(no subject)
teacherpaul
I’ve been editing and organizing my ass off for the last couple of months, putting together the issues of “Anything Goes,” and that’s just the prose parts. When I buy my new computer, I’ll be using self-publishing software to put them all together, hopefully with advertising, imagery, and links so people can click right on the ads right to listings where they can buy the novels. It’s such a chore, scribbling all that red ink over everything, and making sure the issues are roughly the same size.

forty short stories, if you include editing “Science Fantasies”
ten essays
six poems

And “Philosophical Phanties” is up next.

(no subject)
teacherpaul
Hello, Class,

You've given me a lot of useful suggestions this semester, but I know we're all tired and moving into the home stretch of writing (or in my case, reading) essays and stories, so this is the last week of the fiction journal project. I have posted the last two chapters of "Hotel Murder" so you can know the ending and another chapter of "Discarded." I plan on rewriting "Last Bookstop" from the very beginning, but with the same characters. I will stop counting journal entries June 12th.

Good luck with finals,

Paul

Discarded Chapter Seventeen
teacherpaul
When Apulia confessed the danger he had put the travelers in, everyone turned to face him. The hands of Meramix and Keramos felt to the hilts of weapons, while Sohemus regarded the renegade lord calmly.
“It would have been better for you to have told us in the beginning.”
Apulia glanced at Meramix and Keramos before answering her. “I did not realize that the Hive tunneled in this part of the underworld. I thought they were only a danger on our side of the sea.”
“They are a hungry people,” said Keramos. “I have even seen them take down a monster or two, overwhelming them with numbers and disregard of sacrifice.”
“But we cannot disregard life so easily,” said Meramix. “You should leave our fellowship.”
“If the Hive Queen obtains this gem, then she may study our souls even as we used it to study her magic.”
Mysis wanted to intervene, but held back. The Kazan scouts stood a hair’s breath from violence, and anything could push them over. Nor did she wish to pair herself with Apulia in their minds. She was here for Chan’s quest, not Apulia’s.
And the more she thought about the danger Apulia had put them all in, the less she cared to save him. The Hive was a greater danger than Emeth, in enough numbers a threat to either of their cities.
“You misunderstand,” said Sohemus. “You worry that we would have abandoned you if you informed us.”
“Meramix just told me to leave.”
“But I do not.”
Sohemus lifted her hand. “May I touch Cinyui?”
Apulia glanced at the scouts again, resistant to the idea, not knowing what Sohemus had in mind. Seeing the critical moment when she could ease them back together without seeming to take sides, Mysis whispered, “Is there a better time to see if Sohemus’ god can help Cinyui?”
Apulia held out Cinyui’s soul gem, its energies disturbed by the telepathic flow of the Hive Queen’s communion with nearby insects.
Is Cinyui afraid of the Hive, wondered Mysis, or so infected that she wishes to rejoin their mind?
Sohemus touched the gem, and her face contorted with pain and loss, as if stabbed and betrayed, confused. Her breathing quickened, and she looked around blankly. Everyone but Apulia eased back, just out of her reach, but Keramos and Meramix looked ready to give her a merciful death.
Closing her eyes, Sohemus breathed a little slower, then a little slower. Even as her face relaxed, the rippling in the gem slowed. Eventually Sohemus’ face regained its placid confidence, and Cinyui appeared smooth, if still green.
Apulia looked at her with hope. “Can you cure her?”
“Perhaps, but we do not have time to discuss that now. Chan, feel the earth for our hunters.”
Chan touched the walls on either side of them with his fingers and looked as if he was listening intently. “They are using an old tunnel of theirs, below and to our right. They plan on digging back up when they have our way blocked, but the Hive Queen is confused. She has lost our scent, as she thinks of it.”
“Then she will either never spring the trap,” said Keramos, “or will spring it prematurely.”
“Let us assume the latter,” said Meramix, even as he broke into a run down the tunnel, “and hope for the former.”
Everyone ran after him, with Nithas right behind him lighting the way. They didn’t try to conserve themselves. The immortals drew upon reserves of energy, and Chan kept up, stronger than ever deep in the earth, regaining every loss with each footfall. He almost looked bouyent as he ran at Mysis’ side.
From behind them echoed the sound of a cave in, followed by the dreaded clicking of dozens of rushing clawed feet. When no sounds came from ahead, she took a little comfort in how they had apparently outran the vanguard. They would only be attacked from one side.
“I have an idea,” said Chan, “but I need the rest of you to buy me some time.”
“How can you purchase time?” asked Apulia.
“Then fight for it,” snapped Chan.
“Is this you, or the dragon doing the thinking?” asked Sohemus.
“I am fairly sure the dragon.”
Keramos stopped and drew her swords even as he spun around. “Then I will give it a try.”
Apulia joined her, but the tunnel wasn’t wide enough for more, so Mysis and Meramix took places behind them. “We will relieve if you tire.”
Chan held up clawed hands. “I hope I do not need that long,” and he shoved them into a tunnel wall.
