OT: Without Bells On

on April 29, 2013 in Other Tales

In the weeks since it had opened, the Archimedes Center had transitioned seamlessly from the place where elves might hang out on campus to the place where elven girls did hang out. It wasn’t that male elves never visited it or made use of its dining facilities, they were simply less likely to. Some of them had checked it out for the novelty value, but at the end of the day most of them preferred Treehome where they could be more free to act in a manner they thought befitting of their status, which was essentially “lords of creation”.

It was mostly the young women… and more particularly, a subset of the young women… who kept going back, who found an oasis of elvenishness that was removed from the bastion of middling culture to be freeing.

Glory—named Cleo by her parents—was one such elf. If she was the undisputed queen ruling over the other girls who formed her court, she was a more benign monarch than any of the major players back in Treehome. She was friends with her followers, even as they were in fact followers. The concept of hierarchy ran deep in elven society. She was at the very top within her clique, and her sister Grace… young and relatively newly arrived… was at the bottom.

But it was better to be a mere jester or page… and in many ways, Grace was both… in Glory’s court than a courtier in many of the others.

Still, she knew her place, which is why Grace would never enter her older sister’s chambers in the heartwood tree dwelling that had been claimed for their circle unannounced or without permission. This deference had not required any kind of an adjustment in how she behaved towards her older sister, because she had never met her before she joined her at university. They were unusually close in age for elven siblings, but there had been more than five decades between their births. They were currently both middlings, but they’d never been children together.

So she rang the tiny silver bell beside the door, once, softly. The number and volume of the chimes used was supposed to indicate how important the visitor thought their intrusion was. Of course, it was protocol; Glory already knew it was her. Elves had ways of foiling each other’s senses, but only the terminally cheeky would use them against their betters. Even a non-elf might picked up by her approach by the anklet bells she was required to wear… the badge of her station, or lack thereof. It was essentially a form of hazing, for an initiation period that would last at least until Glory’s Court inducted a new member.

“Open and enter,” Glory’s voice said, coming through the door in the mundane fashion of mortal voices. While Glory enjoyed human fashions, this wasn’t an affectation of hers, it was simply another way of reinforcing their respective positions.

Grace opened the door and stepped inside, then waited to be addressed further. She’d done this numerous times over the few years she’d spent at Treehome, but she felt as nervous as she had the first time, when she’d essentially been presenting herself for her mysterious sister’s inspection, hoping against hope to be accepted into her circle of followers. If she’d been rejected, she would have needed to attach herself to another group, any other group… she’d thought her odds of not being too badly ill-used as a new arrival and youngling were better under her sister’s auspices than outside of them, but nothing would be worse than being totally unprotected.

“Now, that’s not a look I like to see on my face,” Glory said, which made Grace smile a little… the novelty of their identical faces had brought instant favor from her older sister. They had different fathers, but Grace had known there was a strong possibility they were brothers, and the prime contenders had both been more than usually closely related to their mother. The result was such that they might as well have been twins. “What’s up, little mirror?”

“I… I give up,” Grace said.

“It wasn’t a riddle,” Glory said.

“The bet,” Grace said. “I can’t do it. I just… I can’t.”

“You have a whole week,” Glory said. “It’s been, like, a day.”

“A week, a day… it doesn’t make any difference,” Grace said. “A week from now, I’ll still be me. You win. You can have her.”

Glory sighed and brushed her chin, twitching aside the emerald-studded green silk veil that along with her riding boots was the only elven garment she wore.

“I’ve disappointed you,” Grace said. “Again.”

“No… well, yes,” Glory said. “I’m disappointed by events, but that’s so far from being the point… Grace, don’t you understand? The bet was never serious. I don’t have any interest in your human’s ass. ”

“But she isn’t my…” Grace began, momentarily forgetting her place.

“Yes, that’s the whole point: to motivate you to get off yours and go after her,” Glory said.

“I’m not like you, though,” Grace said. “I’m not… confident. I can’t just walk up to someone and… claim them. I don’t have the charisma.”

