#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on our blogs. Those sentences can be from our own stories. They can be from someone else’s. They just need to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

One last word from Phaedra for my own in A Symposium in Space

“I hope you’ll be there.” I laid my hand on the door panel, a bit of the modern amidst the archaic. Touch sensitive, it made the wooden barrier slide open. “For my sake, if not for your own.”

I stalked out of our home and into the world. 

Want to know what happens next? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

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Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of Tayel

On February 2, 2022, P.T. Wyant offered at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a shadow, a superstition, a tradition.

I do love it whenever she does a prompt involving shadows and nothing too clearly tied in this particular world. (heart) It’s an excuse to head for Omphalos. Any of the versions of Omphalos which you might find behind a Door. Or a place where an Omphalos was or is going to be.

Like the lonely cottage Tayel lives in, trying to pretend things aren’t going to change. Trying to pretend he can’t sense things in the shadows reaching out for him.

He’s not fooling anyone.

Seeing things in the shadows was just superstition.

“From superstition comes tradition.” Map muttered this between her pipe, puffing on it. A faint scent of rose petals, cloves, and something else rose in the air along with a hint of color only Tayel could see. “Bad tradition.”

“What do you mean?” Danyel had to ask. Had to look closely at Map’s tunic, the grayish-green, high collared garment with its half-silver, half-gold clasp of two dragons circling each other. A tunic she always wore over her homespun skirts. 

“You start seeing things in the shadows, you start chanting things to keep them away.” Map fixed her fathomless dark eyes, gleaming out of her weathered face upon Tayel, not Danyel. “Before you know it, it’ll become a prayer. A ritual you use to keep whatever you fear at bay. That prayer will feed your fear.”

Tayel flushed. Map knew. Somehow she knew about the little chant he’d started saying whenever the shadows started to move in the bedroom. Especially when they crept closer to Danyel and himself. 

“Light of the moon

Keep them at bay

Smile bright and broad

Keep the shadows at bay.”

The crescent moon did look like a smile. A slightly mocking grin which might grace a handsome face very like their brother, Leiwell’s. 

“I thought prayers were meant to summon something which would chase away what we fear?” Danyel crossed his arms, gave Map’s clasp a pointed look. “Even if it’s just our own courage?”

“Hah!” Map snorted, removing her pipe. “Your courage doesn’t need to be summoned. It’s already part of yourself. Anything else you might summon is more trouble than he’s worth.”

Tayel swallowed, dropping his head, allowing his hair to fall forward in a wave to shield his expression from scrutiny. 

He’d revealed too much already. He didn’t want Map or even Danyel to guess his fancies about the man in the moon. 

“He?” Danyel leaned forward, intent on that slip. “Is there someone in particular you’re worried we’ll summon, Map?”

“Just be careful.” The problem with pinning your hair up in an untidy bun was Map couldn’t hide her expression. The way her mouth turned down, her gaze shifted away to avoid Danyel’s. “Words have power. You never know you might be listening.”

“We’d know more if you’d tell us.” Danyel wasn’t about to let go of this. “Who might be listening, Map? Who are you afraid of?”

“There’s nothing or no one to be afraid of. Don’t let your imagination run away with you.” Map got up, moving away from the table, turning her back to the twins. 

“Don’t offer my imagination a carrot, encouraging it to run!” Danyel retorted, standing up from the table.

Tayel couldn’t help but giggle. They’d seen a picture of a horse in book recently, a horse with a carrot. How the horse strained after the fat vegetable dangled in front of it. The idea of Danyel’s imagination being that horse, trying to get to that carrot was only too apt. 

“Here I thought I was offering it a stick.” Tayel heard the smile in Map’s voice, even if she didn’t turn around. “Trust you to see it as a carrot. I’m going to bed.”

She trudged across the floor in the direction of her bedroom, never looking back until she’d opened the door. She offered the twins a tired, almost sad smile before shutting the door behind her.

Danyel gazed at the door with an open mouth. “She didn’t even try to pretend she was hiding something.” 

“It’s tiring, holding up a mask when you constantly seek to knock it off.” Tayel shook his head, pushing his hair out of his face. “Map has reasons for not explaining herself.”

“Why did she try to warn us against praying?” Danyel shook his head. “Map was herself part of a religious order. She’s never pretended she wasn’t.”

“Maybe that’s why.” Tayel shifted, glancing at the closed curtains. “Warnings about superstitions becoming traditions soften tragic truths.”

“You know what she meant.” It wasn’t a question. Danyel gazed at him, a troubled frown tugging at his lower lip. “You’re keeping secrets again. From me.”

“Superstitions become traditions. Traditions become a thicket of thorns.” Tayel wouldn’t look at his twin’s pleading face. “We may bleed if we brush our hands against them, but they’ll keep peril out.”

“Or you could stop the superstition from becoming a tradition.” Danyel reached out to take his twin’s hand. “You could tell me what’s making you superstitious. We could face it together.”

Yes. This would be the most direct way to face the problem. Only Tayel was afraid. Not just for himself, but for his brothers. Especially Danyel. 

He didn’t want Danyel to see what lay in the shadows. He didn’t want him to reach out for them, to try to get to know them. 

No, better to keep them away. Even if it meant embracing superstition instead. At least it was just Tayel. 

“Tradition becomes superstition when infused with too much fear.” Tayel shrugged, allowed himself to press his twin’s hands. “Summoning courage may be exactly what I need to do.”

“Do you really need to summon it?” Danyel studied his face intently. “Is there a particular source of courage you need to draw upon? Outside of yourself?”

