Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.
*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH*

FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Darkship Thieves.

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. She never had any interest in finding out the truth about the Darkships.
You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help.
But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime and perhaps a whole new world—if she managed to survive….
A Prometheus Award Winning Novel, written by a USA Today Bestseller.

And in Hardcover, and paperback which for some reason isn’t linked. (I’m becoming VERY not amused at the paperback, hardcover and Baen edition not linking with this kindle. And forget that my VERY first review in this format although five stars thinks Athena is a Mary Sue. ATHENA, psycho extraordinare is apparently what I want to be when I grow up. Shoot me now. Yes, it’s a five star review, but do people THINK?
Maybe I’m cranky in my old age, but if one of you left that review, I urge you to consider: Thena causes more problems (In fact, in a way she causes the collapse of Eden.) And she’s — trust me on this — not me. In many ways she’s my antithesis. (Except for being a hothead, but I don’t think that’s enough for a self-insert character.)

FROM PAM UPHOFF: Friends and Family (Fall of the Alliance Book 9)

Lady Olympiada Vinogradov’s Grandfather has died . . . and now she’s going off to some tier four mining World with her mother and stepfather. Ought to be a great adventure! And far away from people who might notice she has dangerously strong Mentalist talents that could get her chipped.

But before she goes, she needs to rescue her friends. But taking them along with her to an unpopulated wilderness full of dangerous animals, to a base totally dependent on imported food and fuel might not be a good thing as the Three Part Alliance slides closer to collapse . . .

But with friends and family, what could possibly go wrong . . .

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Noble, Priest, and Empire: Merchant and Empire Book Seven

Valdher of the Wilds, Lady of the Forest

Unwanted survivor, failure, Halwende cost his father money and should never have become heir. When Valdher chooses him as priest, no one is prepared for what follows, least of all Halwende.

Sneelah of the Snows, Lady of the Ice

Young in his power, Aglak Rothbard settles long-simmering disputes. With force. Icy-cold force, just like the goddess he serves.

One man seeks to open the raw, new lands in the north for settlement, as his Lady commands. The other seeks to balance rapid change and the desires of a deity reluctant to release her hold on the north. When long-forbidden magic is brought back to light and used for ill purposes, both men and their deities must work together for the good of the Northern Empire. Two men and their patrons, strong in power and stronger in will. Who will be master of the northern lands?

When Cervi and Snow-cat collide, the forest trembles!


REVIEW by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers’ Favorite. Crossing Over by Paul Clayton tells the story of an American family trying to survive the beginnings of the second civil war. Set some time in the not-too-distant future, the existence of two simultaneous presidents has split the country along ideological lines. The protests are becoming violent, sections of the country have formed their own militias, along with the militias of the two warring parties. In the midst of shortages of food and other necessities, gangs and thugs are terrorizing formerly safe neighborhoods. Realizing that it is no longer safe to remain in their home, Mike McNerney decides to pack the camper and flee to Canada with his wife, Marie, and disabled teenage daughter, Elly. Unfortunately, everyone else has the same idea.Once I started reading, I could not put down this well-written and compelling short novel. Clayton’s premise is chillingly realistic. The book does not focus on the politics, but instead focuses on regular Americans who not long before led totally normal lives, and who are quickly turned into refugees as they try to escape the crime and violence taking over the country. The scene at the Canadian border was highly believable, as was the deterioration of Mike and Marie’s relationship as it crumbled under the stress of their ordeal. Complicating matters is the need to protect their beautiful daughter Elly, who is naïve enough to wander off with any stranger. Crossing Over should stand as a warning to anyone inclined to think that violence is the answer to political disagreement, as it paints a picture of how America could slide into chaos far too easily. There is some mature subject matter and language. Recommended for readers who are brave enough to read it.

From Tom Veal: The Monkey and the Amazon: A Tale of Illusions.

Alexander the Great is dead. For a dozen years, his generals have fought for control of his empire. One of them, Seleukos, has lodged himself in Babylon, Alexander’s capital, where he awaits the onslaught of his most powerful rival, Antigonos One-Eye, General of All Asia. At his court are two insignificant figures: a homely slave girl reputed to be the daughter of an Amazon warrior and the pet monkey of an ambassador from distant India. Each possesses a secret that it would be death or worse for the world to know. Then they find themselves allied and endangered in a city filled with magic and intrigue.


