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Aug 2, 2002




crabrock posted:

:toxx: for 5 crits

organburner - Royce at the end of the world:
Any time you use the word “some” in a story is almost always bad. “yet he had somehow gotten this post” is boring. It sounds like a placeholder note to yourself. Flesh this kind of stuff out with something meaningful. [on retrospect the chalice was the reason. this kind of coy 'the author knows but the reader doesn't so he just doesn't say' is a real punch in the butt. don't do it. give a red herring instead as the source of his power.] The chalice enters the story so suddenly, you should spend a bit more time talking about it being there before it’s knocked over. It seems way too powerful. Also the character gained all his powers by accident, he didn’t work for them or even want them, so in the end it’s all kind of pointless? He just kinda makes everything go to way and then he goes back to his room. You need some thematic bookends on something like that so that there feels like there’s a reason that you wrote this story, and a reason for us to keep reading it.

My Shark Waifuu - Goblin-mother:
I picked this one because it’s short. But probably too short. It’s all just kind of straight forward and the witch seems too powerful. There’s no fun in reading a fight that is so one sided, so you need to come up with SOME reason that the character’s plan might not work. Sure i don’t know what she’s going to do, but never did i feel she was weak or vulnerable or likely to fail, thus, there was no real tension, so the resolution feels empty and hollow.

Albatrossy_Rodent - The Sea Turtle and the Octopus:
Spends too much time on details that don’t really matter to the story and takes a while to get to the main thing. Humor feels out of place for what is essentially an after-school special? The actual writing is pretty decent tho the descriptions of the action are nice and there’s some good showing. Hiding the reason the story exists (when both of the characters know) always feels cheap to me and after reading it i’m like “ugh.”

Idle Amalgam - Super Crypto Bros.:
This whole story is just punching down. Why are you making fun of people with intellectual disabilities? These kinds of stories are the reason “no political screeds” is often a rule. It’s just you basically screaming “HEY LOOK AT MY PERSONAL OPINION!” i don’t believe you ever truly empathized with this character and actually wanted to tell a story based on their experiences, you just wanted to laugh at them.

yeah ok ok yeah - “Deep Rich”, Excursion 385:
Oh hi welcome. Too much world building exposition in this that would have been better to just show me, cause none of it really warranted the words. It’s just your standard AI robot doing the Wall-E thing. This robot is searching for life just cause it wants to (ALSO PROGRAMMING!) so that makes for a pretty boring motivation. A character needs to have a good motivation to make a compelling story. You need to give this robot, who you said is capable of human level though, a REASON for wanting to go out and find life. To persist through all the failures. Why do any of us continue to try and try and try when we keep failing and success is fleeting and unsatisfactory? That’s the kind of stuff you should explore with a piece like this. Still not sure what the cryptic messages were, i’m guessing the cat had some sort of brain scanner? I missed it, was that the 3d printer in reverse? Anyway, welcome hi.


Feb 25, 2014


Royce had been called no need for past perfect here. “was called” gets the same idea, uses less words, and past perfect is kind of awkward in general, so best to avoid it unless totally necessary into the principals office. It wasn't the first time but he hoped it would be the last. The principal, Aaron Grundwisser, was a hot shot young wizard only in his 30's yet he had somehow gotten this post in a rural wizarding high school this is awkward exposition for a lot of reasons. first of all, its just straight up exposition w/ any context or motivation around the exposition. second, royce is the PoV right now, so like… is this royce’s thoughts about his principal? why does he know this? and if it is, it doesn’t sound like how a (presumed) kid would think of his principal when he got called into his office. Royce had come to know him due to his near constant visits to the office, but it wasn't as if Royce was bad. Just clumsy. And this time he had clumsily skated into the girls locker room after some bullies had turned his shoes into ice.

"It wasn't my fault!" Royce cried as he sat down.

The principal hadn't even managed to reply before another teacher asked to speak with him outside. this is a weird transition. you give us exposition about the principal which makes me think he’s important but then he doesnt even say anything? and what just happened here? he got called into the office, royce said one thing, and then gets called to go outside again? oh wait i read ahead, a teacher called the principal outside. vague pronouns hurt you here. still, doesnt make much sense to me.

Royce stood up to stretch his back and wondered how they had managed to hit him so well with the ice spell. He tried it out himself and managed to slip again and he felt like half the room fell with him to the floor. this blocking is also weird, the principal gets called out and royce… decides to ice the principal’s office???

In a panic Royce started to arrange things back the way he remembered them, hoping no one had heard anything but there was a problem. The flaming chalice was no longer flaming on its pedestal. Gingerly picking up the chalice Royce felt a crackle of power as he lit it up with a simple fire spell and sat down. Shortly thereafter the principal entered the room, seemingly none the wiser. in the moment, im not sure what this has to do with the narrative as a whole

"Listen Royce, I've seen you in here more than enough times and given you the boiler plate whenever you got bullied and here's the deal: I used to be like you when I was your age until I stood up for myself."”here is me, the character, giving you exposition.” also, this feels just slightly stilted, like a B movie actor.

"What do you mean?"

"Make them regret loving with you. Nothing permanent of course, and you never heard this from me." ummmmmm im not sure this is how i would want my principal talking to a student

"But can't you do something about it?" and royce… doesn’t react to his principal cursing AND telling him to basically hurt/attack people???

"Not really, we've been held back from doing anything for as long as I've been here. Now get back to class and I'll have a talk with the other boys." this is a huge cop-out. and i mean, if you wanted your character to get revenge on bullies… why did you need the principal to tell him to do that?

As Royce walked back to class he ran across the bullies.

"Hey it's the pervert!" One of them said loudly

"Royce the perv!"

Royce kept looking at the floor and just walked past them. Back in class he thought to himself, "I wish a troll or something would just rip those fuckers apart." this is personal preference for the most part, but i generally like to avoid putting thoughts into quotations as i view quotations as exclusively spoken words. consider no quotations or italicizing thoughts.

A slight bit later and there was a lot of noise and screaming outside the classroom. The principal slammed open the classroom door and pointed at Royce.

"You, get the gently caress out here right now!" uhhhh what

Royce followed the principal who was walking fast. "What's going on?" he asked.

"How the gently caress did you do it?"

"Do what?"

They rounded a corner and before them was the corpse of a troll and some things Royce couldn't identify, but there was a lot of blood.

"That." The principal finished his thought. School staff were standing around, some nursing wounds from the fight with the troll but Royce managed to identify the parts of his bullies.

"But I didn't do anything! I was in class!" Royce protested.

"So a troll just happened to appear in the middle of the drat school and rip your bullies apart?"

"I'm not the only one they bullied! And I don't even know how to summon a troll, maybe a bee at most!"

"We're going to figure this out. You're suspended until then, go back to your room and stay there!" this is a HUGE tone shift. kids literally died. sure they were bullies but they were killed. we had some wacky hijinks and some bad advice from principals, but this just shifts into kids being brutally slaughtered by a troll. this is not a good thing.

Back in his room Royce was fuming, this was all so unfair. It wasn’t his fault the bullies had died. He wished the entire town and everyone in it would just disappear into the void or something, rid this world of this miserable place with these miserable people.

There was a knock at the door and the principal entered, speaking in a calm voice. is this a boarding school? why is his principal knocking on his door?

“Royce, when you were alone in my room did anything happen?”

“No.” Royce lied.

“Royce, this is very important. Did anything happen?” The principal continued with a forced calmness. Royce could tell the principal was angry. He closed his eyes and wished he wasn’t in his room anymore.

Opening his eyes again to answer the accusations Royce discovered he was outside the dorms. It was beginning to dawn on him that he might have something to do with things as he looked up at the black sky. The principal came running out of the dorm.

“You need to stop!” The principal shouted.

“Stop? I don’t know what I’m doing!”

“You did something in my room, didn’t you!”

“No! Well I kind of accidentally knocked over some stuff but I put it all back! You didn’t even notice, it’s fine!”

The principal pointed at the black sky. “That is not fine! The troll was not fine! Now calm down! What exactly did you do?”

“Well there was this weird pedestal with a flaming chalice, I noticed the flame went out when it fell so I re-lit it. But that’s it!”


“Is that what’s causing all the problems? I wish that chalice didn’t exist! I didn’t mean to do anything!”

“Wait no! Wish us back into the world!”


“The chalice is a very powerful artifact I was supposed to safeguard, it’s bound to you through the flame you lit! Now wish this town back into the world!”

Royce tried to wish them back but nothing happened. They walked back into the principals office and the chalice was gone.

“gently caress.” The principal breathed out.

“Why were you keeping this thing in here where students are constantly coming in and out?” Royce asked, trying to deflect blame.

“I figured I should keep an eye on it, yet I didn’t even notice the flame had changed to someone else.” The principal spoke in a monotone voice now.

“How do we get back into the real world?”

“I don’t know, maybe we just don’t. I can’t show my face anywhere after this fiasco.”

“At least the chalice doesn’t need guarding anymore?”

Suddenly the principal showed a bit more emotion. “Go the gently caress back to your room.”

Royce thought he heard the hint of a laugh behind those words.

For Royce, life significantly improved even in this hopeless void. No more bullies to bother him and the school staff had decided to not reveal that he was the cause for them being in the void now. Maybe some day someone would figure out a way to return them or maybe the outside world would discover them but until then everyone would try to keep going on with their lives as usual.LOL at this paragraph trying to fit this into the prompt of being hopeful. yeah actually being in the void is good

i kind of lost the trail at the end because its pretty bad. the wishing for things feels unmotivated and i guess is sort of setup by a troll. also, i feel like the principal’s advice is pretty wasted since royce never actually does anything to stop his bullies. the principal seems to set up a moral quandary for royce: do you act out against the bullies or dont you? and royce doesnt do either. he kinda just passively wishes for the kid’s death and a mcguffin does it for him. also, the void stuff doesnt work well either because royce’s desire for that comes out of nowhere. he doesnt seem practically nihilistic or depressed, so why does he want to get rid of the world? it just seems like he accidentally thought something he wasnt supposed to and what’s the takeaway from that? sometimes high schoolers overreact?


this is fun with some decent action. it does fall into early on into the trap of Capitalize Proper Nouns but the concepts end up just being nation names so it ends up not being annoying past the beginning. i didnt quite buy the relationship at the end though. at the start, i felt like this was a reflection on a weird hot-and-cold relationship that was going on for years, but it doesnt seem to be that way. like, my read of the ending is they plan to assassinate the empress and have the protag impersonate her but then why does the beginning make it sound like johan is always trying to kill her? it seems like johan just wanted to kill her that one night and then they became allies. maybe my read is totally off, but this does feel like you didnt go back to your beginning and clean it up because you found your ending within the drafting.


this is good and well written but its missing… something so i want to find. maybe its the reverend and the vicar’s action which feels a lil out of nowhere and unmotivated, but while i think thats true, thats not the main problem. something is off with the protag. their shift into depressed about the end of world into hopeful person who stops someone from giving up is probably too fast. i mean, its only three weeks. the character’s actions of joining the group, too, feels a tad unmotivated too. the protag feels a bit like a leaf in the wind, going where the wind blows them, without much reason except that they pushed there, which can work, but perhaps more focus needs to be on that. have the character start like that, call attention, and then when they have the chance to either go with the wind and watch or allow the reverend (or a larger group) to burn it down, they then decide that they dont want to be that, and go against what other people are doing and decide for themselves what they want. idk thats just my thoughts and i dont want to tell you how to write it, but i feel like i cant quite find the core of this story.


this is good and but i know you dont want me to just sing its praises, so i wont. so, my issues. i think the middle is a little bit bloated, kind of circling around its ideas of persistence and hope. while the individual words and ideas are strong, i kinda thought to myself, alright, we get it, move on, go somewhere else. the story does eventually carry forward, but i felt dragged along in the middle and was only coming along for the prose. which of course is good, but i feel like there’s not enough movement. i dont mean just plot movement (which isnt necessary im not trying to say give us more plot), but conceptual movement. i also think you can give more personality to individual robots in an expansion. after all, i feel like that would be a humanization of the robots -- each one is likely programmed the same, but through their interactions with people and introspection, they come to develop their own personalities and outlooks. it feels somewhat odd to have your robots slowly develop into their own understanding of consciousness, but through the narration, it feels like they all share the same outlook, which isn’t how people or consciousness works. i think this would also push the concept of hope and persistence further. hope and persistence is still a choice and thats why its difficult. having some of the robots give up can make that hope feel stronger, like you have to work for your hope.


i dont really understand this. so its the afterlife (maybe hell?) and the protag is getting married when its shutting down, which is fine, no problems there. but then the story is extremely straightforward in a way that i dont understand with its concept. like, why are they in the afterlife? its just mostly mundane wedding problems. the story doesnt seem to even want to comment on its concept, it just drops it in at the start and then idk becomes a wedding planning disaster. besides that, the story is kind of meh. its very sitcommy. character comes in and says oh no there’s a problem. then the protag says a one-liner and the audience laughs, and then the character leaves and a new one shows up with a new problem. i dont have much reason to care for any of these people and i dont rly care about wedding details, so this just washes through me.

My Shark Waifuu

this is light and kind of whatever. i guess its a decent inversion in that i thought the protag was actually gonna be a decent person but then nope. idk i wouldve liked to seen an approach that did genuinely paint goblins in a more positive light. i mean it is hosed up that goblins are seen as fodder and engaging with them as necessary things in ecosystems could be a cool way to examine DnD style monsters and issues with their portrayal. but nah this story doesnt seem interested in that. which is fine i suppose, but it doesnt do anything more.


small thing, but you should do the octopus or Octopus. think of Octupus (with a capital letter) as a name, and the octopus as a title.

this is again another light story. it works and i think has a nice strong message at the end, but everything before is just kind of meh. we dont know the character’s motivation until the end, which does kind of hurt, and it does kind of just throw concepts out there like an octopus being a sorcerer from atlantis, but i was willing to buy it. regardless it just feels like there’s not enough here to grip onto.

Idle Amalgam

noooooooooo not bitcoin

this just falls into parody so quickly its absurd. i mean, i think there’s actually a story here about people can fall into crypto and scams but this starts out trying to be that story and then all of a sudden he’s a crypto bro. and like, im not here to defend crypto bros, but there’s this problem in writing that when you make a character, even if that character may be technically realistic since some people really do into crypto in this way, when you make them out this one dimensional and harshly, it lands really badly. like, youre not even engaging in cryptobro with any good faith, you just want to mock them and i dont really want that in my fiction tbh.


this is a decent conversation although pretty generic. it doesnt rly do much with a generic war and siege and its take is kind of whatever. i dont enjoy the ending. idk, i rly did want this to be an actual change of heart of someone realizing nations arent worth anything. the betrayal just felt mean in this story and i dont rly like it. maybe it woudlve been too of a straight line if you played the ending straight but idk it just made me feel bad for not a lot of value of what making feel bad does. like “yep people are assholes” is much of a satisfying ending.

Chernobyl Princess

this a pretty traditionally structured story that ends up working well. it has a good concept that ends up being fairly meaningful and has nice plot progression in such a short piece. my issue, which is always a strange one, is that i think this story is too clean. i feel like stories need a bit of messiness to shine and this kind of play its hand a bit too straightforwardly that like, sure this works, but does this excel? not particularly.


cute and fun. i do think here that your dialogue is a bit too forced in its tone. it comes across as just slightly stilted and unnatural that its somewhat unsettling, like somebody’s trying to sell my something with a slightly too big smile. but overall the plot is cute and the characters are fun but it all just feels a lil too forced and constructed. its still fun but it doesnt all line together for me.


hmmmm, im not sure about this one. im not feeling esp drawn into the characters and the world you craft is like magical realism-adjacent but i dont feel like those concepts of weird special powers comes really into play. the character work is okay but im finding myself not rly getting attached even this seems to be more of a jam. i think im just tired of disaffected protags tbh


this feels incomplete. idk man, i feel like ive read a lot of your stuff and i wonder if a 1k words are the right space for you. its not bad, but it feels like setup. the concept is kind of interesting (but very expository) but it doesnt really lead to anything, huh. an impossible job that he does over and over again to make it not impossible is kind of cool but that doesnt happen. you just set that up.

The man called M

i dont think you should draw attention to your character being trans like that. it feels a lil garrish. like, obv you can write trans character, but dont be like THIS CHARACTER IS TRANS. it just comes off as, well, stupid. this story also makes no sense. are these middle schoolers? do these dumb competition actually exist in real life? chad is such a generic bully character and his shift at the end makes no sense. and then there’s corpses? why? this tone is stupid and silly why are there dead bodies? idk man, put some effort in.

yeah ok ok yeah

this isnt really my kind of stuff. i dont like this kind of sci-fi so it kinda just flows through me. its a bit too technical for me to get a grip on and this is just now my speed im sry

a classy ghost

this takes long to get where it wants to go. there’s a lot of concepts here and a decent world, but there’s no plot here really. you exposit for a bit about menial labor and then the guy loses the job and he all of sudden likes these bugs and uses those skills to get a new job. the latter bit comes out of nowhere. he’s just rly good at bugs all of a sudden, so we dont get any satisfaction out of seeing the character use a trait they have to their benefit. i feel like you had a good concept in your head, but you couldnt find the story.

Caligula Kangaroo

hmmmm this one is odd. the end bit is kind of cool and interesting but also like… intensely stupid lol. like this guy decides to take a general test in the middle of a war or something while people are looking to kill him for some reason. thats just weird, but it also kinda works in its strangeness and it ties into the character’s arc kind of well. it just feels too forced. like, did we need the tension of being acted by people with guns? could this guy make this decision w/o that external threat? because this feels like more of an internal conflict.


idk this is pretty low effort and boring. do you want a serious crit of this? its not really funny when i think it wants to be funny. the librarian joke isnt that good and it doesnt lean into its badness strong enough to be haha so bad. its just kinda dully whatever.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


CRIT! Singular!

How Andy became a man

The first paragraph is a bunch of boring exposition that you would be better off without. Same with the second, for that matter. In flash fiction, you wanna be doing as little of that as possible. (In novels too for that matter, but you can get away with it a bit more when it's not such a large percentage of your entire story.) They're also not heaps well written.

"While many athletes strive for your regular sports such as Football, Basketball, and Baseball, for Coloradans, winter is their time to shine." They strive for your regular sports? Maybe they strive to excel in those sports, that would make more sense as a thing someone would strive for. No one 'strives' to just do a thing, they're gonna strive for results. Huh, is Coloradans the actual... I'm curious, gonna look it up. OK yep apparently that's correct, I learnt a thing today, cool.

