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ap_aelfwine

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[Original Ficton]: YAVNC, chapter 2 [May. 27th, 2008|12:12 am]
ap_aelfwine
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Chapter Two. Just got back from the Liffey; so sorry it's not before midnight.
ETA: some phrasings fixed, thanks to pathology_doc's comments.
Chapter One
Chapter Three
Chapter Four


The rest of the morning passed in a blur. For some reason Dermot couldn't stop thinking of the winged reindeer. It simply wasn't natural. Or even mythological. Hippogriffs, Mothmen, phantom kangaroos... those were reasonable. He didn't necessarily expect to see one, but he had a frame of reference for them. His favourite uncle was a cryptozoologist, after all. He'd had a plush Sasquatch as an infant. And he still wasn't sure that he'd not seen a lake monster as a child.

But winged reindeer... there wasn't any precedent for those.

In History and Math he found himself doodling little pictures of winged reindeer all over his notes. In French he asked Claudine Thomas why Meursault l'Étranger had killed a harmless Arab by running him over with a renne aux ailes.

Stanislava grabbed him by the arm immediately after class. "Come along now," she whispered harshly in his ear.

"I was going to lunch with you already, Stani," he said. "There's no need to kidnap me."

"We need to talk."

"Of course we do. Without speech, we would cease to be human beings and become mere beasts."

"You've been out of it all morning."

"You've not seen me between first period and French class."

"Dorothy said you seemed distracted in your History class. And Claudine asked me if we'd broken up, because she thought you seemed so preoccupied. That question didn't help, either."

"Well, we were supposed to be funny. I didn't want to use the green rhinoceros over again. And... Claudine thinks we're dating?"

"Apparently. She was hoping it was a chance for her to step into the breach, I reckon."

"But..."

"I know, I know... Known each other since we were eleven, moral equivalent of incest, et cetera, et cetera. Doesn't change what other people think. Now, don't sidetrack me. Why are you so distracted?"

"Well, it's not every morning one sees a winged reindeer. Especially not in May."

"Strange things happen all the time, Dermot. Or at least we think we see strange things all the time. What makes this one special?"

"Well... it's the wrong season. Reindeer shouldn't be in the state of Shawnee in May."

"Reindeer shouldn't be in the state of Shawnee at all. Except at shopping malls roundabouts Christmastide. But that doesn't matter. You are acting weird. If it were a Sasquatch... either you'd have suggested we call in sick to school and try to make friends, or you would have acted as if it were something we saw every day. This... it's as if you're dreaming about it. What, do you think it's a magical girl who shapeshifts to winged reindeer form when she's late to school?"

"I'd not thought of it that way, but I suppose it isn't inconceivable."

"Sweet blessed Michael the Archangel drinking Beamish Stout with Frey after Sunday morning Mass, Dermot! All right, fine. It was a magical girl running late to school. Why haven't we seen her before? Is she a transfer student? Less than a month before the end of the year?"

"Of course not. She's probably an eighth grader who's only just developed her powers this week."

"Meaning it's one of those puberty metaphor things? Ick, Dermot. That's... wait a minute. You're joking."

"Of course. You're the one with the gift of prophecy, right? Umpteen-greats granddaughter of the Brahan Seer and all that. I could never make a statement like that unless it were a joke."

"Of course." She giggled. It only sounded slightly forced. "Come along, now, let's eat." She took his arm again, more gently, this time. "Let's make Claudine think she's lost her opening."

"She never had it in the first place. She wears glittery nail polish, for God's sake."

"You mean all I've ever had to do to win your heart was wear non-glittery nail polish? Dermot, why didn't you tell me years ago? We could've gone to all the dances."

The cafeteria food was beyond disgusting, as usual. Apparently the iron laws of reality required that a high school could not serve palatable lunches, even if they did consist of barbecued venison and curried goat. Dermot and Stanislava had brought sandwiches from home.

"Mam made her special potato salad for the Daughters of the War of Austrian Succession luncheon yesterday," Stanislava said, quite loudly; Claudine sat at the next table, barely within earshot. "Do have some, my Dermot, she's put extra frog powder in the dressing."