Tayel cursed himself for being a fool. All this talk of summoning courage had aroused his twin’s curiosity. 

“No.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. “I shouldn’t need to.”

Danyel studied him and nodded slightly. It wasn’t clear if his twin believed him or not. 

Too many things lay unsaid between them. 

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

To sample various LGBTQIA+ snippets, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Phaedra makes the decision which spurs her forth into the rest of A Symposium in Space. This is a little longer than six sentences, but they’re very short sentences.

“I’m going to Agathea’s symposium.” 

I didn’t turn around. If I looked into Pausania’s eyes, I might still yield. I could end up apologizing and falling into her arms. Again.

Not this time. 

Like what you’ve been reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of the Navel

On January 26, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. This involved a top hat, ribbons, and a rabbit.

This Tale of the Navel, a freebie story for Stealing Myself From Shadows was the result…

A rabbit emerged from the top hat, only to be chased around by the angry chicken who leaped out of a bag with a wicked cackle. 

I scooped up the rabbit in my arms and hid behind a shelf, trembling along with my furry bundle. I didn’t like the hen any more than the rabbit did. 

“Enough!” Gabrielle clapped her hands together and glowered at the chicken. “Stop picking…or pecking…on people. Christopher and the rabbit have as much right to be here as you do.”

The chicken strutted back to the bag she’d come from. She let out a defiant squawk before stepping on it, returning to being an inanimate object. 

“This is why I almost never wear anything tailored.” ‘Brie smoothed the ribbons dangling from the top hat and glanced at me. “Come on out, Christopher. Let’s send the bunny home.”

I carried the rabbit, petting them reassuring before setting them down on the counter where the top hat lay on its side. They sniffed the opening before moving into the hat. 

Hat and bunny disappeared from sight. 

“That’s unusual,” I ventured. “Anything which comes to the Navel usually stays until the right person claims it.”

“The hat and the rabbit were memory ghosts from the past.” Gabrielle smiled, looking a little sad. “Here for a moment, long enough to rouse the chickens, only to disappear.”

“Why?” I glanced over with some unease at the motionless chicken standing on the bag. It was frightening enough when it didn’t move. 

“I’m guessing it has something to do with whomever the chicken and the bunny were once part of.” Gabrielle tapped a finger to her lips. “Everything in the Navel represents a memory, a thought, or an ideal. Something someone lost.”

“Or cast away.” I doubted the chicken’s owner wanted her. She was too mean. The way she glared at everyone with her beady eyes showed an angry temper. 

“Or cast away.” ‘Brie smiled over at the chicken, eyes softening. Yes, she had a soft spot for the feathered menace. I wasn’t sure why. “Those fragments find form and a home here before someone claims them.”

“Why do you do this, ‘Brie?” Damian had asked the same question many times. I didn’t mean it as a challenge. I was truly curious. “Why are you here at the Navel, helping people find those fragments?” 

“Sometimes you lose something before you realize its value.” Gabrielle closed her eyes for one moment. They were very bright when she opened it. “The Navel gives us a second chance to reclaim that something. What we do gives me hope.”

“Did you lose something?” I reached out for her hand. “Something you’re hoping will turn up here?”

“Yes.” She took my hand and squeezed my fingers. “I’m still waiting, but I haven’t given hope. Besides I’ve been surprised by what has turned up or who. Surprised out of my sadness a few times. Like when Damian brought you home.”

“He was trying to make you happy.” Something tightened in my chest. “He was planning to leave, but he didn’t want you to be alone.”

“No one can replace someone else.” She smiled with some sadness. “This doesn’t mean I’m not happy you’re here. Or that you’ve helped fill the void left by Damian’s absence.”

“Me, too.” I squeezed her hand again. “Thank you, ‘Brie. Thank you for welcoming me into the Navel.”

“You’re more than welcome.” She released my hand. “You’ll always have a home here, Christopher, until you tire of this place. Or its rules grow too restrictive.”

“What makes you think I’m tired?” I studied the wrinkles on her forehead, around her mouth. “I’ve never been happier anywhere than I’ve been here.”

Except Damian wasn’t here. He’d left both of us, taking some of the happiness with him.

Gabrielle nodded as if she knew exactly what I was thinking. “Happiness tends to be fleeting. You may find yourself chasing yours outside the door and far from here.”

“I won’t,” I protested, but something stuck in my throat, making it hard to get the words out. 

Wouldn’t I? The truth was, I didn’t know. 

I was waiting for Damian to come back. What if he didn’t come back? 

There might come a time when I’d stop waiting. When I’d try to find out wherever he’d gone. 

I glanced up at Waiting for the Rebirth, its riot of color streaked with white. Those streaks might be paths, paths leading through the shadows in a forest. 

Paths which Damian could be walking right now. 

Conversations with Christopher: Hebe

Silence falls into the clearing. Shadows gather around Paul’s face, making his eye gleam. He doesn’t bat them away. He parts his lips as if he savors the taste of the darkness as much as it savors him. 

The nearby greenery rustles. Christopher feels eyes watching them, wanting to come closer, to approach the temple and the stream, but whomever is there doesn’t. 

Paul: (closing his eyes and smiling) She cannot enter holy ground. (He swivels his head to look away from Christopher.) Go on. Talk to her. That’s what you do. Isn’t it?

Christopher: (backing away) Yes it is, although I wonder what cannot enter this place while I, whom you’ve called a monster can. 

Paul: You should know the answer to that. If not, go and find out. 

