Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Eryximachia

Quartz finds his chair is gone. He’s left standing in the mists with no seat. There’s not even a red curtain.

Quartz: Eh? (He turns a bleary eye, wondering if this is one of Nimmie Not’s tricks, but even the kobold respects the curtain.)

The mists part to reveal the same steps leading up to a dais surrounded by four pillars. A woman with no trace of youth or old age upon her unnaturally smooth, tight skin cuts a striking, if angular figure in her silky white pants, high-necked gray tunic, and white jacket. Her short silvery gray hair falls across her forehead in a wavy fashion you might recognize from the early 1980s.

Eryximachia: (looking straight at the audience with cold gray eyes) It’s called New Wave, the way my hair looks. I’m honoring our foremothers from Ancient Earth. They cut their formerly long hair in the late 20th century to celebrate a new wave of thinking, a wave carrying them away from the prejudices of patriarchy to freedom. Not that is lasted. 

Err, is that so? (The scribbler recalls seeing pop stars and actresses with the same hair in the early 1980s, wonders if this was really their motivation. Since I created Eryximachia, I know better than to get into an argument, err, engage her on this subject.) No buttons fasten Eryximachia’s gray jacket or tunic. They float around both in the shape of silver stars. 

Quartz stares at the floating buttons. Blinks. Rubs his eyes. 

Quartz: How do you get your jacket fastened with buttons like that?

Eryximachia: (lifting a nose, curling thin lips) Hmph! I’m not sure which is more appalling, your ignorance or your complete lack of fashion. I suppose the latter should be obvious, judging from all that hair on your chin. What are you supposed to be, a man from Ancient Earth?

Quartz: (the hair on the chin in question bristles) You’re a fine one to talk about ignorance, thinking a dwarf is a man. I’ll have you know that this is a beard. A fine beard is a sign of beauty. A beard is a dwarf’s pride and joy. I don’t think much of your people, woman, or their fashion if they don’t have beards. 

Eryximachia: Open your mouth and folly fills the air. (sniffs) I am not a woman, dwarf. I am a lifer. I shudder to think of where you come from, to use such archaic terms. You must be some riff-raff from the fringes of the galaxy Sokrat collected. 

Quartz: Ah, Sokrat. You’re from her universe. (grumbles) Typical scribbler. She does a cross-over with Sokrat’s universe and does she let me see Sokrat again? No, she decides to throw me together with this Oriana-wannabe. 

Eryximachia: Hmph! I have no connection to any Oriana, whatever that is. I happen to be Agathea’s spiritual therapist. (She pauses for dramatic emphasis.) The Agathea.

Quartz: That supposed to impress me?

Eryximachia: (nostrils flaring in outrage) Of course it’s supposed to impress you! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Agathea?!

Quartz: Huh, name sounds familar, not sure where. This Agathea is a she, right?

Eryximachia: Not just any she! Agathea is a she among shes, the foremost citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy! No other she can compare with her!

Quartz: Right. Bet my Fairest is twice the she of your she. Huh, Agathea, oh, right. The orb. I once talked to her orb.

Eryximachia: She has many orbs if I interpret your nonsense correctly, dwarf. 

Quartz: The name’s Quartz. And my nonsense is talking to secondary characters like you and your Agathea’s orb in A Symposium in Space. 

Eryximachia: You cannot recall Agathea, yet you know of her orbs and her symposium. 

Quartz: Right. She was talking to Christopher last week. Not that I was listening. His conversations put me to sleep. Still say your Agathea doesn’t hold a candle to my Fairest.

Eryximachia: What need has Agathea of candles when she can draw the light of a billion stars to herself? All the eyes of the galaxy are upon her.

Quartz: Right. Mine are closing. 

Eryximachia: You may mock me, dwarf, but being the nexus of such illumination is a heavy burden. Especially when you possess exceptional, ah, appetites. 

Quartz: Huh. You mean like Christopher’s?

Eryximachia: I know nothing of this Christopher you keep babbling of or her connection to Agathea. 

Quartz: Christopher is not a her, no, never mind.

Eryximachia: I do mind. I am annoyed by your rudeness, your lack of sensitivity. Do try to comprehend in your tiny mind for a moment what it’s like to be a beautiful and discerning soul with specific needs. Needs which can’t always be meet in a plethora of stars and planets filled with citizens chattering at you. 

Quartz: (snorts) You talking about Agathea or yourself?

Eryximachia: Agathea, of course! Although yes, as her lover as well as her spiritual therapist, I feel her pain.

Quartz: Right. Just what are you doing about it?

Eryximachia: Pardon?

Quartz: You say you’re Agathea’s lover. Not sure what in the ruddy shards a spirtual therapist is, but it sounds like Agathea’s well-being is a matter of concern. Or something.

Eryximachia: Of course. (Color rises in her pale cheeks.) Concern for Agathea’s well-being was why I suggested the symposium Agathea is having. To refresh her spirits. 

Quartz: Eh? You’re the one who suggested the symposium?

