My fanfiction and other random ramblings

Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for April 2019

Cover for Tattered

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Cover for my “Tattered” story.

Tattered

Written by Srebrna

2019/04/16 at 09:39

Posted in Uncategorized

Dragon’s prisoner

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His armour shone in the sun, his horse was stomping his fore leg in a very military fashion and the whole picture looked like something taken straight from a tournament at her father’s castle. She sighed at the way he moved across the green at the foot of her tower and opened the window.

“FAIR MAIDEN!” he cried, his lungs obviously well-trained in voicing his orders in battle. “FEAR NOT! FOR I AM ARRIVED TO SAVE YOU FROM THE FOUL BEAST THAT HAS IMPRISONED YOU HERE!”

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Written by Srebrna

2019/04/13 at 17:27

Posted in Originals, Others

Strictly Professional

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“This jury now calls Glenda McTavish, also known under her professional pseudonym of ‘The Fairy Godmother’. Ms McTavish stands before us accused of multiple cases of impersonation, manipulation of public plebiscite, kidnapping, mobbing, theft and, finally, witchery. We will be hearing witnesses to these deeds over the duration of this day and the following ones until such time as either the accused one admits she had been in the wrong and recompenses her victims accordingly or it is proved beyond all doubt that the accused had nothing whatsoever to do with the crimes listed.”

The guardian of the court chamber smashed the bottom of his staff three times against the stone tiles of the floor.

“Glenda McTavish!” he announced, as a plump, jolly-looking woman in an orange jumpsuit was walked to stand in front of the judge, guarded by two well-built young men in uniform.

“Please state your name for the protocol.”

“Glenda Alberta Augusta McTavish.”

“Please confirm, in your own words, what is your understanding of the topic of today’s proceedings.”

“I am accused of multiple crimes that had been perpetrated on various people of this kingdom.”

“And how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, your honour.”

“You do understand the seriousness of the charges laid against you?”

“Well, your honour,” she smiled serenely from under her lacy, frilly cap. “If I tell you I understand, and I do not know what I should know, what will it change? I will still be honest and you will still get the wrong answer.”

The man behind the large table squinted.

“Very well. One case of being an accessory to impersonation. One case of interference with royal succession. One case of distributing potentially poisonous plants to minor children. Nine confirmed cases of impersonating a prophet or claiming to have prophetic abilities. Seventeen cases of interfering with already promised engagements. Two confirmed cases of affecting a child’s appearance for no obvious reason. Two confirmed cases of gifting children with actual, openly-stated misfortune. There is at least a score of lesser charges laid at your door, each amounting to at least a year in gaol. However of the major charges, they can cost you a lot, Ms McTavish.”

“I see, your honour. Am I allowed to say anything to my defence? I would not like to be judged in contempt of the court.”

“You may, Ms McTavish, but be brief about it.”

He sat back, looking down at the wrinkled face that twisted up in concentration.

“I admit to having perpetrated these actions,” she said, and the room behind her started booing her. “I admit. But I do not agree that any of them had been an actual crime. All that you have listed has been done in order to deliver alms to the ones who needed them and correcting wrongs that had been done to the suffering ones.”

She looked up and the judge found himself smoothing out the frown that usually marred his forehead.

“Very well. Let’s go through the list and you can explain everything to us step by step. If that will be fine with you?

The woman nodded slowly.

“For the record, please state your acceptance aloud.”

“Yes, that will be fine with me,” she sighed.

“You may sit, Ms McTavish. It is not the task of this court to torture the people giving statements, even if they are the suspects. Very well. Comfortable?”

“Yes, your honour,” she said simply, sighing again.

For a person her age she certainly looked well.

“First case we have on the list is the fact that you had aided in an impersonation of a noble-born woman, aiding a… scullery maid to gain social advancement through the means of unscrupulous deception, forgery and plain trickery, perpetrated upon the highest born of that land. Now, what say you?”

“I say, if what you are alluding to is the case of Ella, the cleaning girl, named by her family for the task she did the best, ‘Cinderella’, that this was a case of a specific contract that I had been sent to fulfil and I can only claim that I did the best that I could for my client. He wanted a wife that would have no links to the local nobility or even gentry, no hangers-on in the family to feed off her and have mind open to the opportunities granted by her elevated station.”

There was a sound of unrest in the chamber, so he signalled for order and turned back to the kindly-smiling woman in the witness chair.

“Are you claiming that this had been a business arrangement?”

She sighed yet again, as if impatient.

“Of course it was! There is a contract that the side who seeks my services signs and it delineates in detail what they wish to achieve and what conditions they put as to the completion of the deal. How else could I work? I’m not in the business of straightening everyone’s messes.”

