We have two shorts for you today! Both are set about 17 years before In the Court of the Peacock King. To give you some perspective, Jax is a recently born baby in the second short. (Camden might tell you that Jax is the same age as that in the current storyline, but never you mind him.) The first story is by Irk and is from the perspective of the Judge. It is about parenting. The second is by Char and is from the perspective of Elric Briarseal, Camden's brother. (By the Peacock King Trilogy, it's been discovered that Elric has been captured by Nul's forces, but seventeen years ago he was doin' alright.) Lyric's little sister Stevane is five in these stories. By the time you will meet her, she'll obviously be 22 (well, she'll LOOK it). It should also probably be noted that Stevane's mother is Tia, the deity and embodiment of the Void/Chaos, to which all Armed commit those that they sentence and destroy.

Alright, enough liner notes, enjoy the shorts! Expect another for the next update!

(New readers - Here's the first chapter in this series. Start there before reading this!)

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The Noble Spoon - by Irk
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There's a dainty little tug on the lace-edged cuff of my sleeve. I peer over the edge of my book. Two very wide, very golden eyes peer back up at me.

I wonder why her voice was so hushed? I make a show of looking to each side, checking to make sure there are no spies about. Then I lean forward, eager to learn of what conspiracy is at play today. "Yes, Stevane?" I stage-whisper.

"Daddy. You're talking too loud," she whispers back, "someone will hear you."

"Sorry." I school my voice much lower. I ruffle her hair, then check for more spies. It seems to be the proper thing to do. "What's the secret this time, Stevane?"

She frowns, lip jutting out, signaling her intense seriousness. "There's no secret. I want you to tell me about the eyeballs." She looks around to make absolutely sure that no one's listening.

I understand her now. I, too, want to make sure no one catches me telling Stevane about the eyeballs.

When the discussion really starts, we've relocated to the piano bench, Stevane's hands idly dancing over and around the ribbons trailing down her skirt. It's hard to see her face under the thick red mop of curls surrounding her head. Her hair's pretty, but it's almost a helmet. We keep trimming it back and it does nothing. I've tied bows in it that just plain disappear. It's like her Mother is hiding in there.

...I check around again for her Mother, with that thought. Stevane's eyebrows lift as she watches me.

"Is it safe in here?" I nod. She grins. "Lute said I had to ask about the spoon."

I disguise a sputter with a cough into my hand. "What was Lute doing telling you about the spoon?"

She sighs, looking to the side. "Lute couldn't tell me anything about anything. He said if he got caught he'd get in real trouble." She pouts at me, as if any tragedy involving rules is utterly all my fault. I chuckle, fighting to keep the mirth quiet for the sake of conspiracy.

"Lute knows better than to tell you something that's my job to explain." Her eyes light up, which is good. Telling her that is much better than letting her realize that Daddy can get into just as much trouble as his son can for getting caught saying certain things. "Okay, okay. Spoons. Did he say which spoon?" I fight to keep my voice low. This is getting into territory that I'm very enthusiastic about.

Stevane shakes her head so fast that all I can see is a blur of bouncing curls. "There's more than one?"

I just grin.

* * *

We're in the kitchen now. I am of the opinion that every good lecture must have its proper visual aids. Stevane sits up on the counter, watching me dig for another fork. Spread out on the counter is a complex variety of dinnerware from shrimp forks to cheese knives. (Cheese knife is as big as the knives get in this tutorial. She's still young.)

I hold it up. "This is an escargot fork." Her eyes widen. Yes, already I can see that she knows its potential. "It's good for scooping cooked snails out of their shells."

She grins. "Does it scoop out other stuff?"

I grin back. "I can unsocket an eyeball with this thing so fast that most people don't even notice until they see me holding their own eye up to look back at them." She grins and applauds. "And see, the best thing about it?" I point at the space between the two prongs on the fork. Stevane scrutinizes the engineering of it. "If my scoop is perfectly centered, this part here grips the optic nerve and yanks it right out of someone's skull by the roots!"

She snorts with laughter, pitching forward so fast that I have to remove the fork rather quickly so that she doesn't become a classroom demonstration. After that we both dissolve into giggles. I'm wiping tears from my eyes when I hear a subtle, quiet noise from the kitchen doorway.


I feel both of our hearts sink simultaneously. It's like the earth moves along with them in sympathy.

After her mother's ensuing discussion with me, I am no longer allowed to teach Stevane how to use silverware.

It makes me cry. Elete knows his etiquette like any Xaillyndesse knows his hair, but he'll never tell her what you can do with two salad forks and a corn cob holder.

* * *
Courts, Poets, Babies, and Royal Declarations - by Char
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"I can't see."

I stifled a giggle, recognizing the tiny imperious voice at Edward's feet. He closed his eyes against the firm tug at the hem of his waistcoat and let out a slow sigh.

"I'm sorry, Princess, I can't pick you up. I'm on baby duty."

"You have a baby?" Stevane's eyebrows raised. "Let me see."

Edward glanced once towards his father's dais, then knelt, his head disappearing below the rest of the crowd. He angled his arms so that the sleeping infant's face rolled away from his chest. One tiny fist shot up, fingers uncurling a moment, then tucking into a tiny ball once again next to a rosy cheek.

"You have a pretty baby." She frowned, looking firmly into Edward's eyes. "Where did you get him? He's not yours. You're too old to have babies."

"No I'm not," he protested, then stopped himself and laughed. I bit my own lip, holding back a chuckle. Stevane tossed a glance my way, then looked again.

"Elric! Elric, Edward stole someone's baby."