Eryximachia: Indeed. I just wish Agathea had been a bit more selective about whom she invited. Some of her guests are crude. Sokrat may always offer refreshing eloquence, but trouble follows her wherever she goes. I fear it may have the impudence to crash our symposium. 

Quartz: Heh, not sure whether that’s funny or I feel sorry for you. Hard keeping trouble away when it lands on your door. If it crashes into you, well, that’s just unfair. 

Eryximachia: Indeed. Sokrat has always kept questionable company, but now that she’s being stalked by space pirates, she’s a positive menace.

Quartz: (brindles) Don’t go blaming Sokrat for the space pirates! Maybe she can’t help the company she keeps, eh? Maybe it just shows up in a mine shaft, bells on its toes, dancing around her, and she finds herself amused in spite of her better judgment. Aye, he may be stalking you, but you can’t help finding the kobold a wee bit attractive and is that your fault?

Eryximachia: Just what are you babbling about this time?

Quartz: Did I say kobold? I meant space pirate. Of course I meant space pirate. Why would I mention kobolds?

A red curtain drops upon Eryximachia’s head. She lets out a squawk. All the buttons fall to the ground as does Eryximachia’s jacket, tunic, and trousers. She grabs the curtain, wraps it around herself, preserving her modesty in a hasty moment of improvisation.

The kobold Quartz wasn’t mentioning is nowhere to be seen, but his voice rings out above Eryximachia’s head.

Nimmie Not: Red curtain meets anti-gravity! Red curtain wins!

Eryximachia: (glaring at the space above her head, then at Quartz) How dare you! What is the meaning of this insult?

Nimmie Not: Meaning means invisible kobolds Quartz wonders why he would mention!

Quartz: (sighing, yet not seeming all that displeased) Wasn’t me doing the insult. Not this time. Meet Nimmie Not. My kobold or pirate stalker.

Nimmie Not: Ah, my dear Quartz, you just admitted that I am yours! This is reason enough to repay insults slung at you by spiritual therapists. Spiritual therapists without any clothes! Tut, tut,  you need a magic stronger than anti-gravity to stay dressed!

Eryximachia: Anti-gravity is not magic. (She draws herself up with some dignity, in spite of still clutching the curtain around herself.) And I am Eryximachia, no less a spiritual therapist whether I’m clothed or not. 

Quartz: Right. I’m Quartz. Guess we should have introduced ourselves before the insults. Just what is a spirtual therapist?

Eryximachia: And you insult me yet again, Quartz. A spirtual therapist soothes the wrongs not so easily defined by flesh or science. Not that I have any hopes of having an enlightened conversation on the subject. Not with you and your Nimmie Not reducing this discussion to cheap gags. 

Nimmie Not: Tut, tut! That’s what happens when you insult my dwarf! And I’ll tut you again!

Eryximachia: (blinking at the empty space) Your dwarf insulted my Agathea when he said she didn’t hold a candle to his Fairest. Such insolence inspires insults in return. 

Nimmie Not: Hmm, I wouldn’t bother with candles for either of those scrawny human females. They all look the same to me. I wouldn’t bother saying who the fairest of them all is. They’ve all got their opinions on the matter. Waste of time, even comparing. 

Eryximachia and Quartz: (both drawning themselves up with outrage) A waste of time?!

Nimmie Not: Tut, tut, a waste! ’Tis a silly girlish question, filled with frail feelings of self-doubt, tut! 

Eryximachia: And that is an equally repulsive display of patriarch scorn in the face of a young lifer’s feelings as she struggles to discover her own beauty. Exactly what I’d expect from a man from Ancient Earth. Go tut yourself!

Quartz: Huh, what she said. Scary how I just agreed with her. 

Nimmie Not: Tee hee! You’re an amusing old bone, Eryximachia, for all your arrogance. A pity you’re from a different universe. I’d much rather play with you than Oriana.

Quartz: (glaring at the empty space) What’s that? Just what are you playing at?

Nimmie Not: Oh, don’t get jealous, my dear dwarf, tut! My first choice to play with is still you.

Quartz: (mutters) Not sure if I’m jealous or pitying Oriana. 

Eryximachia: More babbling about this Oriana. I know nothing of her. Nor am I old. I’ve removed every trace of age from myself.

Nimmie Not: How dull. Age can bring charm and character if you welcome it. Yes, it can.

Quartz: (mutters) Now I know the scribbler is putting words in your mouth, kobold. She’s turning fifty this week and trying to see the cheer in it. Not that I see it. Fifty is way too young to figure out anything yet humans already start to wrinkle when they reach that age. (frowns) Wait, is she putting words in my mouth?

Nimmie Not: She’s always putting words on our mouths, my dear dwarf. Where’s the cheer in turning stiff and cranky like Eryximachia?

Eryximachia: What was that?

Nimmie Not: Although there are those who embrace the crankiness. Make it part of their inner being, just like you do, Quartz.

Quartz: (growls) Come down and say that to my face. I dare you. 

