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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.


Date: 2015-08-16 01:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The door opened just a crack, as if the person beyond it was wary of visitors. They certainly lived off the Palace's beaten paths, in a set of rooms behind the Heraldic library that had been intended as a quiet study retreat, not as living quarters. The hallway outside had retained its austere character; none of the warm oaken panelling or elegant carving that Stef had seen in the rest of the Herald's Wing, the envy of his apprentice garrett in the Bardic Collegium.

"Bard Stefen? Shavri told me to expect you." Herald-Mage Savil opened the door just wide enough for Stefen and his gittern to pass through. "Let me see if he's awake." Savil swept away from Stefen and crossed the room to knock on a very plain, very solid-looking door. "Van, we have a visitor," she called, and turned back to him. "You may as well take a seat. He'll need a moment to dress," she explained. "Vanyel doesn't like to wear clothes when he's alone. One of his habits," and she shrugged at Stef's wide eyes as if that were the least of her troubles.

Which, from all he'd heard, it might well be.

Stefen perched himself on a hard wooden chair by the hearth. He felt somewhere between intruding and mortified, but Savil appeared immune to his discomfort. Or just apathetic. He even wondered if she was enjoying watching him squirm. They'd met before, but only in passing; she was the aunt of his old roommate, Medren, and he'd sometimes seen her visit Randale to act as his advisor. Stef had heard she used to be part of the Council, but these days she didn't seem to do much except watching over Vanyel like a guard-dog. Not to attend to his care, which any servant could have done.

No, Medren had told him it was because Vanyel was dangerous. To himself, primarily, but not only to himself. Stef noticed, uneasily, that everything in the room he sat in was replaceable - plain linen curtains, worn furniture that was probably cast-off by someone else. Savil, too, looked more worn than her reputed years would make sense of.

She shook her head at him. "Well, I suppose I should thank you for humouring Shavri."


Savil sighed heavily. "She is the King's Own, and that gives her a duty of care toward Vanyel. Before Randale deteriorated, she tried to heal him...and she wasn't best pleased when those efforts came to nothing." Stef chewed silently at the inside of his cheek. Shavri had a tendency to stake herself on her responsibilities to others, and Randale's worse days set her bubbling with frustration. He often wondered how different she might be if she'd ever been able to have children. "Maybe he'll appreciate the music," she continued. "But I'm done expecting any miracle cures for Vanyel's mind."

Stef shrugged, trying not to show how her lack of faith stung him. "They told me that about Randale."

"Succeed at one impossible job, and they give you another one? That's the way of things for Heralds," she muttered. "His pain isn't like Randale's. So forgive me if I warn you that this is probably a fool's errand."

"Then what is it like?" Stef asked, perplexed.

"It doesn't have a physical cause. It's magical," she replied, and glanced at the door warily. "I think it's time to introduce you now. Just hold still while I shield you." She took his hands in hers, and Stefen felt a tingling sensation run all over him. Shield him from what? "Van," she called out, and walked to the very plain door. "I'd like you to meet Bard Stefen - Medren's friend." Stefen saw her wave her hand, and she opened the door slowly.

Inside, he saw solid stone, illuminated by some thin light he couldn't see. He felt oddly like he was stepping into a legend - a story he'd cut his teeth on, singing on the streets a decade ago.

The Lost One.

The newly-chosen Herald who'd vanished somewhere so deep in the Pelagirs that not even his own Companion could find him.

According to all the songs, she still wandered there, searching every spell-wracked moor and every monster-infested valley, her lonely hoofbeats crossing broken ground that no human had trod since before the Mage Wars. Those stories had haunted Stef's childhood. They had no end, so Stef had always imagined one. A joyful reunion after countless battles and adventures. Or a bittersweet tragedy, meeting again only to slip away.

But five years ago, Yfandes had found her lost Herald. And no one wanted to sing about it any more.

He startled at the sound of the door thudding closed behind him. The strange light faded, and for a second he was in total darkness. Blue light flashed near him, and a candle ignited. "I'm sorry." The voice sounded raspy, as if it were little-used. "I normally use mage-lights - saves the air, but I'm told that others find them strange."

Stef blinked, and stepped further into the gloom. To save the air? The room seemed completely sealed - he wondered if it was one of the Work Rooms that the Herald-Mages used to study spells. He'd never heard of someone living in one, though. "I, uh, I wouldn't mind that," he said. "I'm used to strange -"

Ahead of him, another candle sprang to life. Vanyel stared straight at him, as if to pierce Stefen through with his eyes.

He froze in surprise. The stories had somehow omitted to mention the Lost One's beauty.

Candlelight flickered against Vanyel's face, making his fine features into a topography of gold and shadow. Stefen fought to regain his wits - this was not what he'd prepared himself to see. He thought someone who'd been lost in a magically-twisted wilderness for over a decade and who lived as a complete recluse would look, well, mad. Or at least unkempt and sickly. Vanyel was untouched by age, or by the torments he'd survived; save that the candlelight caught in threads of white hair at his temples, and his clothing was, to Stef's eye (lately trained by the most vicious Court harpies in their devil-tongued salons) about twenty years out of fashion.

Yet something in those silver eyes peturbed Stef so much he could barely meet Vanyel's gaze. Still lost, the thought came to him. He's not looking at me. He's somewhere else.

He collected himself, and blinked hard. "Pleased to meet you." He held out his arms in polite greeting, and Vanyel looked down at them as if unsure what to do.