The Hive warriors rushed into the radius of Nithas’ light, their jaws beginning to snap as their prey came within range. The immortals fought with reflexive skills honed to perfection, but hindered by their inability to maneuver, or even to back up. Apulia preferred to stab and Keramos to slash, but used whatever opportunities they found, weaving their patterns of death in front of them.
The pile of corpses became as much a hinderence to the Hive warriors as the swords, but Mysis didn’t feel any better because of it. The Hive’s standard tactic at that point would be to return to burrowing and find another angle of attack.
When the earth vibrated, she was sure they were lost, that the workers had created another way for the warriors to attack, but then the ceiling fell down on the attacking warriors. Turning, she spied grim satisfaction on Chan’s face.
The vibrations grew in strength. “Run!” shouted Chan, and the Immortals dashed back the way they had been going.
Mysis grabbed Chan. “Come! You have saved us!”
“They have more tunnels around here! Go!”
Nithas and Sohemus both grabbed Mysis her arms and pulled her away.
The stone cracked beneath their feet. “The earth will not harm him!” shouted Nithas, and Mysis finally let herself be pulled away, then joined them in running from the epicenter of a small earthquake. The stones around them shifted even as Chan turned them against the Hive warriors, man-sized splinters of the cavern falling from the ceiling.
Sohemus led them, her sensitive feet taking them in the direction of weaker vibrations, down a tunnel they had to run through crouching. Nithas’ light broke around their bodies, but shot down the too smooth tunnel and weaved upon and down. The light reflected off strains of silver in the rock.
“This is bad,” whispered Keramos.
“Worse than the Hive?” asked Nithas.
“Maybe, maybe not. Silver and gold are what are left over from when wyrms drain magical earths of their potency. This earth is still warm, so the wyrm fed recently. It still might be around.”
“Then everyone shut up,” said Lord Apulia.
“It senses magic, not sound, or touch.”
“Nithas, douse your light.”
He did.
“But how will Chan find us?” asked Mysis, wondering if he would survive the cave-ins he caused.
“By following his feet,” said Sohemus.
Tags:

Hotel Murder: The End
teacherpaul
Chapter Seventeen
Hood spent his time going to the car trying to marshal arguments that would convince his chief to not send him out of the city. Unfortunately, the Chief was thinking like a politician, which mean the logic of the investigation wouldn’t mean much to him.
Even as he sat down in his car, his cell phone rang. “Yes?”
“Detective Hood?”
“Bancroft. Good to hear from you.”
“Meet me at the bar.”
Bancroft hung up, but Hood was pretty sure he knew which bar, so he drove all the way back out to “Ladies for the Tramps.” Joe Bancroft was sitting at the far end of the bar with Honcho, near an exit, and had a good view of the entire room.
Definitely a survivor, thought Hood as he crossed the bar, ignored by the large patrons. As Hood approached, Honcho went to the nearest pool table. “Mind if I sit down?”
“Go ahead.”
Hood made himself look purposely comfortable. “What do you have for me?”
“I know the secret Eric Longstreet was killed over.”
“How?”
“He hired me to dig up dirt on his father. It’s what I do.”
“And now they’re after you.”
“I’m going to disappear, Hood. You’ll never see me again, if we’re lucky, but I’m going to kick up a dust cloud behind me.” He took a memory stick out of his shirt pocket and tossed it on the table. “On that stick are photos I took of an affair between Victor and Janet Longstreet.”
“What?” Hood snatched up the memory stick. “You’re kidding me?”
“Nope. This is what Eric was going to blackmail them with, after his bombshell of revealing Janet’s parentage went down like a dud.”
“But sleeping together?” Hood looked around to see if anyone was listening, but the biker gang was preoccupied with pool and strippers.
“Victor is obsessed with making sure the money stays in the family, but Janet is the only one with the brains to run his little empire.”
She’s been going to the hospital. “She’s pregnant, isn’t she?”
“Yes.”
“Couldn’t he have just adopted her?”
“But she’s not their blood.”
“How willing is Janet in this?”
“I don’t know, but to inherit his fortune, I’d have sex with him myself.”
“Did this start before or after…”
“The bombshell? I’m pretty sure it was Eric’s big reveal that started Victor and Janet’s affair.”
“And Victor’s wife?”
“Is out of town most of the time.”
“Charity work, according to your files.”
“Yeah, the files I gave to Victor, anyway.”
“You have dirt on Mrs. Longstreet?”
“There’s a lot more to know about her than meets the eye, but it’s nothing to do with the homicide. At least, not of Eric.”
“Are you trying to get me to arrest you?”
“Nah. Just a friendly warning. Anything you’d like to ask, because this is your last chance with me.”
“Do you know who actually killed him?”
“I would hope Janet had the satisfaction, so it was probably Victor.”
“But you can’t prove that.”
“No. All I have is your motive.”
“What about Eric’s pals?”
“Blackmailing their parents? Don’t take any of them seriously. I’ve been keeping an eye on Eric for Victor-“
“While keeping an eye on Victor for Eric.”
