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Tea and Conquest (Cult of the Butterfly 4)
Tea and Conquest (Cult of the Butterfly 4)
The sun was setting, spilling egg yoke fire across the distant skyline and painting Raina’s backyard in shades of ochre and dragon fire red. Her fig trees were starting to flower, the bottom of the garden a riot of insect life in the fading twilight. There’d be bats later, taking advantage of the killing ground her open lawn offered.
Vibration in his palm brought Sebastian’s attention back to his screen, where battle reports were coming in from the other R4s. They’d been coordinating with a rival tribe to take down a third who’d come storming into their territory, wreaking havoc in the glens. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. And from the looks of the numbers on his screen, it would appear the sting went well. It was part of the reason for his lingering presence this evening. True, Raina’s mother usually took one look at him and announced he needed feeding up, but shift patterns and
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Mature content
Like a Dog (Cult of the Butterfly 3) [CLEAN] :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
In Nomeni Patri (Cult of the Butterfly 2)
In Nomeni Patri (Cult of the Butterfly 2)
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”
The confessional. One of the Church’s most sacred institutions. In this nu-millennial age the realities of social anxiety and financial stress were still taking their toll, leaving the common bod with a fistful of woes to face that had no ready fix available.
The hunter-gather psyche was poorly equipped to deal with such issues. Thus, any sort of outlet that offered some small hope of release became increasingly important. The anonymity of the faceless listener could not be underestimated, in this day and age any more than the last.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”
A monotony of anguish and slight. Some of it imagined, some not so much. The Brotherhood took a more prosaic view of the situation than its parent institution. Members receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation were encouraged to go beyond the traditional ritual when considering Acts of Atonement.
We are here
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
Mature content
Debutante at the Ball (Cult of the Butterfly 1) :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 1 0
Midnight Train
Midnight train travels my tracks
carrying unshed tears.
High above the ice
that grips my arms, constraining
My agitation, binding
it for the devil it is
Twined, in bloody thorns
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 2 3
An Unexpected Visitor to Marshall College
An Unexpected Visitor to Marshall College.
“You have a visitor.”
The old man sighed, setting his papers to one side and removing his glasses to give the pretty intern at the door his full attention. “A visitor?”
She nodded. “From London.”
Understanding dawned. “The Brit.”
The intern pursed her lips in what could best be described as doting disapproval. It was the sort of expression one reserved for grandfathers who were being difficult.
It made him feel old, though the answering smile that touched his lips was genuine. And earned him the cheeky grin he’d been hoping for in response. Setting the glasses down, he glanced at the empty classroom in front of him, debating briefly, then shrugged.
Let her see the truth. I’m proud of who I’ve become.
“She waiting outside?”
“I left her by the trophy cases.”
Good girl. He nodded, careful t
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 2 6
Mature content
Black Orchid (Part Two): Peepshow :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 1 0
Mature content
Black Orchid (Part Two): Clean up on Aisle Three :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 1 0
C's gone...
Saw you smiling amongst
Botticelli clouds and
Gaultier Angels
As the gates swung back to let you in.
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 1 4
Time out from the World (To Walk the Path 28)
Time out from the World (Path 28)
“The ‘Circle of Virgin Thorns’...? It sounds like dodgy porn if you ask me.”
Timo stuck his tongue out. “Good job I didn't then.”
“Least you got us in there somewhere.”
“Could hardly miss you out, after all you've done for me.”
Ikari smiled, gazing away at the ring where it bisected the night sky overhead.
“Now...” Timo leant in the squeeze his arm. “No getting maudlin, you promised!”
“I know...” The Nym shook his head, smile sad. Timo reached up to rescue the tear on his cheek, kissed him softly. The Nym's skin was cool and salty, a fact not entirely down to the tears: the Run had hit some rough weather on the way out of Mestrarl. Summer storms were particularly bad this year according to Enrico.
Yet tonight the sky was clear as a bell, the ring and the stars behind it painting the heavens with all their beauty.
Ikari pushed away from the rail to r
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
Love Beneath the Stars (To Walk the Path 27)
Love beneath the Stars (To Walk the Path 27)
Rivan was stood alone smoking quietly at the centre of an abandoned dance square, the coral lanterns a soft glow to either side. Somewhere a guitarist was strumming idly, picking out notes above the chords as voices from the various small groups still doted about murmured in the pre-dawn darkness.
Really need to do something about my sleeping patterns, he mused, smiling ruefully to himself. Getting up for the ceremony this morning had been a real effort, but now it was coming up on the next morning and he was still wide awake. He knew he’d pay for it day after tomorrow when it eventually caught up with him, but such concerns had no place in this rare moment of content.
A clearing throat made him look up, and he smiled reflexively at the figure wandering out into the open space, only belatedly realising who it was.
“...Rupert Taiin! As I live and breath.”
The clerk smiled self deprecatingly, blond forelock falling t
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Vows (To Walk the Path 26)
Vows (To Walk the Path 26)
Crisp sunshine lit the sky as the famous (and infamous) gathered from across the Arc. The streets of Incarnate were lined with well wishers, many of whom had been up since before dawn to stake out their spot. Caitlin had been clear on this point: a spectacle was important, not as a demonstration of power, but a message of inclusion.
“We need the people to feel like they’re part of this. The Precinct’s big, but we can only cram so many into the grounds. Particularly when you will insist on inviting Drakes to the occasion.”
Mikael had held up his hands, pointing at his sister, who had arrived a few days earlier looking tanned.
“Hey, don’t look at me!” Clarissa had protested. “Blame Timo, he’s the one with the scaly fan club.”
So a parade it was, complete with carriage drawn by a matched set from Railu’s own herds. Caitlin had wanted to ride Mustangs through the streets, but Mikael had pointed out
:icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
Mature content
Dust Settles (To Walk the Path 25) :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
Mature content
Blood on the Walls (To Walk the Path 24) :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 0 0
Mature content
The Seal (To Walk the Path 23) :icongladefaun:GladeFaun 1 0
Old Friend, Fresh Face (To Walk the Path 22)
Old Friend, Fresh Face (To Walk the Path 22)
The Captain of the Baracudae lowered his telescope, eyes narrowing. “What are they playing at?”
“I don’t know sir.” His lieutenant bobbed unctuously. “Orders?”
“Ready the batteries. If they’ve had enough then we had best oblige them with the killing blow.”
“Aye aye Captain.”
The lieutenant scurried away across the aft castle, heading for the ladder down to the main deck, and the scorpions that dominated this end of the huge ship. The trebuchet would be more devastating but it took longer to calibrate them for the required distance and they needed to be quick. The pertinent point being of course that they had (as yet) failed to score any sort of significant hit on the much smaller, but therefore far more manoeuvrable, craft they currently faced off against.
He slid to the base of the ladder and was setting off across the main deck when the ship pitched suddenly beneath hi
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Birth :iconkhaoskai:khaoskai 351 8 Dicoeur restaurant/wine bar (Paris) :iconyoann-lossel:Yoann-Lossel 167 21 Snow Villiers Naked :icondaemoncollection:DaemonCollection 202 23 FLAMEingo :iconcaveofdreams:Caveofdreams 45 7 The Guardians :iconryky:ryky 3,590 138 Daily Paint 1550. Fox Hole :iconcryptid-creations:Cryptid-Creations 3,901 95 The Trail :iconwojtekfus:WojtekFus 6,457 182 Jill Valentine :iconnarga-lifestream:Narga-Lifestream 1,024 80 Spidey vs. Hulk :iconchristiannauck:ChristianNauck 46,848 3,881 Kings Grip :iconwillgamesh:Willgamesh 75 72 Passing Through Your Own Storm :iconwalyco:Walyco 626 187 Thranduil Fanart :iconwalyco:Walyco 20 1
Mature content
Camili-Cat :iconseraphicreverie:SeraphicReverie 9 8
Daily Paint 1536. Thorgi :iconcryptid-creations:Cryptid-Creations 6,587 189 Borkh Three Jackdaws - Gwent card :iconakreon:akreon 2,464 46
Seventh Son: Chapter 10
Tam poked her head round the door, face breaking into a relieved grin as she caught sight of Caleb. "Ahoy, farmboy! You're looking terrible."
He laughed, then winced as the pain in his ribs flared. "I feel worse." 
"Ai selah!" She pushed her way into the wagon, flopping down crosslegged next to him on the cushion-covered floor. "For what it's worth, you weren't bad out there. Even with the whole throwing-yourself-off-the-wagon thing."
He grimaced, clutching the blankets tighter around his chest. "I didn't exactly choose to do that. It just... sort of happened."
"Y'know, I didn't reckon it was a particularly thought-out tactic. Effective, though." She laughed. "I don't think she know what hit her."
"Me. Apparently." And there was that sick feeling again, twisting deep in his belly. "She's dead, isn't she?"
Tam nodded. "Broken neck." 
"Oh." It was what he'd expected, but somehow it was still painful to hear. "I didn't mean to-"
"Don't waste your pity. She was scum
:icongentlemananachronism:GentlemanAnachronism 4 0



:icongentlemananachronism: :iconnarnia564: :iconnergling: :icondays-be-strange: :iconliliwrites: :iconmissvixy: :iconhiddenbytheleaves: :iconanthromancer:

Journal History


GladeFaun's Profile Picture
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United Kingdom
Greetings traveller. Welcome to my gallery.

I'm a literary and visual artist (hence the 'varied' above), with a slight lean towards the written word. Been a member on here for some years, but only actively so for the last few. I'm not a regular poster - my work/commute schedule does not lend itself to reliability - but I do try and get on here at least once a fortnight to swing through the forums etc. DeviantART is a community after all :)

For anyone reading this whose interested primarily in my writing (and has an e-reader), you might be well advised to head on over to my Smashwords page here… where you can find my work available to download in almost any format you can imagine.

Titles include:

My newest endeavor the 'Cult of the Butterfly', which a friend lovingly coined my 'drag queen witches thing' :D. Chapter one is featured opposite, and I plan to attempt something approaching a regular release schedule for consequent installments over the coming year.