"Frog powder? I've not been able to find any in the shops here. If it's not too much of an imposition, could tell me where she gets it?" Both Dermot and Stanislava spun towards the unexpected voice. It was high and gentle, lightly coloured with some unidentifiable accent. The speaker was about five-foot-eight, slender, with black hair in a french braid, dressed in a long black skirt, white blouse, and a mannish tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows.

"I only was joking," Stanislava said after an awkward moment. "I don't think there's actually any frog powder in it."

"Ah, such a pity. All the same, may I join you?"

"Oh. Of course."

"Will you pardon a self-introduction? I'm Ashley Mundy. Junior. Transfer student."

"Stanislava Morrison. Junior."

"Dermot O'Donovan. Junior."

"Très enchantée," Ashley purred. "I'm so very grateful to you for allowing me to join you. I seem to rather put the other pupils off." She sat down next to Stanislava, and opened up a wooden lunchbox that might have been made by Amish craftsmen. From it she took a covered glass bowl of what looked like cold borscht, a wooden spoon, a paper-wrapped sandwich, and a bottle of reddish liquid.

"Don't mind them," Stanislava said. "They're not bad people, they're just... nervous. You see, local legend predicts that some day a beautiful stranger will come riding out of the east on a black horse and wake the ancient Norse explorers who slumber in their burial mounds in Myrddal State Park. Lore doesn't specify what they'll do afterward, but it seems unlikely that undead Vikings would just open up a new Swedish pancake house. And even if that were all they did, Ole Steensson's doesn't need the competition."

"Oh," Ashley said after a moment. "Well, my horse is bay, not black, and we did come from the East but we trailered her in, along with my mother and father's horses and my sister's pet llama. Do you think they'd relax if I told them that?"

Stanislava blushed. "Well... I was sort of joking you. That is a local legend, but only because my uncle Osis thought it should be and started telling it. Since he's what passes for the world's foremost authority on the folklore of Ludington City, State of Shawnee, USA... well, I suppose it counts. Vaguely."

"Oh. That's a pity. I've always wanted to be mistaken for the fulfillment of a local prophecy. But having lunch with the lovely niece of the local folklore expert and her handsome gentleman-friend is quite a treat, in and of itself. I'm certain I've earned many valuable experience points as a result."

"Err... Thank you." Stanislava looked as if she might have wanted to say more, but couldn't quite work out where to begin.

"Are you a gamer, then, Ashley?" Dermot said quickly.

"Not really, but my family are very much involved with it," she said. "My sire played a minor part in publishing the first edition of Dogwoods and Drakons, and the mater still writes the odd article for Hippogriff. Do you game?"

"Not much," Dermot said. "But Stani's parents have run a game of Star Trawler since before we were born, and my Mam and Dad are big Battleaxe 30,000 freaks. That was part of why we became friends when we were kids, like."

"Yes," Stanislava said, "there I was, thinking I was a freak because every other eleven-year-old I'd ever met who wasn't an idiot that listened to New Kids on the Beach had more dice than I had teeth and toes, when who moved in next door but Dermot? A nice, normal boy with a cittern, a set of singlesticks, and a pet ferret, who understood perfectly well why I'd rather fence with Uncle Osis or play my flute than quest for a Helm of Undoing or generate a new Halfling Paladin."

"How very nice," Ashley said. "Much of my childhood was taken up with dusty books, darkened rooms, and elderly relatives who conducted séances. A very traditional upbringing, of course, but it does leave one... hungry for other experiences. And is that your cittern there, Dermot?"

"She's a tenor banjo, actually," he said. "I play in the Dixieland jazz ensemble. It's not great music, but it does look good on the transcript, when it comes time for college applications."

"Ah, so she's in CGDA, no doubt?" Ashley said.

"Yes," he said. "Not my favourite tuning, and rotten for trad, but there you have it."

"Oh, I don't know," Ashley said, "you can get a lovely twenties-céilí band sort of sound with CGDA and a C melodeon and a good piano player. There was some fine music, then, round Chicago and Boston and New York. Wonderful times, or so I'm told."

"Right," Stanislava said.

"I play fiddle, myself. Is there any chance the three of us might get together... for a few tunes?"

"Sure," Stanislava said. "We'd love to."