Bancroft shrugged. “And I can assure you, nothing those guys told you is true. Not a whole lot they say to each other is true. They all have Plan A of getting back in power in their families, but their Plan Bs are all to stab each other in the back and take over this town. They’re constantly juggling their stories, they’ve all made secret alliances with each other that they are willing to break on the spot for their own advantage. This quiet little city with its century of détente would have turned into an economic and political war zone if Eric and his poker buddies had their way, which your investigation is likely to stop.”
Hood imagined himself getting the Chief off his back by telling him how to arrest all these cast off heirs for attempted blackmail, which would save their Families the mess Bancroft predicted. “Thanks for the tip.”
“I like good cops, but I don’t envy your decision.”
Neither did Hood, but he had some checking to do first.
Chapter Eighteen
Hood and Gasconi drove out to Victor’s lakeside mansion, and were ushered to the balcony overlooking the water. Victor and Janet were both there, wearing modest bathing suits, playing chess, but swiveled in their chairs to better see the detectives.
“What can we do for you, detectives?” asked Victor.
“Come quietly,” said Hood. “It’s over.”
To Victor’s apparent surprise, Janet stood, but Hood shook his head. “No, Janet, not you. Victor Longstreet, you are under arrest for the murder of Eric Longstreet.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Victor.
Hood held up the memory stick. “This is documentation of the affair between you and Ms. Longstreet, the evidence you murdered Eric to cover up.”
“That’s motive,” said Janet, “but not evidence.”
“I know, but this morning we used a court order to see the GPS records for your vehicles, the same ones in your garage right now. One of them was parked by the apartments within the time frame of Eric’s death.”
Victor and Janet held still, waiting.
“Janet has done an interesting job of trying to lure attention towards herself, I imagine she thought that if we arrested her and failed to convict, it would discourage our investigation, but manipulation isn’t really her area of expertise.”
“Grab your attention how?” asked Victor.
“Besides suggesting that she herself was the best suspect? She has us meet near a hospital. I imagine that when we investigate her medical records, we will discover that she is pregnant. She will claim from Eric’s sexual abuse, which I believe did happen, but quite some time ago. You are the more likely father.”
“Your murder was messy, Mr. Longstreet,” said Gasconi. “You would have gotten blood on your clothes. I’m sure you’ve disposed of them, but I can get police officers down here to comb the grounds, dig through the ashes of your furnace, whatever it takes. We’ve found skin under the nails of Eric Longstreet from when he defended himself from you. It might be a couple of weeks before the DNA results come back from the FBI, but that’s just a matter of time.”
“So why are we talking about this?” asked Victor.
“But I’m willing to cut you a deal, Mr. Longstreet,” said Hood.
“Which is?”
“You plead guilty to a lesser homicide charge, and the prosecutor will not use the evidence on this memory stick against you. I’ll dump it in the box and it will be filed away in the evidence room never to be seen again. Nor will I subpoena the medical records and point out that while it is possible the Eric is the father, it is more likely you. Do we have a deal?”
Victor glanced at Janet, then stood. “I’ll go quietly, Detective. Thank you for your consideration.”
Janet turned on him. “You don’t have to for my sake.”
He took her hand. “I’m doing this for … your child, Janet. I have legal wheels in motion that will secure the Longstreet fortune for the both of you, including an allowance to Hope and Joy to get them off your back, but since the fall out from Eric’s death is inevitable, I will take all of it and leave you clean.”
Janet shook her head. “I’ve never been clean.”
“Don’t mistake our dirt for yours.” Then Victor offered his wrists to the detectives to be cuffed.
“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Longstreet,” said Gasconi, who escorted the wealthy murderer away.
Hood faced Janet. “I understand why you’d want to cover for him, Ms. Longstreet, but I suggest you keep a low profile.”
She crossed her arms. “Why?”
“Because you’re already very close to being charged with accessory and obstruction, given your attempt to mislead us away from him.”
“He’s treated me better than any other man.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but it doesn’t change the facts. He is going quietly, but if you don’t play along, his sacrifice to protect you from the legal consequences will have been in vain.”
“You’re really good at blackmail, aren’t you, Detective?”
“It’s a contagious vice around here.” He wanted to tell her that he felt sorry for her, was relieved that she wasn’t the one being led away to jail, but didn’t want her to think she had an emotional lever to use against him. “Good bye, Ms. Longstreet. For the record, I hope it’s a girl. This city has had enough of Longstreet men.”
Surprised, her hands went to her belly, but before she could say anything, he bowed slightly and left.

hotel murder Chapter Sixteen
teacherpaul
Driving back into town, Hood’s mind alternated between grousing about letting Hell Hounds roam free and thinking about the case.
“It bugs you, doesn’t it?” asked Gasconi.
“It bugs me that it doesn’t bug you.”
“They worked for the Four Families before I ever joined the police force.”
“They’re vigilantes.”
“More like mercenaries, and if Feds can hire those to fight the war on terror, why should locals hire them for the war on drugs?”
“That’s the excuse, not the reason.”
Gasconi shrugged. “When a criminal kills a victim, it’s murder. When a victim kills a criminal, it’s self-defense. When a criminal kills a criminal, it’s a dead criminal.”