'The Star Plague Journals', my four book cyber-fantasy, now complete. You can find the first chapter of book one 'The Orphans Revolt' here

'Harlem's Deck', whose first chapter 'Fairground Attraction' ( won me a DD from the kind people of the lit community :)

'Filthy Gore' (what it says on the tin - sex and violence, with a paranormal twist). 'Black Orchid' is the most recent addition to this set. It can be found here and here

Anyway, thanks for washing in on the surf. Enjoy your look around x


Tea and Conquest (Cult of the Butterfly 4)

The sun was setting, spilling egg yoke fire across the distant skyline and painting Raina’s backyard in shades of ochre and dragon fire red. Her fig trees were starting to flower, the bottom of the garden a riot of insect life in the fading twilight. There’d be bats later, taking advantage of the killing ground her open lawn offered.

Vibration in his palm brought Sebastian’s attention back to his screen, where battle reports were coming in from the other R4s. They’d been coordinating with a rival tribe to take down a third who’d come storming into their territory, wreaking havoc in the glens. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. And from the looks of the numbers on his screen, it would appear the sting went well. It was part of the reason for his lingering presence this evening. True, Raina’s mother usually took one look at him and announced he needed feeding up, but shift patterns and study commitments didn’t always allow for him to stay much beyond the return of either household matriarch from their day jobs. So he’d been treated to a bowl of Madam J’s infamous gumbo, sopped up with hunks of crusty bread slathered in cream cheese and washed down with pint pots of Kaid’s homemade lemonade. This last was part of a school project Kaid’s class were doing that required the serious five year old to then gather feedback from his guinea pigs.

Personally, Seb thought this was a subtle ploy on the teacher’s part to give everyone else a taste of what her working day was like but he schooled his features, receiving a nod of approval from Maisey afterwards. Raina’s eldest was incredibly protective of her younger siblings, a trait brought on at least in part by the weight of responsibility she’d been forced to shoulder after her father walked out on them. Certainly Kaid and Lucy looked up to her like a second mother.

The creak of the screen door made him turn, and he smiled as Raina stepped out onto the veranda, tray in hand. It bore a pair of citronella candles and a brimming jug of mojito.

“Kaid’s teacher should get them to make this in class,” Seb suggested, smiling as she laid the tray carefully between them before taking a seat on the step.

“Not sure whether the mixing of alcohol would go down so well with the board of governors,” Raina replied, chuckling.

“I suppose your average room of five year old is hyper enough without further stimulants.”

“Oh I don’t know, you should see them at story time. Mr Bear has a real talent for getting them to settle.”

“Hmm, I still think it’s creepy they let the school janitor read to them.”

Raina rolled her eyes. “Only because you have a warped mind. He’s a harmless old man. Used to be an actor you know. Why he’s so good at story time.”

“Thespians, bah! Bunch of degenerates if you ask me. All after something.” But he was grinning as he said it.

“And you witches aren’t?”

He placed a palm solemnly against his chest. “We users follow a higher calling.”

“In your case, one that seems to be dictated by your dick.”


“Hush! Kaid’s just settled down and Mum’s reading to Lucy so she’ll nod off too.”

“Sorry.” He gestured at the glasses. “Shall I pour?”

“Why thank you.”

He served up for them both while she checked her own screen, swiping through the various chat threads.

She accepted her glass with a nod of thanks. “So, it went well.”

He nodded, fingering his own screen. “Think we’ve got them pretty much running for the hills with their kilts pulled up about their chins in dismay.”

Raina raised an eyebrow. “Surely that’d leave certain other areas exposed?”

He shrugged. “Perhaps. But you’ve gotta have something to clutch in fright.” He took a swig of his drink, lips smacking appreciatively. “Suppose it could be their arses, seeing as how they have just been handed them on a plate.”

“What an unnecessarily gory image.”

He rolled his eyes. “You know, for a fearless warrior queen you really don’t have a very strong stomach.”

“Yeah? Well, not all of us spend time dismembering flying rodents in their spare time.”
“I’ve already told you it’s toe of bat. Toe. Not spleen, or liver, or any other internal organ for that matter...”

A cleared throat sounded behind them. Both turned to find a pair of stern faces and crossed arms regarding them.

“If you two don’t mind, might you keep the noise down?” the older woman enquired.

“You’re ruining Tod and the Fire Giants,” Lucy explained, delicate features screwed up in censure. The mass of her unruly red curls did not help Seb in his efforts not to laugh.

“I’m sorry sweetheart. Mummy and Uncle Seb promise to be quieter with their victory celebrations.”

Lucy considered this for a moment, glancing up at her Grandmother. Mrs Johnson senior gave the slightest of nods, gesturing minutely with a finger. Lucy stepped forwards, accepting Seb’s quiet apology and good night kiss, and the hug her mother proffered before returning to her Grandmother’s embrace.

“I’ll be turning in myself directly afterwards,” the old woman announced. “Maeve and I have an early start tomorrow.”

Raina stood to give her mother a quick embrace. “We’ll keep it down.”

Madam J nodded, smiling at Seb over her daughter’s shoulder as she kissed her forehead. “Don’t stay up too late you two.” She stepped back inside. “Peace be with you young Wicca, we’ll see you again at the weekend.”

Seb raised a hand as the old woman and her charge walked back up the hall into the house. He always found it unsettling when Raina’s mother invoked his craft. It left him with the disconcerting impression she could see what he was, what he harboured.

“Hey, you know she doesn’t mean any harm, right?”

He turned to Raina, smiling. “I know. Just gives me the heebie jeebies is all.”

Raina laughed quietly. “Seriously? You?”

He shrugged. “Everyone’s freaked out by something. Can just imagine her knelt before that little alter of hers, praying to all those little saints to save my soul.”

“Now you’re just stereotyping.”

Sebastian topped up their glasses, chin raised with eyes wide. “Perhaps. But she does have an alter.”

Raina stuck her tongue out. Slipped a hand down the front of her top to produce a couple of blunts.

“Ah!” he exclaimed sotto voce. “The victory dance.”

She nodded. “Quite.” Passed him one and leant in to light her own off the flame he clicked into being above his thumb. They both took a drag together, holding the smoke in their lungs. Seb caved first, sputtering quietly as he cleared the dregs. Grinning as Raina released hers in a practised plume.

“So, tomorrow’s the big night.”

He nodded.

She eyed him shrewdly. “You seem… nervous?”

He flashed a smile. “It’s… difficult, I don’t know. Been planning this for so long, and now here we are. Can’t shake the feeling it’s all going to go horribly wrong.”

“Why?” She sipped her mojito. “Hmm, that’s good if I do say so myself.”

“I don’t know. I’d not really factored in any of the interpersonal stuff. Like Merran, or Devan’s relationship with Carlton and Drew. I feel like I’m stepping onto a minefield without knowing where the charges were laid.”

“But that’s why you decided to take your time. Gives you the opportunity to unpick all of that, at least to the point where you can understand most of the likely outcomes.”

“I suppose.” He shrugged. “It’s just cold feet I guess. Like anyone about to make a big commitment.”

“Yeah. Just count yourself lucky yours doesn’t involve a white veil and a scumbag with Mummy issues.”

He raised his glass to chink it against hers. “I do indeed count myself so blessed. Besides, we both know white would be a terrible colour for me.”

“Hmm, yours would need to be harlot red.”


“Or possibly jade… See what I did there?”

“Yes, very funny.” He sighed. “Anyway, back to shop talk. What are we going to do about Cod?”

Her brow furrowed. “I dunno. Wait to see whether they honour the accord first, I guess. If they don’t move we know we’ve got a problem on our hands.”

“Yeah, a problem that includes three high level castles and a sacred circle.”

“They can only use that thing twice during an event. It’s their skin changers I’m more worried about.”

“Yeah. Brings a whole new meaning to the ‘surprise’  in the nursery rhyme: that the bears involved might end up picnicking on you.”

She laughed. “Well, if you spent a little less time gathering skymetal for those ridiculously phallic swords you might have more resources to spare for your own band of teddies.” She took a drag on the blunt. “Always thought that’d be cool, being able to shape change. Haven’t you?”

“Ew, no?!” Besides, what I do isn’t technically shape changing... “Can you imagine how painful it’d be?” Seb shuddered. “All those breaking bones and stuff...”

“But surely if it was magic it wouldn’t hurt?”

Seb patted her on the arm. “Sister, magic always hurts if that’s an option. Trust me, I speak from experience.”

She eyed him through the haze of smoke between them. “I’m not entirely sure I want to know, Mr Laikee.”

He shook his head, grinning. “No, to be fair you probably don’t.” He took swig of his drink. “Let’s talk about something else. How’s Clave?”

She blushed. “Busy with a niece’s birthday party. Said he’ll be on tomorrow.”

“Hmm, I did wonder why he was being so quiet. Quite aside from it being mid morning over there.”

“His sister’s talking about coming this way in the summer...”

“And he might just decide to join them? Raina that’s fantastic news!”

“He hasn’t said anything yet...”

“With that man it’s more about what he doesn’t say.”

“Yes, well. Just you keep it to yourself, you hear? Mum doesn’t know...”

Seb gave her a wide eyed look.

“Oh she knows about him,” Raina reassured him. “I was surprised actually at the progressive attitude she took, but then she does have friends she cams with up in Neppon. I just haven’t told her he might come this way.”

“Planning to introduce him on the doorstep are we? ‘Hi Mum, this is the long distance lover I’ve been telling you about. Might want to buy some ear plugs for the next week or so. And don’t worry, Seb’s having the kids.’”

“First of all, I would never do that to my mother. It’d just be weird.” She shivered. “Secondly, who says I’d trust you with my kids?”

“You do now.”

“No, I trust Maisey with them. You’re just there in case some jumped up neighbour decides to start bawling about minors left unattended...” she reached over to squeeze his arm at her expression “...I’m joking! I’m joking… though we’d have to do some serious childproofing before we let Kaid loose in your apartment.”