Christopher circles the clearing, giving Paul a wide berth. He plunges into the bushes. 

He is seized by two strong hands, swept within a billowing cloak. 

Hebe: What are you doing, talking to him? Come away at once!

She pulls Christopher through the thicket which is softer than he expected toward a shimmering patch of air. 

He doesn’t resist. He recognizes the rippling the sensation in the air of an opening between worlds, what he calls a Door.

The rippling sensation surrounds them, swallowing them until there are elsewhere. 

Hebe and Christopher stumble into another clearing with a very different temple. Smaller than the green one with the blue roof and golden dragons, yet taller and a completely different design. Open air, supported by four pillars, and a domed roof, a white marble statue graces the center. The statue is of a naked youth who looks very much like Paul.

Christopher: There’s always a statue, isn’t there? At least this one is really a statue. 

Hebe: Of course there’s a statue. He is beautiful, that creature you were speaking with, beautiful and terrible. A legendary beauty, although too few see the terror until it’s too late. 

Christopher: You mean Paul?

Hebe: Is that what he calls himself? (She smiles bitterly.) When he seduced my father and took my position, he had a different name. 

Christopher: He seduced your father?

Hebe: (frowns) Well, that’s what my father says. My mother agrees. She feels he betwitched my father into forgetting me, my family, and his obligations. 

Christopher: You don’t sound convinced. 

Hebe: He said he was kidnapped. That my father turned into a beautiful bird that carried him away. 

Christopher: Do you believe him?

Hebe: It wouldn’t be the first time my father has turned into a bird to seduce someone or ravage them. He got to my mother in that form. 

Christopher: Did he?

Hebe: Personally I think the shower of gold form is more seductive. Who’s going to say no to gold? 

Christopher: Yes, but a shower of it? Particularly if it’s melted down into a molten form which sears you when it touches you. Or if it traps you in a mold, turning you into a statue of gold, unable to speak or move. Slowly killing you in a beautiful, motionless form, or cursing you with eternity within the shell. 

Hebe: You and your sinister view of statues! One would think you had a close encounter with a gorgon. 

Christopher: A gorgon? 

Hebe: Hmm. Snakes for hair. Sometimes immortal, but not always. Even the ones that aren’t immortal retain their power after death. Even if you hack off her head, a gorgon can still turn you to stone just by looking at you.

Christopher: Like and unlike an arachnocrat. She has to do a lot more than look at you to turn you to stone. And she’d need your consent. 

Hebe: Sounds like a more convivial relationship for both the arachnocrat and her victim. More convivial than any you’d have with a gorgon, whether the gorgon wished it or not. 

Christopher: You sound like the Lady Duessa herself.

Hebe: Is she an arachnocat? (She rubs her throat. There’s a petal-shaped scar upon it.)

Christopher: Yes. (He gives the scar a pointed look.) I thought you knew.

Hebe: I’m not sure how much I knew or know. I’m not a statue.

Christopher: You weren’t a Marriage Feast.

Hebe: No. I was feasted upon, but marriage wasn’t offered. 

Christopher: I don’t think the Lady Duessa could have. The Marriage Feast is always a boy, selected by an arachnocrat as her Marriage Feast, something my sister, Vanessa never stopped reminding us of. 

Hebe: Us?

Christopher: (straining to recall something, someone who’s become like the faded part of a dream) Damian, myself…and Melyssa. Yes, Melyssa. How could I forgotten her? I think…(his cheeks color)

Hebe: (raising an eyebrow) You think?

Christopher: I think Melyssa might have asked Vanessa to be her Marriage Feast if ladies could take other ladies, but Van was shocked by the idea. 

Hebe: Shocked and unwilling?

Christopher: I’m not sure. Strange, that such a thing would be shocking, but the Gardens were a strange place. 

Hebe: Yes, strange. Almost as strange as the Tower. 

Christopher: What? What do you know of the Tower? 

Hebe: Never you mind. I wasn’t warning you about the Tower or the Gardens. I was warning you about Ganymeades. 

Christopher: Ganymeades?

Hebe: The one you call Paul.

Christopher: Actually it was Peter who called him Paul. They used to be together. 

Map: What? Our Peter? Our sweet, silly flirt at the Navel had a relationship with that creature?

Christopher: One that’s not over, judging from Paul’s attitude. 

Hebe: Well. First my parents, now Ganymeades. Our Peter has a way of enchanting everyone. 

Christopher: Yes, he does.

Hebe: I’m surprised to hear you agree. You were the only one who seemed immune to his charms. 

Christopher: I’m not immune. I’m just less…responsive to his charms. 

Hebe: I suppose we vary in responsiveness. Peter and Paul, eh? Now that I think about it, they would look lovely together. 

Christopher: (looking at his feet) Yes.

Hebe: I wouldn’t trust that one, if I was Peter. He may have been a victim when he lashed out at the gods after being unwillingly turned into one…

Christopher: Unwillingly?

Hebe: Tricked into tasting the ambrosia in my father’s cup, the way the lady of the underworld was tricked into tasting pomegranate. Only the effects of the drink may not be as everlasting as we thought. Given none of us are what we were. 

Christopher: I see, I think. 

Hebe: I’m not sure how he did it. He had help in stealing my father’s thunder. He might argue he had to do it, to get away from my father and the heavens, but he’s gotten a taste for the hunt. He likes to get close to his victims before he drains them of their power. 

Christopher: I don’t think Paul sees Peter as a victim. You and I, yes. Your parents and the other gods, yes. Not Peter. 

