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I already posted a short bit from how you find out Krish is trans if you read my project in series order, but here's how you find out if you read it in chronological order! It's got a very different feel to it because Toro and Krish don't know each other very well, yet, and Toro's still very undereducated. His heart's in the right place here, he's just dumb as a brick.

600 words.

cw for accidental misgendering


‘Good lad. … Tasuma, stop staring and go outside!

Toro narrowly dodged the queen’s shoe and hurried out with the rest of the crowd.

He was met by a few older looking guards, who motioned to two tents.

‘Men on the left, women on the right.’

‘R-Right,’ Toro gave a nod and hurried to the left line. He got in place behind a human man, who looked back with a snort as Toro took a step too close.

There was a deep scar across his neck and shoulder, like he’d had boiling water thrown on him, and Toro tried not to stare.

‘What?’ the human grunted.

‘That scar’s, uh, pretty nasty,’ Toro managed.

‘That scar’s, uh, none of your business!’ the man snapped before turning his back to Toro.

‘Right, of course not,’ Toro nodded before glancing around and realising Krish had stepped up behind him. ‘Krish?’

‘Yes?’

‘I thought that the, uh— The women—’

Krish gave a heavy sigh, putting her face in her hands, and Toro stopped mid-sentence.

He felt the overwhelming urge to apologise. Had he said something wrong? He couldn’t think what he could have said wrong— But the look on Krish’s face told him he had, and he opened his mouth to ask what it was, but was cut short as Sands came out and motioned for everyone to be quiet.

He started walking up the line of men, marking each name off on a clipboard, until he came to Krish. He barely glanced up as he mumbled, ‘I think you’re in the wrong line.’

‘No, I-I’m not,’ Krish stammered. ‘I’m not a woman.’

Now, Sands looked up. Then quickly flicked through his paperwork. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Krish Galia,’ voice trembling, Krish stood up straighter. ‘I’m a transgender man.’

Toro only half understood that meant— He had no idea what a “transgender” was, but at least he knew now why Krish hadn’t been happy at being called a woman.

A transgender man?

‘A transgender man?’ Sands echoed Toro’s thoughts.

‘Y-Yes sir.’

‘Well, I’m sorry for the confusion, that was my mistake,’ Sands quickly made a note on his paperwork, then looked back up to Krish. ‘These lines are only for uniform measurement. Will you be comfortable being measured by another man?’

‘I’d rather not be measured at all,’ Krish replied, his voice cracking with anxiety. ‘I already know my measurements. I-If I could just write them down. …’

‘If that makes your more comfortable,’ Sands gave a nod and motioned to the tent ahead. ‘Go in now and tell Hajir. Just make sure they’re accurate or I’ll be the one he throws a fit at later.’

‘Th-Thank you,’ Krish nodded, and took a step out of line and made towards the tent as Sands continued down the line.

As Sands passed, the human man from before turned to Toro and whispered, ‘You got any idea what “transgender” is?

Toro shook his head.

I thought it was a seces thing,’ someone else whispered.

Y’all are fucking idiots!’ hissed a voice behind Toro, and he glanced to see a felinic rolling his eyes. ‘Read a fucking book or something! By the Goddess!

The rest of the men in front of Toro turned back around and grumbled, but Toro nudged the felinic man to get his attention.

What books?’ he asked.

The felinic shook his head and sighed, the annoyed look fading into fatigue. ‘Gods, you serious? You ain’t just a transphobe trying to fuck with me?

Yeah, I’m serious.

Kazani: a History and Biography,’ the felinic answered. ‘It’s in the royal library. Foxen culture section.


‘SLUT.’

Dale slammed the breaks on the car, stopping in the middle of the quiet road. ‘Where did you learn that!’

‘Trish said it while babysitting me,’ Gavin beamed. ‘She gave me five dollars not to tell mum.’


Little Demon's first word.

cw: swearing

‘Maybe I should get Coff something nice,’ Ka’harja mused. He held Little Demon under the arms and lifted him up against the sky. ‘What do you think, you scabby little fucker? Should I get him chocolate or flowers?’

Little Demon gave a gurgle, and Ka’harja laughed and pulled him back against his chest.

‘Hah, idiot,’ Ka’harja teased. ‘That’s what you are, aren’t you? Stupid!’

‘F. ... Flu!

‘That’s a new noise,’ snickering, Ka’harja adjusted the wiggling infant until he was more comfortable. ‘You trying to say flowers? Flowers. Can you say that?’