"Junior and Senior High Schools everywhere go to their local lodges to complete in what many consider their season of glory." The schools go? Maybe the school students go. Maybe the schools send their students everywhere. That'd make more sense. Also it's 'compete', not 'complete'. And maybe their chance at glory, rather than their seasons of glory, that sounds a little better to me.

"For many students, sports such as Skiing, Snowboarding, and even Sledding has become somewhat of a rite of passage." Not has. Have or had. Depending on tense, which is a bit weird here, because you're telling this bit in present tense. These first two paragraphs, actually, all present tense, and then suddenly you drop into past tense. If anything you'd go in the opposite direction. Like maaaaaaybe have back story in past tense and then switch to present for the story, that cooooould work I guess? Honestly the best bet, though, is to just not bother with that back story bit. If there's details you think the readers need, maybe introduce them to it as it comes up, but that first paragraph in particular, honestly, holds nothing that you need. Just cut it.

"But for Aspen native Andy Davis, it is quite literal. Why? Because a few years back, Andy was Ann. Yes, Andy is a transgender male. So, he hopes have an opportunity to ‘become a man’." Hmmm. OK. A couple things here. First, it doesn't make sense that just because he is trans, this 'rite of passage' becomes any more literal for him. Second, he hopes TO have an opportunity.

OK so the third paragraph is honestly almost as superfluous as the first two. You don't need to tell us that Andy gets made fun of directly before you show him being made fun of. You don't need to tell us Chad is his bully if you're about to show us Chad bullying him. The opening of the story should be Chad bumping into him.

OK so those first two lines of dialogue are really not well served by having the thoughts of the people saying them. We don't need to be told that Chad knows he was technically in the way, it's not relevant. We also don't need to be told that Andy is frustrated, we can see that by him yelling at Chad.

'“Okay rear end in a top hat, first, what you just said sounded gayer than me,” some cries of “Ohh!” and “Oh poo poo!” Can be heard from those listening close by.'
OK so a couple things on this bit. First, you've slipped back into present tense with 'can be heard' and also you've incorrectly capitalised 'Can'. Dialogue attribution is a little muddled here - in general, any new dialogue, even interjections like these of 'ohh' and 'oh poo poo' should be on a new line, new paragraph etc. Lastly, you've had Andy call himself gay. Now, the way I've interpreted that is that he, Andy, a man, is sexually attracted to men. However, later on you set up a possible romance between him and his best friend, Jamie, who appears to be a woman. So at this stage what it seems like is that you have had a trans man conflate him being trans with homosexuality for *reasons?* IMO, this is less than ideal.

"Some of those close by seemed shocked." Have them gasp or something. Show us what they're doing that makes them seem shocked. "After all, rumor had it that at least one person died while riding The Kettle." Go with 'had died'. Some people will tell you that you shouldn't use past perfect, those people are wrong. You want to established that they had heard this before the events that are unfolding in the narrative, you need to go backwards one tense. Same with the later sentence, "He heard of The Kettle, but never rode it." Go with, 'he had heard'.

"Afterwards, he walks away." You've swapped to present tense again.

"Jamie was friends with Andy from even..." - 'had been friends' imo. "They have been friends all this time..." - again, 'had been'.

"Jamie says, with a tone of worry in her voice." You've swapped back to present tense again. Should be 'said'.

"...the last part of my transition" - Need a period on the end of that sentence.

" His friends laughed at the remark." Cut 'at the remark', unnecessary.

"...clearly having enough of Chad’s bullying." unnecessary. Cut.

"Andy looks at the road ahead." Present tense again. Should be 'looked'.

"Sooner still there were violent turns..." 'sooner still' doesn't mean what you seem to be trying to use it to mean. If thing a is 'soon', and thing b is 'sooner still', thing number b happens before thing a.

"But Andy was no amateur." This is kind of a weird nitpick compared to everything else, but he's literally an amateur, unless he's a professional sledder. Sleddist? Sledrider? Whatever the word is.

"As soon as the turns end..." Ended. Because you want to remain in past tense.

"...since he’s not an idiot." I guess 'he's' could technically mean 'he was' rather than 'he is', but it's more often 'he is' so it sounds like you've slipped back to present tense again, so just say 'he was' imo. Or if you wanna do contractions, go with 'he wasn't'.

"To be fair, he never saw Andy sled before, he just knew he had one." Change to 'had never seen'. Also this end bit feels awkward, because you're using sled as a verb here, but then you say 'knew he had one' as if you'd just used it as a noun in order to then refer to 'one' meaning 'a sled'. (So just say 'knew he had a sled'.)

"so while he heard of The Kettle" had heard

"...he didn’t believe that the deaths from it were real." Side note here; did a bunch of people randomly go missing and no one ever investigated? Also, he didn't believe the deaths were real, but he instantly assumes Andy is dead?

"He had left the ‘igloo’ and went back up to the top." Heck yeah you used past perfect with the 'had left'. I'd probably change 'went' to 'gone'. Also I'd have a proper line break between this and the next paragraph.

'“Well, I’ll be. I guess you’re a man after all!” Exclaimed Chad.' lower case e for exclaimed.

"Chad told everyone he could about Andy’s run on The Kettle." And apparently everyone was fine with the fact that he'd bullied someone into doing a sled ride that had killed a bunch of other people, because he was telling people that he'd successfully not died. OK fine whatever.

"The news helped assured for Andy that..." The news? He was there. Also, probs change the wording to 'helped assure Andy that.'

Final note: not one single time did you use 'said' or 'asked' as a dialogue attribution. You used 'muttered', 'yelled', 'continued', 'responded', 'yells', (should've been 'yelled') 'says', (oooh, close, if you'd gotten the tense right you would've had one) 'snarked', (WTF) 'yelled' again, 'snarked', (twice? You shouldn't even use snarked once tbh) 'cried', and two times 'exclaimed'. 'Said' and 'asked' are very unobtrusive words that should probs be used more often than not. Sure, sometimes you wanna add something to indicate someone's raising their voice or whatever, but the majority of the time, 'said' or 'asked' are a better option.

Jan 20, 2022
Been Lurking for a while and finally decided to make an account

If I could also get a link to the discord I would really appreciate it.

SvengoolieSvenross fucked around with this message at 16:45 on Jan 20, 2022

Mar 21, 2010

SvengoolieSvenross posted:

Been Lurking for a while and finally decided to make an account

If I could also get a link to the discord I would really appreciate it.
She knows the forbidden magic of the deep -- whereever she goes, the ocean is only a puddle away

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
gently caress it, old me im in

Mar 21, 2010
increasingly frustrated oldie who has – against their will or inclination – found themselves in charge of a small army of cats

Sitting Here posted:

gently caress it, old me im in
dig dig dig, there's no digger bigger, if you want a hole, this oldie's the soul (you need)

:siren: and that is signups CLOSED, get writing :siren:

Nobody has stepped up to judge, happy to take two but also like if everybody is tired or whatever I can just freeball it.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Last set of crits from last week

"Deep Rich", Excursion 385

Hmmm dunno about the quotation marks in the title tbh

The .wav communications were fun

ok so I wasn't able to tell the first time and I'm still not sure - are the statements and queries from our boy Deep Rich him just talking, or is it some kind of internet stuff? Now I think it's just him talking but the ping before makes it confusing.

Oh I guess part of my confusion here was also from some of the formatting not making it to the archive, where I read the stories with judgemode on. While an interesting idea, maybe using the 'code' ability wasn't that helpful. So he's talking to a console? And the console just repeats the stuff from your prompt, which is one way to use a prompt I guess but in the end it seems like a bit of a lazy copout and doesn't really work for me. "Deep Rich wasn't quite sure what to make of these responses." Same, Deep Rich. massive mood.

OK and then he finds a cat and I'm like, was the cat the console? Was there a console talking about a cat? I don't get it

The Dead City Marches On

Gonna be honest, most of the early words that were just describing the setting kind of bounced off of me. I kinda got that Nimothy was in a city with a bunch of creepy and dead looking stuff, and that was about all I cared about until some dialogue started, and then the 'Death Eternal' thing was kinda amusing but I still didn't care about much else. Also the discussion about a murderwitch just felt like clumsy exposition. 'As you know, fellows, here's some stuff about this creature that we'd all know about but the reader might not so here it comes in a dialogue world building dump.'

And apparently the Murderwitch makes some things that make Nimothy and Wesmond redundant, which is really the only thing in this block of text that I care about. You probs could've summarised this block of text with like one paragraph about the lads losing their jobs to these pillocks, whatever they are, and not really lost much.

OK so in this sentence: “Excuse me, I raised these myself and you can’t have them. Why are you suddenly in need of pillocks anyway? - you didn't close off the quotation marks.

'Nimothy realised that perhaps his skill at raising pillocks was unique and decided right there that it would not come cheap.' - don't love this sentence tbh. It's especially redundant since later on you have him extorting Joeliver.

Oh and this bit of dialogue -> “You do? Please, please please please you gotta tell me, our Necrokings- <- which you also didn't close off the quotation marks for, is a bit confusing because the last person who spoke was Joeliver and I was expecting the next person to talk to be Nimothy, so probs give a bit of dialogue attribution here. Or just delete the line separating them.

'and no one wants to work for what I’m paying!' lol didn't notice this before, I wonder if there might be a possible solution.

“Fine,” Joeliever knew he had no choice but to accept. - Yeah I dunno about telling us what Joeliver's thinking here. Also you changed the spelling of his name.

Ending kinda stinks too.

Final Exam

So I mostly didn't mind this, but (and I think others have pointed this out as well) the urgency of the protag's situation isn't as obvious as it should be. Like I guuuuuess the implication is whoever's coming in the door is gonna kill our hero, but who knows? Also there's a couple errors like, 'Hopefully he didn’t get dumb as try to stowaway on an evac-ship.' where I think you need an 'and' instead of 'as', and you've said riffle where I think you mean rifle in the last paragraph. Yeah so I guess it's hard to care tooo much about the final exam when it's not apparent if it's actually going to matter, and if we can't tell if they're just kinda hacking the exam with all their implants or whatever. It was fine tho I guess.


I enjoyed this. At first I thought you were gonna be a bit too serious with the idea of librarian heroes, but then you turned them into power rangers and had them murder the AI because it was being a jerk. The ending felt a bit rushed, tho.

The the Reclaimers

This is kinda pretty but also I guess I'd prefer it if there was some kind of narrative instead of some dude's musings about how 'oh well at least there is still life so it's fine that all humans are dead' (except for the protagonist I guess I dunno) anyway it's hard to care about anything going on here when it's basically just 'hey we might be all dead but look at these cool raccoons'.

Apr 10, 2011

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new skeleton.

Prompt was:
golden oldie who was once the most famous musician in all the land but they are being HUNTED, oh no!

The unmaking of the song
1 198 words

There was a lot of commotion around Gustavo as his senses returned to him. A crossbow bolt was sticking out of his shoulder and it looked like a poisoned tip. He had been performing the one hit he had "My last love" and though he knew some didn't like it a crossbow bolt was uncalled for.

In the commotion and fights breaking out, no one had come to check on him, so he escaped out the back to his horse and just started riding home. "My last love" felt like the only song he ever performed anymore and he had done it for over thirthy years at this point. Nothing else of his material had stuck, but this was an ear worm many loved and many hated, most of all Gustavo himself.

Some would say it was the song that had made him, but he would say it destroyed him.

After riding non stop for three days, Gustavos body was numb from the poison. He hadn't dared remove the bolt fearing it would further spread the poison. He had finally reached the house his father had built.

Carefully he slid of the horse, led it to the stable and saw it was fed and watered. He removed the saddlebags and stumbled inside. He took a slab of fire wood and with only one good hand tried to shave off some of it with an axe for tinder. It felt like it took an eternity before he finally had the start of a fire built.

He checked that the flue was closed and lit the fire.


"Hey dad." Gustavo muttered. Abel, his father, had been the first to light the fireplace in the house and after his passing became the house spirit. The easiest way to summon him was to do something that would anger him. "You being the old village healer, can you tell me how to cure this poison?"

The spirit tasted the poison and thought for a bit, "Vhoacka frog from down south. Slow way to die, but not the worst. Diluted Vhoacka poison is a very good pain killer and muscle relaxant. You would know this if you hadn't become some stupid... Bard." That was his fathers way of talking, even when trying to help there had to be an insult or complaint thrown in.

"Just shame it out, you do remember how to shame poison?"

Gustavo considered the origin of frogs. The frog spawns in water, the domain of the sea serpent. He started to conjure up a song:

"Oh poison that courses through my veins,

to you I do proclaim,

made for survival, now used for hate,

leave or the serpent will decide your fate."

Shamed, the poison sprayed out of the wound. The spirit looked down at Gustavo disapprovingly.

"Clumsy, I would have thought a bard could do better."

Without the numbing effect of the poison the pain of the bolt and the long ride slowly seeped into the bones. Gustavo keeled over on his good shoulder and gasped.

"How do I deal with the bolt?" he managed to bleat out.

"Well son, what's the bolt made of?"

"The tip is steel."

"And it being steel made for killing it can't be shamed, but only the shaft is in you now."

"Which comes from the mother of all roots who promised protection and warmth."

Gustavo was starting to recall some of the lessons from before he left and drew in a deep breath and started to sing:

"Oh wood so hatefully lodged in my shoulder,

promise me you'll soon smolder,

burn my flesh, seal my wound,

or I betray you to the mother of wood."

The shaft of the bolt was incinerated in a white hot flame. Abel was frowning in disappointment at the rhymes.

Gustavo spent the night eating dried meat and bread while drinking an unwise amount of wine to dull the pain. Waking up the next day he felt like his hangover was worse than the bolt through the shoulder ever was. Walking out to the main room he found a woman in her thirties sitting and chatting with Abel.

There was a crossbow and a sword on the table. The woman noticed Gustavo.

"So this is the Great Gustavo Abelsson? I was hoping the poison would slow you down more than it did." For a killer she seemed remarkably calm.

"What do you want with me?" Gustavo asked, trying to think of an escape route.

"I was cursed to hear your 'Song' until you died. I can't take it anymore. It's so saccharine, repetitive, juvenile it's just garbage and I can't stop hearing it!"

"Dad, do you have any input on this? You used to be a healer."

"And you should have followed in my footsteps boy! I've discussed the issue with Agatha here and the curse can only be lifted by the death of the song or the singer."

"How do you kill a song?" Gustavo asked while eyeing the sword.

"It's not easy, you need to shame yourself into forgetting the song. I convinced Agatha to give it a try rather than kill you."

Gustavo lunged for the sword on the table. He didn't get far before Agatha had slashed him with a dagger she'd kept hidden.

"Too slow, old man. How did you think this would play out?" The wound wasn't deep but it was painful, "Death or shame, make your choice" she continued while Gustavo was gripping the wound.

"I suppose we can try the shaming."

Abel threw him a wineskin. "Drink up, boy."

Gustavo began drinking but the taste was horrible, "Great Mother what is this?"

"Just drink it up son."

He finished the drink and things suddenly got strange as if he could feel what objects around him could feel. The world was dissolving around him. Suddenly Abel and Agatha came running at him from nowhere.

"Put him in the oven!" Abel shouted.

"In the oven!" Agatha agreed. Gustavo tried to fight back but was too weak. They dragged him for what felt like miles until they shoved him in the oven. Something compelled him to crawl deeper.

"Sing the song!" Abels voice called from outside.

"Yeah the sing the song!" Agatha shouted.

Gustavo took a deep breath of the hot air, feeling it singe his lungs but he had to sing.
"My love runs deep, but it can not keep,

on the table no meat, buy honey so sweet... Wait how did it go?"

The fire was burning him badly.

"Keep singing!" Abel called out.

"I have to leave, find bread and mead..." But the words were gone.

"SING!" Agatha commanded.

"I can't! I don't know the words!" Gustavo could feel himself succumbing to the flames.

"SING OR YOU DIE!" Abel shouted. But Gustavo couldn't sing anymore. He lost consciousness.

Waking up was a surprise to Gustavo as he was convinced he had died. Agatha had left, curse lifted. With the song dead, Gustavo had to find a new career and so he started to train healers with his fathers help.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


Tender Teeth
1200 words

Without thought or effort, a ripe apricot was bought, bitten once, and discarded by some laughing presence in the city's sunny upper reaches.

A few days later, the usual hunger scratched at the backs of Lagimer's ribs and steered him to the garbage midden, shaded under the wooden planks of the market platform. There he weaved between the stilts, plucking at morsels with bony fingers, until he happened upon the apricot and raised it to his cloudy eye. The fruit's browning wound looked soft, and the flesh still glistened sweetly, but a dark stone lurked hard behind them.

Lagimer hesitated, fearing the wrongly-placed bite that could shoot pain back into his skull, smear his thoughts, loose his bowels, and wreck his day. Instead, he tore chunks of the apricot away from the stone and sucked at their juice, careful to mash them in his hands and swallow them whole, lest shreds of skin get lodged between his teeth.

He shoved the clean stone deep in his sack and continued on, covering it with bones, rinds, and any plump insect larvae he was lucky enough to find. Sticking to the muck and shadows beneath the boards, Lagimer made his way back across the city to his place. He snarled at the rat families who crossed his path, and swung his sack to clear them, but he made no effort to catch them as he did in his younger days. It must have been ten years on already from the night he fumbled his ratting club in the dockside sewer tunnel, and was lucky to make it back with two dozen bites up his legs and a wicked fever from the pestilence that foamed from their mouths. Painful, yes, and terrifying, but those wounds faded with time and liquor. Not so, in the case of Lagimer's worst affliction: his own tender teeth, which each year grew smaller, softer, and - when he chanced upon a clear enough reflecting pool to see - streaked more darkly with rot.

Pulling aside a moldy cloth, Lagimer slipped into the burrow he'd made for himself in the dank crawlspace under the washerwomen's lodge. The women knew of his place there and mostly ignored him, especially as he kept quiet and scarce during business hours. Their gossip and footfalls rumbled over his head as he hauled up his cookpot and listened for the long SHHHHK sound of the apprentices sweeping grey water toward the drains. Whatever dripped through the cracks in the floorboards he endeavored to catch, to boil up his winnings from the midden in a stew. But that night he lost his balance, had to throw out a hand to steady himself, and the cookpot fell against a stone with a dull CLANG. The voices upstairs quieted for a moment, and then with gruff instruction from someone, resumed their chatter.

Lagimer eased himself down, righted the pot (which still had enough water caught for stewing), and set about building a small fire. All the while he concentrated on his body, searching a lifetime of familiarity for some new or worsening ailment. His calloused hands, his pock-marked legs, his crooked back: all unchanged from their prior wretched state. It wasn't his guts giving him trouble, either - it would take more than old fruit to tear them up. In truth, Lagimer already knew what had caused his arms to fail, and his knee to bend, loathe as he was to admit it. Blood pounded in his ears, like the washerwomen stopped their work to dance, only louder, and emanating from a dull, throbbing, new ache in his jaw.

