Wednesday Reading

Aug. 16th, 2017 09:16 pm
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
[personal profile] chomiji

Quick, quick, quick, 'cause I'm so far behind on commitments that it's really unfunny.

I brought along a virtual stack of stuff (mostly in my Kindle) on our vacation last week. I didn't get to a lot of it, but:

The Harbors of the Sun is the conclusion to Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura, and I'm really sad to leave her dragon/bee shapeshifters behind. I have to agree with [personal profile] muccamukk that the Pearl-Malachite show alone was worth the price of admission, and that "Everyone got something to do [and] we met all kinds of old friends again." I'm not sure that I believed in the Evil McGuffin, and I'll need to re-read the story to truly understand what happened to it, but I appreciated the effect that the incident had on Jade and therefore on Moon. And Wells didn't kill off Stone, which is something that I had somehow convinced myself would happen. *sighs with relief*

Monstress vol. 2 (Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda) continues the story of Maika Halfwolf, a very Liu antiheroine (I first encountered Liu through her Hunter Kiss series). A lot of the action takes place aboard a ship, and I enjoyed that a lot. The captain is a total badass. My heart is constantly in my throat with regard to Maika's Morality Pet, the adorable little foxgirl Kippa, but Liu does sometimes let the innocent survive her harrowing tales, so maybe Kippa is *not* marked for a dire end. I'm not sure what I think of the Power Maika is hosting, though.

I'm now reading Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Strategem. I'm enjoying the new characters and Lee's sly humor, but I miss Cheris right now.

kore: (Watergate - guilty guilty guilty!)
[personal profile] kore
This goes into the history of the Klan in US politics and it's amazing. Truly freaky photos I have never seen before of tens of thousands of KKK members marching in DC in the 20s.



(What I knew about this before watching the segment: "Al Smith was the Catholic governor of New York who split with FDR and was from LES" and the only reason I knew that was because of [profile] muccamuck talking about their historical Cap fic research)

And then she did a great interview with Carol Anderson, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which is amazing.

Anderson's original article in WaPo in 2014 about Ferguson and the backlash of white rage

America is hooked on the drug of white supremacy. We're paying for that today

Why Are Whites So Angry? (NYT review of her book)

Interviews with Carol Anderson on C-SPAN

This was also great: Racism Is 'A Persistent Infection' In White American Culture | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Face Off

Aug. 15th, 2017 11:30 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
I have watched Face Off 1.1-1.2 and 2.1-2.2 and plan on watching more. It's a SyFy reality? show in which special effects makeup artists are given challenges, and one is eliminated each week/episode until there is a winner.

I'm loving this show, but I will say that this is pretty much the first reality TV show I've watched much of? And the part where someone is eliminated and has to go makes me sad even though I know it's inherent to the format. I turn into a marshmallowy ball of sad over this. So far I have also seen them work in teams and backbiting start due to the stress and to the fact that even if you work in a team only one person gets sent home, so people fight over this, and that turns me into a marshmallow ball of sad too.

But! Special effects makeup is something I know nothing about and that I am finding extremely cool as an art form and as a technical discipline--casting molds, working with materials, coming up with a concept, just blending body paint or makeup...so much! I'm loving that aspect of it and learning about how it works. I also often can't tell what's good or bad on aesthetic or technical merits, which is unsurprising--I know zero about this discipline, while the judges are award-winning experts, so listening to their critiques is so enlightening. :D

Episode 1.2's main challenge involved body-painting completely naked models (with naughty bits blurred out) to match/complement a preassigned painting. When the models dropped their robes on the hostess's command, I swear they were smirking at the contestants. And why shouldn't they be? They're getting paid, and they're not the ones who are getting eliminated, and they're beautiful Hollywood people, getting looked at naked by an audience probably is no big deal to them. :p

I also learned based on one of the contestant's behavior during 1.2 that I seriously judge contestants who are rude to their models! >:( I don't care how stressed you are, there's just no excuse. :(

I don't know if they changed this for S2, but I hate the S1 thing where the challenge winner consults with who gets sent home, but that may be because I hate conflict. :]

so blue

Aug. 15th, 2017 11:16 am
kore: (Beth Gibbons - music)
[personal profile] kore


Low with Trampled by Turtles - So Blue (Live from The Current Sessions at the Fitz)

[story] A Benefactor

Aug. 14th, 2017 08:54 pm
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
[personal profile] yhlee
For M.J.D.
Prompt: Sejong Taewang [Wikipedia], "time travel"

Author's Note: I apologize for any infelicities in the setting; it's been some six years since I've visited South Korea and I'm not up to date on the culture, although I did, indeed, drag my mom to Kyobo Mungo as many times as she would stand for it.

