Cities Fall Yet Rivers Still Flow 960 Words.
Rivers hung upside down. They carried him tied tight to a wooden pole. The one in front had nice and thick back hair full of dirt and sweat and fleas. The fleas jumped as the men jostled through thick, winding forest, but Rivers finally found one tired and heavy with blood. He stared at the flea until it filled his vision, and then he spoke to it. Ever since he'd got ‘nocced his words didn’t come out right, but the fleas always understood.
“gently caress!” The hairy man spun around and dropped the pole.
Rivers crashed down with the pole, first his head, then his feet.
“Shee, Trey!” I’ma kill ya dog! Fulla fuckin’ fleas!”
Trey got up in the hairy man’s face. “Ya’int gonna.”
“Ya’am,” the hairy man said, “gonna eat ‘em cock en all.”
They’d have the milky white bubos all over their groins and neck by sundown. By morning they’d be drowning in their own sweat and pus, floating in and out of flea-kissed fever dreams. Rivers could just walk away.
“gently caress off, Range, ya’int eatin’ muh dog se’en we gotta fat en fresh autie all skewered up.”
Range leaned over Rivers, his sweat dripped into Rivers' brow and stung his eye.
“Autie, you mumble a buncha shee en then I get bit? I’ma eat ya cock se’en I can’t eat Trey’s dog’s cock.”
Rivers wanted to flap his arms, but the ropes held them tight to the pole, so he hummed and tilted back and forth.
“Maybe’ll suck ya cock a‘fore ya eat ‘is!” Trey said, laughing.
They hoisted him back up and walked toward their camp.
Range and Trey coughed up phlegm even as they gathered kindle. Each cough hacked up thousands of blooming bugs right out of their throats and all over the tents and rusted pots. Rivers saw each and every bug real clear, saw them sucked past bloody lips and up into broken noses. They were all gonna get real sick. All but Rivers, who was all nocced and autied up. Only problem was he was still strung up on the skewer, ready to get roasted and ate.
He had to talk his way off the pole and out of the ropes, but talking was something auties didn't do so good.
“Waaaa!” Rivers grunted. “Waaaazzz!”
“Shut the gently caress--” Range started to yell, but a cough cut him off. He gasped for breath, and Rivers could hear the gurgles as Ranged sucked in, then he saw the blood that Range hacked up as he coughed and coughed.
“Wizz! Wizz!” Rivers rocked back and forth. “Wizzaar--Wizz wizz!” He couldn’t get the word out. It was so clear in his mind, but all his wiring was messed up and he couldn’t just tell them he was a wizard. If they thought he could help, even if it was a tiny glimmer of hope, they’d probably untie him.
Trey chuckled; he wasn’t looking too sick yet. “Autie’s gotta wiz! Lez see what e’s packin.” Trey grabbed Rivers' crotch. “E’s got uh fat dick.” Trey unzipped his fly and pulled out Rivers' cock. Another of them whistled as he took a look.
gently caress them, gently caress all of them, Rivers thought. He roared it out at them, but all he heard come out was “F-uhh. Fuhhh. Fuckkkk!”
Trey’s friend sauntered over. “Big dick autie wantsa gently caress? Ya wanna first or can I?” He asked Trey.
“Ya can gently caress, I wannim ta suck ma’off,” Trey said. He took out a knife and cut Rivers from the skewer.
Rivers hit the ground and, hands free, flapped them in front of him as he rocked back and forth. He hummed loud and cast a new spell. The first time he’d needed the slower onset to infect the whole camp, but now he just needed Trey dead fast.
Rivers focused on their throats, saw a bunch of bored bugs and bacteria with nothing to do, and spoke to them.
“Raaaa! Urrrrr! Thraa gaa sssuhhh!” Was all anyone heard, except the bugs. They heard and obeyed Rivers clear like always. Trey had one hand on River’s dick, but as the bugs carried out River’s orders, he let go and fell to the ground.
An animal sound exploded in Trey’s throat as vomit and blood erupted from his mouth. It hit Rivers in the stomach, it felt like scalding oatmeal and rotting blueberries. The sickness caked his belly and pubic hair as it dripped down, and Trey emptied out his stomach onto the forest floor, acid and all, in rhythmic aftershocks that splashed back onto Trey’s face. After his last cough, both Rivers and Trey were pink and red and milky with his death vomit, but Rivers was still alive and Trey wasn't.
The other one's eyes just bulged, and he must have realized that Rivers was a wizard you didn't gently caress with, so his dick wasn't hard no more and he just ran right off.
Everyone else was really sick from Rivers’ first spell, so he just walked out of the camp, past dozens of dying men. They didn’t have the energy left to stop him walking off, let alone to string him up again and cook him.
He walked toward the ruins of the old city, left to decay by the ‘tism and ravaged by the few that weren’t nocced. Other autties had become wizards like him, and he knew somewhere out there was one opposite of him. A wizard who could cure the ‘tism. Science had died and another noc would never come. Even if somewhere in some deep lab there were scientists slaving away at another big noc, Rivers wouldn’t trust ‘em. Rivers only trusted people like himself. He only trusted wizards.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 02:30|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 04:32|
My door disintegrated, sending splinters flying at a million angles. I ducked, a couple grazing my cheek and drawing blood.
As I took my hand away from my face the intruders stepped past the door fragments. Bronze armour glinted in the sunlight shining through the open space. Guardsmen.
“There’s been some sort of mistake,” I began, but then I saw those crossbows raise and was moving, ducking behind my desk as the bolts thudded into the wall behind me. Serious thuds. Serious weight on those things.
I reached out into the ether. My clones were still out there, so I could do it quickly and easily. Lucky. This was a bad spot, and I realized that the fact that the Guardsmen were already firing at me meant they were probably as pissed as could be. Whatever this was, I was in deep already. I had to shoot my way out.
I built up my magicks, feeling the flame of Panika burn inside me.
“loving kill him!” shouted the sergeant, or whatever rank he was.
I cast Explosivus.
My hands were glowing with the afterburn as I gathered up what I could, making my way through the charred and fragmented corpses.
I left as quickly as I could manage. Get out of Tarr, I was thinking. As I melted into the alleyways of the Quarter, I could hear the furious tones of the militia.
At this moment, hundreds, perhaps thousands of soldiers were converging on my home. My little nook. My library, my alchemy table, my arcane collection. There would be nothing left.
Then, as I was running through Fang’s Crossway, behind the bricks of the Commons, I heard the sound of my own voice. “Quita on avvalianka tu riza in llaol. Thot'k vhot it ik tu ba o kroza.”
I had to mentally translate from the gibberish my clones spoke with. The language centers of their brains were the first thing to go.
“What did you do?” I asked the darkness.
“Wa ktortan o vor fur vuu.”
“I didn’t ask you to start a war!” I yelled. “I asked you to help me with my magicks!”
Too late I remembered the warning given me by Madressa. “Those born into death resent it most of all,” she had told me, her third eye bulging with green veins like it always did when she was in her trance state. “They will turn on those who gave them life, as certain as the snow follows the leaves.”
I definitely took that relationship for granted, I thought, as the laughter echoed off the walls.
The explosion knocked me off my feet. I sprawled into the ground. It felt like my back was on fire. I reached back, and my hand came back sticky.
It had been a Chaos Wave. Like a rune trap had been set off in a home, where you wanted to kill the intruder but leave all your stuff untouched. But I hadn’t had time to set any. Besides, I realized, the fact that I wasn’t dead meant that it must have been activated far away.
I reached into the Ether once more. Cast a Healing Ward. I wasn’t much of a Life Wizard, but my clones still fueled the Ether contact. I could feel the blood dissapate, evaporating off me with the Life heat. I figured I looked pretty cool while the blood mist still floated around me.
Get to higher ground, I thought, before another one goes off. The waves travelled on a flat plane. Chest height, or neck height if you were a dwarf.
I cast Adhevok, and began to climb the Crossway wall.
It took me a while to climb, even though my hands were selectively fusing with the wall surface. Wizards aren’t supposed to run around, and I had been using my clones for menial chores as well, so that when it came down to it I was unused to physical exertion. But finally I reached the rooftops and, like a gargoyle, stared across the city.
Were there a thousand fires? Or was there just a single flame that burned from the Kashar Port to the east side battlements? It didn’t matter. The city was burning, so intensely that the heat stung my eyes and smoke billowed into the sky like a budding flower.
And in the streets, there was only red. The trademark stitching of my favourite weaver, Garrius Fletching. His needlework was unequalled in Tarr, even before it all burned down.
My clones had been busy. I realized that there was nothing stopping a clone from cloning itself. They wanted more life, but had settled instead for taking everyone else with them.
“Fikr!” I swore. As my hand clutched at my mouth I thought, I always hated this city anyway.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 02:50|
A Brat’s Request
flerp fucked around with this message at 02:58 on Jul 27, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 02:54|
Four hours until submissions close
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 03:01|
The Square Root of 13 (1293 words)
In the stairwell between floors 12 and 14, there's a scar running along the wall--a slight discoloration, like the pieces of concrete were smashed together. I run my hand along it, feeling the raised crease under my fingertips. It's the only physical proof floor 13 was ever here.
"I don't get it, man," Grady says, glaring at the melding point. "I thought he was supposed to be all 'bout lottery numbers and casinos and that type of poo poo. What's he doing wiping out buildings?"
"Building floors," I remind him, "and sometimes he can't help himself. Just gets too wound up. 'Scuse me." I bounce down to the next landing, where the night security guard is sitting in a fat ball of tears and snot. "Can you say again what happened?"
"It's like I said," the guard begins, sniveling. "Guy comes in, done up in a robe with hashtags on it--"
"Numeral signs," I correct him.
"Whatever. Anyway, seems kooky but harmless, plus he's got the credentials. I let him up and next thing I know there's a loud BOOM and the whole building's shaking like we're on a fault. Fire alarm grid on 13 is all down, so I head up here and…and…" The guard breaks down again into hysterics, tucking into himself."
"Definitely sounds like our guy," Grady says from the top of the stairs. "You going after him?"
I think about a sec, then nod. "Put an APB out on him, case he's not at home. If you don't hear from me in twenty minutes, assume I've got him there and haul out the cavalry." I glance again at the discolored wall, where the mad wizard waved his wand and wiped another 13th floor from existence; anyone with the misfortune of being home at the time, snuggled up in their bed or watching late night TV, would have been wiped as well. "Zahlen, you old bastard," I mutter as I make my way down the stairs and out of the building. "You just had to do it again, didn't you?"
Zahlen, the mad wizard of numbers, is an eccentric son of a bitch. Looking for that lucky roll at craps or the perfect credit score for your mortgage? He's got you covered. But every once in a while he'll go off the deep end and rearrange the universe. Ever see a building that superstitiously leaves out the 13th floor? That's to ward him off, in hopes he won't come around and do some open-skyscraper surgery.
He lives on the outskirts of the city, in a gothic number that used to stretch 39 stories before Zahlen did some constructive renovations. His penthouse requires a special code, plugged in on the elevator numbers, which I've got memorize. First 4, loathed in China, where the Chinese word for "four" sounds like the Chinese word for "death." Next comes 17, which makes the Italians quiver for reasons I can't recall. 7 follows after that, the one "lucky" number of the bunch, followed by 39, which in Afghan sounds a lot like morda-gow--literally "dead cow." The final piece of the puzzle is 6, pressed three times for reasons I shouldn't have to explain.
The elevator jerks to life and zooms upwards, the floor buttons of the code blaring. We go past floor 39, up into the stars, beyond a realm of coherent spacial physics. It's outside the fabric of reality, I guess, where wizards make their humble abodes far from the prying eyes of simpletons such as myself. Thankfully, I've got a badge that says Federal Bureau of Wizards on it, which means their hocus-pocus nonsense doesn't apply to me.
The doors shoot open as the elevator stops, and I step into a circular room with a vaulted ceiling. There are all the usual comforts of home: bed, kitchen, flaming hearth with a boiling pot of soup. But all the walls are made of blackboard, upon which are scrawled all manner of arithmetic:
2 + 2 = 3
3 x 7 = 26
And more formulas, all of them glaringly, embarrassingly, wrong.
The old wizard glances up as I enter, his finger pausing on an abacus as the blood drains from his bearded face. "Detective! I…what are you doing here?"
"You know pretty drat well why I'm here, Zahlen."
"Alright, look, look." He stands on skinny bone legs, hashtag/numeral robe fluttering as he scurries to me. "I was formulating an equation, trying to decipher the variables of deforestation. 18 million acres of forest are lost every year, did you know? And I figured I could come up with a mathematical formula that would limit further destruction."
"Didn't realize you were an environmentalist."
"You jest, but it's a growing concern of mine. I wanted to see if there was a numerical answer to the problem."
"And where does destroying a 13th floor come into play?"
He sighs and waves his hand nonchalantly. "I got caught up in my work, notching equations left and right, and at some point I came to a step in the proof where the only correct answer was the square root of 13."
"But…there is no square root of 13."
"Not an integer, no. And that royally pissed me off, so naturally I had to let off some steam."
"Let off steam? You decimated people while they slept, Zahlen!" I pull my handcuffs from my belt, clicking them open; they're made of industrial grade wiz-steel, an irradiated metal that neutralizes the magical properties of anyone unlucky enough to be bound in them. "You've been warned about this before. Now I've got to take you in."