“You don’t have the confidence,” Glory said. “You’re an elf. She’s a human. In our world, you’re shy and awkward, but in hers, you’re fucking magic, with emphasis on ‘fucking’. To them, we’re made of charisma, Charissa. You could walk up to her and say ‘Nice shoes, wanna fuck?’ and you’d have her at ‘nice’. I only breezed her for you to help you break the ice… the whole idea of a deadline before I’d claim her instead was just so there’d be a deadline.”

“Whether you’ll claim the forfeit or not, it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t,” Grace said. “It’s just… I don’t have it in me.”

“What, are you afraid of her?” Glory asked. “You’ve heard her. She’s lonely, desperately horny, and such a timid little mouse she thinks the fire-girl is a lion.”

“I know all that…”

“Then what are you afraid of? That she’ll say no?” Glory asked. “Or that she’ll say yes? Little mirror, one of these days I’m bound to graduate… I can maybe hold out for another decade, but then I’ll be expected to join adulthood before much longer anyway. You’ll still have decades to go before you can get out. I can help you make friends, but they’ll all be older than you, too. If you can’t figure out how to act like a queen, you’re going to end up someone’s slave.”

“I don’t think I have it in me, Glory.”

“Then it’s even more important that you figure out how to hook up with humans, because you’re not going to want to stay a middling of Treehome once I’m gone,” Glory said. “If I ordered you to do it, would you do it?”

“I think I probably could.”

“Well, I won’t… not yet,” Glory said. “Instead I’ll tell you that I really don’t think you have anything to be afraid of, and your older sister will be so proud of you when you do work up the courage to go and claim her… but if you need another push, I will go to her myself, and I’ll ask her if she’d like to meet my sister who likes to stare at her ass.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“No, sweet nearly-child, I’d do that to you,” Glory said. “Because however embarrassing you imagine it might be to go up to that human in the Arch or go knock on her door, I promise you, the reality of having your sister doing it for you will be worse. The difference is you won’t have to rely on your own resolve to get over the hill, you’ll just be swept along.”

“Wait… I could knock on her door,” Grace repeated.

“That never occurred to you?”

“No,” Grace said. “I know where her dorm is, I just… that always seemed intrusive, to actually go in…”

“You’re not a very good elf, you know that?”

“I haven’t been one for very long,” Grace said. “But it would be so much less public! Nobody would be watching, nobody would be listening. Maybe this could work. I’ll have to think…”

“Oh, just go!” Glory said. “If you think about it, you’ll think of a dozen reasons it won’t work, or a dozen things that might work better, and you’ll just keep on thinking more and more. Don’t think, do. Go. Claim. Fuck. Make up some love to fall in, if you like.”

“If I wait until after the rain…”

“You’ll be less likely to catch her at home,” Glory said. “And have fewer excuses to stay in if you do. Go now. Don’t even dodge the raindrops… show up on her doorstep a wet, dripping mess. You’ll be less intimidating to her.”

“I hadn’t even thought about me intimidating her…”

“More reason why you’re a terrible elf,” Glory said. “Go! I’m not going to order you, but if you don’t go, I’ll find things to order you to do that will make you wish I’d ordered you to go claim your human.”

“I’m just… I’m going to grab a few things from my cubby,” Grace said. “Is that okay?”

“It’s fantastic. Oh, but leave your bells with me.”

“I… what?”

“It’s not permanent, but you’re on your own time for now,” Glory said. “I don’t want any of my girls stopping you on your way out the door. I’d write you a hall pass if we had such things, so for the time being, consider yourself de-belled.”


“Just don’t make me regret it,” she said. “I don’t think you really know how easy you have it here.”

“I won’t let you down,” Grace said as she was leaving. “I promise!”

Her sister’s voice followed her down the stairs.

“And for fuck’s sake, show some pride with that face… remember who’s the beautiful deathless one and who’s the mortal. If she’s not working twice as hard as you are, she doesn’t deserve you!”

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25 Responses to “OT: Without Bells On”

  1. Anne says:

    Oh my Khosh!Am I first to comment? It looks that way. I love this chapter.