Fear gripped him as he tentatively prodded at his gums with his tongue. Inflamed, certainly, but how much more than usual? He was distracted as he upturned his sack over the boiling water, and when he lowered it, he saw across the burrow something that made him bite down, piercing the soft flesh of his tongue. Barely in the firelight, on a white iron chair, sat a woman in a white cloak, with a shining silver platter in her lap.

Lagimer doubled over from the pain, eyes screwed shut. After a moment, he spat a wad of blood and wiped the involuntary wet from his eyes. He was accustomed to hallucinations. Such was the life of a hermit. But when he looked up, the woman was still there. Every greasy hair on his body must have stood straight out.

She leaned forward, and on her platter he saw a roast goose, crisp and steaming, with bacon and carrots besides. On instinct he reached for it, but stopped himself halfway. He knew it couldn't be real… but it smelled like perfection. The woman smiled, and he saw that she had no teeth at all. Just a black space where teeth should be.

"Damned filth-witch," he growled, and reached for his cookpot to splash her, but it burned his hands. The woman leaned towards the fire and laughed, and Lagimer could see that she did have teeth after all - long, jet black, and wickedly shining.

The teeth spread apart and he fell inside, suddenly a morsel in her mouth. He grasped uselessly around until her mighty tongue jostled him into her cheek and held him fast. She chewed on him, breaking every bone in his body. She didn't stop. He was twisted, crushed, and shredded. She ground him into paste. He screamed until his jaw broke away, and lost consciousness.

When he awoke, he was on a table, in a room lit by oil lamps that made him squint. The pain was gone, yet he feared it was but a deeper stage of nightmare.

"He's awake," said Magda, a burly washerwoman known to Lagimer, standing from a chair against the wall. She crossed her arms as she watched him, badly hiding concern with impatience. Lagimer heard someone lay down a newspaper and walk around the table, clean boots clicking sharply on clean floorboards. It was a man Lagimer had seen around the labor quarter, from below. Always dabbing his brow with a handkerchief, always in a hurry.

"Yes, Lagimer, is it? No – don't move," said the physician. "You've been sedated. Give it some time."

"Why…" But the moment the croak left Lagimer's throat, he began to understand. The acoustics were off. He could feel neither his teeth nor his tongue, but the latter searched furiously for the former. Shaking hard, he raised a hand to his face, and his fingertips occupied places on his gums that should've been impossible.

"It was toothrot. Always ends badly. Screaming madness, very typical. You should thank your kind neighbor there. And… ah – I typically throw them in the garbage, but… Well, they do belong to you." The physician took a small bowl from a side table and tilted it towards Lagimer, who stared desperately, eyes wide. Inside it was the pile of his teeth, misshapen and mottled black and red with a bit of blood. They were thin, and their roots were long - well long enough to justify their hold on him. But now all their awful power was drained away, like a bad taste spat into mud. Just bones now. Nevertheless, he nodded.

"I need them."

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

1199 words. Subprompt: literally the only person who isn't a wizard

"Welcome to Trivia," says the Host. She speaks a language so complex and precise that Doug had to memorize the contents of three sprawling encyclopedias just to acquire a tourist's half-fluency.

Doug looks out into the crowd gathered on the mountaintop. There are only Sages here. More noticeable than their strange, weathered robes and enormous, intricate hats are their bored expressions. Doug has never seen a Sage of Apocryphayn smile or frown or cry or growl, which he attributes to their knowledge of all things past, present, and future.

Doug is the most accomplished trivia player in the history of his home country, Garrettjensensland. He was the reigning champion of the game show KnowledgeQuest! for twelve straight seasons until his husband fled the marriage in Doug's car, leaving Doug with no way to reach the studio in time for the taping. Doug had just retired from his long-standing position as host of KnowledgeQuest! when he received an invitation from the people of Apocryphayn to appear on their own preeminent game show. He's the first foreigner ever to play Trivia, and one of only eleven mortals ever to set foot in Apocryphayn.

"We are delighted to introduce our first contestant, Doug Johnson. He has been called the Sage of Garrettjensensland. We will see if this title holds when competing against real Sages," says the Host. Doug cannot tell whether she is naked under the swarm of maggots gnawing ceaselessly about her. The crowd maintains their blank expressions during their rhythmic applause. They're as unfamiliar as any of the cheering mobs of strangers Doug had encountered in his homeland.

The Host continues. "Our second contestant is Viin, Elder Archivist of the Library of Souls." Every bone of Viin's body can be seen through his glassy flesh.

"Our returning champion is Talamar the Strong, god of war and famine on sixteen worlds." Talamar holds a bloody sword over his shoulder, his patchwork robes woven from the bizarre furs of a hundred star-scattered monsters. He looks as bored as every other Sage despite his wild, barbaric demeanor.

"As always, our questions are conceived in the Phantom Realm and cannot be foreseen by even the wisest Sage," says the Host. "We'll start with an easy one. In the past twenty-four hours, how many life-bearing planets were destroyed across the universe? You have sixty seconds."

Doug looks over at his opponents. Talamar is stiller than a statue. Viin reaches out his palm, presumably to feel the air molecules on his hand in order to understand their paths across time and space and thus ascertain the trajectories of all particles in the universe.

Viin and Talamar reach for their dry-erase boards and black markers.

If the universe is infinite, then an infinite number of worlds must have been destroyed in the preceding day, Doug reasons. He writes a sideways 8 on his board.

"That's time," says the Host. "Show us your answer, Doug."

There is a minute change in the faces of the crowd towards perplexion; even in their omniscience, the Sages could never have foreseen an answer so wrong and dumb.

"I'm sorry, that is incorrect," says the Host. "Viin, what's your response?"

Viin's board reads 406,850.

"I'm sorry, that is also wrong. Remember not to count the planets destroyed after I asked the question. Talamar, what's your answer?"

Talamar displays his board: 406,824.

"That is correct. Talamar gains the lead with two hundred gold."

The next questions are similarly obtuse. How many ants live in an anthill on the other side of the planet? How many leaves are on one particular tree hundreds of light-years away? How will the war between the automata of the Beepbopboop System and the Space-Squid of the Grglrg Nebula be eventually resolved?

Doug manages to win a hundred gold on the question "how many babies will be born in Garrettjensensland in the next five years?" by knowing Garrettjensensland's birth rates and economic trajectory and also by being one-in-a-million lucky. He has gold to gamble for the final question.

"Tonight's Concluding Wager Question is…" says the Host. "What is love?"

Of all the questions the Host had asked tonight, this is easily the hardest for Doug. His mom and dad had spent his whole childhood thinking something was wrong with him. He's had a few girlfriends and a husband in his time, and they'd all left him when they realized they meant less to him than learning a single dumb new fact. Doug has only ever loved trivia, no matter how hard he's tried to fabricate love with friends and family and fuckbuddies.

"Viin, may I see your response?" says the Host. Viin's board reads a strong positive emotional state associated with attachment and desire that evolved to form social cohesion among individual tribal groups. "Sorry Viin, I'm afraid that's incorrect. What was your wager?"

Viin had bet it all. Doug is now in second place.

"Talamar the Strong, what is your response?" says the Host.

Talamar's board is a diagram of the neurotransmitter sequence that activates the sensation of love in the human brain. It is so detailed and precise and nakedly beautiful that the most wondrous painter in Garrettjensensland could never imitate it in a hundred years of attempts.

"I'm sorry, Talamar. That is incorrect. What was your wager?" Talamar had bet everything but fifty gold, certainly in anticipation of Viin's all-or-nothing wager. Doug realizes that he's in the lead. There's a look of deep incomprehension from the crowd; how had the wisest Sages in Aprocryphayn fallen behind this meek, sweater-vested mortal? Even the Host looks confused as she turns toward Doug. "Doug, what's your answer?"

Doug turns over his dry-erase board. BULLSHIT

Each of Viin's plainly visible bones rattle. Talamar grunts "Unggh?"

"An intriguing but overly cynical answer," says the Host. "That is inco…"

Doug speaks. "The only thing I ever loved was learning stuff that would never affect me. I ignored everything else that was supposed to be important: fun, friendship, walks on the beach, how to be a good kisser. I don't love fun or friendship or beaches or kissing. I love trivia. I love bullshit."

The Host wipes a tear from her maggoty eyes. "I'm sorry, the correct answer is the primordial chaotic beauty connecting all existence. And what was your wager?"

Doug lifts the little flap hiding his gamble. 0

The crowd is dumbfounded. They have never witnessed an event so stupidly improbable or improbably stupid. Then they applaud, smiling and cackling with glee.

Talamar the Strong, god of war and famine on sixteen worlds, had won every episode of Trivia for a thousand years until the day he made one stupid wager and lost to Doug Johnson, Sage of Garrettjensensland. Doug accepts his sack of coins and his invitation to play in the next day's competition. He shakes Viin's bony hand and receives a grunt of approval from Talamar. He is lifted onto the shoulders of the rapturous crowd, the only people in the universe who love bullshit as deeply as him.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

this guy is nasty, he is friends with all the bugs, every bug, my guy is just crawling with the loving things
The Prisoner (682 words)

It was merely a horse. It had done nothing wrong.

It stumbled as it moved, never quite falling, its stomach burst open and trailing behind. Its entrails hung loose like a sea trawler’s net, slack against the shore, coiled and wet. It hadn’t noticed. They’d taken its eyes.

The old man kept a respectful distance.

“You there,” he called out, “Have you the time? Seems a bit late for one of your business.”

The horse stopped and turned and grinned. The skin around its mouth had been surgically removed; it’s teeth as well, replaced with gold.

“Time is all that I have… or require…”

The old man chuckled. “Sounds like you speak for us all.”

The horse’s nostrils flared. The man sat unseen, a delicate pipe between his fingers. The scent of root and fire and incense. His cloak stank of earth and his hat smelt of rain. Beneath both he clicked and chirped and squirmed.

“I see you are no stranger to the sky,” said the horse. “A magician, then? Or a highwayman? I’ve no inclination to suffer rank trickery. I am burdened with purpose, bound to the East. Leave me to my mission, and meddle not in my affairs.”

“You seek a place to die?”

“To live forever!”

The horse grit its teeth and resumed its gait. A tract of intestine, looped ‘round a rock, caught and burst forth offal and blood.

“Old fool. You’re a walking corpse.”

“I am not this temporary thing, this prison of flesh. I am anointed!”

“You’re heading for a village.” The old man chewed on the stem of his pipe. “Your rotting carcass will poison them all. And when your blood drains into the valley, it will taint the soil and the water and the earth.”

“The blood of kings!” The horse snapped, and knew it to be true. The old songs lingered in the mind and the heart. The old man knew them well enough himself. Beautiful lies that turned pain into power. The power to continue, to do harm with pride.

“With respect, your highness, I cannot allow you passage.”

“You seek to sully my sacrifice.”

“The dignity of rest without senseless waste.”

“Then stain your hands, blasphemer. Run your fingers raw and red. My soul is prepared. I have been anointed.”

The old man’s eyes flickered with sorrow. Such a pitiable beast. “What a crime they have done to you. Can you not feel where their knives have left you empty? You would suffer this cruelty and call it kindness?”

“There are few who can.” The horse stood defiant.

The old man stood. He looked at the creature, that eloquent corpse. How lovely it was beneath the rot. How lovely it might have been again. He extended his arm.

From his sleeve, his collar, poured out his servants, a chittering mass the horse knew by sound. A writhing storm of wings and buzzing surrounded the animal, enveloping its senses. The horse reared up on its hind legs, toppling back, ensnared by the reach of yet more insects from the earth. In concert they ebbed and gnawed and flowed.

But the horse would not die. Not until the last morsel of flesh had been plucked from its bones. The purpose which bound him prevented his resignation. It screamed and cried until its voice was indistinguishable from the gurgle of blood seeping from its wounds. The insects drank that wine and found it sweet. Down to the bone they chewed and swallowed.

The old man looked on, his hat in his hands. He would not look away. He stared down deep into the eyeless sockets. One by one, its gold teeth fell loose.

Bloated, engorged, the insects returned. The old man extended a leathery hand, inviting them back within the folds of his cloak. They nestled here and there in the hollows of his frame, clinging to the skin, chirping through the hair. He affixed his hat and considered the bones. Soon enough the sea would sweep in and claim them.

It was merely a horse. It had done nothing wrong.

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.
I done hosed up.

I won't sign up again until I've posted my redemption for this week

Feb 25, 2014
2815 words. dq me if you want to

oh no this old person knows all the herbs, the ones that cure but also the ones that definitely don't cure

Making It Make Sense


flerp fucked around with this message at 21:07 on Oct 9, 2022

Mar 21, 2010
Folks in the discord have been going "oh I don't know if this technically counts" so just to lay out my stance re prompts: it is the spirit, not the letter. If it doesn't technically count but I can see what you're doing with it then you're fine.

Mar 21, 2010
The only Bad way to interpret a prompt is to stick strictly to the letter while obviously working against the spirit e.g. your secondary world is NYC with one letter in each place name changed. This is the road to Banhattan (you will not be banned I will just disapprove of you and not invite you to my cool house parties in Booklyn)

(unrelated: US timezones confuse me and I think I hosed up and picked the wrong one – I'm going to give a grace period of 6ish hours on submissions for this one, so we don't catch out people accustomed to TD running in PST)

May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
The Sacrifice
1198 words
Subprompt: "this is the wise old wizardly mentor to a thousand young men and women, except magic isn't real and he's totally just faking it"

What a strange feeling to see an unfamiliar moon. This one was smaller than I was used to, patina green and ringed like Saturn. I saw its smooth, craterless surface through the open door of a tent I had no memory of entering, hanging above the lights of a larger encampment down the hill from my own. The night air was warm and crisp, like a Mediterranean Spring.

My body was different. It ached as much as my old one had but in all the wrong places. After everything that had happened to me recently, finding myself in a strange land, in some other man's body, felt like a natural progression. For some time now - I had no idea how long - I'd been visited by a parade of shifting phantasms: dead friends who transformed into strangers dressed up as doctors, or little creatures resembling my children who didn't recognise their own names. My belongings had taken on wills of their own. Things moved so often while I wasn't looking that I gave up on finding them the moment they left my vision.

I knew, intermittently, that it was my mind and not the world unravelling, but still I felt myself to be trapped in an unruly, uncertain place. Now I was somewhere else entirely, yet things felt clearer than they had in a while.

A small gong banged from outside my tent and the moon was blocked out by three even stranger men. They came inside and kneeled at my feet.

'O, Great Wizard Calazach Murzadain, Chosen of the Jade Moon, Speaker for the Thunder, Enemy of the Wretched,' said the man in the centre. He looked somewhere between a Roman general and an Aztec king, flanked by men who were clearly veteran warriors.

When my mind began to grow weak, I'd tried to hide when I was struggling to keep a grip on what was happening. Unless speaking was an absolute necessity, it was best to stay silent. After a brief pause, the general continued. 'O, dreadful magister, esteemed warlock, I am but your servant. You are needed for the ritual to seal victory in tomorrow's battle. The Jade Moon is high and the men are assembling. We will accompany you to the sacred ground.'

Though he knelt at my feet and called himself my servant, the general spoke with a commanding finality. This combination of being patronised to and coerced at once reminded me of something that I couldn't quite place, something from my life before. Whatever power, symbolic or actual, that the so-called 'wizard' whose body I was in possessed, I had no idea how to wield it, and the general and his men had all the weapons. My only option was to play along.

They led me from the tent and down a winding path into the valley. Up close the encampment was a canvas city that thronged with cruel-looking soldiers. Most of them were heading the same way we were, but a few stragglers still hung around to drink, brawl, or goad oversized beetles into fighting each other in pits. Despite the undercurrent of violence, the atmosphere was almost festive. None of the soldiers seemed remotely scared. If my ritual was supposed to inspire morale I couldn't see that they needed it.

'How go preparations for tomorrow's battle, my Lord?' I asked the general, affecting my best tone of wizardly indifference.

He shot me a quizzical look. 'We have prepared as much as is necessary. Gods willing it will be a slaughter.'

'And if the Gods don't will?'

'Some of them will get away,' the general laughed.

We passed through a thick crowd then climbed the steps to a wooden stage raised a few feet off the ground, positioned to look out across a huge clearing between the edge of the camp and the treeline, filled with an uncountable horde of dangerous, scarred men. Their weapons glinted green in the light of the moon.

They put me at the back of the stage among a line of soldiers carrying musical instruments. One held a goat on a short lead. The animal looked around and blinked in panicked confusion. You and me both, buddy. The general strode to the front of the stage and bellowed out across the crowd.

I gathered that tomorrow's battle would be the final push to put down a rebellion against whatever order existed in this archaic, brutish world. As he prattled on about honour and bloodshed and the spoils of war, I tried again to figure out how I'd come to be in such a place. When I realised that was impossible I focussed on trying to remember the last possible thing I could from before I ended up here. Everything from my life before was a hazy jumble, but I managed to pick out a few key events that seemed important.

I remembered being visited by someone I'd once loved but had developed an inkling not to trust. He pressured me into signing something, some sort of document that I didn't understand. I'd tried to resist but eventually relented, then regretted it as soon as I saw this person's smile. I remembered being taken from my home by strangers and put somewhere else, where I was kept by myself. After that an indeterminate amount of time passed, and then I'd died. The realisation hit me with a certainty that made everything else feel unreal. I'd been utterly alone.

A wall of noise dragged me back into the present as the musician-soldiers erupted into a harsh, atonal cacophony. The man holding the goat led it to the front of the dais and tied its lead around a central post. Then the general looked back at me, holding out a wicked ornamental dagger and beckoning me forward. When I hesitated, someone at my back gave me a hard shove and I stumbled over to where he stood with the captive animal. He pressed the dagger into my hand and stepped back, leaving me by myself at the front of the stage.

I looked out over the expectant faces of the thousand assembled soldiers, then down at the poor goat, straining at the end of its tether. Its eyes were fixed on a narrow clear path between it and the treeline, desperate to be anywhere but here.

It wasn't hard to intuit what was expected of me, and therefore my options. I could either kill the goat or set it free. Both would be symbolic acts, but symbols had consequences even when you didn't understand their meaning. If I went through with the ritual, I could live out the rest of this body's life in the relative comfort of a warchief's pet wizard, whatever that meant. Setting it free would mean picking a fight with a few thousand armed men who more or less had me surrounded, and they'd probably kill the goat too. Our chances were impossibly slim, but at least this time I'd die on my own terms.

