Halloween Preview

“Once upon a time, there was a

little girl – no.

No, that isn't right.

You see, this wasn't just any time, and this wasn't just any little girl. This story
is about me, and it all happened a very long time ago. To someone who doesn’t exist.

At least...not anymore.”

The Library. It was one of the darkest, coldest rooms in the whole house. The windows, great old Victorian things with beveled edges and a top that arched towards the gabled roof, were perpetually blackened with soot. It did not matter how often or how well they were cleaned, because the glass always remained opaque. Ada liked to imagine that it used to be dungeon before her parents had bought the house. Once, she had even decided the massive bookshelves had been torture racks, re-purposed to hold encyclopedias.

It was safe to say that eight year old Ada, with cheeky squirrel's face and sad brown eyes, didn't much care for the room at the top of the
stairs. But whenever her parents fought, which happened more and more each day, she climbed the creaky steps with scrambling paws and threw the door shut behind her.

The thick walls with their gilded paper, which had started to peel in several places, blocked out the shouting, and the sounds of things
being thrown.

“The way you spend money, we'll go broke!”

“Well, if you didn't drink so much we'd have more for the things we need!”

“If you were a real man, you'd be able to keep a job!”

“Oh, you're one to talk! You haven't worked a day since I married you!”

Ada squeezed into a corner, where the heavy shelves didn't quite reach all the way, and hugged her knees to her chest.

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    drained drained

A Bit Piece

Here's another snippet of dialog for your consumption. Expect some re-working to it before I share the finalized version of the story.


"Oh my brass buckles! Mr. Norry! Doctor Larken! Thank god!" he exclaimed, wringing his paws together. "He's got a raccoon treed out back!"

Leticia stopped so quickly that she almost missed the step up onto the boardwalk. The awkward fumble was nothing compared to the startled confusion on her narrow face. "He what?"

"A raccoon. Malachi chased him out, you see, and he climbed up the tree to get away. Now Malachi is standin' beneath it, waitin' for him to come down. Doctor, he's grinning."

Malachi never grinned. Not unless he was mad as hell and out for blood.

"He was just sittin' at the table, not botherin' anyone, 'n goin' through his bottle of whiskey when that stupid kid had to go 'n set him off. He broke half a dozen bottles. 'n most of my chairs to boot. 'n he busted my mirror again. He put that raccoon right through it."

"Wait a minute," she said, holding up a paw. "I thought you said he had the raccoon treed."

"The raccoon had brothers...three of 'em. The one I already tol' you about is flat out cold on the floor. Another one is hidin' behind the bar bleedin' into a wad of my best rags. Malachi slashed his face up pretty good. An' the third one..." He stopped and rubbed the side of his face, mopping the sweat matted fur on his brow with his thick paw. "The youngest, is in the hall closet, askin' very loudly to be let out."

"Well, why don't you let him out?" Norry interjected. He stopped just behind Leticia and cocked his head to the side. One of his bent ears shot up. Whatever the answer was, he expected it to be a good one.

"Malachi," the bartender sighed, "has the key."


Weekly update time, and I'm afraid that I don't have much to show for it. So! Here's some taken-out-of-context dialouge.


"Why doesn’t anybody else ever get called to save people from him?"

Norry glanced at her with a faint smile. "Because you're the only brave enough to try."

"You and the boys could bring him home," she suggested, sounding a bit hopeful. "You miners are supposed to be a tough lot."

The collie's grin got even wider. "We tried once. Doctor bills got too expensive, remember? Instead of just treating the usual lot of victims, you had to patch all of us up too."

Leticia wrinkled her nose.

"Besides," the bartender added, "He won't hit you."
Dumbo Stand

Luminiferous Aether - The Start of it Anyway

This I am absoloutely in love with. I can't wait to finish this chapter. Especially as I must have re-worked this short section at least six times.


At first Leticia mistook the pounding as the headache she had gone to sleep with. When it got louder, she sat up in bed, and recognized the sound for what it was: someone was hammering their fist on her front door, and rather impatiently at that.

