Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 6

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5


Chapter 6: No pants and a special delivery

The concert had been a wild ride from beginning to end. The performance had been one of his best. The upgrades Di had made to his leg made switching the pedals so much faster. He could control the pedals so fast that he could make completely unique sounds with his guitar. It was both invigorating and everything he ever wanted.

After the concert was pretty awesome too. Arty had come to visit him backstage. That man was amazing with his hands. They were strong and sensual, a lot like the rest of him.

Thinking about the fighting monk made Ezekiel smile and wish it hadn’t been so short. He’d offered to have the man back at his place but he’d refused.

Now Ezekiel was lying in bed in nothing but his underwear, enjoying the early morning breeze. The morning was already warm and it was only going to get hotter. He was happy that he had the day off. He was looking forward to lounging in his apartment and playing around with some song ideas. If there were any emergencies in the office, he lived on the fourth floor and they could easily get him.

He was just contemplating getting out of bed when someone knocked at his door. He lazily got out of bed and attached his leg as the knocker got more insistent.

“I’m coming!” He shouted as he put on a shirt that smelled clean.

The knocking went from insistent to violent. He picked up his pants but dropped them as his door was knocked down. A large muscled green humanoid with four arms stood snarling. He stood seven feet tall and wore nothing but a belt, with a nasty looking sword, and a backpack.

“Heir of Apollo,” the voice was deep raspy and oddly sharp.

“Yes, how can I help you?”

The large semi-naked demon, Ezekiel was certain it was a demon now, pulled a package from its backpack and gave it to him. “Deliver this to your champion.”

“Who?”

“The champion of light and life. Bring it to him.” The demon looked at him with disdain.

Ezekiel couldn’t help but notice the demon’s nakedness. It was impressive in size but any inappropriate thoughts were quashed by the barbs. Shuddering he asked, “You’ll have to be more specific.”

“No I don’t. Your princess will know.” The demon gave him the package and he took it automatically. Then the demon picked him up with his four strong arms and threw him out the open window.

As a child he’d hated his family’s obsession with landscaping. Every branch of Apollo Shipping had to have the same lush plants and trees.

He managed to grab onto a vine and slow his fall. He landed comfortably in a patch of cushy grass. Looking up he saw the demon, in all its naked glory, walk into some sort of portal.

He decided that this needed to get to the princess, but first he needed pants.

It was a good plan, but a scream cut off any further thought. He stood up and looked around to find three fully armoured demons, with only two arms each, attacking random people. The guards were converging but it was bedlam. People were running around and he could smell smoke. It would be near impossible for him to get to the castle fast enough to deliver the package to the princess.

“Oh no…” he moaned having a really bad idea.

The best way to get to the palace would be to avoid the streets and take to the air. There were no airships docked, which left Didi’s glider-cycle. He hoped she’d perfected it because the last time he’d watched her try it, it couldn’t go down or turn left.

Running for the back entrance, still wearing nothing but a loose t-shirt and his boxers, he avoided the panicked crowds.

When he got to the back door he was thrilled to find it unlocked, since his keys were still in his pants, in his room, and on the fourth floor. He wasn’t as thrilled to find that there was a demon running amok inside.

The demon saw him and grinned. Unlike his muscular friend, this one just looked like a square brick of flesh, with gangly arms topped with fists that were bigger than Ezekiel’s chest. He was glad to find that not all demons looked like runway models.

“Pretty!” hissed the demon.

“Stop! I’m the delivery person for this!” He lifted up the package and the demon recoiled and ran through the closest wall.

Scurrying to Didi’s workshop, he met no one on the way and was relieved to see that the glider-cycle was all in one piece. She hadn’t taken it apart, again, and left it all over her lab.

The glider-cylce was a steam powered bicycle with glider wings and a small airship balloon. The balloon doubled as the frame and seat making it look like you were riding an odd bird.

Getting the thing out proved harder than getting to it. He had to pull up the wings and push it through the halls until he was finally out of the building. Maybe he should upgrade Didi to a roof-top lab?

