Tag Archives: writing

The Strife: Part Three

It’s that time again and we’re picking up right where we left off. What’s waiting for Zhev behind that door? A well-deserved reward or something more akin to what he saw in the lobby?

Enjoy, and I’ll catch you on the other side!

Desire

The two men eyed Zhev impassively and allowed him to step through the now-open door. Within it the scene changed. The lighting of Strife Lord Desire’s office wasn’t nearly as stark as that in the rest of the building and seemed to radiate warmth. Zhev stepped in and the door clicked shut behind him, causing Desire’s gaze to shift to where he stood. She smiled, though there was nothing resembling joy in the expression.  

Strife Lords did not experience emotion in any way which humans could understand and, he’d heard, any emotion displayed on their faces was an acquired reaction. That was something else he’d never really believed, but after seeing the Held in the lobby, he was beginning to wonder what else was true about Strife Lords.

“Come, sit.” Desire motioned to the chair in front of her and Zhev crossed the space to it swiftly, trying not to look over-eager. Silence fell as Desire studied him, wearing her same smile. Zhev resisted the urge to shuffle about uncomfortably under her scrutiny, but only just. Then she leaned back and seemed to stifle a yawn.

“Zhevicra, D.” She commented.

“Yes, Strife Lord.”

“You’ve done commendable works in my service.” Her voice was like nothing he’d heard before and he couldn’t quite make out whether it was female, male, some mixture of both or neither. It sounded, ridiculously, like… Earth… moving?

“Thank you, Strife Lord.”

“Tell me,” she continued, almost cutting him off. “Does it pain you to harm your fellow man?” Her eyes glittered with what he would have called malice in a human. Zhev considered the question. Of all the things he’d ever felt whilst interrogating people he doubted that pain was one of them. Perhaps disgust was the closest approximation.

“No, Strife Lord.” He concluded.

She took a long pause which seemed less like purposeful intimidation, and more like she’d forgotten his existence. “And why not?” The Earth moved again.

“They disobey the natural order of things.”

Desire seemed pleased with his answer, her smile beginning to resemble something more genuine and she shifted gracefully in her chair, taking a curl of her hair in hand and caressing it. Zhev thought she looked like a cat, languid yet vigilant, ready to explode in a disproportionate display of power at the slightest provocation. She certainly didn’t seem very human, though she’d chosen for herself a very curvaceous form and wore little to hide it from the world. Zhev wondered if she was capable of feeling cold as he noted that the temperature of the room had him rubbing his hands together for warmth. Desire continued to watch him intently and he attempted to avoid her gaze when it roamed to his face.

He knew that almost all who saw Desire fell under some strange spell of lust for her, and he’d anticipated the event. Yet now, as he sat and took in the scent and sight of her he felt nothing more than the mundane, mostly conditioned stirrings which were so much a part of his life he hardly ever noticed them anymore. The Strife Lord seemed to pick up on his thoughts and laughed softly. She leaned closer to him. “I’ve no need to cast spells,”

She let the curl she’d been toying with fall from her fingers and twirled her hand gracefully. “Do you not know my name? I am desire.” Rocks somewhere underneath the Earth were grinding, grinding, grinding against one another. How could he hear that? Was he hearing that? Or Her? “If I chose it, you’d be abasing yourself simply for the privilege of breathing this air.” Desire held out a hand, accentuating her point by sending a small shiver of longing through Zhev’s body.

The move felt like what it was – the cheap parlour trick of a magician who called the cosmos her stage.

Still, the alien sensation jarred Zhev, who leaned deep into the back of his chair, recoiling from her and from his own body. He wondered if this was all it had taken to rouse Desire to enough anger to Hold those who now decorated her lobby. In the time it took Zhev to regain control of himself, the Strife Lord had fallen silent, and looked contemplative. She shifted her gaze to him again and yawned, taking a curl of hair back between her fingers and twisting.

Zhev stifled the urge to shift in his seat.

“You’ll undergo the rite tomorrow.” She said. “I don’t recommend you do anything strenuous, tonight.” Voice flat like clay disks, eyes laughing like streams. “You must be strong, to survive.” And now, again, grinding rocks.

Assuming that to be the end of their meeting, Zhev got up, bowed deeply and moved to the place where he remembered the door to have been, again trying not to appear hurried. His heart beat loudly in his ears and a chill crept into his mind and then outward to his fingers. The wall parted silently and Zhev suppressed a gasp when he saw the figure on the other side.

She was similar to the Strife Lord in some manner he didn’t understand, since they looked nothing alike. She wore a severe black dress, her skin and features appearing to fade in and out of the various shades of human complexion. Her hair, which was every colour and possibly none, was pulled neatly into a ponytail and swayed like a whip as she moved past him. Zhev took a sharp breath when she cast him a sideways glance, and it suddenly seemed imperative that he leave before he lost… something. Something vital and alive.