The feeble old man morphed into a seething husk, veins protruding from his neck. "You don't get to decide my fate, detective! I can spin a yarn that'll plunge your odds of surviving the night into the depths!" He waves his wand menacingly, sparks bursting from the end. "Just try to cuff me, you gargoyle!"
I dispense with the cuffs and pull out my baton, reinforced with pure wiz-steel, and swing at him. He dodges, moving more limberly than an old man should. With a flick of his wand, the numbers on the blackboards become physical shapes, hurling themselves through the air like throwing stars. The 5s are the worst, as their combo of a flat edge and a rounded semi-circle turns them into flying scythes. I deflect most with the baton but a few slip through, cutting my skin. A zero loops itself around my neck and tries to slice my Adam's apple, but I wedge my baton between it and my throat just in time. The surge of the wiz-steel causes it to burst into tiny particles.
My scrap with the zero allows a 7 to clip my foot, sending me sprawling to the floor. As I look back up, I see a dozen numbers zooming towards my face, ready to land the killing blow.
And they all explode at once.
I hadn't even heard the elevator open, but Grady is there now, with a whole squad of backup, wiz-steel batons drawn. They're batting away the numbers, charging forward, until they've got Zahlen pinned to the ground. He screams irately as the cuffs go on his wrists.
"Good call on the twenty minutes" Grady says, offering me a hand.
"Thanks." I'm up quickly on my feet, glaring at Zahlen as the squad carries him to the elevator. He's spouting curses, interspersed with random numbers, like some warped kind of Rain Man.
"Tough luck for him. What're the odds he avoids prosecution?"
"About as stingy as my odds of living to retirement," I say, slapping Grady on the back. "Come on, let's make a pit stop at the casino; I'm feeling strangely lucky tonight."
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 03:21|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:16 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 03:26|
Perceive and Deceive 1211
I rolled a quarter across the knuckles on my right hand. With the left I took a yellow wallet from her purse. Flipped the coin, caught it in the palm of my hand and slapped it down on the table, causing our waters to shake.
The fiery redhead sitting across from me in our booth snapped out of it. I opened her wallet and a picture of a boy on a tricycle fell out.
"Nice trick. How did you do that?"
"Magic," I said.
“Ha, don’t you need to recite some kind of spell?”
“Not if you’ve been doing it long enough.”
She didn't believe me. Nobody ever did. I slid the picture into the wallet and handed it back to her.
"Thanks, he just turned eight last week."
I recognized pain hidden beneath her smile.
"What happens to him if you get caught?" I asked.
"We won't. Mike said you’re the best,” she said.
"Mike is a bullshit artist that lives off a five percent finders fee."
Her soft warm hands grabbed mine. Her copper eyes ablaze searing into my soul.
"My baby is sick. I need this job."
She squeezed my hands. Her touch sent a hot tingling sensation through my body. A warmth I missed.
We ate the greasy diner breakfast as I went over her part. I made her repeat it back to me twice without flaws. After another cup of coffee I asked for the check.
The waitress handed me the check and looked out the window. A fat crow with dark purple feathers perched itself on the ledge of the window. Its black head twisted to the side. It stared into the waitress.
I looked across the table at Red.
“Do you think she is a good waitress?”
Red hesitated on her response.
“It’s okay, she can’t hear us,” I said.
Red looked through the window to the parking lot then back at the waitress. She waved her hand in front of the waitresses face. No response.
“How are you doing this?”
“Magic. I’m thinking fifteen or twenty percent. For the tip. What do you think?” I asked.
The waitress continued to stare out the window.
“You put her in some kind of trance?”
“Her attention is elsewhere. Now the tip.” I said.
“Twenty percent is fair,” Red said.
Red snapped her fingers. The waitress shook her head clear, "I'm sorry. Saw a funny looking bird.”
Red gave the waitress a weird look as she walked away.
"What bird?" she asked.
I paid the bill and left a fair tip. We went outside to hail a cab. It didn’t take long.
A taxi pulled up to the curb. Red hugged me hard, her head against my chest. She must have heard my heart racing.
"That was weird. What you did in there… But thank you for the job. I won’t screw it up," she said.
She jumped in the backseat of the cab. Only when the cab was a block away I zipped up my jacket remembering it was winter.
The armored truck pulled into the bank's parking lot right on time. I watched from across the street. They cruised around to the back.
Where was she? I crossed the street to the banks parking lot. Five minutes and this should be over.
Two minutes passed before she pulled into the parking lot with the windows rolled down. I leaned into the car, "You’re late, and it's winter nobody has their windows down."
She pressed her lips to mine and I forgot about what I was scolding her for.
"Be safe," she said as she rolled up the window and drove to the ATM as planned.
I lit a cigarette and walked to the back of the bank. I leaned against the cold brick wall, watching two guards load in heavy black bags. A third guard sat in the truck, his eyes staring at Red's car.
After the last bag was loaded I flipped a coin in the air. It bounced on the ground and rolled until it hit a chubby guards boot. He reached down to pick up the quarter.
George Washington's face transformed into a tiger and then a giraffe. The chubby guard showed his co-worker as the faces on the coin morphed. A fat crow with shimmering dark purple feathers landed on the front windshield of the truck.
I flicked my cigarette to the ground. Red backed the car up next to the armored truck and popped the trunk.
I swooped in past the two guards transfixed on the coin. They were oblivious to my presence as I stepped behind them and into the back of the armored truck.
Five plump leather bags full of cash sat on the floor. I grabbed two and strolled out the back past the guards. I dropped the bags in Red's trunk.
She rolled down the window, looking at me like I was mad, "I see it. The crow."
"Don't look at it," I took the watch from my wrist and handed it to her, "Keep your eyes on the ticker."
I walked back to the armored truck. The two guards were still occupied by the ever-changing quarter, as if nothing else in the world existed. I grabbed another two bags and hauled them to Red's trunk.
"One more," I mouthed and she nodded.
I stepped back up into the armored truck. My hand was on the last bag when I heard tires screech, a car peeling out. Red's car.
I left the last bag and jumped out of the truck to find myself greeted by a revolver in my face.
The chubby guard took a pair of cuffs from his belt and stepped toward me while his partner pointed the revolver.
"Wait." I eased my hand out of my pocket. A coin between my fingers.
He pulled the trigger as I flipped the coin. It twirled high in the air. When the quarter hit the ground I was gone.
I leaned against the cold glass of the phone booth. Despite the chill running up my spine my shoulder was still on fire. I dialed Mike. The hairy little bastard took his time answering the phone.
"Mike, its me." I said.
Mike sighed, "What do you want?"
"Red got spooked. I need her info."
"Who?" he asked.
"The redhead driver you sent."
"I don’t give out employee information,” he said.
"Want me to come down there and get it?"
"No. I'm still having nightmares from your last visit. Her name is Emma Leland, 1589 Jay Ct. She run on you?" He asked.
"She's got a sick kid Mike. She got scared.”
"Emma doesn’t have a kid, she has a girlfriend,” he paused, “We can get to them. If she screwed you over.”
I hung up the phone.
Freezing winter winds embraced my return to the city's streets. I could no longer feel the fire Red left on my lips. Other than the bullet burning in my shoulder, I felt cold. Back to usual.
Steam rolled up and off a hot dog vendors stand. I patted my empty wallet. All I had was a coin. But who needs money when almost everything can be bought for a quarter?
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 03:59|
La Voz Silenciada
Your wizard has the power to calm people, animals, and crowds of people and animals with his voice, and heal contaminated or blighted earth with his hands. It is virtually impossible for violence to happen around him.
"And that was 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall’--ask your grandparents, kids," the humble, elderly busker joked to his audience inside a busy New York City subway station. "My name's Pablo and, as always, the entertainment's free, but tips are greatly appreciated," he said while nudging his open case forward and was greeted with a shower of donations. The tone shifted suddenly as a tall figure made his way to the front, the crowd parting instinctively from his slight air of scumbag entitlement. "Well hello again, Officer Kowalski," Pablo said with a smile. "What can I do you for?"
"Please collect your items and remove yourself from the premises," Kowalski said exhaustedly.
"But officer," Pablo said with his palms open, "I've told you before that I'm perfectly within the MTA's rules on street performing." While giving his spiel, Pablo scanned his audience for the right person--a young man in a Dodger's hat. Once he found his stagehand, he caught his gaze and the two nodded at eachother. "Let him play," someone from his audience called out as the rest shouted in agreement.
"Put your hands behind your head and stand up slowly," he said as he reached for his cuffs with one hand and called for backup with the other. Pablo's audience crowded closer, several pulling out their phones to record, others booing and hissing.
"Son," Pablo said and rose slowly from his collapsible stool while playing a up-tempo tune, "I played at Berkeley to protest 'Nam. You're doing a piss-poor job of intimidating me."
The tone shifted again--one moment the crowd was about to turn hostile, now they were clapping along to the up-tempo tune Pablo was playing. Kowalski resisted for a quick second before bobbing his head to the beat.
"I-lit-up from-Reno, I-was-trailed by twe-nty-hounds," Pablo sang in a rich, melodic baritone to further charm the crowd.
"Didn't get to-sleep that-night, 'till -the morn-ing came-around," his stagehand sang along.
"I-set-out-run-ing, but I'llll take-my-timeeee," Pablo continued.
"A-friend-of-the-Devil-is ah, frieeend-of-miiineee," an older member of his audience picked up.
"If-I-get-home be-fore day-light," Pablo warbled--spontaneous audience participation always made him laugh. "I just might get some sleep-"
"To-niiiiii-iiiiigggghhht..." everyone harmonized perfectly. His audience now fully bewitched, Pablo kept playing and got up from his stool. As he moved towards the boarding platform, his stagehand gathered his effects with everyone else still lost in the music as a train arrived.
"If-I-get-home-to-night," Pablo sang as the doors opened,
"I-just-might-get-some-sleep-" his young stagehand continued and followed behind.
"To-niiiii-iiiiiight..." his audience finished for them as the two disappeared into the departing train. The music ended and the spell broke. After a moment of confusion, Kowalski walked out of the station embarrassed as Pablo's former audience applauded his sudden escape.
"Pablo, mind answering me something?" His stagehand asked
"How much does that song apply to you?"
"Kid, don't ask."
The stagehand shrugged and ruffled through the inside of his master's guitar case. "Well at least today's haul was good."
"Put that away, kid," Pablo ordered and snatched his case away from him.
"I keep telling you my name's Juan."
"And I keep telling you, you haven't won my respect yet."
Juan rolled his eyes. "So what's with the cop, then? I thought La Voz worked on everyone."
Pablo shook his head. "La Voz is a trick--you can only use it and spin it so many times before someone figures out they're being played."
"So Kowalski then-"
"So why do you still do it, then?"
"'Cause I'm too old to do anything else," Pablo responded. "Why the hell do you wanna learn what I know then? I thought you'd know better by now."
Juan stared off into the distance. "Well if we know better, why does anybody learn music, then? I mean, the greats I look up to, Hendrix, Cobain, Morrison, all of them were awesome performers and their pursuits lead to their ruins."
"So you wanna learn La Voz just to outlive your idols?" Pablo asked and stared at his stagehand.
Juan shrugged. "I wanna see how far and how long something like that could take me."
Pablo chuckled softly. "You know, I was the same way when I first started learning La Voz myself. Although instead of Morrison and Cobain, mine were Lennon and Garcia."
"No poo poo?"
Pablo nodded. "We start lessons tomorrow, Juan."
"And that was 'Rockaway Beach!'" Juan called out as the audience applauded. Him and Pablo were sitting on a high curb underneath the shade of a giant tree in Central Park and today their audience was in the dozens. "We're Pablo and Juan," Pablo said, him with his humble acoustic and Juan with a second-hand Stratocaster. "As always, while the entertainment is free, tips are greatly appreciated," he said while the two nudged their open cases forward and were greeted with a shower of donations.
The tone then shifted by the sudden presence of the air of scumbag entitlement. The crowd parted, revealing a phalanx of officers lead by a familiar face.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Juan called out, "Lemme introduce you to our old friend Officer Kowalski." Their audience booed as Pablo grimaced at his apprentice's antagonism.
"Put your hands on your head, you’re under arrest," Kowalski said simply.
"On what charge?" Juan challenged him.
Kowalski got within inches of Juan's face. "I don't know what kind of unholy-voodoo-poo poo you two are doing," he whispered as Pablo's heart almost stopped beating, "But I'm on to the both of you and your little con, you loving Satan-worshiping spics!"
"Whoa-whoa-whoa!" Juan jumped up. "Did y'all hear that?!" He called out to his audience. "Kowalski here just called us Satan-worshiping spics!"
The audience booed and hissed. "Juan, cut that poo poo out," Pablo plead. The audience now hostile, Kowalski and his phalanx reached for their weapons and their radios, now in full riot mode.
"Nothing's changed since back in your day, huh Pablo?" Juan asked. On cue, Pablo strummed a familiar staccato riff. Juan followed up by shredding along to a manic protest melody. Almost everyone else clapped along to the double-time tempo--only Kowalski stood alone, un-bewitched, yet he dared not break the spell, lest the crowd turn on him and tear him apart.
"There-must-be-some-kinda-way-outta-here," John angrily belted.
"Said-the-joker-to-the-thief..." Pablo morosely crooned behind him. The two continued their performance, yet at no point did Juan retreat as they planned.
