Category Archives: dreamwidth

The Demise of Livejournal & Migration to Other Shores

More than a decade ago, I started out blogging on Livejournal.In that time,  I met tons of friends, many fabulous writers, talented artists.  Many of these people are still my friends today. I even purchased a permanent account when they were being sold for very little money.  Back then, Livejournal was the place to be – more than Twitter and MySpace – Facebook was barely a backwater bulletin board at that point. Or maybe it hadn’t even been invented yet.  At any rate, Livejournal was an important beginning as to what social media was to later become.

Livejournal changed hands a couple of times and was later bought by SUP, a Russian company that has very strong ties to the Kremlin.  Almost immediately that the site came under Russian ownership the spam bots were let loose. Having a permanent account, I was mostly protected, but from time to time I would get spam commentary, some of it with malware links attached.  I set my comments on screened and the problem went away for a time.   Now, everything has changed. The servers for Livejournal are now residing in Russia.

Now there have been even more changes.  The servers for Livejournal now reside in Russia. What’s more is that Livejournal has just recently changed their user agreement so that in order to continue to use the site, you must agree to Russian law.  Part of that law is most adamantly against the rights and even tolerance of LGBT folks.

This morning, I got up and deleted all of my communities on the LJ site.  The only exception was Writers_Muses,  a prompt community that had prompts and responses every week.   A little over a year ago I ported Writer’s Muses over to Dreamwidth, mirrored it over on Pan Historia, and just a few hours ago, Writers Muses is its own dot com, hosted here on WordPress.  Soon the community that remains on Livejournal will be deleted.

I know that it’s going to be hard, but I also intend to delete my permanent account on Livejournal as well.  SUP isn’t making any money off of me anyway. I will probably just need a few more days in order to gather up the rest of my “things” before closing that door and walking away forever.  I am quite excited about Writers Muses moving on to possibly better things. I have a client quite interested in my prompts, and there is a Writer’s Muses writing prompt book in the works.   I also suspect I will be doing some video work and setting up a video channel for it as well on YouTube. So many things that can rise up from the ashes that are now smoldering somewhere in Russia.

If anyone needs any assistance in porting their content from Livejournal over to Dreamwidth, or if they are curious about PanHistoria, or want to follow the Writer’s  Muses blog, please feel free to drop me a line at fannyfae at gee mail dot com.  I will be happy to help.  It’s hard to leave those memories and those friends behind, but the future could be even brighter, I think.

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Filed under dreamwidth, livejournal, panhistoria, politics, racism, rants, Writer's Muses, writing

Character or Muse Questionnaire

This list is from some years ago.  Some of you may remember the heady days when Livejournal was the place to experiment in writing all kinds of fiction.  They have since moved to other sites such as Dreamwidth, Insanejournal, and PanHistoria, to name just a few.  For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps gets OOC: I know that some of us who work with Muses and characters all of the time sort of struggle to get a handle on them.

For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps get them down on paper. One thing that I and others who work with characters or muses have noticed is that keeping a journal at hand to get a handle on the flood of information we get about them. Sometimes those characters will just throw information at us in a flourish and it’s easy to miss or forget those important details.

The following is a questionnaire that I compiled from several sources, most of them come from writing courses I have taken in college, or from books. This list is more exhaustive than most you will find online. Most of the questions below will apply to your character or muse, while others may be questions for you, the writer to answer.   Have fun and play with it!
Character/Muse Questionnaire

Name:
Nicknames:
Age:
Birthdate:
Place of Birth:
Height:
Weight:
Body Type:
Physical Condition:
Eye Colour:
Hair Colour and Style:
Distinguishing Features (choose at least four):
Physical imperfections they would like to change:
Characteristic Gestures:

Country of Origin:
Race:
Ethnic Group:
Religion:
Married / Divorced /Widowed:
(First, Second Third, etc. and how long for each)
Spouse’s Occupation:
Children:
Family Background / Lineage:
Father’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Mother’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Years of Schooling:
Major and Minor Studies in College (if applicable):
Degrees:
Grades achieved in school:
Special Occupational Training:
Skills, Abilities, and Talents (Name at least four):
Areas of Expertise (Name at least three):
Current Job or Occupation:
Moonlighting or Past Occupations:
Military Experience:
Short-Term Goals (3-4):
Long-Term Goals (3-4):
Short-Term Needs (3-4):
Long-Term Needs (3-4):
Personality Type:
Introvert or Extrovert?
Eccentricities:
Quirks:
IQ:
Method of Handling Anger or Rage:
Admirable traits:
Negative Traits:
Bad Habits / Vices:
Predjudices:
Pet Peeves / Gripes:
Things that Make Uncomfortable or Embarrass:
Most Painful Things in One’s Life:
Ever Been Arrested (if so, for what?):
Arrests, and Convictions: (list types of convictions & time served for them):
Medical Condition:
Political or Social Issues Important to your Character:
Opinion on Abortion:
Opinion on Environmental Issues:
Opinion LGBT Equality:
Opinion on Military Intervention:
Opinion on Progress:
Opinion on Crime and Gun Control:
Opinions Particular to Character:

What kind of government does your character live under? Democracy? Monarchy? Dictatorship? Theocracy? Do they support their government? Apathetic toward it? Rebelling against it?
Political Party:
Liberal, Conservative, Centrist, or Radical?
Income:
Do they have a sense of humor? If so what kind?
Fears (3-4):
Phobias:
Manias:
Physical Illnesses or Chronic Disorders:
Mental Illnesses:
Hobbies:
Personal Interests:
Sports:
Favorite Pastime(s):
Favorite TV Show(s):
Favorite Movie(s):
Favorite Music / Favorite Band /Singer:
Favorite Travel Destination:
Pets:
Why / How did they acquire them?
How Important Are They?
How do they treat pets? Wild animals, etc?
Drinks Alcohol? If so, how often?
Favorite Alcoholic Drink:
Favorite Food or Meal:
Favorite Book(s) and Author(s):
Diet (Rich, low fat, cholesterol, restaurant, etc):
Favorite Restaurant/Ethnic Food:
Grooming:
Posture and Movement: Walk, etc.:
What is the most attractive feature about your character?

What turns them on?

What turns them off?
Traumas, Psychological Scars from the Past:
Clothing Styles, favorite kind of clothes:
Favorite Pet Sayings / Words:
Speaking Style – do they have an accent? Describe it:

Are they loud or soft-spoken?
Philosophy on Life:
Close Friends – who and how many?:
Best Friend:
Other Friends:

Enemies:
What experiences shaped your character the most into who they are today?
Home – do they live in a house, apartment, condo, other? Describe what it’s like:
How is it decorated?
What is their neighborhood like?:
How do they travel? Is it by foot, car, horse or other?:
If they drive, do they drive fast or slow? Do they obey traffic and other laws?:
Major Problems that your character face. How do they intend to solve or overcome it?:
Minor Problems?: What and how to deal with them?:
Attitudes about Money:
Dancing? Do they know how? Do they enjoy it?
Do they like being outdoors or indoors most of the time?
If your character has a partner or spouse, how do they get along with each other?Children?

Do they have any children?
Parents:
Siblings:
Do they get along with their neighbors?
How do they deal with those who are higher in society or more successful than they are?
How do they deal with those who are lower in society or less successful?
Sleep Patterns:  Do they sleep well? Fitfully? Not at all?  Who do they sleep with?
When do they get up in the morning?
What awakens them?  Is it an alarm clock? Rooster? Dog, Wife or Parent? Kids?
What do they do normally eat for breakfast?  Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?

Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?
What is your character’s normal routine around dressing? Is it difficult? Easy? Meticulous?
Does the morning fill your character with anticipation or dread?
Does your character like their job or hate it? Do they give their work honest attention or avoidance?
Would He or She rather be doing something else?
If so, What?
How long and hard is the work day
Do they stop for lunch?
Where?
Eating what typically?
With Whom?
Does He or She Enjoy the Meal?
What does it Consist of?
What Goes on During Dinner? (Conversation? Fighting? Reading?)
Who Cleans up?
What does your Character do on a typical Evening?
Where?
With Whom?
How Much Does He or She Enjoy it?
What Would they prefer to be doing?
Why Doesn’t He or She Do That?
What id the evening atmosphere like?
Bedtime: Does he or she go to bed consistently at the same time?
What Time?
With Whom?
When does bedtime occur at a different time?
Do they fall asleep right away?
If No What is He doing in the meantime? Reading? Watching TV? Sex? Tossing and Turning?
How Much do they enjoy this activity
Does He or She dream a lot, little or never?
Are most of his or her dreams scary, pleasant, sexual, etc?
Is any dream that they have a recurring one? What is it about?
What is his or her earliest memory?
If they were to suddenly become much richer, what he or she do with the money?
What is his or her stated dream in life?
What does he or she really long for?