"I don't touch people," he said eventually. Stef looked aside awkwardly. Right. Mad recluse. All that gorgeousness, and he can't even hold somoene's hand? No wonder Shavri feels awful for him. Stef glanced around, but there wasn't much to see. A bed - well, a mattress - and a stack of books beside it. Two chairs and a table, even plainer than those outside. No fireplace, but he supposed it wasn't too hard for a mage to keep warm, mad or no.

He sat beside Vanyel, and fumbled with his gittern-case. "I wanted to share some music with you -"

"Medren told me about you," Vanyel said. But of course he had. That might explain Savil's annoyance, if she thought Medren was raising false hopes for his uncle - but Vanyel hardly seemed enthused. And by all accounts, Medren's calls upon his uncle were only a familial courtesy. "You play for the King," he continued.

"I have that honour," Stef said politely. He hesitated, but Medren seemed to be a point of mutual interest. "Medren told me he used to play your old lute. He said you love music -"

"I used to," Vanyel said distantly, as if he was talking about someone else.

That unsettled Stef more than anything else that had yet transpired. How would you stop loving music? He tuned his instrument in nervous silence; smalltalk didn't seem to be of use. "Well, if there's anything you'd like to request -"

"No," and Stef bit back his annoyance. No wonder Medren doesn't visit him much - doesn't he know I'm trying to help?

He wondered if he ought to admit Savil was right and just leave, but he fingered a few chords out of stubbornness. The Windrider songs had been popular enough twenty years ago - so maybe -

It was so easy, when he sang, to follow the rhythm to the depths of himself, to let the song live through him. A torrent that began from him and carried him along as it went. It let him inside people. It took their senses, and turned their hearts.

Deep enough, and it took away their pain.

Does it have to be physical? He didn't know. He didn't know how it worked, and for all the Healers' prodding and blather, neither did anyone else. No one understands how my Gift works. No one understands how to heal your pain. So I won't let anyone tell me they know I can't help you -

His last note hung in the air, and he dared to open his eyes and take a look at its effects.

Vanyel was clutching his elbows, and tears ran from his eyes. Focused, lucid eyes. He seemed to be struggling for words, lost and buried words that had never been needed between these stone walls. And Stef felt the pain coiling, trying to ebb back into him, and he didn't want to see Vanyel hurt so he began another song. And it was hard, even harder than easing Randale's pain, because Randale's senses all worked and his feelings, his reason, were right there where the song could simply use them, without this struggle to rebuild the bare instincts that channeled his music. He felt like he was stringing and tuning the instrument even while playing it. Like trying to compose music even as he sang. But the more he fought, the easier it came, the simpler it was to reach the pain and take it away.

And every time he paused, he felt the whole thing unravel again.

He was exhausted when Savil came for him, his trance disrupted by her shaking at his shoulders. Vanyel had hunched himself against the wall, candlelight shining on the tear-streaks that ran down his cheeks. Stef tried to stand, and it was fortunate that Savil was there to catch him. His energy was so spent he didn't even know how he'd still been playing.

"Thank you," Vanyel whispered. He stretched out a hand, then pulled it back as if he'd reached too close to a fire.

"My pleasure," wavered Stef tiredly. He looked back as he let Savil lead him out - Vanyel's head had dropped into his folded arms, and the candle beside him went out. What had he done? What had he brought into Vanyel's peculiar, constrained life?

The room looked like a prison cell, Stef realised.

It was.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-16 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh wow. Poor Vanyel!

...I love it.

And no Jisa, I didn't even think of that, but it's totally logical, and also really sad.

Damn, I hope you write more, but even if you don't, this is great!

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-16 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks! I thought about throwing in some more big-picture stuff regarding how the world would be different if Van hadn't been around to do heroic stuff...but then I was like 'no let's focus on sexily destroying Vanyel'. I'm writing another horrible rapey Krebain scene right now, so hopefully I can update again by tomorrow, will see how it goes.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-16 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Hoooooly shit, I am ecstatic beyond belief. A!A, you are my hero. The way you described Yfandes searching for him -- my heart can't take this. And Stef's first sight of Vanyel!! You truly have a way with words and I am so so glad you picked this prompt. I've wanted this story for the past ten years, and you've completely exceeded any hopes or expectations :D

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-16 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
:D Yeah, 'wtf happens to Yfandes?' seemed like an obv plot issue - I didn't want to kill her off, so driving her to wander the Pelagirs for 15 years seemed like a great alternative! If I can keep this going, I think she's going to appear sooner or later.

I'm hacking at another Krebain scene - pure rapey filth. Hope to post more in the next couple of days.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-16 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

I feel like "what about the Companions" is a plot issue in a lot of fics. "How can Vanyel actually starve if Yfandes is literally right there?" You definitely came up with a perfectly heartbreaking solution :'D

& I am very, very excited for more rapey filth! <3

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-17 06:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Absolutely tracking this and looking forward to more. +1 that the Yfandes section made me stop and just get chills for a while.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-18 12:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for the support, anon! I'll try not to leave you hanging for too long.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-17 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Hot damn this is beautiful. Poor pretty Vanyel... And totally agreed with the above on that minimalistic bit on Yfandes being really effective; the line about no one wanting to sing songs about it anymore just says so much.

That is some Grade A h/c too. :D

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-18 12:21 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you, anon! :D I had a way harder time figuring out what to do with the Van/Stef h/c part of this prompt...feeling my way as I go, here. Krebain turning Van into a steadily more brainwashed and abused sex slave? That's got a more straightforward trajectory so is way easier to write what is wrong with me.

Re: 2/?

Date: 2015-08-30 05:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ahhh, this is so, so good! I think I held my breath through most of it, the tension was so tight. Poor, poor Vanyel. I'm already longing to get to the point where Stef can help.

Also, that detail about Shavri not having kids, because of course. Ouch.


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