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Welcome to 21 Days of Valdemar!

Put on your party hats - it’s time for the Dead Vanyel Memorial Party! Vanyel is OFFICIALLY the Woobiest of the Woobies, and we celebrate in his honour!


No More Fills posted here! Post to AO3 or FF.Net and post the link here!

Discussion Post | Mod Call Post | Resources Post


Day 1 -Aug. 9 - Prompts! You will have seven days to put as many prompts as you'd like on this post. And if you start writing them early, well that's just good planning!

Day 8 - Aug. 16 - Prompting ends, posting begins! You have 14 days to write, draw, and potentially diorama as many prompts as you can.

Day 19 - Aug. 27 - This is the cut-off day for prompters to reply to any questions about their prompt. Unanswered questions are considered enthusiastic agreement.

Day 21 - Aug. 29 - Last day of posting! All fills must be posted by 11:59 PM North American Mountain Time.
Day 22 - Aug. 30 - Party time! You now have the option of going unanon and reposting everything you've done to AO3 under our fancy AO3 Collection. Or unanoning in whatever manner you please.

(Click on the dates for countdowns; the fest is following MDT/Mountain Time)


For the purposes of this fest, the prompts themselves are warnings. If you have issues with this policy, we recommend either not participating or using Dreamwidth blocker.

Joining the 21_days community is optional for prompters, fillers, and all interested parties; we have some extra content for comm members, but this prompt/fill post, the discussion post, and the mod call post are open for everyone.

MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Posting unanon will be deleted. This doesn't mean you aren't welcome here! And if you'd like the content of your comment PMed to you, contact the MOD CALL post.

For Prompters and Readers

  1. Subject lines should include the series, characters and/or pairing you want. Feel free to be as descriptive as you'd like. Warnings aren't required, but they also aren't banned.
  2. You don't have to write or draw. It's anon, there's no IP-tracking, and we aren't going to stalk you.
  3. Do not comment on other people's prompts to try and change pairings or characters. Post your own version with the characters you want instead.
  4. If you fail to respond to a 'is this okay?' kind of question about any of your prompts by the 19th day, it'll be taken as an enthusiastic yes, no matter what the question is.
  5. There are no subject bans. You may prompt anything you want.
  6. If you don't want to answer any questions, you can say so, and that will work as blanket permission for anything people might want to do with your prompt.
  7. Prompts for non-Valdemar Mercedes Lackey series are allowed.

For Artists and Writers

  1. No claiming prompts, please, as multiple fills are welcome!
  2. Minimum wordcount per fill is 100 words.
  3. All content is allowed and all warnings are optional, but if you want to write or draw extreme kinks** for a prompt that doesn’t specifically request them, you have ask the prompter first.
  4. If the artist requests it, the mods will repost art fills as an embedded picture in a reply to their comment. NSFW art will be labelled as such in the subject line by re-posting mods. Art involving underaged characters in porn situations will not be re-posted as an embed.
  5. RPF of underage people is not allowed. We're not even sure if it's possible for Valdemar fic, but whatever. It's not allowed.

** "extreme kinks" for the purposes of this exchange include but are not necessarily limited to: extreme underage, major character death, scat/watersports/emetophilia, extreme gore, and bestiality. Please use reasonable discretion, and ask a mod if you have any questions!

For Everyone

This is a Choose Not to Warn fest. At no point will any comment be deleted for failure to warn of its content in the subject lines. They will be deleted for rampaging dickery and failure to follow the rules.

Unanon comments will be deleted.

Attempts at policing other people's fun will be deleted.

Prompts posted after the end of the 7th day will be deleted.

Links to off-meme posts posted prior to end of the 21st day will be deleted.

Concerns are to be directed to the MOD CALL post. If posted here, they will be deleted.

Fills that have spectacularly failed to fulfill the prompt/been posted to the wrong spot will be screened. You can request a copy of your work at the MOD CALL post.

The rules may change without warning in response to unforeseen circumstances, like us thinking of better ones.

10.1/9 send help

Date: 2015-12-13 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I couldn't stop writing this prompt ;____;

Just some unpacking, talking, getting to know each other stuff. Pure self indulgence here. [Ran to two comments, joy]

The fire he'd seeded now spat merry sparks, and Vanyel melted as he sat before it, from more than its simple warmth.. His wits were so spent that the finesse with which he'd summoned the flames - a thread of Firestarting, fueled by magic - was a distant dream. I ought to laugh at myself, that control had been a point worth wasting power to prove, just to muster the nerve to surrender it entirely.