===

Eun-hee's friend Bora was supposed to have met her at Kyobo Book Center fifteen minutes ago. Late as usual. Eun-hee tucked herself between two shelves of excruciatingly tedious-looking monographs and texted Bora, just to be sure. A harried woman glided past her, then frowned at Eun-hee until she made way for the woman to peruse the shelves' offerings.

Grumbling a little, Eun-hee gave up on lurking between the shelves. She texted Bora to meet her near the area selling stationery supplies, then strode off, dodging a giggling group of students and a couple not much older than herself. She could always use more notebooks, and she liked the cute little erasers that came in every shape imaginable.

Eun-hee browsed the notebooks on offer. Humming happily to herself, she picked out a selection with adorable drawings of flowers and fruits, or cartoon animals, and erasers to match. She was considering restocking gel pens when it occurred to her to check her purse to see if she'd brought enough money.

Frantic digging turned up her transit pass, that grotesque (and hopefully fake) turquoise-dyed rabbit's foot an English tutor from Stateside had given her, a sad assortment of loose change, a crumpled memo note from her mom reminding her to restock on ginger, that green crystal earstud she had thought she'd lost, but no wallet. Eun-hee cursed under her breath, furtively set down her pile of loot on one of the counters, and began digging again, just in case she'd missed it somewhere obvious.

"Excuse me," said a gravelly male voice.

Eun-hee looked up at the ajeossi in dark turtleneck and slacks who had come up beside her and who was rubbing his chin as if he wasn't used to it being shaved. "Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, and began to scoot out of the way.

"No, no, Miss," the ajeossi said. He was smiling at her, not in a creepy way, but like someone who had discovered a hilarious secret and wanted to share it. He dug in his pocket, then held out three 10,000-won bills. "I have more of these than I could ever possibly make use of. It's like the supply is infinite."

Eun-hee blinked. Was he offering her money? And what did he mean, infinite supply of 10,000-won bills? She was too flabbergasted to be offended. "No, it's all right," she said, as politely as she could manage. "My friend will be here soon. I can borrow some money from her."

"Please, Miss," the ajeossi said. "I can't think of a better use for a few spare 10,000-won bills. I like to see someone with a love for writing." He deposited the bills on top of the pile of notebooks and smiled again, then walked off, soon vanishing into the crowd.

Eun-hee snatched up the bills and started after him, only to be blocked by shoppers. While waiting for the foot traffic to clear, she smoothed the bills with her thumb and examined them more closely. Maybe he'd been trying to pass off counterfeits?

Her gaze snagged on the portrait of King Sejong the Great at the left of the bill. Wait a moment...Mentally, she subtracted the facial hair and reimagined him in modern clothing, like a turtleneck. The face was a perfect match.

Well, if the inventor of the Korean alphabet wanted her to have some notebooks and study hard, who was she to say no? Shaking her head in bemusement, Eun-hee retrieved her stack of notebooks and erasers and headed for the counter to pay up.

your daily catten

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:42 pm
yhlee: kitty using bullet journal as pillow (bullet journal)
[personal profile] yhlee
It's been a while but I decided to try to resume doing daily sketches...



Cloud, lounging on the floor.

Ink: Montblanc Burgundy Red
Pen: Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust. Honestly not my first choice of sketching pen because it's a bit heavier and larger than what I usually prefer, but man does it have a smooth nib.

summer salad

Aug. 13th, 2017 08:44 pm
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
Was feeling miserable and snarly and tired so made the It Takes a Village to Make a Salad supper again, and it was so low-stress and pretty damn yummy. White beans, salmon, a little cottage cheese for creaminess, chilled peas, diced green bell pepper, sliced cucumbers, sliced chilled hard-boiled eggs, garnished with Parmesan, pesto, mustard, salt, pepper. END OF HEAT WAVE/SMOKE HURRAH

Phone pic in crappy light )
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 I was playing the admirable game "West of Loathing" when I had to solve a number puzzle where I had to add up pressing buttons with different values (411,295,161) to reach a specified total of 3200.  I button mashed, then said, to hell with this, this is a linear programming equation, plugged it into Wolfram Alpha, and solved for x,y,z.