“That I will concede.” He chugged the last of his glass. “Right Mrs. Time for me to hit the hay I think.”

She nodded. “I won’t be far behind you. Couch is all made up for you. And apologies if young man disturbs you first thing.”

Seb shook his head, grinning. “It’s cool. Think I’d miss it if he didn’t. You staying up for a bit?”

She waved her half finished blunt, which had gone out. “Thought I’d finish this, soak up the moment.”

He nodded. “Bit of well earned solitude.” Standing, he leant across to offer her a peck on the cheek. “Night Raina.”

“Night love.”

Copyright Paul Smith 2017.
Tea and Conquest (Cult of the Butterfly 4)

Seb always looked forward to dinner at Raina’s for two reasons: her kids, and her mother’s famous gumbo. But tonight there was a third reason for celebration: their recent victory in Woad.

There is a murderer stalking the city of Shensang. His name is Sebastian Laikee, and a blue butterfly stirs deep in his soul, shaking out fractal wings. As the storm of possibilities unfolds he must choose his path (and his allies) with care if he is to succeed.

Tea and Conquest is the fourth installment of Cult of the Butterfly, my latest piece of serial fiction. As ever, smashwords edition can be found here…


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Like a Dog (Cult of the Butterfly 3)

Devan shivered as he stepped back out into the evening air. Spared a brief glance for the building stood behind him huddled amidst the surrounding apartment blocks before setting off up the street. Thomas’ church sat in the middle of Highgate, one of the old inner city suburbs that had seen better days. The Insurgency had not been kind to the place, leaving it in desperate need of some financial input. But with the city’s fat cats moving out of town following the unrest, the city council had decided the cash might be better splashed elsewhere. So now the district belonged to those who needed easy access to the city’s central and commercial districts but couldn’t afford the likes of Sunrise heights or the Copse.

It wasn’t a bad area: crime wasn’t particularly higher than elsewhere, but then that wasn’t saying a great deal in a city whose soul was so tarnished he suspected even Jesus would have a hard time scrubbing it up.

Time to bring out the marigolds mate.

Grinning, he headed up the street, plugging earphones in as he went. Bit of Bletchley I think.

Stuffing his hands in his pockets he made for the end of the street, ignoring the crossing as he headed north for the end of Dipong. Across the tea gardens the Western Line curved in to skirt the head of the square before turning north towards Shizilu Station, where he could change for the Suburban.

The tail end of rush hour was still littering the platform as he arrived, slipping between men and women dressed for the office. The tea gardens were a popular stop off for those who didn’t have to rush home, or had palms to grease away from their boss’s all seeing eye, so he only just made it onto the next train that pulled in. Spent the entire ride stuck between a couple of youngsters in the latest Chen Tza broadcloth, and a pair of nurses heading in for the night shift. He smiled at the nurses, rolling his eyes with them when one of the suit’s crasser comments penetrated Bletchley’s low drawl. Gestured them out first as their ride pitched up on the satellite platforms which ran down Shi’s western edge. Disembarked himself, leaving the youngsters to their dodgy politics as he crossed to survey the board.

Hmm, half an hour ‘til the next one.

A slow smile spread across his face. Turning, he made his way casually towards the far end of the platform, where a set of broad stairs led down towards the gents.


“I’m home…?!” He pulled out his headphones, cocking his head and grinning at the sudden scrabble of claws on hardwood. “Rus!” Scooped the tiny bundle of energy up to ruffle it’s ears, grinning at the excited yapping that ensued. “Where’s Daddy, eh? Where’s your Dad?”
The tiny dog barked enthusiastically, tail wagging furiously as he attempted to burrow into the depths of Devan’s armpit. “Hey! Seriously dude, I don’t stink that much. Come on.” He deposited the ball of excitement back on the floor. “You need to go out?”

The dog sat abruptly, tail wagging. Yapped once.

“Well ok then. Come on.” He strode down the entrance hall, crossing the lounge at the far end to unlock the patio doors. A fresh bout of yapping was followed by a swift exit onto the decking and down into the garden proper beyond. Devan grinned, shaking his head as he turned, leaving the door ajar as he headed for the open plan kitchen. Deposited the bundle of his phone and headphones onto the counter as he headed for the fridge. It’s light spilled out into the darkened room as he surveyed the contents, torn.

Fuck it.

Reaching in, he removed a beer, twisting the top off as he closed the door once more. Flicked the under cabinet lights on to keep the deepening twilight at bay. Took a long swallow from the bottle, sighing contentedly as he leant back against the counter.

Ah ha.

Reached across for the note pinned to the fridge. “‘Gone fishing. Be back tomorrow.’”

So, trade.

Devan grinned, shaking his head. Mitchel was the epitome of the gay bachelor, always on the lookout for the next bit of fun. The fact he was rich and fairly well hung just compounded the situation.

There really is no hope for you my friend.

Mitch was adamant that he would eventually settle down, but in his mid forties there was little sign of that yet happening. A situation not helped by the string of fit young men who seemed to find his particular blend of confident charm irresistible. This, combined with his job (he’d taken the same step as many ageing recording artists and gone from musician to producer at his own label) meant that Devan got the house to himself a lot of the time.

Well, mostly… he amended, as Rus came charging in to do a lap around the lounge before exiting once again. The chihuahua ostensibly belonged to Mitch, but in practicality Devan took care of him as often as not. A reality that didn’t seem to bother the tiny canine in the slightest. It was an arrangement that suited both men entirely. Their work and social lives kept them busy at different times, so that they probably only shared the living space two or three times a week.

Not that that’s a chore… he considered, surveying the spacious lounge. The other advantage of them both being on good money: their house, though out in the suburbs, was at least twice the size of Carlton and Drew’s flat, and that wasn’t tiny.

Right, time for a shower. Striping off the tee he’d been wearing he opened the washer and threw it in, grabbing his beer as he headed for the stairs.

A couple of hours later he opened the fridge to fish out his second beer. Dinner and the resultant dishes were done. Bletchley’s croon had been swapped for the liquid synths of Lipid Shock on the stereo and Rus was snoozing in his bed after his walk. Flipping the kitchen light off, Devan skirted the breakfast bar and crossed into the lounge, collapsing into the recliner that served them as an office chair. The desktop sensed his presence, chirping to life with a quiet whir of fans. He proffered his palm in the cams general direction and the computer piped a greeting in response, light unfolding on the monitor as he set up his key space. Lounging back he flicked the browser icon, waiting as it cycled into being.

“Time to see what the wider world has to say.”

The Glade forums were abuzz with the Queen’s birthday. Likewise the coven sites. Merran had clearly jizzed all over their own VPN with (Devan was amused to see) a variety of pics that just happened to include Sebastian’s blond mop lurking in the background.

Cheeky, but not without precedence, he mused, remembering his own introduction to the sisterhood.

He completed the expected round of validation, thumbing hearts and stars as site appropriate. Paused to grin at a particularly saucy comment from Swan. Offered a pointed response about thorns in uncomfortable places.

Last on the list was the art commune he frequented. Plucking the offending snaps from his phone he flicked them across to the main screen, finessing the order into something more pleasingly narrative before thumbing the post button. His inbox contained responses from two of his regular correspondents. One was thanks for a recent critique he’d offered, the other part of an ongoing conversation with the young poet from across the water he’d been chatting to. The guy’s poetry was intricately beautiful, and though much of it was quite dark there was often a glimmer of hope at its heart, like a night sky shot threw with starlight.

‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be ok’ read the tagline on his profile. Seeing it never failed to make Devan smile.

The door went. Leaning back in the chair he raised an eyebrow, grinning at the expression on Mitch’s face as he entered the lounge.

“That went well then?”

Mitch grabbed a beer from the fridge, pulling a face as he dropped his keys onto the breakfast counter.

“Not quite what you were expecting?”

“Not really.” Mitch took a long pull from the bottle, lips smacking in appreciation. “Wish people wouldn’t piss about like that online. I hate fucking time wasters.”

Devan nodded, tapped the send button on his response before closing everything down with a casual wave. “The joys of online anonymity.”

Mitch growled. “Yeah, but that only works up until you agree to meet someone.” Crossing to the lounge he dropped onto the couch with a sigh of relief, glancing at the unresponsive Rus. “Hello to you too, flea bag.”

“Leave him alone, he’s had a hard day.”

“Hard day my arse. You let him out?”

“Took him for a walk too.”

“My he has been spoilt!” Mitch raised his bottle in a toast. “Thank you.”

“No bother. Meant I could justify desert.”

Mitch chortled. “I was wondering why you were looking like the cat that got the cream.”

Oh dear, am I still smirking? He debated schooling his features, but it was a pointless exercise round a bloodhound like Mitch.

“So, your day go ok?” Mitch asked.

“Closed the deal on the Santiagos place. And been speaking to Swan about spaces for the upcoming equinox event.”

“I still say go with the carpark. It’s got the right sort of vibe for what he’s intending.”

Devan nodded. “I’m inclined to agree, but you know what he’s like. Digging his heels in to see if we cough up a better offer.”

Mitch laughed. “The joys of doing business with the ancient.” He took a long swig, smacking his lips in satisfaction. “You get a lift home?”

“Nah, had to swing by a friend on the way.”

Mitch’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “That friend live on platform fourteen by any chance?”

Bingo. “I may have had to wait for the suburban...”

Mitch’s laugh was full bodied and ribald. Devan found himself grinning along, blushing for some reason like a school boy.

“Well, at least one of us got lucky,” the other man offered, hoisting himself to his feet. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

Devan nodded. “There’s the new episodes of Rain?”

“It’s a date.” Mitch stood, leaning down to scratch behind the chihuahua’s ears. Groaned as he straightened to head for the stairs. “Might want to put some ear plugs in if you’re coming up.”

“Too much information!” Devan called after him, receiving a finger in response as Mitch mounted the stairs. Smiling he went to put away the dishes.

A disgruntled noise drew his attention to the dog’s bed. He peered over the counter. “I’m sorry, did I disturb someone?”

