Sunday, December 23, 2012

Idea Sketch: Technology Timeline

We can get an idea of what kind of technology exist by examining our own time line of inovation and adjusting from there. Each race's tech will be based on this standard we set, plus a little in their own fields (Dryads are better at medicine, Marfs better at architecture, Mume's better at culture, etc...). We'll set the standard technology to about 5th Century BC.

Following time line taken from Wikipedia ( with a little from other sites about Agriculture.

--Crynt were the first peoples
--Borc Came next
--Then Ixxar
1.8 Million Years ago: Fire, Cooking
500 Thousand Years Ago: Shelter
--Dryads entered the world here
--Moblin soon afterwards
400 ka: Pigments (paints), Spears
200 ka: Glue
160-40 ka: Burial (religious rites?)
--Marf enter around here
110 ka: beads
60 ka: Bows
36 ka: Cloth
--Felf entered the world here
35 ka: Flutes
28 ka: Rope (weaves?)
16 ka: Pottery
7000 BC: General Agriculture, Animal Husbandry
6000 BC: Kiln, Granaries,
5000 - 4500 BC: Lacquer (Local discovery?)
4000 BC: Bread, Yeast, Ploughs, Domestication of crops
3630 BC: Sericulture (Very Local Discovery)
3500 BC: Irrigation, Leather
3000 BC: Cuneiform (Writing?), Bronze, Papyrus, Fermentation (Beer Etc.) Spices (Local), Sugar (Local)
---At this point, Reliable history can be placed. We have Writing and Papyrus.
2600 BC: Large Scale Timbering
--Effees lead the Mumes in the world by about 50 years.
--Zero Day. Mumes enter the world.
2400 BC: Abacus (Real spread of Mathematics?)
1700 BC: Wind Powered Machines (Felf)
1300 BC: Large Scale Canals
700 BC: Two Masted Ship (Let Sea Trade Begin)
530 BC: Underground Aqueducts
515 BC: Crane
500 BC: Cast Iron, Crossbows, Cupola Furnace (Metal Foundry, Iron Smelting/Resmelting), Catapult/Trebuchet, Spiral Stairs, Wheelbarrows, Row Cultivation (Farming)

Alright, Let's stop and take a look at what we got.

Of course, some technologies, like Sericulture, will be local only and some will be universal so perpetuate trade.

The year when everything happens and new ideas and innovations was predicted 2,000 years after Z-Day, so we'll set our mark at about 500 BC and work backwards. That means to determine the rough year an invention above was made, we subtract the BC year from, let's say 2550, so that things like Cast Iron have been around for at least 50 years.

That means the the Abacus was invented by the Ixxar in 400 BZD (Before Zero Day) on the Mume Calendar. We do not yet have Steal, and different irons will be rated depending on where they're from. The two things left out for our own time line will be the Effee and the Mume. They are both roughly 2,000 years old so came into the world before iron or sea trade.

Borc: Having affinity with Fire, they would be the best metal workers and have the best iron.
Crynt: Not sure about technology, sine their culture and Magic is spirit based.
Dryads: Almost a complete focus on Medicine and health. They would dominate herbalism and such.
Felf: With a smooth understanding of time, they would have a better grasp of things that flow. Time, Water, Wind, History?
Ixxar: Having better grasp of maths, engendering and mechanical creations would be thier forte. They invented Catapults.
Marf: Architecture and building focus. Also they would bypass metelergy, making stone weapons as hard as iron.
Moblin: No way, man. Moblins are the racial equivalent of the god Loki. Any technology they have would be a hodge-podge of stolen ideas combined in ways that defy reality, but still work.

Effee: Wild Effee, outside of Annalow, would major in working with animals. They are, for the most part, the native Americans of the northern Americas, focusing on farming and animal husbandry. Most are Nomads, which mean Most are traders.
Mume: Once Mume's enter the picture, we start to see a burst of trade and exchange of ideas, as well as a focus on culture, plays, history, and philosophy.

Annalow exists today as a hub of trade and cultural exchange. They are Alexandria and Rome combined, yet we're still in age where Empires rule to the north and the southern lands are built of city states. Nationalization hasn't occurred yet.

Next up, we'll look at Geography and locations of important cities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 Wrap Up

If you're just tuning in, I must warn you that I've spent the last month digging a 50,000 word novel out of me in the National Novel Writing Month Challenge (or NaNoWriMo). The previous 26 entries cover my decent into a kind of madness; Fun but almost nonsense.

The idea was simple, just type and don't stop typing for hours at a time. I wrote for about 2 hours a day just getting the story of Lily Ripper out and I could barely think of anything else. I may one day go back to edit it, perhaps at least the spell checking, however my attention is required elsewhere. For now I'll just leave this here as an unformed husk of a story.

If, Mandra only known why, you decide to brave the dangerous terrain of Lily Ripper, I recommend eye moisturizer to help with the bleeding and a small supply of Happy Pills(tm). The same had to be done the first time I did this challenge which, it is noteworthy, was the beginning of Heart Mage anyway.

I'm certainly glad I did write Lily Ripper. Because of the book, I've fallen madly in love with the Cemetery Girls and their queen Nara Nakki. Their like a bunch of sadomasochistic spies. Delicious.

Anywhy, from here on, at least until next year, I will probably remain silent. Lily Ripper has taught me to handle one project at a time and currently I wish to give a little more love to my Natch Evil webcomic.

Until then, friends and family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lily Ripper Final

Good Night at Alexture

Smoke dances from the smoldering embers of Master's fire place. His own pipe filled with flavored tobacco, and not the purple plant Anna poked in her own long stem. I poured hot Leaf juice into three cups and served each, keeping one for myself. Music of ticking clocks came from the walls in all directions, but my keen ears could hear the bubbling of dinner in the next room.

When I returned, Anna and Master were talking about the health of an indevidual and its effects on their minds. A reason, Master Drate said, to keep in shape if we require focus.

"Sleep, for example, must be kept to six hours, no more or less else it should muddle the mind. Also, I think something for the digestion, but you may have this covered with your diet of fruit and leaf-juice." He held his cup up, twitching a long, fur-tipped, ear. Felves have a thing about ears, I've noticed.

"I'm not certain I could convince the city guard to eat nothing but fruit and Leaf, Drate." Anna drew on her pipe. "It will be hard enough to teach them patience of thought."

"Then you must be discerning on who you wish to teach. It is not an easy path, this process of deduction, for the little minded to wander down willy-nilly. We've not even nailed down a logical process other than our two rules."

"It would be so much easier if you came back with me."

"No, I'm quite done with that city. I've collected from Annalow only bad memories."

"Only that?"

Master Drate smiled, "And good friends."

"Quill, you look strange in Felf clothes."

I curtsied. My dress leads all the way to the floor, as is the way for felf wear. "I find I like it, Mistress."

"Just Anna, please."

"Bah," Master puffed "I've tried for years and failed to break her of that habbit. Just let Quill act as she wants." I bowed to my Master. "See that? She knows she's not a slave anymore, but she won't stop that."