Once outside, he put the package in the basket and strapped it down, then he started the magic. The magic should last two hours. He then started boiler and the glider lurched forward.

The city looked small from the air but the fires were everywhere, as were the specks of green that were the demons. He aimed the glider at the castle and picked up the small radio, “Castle Cillian, this is Ezekiel Apollo requesting emergency landing. I have a package for the princess. Authorization Sigma Papa Golf.”

He didn’t hear the reply; a large winged demon flew straight at him and hit the bike. It destroyed the radio, and worse, broke the magic sigils that helped it fly. He was going down and fast.

“I wish I’d worn a helmet… and pants,” he said to the air as the glider headed down towards the castle.


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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4


Chapter 5: Green With Jealousy and Demon Blood

“…and together with Ezekial the four shall stop the dreaded army of demons from destroying all of Cillian.” The words of the Oracle echoed through Diana’s head as she tried to sleep.

What she was avoiding thinking about was how Ezekiel was pretending to be Zee. She’d recognized the leg she built for him during the concert. He was good, she wished he’d trusted her enough to have told her he was a musician. She had to admit that he looked good up there. The pure joy of performing made his beauty ever more prominent. She wondered if Arty knew about his double life.

Demons are coming, she reminded herself. What had the oracle meant by an army of demons? Wouldn’t they have heard about something like that? She decided to send out a few scout ships just in case. Just to reassure her that nothing was coming.

She had wanted to reassure Ezekiel after the concert but when she’d gotten to the dressing room she found Zee and Arty attempting to exchange tongues. She’d left as Arty had started to take off what little clothes Zee was wearing.

The Oracle was terrible at seeing through disguises; Arty was certainly not Ezekiel, Zee was; Zee was certainly not her Brother, she’d know him instantly; and Arty wasn’t Diana… obviously. She did have one thing right however. They were all pretending to be something they’re not. Ezekiel being Zee, her being Didi, and Arty being a Fighting Monk. The order was dedicated to purity and chastity, two things that were not happening early in the night. Maybe Arty wasn’t even a Monk?

It was petty and hypocritical, but Diana decided to schedule an official visit to the Fighting Monks of Dumas for the next day. That way she could find out for herself if Arty was parading as a Monk or just going against his training.

The army of demons still worried her. Her dreams were filled with waves of angry red demons being led by her brother Paul. She woke up, much too early, in a cold sweat.

***

What am I doing? Diana thought as she inspected the Fighting Monks. What she said was, “Your men are impressively trained.”

“Yes they are, Your Highness,” The senior Master was completely hairless and muscled beyond reason. As he spoke a vein over his left eye bulged offbeat with his words. “Our Masters are always searching for both inner peace and the best way to be of help to others.”

“How many Masters are in the city?”

“We currently have eight Masters in residence and six who are either questing or wandering.”

“And students?” she asked.

“We teach the local boys self-defence and discipline every Saturday. As for apprentices and journeymen we currently have thirty-eight. They we be along shortly for your inspection.”

“That is wonderful. It has always been an honour for the city of Cillian to host the fighting monks. You do us honour.”

His vein pulsed and he almost smiled as he replied, “The honour is ours. You know during the reign of King Castelmore we were the King’s personal guard.”

“Yes and during his son’s reign, your order attempted to take control of the crown.” She smiled at him trying to show amusement instead of annoyance. It was much easier after he sputtered an apology.

The Masters ran through some drills and feats of skill and moved to the side. Then was the time of the students. She easily spotted Arty with his wiry frame, high cheekbones, full lips, and cocky smirk. Her heart fluttered as he was tossed into the air and clashed swords with another student. It was all acrobatics and shows of perfected timing. She heard one of her four royal guards gasp in awe from behind her.

Was she jealous of Arty or of Ezekiel? Or of both? She had spent her teen years working next to Ezekiel and had a crush on him for almost a decade. She’d just met Arty. Maybe it was just lust? She felt foolish about the entire situation.