Twenty-one tales of hunting, fishing, and trapping make this volume of stories big enough to hold a drink in one hand while you read it. Tales range from side-splitting hilarity to poignant musings on dogs too good to be true. Fully illustrated, each story is accompanied by a picture of the critters, landscape, or events within. Tide yourself over until the next hunting season with stories of how it was, and is, when you’re out in the wild testing the wiles of hunter versus prey.

WRITTEN BY J. ALLAN DUNN, WITH INTRODUCTION BY D. JASON FLEMING: The Man Trap (Annotated): A pulp adventure-western

When Jimmy Crewe returned from his prospecting expedition, he discovered that his best friend (and the man who funded his expedition) had disappeared. As he looked into it more, he found that a series of men, in several cities across the country, all with certain similarities, went missing in circumstances that, when compared, roused the suspicious mind. Now, Jimmy is going to find the answer to this mystery — what is the man trap, who is luring these men in, and why?

    This iktaPOP Media edition includes a new introduction giving historical context to the novel.

FROM TONY ANDARIAN: Hell Gate: (Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos, Book 2)

A new constitution prepares Carlissa for an era of enlightenment. The harsh traditions of the past fade, and a promise of freedom stirs the air. In the space of one terrifying day, that promise is shattered in a bloodbath of fire and magic.

An ancient enemy returns with the opening of the Hell Gate. Chaos reigns as the people rally to fight a desperate battle for survival, and many wonder bitterly why the gods seem to have abandoned them. Their only hope lies with the magic of the Archmage — and his, with a free-spirited princess who never wanted to rule. She must find the strength to set aside her bard’s calling and take up a battle against impossible odds, or surrender her land and people to the Black Magus and his demons.

Dawn of Chaos: Hell Gate continues to bring the award-winning Sanctum of the Archmage role-playing games to the world of fantasy fiction. Order it now and don’t miss this exciting first novel in the saga!

Note to Readers: Hell Gate was originally released in 2017 by Andarian Publishing as part of, and under the title, Dawn of Chaos. It was re-released in 2021 by Andarian Publishing as a four novella serial under the following titles. This book combines that serial into a single novel.

    The Return of the Horde

    The Ring of the Killravens

    The Massacre of Lannamon

    The End of the Beginning

Dawn of Chaos is now being re-released as a trilogy under the same name. Hell Gate is the second book in that trilogy.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: OBSERVE

57 thoughts on “Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. The Leader of the Ruling Council of the Ancients said “well Retea, you have observed these lesser ones the most, what do you say about what we should do.”

    “Great Leader, these humans, both powered and non-powered, are less than us but in too many ways are much more superior that the ones we ruled millenniums ago.

    They outnumber a million-fold that ones we ruled. They have tools & weapons that given time could develop into weapons that we would fear.

    Given that we need their “willing” acceptance of our leadership in the possible battle against the Great Evil, then we must be extremely careful in our deals with them.”

    The Leader then said, “But what about the powered “humans”? Won’t they accept our leadership.”

    Hsams the Strong laughed and said “No way, especially those American ones. They are already fighting the rogue powered-humans to rebuild their so-called Nation. They’ll see us as would-be Nobles and Americans hate would-be Nobles telling them what to what to do. And remember, the Great Evil is foreseen as returning to this continent that they call North America. We’ll need their very very willing help.”

    The Leader said “But we’re ten-times more powerful than the most powerful of them.”

    Hsams laughed and said “But I couldn’t defeat a hundred of their most powerful and that’s what we’d all face if we tried to force them to obey. Remember, there is only a hundred of battle-worthy of us and there are already over a thousand battle-worthy of them just in this America.”

    The Leader looked at the others in the Ruling Council “Do any of you dispute Retea & Hsams words?”

    The only one to answer was the Mentalist Redaer, “Not I and I agree with them.”

      1. Not yet.

        The Ancients are Super-Beings that ruled Earth long before historical times and may be the source of stories about gods.