Hood remembered a couple of times in L.A. when they received notice that a professional hit man was flying into town. Since he was only sent by the Mafia to kill rogue gangsters, the department did nothing but wait for a report of a murdered criminal to come in and then pretended to do an investigation for the sake of the public image. The hit man spent most of his time in an overpaid, cushy job in a nice, middle-sized city in a middle-class neighborhood, never so much as getting a parking ticket. Rumor had it there was one day when he racked up a lot of speeding tickets from corner cameras catching his plates, and people wondered what that day might have been like for him, but no one did anything about it.
“We need to get his phone records and see if he’s been working any cases besides ours,” said Gasconi.
“Cover all our bases,” said Hood, nodding, but seriously doubting any of the private investigator’s other cases would lead to a visit from a professional killer and safe cracker. He doubted he would ever find the killer, but if he was lucky Bancroft would find them.
“I’ll drop you off at the station and you call around about Bancroft. I’m going to look into the Cesborn-Mallory alliance.”
“How so?”
“First, figure out how they benefit from all this mess. Then the rest will start falling into place.”
After leaving Gasconi at the police station, he drove around the block to a café where he could with a coffee, small, black, and ponder.
So if Cesborn and Mallory are working with Hope Longstreet, it could mean two things. First, they all worked together to kill Eric, or Eric died and Cesborn and Mallory have turned to Hope because her daughter Joy stands to inherit the Longstreet fortune. This would mean a union of three families, which would isolate Ms. Jolene. But why kill Eric if he is already working with them on the plot?
Then there is Janet, the present heir of the Longstreet fortune, unless she is discredited by illegitimacy?
Is Janet going to the hospital around the same time as her legal father’s death a coincidence? Was she confirming her illegitimacy? But what about after Eric’s death? How bad was the abuse? If Eric knew Janet wasn’t his daughter, wanted to punish Hope for cheating on him…was he perverted enough to rape Janet?
Well, he did run a whore house out of his apartment complex.
If he couldn’t control Hope, would he have shown his dominance using Janet?
Could Janet have been getting an abortion?
Can I get a warrant for her medical records?
All Hood needed was the name of the doctor Janet was seeing, and that doctor’s specialty would answer lots of questions.
So he called the prosecutor’s office and told them he needed a warrant for Janet Longstreet’s medical records. “By her mother’s own testimony, she was abused by the victim. I need to know how much to establish a motive.” The lawyer on the other end said she’d look into it, and disconnected.
But in the mean time, he looked up the offices of Carol Jolene and drove to the office building. Using his badge, he walked through security, took the elevator up to the top floor, the entirety of which was dedicated to her family’s business interests, and asked the secretary to call Ms. Jolene. She did, and then asked Hood to wait about ten minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, some suits left the office and Hood was allowed in. He stood in front of Carol Jolene’s old-fashioned desk in the steel and glass office with a view of half the city, including part of the Missouri River. “Please, have a seat, Detective, what can I do for you?”
“I need a bigger break on this case, Ms. Jolene. I think you have motive to give it to me.”
“Why is that?”
He explained how the potential heirs of the other families were aligning themselves, and that would probably be against her. “Just passively, of course, enough to thwart your plans for civic improvement.”
“So you think someone killed Eric to prevent this alignment.”
Now that she put it that way, Hood realized it gave her motive to kill the victim. “What do you think?”
“I think Janet hated him, Victor despised him, and I’m somewhere in between.”
“So you see how this could look to me,” he said, not believing that Carol killed him, but wanting her to believe it enough to shake loose some more information.
She smiled slyly. “I have a dream, Detective, and I’m not going to risk it over Eric and his disgusting pictures. Yes, a combination of the other families against me would be a problem, but the lovely thing about capital is how easy is it to move. I can always build it someplace else. Would you like to see my dream, Detective?”
“Yes.”
So she took him into a much larger office, dominated by a table upon which sat models of hills, trees, buildings, even roads, creating a three-dimensional map bordered on one side by a river. “You’re going to build an office complex? This city can’t support that much construction.”
“No, Detective, a university. Do you know why our economy is down in the dumps?”
“I’ve heard a lot of theories.”
“Mine is that American business people have stopped reinvesting their profits in America, and are now investing in Asia. They’ve been doing it longer than I’ve been alive, and it’s a continual drain on our economic vitality. We want expensive, high quality goods from Japan and Europe and everything else from China. Do you know what they want from us?”
Hood stared at the map. “I’m guessing an education.”
“Americans used to attend university in Europe because that’s where all the great intellectuals were, but the Nazis chased them out and they settled in our Ivy League schools. Now the Asians come to college here, and for every one we accept, ten more are waiting in line.” She waved her hand over the map. “College degrees are becoming America’s third biggest export.”
“Behind weapons?”
“And agriculture. We’re a family of broad vision, bringing money back to our nation.”
“And you’re showing me this because?”