And the man he'd yielded it to still sat beside him. Stef was resplendent with firelight and his very particular energy; he felt vibrant yet soothing, quite unlike anyone Van had ever been close to before. He slouched, keeping his eyes on Vanyel in nonchalant vigilance, a wineglass cupped lightly in his hand. They weren't touching, but every few minutes Stef seemed to find a way to stretch, or reach for something, in such a way as to brush against Vanyel's knee. He's so - calculating, Van realised. He never does anything without knowing exactly how it's going to get him what he wants. Which was - what? To keep Van at ease with his presence, yet fully aware of it? At least now Van knew when he was searching for signs of threat, and could decide how he responded to them. But nothing about Stef, his behaviour, his aura, was remotely indicative of evil intent.

No, just the way he got hard while he hit me repeatedly, and the thought of it made his blood run hot all over again. Gods, but he still smarted with pain, and felt sated in ways that were hard to think about. I needed him to do it. What I didn't expect was that he'd do it with such kindness. Was it really so confusing? He couldn't trust instinct alone to tell him what was safe - not the instinct that had betrayed him to Krebain so readily, for so long - but I don't feel used. I don't feel lonely, or diminished. I feel more - real, and alive - than I remember feeling since I had Lendel - and the thought didn't jar him, didn't feel like a betrayal. His eyes met Stefen's, flickering hazel and gold firelight, and Vanyel allowed himself to hope he wasn't wrong. I know how he felt when he touched me...

Stef blinked at him slowly, as if he'd somehow sensed the turn of thought. "What is it?" he asked. "Tell me if you've had too much of me - I don't want to outstay my welcome."

Van shook his head. "I want you near me," he replied, and Stef smiled brightly, not hiding his delight at Van's welcome. That smile could melt a glacier, never mind me. Gods, I'm getting infatuated. He thought on what Stef had said earlier - he wished he knew me. I didn't even realise he didn't, somehow. "I'm used to you being near me of an evening. I feel I must know you well, yet I really don't know the least thing about you."

Not exactly gracious, but his words cut a thoughtful crease down Stefen's forehead. "I guess you don't. Though, I don't know so much more about you."

"There's not much to know about me," he replied.

"That's not true," and the intensity in Stefen's eyes was enough to set sparks. "Well, definitely more than there is to know about me, and I expect Medren told you all of it already."

"Not everything," Van replied, and suddenly the tension was gone and Stefen was smirking right back at him. "Well, Medren said you used to be his roommate, that you're from some far-off city I've never been to, you've no family to speak of, you have all three Bardic Gifts - which I knew." Stef had used all three as he'd brought Vanyel back from the depths of his obsession. It hurt to recall that time now; his memories felt twisted and narrow, but their first meeting still hung vivid in his mind. Stefen's voice had intruded on his dim periphery like dawn into a dream. And locked in that twist of pain and yearning, he'd wanted to sleep on, but he might as well have tried to defeat sunlight. I couldn't shut him out. Krebain couldn't shut him out. He won my mind by inches and quavers. I re-learned music through him, as I learned him through music. And I know so little else about him.

"That's more or less everything." Stef set down his wineglass and lounged indolently back into the corner of the settee.

"I don't mean to pry," Van said hurriedly, trying not to let the brush-off hurt.

"You're not," Stef sighed, his face softening. "But my life doesn't make for good stories. It's true, I've never had a family. I used to run with what your set would call 'bad sorts'. Did Medren really not tell you that?"

Vanyel hesitated. "Sort of. I remembered what you'd said about being cold and hungry in the past - Medren gave me some idea of what you meant, but I didn't want to be rude."

"I'm never going to indulge all your curiosities if you won't be rude to me," Stef feined a glower. "That's the price you pay for that sort of thing. So yes, I'm from the streets. I don't remember having parents, but there was a woman who looked out for me. I sang for her drug money." He looked at Vanyel sidelong and dull-eyed, and Van sensed memories of hurt and hunger. "I don't talk about my past much," Stef explained. "No one wants to hear about it."

"I do," Van assured him. Though Stef's life had certainly been nothing like his own. Maybe because it was nothing like his own.

Stef's lips twisted, as if he wasn't sure what to make of Vanyel's interest. "I've got used to thinking it doesn't matter to anyone. But I can't even tell you that, because it's how I found out I could sing pain away. She was in a lot of pain." He looked aside, and Vanyel sensed that he was in the throes of a distasteful compassion. "I suppose that's how it all began. Liquor, apothecary brews. It was never enough. So I was hungry while she drank. I was cold while she smoked. And it was on me to keep her pain away, unless I wanted her to get more unpleasant than usual. I had some peace when she was unconscious - I'd take what was left of the money and hit the streets. I saw, a lot," and he waved his hands in an encompassing gesture. "There's nothing hidden on the streets. I found out about anything a man would pay for. That some people liked pain and went out looking to buy it from someone - well, that was a revelation." His eyes settled on Vanyel, as if he were the very manifestation of that childhood fascination. "It made so much sense to me, in a way that the things I usually saw men do with whores did not," and he shrugged lightly. "It was street logic. People fought, and then the vanquished did the victor's bidding. Someone was always over someone else. People threw their weight around, pulled knives, won power. I knew which side I wanted to be on," and he looked distant again.