"That reminds me," Anna said, "The family of Felves in Annalow..."

"It's quite as you imagine. We've sent word to the other hidden towns of Felf kin. As of now we value both industry and knowledge. You've seen the great library." He motioned toward the tower out of his window. "That's a collection not just of history, but science, philosophy, the whole bun and butter. You're library,I've heard has a draconian method of collecting knowledge, but efficient, none the less."

I looked at Anna inquisitively. She answered me, "They kidnap books from ships. There's a sect of city guards who help. If a book or scroll exists in port, the Library takes it, copies it, and returns it." She turned back to Master, "and I notice, it's the same here."

"We don't take without permission, Anna. That's barbaric."

"Our city, our rules."

"Oh, well. To that I have nothing. You mumes are already known for being insane precocious slavers. You're words only encourage the stereotype." Anna laughed. "But this is your plan? How will you gather your students under wing without proper credentials."

"It will be as you say, I supose." Anna took a sip of Leaf before returning to her pipe. "First I'll win them with my magnificient brain, then split the wheat from chaff and teach the rest. I think five will do for starters, and we'll move on from there."

"Pardon me for interrupting, Mistress," I said, "but are you not consultant, rather than teacher?"

"This is unofficial, Quill. I need ears and eyes in the city, and the City Guard may yeild to my influenced. If I move the right pieces, I can start my own department of City Guards and claim them as part of my research team." She waved it away, "But that's long term. For now, I'll be happy if I find Borcs, Mumes, or the like subjectable to the art of deduction."

"Science." Master said.

"It's so clearly an art, Mister Felfkin. Look at the nessessary choices involved. What do you look at first? Where do you check? What's more or less likely to leave such a trace and why?"

"But that's it exactly. You cannot express a feeling in deduction, Anna. Science is a method of understanding. This is what we do!"

"Hmmm...I know from experience that you CAN express in logic."

"Mmm." Master took a few puffs. "We're at a stalemate, then."


Dinner was served shortly after their debate and conversation turned toward more amiable things such as the beauty of the surrounding forest of Alexture and the contrast of fasions between the Felf communities love of thick or encompassing wear and Annalow's love for bare skin and warm winds. This turned toward how weather and environment can effect fashion and I lost track after that.

Master Drate's routine has always been to take hot bean juice in front of the fire place after dinner, but Anna after her travels could not be made to join him that night.

"That's for the best. Tomorrow I'll show you around our town. It's small but you may have noticed our love for gears and such. It's good excersize for the mind, Anna. Quill, our guest room is ready?" I nodded. Master stood and bowed. "Then I bid you good night, Miss Goldeyes."

Helping Anna with her bags, I led her upstairs to the small room we've prepared. I would have done it myself if not for personal touches Master wished to place in the room. Anna thanked me and pulled me inside with her.

"Quill, I'm curious."

"Yes, Mistress?"

"Just Anna. I'm a friend, not a ruler." I think I blinked at her. "Quill, you've read all my letters and compiled the story in your own way. I read it on the way south from home, but I noticed no where do you have your thoughts on the whole event."

"I have none, on the whole, Mistress."

"How can that be? I know you still love Annalow."

Pulling my ears back, I thought about it before speaking. "Have you seen many plays at the coloseum?"

"Not many. No."

"It's sort of like that. I'm happy enough to view the events without taking part. To ask what Lily Ripper means to me is to ask how Murrian and his fighters mean. The only difference is this is not a fiction. I do understand this killer may go down in legend. I'm even surprised the Captain let him go without a fight."

"I think Nara Nakki showed the Captain what they had in mind, but returning to the subject, you said 'on the whole.' Does that mean there's something specific?"

An Effee smiling can throw most off, because we show more of our buck teeth than people are used to. Anna handled it like an old handler, tho, and smiled back. "Oh, Mistress, I was most pleased to discover I wasn't the only practitioner of Magic. I've spoken with Wellgrace, your High Preistess' effee about it. He was most kind."

"Uh...How far can you see, Quill?"

"I've not been idle, Mistress. In these last couple of years, I've trained myself to see to the other side of the world. Did you know it was round like a ball?"

"And..uh...everywhere you can see..."

"I can touch. Yes. That has it's own quirks you wouldn't believe. Even as it's night here, on the other side of Mash'ta it is just becoming morning. Wellgrace and I whisper to each other about it from time to time. He's old and lovely and as smart as Master Drate. Amazing."

"Any...uh...other part of the story you wonder about or feel something for?" I shook my head. "Just that there are others like you? I assumed you already knew that."

"When you look at a complex tapestry, Mistress, do you register every tiny detail all at once or does your eyes follow the patterns and explore a small amount at a time."

"I think I understand." I bowed. "Is there anything else?"

"No. Thank you, Quill." As I left I heard her say "I mean it. Thank you."

Lily Ripper 25

Epilogue 2

One could only imagine the amount of effort a mume requires to fight one of their most basic urges, that of curiosity. When faced with the choice between saftey and the closure that may certainly lead to one's end, for a mume it is no choice at all. Master Drte summed it up most elequently as Anna told us this last part in person.

"You would read the last page in a burning house!"

It was not a complement.


"How long have you been watching me, Gravedust?"

Anna was leading the way, this time, a torch in hand to light the yellow-orange walls of the catacombs.

"You gathered my attention twenty or so seasons prior, Playth- I mean Anna."

Anna smirked. The black thing was in her territory, now, lost in a maze of tunnels and passageways. Occasionally, they would pass a Marf working on the internal structures of the Plateau or outlining plans for future architecture. Gravedust shuddered when they passed. "Their visage disturbs me so."

"I gather that Gringill visited you lot as part of her studies to become Red Guard." Gravedust nodded unconsciously. "And that, no doubt, is where you expressed interest in me. No Nara Nakki."

"My Queen had a passing wonder of you. She did not truly fall in love until you visited. Her words, 'Such a keen brain sits atop that frame would explode every secret of Annalow into view.' I was ecstatic at the thought of your recruitment."

"Why?" Anna stopped. She realized that the girl was no longer following her. "It's a simple Ques-" She stopped because Gravedust wasn't thinking, she was staring at Anna with the district expression of disbelief. Anna looked around. There was nothing special in view. "What is it?"

"Little playgirl, have you never given thought to your own value?" Anna flashed a look of confusion, then turned to continue down the passages.

"It's not something I think about, no. I have rather more important things to process."

"You've heard it before. You are not just intelligent, but remarkably lovely."

"Not enough to warrant obsession, Gravedust." Anna rolled it around in her head. "And just for the record, I prefer the company of males. Not that Cherry hasn't tried."

The black think sighed. "It's just as well. You would make a poor Cemetery Girl, Plaything."

"Finally, you've found how to flatter me."

It was an hour still before Anna lead them to an exit. The doorway left out into the Docks at the east end, perhaps two blocks from the entrence to the garden. There was a 10 foot drop to a nearby building.