What event are they most afraid of possibly happening?
Who does he or she in their wildest deepest soul really love best in the whole world?
What would he or she be willing to die for if anything?
What does he or she believe about God or the Divine?
What do they believe is the purpose of life?
Do they believe in an afterlife?
What does he or she actively work to gain or keep or protect – or not?

Do they merely say is important, but actually invest time and emotion in – money, fame, family, love, country, revenge, etc.?
How would he or she describe himself or herself if totally honest?
In a single word, how would YOU the writer sum up this character/muse’s attitude toward the world, interested, optimistic, defeated, Exploitive, compassionate dissatisfied, power mad, controlling, happy, etc. ?

Would your character or muse agree with your assessment?
Why or Why not?

Do you like your character or muse as a person?
Sources:
Dynamic Character”: How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated” by Nancy Kress, 1998, Writer’s Digest Books
“Building Believable Characters” by Marc McCutcheon, 1996, Writer’s Digest Books

“Getting Into Character” Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors” by Brandilyn Collins, 2002, John Wiley & Sons

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Filed under dreamwidth, fanfiction, fiction, livejournal, nanowrimo, panhistoria, reblogged, Writer's Muses, writing

Writer’s Muses: Prompt Set # 1

1. What did your mother tell you to never do? Write about the first time you broke that rule.
2. Write about an unanswered prayer or ungranted wish.
3. A year after his death…..
4. “Paranoia is just reality on a finer scale.” – Philo Gant, “Strange Days”

5. Who would you die for? Would you prove it?
6. Question to the Writer: What was the stickiest entanglement your character ever faced?

7. Photo Prompt

tornado

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Introduction to Writer’s Muses

writing_smAbout 7 years ago, some writer friends and I started a writing prompt community on Livejournal. We did this because one was desperately needed. We wanted it to be an answer to other writing / character-centric communities various blogging venues. Those of us who were there were looking for new and interesting ways to stretch our characters and to dig down deep into who they were and are wanted to create a compelling reason to show up at the page – and so Writer’s Muses was born. It was well received and copied many times over.

Time and the social media landscape being what they are, however, Writer’s Muses along with the scores of other sites fell to the wayside. Following the incredible amount of encouragement from past members of the sites  over at Livejournal, Dreamwidth, PanHistoria elsewhere , we decided to repeat that past success if possible and do it here on my blog, as well as on past venues – and with social media links on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Bloglovin’.

How it works
Each week will feature a series of writing prompts.  In the past on the Livejournal and Dreamwidth communities we had a minium word count of 150 words.  It wasn’t a hard and fast rule because we know that sometimes certain characters that we write tend to be very short and sweet with their responses, and so those are acceptable, too. The key to  Writer’s Muses prompts was for members to simply enjoy the process and want to show up at the page.

After picking a prompt, write it out in your blog or even your physical journal.

A good format to follow is the one that we set up for our members, but you can do it any way you like of course!

Prompt Set #, Prompt Number and Letter( if applicable), and the Title.

An example would be:
1.1 – What Mother Told Me Never to Do

Some of us add the name of the character, the fandom and the word count. such as shown here.  It can be listed at the top of the entry or most prefer it to be beneath the entry like this.

Muse (Character):Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 454

You can add your own tags for muse names, subject and the like .   The key is to have fun!

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The Importance of Names

"Cartouches for Sekhmet Meritamen", created by Marc Line for Pan HIstoria.comWhat’s in a name?   Plenty.  A name is the essence of who we are.  It can be the name that we are given at birth, or a nickname which signifies who we are within communities, or it can be an Initiatory name.  Sometimes a name is a persona we choose for ourselves in order to keep us safe from the prying eyes of employers,  or those who wish us harm such as ex-spouses, abusive family members or stalkers who want to impinge on our personal lives and our personal freedom.    Names that do not appear on our birth certificate, Social Security card or driver’s license are no less valid than the initiatory names and pseudonyms that we use.  Some may use a ‘fake name’ to bilk, defraud or deceive others online.  Facebook, Google and many other places have in place so-called real-name policies that are designed to help, but sometimes end up hurting.