"Aaaaaaalllll-aaaa-loooongg-the-waaa-ch-tow-aaaaaaaah!" The entire crowd erupted with Juan as he advanced onto Kowalski and circled around him. The same antagonism inside of him he was pumping into the crowd and they in turn were channeling back into him, his eyes now blinded with fury. Pablo didn't bother begging silently or praying--he knew what was coming, all he could do was keep playing.
"Out-sideee-in-the-cold-dis-taaance!" John sang at the top of his lungs.
"A wildcat did growl..."
"Two riders were approaching..."
"And the wiiiiind...begaaan-to-hoooooowllll!" The audience wailed.
Juan stopped playing. Holding his electric guitar like a bat, he smashed it into the side of Kowalski's head with a loud, wet crunch. Blood sprayed in the air as the officer fell dead onto the ground with a nasty cleave in the side of his head. The spell broke. Covered in blood, Juan dropped his guitar and held his arms up into the arms in triumph. In one moment of shock, the calm persisted until Kowalski's fellow officers drew their sidearms and opened fire on Juan, avenging their fallen comrade.
With everything around them descending into chaos, Pablo dropped his guitar and knelt down to his dying apprentice. "I-I'm sorry Pablo..." he struggled and coughed. "I-I guess I can't be the eye of the storm..."
"I know, kid" Pablo said and looked away from his dying apprentice. "I know."
Pablo never took another apprentice. He never played or sang again, either. Like that, another voice was silenced.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:02|
Sif the Strong
Djeser fucked around with this message at 05:34 on Jan 1, 2016
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:08|
hot diggy dog this is a lot of stories
FAST JUDGING GOOD JUDGING
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:15|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:54 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:16|
The Fast and the Bearded (1299 words)
“Wait, does the wiper fluid go in this hole, then?” I asked, tentatively leaning forward to get a better look under the car’s hood. My boss sighed, shaking his head and cutting me off with a glare.
“Merle, you were about to pour that into the brake reservoir. I think even you know how bad of an idea that would be.”
“Sorry, Boss.” I sheepishly mumbled, taking a step back from the car.
“Fifth month on the job, and still about as clueless as the day you first started working here. You sure are one helluva mechanic, you know that, right?” Boss glanced at his watch. An older, graying man in a mechanic’s jumpsuit and an LA Angels baseball cap, he didn’t look the type to have much patience for an idiot like me. “It’s getting late, and we’ve wasted enough time tonight as it. Just do your wizard poo poo so we can both go home.”
I nodded, stepping back towards the car. I laid a bare hand on the engine block, feeling the cold, lifeless steel, and closed my eyes.
I might not ever understand a car, but I can know one like no one else. This specific car had a dead engine. I could still feel a trace amount of energy within it, but it was lying dormant. Not for long. Deliberately, I agitated it, coaxing it out of its slumber. After a couple minutes of concentrated effort, I had managed to bring it back to life, the magic within dancing at a dizzying speed.
First time we met, his car had broken down on the side of the road, and I lended a hand. Any excuse to flex the one talent I had, after all. The existence of magic isn’t a secret, but being known as a wizard tends to draw annoying attention to yourself, so I usually pose as a mechanic. I coaxed his car back to life without a problem, but seeing how I don’t know poo poo about actually being a mechanic, he easily saw through my act.
Not much impresses that old man, but he offered me a job on the spot once I finally gave up and admitted I was, indeed, a wizard. Being able to work with cars all day was something I had always dreamed of, but every shop I’d applied to had turned me away; not trusting magic alone to make up for my lack of knowledge. Boss was the first to be willing to take a chance on me.
A garage isn't the only thing Boss is in charge of, though.
My headlights illuminated the empty city street, void of traffic at 3 AM. I adjusted my mirror to get a better look at the seven other cars lined up behind and to my side. Boss’s voice crackled over my radio. “All right, boys, listen up. First one to reach the finish gets the prize money. If you get in a crash, I’m not giving your dumb rear end a discount, and if the cops catch you, you’re on your own. That’s all. Start your engines.”
I turned the key in the ignition, and flinched as the previous quiet dull roar of dormant magic was replaced with a deafening howl as the car came to life.
“Ten. Nine. Eight.” I exchanged a thumbs up with the one driving the car to my right, a woman named Morgan who was last month’s victor. “Seven. Six.” I turned on my stereo, the Eurobeat causing the entire car to vibrate. “Five. Four.” I gave the wizard hat air freshener suspended from the rear-view mirror a flick, for luck. “Three. Two. One. Go!” I slammed my foot on the gas and we were off.
Morgan shot forward faster than I ever could hope to, and it was all I could do to stay within sight. Before I could make an attempt to pass, sirens erupted in the night, and I cursed as I glanced behind me. Sure enough, there were two sets of lights on our tail. With magically-enhanced engines, our cars could easily get away, but not until we got to a long enough straightaway - we’d have to survive on our own until we made it out of the city.
“Heads up, they’re setting up spike strips,” warned one of the cars left far behind in our dust. “Already got two of the rookies." As if on cue, the car behind me quickly ramped up to unsafe speeds in the driver's desperation to escape the police. It shot out to the head of the pack, only to spin out as it sped past an intersection. Luckily, this gave me enough warning to infuse my tires with enough magic to withstand the spikes. I glanced back to see that Morgan had made it through as well.
As police were occupied with apprehending the unfortunate racers that has crashed, our two remaining cars made it to the city outskirts without any more trouble. The highway stretched out in front of us, and I heard Morgan laughing over the radio. "Just you and me, Merle. Let's see who's the stronger wizard."
I grinned. Finally, a chance to go all out. I agitated the engine as much as I could, and my car slowly began to catch up to Morgan's, until we were side by side. I grunted as I concentrated, making sure every last speck of power was being used. I began to pull ahead, but was interrupted by an unfamiliar voice shouting over the radio. "You shall pay for your misconduct, heretic!"
In the distance, a gigantic creature made entirely out of sand began to form, and I could dimly see a tall, robed, bearded man wielding a staff atop it. A Traditionalist, one who despised any who manipulated artificial creations. The sand golem swung a mighty fist at the road. Jerking the steering wheel, I barely dodged. Morgan wasn't as lucky, and was sent spinning off the road. I couldn't afford to stop and help, so I instead sped onward, clearing the golem just in time to avoid a second swing. If the Traditionalists were going after us, Boss was probably in danger, too.
When I reached the backroad where the finish was supposed to be set, I was instead greeted by a Traditinalist mounting a second golem, even larger than the first. Boss was clutched in one giant fist, struggling to escape. The wizard on the radio cackled. "How foolish of you to come here. Come, join your blasphemous comrade!" I growled. Trying to take us out was one matter, getting a civilian like Boss caught up on wizard business was another.
The towering golem reached out to seize my car in its grasp. There was still time to flee, but I owed Boss far too much to leave him behind. I agitated the car to its absolute maximum potential, my senses overwhelmed as I was completely immersed in the dancing magical energy around me, the car's frame shaking, barely able to keep itself together at the speed I was going. The last thing I heard was the Traditionalist's scream as I hit the golem.
"Fuckin' wizards." Boss grumbled from the side of my hospital bed.
"Fuckin' wizards." I agreed. All in all, things could have turned out worse. My car was busted beyond repair, and I had broken an arm, but I was still alive. Morgan, too, was safely laid up in the neighboring room.
"Was one helluva stunt you pulled out there."
I shrugged. "I hate those bearded pricks".
Boss snorted. "Won't hear any argument from me. The garage'll be waiting for your useless rear end, so get better soon, y'hear? There'll be another race ready for you, too. Without sand assholes, this time."
I smiled. "I'd never miss it."
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:19|
Your spells can travel forward or backward in time. Lucky you! You, however, cannot.
It was half past the appointed hour when Iris walked into Gerard Rochefort's sitting room. "At least yesterday she arrived on time," he thought, as he forced a smile and reached out for her hand. She gave him only a curt nod, then went straight to the open seat across from his and settled in. She folded her hands across one knee and gestured to Rochefort without returning his smile.
"I apologize for my lateness. Business, then?"
Of course. The wizard's tardiness was the only thing that separated this meeting from his previous one with her. This so-called "Enchantress of Time" apparently had none to spare for small talk, and looked as unimpressed to be here now as she did yesterday. Well, now it was his turn to be dissatisfied.
Rochefort re-took his seat, cleared his throat and continued. "Right. Business. I paid you in full for your services yesterday, and seeing as you have yet to deliver on our agreement, I am compelled to demand recompense. Whatever results your spell may have had are irrelevant to my commissioned request--"
Iris interrupted him with a raised hand and a tiny bark. Rochefort clenched one fist at his side in frustration while continuing to strain his smile.
"Monsieur Rochefort, I made it explicit that you would not be receiving what you asked for specifically."
"Yes. However, you also said that I would be satisfied with the results. I am not satisfied."
"Yet. You aren't satisfied yet. There's a difference. You commissioned me to make a "grand and positive" alteration to your past, and I've delivered on this request."
Rochefort sighed and tapped his fist rhythmically against his thigh.
"Your frustration is not unique, Monsieur Rochefort, and I require follow-up meetings for this reason," Iris said. "They always begin with dissatisfaction, but rarely end that way. My former clients may not have bothered to tell you this out of some personal sense of embarrassment with their own experience. Now, please elaborate on your dissatisfaction. When you are finished, I will undo this dissatisfaction with my own words, just as I have already undone the past you submitted to me yesterday."
"That's just the thing, Madame Iris. Nothing has changed since yesterday. I understand that my request for..."
Rochefort's voice suddenly shrank to the back of his throat, and Iris waited for him to regain his composure.
"...for my father's recovery from tuberculosis prior to his death five years ago..."
He cleared his throat and continued.
"I understand that this request could not be filled. You were very clear on that point. However, you were intensely discourteous to me when I attempted to relate my motives for the wish, and even the circumstances behind his death in any capacity. You said you wanted to hear as little as possible about my problems, and since you demanded payment in full a week before our meeting, there was little I could do but trust your methods."
"Fewer details yield better results," she replied, "but I would be happy to hear those motives today, now that I have delivered on your request."
"You haven't delivered on anything! This morning, my father was still five years dead, and nothing that matters in the slightest has changed. If you're so intrigued to hear the details now, I wanted to bring my father back so that I might have the chance to repair our relationship. When I woke this morning, I could still remember the pain of his passing. I still remember the disappointment in his eyes that came with every bedside visit, and I still remember the mere tenth of his estate I was left to survive on when the disease finally took his life. If you'd bothered to hear my feelings out before you'd cast your spell, at least some part of this tragedy could have been averted, but for all I can tell you've altered something so insignificant and unrelated to my father's death that I might as well have cast my francs into a wishing well! I am not satisfied, and I demand recompense!"
Iris' expression didn't waver even slightly. Rochefort wondered if he had gone too far. Even if he hadn't experienced it firsthand yet, he'd heard enough stories not to doubt her frightening power.
Then, for the first time since they had met, Iris smiled.
"If I had bothered to hear your feelings out before I'd cast my spell, I might not have been able to cast it at all," she said. "It may not be to your satisfaction, Monsieur Rochefort, but you are a wealthy man. Are you not educated?"
"I like to think myself an educated man. Yes."
"Yet you, and so many before you, have never heard of temporal paradox. Why do you think it was that I could not fulfill the request to restore your father's life?"
"I supposed you were not permitted to meddle in affairs of life and death."
Iris laughed. "Oh, I can! Restoring a dead fate to a living one is quite simple, in fact. However, once you requested it of me, I could not. I can never fulfill the specific request you bring to me, because once I have fulfilled it, I will have altered your past so that you can no longer ask it of me."
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Do you at least understand that when your past is altered, you will not remember the past it supplanted?"
"Yes. You were very firm in explaining that yesterday. It's just that I felt--"
"You felt that your father passed away with a poor opinion of you, and that is probably still true. If it were not so, you would have no reason to request my services, as I've explained before. I had no power to change that. However, that is only your yesterday now. It was not your yesterday before. I remember both, so for simplicity's sake, I will call this yesterday that you cannot remember "my yesterday." Is this acceptable?"
Rochefort nodded without completely understanding why.
"In your yesterday, your father was five years dead due to tuberculosis, and you spent his twilight hours at his bedside every day, desperate for approval you could never earn. You gave me a generous but not injurious sum to change this fate in some small part. This is as you remember it?"
Rochefort nodded once again, with understanding as hollow as the happiness in his smile. Iris continued.
"In my yesterday, your father was six years dead, his life extinguished in an instant by a horse-drawn coach in an accident, and you met me in a tavern with every scrap of your meager savings to avert this. I assumed it was to wheedle your way into your father's will, and I see now I was just correct enough to avert a paradox. I was late for our meeting today because I had trouble finding the "pittance" of a manor your father had left you in this new reality. I had never been here before."
Suddenly, Rochefort understood. His once-clenched fist came undone as he began to tremble all over.
"Now then, you asked for recompense. If you wish, I can return my commissioned payment, along with my version of yesterday's events, to your life."
Rochefort took a deep breath and tried to calm his racing heart.
"N-no," he stammered, "I am satisfied."
At this, Iris reached out for his hand with a laugh.
"If there's anything you would like in the future, please request my services again."
Rochefort took the wizard's hand and pumped it vigorously as she continued to explain.
"The past can be tricky. But if it is a change for the future you desire, and your price is right, I can give you exactly what you want."
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:34|
Open and honest discourse (1093 words)
Poor Senator. He's been floundering this whole debate. Hardly a single coherent argument! And he's usually so eloquent; it's almost as if there is some outside influence forcing him to make all these gaffes.