Rus snuffled low in his throat. Devan blinked, flipping to peer across at the otherside. The canine monstrosity there cracked one smoking green eye at him, head like a small convertible shifting on its forepaws. He blinked back before his mind could put too much effort into spatial reconciliation. It’d only give him a migrane.

Finishing up, Devan flipped the light out as he headed for the stairs.

“Later dude.”

Another snuffle followed him upstairs to bed, and thoughts of what the following evening had in store.

Copyright Paul Smith 2017.
Like a Dog (Cult of the Butterfly 3) [CLEAN]

Like many gay men Devan viewed the rush hour commute as an opportunity, not a chore.  

There is a murderer stalking the city of Shensang. His name is Sebastian Laikee, and a blue butterfly stirs deep in his soul, shaking out fractal wings. As the storm of possibilities unfolds he must choose his path (and his allies) with care if he is to succeed.

Like a Dog is the third installment of Cult of the Butterfly, my latest piece of serial fiction. 

The [EXPLICIT] version can be found in a variety of e-reader friendly versions on smashwords here…

In Nomeni Patri (Cult of the Butterfly 2)

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

The confessional. One of the Church’s most sacred institutions. In this nu-millennial age the realities of social anxiety and financial stress were still taking their toll, leaving the common bod with a fistful of woes to face that had no ready fix available.

The hunter-gather psyche was poorly equipped to deal with such issues. Thus, any sort of outlet that offered some small hope of release became increasingly important. The anonymity of the faceless listener could not be underestimated, in this day and age any more than the last.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

A monotony of anguish and slight. Some of it imagined, some not so much. The Brotherhood took a more prosaic view of the situation than its parent institution. Members receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation were encouraged to go beyond the traditional ritual when considering Acts of Atonement.

We are here to make a difference, his old tutor, Father Makri used to say, wrinkled jowls creased in a smile, let that difference be relevant! Let the advice you offer be tangible, rather than some vague piece of proselytising. Otherwise our presence out here amongst the stars becomes little more than a well intentioned farce.

Such statements usually prompted some quote from one of Makri’s favourite comedies; the man was famously irreverent in his tastes when it came to entertainment. But such mockery did not, Thomas felt, diminish his message. And it was one the young priest had taken with him when he finally left the Mission’s echoing halls to make a difference in the wider world.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

Some questioned the work he and his brothers did out here, questioned the very foundations of his faith.

How can you carry on when almost everyday the news features some fresh atrocity involving the damned? Yet the most your side can muster are a handful of poorly documented interventions where they did little more than offer encouragement…

This sort of attitude, he rather felt, missed the point. That being that he, unlike his forebears, had actual proof of the enemy they sought to defeat.

What further validation of the righteousness of his cause should he need?

As to the lack of proof concerning his own side, well… it was called Faith for a reason.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. A lot.”

His gaze shot to the confessional window, peering through the ornate latticework that was one of his church’s few riches. The Brotherhood of St. Christopher was not a wealthy arm of the faith, for all it was it’s most wide reaching.

“What are you doing here?”

“What does it look like? I’ve come to confess.”

“You can’t be here,” Thomas hissed, leaning towards the rosewood screen, “someone might see you!”

“Who? The place is deserted.”

Thomas cursed under his breath, wrestling for a moment with cross in hand before stepping from the box. I will not desecrate the sanctity of this institution. Standing in the echoing cool of the nave, he smoothed a hand down the front of his cassock, touched his dog collar self consciously as the other man emerged. Strong. You must be strong.

“Nice place you’ve got here.”

“What do you want Devan?”

Devan eyed him, chin up, head back, one hand raised unconsciously to his lips. Thomas made himself look away, started instead across the nave towards the central aisle, fumbling his lighter from pocket of his robes. Glanced over his shoulder when there was no sound of following feet. Found Devan watching him from the rear of the pews.

“Seriously Devan...” he began lighting candles, lifting them one at a time from their tall, wrought iron stands to touch flame to wick before replacing them. He was well aware many found his use of the old flint wheel nuzo something of an anachronism within these walls, but Thomas saw no problem, given his mission.

“I just thought I ought to keep you abreast of developments.”

The penny dropped. “The party. Of course!” Thomas placed the last candle back on it’s stand, snapping the lighter shut with a practised flick that made Devan smile. “Well, how did it go?” he asked, advancing back up the aisle.

Devan shook his head, smiling. “Well.” Lifted those beautiful eyes to meet Thomas’ own. “As can be expected at this stage, anyway.”

Thomas nodded. “Excellent. That’s good. The introduction occurred?”

Devan grimaced. “It was brief, but then given the occasion...” he shrugged those broad shoulders “...the real test will be later this week.”

“Ah, yes...” Thomas forced his expression to remain neutral. “The coven.”

“You could try saying it like it wasn’t a dirty word. I thought your lot were supposed to respect other people’s beliefs.”

“We are, as long as those beliefs don’t impinge upon civil liberty.”

That shut him up. Thomas sighed at the downcast look Devan now wore. “You’re doing the right thing now. That’s what matters.”

“So I keep telling myself.”

Thomas stepped forward to squeeze his shoulder. Ignored the twinge in his belly as the other man met his gaze. “You’d best go.” He glanced at his watch. “Evenings usually attract more of the old dears, and they have a tendency to turn up early.”

Sighing, Devan turned to go, striding towards the double doors that headed the nave.

“Let me know how it goes!?” Thomas called after him. The witch raised a hand as he slipped out the door.

The priest stood starring at the portal. Finally he turned away, a small sigh escaping his lips as he went back to his candles.

After the sermon there followed the usual round of PR. A process that could sometimes take almost as long as the sermon itself. Thomas had long ago learnt to allow for it in his day, though the sheer amount of minutiae produced by a parish, particularly an inner city one as hectic as his own, never ceased to amaze him. But he’d made a commitment when he’d taken the place on to be as involved as humanly possible. To show an interest in everything that went on, from the youth theatre group that rented the space once a week, to the Mother’s Union bake sale that Mrs Emerson so tactfully reminded him was looming on the horizon.

He wasn’t insane: his young verger Adisa was a Godsend (quite literally). And much as he may complain about May Emerson and her cronies on the MU, they formed one of the sturdiest of the pillars on which the community stood.

So he took his time, listening and carefully committing to memory anything important. Makri had considered it bad form for a Priest to be seen with pen and paper. It cheapens your relationship in their eyes, he’d argued, speaking about parishioners. They don’t want to feel like a diary note! The old man had chuckled. Appearing to know everything will do wonders for your reputation…

The sound of the outer door closing was always followed by a slow count to five (to be certain everyone had definitely gone). Then he’d walk swiftly but calmly to the cloister for several minutes of feverish word vomit, making sure to get everything down in the master diary. Memory disciplines or not, the short term memory was only made to hold so much information for so long.

He smiled fondly as he finished scrawling, remembering the time May Emerson had walked in on him. It was during his first month of tenure, back when they were all getting used to each other. There had definitely been that feeling of a mother walking in on her son doing something he shouldn’t be, a sense only deepened by the slightly awkward silence that ensued. Then she had smiled politely, apologising for the further intrusion but she’d “...forgotten to remind him about the flower arrangers due the following week”.

He’d thanked her, having regained some of his own composure.

She’d paused at the door, a small smile playing at the edges of her lips. “Don’t worry Father, your secret is safe with me.”

The wink she’d offered as she left spoke volumes about the three sons she’d raised.

Satisfied he’d got everything down, he did something unusual for him and returned to the nave, heading across the front of the pews to kneel before the alter steps.

Hello Father. He gazed up at the cross, imagining the tolerant smile of the man nailed there. Glanced to one side at one of the six stained glass windows that were his church’s other extravagance. St Christopher glowed with the fiery light of sunset, his patrician features surveying the room from above the neck ring of his space suit.

Father, it’s not in my nature to ask for things... he shook his head above his clasped hands, grinning wryly I won’t break the habit of a lifetime. But I was always taught that you are a good listener. So if you’ll indulge me? He took a breath, shifting position and feeling his right kneecap click in protest. I’m getting old. He glanced up at the alter again. That wasn’t a complaint! He chuckled. Surrender the trappings of youth and all that… Lord, I’m starting to sound like my mother. Yes, well…

Get to the point Thomas.

Hmm, yes. Conflicted emotions. Figurative hand wringing. You get the idea Lord…
he looked up at the figure on the cross again… sure you had to deal with more than your fair share in your time. So you’ll get where I’m coming from when I say things are starting to get a little... ‘murky’?

We’re approaching a juncture in our work here. And I find, now I face the crossroads again, that I’m not keen to step across the line a second time. I know… I know! … that this is why I am here. Why the Brotherhood have placed me in this city, where I might do what needs to be done. Life, any life, is sacred. It’s one of the first tenants of faith.
Everyone deserves a chance at forgiveness. You yourself died for that very reason…

He had to stop. Dab at the unexpected tears stinging the corners of his eyes. Sacrifice for the greater good. It was the reason he’d first joined the ministry as a younger man. The reason he’d taken his vows. The idea carried with it a rush of emotion that never failed to leave him feeling empowered.
But that didn’t stop the doubt.

I understand the reasons, and to be honest I agree in this instance with the course we have chosen. The council have meditated on it, as have I! Makri always tasked us: ‘be not a tool, a blind conduit. What the Church requires, make it your own. Take responsibility! And if you feel you can’t, say so! No one man can know God’s will.’ I believe there was a caveat in there concerning his Holiness in Rome (he chuckled at the memory of Makri’s pursed lips, the old man’s eyes dancing as he held up a finger to forestall any further cheek) but as his intercession is literally years away we must accept this burden ourselves.

So. We move forwards. And hope that things come out for the best. Amen.

He levered himself to his feet, ignoring the twinge from his knees. Not quite the spring chicken I used to be. Though he was well aware most of his colleagues in the city would laugh at him if he dared refer to himself as ‘old’ within their hearing.

With a final genuflection to the alter, and a nod for the Saint, he headed for the rear of the church to lock up.

