Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Annual Secrets (744 words)

Visiting her father was the only time she dressed down for a public event. She owned silks and brocades that she wore every day, and gowns sewn with glinting twists of beadwork from neckline to hem that would have been perfect for the holidays in her own home. She owned dresses that sang, and hummed, and whispered as she walked, and every one of them would have been too loud in her father’s halls. Even the dresses she had worn as a girl for the celebrations in his home would have drawn too many eyes.

She dressed as plainly as she could get away with on such an exalted day. Her blue dress turned dull silver if it caught the proper shine, though the evening’s yellow lamplight was turning it muddy gray. The neck was embroidered with a line of rolling waves, and the hem echoed the pattern in larger strokes. The skirt bunched stiffly in its gathers where it should have flowed, an expensive fabric made in the wrong pattern.

She looked properly decadent, just shy of real elegance. In the long hall, roiling with party-goers, no one looked at her twice.

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Flash Fiction: Space Beside Her (1548 words)

Dardo flicked an ear back again, picking out a new echo in the little garden square. Over the last hour, she had swung her head a dozen times to investigate, and had to shift on her hooves to keep turning  as she found the gentle end of her lead line. Snorting to herself, she looked back at Vardan where he sat on the stone bench, as if to ask why he wasn’t concerned by the wolves lurking in the high windowed walls around them. He only held her line loosely, and smiled. He knew they were being watched.

It was a strange place to have brought a horse. The garden was thirty feet to a side, a tangled spiral of stepping stones and the winter dark branches of low trees. The paved walkway that wrapped around it was hardly long enough to ride around without getting dizzy. He might have attracted some curiosity just for bringing Dardo here, when there were fit fields and trails closer to the stables.

But this square was also where the Clan Lord’s twins liked to run wild. And Vardan was confident that he had been watched every day of the last ten months, every day since he had left his prison cell.

Leaning over his knees, he smiled at Dardo, slowly drawing her close enough to rub her nose. He had stopped caring a while ago.

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Flash Fiction: Reasons (822 words)

Jaera and Zain slipped up through the rear hatch, running shoulder-to-the-wall across the back of the officers quarters in the soft light of early evening. The ocean was turning to shards and edges as it gleamed in the setting sun, while shadows faded in the rest of the world. Half the sky grew hazy in shades in blue and gray while the other side rioted orange and purple and pink. Jaera led the way, leaned forward to watch for the rest of the crew while they aimed for Terius, leaning against the rail. He was watching the water, leaned on both elbows, and didn’t see them coming.

He didn’t mind either, when they claimed their places on either side of him, just raised his eyebrows carefully to examine the tilt in Zain’s smile and the quiet light in Jaera’s eye.

“What?” Terius asked quietly. He glanced between them, and they glanced at each other, preparing their answer.

“We need you to go into the city,” Jaera said. “To get paint.”

“Paint,” Terius repeated. He looked at Zain, remeasured his smile, as if he could see the tipping point coming when it would be come a full grin and was trying to calculate how much time he had left before that disaster struck. “Why me?”

“Because,” Zain told him. “All three of us can’t go, or we won’t come back to the ship. We’ll skip the face-painting altogether, get stuck in Festival, and that just wouldn’t be as much fun.”

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