"This is no pathway." Gravedust commented.

"It's as close to the grave yard as I know, now help me down, then I'll catch you."


"As silent as the grave" is an excelant description for the Docks Cemetery. The muffled sounds of moans and screams were not present as then entered the gates. No black clothed nightmare to greet them or slither from the coffins of rock played or whispered. The graves were asleep.

Gravedust gripped Anna's fingers as she led the way into the furthest crypt from the gate, on the opposite side of Red Sleep's mound. When she spoke, she did so under her breath. "The Queen waits for only you. Drips of pain fall onto her guest below the filth of the dead, Anna Goldeyes, where no one can hear him protest."

"Drips of...What does that mean?"

"Shhh. Keep your voice low." Gravedust pulled at an iron gate to the crypt. She winced at every creep and rusty squeek. "It means there needs to be at least three dozen more words for agony, my sweet one." Anna was guided in first, the gate closed behind her. "Do not worry, Plaything. The was out is for you to take anytime you choose, but we part here." She smiled. "For now. Watch for my eyes in darkness." She kissed the bars and slid away, presumably under a grave of her own.

Anna jabbed her torch at the dark, clearing a path to explore. At the center of the crypt was a simple stair well that decended deeper than Anna could know. There was a sense of inverted vertigo. Anna spent more than an hour climbing downward, and still there was no bottom to reach. The pathway presented to her did not split or detour, but turned left and right, back and forth. A disgn to hide sound, Anna guessed, because at each turn, there was a noise distant that was being unmuted. The rythem was that of a baby's cry, but as she grew closer to its source, it sounded more primal, perhaps animal.

Finally, at the end of a long hallway, there was a light. Anna extiguished her torch and tucked it under her belt. She made an effort to avoid the few rocks in the soft dirt floor and sneaked closer. The brighter the light became down the hallway, the louder voices could be heard under the cries of the dying animal.

"He's my son." Nara Nakki sobbed to someone. There was a murmur, then " one could have known."

The other voice was calm and pleasant. Like a voice Anna heard in a dream she forgotten about. "Things must balance. Anything else and I would lay it bare before you."

Anna braved an eye around the corner. Inside was a simple antichamber with torches of its own. Nara Nakki in her gold robe sat crying against a wall while a womume in white cradled her head. The unknown womume was so pale her skin could be marble, as was her hair. She turned her head to see their voyeur, but Anna pulled away, back against the corner.

"I must go, precious Queen. Be well."

And then silence. The music of cracling torches spun their tale of stillness. Even Nara Nakki had stopped sobbing, opening a case filed with something. "It's alright, Anna. You can come now."

When Anna leaned around the corner, it was hesitantly. She had felt like the first time she witnessed her parents making love in the living room. As if she had interrupted something personal. The chamber had no other exit than the heavy stone door behind Nara Nakki and the way Anna came. "Who...what was that?"

"Unlike Gravedust, we offer nothing for free, Anna Goldeyes." Nara Nakki hadn't moved and her eyes were still red from tears, but she had two long stemmed pipes. She stuffed petal into one of them and offered it to Anna. "Shall we pick up where you left off? It's alright, we're quite alone."

"Have you been told that your voice sounds like you've eaten too much honey?"

Nara Nakki smirked. "Sit." Anna obeyed. "I've only been told that my screams were beautiful and I shouldn't leave the world poor of them." Nara Nakki stuffed the second pipe. "I am new to this, so be on guard."

"I don't think I'de ever want to understand you lot." Anna said, pulling a bundle of tendertwigs from her jacket. She struck one and lit her pipe, pulling on the petal slowly before lighting Nara Nakki's. The Queen choked and coughed, unable to hold the smoke in. Anna chuckled. "Yeah, you're new, alright."

Nara Nakki regained composure before trying again. "We do not strangle each other, Anna Goldeyes. It's too dangerous, and I'll not lose my girls if I have to." The second breath ended with another cough.

"You're trying to hard. Pull the smoke into your mouth, but don't inhale, yet." The Queen tried it. "Now pull away the pipe, open your mouth and breath in. Good, do that a few times before you start really breathing the petal."

So it was for the next few minutes. Anna taught the Queen of the dead how to smoke the purple flower. Eventually, Nara Nakki got the hang of it. "This is quite nice."

"Draw it in slowly and hold it as long as you can. Madeline showed me that." The two womumes leaned agains the wall. A quite scene if not for the animal noises behind the door. "You may want to stop at one pipe tonight, Nara Nakki. You'll feel sick later on."

"Is it night? We have no concept of it here in the Docks." the Queen sudelly jerked toward Anna. No, that wasn't right, she was jumping away from something. Anna saw it and giggled. "You can see it? What is it?"

"It's just a ribbon of smoke. They gather around you as the fog sets in." Anna shove the Queen back over. "You're very strange when you're not being strong for the troops."

Nara Nakki tightened her skeletal grip on her pipe and stuck the stem back in. "We've not had a good day, Anna Goldeyes." She sighed a purple wisp from her lips. "But we are doing our best to keep things even. You're Mister Felfkin that you speak with, he said something that stuck with me."

"Stop reading my letters."

Nara Nakki ignored her. "He said 'For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

"Things must balance." Anna quoted the strange womume.

"Yes. Things must balance. And for us, the coins and trade must be equal."

"And since you value pain." Anna looked behind them at the door. "I think I understand, but there's more, isn't there?"

Nara Nakki's smile was weak. "We have birthed perhaps 100 children, Anna Goldeyes. Most of them girls."

"And yet you've never had the petal!" Anna laughed.

The Queen rolled her eyes. "Technology is getting out of hand these last fifty years. Alchemy is no exception." She looked at her pipe. "Who thought it would be a good idea to inhale a smoke that stangles you when you try it?" Back into her mouth the pipe went. "We can count ever boy we've sired. Welton Nakki, Mortemer Nakki, Achlen Nakki, all beautiful creatures and all understood the value of pain, giving and receiving." She took a moment to draw long on the pipe. As she spoke, tendrils of purple left her. "Never have I had a child so determined to resist this idea that pain is for trade. That when you hurt another, there needs to be a trade of something equal."

"You're insane, Nara Nakki. You think you can equalize this by torturing your son?"

"Oh," Nara Nakki shrugged, "that's an easy chapter to write. He lessens his suffering by offering us something in return. You have such a thing on you now." Anna subconsciously fiddled with the needle in her jacket. "But lives were lost, and that's harder to replace."

"And hearts broken."

"Yes, there's a lot of debt. So much to be put into balance. And he is not strong enough to replace all he's stolen."

"So you're...what? Going to have him sire twenty or so little girls?"



"For starters. And this," Nara Nakki waved at the screams, "will never end. We have ways to keep him alive for many many years. We, personally, have ways to make him immortal, tho that won't be necessary." She rubbed the door softly. "When he's allowed to die, his debt will be paid. By then, I expect, he will be quite mad. Insane with years of unending agony. We've seen what that can do to someone. It changes them in horrible ways and twists their minds with spite," She shrugged sadly, "but things will be equal. And we will continue to replace the sprinkler over his body with his own blue paint."