"Excellent," Ashley said, sipping delicately at her red liquid. She unwrapped her sandwich. "Blutwurst on white baguette with mustard. Would either of you care for some? Mistress Hopkins always packs far more than I could possibly eat. She's been with the family for centuries, practically, and she means well, but she seems to think I might be in danger of starving to death between breakfast and supper. Or perhaps she thinks I'm out drilling the household troops or hunting boar all day?"
***
Chapter Three
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Comments:
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: ap_aelfwine
2008-05-27 08:14 pm (UTC)
EWWWWWW.
No, wait, that'll just be blood, then. Carry on.


Well, I like borscht. ;-) Although eating it cold does sound like a bit much.

I can't decide whether it's blood or not, actually--it might even be some sort of borscht-with-blood-supplements.

Ashley is funny--I can't decide how much of what she's doing is playing the proper vampire role or how much she's simply acting the way she acts and not realising what it looks like. She doesn't get her blood by biting people, or at least not normally--I know that much, but I can't figure out how much she actually needs, yet. She eats a lot of things like black pudding and blutwurst and kishka, but whether it's out of necessity or because she was raised eating them and likes them, I'm not sure.

I would dearly love a boxed intro set of Dogwoods and Drakons.

I'd love to see one, myself. It seems to be the primary local equivalent of D&D, but I have no clear idea of what it's like; it's probably got more of a Southern Gothic cast to it, but how strong that is I'm not sure.

This seems to be one of those worlds with close parallels in place of a lot of things in our world. The state of Shawnee is sort of like a cross between Ohio and Wisconsin and Illinois, I think. (I don't know if there's also a state of Winnemac, after Sinclair Lewis, or not.)

You have such a folkloric ear. I have to hear you talk sometime, just to see if it carries over.

*blushes*
Thanks! I'm not sure if it carries over or not. I sound sort of nasal and sharp, I'm afraid.
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[User Picture]From: cesario
2008-05-27 06:38 pm (UTC)
Hey, could you link your second chapter from your first post, or vice versa, or make a separate post linking both of them? I can't put you in the masterlist till i have one link leading to all parts of the story.
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[User Picture]From: ap_aelfwine
2008-05-27 07:10 pm (UTC)
Sure thing.

There's a link from the first post to the second, now, so if you could just link that it would be grand.

Sorry for not setting it up that way in the first place. And thanks for letting me know.
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[User Picture]From: pathology_doc
2008-06-04 10:53 am (UTC)
Lore doesn't specify what they'll do afterward, but it seems unlikely that undead Vikings would just open up a new Swedish pancake house. I haven't been to a really good pancake house in three years (there was a lovely one in Wollongong, but it was closed and knocked down when the owners sold up and nobody took over). You've made me want one. Tell me when the undead Vikings awake, will you?

there I was, thinking I was a freak because every other eleven-year-old I'd ever met who wasn't an idiot that listened to New Kids on the Beach had more dice than I had teeth and toes New Kids on the Beach indeed! (Minor concrit: I think this sentence may need a little breaking up. I know you're trying to paint that the speaker is running on a bit with her phrases, but could it perhaps do with the odd extra comma?)

You drop little absurdities into the conversation and the narrative quite nicely. I'm going on to part three...
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[User Picture]From: ap_aelfwine
2008-06-05 05:59 am (UTC)
I haven't been to a really good pancake house in three years (there was a lovely one in Wollongong, but it was closed and knocked down when the owners sold up and nobody took over). You've made me want one.

Interesting; I didn't know you had Swedish pancake houses down there. Although I suppose I'm not surprised--Scandinavians were going all over the place a hundred-odd years ago.

They're not very common here, either--the one I was thinking of when I wrote this is in one of the towns in Wisconsin where my mother's mother's people are. It's called something like Al Jonsson's, and has a turf roof with goats grazing on it, which I would assume are allowed to come down at night.

Mostly we eat Swedish pancakes at home--I could give you a recipe, if you'd like it.

New Kids on the Beach indeed!

There was a parody called "Nuke Kids on the Block" when I was a kid. Somehow that just said On the Beach to me. I'm sure Neville Shute is rolling in his grave now. ;-)

Minor concrit: I think this sentence may need a little breaking up. I know you're trying to paint that the speaker is running on a bit with her phrases, but could it perhaps do with the odd extra comma?

Thanks. I think you're right that something needs done here--I'll have to take some time to figure out just what it is.

You drop little absurdities into the conversation and the narrative quite nicely. I'm going on to part three...

Thanks!
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