"I'm not saying we should kill all the homeless, I-" they're literally animals "-just don't think we should let non-humans be citizens!"
Fortunately, everyone knows that's not possible. If that sort of debate-wizardry were real, people would be using it to sabotage their political opponents all the time. And that would be unethical, no matter how well you pay the wizard who's doing it for you.
I love my job.
My employer won the election, of course. POTUS. I get a ridiculous paycheck just to sit in on his press conferences and steer the conversation away from his numerous indiscretions. Occasionally, a reporter will notice that I'm always there but don't ever seem to do anything, and they come snooping around my office just to see what's up with that.
"I'm just a speechwriter," I tell the latest one. Young, eager -- they always are -- and still willing to believe she's going to win a Pulitzer some day. Ah, the energy of youth. "I just like to hear my work being read."
She looks skeptical. "But you've been there for nearly every single one of the President's appearances. Is-" Occam's Razor "-there really no other reason?"
"Nope. I'm just a boring guy with boring pleasures," I say, hoping she'll give up quickly. Talking to people is a waste of time unless I want something, and I doubt this girl has anything to give that I can't get elsewhere.
"What about your office? Isn't it a little... luxurious for just a speechwriter?" she asks. Yeah, I'm not going to spend my days in a god drat broom closet. This is my relaxation space.
"I'm good at my job." I shrug. "Don't know what to tell you."
"Then-" can't think of anything else "-I guess I'll go." She looks at her notepad -- paper, in this day and age! -- and furrows her brow. "Sorry for wasting your time."
A week later, she's back. "I had some more questions," she says. "I meant to ask them last time-" mind was elsewhere, on more important things "-but I guess I forgot. Even though I had them written down."
Oops. Well, whatever. It's just one weird thing, she won't think much of it.
I'm more careful this time, patiently answering her questions in the dullest way possible while using only the smallest bit of magic to prune unwanted branches of the conversation. When she leaves, she seems satisfied. I doubt she'll be back.
But of course, she's here again after another week. I really ought to stop letting her in.
"I recorded our last interview," she says. "And, this might sound crazy-" it absolutely will "-but, uh... did you notice me acting in an unusual manner?"
Where's she going with this? "No, not at all. Apart from your interest in my work, which is really quite odd."
"Because when I listened to the recording-" this is going to sound so stupid maybe just forget it "-I didn't seem to be acting quite like myself? I normally ask a lot more follow-up questions and such..."
She trails off at the end, but she pulled through that one admirably. Most people hate sounding stupid; she's not even blushing.
"I don't know you well enough to tell the difference, I'm afraid," I say. But that doesn't disarm her; I can see a dozen more questions popping up. Why am I paid so well? Why does the president always sound like a complete moron in those rare cases when I'm unavailable? Can I quote a single word from a speech I've written? How can people take me seriously in the heart of Washington when I look like Gandalf with a better tailor?
So I start playing whack-a-mole. No subtlety, no suggestion, just taking a magic sledgehemmer to the questions as soon as they pop into her head. The silence stretches on: one minute, two...
"Are you all right?" I ask, hoping to stem the tide with a question of my own. But she takes the opportunity to talk instead, while I'm momentarily distracted.
"I'm never at a loss for words," she says. "What the hell are you doing to me?"
poo poo! Damage control! Brute forcing it was a terrible idea, she can still think! Thinking and saying are different things!
"I've no idea what you're talking about. Maybe you should go home and-"
"Are you-" magic isn't real "-psychic or something? How-" no such thing as a psychic "-are... what was that just now?"
"Nothing!" nothing nothing nothing "I'm not doing anything!" what would it be anyway there's nothing it could be this is ridiculuous
I'm doing more magic than I ever have before. Enough to make ten thousand people chant the dumbest of slogans until their throats run dry; enough to sway the opinion of an entire nation. All with the purpose of making this one woman not ask any more questions of me, ever.
And it's working.
"Yeah," she says, as I'm starting to sweat.
nothing there is nothing this is so stupid i should go home
there are better things to do stop stop stop
My fists are clenched. I'm grimacing like an idiot, and I bet I look constipated as hell.
HOME STOP NOTHING STUPID HOME STOP NOTHING STU
But then the well runs dry. No more power. I let out a breath I didn't even realize I was holding, and the conversation takes a sharp turn down a path I can no longer avoid.
"-sen... wait, no it doesn't! gently caress you! Stop doing that!"
I stop trying. Exposure is just around the corner, but I'm too exhausted to care.
"I'm a wizard," I tell her. "I make elections go the right way with magic. Abracadabra."
Most people don't believe it, of course. And Ms. Journalist is the laughingstock of every serious publication in the country, I saw to that. But a lot of people read her article, and more importantly, the wrong people did.
'Reckless disregard for secrecy' and 'grossly unethical misuse of power' were the charges. Assholes wouldn't even let me attend my own trial, so it's not like the guilty verdict came as a surprise to anyone.
Turns out, being able to control conversations is kind of a useless skill when you're locked up in a pocket dimension with only yourself to talk to.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:46|
Everyone celebrates a nineteenth birthday on the island of Diau—it’s like seeing a familiar face for the first time.
We all stand in the shallow waters, the soft waves washing over our bare ankles, calves, kneecaps. I stand alone at the front of the crowd, and I know no one’s looking at me, even though I’m the one that’s turning nineteen years of age.
We’re all staring at the old woman floating face down in the distance, while the wailsong rumbles at the edge of our thoughts.
She walked past us all, cloaked in linen, bright grey hair flowing over her clay-colored shoulders like steam above coffee. Eyes like dying stars caught between pursed lips. Everyone looked up to catch her face as she passed, then ducked beneath her gaze whispering Diau, Diau—her name, the island’s name, the god’s name all the same.
I was terrified of her. I expected her to rocket up into the red sunset and swoop down like a giant and gnarled bird of prey, tearing at my face. But now we all watch her floating lifelessly, and wait.
The rumbling grows louder just before it surfaces, and all at once it’s there in front of us, ten men tall, a massive grey creature with a wide, gaping mouth.
The small children scream and scamper away as it surges forward with its mouth open. Diau disappears feet-first into the wail’s belly. It doesn’t even slow down as it heads towards me.
I take a step back, and then something stills me. Something in the creature’s low rumbling.
…my hands, my feet…
The wail inches closer, eyes blacker than oblivion, lips held slightly open. I can hear it more clearly now, hear the snatches of music within its low thrumming pulse.
…my eyes, my ears, my heart…
Its sides shake and swell as it floats, impossibly, on the knee-deep water. As I stare longer, the greyness of its skin swirls like trapped smoke. It forms into faces that stare back at me and dissipate as soon as I look away. I look longer, and one forms again, growing sharper and brighter until I’m shocked awake.
It’s my face. My seven-year old face.
Now the wailsong grows, and as I see more faces in its skin, I can hear more snatches of their voices, mine, my father’s, my friends’ voices, tumbling over each other in a pile of words that grows larger and larger, the soft lullaby buried at the bottom but still fighting its way through: …my sky, my moon…
The wail roars, and a plume of white spray blasts from the top of its head. It stays suspended in the air, shapes itself into another face. The dying sun shines through it, fills it with pink light, flushes the cheeks, the forehead, the chin, the round eyes so much like my own.
…my sun, my daughter…
I drop to my knees, my shoulders shaking, my head spinning. I raise my eyes again as Diau’s knobby hands pry the wail’s lips apart, just enough for her to slither out, her thin lips smiling as I sob.
The entire village cheers.
My feet are wrinkled, but I still stand alone in the dark ocean, listening to the soft crash, looking at the space in the night sky where my mother was.
Every morning, we pray to Diau to keep our memories safe, and to know us better than we know ourselves. After we pray, we repeat the names of the important people in our lives, to keep them safe by placing them within our hearts and minds, so they don’t become lost. No should one ever miss a day.
I walk up the pathway towards the center of town, where her hut is. No one else dares approach, for fear of blaspheming, for fear of retribution.
I stand at Diau’s door and call her name twice, and suddenly she appears. Doesn’t say anything, just waits for me to speak.
“I want to keep them in my head,” I say. “I want to help everyone else remember. I want to learn from you.”
She leans her head to the side, sighs. “I can’t promise to give you everything you want,” she says. “I can only give you what I have.”
Diau turns and walks back into her hut, beckoning me forward.
On the eve of my twentieth birthday, I lay facedown in the shallow water, mumbling at the back of my throat. There is no crowd around, no one but Diau waiting at the shore.
As the year has passed, I take on a peculiar sense. Thoughts pile up in my head. When Diau asks me a question, I answer it confidently. I surprise myself with how much I remember, from the meditation exercises to the common notes of the wailsong to the many spells she has me practice. They all stick in my head as I learn them and refuse to leave.
I mumble the low incantation again, and the noise rises in my ears. I feel a warmth encircle my heels, then in one smooth motion it slides past my waist and up over my head. I open my eyes.
Visions flutter on the pink membrane in front of me, the borders all blending together, sky with water with dirt walls with white sand. A multitude of faces scurrying past each other. I breathe through my nose, and remember Diau’s advice. Still waters. Push back the waves with your thoughts.
The visions coalesce as I work my mind, spread my arms out to touch the wail’s sides.
I see a younger Diau, sitting on the beach, her arm around another girl. Their faces flit past me in a succession of memories. Playing. Talking to friends. Walking through the market. In each other’s arms, embracing, content.
The second I relax, a dark spot begins to spread near the corner of my eye.
I remember what Diau said about not all memories being good ones. It wasn’t something I could conceive, not even now, as I try to smother the dark spot with bright thoughts.
But it continues to spread.
I see a mob of villagers marching towards them, tearing them from each other. I hear shouts. Defiler. Blasphemer. Interloper. I see a body tied up, being taken towards the ocean. I see Diau screaming after her, frantically trying to tell her something, tears streaming down her face, the vision blotting out everything in front of me, the wailsong drowned by high-pitched shrieks of terror—
I break, claw myself out, wrench myself through the wail’s open mouth. I dive underwater and scream as loud as I can, the bubbles of air escaping my mouth and floating noiselessly to the surface.
I stay there, not needing to breathe, clenching my fists over and over.
When I finally break through the waves and look towards the shore, I don’t see her.
A week before another child is to turn nineteen, I stand at the shore, where she stood. My vision is blurry, and my heart has crawled into my throat. I don’t want to make the same mistake again.
They say she ascended into the afterlife, leaving me behind. But whenever the sky is dark and grey like today, I think about the fallen wails, the ones at the bottom of the ocean floor. I think of her diving down, casting the same spell over and over again so she never has to surface, looking for someone else’s memories.
The villagers are joyful they still have me, and I carry their joy and expectation like all the water in the ocean. I’m the only Diau left, and now I can’t forget, and the wailsong is trapped within me, no matter how much I want to let it out.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:51|
Wizardry: You pull your magic from tomes, scrolls, poems, and all other expressions of the written word, but your own story will never be writ in ink.
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 09:40 on Jan 3, 2016
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:51|
Oneiromancy, 1300 words
Jarl watched his master as he carefully circled around him, ready to strike. Salizar, his mentor, simply waited. Before his training, Jarl had associated oneiromancy with sleepy elders and dream interpretation. The reality had been much more… physical. Jarl attacked, parried Salizar’s riposte, and thrust the sword against the wizard’s neck. A good hit, but the insistent poking of Salizar’s sword against his groin kept him humble.
“Good, Jarl, good! Perhaps the oracles were wrong, and you should be apprenticed to a War Wizard.”
“I’ll stick to dreams, Sir. Not much taste for killing.” Jarl stepped back and stretched a bit.
A loud knock at the door interrupted the training session. One of the Baron’s men let himself in, and stood at attention. Salizar gave him an annoyed look.
“There are rumors of assassins in the city, Sir. Informants claim that there is a plot, to be executed tonight.”
“The Baron bothers me over this? I’m not a court mage, drat it, involved in petty political squabbles. Does the Baron doubt his own soldiers so much?”
“No, Sir- the Baron says the Red King is threatened, and that I should take you there immediately.”
A look of concern passed over Salizar’s face, and Jarl felt an icy cold wind swept through the room. When a wizard showed fear, things were dire.
“Thank you, soldier, but that won’t be necessary. Go and tell the Baron that I’m making preparations and will be there soon. Jarl, follow me.”
The wizard led his apprentice into his personal study – a plain and simple room with a single closet. Salizar begun mixing together a potion, and motioned of Jarl to sit on the floor. Soon enough, he placed a strange teal drink in front of Jarl.
“It is earlier than planned, but I believe you are ready. Jarl, we are going to take your first Dream Journey, and it will not be easy. I would have preferred to make things less frightening the first time, but… well, Jarl, we are going to need a Nightmare. You are a strong, wise young man, but such things are never safe.”
“It could drive me mad, “ Jarl replied.
“Yes,” Salizar replied.
“Is this Red King worth that?”
Jarl nodded, and took the drink. It tasted like oranges, and burned inside. An overwhelming need to sleep took him, and Jarl felt Salizar lay him down. Through the haze, he could hear Salizar telling him to remember his training.
“None of it is real - yet.”
He was in a swamp, with no sign of a trail or Salizar. Jarl began walking. The murky water was knee-deep, and the mud pulled at his feet - every step was a struggle. His rational mind knew that this was the lightest level of a dream, the mere hint of dreaming. But the potion had filled him with an incredible fear, and he couldn’t control his heartbeat or his breathing.
