Writing Prompt: 5/24/17

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I’m in a writing server, and the organizer created a writing prompt for the week that I found to be delightful. So… I wrote a thing. Woohoo!

The Prompt: The world didn’t end with a bang or a whimper–it ended one scream at a time.

The fic is below!


Hunting in the Dark

She breathed, moving through the woods light-footed and intent in the darkness. She could hear the quiet pitter-patter of footfalls to the left and right, where her brothers and sisters hunted with her; nightfall was precious and rare creatures emerged from dens and borrows during the hours the suns hid their face. He would only give them so long, after all.

Doir lunged over a dropped log (not so old, she thought, but dead long enough that the bark had gone, if not long enough that the luminescent fauna had arrived to cannibalize it) and nearly lost her footing over a clutch of slick stones. One of her brothers hissed a protest to be quiet, then caught his ankle in a rabbit-hold and went tumbling forward into the brush. She smothered a bark of laughter and settled for grinning, reaching up to caress a low oak branch as she ducked beneath it.

Leaves rustled, a spirit’s greeting, and she felt her heart lighten as she continued onward. In the distance the false-suns that the Kakori used to light their settlements glittered like not-so-distant stars. They feared the darkness, but Doir and her kin reveled in it, alive as if for the first times in their lives. These were their woods; they knew them, and the wind and trees whispered to them secrets of the future.

“There’s a herd of voli to the east,” Doir’s sister said, dropping down from one of Grandfather Oark’s wide branches next to her. The whisper wasn’t meant to carry far. Voli were dangerous to hunt, and it was Doir’s choice if she wanted to take the party there, for voli were her hunting spirit.

“Anything else?”

“The Kakori are doing something in the north, beyond their settlement,” her sister’s lips twitched into an annoyed frown. “I would like to check it out, but..”

But no one here was a hunter of Kakori. Let the Kakori do what they willed, as long as they left the deep woods to the Children of the Sky. She did not have any desire to traverse that far in search of something they could not eat, for a people who could no sooner see in the darkness than they could swim across the river.

“Keep watch on the voli,” Doir requested, pausing in her movement to cast about in the dark for the rest of her kin. “We might go back for them later.” They were blooded hunters, except one; Liar, who hoped to make his first blood of the towering king-of-beast, the morial. She had heard the Kakori call them other things, wrecks maybe, though the Kakori tongue was strange. Not that the Kakori had better chances at surviving the morial than they did. Though they were, supposedly, Liar’s hunting spirit. She would help him if she could, but first and last blood had to be his.

She wasn’t out here for morial, though. None of them were. But where one found morial, one found the alori, huge and silvery birds with beaks the size of young trees and wings that spread as large as Grandfather Oark’s branches. And at night, the alori slept.

She whistled, low and haunting. The call of a huntress leading a band.

She knew it haunted Kakori nightmares. Strange sounds from the rare nights that no one could place? What other things might cause them fear?

When she had the attention of her brothers and sisters, she raised her hand high and then motioned to the north-west, where she knew there was a morial hunting ground. Knew and sometimes wished she didn’t, for Liar wasn’t the first of the hunt to wish for a morial kill. But if they were lucky, the trees were tall enough they could scale for alori and ignore the morial altogether…

They were not lucky, and it had nothing to do with trees.

On the forest below, clad in their strange hunting gear of black and green, a hunting pack of Kakori moved in bewildering, unsettling precision. They moved quiet, but not quiet like Doir and her siblings. Quiet like this drove away the creatures of the night, which made them loud, while Doir and the others moved as part of the woods instead. The Kakori were not part of the woods; Grandfather Oark did not shelter them, nor did his many cousins.

They made their homes from the dead and the dying, they trapped the light of the Sky in shards– they were strange and foreign people, and they looked very little like Doir’s.

But even though they were foolish people, they were people, and the morial did not sleep when the suns were resting. The roar shook the air around them, leaves quivering, trees shaking. Beneath the Kakori, the ground rumbled, and then a morial– adolescent, not yet having acquired the reddish colors of adulthood, some scaled flesh still opalescent– charged into the pack of them.

Doir watched from the safety of the trees, staring down with gnawing horror taking root in her belly. Kakori screamed when they died; Doir could understand it, because the Kakori did not seem to understand that death simply was, and they feared it. But they screamed, not understanding of the danger they had walked into, and it sent chills up her spine.

