Legal Theft Project: Practiced Escapes

Sometimes the island felt like a prison. She could leave more easily than others, but she was also more recognizable, and in more danger than some of the others. If something happened to her, the others would lose one of the main advantages they had over their enemies. So she grabbed her harness and glider. Scaled the cliffs up the sides of the mountains. And leaped. Soaring under her own power over the glittering ocean, it was hard to feel trapped.

Sometimes the island felt like a prison. Kneeling among the earth of his garden, tending the miraculous curse that let them fight for so many years, he wondered if the roots and vines were strangling him. Even dusting off and wandering into his lab did not lessen the weight pressing down on his shoulders. He did have to remain rooted and still. It was lives and purpose and revenge all rolled into one. When his mind rolled too far in that direction, he left the current harvest in the kitchen for others, and retreated farther into his lab. Past the everyday titrations and herbal experiments into the warded room. And there he pushed the limits of power. He often made little progress, but he had time to crack the mysteries of the universe. Incremental progress would move mountains. After all, wasn’t that the whole point of resistance?

Sometimes the island felt like a prison. The holding point between battles and action. Sometimes it felt like a home. Sometimes if felt like both. He’d felt trapped by station, standing, and home before. He’d now lived on the island for as long as his entire family had lived in his old home. He could bleed off the feeling. Ride a storm, harass a trade caravan, sail, go to the theater. But it never addressed the root issue. Few things did. Sparring with his brother was one. And his short idiotic trips to visit someone he should not be, were another. He smiled to himself and planned his next risky trip. Maybe she would like a new jacket….

Sometimes the island felt like a prison. It was the most incredible place he had ever been. Even as he kept travelling, kept roaming, what the isle contained and how it grew and thrived, were miracles he could not compare to others. Even if the grandeur was wearing off, even if the stories were fanciful tales to be told around the campfire and the wonderful lords and ladies wandered around barefoot like regular people in their cottons, he still felt part of another world. So he wrote. To capture the island as it, and its inhabitants, captured the hearts and minds of so many others. To add in the loneliness, the sense of stasis, the longing that pervaded every corner of it. Maybe when their actions failed or succeeded, people would read the stories he wrote and never believe it true, but they would know … so much more. Maybe, win or lose, it would never be in vain.

Sometimes the island felt like a prison. When it did, she ran. When running didn’t work, she sailed. When sailing didn’t work, she worked. When work became meaningless, she sparred. When even that didn’t work, she read. She read everything. Somewhere there would be an answer, somewhere there would be a thought that could change her mind. And when she could not find one, she played. She took her violin to the practice room, and she played and played and played. In music she found peace and freedom. In music she let herself feel all the things she could not let affect her judgement. In music, the island no longer felt like a prison.

I am a thief! Myself and others have thieved the line “Sometimes the island felt like a prison.” from a machete wielding diplomat. Check them out here.

Legal Theft Project: Wake

Dawn called, and he wasn’t going to answer. The night had stained him, and he didn’t want to see what the mottled shades turned into with the light of the sun. But still he lingered, looking at the first rays of light. Birds called and his feet remained rooted to the spot. The faint light picked out the burnt orange of his disguise, but still he ignored it.

This first unrolling of the day promised so much and he felt that promise roll into his bones and wash out a little of the grit and despair he breathed. But he was still weighed down and with every dawn he was running out of time. When the first curve of the sun crested the hills, he turned his back and headed deeper into the shadows, heading into the cool concealment promised by the cave. He would have to face the day, but he could gather himself to pretend that it didn’t ache.

Overwhelmed by the melodrama, the thieved piece is short. I stole this first line from The Gate in the Wood. A few other thieves abound as well…..

Legal Theft Project: Fate Seeker’s Hope

He looked up at the sunless sky and the decision made itself. He wandered purposefully down the shadowed paths, past grottos and bowers, considering phrasings. Lavender roses climbed over a dark trellis highlighting the opening between the deep green hedges. Through the trellis he crossed the courtyard and entered through the black marble arch hung with deep red drapes. His lady was lounging on a black and dark gold chaise on the gallery. He moved to stand to the side of the chaise, but didn’t look down into the arena below. Metal struck metal and he remembered the smell of battle, the sweat of men and horses, of the sea. He pushed them back and away, focusing on his lady. She glanced at him and waved for him to sit, attention going back to her favored entertainment below. He nodded respectfully, but did not sit. He watched her and waited until her hand rose to deliver the pronouncement. A thumbs up. He breathed a little easier, she had been pleased. Her attention turned fully to him, “Fen.”

It felt ridiculous to remain standing, so he accepted the seat on the low chair near her right hand. “Adaya,” he returned, “I’d like to ask for something.”

Her heavy lidded eyes opened a little wider in surprise and pleasure. “But you never ask for things, Fen.” She smiled languidly, “What can I give you?”