“Do we pass inspection, Your Highness?” The Master’s vein pulsed and Diana realized why he looked so stressed.

“This isn’t an audit. You have nothing to worry about. I wanted to see how the monks were doing.”

“That’s good to hear. Thank you.” The master relaxed.

A green claw appeared out of nowhere and slashed the master from his neck to his lower back. The master’s eyes rolled back into his head and he fell forward.

A seven foot tall green being in a perfectly pressed suit stood there smiling a sharp toothy smile. “The Prince of Demons says hello.” He lunged for Diana but her guards jumped between them.

As if a spell had broken, the yard was thrown into panic. The observers ran from the space while the monks formed ranks around the demon and the princess.

Her guards fell one after the other but it bought her time to reach into the special folds of her large skirt and pull out her newest model of pistol. These shot large calibre rounds that exploded into alchemist fire on impact.

The monks, in their eagerness to defend her, got in the way of her shot. “Move out of my way!” she yelled but to no avail.

Somehow Arty had fought his way to the front of the pack and was managing to go hit for hit with the large demon. He fought with a mixture of styles that Diana had never seen before and neither had the demon. After four or five blows the demon fell to the ground and someone stuck a sword into it’s chest.

The action over, the monks moved away and started to take care of their wounded. The master was still alive, and with the help of a good doctor, would live.

Looking at the royal pages who had stood useless during the fight she barked out orders, “Get me four soldiers to move this thing. Alert the guards that they need a detachment to protect the monks. Tell the royal physician to get here as fast as possible, we have wounded and I want him to dissect this thing and tell me everything about it. And tell my grandfather to convene a council of churches.” When they didn’t move she shouted, “Go!”

She moved towards the green corpse and shuddered. It had taken out a dozen monks, four royal guards, and injured twice that many. There was no way they could stand up to an army of these. When she was an arm span away, it jumped to a standing position and howled. She shot both pistols at its chest. The rounds penetrated his hard skin and it looked at her like it had tickled.

The rounds exploded and took most of its chest with them, spraying everyone around it in green blood. It died with a surprised look on its face.

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Colette and Star Wars

On May the Fourth, one of the tour companies that I am registered with, Collette, sent an email about their Star Wars Tours. I thought it was cute and decided to share it with you.

Image from atlasandboots.com.

The battle scene between the Resistance and the First Order in “The Last Jedi” was filmed at Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia. You can see this location in the Cultures of Peru and Bolivia Tour.

Visit the stormy planet Eadu from “Rogue One” in Myrdalssandur Beach, Iceland. You can see this location in the Iceland’s Magical Northern Lights Tour.

Endor, the forest moon home of the Ewoks, can be found in Redwood National Park. You can see this location in the Pacific Northwest and California Tour.

For scenes in “Attack of the Clones” and “The Phantom Menace,” visit Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain. You can see this location in the Spain’s Classics Tour.

To see the moon of Jedha in “Rogue One,” visit Wadi, Jordan. You can see this location in the Iconic Israel with 4-night Jordan Extension Tour.

Don’t worry – you won’t see any other planets in the sky.


Are you interested in travelling with Collette? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

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Fear and Hate

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about hate. Not dislike or revulsion, but genuine hate. I don’t fully understand it but I think is has to do with fear.

Picture of Yoda with the quote, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

I find the philosophy of Star Wars, pre-Disney, utterly repulsive. It has elements of racism, sexism, determinism, and emotional and sexual repression… but that’s a rant for another time.

I do like the above quote… in part. I think Yoda is on to something but I don’t think anger has anything to do with it. Hate is born directly of fear and often that fear is fueled by ignorance.

Unfortunately the world is filled with people who are willfully ignorant of the world around them. They wallow in their hate, create logical arguments for it, build it up, and it becomes part of them.

This is true evil. When hate becomes a part of someone’s self-image they go out of their way to destroy what they hate.