Oh to have been born a few centuries and light years from here, where ‘dealing with people’s demons’ did not have quite such a literal meaning.

Copyright Paul Smith 2017.
In Nomeni Patri (Cult of the Butterfly 2)

Father Thomas takes his work very seriously. But even a man of the cloth such as himself can have his Faith tested.  

There is a murderer stalking the city of Shensang. His name is Sebastian Laikee, and a blue butterfly stirs deep in his soul, shaking out fractal wings. As the storm of possibilities unfolds he must choose his path (and his allies) with care if he is to succeed.

In Nomeni Patri is the second installment of The Cult of the Butterfly, my latest piece of serial fiction. It's also available on Smashwords here… in a variety of e-reader formats.


Mature Content

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1: Débutante at the Ball.

Murder sat at the bar.

Her drink was a Virgin’s Sunrise, all pendulous red base and bitter sweet kick. He found he was quite proud of the cocktail. Rather resented the woman now ruining his careful layering with a straw and half a slice of pineapple.

“Do you really have to do that?”

“What?” She glanced down at her glass. “Well sorry! Didn’t realise it wasn’t for drinking...”

Seb sighed. Reached out to squeeze her wrist. She stuck her tongue out, but there was a definite chink in the ice. Witness the playful glint she threw his way across the rim of the glass, artfully kohl-smeared eyes laughing. “So, come on, you were saying…?”

He sighed, glanced up and down the (abandoned) bar to stall for time.

“Come on slim! There’s no one else here. It’s midweek. All the squares are at home, preparing for the next exciting instalment in their oh so interesting lives...”

“Which reminds me, when did I say I’d have the kids?”

“Tomorrow afternoon. You’re picking Maisey up from school.”


“And no getting her to help with your essay!”

“Ok, ok…!” he scowled.

“You’re going to earn those credits on your own young man, if it kills me.”

“Yes Mom.”

“Don’t you ‘Yes Mom’ me, Sebastian Laikee, or so help me God I’ll come across that bar and whip your skinny white arse myself.”

Seb grinned, but relented, not entirely convinced she wouldn’t follow up on her threat. You could never tell with the inimitable Miss Murder. Athletic, but without loosing the curves God and three children had given her, Raina Johnson was not the sort of woman you messed with. Seb had seen the results of such folly first hand, both online and off. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

‘Feisty’, one of their alliance had called her. Personally Seb thought rabid a better description, but he wasn’t about to say that to her face. Not after she’d taken him under her wing, sheltering him from the shit storm that was the collapse of his parent’s marriage. Back then of course he’d still only known her as Miss Murder, and their friendship had been strictly virtual. Two years and one train journey had changed all that.

Okay, so there were a few pilgrimages to the mecca that was Shensang beforehand to scope out the lay of the land, but a good story’s best told without extraneous details.

“Hey, you. Focus.”

He grinned, pushing hair back behind his ears. It was a typical warm spring evening, but he’d lost his hair tie on the train over. No doubt it was out beyond the suburbs by now, watching the ageing farm houses sail by the window.

“Sorry, it’s been a long day.”

“And it’ll be an even longer night if you don’t lighten the mood with some narrative.” She pulled out a cigarette, leaning forward. “Do the thing.”

“Aw, Ray, you know the rules...” scratching absently at one nipple where his vest gaped at the front.

She raised an eloquent eyebrow. “Do you see anyone else in here to grass you up?”

Sighing, he leant forwards. Flicked the finger and thumb of his right hand together to produce the requested flame.

It was blue, for the butterfly that stirred his soul with restless wings.

Grinning, she leant forwards, careful to keep her own unruly tresses out of the way. Raina was a red head, lucky according to the lore of her distant-distant ancestors, who’d prized the trait. Like so many other superstitions the belief had found some small popularity out here in the shallows, though there was as yet no actual evidence to support the claim or describe what sort of ‘luck’ might be involved. A variety of potential case studies presented themselves, but Sebastian suspected volunteers would dry up once word got round that at least some of the participants were being locked in a room with various flavours of daemon.

“Thanks.” She leant back, drawing deeply and then exhaling with the satisfied sound of a single mother indulging a forbidden vice. “So. Let’s recap. You’ve known Devan for how long?”

“Um, two months...”

She took a sip from the eviscerated cocktail. “And you’ve been on what, half a dozen dates?”

“I’d hardly call them dates.”

“True. There were barely words spoken on the first if memory serves?”


“Just calling a spade a spade honey.”


Raina rolled her eyes. “He’d had your cock in his mouth before you even found out what his name was.”

“What can I say?”

“‘I’m a whore?’”

“Like you’re any better, cam queen.”

She actually had the decency to blush at that, covering with a hefty swig from the murder victim between them. “Yes well...”

“You seriously need to sort that one out you know. He doesn’t live that far away.”

“Stop changing the subject.” She took another drag. “So, sex before first names. A string of dates involving barely enough small talk to fill a gossip mag, and now he finally introduces you to his friends.”

“Had to happen sometime.”

“Hmm. Some might have done things in a different order, but...” She lofted a plume ceiling-ward, to the detriment of one of the various insects doing the rounds about the light fittings. They both watched it nose dive into the sink.


“Don’t mention it.” She sat forwards, elbows on the bar. “So, tell me everything...”

Seb laughed, leaning back against the counter. “Well, where to start...”


Clothing littered the bed. He’d done this once already before the shower, but nerves insisted the process now be repeated, covering his mattress and duvet once again with a sea of vests, tees and trousers. The underwear was sorted, there being only one real choice for an occasion as important as this. Luminous pink girded his loins, covering the (modest) swell up front and encircling buttocks toned from running for the train.

The trouble was he had no idea what to expect. This, combined with what was riding on tonight, was making the decision all but impossible.

Sighing, he gave it up for now as a bad job and retreated to the bathroom to shave. Where upon the light flickered, the room dimming drastically as a figure stepped from the shadows.
“Jesus! It’s a good job I hadn’t started yet!” he admonished, waving the razor in the daemon’s direction.

“Hardly worth the effort if you ask me.” The voice was eloquent, cultured. Rather at odds with the tricorn hat and make-up: three white lines adorned each cheek above lips rouged to within an inch of their life.

Highway man meets Lady of the Night. The smouldering eyes (literally) only added to the oddity that was.

“You’re ready for this evening?” the apparition enquired, fingering a toothbrush speculatively.

“As I’ll ever be,” Seb replied, deciding to work with the flickering lighting and placing blades to lathered skin.

“You’re clear on the remit?”

“Gods man, what do you take me for? An amateur? I know what I’m doing.”

“So you say...”

“Look, just trust me, ok? I’ve got this.”

The daemon nodded, though he could tell it was not entirely satisfied. “We’ll see...”

“Look, if you’re that worried why don’t you come with me? It’s not like you’d look out of place...” he made a point of giving it the once up and down “...seriously. Though perhaps the eyes...”

“We’ve been over this: the Queen would see through any guise in an instant.”

“Yes, yes, blah de blah. I get it. Now please go away, and take your bloody mood lighting with you! Man can’t be expected to do his job when his face is in ribbons.”

“Very well. I’ll see you in the bathroom of the Minotaur, at precisely nine minutes past ten.”

“Yes, yes. Now get out of my hair...”

With a stately inclination of the head the infernal actually complied, vanishing with a typical show of daemonic stage craft back into the flickering shadows.

(Was there a school they attended to learn to do such things? he wondered.)

The bathroom light spasmed once and then returned to normal service. Seb stood for a second, razor in hand, just in case it was a ruse, but there was no further visitation. Shrugging, he went back to work, making it all the way to his neckline before nicking himself on the last few strokes. Cursing softly, he rinsed, patting the results down with a towel before going to see whether inspiration had paid a visit to the bedroom and mysteriously rearranged his clothes in his absence.

It had not. However, there was a simple method, tried and tested, in such circumstances that was called ‘stick with your gut’.

“Vermouth vest and grey trousers it is then.”

He fished out the offending piece of couture, hanging it on the door whilst he dealt with the rest of the night’s offerings. Then it was time for music and some Dutch courage whilst he waited for the iron to heat up. Varied winged things made a bid for his open doorway, but the screen kept the majority where they belonged out in the tepid night air, the remainder eventually succumbing to the table lamp’s siren song.

“Aperitifs for later,” he muttered as he passed the spider web that still dangled above the balcony door, pulling the portal shut on any further party crashers. Checking his pockets for the essentials he flicked off the stereo and lights, quitting the apartment with a confidence he really didn’t feel and making his way out into the city’s night.

He spent the short train journey in online, deflecting pings on a variety of social fronts. Someone wanted to know what he was up to, and she appeared to have rallied the troops to help her find out.

You’ll just have to wait until our cocktail date, he sent, appending a rather fetching gif of a bunch of guys in kilts flashing their arses, before swiping the various media platforms into the oblivion that existed beyond the edge of his screen. Time to give the extended presence a break, tonight was all about the here and now.

The Glades was the informal name for the loose group of streets and back alleys whose bars and clubs catered to those of a same sex persuasion, brushing up along its northern extremity against Maha Town and the Voodoo Quarter to the east. Both districts had originally had a stake in the area, which lent a distinct flavour to the place, both architecturally and culturally. There was a joke about the area having been handed from one group of queens to another that had been doing the rounds for as long as Seb could remember.

Festival Street station stood at the conjunction of the three, rising like a graffiti-clad insect from the urban jungle below.

Urban swamp, more like, Seb thought, fingering the lush vines making free with the railings up the stair well. Shensang sprawled across what used to be swampland at the mouth of the Taipuz. Why anybody had thought it might be a good idea to build a city in a place like this escaped him, though he had to admit it did make for a greener environment than most metropolis. Trouble was, the city council were forced to wage an almost constant war against the vegetation as it attempted to reclaim the land that was stolen. Hence creepers using the stairway up to the station as a trellis, or figs binding their way slowly about lampposts.

