300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- VICTORY TO SPRINGS

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Ursa major

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THE CHALLENGE:



To write a story in 300 words or less



INSPIRED by the image provided below, and in the genre of

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


Only one entry per person



All stories Copyright 2013 by their respective authors, who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here







This thread will be closed until April 10




-- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story







Entries must be posted no later than April 30, 2013



at 11:59 pm GMT







Voting will close May 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm GMT




(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)



You do not have to enter a story to vote. In fact, we encourage ALL Chronicles members to read the stories and vote for their favorites.




You may cast three votes


For a further explanation of the rules see Rules for the Writing Challenges


The inspiration image for this month is:

 
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Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Fun in the sun

“Have you got the map?”

A scroll of aged yellowy parchment was immediately thrust forwards from beneath the cowed minion’s voluminous robe.

The Dark Lord unrolled the map with a flourish, peering myopically at it. “So where is the conference destination this year?”

The cowed minion’s trembling finger appeared from below the table and tapped rapidly.

“Alcvezar? Who picked that dump?”

The rest of the hand appeared and waved unsurely.

“Damn, this time of year it’s full of obnoxious stag and hen parties from Briona. Not to mention families from Quir, with their endless snot producing screaming brats. Didn’t the committee do any research?”

If a hand could shrug, it did.

“At least it’s by the sea I suppose. Not like last year’s conference in Ebora. Skiing, I ask you, do I look like a skier?”

The hand froze, the cowed minion keenly aware that if he wanted to keep it on the end of his wrist then a good bit of finger wriggling was required. The fingers waved in a ‘so-so’ sort of way before giving a hesitant thumb up.

“Nice hot chocolate though, the tiny marshmallows were a good touch. So what’s on the itinerary?”

The hand reappeared in a rustle of cloth with a small list.

“Hmmm … standard stuff, nothing really jumping out, hold on, ‘Virgin conservation – a group discussion’, put me down for that, oh and ‘Tips to avoid embarrassing monologues’. More importantly though have we got all the stuff for the beach?”

The hand gave a smart salute.

“What about a lilo?”

The hand sidled away beneath the table, and looking thoroughly embarrassed, returned with a battered box.

“Inflatable Ingrid again … surely she’s full of holes from the ritual?”

A second, smaller box quickly landed on top.

“Boys Own Bicycle Puncture Repair Kit?”
 

Glen

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Name This Island!

That’s right! Visit this magical destination for the chance to enter our Name This Island competition with its rollover jackpot of $3.5 trillion. And that’s not all! You’re also guaranteed a longitudinal time-slice apartment in a period of your choosing!

What’s not to like!?

Hurry! Available berths on the luxurious $3X-class liners to the Magellanic system are running out fast!

Whether you’re sunbaking on the beaches of Sardis, shopping at the Maline mega-mall, power skiing on the Loaclian slopes, or on the piste at Cruinne, you will have the time of your life! Try dragon boating with live dragons from the port of Quir-Briona!! Pamper yourself in the gene-spas of Alcuezar!!! Be rude, naughty but nice at the adult XXX theme park of Ebora!!!!

:0)

Don’t miss your chance! This island system could carry a name of your choosing for all eternity!

You will love the wines from the Montchellis vineyards and hams from the vintage Averoigne swine-pens! You will simply adore the Azimeth petting zoo with its galaxy-wide collection of only the very cutest of creatures!! OMG at the Northern Lights from a seven-star grav-field apartment with the market-elite of Arbereth!!!

Don’t delay! Book today for the experience of a lifetime!

Be the envy of your social-media connections!

This wonderland needs to be experienced to be believed! Don’t let our competitors put you off! LOL! The incident at Far Malagua was a long time ago and the thermo-grav containment field means it will never happen again!! The entity our detractors refer to is dormant and sated!!! Don’t let history get between you and a great time!!

Book now!

Book now!!
 

Jo Zebedee

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

LIBERATION

The ships came from the north. Alone, I stood, shivering in my shift, as their oars slapped against the waves. The soldiers disembarked and crossed the beach to me, the sunset’s dying light casting angels’ halos around them.

Their leader -- a captain by his uniform -- stopped, and took in my rope-raw wrists and bare feet. He crouched before me. “Child, you’re safe, we’re here to stop the sacrifice. Can you lead us to the church?”

