Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

from The Songster's Tale: Kiŋ Šuŋgmánitu Wačhókaya

The Songster's breath was ragged by the time Tercius had flown off with Ryelle in tow. “Goodbye, Tercius.” He thought. “She will take good care of you, I know it.” He wanted to smile, but the heavy thunks of falling debris reminded him of his current predicament. Death was whispering in his ear again and he had only one hope of avoiding her chilling embrace. The demonic aspect was rushing him now, over-sized blade poised to cleave the minstrel in two. This was it. All or nothing. Entering the Manju stance, Timaeus braced for the clash between his wards and the monstrosity's weapon. The echo of steel rang out with the crushing impact of its attack, the force of which knocked the minstrel to his knees. The wards had held firm this time around, exactly what he had needed. “Now now now.” He thought. Expending the last of his magic, he willed a change in the properties of the protective shield. It promptly evaporated into smoke, wrapped itself around the giant blade and solidified into permafrost. The ice magic spread like a flame across kindling, enveloping the Aspect of Baphomet before it could process its own demise. Timaeus knew the freezing wouldn't last, in time the ice would melt and the beast would be free to massacre as it wished, but time was something it simply did not have. With a cave in imminent, the freshly formed ice statue would shatter into countless pieces, something not even a demonic aspect could recover from. The Songster had won, but time was also his enemy.

The sash. He needed the sash. His hands, no longer capable of gripping the plasma blade, let the weapon clatter to the floor as they fumbled in his pouch for Ezra's gift. More rocks came loose, more bone-rattling collisions warned him Death was near. There was still hope, still a way out. If he could just- THERE! A thud against his side registered and he realized he had lost his balance. The venom in his system was still taking its toll. One way or another he would be dead in a matter of moments. Just wrap the sash around yourself. He thought. Just wrap... the sash...around...

***

The fragrant sweetness of jasmine tea. The scent of rain on dust. The whisper of silk on sharpened steel. Smoke clouds obscuring moonlight. Blood splattered snow. Wolves howling. An impossible scream…

Deidra lay tangled in her sheets, slick with sweat, the woman’s screams still ringing in her ears. Rays of light peaked through her curtains and she could just make out the birds singing their daily greeting to the rising sun.

“Hang me, it's too early to be alive.” she groaned.

A sudden tapping jolted her heartbeat into a brisk pace. Her sister was yelling something through the door.

“-up sis, Damien wants us to meet him on his rounds.”

Deidra sighed, resigning herself to a frustratingly long day.

***

“The Summer Equinox is tomorrow- the flowers are yet to arrive, we only have two extra barrels of wine a half dozen barrels of ale, the bailey isn’t decorated, the butcher hasn’t made his delivery yet, the stables need to be mucked, and this entire place needs to be cleaned; I don’t pay you to sit and eat. Why isn’t any of this done?”

The inn keep cowered, mumbling off a litany of apologies and excuses but remembered not to point out that Damien did not, in fact, pay him at all.

“Enough.” Damien held his hand up and added a touch of menace to his next words. “Take care of this- or I’ll find someone who can.” He handed a list to the inn keep who promptly scurried away.

Damien shook his head. The Boar's Head was one of dozens of inns the guild owned, but it was the only one that ever gave him a headache. He was sure that even if the little innkeep didn't fulfill his requests that the other inns would more than offset the losses, but his frustrations had been building for some time now and were usually held in check only by his signature at the bottom of a guild contract that had promised Borris and his family nine years. He pondered the flak he might receive for terminating a contract so early as he stepped outside and continued his rounds of festival preparations. He would have to discuss it with his sisters. His sisters, who were taking too much time in joining him this morning.

“Where in the seven hells are those girls?”