Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

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Upon his arrival at the Capitol, Géta Disphreni finds himself assigned to playing his flute for Mages. Afflicted with unwanted Gifts of his own and hounded by bullies, he struggles to attend his schooling and duties—and the worst part of it all? He must play for a mannerless Mage.

Just-returned to the Capitol, and gruff at the best of times, Asthané Étiée must attend the Empress’s whim in daily International Council sessions in hopes of placing an army on the newly-contested border where his previous musician died. Further complications arise when a former lover makes himself known, seeking a repeat of the romance they shared as youths.

Only Asthané’s determination to work with—and befriend—Géta can bring them closer together, but it might already be too late.

Notes Regarding Chraest’s Year

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

Chraest’s year is 540 days long.

Its days are twenty-eight 60-minute hours long.

Each minute on Chraest is approximately 60 seconds long, as with our planet.

When writing about the age of a character on Chraest, I use the Chraesti age, not the Earth one.

As a result, a character who is 15 on Chraest is approximately 26 Earth years old.

A character who is 16 on Earth is approximately 9.3 Chraesti years old.

If you’d like to perform your own figuring for Chraesti Ages, the formulae are as follow:

Chraesti = (EAge*8760)/15,120

Earth = (CAge*15,120)/8760

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 1

This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

“We don’t know what to do with you. We’ve done everything we can.”

Géta bowed his head, hands loosely clasped behind his back. His father pushed up a little on the bed, trying to prop himself against the pillows supporting him better, and collected the blankets closer to his chin. The room was unbearably hot—the stuffiest in the house, and a fire roared in the fireplace. If it hadn’t been the hottest weeks of summer, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but this heat was almost enough to suck the breath from Géta’s lungs and he panted a little.

“Well.” His father coughed a few times, a dry hack which made Géta wince a bit in reaction. It had come with the rest of his father’s illness: A weakening of the muscles, a lack of appetite with stomachache, and a general fading into sleep, accompanied by headache and an intermittent fever. It wasn’t far progressed yet, but death was guaranteed within the next two months. No one who got Wasting ever lasted a year once it struck, and his father had been fighting the illness for weeks already. “We’ve decided to send you on.”

“On?” It was almost a breathless word, a whisper, and Géta cleared his throat. “On to where, Father?”

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 2

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

The final portion of his journey involved crossing Capitol Lake to the largest island. Actually, the largest island was cut by canals, and Géta got a nice view of the Empire’s Capitol City from the steamboat’s deck. He was too worn by the journey to feel much awe and his eyes blurred more than a little a few times, so his memory of the trip through the canals to the center of the island was a little hazy. When the ferry docked, his Priest escort came to fetch him, and he wandered down the plank to the dock with a feeling of smallness.

Here, the roads were much better than those in his home city had been, so there were no jarring dips into potholes. The carriage rode smoothly, an issue with the Temple’s insignia of a trio of three-armed spirals, in an inverted-triangle pattern, on its doors. It wasn’t very fine, but it was more comfortable than the taxi carriage he’d ridden to the train in back in his home city.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 3

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

Géta got through breakfast without trouble. Apparently, few were up at six when the dining hall opened, and he had his pick of the offerings and eyed the few others present before sitting by himself. Most of the others were adults; Priests or Mages. After returning his tray and dishes to the kitchen, he ventured into the school proper for some exploration.

Like the dormitory, the school halls consisted of one major artery with branches off to either side. Géta checked the paper he had and found the rooms where his book-learning classes were, then sought the weapons-practice room. It was off the main hall and had double-doors. Mirrors had been attached to the large room’s left-hand wall, and various weapons hung on the right-hand wall. Circles had been painted on the floor; the wall opposite the entrance bore more weapons and had a door slightly off-center.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 4

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

The heat felt oppressive, thick with humidity, and Géta opened his room’s window in hopes of a relieving breeze the moment he got in, not even setting his flute and the new music he’d been given down first. A little breeze did come in and he inhaled the fragrance from the vaila flowers a few times before crossing the room to set his things on the shelf. He treated his flute with more reverence than it had ever before received, and the music with equal care. This first lesson with his flute teacher had been the most grueling he’d ever experienced, but he felt bright with happiness, for he’d been praised for his skill and given some difficult music to learn. His instructor, a weathered old man with agile fingers and a far greater skill with the flute than Géta felt he’d ever attain, seemed to think he was some sort of prodigy.

Géta removed his belt and laid it on top of his stacks of clothing, took off his tunic and hung it on the back of the chair, and flopped onto his bed. Perhaps he should have been tired after the long day, but he wasn’t. His mind wouldn’t stop running, going over the day from the first hour in the library. Groaning, he stretched, wiggling a little to work out kinks left over from holding his flute to his lips well over four hours straight. It wasn’t that he’d never practiced so long before, it was just the fact it had been more intense than ever.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 5

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

Géta hurried to his room after his practice-lesson and put his flute and music away, then opened the window as quickly as he could. The letter from Alénil had been on his mind the whole afternoon, and he wanted to write a reply to it as soon as possible. He threw his tunic onto his bed and dropped into the chair.