Hebe: I see. We’re monsters, gods and shadows alike. Peter is the fool who just wandered among us. 

Christopher: Is he wrong?

Hebe: No, I fear he’s not. 

#QueerBlogWed: Omphalos Neighbors

On November 24, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a brown feather, a family gathering, and bones.

This freebie Tale of Omphalos was the result…

The feather falling from the sky wasn’t white or black. It was brown.

Danyel caught it, gazing it with wonder. 

“Muddy with ambition, he cannot even manage to be a raven,” Tayel muttered under his breath, refusing to explain himself. 

“It’s still a proud feather,” Danyel murmured, extending his arm along with the feather. “It might have been a quill or a wand.”

“Don’t let my brother-in-law hear you say that,” Aggie muttered under her breath. “It will go straight to his head.”

“Exactly what will go straight to my head?” 

Gryluxx sashayed out, wearing a cloak of brown feathers over red robes. Something rattled in his robes. 

The effect was striking, Danyel had to admit. The tailor knew what suited him. 

Aggie didn’t look at all impressed. She rolled her eyes as if the display was too tedious for words.

“Something bothering you, sister-in-law?” Gryluxx asked with the sweetest of malice. He chose the seat one over from Aggie. The empty space was probably meant for Meggie.

“The usual, brother-in-law.” She didn’t smile back. “You.”

“Ah, the lack of fraternal affection between us wounds me. Especially when it’s mingled with ingratitude.” Gryluxx snapped his fingers. “Do bring out those custard tarts you’re so fond of, wench. Sweets for the sweet and all that.”

“Hmm, just a moment,” Meggie called from the open door of the cottage, utterly oblivious to her husband’s sharp tone. 

Aggie wasn’t. She leaned forward, cracking her knuckles. “Don’t call my sister a wench. She’s your wife. At least pretend you have some consideration.”

“Oh, I have the utmost consideration for my wife, but a wench is a wench.” Gryluxx grinned at Aggie. “You ought to know.”

“What was that?” Aggie growled. 

“Stop that!” 

Danyel didn’t realize he’d leaped out of his chair. He felt the anger,  the violence prickling in the air. He reached out with the feather, waving at it, trying to get it disperse. 

Aggie settled down in her chair, some of the anger leaving her furrowed brow. Gryluxx sniffed at the air, at the feather in an almost disappointed fashion. 

“You don’t seem to understand how things work around here, little one.” He snatched the feather out of Danyel’s hand. “You serve me. I’m the one who gives the orders.”

“Why?” Danyel looked straight up in those hairy nostrils, the whiskered lips twitching. “Why do you goad Aggie, taunting her, enjoying her anger so much? Did you invite her here just to torment her?”

Gryluxx took a step back, opened his mouth and closed it, flushing. “How dare you accuse me of such things? Angharad may only be family be marriage, yet she’s still family.”

“Is that what family does?” An image of Leiwell pale and sweating rose from his memories. “Torments each other? Or do they try to protect each from being tormented?”

“You cannot sound the depths in the shallows,” Tayel murmured under his breath. 

“Now, now, not everyone can be deep.” Meggie emerged, carrying a tray of custard tarts. “My raven is a fragile creature, boys. The reason he flies at others, trying to peck at them is because he’s fragile.”

Aggie chuckled. “Maybe, but he takes advantage of that far too often.”

“I can see these twins are as bad an influence on the both of you as their mothers and their brother.” Gryluxx wrinkled his nose and mouth as if he’d breathed in something which disagreed of him. “Do not let yourself be beguiled by the residents of the Old Cottage for all their beauty.”

“Hm, funny coming from you, dear.” Meggie smiled blandly at her husband and took a seat next to her sister. “You talk about them more than any of us.”

“Nor can you blame them for my attitude. Not about you.” Angharad placed a protective hand over her sister’s, baring her teeth in a parody of a smile at her brother-in-law. “I detested you the moment I met you.”

“And I was the one who rescued your sister from the abyss these boys’s mother cast you into.” Gryluxx regained some of his smugness, lifting a custard tart to his lips. He devoured it in three bites. “I did something you couldn’t after your precious master destroyed you. Again.”

“What are you talking about?” Danyel felt his brother shake his head slightly, but he couldn’t help asking the question. “What did Ashleigh do to Meggie?”

“Hmm, it wasn’t Ashleigh.” Meggie picked up a tart with utter unconcern as if they were talking about the weather. “It was Map. Not that I’d expect to remember. It took me a long time to do so.”

Flash of fire from torches, a night of fire. Fleeing, feeling a heavy unfamiliar body settle around him. Screams of anger became screams of anguish. 

Danyel raised his hands to his face. Much of what happened beyond the Door was like a dream, but he’d been Map for a brief nightmare. 

Tayel leaned closer, not touching him, but gazing at him with concern. 

This is how he felt all the time. Tayel saw things he doesn’t want to, learned things he’d rather not know, yet his greatest concern was whether any of it would hurt his twin.

Danyel reached out to touch his brother’s shoulder, sending the silent assurance that he was all right. Even though he wasn’t sure if he was. 

“It was another lifetime ago.” Aggie gazed down at her folded hands, not looking directly at either of the twins. “Back when Meggie, Mel and I were all Sisters of Seraphix, terrified of anything which might disturb our isolated idyll.”

The Sisters of Seraphix. Seraphix. 

Danyel shivered at the name, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck quiver. 

“Isolated idylls are raised from pits of darkness by sacrifices of others.” Tayel gazed at one of the tarts, not touching it. “Sometimes you catch a glimpse of their ghost in the sunlight.”