    Current score: 3
  2. Brine says:

    Odd, even though Glory is quite the c*** I think I like her.

    Current score: 2
  3. Dan says:

    “Even a non-elf might picked up by her approach by the anklet bells she was required to wear… ” Perhaps, “Even a non-elf might have picked up on her approach by the anklet bells she was required to wear…”

    Current score: 1
  4. Julian Morrison says:

    Whee, thank you, this is interesting. Our first glimpse into elven culture, I think.

    Current score: 0
    • More Tales of MU goes into some depth on elven culture. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it.

      Current score: 0
  5. pedestrian says:

    Terrific insight Alexandra.

    And, when we reflect upon this chapter, we comprehend how appropriately
    graceless Grace will fit in with Spanky and Our Gang.

    The intriguing possibility is how Grace and Dee get along….TaTaTadommm!!

    Current score: 1
  6. zeel says:

    “Don’t even dodge the raindrops… ”

    Hah, lol. They can do that? I love it.

    Current score: 1
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      It probably depends on how heavy the rainfall is, but it seems eminently within the sphere of elven dexterity.

      Current score: 1
  7. X'o'Lore says:

    Without bells huh? I’ve heard quite a few stories about where the phrase “I’ll be there with bells on” came from. Now you have me reading up on some of them again. Fun stuff.

    Other than that, it appears Mack continues to be a misfit magnet. Nothing new there I guess.

    Also, doing things for Glory and Grace must be remarkably anticlimactic in this group of elves. That’s about all I got.

    Current score: 1
  8. Brenda A. says:

    “Oh, just go!… If you think about it, you’ll think of a dozen reasons it won’t work, or a dozen things that might work better, and you’ll just keep on thinking more and more.”

    Hahaha, who else do we know who has this problem?

    Current score: 1
  9. Devin says:

    Oh lovely chapter. Whatever edits you made to polish this up worked. I know you were disappointed by the first draft, but this was excellent. It shows the haughtiness elves feel in comparison to humans, while still keeping the characters likeable and relatable.

    Current score: 0
    • It was more slash and burn than edit… basically only the first paragraph or so is from the previous draft.

      Current score: 1
  10. Medipack says:

    I have to say, Grace reminds me quite a bit of Mack back in her first semester. The resemblance is uncanny.

    Current score: 0
  11. Readaholic says:


    What lies beneath
    The deathless beauty
    Is desperate insecurity
    Can somebody please tidy this up into a haiku for me?

    Current score: 1
    • Lokean says:

      Beneath the surface
      Of the lily covered pond
      The timid fish lurks

      The kigo isn’t great, since it’s for early summer, but I think it gets the gist of the original across nicely

      Current score: 1
      • Readaholic says:


        Current score: 0
      • Readaholic says:

        Third verse,
        Got some of the first,
        Some of the second,
        Just a little bit (of) verse.

        Beneath the elf Grace
        Of the deathless beauty
        A timid girl lurks.

        Current score: 1
  12. Sam Vimes says:

    Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    Current score: 0
  13. Riocaz says:

    “I haven’t been one for very long”
    She wasn’t always an elf?

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      Riocaz, the way I visualize Grace, is that she is a very young elf.

      Grace is at least twenty years old but less then forty years of age.

      As her sister, Glory, is sixty years older then Grace but Glory’s age is still less then the century mark which seems to be the age of maturity among elves?

      Current score: 0
    • Readaholic says:

      I think she means that she’s used to being just shy, timid Grace, not Exotic Deathlessly Beautiful Elf in human land.

      Current score: 1
  14. N'ville says:

    I once said I would like to grow old with grace, hum, not yet decided if I would like it to be this Grace. Need to know a bit more I think.

    Current score: 0
  15. Zathras IX says:

    Elven girls hang out
    At Archimedes Center
    For the famous screw

    Current score: 1
    • pedestrian says:

      Archimedes to Roman soldier:
      “Aren’t you gladius to see me?”

      Current score: 1
  16. Daemion says:

    I think the best part of this is seeing the changes in Grace after she spent three days with Nicki. 😉

    Current score: 1