"Why are..." Anna almost didn't want to know, "Why tell me this? I thought you gave nothing away from free."

Anna's head was pulled to the Queens breast. They weren't as clammy as she expected. They were warm and natural, contrasted against the burned boney hands that held. Was Nara Nakki crying?

"You gave mercy to my son. You're retrieved him in such a way that would heal a wound on the city he afflicted with this savage outcry that was the last girl's body."


"Idiot womume," Nara Nakki sobbed. "Still ignorant of the waved you make in this pond. If he was simply captured, Annalow would be in chaos and the debt he'd have to pay would last forty life times. Now, at least, he will be allowed to die."

Anna shook off the queen. Her tears confused her and her praise was strange. "You make no sense, Nara Nakki. I didn't do this for him!" Anna stomped, trying to regain control of her anger. "I don't care if he burns in electric fire until the Gods claim back all of Mash'ta! I did it for the souls who suffer still, haunting that broke ally ways of MY CITY!"

"And yet, it doesn't matter, Anna Goldeyes. When you see justice done, you do everyone a goodness." Anna grunted in frustration. "Even the thieves of lives." Angrily, Anna ploped down in the dirt, opposite the Queen. She bit hard down on her pipe and pulled in the smoke, trying not to look at the pale womume. "It doesn't please you that Peter Nakki suffers so much like this victims?"

"No." She mumbled. "It doesn't bring back the children."

"And do you think it pleases them?"

"No. They don't care, either. Mandra save their spirits that curse the allyways."

"She shall." Nara Nakki drew again on the pipe. "Do you think that we don't already know his burning pain satisfies no one?" Anna stared hard at the Queen, giving no answer. "Because we do. So the question stands, Anna Goldeyes, Why do we torture him so?"

"Because," Anna pointed the pipe at her, "you Cemetery Girls are the twisted inmates that assume it matters. Because you think everyone else values pain, just like you."

"Please. Tomorrow, go into a tavern and mention that you know what happened to Lily Rpper. Say that he suffers perhaps for eternity at the hands of his brethren for the crimes he's committed. Ask them if that's justice."

Anna said nothing for a long time. They say and smoked and entered the fog together. Eventually, the pipe ran dry and Nara Nakki put her's down. "It seems that's all we should try for today. Thank you, Anna Goldeyes, for helping me understand this new thing with Petals. Is there anything I can give in return?"

"Yeah, tell Gravedust to stop stalking me."

Nara Nakki opened her red eyes wide, her look of insanity. "Oh no, Anna Goldeyes. She's more fond of you than I am. But I will say she's spoken of watching you bath at night. You may want to do that during the daylight from now on."

"Thank you." Anna stood up and emptied the pipe on the ground. "That does actually help." Stretching her mussels, Anna tried to clear some of the purple fog. "Are we equal, now?"

Nara Nakki didn't move. She took the pipe from Anna and put both away in a rumorwood box. "I feel you hold the upper hand, still."

"Then I have one other question, which has bugged me since I left the farm. You must have traced me there with effee magic that seemed to have come from Madeline. Even she seems aware that the Effees have magic, but she didn't seem to know what you were talking about when you mensioned my friend's delivery methods. How did you get Maddy's help with the alchemy when she herself didn't know how to use the effee flower?"

"She told you not to call her that." Anna shrugged. Of course Nara Nakki would have overheard. "And to answer your question, she didn't, I used it. We made a trade for the flower, not for her help. We used to be High Priestess, after all." Anna coughed and sputtered. "Of course we would know how Effee Magic works."

"Are you..." Anna slapped her forehead. "You couldn't be...Needessa?"

The pale womume smiled and closed her eyes. "We believe that settled our trade, Anna Goldeyes. Leave in peace. The next time you come, we would like to do things to you. Gravedust especially."

Anna lit her torch and did just that. She left first at a study pace. Upon hearing Nara Nakki's laughter she walked a bit faster. The echo left behind spured her to climb the stairwell quickly, and when the silence was behind, she decided that she was done with the Cemetery for life. She left through the gates of the grave yard in a dead run.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lily Ripper 24

Epilogue 1

"So NOW, if your caught with the Flash Blossom, you're arrested on the spot! Can you believe it?" Cherry tried to juggle two apples and failed again. "I mean, sure you were before, but they had to go and tell us again or something."

Anna shrugged. She looked out between the pillars and held up the school roof. It was sunny today with not a cloud in the sky. Almost like summer was already here. "I guess the City Guard wanted to make it look as if they were in control again."

"Well, they weren't, this time, but I guess it's okay. Like, just look out there, Goldy. We have kids again!" The panic had subsided in the last hand of days. The trickle of children that came to the church for teachings turned slowly back into its healthy river like flow. "I saw a felf child yesterday!"


"Cutest thing ever! I ran up to her and rubbed her ears! Someone told me it was good luck, but he hated it, so I won't be doing that any more."

"Felf Children means a family moved into the city. I'll have to check with the Library."

"Sure, that makes sense." To Cherry it didn't.

"The Annalow and Alexture Libraries are trading more books, Cherry. I'm guessing someone moved to help with the trade." Anna thought about it. "Maybe we'll see an Embassy. That would be interesting." The two stopped in front of a curtained doorway. Cherry's class. "You know, I'm able to add non-Red Guard to my team. You could join me."

"Wow... Gee..." Cherry Humed and Hawed. "Thanks...I don't know what to say... You're the best...Goldy..."

"It's alright, Cherry. You don't have to."

"Whew. Thank the Living Goddess. i don't think I could take another crying mothing. 'Sides, I got the best job in the world now!" She gave Anna one of the apples. "Check this out!" Cherry dove under the curtain. Anna heard the slap of her bare feet on the marble floor. "Hit it, guys!" The music started and so did the dancing.


Anna watched a little White Maiden pat one of the Dire Emus on the beak. Its handler was chatting with Madeline, making some sort of deal. "Look, I'm offering a good price at 3 horns a bundle!"

"Keep your voice down!" The riding yelled.

Madeline saw Anna and patted the handler on the shoulder. "We'll talk later. But trust me, you're not going to find a better use for this stupid thing." The handler roller her eyes and offered a ride to the Maiden still petting the Emu. "Anna, excellent."

"It's going to be harder getting your precious flowers, Madeline."

The alchemist waved it away. "Please. That wasn't about Flash, that was about Emu feathers."

"And smuggeling, no doubt."

"Not that it's any of your business." Madeline sat down next to her friend. "So, now what?"

"Now I sit."

"No, I mean about your research. Are you going to interview Peter or something?" Anna shrugged. "Okay, what about the Guards? Maybe talk to them about what happened?" Anna shrugged again. "Well SOMETHING ought to happen!"