“They’re dying,” her brother whispered, as confused and upset by the scene below as she felt, voice thick with it. She swallowed, nodded.

They were people, though, and Liar–

The alori could wait. Doir let go of her hold and moved forward, fling herself off it. As she fell, she loosed her dagger from the ties.

They usually left the Kakori to their own devices. They did not interfere. That was how the world worked.

But they were people, screaming– and that was how Doir decided the world must end.


Finito! Cross-posting it on Ao3.

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Weekly Writing Prompt Response: 9/11-9/17 (2016)

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You ever have one of those times where you’re not sure what to write, you’re not sure at all, and then you hit the deadline, go into last-minute panic mode, and vomit out two thousand words?

That just happened. I’m kind of weirdly proud of it but oh god, please stop growing, I want to finish and sleep at some point.

So the writing prompt Amanda chose this week was the Digital Daggers rendition of Dust in the Wind, which I listened to on and off trying to hammer out an entirely different response that drug its feet pretty horrifically and resulted in being terribly stubborn, not letting me do it. I’ll get to it eventually. This is not that response. I see nobody is surprised by that.

There are some more things I want to cover in the ‘verse I just spouted, and I will eventually because I just did a ton of research on it, and it’d be a shame to let all that delicious reading go to waste, yes? I didn’t even write all of it I wanted, but the scenes I wanted to cover are disconnected from the segments I did, so.

Anyway, have a 2k+ Voltron fanfic with manifested soul segments, because everything’s better with daemons.


In the Wind (Or Lack Thereof)

Shirogane never expected his Kohaku to settle as anything but a bird, which sounded weird only out of context, born up by people who hadn’t known his father was witch-blooded and feathers were in the family tree, but he really, honestly hadn’t. She had been wearing the mantle of birds for his whole life, starting out– embarrassing pictures as proof– as a screaming, featherless chick of undetermined origin and gender. Apparently his parents had called the gathering dust on his mother’s Daichi an egg out of pure irony for his father’s blood, Iriomote-yamaneko covered in so much glittery gold-red-brown dust next to his mother’s swollen stomach.

There were no pictures of Daichi dusted when Mom had been pregnant with Keith. Or, at least, there were none to be found, but Mom and Dad had been divorced for ages by the time any of them knew about Keith. Dad had remarried; a witch-blood named Josephine, with a Peregrine Falcon named Glenn. The blue-grey matches nice with Dad’s own daemon, Akane, the Japanese sparrowhawk that had been so much Kohaku’s best cuddle-buddy Shiro’s whole life, he couldn’t not know his father loved him.

But Shiro-and-Kohaku had been six when Keith-and-Marie had been three, fresh from a loss Shiro hadn’t really understood, crying for his (their) maman. Shiro had understood his father trying to comfort him, knew but didn’t know why Keith was crying and Marie was a screaming polecat.

He knew his mother a little, sort of. Peripherally. Dad told him stories about her all the time, though she lived far away in the desert and he didn’t get to see her. She sent him gifts every year, all year round. This year he’d gotten a necklace for his birthday, bone beads and feathers, a nod to his heritage on Dad’s side. She’d sent him a book, too, a text with a lot of big words he didn’t understand yet, about space and space-ships and flying, with wire-frame pictures. He liked the book, and he loved the necklace, the same way he liked all her other gifts.

Keith didn’t have a necklace or a book. Keith had a knife, much to Josephine’s ire, and the knife is a familiar thing for Shiro as he grows up. By the time he settles– Kohaku has always been brown but she settles slick and smooth as silk, a snake in his father’s nest– Shiro is aware that Keith’s father is not Shiro’s father, that Josephine doesn’t think children need knives (his father thinks they rather do; both he and Keith end up in the back yard with Dad, learning the finer points of knife fighting as well as what magic Dad knows, what magic he can pass on to them) and he knows more than anything that he wants to be a pilot, that he wants to explore deep space.

The only people doing that are the military, of course. It’ll be ten years of service, four of it school, but he wants to go. Keith sits at his side while he writes up his application, Marie on his lap, Kohaku around Shiro’s throat. They both try not to listen to the echo from upstairs, while Dad and Josephine argue.