‘F. ... Fuck.’

Ka’harja felt his blood ice over.

Shit.

‘Fucker.’

Oh Eighth Child of the Ninth.

‘Uh, right,’ Ka’harja smacked his lips together and stood straight. ‘Right. Right. Baku? Baku!’

Baku stuck his head out of the caravan he’d disappeared into. ‘Yeah?’

‘Hold this for me,’ he didn’t wait for a response before thrusting Little Demon info Baku’s arms. ‘I have to— I gotta go.’

‘Ka’harja!’ Baku called back loudly as Ka’harja disappeared around a corner. ‘Hey! No! Stars asked you to look after him! I’m busy! Sken said. ... BY THE GODDESS KA’HARJA WHAT DID TOU DO TO HIM?’


Elli, a Canis diplomat, married one of Konde's princes to help make a peace treaty. Then she goes and screws it up by having an affair with the prince of Canis. Needless to say, it's a drama that causes a very serious meeting between the two kingdoms.

Distro, though, knows how to diffuse a room.

200 words

‘If we are seeking forgiveness for our past mistakes from our allies, doesn’t it make sense to offer them the same curtesy?’

Nirine stared at her son in disbelief as her court muttered disapprovingly. Elli could feel their gazes boring into her. As well as the gazes of the Canis diplomats. The only eyes she could see that didn’t look like daggers were Ykelt’s— And Distro’s.

Distro was shaking her head, but her gaze was soft and forgiving. Then she took a deep breath and addressed the room. ‘He’s right, and I’m willing to forgive you, Nirine.’

‘You— Excuse me?’

The room began to mutter, and Elli was stunned. What?

‘I’m willing to forgive you, for the actions of your daughter-in-law,’ Distro clarified, grinning widely. ‘She seduced my grandson, you see. And now we’re caught in this slurry of political drama. And I just want you to know I forgive you. And I especially forgive your son for not keeping her satisfied— If you know what I mean!

The comical wink Distro gave made the room fall silent.

Then Sensin’s mother laughed, and shook her head. ‘You forgive him for. ... Oh, Distro! Oh, Goddess, Distro.’


The first draft of a fight that Linzor starts. This time he's being blatantly manipulative with people.

And even though it's blatant, and she KNOWS what he's doing, it still works to make poor Elli doubt herself.

370 words

cw: abuse / manipulation / fighting / violence

‘You’re scared!’ Linzor growled. ‘You’re scared that Elli and I are going to run off together!’

‘No I’m not I just— You’re a creep!’

‘Zen’efay! I knew it! You don’t trust her, but you can’t admit it!’ Linzor hissed. ‘So of course I’m the villain! Never mind that I’ve been her only loyal friend for years! Her sister and her boyfriend run off together, her mother marries her off, her husband neglects her so much she turns to another man— Who stabs her in the back and blurts about it to everyone!’

Elli could feel her heart racing as Linzor stepped closer to her husband. She could barely breathe as Linzor continued.

‘If I was with Elli I would never have her stray!’ Linzor declared. ‘I’d treat her as she deserved and make sure she behaved! Unlike you!

Sensin’s fist met Linzor’s jaw with a loud crack, and the dassen stumbled back a pace.

The room gasped, as did Elli. She was so shocked by Sensin that she almost forgot to be surprised that Linzor was still standing.

Almost.

But then he looked up at the wolven, his eyes burning with the same seething hatred that Elli had only seen the night he’d almost killed Ykelt, and when he lowered his head Elli felt herself screaming as she leapt between the two men.

‘NO!’

To her surprise, nothing happened.

Slowly, she dared to wink open an eye, and saw as Linzor’s horns —which had stopped only millimetres from her throat— were pulled away. She felt Linzor brush the tips along her cheek as he moved to stand straight, his anger seemingly gone as he gave Elli a familiar look. It was cool enough that people who didn’t know him might think it was reserved, or indifferent. … But Elli recognised it. It was the same look he’d given Keeyata after she’d burnt herself on the stove. … The same look that he’d given Ziu after her favourite glass eye had gone missing from her room. …

He was entertained.

He was having fun.

He made it physical,’ Linzor said plainly, his voice echoing through the silent room as he turned and made for the door. ‘I pray that’s not how he is when you two argue.’