This past week, this policy ended up happening to me.   My “real name” is not Fanny Fae. It is the nickname of an ancestor of mine, Frances or Françoise McKay and used the name of this blog, Fanny Fae. My reasons for doing this on Facebook and elsewhere, primarily were to 1) protect myself from my ammo-sucking, gun-toting, “Take ‘MERICA back for Jesus”,  and “Convert to Christ or DIE”,  and “Left Behind”  series-believin’ family members who object to my being a polytheist & lesbian woman legally married to her partner after 22 years, and 2) This name is a brand that I own and intend to keep on owning it.  She started as a fictional character on Livejournal and PanHistoria more than a decade ago and I have fiction and other things that are mine written under that name – and they will stay being MINE.  Those that know me knew of my motivations.  There were never any attempts by me to deceive, defraud anyone. Just a nice safe, almost-anonymous ID to be able to live and to work unencumbered by my religious extremist family and to protect what I perceive to be my intellectual and DNA property.  Most everyone in the writing, Pagan and polytheist communities knows me by that name and I have made quite a few friends with it.

From my understanding, Christian Day, an occult  shop owner with stores located both in Salem, MA and New Orleans, a radio host, author and “warlock” who rose up to take on the Evil Charlie Sheen a year or so ago, decided to out  or ‘dox’ me and anyone else that he knew who had a “fake name”.  He took it upon himself and enlisted the help of his friends, groupies and flying monkeys to follow him in this endeavor.  That is what I was told. I have no idea because I was not online at the time. It really isn’t important at this point how or why it happened or who did it.   I refuse to participate in feeding negative energy to a person who claims he “swiffs” it for his own purposes. The end result was Facebook logging me out of my account and telling me that I must use my real name, but could add Fanny Fae as a nickname in parenthesis.  I did so.

I admit, at first I was angry. This sensation lasted all of about five or ten minutes. Then I realized that with the Sekhmet book, hopefully in production to come out soon, it was probably a good thing to stave off potential objections by those who do not equate this ID with my real name.  When I explain to them the circumstances and my reaction to it, most have been very accepting and understanding.  Some, still safely behind their initiatory names or ones that they have contrived to also stave off inquiries from employers, abusive ex-spouses, etc. have been more than understanding.  I daresay that Mr. Day will not be able to swiff their energy from them either.

The biggest inconvenience to me, so far, has not been my weirdo, religious wing-nut family pounding on my virtual door -( though I do expect this to happen eventually), but so many people in the groups that I either admin or those who I am friends with now asking, “WHO the F*** is Christina Paul?!”   I have to explain to them what happened in a Cliff’s Notes version and it always ends up being o.k..   Most did what I did and just shrugged and moved on.

What companies like Facebook, Google and all of the other social venues and corporate conglomerates don’t understand is that most of our lives are online these days. All it takes is someone with a bit of tenacity, some basic computer skills and a credit card and they can get whatever information on any of us that they want to. The entire backlash by consumers about issues of privacy, should also include the ability of persons such as myself and others to give good reasons why they want to hide behind another name.  Ninety-five per cent of the time, those who do, are not trying to do anything illegal.  They are just trying to live their lives quietly and unemcumbered .  Not everyone who chooses to use a pseudonym has gone through abuse, or has to put up with hands-in-the-crazy relatives,  or employers that want to know what their employees do on their off-time as much as they do for the time that they have those employees on the clock.  Being able to mask at least some part of our lives that we feel is private and not open for public scrutiny should be as natural as closing the shades at night when we get undressed.  We are all pretty much  at least virtually undressed when all of our lives are out there for everyone to see.

With all of the recent bouts of identity theft – whether financial, or someone such as a celebrity having someone impersonate them – of course, knowing who you are dealing with is a very good idea.  On the other hand, there needs to be dialogue about having a choice for those who have very good reasons for wanting to stay hidden.  Companies such as Facebook and Google should not assume that the only reason why people choose “fake names’ or are reluctant to not use real names on their services is for potentially illegal reasons. It isn’t.   Having a safe space to be able to interact with others is of paramount importance.  Facebook and Google, et al, have unfortunately become the village square du jour.    You can always opt not to use those services, but to do so leaves you potentially cut off from what most people use as a support network.   Someday we may  have other choices that offer more privacy -or we can hope that these companies get a clue and realize that they have become part of the problem that allows the rise of social ills such as online bullying and stalking. Companies such as Lifelock and other identity theft and credit monitoring services are doing a booming business these days.   I am left wondering if Facebook and Google don’t get some sort of kickback because they are by their own policies very probably helping to create the problem in the first place.