I brought down the knife and cut the goat's tether. The music stopped. The goat started running. The green moon shone brighter than ever, and somewhere, not far away, thunder roared.

Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

When all you have is a sword
Prompt: this lady has got scars on scars, her skin looks hard as teak, you've never seen a warrior her age, and every day she gets up and stares at the mountain like she's got a score to settle
Words: 1,178 / 1,200

Moya squinted at the faded label on the jar, the spidery handwriting dancing in the candlelight. She took a tentative sniff, grunted, and scooped an unsteady tablespoon of grey powder into the mixing bowl. There was a puff of dark, acrid smoke and the bottom of the bowl began to bubble and melt; she carried it several hurried steps, her hip screaming, and flung it out the door into the midday gloom, where it began to melt a hole in the lawn.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Sunder said, glaring at her through its jewelled hilt. The sky-iron blade was buried in the wood of the chopping board.

“Oh, piss off you rusty old sod,” Moya snapped back. “Who made you a cook?”

“Bad enough you like that disgusting stuff in your tea,” the blade sniffed. “Shan’t think why you’d add powdered manticore to scones.”

“Eh?” Moya glanced back at the jar. “Not sugar?”

“That’s what happens when you don’t wear your glasses,” Sunder said. “Didn’t I warn you?”

“You’re just grumpy because I used you to cube the butter.” Moya began to rummage around in the cupboard for a new bowl. “Not my fault you’re only good for cutting.”

“Oh that’s rich, coming from you! I should - nonono, not the ground, there are worms down -”

Sunder’s voice was cut off as Moya thrust it into the lawn by the back door. She stood there while she caught her breath, leaning against the wood of the doorframe. Before her, many miles to the south, Dragonfang Mountain bit up into the sky, the sun a haze hidden behind its peak.

It had been a very, very young and very, very romantic idea to build a home in the tip of the mountain’s shadow. Well, she hadn’t built it herself. She wasn’t one for building. But cutting an erupting volcano free from shore and pushing it out to sea brought in a lot of favours. Regardless, like most young, romantic ideas, she hadn’t stopped to think what it would be like fifty years later. So now, while the fields 200 yards away were lit by bright, summer sun, Moya wondered if she should put on another cardigan.

No, bugger that. She needed to be moving, properly moving, not faffing around in a kitchen. She gripped the sword’s handle and pulled it free.

“- slimy, I ought to - well, it’s about time!”

“Shush, you,” Moya said, hefting Sunder by her side. It was the one thing that didn’t seem to get any heavier. “Anyone would think you actually could rust.”

“Well I’d like to see how you like being covered in dirt with worms crawling over you!” Sunder snapped.

“Soon enough,” Moya muttered as she walked over to the wood pile. She didn’t listen to Sunder’s reply; there were plenty of logs to be chopped and she flipped one onto the block with a practised hand. When she brought the blade down, there was a moment - a perfect moment - where her body moved as it always had and all her worries were just cut away. The wood fell in seven perfectly equal pieces.

“Showoff,” Sunder said. “Still don’t see why it has to be seven.”

“Odd numbers are tricky,” Moya said, a faint grin on her lips, though there was nobody to see it. “Harder to judge an even cut.”

“Scones are tricky. That was easy.”

“Well I didn’t spend a lifetime making scones, now, did I?” Moya split the next log with a little more vigour than needed; Sunder’s blade sank into the block below and it yelped out in alarm. It stayed silent as Moya pulled it back out and split three more logs.

“She’s going to love you, you know that?” Its voice caused Moya to clench her grip a little harder.

“It’s a baby,” she said, her voice perfectly level. “It loves milk and sleeping.”

“Nearly three,” the blade whispered. “Not a baby.”

“Hah! A grubby little thing getting underfoot isn’t any better.”

“You don’t want to see her?”

“Didn’t ask for Iosaf to bring it,” Moya grumbled. “Don’t see me making a fuss.”

“No,” the sword said, “just scones. For the first time in your life. Not to mention the dusting.”

“What dusting?”

“Exactly,” Sunder said. “But you cut the bigger cobwebs down.”

“Caleb used to do the dusting.”

There was an awkward silence, while Moya gathered the split logs, spearing each on the tip of Sunder in turn. Her knees let her bend enough to grab the basket. Sunder didn’t speak until they were back in the house.

“You know,” it said eventually, as Moya rested by the crackling fire, “they’ll be coming down from Oesterly.”

Moya grunted.

“Used to be a lot of bandits around Oesterly.”

“Yes,” Moya said, a satisfied grin rising to her face, “I do remember that.”

“And the Fallow Pass hasn’t seen any werewolf attacks in decades.”

“So I’ve heard.” Moya ran her hands through the thick pelt draped over the chair’s back.

“Sea crossings are pretty calm now, after that cult business.”

“Sisterhood of the Deep,” Moya said, as her gaze drifted to the past. “Gods, I haven’t thought about them in years. I think that’s where I first met Caleb.”

This silence was easier. It lay across the room like a thick blanket, broken only by the fire in the hearth. A particularly green log split with a whip crack and Moya jerked back to the present, gripping Sunder and scanning the room for danger. When she remembered where she was, her grip relaxed.

“You’ve got me daydreaming,” she said softly, feeling her heartbeat slow back down. “Plenty of work to be doing and you’ve got me here daydreaming.”

“Point is,” Sunder said, “you’ve done plenty for her already. Don’t go thinking you need to be making scones too.”

“Never said I did,” Moya said. “Maybe I just wanted some scones for myself.”

“And maybe I’m a wood-axe.”

Moya sighed. “And maybe I’m tired of cutting. You ever think of that?”

Sunder snorted. “I might have noticed.”

“So what can I possibly give my granddaughter when cutting’s all I’m good for?”

Sunder paused. “Well,” it said, “I don’t have eyes but I’m pretty sure she’d like you more if your house wasn’t so gloomy.”

“More light? And how exactly am I supposed to do that?”

There was a pointed, metallic cough.

“Oh. Oh!”

Slowly, a wicked grin crept across Moya’s face. “People might notice.”

“So?” The jewels on Sunder’s hilt gleamed brighter. “We’ll do what we always do.”

Two voices rang out in unison: “Blame it on a wizard!”


The next morning, Moya stood in her kitchen, her glasses heavy on her nose. Sunlight streamed through the windows and lit up Sunder, resting once more in the chopping board. A new mixing bowl sat in front of her, half full, as Moya peered carefully at each jar, a mug of tea fizzing away by her side.

Outside, the morning sun rose for the first time over the plateau of what would, eventually, come to be known as Cutfang Mountain.

Sep 3, 2020


A Place to Rest
1,190 Words
Prompt: he's a walker, he walks everywhere, ain't nobody who has walked as far, has seen as much up close and beautiful, but the world is getting too drat fast

To walk upon the earth was to worship it, and the Walker always worshipped. Each day, he walked the roads, pressing his bare feet into the soil, and each night, he slept in a hut he conjured from the same dirt he walked on. It was an honest life, one that rewarded his stubbornness and his courage, but modern men didn’t respect it like he did. They wanted permanent houses, houses where they could laze about, and so they drained the power from the trees to conjure wooden structures that could stand for years. They weren’t homes, though; not to the Walker. Homes had to be built with respect for the ground, and the tree-killers respected nothing.

The Walker avoided the tree-killers during his daily worship, but he could not dodge them forever. There came a time in his old age when he stumbled across a newly formed village in a forest that had been empty the day before. He gripped his walking stick and swore to himself. Thousands of trees had died to make those blooming houses, all because selfish people were willing to kill for their own comfort. What kind of Walker would he be if he didn’t defend the soil’s offspring against its attackers?

Fist clenched around his staff, he strode into the center of the freshly-grown town. It was full of people, more than he’d seen in ages. Men, women, children: all crowded around leafy benches, sharing sweet drinks and heaping helpings of food. A roasted pig rested in the center of the festivities, its skin as shiny as the apple in its maw. A perfect dish for a celebration.

And yet something in the air was wrong.

It was the mood, the Walker thought. There should have been singing, cheering, and shouting, but there was none. There was drinking, yes, but the conversation was quiet, and no one could look at the man serving the suckling pig.

At a glance, the pig-man didn’t appear to be a threat. He was the Walker’s age, if not a touch younger, but his body had seen less wear. His eyes, though—they held a sorrow as deep and dark as the soil at his feet.

The Walker lowered his stick and approached the pig-man. As he did, the other people in the glade lowered their drinks to watch. “You there…” he said to the pig-man. “Did you summon these houses?”

The pig-man’s smile spread too wide, like someone had hooks in it and they were pulling it past its limits. “No sir! That’d be my son, Erelon.” He gestured to a fresh-faced man wearing green robes and an uneasy stare. “He finished conjuring this whole village yesterday.”

The Walker narrowed his eyes at the boy. “So you’re the tree-killer.”

A slim hand wound around his elbow. A woman with imploring eyes held a stein of beer up to him. “Sit with me, won’t you?”

“I want to talk to the tree-killer.”

“For leaves’ sake,” she hissed in his ear. “Leave him alone. His brother just died!”

The Walker’s grip went slack around his stick. The pig-man, seemingly oblivious yet painfully aware, smiled that much wider and offered the Walker a plate. “Stay, won’t you?”

Dazed and blinking, the Walker nodded and took his plate. With the none-too-subtle guidance of the woman at his arm, he sat at a table in the corner of the festivities. As soon as he was seated, his guide tried to walk away.

He grabbed her arm: payback for earlier. “The tree-killer’s brother—he was the pig-man’s son, too?”

“Yes,” she said, though she had to glance at the host before she realized who he was talking about. “Aren. He tripped and hit his head on rock three days ago. It was stupid,” she added bitterly. “It could have happened to any of us.”

The Walker had so many more questions, but she yanked her arm away and left him. He’d seen all manner of horrible things in his life—his uncle pinned beneath a poorly-summoned wall, his father cursing the unending toil of worship as he died—yet he’d never seen something as profoundly unsettling as the pig-man’s death party. Were they so desperate to celebrate a tree-killer that they would ignore a child’s death? If that was the case, the Walker would call the soil to swallow every last house in the village.

He hobbled up to the center table, where the pig-man was dispensing drinks. “Pig-man! I want a word with you.”

“You do?” The pig-man’s rictus grin faltered. Setting aside his tools, he wiped his hands on his apron. “Come with me.”

They walked together to the edge of the glade, where the pig-man let out a ragged sigh and tilted back his head. “You’re the only person who’s talked to me tonight, you know that?”

“I am?” said the Walker.

“Oh, sure, everyone’s told me they’re sorry for my loss—and they are—but no one will really talk to me. It’s like they don’t even see me.”

The Walker knew that feeling. He felt it whenever the tree-killers drove by him in their vine-covered carriages, kicking mud onto his clothes.

“We were Walkers once, too,” said the pig-man. “I don’t like this magic any more than you do.” The pig-man dragged his hand down his face. When he peeled it away, his haunting grin was gone, replaced with a remorseful frown. “But Erelon couldn’t take the walking any longer. His feet were so tired. And Aren was tired, too.” His voice cracked. “He needed to rest. And now he’s gone. If it’s my punishment for abandoning the faith, I can take it, but…but he just wanted a home.”

The Walker twisted his stick between his knuckles. “Do you still bury your dead?”

The pig-man swallowed hard. “We buried Aren yesterday.”

“That’s good,” he murmured. “Going back to the soil is good.” He flexed his toes in the dirt. He'd forgotten how his feet ached when he stood still. His family's feet had ached, too. Those who couldn't stand the pain walked away from the faith; those who stayed died for it. Now they were together in the same earth he was standing on. A place to call home; a place where they could rest. If the trees had gone there, too, and Aren with them, then they were among good company.

“You should stay,” said the pig-man. “I know you have to walk again, but please. Enjoy the party. I know no one else is, but Aren was so excited when Erelon learned to summon…he wanted to celebrate this. I want to celebrate this.” The setting sun caught the film of tears covering his eyes. “I want something good to come from this.”

The Walker closed his eyes. It’d been a long time since he stopped and sat a spell; longer still since he sat with others. If he could walk to honor his fallen customs, and fight to honor the fallen trees, he could stay to honor a fallen child. And maybe, just maybe, he could rest.

“I’ll stay,” he said. “But I’ll need another beer.”

The pig-man smiled a genuine smile. “Done.”

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

PROMPT: the first mistake the dead make is to assume that nature is kind; nature simply does not care. Your old person understands this accutely, and who betide those who cross them

A Villain’s Guide to Necromancy
1,200 words

The thing about raising the dead is that they refuse to be silent after. “Oh, I can’t believe you defiled my grave,” they rattle as they emerge from their tombs. “Oh, what will my poor family do,” they croak from their collapsing coffins. “This is, like, literally the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”

“Insolent wrench, you were murdered by your own brother,” I snapped. It was the middle of a long night, and the cold was doing a number on my joints. Every time I shifted my weight, I felt a sharp burning sensation in my legs. “You died a gruesome, pitiless death and none of your foolish brother’s descendants care of your fate.

“Okay, but, like, you don’t know that,” said the corpse of the long-dead prince Abd. He was a forgettable, ignoble figure of a dozen generations passed, known only for the shortness of his life and the cruelty of his death. A circlet with fine jewels wrapped around his head but among the hundreds of other risen corpses he was unremarkable. “They could be super bummed out about me!”

“Always worried about yourselves, aren’t you?” I muttered. “Never caring, even in death.”

I hobbled away, letting Abd and the other members of my skeletal retinue look at my large shape against the black sky. The effect was diminished by the curve of my back and walking stick, but I was determined to make the theatrics work.

“Well, ignorant creatures, you are in luck. Very soon, you will have your chance to see just how your fellow royals feel about you.” I said in a voice full of ominous portent. “You’ll have your chance very soon indeed.”

There was a pause. The undead looked at each other. Then, from the crowd came Abd’s voice. “What’s that even supposed to mean?”

The moment ruined, I let out a sigh. I turned back to the mass. “We are to destroy the kingdom. I harnessed dark majicks so I could inflict suffering and ruin on those who inflicted suffering on me.”

“Oh.” The corpses nodded. “Cool.”

Deep inside me, there was a dull ache.


Necromancy isn’t a young man’s game, an art practiced by someone young and spry and full of hope for the world to come. Oh no. Necromancy is the kind of dark art that a man resorts to at the end of a long career. It is what happens after every other option has been exhausted.

It is what happens after a man spends decades of his life trying to be good and wise to a king and his people because that is what a good court wizard does. He leaves cryptic but insightful advice about which wars the king should and should not join. He teaches the king’s wards about the burdens of power. He gives answers to the great questions of the world, no matter how unpleasant or unsatisfying the answers might be.

Then, of course, the king croaks and his heir, a hedonistic delinquent, rises to the throne. He says that he is not interested in burdens or unpleasant answers. He would much rather live a life unexamined, taking advice from mummers and charlatans instead of a wizard who only wants to keep him aware of the horrors of the world. Then, he demands his faithful wizard leave the only home he has ever known. He does this even knowing how few opportunities there are for someone of advanced age, of how his vows of poverty preclude retirement.

“You okay, my dude? You’re looking pretty grim.”

We were almost in sight of the castle walls when I turned to see Abd, his face nothing more than a skull and some loose bits of flesh. Lacking the tissue for expressions, he cocked his head, dog-like, in concern.

“Yes,” I lied. “I am wonderful. My revenge is almost complete.”

“Man,” the skeleton let loose a series of gasses like a groan, “you gotta learn to chill out. Relax. Enjoy life.”

“Enjoy life.” I let the words stain my tongue. Ahead of us, there were screams. The undead army had reached the gates and were climbing the ragged walls as sentries fired arrow after arrow into them to little effect.

“Yeah, exactly!”

“For five decades, I devoted my life to unlocking forbidden knowledge. I came to know every unpleasant truth, every horror this world has to offer. I tried to impart those gifts and was spurned for it. In my twilight, I have been forced to confront the pointlessness of it all.” I paused, staring ahead bitterly as the corpse army assaulted the guards. “Any pleasure in this world is momentary. Then it ends. Not a soul cares.”

There was a pause.

“Well, duh,” said Abd, putting a cold hand on my arthritic shoulder. “The best parts of life are those momentary distractions. You gotta take them to keep yourself busy. Otherwise, you wind up alienating everyone by obsessing over the fact that one day you’ll be a body in the ground. As a soulless, reanimated husk, I would know!”

I said nothing. The skeletal army had overwhelmed the castle and taken the gates. Some rotting princess gave a thumbs-up before lowering the drawbridge.

“Just, like, think about it, man.” Said the dead prince. “I’ll catch you inside!”

Before I could react, he charged ahead toward the open portcullis.


The interior of the castle was in ruin. Once-immaculate tapestries lay on the blood-stained floor. Dead guards rose from where they lay, joining the ranks of my army. I found myself once again in the throne room, standing before the brat king. He sat paralyzed on his throne, an assortment of know-nothing advisors cowering behind him.

“So, we meet again, your highness,” I said. “I do hope your new advisors have been giving you the advice that you need to avoid desolation and ruin?”

One of the men cowering behind the throne made a run for the door. He made it to the threshold before Abd shot him in the back with a crossbow. I waited a moment so everyone could watch him fall. Then, I folded my hands behind my back and turned away from the crowd for dramatic effect.

“I must tell you, I came here prepared to talk about uncomfortable truths. I wanted to say that this skeletal invasion, summoned by evil forces, could be a kind of lesson, a reminder of all the cruel, unpleasant, and unpredictable things that life has in store for us.” I trailed off, enjoying the attention. “But you were never good at listening to my lessons.”

“And while it is true that life is unforgiving,” I turned. “...I also realized that you had a point. Knowledge is important but so are momentary distractions.”

The advisors exchanged glances. The king cleared his throat and gave a trembling smile. “So, uh, you aren’t going to kill us?”

“Oh gods, of course I’m going to kill you. What kind of dark wizard would I be if I didn’t?” I said. “But I want you to know that I’m going to enjoy doing it. It will be exactly the kind of escape I need.”

From across the room, Abd’s teeth gleamed.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Heron House
1199 words

this is two old people, a sweet old couple who bicker but love each other deeply

Imelda was sweeping the floor of Heron House, preparing for their next guests, when Soren wrapped his golden arms around her, pressing his chest against her back.

“You’re doing things in the kitchen,” he whispered into her ear. “You know how intensely erotic that is.”

Imelda laughed and swatted him away with the broom. “Get away, you old letch!” She gave him a peck on the cheek and returned to her chores. “Did you turn the beds down upstairs?”

“All except ours. Thought we could give me a reason to change the sheets first.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. It was exactly as tempting as it was when they’d first met. So not that tempting at all, because she was busy, and she told him so.