“Because I have too much to lose to go to prison. I don’t think the other families would stop me, because this plan would bring too much profit to their local businesses, the annual flooding in of thousands of students who need clothes, books, and places to hang out. I’d have to hire professors, janitors, remedial English teachers, security guards, everything that makes a university run. And if the other families decided to stop me, I’d just build it someplace else, probably Okoboji, or someplace closer to an airport. In other words, I have better things on my mind than Eric Longstreet.”
“I thought Okoboji already had a university?”
“No, just the T-shirts.”
“This state is weirder than I thought.”
His cell phone rang, and he glanced at the name. It was the Chief, so he answered it.
“What are you doing?” snapped the Chief. “I told you which direction I wanted this investigation to go.”
“We called various other departments to keep an eye out for those witnesses.”
“Well, I have a list of them right here, spread out from Omaha to Chicago, and you’re going to start interviewing them right now.”
Which would pretty much put an end to the real investigation.
What does the Chief think he’s doing?

The Last Bookstop Chapter Seventeen
teacherpaul
After nightfall, David herded every last customer out with a broom, shouting at them with desperation to get out of his bookstore, then gratefully locked the door and leaned forehead first against it.
“My god, the crazies came out of the woodwork.”
“You mean the Internet,” said Austen. “Kicked off the Net, they had no place else to go.”
“But here…why here?”
“Because this is the last bookshop. Since crazy people can’t handle reality, they lose themselves in virtual realities.”
“For Christ’s sake, let them buy a VR pack.”
“They can’t afford them,” said Henry.
“No, no, no,” said David. “It cannot be that books are for crazy people.”
“We’re all here,” said Austen, but she wasn’t sure if that was condemnation or reassurance. “Books are for people for whom common sense explanations of life aren’t sufficient. Some find better explanations, and some find worse.”
“Then why did only the worse show up?”
“Because they were the ones kicked off the Web,” said Henry. “The nutters.”
David’s eyes narrowed with worried realization, then he leaned back up straight, stuck his hand in his pockets, and disappeared into the shelves, thinking about something hard.
Alone with Henry, Austen felt jumbled up inside. Within minutes of her blowing off his theory of seduction via violence, she’d watched him take down three skinheads with hardly any effort at all and felt the excitement. She could only imagine, with some glee, the short, bloody work he’d make of her asshole step-father if he every showed up, and all she’d probably have to do is say the word.
“She has to think he deserves it,” he had said, and she checked that off. “And it helps if she’s watching.” She’d definitely want that checked off. The only disappointing variable would be, “He has to think he can win, or he won’t fight.”
She was of the theory that men who bullied women didn’t have the guts to bully men.
But it wasn’t a hundred percent true.
Austen caught herself actually hoping her step-father found her, and set aside that fantasy for the nightmare it would probably turn into. Far more likely than the happily ever after would be the police arresting Henry, or her step-father harressing her with phone calls, or maybe hanging around to bother her but never crossing the line and giving Henry an excuse…a present excuse, anyway.
In the meantime, she really wanted to jump into bed with Henry, but he seemed infatuated with Sharly. His sudden interest in dance, how he became so tongue-tied when she’d mentioned his name, how he’d avoided her first advance…she imagined him, Sharly, and herself all in bed together. She didn’t want to share Henry with Sharly, but she couldn’t think of a more likely way to get to him.
She tried to fill her voice with sly humor instead of the attraction, even admiration, she felt. “I’d say you’ve earned a dance lesson.”
Henry’s lips tightened, but he managed to pry them apart. “Thanks.” He ran his fingers through this short hair. “I’m beat. Can we do it tomorrow?”
He did looked wiped out, more than physically tired, almost as if dealing with a sudden horde of crazy customers, all looking for off the wall books to support their out of this world views was more exhausting than fighting those thugs. “Sure.”
She followed him out the back, through the café, passing David who was staring into a glass of red wine. He sat at a table next to the door between them, too lost in thought to notice their passing.
Out on the street, Henry looked at her, puzzled. “Do you live… where do you live?”
“Usually I sleep on a cot in the store, before then a shelter. Sometimes I crash at Sharly’s. You?”
“Rinky dinky efficiency flat.” As he looked up and down the street, she wondered if he was going to ask to walk her home, or if he was trying to figure out how to say good-night, or if he even realized how close he could be to getting laid, if he only reached out for it.
Should I smile encouragingly? Take his arm? Play the trump card?
“Sharly hangs out at Hades. Want to go?”
“You mean that year round Halloween club?”
“They like to think of it as a paranormal fashion show.”
He shook his head with cynical mystification. “All fashion shows look like freak shows to me.”
“Is that a yes or a no?” When he didn’t answer, she shrugged. “Follow me or not. Up to you.”
She started walking away, and after only a moment Henry caught up. Inside she warmed with satisfaction.
“Sorry. I’m still wired from today, and I’ve been staying a way from clubs. I can’t afford them.”
He sounded more worried than sad, and she suspected he meant more than not having enough money. But she said, “Don’t you worry. There’s girls there who would buy a beefy guy like you a drink,” anyway, just to see his reaction.
He didn’t.
Austen suspected they were going to spend the entire evening pretending they didn’t have any feelings, playing a game of chicken to see who would break down and ask the other one to bed first.