I nodded and skipped over the sand until I reached the furzed dunes beyond. His heavy breaths and the curses of his men followed me. I waited for him to reach me. He leaned forward, his hands on his knees, and puffed out a breath.

“What are you?” He glanced through a sweat-laden fringe and gave a crooked smile. “A girl or goat?”

I smiled and turned. I ran across Gannet’s Head and down the path onto All-Souls’ Beach. The soldiers followed, making scree tinkle past my feet as they skidded. I stopped at the bottom and pointed. There, framed in the rising darkness, was Montchelli Church, candlelight flickering from its windows. The captain put his hand on my shoulder. “Thank you.”

I ran across the beach, my feet sure.

“Goat-girl!”

I stopped and turned. The captain was ankle-deep in sand. His crooked smile was gone.

“Help me,” he said. He sank some more, the mud tendrils up to his knees. “Please! We’re here to help!”

I joined the islanders gathering on the sand bar and listened as the soldiers’ screams cast through the darkness. When they ended, I dipped my head and gave thanks. My beguilement was complete -- the gods would demand no sacrifice of me this year.
 
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Juliana

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Source​

The Mapmaker capped her inkbottle and blew on the parchment to dry the fine lettering. This one was a true masterpiece. She could feel it in her bones.

She leant back in her old leather chair, pushing sweaty hair from an ink-stained face. How many days had she been sitting there, hunched over the table? She felt suddenly tired, the good, wholesome ache of work well done. And hungry. When had she last eaten?

Now she stretched, enjoying the simple luxury of the gesture, and surveyed her tower workroom. Large windows looked out on a myriad of impossible views: an imposing castle, a dragon’s lair, a busy harbor. In one, a glorious midsummer sunset, in another, twinkling starlight shone on crisp snow.

On the walls, there were maps pinned to every available surface. Maps rolled up and stacked on shelves, filling bursting drawers and chests, piled up in corners. Her creations, set down in ink and then delivered softly into the minds of deserving writers. Inspiration, they called it. Imagination. The Muse.

The Mapmaker smiled as she picked out some of her favorites, old friends, all. Westeros, Narnia, Middle Earth, Pern. She drew the lands, starkly, in black and white, and then chose a worthy pen-wielder to color it in with characters, creatures, the snap of sails and the sparkle of waves.

Her latest map was dry. She bent back over her work, tracing with her finger a ship here, a name there. Perfect. A new world was ready, awaiting its new master.

Now to choose a willing mind… And let the dance of words begin!
 

Lenny

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Friendly Fire


Cloud Captain George Fogg snapped the ancient atlas shut and turned to the assembled crew of the Nimbostratus class cloud-ship Duck Friendly. "OK, people, we're approaching the continent from the North and will be executing traversal pattern Omega. This will take us down the coast of Laoclian to just outside Montchellis, where we'll have two hours to unload our cargo and resupply before catching the scheduled westerly to the Alcuezaran capital. Any questions?"

"Ten minutes to landfall, sir."

"Acknowledged. All hands to stations. Mr. Greene, apply colour 'Grey 11'. Helm, lay in a course for Wind Station Quir – I want us in position before the northerly gust begins. Bridge to engine room, maintain altitude. Ops, fore view on screen."

Fogg took the captain's chair and watched as the shimmering Wind Station, hovering seven thousand feet above land, grew larger.

"Sir, urgent incoming from Quir."

"Let's hear it."

"Duck Friendly, this is the Wind Station Quir. We're experiencing problems in our vortex manipulators. We advise that you retreat to three thousand feet. I repeat, retreat to…"

The message stopped abruptly.

"Bridge to engine room, maximum reverse thrust!"

On screen, the Wind Station began to shake violently before an explosion tore through its midsection. Alarms drowned the bridge of the Duck Friendly as the entire cloud lurched seconds later.

"Engine room to bridge. A hail of shrapnel has damaged the fore engines, sir, we're losing altitude. The remaining engines can't handle the load - we need to lose weight!"

"Dammit. Bridge to hold, open the cargo bay doors."

The Chief Operations Officer turned to stare at Captain Fogg. "Sir, you can't, we're over a settlement! With the volume of water we're carrying…"

"Millions more will die if this ship crashes, lieutenant! Bridge to hold, dump it all."