His smile back was dangerously careless. “A wager.”

“A wager?” Her smile spread until it showed teeth. “Now whatever has happened?”

Fen shrugged. “Inevitability of time. If I go on like I have been, I will go … lets just say neither you nor I will be pleased by what becomes of me. It may take an age, but…” he shook his head. He looked her in the eye and straightened his spine. “I want a wager for my freedom, Ada. I don’t know what it is or how long it will take, but I want it.”

“That,” she said holding a finger across her lips for a moment, “Will be quite a wager.” She stretched her hand out to touch his cheek. “Your service is very dear to me.”

Fen, eyes engaged for the first time in ages, said, “I know, and I’ll wager anyway. I bet I can find you something of equal worth. I just need the time to travel and do so.” He needed a way out. As long as it was only nearly impossible, it would still be possible.

Adaya leaned back in her chaise. “So you would deprive me of your company?”

“No more than I already do to stay sane,” he replied with a partial bow and a sideways smile. “However, I will be going more places. The mortal realm, the wild lands, maybe farther, I don’t know what I’ll encounter there or if I will hear you when you call. I’ll take your token and do my best.”

She chuckled, looking at him. “Very well Fen”, she said lowly, “see that you do.”

Fen stood, bowed over her hand, and took his leave. Hope brightened his heart and he held it close against the shadows of the perpetual twilight.

Some light fingered line thieves are around. Keep an eye out and see who stole away with the first line of this piece.

Homecomings and Holiday Hazards

Sleeping on the plane was easy after sleeping on wet rocks for three months. Liam didn’t feel refreshed, but between the sleep on the plane and the brisk walk from the bus stop to the family restaurant, he thought he could manage the magic. The restaurant windows were festooned with lights and artistic murals of poinsettias and snowflakes. The interior was dark of the restaurant was dark, but the tree gleamed in a window of the upstairs apartment. He had to take his hand out of his glove to hunt for the spare key. He found it and was glad, a man of his appearance toting a large leather duffel bag and a battered hard roller case fumbling around in the dark at a restaurant side door was usually not the stuff of holiday miracles.

He stepped into the warmth of the entry way and admired the garland on the railing. Plastic candles centered a few arrangements with real pine boughs on the console table. Stockings hung from the wooden mantle, his tacked up there hopefully next to his father and sister’s stockings. Moving quietly despite his luggage, he tucked the roller case into the closet and sat the duffel on the living room floor. He only had an hour or two before his sister woke up, bakers hours started early and customs always took too long. He shrugged away the black feelings and focused on playing saint nicholas. Candied orange peels, spices, and rich chocolates went into stockings. A cross he’d carved from rose wood was tucked into his sister’s. His father got a wooden spoon for his collection, carved with decorative leaves on the handle. He tucked a few gifts wrapped in folded cloth under the traditional tree and moved to the kitchen. Smiled at the prepped station for cinnamon rolls and sweet bread. He was draping a garland of dried chilies around the kitchen window when something warm bumped up against his elbow. He almost stabbed his arm into the festively decorated agave plants in the window. Death by sparkling pointy flora was not exactly the way things were expected to go. Though the fairy light bedecked and santa hat wearing kitchen plants would be happy to change that.

Liam looked down into the orange-yellow eyes of a fat three legged and aggressively friendly cat. He looked at the cat. The cat looked at him. The cat bumped its head into his arm again. Slowly, Liam extricated himself from the plants, and looked into the cupboards near the cat until a bag with a paw and a fish on it caught his eye. The cat meowed at him. He held up a finger. “Don’t blow this for me, okay?” he said to the cat and gently offered it a few of the treats. The cat blinked and then ignored him in preference for the food. He shook his head and finished setting out the decorations, gifts, and lastly, as he checked his watch, starting the process of melting chocolate for a truly decadent brew. He was adding the cinnamon and dash of chilis when Nora came down the stairs and saw the cat on the counter. Her eyes narrowed and she reached for a spray bottle on the end of the counter that Liam hadn’t even seen, then aborted the movement. “Liam!” She hurled herself at her brother, who for his part, grinned and opened his arms to catch her. They hugged, hard. Then Nora pulled back. “Mr. Tubbs isn’t allowed on the counters.” Mr. Tubbs, having finished his bribe, had retreated to the floor when Nora had entered, and remained, sitting on the kitchen floor like a ham bone as he cleaned himself. Liam decided not to tell his sister that not only had he fed the cat on the counter top, the cat had nearly toppled him into her plants. Which would probably have led to her coming down the stairs and throwing a pot at his head, or something. “Sorry,” he said and hugged her again. The hot chocolate need his attention, and by the time he’d settled it, Nora had gotten down the mugs and was throwing questions at him. And the bone tired he’d been carrying with him all through the flight, through customs, and through the snow, vanished in the scents of cinnamon, chocolate and dough.