‘Hey, I know someone else who knows Trish—’ Dale quickly stepped away, and Talia and Tiffany were left giggling together until he came back with Zoey. ‘This is Zoey, she went to … uni? With Trish. Zoe, this is Tiffany. She’s a friend of mine, and I also found out she’s friends with Trish.’

‘You gay?’ Zoey asked, so suddenly that Dale choked on his drink.

‘Bit bisexual, yeah.’

‘Girls in suits, am I right?’

‘Consider, girls in summer dresses.’

‘Girls in leather jackets are pretty great.’

‘I have a leather jacket.’

They fist-bumped, and then walked off together, chatting.


Little Demon's biological father shows up in book 3. He told his wife about sleeping with Stars and leaving her in Heck'ne, and Timamisa wanted to meet her and Little Demon and try to set things right and offer Stars support.

Raidus, who loves Stars very dearly, is a touch protective.

225 words

cw: swearing

Ka’harja watched as Raidus took Fabecutt’s hand. He shook it perhaps a little too hard— And his grin was just a little too fake. But the girls didn’t seem to notice.

Or maybe they just didn’t care. Raidus wasn’t exactly being subtle as he forced the dassen into a not-so-friendly embrace, and pressed his lips intimately close to his ear and whispered so quietly Ka’harja had to strain to hear.

If you even look at Stars again I’ll bite your throat out.

There it was.

Fabecutt didn’t argue with Raidus as he was released. He didn’t even seem surprised by the threat. He just looked defeated as Stars and Timamisa watched on, seemingly oblivious to the menacing way Raidus was catching his tongue-ring on his fangs.

Surely Ka’harja wasn’t the only one who saw this happening?

‘I think you two are going to get alone well!’ Timamisa chirped.

‘Yes! Just like me and my brother!’ Stars agreed, matching Timamisa’s tone. Ka’harja could almost think it was genuine— But then, he’d met Lah’kort. And his suspicions were only confirmed as Timamisa headed for the door and Stars’ smile fell before she followed.

As soon as they were out the door, Fabecutt was against the wall.

‘Touch Stars again and it’ll be me fucking your wife!’ Raidus hissed. ‘You got that, undercut?’

Fabecutt nodded.


‘Your life’s been pretty interesting, hasn’t it?’ she asks. ‘You could write a book like this.’

Luana nods, then laughs. ‘What would I call it?’

‘How about “Bisexual and Sneaky”?’


Found this really stupid piece of dialogue in my first draft, of Linzor talking to Kay'oten (in a scene I've been debating deleting)

‘I’ll marry Ali’ka!’ ‘And if she doesn’t marry you?’ ‘Her daughter’s available.’ ‘Not to you lol’


First draft of Scaychie talks to the goddess who shows her visions of the future. This leads to Scaychie’s decision to stay in Heck’ne with Linzor, even after the kidnapped dassens are set free.

630 words

cw: implied kidnapping, abuse, & drugging // vomit

‘What if I take Centela?’ Scaychie asked. ‘What if I just take him— Not leave him behind!’

A sad look passed over the spirit’s face and she slowly blinked her third eye.

Another image sped through Scaychie’s head; bubbling water and a storm, screaming, and her own face as she desperately tried to reach her sinking son in the impossible to fight ocean.

‘You would survive,’ the spirit finally said. ‘He would sink to the bottom. You’d have more children with your husband— But you would miss this one forever.’

‘And if I stay?’ Scaychie sniffed. ‘What would happen if I stay?’

The spirit blinked her eye, and a white flash flared in Scaychie’s mind.

A wedding and a young wolven girl holding hands with her son as their own children crowded in the garden; and a high, happy voice as Keeyata read her vows, her tail flicking so excitedly she knocked over a pot of petals and sent a flurry of pink and blue into the wind.

But it hurt. Scaychie gripped her chest and gasped as it spread across her body and made her tremble in agony.

‘The ache will never truly leave you,’ the spirit told her. ‘It may lessen, in time, but if you sacrifice yourself you will never stop hurting.’

‘What do I do?’ Scaychie sniffed.

‘No choice you make is wrong,’ the spirit told her, crossing her legs and slowly lowering herself to the ground beside the dassen. ‘They all lead to hurt. It is not selfish to choose the path that will stop yourself from hurting; it’s not wrong to look after yourself.’

‘But the others—’

‘—They will suffer too. No matter what you do. … You can make it easier for them. Shield them with yourself. But it will hurt you so much you might lose yourself,’ the spirit blinked slowly.