        While arrogant as gods, they never considered themselves gods in their own time. IE “Worship us, we don’t want worship, we want obedience.” 😈

        Unfortunately for them, while some can control human minds, extremely few can control other super-beings. (Note, the majority of Ancients rightly fear those types and would fear those types “taking control of super-beings including themselves”.

        1. Ah, neat!

          So they’d be more scared of Professor X than of Magneto, correct? (Honestly, I’m pretty sure if you’re going to prioritize one of them over the other, the one who can control minds wins over the one who controls metal. Without that helmet, Erik’s done for the moment Charles decides to stop messing around.)

          1. Well, the Mentalists are closer to Professor X but Jean Grey (telepathy & telekinesis) is closest.

            Generally speaking though, Mentalists can not “mind control” other super-beings.

            On the other hand, my super-beings include the Eaters/Controllers who can “feed” on animals, regular humans, and super-beings. They can control animals, most regular humans and most super-beings.

            The Fun part of the Eaters/Controllers is that attempting to control Mentalists can get Very Interesting.

            If they’re lucky, they just “mind-link” to the Mentalist and they become very close friends (or lovers) of the Mentalist.

            If they’re unlucky, then both the Eater/Controller and the Mentalist get trapped in a mind-link that both hate. 👿

          2. Big caveat there.

            Especially since in the comics, Erik could hold him out by sheer mental strength. Charles tried to read his mind when they first meet in Israel, and couldn’t.

            1. Okay, that does change the equation. I’m only familiar with the movies, so that’s news to me, I’m afraid.

              1. Eh, it’s impossible to make a consistent character out of him. Particularly in characterization, of course, but there are other issues. Comics can build up in a few decades the sort of inconsistencies that used to take centuries to accumulate.

  2. “How is this science? We cannot experiment. All we can do is watch!’ cried Alkafir

    “So we watch. We think. We try to predict. If we predict correctly then we we have at least some element of Truth. If our predictions fail, we learn and can try again.” responded Gilmtrok.

    “But… we have to wait, and can’t EXPERIMENT!”

    “Frustrating, yes, but consider the INSANE energies involved. Better to watch from a safe distance than to rush into things filled with energies beyond our imagining.”

    “Didn’t they used to say that about stellar fusion? And supernovae?”

    “Yes, and they were right, back when. Millennia ago, we were NOT up to the challenges of such things. Today, of course, any semi-competent high school student can deal with mere fusion.”

    “So, what’s so dangerous about THIS area of study.”

    “You’ve never had to deal with humans, have you?”

    “Huma– oh SHYYP. I had no idea I’d blundered into anything so insanely dangerous!”

    “Relax, will ya? We watch from a distan-”

    Gilmtrok jumped at the soft tap-tap-tap on his shoulder. “HOWDY!”

    1. Wow! And it’s the humans pulling a good old fashioned horror movie jump scare! Awesome!

      Those poor aliens. Here’s hoping they find some way to placate the terrifying eldritch HOOMANS.

  3. “Welcome to the OODA loop for mages,” I sighed in frustration. “We observe that there is something going on, namely a barrier. We orient ourselves with the flow of prana, and that there is a flaw in which we could do something about the barrier. Then, we have the decision step where we decide that it’s better to make a strategic opening than to just crash the barrier down. And finally,” while I was saying all of this to Craigmore, I had drawn up the spell and slipped it into the barrier flaws, carefully creating an opening, “we hit the action step. When I say ‘go’, run straight ahead as fast as you can. I can keep this hole open without setting off any alarms, but I can’t do it for long or make it too wide.”

    1. Is this a training school for mages? I can kind of see the OODA loop turning up on a PowerPoint slide.

      I can kind of see the narrator as kind of a wizard consultant, too.

      1. Adelaide’s training is rather…syncretic. She’s the starting product of one magical tradition (Dawn Empire combat mage of the Solist rank), was drafted as part of a second tradition (Roman Catholic Church Order of Saint Bridget Novitiate), and she’s involuntarily learning a third magical tradition.

        …if she had two free minutes to spare, “mage consultant” would probably be a good job for her as well.

  4. Charlotte-Rose sputtered and choked over her first sip of cocoa. “First impression! Watch, oh my dear friends, how dear Julian manages to make a first impression on the sister who was brought into the royal chamber to inspect him in the cradle on the day of his birth!”
    Leon laughed.