A second red curtain drops upon Quartz. He struggles to escape from its folds. 

Eryximachia: I’ve had enough of you, you unseen pest! (She starts to swat the air, trying to bat the kobold, only to hear him cackle in mockery. 

I’ll leave my last Monday of being forty-nine at the Cauldron on that note, ending it with Nimmie Not’s laughter. At least it’s ending in laughter. Not that Eryximachia nor Quartz appreciate this ending.

Quartz and Eryximachia: (at the same time) Shut up, scribbler! 

Ahem, if you’ve enjoyed meeting Eryximachia and would like to see more of Sokrat, her pirate, and her devotion as a lover and a spiritual therapist to Agathea, go to…

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#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Phaedra will continue where she left off last week in A Symposium in Space…

The only problem was this democracy was dominated by the wealthy and the powerful, just as too many societies had been in the past. They controlled the spaceways, spamming the universe with their advertising. Their shining, three-dimensional billboards and oversized spacecrafts were everywhere, dominating the skyline. 

It was more than a little annoying. 

“A symposium is nothing more than a dinner party.” Melodic and laced with sarcasm, my paramour’s voice floated into the room before she made her appearance. 

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Paula’s Prompts: Web of Inspiration Fragment 1

On August 25, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving an odd statue, a torn book, and plans derailed.

This actually launched my 2021 NaNoWriMo project, a roughish draft of Web of Inspiration, the fourth book in my Tales of the Navel series. I’m revising the first book, Stealing Myself From Shadows right now, trying to propel myself forward past my fears of self-publishing.

The characters from Tales of the Navel are not strangers to this blog. Christopher of Conversations with Christopher is the main player in Stealing Myself From Shadows. Dyvian is another player, dropping by to share some of his insights about some of the other characters…

Even if he’d been reduced to stone, Lord Stefan Ashelocke still dominated the garden, the courtyard, and his wife’s heart. 

For Duessa, Guardian of the Gardens of Arachne, queen of the coven of arachnocrats, had never been released. Not even after devouring Stefan’s vitality, transforming herself into a monster, and making the first Marriage Feast a decorative ornament had freed her. 

Not that Dyvian could blame her. He hadn’t been freed either. He’d simply become the lord himself. He looked up at the marble effigy who’d been his ideal, god, and inspiration.

Even in eternal stillness, Stefan towered over him. Such an odd statue, but Dyvian’s lord wasn’t really a statue. Once he’d been a living man of flesh and blood with desires. Those desires lived on. He and Duessa might still be Stefan’s poppets, carrying out his desires, dancing to their tune. 

Or his plans might have been derailed as they say in certain industrial civilizations. Everyone’s plans seemed to be, including Dyvian’s own. No one understood the pact Duessa had made with the Spider. Not entirely. 

Dyvian wasn’t entirely certain how he’d managed to come back and step off his pedestal, to become the lord and master of Leiwell’s life and his family. Faith had something to do with it, the pure innocence of Leiwell’s belief in his master. As far as Leiwell was concerned, Dyvian could do anything. 

This made Dyvian a lot stronger, particularly in the Shadow Forest. The Gardens of Arachne shared certain qualities with the shifting landscape of possibility beyond the Door. It was a solid world, yet reality was a bit quirky, to quote Map. 

She ought to know. She was the queen of quirky possibilities, of making them a reality. She and her beautiful boys were the ones who’d shown Dyvian it was possible, to bring things out of the Shadow Forest, making them a part of reality. 

Even people could be brought out. Leiwell, Danyel and Tayel had been brought out. Dyvian always considered Map to be the real one, the actual person. He, Dyvian, was the shadow, the manifestation of her rage, greed, and inner beauty. 

Or so he’d thought. Perhaps Dyvian had been more like Christopher. A ghost floating around the Shadow Forest, the last reminants of a Marriage Feast, ready to lock onto a bright source of nourishment. Like anger or love. 

Whatever he was, he was back. Dyvian Ashelocke was home in the corpse of the Ashelocke estate from which a garden had grown and a Spider had taken up residence with her court. 

Now he was here to take it back. Only he wished to learn more before he struck. Duessa had not been hasty, but nor had she been as careful as she might have been in making her pact with the Spider. 

He, Seraphix, and their Followers would have to do better. 

The arachnocrats were the Spider’s life blood as were their motionless victims. Dyvian could sometimes feel Vanessa as if in a dream. He was sure she could feel him. He wasn’t sure if she’d just dismiss the sensation, the way she dismissed everything with a haughty lift of her nose. 

After all, Dyvian had known Van for a long time. Longer than the Gardens of Arachne before Duessa ever came to Stefan as his bride. 

Everything she did was an embellishment, an improvement upon what her husband wrought within his ancestral estate before it crumbled. The Temple was now the center of all things. The Ashelockes had become the Spider’s victims, even the Ashelockes who became spider ladies themselves. One could argue Duessa’s entire court of arachnocrats were being manipulated. 

As always, Dyvian felt admiration when he looked upon what Duessa had wrought. Admiration, fear, and a sliver of pity. 