Tonight the air was its usual balmy self, Seb feeling more than comfortable in vest and slacks as he made his way across the street and in towards the lights and noise. Shensang’s weather was a constant variation on ‘warm and wet’. Sweat patches were unavoidable during the heat of the summer, with the occasional tourist dying of dehydration because they were a fucking idiot as Raina put it. Night times could get chilly art this time of year, but nothing to write home about.

His usual haunts stood down by the waterfront on the Glade’s southern side, including Soul Idols where he worked. But tonight his feet carried him down Travis to the corner of Mayuong where he turned left, following the little back street as it wound beneath wrought iron street lamps, the eaves of the surrounding buildings weeping wisteria into their soft light.

Mayuong was fetish territory and it showed in the clientèle, with leather and rubber in abundance. Seb brazened it out, nodding to one of the doormen who did occasional shifts on the doors of Feathers, where he and his mates typically went to dance. The hulk nodded back, the hint of a smile cracking bulldog lips while one hand rose to doff an imaginary cap. Seb swept a low bow, drawing titters from the crowd and a wink from the muscle before disappearing through Minotaur’s imposing entrance.

Like so many of the Glade’s bars Minotaur was built about a central courtyard, with a bar at the back set into the building itself. The place was deceptively large given it’s tiny entrance, a short passage letting out into the generous space where high and low tables stood crowded with Shensang’s S&M aristocracy. A balcony circled the space above, with a bar of its own set back into the first floor. It was here he was headed, making for the cordoned stairway that led up. Fresh muscle stood impassive before it, but his name did indeed prove to be on the list and he was waved up. Unable to resist glancing over his shoulder he ascended beneath a veritable deluge of veiled glances, doing his best to keep the smirk off his face. It wasn’t that he disliked the leather crowd per se, but he found the smug arrogance many of them adopted a bit much to swallow sometimes.

Approaching the top, he stopped to light up. Cigarettes were a crutch, and one he did his level best not to indulge too often, but some situations demanded it and this was most definitely one of them. He was about to walk in on the birthday celebrations for one of the Glade’s most celebrated figures, knowing full well that he intended to murder them.

The how, the why, were not important at the moment. What was, was making the correct first impression. It was imperative this next bit go just right, otherwise their plan would need to be radically re-thought.

Taking a deep breath, and stamping out the cigarette at the last minute, he mounted the last few steps into the gathering above.

On the face of it there was nothing to suggest anything special was going on up here. Not if you hadn’t crossed the sardine can of leather and rubber downstairs as he had. Up here all was civilised space, with individual groups occupying discreet groups of settees or standing at the balcony to speak in hushed tones beneath the music. It wasn’t a big gathering, though he supposed that was a relative assessment: there were easily thirty or forty people present, some of whom he recognised by reputation if not actual introduction. Lucrea the cam baron stood to one side, surrounded by her usual entourage of androgynous beauties, while across the room the elegant club organiser Swan chatted with a group of older men. He spotted one of the DJs from Feathers out on the balcony, talking to a couple of leather clad lads, and two more who’d escaped quarantine stood with masks pushed back at the bar.

“Oi, pretty boy!”

Seb turned, grinning himself as a familiar figure advanced on him. Devan gave him the once up and down before leaning in for a quick kiss, eyes taking in the jangle of necklaces and bracelets that were like armour to Seb. He offered the older man a lopsided smile, nodding to his grey trousers and black vest. “Couldn’t have done a better job if we’d tried.”

“Well I think it’s adorable.”

Devan rolled his eyes, turning to drape an arm over the approaching man’s shoulder as he accepted a drink. “Carlton this is Seb. Seb, Carlton.”

“Charmed I’m sure.” Carlton winked, turning to call over his shoulder. “Drew, grab us another? The talent’s arrived.” He turned back, grinning at Seb’s momentary discomfort. “Don’t worry love, you’ll get used to it. Here...” he handed over his own drink, insisting when Seb tried to demure “...seriously, he’s slow but he’ll be here before I miss having one. And you look like you could use it more than me.”

So he relented, taking the condensation beaded glass and downing a hefty swig.

“There, see? Better?”

Seb nodded, smiling as Carlton winked again.

“Carlton and Drew run the garden centre down on Quay Street,” Devon explained, accepting a handful of change from the later as he arrived.

Seb nodded, eyeing the two men who were busy exchanging a few quiet words as Drew gestured surreptitiously at the men by the bar.

“Time?” Devan enquired.

Carlton nodded. “Back in a minute.”

Seb watched him head for the gents, one of the leather clad queens peeling off to follow a few moments later.

“So.” Drew this time, offering a smile that transformed his well worn face into something altogether more attractive. “You’re the kid Devan’s been on about.”

Seb nodded. “He thought tonight would be the best time to meet you all.”

Drew nodded, glancing at Devan. “Sounds sensible to me. Get it all over in one go, so to speak.”

Seb grinned. “I’m sure it won’t be that bad.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that yet...” The grizzled gardener gestured past him. Seb turned to find a small bearded man in a dress had begun an impromptu floor show with a wine bottle in the open space before the balcony. Cat calls and wolf whistles were being flung up from below, not all of them derogatory.

“Yes, well...” Devan laughed. “That’s Kacee. I’ll introduce you to him later if you like...” Seb grinned at the tacit warning “...when it’ll cause less embarrassment. Here, shall we mingle?”

Seb nodded, glancing Drew.

“I’ll see you boys later,” the gardener offered. “Think we’re heading to the club at midnight.”

Devan placed a finger to his brow in salute before guiding Seb off through the crowd, away from the fornicating transvestite.

A sea of faces, few of which Sebastian would be able to attach a name to the next morning. As with any such introductions there was the initial sizing up. Is he better looking than me? Should we have sex? Do I want to? The answer to these and a deluge of other questions shaped each encounter in small ways that were difficult to catch if you weren’t quick, like butterflies on the wind.

Fortunately that was something of a speciality for him.

So he played the odds, judging when to flirt and when to act the dumb innocent. He wasn’t infallible of course, there were a couple of occasions he remembered tripping over a vodka soaked tongue, but then people expected such faux pas at a first engagement.

It would lend veracity to the whole thing.

Time crept on and he made his excuses, heading for the bathroom.

He stepped through the wood panel doors, nose wrinkling at the acrid scent of piss and testosterone as the room stuttered. The lights above the wash basins recovered from their fit, settling for the odd spasm every few seconds as a figure stepped from the far stall, knife slash of its smile curling slightly as it took in the environs. Its edges smoked softly, like ink spilt in water, staining the surrounding space with liquid darkness.

“This was your choice,” Sebastian reminded it, trying to ignore the sense of vertigo the daemon always brought with it, as though the room were spinning slowly beneath his feet.

“Rutting animals, revelling in your own filth.”

“Says the creature from the pit.”

“Ah, touché…!” A small smile was awarded, and the room’s spinning eased somewhat, allowing Seb to release his stranglehold on the edge of the nearest sink. For its part the daemon uncrossed it’s arms, twitching at its coat tails as the ink spill surrounding it ebbed away. “So, what do you have for me?”

“At this precise moment? Nothing! I haven’t been introduced...”

“Good grief man, what have you been doing?!”

“Not giving myself away.” Sebastian crossed arms corded with wiry muscle. Cocked a hip. “These things take time you know.”

“Yes, yes, social niceties must be observed I’m sure.” The daemon made a show of looking around, assessing the décor. “Though one does wonder how complex they can possibly be...” He stopped as Sebastian grabbed his throat, eyes snapping dangerously as he placed his body firmly in the daemon’s personal space. Felt the beast’s chest rise and fall against his in that simulacrum of life they were forced to adopt here.

“Let us not pretend,” he offered quietly, “that I am any less invested in this than you. Let us in fact imagine that we hold a similar stake in affairs. Yes…?”

His fingers had begun to smoke where they touched the infernal’s pale flesh. Deep in his chest, restless wings stirred.

“I meant no disrespect,” the daemon croaked stiffly.

Sebastian released him, eyes narrowing at the dirty look the beast shot his way. But it required effort to quiet the storm in his belly, making any sort of retaliation impractical. He settled for a scowl as he stepped back, flicking ash from his vest. There was no point calling it out here, that sort of a fuss would undo all their hard work.

“Well then...” The daemon was busy rearranging its lace cuffs.

The door opened, causing them both to start as figures spilled in. With a nod, the beast departed, slipping through the portal before it had closed fully. Seb didn’t doubt it’d have vanished were he to poke his head out into the corridor beyond.

“Sorry, did we interrupt?”

He glanced up from where he’d been checking himself in the mirror, shaking his head at the man with the startling blue eyes, who stood waiting for his friend to line up on the back of a phone. “No.” He shook his head. “I’ll leave you guys to it.”

Blue eyes smiled. “You want some?” Gesturing to the phone. “You’re with Dev aren’t you?”

Sebastian nodded. “You must be his housemate.”

“Guilty as charged.” Blue eyes leant over the phone, making one of the lines disappear. Shivered appreciatively.

“Dev’s new kid?” the other guy asked. “Nice to see I’m not the only one whose boyfriend has ridiculous hair.”

Sebastian grinned shyly, fending off an unexpected stab of hurt. Superficial queen... But his heart just wasn’t in it, all his rancour spent on the daemon.

“Ignore him.” Blue eyes smiling disarmingly. “He’s just bitter about being the wrong side of thirty.”

Seb nodded, expression warming as their eyes met. An ally here. “I’ll see you back out there.” Turning, he headed for the door.

“We finishing this or what?” Mr Superficial demanded as Seb stepped out into the corridor beyond.

“There you are.” Devan draped an arm round his shoulders as he sidled up to the group with a fresh drink in hand. “Time to meet the birthday girl.”

Sebastian nodded, smiling to Drew and Carlton as he was drawn away towards the back of the bar. On this level the Minotaur spilled back over the sandwich shop that looked out onto the street behind. As well as allowing the main bar up here to be set further back, it also left space for a well appointed function room along one side of the floor, separated from the rest of the bar by folding screens.