I hope that as individuals and as a society we can rise above this and react to fear with curiosity not hate.

 

Happy thoughts,

Éric

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3


Chapter 4: Flying Fruit and a Oracular Ambush

The master hit her in the head with another orange. “A true warrior can defend themselves blind.”

Artemis, still disguised as Arty, tried to stop thinking about Ezekiel, the Princess, or Didi. What was wrong with her? She’d never been this easily distracted by pretty people before. Blindfolded, she heard and deflected an apple from the master.

“You’re still slow. It’s not the blindfold that has you blind. It’s your distraction, ” the master said and then tutted. “It’s your distraction that blinds you to the universe. Now concentrate.” He launched a grape at Arty.

Feeling the grape flying towards her, she took a deep breath to centre herself, she moved and caught the grape in her mouth. It was sweet but the skin was sour, creating a pleasant contrast.

Maybe it was the forced celibacy of the monastery that made her constantly think about the beautiful people in town.

“Better,” mumbled the master. “Remember that a real man and warrior can suppress his emotions in order to concentrate on the battle. Emotions are what lead you towards distraction and darkness.”

She tuned out the speech, it was the most tedious part of monastery life. The insistence that emotions led to evil was not only ridiculous; it was dangerous. Without the ability to process and understand their emotions, the monks were nearly constantly stressed. It was the reason she tried to sneak out as much as she could.

“You will understand once you become a master. The cleansing ceremony will help you elevate yourself above your emotions.” The fruit kept flying and she wished she had a sword to cut them with; it would have been more satisfying. The cleansing ceremony sounded pseudo-mystical and she couldn’t decide if they had found a way to remove human emotions or if it was just another religious ceremony.

Eventually the fruit stopped flying and she was dismissed. The monks woke with the dawn and were supposed to retire to their quarters for meditation and sleep at sundown. Artemis waited a little and then snuck out.

The same training that had her learn to anticipate what was going to happen and move through it quietly helped her leave the monastery without being noticed. Once outside the gates, she traded her monk’s robes for a pair of comfortable denim pants and a casual button up white shirt.

As much as she wanted to dress as her real self, she was recognized now in town as Arty. If she tried to walk around as a woman, she’d still be recognized. She was thankful for the loose clothing and good breast-band that didn’t bind her but minimized her chest.  The telltale shaved head and sun baked skin of the Monks meant that unless she was willing to wear a wig and more makeup than she could afford, she’d be caught right away. So she’d play at being Arty, the monk in training who was blowing off steam. Running away to go to a concert in town was frowned upon, but secretly being a woman would get her killed.

“Hello young man.” The woman had barely made a sound as she started walking next to her.

“Madam. Can I help you?” The woman wasn’t old but wasn’t young. She had smile and frown wrinkles with blond hair that could be going white, or could have been just pale.

“My dear, I know who you are, Ezekiel.” The old woman stopped and waited. When Artemis tried to walk away, the woman put a hand on her shoulder. A crowd formed around them and Artemis started getting uncomfortable. This was too much attention.

“This boy is Ezekiel, the heir to the Apollo shipping company. He shall marry the Princess and their union shall be blessed by the gods!” That proclamation made Artemis realize that this was the Oracle of Espenson.

“I’m not Ezekiel. I’m Arty, a humble monk.”

“Sure you are dear.” She patted her face condescendingly. Her eyes focused on a face in the crowd and she pulled Didi out saying, “This innocent looking girl is in disguise.”

Didi’s face blanched and Artemis thought she was going to faint.

“This girl is actually the great warrior Artemis, Apprentice to the Hero Haus.” It was Artemis’s turn to go pale. The oracle continued, “She will stop the army of Demons from destroying the kingdom and will marry the long lost Prince of Cillian.”

The crowd was obviously entranced and skeptical as they yelled out variations on, “Where is the lost Prince?”