She reached for the gaslamp on the nightstand, and fumbled through the darkness until she located the familiar shape. A twist of the knob introduced hydrogen to the mantle, which quickly flooded the narrow glass cylinder, and her bedroom, with light. Squinting her eyes as they struggled to adjust to the sudden change, the rat tilted her head and examined the clock on the wall. The face of the timepiece told her that it was just past one in the morning. She couldn't imagine that anyone would want to wake her at that hour without cause.

Leticia groaned and threw off the blankets. Her naked feet struck the floor, neatly trimmed claws ticking against the wood as she made her way to the front door. Her black eyes were troubled as she somewhat reluctantly reached for the top lock.

"Who is it?"

"It's Norry, Doctor Larken," came the answer. Leticia could hear the heavy sigh behind those words, even through the door.

Norry was Malachi Langrave's right hand, and the foreman of the Keswick Copper mine. She didn't need any further explanation to know what was wrong, and why she had been awakened.

She opened the door and fixed the lanky border collie with a rueful smile. "Where is he?"

He pulled the brim of his cap down, tugging it over his eyes. He looked down at his boots, and then out towards the steam car he had left in the drive. Anywhere but at the sleep tussled rodent standing in front of him.

She was still in her nightdress. The shapeless white cotton didn't quite cover the trim figure that lay beneath it. Slim hipped as a boy, and nearly as flat chested, Doctor Larken wasn't his particular ideal of beauty. But there was certainly something to be said about the impropriety of the situation. A respectable lady would have never made an appearance without donning a dressing gown first, let alone unlocked her door for a late night visitor. He had never known a woman so open to bypassing the requirements of society, or so little concerned with her reputation before.

"In town," Norry replied, still looking towards the drive. "At the Hare and There."

"Yes, of course." The rat closed her eyes and touched her fingers to her temple. She could already feel the painful return of her evening megrim. "Is he drunk, Mr. Norry?"

The dog hesitated. One corner of his black and white mouth went up. "Yes, ma'am."

"I'll just be a moment," Leticia sighed, and turned around, leaving the door open behind her. Ten minutes later, having changed into a crisp riding habit, she joined the foreman outside. Medical bag in hand, she took the porch steps two at a time and bustled towards the drive.

"All set, Doctor Larken?" Norry motioned towards the steam car beside him. She didn't have to look at the door he had opened for her to know that Malachi Langrave's emblem was emblazoned on the side in gilded filigree. Like most of the equipment associated with the Keswick, the little autocart had seen better days. The black lacquer siding was chipped and the brass pipping had gone dull, but she trusted that it was still in good repair.

She nodded curtly, and gently waved his paw away when he offered to help her inside the steam car. The seat squeaked when she dropped onto it and slapped her bag on top of her lap. While the foreman performed a quick check of the gauges Letica patted her hair.

Most of it had remained in the loose braid she had gone to bed with, but a few downy wisps curled around her cinnamon furred cheeks. She knew from experience that it would be transformed into an absolute wreck by the time they reached town. The cramped, open aired steam car hadn't been designed with a lady's coiffure in mind. If only she'd had the time to pin it up beneath a hat... But time was a rare commodity for a medical woman in the midst of an emergency.

"Why does he insist on drinking when he knows it only gets him into fights?"

"If I had to guess, Miss Leticia," the collie hemmed, glancing towards the svelte rat while climbing into the bench seat beside her. "He's lonely, and starting to feel his years. Sometimes a male needs proof that he still Prime, and a good, blood pumping thrashing can do that."

"He's only thirty-eight, Mr. Norry. Hardly old!"

"Still a long time to be alone, ma'am," he replied. He didn't have to wait for the coal to catch fire. There was still enough heat in the fire-tube boiler that, as soon as he punched the valve key, steam poured into the external combustion engine. The tarnished brass pistons began to churn as the motor chugged to life. The chimney sputtered, and shot a thick burst of black smoke from it's stack as the little autocart bounced onto the dirt road.