“But that would mean that the prince… I mean, His Royal Highness…”

“Knew perfectly well who he was marrying. The whole glass slipper trick was part of the agreed communication. He knew perfectly well which house to go to and where to demand to be shown all young ladies living there. After all, how many girls are there in the capital itself with this shoe size? It would be absurd as an actual means of identification.”

“Are you claiming then that… the heir of the kingdom…”

“Had availed himself of my services as a matchmaker. Indeed. I even have the letter of thanks he had sent me on their first anniversary.”

He frowned and looked at the long list of similar accusations that had been collected by the officers of the court and a variety of more and less shady personages from the local constabulary.

It was going to be a long day.

#

It was. As the interrogation of the suspect – or rather, an interview with the shrewd local businesswoman – progressed, people kept changing in the chambers. To nobody’s surprise at all, most of the people slotted to be witnesses against her quietly slunk away before their turn could even come, and journalists of varied kind appeared, taking down her words, keenly attentive to the details pertaining to the high and mighty of local society, eyes open for the tiniest suggestion of a scandal.

There was a slight frisson of excitement when the discussion turned to the two specific royal children that the woman had, as she had claimed, gifted with misfortune, but her answers were so dispassionate and calmly stated that nobody could fault her in her reasoning.

“I went with the newest trends in child-rearing,” she smiled tiredly. “Children should not be isolated from the realities of the wold surrounding them and should know from their first steps that the world is out there, waiting to hurt them. I didn’t actually give them anything specific, but simply told so in front of their families. This way they would blame at least the minor accidents on me and yet would not pack the children away in cotton wool and wrap them in soft covers – they’d know that some pain and some unhappiness is a crucial part of the growing process.”

“You read the new publications on child minding then?” he asked idly. “I would assume, at your age…”

“Young man, at my age and with my profession, I am practically required to be up to date with the theories put forward by the modern scientists. Your honour.”

He dearly wished he could ask her for her favourite lemon biscuit recipe. He was quite sure she was one of these grandmas who baked for their favourite grandchildren.

But he remained professional, as one does in such cases, and continued with the list.

“Item the thirty-eighth, the…” he frowned at the paper and looked up to check with the court secretary. “The singular case of teaching young children how to operate heavy… Excuse me, who had put it on the list?”

“Ah, I did, sir,” a young officer from the local municipal force rose from his place. “I had been on the team that responded to the initial call for support in the case that resulted from this… inopportune knowledge sharing on the side of the accused.”

“And what did the accused have to do with the case you mention?”

The young man stood there, cringing in his spot like a victim of an overly long queue to the privy.

“It was a case of the late widow of the baker Thomas, the one who used to live in the woods a few leagues from our town. It seemed that she had been keeping some servant children who had been given instruction by the accused as to how the heavy oven door is operated and thus, in the process of practising these skills, had pushed the late widow Thomas inside and closed the door upon her. As the job training should be, by law, provided solely by the members of relevant guild, society or worker’s union, the accused Ms McTavish had broken the regulations pertaining to these and so should be prosecuted for that infarction, being as she is unlicensed in the profession of baking.”

The constable certainly looked triumphant at his pronouncement. It was obvious to the judge that the young man’s grandmothers had been stingy with sweets when he was a child.

“Very well. This is a complicated matter and so would need to be heard in front of the guildmasters of the town, too, but I’d like to first give Ms McTavish the chance to explain herself, for the record.”

She was already shaking her head.

“These poor, poor children,” she heaved another sigh. “She left them with no instruction at all. She might have been the widow of the Guildmaster and so accepted as a member of the Bakers’ Guild, and I am all for the emancipation of women and acceptance in the craft community, but there are some who abuse that rule and so did widow Thomas. To put it frankly, she knew only how to bake one thing – and that was her world-famous, construction-grade gingerbread. She always overheated the oven and so anything else came out of it less than edible… or, to be frank, more on the ‘scorched’ side of the ‘well-done’ scale. And she never taught the children any kind of work safety rules! She even caged one of them – for his own good, she claimed – but what kind of a solution is that? I thought we were moving towards more modern ways of managing unruly children than chaining them to the wall or locking them in a broom closet.”

“Well,” he frowned and tongued the spot where one of his incisors used to be – the one he had lost in an uneven battle with a piece of widow Thomas’ world-famous gingerbread. “I think we can put this one under ‘household instruction of minors’ which is an acceptable action for any adult to take when faced with a child exposed to dangerous conditions, I hope we can agree to that,” he looked from over his glasses at the court secretaries and the young constable. “Is there anything else?”

Nobody made a sound.

“Very well then, Ms McTavish is free to go – I only ask you not to leave the town boundaries, in case there are any points raised by the officers of the court based on the testimony you have provided.”

She rose slowly, stiffly and a bit shakily even.