    1. Oh No!

      I can just imagine what a baby boy could do to “impress” an adult. 😆

  5. The three stood frozen in an odd tableau. Leti’s mind-blades hummed in her hands, vibrating gently like well-kept machinery. Kylen’s own blade burned blue against the pale throat of a young woman Leti had seen, but never met.

    In silence, Leti and Kylen observed each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. Time, Leti decided, would only increase the chance that the others would burn through the locked hatches Kylen had used as a delaying tactic. She would wait for him to speak.

    Finally, he broke the silence. “If I go into your people’s custody, I won’t come out alive. And I can’t afford that right now. I have too much work to do.”

    She shrugged in response. “The only way off this station is past me. Do you really think I care enough for that girl to let you go?”

    “Personally? I know you don’t.” His tone was calm, matter-of-fact. “But I know our mentor is trying to teach you the same lesson he once taught me. Never allow an innocent to come to harm. So the question isn’t whether you care about her. It’s about what you value more – your goals, or his ideals.”

    It was odd, really, how moments like these seemed to bring the world into crystalline clarity. Leti would have expected weighty decisions to weigh upon the mind, forcing her surroundings to fade away into vague shadows so that she could think without distractions. In truth, everything stood out to her, dragging her thoughts away from the decision she had to make.

    For instance, the bright blue shade of Kylen’s mind-blade. It seemed ironic, even impossible. Blue was for Protectors, Father Lukas had told her when explaining mind-blades to her. His own blade was green – for Nurturers.

    Her own blades were a shade somewhere between red and orange. Lukas had never explained to her what those colors meant, but she knew he was unsettled by them. But no matter hard she tried, she could never get blue. She couldn’t even brighten her blades to yellow.

    She tried to focus on the girl again. She suspected she was supposed to feel something for her – although she wasn’t sure exactly what. Pity? Empathy? Fear on her behalf?

    No matter how hard she tried, all she could find in herself was relief that the girl wasn’t screaming or crying. She didn’t need the noise right now. Or the distraction.

    Actually, the girl seemed as calm as Leti herself was. She stood, trapped by her captor’s blade, but seemed entirely unaware of his presence. Her eyes were fixed on Leti. There was an odd focus to her gaze – as if Leti were a synth she was taking apart in order to see how she worked.

    It made Leti curious. The fixation on her, rather than on the threat, made no sense. Why would the girl be so calm?

    The mind-blades fell silent and vanished as Leti released her focus on them and stepped aside. Kylen nodded towards her.

    “You’re a more faithful student than I was, Miss Leti.” Nudging the girl forward carefully, he edged around the room until his back was to the escape pod. “If it’s any consolation,” he added, in a dryly amused tone, “I’m sure we’ll bump into each other again soon. Perhaps you’ll have better luck then.” And with those parting words, he released his own mind-blades and shoved the girl towards Leti.

    Leti’s eyes flickered towards the swiftly closing hatch and the ejecting escape pod, but she saw the young lady’s face in her peripheral vision.

    She looked oddly disappointed.

  6. O/T but today I learned that unintentional intermittent fasting can have an affect on writing. Or, put another way, I forgot to eat for a few days last week again. No words for a week. I may have gone stupid for a while there.

    Then today, the blockage seemed to evaporate. As usual, the simple became complicated (argh! dammit! cuss cuss fuss fuss). 1.5k down on the new chapter and now I have to reevaluate some things that go all the way back to chapter 13.

    On the plus side, this is going to make the spoilery thing in the future that much more impactful.

    On the BIG NEGATIVE, now I have to go over around forty chapters and search for plot holes this New Thing may have created.

    Also, I have today resisted the urge to go down the rabbit hole of backstories to flesh out side characters and worldbuilding and instead created plot and chapter.


    These observations are brought to you today by “No really, you actually do need calories in order to think!”

  7. Die Trying
    (sung by a bunch of left-wingers who obviously don’t know the meaning of the lyrics)

    Don’t be a stranger
    If you’re looking for a friend
    If you want an even break
    You’ve got to learn to bend
    You don’t have a song
    If you don’t know how to sing
    You don’t have a prayer
    If you don’t know how to dream

    What’s the use in dying if you don’t die trying
    If you don’t die trying for the truth?
    What’s the use in flying if you don’t die flying
    If you don’t die flying, what’s the use?