"Acknowledged. Dumping."
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

States of Mind

(The first postcard: A cartoon drawing of a bat in a football uniform.)

Dear Meg:

Hey girl! Bet you didn't expect to hear from me for a while. I finally took your advice, dumped Albert, and hit the road for parts unknown. I wound up in this funky little college town yesterday. Transylvania State University. Funny I've never heard of it. The local tourist traps play up the Dracula stuff because of the name, but it's really a nice place.

Best, Sally.

(The second postcard: A painting of Benjamin Franklin next to a map consisting of eight counties, each a different color.)

Dear Meg:

Folks out here sure take their pranks seriously. Ever since I left Kentucky, heading south as if Old Man Winter were riding my tail, I've been seeing signs for the State of Franklin. Got the governor's name, weird-looking state flag, the whole works. Even the cars have Franklin license plates! I wonder where I can get one, just for laughs?

Fondly, Sally

(The third postcard: An American flag.)

Dear Meg:

Don't worry, kid, I haven't turned into Super Patriot yet. Notice anything strange? Four rows of eight stars, three rows of seven. Confused? Think how I feel. First I run away from Albert like a heartbroken teenager, then I jump through the looking glass into Wonderland. I think I needed my freedom so badly I created these new states. I've still got to find good old number fifty-three!

Yours, Sally

(The fourth postcard: A map of three islands, whimsically decorated with ancient ships and dragons.)

Dear Meg:

The state of Atlantica is a tropical paradise. Looks like I'm here to stay!

Love, Sally

P. S. Today I met a woman who looks a lot like me. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? I'll be looking for you!
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Cursed Treasure of Jonathon Roberts



Captain Jonathon Roberts rushed out of his cabins to stare out at the small island, fast approaching from the horizon.

“Prepare to weigh anchor!” he cried out, the first mate relaying the orders to the rest of the crew. The pirate captain himself selected six of his best to go ashore with their ill-gotten gains, knowing full well the British navy were not far off. Captain Roberts shot dead two of the men, leaving them as eternal guardians of their treasure.

Captain Roberts and his crew never made it back to their treasure. Six days off their island, they ran into a ship of the line commanded by a British commodore and took a hit from a broadside while trying to escape under the dead of night.

It was not until I came along with a crew of seasoned U.S. navy men that this treasure was gone after. Rumors of the ghostly guardians persisted; some even swore to having seen the spirits themselves, while fishing for cod and herring in the English Channel.

As soon as we set foot on the island, the ghosts attacked. Four of my men, hardened by fifteen years of service aboard a United States battleship, fell to the spectral cutlasses of the ghosts. The others ran, their courage breaking under the immortal foes. The two ghosts took off, leaving me alone to dig up the treasure.

My men never returned, as evidenced by their cries, and I took to my ship as fast as I could make it. Opening the chest, I looked down with an anticipating grin, which quickly faded as I stared at the loot.

I lost ten trained crewmen, men who had families, and all I got was a pile of dirty undergarments.
 

reiver33

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Man Who fell To Urth

I rose into my past, surrounded by fragmentary images of the nineties, the nineteen-eighties. I fell, bounced again from the trampoline, and went higher. Hain’s crazy idea of how to access the vortex had actually worked. I soared through the seventies, the sixties. I passed beyond my birth and fell…

“…into legend.”

I pointed across the busy market square to the statue of Kadesh the Gardner. “I fell there, wreathed in flame due to my relative position on the thermal incline. A team of horses bolted and my legs were crushed beneath a hay wain.” A slap of my tarred stumps made them start. “And that is how I came to be here, all those years ago. A madman, consigned to a medieval hell. Not that you understand what I’m talking about.”

The three children started at me, all round-eyed wonder. I smiled. “And now your parents are waiting.”

Their mother dropped a coin into my bowl and murmured her thanks. On market days I acted as child minder while adults went about their business in the throng. There was a heart-stealer about and the Royal Scourers requested by Lord Venn had yet to arrive. Personally I doubted the Kings of Day, Night and Dreams had ever heard of Port Tyr, but it lifted spirits in the town to believe they were protected by the Three Crowns.

A shadow fell over me. I looked up but could see only the silhouette of a man against the afternoon sun. He wore a hooded riding cloak and long boots, a sword at the hip.

I held out my bowl. “A coin, good sir, to hear one of my mad tales?”