To be continued next Wednesday…

Conversations with Christopher: Agathea

Colored orbs of pink, pale blue, and silver bob through the mists, around the four delicate pillars rising out of it. 

Agathea steps down from a dais. Her hair is floating around her as if she was underwater, dressed with delicate stars and moons. Her hair is no longer aqua marine, but silvery white as is her layered gown. The upper layers float around her. 

Below Christopher sits, watching her, incogruous upon his stone throne. A couple of orbs start to float near him, only to back away, getting as far from him as they can. 

Agathea: Interesting, very interesting. This place has some of the same qualities as my cluster, only it’s not my place. It is your place. 

Christopher: It usually doesn’t take on this form. (He glances up at the pillars.) This is familar, yet not familar.

Agathea: (watching him with narrowed eyes) It’s a classical setting dating back to Ancient Earth. It haunts every lifer’s dreams. Even I can’t escape its allure.

Christopher: (offering a tiny smile) You may have guessed I’m not a lifer. I’m not even sure if my world was part of Ancient Earth. I’d guess parts of it are similar to Ancient Earth.

Agathea: Because of the unfamiliar familarity?

Christopher: That and we have the same scribbler.

Agathea: (lifting her nose with delicate distaste) Scribbler?

Christopher: Err, creatrix. I guess you could call her our mutual creatrix. 

Agathea: (raising an eyebrow) *Our* mutual creatrix? And whom would she be? She can’t be Aphrodite. I have exclusive rights to the Goddess Aphrodite.

Christopher: You have exclusive rights to a goddess? 

Agathea: Presumptious of me, yet bold. Aphrodite favors the bold. She certainly has favored me in intergalactic business and the arts. 

Christopher: I wonder if our scribbler doesn’t have similar rights to us. We are characters in her story, even if our concepts came from a communal stew of lore. 

Agathea: Do you now? Presumptious of her to presume such power over me. You speak in unlikely riddles, whoever you are. Whatever you are. 

Christopher: I’m Christopher. I wonder if I’m all that different than you. 

Agathea: Do you, now? What do you do, Christopher?

Christopher: Many things. Among them work at the Navel in Omphalos.

Agathea: How can you work in someone’s belly button?

Christopher: Err, the Navel is a little shop in a town called Omphalos. A shop engaged in a very peculiar business. 

Agathea: I’m sure. It all sounds so quaint. What planet is this Omphalos on?

Christopher: I’m not sure if our world has a name. I can reach other worlds with other versions of Omphalos if I find the right Door in the Shadow Forest. 

Agathea: And now you’re being ominously quaint. There are faster and more modern ways to reach other worlds than opening a Door, but I suppose you can’t afford them.

Christopher: I sometimes wonder if I or anyone else can afford entering a Door. The price is often too high for entering. 

Agathea: How vague you are about many things. For instance, you never explained how you’re not a lifer. 

Christopher: In this time, place, and shape, you could say I’m a boy. I call myself Christopher, but I carry the memories and impressions of other people. I’m currently in the form of a boy who blossomed in the Garden of Arachne before being plucked. 

Arachne: Sounds both poetic and ominous. In other words you’re a male from a particular region of Ancient Earth where boys blossom and are plucked. I wonder if you aren’t trying to frighten me. 

Christopher: As I said, I’m not sure if I’m from Ancient Earth. At least not your Ancient Earth. 

Agathea: Again with the enigmas. Why are you here, Christopher? What is this place?

Christopher: This is the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, our scribbler’s Place of Power. I come here from time to time to talk to characters from other worlds. Err, universes. 

Agathea: And so you want to talk to me. Of course you do. Everyone does. My conversation is always delicious. And I make certain everyone else’s is. 

Christopher: How so? 

Agathea: I draw nourishment from other people’s conversation. The more passionate about it they are, the more satisfying it is. And I can make their words manifest as actual food on their plates. 

Christopher: We have something in common. I draw nourishment from other people, too. Their conversation, thoughts, memories, their very presence.

Agathea: Really? (She gazes at Christopher with a sharp eye.) Are you feeding upon me right now? Is that why my orbs avoid you?

Christopher: (smiles again) What do you think? 

Agathea: Well, well. This garden of yours must be an interesting place.

Christopher: As is your cluster. I don’t know how to make people’s words manifest as food.

Agathea: (smiles back at him) Don’t you?

Christopher: (flushing) Well, I’m not sure if the food would actually nourish anybody.

Agathea: That is the question, isn’t it?

Christopher: Now who’s talking in riddles?

Agathea: You don’t seem to mind. Not really. 

Christopher: (touches a blushing cheek) I guess I don’t. Neither do you. Not really. 

Agathea: (touches her own formerly pale cheek now suffused with color) I don’t, do I?

The two of them smile at each other, making sure they keep a safe distance. 