God bless technology.

P.S.  If you enjoy puzzle games, silly humor, and combat that can be dialed back so that even the slowest-trigger-fingered in the West -- that would be me -- can play it, try West of Loathing.  I find it engaging, focusing,  and soothing, in times that need some soothing.

Dice Tales

Aug. 13th, 2017 05:50 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I was delighted when I heard that Marie Brennan ([personal profile] swan_tower) was releasing her series of essays on storytelling and RPGs (tabletop and LARP) in ebook format. I've enjoyed these essays, but I am rather terrible at keeping up with essays on websites/blogs, and having them all in one place where I can read them in one fell schwoompf--to say nothing of being able to pay the author to encourage her to write more ;)--was very appealing.

Dice Tales discusses the RPGs and LARPs from several interlocking perspectives: that of the writer, that of the GM, that of the player, and that of the anthropologist. In terms of writing, Brennan talks about ways that the roleplaying experience has informed her writing and v.v., and ways in which storytelling differs between the media. There are also handy GM tips (I am all about handy GM tips, as a GM of limited experience) and exciting player anecdotes. And I have no background in anthropology at all, and Brennan was explicitly studying RPGs while doing anthropology, so it was very cool to hear about them through that lens.

Essays include discussions of what an RPG is, why the mechanics matter, the phenomenon of house rules, how GMs find leverage over their players and ways to use rather than abuse player trust, positive and negative uses of metagaming, the uses of costuming (mostly in a LARP context), when character death is appropriate, the question of consent in games, railroading and GM responsiveness...really, there's a ton here, and it's a great read all the way through.

I found this read especially timely because I am currently GMing a DW comm RPG, [community profile] hexarchate_rpg. Dice Tales doesn't explicitly address play-by-email or forum formats, but a lot of the GMing advice applies anyway. I personally find text media more comfortable because I am not a fast thinker and I have a terrible memory, so text gives me time to think up responses and plot things out and refer to previous moves, notes, etc. I am also shameless--I'm okay asking players directly what plot hook they want out of X development.

The anecdotes of great RPG/LARP experiences sound great, and I find myself envious--in GNS terms, I have rarely gotten to experience Narrative-focused play, which is right now what I prefer. (I used to be a split Narrativist/Simulationist in high school and college. I legit got into Fidonet arguments over whether AC represented damage reduction or damage avoidance. *facepalm* Then I grew up and realized that if you care about simulationism, you shouldn't be using AD&fuckingD in the first place.) When Joe ran his Eberron campaign back in Pasadena (notable for being maybe the only campaign I've been in that ran through to completion, in about a year meeting weekly), my very favorite session was the one in which we didn't even do combat, and I don't think there was a single dice roll. We had been handed the magical equivalent of the plans for the atomic bomb and had to decide what the ethical thing to do with it was, and we spent the entire session as a party discussing how to deal with it responsibly.

On the other hand, I can't help but reflect that I'm not good at tabletop (and would probably be even worse at LARP). As I said above, I'm not a fast thinker. I usually end up spending all our Pathfinder Society sessions being unofficial designated party notetaker (I have fountain pens and I like to use them?) and sketching randomly until someone tells me we're in combat and it's my turn to Power Attack. I can't act my way out of a paper bag, and usually by the time I've thought of a contribution, the play has moved on. So I just have to accept that I'm never going to be particularly useful in a live roleplaying situation. This thing where advanced roleplayers stretch themselves by playing different character types is basically unimaginable to me. I usually ask Joe to design the easiest viable character, mechanics-wise, to play, which is why I ended up with a barbarian in a team feat barbarian (me) + blood rager (Dragon) + skald.

My most successful experiences GMing tabletop/in-person were (a) a one-shot using Over the Edge, a very rules-light system (and even then, I used very few dice rolls and let people freeform most interactions since with a one-shot there's no reason not to) and (b) the Hidden Emperor L5R AU campaign that Joe and I co-GM'd; I handled most of the description and Joe handled the mechanics. :]

(It's hilarious how much I hate crunchy systems. I have a B.A. in math, for God's sake. But I want the math to...mean something? And most systems just feel like they get in the way, for me, because as a writer I'm effectively used to freeforming the hell out of everything.)

Still, even if I'm not a good gamer, I like reading about gaming, and I find different gaming systems and anecdotes (my God, the gazebo story!) inspirational as a writer. :)

Anyway, enough personal maundering--this ebook is a lot of fun, and it's available from Amazon (and probably a couple other places) or Book View Cafe in mobi or epub. Recommended.