He's seen deep miseries, Vanyel realised. He's hard to the worst in life - he doesn't expect well of human nature. How I moved him, I'll never know. "Medren said they just found you?"

Stef nodded his head. "Bard Lynell heard me singing - about eight, getting on for nine years ago. I was ten, probably - don't quite know - and I was completely terrified." His eyebrows mimed his predicament. "She was travelling with a bodyguard - they each took me by an arm and off we went. No one told me where we were headed or why - she assumed I'd know what a Bard of Valdemar looked like and why I should be glad of her attention. Medren straightened me out when I arrived here, and I've repaid him in a hundredfold in trouble - I've no doubt he told you some of that."

"Some of it," Vanyel admitted.

"Tell me about the damnable character report he made of me." Stef steepled his fingers expectantly.

Vanyel smiled. "Let's see...precocious, conniving, very good at The Game and other forms of feigned conviviality, prone to flights of fancy, cautious gambler, careful planner except when impulse takes you by the horns, and stubborn as a dumb mule." Vanyel tasted each descriptor in his recitation, testing their veracity. All true, he was quite sure. And all delightful. I may be more than infatuated.

"Cautious gambler. I don't even play." Stef paused thoughtfully. "That's the only way to beat the house."

"I would assume that's what he meant," Van replied with some amusement.

Stef smiled the most innocent smile Van had ever seen in his life, and oh gods I'm going to have to be careful of that one. He could make me do anything at all with that one. "So, now you know how I became a Bard. I've heard a few wild stories about how you became a Herald..."

He froze. "What stories?" he asked.

"Well, Medren told me a few things back when they first found you... I couldn't believe he was related to the Lost One -" And Stef covered his mouth with his hand, as if to take back the words.

"I know they called me that," Van said awkwardly.

"He said he'd always heard two conflicting tales about his missing Herald uncle - his grandmother claimed you'd been Chosen and vanished after losing your true love at a tender age - a cursed and ill-begotten love, no less - and his grandfather said it had all happened after you'd got mixed up with the Freylennye-Leshara feud -"

"'Like a damned fool,'" quoth Vanyel.

"Yes. Well, Medren always believed your grandfather, but then his aunt told him that both of those stories were really the same story." Stef's bare toes wove an uncertain circle against the floor, and he looked at Vanyel with an odd mix of curiosity and regret.

Lendel -

"It's true," he replied. As he'd swept cobwebs of Krebain from his history, those memories hurt all over again. I remember all the ways I failed him and failed myself. I can't bear to think of what we could have been. He tried to look at Stef, tried to explain. "My father sent me to live with Savil in Haven because I displeased him," and to Stefen, he'd no need to say why. "Tylendel Freylenne was one of Savil's trainees." And I fell for him the moment I saw him... He stared at Stefen as if he looked across all those empty years.

"So you were lovers?" Stef asked.

"Lifebonded," he replied, and Stef gasped. "He used my energy to build a Gate - and something went wrong, and that roused my dormant magical powers. He died the same night." Van had gathered from a few other odd looks he'd received that Tylendel was still whispered of, darkly and with fear. "I would have died too if Yfandes hadn't Chosen me. I was hurt, and Savil took me to the Tayledras mages to be healed. I wasn't long recovered when I encountered Krebain."

"Gods," Stef breathed, and his eyes narrowed. "He preyed on you while you grieved a lifebond?"

"Yes. He knew all my weaknesses. He made me obsessed with him," and Van looked down at his hands. "I felt so empty when they brought me back here. I could feel that I'd lost someone I couldn't live without, but I couldn't think beyond Krebain. All my feelings and memories were warped around him. What you did, let me remember again. I remembered singing to Lendel - I never sang to Krebain," and he felt revolted at himself for even considering it. For every yearning and affection he'd ever offered to Krebain. "It's so hard to forgive myself. I lost twenty years with nothing to show for it but scars," and Stef reached for him before the bitterness could take him.

He turned Vanyel's hands palm up, and circled his thumbs over the marks on his wrists - fresh bruises, and his oldest scars. "That, I can't sing away," Stef said softly. "I can tell you, there's no amount of bitterness can ever bring back what never was. Thinking about lost years only steals from the years you have left. All we've ever got is a chance to make the best of it," and their eyes met, green and liquid fire, Stef offering Vanyel all that hidden strength.

"You're right," Van nodded, daring to borrow his hope. It was difficult to look forwards when at every step he felt all the hurt and subsumation of the missing years dragging him back, but - I can't assume too much - I don't dare - but it's never seemed more possible. "Stef, I'm not sure you understand what you did for me."


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