Josephine has a thing against reptiles; Shiro can’t get out of the house quick enough.

 

The Garrison takes him. The base is out in the Nevada desert, huge expanses of nothing that they can shoot at and practice with when they hit that skill level. They send him a Greyhound ticket. Everything else he has to get on his own, and by that he means his father gives him money for food and a hotel for the layover plus a card with his name on it for when he gets there.

Keith makes him promise to call– Dad and Akane try and Josephine and Glenn don’t, and it is and isn’t Keith’s fault that he and Marie bite and claw and don’t even worry about asking questions or permission. They’re a ball of pent up frustration, and not even barely-teenagers.

By the time he gets to the Garrison and gets his bunk, he’s too tired to call home. He and Kohaku are rooming with another recruit, Stefan and Amber, a long-legged Labrador Retriever, golden from snout to tail-tip and all sorts of friendly. Stefan found it endlessly entertaining, once Shiro told him Kohaku’s name, the meaning of it.

“What is she?” he asks later, while they’re unpacking. The first week is all social events, getting to know the base. Shiro can already direct and lead anybody to the main offices and the quartermaster.

“Not a bird!” Kohaku laughed before he got the chance to open his mouth. They haven’t even been settled long, but her response is as much rebuff as a defense, a way to protect themselves; make it seem like a game that they’re not what they should be, that they settled wrong.

It’s a bad way to think about himself, to feel about himself. People don’t settle wrong. He knows that, intellectually.

“She’s an eastern coach-whip,” he tells him, and Stefan’s eyebrows climb up past his hairline.

“Aren’t those the hoop snakes?”

“The what?”

By the time Shiro remembers to call home, gets time to call home, it’s been two weeks. His father tells him Keith stormed out of the house a week ago, ended up on the roof (somehow) and wont come down no matter how much he tries to persuade him, and could you please talk to him?

Apparently he ended up pitching a tent against the chimney bricks. Josephine probably thought it was unsightly. Shiro calls Keith’s phone and talks for a while, cradling it against his skull while he works through mathematics homework. Stefan and Amber are out jogging; they have the dorm to themselves. “I miss you,” Keith says. “Come back. It’s not home without you.”

I can’t, Shiro doesn’t tell him, though Kohaku curls herself loosely around his wrist, resting her head on the side of his hand while he writes. It occurs to him, suddenly, that Marie has been a great many shapes but she has never been a bird. The odds of Keith settling as a bird don’t fit; he can’t shape his mind around it. “You can come join me in a few years,” he says instead. “Mom said your father was an off-worlder, right? Maybe we can find him.”

“Maybe,” Keith agrees, but he sounds doubtful. Shiro is too; they don’t even know what planet or space station he was from, where he worked. Finding Keith’s father without even a name is going to be difficult, and Dad doesn’t know who he was. The silence stretches. After a while, his little brother sighs into the phone. “Okay.”

“Just a few years,” Shiro says, chest tight. Keith sounds so weary. What did Josephine say to him? “I’ll call every week until then, and I’ll come home for holidays if I can, okay?”

“Promise?”

“Promise. But you gotta get off the roof before you give Dad even more gray hair, okay?”

A heartbeat. For a moment, Shiro thinks it wont work. Then Keith sighs, defeated, and he knows he’ll do it. A week on the roof, he wonders. What has he even been eating?

Birds. Probably.

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

He calls Dad back when he gets off the phone with Keith, tells him what Keith told him; that he feels crowded, that he needs space, that he needs exercise and understanding, which is something Dad already knows but Josephine, in all the years Keith has been with them, doesn’t seem to grasp. Keith is independent and fierce and full of energy, he acts without thinking nine times out of ten. Witches are, by nature, slow to act; they do nothing they haven’t thoroughly considered several times.

Joining the Garrison was the most impulsive thing Shirogane has ever done. He does not regret it, and neither does Kohaku.

 

A few years later, Keith and Marie join them. She’s a Savannah cat; a good twenty-five inches at the shoulders. Keith has no ballpark for how much she weighs until they get to the Garrison and go through the physical, sits through it by virtue of the knowledge that Shiro is waiting for him outside the door. “Twenty-five pounds,” Marie purrs after, proud of herself. Keith’s shy smile says he’s proud too.