A thorn caught his arm. Jarl tried to shrug it off, but it only dug deeper. He reached over to pull the thorn free, and yelled as the branch tangled his hand, stabbing more thorns into his palm. He started to struggle, and seemed to stumble into more and more thorn-covered vines. They seemed almost alive, pulling his body apart inch by painful inch. He felt himself dragged down into the swamp as the plants tore him apart.
He couldn’t breathe. A wet, cloth-like film covered his mouth and nose, preventing from drawing breath. He was trapped in some thick liquid, and couldn’t struggle hard enough to reach his hands to his face. He struggled long after he should have suffocated and died again. Instead, he was trapped in this state of drowning. It took all the strength of his rational mind to keep him aware that none of this was real. Somewhere, he heard Salizar’s muffled voice.
The dream wizard was nearby, calling his name. Jarl grasped onto that fact, and willed a dagger into existence. With pure desperation, he grabbed the blade and slowly, painfully, hacked his way out. With a loud gush and the smell of blood, he pulled himself free, and tore the film away from his face. Jarl simply laid there, breathing the fetid and rotten air around him, enjoying every gasp. Salizar was still calling his name, somewhere.
When Jarl opened his eyes, he turned away and vomited. A gigantic and grotesque version of his mother’s naked body laid in front of him, with a long and jagged wound across her stomach. He forced the image from his mind. Instead, eyes closed, he followed Salizar’s voice. It was slow going without his vision, but Jarl’s sanity had been pushed to the breaking point already, and the noises around him were easier to ignore.
Finally, he found Salizar, and opened his eyes. A younger version of the old wizard in a blue robe with inlaid ivory patterns stood before him. Behind him was the Nightmare, a hideous demon with Jarl’s features, covered with obscene symbols. Jarl hated the thing more than anything in the world. Salizar had placed a silver chain around its neck.
“Jarl! You went much deeper, much faster than expected. I’ll admit that I was afraid for your sanity. But it seems the oracle chose wisely when she gave you as my apprentice. Come on, we’ve been here too long. Hopefully we are not too late to save the Red King. We have to make our way back up.”
Jarl willed his beating heart to slow and to ignore the physical effects of Salizar’s nightmare potion until they reached the swamp where it had all started. A wooden door had appeared, like the sort you would see on a closet. Salizar stopped in front of it, brought out his staff, and and steadied himself. He turned, and knocked the staff against Jarl’s head.
“It’s time to wake up now, apprentice. Do not bring anything with you!”
The swamp around them begun to smear and merge, like an oil painting in the rain. The sky above him became a disorientating swirl of colors. Jarl struggled to make his muscles obey him. He watched as the wizard disappeared through the door, with the Nightmare following behind him, and was struck with the overwhelming fear of being trapped in this horrible place forever. He crawled forward, and slipped through the door before it could close.
They were somewhere in the castle now and Jarl could feel the effects of Salizar’s potion leaving him. A man with a red mask was lying on the bed, arms folded like a corpse. He was gently snoring despite the violence.
The Baron was here, with a half dozen of his best men. They had barred the bedroom door, and many of them were bleeding or wounded. All their eyes were on Jarl’s Nightmare, despite the pounding on the door. The creature looked even worse in the real world - the lack of a dream’s haze made it far too real, and far too close. Salizar waved it forward.
The Nightmare broke through the door like kindling. The assassins were skillful and well-armed, but they were no match for the demon. Their blows were useless as the monster tore through their ranks. As the last of the screams died down, the Nightmare returned, covered in gore. Salizar waved his staff, and the monster meekly entered the closet door.
“Baron, my good sir, the world owes you and your men an incredible debt. But I’m afraid I need to ask another favor of you. Send a messenger to your counterparts. Tell them what happened here, and that their own dreamers may be at risk. And tell them,” Salizar looked at Jarl now, with regret.
“Tell them another dream has started.”
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:55|
“Good evening, everyone, and welcome. My name is Stephen, and I’m an alcoholic, as well as your Secretary.” The man behind the podium smiled. Ana hugged herself and tried to slip down lower into her chair.
Someone started to read from a book. It was the usual thing about how doing the steps worked if you committed to them. Ana found a curious feeling of hope rising in her breast, attempting to break out from her usual cynicism.
The door banged open just then, and a bearded man in robes and a floppy hat walked inside, carrying a duffel bag.
“Sorry! Sorry I’m late. I forgot my hat when I left the house…” The man mumbled as he made his way through the group, oblivious to everyone staring. He sat few seats away from Ana, and looked up. “Carry on!” He made a gesture with his hands, and the speaker began reading again, as if he had never stopped.
Ana went back to her thoughts. Maybe she could finally break free of this cycle she had been trapped in. She looked around the room at the other members. They seemed happy, hopeful. Maybe this could work.
The old man sitting a few seats down from her was wiping a tear from his eye. He had an assortment of empty jars on the seat next to him, arranged by size. Ana wondered if the man was homeless, or maybe a hoarder.
“Now I’d like to take a minute to ask if there is anything anyone would like to share. Yes, Robert.” The Secretary pointed to a man in the audience, who stood up.
“Hi everybody, my name is Robert, and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Hi Robert,” everyone echoed. Ana started to say it belatedly, and then stopped, blushing. The old man next to her picked up a jar.
“I just wanted to tell everybody that after a year and a half of sobriety, I got visitation rights with my kids.” Robert grinned. “I figured it was about time I remembered why I started drinking in the first place!” He laughed, and several others laughed with him, only to stop abruptly. The old man next to Ana continued to laugh heartily for several more seconds, holding an open jar in front of his mouth before screwing a lid firmly in pace.
Robert looked around, the grin on his face replaced with confusion. “So… Yeah.” He sat down in his chair and shook his head.
“Thanks, Robert,” the group said, somewhat less unified than before. Ana glanced over at the old man, but he was sitting quietly, and no one else seemed to notice him.
“Anyone else have… Any news to share?” Stephen sounded less sure of himself. He looked around the room vaguely, until his eye landed on Ana in the back.
“Oh! I’m sorry, we have a new member with us today! Would you mind introducing yourself, miss?” He smiled at Ana, a bit of his certainty returning.
Ana stood up, her hands trembling. She had hoped that by sitting in the back she’d be noticed. The mix of emotions churned inside her, and felt like they would force the breath out of her chest. She opened her mouth.
“Hi, my name… is Ana, and I’m… I’m an alcoholic.” Tears sprang to her eyes as she said this, and she felt a great swell in her chest-
Which stopped as quickly as it began. She looked around, confused, and saw the old man next to her blowing his nose, stuffing the tissues into a jar.
“Great, Ana, thank you for coming,” Stephen said from the podium. “Is this your first meeting?”
“Y-yes,” she said.
“Well, if you feel comfortable, you can share what brought you here, but there’s no pressure to do so.” He smiled again, and she smiled back. She felt some stirring of emotion again at the thought of sharing, but it seemed much more remote now.
“I… I started drinking when I was 13. My father had always spoiled me when he was around, and my mother was always hard on me when he was gone...”
She let the words flow out of her, let the emotions rise up. She was crying, but she didn’t care. She felt free for the first time in years, like she had hope, like she had a life again.
And then it was all gone, snatched away in a second. She stopped mid-sentence, and looked around, shocked at the change. There was a sob next to her and she saw the old man had tears rolling down his cheeks and a huge smile. He was wiping his eyes and laughing, holding a large jar.
“Wonderful, just wonderful,” he mumbled, blowing his nose and closing the lid.
“I… um. So that’s… That’s it.” Ana sat down uncertainly.
“Thanks Ana,” said a few scattered members, completely out of sync. Everyone was looking at each other, with the exception of the old man and Ana.
“Well, thank you, Ana, for that… I hope that you keep coming.” Stephen followed Ana’s gaze to the old man. “Oh, we have another member! Would you please stand and introduce yourself to the group, sir?”
The old man looked shocked that he had been called on. “Oh, well, I suppose… My name is Merlin, and I am not, in fact an alcoholic. I am powerful magic user, what some might call a wizard, and my domain is that of emotion. I draw my power from the highs and lows of the human experience, the triumphs and the tragedies.
“This might seem like an easy domain to have, for what is the human experience but emotion? But I’m afraid that it’s difficult to find the extremes of feelings that I require in everyday life, and I had to find a great wealth them if I was ever to live up to the family name.
“I’ll spare you most of the details of the journey, but I eventually found myself in one of these wonderful meetings. And, I don’t mind telling you, business has never been better! The emotions that I have seen at these events has been more than I could ever have hoped for-”
Ana stood up, hands clenched at her sides. “You bastard! That’s what you’ve been doing over there with your stupid jars! This was supposed to be catharsis, and redemption, and freedom, and you took it all away! I’ll kill you!” She threw herself at him, and the room erupted in people shouting, pressing forward to try to get at Ana and Merlin, some trying to pull her away from him, some attempting to go after him themselves.
It was unclear who it was who began smashing the jars, but all at once the air was full of howls of laughter and sobs of despair, tears of rage and joyous song.
“No!” screamed Merlin, as the gamut of emotions racked his body. The air crackled with magic, and the room filled with a vicious maelstrom. Ana climbed under a table and waited until the winds had died down before venturing out.
Nothing was left of Merlin but his robes and floppy hat. His jars lay shattered on the ground, with no signs of their contents but a few limp kleenex.
People milled around for a time, but eventually someone started to sweep up the glass, and others started to filter out. Ana righted one of the chairs and sat down, staring at the wizard’s robes.
“Ana, isn’t it?” She looked up and saw the Secretary, Stephen, standing next to her. “I’m sorry, this was a hell of a first meeting. Are you okay?”
And thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, thanks. I feel… Happy.” She smiled. “For the first time in a while.”
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:57|
Oooh. Emm. Geee. It was, mused Zeus, like, the perfect selfie. He paused for a moment, then added #blessed, #gogreek and #thunderlicious. Was the second a little too risque? He pursed his lips. No, he decided, it was just risque enough. When you approach anal, you have to approach it sideways. So to speak.
He hit post, and basked in the warm rays of worship as his twitter followers retweeted the pic over and over again. Worship sustained gods like meat sustained mortals. The internet was a 24/7 all-you-can eat seafood buffet for his kind. After centuries of surviving on scraps from chinless history nerds, Zeus was finally living large again. Lightning seethed across his skin as he rode a wave of pure power. Zeus rose to his feet, grinning, and prepared to send out a thunder storm to let the locals know that he was the meanest loving god in town.
Clouds roiled and went black. Lighting tore the sky apart. Zeus smiled, and waited for thunder.
Wait, what? A thunderclap with all the pomp of a damp fart totally failed to rend the sky in twain. Self-respecting thunderclaps did not make sounds like that. They went BWAM or BRAK but they definitely did not go tong. Zeus took out his phone and checked twitter.
Balfomel the Wizard @wizkid 2m
@ZeusAuthentic119 lol more like #goawaygeek
Two minutes, and already the burn had been retweeted over 100 times. The original selfie had only 10 retweets. It wasn't even that good a burn! How to respond? In the old days he'd have just chucked a thunderbolt, but this was the 21st century. This was twitter, dammit. Destroying a child with a bolt of fire from the heavens would only frighten off potential followers. He had to beat the boy at his own game.
Zeus Thunder God @ZeusAuthentic119 Just Now
@wizkid is that ur name because you wiz in your own pants? #talkshitgethit
It worked! Within seconds, Zeus felt the power returning to his body. The storm grew again in ferocity and-
Balfomel the Wizard @wizkid Just Now
@ZeusAuthentic119 its because im the best wizard. I can make a better storm than u #wamuklurata #followersovemeandmealone #tubashkanamunrah
The storm broke apart, and fled. Zeus refreshed the app on his phone, and saw that @wizkid's tweet already had hundreds of retweets. Zeus' tweets were getting almost no love. He felt himself wither. This would hardly kill him, but it would give him a hell of a headache. It was the principle of the thing, though. Everybody sees you getting pwned by a kid, and then they have a hard time taking you seriously.
Not Tom Hiddelston @LokiOriginal 1m
@ZeusAuthentic119 lol you need some ice for that burn? I got plenty. #NorseOfCourse
loving Loki. Just sat there all day trolling Twitch streamers on COD while soaking up all the good vibes from those loving movies. A thought rolled its way into Zeus' mind. It was almost too good to pass up. He had to bite his tongue to keep from tittering.
Zeus Thunder God @ZeusAuthentic119 Just Now
@wizkid lol bring it bitch im rollin w the squad at uppsala come get me #roadtrip #sweden #blondesandblunts
He hit send, and giggled. Loki was gonna get it, whatever the Hades it was. A monstrous boom made Zeus stagger, and cut his whimsy short. Something colossal was moving across the landscape. Zeus saw acne scars that were more like impact craters, and a pair of mighty braces helping to straighten teeth that were each a mile wide.
“BITCH THINK YOU CAN JUST THROW SHADE AND WALK AWAY?” it bellowed “CALL ME THE GREAT RECESSION, 'COS I'M GONNA RUIN YOU AND IT'S YOUR OWN FAULT. YOU DONE hosed UP NOW.”
Each step the young wizard took shattered stones, and shook Zeus down to his very bones. This was not swag. This was not swag at all. The kid was feeding off the retweets somehow. He'd come across the secret that bridges gods and men, as had Yeezy and Hova before him: he could use belief to make himself strong. There was a covenant though- there were limits. This was ridiculous. Zeus had indeed, done hosed up.