Enjoying Agathea’s conversation? Want to hear more of her conversation and see how she draw nourishment from it? You can observe her unique way of feeding and feeding others in A Symposium in Space…

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#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

Phaedra is going to repeat a little of what she said last week before going on in A Symposium in Space, realizing she wouldn’t make much sense if she didn’t. 😉

“A symposium?” I murmured, confused by the archaic word. It conjured more images of Ancient Earth, but this time of our patriarchal past. An era when those who looked down at you were referred to as patronizing rather than matronizing. 

Such barbarism was behind us. A new democracy had spread out from Ancient Earth, across space, freeing women from their former bondage to male thoughts and ideas. 

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#QueerBlogWed: An Unstately Raven Part 3

On July 14, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a deer, a new job, and a song.

The Tale of the Navel: An Unstately Raven involving Danyel and Tayel’s adventures (or misadventures) was the result. Only it was so huge, I broke it down into segments. This is the final part…

Gryluxx picked up a long black cape, swirled it over his shoulders like a stage villain. It had a silver clasp in the shape of a coin. A coin with a curiously alluring figure upon it, humanoid, yet with claws, horns, and a tail. 

The gesture was so melodramatic it made Danyel want to laugh. He swallowed the giggle. It came out as a cough. 

There had to be more to this man. Something the humming voice saw in him, something Danyel might learn if he listened. 

Listening wasn’t going to be pleasant if this was just the introduction to whatever job the twins would be doing. 

“We’re considering.” Danyel covered his elbows with his hands, hugging himself. “Believe me.” 

“Everyone here in Omphalos is more than simply a settler, searching for a new home.” Gryluxx fingered the talisman around his neck. “We’ve been chosen by Seraphix as were you.”

Again the same shiver ran down his spin. He felt the cold force of Tayel’s glare, warning him not to ask questions. Warning him not to ask whom Seraphix was. 

Danyel closed his eyes, felt the chill of a hand grabbing him through a Door. Heavy, sticky darkness pulling him down into the shadows. The hungry pressure of monsters coming from all corners and the release when he opened his arms to all of them. 

“How were you chosen?” he asked instead. 

“We heard Their Voice.” Gryluxx bowed his head in reverence, but his fingers spasmed. As if he was grabbing for something. “They spoke through our Lord, who offered each of us a token. Not everyone can handle a godling in Their full glory. They saw something they could understand, a symbol of their desire.”

Danyel caught the tailor’s sharp dark eye. “Did you?”

“I am not just anybody.” The tailor swelled his chest. “I can see our godling’s true form. I can see how he grows in strength, feeding off our faith. Just as we grow stronger, feeding off of him.” 

“What does this have to do with why you want us?” Danyel asked, trying not to shudder. Seraphix sounded a lot like a shadow. Only he was feeding in the real world, not the Shadow Forest. 

“It seems a pity we have to intercede through Their Voice to get to Seraphix Themselves.” Gryluxx balled one of his beringed hands into a fist. “Especially when our lord already seems to have such a tight grip on this growing village. Having other divine intermediaries could free more than one of us.”

“And you are such an intermediary?” Much as Danyel wished to get Leiwell free of his lord, Gryluxx didn’t seem like an improvement. 

“As are the two of you.” Gryluxx opened his hand to gesture to the twins. “I’m very interested in getting to know the Hand and the Eye a little better. As you should be interested in getting to know other allies than the Voice of Seraphix a little better.”

“You keep calling Once Upon a Time the Voice of Seraphix.” Danyel frowned. “Does your lord speak for your godling?”

“Once Upon a Time? Is that how our lord made himself known to you?” Gryluxx shot Danyel a curious look. “Yes, Lord Dyvian speaks for Seraphix.” He pointed at Tayel. “As you see for Them.” He turned his finger upon Danyel. “And you, you act for Them.”

“How do you know all this?” Danyel wasn’t sure if he trusted this information entirely. He certainly didn’t trust Gryluxx. “Did Once Upon a Time…Lord Dyvian…tell you himself?”

“I try not to wait around for people to drop whatever crumbs of information they feel generous enough to share.” Gryluxx smiled in scorn. “I look. I listen. I hear. I’ve tricks of gathering information which I only share with those who’ve sworn a blood oath to me.”

“Thus you peek in windows, listen in doors.” Tayel sounded just as scornful as Gryluxx. “Like a raven, perched on the threshold, flying away before you’re spotted spying.” 

For one moment Gryluxx stared at Tayel in perfect fury. The next moment he began to chuckle. 

“I can see what Seraphix chose you as Their Eye.” He gave Tayel a grudging once over of respect. “You have your tricks, too.”

“We both do.” Danyel decided not to mention his was picking up rocks, even if they were special rocks requiring return to a particular person. Somehow he didn’t think that would impress this man. “Are you looking to share information?”

“Share?” Gryluxx let out a scornful laugh. “Only a fool gives away what I’ve learned. A trade, though, we might be able to trade information.” He leered at Danyel. “Among other things.”

“Haste makes for foolish choices, binding fools in bargains they never wanted.” Tayel took Danyel’s arm, pulling him back. “We’ll consider your offer.”