It was towards the entrance of this he was led, people nodding and smiling as they passed. Many followed their progress with a look that said they knew what was coming and would love to be a fly on the wall. Sebastian let it all wash over him, time’s tide sweeping him inexorably towards where he wished to be.

They paused at the entrance, taking in the elegantly appointed space beyond before Dev received some signal from one of the gathered retinue and gestured them forwards.

The insistent beat of the music was somewhat muted here, but still penetrated through the Mahaian screens, sweeping across the assembled without prohibiting conversation. There were a dozen or so here in the inner sanctum, though Seb had seen people coming and going all night. A scattering of drag artists mingled with a handful of people he recognised as club promoters and one or two others he thought might be door and bar staff from Hierophant, the Feathers’ main competition.

But it was the obvious belle of the ball that grabbed your attention as soon as you walked in the room. She was tall, but then a glance at her feet confirmed heels that stood to at least six inches, suggesting his true height out of costume would be average. The gown was a sheer fall of white sequins, with a feather head dress and jewelled cane to match. The other gloved hand held a cigarette lighter with elegant poise, its end placed delicately to full lips. The resultant smoke was blown artfully to one side. A Pharaohs eyes widened appreciatively at some witticism even as those vampiric lips pursed in mute censure.

This, he immediately realised, is going to be trickier than I thought.

Devan ushered them forwards as the current anecdote came to a close, drawing polite laughter from the small immediate crowd. Then those eyes were upon him and Sebastian was suddenly very glad of the years of practice sharing his head with an abomination had given him in keeping people out.
“Ah, Devan. And this, I presume, is Sebastian?” His name pronounced like a benediction. An irony that almost had him giggling manically. He stamped on the urge with cast iron boots, grinning as he bent low over the proffered hand to bestow a gentleman’s kiss.

“Oh! What manners. This one can stay.”

Devan smirked. “Not quite my initial assessment.”

“Yes, well...” the vision before them turned her gaze on the older man “...the less said about that the better perhaps?”

They laughed, Seb finding his smile was in fact genuine. It was hard to hold onto memories of the atrocity to come when confronted with such conviviality.

...I am the harbinger of doom. I am the harbinger of doom…

“So, will you be joining us for the club?”

“We’re going clubbing?!”

“Why yes.” The Queen turned to regard Devan, her look one of mock remonstration. “Seriously Devan, have you told the boy nothing of our plans for tonight?”

“Um… not had the chance?”

Head shaking (with a rustle of feathers) the Queen turned back to him. “We’re on the guest list, of course...”

“Of course.” They shared a grin.

“...for tonight’s Shake up revival. You will join us?”

“I’d be delighted.”

“Excellent. That’s settled then... Oh dear.” The Queen’s expression suddenly shifted to a thin veneer of pleasant enquiry, poorly masking her resignation. “I do apologise for what’s about to follow.”
“Darling! So good to see you!”

Sebastian found himself pulled back abruptly, as the space he’d been occupying was suddenly occupied by more sass than he’d have previously thought possible.

“Merran, you made it.” Air kisses were exchanged before the young man before them took a step back to take in the Queen’s outfit. “Incredible, just… perfection...”

“You’re too kind.” Their host glanced pointedly Seb’s way. To deflect, Seb couldn’t help feeling, unwanted attention onto a fresh subject. “But I’m being rude. Merran, may I introduce Sebastian? The young man Devan’s been telling us so much about...”

“Ooh, hello!” A haze of air kisses engulfed him, Seb returning them with a fluency born from years behind the bar. “So nice to finally meet you. You must let me buy you a drink later, so we can swap stories. I gather you work at Idol?”

“I do indeed.”

“I’ll have to pop in sometime, prop up the bar so to speak.”

Sebastian cast a pleading look Devan’s way (he couldn’t help it), but there was nothing but suppressed mirth to be had there.

“Here, you’re dry, let me buy you one now. Come on. Dev, my Lady...” more air kisses “...we will return shortly.

Sebastian cast one last pleading look over his shoulder but Devan simply waved, before placing an arm on the Queen’s shoulder as they both turned away.

It turned out Merran was not as bad as his bluster implied. Quite the opposite in fact, if you looked past some of his more risqué observations.

“I mean, seriously, what was she thinking when she left this evening? That arse does not belong in that dress...”

Seb stifled laughter despite himself, turning quickly from the look fenced his way by one of the women who’d just passed their table. The girl (a proper one this time, far as he could tell…) tossed her weave, turning back to whatever her friends had been saying, her elegant lips pursed in mild amusement. Sebastian breathed a quiet sigh of relief. He made it a policy never to upset the fairer sex unless he absolutely had to. Call it Mummy issues if you will, but he’d always suffered an innate need to please women, particular strong women. Hell, look at his relationship with Murder! It certainly wasn’t an instinct born of chivalry: he had no qualms about letting Raina carry her bags after one of their runs through the VQ’s thrift stores. You brought it, you port it.

“So… is it true what they say about Dev…?”

Seb looked up, realising he may have let the conversational thread slip through his fingers. “Um, what?”

Merran laughed at him. “You’re so cute when you’re confused. Like a lost kitten.”

The blush was pure nature, the fact it was exactly what was required a happy coincidence. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine. All a bit much to take in I imagine.” Merran gestured about, as though the bar, the gathered people, were something he’d arranged off hand.

“A little.” Sebastian made a show of looking around, nodding to Carlton as he raised a hand from the far end of the balcony.

“You’ll get used to us.” Merran grinned, swigging from his bottle. “Anyway, no sidestepping the question…”

Seb raised a polite eyebrow at the lechery in Merran’s tone. “Oh?”

“Well, we all know where you and Devan met...” Seb looked down, drawing more laughter from the man opposite “...I was just wondering whether the rumours were true.”

“You mean you’ve never?” But the look in the other guys eyes was answer enough. Sexual frustration was written plane as day in the winning smile he offered up as mask to his vexation. “Sorry...” Seb floundered for the right response. He would need this man to remain an ally, he sensed. Merran’s alienation would stand against him in the coming struggle. “I...” go for light hearted “...I’d just heard so many stories about your chill outs...”

It was the right response. The smile amped back up, confidence flowing into those big brown eyes. “Well...” Merran lent forwards slightly, as if conferring a confidence. Sebastian followed suit, playing along. “To be honest we don’t tend to stick around for that sort of thing.”

“Of course! I’d forgotten you’re a kept man.” They both grinned, Merran glancing across to where the hulking figure of his other half stood conversing with one of the bouncers and a couple of twinks. A hand like a dinner plate was raised. Merran blew a kiss. “No need to play around when you’ve got someone like that to take you home.” Certainly not if those hands are anything to go by.

“Oh I wouldn’t say that...”

Oh oh…? But Seb was careful to keep his expression schooled. Save that one for later. Aloud, he prompted: “So you’ve never participated?”

Merran shook his head. “But I’ve heard the rumours of course. Is it as big as they say…?”

I’ve seen riot police with smaller truncheons.

“Let’s just say...” Seb paused, grinning at the squirm of anticipation this prompted “...well, I can swallow bananas whole...”

Merran burst out laughing, drawing looks from his other half and the nearby tables. Sebastian grinned along, weathering the attention with the ease of a barman used to playing to the crowd.
“I’ll show you if you want…?” he offered, making to stand. The other man waved him back in his seat.

“I’d love to know how he hides it in those jeans,” Merran quipped. They both took a moment to appreciate pert buttocks wrapped in tight denim before the man in question turned to cast a questioning glance their way. Seb stuck his tongue out, shaking his head. Carlton leant across to whisper something to Devan. From the look he now cast Sebastian’s way it was clear Carlton had heard most of it. Seb shrugged, why deny the truth? Devan pointed a finger in mock reprisal, before turning back to the two gardeners.

“There’s certainly something dodgy going on with space/time down there,” Seb agreed, grinning as he emptied his glass. “Fancy another?”

“Why not. And then a fag I think. Come on.”

They were still outside when the first of the party tumbled into the street, heading for the club.
“God, is it that time already?” Merran checked a watch that was probably worth more than Seb’s kitchen fixtures (including the blender Murder had brought him.)

“I honestly didn’t know what the plan was until I arrived.”

Merran looked askance. “You’ve seriously never been to Phant…?!”

“Guilty as charged.”

“Well you’re in for a treat then.” Merran shook his head, crushing a half smoked cigarette beneath the ball of his foot. “Gotta go check on my man. See you in there?”

Seb nodded, taking the time to finish his own cigarette before following the younger queen inside to find his own chaperone for the evening. Devan was still upstairs, chatting to an older guy in a blingy tee shirt.

“Ah, here he is.” Devan slipped an arm round Seb’s waist, leaning in to give him a peck on the cheek. “Mason, this is Seb. Seb, Mason.”

“Nice to meet you.” Seb exchanged the obligatory kiss. Mason smelt of wood with a hint of warm spice. Somebody who actually knows how to wear their aftershave. He added some warmth to his smile, saw an answering twinkle in Mason’s eyes.

“So, you’re joining us at the club?”

Seb nodded, glancing at Devan. “Apparently…?”

“Oh yes.”

“Be wanting one of these then.” And Mason dug in his pocket, handing across a tiny white pill with a rabbit embossed on one side.

Shit. But there was nothing for it. So he slipped it onto his tongue, taking a swig from the proffered bottle to wash it down. “Thanks.”

“You ok…?” Devan asked cautiously.

“Yeah, just...” Seb twirled his finger to indicate the people, the occasion, let a hint of his very real nerves bleed through. “Come on, been looking forward to this all week.”

Devan grinned, mollified at what he saw as the expected social jitters. “See you there?”

Mason nodded, glancing back to a group of twinks loitering by the bar. “Be there shortly.”

They departed, wading through the tide of leather to escape out into night air that was cool without being unpleasant.

“So, you survived your first encounter.”

Barely. But he grinned beneath the neon lights, because it was what was expected. “She was more approachable than I expected.”

Devan laughed. Shook his head as he pulled the younger man close, leaving one arm hook casually about his hips as they carried on through the night time crowd.

