Yes, I know you can’t help staring, but could you make it a little less obvious? I suppose one should make allowances for common folks. My beauty does have a tendency to make everyone speechless. Unless Duessa, I, Vanessa Ashelocke, actually have the Ashelocke raven hair, the alabaster skin, and the traditional blood purple eyes. What? How dare you suggest my eyes are fuschia?! They are bloody purple golden of a sunset! Ask anyone! Yes, I have only six eyes and six arms, while Duessa Ashelocke has the full eight. Not that any of you could tell. As far as human eyes can see, I have only two eyes and two arms. Only the very special can see my additional four eyes and arms. As for Duessa, you’d have to be something quite extraordinary to see all eight of her arms and eyes. I’d be tempted to devour you on the spot. Oh, don’t look so frightened. Unlike Duessa, I try to save myself for my marriage feasts, but I do get carried away by my passions, from time to time. What is a marriage feast? Why, it’s our most sacred, special tradition as arachnocrats! It’s the source of a lady’s extra arms and eyes, not to mention the happiest day of a boy’s life, along with the most glorious end! Every arachnocratic boy looks forward to his marriage feast. It takes place, usually when he’s around sixteen. Once his feast is announced, for a season before, he’s treated like a prince. There are unending festivals, where he’s the center of everything. There’s at least one sweet and one savory shower, where everyone brings the bridegroom tasty treats, ‘showering’ him with treats, so to speak. It’s considered good manners to inculde the bridegroom’s favorites among them. The day of the marriage feast is spent with the bridegroom being bathed, oiled, dressed, anointed, and his hair adorned with flowers. His boyfriends spend their last hours with him, singing and sharing stories with him. Female friends and relatives can be present, but it’s a day mostly for the boys. The bride, of course, cannot see him before the feast. There was a time, when a bridegroom ate too many treats, before the feast. He got too fat, so he was no longer remotely appetizing. Upon seeing him, his bride refused to have him. So emasculated was he that he killed himself that very night. As a result, It’s considered very bad luck to see the bridegroom, before the marriage feast. The bride must wait, until the evening, when the feast begins. Before the bridegroom enters the chamber, garden, or standing stones where the feast takes place, he’s injected with the Bridegroom’s Bliss. This is usually administered by the bridegroom’s guardian via her fangs, although there have been a few times, when the guardian has been male. Venom is gathered from the closest female relative to make the drug, which the guardian gives to the bridegroom in a ceremonial cup. What is the Bridegroom’s Bliss? This is a drug, which ensures the bridegroom feels no pain, or terror, during the feast, only bliss. The guardian leads the bridegroom to the location of the feast. There’s usually a public area, where the bride and her ladies wait to undergo the opening ritual to the feast, as well as the private location, where the feast itself takes place. The bridegroom’s guardian leads her charge to the public area. He walks down the aisle, where every lady there can drink deeply of his beauty, and admire him. The bride waits at the end of the aisle. She, too, is magnificently attired for this occasion, for she wants to look her very best for her sweetmeat. Sometimes a few of the bridegrooms’ male friends are allowed into the public part of the feast, but I think it’s a mistake. Damian Ashelocke, Duessa’s pretty little nephew, was allowed to attend during one of his aunts’s feasts, where the bridegroom was his boyfriend. It was too much for the poor chilld, I fear. It may explain his strange reluctance to become a bridegroom himself, but I digress. In the olden days, the bridegroom was placed upon a dais, where he lay, while every lady approached and touched him, encouraging his passion. I find that practice crude and voyeuristic, not to mention disrespectful to the bridegroom. It hearkens back to a time, when every lady at a marriage feast fed upon the bridegroom. Now a days, the bridegroom’s hand is simply placed in the hand of his bride. The bride says a few words about how the bridegroom’s beauty will live within her forever, nourishing her future daughters, giving her fair, strong arms, with which to further his inner magic. For arachnocratic boys can’t cast magic themselves, poor things. They’re prettier than any other boys in existence, have enchanting voices, and a gift for making anyone listen to what they say, but they have no true magic. Well, a few have been able to tear their magic loose from within themselves, but it’s been at a terrible price. The magic bleeds and leaks all over the place, driving the boy mad in the process. No sane youth would ever do such a thing, when his magic can be safely ingested by his bride. This is what happens, during the marriage feast. Within a private chamber, the bride consummates her marriage with her bridegroom and devours him. If she’s a lady, she’ll make certain the consummation is pure ecstacy. Quite a few ladies practice on willing (and unwilling) victims to make certain they’re quite skilled, before taking a virgin bridegroom into her web. The feast itself can involve either swallowing the bridegroom whole, or draining him of blood, or vitality. What’s important is the bridegroom’s life force, along with his magic, is