He’s even more proud when he hits the top of his class less than a month into school. Proud enough to call back home, to call Dad, and they can both hear the pride in his voice when Dad congratulates him.

He’s not Keith’s father, but he’s just as much Keith’s dad as he is Shiro’s.

Shiro is still trying to decide what Josephine is. She’s definitely not his mother, and she makes a point to remind him of it, just as she makes a point to remind Keith of it.

Shiro skipped a grade and it looks like Keith will do the same, graduate early just as he did. He can’t figure out why she’s not proud of them. (Dad is ecstatic. They can probably see his smile on the moon.)

A few months into the new year, Shiro snags his first big assignment that isn’t playing hopscotch between Nevada, Texas, and Florida. There’s a science mission to the far-flung moon of Kerberos; it’s not a big science mission. Ice cores and things. They’ll be gone four months tops, and that’s if things go badly and they get stuck there. It’s not even particularly dangerous: it’s not like he’s going to be taking people to any of the gas giants. Kerberos is an all ice moon, way out swinging around Pluto. But it’s too big for him to say no. It’s his first chance to get off world.

Apparently he’s been specifically requested. By the head of the science division. By Commander Holt.

Keith is understandably upset when Shiro tells him. The base psychiatrist said he had dependency issues, cited that it could become a problem. He was personally under the belief that she was projecting. Keith just liked the people he knew to be around him, and he had difficulty making friends. Shiro knew he tried, but Keith and Marie alternated between warily friendly and wanting the world to drop off the face of the Earth. Bipolar disorder, maybe.

Shiro got him a blanket permission pass to use the training room whenever he needed to, even if it was after lights out. He can’t, doesn’t, get him time off to go to Florida with him, because Keith doesn’t want to watch Shiro leave the planet without him.

If it were Keith leaving, Shiro knows exactly how badly he’d feel, keeping his feet in the dirt. Better not to encourage something they both know will hurt him and make him even more restless. He does call him before he boards the shuttle, before they make them stow the things they wont need while off-world. His cellphone is one of them.

“It’s just Kerberos,” he swears. “I’ll be back before you graduate.”

 

They haven’t been on Kerberos a day when purple (purple? Purple.) aliens beam them up just as they’re getting the first of their ice cores. Kohaku is tight around his throat, and he can see Matt’s Ariel in his helmet, wings and perching feet tangled in his hair the moment that they all realize that something is wrong, that something is happening, the moment that they all turn to run.

They don’t make it very far. He thinks he sees Commander Holt grab Anna’s harness as they’re lifted up, but then Shiro passes out, so he’s not sure.

When he wakes up he realizes the aliens are purple, he realizes he’s kneeling, he realizes Commander Holt is hanging limply where he’s held on his kneels, and there’s no daemon to be seen. He has been trained for being taken captive by hostile forces, but they expected militant humans, not aliens– he thinks Commander Holt had been joking about the aliens thing– so he marshals up his calm and tries to reason with them. Maybe he’s hallucinating.

He’s not. It doesn’t. He gets knocked out for his trouble instead.

 

When he wakes up again, he realizes the soulless aliens are dragging them into the mouth of Hell.


And now, while I have you, how about we take a peek at other people who’ve written this prompt, yeah? Okay.

Other Responses:
Amanda

Remember, Amanda drops prompts once a week, and I try to do them by habit. It’s a good habit to have. So if you want to write a prompt, this one or any other, forward or backward, give a pingback so I can link you! More exposure for everyone!

–Natasha

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Weekly Writing Prompt Response: 9/4-9/10 (2016)

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Amanda‘s prompt this week is a picture prompt! A lighthouse photograph by Garett Photography that gives me all sorts of delicious ideas, and I can’t help but stare at it in awe.

Some of those ideas it gives me I can’t post here, because I want to one day publish them officially. A bunch of the ideas I can are all fanfiction, some realms of which I’ve never delved in, but if last week’s prompt was anything to go by, I definitely need to start poking at my horizons and seeing what’s over that cliff.

However, I decided against doing fanfiction and thought I’d diddy out a little original thing, only a few hundred words. All my fanfiction ideas take more research than I think I can pull off this week, but I’m pretty proud of this little word ramble. Have at ye!