So he willed his legs out of their langour, and walked out of the Strife Lord’s office. As the door clicked again behind him, he breathed out a lungful of air he hadn’t been aware of holding.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Poem: If

If I could forget Just one sliver of time

A fragment of space

A token of thought for the taken

Then it would be you

You as a memory I cannot have had

Yet I do

 

If I should regret

Just one action of fate

A moment of hate

A token of thought for the taken

 

It is that

Memory silent

As real as a stone

 

Is that you?

Afemi: Prologue

Prologue

***

“Hello?”

She blinks into consciousness and stares in the space occupied by the voice. The voice echoes in her head for a brief moment before clicks of recognition begin. Speech. Conversation. It is a capability which she possesses. The space occupied by the voice lacks a body. Perhaps that is normal. She speaks in its direction, at a black box hanging just below some form of  shining cylinder with a red light coming from it. “H-hello.”

She can hear the box and the cylinder whirring in her head, and reaches up to silence the sounds. A long finger first tentatively touches at her temple, then another, and another, until the entirety of her left hand rests just below what should be a hairline. But there is no hair. Has she always lacked hair? Isn’t baldness a male trait?

Maybe she’s not a she? For confirmation she reaches her right hand to her chest. She is not a man.

Who doesn’t know their own sex?

What is her name?

“D-do you…” A pause to consider the fact that she is having so much difficulty with words. “Do you know my name?”

“Do you?”

That’s not a real question. She blinks. “Is this mocking?”

“Do you feel mocked?”

She is confused. “What is my name?”

The voice does not respond right away. Instead there is a click and a brief moment of static before another voice comes from the same box. “What do you think your name is?” This voice is kinder, softer. She thinks she remembers it from before she woke up in this room. Where was she before this room? No matter. The voices seem to think that she should know her name, and so she should. Concentrating on the concept of who she is, there is mostly cloud and confusion but slowly sound emerges.

“A… Fem… I.” She has heard herself be referred to with that name before. “I am… Afemi.”

The click. Static. Click back. “Yes! That’s your name.”

Afemi looks to her confines. She is in a spacious room, too well lit. The bed against the right wall shows signs of use. That must be where she slept. Why is she here? “Why am I here?”

The click. The static. She waits for a response but none comes.

Shadow Wraith: The Librarian

The Librarian

—-

Rena made her way slowly from Faril’s desk and to the back of the library, taking a new route with each trip. By the fourth load she had figured out that if she walked straight from the desk, through the first row of books, took a left and counted four rows then walked down, the trip was significantly shorter. There were no ladders and no students crowding the way. Yet even with this improvement she knew that she’d spend the entire afternoon stacking then organising books. The task would likely run on into tomorrow’s schedule as well.

At times like these Rena was tempted to think that had she not gotten this apprenticeship her life would be so much simpler. But the opportunity was not one to be passed up. Each Librarian was allowed to choose up to three apprentices and while the other four had taken full advantage of that, Faril had only selected her. He said the other applicants were far too driven by political ambition, and not by a love of knowledge. Did Rena love knowledge? She still had no idea. But right now, she thought, I really hate this job.

As if called by her disdain Faril opened the front doors at that moment. While the other Librarians could easily be called elderly, Faril looked to be just on the outer limits of middle-age, with some grey creeping into his thick brown hair. It was likely just personal bias but Rena considered him the best of the Librarians: very approachable, passionate about scholarly work and a wonderful story-teller. They were qualities which made her look forward to the walk from the library to the residences when she’d finished her work.

Today Faril seemed to want to get as much done as possible. He hadn’t called her out to sit on the benches with him for lunch. He’d instead requested that she stay in the library and continue working. It wasn’t like Faril to ask that, but she had heard some of the other apprentices the night before talking about how this shipment of books contained a work of great personal value to the older man.

Curious, Rena was scanning the titles of each stack to see what it might be. She knew that Faril’s field of study was ancient weaponry. He kept an impressive collection of his favourite daggers, swords, whips and whatever else in his private chambers in the residences. One of the perks of being his apprentice was that she got to learn all about his travels and his collection. Though Rena was interested in ancient cultures as a whole, she spent a lot of time discussing weapons with Faril. Today, however, Faril had no time for talk and he shuffled his way loudly to the back table where Rena had been stacking the books.

She saw him raise a slender finger and run it from the top to bottom of each stack. Rena watched intently, forgetting about the load of books still in her hands. In the third stack he found what he had been looking for. Rena examined it from her place at the end of the row but couldn’t make out a name.

The book was small, with a leather covering and paper so worn it rustled at the librarian’s touch and she was sure it needed to be kept in the Restoration Room. Faril thumbed through it carefully before sighing contentedly and placing the book in some hidden pocket beneath his robes.

He greeted her with a stiff nod and small smile as he scurried back out of the library. Rena watched him walk to his rooms through the windows before hurrying to where he’d removed the book. She ran her fingers over the two books which had been above and below it, trying to remember the intervening title. Her brow furrowed in concentration and she stood for several moments before deciding that she was not forgetting the title: the little book simply hadn’t had one. It had struck her as more akin to a diary than any sort of scholarly work and she wished now that she’d taken note of its contents instead of gravitating towards the more grandiose titles.