taken into the bride. Once the feast is complete, she’ll find herself growing an extra pair of arms. An additional pair of eyes opens upon her face. She may even be pregnant, with a daughter, if she’s lucky. What happens to the bridegroom, after his life force is ingested? Well, pardon my lack of delicacy, but you must have noticed we have no grown men among us. All our males are young, sweet and unmarried. Almost every arachnocratic boy becomes a bridegroom. Once he’s been feasted upon, he’s no longer a part of this world. There’s never an unsightly corpse, though! Our bridegrooms become translucent, crystalline statues, leaving behind a beautiful shell of their former selves. A former bride places them in her garden, or other places of respect, honoring their part in her growth in power. After all, she wouldn’t have her extra arms, or any daughters, if not for them, would she? Don’t look at me like that! It’s a great honour to be a bridegroom. If a lady doesn’t want a boy as her marriage feast, it means he’s undesirable. Other boys start teasing him, calling him ‘left overs’. I can’t understand why Damian doesn’t want to be a marriage feast! He’s perfectly delectable, bursting with power, just waiting to be devoured! We’re both Ashelockes, so he’s guaranteed to give me a beautiful set of arms, as well as a powerful daughter! Duessa really should discourage him from trying to develop magic of his own! I’ve never seen her act so foolishly indulgent of a boy before! It’s as if he administered Bridegroom’s Bliss to her! Well, it’s of no matter. Damian Ashelocke must come around. After after, a wedding feast is the only possible ending to an arachnocratic boy’s life and I’m the only bride worthy of him. Soon, he’ll have to accept my embrace, along with me. I just need to be patient and wait.
Good day! Oh, my, is it evening already? I can feel my lips pulling back, showing my razor sharp teeth. Pay them no mind. Such teeth are quite normal for a servant of the Ashelockes, which is exactly what I am, their humble servant. Once, I was a maiden fair, with long, blonde hair, traveling with a knight, but we fell afoul of Duessa Ashelocke. To think, we thought her no more than an evil enchantress, who could be defeated with mere steel! This was before we saw her fangs. Worse was the moment we felt their sting. Both my knight and myself fell into a helpless swoon. Duessa feasted upon my knight, slowly, until no drop of blood or vitality remained within his body. Even as his eyes grew glassy, they were filled with adoration. Once he’d been mine, but Duessa sank her fangs into his neck, he was lost to me. Once she got her four arms around him, he was doomed. At least my knight’s fate was quick. Mine was much crueler. Duessa enchanted me, transforming me into the dimunitive, whispy fairy you see before you. It amuses her to see me attempting to flutter around with torn wings and a wizened body. All I’d done was to try to save her from her own dark fate. I’ve suffered for centuries, because I dared to insult an Ashelocke by saying even one of them could find the light within. There isn’t a greater insult to an Ashelocke than to suggest one of them isn’t a creature of darkness. They delight in wickedness, pride themselves on the snares they can lure others into. True, they serve a purpose in weeding out other wicked, greedy folk, by allowing the consequences of their actions to catch up with them. However, they’re not above playing cruel games with those whom foolishly walk into their webs. All arachnocrats do. If the Lady Duessa finds you here, at Widow’s Web, she won’t be pleased. You don’t want her to catch you here, especially if she and her ladies get hungry in the middle of the night. Some of them are more scrupulous, only feeding upon their chosen bridegrooms during a marriage feast, but Duessa Ashelocke is not one of the scrupulous ones. If she realizes you came here by means of my author’s blog, she’ll be even more displeased. My lady didn’t get a blog, you see. Not that she’d choose to be at any of the Cauldrons of Inspiration. She’s highly suspicious of inspiration, unless she’s draining it from someone else. Too many of her friends have gotten fat on those foolish enough to find them inspirational. What? You say Master Damian has a blog here? Why, the naughty boy! If Lady Duessa finds out, she’ll be furious! Tee hee! She hates it, whenever Damian paints, or does anything artistic. It warms my heart, I must confess, to see Master Damian defy her. Too few people can do so and live. However, I musn’t let Master Damian warm my heart too much. He’s an Ashelocke, after all. The Ashelockes, one and all, are my enemies. One day I’ll have my vengeance on the entire swarm of them. I’ve got a plan, which will drain the life from them, even as they’ve drained the lives from so many others. In order for it to succeed, I must play the part of the loyal servant. Now, I fear I’ve confided too much in you. I can’t let you leave my presence, not after speaking so freely with you. Duessa Ashelocke musn’t suspect me. I’m afraid you’ll all have to disappear. No, I’m not an arachnocrat, but as someone who’s existed in their webs for a long time, their hungers are now a part of me. The sight of you all makes me quite hungry, so I see no reason why you shouldn’t be my evening meal. Don’t worry, though. Just one little bite from my fangs and you’ll be as giddy as an arachnocratic bridegroom. You’ll love every moment I’m eating you. Now, please, don’t tremble so! I don’t like my meals to squirm too much.