    If you’re going to roll the dice
    You gotta take a chance
    Gotta get out on the floor
    If you want to do the dance
    You can’t learn to laugh
    If you don’t know how to cry
    If you don’t know how to fall
    You’ll never learn how to fly


  8. The clamor of swords clashing is a great deal quieter in person than most tend to assume. Sheets of rain crashed against the castle battlements with a sound like the roaring of the sea, but the battle currently taking place among the ramparts was practically inaudible, despite its weight.

    It was quite dramatic, really. Blades lancing back and forth, visible only in flashes as lightning reflected off the blades. Anton and Ileya were doubtlessly doing a splendid job harrying Ruthven along the parapets of his castle, and I’m sure it was a duel anyone would have paid dearly to observe. Thunder crashing around them, blood running down wet steel to mix with the pooling rainwater at their feet…

    But at the present, I simply couldn’t afford to pay them any attention. Certainly I was grateful that they were keeping the honored Emperor off my back, but I had more immediate issues at hand.

    For instance, the rough tower roofing tiles I was presently holding onto for dear life. And the similar tiles beneath my boots. Gods only knew how the material managed to be both rough enough to tear my fingers raw and bleeding and slippery enough that I regularly scrabbled for footing, but it did.

    Really, it was nothing short of a miracle I hadn’t fallen to my death yet.

    Why was I doing this again?

    My left boot slipped – again – and I could just feel my right boot giving way. In the utter abandonment of desperation, I used what hold I still had on the roof to hurl myself upwards, and managed to latch onto a stone ledge which jutted out from beneath a tower window.

    And then I was hanging from my fingers, my arms ready to rip out of their sockets, scrabbling for some sort of foothold.

    I was going to fall. My fingers were going to slip from the wet stone, and I was going to fall, and fall, and die –

    And then my feet caught on something, and I nearly wept with relief. Shaking in what might have been terror, or muscle exhaustion, or simply the cold and wet, I tested my weight on the footholds.

    They held. I breathed out as steadily as I could – which wasn’t very – then let go of the windowsill with one hand, shaking my fingers loose and trying to work the numbness out of them.

    “Having a bit of trouble there, Raymond?”

    I did not jump in surprise. Such a reaction would have killed me. I let out a very manly shout instead, and looked down.

    Prince Lukan was sitting cross-legged against the slanted tower roof, blithely defying gravity, my feet resting in the palms of his hands. A jagged bolt of lightning lit up the sky for an instant, and his sharp grin shone white with reflected light before vanishing again into darkness.

    Ah. So that was what I was standing on. I took a few moments to shake my other hand out, then latched them both as securely on the windowsill as I could before answering.

    “Some slight difficulty, Your Highness, yes. Your aid is appreciated, although unexpected.”

    The crack of thunder almost drowned out his ringing laughter, but there was an eerie tone to his mirth that managed to cut through the merely natural sounds around us.

    “I could help you the rest of the way, if you like,” the prince called up to me once the thunder faded.

    I opened my mouth – then paused, shut it again, and thought.

    “And what would be the price of your assistance, Highness?”

    “I haven’t decided yet.”

    I glanced upward towards the iron spire at the top of the tower. And the form of a young woman bound to it. I glanced down towards the prince supporting my feet, and the endless drop beyond him.

    I remembered the stories Uncle Nidol used to tell me as a boy. About young men who swore a year’s service to hags in return for a young woman’s love, or fathers who struck deals with archfey for the money to feed their families. About kings who made desperate bargains with demons and dar’veni to save their kingdoms from famine and war.

    About what happened to each and every one of them, when the bill came due.

    Oh, the Endless Abyss take these impossible decisions. I’d only begun enduring them in the past couple of weeks, but I’d come to hate them with a fiery passion I’d once reserved only for poor alcohol.

    No, these were worse than poor alcohol. One could abstain from awful beer. Since I’d entered this accursed country, I couldn’t seem to avoid impossible decisions to save my own life – or others’.