I know you….I know all of your names.

That is a bit of ancient Kemetic or Egyptian heka or authoritative utterance that is said when you gain knowledge of all of the names of someone and you are set to either magically protect or curse them.  We Kemetics take things like the words we use, and especially names very seriously.  There is the legend about how Aset (Isis is Her Greek Name)  wanted to get the secret name of Ra and by manipulation was able to obtain that secret Name or Ren.   Ra knew that with it, Aset could destroy Him.   But He also knew that without paying the ransom to Aset by giving it to Her, that He would die.  Like that story, our names and how we are identified and move through this world are double edged swords.  They can hold great power and they can be used to destroy us utterly.  As I always have said,  “My name is my integrity”.   Nothing is more potentially dangerous as when something does something in your name that you don’t approve of.   Like your word, your name serves as a bond.  Naming is branding. Some of us like to have absolute control over our names and our branding in order to set us apart from everyone else.  Celebrities, recording artists, authors, etc. know this reality all too well.    The more we are out there and participate in social media, the greater for the potential for companies such as Facebook and Google to be used by those who DO want to do illegal things and bilk others to gain more and more power.   It is a fine balance to walk, and having one-size-fits-all policies serves no one in the end.   These venues have already been used for such purposes.  The real name policy in most of these incidents did nothing to safeguard it from happening.

This is an issue that I think deserves more discussion.   My outing came from someone else wanting to be vindictive and to cause me and others harm.  They failed in that endeavor with me other than it has created a few minor inconveniences.  These have already been overcome, so the major explosion that he likely expected ended up being more like a dud firecracker.   Still, privacy is an issue that will not go away and it will take thoughtful consideration rather than wholesale policies in order to make things more safe for everyone. 

‘Sekhmet Meritamen, Physician of Qenbet’ – by Wbnrnpt, for the website, Ancient Sites, now known as Ancient Worlds

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Of Sidelocks and Donkey Tales

The following is a story I wrote some time ago with a friend over at PanHistoria and before that at Ancient Sites. It is a reworking of the Aesop’s Tale, “The Man, The Boy and the Donkey.” I have long since lost track of my friend. I hope he does not mind my posting our collaboration on my blog here.

This is from another story of Sekhmet Meritamen and her adopted son, Meni. In this scene she is telling Meni about being different and the parable of trying to please everyone.
~*~*~*~

BoatIt was past dusk on board the Heart of Ra and Sekhmet Meritamen padded nimbly down the wooden deck steps to her cabin. As Royal Physician to a pregnant Per’aa, Sekhmet’s routine was unpredictable; she hurried from her work and was thinking of what to make herself and young Menenhetet for dinner when a sound reached her. It was the sound of a child’s crying and it drew the Lady Sekhmet with a tug on her heart. The sound came from her own cabin.

Inside, in the middle of the floor, a blanket clutched to his breast, lay Meni. Sekhmet’s heart ached at the sound of his sadness. She rushed to the curled up ball that was Meni. His face was a blustery thundercloud, bursting with tears. His sobs were a tiny thunder in his wan chest and lightning shone in the glisten of his tears. Drooping like a hippo’s tail, his new sidelock trembled from the weeping.

“Are you hurt?” Sekhmet asked, kneeling near him and looking over his tanned limbs with a professional calm that surprised even her. She saw no cuts or bruises, but her hands examined the frail boy out of habit.

Meni simply wept, blubbering and oblivious to the tender ministrations. Yet nothing seemed amiss.

“Please tell me what’s wrong?” Sekhmet almost felt as though she herself might cry as well, for the boy’s sobs were like pluckings on the strings of her heart.

“The .. boys .. and .. girls .. laughed .. at .. my .. hair!” he finally managed, hiccuping between each syllable and blinking a stream of tears out of each brown eye. Many of Per’aa’s entourage had children onboard the Coronation Barge. Apparently Meni had been teased by some of them.

Sekhmet relaxed inwardly, vastly relieved. She pursed her lips sympathetically and thumbed away the spill of tears on the boy’s wet cheeks. She held the boy’s head and tried to still his crying with a kiss upon his troubled brow. He huddled to her bosom and cried all the more. Rocking his sobs away, Sekhmet sighed.