"I've already written up a report and submitted it to Gringill. The last week has been me helping her sort her ridiculous mess of scrolls and books. Do you know why she has that line down her body?"

"Probably something to do with knitting or such. Don't change the subject. What about Lily Ripper?"

Anna sighed. "Nothing. My part is done and the scroll is sealed." She stretched. "I'm thinking about gathering up some petal and heading south to visit Drate once summer comes. Maybe talk about patterns of borc behavior. Maybe I'll visit Grush."

"And you'll...what, just give up your research?"

"Hardly!" Goldeyes laughed. "No no no. Just a month to cool off. When I come back, I've been charged by Gringill to act as consultant to the City Guard."

"That...doesn't seem right." Madeline rubbed her chin. "I don't know how that will go down."

"The idea, Madeline, was a method of thinking that anyone could do, not just Red Guard. I have room in my field for non-mumes. And I think I'll gather Duffworm on that team." Madeline sneered at the thought. "Oh, he's not so bad. Just a little bit dark."

"No thank you." After Madeline stood, she offered a hand to Anna. "I will say our little adventure was the most fun I've had since I was on the battle field."

"You never said you were in a war, Maddy."

"Don't call me that. But yes. I was on loan to the Northern Empire, oh, maybe 90 seasons back. That's where I stumbled over Alchemy. Those borc may act brash, but they're leaps of miles ahead of us in Alchemy. I never forgot it, even as I gathered ranks in the church."

"And how did THEY cultivate Flash Blossoms?"

"They way I do. Trade with the evil people who live under the world."


Luna shone bright in the sky that night, wearing wisps of clouds as halos. Anna sat in Brishah's pleasure house and slowly drew on her pipe. She just got started, but this time was determined to savor every draw of breath. The world slowly settled back into it's groove. Cherry was back to dancing. Madeline was making undercover deals to gather reagents, and Anna was smoking on a bed of pillows looking for faces in the sky.

A flicker of candle later and the lights went out, but Anna didn't care. She was busy trying to free her mind from the horrors that plagued them still. The burn of Peter's twisted mind disturbed her still and the screaming was not easily erased. It wasn't a matter of determination, for Anna. Training taught her to ease such memories away, not fight them. Eventually, because they were not hers, they were fade.

The smoke from the candles drifted toward the window. A thin trail of grey wrapped around itself in a tunnle of dark. Just a moment. Smoke wouldn't drift toward the wind which means...

"Hello, Plaything." Gravedust whispered so quietly and closely to Anna's ear she could feel the black thing's lips quiver against her skin, but she felt miles away. Anna jerked, but was pulled back down to the pillows. "Shhhh...Plaything. Be at ease."

Anna softly poked the womumes forehead with her pipe. "Have a draw." She said, half lidded eyes barely able to see the purple fog.

Gravedust pushed the pipe aside, "Perhaps another time, Plaything."

"Say what you've got to say, Gravedust. I wish to be done with you and your queen."

"A pity." Gravedust stretched her legs and hopped next to Anna on the pillows. "We all have hoped to know you more, my sweet. I, personally, wished to gather you as one of us, but even the Queen has marked you as untouchable." She leaned too close to Anna's ear again to whisper, "I think she loves you." And pulled away again. "Or she's afraid of you." As the black thing rolled her neck it made a noise like breaking tendons and grinding bones. "It is the latter that interests me so, but I'll not ask what you did to our Queen. That it between you and her."

"Then why are you here?"

"To show you this, for one." She held a sleaved needle by her fingertips and dropped it in Anna's lap. "And to smell you again." The moon light did little to make Gravedust's yellow smile any prettier.

Anna picked up the sheath. It was thin and leather, about a hand-span in length. The needles she had seen before had metal hilts to grip while stabbing, but this one had a leather grip. When Anna touched the metal with her gloved hands, she heard a familiar crackle. She drew the needle, watching the faint sparks as it pulled free. "How in Mash'ta..?" She twisted the leather hilt and pulled it away. Inside the hilt was a cage holding a crushed Flash Blossom. "This is the most evil thing I've ever held in my hands."

Gravedust genitally smoothed Anna's ear before speaking into it. "A gift from my Queen for services rendered. Use it sparingly, Plaything. We've found a single flower wears out quickly after much use, and finding a new blossom is difficult in this city." The Black thing giggled with her gravely laugh.

"It's grotesque, Gravedust." Anna sheathed the needle. "Please say it was not the twisted mind of your Queen who invented this device. She struck me as more sensable."

"You already know him as Peter, I think."


"Did you think we would not have him?" Anna stared in disbelief. The Cemetery Girl's yellow teeth mocked her. "I wonder. If Queen Nara Nakki offered you a chance to see him one last time, with promise of your safety, would you come?" Anna said nothing. Her teeth clicked on the stem of her pipe and she twisted the leather on her needle back into place. "Personally, my sweet, I would gather you into a sarcophagus with me and have the rest cover us with a stone lid. We would spend countless hours playing with each other with words and needles and crawling things that bite. The girls would gather around our tomb to dream in the mists of our agony and extacy." Anna knocked Gravedusts hands away. "To say we had planed to keep you is a redundancy, Madam Goldeyes. I was the one who told the Queen about you."

"I have no idea what you're on about."

Anna was surprised to feel a kiss on her temple. "It doesn't matter. Nara Nakki has made this offer despite my word against it. I told her you would not be interested in the fate of Lily Ripper or his final chapter."

"You've kidnapped him and Nara Nakki had her way regardless of the law. Mume's don't kill."

"He's not dead."

"Then what is he?"

Gravedust waggled her finger. "We say nothing for free. My Queen's offer is fair. Come and find out for yourself."

Anna drew the needle again. Running her fingers up and down the thing and watching the blue crackling as she did. "This ripper... Does he have a coffin like you wanted for us?"

"Come," Gravedust repeated slowly, "and find out. For yourself."

Wind whistled in between the cutains, blowing soft purple ribbons of smoke backwards toward Anna. She calmly returned the needle to it's sleave and put it away in her jacket. "Alright."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lily Ripper 23

Not So Rogue After All

"Talk about timing!" Cherry yelled, pulling Anna away from the enraged crowd.

"N-no. Had to b-b-be timed this-s way." Anna was dead weight. Madeline grabbed her feet and the two carried her away from the mob. What happened with the Captain wasn't their business anymore.

"No one could have timed it THIS good! I told you half a day! That's pretty vague!"

"F-felt it coming earlier. S-s-signaled the Captain when I knew it w-w-would hit."

The three found themselves ducked into someone's house. The owners weren't at home and Madeline didn't care. She laid Anna on a couch. "Maddy, is she gonna be okay?"

The alchemist pointed to the kitchen in back. "Get a pitcher of water. She's going to be talking for a while and might choke."

"C-came... C-cane up with the idea...when I was working at a- a farm south of here. Th-the Cemetery g-girls found me. Of-fered to talk. Nara Nakki wanted to talk on my terms, not hers. P-put herself out of the city t-to talk. M-meant my suspicion was right."