[hxx] [story] Irriz the Assassin-Cat

Aug. 13th, 2017 05:04 pm
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For: [personal profile] vass
Prompt: Shuos Zehun, "assassin-cats"

It was one hour and fourteen minutes past bedtime in the Hragoshik household, and the youngest of the little ones, four-year-old Piri, would not go to bed.

Zehun had just arrived twelve minutes ago by shuttle from the starport, bringing a modest travel bag and, as usual, the friendliest and most genial of their cats, Irriz. Sometimes people looked oddly at Zehun for traveling with a cat--a cat on a harness and leash, at that--before they realized who the cat's owner was. When it came to travel, Zehun was a pragmatist. It wasn't true that they ordered retaliatory assassinations if people insisted on delaying them during their rare visits to family, but if their reputation allowed them to skip the lines, why not?

Besides, Irriz, like all of Zehun's cats, was named after a notorious Shuos assassin. Specifically, Shuos Irriz had, in an earlier century, succeeded in assassinating all of a particular Andan hexarch's children and siblings, and had been working her way through a crowd of cousins when she'd died tragically (?) young of unexpected allergic reaction. Whether Irriz the cat would die the same way was an open question, considering how much she liked to try to eat the hexarch's snacks.

Zehun's second daughter, Verissen, was one of Piri's mothers. Verissen, too, had never been particularly good at falling asleep at times convenient for parents. Zehun enjoyed a moment of delicious generational revenge as they listened to Verissen trying to bribe Piri with, alternately (1) an additional bedtime story, (2) shadow-figures against the wall, or (3) extra bits of shredded chicken in Piri's breakfast porridge. Piri wasn't having any of it. In the meantime, Zehun removed the harness, then provided food, water, and a litter box for Irriz, all of which the cat availed herself of.

Irriz made her way to a black velvet armchair on which her splendid white hairs would show up magnificently, raked it with her claws for good measure, then flopped onto it. Fortunately the velvet would heal itself. The hairs were another matter. The velvet was supposed to eat detritus, but for some reason it always choked on cat hairs.

Satisfied that their cat was content, Zehun poked their head into the room where Piri was sitting up in bed with her face screwed up and her blankets kicked to one side. "Why aren't you getting one of the household servitors to put her to bed?" Zehun asked Verissen.

"I usually do that," Verissen said, tugging on a lock of hair straggling loose from its braid, "but I thought we should spend more time together. Of course, I also thought she'd be asleep by now so I could catch up with you properly. I don't know what the problem is!"

Zehun crouched down to bring themselves eye to eye with the little girl. "Hello, Piri," they said softly. "Remember me?"

Piri snuffled. "Gran! Gran, there are too many shadows."

Zehun glanced at Verissen. "You take a break, Rissa. I'll see to the little one."

Verissen didn't even argue, just patted Piri on the head and beat a swift retreat.

Piri snuffled some more. "Gran, I looked under the bed and there are shadows there."

"That means the candlevines are no good," Zehun agreed, "since they're only on the walls. Do you want candlevines under the bed, too?" Probably a nuisance to get the servitors to do it tonight, but it could be managed with the aid of the household matter printer.

"But I won't be able to see anything under the bed," Piri said, with perfect logic, "so how will I know it's working?"

Zehun considered this. "I think I have a solution," they said. "Come with me."

The two of them emerged into the living room together. Verissen was talking to one of her wives about a dinner party she had planned for next week. She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it when Zehun looked at her.

Irriz the cat was still sprawled on the black velvet armchair, having festooned it with numerous long white hairs. Zehun scooped her up. Irriz mewed in protest, but Zehun had long practice avoiding claws.

Zehun and Piri walked back into Piri's bedroom. "You remember Irriz, too, don't you?" Zehun said to their granddaughter.

Piri nodded and reached out for Irriz's tail.

Zehun smoothly diverted Piri's hand to the cat's head, and Piri obediently began scritching Irriz behind the ears. "Irriz is a very special cat," Zehun said. "Irriz is a Shuos cat, and beyond that, Irriz is a Shuos assassin-cat."

Piri looked at Irriz wide-eyed.

"That's right," Zehun said. "And furthermore, since Irriz is a cat, Irriz specializes in assassinating shadows. She will"--this part was even true--"spend the entire night chasing shadows if you let her."

