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A Bit of Midwinter Worldbuilding (Join Me?)

I love reading urban fantasy, and I've been wanting an urban fantasy world to play in--er, write in. But I don't have an urban fantasy world designed yet. I want something different, with magical beings that suit my personal sense of whimsy. A world different enough to let me challenge my characters with a different set of dilemmas.

I finally have the start of an idea for a world, and want to do some world building. I'd also like to give all of my patient readers a bit of a present.

I'm a cat lover, so there will be cats, probably a lot of them. Not only cats, of course, that would be too predictable. There will be ephemeral beings, and bright colors, beauty and danger, and quite possibly dragons, or maybe something else altogether, but ancient and strange and powerful.

So, if you want to play along and give me a bit of a Midwinter Gift, you can offer words, thoughts, questions, images or songs; my gift, for each of you that do so, will be to pick at least one to inspire me and offer some small glimpse into this world, a vignette or ficlet (at least 100 words), poem or song, or perhaps a bit of art.

Whether you play along or not, I hope you have wonderful Midwinter Holidays, and a marvelous New Year.

Technical difficulties prevent me from sharing a snow picture or two right now; later!

For now, let's get started!


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 25th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC)
In any world run by cats, there must of course, be Cat Chess. ;)

I picture it being a game that unlocks doors as well as determining one's status. Strike a pose, stare down other cats until they cower or pretend they have business elsewhere, step into another world or cross great distances quickly.
Dec. 25th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC)
Cat Chess
Alastair met me at the door. A tall, thin man wearing a tailored silk oil-dyed shirt in shimmering colors running from teal through brighter blues to a rich, deep purple over purple pants. It should have looked gaudy—it was gaudy, but the effect was more elegant, somehow. It was an outfit that perfectly suited a peacock. As the door opened further, I saw he had an equally elegant cream and ginger color-point Siamese cat in his arms.

I blinked, and blurted, “I’m surprised you have a cat.”

The being in question gazed at me steadily. I wondered if it was a natural cat, catkin like me, or something rarer and more mysterious.

Alastair had requested this meeting, but he didn’t invite me in. He stood there with his cat. Right. I held out my hand, palm down, fingers curled back slightly, and let the cat sniff me. There was no tingle of magic, but the cat relaxed.

He smiled, “There’s cats, and then there’s cats.” He rubbed the cat’s head next to the ears, and she purred happily. “Please, come in. We have much to discuss.” He did not introduce the cat.

I followed him, feeling off-balance. If the cat was catkin or something more, it would be a grave error not to request an introduction immediately; if it was a natural, mortal cat, my host and his other guests, whoever they might be, would doubtless judge me a speciesist boor. Alastair was striding ahead; for the moment there was nothing to do but follow.
Dec. 25th, 2013 07:57 am (UTC)
Re: Cat Chess
^_^ But does the cat have a matching tie-dyed ascot?
Dec. 25th, 2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Cat Chess
I guess that remains to be seen.
Dec. 31st, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Cat Chess
I love the shirt. I WANT the shirt.

Purple pants would also be good. ;~)
Dec. 31st, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Cat Chess
If you know someone who could make the silk shirt, oil dyeing flat fabric isn't that hard, at least in principal...
Dec. 31st, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Cat Chess
Ahh, you're so sweet. I love your fantasy-oriented imagination...
Dec. 25th, 2013 05:30 am (UTC)
Any world with cats is bound to be wonderful. :)
Dec. 25th, 2013 08:51 am (UTC)
The shop where anyone may buy any tea that's fit to drink.
Dec. 26th, 2013 02:01 am (UTC)
Yes, located at the county morgue,
with a counter and stools all along the perimeter.
Operated by Stewart James,
who calls it Thé Shop Around the Coroner...
Dec. 27th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)

That's not what I have in mind, but it might inspire something different.
Jan. 3rd, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
The County Morgue
The coroner cleaned the corpse’s face, then wiped the dead woman’s lips clean of the smeared lipstick, leaving the mouth open wide. He crooked his skinny, wrinkled fingers by her mouth. “I can tell you’re still in there, my dear. You really don’t want to stay there while I do your autopsy. It would be quite unpleasant, I’m sure.” He wiggled his fingers like a fond cat-owner offering a good scratch, and then waited, humming an old tune.

After a while, there was a hint of movement in the back of the open mouth. The murdered woman’s body lay quite still on the cold steel table; the movement was only on the spirit-plane.

“That’s right, my dear.” He wiggled his fingers again.

Slowly, hesitantly, a glowing lavender and silver butterfly emerged from the corpse, wings all wrinkled like an earthly butterfly just out of its chrysalis. It climbed onto the grey lips and let its wings slowly stretch.

Very, very gently, the old coroner stroked the butterfly’s insubstantial wings, and the nervous creature slowly relaxed. The wings spread out, wider than the dead woman’s face, and the glow intensified.

“Don’t you worry, my dear, I’ll find your murderer.” He rubbed the tiny, furry head, then picked the butterfly up, placing it on a clean sheet of vellum he had waiting nearby. “Don’t you worry, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Then he plunged a spell-clad needle through the iridescent soul, securing it to the vellum and paralyzing it in all it’s new-furled beauty.