"What suspicion?" Madeline put a cloth on Anna's head.

"She thinks she's a thousand years old, Madeline. Who would she risk dying for to protect?" Madeline shook her head. "Her s-s- Her son." Madeline thought about it. "She couldn't l-let the rest of the girls know her son was k-killing. They're not killers, they're torturers. They're worshipers of Mandra, not d-d-death."

"Yeah. That makes sense."

"B-b-broke my heart. Something you s-said at the g-g-garden, Madeline. Why wouldn't the mume down the ally come to help? Applebone was in the hands of a killer and they acted like this w-was normal? Why? Because...Because she was a vagrant being pulled away by a city guard.

"A Mume City Guard carrying off a dirty mume girl. Seemed normal. S-s-so then I thought of what P-Peter t-t-told me outside of Merick's Mug. He s-said Lily HAD to be a Borc because he saw a borc in a blue hooded cloak. Either Peter was lying or he was paranoid. S-s-suspected he was lying. He was there when I found Beatrix' body and he used his weakness as a strength. His passive attitude threw me off."

Cherry helped put a cup to Anna's lips. "Shhh. Drink a little first."

Anna sputtered and gulped, but started talking again. "It's alright," Madeline pulled the cup away. "She can't help it. The drug keeps her talking. Keep going, Anna."

"S-s-sundely, it fell into place, b-b-but I had no proof. I needed proof and I was l-l-lost. The artistry. B-b-becuase Mumes must try and bring something beautiful to this world. And in his mind, these girls were beautiful. Their screams were music and their bodies were canvuses. It's how he thought. I know." Anna shuddered. "I s-saw it when we made love."

Cherry spit water. "What?!"

"Of course." Madeline laughed. "You had to keep him from heading home while they were searching!"

"M-made sure he was the- ugh. The right one. Wasn't going to send them in without being sure p-p-Peter was Lily."

"You searched first?"

"Di-d-didn't have to. Council-Effee Pindrop was in trouble. It was his word that lead the City Guard into a wild Ibis chase. He volunteered when I t-told him my plan. We worked on the letter's together and sent them to Eleanor, Crateshift, and you two. S-s-spent that last two days living with him in the church." Madeline fell on her rump holding her head. The timing of Anna's choreography astounded her. "T-t-told the Captain exactly what would happen and t-to keep tabs on p-Peter's location, b-but not to let anyone know else Peter find out. T-t-old him to search Peter's house for the paints and dyes."

"Yeah, where DID he get tho's dyes."

"Stole 'em from supplies c-confiscated by the Guard. b-but I can't prove that." Anna shrugged. "Told the Major to fetch Duffworm's books. They w-would match the paintings of the girls Peter made."

"But you didn't tell Nara Nakki all this!"

Anna smiled for the first time since the drug took effect. "N-no. no. Told her to keep to herself and let the play go on or I'd reveal who her son was. Told her there w-was to be a scroll to deliver to the Captain in haste. That was her part. The Captain wouldn't trust a seal from the Church or the council. Had to be someone third party."

Cherry shook her head at the play. "I don't get it. Why do anything like this? Why Lily Ripper? Why Lilies at all?!"

"B-because, Cherry. Peter was taught that p-p-pain is beautiful. But he was beat down. Nara Nakki could not teach him to love feeling pain, j-j-just the value of it. A y-y-year ago he found a shipment of Flash Blossoms in the city Guard Storage."

"My big fat mistake." Madeline rolled her eyes.

"He touched them and realized he w-w-was onto a new kind of torture. He heard of them, b-but never encounter them. The first girl, she w-w-w-was a test. He didn't know she would die. B-but it was so beautiful to him. C-couldn't let the body rot without making it something pretty to show the world. And the blue shroud was a funeral cape."

"He was Burying them?!" Cherry's jaw dropped.

"Respecting them. Th-Thanking them for suffering. He l-l-loved them for what they were. N-not who they were, b-but. But as hurt little girls." Anna winced. "He loves little girls." She spat out, disgusted. "They scream in his head. A quire of victims, painted with Flash Blossoms. It was both a pleasence and a guard to keep others from his mind." Anna looked to Madeline. "You saw it, too."

Madeline nodded.

"Couldn't figure you out, Madeline. Y-you read my mind without touching me. Th-thought it was your alchemy."

"I was touching you, Anna. My soul was on you while I was smoking the petal."

"W-wondered if it was something like that. Nara Nakki knew about the garden, too. D-didn't want to interfer. She's d-dangerous, Madeline. Dangerous, but not stupid. She'll leave me alone, now that I have blackmail on her, but-but I couldn't use it and live anyway. W-well she probably wouldn't kill me. Not on purpose."

"I think that about wraps everything up, Goldy." Cherry put a cloth to Anna's head.

"Ch-Cherry, you remember Hilmire?"

"My first Boyfriend? Gosh, that was a long time ago."

"I slept with him."

"Who didn't?"

"On the night he was suposed to show up to your birthday."


Madeline covered her face. "I told you, should can't help herself. She'll do this until the drug wares off."

"Martin Berrymill, too. After he left your place."

Cherry pulled her veil off. "Okay...No biggy. Stay calm."

"And Randy Flailmume."

"This was after I dumped them, right?"

"Cherry," Madeline leaned toward her. "Don't ask for-"

"No" Anna answered. Madeline found herself as the defense line between Cherry, who was sanctimoniously pulling her own hair and scratching at Anna, while on the other side Anna could not shut up.

This lasted for about an hour.


Anna woke up in Cherry's corner of the tower. At first, she couldn't figure out what the deal was with all the pillows. She sat up and took in her surroundings. She didn't know how she got here or how the bed-gown got on her or who was pulling her back to the pillows. Last thing she remembered was telling Madeline she could stand to lose some weight.

Cherry's soft fingers stroked her hair. Anna figured she had been forgiven. It was bright. Was it morning? They must be near a window, but there was no rain. Anna's arms instinctively wrapped around a pillow in the shape of an Ibis. She looked up to Cherry. "What day is it?"

"You've been out, like, maybe all night or something. That whole mess with Lily happened yesterday. I been hiding you here, Goldy. Figured the Red Guard wouldn't look for you in the Maiden's quarters."

"Ugh." Anna covered her eyes with the stuffed Ibis. So, she was still rogue.

"Yeah, Gringills, for some reason, REALLY wants you, so Maddy and I dragged you up here. Were you awake when that family returned home and argued with Maddy?" Anna shook her head under the pillow. "Well, we got the whole story, then were kicked out in the rain. Can you believe that? Some people, huh? Anyway, Yeah, Peter totally spouted how he did it and stuff. Hid the girls in a burlap sack. No Cloak, no nothing. Since he was a guard, no one questioned him when he walked off with the girls. Crazy! Just like you said. When the stones started flying, the Red and City Guard had to step between them all to protect him. Heard it was quite a speech by Captain Crateshift, or something."

