Specs wasn’t really an engineer. Their friends took him to be more of the theoretical sort, someone who could crunch numbers but was never seen in the lab for more than the minimum amount of time. He could be relied on for knowledge, but anyone who’d been in group projects with him had heard he preferred working with people, and that splitting work with him and expecting it done was a lot less productive than sitting him down in a work space on campus and bouncing the work between you.

His flatmates knew he wasn’t in the flat that much, and assumed he spent the rest of the time with societies and work. If anyone had checked, they would have noted that there was always a two hour gap in his schedule, but since he seemed to be perfectly ordinary (or as ordinary as the majority of EU student body were, at least) no one paid it much attention.

The shop students knew him as the guy who’d borrow their time to get little things done on their machines. A pinch of solder and iron to fix a wire, a small bit of the forge to cast some metal bits in the unused space of a bigger project. The chemistry students knew him as the guy who’d drop liquids in the liquid waste bin. Never more than a glass, a good way of disposing something you didn’t want to drink or keep nearby. The physics students knew him as the guy who’d request a few minutes with some of their meters. Strain gauges were the most common, but voltmeters and pressure gauges were close behind.

He always had an air of detached interest whenever gossip about the Gentry passed around the lecture halls. It was always another student who’d had a run in with a shadowy figure down by the lot, or had met Jimothy to trade beads, or had carefully not looked too closely at their flatmate recently.

Specs remained a guy with a few good friends who was a nice enough person to chat to throughout his first year. Then, in his second year, his sister came to EU.

Frizz was a drama student, eccentric, always ready with a smile and with a temper that was righteous in its fury. She wrote her own plays, sang her own little songs and drew in her spare time. She and her brother met up every other day for a quick hug, her drama friends quickly becoming acquainted with the smaller group of second year chem eng students who accompanied the elder sibling. When Frizz began dating, in as quietly dramatic a fashion as always, her brother was the one who looked her partner in the eye and stared for half a minute before calmly patting them on the shoulder and giving them a grin when he felt them shaking.

It was only a few months before Frizz had racked up a substantial number of encounters with the Fair Folk, as the liberal arts students tended to. One of Specs’ friends caught the occasional glimpse of worry beneath his usual friendly demeanor, but since Frizz had seemingly taken her brothers words of mild caution to heart she’d not come out of any of them the worse for wear.

Then, halfway through the year, Specs went backstage after a production had finished, he and the rest of the group of friends who’d come to support those of their number involved, to find Frizz’s partner running to him, terror in their eyes.

“They took Frizz!”

Specs face lost all emotion, and the rest of the group took a step back to give him space. A couple of them followed him as he left the theatre with a steadily quicker stride, and lost him as he began sprinting out into the grounds. They hoped he would be alright, knowing that the loss of a sibling would be heartbreaking. One or two of them resolved to go to his flat to comfort him the next day.

What they didn’t expect the next day was for Specs to be sitting behind a table on one of the main university paths with a selection of gadgets and items in front of him and a big digital timer counting down.

The first person to approach him was met with a fake, friendly smile and asked if they’d like a free sample. When they asked him what on earth he was doing, he took a yo-yo from the table in explanation.

“I’m starting off with the smallest stuff. Wholly iron and steel, six metres long wire string. Get it swinging at two and I guess you could even wrap someone up in it. Time goes on, I’ll start getting rid of the bigger stuff I’ve got stashed around. There’s a spray paint system I worked on the other day, it’s got a lovely red finish at up to twenty metres. I put some red iron-based paint in it, easily replaceable.”

Of course, most people steered clear of his stall, afraid of angering the Fair Folk, but there was always someone desperate, and soon he’d given out about thirty of the smaller things. There were several people who observed a tall man, lines of red rising on his skin in a manner that suggested something had coiled round him, stride over to the table.

“You will stop,” he said in a sibilant, angry tone.

“Huh?” came Specs disinterested reply. “Oh, you’re right, two hours have gone past and still my sister hasn’t turned up. Time to move on to the next batch.”