“After all,” Danyel said over his shoulder, “we promised. To consider whatever you said.”

With those words, he turned his back on the tailor. 

“You’ll be back.” The words crept in his ear, down his back. “You will, at least, little Hand, even if the Eye is wary enough to look away. You’ve been too sheltered and now you’re too curious. You want to learn more about me, more about my wife. You want to learn more about Omphalos. You know you can learn from me. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Tayel tugged him toward the door. Danyel followed, yet those words continued to echo in his head. 

You’ll be back. 

Yes, he was. Creepy and untrustworthy as he was, Gryluxx was right. Danyel was curious. He had a feeling he could, indeed, learn things if he returned. 

Hopefully Tayel would forgive him if he did. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Pausania

Christopher sits in his stone chair facing a young woman with long loose tresses of auburn hair. Only she’d never call herself a woman. She’s a lifer, thank you very much and at the moment a lost one. She sniffs at the mists of the Cauldron with distaste. 

Pausania: Honestly, can’t you adjust the background here?

Christopher: What would you like to see?

Slightly curved sandstone pillars rise around Pausania and Christopher. The two of them are sitting on a floating terrace under a magenta sky with the occasional crystal drifting by to twinkle in the rosy air. 

Pausania relaxes into her chair, made of vines and something like a cross between bamboo and cedar. 

Christopher glances down at his own seat to see it’s the same. 

Pausania: Much better. Ah, I remember when my lover took me here. I was as wide-eyed as Phaedra at the time. 

Christopher: Where are we?

Pausania: Calliope III, my poor child. No one has taken you here? It’s one of the most relaxing planets in the Intergalactic Democracy. Much better than Semele. Everyone goes to Semele, but every girl should come here as well.

Christopher: Well, I’m not exactly a girl, so I’m not sure if I should. It does look interesting, though. 

Pausania: Wait, what? (She shrinks back from Christopher the same way Phaedra did.) What are you? 

Christopher: I’m Christopher. We’re actually in the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, our scribbler’s blog. Err, a place between worlds, err, universes on the web. Sort of. It can be Calliope III, though, if you want it to be. 

Pausania: A Cauldron? A place between universes? (She tightens her grip on the arms of her chair.) Are you some forgotten godling from Ancient Earth come here to make mischief? Are you Dionysus?

Christopher: No, I’m not Dionysus. (He considers her words.) I suppose as Happily Ever After I could be considered a godling. Perhaps. I’m not trying to make mischief. I’m only here to talk. Phaedra was here last week. 

Pausania: Phaedra?! What have you done with her?!

Christopher: Nothing! We just talked. She disappeared after we spoke, the way all guests do when they’re done talking here. 

Pausania: Is that so? (She narrows her eyes.) Make a lot of guests disappear, do you, Happily Ever After? Am I next?

Christopher: In a way. Once you’ve finished talking, you’ll return to your story. 

Pausania: My story? (She raises an eyebrow.)

Christopher: Your universe. Wherever you were before you came here. 

Pausania: Where I was was home. Phaedra just walked out on me. 

Christopher: She mentioned that. 

Pausania: She did, did she?

Christopher: Yes. She said she missed you.

All the snark seems to run out of Pausania. She slumps in her seat.

Pausania: Godling from another universe, I’m about at my wit’s end. You call yourself Happily Ever After? What happily ever after can I have after the things I said? I regret them, yet I wonder if I wasn’t meant to say them, giving Phaedra a chance to say everything she couldn’t. Not until I was cruel enough to give her an excuse to. 

Christopher: What did you say?

Pausania: What I thought I was supposed to. What I thought was true. Now I’m no longer sure. Of anything. I just want to find Phaedra. I want to talk to her. 

Christopher: She’s probably on her way to a symposium? She really wanted to go. 

Pausania: (She buries her head in her hands.) That’s the last place I want to go. (She lifts her face, staring at something only she can see. Or someone.) Only if Phaedra is determined to enter the predator’s cluster, I can’t let her go alone.

Christopher: You’re going to this symposium, then?

Pausania: For Phaedra’s sake, yes. (She lets out a strained groan.) Here’s hoping I don’t regret this. 

Christopher: I hope you don’t either. 

What happens at the symposium? Will Pausania regret going? Find out at…

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#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For mine, Phaedra will continue where she left off last weekend in A Symposium in Space…

“Phaedra, beloved of Pausania.” A melodic voice, filled with sly suggestion, came from the orb. “I’d be very pleased if you and your lover would attend my symposium in space.”

“A symposium?” I murmured, confused by the archaic word. It conjured more images of Ancient Earth, but this time of our patriarchal past. 

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#QueerBlogWed: An Unstately Raven Part 2

On July 14, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a deer, a new job, and a song.

This swelled into a Tale of Omphalos so large, I had to break it into segments. Here is the second part…

He crossed the threshold, entering the shop, blinking in the sudden darkness. He heard the soft footfall of Tayel behind him. There was no hesitation in his twin. Once Danyel decided to go inside the evil wizard’s lair, Tayel would follow. 