"I'll bet. Blah Blah Blah, mumes don't kill, blah." Anna rolled away from the window. "Where is he now?"

"No one knows. I think the City Guard have him chained and locked up in one of the guard's house until they can figure out what to do with him. They're afraid of letting him escape, cuz you know, people might kill him. I guess even evil people count."

"Bravo to the Captain for at least not being a hypocrite." Anna sat up and scratched her head. "Breakfast."

"Oh, I gotta go bring you something."

"No. I'm no rogue. I'll eat at the mess hall."

"Anna, that sounds really dumb."

"Nah, just... I'm not a rogue, I just... I don't know, Cherry. Gimme my clothes. Gloves included."


Anna saw them come into the hall and point her way. "Here they come." She stuffed as much of her bread and egg down her throat as she could before they aproached, washing it down with a full pitcher of Leaf.

"You'll have to take your fruit."

"You can have the orange. It's something to peel."

Cherry shrugged. "Peeling fruit is SO last year."

Two tall womumes in full uniform cast a shadow over Cherry and Anna. "Anna Goldeyes, you're company has been requested."

Anna sucked a date down and talked with her mouth full. "You're supposed to tell me by whom." She felt their hands on her shoulders. She said "Cherry finish this." and then as she was being pulled away, "But save me those dates!"

It didn't take them long to escort her to the office level. A sign hung crooked on the door. "Wait to be called on" The three waited in front of the purple curtain. On the other side, Anna could hear a debate...

"I don't see how the nature of understanding could lead us to discover itself." Said one voice.

Another said "But by discovering it, we could find a better connections between the Tha and the Keb. Think of the possibilities."

"However, just as the eye cannot see itself, your asking 'reason' to examine 'reason.' Either change the nature of your research or give me an example of how the soul can understand without logic or reason. Be off." Another Red Guard, half in uniform, grumbled as she passed through the curtain. Anna hadn't recognized her. "Anna, come in." Anna was perplexed as to how this womume knew it was her, but obeyed. "It's alright, girls. I can handle her."

The office wasn't like any other office Anna had seen on this level of the tower. Most are organized, but this one was jumbled by stacks of scrolls and books, all out of order, on either side of the room and covering a desk that Sarah Gringill could barely be seen over. She was standing, but her cyan eyes were all Anna could see.

"Let's see, philosophy of the mind and it's effects on the soul should be..." Major Gringill searched around for a stack of scrolls. "I'll be with you in a moment. Kneel and be at ease for now." Eventually the Major found was she was looking for and filed the papyrus, picking up another under a stack and forcing it to tumble over. "Here we are, the philosophy to detection and use for tracking events." She knelt in front of Anna, reading over the scroll. Anna knew what it said. She had writen it herself. "But this is out of date by several years."

Looking at the Major was strange feeling. She was so unlike other Red Guards with her rd-line tattoo and her straight blonde hair let flow over her shoulders. Not short and not pulled back. "Anna," Oh, Gringill was talking to her. "Eyes on mine. Why is your research out of date?"

"This doesn't feel like a disciplinary trial, Major." Anna looked behind her. The guards were gone, as far as she could tell. "And I haven't been told what this was about." She turned back to Gringill. "So, I'm afraid I'll have to refer you to my superior, Major Harri Eleanor."

"Ah," Gringill crumpled up the scroll and tossed it into a pile of crumpled scrolls. "I had imagined Madeline had already told you. I suppose not. Bean Juice?" She poured a cup for herself first.

"No. I preffer it hot, Ma'am."

"Anna, over the last two months, I've been catching up with all research groups in both the Red Guard and the White Maidens. I've also been pushing myself to try and keep up with our fighting styles and the principals of the Red Guard. Why, would you observe, would I do that?"

Anna gave it some thought. Finally she said "My best guess is you've seen some similar thread of through between all forms of research, or found a more efficient method for discovery and were assigned by the High Priestess to keep us in line. Perhaps to police us in some way?"

Gringill nodded, her smile growing. "You are very close." She took a sip. "Durring the winter, I was privileged to encounter the High Priestess and spoke with her about her research teams. There were 41 teams consisting of 1 to 5 mumes, male and female, under 35 different majors and treated as simple unthinking soldiers in the military. I told her the best way to dicover and explore was with the cross pollination of different studies and this was how we did it at the schools. Every child learns caligraphy, Rhetoric, History, art, and so on in order to mix the disciplines together. I told her it would be to the Red Guard's benefit to have a similar system for her research, to keep them under one rule, not 35, and have them talk with one another. Do you know what she suggested?"

Anna tipped her head forward. "She suggested you do it, and now all researchers are your troops."

"Excellent. You're faster than the others," Gringill took another sip, "as I expected. What I found was of the 41 teams, 18 of them had been working on similar or identical subjects. So far only 5 have been worthless endeavors that I've deemed frankly lazy in their methods and shut them down. We now have 26 teams...and you."

"You're now my superior?" Anna had to laugh. "Eleanor probably didn't like that." the Major nodded. "Did she tell you I quit the Red Guard?"

"She did, but I didn't believe it and you don't act like it. You may have faked your death, but it was your movements that eventually lead to the capture of Lily Ripper, a.k.a. Peter Leftgood, and even though you left the city, you have returned and even still eat in the mess hall."

Anna nodded. "You are oddly well informed, Major Gringill."

"Although the Cemetery Girls could be considered a third branch to the Church, they are classified as a research group for the Red Guard. How are your fingers, by the by?" Anna unconsciously rubbed her finger tips. "I'm told they should heal fully in a few weeks. Now that you're up to speed, why is your research out of date?"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lily Ripper 22

Peter Leftgood, Who are you?

Peter sunk down the wall, landing somewhere at Anna's feet. The memory of her tongue in his mouth. He wasn't used to that. Where those bread crumbs he could feel?

Anna sunk down with him, lips on his forehead, nose, and mouth again. "Peter, I may not get this chance after tomorrow."

"What do you mean? I mean, I'm no...I..."

"Shut up and kiss me, you moron."

At first he didn't argue, but then he pushed her away. "No. Sorry, it's not right, Miss Goldeyes."

"What's not right?" Peter didn't answer. He hid his face, like always, turned away from Anna as if afraid to show himself. "Peter, when I was out there, out of the city, I finally got this murderer off my mind and all I could think of was you."

"I'm...nothing, Miss Goldeyes. Don't you think about me."

She turned his face to her's. "You don't get to decide that." He couldn't meet her eyes. Their blue hue turned red with tears. She backed away, putting her hands up. "Okay. Okay, I don't know you. But I want to. I really do. Every since you picked me up when I was falling over from the Petal." Her hand seemed drawn to his. "You saw me as someone who needed help and didn't pass by. That means something, Peter."

"I don't...know."

"Even when it was out of your way, you took me to the library. Not a word. No ask for praise. How could I not love that?"