Fire pierced the sky, and Zeus had to skitter out of the way as meteors of all shapes and sizes rained down upon him.
“LOL,” thundered @wizkid “PWNED.”
Mustering all his energy, Zeus drew himself up to full height. His head pierced the clouds, and he came eye-to-eye with @wizkid. He'd caught him off guard, but his magic was raw and scattershot. Better to have one lightning bolt that can hit, rather than a thousand meteors that don't do poo poo. In the old days, Zeus would've bolted the little rear end in a top hat no question. Today? It just didn't feel chill. Not chill at all.
“Okay kid,” said Zeus, “you're pretty good at this. If I follow you, will you cut this poo poo out? A god's gotta god, you know? We can help each other there.”
In a heartbeat, the rage and scorn across @wizkid's face vanished. “OMG REALLY?” he said. “JONAH IS GONNA BE SO loving JEALOUS. HE'S SUCH A SHITEATER. HE TOLD STACY KIM THAT I LIKE HER AND NOW IT'S ALL WEIRD.”
His face fell. Poor boy hadn't meant to say that. Zeus just chuckled. He thought of Loki, sneering behind his computer. “Well,” he said, “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.”
Loki sat in the sauna checking his phone. Nothing like a little geothermal energy to make you feel refreshed after a long day of trolling. He held his phone up to his face, and hit record. “Hey there watchers,” he said, “Loki here, coming to you live, just being all casual and poo poo, I just want you to kn-”
The door burst down, and a dozen Thors charged in, all wearing black tactical vests and helmets. “FREEZE, MOTHERFUCKER,” they screamed. A wall of angry blonde beards was the last thing Loki saw before he got pwned hard.
You can siphon off power from praise and worship of any kind, however the gods you're cheating may not always look kindly on it.
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 05:01 on Apr 27, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 04:58|
Jesus Walks Into a Motel
Your magic is a net that catches forgotten bits of time, place, and emotion, which you craft into unexpected spells and incantations.
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 16:44 on May 5, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 05:03|
The Wizard's Song 1265 words
I gripped the silent key until the teeth drove into my palm and drew blood. I had found it. After untold years and sacrifices, I had found it.
I was one of the few people who understood that the universe was made up of tiny motes too small to comprehend. These motes vibrated in the empty spaces to lend the appearance of substance to the physical world. Trillions upon countless trillions of these vibrations were the Song of the universe, which most people called magic.
I was a master of the Song. I heard the Song in everything. But the key I grasped in my hand was silent. The Song that bound the world together lived not in it. I turned it over. It looked to be an ordinary brass key, speckled and worn with age. I knew it for what it was. It opened a door to the silent place where the gods lived.
I turned to my shrine and prayed to the ten gods, each in their creche. Then I turned and bowed to the empty place, where the gods congregate. Ten fingers have we and ten gods as well. The gods gather in the eleventh space, always out of reach.
I grew aware of the sounds of men approaching. I heard not the noises they made. I heard the vibrations of every fiber of their being. They were quiet enough to sneak upon any normal man, but any half-trained wizard would hear them miles away. It spoke to my current state of distraction that they had gotten so close without being detected. The king had sent his assassins to purge me of my blasphemy. To go where the gods reside is to hear their secret names. To hear their secret games is to become a god. That is forbidden.
I turned the key in the lock to my cupboard door. It door opened and a warm breeze carried through. I could see a desert beyond the doorway where normally there would be only reagents used in my magic. I stepped through and closed the door behind me before the assassins reached me.
It was a desolate land, but the Song was rich and varied. It sang here stronger than any place I had ever known. I felt it congeal in puddles and streams of activity around me although there was no water.
I bent down to examine the dust. Millions of tiny insects marched in a line. Each carried a grain of sand in its mandibles. I could hear other lines of insects. They came from every which way and all traveled in the same direction, surely to converge somewhere in the distance. I could feel an immense power beckon me in the same direction the insects marched.
I set off following the trail of insects to their destination. I could see the tower hours into my trek, though the sun did not move in the sky. It was the only feature in a featureless land. My lips cracked in the heat. I grew weary and thirsty. I continued on. It would take more than mere thirst to stop a wizard.
The tower grew the closer I came. It was ancient. Untold years old as the stories said. Yet it still looked as new as the day it had been erected. As I approached it, the stone shifted and moved. A black mass swirled over it. I leaned in. The insects I had followed climbed over it. Each placed the grain of sand it carried onto the tower, repairing it one tiny piece at a time.
I recoiled from the teeming insects. A voice called out to me. It both echoed in the wilderness and whispered in my brain.
“Why have you come here, wizard?”
There were two paths to take. I could lie about my intentions and my desire to become a god. If the gods knew my lie, they would surely kill me. Though if I told the truth and they wished to punish me for my audacity, I would also surely die.
I was silent for a long moment. The last syllable of the question thrummed in my head. In the end I decided that a lie was more dangerous than the truth.
“I am here to know the secret names of the gods and join them.” I wove a simple spell that carried my voice into every stone in the tower. Let them judge me worthy or unworthy. I answered again and again in every language I knew, modern or ancient, living or dead. The insects stopped their movement as I spoke and did not move again until I had finished.
The door swung open. The interior of the tower was too dark for me to make out in the brightness of the desert. I had received my answer, but I would have to step inside to learn what it was.
I did not find my answer. All I found was a staircase spiraling around the interior of the tower. It reached up further than I could see.
I climbed. As I made my ascent I became more aware of the song around me. It thrummed inside my chest. I felt it in my fingertips. It grew stronger as I climbed. Louder. More insistent. My teeth rumbled in my head.
I saw a landing above me. The closer I got, the louder the Song grew. When I reached the landing it had become deafening. There was a door on the landing. Simple, unadorned. It was the only place to go. I created a spell of muffling to protect myself. It would do me no good if I were torn to pieces before I reached it.
The spell failed me when I grabbed onto the door’s latch. The Song invaded me. It threatened to deafen me. I grabbed the latch and it tore at me. I could feel the motes that made me ripping apart. I was so close to the point of creation. Just beyond this door were the gods and I would join them. I would become one of them. I opened the door and tumbled in.
The small room at the top of the tower was as featureless as the desert surrounding it.
It was empty. Empty of beings and empty of Song. I fell to the roughly hewn floor. Starved of the Song which filled every moment of my life. The gods to whom I had dedicated my life were not here. The floor was covered in a thick layer of undisturbed dust. There were only two fixtures: the door behind me and an identical door ahead.
The gods seemed to love doors. They were a way of offering hope while still obscuring the other side. My footsteps didn’t even make a sound as I approached the other door. My breathing didn’t make a sound. Nor my heart. To not hear those sounds that have been carried within me since birth was unnerving. My very identity stripped from me. The silence was oppressive. There were no gods for me here. I was nothing. I was no god. I was only what the Song shaped me to be.
I wrenched the door open and as I stumbled through I sighed in relief. I collapsed onto the cold stone floor back in my workshop. My ordeal over.
But the silence had followed me back into the world. I gathered my senses around me, but I could no longer hear the Song of the universe. I could no longer hear anything. I screamed silently, for I was nothing.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 05:18|
A Gift for Amy
Wilbart smoothed down his suit and wiped the sweat off his brow with the brim of his hat. Both suit and hat were a deep black and sparkled with the occasional gem; it was like looking up at the night sky. Garfloyd, his hired help, straightened Wilbart’s tie then looked down both ends of the alley they were standing in.
“Just remember what I told you,” Garfloyd said.
Wilbart repeated the memorized lines: “No small talk. Show ‘em the stuff, ask to see the merch, make sure it’s legit.”
Garfloyd nodded and said, “You got it. Then we leave, you give me my cut and everyone goes home safe and happy.”
“I hope so. Amy needs me, and I need this for her.”
Garfloyd shrugged. Wilbart took a deep breath to steady himself, then kissed the opal he kept on a chain around his neck.
“Okay, let’s get this over with.”
They headed towards the building opposite the alley’s entrance, on the other side of the street. Tall, bored men glanced at Wilbart and squinted at Garfloyd, but both of them were let into the warehouse.
The inside was dim, but torches shone a bright light on a table set up in the middle of the stone floor. Standing in front of it was a small man with a scar running from his nose to his brow, with two men flanking him. They wielded crossbows loaded with cruel-looking bolts. The small man tilted his head at Wilbart as he approached, Garfloyd stopping haflway to the table, watching.
“I guess you the magician?”
“Er, wizard, yes,” replied Wilbart. There was an awkward pause. The man raised his eyebrows and Wilbart fumbled into his suit’s pocked for a velvet roll. He laid it on the table and unrolled it. Inside were a selection of delicate wands.
Wilbart spoke fast, barely pausing for breath. “I, er, color-coded them to make it easier for you.” He pointed at the first two wands, wooden shafts with rubies at the tip. “The rubies will make a man’s blood thin; a single scratch and they’ll bleed out.” He indicated the next two wands. “The emeralds will spoil anything, food or drink, and anyone who consumes them will be horribly sick. And the sapphires here, they’ll send a man into the deepest throes of depression. Make sure you only point them at someone if you intend to…”
“Yeah, yeah.” The man smirked and slid a pouch across the table. Wilbart opened it with care. Inside was an egg-sized bluish-green gem. He lifted it and turned it from side to side, the facets sending a myriad of lights flickering around the room. Wilbart brought the gem close to one of the torches and its hue changed to a reddish-purple.
“By Eivali’s tail, it’s beautiful! Alexandrite is truly a wonder,” he said, the breath catching in his throat.
“So how do we know your wands work, wiz?”
“I can assure you…”
“Let’s test one of ‘em, eh?” the man said with a wild grin. He grabbed one of the ruby wands and pointed it at Wilbart. A thin ray of red light oozed out of the wand’s tip and made its way for Wilbart. He waved his hand, and the ruby exploded, sending shards into the man’s eyes.
“Get him!” he screamed, wild with pain.
Wilbart reached for the wands on the table, only managing to knock all but one to the floor. He stuffed the emerald wand and the alexandrite in his pocket.
The two goons shot their crossbows at Wilbart, but the bolts were diverted at the last second and drawn towards his opal, on which they bounced off. Garfloyd grabbed his shoulder and pulled him towards a window. The door they came through wasn’t an option; the two guards from outside were standing in it and drawing their own crossbows.
Garfloyd used Wilbart as a human shield, letting his employer’s opal draw fire while he broke the window open. They hopped through and headed for the alley that had been in previously. They ran down it and the horse-drawn carriage they had taken to the meet-up spot was waiting for them at the other end.
Wilbart jumped into the back while Garfloyd sat up front and got the horse going with a slap. They barrelled down the city streets, the wheels bouncing off the cobbles.
It didn’t take long for two goons to catch up with the cart; their own carts were smaller and lighter, allowing the horses to catch up to Wilbart and Garfloyd.
Bolts came flying at Wilbart, embedding themselves into the cart’s wood inches from his head. The men’s aim was surprisingly accurate despite the rough ride. Wilbart lifted his opal and looked at it; it had gone an ugly gray, no longer white. Sapped of its magic. He snapped the chain and threw it away. He reached into his pocket and produced the emerald wand.
Garfloyd glanced back and said, “I don’t think spoiling food is gonna do any good right now, chief.”
“It doesn’t have to spoil food.”
Wilbart clutched the wand, closed his eyes and concentrated, ignoring the bolts whistling past his head. He opened his eyes again a few seconds later and pointed the wand at the pursuing men’s carts. The split apart, sprouting shoots and leaves, the dead wood coming back to life. In seconds the carts were fully grown trees in the middle of the streets, the men stuck up high in the branches.
Garfloyd glanced back and said, “Nice trick. How about we forget the money and you give me that wand as payment?”
Finally safe, Wilbart walked into his home and shut the door with great care. He hung his hat on a hook and loosened his tie. He tiptoed down the hallway and went into the first room. He sat down on the edge of the bed inside and brushed the hair off the face of the young girl sleeping in it. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled when she saw him.
“Hey sweet pea. Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“It’s okay. Did your meeting go well?”
“Yeah. I got a surprise for you.”
She sat up in bed, now completely awake. “A surprise?”
Wilbart took the alexandrite out of his pocket and held it out to her.
“Put your hand on it, Amy.” She did, and he put his other hand over hers. “Now close your eyes and concentrate.”
She shut her eyes tight, tighter than necessary. Wilbart synchronized his breathing with hers and cleared his mind, leaving only a single image. The alexandrite was now shifting colors without the room’s light changing. Energy gathered and Amy’s hair started floating away from her head. The gem they held between their hands felt as if it melted; it shrunk, smaller and smaller, until their hands were holding nothing but each other.
“You can open your eyes now.”
Sitting between them on the bed was a creature made of light. It barked twice and wagged its shimmering tail, jumping up to lick Amy’s face. Wilbart smiled wide.
“Happy birthday Amy.”
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 05:55|
I spent a long time working on this terrible little thing. I didn’t realize writing could be so hard- this was way more difficult than that goofy Metroid Noir thing I did in the Other M LP thread. But I’m guessing I’m a shoe-in for last place given the other entries I’ve read. I’d really rather back out than share this. Oh well.
You can move, shake, and shape stone and earth, and you are well-suited for the pitch black of caverns and catacombs. Your power diminishes considerably when you are in the sun or above ground, far from the comforting whispers of sister Earth.
601 (terrible) words.