“Our ghost was something we’d learned to fear.” Aggie lifted her head to fix an angry green eye upon Gryluxx. “Just what do you know? What do you want?”

“I was curious to see how you’d react around the twins, given their closeness to your former master.” Gryluxx rubbed his hands in anticipation. “We are all neighbors again, in spite of all which transpired between us.”

“Just what did transpire between us?” Danyel leaned forward, gazing at the neighbor he’d much rather not have. “Just who are you, Gryluxx?”

“This lump called me a raven.” Gryluxx sniffed at his wife. “It’s true. I’ve been one. I caught a glimpse of you before you were an egg, a mere stone Christopher decided to carry.”

“Christopher?!” Danyel stood up, nearly dropping his chair. “You know Christopher?”

“Child, I know everything.” Gryluxx sniffed in Danyel’s direction. “Christopher was a creature of the Shadow Forest. Like everyone here.” 

Silence fell around the table. Aggie dropped her head. Meggie began moving her lips rapidly. 

Danyel reached for Tayel’s hand, gripping it. “Including yourself?”

“Of course!” Gryluxx pouted a bit. “Why should I deny it? The Shadow Forest is a place of power and potential. As is anything which slips out of its Doors.” 

“And you can never get enough of power,” Aggie said with utter dryness. “Watch yourself. The price may be too high.”

“Only for those too cowardly to pay it.” Gryluxx bared his teeth at his sister-in-law. “Are you such a coward, Angharad? I’m not surprised.”

“Is there some purpose to this conversation?” Aggie rolled her eyes. “Or do you just want to insult us?”

“He does enjoy insulting everyone.” Meggie smiled at her husband indulgently. “Don’t pay it any mind.”

“Don’t speak for me, you addle-brained wench.” Gryluxx glowered at his wife. “Think I’m just this amusing little man, don’t you? Of no consequence at all?”

“Why, yes.” Meggie’s smile widened, showing no malice whatsoever. “I don’t mind. I love you anyway. Not everyone can be great.”

Danyel started to giggle, nearly choked turning it into a cough. Tayel raised a hand to cover a grin. 

Aggie chuckled, not bothering to hide her amusement. “Guess you’re lucky, Gryluxx, to find someone who loves you, no matter how small you are.”

“Small?” Gryluxx glowered at his sister-in-law and the twins. “I’ll show you just how small I am. When Seraphix grants my wish, you’ll see.”

He stalked away from the table, muttering to himself, robes rattling more than ever when he entered his cottage, slamming the door behind him.

“Bones,” Meggie answered Danyel’s unspoken question about the noise. “He sometimes carries bones around with him. A way to ground himself to reality, for he is telling the truth.”

Aggie wrapped her arms around herself. “No. I am real. I feel real. No matter what happened in the past, I am real.”

“Aggie, we died.” Her younger sister fixed round hazel eyes upon her, shining. “Our master killed us all, yet somehow we’re back. Gryluxx brought me back.”

“How?” Aggie dropped her arms to clasp her hands together in entreaty. “I begged that man to help me bring you back, yet Gryluxx somehow succeeded where I failed.”

That man. It took a moment for Danyel to realize Aggie wasn’t talking about Gryluxx. 

“Oh.” A faint blush colored Meggie’s cheeks. “You might say bringing me back was our marriage ceremony. One we often renew. Together.”

“Oh.” Aggie echoed her words. 

Tayel flushed as well. 

Danyel looked at their faces, unsure what they were talking about. 

“I suppose that’s one way to ground yourself,” Aggie murmured, shaking her head with a bemused little smile. 

“Well, you have Jupitre, even if he’s Juno’s husband.” Meggie tapped a finger to her temples, gazing in speculation at the sky. “If he’s not enough for you, you could try Gryluxx.” 

“What?” Aggie spluttered and started coughing. 

Tayel turned even redder. 

“Just what are you talking about?” Danyel was unable to bear it anymore. 

“Never you mind!” Aggie growled before turning on her sister. “That’s your husband you’re offering!”

“Well, yes, which is why I thought it would be best to offer.” Meggie nodded, considering her words. “He is my husband, but you’re my sister. If you’re worried about not being grounded in reality, you could try him out.”

“No, thank you!” Aggie growled. “The way your mind works, sometimes I think I’ll never understand.”

“Thank you.” Meggie smiled with utter sweetness. “It’s good not to be too predictable.”

Tayel let out a strangled giggle, still blushing. 

Danyel glowered at his twin. “I wish you’d let me know what was going on.”

“Really?” Meggie gave Danyel a surprised look. “For all his insults, I know he thinks you’re one of the most beautiful creatures he’s even seen. If you’d like to try Gryluxx for yourself, you can.”

“Meggie!” Aggie snapped, sounding scandalized. “He’s a child!”

“Is he, really? He looks small and slight, but we’re not sure how old the twins are.” Meggie gazed contemplatively at Danyel and Tayel. “They might be older than any of us.”

“No.” Tayel said before Danyel could ask again what they were talking about, why Aggie was so upset. He took Danyel’s hand firmly in his own. “Thank you.”

“Don’t be jealous.” Meggie smiled at Tayel as well. “You’re welcome to try Gryluxx, too. He might be nicer if you do.”

“Niceness happens only if a creature wishes to cultivate it.” Tayel, cheeks still very red, looked Meggie straight in the eye. “Your husband has no taste for niceness.”

“I’m not quite sure what you’re offering,” Danyel ventured, “but if Gryluxx isn’t nice to you, his wife, why would he be nice to anyone else? Especially considering everything you do for him?” 