"She'll chase the shadows away?" Piri asked, her voice trembling just a little.

Zehun nodded.

Irriz purred, which probably had more to do with the scritches than the promise of delicious shadows to pounce on, but who knew?

"Go to bed, Piri," Zehun said, and this time Piri did just that. Irriz clambered into the bed and curled up next to her, ready to go shadow-hunting at the slightest provocation.

(no subject)

Aug. 13th, 2017 03:04 pm
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm looking at some Twitter account Tweeting about me in Hangeul for whatever reason (it's nothing bad) and realizing that Korean cheats on Twitter! Because Twitter has that 140-character limit...but each syllable-block of Hangeul is apparently counted as a "character"! So Korean can fit more actual words into a Tweet! That's hilarious.

I bet you get even better with Chinese and Japanese...I'd never thought about that. :D

I'm still bemused that because of the transliteration, everyone seems to assume my family name is 리. It's not! It's 이! :p Sorry, Dad...

Draconic wisdom

Aug. 13th, 2017 02:29 pm
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
Dragon: "Since you already have all these readers judging you, Mom, I'm gonna judge you too."
Me: -_-

The joys of raising a snarkebeest Dragon. ;)

(no subject)

Aug. 9th, 2017 03:50 pm
killing_rose: Raven/corvid in the frozen surf (Default)
[personal profile] killing_rose posting in [community profile] fucking_meds
Dear amoxicillin:

It isn't that I don't appreciate killing the sinus infection. I do.

What I don't appreciate is you mixing badly with my brain and my other medications. I have been out of my godsdamned tree for 12 bloody days, and am only JUST able to go, "...oh hell,that's the meds."

Do not appreciate .

Summer cleaning 2017

Aug. 9th, 2017 09:32 am
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 Found in junk drawer while searching for Ex-Acto knife:  one pair of rounded-tip plastic Safe-T-Cut child's scissors.

My offspring are 26 and 23.

Anti-procrastination Tuesday

Aug. 8th, 2017 06:19 pm
peaceful_sands: butterfly (Default)
[personal profile] peaceful_sands posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Tuesday has rolled around and it's a bit of a disappointment (principally because I spent a good portion of the day believing it was Wednesday...). But all said, it's still time to stop procrastinating and get stuff done. So what'll it be? What are you tackling today? (or tomorrow, or both if you feel like it?)


Are you in need of a little challenge? A little outside motivation? So hmmm, what could it be? For a small challenge, can you repeat the one we used at the weekend - find five things and take them to their correct home. For something bigger - repeat the challenge as many times as you have energy for - 2, 3, 4 or 5 - just imagine the progress you'll have made. As an alternative, set a timer for 5 minutes and tackle a job for that amount of time - 5 minutes worth of washing up, five minutes worth of cleaning, five minutes worth of vacuuming, five minutes of sorting papers - it doesn't matter which but you'd be amazed how much difference a concerted five minutes of action can make - just to prove you're awesome - Wonder Woman and Superman have nothing on you!

(no subject)

Aug. 8th, 2017 03:54 am
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
I couldn't sleep and the haze from the wildfires feels like it's smoking my head from the inside out so naturellement I wrote some fic.

And the shame was on the other side (3154 words) by actonbell
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Atomic Blonde (2017)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Lorraine Broughton/Delphine Lasalle
Characters: Lorraine Broughton, Delphine Lasalle
Additional Tags: Fix-It, Kissing, Past Violence, New York City, way too many literary references, Fake Character Death, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Delphine lives
Summary:

If it's a game she'll play, like the chessmen. If it's a trick she'll be fooled. If it's a trap she'll close her eyes, open her mouth and swallow the bait. Just to keep Delphine standing here. Just to see her.

a beautiful story

Aug. 7th, 2017 11:03 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
You guys, this is not the perfume I went for (sandalwood on me is usually a bad idea) but BPAL's winning entry for their "seven word story" for Envy, submitted by Tyler Butler, is pure genius:
Galatea wept as Pygmalion carved new statues

I salute you, Tyler Butler. I salute you.