Run, Wizard, Run
The walls seemed to blur as I ran with desperation towards my shadow, into the darkness. Lungs burned and feet blistered, and yet my primal terror was matched only by my confusion.
I knew only one thing- that man meant to murder me.
A sudden crash and I was jolted to the ground and thrown into blackness. I tripped on the uneven ground, a gash scored across one of my arms as I flipped onto my back. Scrabbling blindly backwards, I glimpsed the silhouette of a massive boulder that had narrowly missed my pursuer.
“If you want to get out alive, then remember,” hissed an ethereal whisper in my thoughts.
Not having the time to be alarmed, I scrambled to my feet and ran for the shadows once more, my feet somehow finding their purchase without sight. I growled to myself as the light once more began approaching. Remember? How the hell was I supposed to do that?
The earth cracked into a deep abyss on my right, and I threw myself down a convenient passageway to the left. A dead lay ahead, but it it yielded like paper to another passage as I heedlessly barreled through it, my enemy growing steadily closer. Every time I was boxed in something would change, and I would escape, but I was growing weary. Gasping, I turned a final corner, reaching an incredible tower like room hundreds of feet high.
And with a rush, the memories returned. Now I was in my stronghold, where Sister could truly speak with me, and she didn’t disappoint.
“He is here to take from you. Unlike other thieves, he is not content with treasure. He wants your everything. He wants you,” her voice whispered.
“Mind mage!” I hissed. “Strella warned me about them.”
But ever the fool, he had chased me into the heart of my dungeon, and now he was going to pay the price.
I smirked and started to speak the words that bring about his doom- but the arcane argot disappeared from the tip of my tongue. Spell after spell I attempted, but they slipped from my mind like water. The man walked ever closer and for the first time I saw an expression on his face, a kind and gentle smile at odds with the menace he projected.
The earth, my earth responded to his whims and pooled around my ankles, but I didn’t care anymore. I reached in my pocket, and threw my talisman, to the ground behind the mage, and smiled dreamily back at him.
“You know what to do, Sister.”
The spike exploded from the talisman, skewering us both and shattering the roof above us.
The sun beat warm on my skin, as I was impaled on a stone spire, face to face with a dead man.
Why was I here? It’s dark.
One day later, a tall woman stood over two corpses run through by a spear of stone, idly prodding at them with a staff.
“So you thought he was a soul wizard, friend? I always told you not to be so trusting. Mind mages claim another victim. I wish you hadn’t forgot-” she froze as she snagged a small silver necklace on the staff. “Holy poo poo. You killed motherfucking Lethe. You were dead the moment he set his eyes on you but you took him down with you.”
“I suppose it’s academic at this point, because I owe you. But I’m taking your books, you poor bastard. Maybe I can put enough of you together in my spare time for you to have a proper afterlife.”
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:00|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:54 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:08|
I’d really rather back out than share this.
*shares it anyway*
your heart's in the right place, man
dont post your sob, post your story
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:17|
The Bone Loom
Removed For Posterity
Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 01:02 on May 30, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:18|
Could I have an extension? I didn't realize my library was kicking me out tonight (they're usually open 24/7 on Sunday) and it's going to take me like 15 minutes to walk back to my dorm so I can work on my laptop. I don't really want to get banned.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:46|
10 minutes left
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:50|
Could I have an extension? I didn't realize my library was kicking me out tonight (they're usually open 24/7 on Sunday) and it's going to take me like 15 minutes to walk back to my dorm so I can work on my laptop. I don't really want to get banned.
toxxes are always given a bit of leeway. Just post when you can.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:50|
You have power anywhere there is dust or grit or ash. You can coax dust bunnies out from corners, and if you put your mind to it, you also can make much bigger, scarier things. If it's lighter than sand, you can whip it into whatever shape you desire. Friends with allergies don't visit very often, though.
For a wizard, Verventus Viscup never had a reputation that preceded him.
Most wizards would be willing to commit murder just to get that annual name drop. Verventus? He’d just remain in the background, preferring to inject some drama into all their shallow problems as they stepped on their friends for the sake of fame.
Verventus couldn’t stand a lot of things about being a wizard, actually. He hated the term ‘intangible’; or worse, ‘the magnificently inexplicable’. After half a century he’d found his enchantments to be pretty tangible – besides, ‘magnificent’ also wasn’t how he’d describe these minuscule dandruff critters crawling around the palm of his hand.
He scratched a few more flakes loose from his scalp, waiting for the duel to start. He mouthed the familiar incantations as the dandruff in his hand shaped themselves into tiny, lifelike ants.
One of the wizards was already standing on the stage, rolling a staff between his hands. A voice projected across the field, announcing him as ‘Mercurius Barkbrock’. The man nodded, his face barely exposed from under a tangled mass of hairbeard.
A completely bald and very orange man stepped effortlessly up the steep sides of the platform and onto the stage grounds. Xelzellus. Apparently completely unarmed, he chose a simple defensive stance and waited.
Mercurius Barkbrock held his staff horizontally against his chest. A fluorescent green aura spread around him as he charged his first attack.
It never hit. Despite his best effort, it quickly became clear that Xelzellus would not budge from his stance. He kept deflecting every lightning bolt or conjured snake thrown at him.
Mercurius struck his first pose again – this time with his head down and, Verventus assumed, his eyes tightly closed. He could respect a wizard staying in the ring; he just didn’t understand it.
Xelzellus just didn’t care. Arms stretched wide and stomping forward as loudly as he could, the dust he’d kicked up got sucked along in his wake.
“Y––,” he started saying, coughing instead. He stumbled to his side, beating his chest with a fist. “Wh––,” he wheezed, as the gentle nudge of a staff toppled him over the edge of the stage.
The wizards surrounding the stage applauded at a stunned-looking Barkbrock. The duel was over – the neat handwriting in the clouds above confirmed it. ‘Xelzellus of the Dark Discord, 0. Mercurius Barkbrock, 1.’
The crowd around him gradually left to see other magic performances. He scanned the stage, feeling slightly guilty for assuming Xelzellus wouldn’t have allergies. It might have gotten a bit weird at the end – and Verventus really did wonder if the guy was even a wizard – but he hoped he was okay, at least.
Sweeping over the stage surface, every particle seemed to resonate separately in his mind as he gathered them, condensing them all back into tiny, skittish beasties. They immediately darted off in all directions as he decided to find another stage to watch.
Verventus had found that his enchanted dust critters were likely too small to lose much of their magic charge. If they scattered into even smaller parts – which happened when provoked or dormant – he was certain no one could track it.
He felt pretty proud about having invented something. It almost made up for not being able to manipulate anything bigger than a bread crumb.
Something roared past his left ear, knocking him out of his line of thought. Its crackling trail of sparks lit up the landscape ahead – just another show-off leaving the crowd, he figured, waving away the dust clouds the guy was stirring up. They fell to the ground, scurrying away as he decided to follow the sparkles.
Ahead of him, the star angled upwards against the early evening sky, arching down slowly in the direction of the stage. It landed – obviously – in a cloud of sparks.
From the golden stars on his hat to his slippers’ star-imprinted platform soles; this was a wizard that had nothing to hide. As a wizard with quite a lot to hide, Verventus had some trust issues from the start.
“My name is Luminax Aeromax,” the shiny wizard said, as pieces of pocket lint unraveled into tiny centipedes. “I am a star! Or, well – a star wizard!” He winked at the crowd, as bellybutton-dirt spiders navigated through the forests of his chest.
“I hereby present…” He whipped the wand to the sky, as the leggy critters creeped along the seams of his sleeve. “My humble demonstration!”
He was expectantly looking up. A few sparks, at most.
He shook it. The tip suddenly burst with fire, a scorching torrent shooting from the wand’s tip as it seemed to explode bits of sky.
When it stopped, he carefully studied the wand closer. As his eyes seemed to focus on something, he violently threw the wand away, suddenly very pale and certainly not grinning.
Unfortunately, things can move rather fast when you’ve got the full attention of a crowd of paranoid wizards.
An old wizard swatted at his long, wiry beard with an old spellbook, convinced it held spiders.
His neighbour suddenly remembered he was wearing open sandals, only kicking up more clouds as tried to claw at his feet without touching the ground.
The chain reaction of wizards exploding set off a chain reaction of bugs exploding, saturating the air as they dispersed. He’d been creating these critters every year for more than fifty years – generations of painstakingly accumulated, unwashed clumps of hair and dust mixed with stale tobacco and decades old cake crumbs.
With every awakened critter, Verventus felt the chain growing. It came in waves as more creatures dispersed into dust again, triggering more of them to wake. It was too fast; he couldn’t imagine it into a controllable shape.
With rapid, short breaths, Luminax had stepped into the only open spot he could see. He found Verventus. “You… you’re doing this?”
Verventus nearly forgot about him. He yelled, “I’m not doing anything!” His eyes darted around, but everyone else had vanished behind the thick layers of dust. “They’re triggering them all…” He stared back at the ground.
Narrowing his eyes, Luminax followed his gaze toward his feet.
The ground seemed to be dancing. It buzzed and shifted underneath his soles.
Luminax kicked at it. “I... I DEMAND A DUEL,” the star wizard said, pointing his damaged wand at Verventus’ face. “CALL THEM BACK.”
The skittering swarm closed in on his feet, a couple of them managing to hook themselves on to his star-spangled platforms.
“I wish I could...” Verventus felt sick. He’d never thought this was even possible. “I don’t even remember all of these!”
Some were a sickly shade of white or pink. Most were a rough, greyish brown. They tickled the hair on his legs as their simplistic instinct kept driving them forward, desperately hiding away.
Luminax let out a raw scream, swinging his wand in the direction of Verventus again.
“Be careful where you point––,”
“I’m not an idiot,” Luminax interrupted. Annoyed, he flicked the tip of his wand upwards, and fired it straight into the dust cloud that engulfed him.
All sound seemed to vanish, sucking the air from Verventus’ lungs. For a moment, everything was still.
Then it bounced, and it hit as fast as it seemed to have started.
A devastating shock wave rippled across the island. Most of it burnt down almost at once, yet it seemed the ash rain would never stop. For a while, remnants of the fire still ignited clusters of dust critters as it kept scorching the land, eventually bringing everything it touched to ashes.
Like all things that become background, though, they eventually settle down – and scurry away. Perfectly, magnificently inexplicable.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 06:57|
That Was a Pretty Wizard, Wasn’t It? 487 words
Wendy the Wizard Woodpecker perched on Leroy the Log. She cocked her head to one side, as if to say “Get a load of that dumb cat trying to stalk me.”
Leroy stoically made no discernible movement, as if to say “Yeah, cats sure are dumb.”
The cat slowly stalked forward, its tail sticking conspicuously out of the underbrush like a periscope, except a way more noticeable one, and one without the ability to see at all. Wendy ignored it and went back to working on some really cool holes that she was making in Leroy. Leroy didn’t mind, it was all good, man. She could tell by his cool demeanour. The cat reached the failed attempt at a Miniature Hadron Collider that Wendy had attempted to fashion out of a stump last June. It didn’t collide Hadrons very well, but it seemed to serve a useful purpose anyway.
As the cat passed by the Miniature Hadron Collider, a piece of it (the Collider, not the cat) peeled back, scooping up the cat and flinging it back from whence it had come. Wendy bobbed her head and Leroy did nothing in laughter at how dumb the cat was.
Very dumb. That’s how.
After a few minutes, during which Wendy had made some really neat holes in Leroy – and Leroy now looked pretty fly for a whitewood log, let me tell you – they noticed the unmistakeable tail of the cat (the one that was super dumb) returning, albeit from a different route that did not go anywhere near the Miniature Hadron Collider.
Wendy bobbed her head like “This dumb cat is a glutton for punishment, eh?” and Leroy stayed still and looked fly like “I know, right?”
Wendy went back to making holes in Leroy, but, like, really cool ones, and almost before she realised it, the dumb cat’s dumb tail was right in front of her.
The cat pounced from the thick underbrush, teeth and claws all out, ready to do war, but its teeth and claws found air as Wendy flapped just out of reach. Before the cat finished its leap over the log, Wendy’s eyes narrowed and energy flowed from her beak to the cat’s body. The cat paused in midair, seeming to swell just a little bit, and then split into, like, a billion pieces, which rained down around them, some of them landing on Leroy, although Wendy managed to dodge them all.
“Gross, dude,” Leroy’s complete lack of movement seemed to say.
“Sorry, that’s my bad,” flapped Wendy. “I really meant to just leave that dumb cat in midair or something, but whatevs, this works too.”
And then Wendy returned to pecking cool holes in Leroy, and Leroy went back to looking cool. And the dumb cat eventually decomposed and went into the ground as nutrients for Leroy, so it all worked out all right, really.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:00|
I'm putting my hand up for judging next week early.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:03|
When He Sleeps
"So, sometimes they get loose."
She held his hand as he talked, because he was shaking and unbalanced and she was afraid he might fall. She fought the impulse to wrap an arm around his back.
"Sometimes they get loose, sure enough, and mostly I find them and sometimes I don't and they stay loose."
It was warm, and she hadn't had anything to eat or drink since she left for the city this morning. She glanced around for a bench or a stoup or somewhere to rest. There was one of those mini-parks a half a block up, and she ushered him towards it.
"S'why I never had kids, myself. I mean, I'm a smart man. drat smart. And I know I'd marry myself a clever little thing. Who knows what kind of-"
He coughed for about seventy seconds into the hand that she was holding. She tried a couple of times to pull it away from his spittle-flecked mouth, but each new bout of whooping made him squeeze a little harder.