Soren bore the rejection cheerfully, kissing the back of her hand before leaving the kitchen. He paused on the way up the stairs, swaying slightly as the house moved underneath him. “Are you alright, love? You seem distracted.”

A thousand sharp responses buzzed to Imelda’s tongue. Yes, you’re distracting me and what about not wanting a midday gently caress makes you think I’m not okay? And another dozen, crueler phrases lined themselves up to launch.

But you don’t travel with a man for half of your young adulthood, then stay married to him for nearly two hundred years by snapping at him every time you’re stressed. Imelda looked out the window at the low marshlands that Heron House waded through. “We’re heading east,” she said softly. “Toward the Rift.”

Soren froze for a moment. His gnarled hands clenched on the banister. “Oh,” he said, lightly. “Well. It’ll be nice to see Johan again.”


The sky around the Rift was locked in a carmine twilight. It cast weird shadows around Heron House as it picked its way through the mud toward the village. Incredible, really, that anyone would try to build so close to the raw, magical radiation that poured from this awful crack in reality. Most of the houses were abandoned, but three people had been here and three people had died here, so now Soren and Imelda were here to shepherd them on to their afterlives before necromancers got to them, or before death trauma mutated them into some kind of mind-eating horror.

Soren and Imelda stood in the attic, leaning out the highest window, eyes squinted against the wind and light. Soren waved to a dark figure in the roiling center of the Rift.

“Hullo, Yo!” He called. “How’s eternal life treating you? Have you brought my sister back yet?”

Imelda scanned the horizon, looking for the glimmering spirits within the wreckage of the village.

“There,” she said, pointing to a trio of silvery wisps gathered around a broken fountain, their features indistinct with death trauma. The house groaned as it dropped, long, stilt-like legs folding beneath it. The spirits darted away as soon as they touched down.

“Ugh,” Soren groaned. “I hate it when they run.”

Imelda nudged him in the ribs playfully. “Oh, your poor knees. Your poor back. So much for legendary Kiver stamina.”

“‘Legendary Kiver stamina’ my gilded rear end. I didn’t think I’d spend my dotage chasing ghosts. We were supposed to open a pub in Eristhell with Yo and Hulda.” He glared back up at the Rift. “And then someone went and hosed it all up!”

Imelda patted her husband’s hand, then pulled on her dusky blue cloak of office and left to go find some dead people.

Unfortunately the necromancers got there first.

There were three of them, dressed the way they probably thought psychopomps dressed instead of the two-hundred years out of style clothing that Imelda and Soren actually wore. Lots of black. Lots of pointy silver jewelry.

“Love the look,” Soren said as they approached. “Wish I could get away with that. But even when I was your age black made me look brassy.”

Imelda drifted silently behind him, watching the spirits as they blurred in the necromancer’s web of magic. Necros couldn’t resolve death trauma the way the keepers of Heron House could, they got their magic from heightening it. She hadn’t appreciated that when she’d been properly alive.

“Get out of here, grandpa,” one of the necros said, her voice heavy with exhaustion. “Unless you really want to donate your soul.”

Soren squinted at them. “You’d need a lot more than three souls to close the Rift,” he said. “Do you know what opened it?”

“The Rift opened a gate to hell. Necromancy opened it, necromancy will close it.”

“It wasn’t necromancy,” Soren said. “And that isn’t hell. Johan killed the God of Death, the Rift opened as a consequence.” He glanced back at Imelda. “He probably wouldn’t have done it if he’d known what was coming.”

“He was always insane over Hulda,” Imelda said. “He’d still have done it. Now you, stop torturing that ghost and hand it over or I’ll feed your souls straight to Heron House.”

“We’re necromancers, lady,” one of the others said. “You don’t have any power here.”

He might have said more, but Imelda threw her knife at him. It wasn’t meant for throwing, the hilt merely bonked into his chest, but the shock disrupted his concentration. The spell collapsed and the spirits were free. Imelda opened her cloak and the ghosts, now so stripped of what they’d been in life that they didn’t know to fear her, darted into the shelter she provided.

Soren moved. It was easy to forget how fast he could be with the way he bitched and moaned about the stairs every morning. By the time the last spirit clung to Imelda’s back like a chilly infant he’d disabled two necromancers and had retrieved Imelda’s knife. He approached the third necro, fingers flickering through some spell that Imelda didn’t know.

“Wait,” the last necro said, holding up her hands. “If you are who I think you are, we can help one another.”

“You torture dead souls for power and think a pair of conscripted psychopomps will want to work with you?”

“It’s not… I can’t help that,” she said, desperate. “But I can help you. You’re the ones who survived, the ones who answered the call, who took the place of Death after Johan the Accursed killed him. Please, I know how to close the Rift and save your friend!”

That gave Soren pause. “Do you now?”

“I think so. I just need power.” She pulled back her hood. She was painfully young, bright eyes in a dark face that hadn’t cracked to time. “Please, if you are the caretakers of Heron House… let me come with you. I’ll work. I’ll serve. I’ll never practice necromancy again, if you just help me fix this!”

Imelda shared a look with Soren. He shrugged and looked back up at the crack in the sky, magical radiation making the land unstable and unusable, and their friend hovering in the gap. “It’s worth a shot,” he said.

A shadow fell across the world as the veil that kept it hidden from the living world fell away and the House stood up behind them. The young necromancer’s eyes widened.

“Welcome to Heron House.”

My Shark Waifuu
Dec 9, 2012

The House of Everything
1195 words
Prompt: packrat, endless pockets, can improvise their way out of anything

Marcel woke up in a shrine. Every surface of the rambling house had one of Sahar’s devices or some token of their adventures, when they sought out materials with rare magical properties for her inventions. The walls were hung with pictures of them and the closets were still full of her clothes. The collection of their lives together kept those long-ago days fresh in his mind. It didn’t make him happy, though. After ten years without her, grief was a habit.

Marcel dressed slowly and pulled on his alchemist’s coat. Each of its many pockets held his most valued treasures: a spherical ruby, a joke gadget she’d made just for him, their wedding rings. From one he removed a delicate wire prototype and spun its tiny gears. It had been Sahar’s last and most important invention; he’d tried to finish it, but he knew he couldn’t. He’d contributed his research to many of her other inventions, but this one was all her.

He sighed and tucked it away. He was about to continue his routine when, far below on the ground floor, the doorbell rang.

Well, he was going that way anyway, but now he needed to be quicker than his usual limp down the stairs. The problem-solving part of his brain, the one that had gotten them out of countless scrapes during their adventures, kicked in. He ripped open a pillow and grabbed a handful of feathers. Alchemically, feathers wanted to fly. He used this potential to amplify his atrophied magical power and hover down the stairs to the door.

“Hello, Marcel!” It was Ned, his neighbor. “This young lady came round to my place looking for you, so I thought I’d walk her over, see how you’re doing.” Ned lived in a prominent tower across the lake and up the hill from his house; lost visitors often ended up there.

“Dr. Marcel? Hi, I’m Beatrice, a graduate artificer at the Academy of Magical Sciences. I’ve been researching Dr. Sahar’s work, can I ask you a few questions?” Her enthusiasm was already exhausting.

He nodded to Ned, then led Beatrice into the sitting room. Her eyes went wide, taking in all the trophies that filled the space, from a large stone statue to the taxidermied griffin. He was pleased that she didn’t touch anything.

“What can I do for you, Beatrice?” Marcel’s voice was hoarse with disuse.

“I’ve been studying Dr. Sahar’s later notebooks and I came across a mention of a device capable of storing pure magic. Some think it’s just an idea she had, but I wanted to come here to see if there’s any possibility of it being real.”

She waited expectantly as Marcel pulled out the delicate object and put it on the table between them.

“It’s real, but unfinished.”

Beatrice leaned down so that her nose almost touched it. “It’s so small!” Her eyes shone with academic excitement. “With your permission, I’d love to take this and continue her work. The potential of such a device … it would change the world.”

Marcel knew this day would come, knew that someone would come to continue her work, and yet he snatched the object away protectively. If he let it go with Beatrice, he’d never see it again. He spun the gears that she made, ran his fingers down the wire she’d shaped. But Beatrice was right, it would revolutionize everything: no longer would pyromancers have to stoke factory fires, or farmers exhaust themselves magically fertilizing their crops. With a battery of energy, their own magical potential would be freed to be spent as they pleased. It would be Sahar’s greatest legacy.

Plus, the entire house was full of objects that were no less her. With a heavy heart, he opened his hand and gave the device to Beatrice. “Do good with this,” he said.

Beatrice cradled it in her hands. “I will,” she said solemnly.

Before she could ask anything else, Marcel showed her to the door. The heavy oak closed behind her and the device was gone. He looked around and saw Sahar in every painting, every crystal, every book piled haphazardly in every corner. He imagined that she could see him too.

He quickly regretted his decision. The pocket of his jacket felt wrongly empty. In the laboratory, her tools looked as sad as orphans. In the kitchen, he saw her stained cookbooks and felt the weight of each meal they’d shared. On the walls, her face looked at him in dozens of photographs. Marcel climbed the stairs to escape her memory, but all around him, reminders of the last sixty years of his life loomed. He retreated to his office to think.

Beatrice wouldn’t be the last one. As a former academic and treasure hunter, he knew that, once word got out about Sahar’s device, there would be a flood of people coming to the house, asking for her prototypes, her notes, anything that would give insight into her genius. He could live with her presence, but he couldn’t live with her being exhumed, examined, and taken from him over and over again.

The only solution he could see was to burn her notes. Slowly he collected them into a metal wastebasket. He tried to call his magic but he didn’t have the intensity to summon fire. Angrily brushing away tears, he rummaged in the desk. The drawers spilled forth endless paper and a forgotten pair of glasses. He cast light through a lens with one hand and held a piece of paper at the focal point with the other. Alchemically, paper wanted to be on fire. He tossed the now-burning page onto the pile of notes. But the fire got out of hand. It spread hungrily to the bookshelves, wall hangings, and ceiling beams. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t stop it. All he could do was summon a wavering shield and listen to the house burn. Years of things, each a memory, disintegrated in the crackle and roar of flames. His tears, mingling with the smoke, stung his eyes.

Marcel intended to crumble along with the house, but a wet explosion shocked him back to life. He spluttered as water crashed through the ceiling and chased the fire along the beams, creating plumes of thick smoke. When both fire and water had faded away, Marcel heard a voice from above him.

“You okay?” It was Ned, hovering above the house, an orb of water hovering alongside him. “Sorry for throwing the lake through your roof, but I saw the flames and feared the worst. You’ve got so many things in there!”

Marcel stood up and looked at the ruins. He feared it would be like seeing Sahar’s corpse, but no. It was just a pile of charred, soggy stuff. His jacket was singed, but when he pulled out a delicate letter, it was untouched by the elements. He carefully replaced it and felt, with new clarity, the warmth of her love.

“Do you want to stay with me for a while?” Ned was still hovering above him. With little effort, Marcel rose into the air alongside him.

“You’re a good neighbor, thank you.”

Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage
Biscuit Hider
1093 words
Prompt: GrandmaParty I want you to write a Party Grandma, she's so loving fun omg, and the world really needs that right now

Everyone in the club stood in concentric circles around the body, meeping. The pastel orbs on the walls kaleidoscoped over the dance floor. The automatons furiously throttled their instruments for a crowd that wasn’t responding. The dancers all stood ramroad straight on their hind legs screaming “Meep!”, a behavior they never really outgrew after being uplifted. Directly in the center of the dance floor lay a single, solitary Meep corpse, drying out under all the colored lights.

Gertrude Baumgarden was the only detective awake at four thirty each morning, a half-hour into her usual morning shift. When she pushed open the thick wooden door, dozens of heads swiveled in her direction. She held up two liver-spotted hands up and smiled, taking a long cigarette out of her coat pocket to buy some time. “Can a lady get a light around here?” she asked.

The crowd stared at her, blankly, before a susurrus of meeps turned into a cascade. The crowd resumed looking for threats as Gertrude sighed and snapped her fingers, spending an infinitesimal scrap of her soul to light her cigarette. The bartender, one of the few non-Meeps in the club, gave her a big wave and she made her way over. He took her into a side room, the burgundy velvet smothering the walls and furniture sucking in some of the noise.

“Thank you for coming, Detective.”

She gave him a slow wink and cocked her thumb and index fingers at him. “Can’t resist a party.” Her eyes tracked the room again. “Even one like this.”

The bartender gave a low, husky laugh. “You should see them when they’re not freaked out.”

“Oh yeah? Done a lot of partying in my day, but can’t say a Meep party is impressive from where I’m standing.”

“Can you see the drains over on the sides of the room?” He waved. She looked through the doorway, seeing one of the enormous grates, the lattice just tight enough that toes and talons couldn’t get caught in it. “We have to hose the place down every single night. That’s how wild it gets. It’s kind of disgusting but you get used to it.”

Gertrude let out a hoarse, husky laugh before stopping to hack and spit. “I’ve seen some hosed up poo poo, seen people snorting every sort of drug off of every body part and a lot of those same parts hacked up in garbage bags. But a Meep orgy is new to me. Thank goodness too, I don’t think we’re compatible,” she said as she dangled her index finger at the bartender.

He ignored her dangling. “They’re sweet, once you get used to them. Don’t tip for poo poo, though. You hear what happened?”

“Dispatch said one of them just dropped loving dead in the middle of the dance floor.”

The bartender nodded. “They’re bopping and grinding and making little chirping sounds and he seizes up and keels over. Once he hit the floor, they absolutely freaked out.”

“You think something happened?”

The bartender gave Gertrude a look down the bridge of his nose, a you-should-know-better. “I’ve been working here for five years and I can barely tell them apart. I don’t think they can really get up to crime. We just want to loving go home and we can’t get them to leave.”

“Did you look at the body at all?”


She nodded. “Then that’s the first place I’ll start. Can you get a girl a drink?”

“You get them out of here, you get a bottle on the house.”

With a grin, she gave the bartender a pat on the cheek and strolled out onto the dance floor, winding her way through the Meeps, who all stopped swiveling their heads to track her. She stopped right before the corpse and motioned at the nearest Meeps.

“A little room, Sugar?” she requested.

The nearest Meep opened a thin-lipped mouth full of little needle teeth and let out a low hiss.

“Be that way,” she said, not even flinching.

The Meep on the floor lay sprawled out, not dead long enough to stiffen up. About five feet tall, it was dressed in a frayed cloth vest and a child’s short pants. One of the holes on the side of its head gaped rudely. A small trickle of blood ran from one of its nose holes and from one of the corner of its large, wet eyes.

The entire room had stopped meeping at this point, focusing in on the detective. She gave the body a quick pat, pulling a set of keys and a small pouch from its vest pockets. Gertrude pulled a small pinch of powder from the pouch, eyeballed it, and gave it an exploratory sniff before snorting the rest into her nostrils.

She turned to address the crowd, her hands held out wide, plainly no threat to anyone.

“Nothing to see here, folks. He just partied a little too hard. You can go on home now.”

The two hundred Meeps in the room continued staring at her. Some of them had started to crouch down, curling their tight forearms, swishing their long, muscular tails along the floor.

Gertrude turned to address the Meep closest to her, coiled and tensed to half its normal size. “You better back the gently caress off or some of you are going to be making GBS threads out of a new rear end in a top hat.”

When they remained, she reached into her suitcase-sized purse and pulled out a pistol longer than her forearm. With a flick of her wrist, she pointed it in the air and squeezed off a shot, the sound shattering through the music.

The Meeps scattered, liquefying into a crowd, rushing and squeezing out of the door, leaving the dead behind, no more thought given to him than an eye lash or skin flake.

Gertrude victoriously sauntered her way over to the bar. “So about that drink,” she said.

“You just blew a hole in the ceiling,” he deadpanned.

“And cleared out your very angry customer base, the job you hired me to do.”

He sighed and handed over a silver token, one of the few every business received each year from the department. “You did your job but I’m not doing you any favors,” he said.

She smiled, revealing a mouth full of teeth almost worn down to nubs by their age. “When you’re my age, that’s still a win.” Then she pulled the pouch out of her pocket. “And I got a little party, too.” With a cackle, she sauntered out, ready for the rest of her shift..

Jul 26, 2012

The Gods Haven't Killed Me Yet
Word Count: 1156
Prompt: "old old old, a methuselah, has walked the land for an endless aeon and has seen it all, and more importantly they've seen what's coming "

The eclipsed sun lingers in the crimson sky, as it has for the last three days. The wind glows as departed souls push through the cracks in the mortal realm. Cracks likely formed by Death himself crawling out of his eternal bindings. It’s been years since I’ve seen skies like this; centuries to be exact. I barely survived the last time the gods warred against Death. Even with the magicks keeping me alive, I was a much younger man.

Boil-covered villagers of Lisindale huddle in the dead soil of the town square, leaving their withered crops and disease-ridden cattle to demand audience with the oracle. The bronze armored temple guards push the crowds back, clearing the sacred threshold. Aching bones make slipping through the crowds slow, but the invisibility spell eases my passage through the front doors. I cross into the inner sanctum, greeted by the azure shine of the floating woman.

“I see you, Almondi,” the oracle says. “And I have no interest in your bribery.”

“Bribery, dear oracle?” I reply, dropping the spell. My gray whiskers and woolen cloak peer through the air before the rest of my admittedly withered body. “Banish the thought! I’m simply proposing a trade.”

My knees crack as I crouch before her, placing five crystalline shards on the dusty marble floor. Each crystal glistens with the scarlet aura of divine sauginemancy.

“Blood of the gods,” I explain to the oracle. “Spilled over the centuries of conflict the last time the divine did battle. Should the gods be willing to discuss its protective qualities, I would be more than happy to return it. For the whole of humanity of course.”

I pick one shard off the floor, lifting for the floating oracle to better see. The frescoes depicting the creation of the world and war of the heavens glisten behind her. Her arcane light reflects off images of Death declaring himself overlord, dividing the world amongst the gods. The painted deities rebelling against Death’s tyranny fade into the shadows as she drifts towards me. “The whole of humanity, Almondi? Or enough to obscure a lone sorcerer who again alludes mortality,”

“Debate my motivations all you like, dear oracle. But I come here to bargain on behalf of mankind. After all, if the gods are rising again—“

“The gods are not rising again. Death is.” She examines every wrinkle in my leathering skin. Her luminescent eyes follow every shake of my unsteadying hands. I can almost feel her counting the wispy strands of silver in my beard, and the much lower number on the top of my head. A sense of shame passes over, as if I can feel her judgment. “And how many more years do you expect to steal, Almondi? Dare I say to bargain with him, it would be wise to offer the tribute he feels owed.”