She didn’t feel as good about her chances as usual.
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Tower Chapter Seventeen
teacherpaul
Rinkle said goodbye with a kiss and flew off, leaving her with the warmth in her heart like a blanket as she explored the abandoned North Tower. The ghosts who shared their love making had repaid her for their unbidden company by reinforcing the pleasure of their own memories of passion. She had loved her husband well enough, comparatively to other men, but the sex had never been as amazing as last night, and she still felt the after glow.
She looked for the perfect room for her glassware, plenty of space, plenty of windows. Unfortunately the sun would pass on the south side of the Tower, so the shadows cast by the main structure meant losing daylight.
Along the way she passed lots of portraits, mostly as husbands and wives or groups of siblings, but no individual portraits, as if they only saw themselves in relationship to each other. She found a library with a nice wide window but too many shelves and tables to move. Stills, she marked the pace in her mind.
One door she couldn’t open, she couldn’t even budge it despite her manly grip. Then the door knob warmed to her touch and she let go, realizing the ghosts didn’t want her to go in. “Oh, you get to piggy back while I’m love making but you get your secret room,” she muttered to the haunted door.
Eventually she found a ballroom with windows on three sides and half the ceiling. The rest of the wall space had been painted with a forest scene with foreign, half-human creatures dancing and playing musical instruments. She stomped about the floor, stirring up dust but finding the floor solid.
So she retrieved supplies from the kitchen and swept the room. The windows faced away from the Tower, but she merely swept the dust up to them. Later at night, she would risk opening the maid’s windows at the bottom and sweep the dust out into the open air. Then she started cleaning the windows. They swiveled, so she cleaned both sides. Eventually she needed a ladder, and went looking for one.
When she ran into Magnix, she gave off a quick, sharp, cry. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“It’s day time.”
“My careful use of verbal choices implied to the calligraphy master that I would be at the hospital and to the doctor that I would be returning to the monastery, but without actually lying.”
“Aren’t there guards in front of the connecting hall?”
“At the moment, only one, chosen for his lack of diligence as the rest of the guards have been dealing with a riot.”
“A riot? Was anyone hurt?”
“Yes, but I didn’t see your family name on the rolls.”
“Well, as long as you’re here, you can help clean the ballroom.”
They found a ladder, collapsed it to its shortest length, and began carrying it back to the ballroom. “So why are we doing this?” asked Shyla.
“I have hopes that your light structure will attract a spiritual being far more powerful than you realize. “Could you walk a little slower, please?”
Her heart jumped even as her feet slowed. Despite the swelling of pride, she worried. “Is that a good thing?”
“I believe so. You see, the Tower’s magic is enabled by a captured being trapped in the foundation. I want to free it, but that requires a more powerful being than even the dragon.”
“A dream dragon is in the foundations of our city?”
“Holding it up, actually.”
“But the only thing more powerful than a dragon is a god.”
“I’ll settle for a demigod.”
She stopped on some stairs and twisted around to face him. “You think I will summon a demigod?”
“Well, yes.”
“How can you know that?”
“Because the Church has done so in secret. They are using this demigod to suppress the dragon as it tries to claw its way out of the magical cage we set around it. The demigod isn’t happy about it, but the runes enforce compliance. The magical struggle is making the quakes worse.”
“But the priests are controlling a demigod. I thought it would be the other way around.”
“Well, yes, in theory. Now could we move along? I don’t want to hold this forever.”
So they hiked up to the ballroom as she struggled with a world turned upside down. The Church was controlling the demigod? What happened to worship?
Once they put the ladder in a good place for window washing, she faced him again, this time much closer. “So what happens if we free the dragon?”
“Then we evacuate the Tower.”
“You mean it will fall down? On us?”
“Not right away. It’s very well built, but without magic the next major earthquake will shake it down. What I fear is that the struggle between the dragon and the demigods will shake it apart while we’re still inside.”
“Why don’t you tell anyone?”
“The former inhabitants of the North Tower tried to, and the Guard slaughtered them, then the Church hushed it up. I’m just one man with two friends, three if you include the griffon.”
“And the ghosts, apparently.”
“And hopefully a demigod.”
“But my glassware doesn’t have any runes to control a demigod.”
“I know. I don’t want to become my enemy to fight them. Hopefully a spiritual being of such power, being a spiritual being, will see the need to help us.”
“Don’t the gods know about all this?”
“It’s a big world, and the dream world is even bigger.”
“You make my head hurt.” She gave him a bucket of dirty water. “Go get me some clean water. Fortunately, the water basins have been filled to the brim by rains.”
As he left, she sat down under the burden of his revelations, frightened and awed by their intentions, and yet excitement grew, too.
Will I bring a demigod into this world?
Tags:

The Tower Chapter Seventeen
teacherpaul
Rinkle said goodbye with a kiss and flew off, leaving her with the warmth in her heart like a blanket as she explored the abandoned North Tower. The ghosts who shared their love making had repaid her for their unbidden company by reinforcing the pleasure of their own memories of passion. She had loved her husband well enough, comparatively to other men, but the sex had never been as amazing as last night, and she still felt the after glow.