From his pocket came the burr-burr of a mobile phone. He sounded amused.

“Mad tales, indeed.”
 

David Evil Overlord

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Avoid A Girl From Ebora Void​

‘My mother warned me about girls like you,’ he said.

Her food-mouth turned down at the waterline. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘They made me do it.’

Enthralled by her out-of-season pheromone trail, he left his fleet to chase her. The third sun was bleeding its last upon the western curve of the world-ocean before he caught her in the shallows, two suns east of the Sardis Void.

Foreplay; her steering flukes tangled around his.

Betrayal; creatures like four-limbed, soft-skinned crabs burst from below her decks and skittered onto his.

Pain; the crabs sliced through his tendon-rigging, and his sails flapped like broken wings.

Exhaustion; he fled through darkness until sun-birth.

Frustration; she shadowed him, using her sail while he had nothing but steering flukes.

Crippled; he could never catch his fleet.

‘Will they eat me?’

‘No. They need us alive. They swim like rocks. They’ll harness your sail. Like mine.’

In the dawn-light, he saw her rigging-tendons were made up of many strands of seagrass. Crabs pretended they were muscles, angling her sail as they pleased.

‘I still have my rudder.’

She shook her head, and looked behind her. ‘Not for long.’

He stared down her flanks, to the extra mast-bone that hung from her stern to pierce the flesh of her tail. A crab showed its blunt teeth and twisted the bone. She gasped in pain, forced to turn.

Crabs swarmed down his deck, their sharp mast-bone aimed at his rudder.

His mother’s tales were true. Parasitic crabs from the rocky Voids where the world-ocean ended hunted his kind; not for food but for slave ships.
 

BetaWolf

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Layover in Ebora

Most of the men arriving in Ebora were dressed like me. We still wore our service uniforms. Mine was typical: faded to a mottled gray with splotchy pink trim. The parade coat hid my service pistol and two or three other things that I didn’t want taken off of me in customs.

Ebora was a small town by Jovian standards, but it seemed all of Callisto was abuzz with potential. I followed the street from the monorail station, and my stomach led my feet to the marketplace.

A street vendor called me over to his little stall.

“New arrival, eh?” he asked quietly as he dropped freshly cut bayroot into a pot of oil. I nodded, and he replied, “You got tourist written all over you. You a Fatherless Son?”

“No,” I said. “Pale Rider."

“Tough bunch, them Riders. And I should know.” He turned away from me and coughed hard a few times. "I was a Helldog. We fought at Liberty Point, just starboard to you boys. After that, medical discharge for me, but no ticket home."

"That's why I'm here," I said quietly.

"Cheer up," he said. He dished up a batch of golden-brown bayroot chips. “And have a few on me.”

The chips disappeared before my hunger, so I fished around in my pocket for some coins. I had my share of B-root in the war, but never fried, just boiled.

For three coppers, I got some fried red eel and more chips. I tipped my cap to the vendor and walked off. “Come again, PR,” he called after me.

I went back down to the monorail station and finished my lunch. Train C was departing for Malagua just then, so I put down ten coppers for a ticket and off I went to my new life.
 
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Heather Hawke

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Edged with Flame

My blood is not red. It is violet, like a stream of forget-me-nots circulating through my heart.

A purple wash flows down from the door at the top of the stairs. Only the thin soles of my slippers separate me from my kin’s lifeblood.

Gorge rises from my belly. I gag over the scent of copper and iron.

My homeland of Sardis seems remote, further than the channel protecting my people from those who devour our essence here on the mainland.

All the others who tried to rescue our prince are dead. But I am the only one who loves him.

The door swings open with a touch from my fingertips. Beyond, he lies with chains wrapping him from throat to ankles. I step over the threshold and into a great hall. Grey stones turn to shadowed bars, then a golden cage meant to hold us forever.

I press his silver eyelashes against his cheek. “Don’t look at me.”

If he sees me, then so shall our enemies.

His eyelids tremble. “How can I know you are real?”

I brush my mouth against his lips, soft with an edge of rough stubble that makes my skin surge with heat.

His breath catches. “You feel beautiful.”

A feather erupts out of my wrist, at first thin and sharp. Then more grow out like a fern leaf, uncurling the delicate structures. As orange and red flames dance along their edges, I gather my prince in my talons.

His chains glow red, then molten. The metal drips off of him though it leaves his skin unmarked.