Two armored guards emerge from the shadows, spears pointed. I quickly brush the shards into my cloak and stagger to my feet. I want to dash out, my stiff joints make merely standing difficult. The men grab my arms and drag me out of the sanctum. I don’t resist, but do manage to palm a shard should I manage to think of something. The fact I haven’t already upsets me, stoking fears of feeble mindedness.

“Pray your sacrifice be not in vain, Almondi.”

I can barely move in the soldiers’ ironclad grip. Any movement I make to slip away invites brute force from them, nearly pulling my arms from their sockets. The outside sentries split the panicked crowds as I am shoved passed the temple doors into the town square. A barred prisoner cart arrives, likely summoned by the oracle’s will. I watched the confusion on the faces of the masses. The rabble grows loud with conflicting pleas for explanation and desperate cheers for the apparent sacrifice. Each cry tinted with fear of the specters piercing the wind.

My mind races as I’m dragged towards the cart. I survived the last war by bargaining with the gods, each with their own grievance against Death’s demands. If only The Morbid One has risen, I cannot foresee a mortal way to repel him. I’ve let my fingers grow skeletal and my voice grow raspy. Even if I could conjour like I used to, I can barely recall the incantations that were once second nature. Earthly mortality proves enough of a challenge. I haven’t the slightest clue on how to combat the divine embodiment? But then a thought enters my mind. The god of death angered his fellow deities before with his overreach. Perhaps, I don’t need an answer now.

I scratch the palmed shard with my thumb nail, spilling the dusted bleed of creation into the air. A whispered chant and dust strikes like scarlet thunder. The visages of the dead take form in the wind, the veil pierced enough for them to pull themselves halfway through. The blast and the spirits stun the guards and crowds. Since the fools didn’t think to bind the decrepit old man, I can vanish from sight in the confusion. The invisibility spell lasts long enough for me to make it to the docks. A bit of dusted bleed calls to the patron of the seas. I leap into the first unmanned boat and let magick carry me into the fjords.

Lore states that when Death divided territory amongst the gods, he plunged his staff into the earth, cutting the cliffside shores of the Lisindale hills as he dragged it across the realms. Deep between the cliffs, I hold the shards in my hand and shout to the sky. “Death! You know this voice! You have forgotten many mortal names. But one has kept reminding you.”

Scarlet fire tears the sky and spirits of sailors past claw at my cloak. The black hooded skeletal overlord parses the clouds with his scepter. “Almondi,” the terrible rattle echoes through the hills.

The fades of humanity possess strength far past the temple guards. The blood magick can scare them away enough to maneuver, but my flesh rends like paper with their grip. I cast the shards into waters, watching the waves glisten with their energies. My vision grows dark as the spirits converge upon me. My body grows cold, but I am jarred awake by crashing waves of a sudden maelstrom. Fish and waterlife fly from their homes to carry the ghosts down. My boat is cast onto the shore as a titan emerges from the deep.

“These are patrons of the sea!” shouts the rising goddess the oceans. “They are under my charge.”

She strikes Death with her pinsers before dragging him underwater with her tentacles. I crawl onto the beach on which I landed. Limbs are sore, but nothing’s broken. I still don’t know how to stave off death, but knowing how long it takes the gods to settle disputes, this should buy me a few extra centuries.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
Bury Me in a Borrowed Suit
this person keeps dying and being endlessly resurrected and each time they die they come back young but each time they die they come back just a little more wrong and they know this and they're starting to have doubts about the whole immortality thing.

1,076 Words

“Are you sure this will work, Master?” The Assistant asked with its squamous green head bowed. It clacked its beak nervously.

“Well, my dear Assistant… I doubt it, but I’ve grown weary of this eternal song and dance. If I cannot die in this dream world, then I must escape. I simply cannot stand another day trapped in this fantastic and nightmarish hell. I yearn for the quotidian and mundane. The temporary.” The Master answered, twisting the elongated features of its face into a deranged rictus. The Assistant was confused by this, but much of what the Master did confused them.

“Well, how will it work? By my recollection, you’ve been eaten, immolated, decapitated, disemboweled, exploded, and demolecularized and came back without problem.

“Yes, well…”

“And you were pulled apart, poisoned, smushed, seen by a divinity, had your heart broken, and you even died of old age.”

“Okay, yes…”

“I just don’t see how escape is any different than dying in the context of what it is you have planned.”

“Oh, my dear Assistant. I’ve given up on dying. At least as I am now. In coming here those eons past, we’ve become abstracts. No longer bound to rational form or being. Haven’t you noticed the differences between lives? No, I imagine you probably haven’t. Look here, friend.”

Then the Master produced a shimmering sliver of glass from the voluminous folds of his rugose flesh, and showed it to the Assistant. The Assistant gasped at what it saw.

The Assistant had been something else once, it was sure of it, but now it was a creature of this chaotic realm. A figment of someone’s imagination. A corona of thin gray hair jut out in uneven tufts from its scaly green pate, shadowing the sunken black beads it called eyes. A pale yellow beak protruded from the bottom half of its face. The Assistant yelped. It knew this is who it was or what it had become, but it knew it had not always been this way.

“For how long have I appeared like this, Master?”

“Like that? I don’t really know. I just know that how we are now is not how we have always been. When I think about your last death, I remember amalgamations of teeth and wings plucking your carcass clean. The memory haunts me even now, but how you were is lost to me. A blur obscures your presence in my mind, and I'm sure your colorful recollections of my own repeat deaths will be no clearer beyond the facts of what happened.

The Assistant was troubled by this and visibly shuddered as the Master’s form suddenly became clear, as if for the first time. The Assistant then realized that it held onto something from a past life when it looked at the Master. This self-deception had been dispelled leaving the Assistant’s mind spinning. It began to hyperventilate, but then realized that it wasn’t even breathing, that breathing was a process foreign to the place they inhabited.

“What or where are we?” The Assistant asked.

“If I understand right, we’ve become thoughtforms trapped in the psychic maelstrom that dictates the goings on of the material world.”

“How long have we been here?”

“I have a vague recollection of ancient rituals that led to this subversion of normalcy, but it almost seems like a fabrication. A dream within a dream. My mind tells me it’s a deceit, but my heart knows better. Here, in the domain of gods, devils and things yet still more horrible, I know this place is not our home. As to how long we've been here… all I know is that it's been too long.”

The Assistant nodded, having realized the extent of their perpetuity in this place that was no place and everywhere at once.

"It's time, Assistant," said the Master. Then it produced an oddly shaped, shrunken hand. It was dessicated and waxy with a sickly yellow candle standing erect in its open palm.

"What in all the worlds is that thing?”

"A Hand of Glory, but I've also fashioned one for you,” said the Master who produced a second shrunken hand of strange proportions.

"Whose hands are these?” The Assistant asked nervously.

"They are our own. It wasn't easy gathering up our remains and repurposing them for this use, but in searching the fields of flesh, I knew with certainty which twisted forms were once ours. The broken bodies, called and begged to be used. I obliged.”

"What now?" The Assistant asked, holding the severed hand that had been prepared for it.

"We light the candles and walk the path back to the material world. These sleeping things that wait to be thought of will no longer imprison us here.”

“Who’s to say we won’t return to this place? What if the path just leads to more of the same?” The Assistant asked nervously.

“Inaction is in itself a choice. You can choose to take no action. To be hidden away in this hidey-hole until some nightmare creature finds you, or one of the gods makes you a puppet, but I won’t do it again. This is our only chance, and I’m taking it. I implore you to do the same.”

The Master concentrated all of its mental energy to produce a flame. It floated through the air like it was lost, but eventually settled on the candle’s wick. The room darkened and the Assistant found themselves suddenly paralyzed, unable to move or even blink.. A long black corridor appeared and the Master gave a final nod to the Assistant before stepping into that inky darkness. When the light from the candle could no longer be seen, the tunnel receded into nothing and the Assistant, alone now, was free of the candle’s power. It looked down at its own shrunken hand.

“I’ll be Assistant to no other creature in this world of dreams,” the Assistant said, willing a small flame onto their candlewick. Another dark tunnel opened up and the Assistant followed the path.


The doctor squeezed a dollop of cold gel onto Vanessa’s distended belly. Mark sat next to her with his eyes fixed on the screen. The wand beeped as it slid over her stomach and the inner architecture of Vanessa’s body was rendered in shifting patterns of black and white on the screen. Then suddenly, two small forms appeared in that darkness awaiting the freedom of life, and the promise of death.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
The Tower, Reversed

913 words

Prompt:she lives in a tottering tower, hand-built one floor at a time, each floor a testament to a stage in her life

There is a man outside my tower. A knight, perhaps. Some kind of highborn warrior at least. He came on horseback. He wears armor worth more than anything in the village except the mill. His shield is decorated with a  skull, white against a dark red background. I decide to let him in. Such men cause trouble when thwarted. But I am high in the tower,  many steps away from the doors. My bones and feet complain with every step. I've gotten used to ignoring them.

"Who comes?" I shout through the door. Solid, thick, carved from most of the trunk of a sapphire oak. The hard wood soaks up sound and sends it across on the other side, no softer, amplified if changed at all. The booming knocks cease.

"Wilys of the Red Field," was the response. "Who answers?"

Over the years I've collected enough names to fill our a choir. Elayne Tristophanes. The Seventh Lady Vertoth. Ulilly of the Heights. Chiropedae. Exhausting people to be. I picked a simpler one. "Esme of the Tower," I said. "I've never heard of Red Field. Is it a new holding?"

"A very old one," he said. "Will you let me in?"

"On what business?"

"Old business. Will you open the door?"

"I don't think I will," I said.

"I see," he said.

It happened quickly, almost too quickly for me to bring up a shield. The door exploded into splinters and sawdust, one splinter a touch faster than the shield, embedding itself in my face, just below my left eye. As the door's remains settled down and Wilys stepped in, I pulled it loose, feeling a fat red teardrop form where it had been.

"Word is," said Wilys, "That there is a beautiful young woman kept in the room with the highest window of this tower."

I looked at him, not sure if there was about to be violence. More violence. "It may be so," I said.

"Your daughter?"


"Granddaughter, then?"

"Are you here to rescue her?" I said. "Or present yourself as a suitor?"

"The rumors also speak of a monster," he said.

"A monster we have," I said. "Shall I show you?"

It was only one set of stairs, to one of the oldest parts of the tower. From before it was my own, before it was much of a tower at all. There was not much to the room but the landing between stairways and the black door. "Behind that door," I said.

Wilys reached for the doorknob. It did not turn or pull. "A false door?"

"The true one is behind it," I said. "I swore never to open it, once, but my oath doesn't bind you."

He traced the false door with his index finger. "This sounds like a trap," he said.

I laughed. Cackled, to be honest. I don't have any other laughs left, not here. "I thought so too."

He turned on me, hand on sheathed blade. "Explain yourself," he said.

"This was my first husband's room. Lord Vertoth. Green tower, green tooth, green truth. I was his seventh wife. He made me promise to never open the door, never enter that room, a room where he could not be disturbed by anyone or anything. I saw the trap. I slowly turned the masons to my side, waited until I knew he was within, and built this wall."

"When was this?" said Wylis of the Red Field.

"Seventy years ago," I said. "Give or take a few. By all rights he should be dead, and perhaps he is. But the way he spoke of it not even Death himself could get in other than by the door behind that wall."

"To seal a man away seems monstrous enough to me," he said.

"He killed six others," I said. "And not quickly or cleanly, as I've learned."

"Six who broke their vows," he said. "Some would call that justice."

"Some fools might," I said. "Some men might. He stole my childhood. From when I was first promised to when I was a marriageable age. Gone in an instant."

He turned away from me, back to the false door. He traced it again, and this time his finger cut through the stone. He stepped sideways as it fell to the ground, then kicked it aside like it was paper rather than obsidian. Then he worked the true door.

I edged up the stairs, away from the door. I only saw the beginning of the fight, the first tentative sword thrusts, Lord Vertoth transforming from human to dragon, breathing green flame that would have consumed me had I not been well up the stairs. Wilys's flesh melting in the fire, leaving clean bones that continued the fight, his sword now a menacing scythe. I did not watch further. I climbed stair after stair.

No matter how many levels I had the golem masons build, that room was always near the top of the Tower. I didn't go there often. I could only reach the threshold, see the sleeping child within. Until now. With the door open, with the room beyond in ruins, the way was clear. I stepped across and woke up.

I climbed down with a rope of my own making, stole the Reaper's horse and did not look back. Seven years I had, seven stolen years of your to live before I'll snap back to my true age and likely die. I mean to spend it well.

May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch
they see patterns in the smoke, possibilities, past and present and future all in the roiling haze, what do they do when the world is afire?

Ashen Lives
Words: 900

After performing his divination at the bordertown, Limmy the Smoke Speaker, again saw the end of his days. He had seen his death, his only death, since childhood. In his mother’s cookstove, in the Andrussian Festival bonfire, in the pyre the witch hunters had set for his mother. From smoke he beheld love, passion, and truth; thus, to fire he must eventually go.

But now his bones were brittle, and full of holes, as if moths had been living inside his skin his whole life. They may as well have been living in his heart too. Chains, no matter the length and sheen, are still chains.

“There will be a great conflagration,” Limmy said. A burnt skull sat in front of Limmy, and wisps of smoke drifted lazily from the eye sockets.

Limmy’s handler, a masked woman known only as the Master of Lies, nodded to the captain of the retinue. His armored retinue cheered and whooped. The villagers cast side glances and secretly gestured warding signs of the old gods. He had been told it was a skull of a duke’s son, or some such relation to the country the vanguard had been piercing. He sprinkled an ointment over his ritual circle, and the soldiers lined up to receive a blessing of the same.

“The seer has spoken! The Fire Who Leaps be praised! Prepare the forward camp!”

The convoy that carried the command tent hurriedly brought the fabrics and tentpoles to Limmy for blessing. It had been a habit one or two of the conscripts started, true devotees of the Fire Who Leaps. The success of the campaign had now converted hundreds more, and Limmy had found himself something of an apostle, garnering almost equal fervor as their beloved lord. And with that, scrutiny.

Each forward camp was a brick laid on a muddy road. To glory it led. But glory had no end for the Fire Who Leaps. The royal procession would catch up to Limmy and the vanguard, and once strategic plans would be laid, they would consult the Smoke Speaker again. It might be in a poor sod’s barn, it might be in a dilapidated watch tower still stinking with blood, but fate would choose tonight for the Fire Who Leaps.

In this village on the crest of a hill, Limmy could see the next city to be cleansed. In brilliant armor, the Fire Who Leaps strode into the camp, and locked eyes with Limmy. Bent and crooked now, Limmy had not always been so mismatched in stature. There had been a time when Limmy stared deep into the coals that were the conqueror’s eyes. He saw the smoke of the flames that burned in the lord’s heart. Limmy winced reflexively, despite the Fire Who Leaps making not a move. Limmy broke away first, and the Fire Who Leaps continued toward the command tent without saying a word. The Master of Lies followed, but kept her eyes to the Smoke Speaker.

The ignition was a simple affair. The longevity of his efforts was meticulous. The outcome was pre-ordained. The fire spread, devouring the supply line, leaping from cart to carriage, through the line of mounted knights and archers, through the forward camps and villages housing reinforcements. The flame would trace all the way back to Andruss, along every checkpoint and waystop they had allowed Limmy to perform his rituals.

The command tent expelled billowing clouds of smoke. The stars framed the plume, allowing him to see the beautiful silhouettes like a shadow puppet theater. There was laughing and crying. His mother was dancing, dying, old and happy. The Andrussian Festival ended with a stolen kiss, not premonitions of cremation. There was no witch pyre, but, there was again. A charlatan who was not his mother burnt to ashes and affected him differently. He was in a lavish spire, divining wheat harvests through censer fumes, his choices leading to famine in a neighboring kingdom. There was nothing but the void of infinite actions and inactions cascading and branching like a map of stars, with a hundred astrologers disagreeing on the constellations.

The Master of Lies dragged herself from the command tent. She was smoldering, her mask falling away from charred skin. The tent collapsed, and no one moved from inside.

“You did this,” she said.

“Blame fate. I have done nothing,” Limmy said.

“What of Andrussel, and those left behind,” the Master of Lies asked.

“What is a person to destiny? It will be as it always has been. They will suffer. They will prosper. Some will find joy; some will find despair. No one is burnt by the same fire twice.”

Limmy doused her with ointment, reigniting the vestments. The Master of Lies, still ablaze, lunged and embraced the Smoke Speaker. Limmy was not content, but he also was not disappointed. He did not struggle, and as his own robes flared up, he saw a life in which Andruss and the Fire Who Leaps chose someone else. A different life birthed from the agency of another. The flames grew around him and now the visions were gone. All that remained was a life of choices, his choices, and, in the finality of the flames did he truly know the measure of his mettle.

Apr 12, 2006
Subprompt: birds, whoever your old person is just loves 'em, knows all their songs, can whisper sweetly to 'em, just all birds all the time babyyyy

the kapua-man; or, don't gently caress with them birds
1200 words

The first invader I met was dragged to me by the moa. I guess because he was a human and they figured I'd know what to do with him. Dumb birds, they are. And quiet. So unlike the clever ʻapapane or the curious ʻiʻiwi. Still, I searched in my bag for the appropriate whistle.

"You tore him up with your claws," I said through the instrument. "He's dying. There's nothing I can do."

They stared at me. I shrugged. They kept staring. I said, "What do you want me to do?" They kept staring. Eventually, I hit him in the head with a rock and they wandered back into the jungle. It was only when I started washing his body for a burial that I realized he even was an invader. Underneath all the blood and the mud was mamo-yellow hair and pale skin, bleached like a washed-up shell. Very strange. Very different from the locals.

The second invader I met was also dragged to me by the moa. He was in equally bad shape so I hit him in the head with a rock, too.

"Wait," I said as they started to leave. "Where are you finding these men? They are unfamiliar to me."

Thinking they would actually be helpful, I followed them through the jungle but they were just looking for berries to eat.

After the third invader, I said to myself, gently caress it, I'm gonna find someone that will actually talk back to me. So I grabbed my ʻiʻiwi whistle and played a seductive love ballad until one landed on a nearby branch. She looked around, looked at me, and shook her head.

"Oh," she said, clearly disappointed. "It's just you, kapua-man."


"I thought you were a male looking to gently caress."

"Afraid not," I said. "Just looking for information."

She preened her red plumage with her long curved beak. "And what do I get in return?"

"You'll sate your curiosity."

"But I'm not curious?"

"Really?" I said, gesturing at the pale skinned corpse. "So you know about the men that look like this? You know what they want? Where they came from? Why they're here? Because I've never seen anyone like that on any of the islands. Never ever ever."

