Not a Princess Ficbit – To a Man’s Heart

Hank let his feet rest fully on the floor, contemplating the pile of clothes versus the covered bowl of soup Sharl had left on a neat tray. He probably shouldn’t pull the drip out, but he could at least put on pants. Though… soup. Hmm. Food or dignity, which should come first? And did he deserve either of them, when he should be dead? “Elaine’s bullets….”

“Didn’t kill you.” Will’s look was piercing. “I know she only used one. But we’ve both seen Cain take injuries that would kill anyone else in the squad. What was she thinking, that Cain would stand there meekly while she hammered at him with a Gatling gun?”

Hank blinked, feeling as though Will had dashed him with ice water. The grief and rage were still there, but…. “You’re serious.”

“We’re Incarnates. We all survived the transformation. When something tries to kill us we try very hard not to die. A snort, as Will wiped the board clear again. “Captain. You were shot. No one thinks straight after a bullet to the chest. But you’re healing now, so think. A slow breath. “Eat your soup. It’s good, and I told Sharl to keep the onions out of it.”

Reaching for the cover, Hank gave Will a second look. “It’s good?” You had soup? Because yes, Will could still eat some human food, but most people didn’t even try.

An amused blink. “She’s my daughter, Captain. She cooks for all of us.” A puff of breath. “We’ll have to go glean some more wood from the lot soon. Spit-roasting a goat takes more fuel than bread.”

Sharl was keeping up with an orphanage full of children and one of the hungriest Incarnates in his squad. Will’s fire came in handy for the battlefield, but it had a cost. No wonder Sharl looked tired….

Oh, chicken.

Old worn-out laying hen, from the chomp of meat between his teeth. Probably the cheapest bird Sharl could get her hands on. Didn’t matter. It was real meat, broth with carrots and potatoes and green growing things stewed in the delicious taste of simmered bones.

There was a loud and ominous growl.

Hank glanced down at his traitorous stomach, then out the window at the dragon shaking with laughter. Deliberately slurped down more of the soup to quell the former. “I was going to ask how she was still single, but if she got the family sense of humor….”

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26 thoughts on “Not a Princess Ficbit – To a Man’s Heart

  1. At first I read “Oh, chicken.” like it was supposed to be a G-Rated curse word. And then the distribution clicked and I realized he was talking about it being chicken soup.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Marriage prospects for sharl must have been… interesting.
    Particularly since her father returned.

    oh, to be the fly on the wall, when one young man wants to visit her father for such discussion, and sees the Incarnate.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. That’s actually a non-trivial consideration. Consider: any family that Sharl marries into could end up “on the hook” for William and the orphans, given the social mores of the era we’re talking about. Even the most open-hearted, open-minded family in the world would *have* to think Very Seriously about that potential liability.

        Marrying a girl whose aged parents are ill and require care is one thing. Marrying a girl whose father requires something like 1 sheep/goat/cow per *week* (if not per *day*), at a time when one cow would be expected to feed an average farm family for a *month* or more….

        Even ignoring the “Incarnate Insanity” issue, and the “what will the neighbors think?” factor, it would be almost criminally negligent to bring that kind of economic sink into your family without a solid idea of how to pay for it.

        …I wonder how much acreage/day William could plow? Horse-drawn plows are still the mainstay of agriculture at this tech level, and there are old photos of *ridiculous* numbers of horses hitched up in *huge* teams to really big farm equipment near the end of the horse-power era. William might be more effective than early steam tractors, until the technology matures further.

        Which reminds me: It didn’t get a lot of “screen” time, but in the old Dragonriders Of Pern books, the economics of feeding the Dragons was a real issue, and a major part of what shaped the relationship between the “civilians” and the “military” of Pern. It ended up a weird mix between Greek city-state and Medieval European Feudalism, IIRC, which was probably what MaCaffery was using as her model.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! Exactly! Sharl’s marriage prospects right now – which in this setting means a lot – are really bad. And Will is aware of being a Problem. Which isn’t helping his mental stability any.

        Will had more than one reason to haul Hank home; the Captain finds a way, always, he’s counting on it!

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  3. Eh, her sense of humor just means she needs someone who can playfully tease back. Which is how my parents are.

    It’s possible that my parents have an unusual dynamic.

    Beyond that, I can’t see why a dragon would scare off honorable suitors. He’s sophont, possesses self-control, is able to communicate, and can’t kill a fellow any deader than any given armed veteran.

    It’s possible that I have an unusual perspective.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. /Canon she’s just about 16 at this point – which in even a vaguely Civil War-era setting means that it’d be expected for her father to start looking for prospects.
    …I imagine the town views that thought with a shudder of horror./
    Doesn’t help that even without her (literally) fire-breathing father looming over any suitors, Sharl doesn’t exactly have the most…traditional of mentalities for the era and setting.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Oh god… You know that need most boyfriends have to prove the father of their girlfriend that they are worthy of her? The same one that may make them compare themselves to their stepfather? (My boyfriend is so naturally insecure that he puts my dad on a pedestal and he’s terrified of him so, yeah that reaction…) How the hell do you compare to a dragon? Much less impress a dragon? I pity any prospective boyfriend sooooo much right now.
    By the way I hope things are calming down a little for you now. Take care of yourself and take your time with writing. As delicious as your snippets are, the bits you drop about worldbuilding are just perfect too!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hm. That just gave me an idea for a short story: Single guy ties his horse up next to a cave, goes inside, raises eyebrow at displayed treasure (gold cups, necklaces, etc.), ventures further . . . and is surprised by Smaug-sized dragon.