“Meni, you like your new hairstyle, don’t you? Nebet Nefeti worked very hard to make you a handsome little man. She shaved your head, just like you wanted and even managed to salvage this sidelock for you to braid,” Sekhmet stroked the dark tail of hair on the side of Meni’s head.

“Yes nebet,” Meni sobbed. “But the … other kids … laughed at … me!”

“You mustn’t let them get to you like that” Sekhmet soothed,. ” They’ll get used to it and things will be better. I promise.”

Meni’s frown was unrelenting and his eyes were still freshets of tears. As fast as Sekhmet brushed them away, more scooted out to replenish the rivulets of on his cheeks.

“Meni,” Sekhmet said, lifting his chin up to her gaze. “It wouldn’t matter what you did with your hair. Any change would have gained the attention of the other children. If you had kept your ragged locks, or shaved your head as bald as an egg, or put it in braids just like mine, the children would have teased you all the same.”

“But I want … to play with … them!” Meni protested, calming a little but still afflicted with his hiccups.

“I know you do,” Sekhmet soothed. “And tomorrow you will try again. You will be strong for me, won’t you?”

Meni blinked doubtfully.

“Let me tell you a story that might help. It’s one my mother used to tell me when I was a girl. When I was your age I was not very graceful, and very much a tomboy, and the kids at school would tease me too. And no matter what I did it didn’t make them stop. But one day my mother found me like I found you, weeping. She told me this story…

“There once was a man, who lived in the far off reaches of the land. He was a craftsman and widower living with his son and a donkey. One day the man, knowing he would have to go to the great city to trade, carefully prepared his wares, and loaded them on the donkey and set off for town. When the animal was loaded he set his son upon the top of the load on the donkey and started toward the great city.”

“The man and his son and the loaded donkey walked and walked and at last they met upon the road two men coming from the great city. They nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed and the man with the donkey and son overheard the two other men they had passed whispering between themselves, ‘Did you see that selfish child riding on top of the donkey while his father walked!? That is terrible! What a selfish child!'”

Meni’s face grew fierce and he said, “But nebet! That boy might be lame! Those men aren’t nice!”

“Yes Meni,” Sekhmet nodded, finally seeing the flow of sadness drying in the boy’s eyes.

“The man…not wanting to appear to be a fool, stopped and thought about this and decided that it might be best if he rode and his son led the donkey. The boy agreed.

“‘Oh certainly, father,’ The boy replied. ‘I can lead the donkey and you can ride, I am young and my legs will not grow weary.’ And so they traded places.

“A few leagues down the road, the man and boy and donkey met a man and his wife going the other direction. The two parties nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed each other on the road, but the man overheard the woman whispering to her husband as they passed, ‘Did you see that*selfish* man riding the donkey while the poor child walked?! I’ve never seen anything so pathetic!'”

“That’s silly!” Meni pointed out. “Those people don’t know the man is nice!”

Sekhmet nodded and continued:

“This troubled the man; and not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are often taken advantage of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered the predicament. He came upon the idea that he and his son could both ride the donkey and it would satisfy all of the objections of everyone on the road thus far.

“A few more leagues and the man and his son and the donkey met a nobleman and his fanbearer on the road. They smiled and exchanged greetings and the man heard the fanbearer comment to the nobleman, ‘Master! What a terrible waste of a good animal to make him bear the weight of two people plus his load!'”

Meni just shook his head, tears forgotten, eyes wide, and in deep consternation at such things.

“The man, not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are sometimes regarded with suspicion and riducule and taken advantange of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered a moment and decided that neither he nor his son would ride the donkey but would walk alongside. There were a few more miles to go, but this was fine.

“The man and his son and the donkey then met a woman and her son on the road and they exchanged pleasantries with the man and his son and when they had passed the man overheard the woman say to her son, ‘Those fools! Neither rides when they have a fine donkey. Surely he can handle more than that simple load!'”

Exasperated at these silly people, Meni snorted.

“The man could take it no longer! He was tired of being everyone’s fool! He found a thicket of saplings and cut a strong sturdy one and then reached into the sacks for extra rope and lashed the legs of the donkey to the sapling and, struggling, he and his son carried the animal into the gates of the city. With astonishment the man wondered at why everyone was laughing at him for he had done everything that anyone had asked of him and in exasperation had done what he knew to be the last choice that was left.”

Sekhmet saw the glimmer of understanding in Meni’s eyes.