I fly for us both, out of the cage. Through the door. Over the blood-stained steps.

We are free.
 
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Starbeast

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Warriors In the Time of Legends


Conan, an old dethroned king, yet still wise and a strong warrior, lead us into a war against the necromancer, Thoth-Amon. Us, a group of cyber fantasy writers, whom were accidently brought into a surreal world of monsters, swords and magic. Even our metabolic clocks were reset, placing us in our prime. It was Conan who found us here years ago, he asked if we'd help retake lands from the evil that swallowed them. We agreed, and became champions for the people of the lands. Conan trained us, and we won every battle, in every domain.

Now, dressed in our chosen outfits, using weapons of choice, including magic, stormed the last army of darkness. We fought like lions, even the smallest of us were inspiringly brave. Thoth-Amon was slain during the battle, we were winning!

Leaping into the air, I beheaded a rhino rider, suddenly an axe struck my chest, smashing my armour, exposing flesh! Stunned, I beheld the axe wielder attacking again, fortunately a young lady saved me, she spoke, "Let's finish this!" We charged back into the melee, screaming war cries, hacking into the last monstrous foes.

The battle ended, I found Conan, he was dying. I knelt, and thanked him for showing us how to survive in this era, and for being a great friend. Conan smiled, then died, I wept as the others surrounded us bowing their heads. We honored Conan as a king, I helped carry his body and we burned him in a pyre. The surviving villagers honored us with a tremendous feast, afterwards, we vanished before their astonished eyes and returned to our own time.

We all remembered the experiance, and chatted online about it. Even though no one believed our adventure, we were inspired to write our own story.
 

EloiseA

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Mapless on the High Seas



'You brought the wrong map.'


'Nonsense,' said Hereward. 'What are you talking about?'


'It's out of date,' I said. 'This map doesn't show the six-lane highway across the straits. Or the new landfill archepelago. Or the military airport.'


My cyber -Viking stared at me, his red beard streaked with nicotine, eye patch askew.


'What you've got here,' I pointed out, 'is a Colour-By-Numbers Treasure Island Map. Faked-up romance for tourists on a soft-core virtual trip. Those punters don't do gritty apocalyptic. They want manipulated yesteryear. We're here to stage an invasion and possible coup. We need a proper map.'


My seafaring robber barons gawped.


'We can't drop anchor anywhere because those quaint coves silted up last year. Post-hurricane builders deforested the islands, remember? No tropical palms left.. Just foetid swamps belching anaerobic bacteria.'


I paused. 'We can't sail Skull Cleaver in there, we're not insured for shipping damage.'


'Remind me why we wanted to invade this lot again?' Howard had gone dangerously quiet.


'Asset-stripping,' Berserker reminded him. 'That's what pirates do now. It doesn't matter if your average tropical island is a landfill crammed with toxic garbage, so long as it stays a registered tax haven. Worth a bit of mud, I'd say.'


'No problem then,' said Hereward, cheerful again. Corporate raids on leisure resorts brought out the roguish best in him. 'We'll leave the yacht here and fly in. Wave the silly old map under their noses like tourists. Cutlass Annie here squawking away like a bionic parrot to distract customs narks. We'll strong-arm the odd offshore bank account, buy up trust funds, head back to the mainland for lunch. They won't know what hit them.'


We stared across the sludge-slowed ocean towards the shoreline dotted with beached whales. It was time to go.
 

ratsy

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Life Isn’t Always Mapped Out

Harriet always knew she was destined for more. Her life was an endless cycle of sad. Her parents were poor, and because of this they worked endless hours of the day to make ends meet. Her father was a quiet, cranky blacksmiths assistant; her mother a cleaning woman.

It fell on Harriet’s very small shoulders to look after the little ones, clean the small house and cook the meals. She longed to go to school or to just be able to play outside with her friends. Most of all she wanted to read.

Her elderly neighbor found this out and she began to teach young Harriet her letters. One particular day she had a few minutes to spare. She was next door sorting through the select volumes of books trying to find something her newly developed skills could understand. As she opened a dusty tome, a piece of paper fell out.

It was a map, and from the looks of it, a very old map. It had names of places she had never seen or heard of. Her neighbor smiled and told her to take it and to keep it close at hand.