The man seemed to grow taller, hands becoming more pointed. Specs pulled a hula hoop from the stand and tossed it over the man’s head, breaking a catch and allowing a spool of chicken wire to spring from within, encircling his interrogator. After a couple of minutes, he pulled the chicken wire down, taking a small water pistol from the table instead. The tall man glared and retreated.

After half a day, Specs was seen walking to several iron electric boxes and pulling out things stashed within, before returning to the stand to place his unearthed stash on display. Unlike the steadily grander toys he’d been selling, these things didn’t hide what they were made for. An ugly looking thing with springs held several iron bolas. A mass of batteries were strapped to a couple of electromagnets with a supply of iron filings to feed between the two. Swimming goggles with lenses and rocks. Flashlights with reticules and chemical warning labels. Ball bearings and a hand cranked handheld self reloading catapult.

For those who were desperate, the rumours that had spread around campus were enough to bring them in. Each piece of equipment was explained, warnings about not firing this through a glass window, it could put someone’s eye out, that shouldn’t be aimed at the legs in case it trips someone up, this should be handled with a paint mask and with no-one in the immediate vicinity.

In the evening, as Specs handed out the last of the things he hadn’t been holding onto for himself, a group of assorted people with burn scars, pocks of red and faces in assorted angry expressions that looked near inhuman came towards him.

“You’ve made a lot of people angry.”

“They can join the club. I still haven’t seen my sister.”

“You have no more threats to hand out. You will be sorry.”

“Oh? No, I’ve got a whole wardrobe full of these things. Then there’s the emergency stashes I made, just in case. Then the stuff I’ve left half finished. And, of course, I might start handing out copies of my designs, I had a bunch of people interested in what I offered today and I’m sure some of them would love to know how these things work, try a hand at making their own-”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Wouldn’t I? I don’t see what the problem is. I’m just putting my frustration into something productive. If only my sister were here to calm me down…”

The next day a girl with Frizz’s face approached the stall. She left when Specs offered her a wire Chinese finger trap to try out.

It was midday when Frizz herself appeared, wandering drunkenly over to Specs stall and hugging him as though she’d never let go. Specs brushed her hair with a hand covered in iron rings, murmuring in her ear. He kept one arm around her as he packed up the stall, hefting the duffel bag and stall with difficulty with one hand before the siblings’ friends arrived from class to help.

That evening, in Specs flat, with Frizz lying exhausted on the couch in the kitchen, one of his friends quietly asked why he’d had all that stuff prepared. In the course of one and a half days he’d handed out enough anti-fae tools for a small mob, and he’d been hinting he had even more. One of Frizz’s friends, the one who never wore iron and smiled all the time, looked slightly scared as she asked why he hadn’t used it.

“My family have always been creative,” he said. “You can see my sister’s talent. My dad paints, my mum sings. I imagine things. And some of those things are not very nice.”

He looked at his hands. After two days of being either clenched or solid as a rock, they were shaking now.

“It was fun to imagine solutions to a problem I’d never faced. To make something cheap, effective and that I’d never need to use, but should have around just in case. Heck, I even said to myself that it was alright to design bigger, because it wasn’t as if it’d be used on anyone nice.”

He began to cry. His voice went very, very quiet.

“I don’t want to be known for weapons.”


Foul Weather Food

Ireland in the Spring. Rain. Wind. Frost. More rain. Cold. More wind. Bored with rain? Have some sleet.

So we rummaged about in the kitchen to see what was lurking, and assembled the necessaries for Boston Baked Beans, using the recipe from Jocasta Innes’s “Pauper’s Cookbook”, which I inherited from Mum.

We made a few adaptations based on what wasn’t lurking, like using cubed smoked back bacon instead of salt pork; the result was a different flavour and mouthfeel, very pleasant, but the way well-marbled pork turns to savoury chunks of near-butter is better. It didn’t stop the level in the pot being noticeably reduced before D thought to say, “take a photo”…

That salt-glazed beanpot is another inheritance from Mum, who got it from her Mum, who got it from her Mum…

Except for D’s genuine late-medieval Venetian trade bead (1480-1500) on the braid of her replica netsuke rat, and a book about the Crimean war written while it was still going on (1855), this is the oldest thing in the house, about 150 years if I’ve got the figures right.

