Love and Friendship

Published January 8, 2017 by Lihn & Company

So during FFF we all participated in the speed writing challenge where we had fifteen minutes to do a piece. Or something. This came from all the way back then, and I just never posted it. Lihn has feelings, y’all.

I love you.

The words came unbidden to her mind, but once settled there, they refused to leave. They rattled around in her skull, gently kicking her in the metaphorical nadgers, echoing in her mind as though she were some mad sandy-haired bookworm as opposed to a mad sandy-haired cat lady.

She turned over in her bed, and gazed at the lump of blankets near the fire that was Valthier. He didn’t move, didn’t make a sound. He could have been dead, the way he slept. It was why Lihn took special care to snore loud enough for the both of them.

I love you.

Shaddup, Lihn thought back, fully prepared to get into an argument with her own mind. You don’t. On account of not being stupid.

Besides, maybe she did, but not like that. Like a mother, right? Right.

Wasn’t anything he wanted to hear, anyway.

Should just forget about the whole thing. Better that way. Easier.

Then he let out a quiet little sigh in his sleep, and Lihn knew that forgetting about it was bollocks.

Mothers and Daughters

Published August 6, 2016 by Lihn & Company

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For the writing prompts “Write about several NPCs having a conversation about your character(s)” and “Write about your character from the point of view of someone else”.

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“I don’t know what you’ve gone and done with her, but she’s not been back in months. Not even a bit of writing.”

Fina glared at her mother over the bread she was kneading, her hands pounding into it as she envisioned her mother’s face in place of the dough. Her mother continued to observe her with her cool, impassive stare, which only infuriated her further.

“Your daughter left me of her own accord over a year ago. It is hardly my fault that she chose to wander, Feen,” said Isolade, and Fina scowled at the nickname.

“It is your fault, and you know it. You stole her away when she was little, and you filled her head with the same sort of rubbish you tried to fill mine with. Always with the prattling on about herbs and Elvish magic and spiders–”

“The spiders are of her own devising.”

“–and now she’s gone again, and even you don’t know where she is?”

Fina’s voice broke at the end of her words, and she thumped the dough spitefully and sunk into a nearby chair. “Why’d you go and do this to her, mother?” she asked, quieter now, and she hated that she could hear her voice trembling. Her little girl was gone, her baby, and what if she never came back…

“She did this to herself,” Isolde said, her demeanor still infuriatingly calm. She reached out as if to touch Fina’s hand, but Fina grumpily hid it under her dark hair. “It’s clear at this point that the women of Argamel’s line do what they will to spite their mothers. You chose to marry and bear sons, and your daughter chose to roam freely over hill and dale. Would you force her otherwise?”

Fina was quiet. She hated her mother, hated and loved her, but she too would wander off soon and then Fina would have only her husband and boys in her life again. For all their oddities, however much they butted heads, Fina wished dearly that Isolade and Margaret would stay.

“I just want her to be safe,” she whispered finally, not daring to meet her mother’s eyes, despising the weakness she showed.

But when Isolade spoke, Fina could hear the smile in her voice. “She’s of Argamel’s line. She will be.”

A Day or Twelve

Published July 10, 2016 by Lihn & Company

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The first two days, it was easy to stay in Valthier’s cabin because she had just had a shock, you know. A terrible shock, involving rooftops and barrels and Valthier nearly chopping off one of his own toes or pulling a tooth or some such thing in order to get her down. Just a nasty shock, all around. Two days of recovery in the safety and comfort of a proper bed was hardly something to be ashamed of. She’d leave on the third.

On the fifth day, she was two days into a cold, and it’d be downright foolish to leave a dry, safe place when you had a cold. What if it turned into the Hacking Black and you died a horrible, bubbling death?

Yes, Lihn thought as she reclined on the bed (which actually had a blanket, and didn’t feel like a burlap sack over cobblestones), no one could blame you for staying in someone else’s cabin as you got over an illness. It wasn’t the same thing as going soft, it was practical. Sensible. Reasonable thing to do, that.

At the turn of the week, she lay in that same comfortable bed, still glowing happily from her last conversation with Valthier, and tried not to feel guilty about still being in the place she should have left by then. It wasn’t as if she had anywhere better to be, she supposed. And someone had to keep an eye on Valthier, in case he did something stupid. Sure, the little Mossfoot filled the role of eye-keeper, but she could always help, a bit.

It wasn’t unreasonable for her to still be there. If she weren’t there, no one would consistently nag Valthier to stay alive and in one piece, which was important. She liked having him in one piece.