Leticia could almost feel the foreman's none-too-subtle push. He wouldn't be the first one to speculate a matrimonial future between herself and Mr. Langrave. When they had first struck up their strange relationship four years ago, the whole valley had been atwitter with the possibilities. Backhanded whispers and speculative gossip had followed them everywhere they went. But when no proposal had been forthcoming, and the good doctor and her contrary companion had settled into a comfortable, if often tense friendship, the rumormongers had moved on to more fertile allegory.

The truth was, even if Malachi could have been brought up to scratch, Leticia would have turned him away. As much as she enjoyed his company, in small and controllable bursts, she couldn't imagine herself, or any other woman, being able to live with him. He was irritable and coarse, and she was convinced that he was half savage.

And yet, beneath all that gruff and grumble, she knew him to be a good man. He was hard working and honest, and even though he never cracked a smile himself, possessed a wonderfully deadpan sense of humor. If she were feeling generous towards the man – which she surely wasn't at the moment – she might have even gone so far as to consider him charming.

But marriage? Leticia shivered, no. No, she would never make that mistake again.

"Chilled, ma'am? I think there's a blanket under the seat... Wouldn't take more than a moment to pull it out." Norry patted the straight-board between them. It might have been cushioned with leather once, but God only knew what had happened to it since then.

"Thank you, Mr. Norry. I'm fine." The rat shook her head, and stared out at the wheel-rutted road in front of them.


Part of a larger chapter, taken from an unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, and re-worked. Pretty much the only portion of the peice I was pleased with.


"They say he's a murderer."

"What? All those rumors about Gravenwold's disappearance? I don't believe it."

Lady Janos laughed, covering her mouth with a delicate paw. Several rings crowded her fingers, several of which were embedded with jewels. "Oh, I suppose you're right. Gravenwold was one of the Queen's Favorites. He wouldn't have dared to move against him."

"Still," Persa, Baroness Waltham hedged, tapping the inside her wrist with the ivory sticks of her collapsed fan, "there's no denying how odd the whole situation has been. A peer of the realm just ups in vanishes, in the middle of the night no less? And all anyone knows about it is that he had been calling upon the man at all hours of the evening."

Both women appraised the darkly dressed lynx standing across the marble floored salon. His immaculate uniform didn't fit with the gallantly dressed gentlemen that loitered throughout the room. The brass buttons that lined the flap at the front of his jacket glittered in the sconce-lit chamber, emphasizing the cheapness of his garb.

"The mystery has left the scandalmongers positively aghast," Lady Janos agreed, a thoughtful frown plaguing her muzzle. After a moment of obvious consideration, it melted away, and she shot a sly glance towards her companion. "I think Vincent Wexton is one of the most attractive men in all of Devla. All that awful gossip only enhances his allure."

The vixen beside her seemed to agree because she snapped her fan open with a practiced flick of her wrist and fluttered it in front of her face. She continued to observe the cat in question from behind her shield of gilded paper, all but licking her lips. He had turned away, so all she could see was the back of her his head and the ways his broad shoulders were outlined by the crisp cut of his clothing. She didn't stop staring at the lynx, not even when she leaned towards her friend and whispered something to her from behind the gilded stretch of her fan.

"He's really quite something, isn't he? Shame he's entirely unsuitable."

"Well, the man is Northridge's bastard. It's not like he's entirely common."

"Common enough, my dear," The Baroness scolded, clucking her tongue like a wayward hen. "He even works for his living."
Dumob Baby

A Wink!

Unedited and unfinished. I would like to come back to this...someday.


She should have been afraid.

Countless men had fled at the sight of him in full battle dress, hardened warriors like himself, yet Hornfirth saw no fear in the bright blue eyes that looked up at him. He watched her walk towards him, her small paw offering him a meager bouquet of flowers. She smiled at him, heedless of the dried blood that darkened his tasset and the scorched fur that was matted on his chest.