The Lighthouse

The lighthouse marks the end of the world. That’s what people always say. The old wives tale is that it stretches on and on and on, an endless ocean of nothing, save for rampant storms. There’s nothing out there, they say.

It’s not that I don’t believe them. When I was a small boy, my father got on a fishing ship and left. I remember watching him from the top of the lighthouse, growing smaller and smaller until the ship was nothing but a speck on the horizon, until it was nothing at all. I know it can take a month or more to find a good spot and get a good haul, but it’s been more than a decade. He’s not coming back. I know there’s nothing out there. Or, at least, if there is: nothing’s coming back.

It doesn’t change that I wish it weren’t true. And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s really weird to have a lighthouse at the edge of the world, if nothing ever comes back. It doesn’t do a lot of good that way.

That doesn’t stop me from lighting it during the night and in the fog. It helps the smaller craft come in for the evening, if the candles are burning. It doesn’t keep me from sitting on the walk with a spyglass, trying to see my father’s ship after ten years lost at sea. Knowing the cold hard facts doesn’t keep me from hoping despite everything that just one, just this one, will have a different end to the fable. I think it’d be nice if humanity, not fate and the ocean, won just one of the tales.

It’s a fruitless hope and I know it. But it’s also an endless hope, like the lighthouse.

It’s not much, but it doesn’t have to be. Beyond the horizon is the end of the world, for ships and people and the sea, but I refuse to let it be the end of the world for me.


And now that I’ve done that, let’s take a quick peek at everybody else’s responses. If you do the prompt this week, let me know so I can list you here!

Responses
Kayla’s | Steps Times Two’s | Amanda’s

And now, I think: away with my super sleepy self!

–Natasha

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Weekly Writing Prompt Response: 8/21-8-27 (2016)

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Things I will never manage to do: write this thing at a decent hour. Such is life.

Amanda posted this week’s prompt, which is properly amazing and struck me like a true brick this morning, when I was trying to figure out what to write about for it. And then of course I procrastinated and the day got away from me. Whoops. But here it is now! And it’s original work, too!

This is also cross-posted on my Ao3.


Mirror, Mirror

It took several long moments for Raven to inch back up to his locker, screwing up his courage to see what his brain thought he had, hoped he hadn’t.

But no. In the mirror hung on the back of the door, he found a woman’s face staring back at him instead of his own, vampire-red lips pulled into a smug self-satisfying smile. She looked happy– pleased as peaches to have startled him out of his own skin, he supposed. He hated her for it just a little. Maybe more than just a little– but that was ire, and it would pass. There were better things to focus on than his heart attack.

“Amanda–” Oh, wow, his voice was not supposed to be that strained. He cast a furtive glance around the locker room, despite knowing it was empty. It was nearly midnight– if not already midnight– and the gym may have been open twenty-four hours, but no one except he ever used it this late. Sometimes he had to get out of his own head as well as out of the apartment. “I didn’t expect to see you.”

That smile twisted, a little cruel. Enjoying his discomfort. But there was sort of a wry fondness to it too that bit the edge off somewhat. “Did I startle you?” He gave her a flat stare, unimpressed. “Oh, come now, you have to admit it was a little funny. Did you trip over the bench?”

Oh, good. She hadn’t seen all of it, then. “I did not.”

“I think you did.”

He shrugged, deliberately casual. “Doesn’t change the facts. What are you doing in my here?”

“Taking out the garbage.” Neat, casual, like just sipping on a glass of wine. It made all the hair on the back of his neck stand up, worry thrumming through him like a cord of music. Instinct told him he didn’t want to ask, he didn’t want to know. Amanda Pope may have been his roommate, but she was new, and the two of them were a long way off from friends.

He saw her reach her hand up to somewhere above the mirror– the top of the locker door, he realized– and then his view swung a bit to the side of her.

The walls of the locker room were blue, pale, almost sky-bright. Raven had been working here long enough to happily say he’d helped pick out the color years ago.

The wall behind Amanda was awash with red, spray and streaks and splatters. Disbelief settled cold in his gut.

“Did you kill someone in my gym?” he hissed, low, voice barely much more than a breath. The idea made him feel light-headed, but he knew it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility, or even probability. This was Amanda he was talking to.

“Nonsense.” Amanda laughed a little, brought the mirror back to face her properly. “I let Roberto do it.”