I’m Troile, son of Priam, child of Troy, the most powerful and influential city in the world! Or so I would have once introduced myself. I fear there is some doubt, as to whether I’m Priam’s son. It’s a doubt I would have been too shamed to admit, once, but it doesn’t seem to matter in these strange times. To think my proud declaration of whom I am is now considered pompous and foolish! Not to mention Troy itself is now nothing more than a memory, although it lives on in legend, story, and in Rome herself. I’m sorry to hear the cruel untruths in some of the legends. Achille is too often portrayed as my violator, my murderer, and my lover only in the most brutal sense. Not to mention my moment of cross-dressing has given birth the fictional existence of my sister, Polyxena. I hope to get a chance to reveal the true story. It’s a love story, which began, when I first saw Achille’s face in Ganymede’s cup, revealed to me in a dream. One sip from that cup transported me to Scyros, where I met Achille. Only he was calling himself Aissa, at the time. Yes, he was disguised as a girl, using a girl’s name. I recognized him, though. He couldn’t disguise himself, nor his delight in seeing me, when I fell from the sky, on top of him, pinning him below me. We fell in love, right from the start, even though we knew little about each other. Family, friends, and the Trojan War threatened to pull us apart, when we realized we were on opposite sides. Blood was shed, blades were crossed, but Ganymede was our loyal champion, throughout all this. Yes, Ganymede. Does it surprise you to hear him named as a patron god to a couple of mortals, struggling to be together? Ganymede was a Trojan prince, though, before he was swept away by a powerful god as his beloved. He was in unique position to sympathize and to interfere, but I’ll say no more on the subject. You can read our tale for yourselves in ‘Aissa and Polyxena’. It was submitted to Lethe’s ‘Friends of Hyakinthos’ anthology. If ‘Aissa and Polyxena’ accepted, you can read it, when ‘Friends of Hyakinthos’ is released. If not, our author shall find another hope for our tale. Perhaps with Prizm, or through self publishing. Let her know, if you wish to read our story.
I’m Troile, son of Priam, child of Troy, the most powerful and influential city in the world! Or so I would have once introduced myself. I fear there is some doubt, as to whether I’m Priam’s son. It’s a doubt I would have been too shamed to admit, once, but it doesn’t seem to matter in these strange times. To think my proud declaration of whom I am is now considered pompous and foolish! Not to mention Troy itself is now nothing more than a memory, although it lives on in legend, story, and in Rome herself. I’m sorry to hear the cruel untruths in some of the legends. Achille is too often portrayed as my violator, my murderer, and my lover only in the most brutal sense. Not to mention my moment of cross-dressing has given birth the fictional existence of my sister, Polyxena. I hope to get a chance to reveal the true story. It’s a love story, which began, when I first saw Achille’s face in Ganymede’s cup, revealed to me in a dream. One sip from that cup transported me to Scyros, where I met Achille. Only he was calling himself Aissa, at the time. Yes, he was disguised as a girl, using a girl’s name. I recognized him, though. He couldn’t disguise himself, nor his delight in seeing me, when I fell from the sky, on top of him, pinning him below me. We fell in love, right from the start, even though we knew little about each other. Family, friends, and the Trojan War threatened to pull us apart, when we realized we were on opposite sides. Blood was shed, blades were crossed, but Ganymede was our loyal champion, throughout all this. Yes, Ganymede. Does it surprise you to hear him named as a patron god to a couple of mortals, struggling to be together? Ganymede was a Trojan prince, though, before he was swept away by a powerful god as his beloved. He was in unique position to sympathize and to interfere, but I’ll say no more on the subject. You can read our tale for yourselves in ‘Aissa and Polyxena’. It was submitted to Lethe’s ‘Friends of Hyakinthos’ anthology. If ‘Aissa and Polyxena’ accepted, you can read it, when ‘Friends of Hyakinthos’ is released. If not, our author shall find another hope for our tale. Perhaps with another publisher, or through self publishing. Let her know, if you wish to read our story.
I won! I just finished and entered a version of ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’ for #CampNaNoWriMo!
Now I just need to finish and polish up the other version for #Lethe Press’s ‘Gents: Steamy Tales of the Age of Steam’. 🙂
Alas, neither version had as much interaction with Father/Lord Ruthvyn as I hoped. The version of ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’ I entered at #CampNaNoWriMo was well over 6000 words, way over Lethe Press’s requested count. The version I’m submitting to them is even shorter. A lot of the interaction between Shelley and Father/Lord Ruthvyn had to be cut. 😦 I’m still sad about that.
Here’s an excerpt from the draft I just submitted to Camp. I’m picking right where I left off for #RainbowSnippets, last Saturday.
‘It was a curse, as much as a blessing. The first boy frowned, as if pondering the dark consequences of their choice of names. However, the gentle smile of his companion urged him out of a brood, as the two walked out of the court into their new lives.