A few other people may have had encounters with dangerous sparkly flora…….

Legal Theft Project: Tantalizing Danger

The library beckoned. Dove tugged his shirt on before untangling himself from the nest of blankets. Proper barely grumbled as he burrowed into the warm spot he’d left. Dove grinned at him, but could no longer resist the lure of the open door. He’d been sharing Proper’s bed for a few months, and had never seen more than the sliver of tumbled papers and pile of clothes and blankets on the chair. For all he was careless with belongings, Proper was careful of his secrets. But… it had been months, and he trusted that any good secret was decently hidden, so what could be the harm in taking a look?

Dove padded over to the door and pushed his way in, the door only groaned a little and Proper turned over but did not emerge from the blankets. The walls were held up by shelves containing books and loose leaf papers, sheet music, containers of things Dove did not want to touch or breath near, a photograph of an unknown place, scattered statues and photographs, and a few needles close to rolling off shelves.

A window looked out over the frosted grass outside, just now letting enough of the dawn in to read by. A desk was shoved under the window. It was piled with battered paperbacks, scraps of paper with handwritten notes, a few journals, several knives with flash handles, and pouches of the snuff available downstairs. Tucked into a corner was a partially open case containing a carefully polished violin.

Dove extracted a journal from the pile and ran a finger over the embossed letters. It was heavier than the one he wrote in and he unwound the leather cord so he could take a look. The writing was messy, but legible. Dove knew most of the people mentioned though it took him longer than he would have liked to realize he was holding poison in his hand. The secrets in that journal could hurt people and he closed it quickly and wrapped it back up. He shoved it further into the jumble than it had been. Some of the notes scattered around were the same. One of the maps he looked at had markings that indicated camps, maybe men, maybe supplies. Dove looked back into the other room at the lump of Proper completely buried now under the blankets. His stomach clenched a little. The pretty, the dangerous, the illicit, and the romantic all blended into each other in this room, and some of them looked like others. Dove was suddenly certain that he had some of them wrong. He slipped back into the sleeping room and looked down at the person he’d been keeping warm. He shivered a little and went to make breakfast.

Some thieves also found libraries tempting. See who stole my line “The library beckoned.” I think some Kid and a Diplomat may have run off with it….

Legal Theft Project: Maligned Intentions

He was not an innocent man. He’d been chased through mountains, across oceans, and through deserts. He traveled the world and inevitably, somewhere, somehow, one judgmental sword-bearer or another ran into him and swore to end or apprehend. Perhaps they’d started a social club. One where they could practice swordplay and update his list of crimes. Perhaps they competed … no that couldn’t be right, they were all too sure they were on the righteous side of things. Of course… they were… but it would be nice if they might look up from their blind pursuit of justice and look into the shadows right behind him.

It would have so many benefits. They might realize there was more to the situation. They might take a spare moment to consider that it would have been rather difficult to pull off some of the crimes he was accused of, alone. They might, well, live a little longer.

Or they might decide that he was obviously a murderous zealot who’d struck a deal with an ancient evil to cover the earth in darkness.

Really, could no one imagine complications anymore?

Then again… he had woken up ancient evil. Not on purpose…. so… Not innocent, but he was doing his best.

I thieved this first line away from that diplomat with a machete

Legal Theft Project: Worse Days Yet to Come…

His magic had never failed him before, and now a boy was dead. He’d been too late. His protection charm had failed. The protections writ in wood and iron had been no match for the ritual here. The fire burned higher at his back. The light showing the circle, the body of the boy, and the bodies of those who had sacrificed him. At least he’d done that much.

Thus he was dramatically silhouetted in front of the fire and behind the bodies when the guard finally responded to the reports of smoke.

“Drop the weapon! Get on the ground!”

The mage stared for a moment, awed by the universal truth that things could always get worse. Then he muttered a few words and vines burst from his staff to entangle the guards. Cries of “Mage!”, “Demon!”, and “MURDERER!” assaulted him as he wove through the guards to the exit. A few of them got blows through and some of his own blood joined the collection on his clothes. He held back. They were just doing their jobs. He knew what he looked like, and he certainly wasn’t the hero of the piece.

The mage staggered up the stairs to the main floor, across the hall, and out into the garden. Then he ran. Ran through the rows of flowers and hedges. Ran toward the forest beckoning on the other side of the hill. To shelter, to green and growing things, toward life. He got most of the way there and happened to glance back. A figure in gleaming armor with a large sword on his back stood on the garden wall watching him.

The mage gulped and turned back to the forest with all the extra speed he could muster. The day just got worse and worse. Magical reserves all but spent, he made it safely away from the burning house and the horrors and would be heroes it contained. It didn’t matter that he’d tried to stop it. He looked guilty as sin and that was enough. It was only later, holed up in the bole of a hollow tree and miles from any path a horse could walk, that he allowed himself to grieve for the child he’d failed to save.