“Who the hell– no. You know what. I don’t even want to know.” He paused, considering his next words. Because he didn’t want to know. Plausible deniability was a thing that was important to him, and she probably wouldn’t tell him even if he asked her. It wasn’t like they went around and spoke of one another to their business associates. “Why my gym?”

“Would you believe me if I said I hadn’t known it was yours?” It sounded like a genuine question, and Raven felt his heart squeeze in his chest. There was a sort of implicit, unspoken promise between them all, not to go near the places of work that they each considered their own. This was the first time he could guess that it had shifted, maybe; certainly it was the first time he’d seen either of them outside the apartment.

He wasn’t sure what it meant about what was happening to them, whatever it was that was happening to them. He couldn’t put his fingers on it, and trying to puzzle it out was an exercise in frustration that never resulted in anything but a headache.

Either he was going crazy, or he was some fragmented memory, or they were fragmented things, or reality was crumbling or something. It was easier and he slept better at night just to pretend they were roommates he rarely saw, let his mind glance over the holes in the reality that tried to trip him up.

He didn’t know how either of them coped with it at all, though.

“..yeah, unfortunately.”

Amanda’s smile twisted downwards, an apologetic frown meant for his eyes only. “I really didn’t. I’ll ensure that it’s cleaned up properly. It shouldn’t trouble you, and no one will find anything. Even still, you should probably take a few days off work this week.”

“Because not going to the crime scene is a thing innocent people with no knowledge of it always do, right?” He wondered if he turned around right now and looked, what the color of the wall would be. He couldn’t force himself to glance over his shoulder.

“Hm? No, not for this. Did you know it’s Nastalia’s birthday this week?”

He hadn’t. He wondered, fleetingly, what day it fell on, how Amanda had known and he hadn’t. He’d been with Nastalia a lot longer than Amanda had been with them. It felt like years now. How had she never mentioned it?

What day was it, for that matter?

“What are we doing for it?”

“Pizza,” Amanda ventured. “Same as every week. But I thought we could spend a few days together anyway.”

“Sure. I’ll let Chastity know I wont be available.”

Amanda’s smile turned sly and knowing, teasing. “I’d like to meet her sometime.”

“Absolutely not.” The idea gave him chills. Let Amanda around Chastity? Amanda was growing on him, a little at a time. But he wasn’t prepared to let his girlfriend become aware of his… psychosis, or whatever the hell this was. He wasn’t prepared to let anybody know about it, outside of the apartment.

“You should probably go on home now,” Amanda added, almost as an afterthought. “I need to finish up, so I’ll be in later. Nastalia’s likely asleep already.”

Before he could figure out a response, Amanda closed the locker. For a brief flicker, he thought he saw himself looking into his locker, and then he made the mistake of blinking and found he was looking back at himself.

He managed to keep himself from looking at the wall while he finished up and fled the gym, heading for the apartment and a plush bed. It would be blue tomorrow, he assured his brain and it assured back, and that was all that mattered.


And before I make off will my  ill-gotten gains (and by this I mean sleep, unless you’d like to drop something in the tip jar) let’s take a look at who else did this prompt, yeah?

Other Responses

Amanda’s | Kayla’s

–Natasha

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Weekly Writing Prompt: 8/14-8/20 (2016)

Is it still the 20th? Yes? Great! I wrote a thing.

Amanda posted this week’s prompt on Sunday, and I had so many ideas, too many ideas. But you know, I’ve only missed one week since I started doing this, and I wasn’t going to let this one elude me. I wasn’t, I tell you!

So, in honor of my own tenacity, let’s have the answer to the prompt: I told you that I was no good for you.

It’s an Exalted prompt, for the tabletop game. You all get to meet my namesake, the first long-term character I made and never put down.


No Good Choice

He had told them. He had warned them. When Mars had crafted his Exaltation, she had taken from the world a great battle, one of the greatest, as she had done for each of those who bore her grace. Maybe it had happened, or was happening, or was yet to happen, but it was a great battle, and now it no longer existed in Creation.

It existed in him.

An Exaltation burned through blood and bone, erasing impurities. That was true for every Exaltation, even Sidereals. But Sidereals were born woven into Fate, and people looked for them intensely, so to not miss their birth. They were squirreled away, lost children of three-day mothers, and raised safe in Yu Shan. It was destiny.

