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Excerps: Transients

Prologue

The blood on his hands was just starting to dry when the guards arrived. It itched, all dry and flaky, with the questionable consistency of greasy ashes. He’d sustained no injuries of his own. His erstwhile opponent still lay where he had fallen, face-up to the sky. Ash’d thought about closing the man’s eyes, but something – be it superstition, fear or residual dregs of anger – made him reluctant to touch the body.

Killing should not have been this easy. That is, the physical aspect had been about what he expected. He was younger and better trained with a sword, if lacking in battle experience. But he’d thought the reality of having taken a life would hit him harder; that the guilt of it would be overwhelming. He’d thought, at the time, it would be worth the price. What he felt instead was nothing, or the next closest thing to it. His hands itched and he shivered in the morning cold, but his thoughts declined to move in any direction whatsoever.

The first thing the guards did was check on the dead man. They must have thought he'd fallen over drunk; Gods knew it happened often enough. The second thing they did - much to Ash's discomfort - was ask him if he was injured. The thought of him as a murderer hadn't occurred to them yet. The last time one of the Fae had died... Well, it was a long time ago and Ash remembered the date all too well.

He didn't protest when they finally took him into custody.

Cut for length )
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Excerpts: Transients

No one had ever told Rue how much it would hurt, travelling between worlds; cold and fire, like needles being driven slowly into her skin. Her eyes were glued shut, utterly blind save for the dancing afterimages behind her eyelids. Her throat stopped up so that she couldn’t swallow, much less scream like she wanted to. She’d wished for many things in her life, but right now, it all came down to wishing this was over, or better yet that she’d never embarked on this stupid mission to begin with.

There was a reason no one had told her how awful the transition would be. No one sane would talk about it, much less attempt it themselves. A point of view Rue was rapidly beginning to appreciate.

Just when she thought she couldn’t take it anymore, she felt the passage open up around her. The pain receded as the world around her began to stabilize. Rue knew it wouldn’t last. The portal wouldn’t be able to maintain itself in one place for more than a minute. She scrambled out of it, toward open air. The portal closed behind her bare seconds after her feet touched the ground, its backdraft pushing her off-balance.

She stumbled and fell forward, knees hitting grass and loose soil, even as her arms plunged up to their elbows into cold water. She must have landed on the bank of a stream. Quick-moving, but not enough to make her worry for her safety. Rocks lined the bottom, worn smooth by the constantly-moving water. Rue held very still, waiting for the passage-induced blindness to recede. Above her, she could hear the chattering of birds and small animals.

Her sight began to return, and with it came a nagging headache which somehow managed to intensify all the smells around her tenfold. Green plants, recently cut, and a drifting scent of roasting meat. Normally, Rue would have found them pleasant, but right now the whole lot of it just made her dizzy. Gingerly, she backed away from the bank. Her sodden sleeves made squelching noises as she moved. She flopped onto her back on the grass. Above her, tree branches painted a leafy mosaic on the sky, their shadows echoed on the ground.

So this was Earth.
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Excerpts: Transients

“So, what, I’m just going to forget you? Just like that?” Her fiddling with her hair ties had gone compulsive, to the point that one had already fallen out. “Can I just say that I don’t like having my brain fucked with.”

“I’m sorry,” Rue said. “It’s not really something I have any control over. It’s just how it works with humans and Fae. Maybe it’s because our worlds aren’t meant to mix, or because most humans wouldn’t be able to handle knowing-“ She broke off at Violet’s glare.

“I can handle you just fine – though if you keep condescending to me, that may change.”

“Maybe you can, but…” No, start over. This argument wasn’t working. Not even Rue herself believed in it. “Look. Like I said, it’s not something I can control – and I don’t mean someone else in Faerie does either. I mean… you don’t will a scab to grow over a wound. It just does, provided you don’t keep reopening the wound. Being around Fae is like reopening the wound. You can’t forget us when we’re here, but once we leave, your memory heals over and you forget.”

Violet still looked skeptical. “That’s all very well, except not everyone gets scabs. There’s those whose blood won’t clot – ever heard of hemophilia? Maybe I’m just a memory hemophiliac – hey, it’s not as silly as it sounds! Maybe I’ll forget, but I’ll still know where the holes are. Think about it. Remember how you couldn’t recognize Ash, but you could still remember that you were looking for someone? The negative space was still there, and I can’t imagine it not driving you insane.”

“It won’t be like that. You won’t even know we existed. You’ll remember doing other stuff, meeting other people. Everything will seem perfectly normal.”

“Yeah? How do you know.”

“I don’t,” Rue admitted. For some reason, seeing Violet deflate was worse than having her friend mad at her. “I’ll miss you.”

Violet wiped at the streak of soot by her nose. “You could have started with that. Jerk.”

Rue hugged her, wordlessly, and eventually, Violet leaned into the hug. “I wish you didn’t have to go. I wish I didn’t have to forget you. I-“ She threw up her arms. “I’ll miss you too.”
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Excerpts: Transients

Renee was the sort of person you desperately wanted to like you. Not even necessarily because you liked her – though you probably did – or because of her social status. She just had a presence about her; a weight to her opinions and a way of drawing you in. Sure, Rue couldn’t read energies anymore in her current predicament (and she wasn’t sure she’d have been able to read humans, either way), but she didn’t need magic to tell her this much.

Unfortunately, much as she second-guessed herself about it, she also had a vague suspicion that Renee didn’t hold her in the same regard. Her first thought was that it had something to do with her and Ash hanging out, what with Renee being his ex and all, but that would have been terrible logic even for a human. Ash and Renee seemed to get on rather well for exes, and neither of them struck Rue as a jealous type. Hell, it was no secret that both of them had dated other people while they were together (though with less overlap than some rumors had it). So scratch that bit of stupidity.

Cut for length )
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"What Lily is writing," take two:

Title: Transients

Every day, the Grand Duchy teeters closer and closer to utter chaos. Whispers of revolution are in the air, as the Unseelie Court is flooded with decadence while the poor barely get enough food to survive, let alone work magic. The current Duke is old and out of touch. Hope for a peaceful succession rests on his grandson - who has been exiled to Earth decades ago, stripped of his powers and memories and forced to live as a mortal.

Finally, an old friend of his is sent after him, to bring him back in hopes of averting disaster. But savvy as she is at court, Lady Rue may be no match for the utterly alien human world. After all, how does one find one man among billions? Worse yet, she finds herself slowly but inexorably losing her memories of him, starting with his name.

Intended Readership: Adult, as this one's likely to contain some graphic sex.

The thinking process behind this: This idea germinated from a combination of musings on alienation and outsider status within a group. I had a particularly clear image of Rue at a modern-day party, not really sitting apart, but apart nonetheless; talking to people but communicating nothing and just plain not getting those around her.

It also came from reading too many bad romance novels on a challenge and being really frustrated with the downright stupid relationship dynamics. (Yes, it does tie in. You just can't tell by the summary, because I suck at summaries.)

The other origins I can think of involve way too many inside jokes for me to even attempt explaining.

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Lily

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