“Yes, I was nice to him when you first came to visit us, wasn’t I? To try to put him in a better mood.” Meggie tapped her temple again, eyeing the door thoughtfully. “Guess that doesn’t work.”

The squeals and grunts from behind the closed door returned to Danyel, bringing a hot flush to his cheeks. 

Oh. That’s what they were talking about. 

“Well, I offered.” Meggie smiled in utter pleasantness. “Here I was hoping if I offered you my husband, you might offer me your handsome brother.”

“Meggie!” Aggie shot her sister a scandalized look. 

“I don’t offer my brother to anyone. Either of my brothers.” Danyel tried to keep his voice even. “Even if you and your husband regard us as creatures of shadow, we’re people now. People with our own will. If you want something of Leiwell or Tayel, you ask them.”

Tayel squeezed his fingers in response, shooting him a private smile.

“Well said,” Aggie nodded in approval. “Gryluxx has been a bad influence on you, Meggie. I know you mean well, but you shouldn’t go offering people to other people as if they were a comb or a book.”

“Shouldn’t I?” Meggie widened her eyes. “Our lord offered me to my husband. I seem to remember an elegant lady with many arms asking for a beautiful youth, a youth a lot like Leiwell. Oh, what was his name?”

Tayel let out a hissing sound. Danyel shivered again, unsure why. 

“Just because someone is a lord or elegant doesn’t mean their ways are right.” Aggie sighed, shoulders slumping. “Young Danyel here is right. We’re trying to be people. Let’s treat each other as people.”

“Of course. I’m sorry.” Meggie turned to Danyel. “I didn’t mean to insult you or your brothers. You’re very beautiful. I’d like us to be friends.”

“So would I,” Danyel let out another sigh. “Meggie, I don’t understand why you let your husband treat you the way you do.”

“Don’t you?” Meggie looked puzzled. “Guess it doesn’t bother me. I don’t listen to his insults. He’s very good at certain things.” She winked at everyone present. “Guess I didn’t want to be greedy, even if I am his wife. I wanted to share.”

“We’ll keep that in mind, if Gryluxx ever, ah, says anything to us about this,” Aggie said, waving her hand as if to will this entire conversation to disappear. “Given how we feel about him, it’s not something we’re interested in. At all.”

“All right.” Meggie reached out for a custard tart and began eating it with no discomfort whatsoever. “He does like you. That feather wouldn’t fall into your hands if he didn’t.”

“Does he?” Danyel looked down at the feather he was holding. “It’s more likely he wants something of me.”

“That, too,” Meggie said with her mouth full of tart. “Who wouldn’t?”

Danyel felt himself flushing again. 

#QueerBlogWed: Roleplaying and Romantic Adversity, Part 4

And here is the final part of this freebie story for The Players Are the Thing. Thank you for the inspiration, P.T. Wyant!

Fidessa played with a long, curling lock of hair the shade of amber wine, raising it to her lips. “Why did you leave me? We were perfect.”

“Passion of a lifetime.” Amber’s words would have been arch and flip if they hadn’t been laced with heartache. “Some things passion can’t ignore.”

“What, the angry spirits attracted to your artist’s work by my curses?” ‘Dessa pouted a little. “None of those statues would have turned into monsters if she’d been more careful.” 

“How was Isolde supposed to be careful?” Amber pulled away, feeling the old anger which made her pull away to begin with. “She knew nothing of magic or the power she was shaping with her hands. She had no idea what she was up against. Nor did her buyers.”

“It’s not like I knew it would get that bad,” Fidessa fiddled with her rings, biting her lower lip. 

It wasn’t a guilty expression. Amber recognized that particular quaver from the moment their relationship started to fall apart. It was an angry one. A jealous one. 

“None of those statues would have turned into monsters if you hadn’t planned it.” Amber slid out of bed, gazing at her clothes lying on the floor. 

She didn’t reach for them. Not yet. 

“I didn’t like the way that artist looked at you,” ‘Dessa lowered her eyelashes, almost growling the words. “Even worse was the way you looked at her.”

****

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed,” Beatrix muttered against Rhane’s cheek. “The way Mona looks at you.”

“Jealous?” Rhane surprised herself with the archness of her tone as she nestled against  Beatrix. It was wonderful to talk to her again. To hear her lover’s voice without the sarcastic edge. 

Once it had been witty, verging upon charming. Only that edge did its best to cut everyone, including Rhane.

“Annoyed. Annoyed that she’s so pushy, yet backs off whenever I say anything about it.” Beatrix sighed. “You’re not helping, encouraging this romance between Amber and Isolde.”

“Amber and Isolde have a very good relationship. A solid friendship with a certain amount of unresolved sexual tension.” Rhane sighed. “I feel it when I’m playing Amber, but I don’t feel it for Mona.”

“I’m not sure if she realizes that.” Beatrix heaved a huge sigh. “You know she and I had something. A long time ago.”

“Really?” Rhane gave her a sideways glance. “I’m surprised it’s not you she’s looking for excuses to touch all the time.”

“She’s too intimidated by me.” Beatrix turned luminous dark eyes upon the ceiling. “I guess being in my game was her way of being close to me, but I thought she enjoyed playing.”

“She did. We all did.” Rhane forced herself to find the courage to say the next part. “We did until you stopped enjoying it.”

Beatrix stiffened, lips twisting until she let out a sigh. “Was it that obvious?”

“You kept trying to push the plot. You stopped listening to us, giving us time to roleplay.”