And it still works perfectly.

method acting

you once knew a girl, stitched together parts of people she had once been rather than a person herself. she was an actress and her name changed as easily as the shows she took part in,  but she took a part of the shows with her and never realized how much.

she isnt here anymore.

you once knew her as molly, cheerful and childish, sensitive and still innocent. she had bruises on her knees from the dance numbers but never once complained, and her hair was always perfectly done up in pigtails and everyone thought she was very charming and sweet. she didnt know of the fae or anything strange on campus but she was friends with the crows and everyone else because no one could resist her pure good-hearted friendship and she was truly one of the most beloved people on campus.

she changed her name once that show was over.

she was simply fox for a while,  cunning and graceful and this was when she started to realize that there were fae. she wore her costume and even her character out of the theatre, and she never once thought she was attached to the name because it was only a character, and the name made her stand out and wasnt that fun and good. there were people around her and there were people who werent people around her and she started to attract the attention of the second type more than the first. on opening night one of her costume items was a necklace made of teeth and no one looked long enough to question it but they all knew that she had made her first trade, with those crystal beads we all had as kids and no one thought twice about it not even the fae in the audience because jimothy had always been a strange one, and plenty of students had his teeth. and by closing night she had more costume pieces that no one could source, and sometimes her outline was a bit blurry onstage and she did look more like a fox than a girl but everyone put it up to the theater twisting the lines of suspension of disbelief because all of the actors playing animals did look a little strange and the theater was just like that, but fox herself was the strangest of all the actors onstage and everyone believed how she was acting wholeheartedly even if it did last outside of the theater and even after the show had ended but theater kids are just like that so no one payed it too much mind.

there was a break in shows and she wasnt cast and she went by another name that you now think may have been her true name,  but it has lost its meaning to the people she had once been by then. she was agitated and always auditioning for shows youd never known the university was producing but apparently they were,  and when she never got cast she would wander around with a listless look and the feeling that something was missing from her but what was it. without a show to put on she attracted no attention and there was nothing to see and she helped out backstage sometimes and shed see things but they payed her little mind as what was a stagehand compared to a lead actress. she was practicing constantly and her roommate complained of her being stolen by the fae and while it was investigated it turned out that no, she was just like this now and havent you realized by now that theater kids are just like this.

eventually, she was cast in something and she was the stage manager no not as in the position but that was her character and consequently her name. this was when she started making deals and even doing things for others who were too scared to do so. she seemed to know too much and no one knew how but she was safer than most people had been on campus at least that was what she though because how could anyone get attached to being called the stage manager and that protected her more than the iron ring she held or even the salt she carried around in her back pocket. and the actual director called for her to have glasses so she bought some silver framed glasses and for the first time she could see the fae but not so well it was more of a out-of-the-corner of her eyes thing, and though it was useful it wasnt enough until she stole away into a chemistry lab one night, no one knows how she got it, and when she came back she had telltale burns on her hands from silver nitrate, and she could truly see the world around her and for the first time she was scared.

and once finally she was maria and she was very proud of herself and overjoyed but terrified she was very paranoid at this point but it was really only a matter of time because it always is for actors they just dont realize it until too late and she had begun carrying iron and salt and even cream to appease the gentry and items of value for a trade but none of that can truly guard against a true name and hers was common knowledge and she realized that too late on opening night when she felt a certain spark any time anyone said maria which was far too often and she realized her mistake and it was too late and there was nothing she could do and she made it until the last show night because not even the gentry will disrupt a show but on the closing night after curtain call when she had done her final bows as maria and she walked offstage and people asked where she was headed and it was to the dressing room to take her makeup off (and people hesitantly believed her it was a tuesday and nothing does go terribly wrong on tuesdays) but later she was spotted wandering into the forest still in full makeup and costume with a dream-like expression on her face and softly singing and the hills truly were alive with the sound of music

and maria was never seen again but sometimes in the forest youll hear a faint melody and youll know it and youll wonder if shes still out there, or if she ever made it to where she was going through those hills

and youll realize the lesson that many have learned the hard way, that method acting is truly dangerous here


Glitch in the Matrix

Sixpenceee is collecting weird stories, so I thought I’d share mine.