Scaychie braced herself for another painful vision. But it didn’t come.

Instead she felt light. Her chest not so tight and her worried thoughts faded to a numb feeling in the back of her head.

A bitter, metallic taste washed over her tongue as she stared at her husband.

Something weird.

Out of place.

She couldn’t tell what it was.

What was happening?

Her husband.

She watched him as he stood beside her, trying to place the thought.

He was everything.

No.

Everything was his?

Maybe. …

She’d forgotten something.

Something important.

She had to remember what it was. …

What was she meant to know?

Then Linzor faded from her vision and the weight of reality slammed into her like her memories of storms. Her stomach lurched and she felt so sick from the feelings that had overcome her that she threw up, barely missing the long hair of the old woman as her stomach emptied itself on the ground beside them.

‘I will not fall in love with him!’ bile dribbled down her chin as she stared at the dirt. She felt her chest heave as she held back her building cry. ‘I will fight him! I swear it! I won’t ever feel that way about him! I won’t let myself!’

‘Then leave,’ the spirit said simply. ‘Or he won’t give you a choice.’

‘I can’t!’ Scaychie exclaimed. ‘I can’t leave! Not without the others!’

‘It’s the only way to save yourself,’ said the spirit. ‘If you don’t leave he will change you and your thoughts until you lose who you are. You can fight him, but he will poison you until you love him— And I do not mean that as a metaphor.’

Scaychie hesitated for a long moment. Then she whispered, ‘Do I ever get away from him?’

‘Yes.’

‘And if I stay, it will save the others?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then I’ll bear it. As long as I have to.’


Gala’sha, talking to Scaychie about his regrets and knowing he’s going to die but not when or how.

450 words

cw: violence

Scaychie wasn’t sure what to say. She didn’t know Gala’sha could be nice. He’d always been such a beast to her it was hard to wrap her brain around how gently he treated had Tru’man.

‘Dassen,’ Gala’sha motioned for her to come closer.

She dared slide over.

He gripped her arm tightly and stared into her eyes. After a long moment of quiet he spoke.

‘I don’t know how long I have.’

‘What?’ Scaychie blinked.

‘Until I die,’ he clarified. ‘But I know it’s soon.’

‘How—’

‘—Setani’Selina said it, and so it must be so,’ he said. ‘She is the mala’kala’s katka-zelkin, and has never been wrong before.’

‘About rain,’ Scaychie tried to pull her arm away from Gala’sha, but he squeezed it tighter.

‘Listen to me, dassen!’ he growled. ‘There’s something wrong. There’s something very wrong in this world. I feel it every day. I can’t place it, but I feel it. In the rocks and the sky and the clouds. In the children crying in hunger and the warriors dying with dirt in their wounds. …’

Scaychie swallowed as Gala’sha pulled her close.

‘You, though,’ he whispered. ‘You don’t feel wrong. You feel like … like an old heartbeat come from an ancestor.’

‘You’re insane!’ Scaychie snapped, finally managing to tug her arm away.

Gala’sha grabbed her by the throat and growled— Then a strange look passed over him. Scaychie had never seen it in him before.

Regret.

He released her and turned away. ‘The Heck’ne’s gone wrong. I tried to fix it. I did. But I took the wrong side,’ slowly, he lowered his face into his hands.

‘Why … are you telling me this? Scaychie asked.

‘Linzor,’ Gala’sha growled. ‘He fears you, you know. You speak out against him. You change minds. You make wrongs into rights. I don’t know how —I wish I understood— but you do it. You. You fix things.’

Scaychie swallowed. ‘I just do what needs to be done.’

Gala’sha turned, so quickly Scaychie didn’t have time to respond before he grabbed her hands in his and squeezed them so tight his nails drew blood. ‘I beg that you never stop. Please. When I’m gone, you must care for my people. Guide them right. Fix my mistakes.’

‘I— I don’t know if I can—’

‘—I beg you to try.’

For a moment, Scaychie hesitated. Then she nodded. ‘I will.’

‘You’re a Har’py at heart,’ Gala’sha grinned, his fangs reflecting a sparkle of sunlight. ‘The right kind.’

‘Thank you,’ Scaychie replied. And she meant it. Being called a Har’py would usually make her … feel different to this. But the way Gala’sha spoke— It was in earnest. And it had meaning. Even if she didn’t understand it.


Okay so, usually I only post drafts that actually read like novel, but I like this chapter enough to post it as-is.