Rhane pressed her lips to her lover’s chest to soften the blow. “You keep running the game, but it’s like you’re going through the motions.”

Beatrix shut her eyes. “What do I do? I used to love this game. I don’t want to stop. I want to love it again.” 

Rhane took a deep breath, lifting her head a little higher. “Try to remember why you loved it. Maybe you should, err, cleanse your dice while you do?”

“Cleanse my dice?” Beatrix opened her eyes to give her a sardonic squint. “You think my dice are cursed?”

“It wouldn’t hurt,” Rhane coaxed. “Think of it as a psychological exercise. Something to refresh yourself.”

Beatrix released a breath in a half-laugh. “Maybe you’re right.” 

***

“Is that what you’re up to, Amber?” Never had ‘Dessa’s voice been more menacing. “Trying to warn your little player and her fool of a gamemaster about the dice I’ve imbued with my power?”

Amber froze, trembling a little at that tone. “It’s not right. They created us, Fidessa, in order to enjoy themselves. To help work out some of what’s troubling them through roleplaying. Is that so bad?”

“They made us their toys!” Fidessa rose from her bed, pulling the purple covers around her, eyes flashing. “Toys in a game for their amusement! Just who does that arrogant girl think she is?”

In the anger was a vulnerability, a weakness. If Fidessa was Beatrix’s creation, she shared some of her heart, her dreams. Her vulnerabilities. She was a reaction to them. 

Just as Amber was to Rhane’s. What made Rhane precious to Amber offended Fidessa. 

“A lover.” Amber met her lover’s eyes, trying to connect with whatever they had which had just brought them together. “A lover who was losing hers and trying to get her back.”

For a moment something which might have been sympathy flickered in ‘Dessa’s beautiful eyes. It vanished the next moment, consumed by fury. 

“My existence, my feelings for you are a mockery to her. Something to amuse herself with.” Fidessa rose to her full height, towering over Amber. “Maybe you can forgive her, but I never shall.”

“What are you going to do?” Amberwyne tensed, aware she was naked, not carrying any weapons. She could call upon magic, but this was ‘Dessa’s tower. She’d have the advantage. 

“Why would I ruin the surprise?” The enchantress offered her a smile which was pure mockery. “Especially since you seem intent on protecting that gamemaster and her players.”

Amber reached down to pick up her clothing. “What if I offered to stay if you promised not to harm them?”

For a moment, ‘Dessa stared at her. “They mean that much to you?”

Too late did Amber realize her mistake. Her lover was biting her lip, a lip trembling with angry jealousy. 

“They’re our creators.” Amber fumbled for the right words to convince ‘Dessa to stay her hand. “They’re part of us. Please, ‘Dessa. Hurt them and you hurt us.”

“Oh, I’ve only just begun,” Fidessa hissed. “I’ll need to become especially creative, considering how special these girls are to you.” She make a mocking bow of her head. “To us.”

“‘Dessa-“ Amberwyne tried again, reaching out for the other woman. “Please-“

“Get out.” Fidessa turned her back. “Get dressed and go. Never plead with me again. Not unless you’re truly willing to come back.”

“And what does that mean?” Amberwyne picked up her clothes, hugging them to her chest. 

“The very fact that you’re asking means you’re not ready.” The enchantress stood stiff and rigid. “You still have other things you value more. Like that artist. Like those girls.”

“‘Dessa, those girls and their happiness are tied to us!” Amber tried one last time. “If we hurt them, we hurt ourselves.”

“We’ll see.” Fidessa tightened the velvet spread around her. “We’ll just see about that.”

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ 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…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For mine, I cut Phaedra off in mid-rant. Very rude of me, but I decided to stop at the six sentence snippet limit. (ducks in anticipation of imaginary thrown objects :)). She wasn’t finished with Pausania, oh no…fine. I’ll let her finish, even if it means going over six sentences. (wry grin)

“Men used to take boys as their beloveds, centuries ago on Earth. This whole notion of a lover guiding and dominating a beloved was theirs.”

“Not entirely.” Pausania bit on her trembling lip. A bead of red appeared upon it. “Life givers have redefined this relationship, making it—“

“—even more domineering if we’re an example of this.” I took a step away from Pausania toward the door. 

Intrigued by what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#QueerBlogWed: Roleplaying and Romantic Adversity Part 3

Things got quite steamy between Amber and her adversary, Rhane and her gamemaster as they once were. Where do they go from here?

This is a freebie story from my Work In Progress, The Players Are the Thing, where characters in a roleplaying game try to save their players. It was inspired by the prompts of P.T. Wyant at ptwyant.com.

Spent, yet craving more, Rhane collapsed into Beatrix’s arms, dazed at what had just happened. 

Beatrix’s face was slack with childlike wonder, flushed. “Did you imagine you were…”

She couldn’t finish her sentence.

Rhane finished it for her. “Amber and ‘Dessa? Yes.”

She raised herself to kiss Beatrix’s nose. “I always knew they had that kind of relationship. A little like ours. For which I’m grateful. They brought you back to me.”

Her lover gazed at her with moist dark eyes. “Yes, they did, didn’t they? How strange that the villain in my game would do such a thing.”

“Just because she’s the villain doesn’t mean she doesn’t love Amber,” Rhane countered, feeling the delicious warmth and curve of Beatrix’s body. 

“It’s a vulnerability.” Beatrix frowned. “I wanted Fidessa to be powerful. Enigmatic. Untouchable.”