For years, when I was little, I used to trade beads with something in the doorway of my bedroom. I was a little girl, so I chalked it up to fairies. I’m less inclined to do so now, of course, but I still don’t know what it actually was.

I collected things when I was little. I had bunnies, horses, wolves, those little ceramic miniature animals they used to sell at Michael’s on little white cardboard squares, and a drawer full of acorns I picked up walking home because reasons. And beads for craft supplies.

One day I was cleaning my room, and I found four tiny faux pearl beads nestled between the carpet and the door jamb. Cool, I thought, at that size it could be doll jewelry. I put the beads away. Two days later, more beads appeared, different shapes from the first time, oblong instead of round. I put them away. Pink pearls showed up later still. None of them were like any beads in my mom’s craft supplies or mine–and I looked, because they came in groups of 2 to 4, not really enough to do anything with. I put them away, and experimentally left some of my own. They were gone the next morning, and the day after more small beads showed up, once again nothing like we had in the house. This went on for months, a year and more, picking beads out of the crevice between the carpet and the door jamb, leaving some, getting more.

Eventually I got to a chapter book reading level, and Hank the Cowdog commanded more of my attention than my hidden trade partner, but I kept those little pearls well into junior high.


I hear you bought a ship.
I did, then I discovered that it was formerly used for carrying slaves.
I checked the vessel’s log and, before it was taken by the Spanish, it was once owned by the Honourable East India Company.
The shackles were all cast in London.

East India don’t deal slaves.
No, no, they don’t.
But they do run cloth and trade beads to Tangiers with the Scarfe family, and then slaves to Trinidad from Bunce Island through Spanish privateers

          ⇒  Taboo, 1x02

I forgot to mention but we met up with a magic merchant and my drow traded beads of fireball to get a pair of sunglasses to counteract her daylight sensitivity.  The dm thought it was hilarious so he allowed it, so now everytime my drow is outside she has a pair of cool shades on. I’m debating going to every session now wearing a pair of sun glasses because that’s malice

The One With Letters

I’m back! At a much slower pace, thanks to school.

(Also I have no real explanation for this. It just is)

His first letter is almost cast aside for a simple form letter response, but something catches her eye as her hand almost lets go.

She’s the youngest waterbending master in living history, a proud wave who’s renowned as an innovate warrior. Now, at 20, she’s finishing her training as a healer while he serves on her father’s Council.

Right, her father is the Head Chief of the Southern Water Tribes. He’s responsible for keeping all the scattered tribes friendly and trading fairly. Sokka, her brother, is functionally in charge of their tribe as he hones the natural leadership skills of their family.

She does help her father, no matter what the stuck-up noblemen in the North say.

She burns every single one of their marriage proposals.

Keep reading

soooo hoooooooottttt outside…
sipping soy lattes, prepping for another etsy upload, prepping more items for LAST THURSDAY!!! finally able to vend at last thursday this month so for those of you portland dwellers…. come pop by and say hello!
Also did a small batch of etsy items this morning for the shop  : )

slowly slipping into workaholic hermit mode so hopefully some new projects will be manifesting in the next couple weeks along with larger curiosity collections, wall decor and ear hangers. Got a bunch of barn owl pellets to dissect for necklaces, bones to saw, bones to stain, paws to pull out of curing and more mice to wet preserve!!!
will be trying to get to your messages and emails as well as finishing up some custom orders and a couple interviews<3
thanks for your patience and wonderful messages.

lots of sweaty summer hugs and love to you all.

Also, any of you up for trades?
Looking for insects, beads, bones, furs, snake skins, tarantula molts, wings, feet, herbs,oils, tinctures, and everything between <3