A Lot happens. Like, when this is cleaned up it will be at like half the chapter because there’s a lot more character development/world building that needs to happen during the scene.

But yeah! This is what my first drafts usually look like!

1490 words

cw: violence

Centy tells him to get a snack from under his bed.

Geoff pulls out Peedee’s box and exclaims ‘WOW this is a BIG snack!’

Centy SCREAMS and tells Geoff ‘No! NO NO NO NO NO!’ And slams the lid back on the box

Sensin hears Centy’s ungodly shriek and hurries into the room, where he finds the two with the box.

Centy panics, and basically throws himself on top of it, hiding it with his wings.

‘Centy? What is that?’

‘NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!’ Centy screeches back.

Sensin sighs, and calmly closes the door. ‘Show me what’s in the box, Centy.’

‘NO!’ Centy cries.

Sensin approaches, and crouches down. ‘Centela.’

‘NO! NO NO NO!’

Elli quickly comes in, carrying Mingan, and asks if everything is okay.

Sensin explains that Centy is hiding something.

‘Centela, what have you got?’ Elli asks gently.

‘GO AWAY! NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO SEE HIM!’

‘Him?’ Sensin sighs, an exhausted air surrounding him. ‘What’s his name?’

‘SHUT UP!’ Centela hisses.

‘Yeah, shut up!’ Geoff mimics, using Centela’s voice to shout. ‘Shut up! SHUT UP!’

Mingan starts wiggling in Elli’s grip. She whispers quickly in her mother’s ear.

‘A secret?’ Elli responds. ‘You know about it?’

Mingan nods. ‘I promised not to to tell. … Sorry mama.’

Sensin then tries to take the box from Centy.

‘Centela, if you don’t show me I’ll have to take it away.’

Centy lets out an ear piercing screech and lunges under the bed with the box.

Sensin goes to pull him out and Geoff tries to bite him.

They try to get the box from him and he SCREAMS and SCREAMS.

Tru’man and Scaychie come running in. Scaychie’s panicking and Tru’man looks about three times his size because of how fluffed up he is and how stiff his wings and tail are.

As soon as Tru’man sees what’s happening he LEAPS onto Sensin and sinks his teeth into Sensin’s shoulder.

Sensin lets out a scream (as do Mingan and Elli) and the two roll on the floor for a minute as Tru’man drags Sensin away from the bed, then leaps back in a fighting stance, fluffed out and hissing.

‘KEEP AWAY FROM MY KATKAS!’ Tru’man screeches. Then he hisses again, hunkering down and preparing to leap onto Sensin.

Sensin holds up his hands, blood dripping from his shoulder, as Tru’man leaps onto him again and bites into his forearm.

Centy lets out a cry and runs out. ‘NO! NO! DON’T HURT HIM!’

Tru’man holds Sensin, a hand pressed onto the side of his head, a foot on his chest, another holding down his leg, and his teeth in his arm. He stops as Centy runs over and leaps onto him.

‘I was being bad!’ Centy cries. ‘Don’t hurt Sensin! Please don’t hurt him!’

Slowly, Tru’man lets Sensin go. As he gets off him basically the entire castle runs to the room.

Jared bursts through the door, as does Sensin’s mother. They help Sensin up. They go to take him out of the room, but he just shrugs them off and sits on Centy’s bed, letting out a deep breath and holding his shoulder wound. Luckily, neither wound is deep because of Tru’man’s small teeth. They’re just on the surface.

Tru’man looks at Centy, hanging off his hip, to Sensin.

‘You do not punish my children,’ Tru’man said firmly.

‘I wasn’t,’ Sensin groans. ‘I just needed to see what he had. He had a box with something in it that he isn’t meant to have.’

Tru’man looks hard at Sensin, then puts a hand on Centy’s head. ‘Give him the box, Centela.’

‘But—’ Centela cuts off when Tru’man looks down at him.

‘Give it to him.’

Centy climbs back under the bed.

As he retrieves the box, Sensin asks that everyone leaves and let them sort it out. Everyone but Elli and Sensin’s mother shuffle out awkwardly. Jared takes Mingan out as a healer quickly slides in and helps Sensin clean up.

Centy comes out from under the bed as Scaychie picks up Geoff and rocks him. Geoff is telling Scaychie, ‘Centela has got a big yum in the box!’

‘A big yum?’ Scaychie asks, glancing at Centy.