Right in front of his incomplete composition homework.

He glanced from the scattered pages of music and the pencil and eraser on top to the letter laying on the near right-hand corner and back again several times as his enthusiasm cooled. It took a few minutes of consideration before he groaned and got up, untying his cravat and loosening the collar of his shirt as he retrieved his flute. He hadn’t gotten ahead of his schoolwork at home by slacking, and he’d driven the habit in deeply enough to feel uncomfortable letting his homework be ignored now. The thing here was to stay ahead of lessons as much as possible, so he’d have all the time he needed for practices and studying journals. And today, in addition to the remainder of the music he had to compose, he had mathematics homework, so he collected that as well before returning to his desk. To prevent distraction, he hooked his tunic and covered the letter with it, leaving them on the bed. There. Hopefully his mother’s adage of “out of sight, out of mind,” would prove true right now, because he didn’t know how he’d get through all his homework if he couldn’t focus on it.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 6

This entry is part 07 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

With a sigh, Asthané flopped onto his sofa, placed his hand on his head, and cooled the temperature of his scalp in an effort to alleviate the pain. At this point, exerting his will to cool the temperature of his head wouldn’t do much to aggravate the headache. Using what little of Teesar’s Gift he had would aggravate the headache, because he wasn’t very well practiced with those skills and had to exert a bit of concentration and access the Obnubilate Codicil in order to effect changes.

At least, thanks to this four-hour session of nonstop weatherworking, he had a very firm grasp on the trick to reducing temperature. He sighed again, this time with a bit of a groan as the cool sensation caressed his skin, taking some of the pain away. Still, he didn’t feel so bad, even with the sick-headache from using his Gifts for so long without a break. Poor Héforth had been dry-heaving between his attempts at killing the wind and precipitation in Asthané’s spell. Only practice would reduce the reaction, and the boy was going to get plenty of that with Asthané around. And maybe Asthané wouldn’t end up with awful sick-headaches at the ends of these sessions in a month or so. He could use the stamina all this magic-practice was going to give him.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 7

This entry is part 08 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

Géta’s stomach kept sending up mouthfuls of lunch as he waited, by turns gazing into the garden in hopes of seeing the Mages and staring out over the field wondering if they’d already passed. It hadn’t been one yet when he’d left for the gate to the Weatherfield, but he was afraid he may have missed meeting them. Pacing a little, he continually swallowed as he hugged his flute to his side. He hadn’t bothered to take it out and put it together and had spent a few minutes in indecision, wondering if he should bring the music he was learning before deciding this couldn’t be counted as an official practice. This was real performance, and it chilled him despite the humid heat of the day.

He turned away from the field and saw four people on the path from the Temple. The woman at the head of the little group wore a tunic with a V-bent arrow through crescent with the points down on the front; an orange, yellow, and blue spiral filled the space between the arrow and bottom of the crescent. The others he could see wore different colors; one with yellow, another with blue, and the last he couldn’t see from where he stood with the others blocking. Géta caught glimpses of red hair, but that was all.

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 8

This entry is part 09 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

A while later, another knock came on Géta’s door. He shifted to eye the panel, wary now because of Asthané’s visit. The Mage could have returned. Why, he couldn’t fathom, but he didn’t fancy the idea of opening the door. Still, when the knock came once more, he got up to do so.

Shélan smiled at him. “Hello, Géta.”

Unable to restrain his joy at seeing the Priest, Géta opened the door and beckoned him in. “Hi, Shélan! I didn’t expect to see you again.”

“Why ever not? Did you think I could forget you?”

The tease made him bob his head, cheeks warming. “A little.”

“Well, you made quite an impression upon me, young man. May I sit?”

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A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 9

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale

Géta followed Udé into the dining hall. His friend had announced the kitchen always set out a sideboard in the afternoon, primarily because Mages finishing afternoon practice generally required some sort of sustenance. The sideboard was actually an abbreviated selection of foods set on the counter where meal components were set out, and Udé lifted the lid of the soup tureen at one end of the collection of food, rattling the ladle about.

“Dregs. Who eats the soup before I get here?”

Chuckling over the complaining tone of voice his friend had spoken in, Géta wandered over to the left and collected an orange and a couple sausage rolls. The crusts were a little hard, but that didn’t matter. Udé followed his example, collecting four of the rolls into a hammock made with the bottom of his tunic and selecting three apples instead of oranges. Géta finally found a position with his arm and collection of music which supported the food he’d taken, and the pair headed for the door to the hall leading to the Mages’ and musicians’ quarters, him in the lead.

“So how was this practice?”

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