’t afraid of this monstrous beast. “How do I awaken you. Who are you?”

“I am you, Litle One. I am what you should be,” the dragon said. “You must awaken me.”

Then Suoh was awake in his own bed. “What a strange dream,” he murmured. The day was brightening into morning so he got up and began preparing for his classes. Throughout the day, the strange dream would return to his mind.

**
When you open up your wings to speak (8-21-09)

Astarte watched her son from behind the curtain. The boy didn’t know she was watching, praying that all would go well. This was his chance. It was likely the only one he would get. If he didn’t take this leap, he would stay a little fledgling bird forever.

“F-father,” he managed. His voice was soft. The man on the throne paid him no mind. “Emperor Anu,” he said, more formally and stronger at the same time. “Emperor Anu, you are under arrest for crimes against the people of Mag Mell, for trafficking in slavery and for willful violation of numerous treaties. I’m going to ask you to come with me. If you do not and choose to resist, I will use force.”

The bustle of court ceased and all heads turned to look at the young prince. “What did you say?” the emperor asked, rising to his feet. He walked menacingly toward his son and heir. “By whose authority do you come here?” he asked, his voice thundering through the hall.

“I come by the authority of my position as chief investigator for Mag Mell. I come at the behest of the Council of Elders,” Orbsen said firmly. His golden-brown eyes were huge but he met his father’s eyes without quailing. “You are hereby removed from your position as emperor of Mag Mell and king of Tirna Nog, by order of the elders.”

“Guards seize this whelp,” the former emperor thundered.

Orbsen spun toward the assembled guardsmen. “If you so much as move, you will stand accused of high treason as well,” he warned them. Not one moved. All heads turned back to the former emperor. “You are finished,” Orbsen said firmly. “Now come along peacefully or I will subdue you.”

“You will,” Anu snorted.

He moved surprisingly fast for such a large man. Orbsen seemed to disappear for a moment and Astarte’s heart leapt into her throat. Then her husband was on the ground, unconscious, and Orbsen sat on top of him, panting.

He stood slowly and looked over the stunned courtiers. “The morning court is dismissed. We will reconvene under the council of Elders for the former emperor’s trial on the morrow. Oni, take him to the tower cell until his trial.” The people in the room moved to do as the young prince had ordered but the guards stayed put.

“Your orders, sir,” the captain said sternly.

“It is not within my authority as prince to order you, captain. You are dismissed to your regular duties until a new emperor is declared,” Orbsen replied. “Pardon me,” he added before bowing and following the oni out of the room.

**

I belong in the service of the queen (8-23-09)

Shadow sighed and settled back despondently. He’d gone from royal protector to forced service in a bathhouse to a slave of bandits. From both of these last he’d tried several times to escape with no success. He’d been punished multiple times. Now he was seated in a cage at the edge of an ocean, waiting for water to rise enough to drown him. The bandits were fed up with his fighting and escape attempts. They wanted him dead.

Shadow closed his eyes as the water splashed his face. It wouldn’t be long now. He was going to die here, never knowing if the princess he served was even alive. Had she escaped the people who’d captured and sold him? Was she a slave somewhere and waiting for rescue that would never come from him?

Water closed over his head for a moment. He coughed as it retreated and gagged when it covered him again. Then, he was suddenly on dry land. Hands were pulling him free of the cage. He opened his eyes to the familiar faces of Zared and Gashin. “Master Shadow!” the zebra greeted. “Her highness will be glad to hear that we found you. We’ll be home soon and a healer will tend to your injuries.

**
I’m almost drowning in her sea (8-24-09)

I’m almost drowning in her sea. She spreads her waves around her, hoping to catch her prey. She doesn’t do it maliciously. It is only her nature to catch them. She has me as surely as she has anyone. She does enjoy the conquest. Then she leaves us to drown.

*
Cuig sighed as he looked up from his notes. The margins were full of this scrawl. He had never been affected this strongly by a woman before and it pained him that it was his own apprentice that did it to him. Una was a strong-willed vixen and a beautiful one. Her gifts surprised him, and not just the ones he was training her in. She didn’t seem to see him as any more than a teacher though.

He stood and shook out his long mane, trying to distract himself from the girl. She was his student and thus, inaccessible. He swore when he’d become a master mage that he would not dominate his students as Master Fortain had him. He would not give in to the urgings of his heart no matter how much pain it brought him. He could not put anyone, especially Una, through what he went through.

**
Memories are films about ghosts (8-25-09)

“I realized just recently that none of my former squad members are in my squad now. I walk the same halls I did one hundred years ago, expecting to see familiar faces and all I see are strangers. My memories of that place are totally unlike how it is now.