Centela reluctantly hands the box over to Sensin, who takes off the lid and is met with dirt and leaves.

He carefully shuffles through until he finds Peedee. He pulls out the millipede carefully and shows it to the room.

Elli sighs. Geoff claps. Scaychie just stares.

‘That’s just food!’ Tru’man scoffs. ‘Why are you hiding your food?’

‘He’s not food!’ Centela exclaims, clambering onto Sensin’s lap and hiding Peedee protectively. ‘He’s my katka!’

‘Your katka?’ Tru’man repeats. ‘If he is your katka then where is his kekik?’

‘I don’t know!’ Centela admits. ‘But I hatched him from dirt! Just like Tres from the stories about the Rendi!’

Tru’man’s ruff puffs out, hinting at his excitement. ‘Did you?’

Centela explains that he rolled up a ball of dirt and leaves and kept it and it hatched into Peedee.

Elli then explains that millipedes hatch from eggs in the foliage and that an egg probably got mixed up.

‘No! He brought it to life!’ Tru’man exclaims. ‘Zen’efay! I’m so proud of you! Why didn’t you tell me sooner that I’m a yalfit-yalfit?’

‘Can I keep him?’ Centy asks.

Before anyone else can say anything, Scaychie speaks up.

‘Yes. It is your right as a dassen,’ she says simply. ‘Millipedes are very important to our heritage. As important as our own scales.’

Centy sniffs, and looks at his mother. ‘Really?’

Scaychie nods, and promises to tell him about it later.

Linzor calmly walks in now. He looks at Sensin’s wounds, and immediately turns and smacks Centela.

‘You bit him!’ Linzor growled.

Tru’man smacked Linzor. ‘I bit him!’

Everyone starts leaving to take Sensin to a proper medical bay to check his wounds again, and Sensin quickly whispers to Elli.

Elli stays behind with Centy then, but doesn’t say anything until everyone’s footsteps have faded down the hallway.

Centy can feel his heart racing as she turns around and crouches by his bed.

‘Centela,’ she says gently. ‘Sensin said he saw you’d hidden more than just your … katka.’

Centy feels himself close to tears.

‘Show it to me, okay?’

Centy shakes his head. ‘I don’t want to!’

‘Why not?’

Centela shuffles nervously. He doesn’t want to tell her the truth, but he thinks about how hurt Sensin got when he tried to hide things and sniffs. ‘Coz it’s not all mine.’

Elli gives Centy a disappointed look. ‘Oh, Centela—’

‘—I’m sorry!’ he exclaims. ‘It’s just that— Everyone else has stuff! And I want stuff, too! And I don’t have anything that’s mine! And I’m sorry!’

Elli opens an arm and Centy slowly walks over an lets her hug him.

‘Are you going to show me what you’ve taken?’ she asks.

Centy nods, and pulls everything out.

Most of it, Elli realises, belongs to her and Sensin. And there are a lot of Jenna’s toys, specifically. But ones she never really cared about. Centela says that Jenna gave them to him and promises they’re not stolen. Elli tells him she believes him.

Centy watches as Elli pulls out his stolen goods, and puts his rocks and everything he didn’t steal aside.

There’s barely anything left by the time she’s done.

Centy looks sadly at the pile of diminished goods. She let him keep all the snacks, at least.

Elli puts a hand on his shoulder and gives him a comforting squeeze.

‘Here,’ she mutters, taking a necklace out of the pile of jewellery. ‘You can have this one, okay? But you have to look after it.’

Centy perks up at this.

Elli promises to get him some stuff, ‘And you won’t have to hide it, okay? Now … is there anything else you have hidden?’

Centela looks away.

‘Centela?’

Centela climbs under the bed and pulls out a few more things, including Elli’s missing diary.

‘You took my diary?’ Elli sighed, and Centela nodded. ‘You didn’t read it?’

‘No!’ Centela exclaimed. ‘I only took it so that—’

Elli stared as Centela cut off. Slowly, she prompted him to continue, ‘So that what?’

‘Nobody else would read it.’

Elli sighed out her nose. ‘It was in my room, Centela—’

‘—No it wasn’t!’

‘No?’ Elli asked. ‘Then where was it?’

Centela clamped his mouth shut.

‘Centela,’ Elli said firmly. ‘Give me an answer.’

‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because I don’t like lying to you!’ Centela replied. ‘And I can’t tell you where I found it. So I’m not going to answer you.’