That night Harriet fell asleep with the map in her grip. She awoke to find herself transported to another place. She was in a huge bedroom, jewelry strewn across the floor, and a closet to make a princess jealous. She looked down and saw the map in her hand still. On it was an image of the land she lived in. The map had sent her here!

There was a knock at the door and a man walked in the room. “Your highness, breakfast is served.”

Thus began the reign of Princess Harriet the Kind.
 

Hex

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Mapmakers

She smiles at me from the far side of the square and I know at once that she's a Mapmaker agent.

Fifteen years in treacherous Maline have taught me beautiful women do not smile to admire my scars; they smile to draw me into confidences. I prefer smiles to thuggish ambushes, though neither has succeeded; not once in Maline have I spoken the name of my country, of my frail, beloved king.

The Mapmakers must not learn it.

She walks like the dancers from my youth. Abruptly, I ache with want -- reckless, unforgivable. I tear my eyes from her and hurry through the crowd.

Maps enslave; skilled Mapmakers like Maline's king can rule the space beneath their fingers, break the unwilling and force the rebellious. King Estar, the histories say, died choking in blood.

I will not have my king betrayed, and silence is our one defence; they cannot map the unnamed.

By the castle wall she finds me again, her hair yellow as sun-on-tiles in the palace of my king, her smile sharp as the knife concealed within my hand.

This time I do not run. Well-versed in quick and silent murder, I let her approach.

"What, lady?" I force a smile of my own and turn the knife to point at her belly's gentle curve.

She steps in, twists, and her dagger's against my ribs. Angled so knowingly I am defeated. I could almost laugh -- to be caught at last -- and by an agent who smells of starflowers. Perhaps the memory will render even the Mapmakers' torture sweet.

"Sheath the knife," she murmurs, "Prince Ivanov. Your royal uncle is dead, the throne empty. I'm here to bring you home."
 

AJB

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

From the Depths of Despair

Fingers of fire slowly crumpled the map into ash. The charred remains floated to the stars.

"I’ve already forgotten the absurd names you call home," sneered Breachwood, as the crackling, beach campfire covered him in an amber glow.

Fairthorn, as the ashen scent drifted his way, looked upon the vile invader helplessly; his disdain quelled by his chained state. He’d witnessed many atrocities that night; pillage, destruction, murder, and rape. The images swirled relentlessly through his mind like crashing waves. His desire for revenge was bound; held within the calm night. Watching the burning map; passed down through royal lineage – now resembling the contents of his ancestor’s urns – struck the last sinew of his heart that held onto hope.

Another fireraven, spreading its red and golden feathers, glided down onto Breachwood’s shoulder. The bird made a series of chirping noises, like a chorus of bells, into an expectant ear. When the chimes ceased, Breachwood’s face grinned sinisterly.

Fairthorn foreboded the news from the bird. Throughout that night; countless fireravens swooped down bearing reports of tragedy from the three islands.

“Your son lies dead in the mountains,” announced Breachwood.

The deep blow jarred Fairthorn’s soul. However, from the depths of despair, one potentially rapturous memory glinted: The legend of the water serpent; as depicted on the map. Can it be real?

The serpent burst out of the sea near the shore, spraying countless droplets that glittered silver in the moonlight. As the serpent reached the peak of its leap, it miraculously sprouted wings that shimmered and sparkled with rainbow hues despite the night. The serpent’s haunting eyes bore down on Breachwood. Its scaly tail arched above and behind its head like a wave. Eyes still staring, the serpent, after one swift motion of its wings, darted down and devoured Breachwood.
 
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barlennan

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

The Cage Seas​

Heron swooped between folds of blackened brick and over pyramids of crumbled masonry. He alighted atop the one spire that still stood over Ebora’s silent remains.

Sails on the horizon. He used to chase them, circling high enough to avoid the arrows whose poison bite sickened you for days. He always turned back. Those ships sailed for farther shores than a dragon could fly.

***​

The first words Heron heard in seventeen years were incomprehensible: the tattered castaway’s humming lip-talk and a shrill, ululating song that Heron would later recognise as “crying” – behaviour he had neither the physiology nor instinct for.

Heron flew daily over the man’s rude shelter, watchful. Seeing him try to hunt, reptilian abstracts of frustration and pity prompted Heron to bring food. The man charmed puny flames from sticks to burn meagre strips of venison. Heron’s larger-scale attempts at cookery elicited a good deal more song from the man, but Heron discovered an appreciation of roasted meat, and the two stranded beasts were soon sharing nightly suppers.