Sebastian Laikee was no stranger for narcotics. Indeed, he and Murder had a long standing tradition of doing fungal psychotropics on the various solstice and equinox. And he’d tried a variety of other substances during his misspent youth, from halo to judder. Hell, he’d even succumbed (against better judgement) to peer pressure and tried engorge at college (the pure stuff from orbit was spectacular, but once they started cutting it with the reverse engineered shit it simply didn’t deliver on the desired effects...).

“I feel like a world class heavy weight, but ain’t no longer packing the goods,” one of his fuck buddies had quipped, teeth chattering on the endorphin high.

The issue here was context. That and the fact he hadn’t really done anything since he’d started practising. Not aside from the aforementioned sessions with the good Lady, those conducted in a safe environment.

Magic and drugs did not mix, except during very specific rituals. It’d be like popping a tab before operating heavy machinery.

He wasn’t expecting to use tonight, but…

Now he’d just have to hope he didn’t need to.

They arrived at the back of the queue in time to see the Queen make her entrance. In her absence this evening they’d dragged the dancers out of their cages, dressing the door in muscle. A contingency she seemed to be enjoying enormously. Seb shook his head, grinning at Devan as they watched her cupping buttocks and dragging one gloved hand languidly down the curve of a chest, fingering abs like an egg carton.

“Well...” she caught sight of Devan and Sebastian, raising a hand. “See you in there darlings!”

Eyes turned their way. Seb bobbed, Devan lofting a hand of his own as she allowed herself to be ushered through the Phant’s tall, narrow portal. Those doors always reminded Seb of the entrance to a temple, which he supposed was the point.

Up close the door dolls were indeed spectacular. Seb caught one of them starring and blushed despite himself, glancing round. But Dev was busy chatting to the other and then they were being ushered through into the narrow corridor beyond, the guy behind the counter waving them past. They put their money away, holding out wrists to accept the night’s stamp from one of the bouncers before stepping through another set of double doors into strobe lights and noise.


“This is the point where you double dropped, right?”

“Stop sniggering!” Seb pushed back from the bar, scowling. But there was laughter in his eyes as he went about mixing her another drink. “Besides, I didn’t double drop, that conniving little witch Merran kissed me. It was only at the last minute I realised what he had on his tongue.”

Murder laughed. “Oh sweetie, that’s one of the oldest ones in the book. Are you sure he knows you’re taken?”

“Oh I don’t think that’s in any doubt.” He paused with knife in hand, lime poised on the chopping board. “Maybe that’s his angle. He does seem awfully interested in Devan.”

“But I thought he was already part of the coven?”

“Oh he is. But he’s new. Drew knew his better half via their mutual dealer… it all gets terribly complicated.”

Murder nodded. “Not been there long enough to have history with the rest of them then.”

Seb shook his head. “Certainly not the kind that includes any sort of significant intimacy.”

She fingered her phone thoughtfully where it sat between them on the counter. “So he double dosed you and then left you to it.”

“Well not quite. I think it was more likely he was trying to make an impression. Probably didn’t realise I’d already been chemically enhanced at the Minotaur.”

“And the Queen?”

Seb shook his head, popping ingredients into a cocktail shaker. “We met her on the dance floor first thing. It was all terribly new age...” he wove his hands suggestively about him to imagined music “…‘everyone’s free to express themselves here’, that kind of crap.”

The woman opposite rolled her eyes.

“Exactly. Anyway, that’s when I started coming up. And we’re talking old fashioned fusion rockets here, none of this modern field effect stuff.”

“Oh my.”

He offered her a tight smile as he shredded a passion fruit. “I may have said something similar. Devan had to take me up to the chill out to calm down. For two hours.”

“Bloody hell!”

“Yes.” He shook his head rueful. “It was some good shit.” Offered her a quick smile. “Don’t worry, I’m going to see if I can get hold of some for our next session.”


Bobbing his head, he turned to wash his hands. “So the rest of the night was a bit of a blur. I remember Drew and Carlton coming to check on us, and the taxi ride back to the Queen’s pad, which is epic by the way.”

“As you’d expect.”

“Quite so. There were a lot of people there, though that might just have been me. Entire cast of a spank film on the couch... I just sort of sat and took in the atmosphere, wasn’t really capable of much else by that point.”

“Aw love.”

“Yeah, well.” He dried his hands on a bar rag. “It seems to have done the trick anyway. Got the royal good bye and everything. Even an introduction to the partner.”


Sebastian shook his head, shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s an odd one, couldn’t really read him. Though there’s definitely something between him and Devan.”

“Well, you did say their chill outs tend to descend into debauchery.”

“Hmm, all that nubile young flesh.”

They were silent for a moment.

“Anyway. The deed is done, we’re all set for stage two. And I’ve spoken to himself.”

“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow, head cocked.

“Manifested the following evening directly after sundown. Daemonic visitations and hangovers do not mix, I can tell you now.”

They paused as he lofted the shaker, alternating short practised strokes to either side of his head. Setting it down next to the glass he’d prepared earlier he popped top, slotting a strainer in place as he lifted the shaker again to pour, finishing with a deft twist. A single strawberry joined the sugar encrusting the glass’s rim, a short straw and an umbrella (because it was Murder) adding the final flourish.

“Magnifique!” She leant forwards for a sip, lips puckered. “Mmm! What do you call it?”

He smiled. “Killer in red.”

She grinned. “Well, that’s your dress code sorted for tomorrow night then.”


Copyright Paul Smith 2017.
Debutante at the Ball (Cult of the Butterfly 1)
There is a murderer stalking the city of Shensang. His name is Sebastian Laikee, and a blue butterfly stirs deep in his soul, shaking out fractal wings. As the storm of possibilities unfolds he must choose his path (and his allies) with care if he is to succeed.


Always a proud moment to bring the first part of a new story into the light. I hope you enjoy.

As ever, an e-reader friendly version can be found on Smashwords here…

Not sure murder is a suitable subject for St Valentine, but there's some love in there too.
I love the 'If I could DD...' projects the CVs run :) ( Community Feature Project: If I Could DD
Didn't you wish you could DD some works sometimes because you found them amazing and thought that they deserved more exposure? Well, this is your chance! 
This December we are encouraging you to feature your fellow deviants with a journal of artworks that you would feature as a Daily Deviation (commonly called "DD") if you could. So let's embrace the Holiday Season and spread some good cheer by joining in and featuring our community!
How does it work?
Create and publish a journal feature of images that you would choose for a Daily Deviation Feature from your preferred gallery. (i.e. Literature writers and/or people who enjoy Literature would feature from the Literature gallery.)When your journal feature is live, link it back to the appropriate Community Volunteer's Community Feature Project Journal in the comments area. (i.e. If you choose to feature Literature
 being the current one)

So, rather than boring you with my words, allow me instead to point you towards some fine ones by other people...

Seventh Son: PrologueDear Mother and Father-
No, too formal. He'd never called them that in his life, and now really wasn't the time to start.
Dear Mum and Dad,
Much better.
Am off to seek my fortune. If not back in five years, assume am either dead or wildly successful. If wildly successful, will buy you a castle. And a herd of those big black cattle from over the valley, the ones which make the best milk and have meat that tastes fit for royalty.
Please don't worry too much about me. Have asked a lad from Oldbrook's farm to come and help you with milking, so you won't miss me too much in the barn, and I've mended the gate on the bottom field. Jon Tanner says he can help with slaughtering when the time comes, long as he can get a churn of milk to take home for his bairns.
Much love
Your son

He bit his lip, reading back over the last two lines. He could still change them. Cross them out, pretend he'd never written 'em in the first place. Pretend it'd always said what his parents

Day 185 of 365 by MysticSparkleWings

Imaginerium Chapter 1 (Rough Version)Chapter 1
It started out as a normal day, after all, it always does; a story has no relevance unless it is different from the day-to-day, if it is not extraordinary. At least, that’s how I always thought of it.
My name is Blake and, up until the events that transpired, I was a pretty much normal kid: average height, average grades, average life, and average hair (brown in case you wondered). If I had anything unusual about me, it was my left eye, which was a startling bright blue. I never knew why, everyone else in my family has brown eyes, including my grandparents; Mom always said it had something to do with recessive genes but that didn’t help much. My sister Claire always teased me about it, at least, until she turned fourteen and had other things to think about.
Today however, both us us had the same thing on our mind, a nagging question which had caught our attention and refused to let go until at last we had an answer: Why the heck was there a muse

The Dollhouse“Missy McIntyre is not a witch.” As the eight year old of the group, Erica felt it was her place to be the Voice of Reason. She smoothed her hair back under her cat-eared headband and glared at the two boys, her brown eyes matching the rich color of her skin.
“Uh huh.” Jessie, the louder of the two, asserted. His own chat noir costume annoyed Erica. His mom totally bought it for him, while she’d had to make do with what she could find.
“She is a witch, just like her Gram was!” Richie practically shouted. The zombie makeup he wore stood out in the late afternoon light. He was getting fake blood on everything.
“Shut up!” His brother shoved him further back along the fence, trying to keep them out of view of the house’s windows. Missy wasn’t answering the doorbell for trick-or-treaters, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t home.
“Melissa McIntyre is a dental hygienist.” Erica stated. Her mom had said so.

Papillon bleuJe suis un papillon bleu, les collines de glaces sur mon chemin me glacent toutes entière, je fais maintenant partis des cadavres de mes semblables mort en voulant traverser l'impossible.

xwhy sit
and wait
for the wind to blow,
when you can shake the trees

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has found DeviantArt 


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loverofthestrange Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2017
thank you for the fav!
Narnia564 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2016
Thanks for the fav broooooooooo :)
GladeFaun Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome hun :)
Narnia564 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2016
Thanks for all the fav broo :)
GladeFaun Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Never a prob :) Loving your new icon btw
Narnia564 Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2016
Thanks :)
arsuew Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you for the favourite and the comment 
GladeFaun Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Not a prob :)
Narnia564 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2016
Thanks for the fav broooo :D *Napstablook dance* Blooky-animated-25 
GladeFaun Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
:D welcome!
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