Elli was quiet for a long moment. Then her ears flicked back and she scowled. ‘Linzor had it, didn’t he?’

Centela covered his mouth and turned away.

‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell him,’ Elli tucked the book under her arm and sighed. She gently turned Centela back so she could kiss him on the cheek. ‘Thanks for keeping it safe.’


First draft of Centy in hospital, after being stung by a deer wasp and temporarily paralysed.

‘What’s the big deal? This is basically what he did all day anyway.’

‘Keeyata!’ Scaychie exclaims. ‘He can hear you.’

‘So? It’s true. He should be happy he’s got an excuse to lay around moping all day. Wish I could get paralysed,’ Keeyata sits next to Scaychie and puts a hand on her shoulder. Her voice softens. ‘He’s going to be okay, Scaychie. You don’t need to act like you’ve lost him.’

Scaychie squeezes Centela’s hand. ‘I just don’t want him to be alone.’

‘Well, I’ll keep him company while you get some sleep.’

Centela prays his mother says no.

‘Alright,’ Scaychie sighs, standing up. ‘Just … be nice.’

‘Sure,’ Keeyata nods, and leads Scaychie to the door. ‘Go get some rest now.’

Scaychie leaves, and Keeyata sits next to Centela.

‘So, this must suck a whole bunch,’ Keeyata comments.

No shit, thinks Centela.


‘I didn’t move here all the way from Ja’Ja Nakan to be treated this way!’

‘If it’s so horrible here, why don’t you go back?’ Wryn asked.

‘Why don’t you go back to the Gallamor?’ she snapped, turning on her heels.

Wryn fell silent.

‘That’s what I thought,’ Zezi responded. ‘It’s not that simple, and you know it.’


‘What?’ Luana said loudly. ‘Speak louder, Linzor!.’

‘I said I like the new curtains.’

‘WHAT?’

‘I SAID I LIKE THE CURTAINS!’

Elli rolled her eyes, knowing her mother’s hearing was fine, made for the back door.


The opening of Stars' third eye (literally)

For context, Stars is a nurlak; a four-eyed race of humanoids. However, Stars was born with her second set of eyes imperforated, meaning her eyelids were fused together at birth. She was never treated for it and her second set of eyes were always just sort of under the closed lids.

There's an accident when she's training with Baku, and she's nicked by the tip of his sword... And it doesn't go well.

cw: blood / gore / facial injury / pus / general gross stuff

Baku swung his sword the way he'd said he would and Ka’harja held his breath. It was his first swing that could actually hit Stars; the first serious lesson. If she didn’t move out of the way or block Baku’s sword it would get her in the chest. … Sure, her chain mail would block the worst of it, but Ka’harja couldn’t stop imagining it tearing as if it were paper.

Stars made for the block. She stepped back and lifted her own sword in one motion, preparing to expertly block Baku’s swing. But at the last second Stars’ foot slid on a rock; her ankle twisted and she dropped her sword as she fell to her knee.

Baku stumbled back awkwardly, too far through his swing to halt. The tip of his sword barely tapped Stars’ face and Ka’harja sighed with relief. At worst she’d have a cut on her forehead, at best it would just be a light scratch…

But then Stars fell forward, gripping her forehead and screaming, and Ka’harja leapt to his feet.

‘It hurts!’ Stars exclaimed. ‘Baku! Help me! It hurts!’

‘It’s just a scratch,’ Baku tried to comfort Stars. He stepped to her side and put a hand to her shoulder. ‘It’ll hurt for a bit but it’s not—’

Baku’s pause made Ka’harja’s chest tighten. His heart felt like it was going to explode as he raced over to Stars.

She still clutched at her head and blood oozed between her fingers; lots of blood. Too much blood. And there was another, pus-like liquid. Yellow-brown and thick, Ka’harja could smell its rank oder as he reached out and grabbed Stars’ arm.

She squeaked and pulled away as Ka’harja tried to see what Baku’s sword had done.

‘It hurts!’ she repeated. ‘It hurts like fire and scratches and punches all at once!’

‘Get Coff,’ Ka’harja demanded to Baku.

Baku nodded and started back to the caravan.

Ka’harja tried to coax Stars off the ground, but she refused to move. Tears streamed down her face and she struggled as Ka’harja forced her to her feet and dragged her towards the caravan.

‘Stars, you’re hurt!’ said Ka’harja, his voice breaking. ‘You have to get to Coff!’