The Oracle held Artemis and Didi’s arms and didn’t let go. Her eyes were glassy and despite the growing animosity of the crowd, she didn’t move. Artemis was about to break free when the Oracle raised and pointed with both hands at a man who was obviously trying to get by the crowd.

The crowd moved the man closer. He was wearing a tight shirt with ripped denim pants and had a guitar case on his back. He wore large wire rimmed glasses and had a goatee. He looked vaguely like Ezekiel, but more glamorous, but that could have been the makeup.

“This boy doesn’t know it, but he is the long lost twin to our great Princess.”

The man looked like he wanted to run away. “I’m just trying to get to my concert. I assure you that I’m not a long lost anything.”

Unperturbed, the Oracle shouted, “He shall help the Princess rule, marry the Hero Artemis, and together with Ezekiel, the four shall stop the dreaded army of demons from destroying all of Cillian.”

A silence fell over the crowd, there was something in the way the Oracle spoke that made everyone listen and believe. Artemis looked at the other two who’d been sucked into this and shrugged. The three of them burst into giggles. The entire situation seemed ridiculous. The Oracle seemed to think that Didi was Artemis, that Artemis (disguised as Arty) was Ezekiel, and that this musician was the lost Prince. Artemis was glad the princess wasn’t there or the Oracle would have thought she was a sheep magicked into the princess or something equally as silly.

The Oracle gave them a dirty look and walked away; Artemis could have sworn the woman winked.

The crowd, sombre and itching to tell anyone willing to listen, dispersed.

Artemis hoped that the Oracle’s warning was as off-base as her identifications.

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2


Chapter 3: Special Deliveries and Warnings

Leaning on the counter, Ezekiel let his legs dangle off the stool. The act made him feel like a child again. People often asked if he ever forgot about having an artificial leg and he’d often open his eyes wide and ask, “What artificial leg?” It was a mean joke, people were well-meaning, but they always acted like he was broken when he was just different. His artificial leg sometimes itched and it sometimes hurt, but so did his flesh one.

The changes that Didi had made to his leg let him tap rhythmically. It was going to make things really different tonight if she could get it working. The girl was an absolute genius but she always seemed preoccupied.

Not that he was all that much better. He worked for his father and mother at the Apollo shipping company because that’s what was expected. He was a decent bookkeeper, supervisor, and had a knack of motivating employees, but most of the time he sat at the counter waiting for someone to have a problem. It was boring, but it gave him time to think about his music.

That night he was going to be headlining at the Greasy Cog, the coolest music club in Cillian. His parents hated that he played music but tolerated it as long as he didn’t play in public. He, of course, disguised himself and went by Zed. He’d been playing on street corners and pubs for years until the owner of the Greasy Cog heard him.

If things went well tonight he could be playing for the Princess at her coronation.

“Hey Ezekiel. What’s new?”

As if on cue, she walked through the door to work on her infernal glider cycle. It was an idea that people had been trying to perfect for years. If she could actually make it work it would mean two airships could exchange goods in mid-air without docking or using a complicated anchoring procedure. She’d been working on it, as a side project, for the past two years.

He told her about the leg and she promised to look into it. She was always chipper with her catchphrase of, “Perfection through persistence.”

As she left towards her workshop, she said, “Arty here was looking for you. Take care of him, he’ll be a master soon.”

Turning towards the newcomer, he tried to ask how he could help but it just came out as a strange croak. The man in front of him was dressed as a fighting monk and was quite possibly the best looking man he’d ever seen. His strong cheekbones were made more prominent by the tight bun fashion that the monks put their hair in. The man was attractive beyond the face; his arms, legs, and chest were well muscled in a way that looked sculpted instead of bulky.

“Hi. How can I help you?” he finally managed.

“I was told I have a letter.” There was something in the way the man stood and talked that was familiar.

Ezekiel nodded and headed to the back. It took a little searching but he finally found the letter.

“I’m going to need proof of identity.”