Hours later, in the room where the bodies had been laid after the search, and before graves could be dug for them. The dead boy sat up and smiled to himself. He hopped down off the table and helped himself to one of the cultists daggers. His smile sharpened and he sauntered from the room. Things were going better than he’d dare hoped.

I am a thief! I stole this first line because someone left a gate open and I couldn’t resist. No really, go see for yourself.

Legal Theft Project: The Proper Lighting

Outside the open apartment gate, a small pack of children threw rocks at passing cars. Fen ignored them and got a closer look at the shattered window and colorful graffiti that circled it. He got a few decent shots, playing with the afternoon light and saturation. He’d gained a small audience by the time he lowered the lens. Apparently he was more interesting than automobiles. He didn’t blame them. If he’d been out on the trail he would have had something for them. Something to light up the day and let them remember him. But … he simply lived here. So he stowed his camera and walked off, long legged strides leaving the curiosity and palpable pressure of boredom at his heels. A block later and he broke into a run. Tightened his camera bag strap so it wouldn’t fly off, and raced down the streets. Stares, whispers, and swears followed him. When he nearly tripped over a man leaving a shop and was treated to an improbable account of his ancestry, he finally slowed. He checked the sun and grudgingly turned his feet toward home, he still had homework to do.

His father was busy with the evening rush and his sister was off with her friends preparing for some school event. He understood glitter and poster board were involved. He managed not to shudder. Slogged through about a quarter of his assigned homework. Took a break by writing his required sentences for Spanish as a villanelle and then gave up entirely. Formulaic, cohesive, unimaginative crap. He put on the CD of traditional guitar he’d gotten when he last visited Spain and pulled up his pictures from the day. He studied the broken window, played with light levels and sharpness. Flipped back to earlier in the day, a blurred shot of a crosswalk, an electrical box so covered in tattered paper you could barely tell what its intended purpose was, the stark contrast of the new bakery next to the abandoned lot with the rusting car. He played with mood, making some stark, some bright, more false… but nothing worked. Frustrated he went downstairs and dug into the cookie jar. His sister must have been experimenting as his cookie contained both chocolate chips and butterscotch and the texture was delightfully crispy. He left her a note and headed back up the stairs.

It was the music that was wrong. Nothing about the pictures he’d taken felt like Spanish guitars. He flipped through his collection and made a list of modern, mostly eerie music and settled down in front of his computer screen. This time through, the broken glass was opportunity wasted, the electrical box showed time and carelessness, and the bakery seemed illogical in its place on that corner. Here, with the ability to manipulate moods, light, and blur, the world he was trapped in took on other properties. Transforming from desperate to mysterious, from abandoned to ancient. From mundane to magical. They became places he was willing to spend time. They just needed proper shading.

I stole this first line from a machete wielding diplomat. Well, at least it gave us something to do.

Legal Theft Project: Once More With Feeling

I would have shut up, but he gave me the “If you do that one more time I’m gonna murder you” look and I adore dodging homicide. A beat later, I ease into the first verse  and by the second line I’m sliding behind a pillar to evade the lightning bolt. He holds his fire as I sing the next few lines, but I can’t help it and by line eight, I swing around the pillar a la singing in the rain and look straight at him. Deep breath while rolling out of the way and into the last two lines of the verse. Build up the bridge. I have a good voice, strong lungs, and know how to use both. Pop lyrics soar between the columns and bounce off the vaulted ceiling. Everyone else is collapsing in laughter. The collapsing also drops them out of the danger range of the purposeful and pointed electric annoyance doing its best to catch me, but so far so good.

The chorus is the absolute best part and we put on quite a show. I skid across the floor, cover behind tables, and pop up at the beginning of every line to direct all of the saccharinely critical lyrics at the ends of his platinum blonde hair. The last line of the chorus and I throw my arms open wide, but I timed it wrong and I finish my note and a bolt hits me straight in the chest. I fly across the room and hit the wall hard. There’s silence for a moment, and then everyone laughs. Well, I cough first, but then I laugh. After a beat, he laughs too and comes over to give me a hand up. I take it.

“You’re supposed to have better taste than this, Oh lord of poetry.”

“While most days I would agree with you, it rhymes, so, therefore it is poetry. Light, happy poetry, but poetry. Plus, I would call that performance poetic. We square, oh lord of storms?” I offer my hand.

He takes it, my hand tingles with the remnants of sparks. “Even enough. Just know that I am going to pick all of the music for the next revelle.”

I blink. “This is going to be painful for me, isn’t it.”


I sigh. Then, “Still worth it.”

My turn to share the wealth, see what my group of thieves did with this first line over here.