I can write flash in the range of 300 to 1,000 words, but seven word stories? That's not a skill set I currently have. *admires*

heptarchate pin update

Aug. 7th, 2017 11:51 am
yhlee: heptagon and flame (mirrorweb) (hxx emblem Liozh)
[personal profile] yhlee
There are apparently a limited quantity of heptarchate buttons left over from Nine Worlds and the extras will be brought to Worldcon for giving away. Solaris won't have a booth, but if you hunt down one of the Solaris folks who is going, they might be able to hook you up! That, or ask a friend who's going to Worldcon. (I will not be there--sorry!) That's all the info I have at this time. :D

[story] The Wolf Who Hunted Death

Aug. 7th, 2017 11:29 am
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
For L.L.
Prompt: "wolf, dragon, rain"

The Wolf Who Hunted Death

Once in a land with two suns lived a wolf who had not been part of a pack for many years. She was old, old beyond the usual for her kind, and she had seen many hunts, and raised many fine pups in her day. But the time had come for her to journey past the woods that her pack called home into the wastelands.

Her pack had begged her not to go, for in the lore of the wolves, only Death lived in the wastelands, and Death was sure to find anyone who went searching for it. But the old wolf pointed out that Death came for those who remained safe in their dens, too, and would not be dissuaded. So they had let her go, singing wolf-songs to the many moons in honor of her passing

Life in the wastelands, the wolf discovered, was difficult but not impossible. Strange skittering ghost-rabbits and wraith-voles lived in the wastelands, and the wolf was able to catch enough of them to sate her appetite. As she ate of them, her formerly dark coat became itself ghost-colored, with streaks of witchy silver, and her luminous gold eyes turned silver as well. The wolf could see these changes in her reflection when she stopped by the few waterholes, but they impressed her little. After all, the changes were matters of the surface only, and she was still a wolf: that was the important thing.

Still, the waterholes were few and far between, and despite their presence, thirst bedeviled the wolf. As the years passed, she scrounged what water she could from the few creeks that crisscrossed the wastelands, and wondered at the utter absence of rain. She supposed she should count herself lucky that she had water after all, and she wondered if Death took the form of a parched tongue, a dry riverbed. She had lived long enough to know, after all, that Death took many shapes.

But the wolf had never been one to turn away from a difficult hunt, and she resolved to seek Death out and challenge Death to allow life to flourish in the wastelands. She didn't have much to lose, as the years went by, and she rather relished the thought of a challenge. Her former pack would have cautioned her against doing any such thing, but they were of the past, and she tired of running through the dust and gravel and withered scrub without a purpose to her days.

So the wolf set out, following the scent of Death. At first it was difficult, for Death's scent was everywhere to be found in the wastelands, and she had to decide where it lay the strongest. But as time passed, she grew more and more adroit in detecting the nuances of the scent.

At last she spotted a hill far in the distance, which intrigued her. The wastelands had their mesas, but this was a more rounded hill like the ones she had seen at the feet of the mountains in her faraway youth. Ears pricking up, she trotted toward it, anticipating an end to her hunt.

As she approached, she smelled something different: water. And not just the dust-tainted water that she had grown accustomed to in her years wandering, but water that crackled with the energy of storm and lightning, water that spoke of thunder-split skies. Reasoning that the time for caution was long past, she let out a howl and broke into a run.

The hill shifted and stirred, and dust rose around the hill as it stretched into a shape the wolf had never seen before. Pearly light shone from serpentine scales, and storm-colored eyes regarded the wolf with curiosity: a dragon.

"Friend wolf," the dragon said, "what causes you to disturb my rest?"

The wolf gazed unblinkingly at the dragon. "If you are Death, I have come to challenge you to return life to the wastelands."

The dragon stretched her neck out and looked in all directions. Like all dragons, she could see great distances, see even to the ends of the world. And what she saw displeased her. "This is not right," she said to herself. "When I came here to sleep, wounded by a knight ancient of days, this was a flourishing plain, green with grass and bright with flowers. Have I truly spent that much time healing?"

"I do not measure time as your people measure time," the wolf said, for although she was old as wolves reckon years, she knew that a wolf's life was but a sand-trickle in the lifespan of a dragon. "This is not your doing, then?"

"No," the dragon said, "but it is something I can fix. Shelter under my wings, friend wolf--"

The wolf did so as the dragon reared up and sang to the sky. Clouds formed gray whorls, and wind sprang up where there had been none before. The wolf breathed the smell of rain, which she had not experienced in all her years in the wastelands.

Rain pelted from the sky and splashed up from the ground. Rain shimmered in the air and glistened on the dragon's hide. Rain formed puddles and rapid-flowing rivulets in the dirt.

And Death, who was watching for reasons of its own, smiled, and eased its grip on the wastelands.

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