The good looking man blushed and fished in his robes for something. Pulling up a crumpled paper, he smiled crookedly and said, “Sorry. It got wet.”

The paper had an official seal from the Hero Johann Haus but all he could read was an A and some blurry ink stains. Sighing, Ezekiel said, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t accept this.”

“The letter is a replacement for this paper…” the man paused and his brow furrowed. “Please!” It looked like it took a lot of effort to ask. As a fighting monk, Ezekiel assumed Arty didn’t need help very often.

“How about this. I’ll open it and if it’s identification papers I’ll give them to you. If they’re not I’ll call the guard?” It was an empty threat. The man hadn’t done anything illegal.

“Okay!” the man nodded enthusiastically and smiled. The smile and enthusiasm made Ezekiel’s heart flutter.

The envelope held a paper similar to the one Arty had given him and a letter. He checked the paper and it was genuine so he handed the whole thing to Arty.

Instead of leaving or putting the papers away, Arty started to read the letter. Not wanting to intrude or stare any more than he had already, Ezekiel busied himself with some random paperwork; mostly shipping invoices.

“Oh no!” Arty’s voice quavered and he looked like he was trying to decide between panic and joy.

“What’s wrong?”

“She’s coming here.”

“Who?”

“The Oracle of Espenson.”

Ezekiel groaned. The Oracle was nicknamed the Prophet of Doom. When she left her home she always had prophesies that meant terrible things for someone. Worse than the predictions was how accurate she was. It was said the more you fought her prophesies, the more you’d suffer.

“This might give me my Act,” Arty beamed.

“Act?” Ezekiel was wondering if he should maybe take a long vacation.

“In order to become a Master, I have to pass all the tests and perform an Act of Heroism. This could be it.”

The man’s passion was impressive. Between the passion and the panic, Ezekiel didn’t think before he spoke aloud, “You’re hot when you’re passionate.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 2

Chapter 1


Chapter 2: A Princess and a Tinker

“That was a wonderful speech dear,” King Nathan said, his voice sounding thin and creaky. He sat in his wheelchair that looked like a throne and was covered in an afghan that Diana knew her mother had made.

“Thank you great-grandfather. You know I could make you an automated chair.” She put her hand on his arm as she bent down.

“Oh, no no. That would be a waste of your time and talents. Plus what would I do without Martin’s sparkling conversation.” The large man who acted as body guard, nurse, and confidant of the king smiled and grunted softly. “See dear, it’s nearly impossible to get him to shut up.” King Nathan gave a soft laugh and then started to cough.

The coughing fit lasted longer than Diana would have liked, but at least there was no blood this time. She’d spent a lot of time worrying about him and trying to find a cure for what ailed him, but in the end it was just old age. At a hundred and four years of age, he’d outlived three wives, all four of his children, and all three grandchildren. He had ten great-grandchildren all between the age of twenty-six and ten. Diana was the eldest and in all but name she ruled the island kingdom.

When the coughing ended, the old man took a deep breath and said, “You don’t have anything on your calendar for the rest of the day. Don’t waste your free time with this old man. Go have fun.” He winked at her. He was the only one who knew.

The castle was built with both servants corridors and secret passages. Diana had grown up in these halls with her cousins and her twin brother. He’d left when he was fifteen, angry that he’d never be king unless she died. Angry at being born a few minutes too late. And mostly just angry. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since he’d left. She hoped he was okay wherever he was.

Navigating the corridors and passages was easy and she quickly made it to her bedroom. Once there, she cleaned off all the makeup she wore to public events, changed into simple overalls, and tied her curly reddish brown hair into a tight bun. Finally she added a pair of dark rimmed glasses to hide her family’s distinctive green eyes. No good disguise is complete without glasses, she thought.

Once changed, she headed out of the castle through a series of complex tunnels. The servants she passed only smiled and bowed.

