She also knew how to dance, helping him out

It was some sort of ritual. Music played and the beasts would dance around a big pointy rock. Other people had told him this was strange, but as he had seen it every night he sneaked out to look in the woods all he knew was that he didn’t know why.

He had tried to ask in the past, but breaking into the circle made everyone scatter. He mentioned it at school. No one disbelieved him, but no one else had seen it.

“Maybe you’re going about it wrong,” she said as they ate lunch in the cafeteria.

“I have to be,” he replied, “or else I’d know by now.”

“No, I mean maybe you shouldn’t ask.”

He rolled his eyes. “You sound like my mom.”

She poked him. He flinched. “No, silly! Dance with them. They’re all dancing, right? Then they won’t run away.”

It was a good plan. They agreed to go out that very night.

Missing Persons

Lori turned to see a man. He looked familiar, but she didn’t recall from where.

“Did you ever find the guitar girl?”

Oh, it was the boy who worked at the sandwich shop. Lori shook her head. “No.”

He held out a piece of paper. “But this is her, right?”

Taking it, Lori looked down at the girl with the blue striped into her dark hair, wire frames around hazel eyes, the intense look she had always had while she had been playing. Apparently she always looked like that.

Marie Thompson. Missing person. She looked at the boy. “Oh.”

And he looked as absorbed into this as she was.

She started to look.

The girl was always at the bus stop, playing guitar with her case open for tips, until one day she wasn’t.

Lori stared at the empty spot as people walked right through it, not noticing for an instant that they were stepping on such sacred ground. It wasn’t as though the guitar playing was amazing or anything, but it wasn’t bad. It was more of the tenacity that the girl had always showed. That she was always there. That she had been better yesterday than the first time Lori had heard her.

Then she was gone, no warning.

Lori shook her head and walked onward, deciding that it was just the timing. After all, the guitarist couldn’t have always been there. She had to be going to eat or something else. Wherever she lived. Lori believed that.

But when the guitarist wasn’t there the next day, Lori began to feel concerned.

On the third day, she started to look.


Iqbal’s glasses were always a curiosity to Vidvan. They were nothing like the other pairs of spectacles he had seen. The frames were not made of metal, as they tended to be. For a place that prided itself on its steel, avoiding the obvious was more of a curiosity than the actual material that Iqbal used.

“What do you need?” Iqbal asked as if he was trying to get along. While he might not have been scowling, Vidvan could hear it in his voice.

“I wished to ask you a question about your lenses,” Vidvan began.

“What question would that be?”

He had many questions, so he had phrased that incorrectly. Then Vidvan had to ask the least important question first. It just came out. “How difficult was it to find such a pair? It would have been easier to go with a metal frame, no?”

Iqbal shook his head. “Easier to find, perhaps.”

That didn’t answer Vidvan’s question, nor did Iqbal explain himself.

The kite outside

It was only one day, while passing by a window that showed him the rest of the city, that Vidvan actually wondered what went on down there.

He had never bothered to look too closely before. It was simply the rest of the world. Everywhere outside of the tower had never been in his immediate purview. Though it had been in his Master’s, of course. That was the reason this place was a tower after all. To survey the lands and the mining culture that excavated the nearby mountains.

But it had all been outside of here. There was nothing particular about this day to Vidvan. So far away, things were small and blurry. No reason to suddenly wonder. Not like he was a child.

Vidvan spent his days wondering about things. About the experiments, about the books. About concepts that people only dreamed about. For the life of all of those ideas, he couldn’t imagine why he had not begun to wonder about everything outside of the walls.

Then he saw the item, floating in the air. It was attached to a string, leading down to a couple of human like figures on a roof. Maybe they were children. Vidvan couldn’t tell, they were so far away.

He could fly a kite from up here too, but why? Why do it down there? What was it like down there?

Vidvan returned to work with his head in the clouds.


She couldn’t help it. She reached out an poked him.

At first, he might not have noticed. Then Dahlia was extremely aware of how much he had noticed. He looked down on her, the tall and sturdy form he had, despite having no blood rushing through his veins. He had been cold.

And she had poked him. Dahlia’s blood decided to decorate the insides of her cheeks.

“Did you need something?” he asked. Kindly, maybe.

Dahlia’s mouth worked around air. Then she nodded.

“Don’t be shy.”

He probably didn’t mean that like she acted he did. Even she knew that. But she reached out and poked the undead man once more.

When his master decided he could get more than his money’s worth

The crate had probably been forgotten at some point when they were moving the labs. Vidvan frowned, on his hands and knees, staring under the shelf at where the box had been shoved. He reached out and grabbed it.


He hit his head on the bottom of the shelf, wincing. “Yes, master?”