“The moral of the story is: If you try to please everyone, dear Meni, you in the end will end up looking like the fool, for there is no possible way to please everyone at all times.”

Meni looked up into the wise dark eyes of Lady Sekhmet and wondered if there were anything she couldn’t fix. Which led him inevitably to his next words.

“I’m hungry!”

Sekhmet laughed and held out a hand to Meni, “Let’s find something to eat then.”

Meni skipped beside Sekhmet, his sidelock twitching from side to side, looking very much like a switching tail.

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The Devil You Know (Written for PanHistoria & Dreamwidth)

“I call’d the devil, and he came.
And with awe his from I scan’d:
He is not ugly, and is not lame.
But really a handsome and charming man.
A man in the prime of his life is the devil.
Obliging, a man of the world, and civil:
A diplomiatist too, well skill’d in debate.
He talks quite glibly of church and state.”
– Heinrich Heine

“This way, come along.” Melek reached back to the young girl that followed just behind him. Her large, dark eyes looked up at him inquisitively even as she slipped her tiny hand into his much larger one. If there was any trepidation there on her part, she certainly did not show it. Fae creatures were delightfully alluring, even when they were so young. Or perhaps, he mused, it was especially when they were so young that he found their curiosity so wholly irresistible.

This one, however, had a whole future ahead of her. He resolved that he would groom her, and when the time was right, and much, much later, it would be her own daughter would assist in his greater purpose. But first things first.

“Tell me, do you like books, my dear?” he asked.

The Halfling child nodded her head. then offered in Sidhe, “I know how to read a little but there are not many books in Dunnlauden.”

“It’s very good that you can read,” he smiled, ignoring the child’s observation about her village. “Did your Maman teach you?”

The little girl nodded.

Of course, the Peacock Angel knew that Moya had done so. For a human, the girl’s mother had not only proven to be useful in her devotion, but in providing the Sidhe ranks with at least some new blood. Without a doubt, the child would not be entirely trusted among humans, and her mother would be branded a whore for the ridiculous sin of having consorted with demons. The absurd irony of it all both amused and annoyed him. But the child did not need to ally with superstitious humans that lived in a village anyway. He had already foreseen that it would be leveled in a few years time. By then she would be far, far away, the village nothing but a forgotten and distasteful memory. And with his help, this Halfling girl would take back the throne of her Sidhe ancestors. Following that, everything else would have fallen neatly into place, and Melek’s plans would begin their long, winding road to fruition.

The forest trail became a long corridor of columns comprised of gnarled trees that stretched far toward the horizon. Shelves and stacks of books of incredible luxury and filled with delights of every kind were found behind branches, along tree trunks, hedgerows and brambles. The Halfling child’s eyes grew even larger and more luminous as a covetous bloom lit her features.

Remembering herself, she looked up at Melek who smiled at her unasked question. “The forest, indeed the whole world is my realm – and yours. You see, we are family, you and I. Family should share, and I will share all of this with you.”

Her little hand gave his a slight squeeze. Immediately to her right, resting on a moss and lichen covered tree stump sat a very large green and blue leatherbound book. The binding was shot with gold arabesque designs and in the centre of the cover was painted the most beautiful peacock whose feathers glittered with green and blue stones.

“That one is yours alone,” he smiled down at her. “Do you like it?”

“For me?” she had barely dared to hope.

“Of course, my dear.”

She let go of his hand only long enough to step forward and ftouch the beautiful and ornate cover with gentle and reverent fingers. Clearly, she had never seen anything so beautiful as this book and very carefully she opened the cover to see a blank page staring back at her – then another and another. The entire book was blank.

“But there are no words,” she said with obvious disappointment.

Melek knelt down beside her and took both of her small hands in his. “That is because it is your book and you must write the words in it,” he said. “Will you do that for me when you learn to write and to draw? You must write down all that you see and learn and keep track of it.”

Unable to resist the instinct to reassure him, she extracted her tiny hands from Melek’s and embraced him, burying her face into his neck, her soft, warm breaths warming the depths of what might have been his heart. It had not been the daughters of mere mortal men who tempted the Fallen Ones. No. The Sidhe women, the pure essence of what wildness and Nature truly are in ways that no human woman could ever be. This little one would serve his purposes beautifully and she would do it willingly besides.

And somewhere in the distance, the voice of the girl’s mother called into the dark palace of the woods.

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