After a moment, she fluttered down to the man's chest. She hopped across him, peering this way and that. "Damnit," she chirped. "Now I am curious. Where'd you find him?"

"Moa dragged him here. Wouldn't say anything else, though."

"loving moa," she said. "I'll flock up. See what I can find out. Wouldn't mind a meal when I get back."

"Fair enough."

"Might be bringing some friends."

"I'm sure you will," I said.

She flew off and I rummaged for one of my plant whistles. Trickier to make since plants don't have bones but still doable if you're patient. Less fun to play, too, since plants, like the moa, rarely talk back. Still, it had been a while and the music is lovely in an old, nostalgic sort of way, reminds me of the time when the first birds were taking flight. I got so wrapped up in my grow-song that I was surrounded by great flowering stalks, plumeria and hibiscus and lehua, when she returned. It was enough to feast a hundred birds. Which was good because that was about how many came back with her. They descended hungrily on my flowers. Their singing filled the air all at once as they drank deep of the nectar.

"-bone men!- shell skin men!- boats!- many boats!- don't like the sun!- don't like the birds!- big boats!- big sails!- many sails!- hate the sun!- pinken in the sun!- red skin in the sun!- loud voices!- angry voices!- don't like the trees!- attack the trees!- attack the birds!- killed a moa!- stupid!- stupid!- killed an ʻelepaio!- stupid!- burned them!- ate them!- burned the trees!-"

"How many?" I asked, switching whistles.

"-many!- many!- many!- many!- many!- many!- many!- many!- many!-"

A foolish question. ʻIʻiwi couldn't count past about five. Almost as foolish as killing a moa. No wonder they were dragging bodies to me.

I looked for the female and leaned over the flower she was drinking from. "Where are they?"

She pulled out her beak. It was wet and shiny. "Mauka side. The big estuary."

"Appreciate it."

She went back to eating without a response. I kneeled beside the third invader's corpse and, with a sharp rock, carefully cut out one of his neck bones. I can understand every language of beast and plant but I can't speak them without assistance. I carved myself a new instrument. It was quick and sloppy but I figured if the invaders were killing birds indiscriminately then the jungle would be full of war-song by morning and I can't talk with ghosts -- nothing to make whistles out of.

I followed the river down to the coast. I smelled the invaders long before I saw them. Smoke and fire and sweat and roasted meat. A bit further and I heard them, the chopping of axes on trees, harsh voices filled with rough consonants. Finally, I saw them. Couple dozen. I stepped out of the jungle and gave my new whistle a toot.


They stopped in place and stared at me.

"Ah, poo poo," I said, mostly to myself. "Sorry. This was sloppy craftsmanship."

I gave it a couple of blows, finding the right pitch.

"Heya," I said again.

Well, turns out, they weren't that friendly. They pointed weapons at me and shouted and tied me up and tried to interrogate me but I couldn't talk back without my whistle. Their leader went on and on about how they were sent here by "God" to bring "civilization" to the "savage lands." Also, that the only things that should have wings were "angels." Just a lot of nonsense. I would have liked to explain that they were pretty far off base, that I'd been around for a long time and had never heard of their God or their angels, and that they shouldn't have hosed with them birds and that they definitely should get back into their boats and go the gently caress home but… you know, hands tied, no whistle, yadda yadda.

Then those fuckers tried to stab me!

So I turned into a coconut and I rolled into the ocean and I waited for the war-song. A little before sunrise, the moa came. And that was that. After the slaughter, I turned back into a man and swam to shore.

The moa were already dragging the survivors towards my home. I blew sand out of the appropriate whistle.

"Ay, ay, ay," I said. "I'm right here. Chill."

They started dragging them to my feet.

"I don't- I don't why you're doing this," I said. "You know I'm just gonna hit them all in the head with a rock. You can finish them off yourselves. I am a super unnecessary part of this."

But they just kept piling the bodies up in front of me.

"Will you at least go tell the locals there's some stuff here they might like?"

Shockingly, no response.

I sighed and started looking for a rock

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

I am judge

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


headmaster of a school for assassins finds themselves called back in for one last job

Never Grow Old
1199 Words

When traveling to the Kingdom of Azoria, if you ask the owner of the cheese shop about ‘the call of the raven’, they will take you to a place known to few and seen by fewer. Deep down in the depths of the Kingdom is an institution known as the Raven’s Call, an area where brave men and women are trained in the arts of assassination. While they live in Azoria, they are loyal to no Crown. The founder and current head is a man by the name of Sean Dalton, who at one time was known as The Raven. His days of assassination have long been gone, so he started the organization to train the assassins of tomorrow, giving them tasks that others bring to him for the right price.

One day, Sean was in the chamber where he usually meets with his top assassins, when he hears a voice he hasn’t heard in years.

“Hello, Sean.”

While the voice obviously withered with age, it reminded Sean of a choice he made long ago. While he doesn’t regret his choice, he always wondered what could have been. The voice belonged to the choice he didn’t make.

“Rebecca,” said Sean. It has been years since he had seen her last. “How long has it been?”

“Too drat long,” said Rebecca. “What the hell happened to you?”

“I grew old,” mused Sean. Sure, it happens to everyone, but that doesn’t stop from making it more painful. “Cut to the chase, lass. I doubt you wanted to simply reminisce of our time at The Order.”

Rebecca placed a calm hand on Sean’s shoulder. “It’s Maxie. Turns out he betrayed The Order.” Maxwell Shaw was a friend of Sean and Rebecca. They all served the Royal Order of Assassins in the Kingdom of Alar. But their King’s paranoia got the best of him, and The Order had to disband, but not necessarily by choice. Many of The Order were killed, including the one who trained them, the previous Raven. It was at this moment that Sean learned not to be bound by King and Country.

Rebecca continued on, she investigated why the king of Alar grew paranoid, and her investigation led to Maxwell. It was he that instilled a sense of fear into the King.

“And that’s not all,” Rebecca added. “There’s a new King in Alar, and it’s Maxie.” Turns out later, Maxwell killed the King and became King himself, even though there was an heir. “I decided to turn to the only one who could help me.”

Sean was appalled at what he heard. Maxwell was considered a true friend! And he would have the gall to kill the King of Alar, after convincing him that The Order cannot be trusted? The balls of this man! Rebecca asked if he was going to send one of his students to take care of Maxwell.

“No. You know as drat well as I do, if anyone is going to finish this, it has to be me.” Rebecca smiles. Sean wrote a note to his students, and then he and Rebecca flew giant ravens to Alar.

Alar was a ways away from Azoria, and while the advent of flight made travel much faster, it was still a ways to their destination. While they were traveling, Sean and Rebecca discussed their plan. During Rebecca’s investigation, she found out that the rightful heir to the Alaran throne still lived. She would find him, help him gather an army and storm Alar castle. Meanwhile, in the chaos, Sean would confront Maxwell, and kill him. The plan seemed quite simple on paper, but paper can only tell so much. It was action that told the rest. When they finally reached Alar, they went to the place that, according to Rebecca, the heir still lived.
They landed their ravens near an old, shackled cottage. Entering they asked if anyone was there, and an old voice was heard.
“Who’s there? In the name of the rightful king, show yourself!” An old man in royal Alaran uniform comes out, sword in hand. It was one that Sean and Rebecca knew quite well.

“Hello Gus,” said Sean. Gus rubs his eyes, as if he couldn’t believe what he could see.

“Well, I’ll be! Sean! Rebecca!” Gus was a member of the Alaran Royal Guard, who answered only to the King. What the Order did in private, the Royal Guard did in public. Gus gestured to a table and told his guests to sit down. Sean and Rebecca told why they were here, and Gus told them of what was happening in Alar as of late.

“Things have gotten much worse under King Maxwell. A bloody tyrant he is!” Gus explained further, mentioning how Maxwell being a ‘bloody tyrant’ was both figurative and very literal. The people suffered under his rule, and cried for freedom. Sean asks if anything is being done about that.

“Funny you should mention that,” said Gus. “Follow me!” Gus took them to a secret passage under the cottage. Inside, there were many soldiers doing drills of all kinds. “Welcome to the Revolution!” said Gus. He took Sean and Rebecca further down to a room similar to the meeting room at the Call. It was there that a man that appeared to be in his thirties was sitting. When they came to this man, Gus kneeled down.

“Welcome, friends! I am Prince Felippe.” He was the heir that Rebecca mentioned! When hearing Felippe speak, it was clear that he was the rightful king. Sean and Rebecca told Felippe of their history with the current King, and their plan to take care of him. “Well then,” said Felippe, “I suppose the time has finally come!” Felippe explained that they were looking for an opportunity to strike the castle, and Sean and Rebecca provided them one. Felippe gathered his army, and they discussed their plans, which were carried out the next day.

When the day finally came, Rebecca and the Revolutionary army marched towards the castle, while Sean sneaked inside. He remembered the ins and outs of the castle and was able to reach the throne room quite quickly. Before he went there, however, he waited until there were sounds of an uprising to be heard. When the sounds came, Sean raced to the throne room. He entered it to see that no one was there. Sean then felt a gun on his head.
“I was wondering when you were going to show up, ‘old friend’.” It was Maxwell. He explained how he knew that Sean would eventually come for him. Sean asked why he betrayed The Order. “Power, of course! What else?” Sean knew he was hiding something, but didn’t know what, nor did he care. Quickly, Sean stood up, with a gun of his own. “Well?” Said Maxwell. “What are you waiting for?” They both fired their guns.

Afterwards, the Revolutionary Army stormed the throne room. They cheered after seeing Maxwell dead, but the cheers faded after seeing Sean hobbling away, obviously hurt. Sean headed toward Felippe, and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Word of advice, your majesty. Never grow old.”

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

A Campfire Tale
862 words

Why, hello there, young one. How does the evening find you? Is the stew sitting well? Good, good. No lute, I see, so you're not here for music... ah, you'd like a story? Very well. How about a story about you?

Don't feign indignation, now. I've seen how little interest you've taken in this expedition, and I can't imagine two days in these dreary swamps has kindled your imagination. Anything I could tell you about the local fauna would be put to use making my corpse look more convincingly savaged. Do you think I've never seen a young one like you fishing for material before?

The daggers in your sleeves aren't as well hidden as you think. Is that a spring rig? Very clever. Very conspicuous. Have you used them before? Yes, I thought not. You can try your luck, if you like, or you can sit down and listen to my story.

Good. Good boy.

You were a foundling, weren't you? Abandoned at a church, wrapped in rags but bright-eyed and well-fed? Maybe your parents just don't remember your birth, but there you were one day, a perfect child. A miracle, surely, and your parents never questioned it. They were older, I would guess. Childless a long time, or their other children were dead or disappointing. You were an answered prayer.

Then you grew up fast, too fast. How much of your childhood do you really remember? Not enough, I'd wager -- not that anyone noticed you'd gone from babe in arms to strong young man in three or four years. Your parents were old enough that the illusion still held, didn't it? Nothing to question. Then you started to hear the music, the sound of the celestial spheres, and you left your cuckoo's nest to see the world. Sing the songs. Bring joy. Find your kin, sing together, and then kill them.

This is the part of your story that's less clear to me. Why do you bright-eyed young bards always hunt each other down? I'd wager you can't tell me -- I was supposed to be your first, wasn't I? -- but I'd love to know what's driving you on. Is it jealousy? You all have divine voices, of course, but even the divine isn't all equal. Or is it some animal urge: defense of territory, perhaps? Establishment of dominance? Mating, gods help us? Do you take trophies from each other? Do you eat each other? There's so much I've always wondered, but none of the bards who've come to kill me have deigned to tell me, or to have much of a conversation at all. You're very patient, young one. Very polite.

You don't need to stare like that, you know. You haven't figured it out yet? I'm not one of you. I'm a bard by skill, not by birth. I was nobody's miracle, and I've never heard the Great Celestial Song. Learned the lute and pipe in my winters on the farm, then the blade for a living when the harvests failed, and then the stories on the road. I'd have thought you'd know it from my voice. Aren't many of you who get as old as I am, but their voices don't age with their bodies. You wouldn't know, though, would you? If you'd seen one, they'd have gutted you before you'd even sat down by the fire. They're a hungry lot, old bards.

"Fraud?" Of all the times to speak, you choose now, and it's to call me a fraud? I've been a liar in my time, and a cheat, but all my work is honest. You and yours are conduits of joy, but that's all you are -- no more authors of your songs than the riverbed is the maker of water. What little I've made in this world is mine. I've got two verses of "The Elf-Lord and the Dowager" in circulation now. A funerary song for an old friend, thirty years ago, that they still sing all down the western coast. Not much of a legacy, but every bit honest. As for the rest... wherever you got the silver sword on your hip and those daggers up your sleeves, they're unblooded. My blade's older than any of your living kin, and it's been more than enough against a dozen of your brothers and sisters who thought I would be an easy target. Oh, don't you dare look so shocked! Haven't you been listening? Are you as slow as all that, young bright-eyes?

You've got two options. If you still want to kill me, then get on with it. I'll tell the rest of the expedition you died a hero. If you'd rather live to see the end of this journey, though, set your weapons down and start talking. You've got to have a story of your own somewhere in that bright shining head, don't you? Tell me where you came from. Tell me about that silver sword. Tell me what the Heavens sound like. Give me a reason to keep you alive, and I'll teach you how to live through a few more years and a few more siblings.

Well? Speak up, boy. I'm waiting.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yoruichi posted:

I am judge

yeah me too, let's kiwi up the place for a change

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
prompt: dig dig dig, there's no digger bigger, if you want a hole, this oldie's the soul (you need)

1200 words

They used to let me teach the young ones, but then the young ones went funny: eyes like bulbous white mushroom caps, noses upturned with flared nostrils like the mouths of caves. Everyone stopped talking about escaping Oubliette.

This is a gift from Roshu, they say now. This is a sign that our atonement is working. Our strange, beautiful children will walk with the gods again soon.

Except our strange beautiful children are adapting to caves, to the dim blue glow of lichen and mushroom, to narrow passages stooped postures. They can smell water from ten caverns away—what use do they have for the world of the gods?

I live in a small grotto carved by a long-dead stream. They don’t let me teach the young ones anymore. Not since they went funny. Not since I forgot which was up and which was down.

I told the children one day—I told them Roshu cast us up into Oubliette. Up, not down. A simple slip of an old woman’s tongue. Roshu cast us down, of course. The children already knew that. They corrected me, I laughed, and that might’ve been the end of it, except Dima Abergne happened to be passing by my grotto.

She had words with me after the children left.

Up is the gods. Up is light, truth, memory, and redemption. Down is Oubliette—the caves, the sin, the darkness, the humanity. I promised Dima Abergne I’d remember these things, but she took the children away from me anyway. I remember when she was born. I remember her wailing echoed through the caves for hours after her mother sung her to sleep.

My first memory is of the fall that broke my legs. The Dima says I was present for the expulsion of humanity from the world of the gods, that my legs were broken when Roshu cast us down. But I remember climbing up. My mother was there—her voice urgent, words indistinct after so much time. I remember trying to heed her words, whatever they’d been. And then I fell. It was the last wind I ever felt against my skin.

There was pain, and then the rest of my life happened. No more mother, no more upward climbs. Teaching the young ones helped distract from the residual trauma, but now that’s gone, too. It’s just me in my grotto, propped against the wall with my legs splayed out like two withered roots.

The young ones come by sometimes, look at me with those bulging white mushroom cap eyes. I smile at them and they dart away. After all, I’m the strange one. The one who can’t remember the difference between up and down. The one who said Roshu cast us up into Oubliette.

The adults whose duty it is to feed and clean me no longer speak when they come to my grotto. They all quietly wish I would just die. I’m the only living link to the world above, to whatever sin caused Roshu to cast us down.

I remember climbing upward with my mother, but I need to remember it as falling down. I remember falling into darkness, but only after I’d tried and failed to climb. I remember the smell of my own blood in the air, knives of stone in my skin. But I can’t remember that up is up and down is down.

They don’t let me teach the little ones anymore, so I wait until the others are asleep and drag myself out of the grotto.

It’s been so long since I’ve been in the larger cave that serves as our village square. I smell fresh picked mushrooms and human waste. High overhead, the cave ceiling is thick with glowing lichen and fungus, bright enough to make me squint after so long in the relative darkness of my grotto.

My arms are still strong. I’ve seen to that. There’s little to do in the grotto except think, exercise, remember, and forget. I drag myself across the main cave, into a tertiary side passage that no one uses. As I progress, the passage narrows until it's just big enough to accommodate my body.

I arrive at the reason for this passage’s disuse: a sudden drop that I feel more than I see. The passage opens up onto a chasm whose dimensions I can’t even guess. High overhead, I see the glowing fungus clinging to the roof of this vast cave. That roof goes on and on, described in the glow of millions of fungal caps, extending well beyond my fading line of sight.

I need to know that down is down, that the bottom of Oubliette is the bottom of the world. I need to know there’s nothing to climb down to.

I roll onto my back, reach up, and grip the top of the opening with both hands. I pull myself out over the chasm, supporting the dead weight of my body with my strong fingers. And then I begin the long, agonizing climb down.

As I lower myself hand over hand, I hear things. The soft pat of flesh on stone, the puff of small bodies breathing. I can smell them more than I can see them: the strange children with their huge eyes and flared noses and thick fingers made for climbing.

And when I miss my handhold, when I make the small, critical mistake that should send me plummeting to the bottom of the world, small hands find me in the darkness, steady me. And then the children and I continue the climb down together.

When we reach the bottom, I slump onto the floor like a length of rope, my legs folding under me at weird angles until the children prop me up against the chasm wall.

The blackness here at the bottom of the world is absolute. I hear the children clustered around me, their bare feet crunching on shards of broken stone. They don’t feel it; their skin is thick enough for Oubliette.

And then I see it: a hair-thin strip of light the width of an adult's extended arm. Not the pale blue of the mushrooms and lichen, but true yellow light of the kind that exists only in my most primordial memories. My heart pounds dangerously in my chest.

Up is light. Up is Roshu and his court. And yet here at the bottom of everything is light of a kind that by its nature can’t exist in Oubliette.

“It’s too bright,” one of the children complains, and the others agree.

I drag myself across the chips of stone, ignoring the pain in the front of my body. The strip of light is coming from the seam between the stone floor and a door—the first door I’ve touched since humanity was cast into Oubliette. I caress it with my fingers, rest my shoulder and cheek against the cool metal.