“Thank you, your honour,” she smiled at him kindly. “I will have my lemon tart recipe sent to your wife tomorrow morning.”

Written by Srebrna

2019/04/10 at 23:19

Posted in Originals

Fading Interest

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In someone’s post (sorry, don’t remember who posted them, I just saved the file and my laptop rebooted, killing the opened tumblr tabs) I saw this little gif, with John disappearing slowly in his room.

fading john

This reminded me of a story of Tove Jansson about a girl who disappeared… And so, this.

Fading Interest

The lab was quiet, cool and, what was probably the most important part, isolated from the areas of the “teaching hospital” that contained the objects of said teaching, medical students. His access to the rooms and the tools was hard-won, by a combination of bribery (on the side of his brother), intimidation and effrontery (on his) and wilfull blindness (on Molly’s). He relished the relative peace as he put yet another slide under the microscope and adjusted the lenses.

The door opened and he felt compelled to glance up, just in case it was some benighted soul in search of doctor something-or-other, desperate enough to try the mortuary lab. He liked to send them on a wild goose chase across the hospital. Most never came back. Either something ate them or they grew smart enough not to try this room again.

This time, however, it was no student – the person who crossed the threshold could, by conservative estimate, contain three… no, four, underfed medical students. Mike Stamford was a man whose presence Sherlock neither sought out nor avoided – professional, kind, knowledgeable, willing to answer the most outlandish questions and, what Sherlock valued the most, silent at his work. When one worked with Molly, one was always bombarded by her exclamations, grousing, small snuffling noises she made as she thought and, if the mood struck her, gossip. As if Sherlock knew who “Kate and William” were. Probably worked in some other part of the hospital.

Mike was behaving rather unusually though. He entered the lab, but then held the door open for a few more heartbeats, as if letting someone in. Yet, there was nobody.

Does Mike have a little dog?

“Here we are. A bit different from our times, isn’t it?” he said into thin air and waited, before shrugging. “This is the main mortuary lab.”

Ah-ha. Green paint. Finally.

Would he be showing the dog around?

Did the only reasonable person here go mad?

“Mike, can I borrow your phone?”

The rotund medic patted his pockets and shrugged.

“In my coat, I suppose. What’s wrong with the landline?”

“I prefer to text,” he scrunched his nose. He would have to go and fetch his mobile and…

Someone patted his elbow and a large, fairly new smartphone hovered in front of his face, screen already unlocked. As he hesitated, the mobile was pushed into his hand, which he found… patted?

Male hand. Short, thick fingers. Soft. No manual work.

But, what was the most important characteristics, the hand was invisible.

There were ways to stop oneself from screaming in fear like a toddler at the sight of broccoli and Sherlock quickly and successfully deployed three of them – rapid swallowing, deep breath and singing a random song in his brain. Anything that would require less focus would, in turn, allow the panic to set in. No losing focus.

“Thank you,” he hoped that wherever the person was, in relation to him, he still managed to address him effectively.

It was definitely a man.

Also, a man of certain education.

The surgical instruments on the tray were getting quietly and creepily rearranged into some other – maybe more efficient? – order. It was not a mindless reflex that some non-professionals would express – pick up, look at the scary blade, put it away quickly. It was methodical and pointed and…

Bart’s. Mike. Mike smiling at him from the other side of the room, one eyebrow raised slightly in challenge.

Oh.

He turned to look at the spot where the man should have been standing and thought, letting his fingers dance on the phone, sending a suggestion to Lestrade who to look for.

“Thank you,” he held out the phone on his open palm, waiting for it to be picked up.

Yes, definite contact with another hand, dry and warm. Short, blunt nails.

The phone floated to the side and Sherlock tried to map the way it was moving to a normal gait of a grown-up person…

Ah. Correction.

There was an additional sound that coincided with every other step.

“You could sit down, you know,” he said and waited for a moment for reaction.

Here it was. The phone froze mid-air and then slowly, slowly turned halfway to him and down.

So the man was now facing him, his free hand down – he was probably squeezing the handle of the cane in the other – and looking at him.

“I’m just saying, there are plenty of chairs here.”

The phone turned towards Mike.

And…

Ah-ha. There is something there.

A shimmer. Maybe. Something so non-solid that his eyes burned just from looking at it.

“This is my uni mate, Doctor Watson,” Mike provided finally, confirming his guess about the profession.

“And he is looking for a flatmate,” Sherlock interrupted him, not taking his eyes off from the spot where he had noticed the slight blurring of reality. “He is… ah, accident? No… an injury, but not accident, or he would be receiving payments from his insurance.”

The hand with the phone, stiffly held at his side.

At attention.

Ah.

“Afghanistan or Iraq?”

Written by Srebrna

2019/04/06 at 08:28