Ten days in, Lihn knew it was getting ridiculous. She hadn’t spent that long in four walls and a roof in at least two years. Tomorrow, she had vowed, she would get back to the alley. No more of this mess. Valthier was a clever fellow, he didn’t need her around to bandage him up.

Twelve days later, she was still there. And Valthier was still enjoyable company.

But tomorrow, this time.

Definitely.

For sure.

Lucid Madness

Published May 9, 2016 by Lihn & Company

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Dorsett had always known he was quite mad. It was a fact of life, like the sun coming up in the morning, or that buttered bread, when dropped, would always land butter-side down. It was something he could identify, but did not think of overmuch, and he tended to let friends of his know sooner or later.

I hear voices, he would say. His friends would be concerned, or interested, and then get over it and it usually wouldn’t be mentioned much again. Being self-aware was crucial, Dorsett felt, in making sure you didn’t descend any further.

And for the most part, the voices had seemed harmless. They were hard to hear, barely a murmur in the back of his mind, though they tended to grow stronger in the presence of books. They never spoke directly to him- that would be concerning. Instead they babbled on, and he caught wisps of phrases like dust on the wind.

“-In autumns that there were-“

“-would not rather have stayed there-“

He always assumed, vaguely, that what he could hear were snatches of books he had once read and since forgotten. It was soothing, in a way. Sometimes they changed with his mood, and the passages became distraught or angry, but for the most part they acted almost as a separate entity, as though merely sharing his head-space.

Very rarely did he remember any of his dreams, and if he did, they were akin to fever dreams; oddly alarming, and the trickle of words had turned into a rushing river, too overwhelming to stay in for long. He would wake up sweating, and when he returned to sleep, there would be nothing.

It had seemed to him, in the back of his mind, that something had been a while in coming. He could hear the words more clearly, identify individual strands more easily. He had been pondering these changes, wondering if they were coming with age, or if he was going just a little madder still.

And then Atanamir left him, and it seemed to give the words the kick they needed.

He couldn’t well remember the first few weeks after he had returned to his flat in Bree, alone save for his cat. The days were a blur, but always there were the voices.

Not the voices, just a voice. And not a proper voice, not like a person speaking. If words could read themselves, that was what it sounded like. For the very first time, it seemed to be addressing him, more or less. Breathing life back into him. Making him eat, feed the cat, take a walk.

It didn’t speak to him. It spoke of him, and kept him safe, and he did all he could ever do, which was listen.

As he came out of his haze, he realized two things. Firstly, that the voices had only ever been one voice, over and over again, overlaying in his mind, talking of nothing and everything, and that it was indeed separate from him somehow, as though resident in his head.

And secondly, that he had finished grieving. He felt… better. Just tired, as if he had finished doing something strenuous and almost satisfying, like a hard day’s work.

Jade had come by later that day to check up on him, and though he was still a little lost, he felt immensely better for seeing her, and knowing that life could go on.

And the words quieted down.

 

That night, Dorsett dreamed not of words, but of Atanamir, and all of his progress went out the window.

Break ups, it turns out, are not always made better by words. Nor are they helped by sorcerers.

 

 

Words

Published March 22, 2016 by Lihn & Company

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For a long, long while, Dorsett didn’t want to face the realities of the world, and so it was the words in his head that kept him alive.

When he didn’t want to move from the chair in his flat, when he didn’t want to make dinner, the words whispered

eat

and he ate.

When he tried to stay in bed for days, tried to sleep for hours upon hours so that he wouldn’t have to remember why he was hurting, the words breathed

get up

and he got up.

And when, for a very brief moment, he entertained the idea of just stepping over the cliffs around Durrow, and letting himself fall, the words said

no

and he didn’t think about it again.

But the words couldn’t stop the flashes of pain every time he passed a woman with long, dark hair, or a purple tapestry, or a black cat.

Cats. He had left the cats with a neighbor before he had left on the trip, and it was just as well, because he didn’t want to look at them. He left the library as it was, taking nothing, not even the reading light.

He thought it would have been forever. He knew the man was broken, he knew how hard it all was for him, but he thought he had helped. Hadn’t he? So much protection, so many trips, so many gifts, so many promises, the feeling that when they held each other, it was all they ever needed…

He always said he needed you more than you needed him, but it was the other way around. You were an idiot. You fell too hard, too fast, too much, for a man that was flawless and imperfect and no one will ever be like he was. You will die without anyone at your side, with just your books, wasting away over the memory of a man that you only fooled yourself into thinking you had. You were always the second choice, always pale in comparison to–

stop

And Dorsett stopped. The words would keep him safe.