She should have been afraid, yet she only came closer, curious but strangely calm. It was almost as though she had looked straight past his daunting appearance and instead of seeing an unmistakable threat had found instead a potential new friend.

He would have sworn that he had never before seen a more beautiful child, or a more accepting smile. The ermine looked no more than four or five, and didn't even come up past his knees. Her pelt was white, even though it was only late summer, and a halo of yellow hair surrounded her face, bunching beneath her ears where it had been braided into heavy loops. For the first time in almost two years, Hornfirth found himself thinking of hearth and home, an end to all the blood and the fighting. It was disconcerting, and the fact that all of it had been stirred in him by a single intrepid child where entire armies, and even legendary beasts had failed, was equally unnerving.

She didn't say a word when she came to stand in front of him, and lifted the bright bouquet, her small, pointed face lit up with hope. He didn't have the heart to deny her, and took it from her. When his big hand brushed her small fingers, her grin grew even wider. Almost against his will, he found himself smiling back. Whoever the girl was, she seemed painfully unaware of the fact that she was standing in the midst of a smoking, burned out forest. The charred dirt stained the hem of her dress, and the knees where she must have knelt while collecting her cluster of posies. Where she had found them in the ruined wood was almost as boggling as her presence there.

His haggard body protested as he knelt, dropping to one knee. He reached out for her, unsurprised when she did not flinch or pull away, and set his heavy hand upon one of her thin shoulders. Though he was reluctant to speak, inexplicably afraid of breaking the spell she had cast over him, he addressed her nonetheless. "You should not be here. There are things in this wood that would gobble you up, if given half the chance. Surely you know it isn't safe for you to be about in these times. And alone in the forest at any time."

"Nothing would dare eat me," she replied, with the sort of determined seriousness that only a child could manage, "it's not allowed. My papa said so."

Despite his best intentions, Hornfirth found a genuine smile creeping across his muzzle. "And who is your father, minx, so that I know who to return you too?" He tweaked one of her ears, and discovered that it was as soft and as velvety as it had looked.

"Oh, I'm not a minx. I'm a Wink."

"A what?"

"A Wink!" She stamped her foot on the ground, demanding that he understand. Whatever the child was, it was endearing. "I'm what happens when a wolf marries a mink."

"But you're an ermine..." Why he was even arguing with her was unfathomable. He ought to have simply picked her up, and pitched her beneath his arm, so that he could carry her back to the settlement. It wasn't very far, and he suspected that he would have a much smaller headache on his hands if he dropped her into someone elses lap. But where was the adventure in that?

"So?" she demanded, wrinkling her tiny black nose at him. "Ermines are related to minks, are they not? My papa says that it's close enough, and that there are no better names for me. Only mama calls me Sigunnr, but...she's gone away for a while. To visit my aunt, who's very sick."

"You have allot to say, for someone so small."

"That's because if I didn't speak up I would never get to say anything at all!"

This time, Hornfirth didn't just smile, he laughed. It wasn't just a chuckle or a chortle, but a belly deep guffaw that he felt all the way down to his heat-cracked hooves. Suddenly all the tension and the strain that he had felt, body and soul alike, melted away beneath the first real amusement he had felt since...well, he couldn't quite remember. Maybe it was just the lunacy of the whole mad situation, or maybe he really had found a bit of a gem amongst the cinders.

"Very well, Wink. Very, well." He patted his knee, the one he hadn't put his weight on, so that she could where he intended her to stand. "Climb on up to my shoulder, and I will carry you back to this 'papa' of yours. He sounds like he would be an interesting man."

She seemed to think nothing of his offer, because she planted one of her small, dirty feet, directly on top of his kilt, and, even daring to take hold of one his great horns, climbed directly onto the minotaur's shoulder. She was still holding onto him when he curled an arm atop her legs, and pulled himself back up to his full height.