She looked for the perfect room for her glassware, plenty of space, plenty of windows. Unfortunately the sun would pass on the south side of the Tower, so the shadows cast by the main structure meant losing daylight.
Along the way she passed lots of portraits, mostly as husbands and wives or groups of siblings, but no individual portraits, as if they only saw themselves in relationship to each other. She found a library with a nice wide window but too many shelves and tables to move. Stills, she marked the pace in her mind.
One door she couldn’t open, she couldn’t even budge it despite her manly grip. Then the door knob warmed to her touch and she let go, realizing the ghosts didn’t want her to go in. “Oh, you get to piggy back while I’m love making but you get your secret room,” she muttered to the haunted door.
Eventually she found a ballroom with windows on three sides and half the ceiling. The rest of the wall space had been painted with a forest scene with foreign, half-human creatures dancing and playing musical instruments. She stomped about the floor, stirring up dust but finding the floor solid.
So she retrieved supplies from the kitchen and swept the room. The windows faced away from the Tower, but she merely swept the dust up to them. Later at night, she would risk opening the maid’s windows at the bottom and sweep the dust out into the open air. Then she started cleaning the windows. They swiveled, so she cleaned both sides. Eventually she needed a ladder, and went looking for one.
When she ran into Magnix, she gave off a quick, sharp, cry. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“It’s day time.”
“My careful use of verbal choices implied to the calligraphy master that I would be at the hospital and to the doctor that I would be returning to the monastery, but without actually lying.”
“Aren’t there guards in front of the connecting hall?”
“At the moment, only one, chosen for his lack of diligence as the rest of the guards have been dealing with a riot.”
“A riot? Was anyone hurt?”
“Yes, but I didn’t see your family name on the rolls.”
“Well, as long as you’re here, you can help clean the ballroom.”
They found a ladder, collapsed it to its shortest length, and began carrying it back to the ballroom. “So why are we doing this?” asked Shyla.
“I have hopes that your light structure will attract a spiritual being far more powerful than you realize. “Could you walk a little slower, please?”
Her heart jumped even as her feet slowed. Despite the swelling of pride, she worried. “Is that a good thing?”
“I believe so. You see, the Tower’s magic is enabled by a captured being trapped in the foundation. I want to free it, but that requires a more powerful being than even the dragon.”
“A dream dragon is in the foundations of our city?”
“Holding it up, actually.”
“But the only thing more powerful than a dragon is a god.”
“I’ll settle for a demigod.”
She stopped on some stairs and twisted around to face him. “You think I will summon a demigod?”
“Well, yes.”
“How can you know that?”
“Because the Church has done so in secret. They are using this demigod to suppress the dragon as it tries to claw its way out of the magical cage we set around it. The demigod isn’t happy about it, but the runes enforce compliance. The magical struggle is making the quakes worse.”
“But the priests are controlling a demigod. I thought it would be the other way around.”
“Well, yes, in theory. Now could we move along? I don’t want to hold this forever.”
So they hiked up to the ballroom as she struggled with a world turned upside down. The Church was controlling the demigod? What happened to worship?
Once they put the ladder in a good place for window washing, she faced him again, this time much closer. “So what happens if we free the dragon?”
“Then we evacuate the Tower.”
“You mean it will fall down? On us?”
“Not right away. It’s very well built, but without magic the next major earthquake will shake it down. What I fear is that the struggle between the dragon and the demigods will shake it apart while we’re still inside.”
“Why don’t you tell anyone?”
“The former inhabitants of the North Tower tried to, and the Guard slaughtered them, then the Church hushed it up. I’m just one man with two friends, three if you include the griffon.”
“And the ghosts, apparently.”
“And hopefully a demigod.”
“But my glassware doesn’t have any runes to control a demigod.”
“I know. I don’t want to become my enemy to fight them. Hopefully a spiritual being of such power, being a spiritual being, will see the need to help us.”
“Don’t the gods know about all this?”
“It’s a big world, and the dream world is even bigger.”
“You make my head hurt.” She gave him a bucket of dirty water. “Go get me some clean water. Fortunately, the water basins have been filled to the brim by rains.”
As he left, she sat down under the burden of his revelations, frightened and awed by their intentions, and yet excitement grew, too.
Will I bring a demigod into this world?
Tags:

Discarded Chapter 16
teacherpaul
When the earth shook, tossing off the immortals, from sheer panic Chan’s hands clawed into the rock. Even as his feet dangled in the air, he felt the cold, hard granite around his fingers like a farmer’s sturdy gloves. A series of yanks jolted his body as each of the immortals reached the end of their section of rope, but his fingers dug deeper, holding on for their lives. The hardest shock was from Keramos falling from above him, and he felt the rope bite into his skin.
He looked down and counted his companions. Everyone was still there, but they were so high the bottom was hidden by darkness. He took a breath for courage, regained his footing, and eased one of his hands out of the rock. He stared wide-eyed at it.