“I’m not complaining, Shinji. I’ll get used to it. I’m getting used to it. Kira’s a good lieutenant and now that he’s getting used to me, we get along just fine. I’m just saying… all my memories of that place… the compound, the gardens, the offices… it’s like they happened to someone else now. It’s weird.”
**
Folded and unfolded and unfolding (8-26-09)

“Things don’t end, they move in cycles. We see beginnings and endings but there aren’t any, not really. There is always movement. Events don’t stop at a single moment in time. They continue to evolve and change. Life is always moving.

I’m present at the close of so many lives here but we all know that they move on to the human world. I’ve gotten to be there at the beginning but we know that those new lives are here from the human world. Life is… like one of these plants. I put it in an arrangement but it doesn’t stop changing, just because I plucked it off the main stem. The flowers will still open. Seeds might even form. Right here in this flower arrangement. Do you see what I’m trying to say, lieutenant? Yes, of course we can have a snack now.”

**
Give me your black sky (8-27-09)

“She’s such a sweet thing, you don’t expect her to be so morbid. I guess maybe I can help her there. I haven’t had a morbid second in my life. Even when things are at their bleakest, I seem to be able to smile. That isn’t a very nice way to discribe a person’s smile, Hiyori. I’m serious here.

I want to tell her. Let it go. Aizen isn’t worth your tears. He isn’t worth your pain. He didn’t even care that he you hurt; that you were in pain; that you were crying. I want to tell her to… I don’t know let me help her with her burdens, you know?

Give me some of those burdens. Share that pain and it’ll start to go away. Is it alright for a captain to tell his lieutenant that? Can I say that without her taking it the wrong way? Hiyori, she’s more than half my age. I don’t see her like that at all. I just want… her to… I want to tell her to… I want to say… Give me… your black sky so I can paint a sunrise.”

**
“It’s the breathing. It’s the breathing in and out and in and…” (8-28-09)

“We take so much for granted. Everyone does. We expect that when we wake up in the morning, we’ll sit up, climb out of bed, get washed up, dress, eat and begin our day. We expect to be able to eat. We expect to be able to get up. We expect to be able to… to breathe. Such a simple thing, breathing.

It takes people by complete surprise when they suddenly can’t accomplish such a simple task. Even now, after centuries, I expect to wake up every morning with the capacity to draw breath. I’ve been sick for centuries and am still shocked when the simple act of taking a breath is not possible. That’s what life is. That’s what it comes down to. It’s the breathing in and out and in and out.”

**
All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming (8-29-09)

“Do you know how many times I’ve been compared to an angel? Do you realize how many souls have said something like that before I send them on to their next life? No one around the office says I’m angelic in the slightest. None of the other captains think I’m angelic, except maybe Jyuushiro. The only people who see that side of me are people who only see me for the briefest of times.

Why do they think I’m angelic, anyway? I’m only doing my job. We’re supposed to send people on to their next life. They’ll go a little easier if they don’t have any unfinished business. What about Jyuushiro? Well, he was asleep. Yeah, just like Momo. I suppose so but it wasn’t like I could leave them. They’re like family. Family stays together, especially when one is sick.”

**
I wanted to see you walking away from me (8-30-09)

“I am sorry. I truly never meant to hurt you with the words I said. There were unkind, admittedly. Perhaps they were cruel. However, you would never turn from me. You were always facing me. You have a beautiful figure. You might notice that I never said anything bad about that. I could reach around your waist with ease. Your breasts are large and full. A man could lose himself in them. Your hips have just enough flair.

Then there is your face. A more perfectly symmetrical face I have never seen. Lips like roses. Eyes like sparkling river stones. You thought that I’d compare them to gemstones perhaps? Such banalities would not begin to describe the many hues and expressions I see in them. But you would always be facing me. You never turned away.

When I said all those things, my kitten, I wanted to see you walking away from me. Now I have and I see that I hadn’t yet seen your best feature.”

**
Someday I’m going to stay, but not today. (8-31-09)

He watched the pair of boys as they ran through the yard. They were racing each other. The smaller one lagged behind the taller by only a few paces. They reached the tree, which was obviously the finish line at nearly the same time. “I win,” both shouted.

“Miles was just a little faster, Emery,” their mother said before the dispute could become a fight.

“He has longer legs,” Emery stated. “It isn’t fair. He’s younger than I am.”

“Only by a year,” their mother soothed. “You’ll catch up quickly, I’m sure.. Let’s go get lunch.” She turned to lead the way into the house.

“Is Papa coming home for lunch,” Miles asked, all innocence. His brother glared and shushed him quickly.

His mother turned and said, “Not today dearest.”

“Is Papa ever coming home?” Emery asked softly.

“Someday,” the man watching them said, before he melted back into the forest.

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

Heather's Fancies

tales from the enchanted gardens and shadow hollow

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