The doorknob is rusted in place, because of course it is. Of course it is. But we’ve found the light of Roshu at the bottom of the world, and now these strange, beautiful children can decide for themselves the meaning of up and down.

yeah ok ok yeah
May 2, 2016

Week 494: I'm Too Old For This poo poo
Sub-prompt: the world is changing, a new era is fast dawning, and an old legend and/or monster has found themselves being left behind, but they're not going out quietly

The Longhunters

The old man entered the inn, stooping as he went. Behind, a half dozen children followed. The innkeeper greeted him with a pint. A few regulars nodded in his direction as he took a seat. He cleared his throat and blew off the foam, settling in. The children gathered around, elbowing for a closer position. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the first sip of his beer, savoring it as long as the children would allow.

"Old man, tell us a story!"

"Yes, please, Collom, sir!"

"Tell us!"

Old Collom open a single eye and peered expectantly.

"Something scary–the Fangerhorn in Ash Copse!"

"No, the Maidens of Glen Wedell!"

"Tell us about the Last Giant!"

"Yes, the Last Giant, Mr. Collom! Please!"

At this, Old Collom clear his throat and set down his drink.

"Oh, aye, certainly," he said, "Fond of that one I am. Though that name's a bit presumptive. Too much finality to it. Becomes a foolish name if a new giant were to pop up suddenly, no? A better name for the story, and the one I use when I do the tellin', is 'The Furtive Giant'. And it's an appropriate name for more than one reason. The first being that it describes the nature of the giant. You've heard stories of wrathful or jolly giants, of those with names like Earthrender or Cloud-Eater, yes? There are indeed giants of a shier nature, and this story features such a one. And secondly, the longhunters of old use this title, so why shouldn't I?"

Collom paused and took a long drink.

"Now, furtive he was, this giant. Shy. Kept to himself, away from settlements, and avoided company of other giants. Yet known he was, for a being that size cannot erase all trace of itself. Not from a skilled tracker, and especially not from a longhunter. Perhaps from the lord's men, yes. Dullards, those knights. They never found him."

"Me gran says they're monsters what fall from the sky, made of cloud and stardust," said one of the children.

"Nay, not from the sky. Born as we are, flesh and blood. Birthed from giant women, they are. The longhunters killed them first. Them and their children. All flesh and blood. And bone. If you've even been north to the Cairngorms, you've assuredly seen their skeletons. Inhabited, they are. Ribcages host vast markets. Skulls used as manors by the wealthy. Clunie's been there, he can confirm."

A man eating peanuts nodded.

"Yes, flesh and blood. For if they were anything else, there'd be nothing to stop them from wiping an entire village off the map in a single afternoon. Nothing to stop them from trampling a castle in a day. Fortunately for us all, the longhunters were enough and they've been driven away."

"How did the longhunters kill it?"

"Same way they killed the others: preparation and teamwork. It was finding him that was the problem--indeed, it was quite by accident. News of the giant's possible location first came as a rumour. Longhunters were at the inn in Braidwort out on the coast, when a drunk had come in raving. He spoke of a hill that had grown from no where, disappearing a whole section of the northern forests, and rising above the treetops. And falling. And rising. And falling!"

"That doesn't make no sense!"

"It does when you realize that the hill was breathing, because it weren't no hill. The longhunters twigged to it rather quickly, and mobilized. There was only a dozen of them, the longhunters, for as there was fewer giants there was less of a need for'em . They knew not when the slumbering giant might wake, so they acted quickly, dividing into different attack groups. Now with them they had been carting a single ballista and they hauled it through the woods as fast the could carry it, three of'em. They found the Hill That Breathed and a careful survey was made. When at last they believed themselves to have found the heart, they assembled their ballista. Only they did it straight up and down! They intended to pierce the giant's heart--and if successful they'd end it there and then!

"But their aim was off. The bolt struck deep, but missed the heart. The giant was up in a flash, the longhunters tumbled down. One of'em fell at a nasty angle and broke his neck, died instantly. The others were out of the race, for their horses were lost under dirt and stone. The giant was off anyways, striding towards the mountains.

"The longhunters had guessed this, though. The giant knew that if he could clamber over the mountains, none could follow. So they laid a trap: long metal spikes, spread out where a giant might step to avoid rocks or trees. Be like stepping on a nail!"

"Cowtrops," a tired-looking man said.

"What's that?"

"They's called cowtrops."

"No, they're not."

"They's is. On account of them being caltrops the length of a cow."

"Nonsense, not a single longhunter ever call them that in jest or otherwise. They're called Dragon's Teeth, and anyways, I'll tell the story. They worked, is the point. The longhunter's knew their craft. The giant stepped on several and came crashing down. Waiting on horseback where the giant's head was projected to land were four of the longhunters, armed with lances. Long ones, as you know, longer than those used in jousting. When rushing a fallen giant, a longhunter needs to be careful to prick the lance where it matters most. Here being the throat, the eyes, or right up the nose. That last one is most effective, for if correctly done it'll pierce straight to the brain.
"Now, here's where things went wrong. The fall didn't stun the giant for long. His arms lashed out in fear, striking at the charging lances. Three of the four fell, and two other hunters, those that set the spikes, also died by the way he kicked his legs. Yes, only one lance remained. One chance to kill the giant."

Old Collom leaned back and coughed. The silence went on until one of the patrons took the hint and bought him another drink.

"Yes, only one longhunter was left to strike the killing blow. He struck true, square in the giant's eye. Though not deep enough, for the giant was twisting his head as he thrashed about. The longhunter was thrown from his horse, the landing stunned him. When he came to, the giant was gone. The blood led back towards the ocean. The remaining longhunters heard from observers that the giant was last seen sinking beneath the depths and that he never came up again.

"It's been twenty odd years since that day. And yes, there's been no word of this supposed last giant. Still, no body ever surfaced, and so no definitive proof of the kill exists. It could be that he was indeed the last. But a longhunter isn't so easily satisfied. They still roam the lands, just in case. Listening for news of giants. And they'll continue to wander until their own ends. Or until a giant kills them.

"Whichever come first."

yeah ok ok yeah
May 2, 2016

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

(unrelated: US timezones confuse me and I think I hosed up and picked the wrong one – I'm going to give a grace period of 6ish hours on submissions for this one, so we don't catch out people accustomed to TD running in PST)

Ahhh holy poo poo, thank goodness. It only took two prompts for me to just assume they would ALWAYS be due in PST and my eyes just glossed over the due date. :negcycle:

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

is there anything tea CAN'T do? If anybody would know it's this oldie, they're a renowned expert, but can their deep knowledge and love of tea defeat the dragon/end a war/save the world etc?

Fire and Leaves 1197 words

You were asleep when I arrived. You nap a lot, these days. At least you’re still lucid when you’re awake, though. Before she died, Granny was kind of… I dunno, she didn’t really remember anything about anything, most of the time.

“Wake up, Pop Pop!” I said.

You tried to act grumpy, but you’re just no good at it. “Morning, Gemma. Why did I ever give you a key?”

“Pfft,” I said. “You’d be bored without my regular home invasions. Also, it’s afternoon.”

I put the kettle on for you, because I know tea drinking is your love language.

“You remember how to make it?” you asked.

“Of course. No milk, and no sugar, you’re sweet enough already.”

“Exactly. If I leave behind a grand daughter who can make a decent cup of tea, I will have achieved everything an old man can hope for.”

I laughed, although sometimes I get nervous when you talk about – or hint at – death.

“I think I still need some practice,” I said, “so you’re not allowed to leave me yet.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” you said.

And then we sat and drank tea, (“Almost perfect,” you said, “but obviously you’ll still need to keep coming over for practice.”) and you asked me how work was going.

“We’ve actually been closed for a couple of weeks,” I said. “There’s been rumblings from the volcano, and it’s spooked the horses.”

“Ah,” you said, and, “The volcano, ey?” and, “Hmmmm.” And then we finished our tea, and you got up and said, “Right, time for a walk.”

“Are you sure you should be-” I started to say, which I knew almost immediately was a bad question, so I was already shutting up when you replied.

“I’m old,” you said, “not dead. My legs still work fine.”

“All right,” I said. “Where are we going?”

“To the volcano, to sort this out,” you said. “Pack the tea.” And I put the tea leaves in my backpack, but when I went to grab the teacups, you said, “don’t worry about that, just grab the kettle and put in some fresh water. And don’t worry about heating it up.”

I put some fruit and crackers in the backpack, and hung the kettle off the back of it, and off we went.


We chatted about mundane things as we walked, but apparently a long walk was an excuse to ambush me with That Question while I couldn’t really escape.

“So, when are you going to find yourself a nice man?” you asked. A lot of people seem to ask me that these days, but I guess you can have a free pass purely because of the impending mortality thing.

“Or woman,” I said, and you didn’t respond for a bit.

“Or woman?” you asked, and I shrugged.


“What about children, then?”

“Guess I can start worrying about that if it ever comes to it,” I said.

“Mmm,” you said, and there was silence for a while, then, “You know, there are potions you can take.”

“They’re expensive,” I said. “But yes, that would be an option.”

After a while, you asked, “So which of you would wear the dress?”

I laughed. “I only said maybe, and I don’t even have someone. But man, woman, or whatever, I’m definitely wearing a dress.”


I’d never been up to the volcano, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All right, that’s not entirely true, I had a number of very clear expectations in my head. None of them involved a house. You firmly grasped the knocker and gave several raps.

“What kind of person lives this close to a volcano?” I asked.

“An old friend.”

“Seems like there’s no one coming.”

You shook your head and knocked again. “It’s been a while; they’re probably just not expecting anyone.”

And the door opened. The man who opened the door looked as old as you, but I can’t explain how I could tell, because he was made of fire. Like. Not made of fire, that’s not really… I mean you know, you’ve known him longer than I have. It’s like he was a person, but he was also fire. It was in his hair, in his veins, and when he saw you and his face lit up, it was in his eyes and his smile.

“Laurie,” he said, “I almost thought you’d forgotten me!” And I guess I knew your name was Laurie, but it was still weird to hear someone call you.

“Of course not,” you said. “Gemma, this is Ignatius, the Lord of Fire and Subduer of the Volcano. Iggy, this is my granddaughter, Gemma.”

“Pleased to meet you,” I said, “Ignatius, the Lord of-”

“Please,” he said, “call me Iggy,” and he stuck out a hand.

I looked at you. “Go on,” you said, “he won’t burn you.” I shook his hand. It was warm, and felt like fire, but like you said, it somehow didn’t burn me.


You shrugged.

“I don’t burn my friends,” he said.

“We brought the kettle,” you said. “Gemma here makes a near perfect cup of tea.”

He smiled and nodded, put some teacups out, and the two of you sat down. I looked around for a stove.

“Oh,” he said, “allow me,” and he stretched out a hand. I held the kettle out to him, and he grasped the base of it with his hand until the spout started to steam.

“So, what brings the two of you all the way up here?”

“I’m hearing the volcano’s a little restless,” you said.

“Ah yes,” he said. “It’s Amber. She’s expecting.”

“Really?” I asked. “Does the volcano do this every time you have a baby?”

He shrugged. “It’s not that often. Last time was… how long ago?”

You chuckled. “Forgetting your own son’s age?”

“Shh!” he said.

“Don’t worry,” you said, “I won’t tell. But you were just a little baby at the time,” you told me.

“Ah, that’s why I don’t remember it.”

“Hey Dad,” came a voice, followed by, “Oh!”

We turned. “Ah yes,” said Ignatius. “Sorry, I should’ve introduced you earlier. Gemma, Laurie, this is my son, Aiden. Aiden, these is my friend Laurie and his granddaughter, Gemma.”

Aiden looked like a much younger version of his father; every part of him was fire. He held up a hand in greeting. “Nice to meet you. I don’t generally get to meet dad’s friends.”

Ignatius shrugged. “It’s a long walk up, and I guess I’ve been busy raising a son. Laurie here helped deliver you, back in the day.”

“I don’t know about deliver,” you said.

“Don’t let him fool you,” said Ignatius. “His tea works wonders.”

“Well,” you said, “I’m a bit too old to keep making the trek this time. It’ll have to be Gemma.”

“What?” I asked.

You smiled. “Just keep coming up here and making tea the way I taught, until the baby’s delivered. Everything will be all right.”

Aiden smiled. “I guess I’ll get to know you better over the next few months.” And you wiggled your eyebrows at me suggestively, which I chose to ignore.

He was pretty cute, though.

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


Lemme tell you about this sweet old man, he is so NICE, he's got a lovely crooked smile, and a hat, and a silver tongue, and there is a gleam in his eye that tells you he is absolutely up to no good.

A First And A Final Adventure
1150 words

‘And what,’ Hawthorn said, holding the bundle at arm’s length, ‘am I to do with this?’

Rilena rolled her eyes. ‘We spoke about this, da,’ she said. ‘Remember? We’re off to slay a dragon in Dreadmont, and you were going to look after Teak.’

Tod shifted uncomfortably and leaned closer to Rilena. ‘I told you, Ri,’ he murmured, ‘my parents would be happy to have him—it’s only a day’s ride, and they won’t fill his head with—stories—’

Rilena ignored her husband and reached into her bag, retrieving bundles of extra nappies and milkskins and a much-loved fabric goblin. ‘We’ll be back soon,’ she said, planting a kiss on the old man’s cheek before leaving arm-in-arm with Embrin, still protesting against the decision.

Hawthorn looked at Teak, in an adventure of his own trying to eat his foot, and frowned at Tod’s departing back. ‘Dreadmont,’ he mused, running a hand over his beard. ‘The stories I could tell about Dreadmont! But—your father doesn’t seem to like it when I tell you stories, young man, and we mustn’t upset him.’

Teak hugged the goblin close and looked up, his tiny mouth mirroring the smile that slowly spread over Hawthorn’s face.

‘That’s right,’ Hawthorn said, and stood to collect his hat from the rack. ‘Your father said nothing against showing you.’


Rather than follow Rilena, they turned instead for the village—through its cobblestone streets and thatched houses; past the redstone buildings that marked their assimilation into the Sed Empire; through a warren of tight alleyways, bracketed by brothels and smokehouses which still accepted the old coin; emerging in the sea-side markets, where traders from Roth’tai packed up their stalls in the mid-morning heat and called out to one another in sea-tongue.

‘Ahoy,’ Hawthorn called, waving a hand at the most severe fisherman he could spot, his dark skin covered in the tattoos of a freed pit-fighter. ‘Any fish left for an old man and his kin?’

The man glared and spat something back in response, and the men around him laughed. As Hawthorn approached, the man lifted his hand to wave him away, before his eyes widened and his mouth opened in shock.

Aloth al-mazar!’ he gasped, and the other men turned to face Hawthorn.

‘That means “friend of the fish”,’ Hawthorn told Teak, looking down to face the child, ‘in the old tongue of prophecy.’

‘Beloved friend,’ the man said. ‘For you, I offer my lunch—’

‘And mine,’ said another beside him, beginning a chorus of assent.

Hawthorn waved his hand. ‘I seek passage,’ he said. ‘Across the Dynthrium sea.’

The first man’s eyes widened, and there was a hushed murmuration among the fisherman before the eldest stepped forward, a wizened man preserved by the sea air as salt carries trout through long winters. ‘I would be glad to take you,’ he said, resting a hand upon his cane, ‘old friend.’


Together, the three set forth, and spent three days and two nights fighting the waves, a kraken, and the occasional bout of seasickness.

One night, they sat together in the cabin, the older men passing a wineskin back and forth while the younger groped at shadows cast by the lantern.

‘You’ve changed,’ the fisherman continued, leaning back in his chair. ‘You don’t stand quite as tall. And your sea-legs left long ago. I almost didn’t recognise you. But,’ he waved over to Teak, ‘I saw her in that child. She walks with you still, aloth.’

Hawthorn said nothing, only reached for the wineskin and took a swig, as the ship pressed forward into the night.


From the shore, they joined a theatre troupe travelling northward, through the verdant forests of Nayana where the wood elves sold jewel-encrusted daggers for songs of foreign lands. Hawthorn rode with his cloak open to reveal the dagger he’d once earned for a particularly bawdy tune, and when they parted from the troupe and turned their path north toward the peaks of Dreadmont, Hawthorn sung to liven the mood and Teak giggled in response, waving his goblin to the melody.

As they rode, the forest thinned and bare trees rose from the ground in skeletal salute, and Hawthorn sung louder against the gloom, and Teak swung his goblin all the more wildly.

It wasn’t until they’d broken free of the dead forest that Hawthorn realised the goblin had been dropped.

He looked ahead to Dreadmont, shimmering in the heat radiating from its volcanic base; and he looked back, to the charnel forest fading into evening.

‘Come on,’ he murmured, turning his horse around to re-enter the woods, ‘we leave no adventurers behind.’

They’d made it barely thirty paces when Hawthorn heard the approaching paws, smelled the blood on their breath. Bonehounds. He reached for the dagger, his other arm cradling Teak, as the skeletal beasts circled. When one grew near, it pounced, and Hawthorn swung wildly—

Obliteratus!’ a voice rang out, and the bonehound shattered in mid-air. Hawthorn looked back, to see the witch Meralda emerging from the darkness behind him.

The remaining bonehounds melted back into the darkness, and the witch strode forward.

‘It’s been too long, Meralda,’ Hawthorn smiled.

The witch glared at Hawthorn, and spat a curse. ‘Her sacrifice bought your life. You repay her by bringing her blood to this place?’

‘I heard tell,’ Hawthorn said, ‘the dragon’s returned.’

The witch scoffed, and waved a hand toward the mountains. ‘He’s old, Hawthorn. He’s returned here to die. If you’re after vengeance, it belongs to the hand that claims us all. Go home and think no more of it.’

‘He doesn’t deserve to die in comfort,’ Hawthorn snarled.

‘Oh, for Empress’ sake,’ the witch sighed. ‘You’re the both of you as bad as the other.’

Hawthorn stilled. ‘How do you mean?’

‘Didn’t you find it odd,’ she said, cocking her head, ‘that the contract for a dragon slaying in Dreadmont went to two young adventurers from the sleepy village of Rifike? It was his idea — to die not asleep a hoard of spoils, but in the glory of battle, against the closest match he could find to the one warrior he always remembered.’

‘Even if,’ she continued, looking Hawthorn over, ‘her partner was some insufferable wretch who thought only of himself, until it was too late.’

Hawthorn frowned, and looked back to Dreadmont. ‘If this is some trick—if I lose another love to that beast—’

‘Have some faith in your daughter,’ Meralda smiled. ‘She’s the best of both of you, and her taste in men isn’t so bad as you think. They’ll come back together. No, there’s another battle you should worry about.’

She pulled the goblin from a bag slung over her shoulder, and passed it to Teak, who took it greedily and held it tight. ‘Perhaps next time you go on some fool adventure you don’t take the baby monitor with you, hm?’

Mar 21, 2010
:siren: Submissions are closed. :siren:


Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Interprompt: write about a baby in everyday, mundane reality, 500 words.

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