“Does she really need to be those things?” Rhane kissed her, tasting spice, coffee, and loneliness. Beatrix may have been as lonely as Rhane had been.

As lonely as Fidessa was. ‘Dessa might well be motivated by loneliness. 

“If Fidessa is invulnerable, just what point is there in Isolde, Amber, and Rhiannon opposing her?” Rhane breathed against her lover’s lips. “Loving Amber just makes ‘Dessa more well-rounded.”

“Finding her weakness was the ultimate goal of the game.” Beatrix shut her eyes, withdrawing into herself. 

Rhane watched her to do so, feeling something wrench in her gut. 

***

“You may well be my weakness,” ‘Dessa murmured into Amber’s hair. “I’ll always want you back, even though I shouldn’t.”

“Or maybe I’m your strength.” Amber played with a dark wave of her mistress’s hair. “Maybe what happened with Isolde, with all the artists and artisans’s works developing a cursed life were motivated by jealousy.”

Fidessa scowled. “Are you accusing me of something so petty? I’ve always had plans, Amber. Plans you seem determined to upset.”

Amber leaned a little closer to whisper with playful intentness against her lips, “I can’t believe you didn’t take me into consideration. Especially since I usually upset things.”

***

“Players upset plans.” Rhane pinned her lover beneath her, forcing her to look up. “You were the one who told me that.”

“So I did.” Beatrix let out a sigh, let herself return to the present, to Rhane. A wistful smile played across her lips. “I’ve been a bad gamemaster.”

“The game isn’t over. Not yet.” Rhane ran a finger down Beatrix’s cheek, stroking the curve of her neck. “There’s still time to make some new moves.”

“Or rediscover old ones.” Beatrix reached out to touch a strand of ashen hair which had fallen across Rhane’s face.

To be continued in the final part next Wednesday…

#QueerBlogWed: Roleplaying Games and Romantic Adversity Part 2

Is Rhane losing her mind? She continues where she left off in this four-part freebie story for my Work in Progress, The Players Are the Thing, a story about characters in a roleplaying game trying to save their players. This story was inspired by the prompts of P.T. Wyant, ptwyant.com, a messy house, crackers, and plans.

Rhane wouldn’t look back. She refused to look back until she reached the room she shared with Beatrix and shut the door behind. “What was that?”

She was going nuts. What was happening? 

“Fidessa,” Amberwyne whispered from inside her. It was only to easy to picture her standing at Rhane’s shoulder, breathing in her ear. “You can finally see her, too.”

“Fidessa isn’t real. Neither are you.” The litany of reality rang hollow in her ears. 

Not when she felt Amber’s arms encircle her, enfolding her in a warm embrace. The smell of honey and flowers filled Rhane’s nostils.

“‘Dessa just figured this out herself. That she’s the villain in your Beatrix’s game. Just a character she made up. She’s not happy about it,” Amber murmured against Rhane’s cheek. “She wants to strike back at Beatrix, seize control of this game she’s trapped in through her dice.”

Amber pressed herself against Rhane with the warmth of an entity which wasn’t real. Not that it mattered to Rhane. She sank into her arms, allowing her to become solid, comforting. 

 “‘Dessa wants to master the game master, to take Beatrix’s toys of control from her,” her character whispered. “To teach her what it is to be a toy herself.”

“How can she do that?” Rhane whispered, leaned back into that imaginary warmth. 

The door opened at that moment.

Beatrix stood there, wearing an expression which was very un-Beatrix. 

***

“You told her. Your player.”

Amberwyne stood, facing Fidessa in her tower room. It was a place she often visualized in her imagination and heart. Any moment she’d strip down for her mistress, join her in the waiting bed of purple silk. At any moment she’d entwine her limbs with ‘Dessa’s. They’d be writhing together as they had so many times before. As they still did in Amber’s dreams. 

She dreamed of her mistress. Rhane dreamed of her. How could they unentangle this web of dreams and thwarted desire? 

It flickered in and out of existence. Amber saw the chamber dissolve into Rhane’s bedroom, only to reform. 

***

Beatrix and Rhane gazed at each other, acutely aware of how long it had been since they’d touched each other. Or done anything else. 

Somehow they looked each other, felt their desire rekindling. Through their villain and their character’s emotions. 

Reality was relative at that moment. 

***

Fidessa reached out to cup Amber’s face in her gloved hand. “Am I real to you, Amber? Or am I just the fantasy of a petty creature who uses a game to act out her forbidden desires? Or a nightmare she’s terrified she’s becoming?”

Amber reached out to claim the gloved hand, slipping it off to reach the soft flesh waiting beneath. Waiting to be touched. 

***

Rhane drew a shuddering breath, realized she’d pulled Beatrix in her arms, that Beatrix wasn’t resisting. 

She leaned forward, claimed her lover’s lips in a kiss filled with all her loneliness for the woman she’d once adored. The woman she’d thought she’d stopped loving. Being with Beatrix had become a habit. 

Time to break the habit. Time to transform it into something new. 

Beatrix froze for a moment, shocked, rigid with fear before her mouth softened and opened. 

She pushed Rhane back in the direction of their bed, allowing them both to lose their balance, tumble onto the waiting mattress. 

***

Amberwyne fell back into the waiting silk, legs sliding apart, unsure if she was Rhane with Beatrix or here with ‘Dessa. 

Only to be distracted by long fingers, soft lips, and a tongue seeking the parts of her body they’d once mapped out, discovering them once more. 

Those parts quivered and opened under her lover’s ministrations, coaxed towards shuddering release. 

Again and again. 

To be continued next Wednesday…