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06 June 2017 @ 07:01 am
_Scrambled_ part 38  

A sprinkle of wine over the salad bar, into the soup tureens, the meats, the pitchers of fruit juice, stirred into the pudding . . .

He walked on. There were three cafeterias, and special service for those whose bodies were finally failing them, as age caught up with even the most powerful. He was going to get them all.

Good thing it's not the Haj. That would be awkward. Tens of thousands of people who believe strongly enough in the old religion to feel a need to come here to the holy city.

He had a vague memory of other people on the train.

The Zowie Juice does not compel action. It just makes you horny as . . . well, I missed the mystical teenage sex drive, so what do I know? Devout visitors will be able to leave. The train engineers don't eat here, so perhaps the trains will still depart . . . with them, not me. They won't let me go . . . yet.

He walked out into the desert, climbed the first of the big sand dunes and watched the sunset.

I'm old enough to remember when it was bare rock out here . . . then the dunes encroached . . . blew away . . . How long was that storm, when they marched in again, and we spent every day removing sand from the streets?

The voices in his head rose in confusion, spikes of lust with no preparation or training on handling them. It was getting noisy down there. He spotted a priest (male) backing away from a priest (female). "What's gotten into you?" drifted up faintly.

And an angry core of thought sought him out. :: What have you done? ::

:: Too little, too late. But it's all I can do. I can't turn back time and give these men the lives they ought to have had, but perhaps this will be amends enough for me to forgive myself. ::

:: A . . . an orgy in the streets and temples of Makkah! You think a day of debauchery will change anything? ::

:: They will regrow their testicles. They will be men, not eunuchs. ::

He slammed his shields shut and rode out a storm of mental abuse.

:: Get out! You are no longer one of us! ::

Poe picked up his backpack and slid-walked down the dune and skirted the noisy parts of the city to the train station. The train was full of wide-eyed pilgrims, staring back at the Holy City. Poe found an empty seat, and ignored the hugging and kissing going on around him.

They didn't eat or drink anything, but the collective subconscious, all of us have a connection . . . I wonder if this is world-wide? He could help but smile at the thought of a world-wide . . . probably not an orgy, but certainly a day of strong amorous feelings. Just among the One, or will everyone be feeling happy and horny today? . . . Actually the effects linger for several days.

As the train pulled out of the station, he settled back to study the change in the feel of the One. And wonder how an ex priest was going to pay for a ticket back to Paris and the gate.

Two women swayed down the aisle, looking for seats. He scooted over to give them room on his bench.

"Thank you! So nice to meet a gentleman."

He pretended to not hear the second one whisper. "And a cute little old man, too. Look at his glow!"

And really, there was no rush to get back . . .

Chapter Nick

3 Furkin 1400

The winter days were brisk, but they hadn't had a freeze yet.

His brother's family had come for the Eid, along with Ebsa and his wife with their seven month old twins. A vacation, they said, the world having been found safe enough to bring their children.

They'd brought their own provisions, and plenty extra, but the harvest had been excellent. No doubt in part due to the spells Nighthawk and Raven had taught the Oner women. Spells to fix nitrogen, to kill or repel insects and rodents. Dimensional bags to store huge amounts, entire fields of hay, to feed the domestic animals they'd imported. Most of the people who'd stayed had used their access to they're bank accounts to buy livestock, seeds, saplings, tractors and plows and reapers and balers.

Guns and ammunition.

Clothes more suited to the wilderness.

Not nearly as many generators as he'd thought.

The Fallen witches again! Pipes that not only move water, but heat it. Spells to apply around window frames to move the air, either heating it or cooling it.

He looked out across the now shorn hillside. The bare sticks of his newly planted orchard to the southeast of his cabin. They should do well on the south facing slope, halfway between the crest of the hill behind him, and the grove of trees surrounding the sinkhole.

The "Junkyard" was parked just under the edge of the trees. He could hear the laughter of his niece and nephew. Umaya's voice raised . . . almost grandchildren. Poor kids! Two Umayas in their lives. Give Gamer another decade, and she can supply Umaya with grandchildren who won't go away, to a busy life elsewhere. Large homes on a One World so changed from mine. And on the Embassy World, where Nighthawk's father was so supremely powerful . . . and getting away with not being made to rule anyone.

Well. I think I have that fixed now. No more tyrant. Unless someone really pisses me off.

He stood up and stretched. Ebsa's firepit was burned down to coals and cooking was about to happen. He seemed to enjoy affronting Umaya's sensibilities about what a Warrior should do for pleasure.