Only after he said that did he realize how strange it was. His master didn’t usually come down here. At least, not that Vidvan knew. And not in a capacity where he could sneak up on unsuspecting children.

“What are you doing?”

Vidvan pulled the box the rest of the way out from under the shelf, showing it to the man. His master knelt down to take it, opening it up to look inside.

While Vidvan’s curiosity demanded he look in, the lack of permission held him still. His master looked at him, twinkle in his eye. “Good. I like that expression. It means the instructors are doing their jobs well. How are you liking your instruction?”

Vidvan cleared his throat. “I… wish it went faster, master.”

His master nodded. Closing the box, he straightened his back. “I have a proposal, Vidvan. Would you like to hear it?”

“Yes! Master!”

It was a good proposal.

Child be Child

Even at his young age, the next Baron of Castlehaven knew his mother was a tall, strong, proud woman. If he hadn’t understood such concepts, he would have had to make an educated guess from what other people around him said. If they were obligated to say so, because she was the Baroness, he couldn’t tell.

He caught a spider in the library. It was as big as the palm of his hand and couldn’t possibly be native. It had crawled over the shelving and landed on a book that had been close to where he had been playing. After staring at it for some time, he reached over and plucked it off of the spine and stared at it.

“What do you have there, young lord?”

He showed Tumelo his catch. As usual, the chamberlain wasn’t frightened, merely quietly annoyed.

“Put that down.”

“I want to show Ma’mer.”

“She will tell you the same.” Tumelo didn’t stop him from going to find her. He looked out the window as he walked by one that opened out low enough to the ground for him to see through it and downward in passing. Even more people coming from elsewhere. He ran to the Baroness.

Always win

“Bran! What brings you here at this time of day? Come to lose your money?”

Bran narrowed his eyes at the speaker. His dark brown hair was bound back into a long ponytail which accentuated the couple of scars which rested on both sides of his face. The rest of his physique did not seem at all marred by those marks, in fact many would say that it made him look even more handsome. He looked over at the person who pulled over another wooden stool to the table he was at.

“I don’t have the time-” Bran started, only to join the man in front of the shop. “How are things?”

Rudolph flashed off a grin. He had stark black hair which was cut close to his face including a short beard and mustache hair. The older man looked like he would be right at home in a gambling hall, according to Bran. Rudolph wouldn’t likely deny it either. A deck of cards always found itself in his hands. Bran found it strange he would come here to see him. There was nothing in this direction to interest Bran, other than Rudolph. Rudolph just seemed to know more then he let on and that interested the young man. As it would interest anyone his age to discover something hidden.

“Oh, the same, the same.” Rudolph shuffled the cards, dealing as though Bran had agreed to play. “How is Daniel? I see he has pushed a little more restraint on you. You two still messing about?”

Bran could not resist the smile that came to his lips. He picked up his cards. “Yeah, we’re still hanging out. You saying I’ve mellowed out?”

“No, not at all!” Rudolph placed the deck down and started the game. “How’s school? You still failing?”

“As if!” Bran drew two more cards. “Dude, failing would mean I would have to go back!” He shook his head as Rudolph discarded and drew. “Anyways….” He sighed at his next card. “Dan would murder me if I failed. He says he spent too much time during mid-school hauling my ass out of the dirt he isn’t about to now that it’s bigger.”

Rudolph snorted, setting down his cards and signaling to a waitress for a drink. “He would be the only one to notice.”

Bran narrowed his eyes, though his smile did not fade. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean, no girl would look twice at you, so it would take someone who’s known you forever to tell.” Rudolph grabbed Bran’s cards and started to tally his points.

Bran scowled. “Shows what you know.”

“What? Does Bran have a girlfriend?” Rudolph widened his eyes in mock surprise.

“As if! There are plenty of girl’s willing to fall to my charm if I wanted them.”

“And you’re what, too busy?” Rudolph dealt the next hand.

“Hardly, it’s just-” Bran stopped, shrugging. “It seems it’s either school, practice, or pranks… I really’d rather not cut into my own time.”

Rudolph frowned, deeper in thought than he usually appeared. “Practice…. at the artillery range? You still doing that?”

“Of course!” Bran felt insulted at Rudolph’s tone.

“Now, now.” The older man set down the next cards with a shake of his head. “I see you aren’t paying attention….”

Bran blinked and looked back at his cards, setting a few down with a smirk. “You’re going to beat me anyways, Rudolph. Is this all you do?”

“No.” Bran couldn’t help but snicker at that. Rudolph rose an eyebrow at him. “It’s just all you catch me at.”

“What happens when you lose?”

Rudolph laughed. “I turn back time.”