Stars shook her head and collapsed to her knees again. She trembled for a second before looking up to Ka’harja. ‘How bad is it?’ she asked nervously.

Ka’harja watched in horror as she slowly pulled her hand away from her forehead. Blood and pus trailed after it, sticky and stringy like too-thick gravy. It dripped down her arm and face and she had to wink her eye to stop the blood from getting in it. The small cut Baku had made had torn open wider and jagged-edged skin sliced across almost half of Stars’ forehead.

Ka’harja nearly threw up when he saw the wound. ‘Bad.’


‘Why won’t you talk to me?’ she cried, grabbing her wife around the waist.

Sken froze in place, and for a long moment she just stood there.

‘Please talk to me,’ Annanyn sobbed. ‘Why don’t you trust me!’

Then Sken turned, and put her arms around her wife. ‘I trust you.’

‘Then why does how Stars feels matter?’

‘I don’t want to lose you,’ Sken’s gills clamped, and she let out a sob. ‘She has everything I can’t give you and it makes me so scared I can’t breathe.’

‘You’ve got more than she could ever offer me,’ Annanyn said softly, leaning into Sken’s chest and hugging her. ‘You will never, ever lose me. I promise.’

‘She’s everything I want to be,’ Sken said, her voice quivering. ‘And she. … I know it’s stupid, but I feel like she’s going to take everyone from me. Like Koko and— And you.’

Annanyn’s lights lit up; though for once, it wasn’t a happy glow. She threw her arms around her wife and squeezed her tightly. ‘I would never leave you.’

Sken shivered, and looked away. ‘Even if it meant you could have a child?’

‘No, not even if it meant I could have a child,’ she replied, her voice calmed and her lights dimmed. ‘Because if I couldn’t raise them with you— Well … what would the point of it be?’


Centela + Mingan as kids, when they are running away from home!

‘Where are you going?’ she whispered.

‘Anywhere but Heck’ne!’ Centela responded. ‘Yalfit is mean! And I’m always hungry! And I never ever want to go back there ever again!’

Mingan thought for a long while, the squeak of her wheelchair echoing through the quiet castle as she rolled the wheel back and forth.

‘You’ll be so alone …’ she mumbled. ‘I’m coming with you!’

‘I don’t need you! I’ll have Peedee,’ Centela declared, holding Peedee’s container high in the air. ‘Stay here. Your stepapa Sensin is really nice. You don’t have a reason to run away!’

‘Yes I do!’ Mingan retorted. ‘You’re my friend and I don’t want you to be alone! That’s my reason!’

‘Go back to bed,’ Centela growled, with as much bitterness in his tone as he could muster. He didn’t mean it— But he was good at faking. ‘I don’t like you.’

Mingan looked struck. And Centela took that as his leave. He turned and silently made his way down the castle’s steps to the dark courtyard— And jumped as a crash sounded behind him.

He turned, and saw Mingan spilt out on the staircase, her wheelchair overturned behind her.

‘I said to go back to bed!’ Centela snapped, flapping his wings. He fought the urge to go to her. To pick her up and turn her chair right. ‘I! Don’t! Need! You!’

Slowly, her entire body trembling with effort, Mingan pushed herself to her feet. She limped two steps down and collapsed again, her scarred leg slipping out from under her.

‘I’m coming,’ she said firmly. ‘And if you don’t let me come with you I’ll— I’ll—’

‘You’ll what?’ Centela grumbled. ‘Tell Sensin I’m running away? I’ll be gone before he—’

‘—I’ll cry!’ Mingan decided. ‘If you leave without me I’ll cry and cry for the rest of my life and I’ll never stop and it will be your fault!’

Centela hesitated. He didn’t want Mingan to cry. Especially not for the rest of her life. That was a long time to be upset. …

‘Please let me come!’ already, tears were welling in her eyes; reflecting the gentle blue light of the castle’s soulstone lamps. ‘Don’t leave me behind!’

Centela’s scales went cold. Colder than Konde’s night air. … Colder than the snow under his feet. He didn’t want Mingan to be sad. Especially if it was his fault.

‘Fine,’ he sighed, hurrying back up the stairs and pulling Mingan up. He helped her walk down to the courtyard and then glanced back up the steps to her wheelchair. ‘It won’t work outside. The snow’s too deep.’

‘That’s okay,’ Mingan told him, licking her tongue through the cleft in her lip. ‘If you let me lean on you I can walk.’


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