***​

“The mainland dragons either died as slaves or were driven far north, but there must be some left. We took your ancestors to Estarion to wage war, but we left them alone to live in peace. We will find you a mate among the icebergs and one day our grandchildren will herd Malaguan deer together. Men will live in the small islands once more, and they will love dragons.”
“Again, you talk of loth. I hath geen alone a long tine Sssaul. I talked rith no-one thor sethenteen years. I ronder; ish I neet another drrragon, rill I hath this enotion?”
“You might. It will be worth the journey”

Heron, builder of the first true dragonship, and Saul, his navigator, sailed north and pondered love’s mystery.
 

mosaix

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

We Have Ways Of Making Yer Talk…

“Arrr, so we’ve caught up wi’ yer at last –

Pretty Polly. Pretty Polly.

– you an’ t’ bloody parrot.”

“Go to Hell.”

“Years we sailed high seas together under t’ black flag, plundering everythin’ in sight and then yer stabs yer mates in t’ back by makin’ off wi’ treasure. Yer scurvy dog! Where’ve yer hidden t’ stuff?”

“Yer’ll never find it!”

“Make things easy on yerself. Tell us where it’s ‘idden and we’ll make sure it’s all over wi’ quick like. Otherwise we’ll drag it out fer days. Yer know how t’ lads like a bit o’ blood ’n’ gore, ’specially when they’re feelin’ ’ard done by.”

“Go ahead, do yer worst. Yer’ll get nothin’ out o’ me.”

Who's a clever boy? Who's a clever boy?

“He always was a tough one, Cap’n. Won’t break easy. Let’s just start diggin’. Can’t wait for me share.”

“Yer may be right. On a small island like this we could probably find t’ stuff in a few days but it’d be thirsty work under this sun and, to be honest, I prefer just t’ torture ’im anyways.”

“Think I’m scared o’ thee? After what I bin through? Shot, run through more’n once, ’n’ surgeon’s bloody saw leavin’ me wi’ just a stump. Secret dies wi’ me! If I can’t ‘ave treasure then sure as ‘ell thee won’t!”

Pieces of eight. Pieces of Eight.

“Someone catch that damn bird!”

“Cap’n, ’im an’ parrot was always thick as thieves. Looked after it proper good ’e did, ’twas ’is only real friend.”

“Arrr, ’appen yer right. Bring t’ thing over ’ere. Let’s see how ’e likes t’ watch us pullin’ off first one wing, then t’ other. Then t’ legs – nice ’n’ slow like.”

It's under the tree! It's under the tree!
 

Christopher Lee

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Re: 300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #9 (April 2013) -- READ FIRST POST

Kitty and Goliath

Lords and ladies from cities as far away as Ebora and Azimetn had come to watch the spectacle of the century. The fight would be held in Cruinne, the largest and grandest city in all of Maline.

A colossal troll named Bladethrower strolled onto the ring, causing tremors with ever footfall. His opponent stood silently in the opposite corner. His opponent was Claudius, and he was very small. Ding! Bladethrower leaped forward and swung his mighty axe. Claudius ducked, the axe only cleaving a few strands of fur, and rolled forward between the giant’s legs. He stood up, looking at his backside.

Bladethrower whirled around and moved in on Claudius, swinging his axe hither and thither, but only cutting air. Claudius continued his evasive maneuvers, showing no fatigue. The giant troll just kept swinging his mighty axe, his arm moving sluggishly. Every swipe of his blade was more awkward and clumsy than the last, and his legs began to wobble like two pillars of jelly.

The troll stood in one corner, huffing and puffing like a chimney stack. He’s done for, Claudius thought, it’s time. He reached into his sack and produced a rock the size of an apple.

The troll stepped forward and roared at him in defiance. The rock left his hand in a blur. It lodged itself in the troll’s throat. He dropped his mighty axe and clapped both hands to his neck, making raspy coughing noises. After a minute, his eyes rolled to the back of his head, and with a loud crash the troll fell.

The crowd gasped.

“Your victor, folks,” the announcer said, taking Claudius’s paw and raising it into the air. “Against all odds your winner is Claudius, the most vicious kitten in all of Maline!”
 
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