Once she’d used her rooms as a workshop, but it was hard to explain why the princesses rooms always smelled of grease and smoke. The seamstresses were particularly cross about the stains in her clothing. Her great-grandfather had given her money and told her to find a small space in town. Her parents were suspicious at the time, but her brother’s running away kept them busy until they died in an airship crash while searching for him.

Her head was in the clouds and she wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around her and she ran into a boy. He had the most beautiful golden skin and full lips. The boy glared at her and put his hand on his sword. He had on novice robes from the Fighting Monks.

“What the hell are you thinking?” he asked. His voice cracking part way.

“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. I really didn’t mean offence and if you challenge me to a duel you’ll be extremely bored and I’ll be extremely dead, so how about you don’t…”

“You’re a tinker aren’t you?”

“Yes I am. Master Tinker Dee. Pleasure to meet you…” she trailed and stuck out her hand to shake.

The man shook her hand and she couldn’t help but admire his strong lean muscled arms. It was definitely too bad that the Monks took vows of celibacy.

“I’m Novice Arty but that won’t last long. I’ll be a master by the end of the year.”

“That’s a lot of confidence there, Arty. Where are you going in such a hurry?” She smiled at him.

“I’m trying to find the Apollo Shipping Company, but this damned island is worse than a labyrinth.”

Giggling a little, she said, “It’s a little hard when you first start, but it becomes second nature eventually. I’m heading there now. I could walk you there if you like?”

The man blushed and it made Diana happy that she seemed to have the same effect on him that he did on her.

The Apollo Shipping Company owned the biggest, best, and more importantly, fastest airships in the world. They delivered packages and mail to everyone who could pay. They were headquartered in Cillian and she rented a workshop from them. The engineers and airship pilots came to her when they were having technical issues. She’d re-designed most of the technology to use solar powered boilers instead of the old coal engines and the patents would have made her rich is she hadn’t already been.

Sitting behind the desk was Ezekiel. He was her best friend and one of the prettiest men she’d ever met. He was the heir to the Apollo fortune but preferred working in the warehouse and dealing with people. He’d lost his left leg when he was young.

“Hey Ezekiel. What’s new?”

Seeing her he smiled widely and furrowed his brow. “I have a bone to pick with you. The new leg worked great until the pistons started going off and I was hoping around like a deranged toad.”

Diana couldn’t help laughing and it turned into a snort. “I have a look at it. You know what I say…” He joined her in repeating her favourite saying, “Perfection through persistence.”

“It’s in your workshop. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks. I should be good. I want to work on that glider-cycle again. I think If I tweek the air-magic I can get more reliable balance.” Remembering Arty, she added, “Arty here was looking for you. Take care of him, he’ll be a master soon.” She winked at Arty and headed to her workshop.

Thinking about them both as she worked she sighed… so much pretty in the same room.

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Results: 2018 Serial Story – You Vote, I Write

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Votes are in and everything is over but the writing.

The genre will be a Fantasy-Romance. I take it that you’ve enjoyed the romance elements from my previous serial stories since you as a group keep voting for it. The mood will be Comedy of Errors. Lots of mistaken identities, misheard information, and sill misunderstandings. The setting will be Steampunk and the main characters will be special humans.

My influences for this story are going to be The Comedy of Errors, Star Wars, The Three Musketeers, Warehouse 13, and The Librarians

This should be an interesting year.

The Devices of Desire

The island of Cillian is the technological and magical jewel of the world. It is the seat of the richest merchants, the most revered royal family, and the most dangerous fighting monks.

Artemis studied fighting with the greatest hero in the world but craved the knowledge that only the Fighting Monk order of Dumas could teach. Unfortunately they only teach men. That didn’t stop her and she disguised herself to get in.

Diana is the princess of Cillian and is ready to take over for her ailing father. She is loved by all her subjects but they don’t know that she’s also the inventor of half the new technomagic discoveries coming from Cillian. Unfortunately she has to disguise herself to do, and sell, her work.

Ezekiel is the heir to the Apollo Shipping Company fortunes. He hates everything to do with being a merchant and disguises himself to follow his true passion; Music.