Nick grinned, remembering his stepmother's sputtering horror at Ra'd painting. He touched the pad of paper in his pocket. I'll try sketching, see if anything of the skill still lingers.

He touched the rough logs of the wall behind him. He'd ridden to the mountains, and felled dozens of straight pines. Good training in the slice spell. Gotten the log into his dimensional bag, and then ridden home.

Everyone had come to help build the cabin.

A home of my own, close enough to family, but far enough for privacy. Built to be enlarged. In case . . .

Two months.

Doesn't matter. I'll wait years.

Please don't make me wait years!

He heard the cadence of a galloping horse and walked out to see who was coming . . . a pinto horse, a stranger . . . no the rider was very familiar.

muirecanmuirecan on June 6th, 2017 12:56 pm (UTC)
Very nice. :)
(Anonymous) on June 6th, 2017 11:47 pm (UTC)
now about those werewolves....
I really hope your science fiction roots show through here. One of my problems with many urban fantasy settings is the hand wave at "everything was hidden before". I still find that hard enough to believe that it can kick me out of the story.

One of your previous comments included something about an evil high something-or-other that caused problems. This *might* be a good enough reason for the lycanthropy to pop up, when there hasn't been any evidence before. If it's been long enough since the last problem of this type, then maybe.

But at the least, please make sure there's a reason for everything. Even magic has to follow some sort of rules...

mbarkermbarker on June 7th, 2017 01:26 am (UTC)
Re: now about those werewolves....
Are you talking about this...


'cause I don't remember any werewolves in Scrambled. Dogs, yeah, Zog wants a puppy, but no werewolves.
matapampamuphoff on June 7th, 2017 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: now about those werewolves....
Yes, that's the one. This is a deliberate challenge, to do eerie unexplainable, instead of invoking science.
ekuah on June 7th, 2017 07:20 am (UTC)
About the wine.
In former stories, you wrote that the unknowing 'victims' of comet fall joy juice felt how the spells start working.
(like Xiat 'poisoning' Izzo to make her a mommy in 'Black Point Clan')

In the 'Poe in Maccah' scene, this perception would clearly warn the One that someone has spiked the food.

Maybe the the Whirlpool World mixture has a more delayed 'effect' due it's makeshift composition.
So it would be too late for the One to intervene, because too many are already 'poisoned' and the spells are taking over.

Sorry that I mention it only now, but this potential problem didn't occur to me before.
matapampamuphoff on June 7th, 2017 12:41 pm (UTC)
Re: About the wine.
I'll emphasize that the majority of the Priests feel like Poe, children without recourse so they might as well give up. Poe is leading a slave rebellion.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on June 7th, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
There is one group who might have their own canteen, the Ecclesiastical Guards. In Black Point Clan one tells Ajha that there are some who are failed priests so could benefit from the magic potion.

As to perception, this is a very naïve, ignorant group. Only those with high magic skills or prior knowledge have ben shown noticing the source. Compare the bar crawl And the War-party wives in Empire where no-one notices.
(Anonymous) on June 7th, 2017 06:01 pm (UTC)
And these guys were basically tools, used by others'.

I'm sorry, but the more I read about The One, the more I can't see how men and women of honor can let it continue. Rael's been part of it, sort of, and Ajha. They have to know what it is. How can they live with themselves letting it be?

matapampamuphoff on June 7th, 2017 09:57 pm (UTC)
Because it's only a few kids a year, and they've been sold on the "Honor" it brings to the family.

Same with their rape laws. Same with the assigned Princesses. The Warriors devolved into . . . a privileged elite that holds onto that status, and a few kids a year is a price they're willing to pay. And of course, most of the population is immune to the threat, and thinks their higher-ups deserve to finally be on the receiving end.

On the One World, the new spells will enable the priest power, the kids can stay at home and join up if it looks like a good job. Basically it's on its way to turning into a career choice, not a lifetime commitment. Might even become part-time service, so a Grand Compass can be formed if it is ever needed, but such a rare occurrance that it may never happen again.

On Nuked One, it's not going to be so peaceful, and may disappear altogether.
(Anonymous) on October 18th, 2017 12:34 am (UTC)
Not enough time since spells taught
The twins are 7 months old now and were born around the start of this tale. The rescue was 6 months after the great break-up. That means that there was no more than 1 month to use the new spells. I doubt that that would make that much difference in the harvest.