“Don’t you worry at all. I’ll keep you safe and perfect in my collection.”
Jan. 3rd, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
Re: The County Morgue
I liked it right up until the spell-clad needle.
But I might rip it off, the idea at least,
somewhere short of plagiarism,
since I have a homicide-investigator novel
waiting for some revision/rewrite.
Something like that would be a good dream sequence.
Jan. 3rd, 2014 02:27 pm (UTC)
I could quote this passage...
Have Stefanie Tricarico read it somewhere sometime...
Jan. 10th, 2014 08:10 am (UTC)
Catnip Tea? Catnip Tea!
The weathered sign said, “Antares Bookshop - Teas Out Of This World” in gold and black, vintage. The building was old and dilapidated, the windows were draped in antique lace, and the doors—a double-door set, tall and wide—appeared to be solid mahogany. It was too authentic to be anything but a recreation, except it didn’t smell of new paints and varnish, it smelled of old gold leaf.

“I don’t remember this shop being here last month.” Andie leaned in to the glass, trying to see past the lace.

“I don’t remember it either.” I drew in another long breath. There were books inside, old and new, and there was certainly tea, chai and chamomile, English Breakfast and orange spice, mint and—“catnip?”

“Really?” Andie drew in a breath. “I’m not catching that.” She looked disappointed. "It sure doesn’t smell like anyone moved in recently. It smells like it's been here forever—or at least longer than we’ve lived in the city.”
Jan. 10th, 2014 09:00 am (UTC)
Re: Catnip Tea? Catnip Tea!
They are obviously aiming for a wide clientele. :)
Dec. 26th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
Witch/familiar relationships ... in which either party might be the human or the cat.
Dec. 28th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
Mar. 31st, 2014 10:58 am (UTC)
This idea is still percolating in the back of my head. I haven't forgotten it.
Dec. 31st, 2013 06:44 am (UTC)
It seems as though teleportation would be mighty useful magic.

And where there are cats... are there dogs?
Jan. 10th, 2014 08:09 am (UTC)
Not a Whisker
The old man sat in his chair, lips drooping with a habitual sadness. His scent made it clear he was a dog, but I didn’t have enough experience with dog-kin to tell what breed. No one did, really. He could be anything from a chihuahua to a wolfhound, though his facial expression made me think of a basset hound.

“So…” I trailed off. I had a million questions, but they all sounded dreadfully rude.

“Everyone asks. It’s all right, I’m used to it.” He frowned, but didn’t give her time to formulate a question. "My kind used to be as numerous as yours.” He paused, expectantly.

Now it didn’t feel rude—if he didn’t want to talk, he wouldn’t have started the tale. “So, what happened?”

“No one really knows. There were turf wars, but there’ve always been turf wars and other fighting. There were diseases, but there’ve always been those too—and magic and curses and all the rest. We weathered those things just fine for millennia. It was the puppies, really. There were fewer and fewer children, and most of them were just puppies, loved as kin, but just dogs, in the end. For a time, bearing in human form helped, but after a while, even they were mostly just babies, only human from birth to death.”

I tried to imagine it, children only human, unable to shift—not the occasional unfortunate throwback or halfbreed, but whole families of them. “No—no gifts? No magic?”

“Not a whisker.”

I shivered. I didn’t want to think about this any more. “So. This isn’t why you called me.” I made my voice firm, willing it to be true. “What prompted you to request my presence?

Jan. 10th, 2014 08:59 am (UTC)
Re: Not a Whisker
Very sad.
Jan. 4th, 2014 06:30 am (UTC)
I'm interested in the cities. What's similar to our modern cities? What's different? Where's the good shopping, and what kind of restaurants are the good restaurants?
Jan. 15th, 2014 05:52 am (UTC)
Night Life
“I want to go to Caterwaul.” Stacey smiled and posed, holding her cell phone like a microphone.

I rolled my eyes. “I asked about dinner, not karaoke.”

She patted her nearly flat stomach. “Dinner’s over-rated. Besides, I just had ice-cream.”

My stomach growled. “I didn’t.”

Stacey walked over to the windows to stare out at the night and sulk. “So I hear.” Beyond her reflection, I saw a dark round face. A night ephemeral was mimicking her stance and her sulk. It made me want to laugh, but that would be unkind. Stacey couldn’t see ephemerals unless they wanted to be seen.

I picked up my purse. “You go to Caterwaul. I’m going for sushi.”

I could almost see Stacey’s ears perk up. “Sushi?” The ephemeral’s ears did perk, with a gleam of starlight. If it said anything, I couldn’t hear it through the window

“You said dinner is over-rated.”


I shrugged and glided serenely out the front door. I wasn’t at all surprised that the ephemeral met me there. “Sushi?” It’s voice was soft, like the night wind.

“Story?” I asked.

The tiny creature laughed, a sound like raindrops on rose petals, and nodded. I nodded back.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )


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