Except he wasn’t an evil wizard, he was a tailor. That was supposed to be something different. 

Meggie leaned against a table, skirts in disarray, eating a muffin. She didn’t look at the twins. 

Behind her stood several wardrobes, tables, and shelves with piles of lace, silk, and velvet scattered upon them. 

“What I’m looking for is someone who can organize everything for me. Someone who’ll do everything I say.” Gryluxx grinned, exposing yellow teeth. “I have a specific vision, guided and directed by our mutual lord…for now.  Obey and pay attention. You’ll learn a lot from me if you do, but you must do those things. Unless you swear a blood vow you’ll do this, you’ll learn nothing from me.” 

“A blood vow?” Danyel shivered a bit. 

“Yes.” The tailor grinned, licking his lips. “I am curious if you two actually bleed. If you’re human enough for such a thing.”

Meggie finished the last bite of her muffin. She moved with no haste to a table.

“Hurry it up, you slattern!” Gryluxx scowled at his wife. “Bring me the bowl.”

“Hmm, no need to be anxious.” The insult rolled off her as if she hadn’t noticed. “It’s not going to run off and abandon you. Not unless you, hmm, ticked off a wind spirit.” She stopped to blink at her husband. “You didn’t, did you?”

“Why would I do such a thing?” Gryluxx glowered at his wife. “I take better care of my tools than that!” 

“Do you, now?” Meggie blinked with sleepy indulgence at the tailor and fished a golden bowl out from under a pile of emerald green silk the same shame as Leiwell’s eyes. “This what you wanted?”

“Oh, just give it to me, you fool!” Gryluxx marched over and snatched the bowl from his wife’s hands. He was shorter than her, a lot shorter. He held out the bowl. “Now, I’ll spill your blood before I spill my secrets, little ones. Just a tiny precaution before we get started.”

“Assuming we do.” Danyel backed away from the bowl. 

“Offer more before asking.” Tayel stepped in time with his twin, eyes glittering. “Blood oaths aren’t given lightly, even by the neighborhood weirdlings you find hopelessly naive. 

Gryluxx looked perfectly furious at this. He picked up a jagged knife with a black hilt. “I could just take what I want, little ones.”

“You could try.” Danyel crossed his arms, looked the aggressive tailor right in the eye. “We could Dance.”

The gauntlet was thrown down. Gryluxx would have heard the village gossip about what happened to Thomas and Jupitre when they attacked the twins. They’d only been using their fists, yet their blows had been deflected back at them. 

What would happen if they Danced with someone coming at them with a knife? Danyel wasn’t sure he wanted to know. He wasn’t entirely sure what happened when he Danced, using the mysterious art and movements his mother, Map had taught all of her adopted sons. What seemed a series of simple movements and positions the twins had learned to mimick from Map changed into something mysterious and powerful. Something which could toss opponents far bigger than Danyel and Tayel about. 

Map called it the power of Seraphix or the Dance. Neither explanation satisified Danyel, but he didn’t want to question it too closely. It was better to have it than the usual weapons people used. 

Whatever it was, Gryluxx didn’t want to test it. For a moment, sweat beaded his forehead. He stood with the knife and bowl, staring at the twins. 

The twins stared right back. 

“Well done!” Gryluxx grinned, setting the knife and the bowl down upon some lace. “You’ve passed the test! I can’t have fools working for me, willing to bleed for anyone who’ll ask, heh.”

Meggie, oblivious to the tension between her husband and potential employees strolled over to collect the bowl and knife. She hummed under her voice a little tune which sounded familar. Danyel was certain he’d heard Map humming it. 

“This doesn’t mean we’re not going to pay attention.” They’d used the threat. Time to placate this man, if they could. “We want to learn from you…sir. We cannot promise to obey you without knowing what you want of us.”

“No, you can’t. Not the way Leiwell obeys his lord in all things.” Gryluxx returned to his previously leering self. “You may be the Hand and the Eye, but you do and say may not be enough to save your brother from his sad fate.”

“Like you said. We cannot promise to obey, but we can promise to listen,” Danyel offered, feeling his skin crawl. Just how badly did Gryluxx want the twins? Time to find out. “We can promise not to refuse your orders without careful thought.”

“A promise can bind without blood.” Tayel fixed eyes spitting silver light upon the tailor. “Just as we are.”

“It’s, hmm, true, my raisin.” Meggie blinked at her husband. “The woman they live with didn’t get birth to them, yet she is bound to them as a mother. I’ve seen it.”

“As have I.” Gryluxx fixed his beady eyes upon the twins. How greedy they were. “It’s just another one of the many curious things about you boys.”

“The offer you’re getting is, hmm, reasonable.” Meggie leaned back against the table, glanced at a sunbeam playing upon the silk. “More reasonable than some you’ve heard.”

“You’ve made your point, wench.” Gryluxx scowled at his wife before turning his annoyed face in Danyel’s direction. “Think carefully before you refuse me, boy. I see many things. I hear the meanings lying beneath our lord’s orders and the consequences for following them. I see, hear, and learn things which would turn your locks completely silver. Consider that when you contemplate cheekiness.”