His hand was the brown of long labor under the sun, but had the strange shimmer of snake skin. The fingers ended in small claws, and when he rubbed them together they felt scaly.
The dragon is keeping me alive. I hope it is as helpful for my friends.
He was relieved to be alive, but unnerved by how easily and quickly the dragon had asserted itself, reaching out through his skin.
He waited for his companions to reach for the cliff face and pull themselves back, then they resumed their ascent. He kept at least three limbs in contact with the mountain at all times, using his claws like grappling hooks. Keramos caught up to him easily. “Thank you for holding on for our lives.”
“My life, too.”
“What happened to your hands?”
“What you think happened.” Chan hoped he sounded pleased, but heard a nervous edge in his tone. When they reached the top, every one took a turn examining his hands. Meramix looked fascinated, Sohemus calm, the rest appeared worried, but while most of them looked away, worried about themselves, Mysis looked at him, more concerned about his life than her safety. He knew that look from climbing trees with Drifting Lily as children, up off the ground where he was weaker and she surpassed him in agility.
He realized he’d been thinking less and less about Drifting Lily. When he did, the pain and determination returned quickly enough, but by the gods, his life had become a series of surprises. A new world made demands upon him, and he wasn’t just an ordinary, if unusually strong, farmer. Even the immortals around him weren’t sure what was going on, since their world had started changing rapidly just when he arrived.
Perhaps because I arrived, thought Chan. I brought an unwelcome dragon soul into their lives, and my journey gave Lord Apulia his excuse to leave the city without attracting attention. He’d needed that head start to escape Lady Emeth.
“Can you pull those claws back in?” asked Mysis.
He tried to command them, but nothing happened. “Not yet.”
“Perhaps your dragon soul does not realize it is out of danger,” suggested Sohemus. “Calm yourself.”
Breathing slowly and evenly, Chan imagined himself relaxed, and then returning to normal. Slowly, the scales faded and claws retracted into his fingers. Once they were back to normal, he flexed and straightened them, testing the joints, but they felt fine. “Thank you.”
Sohemus stared at his face, probing for the truth. “Perhaps. For now your dragon soul and human soul are aligned. Self-preservation is a universal desire. The real test will come when your souls have different wishes.”
“I do not know what my dragon soul wants,” he answered, finding it strange to speak their formal, silted language.
“Then you had better master it before we fall afoul of trouble,” said Meramix.
As they hiked into the darkness, Meramix and Sohemus walked ahead of him, discussing his future spiritual education. Mysis and Nithas walked right behind. Again, Keramos struck out ahead, leaving Lord Apulia falling into their marching order next to him. Chan didn’t know what to say to a lord who had abandoned his people to save them. Be it either treason or heroism, Apulia’s decision was beyond his simple way of looking at the world. So the two of them walked in silence, carrying their extra souls.
They walked down a tunnel made wide, then narrow, then wide again, by unseen, so slow forces of nature, the stresses of weight from above and heat from below. Startled by the realization, Chan stopped and crouched down to touch the tunnel floor with a bare hand, feeling the slightly greater temperature. “How hot does it become as you descend?” he whispered so his voice wouldn’t echo.
Everyone else bunched up in the tunnel too narrow to surround him.
“We are capable of tolerating greater temperatures than immortals,” said Meramix, “but found our limits attempting to answer just that very question. The blood of the earth is molten rock.”
“How did you find your way so low?”
“In the face of steam rising from where water fell upon it, and rose again. On the distant rooftop of the Doomra Sea living things cling to the earth, the plants, for lack of a better word, living off the steam and gases, while the animals live as they always do, but more precariously, always at risk of falling to their deaths.”
“Hard to imagine such a life.” But he wanted to see it, if only for awhile. Once, mere weeks ago, he would have been contented to live in his village forever. Now he knew the world was wider and stranger than he had ever imagined, and home no longer had the hold over him that it once did.
“Life seeps into every crack it can,” said Mysis. “When cities fall, plants grow into the ruins.”
“Talk as we walk, if you must,” said Keramos. “We do not want to lose our lead.”
But they didn’t. Chan kept one hand sliding across the rocky walls, feeling the earth’s strengths and weaknesses. When he felt tremorous footsteps, he reported them to the others.
“Those are why we avoided the Fungi Jungles,” said Meramix. “The greater monsters from older ages roam there. There isn’t enough food elsewhere, so as long as we stay away from the flora we should be safe from the fauna.”
“Wait,” hissed Apulia, and the group halted instantly. Apulia revealed the infected spirit gem, and the light rippled. “The Hive is near.”
“How do you this?” asked Meramix.
“We studied the gem for decades. Soldiers and workers in the Hive communicate by scent but the Queen is telepathic. She must be communicating with a scouting party in the area.”
“Cinyui’s gem can detect this?” asked Keramos.
“Yes.”
“So can their Queen detect the gem?” Apulia’s hesitation was all she needed. “Wonderful. This Enyan has led us into a trap.”
The Kazans turned on the Enyans.
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teacherpaul
Sorry I didn't leave individual comments to some recent posts. I read them, but I was having computer issues.

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