    “I thank you for the thought, Highness, but I think I shall continue on my own.”

    “Are you so certain you can?”

    “Absolutely not. But I will try for it nonetheless.”

      1. Not quite Chapter 1, I’d like to introduce characters a little earlier than this scene. (Although if it grabs your attention, that might mean it could work as a Chapter 1… a kind of ‘Do you want to know how I wound up here?’ cliffhanger introduction.)

        This is a scene in a book series I’m building – or at least the seed of a scene. I posted another scene from the same story last Sunday, I believe, for the ‘Possessive’ prompt.

        If you’ve got the time and interest, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I did well here, as well as what I could improve on. I’m probably not going to go traditional publishing with my books, so I’d like as much review/commentary/external editing as I can get. (Plus I’m addicted to positive feedback.)

              1. Take your time, there’s no rush.

                I’m looking at trying to get some of my own book done. Chapter 1 is looming right now, and I’ve got a pretty good visual scene for it. Fingers crossed it works on paper at least half as well as it does in my head.

                1. That’s the tricky bit to writing. Translating thought-stuff into words that other people read and are entertained by as the words become thoughts and emotions in their heads.

                  Of course the real kicker is the editing, once you’ve got the whole writing thing cooking. For those given the boon of creation must also suffer the bane of editing to pay for their gifts, and as so many of us are perfectionists when it comes to our craft…

  9. At that, he would learn nothing by watching them gossip. He would do better to take his ease. The ride there and back, and the fight with the bandits, were, if anything, more wearisome with the days spent searching for them removed. The garden was best, with roses in bloom.

  10. To the casual observer, any company’s cyborg workers were reasonably lifelike. The tells were subtle: a slight stutter when speaking, as if words were buffering, or the soft whine of servomotors as the unit moved about. If one knew what to look for, most cyborgs wound up appearing awfully mechanical.

  11. At the police precinct, Nigel Slim-Howland observed one of his company’s companions carefully. With visitors, the receptionist was polite, sympathetic, or firm as required. With flesh-and-blood police officers, the receptionist switched to the salty banter the officers commonly used. “Good,” thought Nigel. “The contextual adaptive speech module is working perfectly.”

  12. Valery Mishin pressed his ear against the pipe and listened to the operation of the replacement water reclamation unit. Although all the gauges read nominal, that assumed that everything was calibrated correctly — in a lashup of Soviet and Amerikanski equipment.

    Already the Amerikanski space program had lost a deep-space probe because all the fine-grain checks came out clear, but no one had used basic measuring tools to see that those fancy instruments were faulty — until the probe went crashing into the depths of Jupiter’s atmosphere. With lives on the line, best to check with Mark 1 eyeball and eardrum before making any assumptions.

  13. When he finally observed that the bell rang for dinner, and held out his arm, she took it with relief. Even if they were near enough to speak at dinner, she could say less there. He brought her back, deftly, through the narrow paths with bushes growing to either hand.

  14. “Behold, all present! Let it be known throughout the land the justice of the king!”
    The entire court faced the woman standing before the throne. Gloriana stood very still in the corner and watched in stunned silence as the guards brought out chains and put them on her mother’s arms.

  15. “You’re being absurd,” said the other wizard. “It is a simple matter of observation to see it.”
    “I have been busy,” said Stephanos, mildly.
    “So busy that you can not see the nonsense about knights? They are given magical powers that they might fight. Be weapons that walk, in fact.”

  16. The result of the spell was disgusting. The sheep was dead, of course. All it’s outsides were inside and the insides out.

    “Damn it, Alernon Sumpostic Grey! I told you to observe the animal, not obverse it!”

    1. His apprentice blinked in apparent confusion. “I did observe it. Then I obversed it. Isn’t obversing what we’ve been working on for the last,” his hands fluttered, as if the actual length of time was irrelevant.

      “37 minutes,” the Master said evenly. The young prince should not have been able to handle such a complete obversation at this stage. If he’d suspected such a level of perverse obliviousness in his newest student, he wouldn’t have started the lessons on something alive.