A man and a woman watched them, as they left. They would have had no business in this court, but for the purple band around the man’s top hat, and the purple ribbons winding within the woman’s hair. Purple was still a color of distinction, even in these barbaric times. Not to mention the beaded masks, which concealed the upper halves of their faces.’
Nobody named me Shelley. The name called to me, whispered to me, as I stood, shivering before my warden, before I was released to the church. When I saw Byron, claiming the poet’s name, I uttered my own new name to the world. It’s the only things we wards of the church get to choose in Paradise. Our bodies, our souls, and voices belong first to the church and afterwards to our masters. Our names, Byron’s and mine, created a bond between us. We looked at each other, smiling a secret smile. We knew we belonged to each other, in our hearts, no matter who else tried to claim us. When we sang in the church choir, our voices took flight, mingling together, inspiring everyone else who listened. Everyone, including the other boys and girls singing, found themselves dreaming, tasting a little bit of what they themselves could be as individuals. Unfortunately, we also caught the lords’ attention. The pale aristocrats, who seek out artistic souls, claiming them for their very own, so they can steal their vitality to replace their own fading energies. Only my lord and master didn’t ask me to call him my lord. He touched my cheek, asking me to call him, ‘Father’, before he took me away from Byron. He locked me away in a golden cage in his home, trapped me in a maze created of the madness within my own mind. ‘Father’ has been trying to force me to sing for him, alone. I’ve been losing my voice. Madness threatens, as I see what lurks behind ‘Father’s human mask. He earnestly wants me to love him, but he’s stealing my life away. A new life, strange and fey, is stirring within me. It’s enabled me to take flight, to locate Byron’s own golden cage. Yes, he’s trapped, too, but he can sense me. All I have to do is find my song, in order to reach him. ‘Father’ has been trying to keep it to himself, but it’s always been one with Byron’s. Come with me, as I transcend my own madness in ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’.
Hello. (blushing a bit) I’m Rhodry. Originally, I was a character in a roleplaying campaign. I was fleeing from a noble family of evil blood mages, wanting to use me in a dark ritual, which would bleed out my life. I was played in several games, rewritten a number of times, but my background remained intact, until ‘The Keep’. ‘The Keep’ was an interactive writing/roleplaying yaoi fantasy story, which several authors participated in. Not only was I rewritten, but my family was rewritten and renamed. The Mavelynes went from being blood mages to the scions of Mavelyne, one of a pair of twins, who went on to form vampire dominated aristocracies. (Another author wrote and played the other twin’s house.) House Mavelyne’s vampire, Daryth used his mortal descendants as a source of power in his ancient war against an equally ancient vampire hunter, who was also a dragon. The dragon was the character of another author. I was actually a manifestation of part of Daryth’s lost self, who was also a Weapon, prophesied to bring about Daryth’s goals. I ended up falling in love with a werewolf (another author’s character), becoming part of a power triumvirate (with the werewolf and a wolf spirit, yet another author’s characters), and forming intimate ties with other characters, belonging to other people. Unfortunately, my author got distracted by other things than the Keep, such as CLAMP, yaoi, and shoujo manga. She started worked on ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’, which took up most of her time. The Keep and I were abandoned. Eventually, my author put ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’ aside, despairing over the all too accurate criticisms its beta readers had bestowed upon it. She tried to write with some other characters she’d created for another online roleplaying game/interactive writing project. Those characters had been transferred to the Keep. She made them the main characters of her new novel, ‘Stealing Himself From Shadows’. (‘Stealing Himself From Shadows’ is now called ‘The Hand and the Eye of the Tower’, since she’s recently resurrected ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’ during National Novel Writing Month.) I was supposed to have a part in it, but I replaced by Christopher. I did have a role in a submission to Torquere’s ‘Riverdance’ anthology, although my name was changed to Rhoddry. The story was called ‘Every Thom, Dick, and Harry Has a Story’. You can meet one of the characters from that story, Kevin over at the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com. Unfortunately, ‘Every Thom, Dick, and Harry’ was rejected. I got my name back, though, as a result. It may be undergoing another change, though, because my author has tentative plans to make me Rhodry Nevelyn. Yes, one of Nevalyn’s descendants, as well as Kyra’s (see ’N is for Nevalyn’ and ‘K is for Kyra’. I live centuries after Kyra’s time, after the Imperatrix has vanished and her empire has fallen. My author once planned to put me in Caerac’s Keep, involving me in the mystery going on there (see ‘C is for Caerac’ at the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com. My author has a soft spot, though, for my incarnation as Rhodry Mavelyne. This is why she uses my name on Twitter, at Archive of Our Own, at tumblr, and at many conventions as her badge name. I’ve become a part of her identity, so I know she’ll never forget me. (hugs author)