"Ah well. It doesn't matter."
She led him to the bench and eased him into it. His body cricked forward, his knees creaking into a ninety degree angle.
"Doesn't matter, anyhow."
"His name is Bungles, an' he's got magic powers, but he's not 'upposed to use them. An' he's always around, an' you can only see him when he lets you, an' his fingers light up when he does magic like pcheww!!! Wumwumwumwumwummmm..."
Lara grabbed her son's ankle and held his leg still. She scrubbed with a rough rag at the residue coating his thigh. "So where were you hanging out with Mister Bungles?"
"Bungles isn't a mister! He's just Bungles. He hates it when we call him mister."
Lara nodded slowly. "So where were you hanging out with Bungles?"
"He showed us a creek behind the animal shelter, an' he made the water all glowy and orange and yellow like lava, but it doesn't hurt when you fall in! An' he made the trees grow over it so you can't see in, an' there's birds an' a dog an' he says if Warren's really really good he can have a dinosaur! Samantha made a fairy nest, and Bungle filled it up with a fairy family, an' there's a mommy an' daddy an' an old lady gramma fairy, and a baby fairy that doesn't even have any wings! His name is Wendell, but I call him Poopy." He giggled, and Lara smiled along in spite of herself.
"And what did Mr. Bungle make that got your legs-"
"He's not a mister, mom!"
"What did he make that got your legs so gross and sticky?"
His eyes didn't meet hers, and not for the first time in this conversation, he made her worry.
His cheeks were red, but he puffed them out a little and shook the tears out of his eyes. "I didn't want to tell. But I know that's like lying." His voice, already soprano, gained a hint of a squeak. Somehow, Prescott held himself together, through the shame of nearly lying to his mother. He shook.
"I rode a slug."
For just a moment, she was caught in full-fledged panic. Every possible meaning to that sentence terrified her. Just as she opened her mouth to ask the impossible question, whether he had been abused, he unleashed.
"I'm not allowed to ride horses, you said, and slugs ruin the garden, but Tanner wanted to be slug cowboys and I hate being on the other team as him. He cheats."
Lara was so relieved, she was furious. "Did I or did I not tell you not to lie to me? Making up stories is lying too, Prescott Lee."
His face scrunched in toward his nose. Now the tears would fall.
"I'm not lyiiiiiiinnnnnnng-"
"Alright, alright kiddo, jesus. Prescott, kid, you know I love you, but I'm you mother, and that means I worry. Now when you lie to me, I can't trust that you're safe. When you lie to me, I can't believe anything you say ever again. Even when you're telling me the truth. "
At that, the soul-shattering wail that had been churning and building within his chest burst through the floodgates of his mouth, and she hugged his convulsing body to her steady frame, rubbing his back between the shoulder blades. He was noisy, and he as a little bastard for sure, but she kissed his forehead and shushed into his ear until he passed out on her boney shoulder.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:14|
Fifteen minutes late, sorry about that. I also had a final to submit by midnight and gaaaah
Also I'm ~90% sure this is going to be one of the worst pieces of garbage you poor judges will have to read tomorrow.
You can manipulate any and all kinds of protein. You haven't even fully explored the extent of all the different things you'll be able to manipulate, since you're unfortunately not a biologist or doctor. This could be awesome, or could go horribly wrong for you.
Puzzle Pieces, 1031 words
Fifteen months since the last visitor I've had. Fifteen months since the last time I saw lantern light coming up the path from town. A young boy struggling up the path, practically being carried by his brother. I'd seen them before, a few times when I went for supplies.
I'd been into town plenty of times, but no-one from town had been to my home. Too much risk, too much fear. Too little hope. My success rate wasn't good enough, and only the truly desperate sought my help, and with each failure there was one less truly desperate. As the boys came into view, though, I could tell that this was one of them.
No words needed to be said. I strode over to the injured boy's other side and threw his free arm over my shoulder. They both seemed a bit surprised, but I've never been one to act my age. The enhancements I've done over the years do their work, too.
The older brother shifted the weight on his other shoulder. A sack, large for his size. It was obvious he'd been struggling with both it and the younger boy, especially given how rough the road was. The fact that he was here anyways spoke volumes.
We went inside, and before I even got him on the table I could tell roughly what the malady was by the stench. Rot, and a bad one. I pulled off the rags he was wearing for clothes to inspect it, and confirmed what I suspected. A wound that hadn't healed right, blackened and damp. I could feel the wrongness, the slow decay, the suffering agony as he was slowly devoured alive over weeks, months. It had to have been at least a month since it set in.
I turned to his brother, who was staring at the hole in the boy's leg with open terror. I asked him simply, "Do you know the risks?" The stories were surely told, even to ones as young as these. He nodded, resolute in his fear. The younger boy too, barely conscious, nodded weakly. Good to know that they respected the unknown, even though I was sure they wouldn't truly appreciate what that fear meant until the time came.
He spoke up again, "I brought your price," waving a jittery hand towards the sack which he'd dropped at the door. I emptied it on a bench. Fresh meat, drained but not dry, and some bones. Cow, pig, wolf, some birds, small portions of each. Very good, and I voiced as such. "I'll have enough for the change, and plenty left besides if it works properly. You did well. You must truly care for your brother." He shook his head sadly. "There's nobody else to."
With that, I started preparing. The ingredients for the spell were unusual, apart from the meat. Some dusts and powders and symbols, each taking their toll in years of research to prepare exactly right. Finally I was complete, and turned back to the brothers.
"I know by you being here that you've seen physicians, tried everything else you could think of. But are you absolutely sure this is what is to be done?" I knew before I said it how they would answer. It was far too late to amputate, and even then a cripple of his age would be dead before the end of next winter. But it must be asked.
Two more nods, no words. I gave them one and return, and then closed my eyes. "It is time then."
My magic is an experience like no other. The spell is timeless, spanning days in moments and moments in days. For a case like this, to an observer, it would take five or six days to fully complete, with myself frozen in contact to the boy where I gripped him at hip and heel. To me it lasted so much longer and yet took no time at all.
My instructor taught me that all life is made up of tiny pieces. Pieces of pieces of pieces, and the magic is in making the pieces fit into the right puzzle. But there are a lot of wrong puzzles, and it takes many lifetimes to even begin to learn the right ways. The slightest mistake can mean death or worse, and that is the reason for the fear.
The first task is to clear the rot. Killing the diseased flesh is simple. It's the first thing I learned - how to remove something made wrong, so that you can fix your mistakes before they become serious problems. It goes smoothly, the pieces destroying the whole and leaving behind fuel for the task ahead. It is not enough though, not nearly enough, and that is where the meat and bone come in. Everything is, when you get small enough, the same, but having a lot of larger parts makes the whole process much better.
Growing new flesh is the challenge. It cannot be done directly, instead requiring nudges to make the flesh want to grow itself. And that is where everything went wrong, in the fourth day of growth. A tumor, small but quickly growing. And for every piece of it I had destroy itself, more would continue to show, stretching my concentration. I wasn't fast enough.
I ended the spell prematurely, snapping up from my pose in front of the boy. To the eye, his leg looked better, the decay gone and raw skin healing over the crater which had been dug out of it. But I knew, and so too did the boy's brother. He dropped the jug of water he was holding as my eyes snapped to his. Four days of tending carefully to his sick brother while I did my work, and now in a moment he knew it was all for naught.
"I'm sorry." The words seemed to break something in him, and he fell to the ground, head hung. I felt the weight of another failure heaped upon my shoulders with all the rest, another sorrow I was not good enough to prevent, and cursed my old teacher for ever trying to teach me in the first place.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:14|
Submissions are now closed
60 goddamn entries. That's a record, guys. It's also worth mentioning that, two weeks ago, we passed 3 million words. I guess that warrants a gj. Lets all have a 3 million word back-pat.
ok off to go slave away in the story mines forever and ever, judges and backup judges hit me up.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:21|
The Tapping Anticlimax (828 words)
He was tapping his fingers again.
Janine glared at the source of her ire. He did this every department meeting. She didn’t know who he was – he didn’t wear a nametag, nobody else talked to him – but he stood out simply because he did this every goddamn time. Nobody else seemed to care, but with every strike his fingernails made against the solid wood, the power inside her shifted.
Even with her military training, it was really distracting.
That was Dave, her boss. Time to give her presentation on market projections for Sorcetel, and possible business strategies to deal with the sudden popularity of their direct rival.
She got up in front of the rest of the room, cued up the presentation, and started speaking.
“So as you all know, Step Forward Technology’s latest product, the – “
“– has proven to be a runaway success with teenagers and–“
“Meanwhile, our product, the –“
Janine continued to speak, but it took a great deal of effort to prevent her word from falling in cadence along with the drumming fingers. When she finally tripped over a couple words in her speech – earning a shocked glance from Dave – she decided that she had enough.
She was just about to bring up the video part of her presentation, so while she fiddled with the laptop, she made her move.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and reached out, felt the steady tap-tap of fingers, and gradually, carefully, slowed it down – until he was no longer tapping.
She opened her eyes a second later, and smiled. “This next video contains a short clip taken from Step Forward’s latest commercial.”
Janine smugly noted that the guy hadn’t even seemed to notice he had stopped moving his fingers. Nevertheless, she couldn’t do this every board meeting – she really did not want to get in trouble with the HR department or, more riskily, the law.
So after the meeting had finished and everybody was filing out of the office, single-file, she waved over at Dave, who stalked over, frowning.
“Is something wrong?”
Figures those would be the first words out of his mouth.
“Nothing’s wrong,” She said, then right before she could ask about the man she had mentally labeled as ‘Jerkass Tapper’, Dave cut in.
“You say that, but your mental location during that presentation was somewhere in Antarctica.” On second thought, maybe she wouldn’t ask Dave about Jerkass Tapper. He didn’t seem in the mood, and she wasn’t really in the mood to reveal her specific talent to him.
“Sorry, Dave. It won’t happen again.” They exchanged further pleasantries and parted ways.
She’d go ask around the office. They’d probably know who he was.
“You don’t know?” Janine’s jaw dropped.
Melissa shrugged. “Sorry, nobody knows. There’s a couple of rumors. Wanna hear them?”
Melissa leaned forward, and began ticking off her fingers. “Rumor one. He’s the CEO’s son or something like that. Rumor two. He’s from the government, working alongside the tech department in order to find a way to cheat the Martians out of their love hotels. Rumor three. He’s a telepath that’s managed to infiltrate the company.” She paused. “That one makes the rounds every couple months.”
Well, that wasn’t helpful at all. Janine was about to thank Melissa and leave, when Melissa held up a hand.
“Wait! There’s one more.”
At Janine’s expectant gaze, Melissa ticked off her pinky finger. “Rumor four. He’s an intern.”
A silence passed, and then Melissa huffed, “You’re not laughing.”
Janine forced a chuckle, and then finally thanked her and left. She would just have to come early to the next meeting, and talk to him one-on-one.
She ended up waiting around for a half-hour in front of the locked conference room door, drawing stares from passing coworkers. He came right before the conference began, and nobody turned a hair.
It had been years since Janine had had to exercise that much restraint over herself. He left as soon as the conference ended, and she gritted her teeth as Dave slapped her back and congratulated her on a job well done.
A couple months passed, and she finally managed to pry the guy’s name out of Dave. Jerkass Tapper was called Mike Harlowe.
With that bit of information, she managed to use her past contacts to get his phone number. With shaky fingers, she typed it into her phone, hit CALL, and waited as the phone rang.
He picked up. “Hello?”
“Hello, my name is Janine –“
“How’d you get this number?”
If he hung up, Janine was going to scream. She couldn’t stand it anymore.
She yelled into the phone, “Stop tapping your fingers at Sorcetel meetings!”
A stunned silence, and then he said, “Uh, sure. Sorry about that.”
The phone clicked, and Janine sighed. When she looked up, she saw everybody was staring at her.
She hadn’t blushed that red in years, either.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:22|
Shh, no tears, only stories.
Good luck, judges!
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:24|
Cities Fall Yet Rivers Still Flow 960 Words.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:25|
Wizards are lame and for nerds so let's talk about barbarians who unlike wizards are totally sweet.
You have 300 words to tell me a story featuring barbarians. I literally do not care what your story is about as long as it contains barbarians. Wizards are absolutely prohibited unless they are on the receiving end of a barbarian's sword, axe, or fist.
Now go forth and find out what is best in life.
EDIT: vvv Crits are also totally sweet and barbarians approve of constructive critique where applicable.
Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 07:48 on Apr 27, 2015
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:39|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 04:32|
OUTSTANDING TOXXES: You have until noon PST to avoid the reaper's blade.
Okay guys I have an assignment of sorts for you.
This isn't mandatory, but I would like for everyone to critique at least one story this week. You can set up swaps, pick randomly, or whatever it takes to get those goony fingers tapping. If you're new or not very comfortable with critiquing, all I'm asking for is something like 3-5 sentences. Think about
-What you didn't understand
-Where you stopped reading (if you struggled with reading the whole thing in one sitting)
-Whether or not you understood the characters' motivations
-Whether the ending resolved things satisfyingly, or at all
Don't worry if you don't think you have anything helpful to say. Let the writer assess that for themselves.
also, anyone who wants to FJGJ at the judges must do so in the form of wizard pictures and gifs.
|# ? Apr 27, 2015 07:42|