I grinned and picked her up, grunting a little with the effort. My little shadow had gotten a bit longer in the past few years. Edward stood as well, carefully tucking the blanket over the baby's head, shielding him from the light in the Court. "No, sweetcake, that baby is his little brother. That's your new cousin."

Stevane wrinkled her nose. "Oh." She gave me a sly look. "So, Unkie stuck his penis--"

I clapped a hand over her mouth, my face turning bright red. I noticed a couple pairs of shoulders in front of us twitch in silent laughter, and Edward's eyes were twinkling as he held back laughter.

"Stevane, that's not an appropriate topic for a lady, let alone in the Court."

She nodded, and I lowered my hand from her mouth. She leaned forward and stage-whispered wetly in my ear. "Unkie knocked up some silly whore, then?"

I choked on my own snort, and Edward couldn't quite bite back his bark of laughter.

From the throne, Jhe o'Radia's blue eyes glanced our way. The corner of his mouth curled ever-so-slightly, presumably at the sight of his niece's mop of red curls, and looked away. I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Stevane, sweetheart, where did you learn those... improper words?"

She leaned back, her gold eyes staring wide into mine. "I heard them."

I nodded encouragingly. "Where did you hear them, dear?"

"In the practice arena, Elric."

I contained a deep sigh. "Sweetcake, we've talked about what we hear in the practice arena, didn't we."

She looked down, her hands twining together, fingertips playing with the edge of my sash.


"Yes, Elric."

I jogged her in my arms, her curls bouncing about her face with the motion. She peeked up at me through them. I smiled, and she looked up a bit further, encouraged by my pleasant demeanor. "And what did we discuss about those things, sweetcake?"

"We don't repeat what they say, because people who are trying to kill each other rarely do it in a mannerly fashion." She blinked, then shook her head. "I'm sorry... people who are trying to kill each other say things that make other people upset on purpose." Her eyes twinkled. "Part of being Armed is having no manners."

I giggled and kissed her forehead. "Don't let your father hear you speaking like that, sweetcake, or you're going to get us poor downtrodden artists more trouble than we can handle."

She nodded again, then looked over at the baby. "Edward?"

"Yes, tidbit?"

"That's Unkie's baby?"

He grinned. "Yes, bit. He's my baby brother."

She leaned over to get a better look, forcing me to widen my stance as to not stumble into Edward. "He's cute. His hair is curly, like yours."

"And yours," Edward said, reaching up and gently yanking a lock of her hair. She giggled and clapped her hands on the top of her head.

"Ow!" She rubbed her head. "That hurt," she said, ruining her pout with a bubbly stream of giggles.

Edward stuck his tongue out, and she promptly did the same.

"Manners, you two," I muttered. They shot me near-identical eyerolls.

"Can I play with him?" she asked, gently pulling the blanket away from his face.

"Not for a while," Edward said, shifting the baby to give Stevane a better view. She stared down at him, smiling, and stroked his cheek.

"What's his name?"


Stevane glanced up and gave Edward a cross look. "What a stupid name. What kind of name is that?"

"I don't know, bit," he said, his eyes nearly disappearing into his cheeks from the force of his grin. "You'll have to discuss that with your uncle."

She twisted in my arms, facing over the crowd. "Unk--"

I clapped my hand over her mouth, my eyes darting to the throne. "Not right now!" I hissed, apologizing as best I could with my eyes when the Jhe o'Radia glanced my way once again.

To my amazement, he held up one hand. The dignitary who had been speaking paused, his expression a touch confused. The Jhe o'Radia signaled to me with one finger, and I set his niece down and knelt next to her, giving her a little push. "Your uncle wants to see you," I said, my voice exceptionally steady considering my heart had just tried to hammer its way through my chest.

Stevane marched through the crowd, people nearly tripping over each other to get out of her way. She mounted the stairs to the dais with the arrogant confidence of five-year-olds everywhere and marched over to her uncle, charmingly oblivious to the stir she was causing behind her. She stopped in front of him, her tiny fists on her hips, and cocked her head. "Unkie?"

"Yes, Jhe Stevane?"

The title gave her pause, then she plowed forward. "J'Unkie."

Someone in Court bit off a laugh.

"J'Unkie," she said a little louder, and the Jhe o'Radia raised an eyebrow as the same someone laughed again, a particular cant to his expression that seemed to be reserved for his children.

"Jhe o'Radia," he whispered.

"Sorry," she whispered back. "Jhe o'Radia," she said, her voice suddenly carrying through the Court, "I have a question."

He waved a hand to her, palm up.

"What kind of name is 'Jaxhelshon'?"

He stared at her, then burst out laughing, picking her up and pulling her onto his lap. "If I let you sit here and watch with me, will you be quiet and I will tell you later?"

She nodded and grinned, kicking her feet over his knees.

He waved a hand, but before the dignitary could get more than a few words out, Jaxhelshon woke abruptly and wailed.

The Jhe o'Radia buried his face in one palm, his shoulders shaking with laughter. "Please, 'Sy," I heard him choke out. The Jhe 'hAkribastes shook his head and quietly apologized to the befuddled diplomat, then dismissed Court.

"It's a stupid name," I heard Stevane announce over the increasingly high-pitched screams of her cousin, as I followed Edward out the doors into the hallway that lead to the Jhe o'Radia's offices.

This time, I didn't bother to hold in my laughter.


  1. XD omg. SO FUNNY. I can't stop giggling.

    I have actually read over the longer story, although it has been a few weeks since I visited. These shorts are much amusing supplements to it, but they also stand on their own rather well.
    Had to reread the second short a few times to figure who was actually holding court though. I suspect it's the titles that are confusing.

  2. Oh, also: "She blinked, then shook her said."
    Do you mean 'head'?

  3. Fixed! Thanks for reading and commenting. :D