To be continued next Wednesday…

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Conversations with Christopher: Phaedra

Christopher sits facing a young woman in an orange jumpsuit and short purple hair. Long bangs fall over her pale forehead. 

Christopher: That’s an unusual outfit. 

Phaedra: It’s the latest lack of fashion, according to Pausania. I’m dressed like the pilot of a ship even though I don’t have a ship. (She blushes a bit.) Well, I didn’t have a ship. 

Christopher: I take it you do, now?

Phaedra: Yes, the Timea. I’m surprised I’m not at her controls now. What is this place? (She looks around at mists surrounding her, at Christopher seated in his stone chair opposite.) Some sort of transportation nexus? 

Christopher: What’s that?

Phaedra: I’m not sure if I can explain it myself. It takes you out of your ship, transports you into a different part of the star cluster it’s part. 

Christopher: And what’s a star cluster?

Phaedra: (grimaces) Something a lot fancier than a space platform or station. The only one I know anything about is the one Agathea created. She’s one of the richest citizens of the Intergalactic Democracy, so it’s not something just anyone can afford.

Christopher: I see…no, actually, I don’t see at all.

Phaedra: Neither do I. And why am I trying to answer your questions when you haven’t answered mine? Where are we?

Christopher: This is the Cauldron. It’s nothing like Agathea’s star cluster. Actually I’m not sure if it is or not. Both are creations of our scribbler. Maybe they are similar. 

Phaedra: Why would they be? Who is this person you call our scribbler?

Christopher: Our creatrix, yours and mine. The creatrix of our respective universes. This blog, this Cauldron, this place is a space between universes where we can meet or interact. 

Phaedra: Blog? Cauldron? Those are some old-fashioned words. Particularly blog. Rhymes with bog. Or frog. 

Christopher: Blogs don’t exist where you’re from? Places where people post online?

Phaedra: Online? That’s another old-fashioned word.

Christopher: I guess you don’t do anything like that. 

Phaedra: Maybe. I have shared poems on in the intergalactic web. Along with trains of thought or trails. Sometimes we just call them trains or trails.

Christopher: That makes sense.

Phaedra: Judging from your expression, you’ve never heard such an expression. Not for the intergalactic web.

Christopher: To be honest, I shudder a bit at the notion of an intergalactic web.

Phaedra: Why? It keeps all lifers connected. 

Christopher: What’s a lifer?

Phaedra: You really don’t know? Lifers used to be called women back on Ancient Earth. It was a term for a girl when she matured to womanhood. Goddess, I’m using some archaic terms. You do still use the terms women and girl, don’t you? You’d still be referred to as a girl? 

Christopher: (trying to keep a straight face) Yes, we use the terms women and girl where I’m from, but neither of them would apply to me. Not right now.

Phaedra: Huh?

Christopher: I’m a boy. Sort of. 

Phaedra: What? Really? (She draws back, taking a sharp look at him.) Wait, what do you mean, sort of?

Christopher: I’m made of shadow, scattered bits of memory. Some of them belonged to girls and women. Only my current form is that of a boy.

Phaedra: Wow, that sounds so weird! You must be the product of some extremely advanced science! 

Christopher: Actually I think I’m the result of magic and will. My existence is a bit of a mystery. 

Phaedra: I shouldn’t wonder! This explains why you don’t have even a trace of a beard. 

Christopher: I don’t think boys had beards. Not in the Gardens I dimly recall once living in. 

Phaedra: Gardens? That sounds lovely. I admire any world which emphasizes an active plant life. This is one of the few things Pausania and I had in common. (She looks sad.)

Christopher: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned Pausania. 

Phaedra: Pausania almost became my lover. She wanted me to be her beloved. She was beautiful, charming, eloquent, interesting…only she was also irritable, constantly finding fault with me, and sucking all the cheer out of a room. 

Christopher: Sounds like a challenging person to be with. 

Phaedra: Oh, she was. I wonder if she wasn’t too challenging. (She lets out a sigh.) Being with her was stifling.

Christopher: You’re not with her any more? 

Phaedra: I’m not sure. We had a fight and I walked out on her. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do, but I really wanted to go to the symposium.

Christopher: The symposium?

Phaedra: A gathering in space at Agathea’s star cluster. I’ve never been anywhere like that before. 

Christopher: Pausania didn’t want to go?

Phaedra: She didn’t want either of us to go. She wasn’t too nice about it, either. Not that it was just about the symposium. A lot of things which had been building up between us were finally said. There’s no way to unsay them. I’m not even sure if I want to. 

Christopher: I’m sorry. 

Phaedra: Don’t be. I’m having an adventure, perhaps the first real adventure ever, making my way to the symposium. 

Christopher: Good luck in getting there. 

Phaedra: Thank you. 

How does Phaedra get there? What happens at the symposium? Find out in A Symposium in Space available at…

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