Things get complicated when the Oracle of Espenson arrives and confuses Artemis in disguise for Ezekiel, Diana in disguise for Artemis, and Ezekiel in disguise for Diana’s long lost twin brother.

Look for the first Chapter in by the end of January.

Later Days,

Éric

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Frozen Star Wars

I love a good mashup, and this group really blew my mind! Great concept, and super well carried out!

l-r: Sven, Anna, Kristoff (with Olaf on his back – you can just see his back), and Elsa

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Blush: Nursing

Nursing vs breast feeding

You might think that these two terms are the same, and for myself, they are. However, there are people who do not identify as female, and using the term “breast feeding” might generate a feeling of dysphoria in them. So I am trying to use the term “nursing” universally.

Nursing vs formula

I chose to nurse Dragon, rather than to use formula. For multiple reasons, this was the best choice for us. On top of the doctors and nurses telling us that nursing was the only way to go (I felt bad for the woman in our baby classes who was choosing to formula feed. The nurse running the class was shaming her), it’s so much cheaper to nurse than to buy formula, and it’s much faster to feed the baby when nursing; shirt goes up, bra goes down, baby latches to the body.

While the woman in my class did choose to formula feed, there are many people who don’t get that choice and must use formula for a variety of reasons. No one should be shamed for their inability or choice when it comes to nursing.

The Beginning

Nursing was really confusing to start with, because I constantly felt like I was doing it wrong. Is she latching properly? Is she getting enough? How do I hold her? How can she breathe?

One of the major benefits of being at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital was that my nurse was someone that I’ve known since she was 3 years old. I felt very comfortable asking her for help. The QCH also has excellent lactation consultants. There are numerous places you can go to if you need additional resources as well, like ottawa.ca/prenatal, parentinginottawa.com, lllc.ca, breastfeedinginc.ca, ottawabreastfeeds.ca, and 311 during business hours to talk to a public health nurse. The QCH also offers nursing classes on certain days.

Fortunately, we figured things out fairly quickly, which I am grateful for, and my milk came in after about 48 hours, so Keladry didn’t lose much weight before she started gaining it again. There’s nothing like seeing the numbers on the scale drop to make you feel like you’re failing as a parent, and this happens right after birth.

Interesting things I discovered about nursing

There’s something called let-down that happens when the breasts fill with milk unexpectedly. (I say unexpectedly, because I am often surprised by it.) This happens after a certain amount of stimulation of the nipple. The amount of time required for this varies from person to person, and the amount of let-down varies as well. I’ve discovered that if I’m already full of milk, let-down causes some milk to escape, even if the baby is attached to the other side. I assume to see a problem here. I’ll come back to that.

Let-down can also happen if the baby hasn’t been fed in a while, if the baby cries, if another baby cries, if you think about the baby and are nowhere near the baby, etc.

So to get back to that problem. The problem of leaking. I find that I have this problem most often at night, because Keladry is a very good sleeper. If she has fed well enough before bedtime, she has slept 8 hours straight. Compare this to during the day, when I feed her every 4 hours or so. You can imagine that that extra 4 hours means that I am incredibly full. I’ve had several incidents of waking up with a soaking wet pyjama top.

Solution:

nursing-padssmall

Nursing pads! I commissioned these from Crafty What-Knots, and OMG they are the most comfortable things of life! The pad on the bottom left (the purple one) is showing the inside. It is a super soft material that I want to rub constantly, and it is incredibly absorbent. There is an inner layer that is extra absorbent. Then the backing…the awesome backing that is the reason you should get your nursing pads from Crafty What Knots; I told her that I loved all things geeky, and she found me Avengers, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Minion fabric!! The backing protects my clothing by locking the wet inside the pad.

I am so impressed by these pads – they’re big enough that my shifting around at night doesn’t move them (which was my problem before), and they’re exactly what I wanted. (She can do non-geeky fabrics, too, if that’s what you want.)


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press

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