"You...Don't wanna know me, Anna. I'm...wimpy. I mean...not as strong as you. I mean-" Her fingers covered his mouth gentaly. Taking the time to kneel to eye-level, Anna took a deep breath.

"Tell me about Peter Leftgood."

The rain turned heavy and rose as mist off the sandstone cobble between them. A white sound playing it's music and cutting off the outside world. Anna could feel that, even tho they were out in the open, there was no city around them.

Peter's face twisted and shook with tears. "Don't..." He turned away, unable to stand her eyes anymore. "Don't ask me that. I'm not...anything. I'm just a guard! Just a stupid guard."

"No one is forced to become a city guard. You must have joined for a reason."

"No. I just... I needed something to do. And. And I thought this was... I mean... No." He got on his feet. "Stop this! Stop caring! I don't want it!" He turned around, his back to Anna. She didn't take her eyes away, even as she got up to be close to him. "I never wanted it. I just want to be that mume in the background. I mean, the one that no one notices. Why can't I just be that guard?"

He flet her hands on both his shoulders. "Because no one is no one. You're more than just any guard. You've proved that again and again. You helped us with catching Lily. You helped me when I needed it earlier this month. You-"

"That was such a mistake. I should'a stayed clear." He yelled over his shoulder, "You hear that?! I was OFF duty and should'a just let you alone!" Peter began to bang his head against the wall. "WHY," Bang, "couldn't I JUST" bang, "leave it ALL" bang, "alone?!" Bang.

Anna spun him around and pulled him into her arms. Her shakes told him she was crying too and he fought to get away. Anna wouldn't let him go, her arms like chains around him. "No! Don't care about me!"

"Shut up, Peter Leftgood!" She tightened her grip around him, shoving his head over her shoulder. "You shut up or I will MAKE you shut up!"

Sob and whimpers were lost in the sound of the rain. No one knew where they were or who they are. How many times had this scene played before and no one in the world noticed?


The next morning, Anna heard the rain through the window. Her hand instinctively reached out, but all she felt was the warm spot where Peter was on the fur bedding. Still warm. She sat up. Peter was afixing part of his leather armor onto the chest plate. Her tongue tasted like his skin.

She wiped the morning from her eyes. "It time, isn't it?"

"Yeah. It's time. I just had a summons by Captain Erick. I mean..." Peter finished strapping on his helmet and looked Anna, "Is this going to work?"

Anna smiled. It was one of the few times Peter met her eyes. "I've made my best guess from the knowledge I had, Peter. Just stick near the Captain when you're at City hall. I'm sure Lily will be there and try to shut the process down." Anna reached for the blanket to wrap around her.

"How... I mean, when did you send word. You must have told them where I would be."

"Ha. This place belongs to my friend, Brishah. She takes care of her guests. Say...Peter," He made a noise, looking outside the door/curtain, "you said you made something beautiful on your time off. At your house."

Peter smiled, perhaps for the first time in his life, thought Anna. "Yeah, my designs. I paint and such. I guess...I mean, you know, it's a mume inclination. I guess we can't help it."

"I'd like to see them. Maybe if this all goes as planned."

"Yeah. Maybe. Uh...Anna." He was halfway through the curtain. "Good luck." And he was gone, off to guard the Captain.

Anna fell back into bed. He body shook uncontrolably. That had been the hardest thing she had ever done.


The crowd was thick, made mostly of those protesting the city guard, but also of those who received word that Lily had already been caught. Word had spread like lightning a few days ago that Lily was already in prison or exhiled. Some even told that Lily was executed, tho the church denies that it would happen.

The people of Annalow, Borc, Mume, and even Ixxar and Marf were loud enough to hear over the rain. At the front doors of City Hall, a stage was quickly erected for the Captain and company. He lead a small troop, including Peter, onto the stage. Some of them carried things under a tarp. On the otherside, however, to the crowds surprise entered Major Eleanor and three other Red Guards. By the time she stood beside Captain Erick Crateshift, the noise died down, as did, it seemed, the rain.

Madeline, Cherry, and Anna stood at the back of the crowd. Anna and Madeline were tall enough to see over the people, but Cherry hopped up and down. "What's going on? Why is everyone quiet?"

"People of Annalow!" The Captain yelled, "Why can now say for certain that the rumors were true! We HAVE Lily Ripper in our custody!"

"We've heard that before!" Someone in the crown yelled.

"How can you be sure?!" another yelled.

The Captain ignored them. "This took a joint effort between both Red Guard and City Guard!" Erick held up his and the Major's hands. "Because Lily Ripper was so crafty and so evil I think we can say the City had never seen his like before!"

"I thought she was a girl!" Someone yelled.

"Please, people of Annalow, let us finish!" The major yelled, removing her hand. "We have proof that Lily Ripper was not who he appeared to be! The stories you heard and the rumors told was part of his disguise!" A Red guard handed a bundle to the Major. "Over the last year, our agents have kept track of Lily and the designs he's carved on the Children of Annalow!" She held up Duffworm's book for the people to see. Another Red Guard held her cloak over the Major to protect both from the rain. "As you can see, this show the wounds and pictures Lily Ripper had cut mercilessly into our children!"

"Mandra save us!" Someone whispered near Anna. "I recognize that...that thing." Other murmers washed over the crowd. "They had been watching for Lily all this time?" "Great Bear! Is that Lily's work?"

Anna's legs began to go weak. "Madeline. Help me." Madeline looked confused.

Cherry had found a purch haning onto the awning of a building. "What's wrong, Goldy?"

"You idiot!" Anna fell into Madeline's arms. "You took it yourself?"

"Had to." Anna's eyes rolled back in her head. "It's starting."

Madeline cradled Anna on the ground. To everyone else, it looked like a womume in a red cloak fainting. Cherry knew better and hovered over in alarm. "What's wrong? What happened to Goldy?"

"Don't worry." Madeline checked the under of Anna's eyes. "In a moment she'll be telling us everything."


"She took a truth drug."

"p-p-p-" Anna stuttered on. "Peter. I-"

"Holy Living Goddess!" Cherry "She's gonna spill the beans?!"

"Peter- I...Wanted to love you." Anna's eyes became red with tears. "S-s-so much."

Madeline stood up to see the stage.

"We worked out WHO Lily was!" The Captain said aloud, "But we wanted to prove to EVERYONE this person could ONLY have been the killer! And we found Just that!" A City Guard handed a bundle of papyrus to the Captain who unrolled it to show to the crowd. Another guard held his cloak over to protect both from the rain. The scrolls had the same designs that were in the book Major Eleanor was showing the world.

Peter stared in shocked surprise. It didn't last long, because his eyes rolled, his knees shook, and he fell to the ground, stuttering.

Another guard went to help peter up.

"K-k-kissed...him." Anna stuttered. "I kissed him with it on my t-t-tongue."

"And who's house did we find these scrolls?" The captain asked. "THIS MUME!"

The captain pointed at Peter's limp body. His mouth stuttering. "C-c-cut them...m-make them pretty...mother..."