      Explains that he overheard a young lady in the marketplace discussing texts with her father that the single guy had only seen references too in his own studies. Figured a family with access to exotic texts was worth seeking an acquaintance with. Didn’t think they’d have a dragon as a family guardian.

      Dragon shrinks down to become the father. And what does single guy think of daughter?

      Er, that she has education he lacks. Wouldn’t know more to think without getting to know her.

      Dragon-daddy laughs. Then come, we shall have you for dinner.

      Er, phrasing? You mean as a guest, right?

      That, young man, shall depend on her opinion after getting to know you.

      -Albert

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think I’d better. Almost all my ideas end up being novel-length in scope, so something where I have a definite end-point to the narrative before it hits a 5-digit word-count means I can get some much-needed practice in short-story crafting.

        Or at least Sarah Hoyt considers it a valuable skill to cultivate, and I consider her as close to a Wise Master of going indie as anyone . . .

        (Besides, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.)

        -Albert

        Liked by 2 people

  6. /My bunnies say Sharl took a bit more proactive approach to feeding everyone in this AU…./
    Do I want to know just how denuded the region is of deer, moose, elk, wolves, cougars, and any other large animals that might serve as dragon-fodder?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. /You’re not wrong, and it’s a major silent sore point between Sharl and the town…./
        Right because on one hand, the various predators won’t be going after the livestock (due being eaten). On the other, the local wildlife is likely vacating the region in a big hurry. Because while they might not know precisely what the smell of a dragon means; scents of fire + much larger predator = find somewhere else to live; preferably as far away as possible.

        As a result, the local hunters and trappers probably haven’t been getting anywhere close to their normal hauls this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. *Nod* I haven’t written it yet, but once Hank finds out what Sharl’s been up to the past two months, suddenly many things will be clear. IMO he will both admire her tenacity and realize this is going to boil over eventually if they don’t do something.

        (And somewhere in there he’ll get a look at the orphanage finances and start swearing, because it should be really clear that Sharl’s doing the best she can. there just isn’t enough money. Hank ran a whole squad, he would know enough accounting to see the problem.)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Mom taught me to be pretty good with logistics myself, so it’s something that throws me right out of a story, when someone we’re supposed to applaud is doing good in a decidedly resource-consuming fashion and it’s not explained how this will continue to be paid for.

        I’d never make it as a socialist, some Commissar would send me to the firing line for wondering why (some flavor of the Emperor being unclad). Heck, I’d never be a good ‘Christian communalist’ by the rules of the primitive Christians (i.e. first century, when some enclaves held all goods in common) or my own sect: Asking a minister of even a tiny congregation to make all the economic decisions would only work for a monastery or poorhouse, where there _are_ no major economic decisions to be made because the whole thing is running on a predetermined program.

        Although the latter . . . a faith-run workhouse program that takes in those without immediate employment, or perhaps just those who want to broaden their skills, and provides training and experience . . . perhaps offering opportunities to earn accounts for when they leave . . . maybe even training for scenarios for functioning once back in the world . . .

        There’d need to be provisions for people who want to indulge in behaviors held to be sinful and disruptive to the house, though. Probably social events to interact with the opposite sex every weekend, too, for faiths that consider sex outside of marriage to be against the laws of God.

        Given that public education is now a Grooming-Indoctrination complex every bit as insidious as the SJWs claim the ‘military-industrial complex’ was, this may be something that ought to be pursued in the real world. Although as I had one character point out to a ruler in my fanfic, it needs to be self-sustaining after an initial endowment, since people can always figure out how to spend more and more money if there aren’t limits, and people providing that money will always feel the temptation to look down upon the spendthrift scumbags.

        (I once read that at one point in the industrial era, churches in England/Europe required an ongoing payment from parents who had to give up their children; I can’t really see how a poverty-stricken single mother in those times could ever afford to make those payments, save turning to whoring until she used up what was left of her youth and beauty and died young.)

        -Albert

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Now i imagine the Good Captain tossing Sharl at the next civilized and in control Incarnate they meet, saying “this is the daughter of our comrade and brother in arms, Will, for his sake, i need your help to watch over her.”and later add the other kids. Wont that distract them from potentially going crazy and give them something productive to do?

    the idea of Hank recruiting other incarnates as caretakers for that orphanage as ‘monster home for orphans’ to distract them from the crazy and keep them sane, would be hilarious.

    if there is anything scarier then an Incarnate looking for marriage prospects for his daughter, is a group of them bending together, for sake of said daughter.

    Liked by 3 people

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