  17. I also observe that the Mayor of Chicago, an enthusiastic supporter of abortion on demand, is now attempting unironically to invoke the Bible against the Governor of Texas for sending “refugees” to a self-proclaimed “sanctuary city” which also has better pizza than all of Texas…

    1. If they have better pizza, she would be biblically obligated to help the poor and needy by importing them herself. It’s just the right thing to do in the face of such a humanitarian crisis.

    2. Governor Abbott should send a hundred busloads of illegal aliens in a giant convoy to Sacra-de-mento and drop them off in the elitist neighborhoods where Kalifornia politicians and bureaucrats live. Maybe then they would begin to understand.
      There are forms of stupidity that businesses can’t indulge in. There are no such limitations on the stupidity of government.

  18. Simon sat in the tavern, listening to the merchants gossip about various speculative ventures. Two of them were right now discussing the space trade. “Since Constantinople fell to the Turks. it’s been much harder to get shipments through Syria. That’s why the Portuguese are trying to find a way around Africa. ” “Yes, they get a little bit further every year, but they haven’t found a way yet”. “And then there’s this Colombus fellow.” “I haven’t heard of him. “Oh, he tried to get the king of Portugal to finance an expedition of reaching the East by sailing west. My patron heard about it. The king turned him down, his council decided the fellow’s geography was wrong, He thinks Cathay is about a fourth the distance away most geographers think. But I hear he’s a most bold and persistent fellow and keeps talking the idea up.”
    Simon’s brain whirled. The geographers were right, of course. He had been there and measured the positions. Besides that, the unknown Western lands were in the way and there was no way through. He had walked their bounds long ago. But he usually went the long way around, using short hops from port to port. He wasn’t bold enough for these great leaps into the unknown, and a long sea voyage had its own dangers. These Europeans didn’t have a clue about the special diet needed to survive without getting diseased. They also didn’t have his tricks of navigation and sailing, His secrets were still his own, although more and more of them were being discovered. No, this Colombus fellow wouldn’t reach Cathay or India by sailing west, although if he got the expedition financed, and if he were very lucky, he might find something else even more world changing. This was something Simon needed to observe.

    1. Wow, this sounds interesting!

      You did a fantastic job with the setting and conversation. It feels like it could be happening now… While still making it very clear that everything in the scene is taking place in the past.

  19. Unposted part of the FMA WIP.

    “How’s it going, Maisie?” Jean asked. “Michele says you’re on number four.” He put his hand on her barely showing bump. Definitely not appropriate.

    But Aster had been with him for over five years now, and had three children with him, two of them his own. She had seen the way he needed to control his eyes around some women, and his ex-wife was causing him no problems at all. She had thought to see some embers that might catch fire again, but the passion seemed completely gone. Her original characterization of Maisie as a sister was, in some sense, more correct than she had thought.

    And of course, Aster had observed the ways of the soldiers and their families and women. The men from the countryside had an instinctual desire to touch a pregnant woman, reverently, as if there was some magic to be gained by doing so. She saw them visibly keeping themselves back from the Ishvalan women, which was even more noticeable when an Amestrian woman, who was not off limits, was pregnant. And the way those women acted! As if receiving tribute. As if the men were re-affirming their duty to protect all the women and their children.

  20. “Remember, Bjork, we’re here to observe, not to interfere.”

    “Right, Tjar — observe, not interfere. Are humans as bad as everyone says?”


    The two Plutonians, eyestalks twitching, gazed down at the sidewalk from their post on the tenement roof. An elderly woman hobbled along below them. From a dark alley darted a young thug. He knocked her cane aside, grabbed her purse, pushed her to the ground, and savagely kicked her in the ribs. Laughing, he sauntered off.

    “Great Yuggoth!” gasped Bjork. Without thinking he sent a blast of psionic healing down upon the two humans. The woman struggled to her feet and looked about in bewilderment. The thug continued on his way.

    “I don’t understand,” said Bjork.

    “Their bodies we can heal,” replied Tjar, his eyestalks drooping in grief. “But not their souls.”

  21. “Observe, Colonel. We’ve maneuvered these last days to lure them into our kill zone.
    Their screen is probing our forward defences, and airborne sensors indicate their logistic train is bunching right behind. Our trap awaits.”
    At that moment, a firespell hit the closest enemy dragons, and the battle was begun.

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