He hadn’t had that.

Before the war with the Primordials, the Five Maidens had looked into the loom and saw the path of the world. As the Unconquered Sun and Luna, they had been given three hundred. And they had used for that terrible war only a third of their allotment.

Save a secret among themselves, for what were secrets among sisters?

They took five, and they sat them outside of Loom, beyond Fate, beyond Destiny. They were crafted but not put into the cycle, daggers in the dark and hidden paths, quiet pleasures and secrets upon secrets, endings to come in time. A complete Circle. A hidden circle.

That was him. The battle Mars had plucked from Creation without anyone else’s knowledge, without anyone else noticing but her and her sisters, the same way they shared secrets among themselves and told no others, even the rest of the Incarnae. He didn’t think they had known of the existence of them at all, until one of their own had stumbled upon him.

He’d been born in the final years of the First Age, before the Usurpation. His parents had been Lunars, two bright moons, the eyes of Luna. Both warriors in their own right, accomplished, dangerous. They had named him true, despite no knowledge of the future, or of dangers yet to come, and they had raised him, for his Exaltation was a secret not to be tracked, and so no one had come to spirit him away.

He Who Stalks Like Thunder and Strikes Like Lightning.

But now he was old, and accomplished, and the name was ever more true as the years of experience drug on. He was the Maiden’s blade in Creation, one of the most deployed. He was friend and companion to the Little Sister. He was lethal, dangerous, a wandering soldier, and he’d warned them to try to save their lives before they’d ever drawn their blades:

Turn away and forget you saw me. I am no good for you.


Whee! There it is. Very nice. Let’s take a quick look at who else did the prompt before I floof off to bed, yeah?

Other Responses
Kayla’s | Amanda’s | WriterNotWriter’s

There it is. That’s it for the week, methinks. And now, I’m off to saw logs.

–Natasha

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Weekly Writing Prompt Response: 8/7-8/15 (2016)

Writing Prompts1

Amanda‘s prompt this week is a song of perfection. It’s soft, and haunting, with a story all on it’s own. We’re not gonna talk about my affection for the song, or the singer, or the people playing the music, and we’re definitely not gonna talk about why my own prompt lists have died since I started using Amanda’s. Shhh.

But I do definitely love this song. I’ve a fear though; this is the second music-based prompt Amanda’s thrown out, and if this is gonna become a thing, I really do need to start paying more attention to the music I listen to!

I think the first time I ever heard this song, I was actually watching a Dead Space music video. For those of you lucky enough not to know what Dead Space is, it’s an alien zombie horror game, and you should probably not touch it. Save yourself.

That said, this is not a filled prompt for Dead Space. This is for my ever-present and ever-growing addiction, Fallout. You’re welcome. Cross-posted on my Ao3.


What a Wonderful World

There were bodies everywhere. Artem picked his way through the battlefield, thankful for the cool bite of fall turning to winter, the slow-growing snow. He had been in the field long enough to know the stench of the dead and dying, long enough to know how much difference the temperature made for the senses and for life. Heat would make bodies fester and rot all the quicker, while cold slowed decay and thereby desiccation.

Heat also made people die faster. But the cold… Artem had hope, vague as it was. He checked each body he came across, registering his versus theirs. Many of the casualties were his own.

He wasn’t sure how he had been left behind. It didn’t matter. His people would come back for him when they figured out he was missing. Or they wouldn’t. He would worry about that later.

American, American, American, Russian. They had been good; two to one, at least. His company was robust enough the few that they had lost would not matter much. Someone would come back to take names for families back home. Artem would join them when they did.

It wasn’t the first time he had been in a battlefield, but it was the first time it had been so quiet, so still.

He checked bodies. No breath, no rise and fall of the chest. Blood turned to ice on uniforms. He didn’t know any of them; he hadn’t been with this unit long. Snow crunched beneath his boots. Snow fell quicker, temperature dropping like a stone–

Someone moved. Artem felt his attention snap to them, moving forward to check.

He was handsome, in a way; dark hair and pale skin, made paler in the snow and uniform. His eyes were as blue as the sky, gaze distant Still breathing, though shallow; a bullet tore clean through him. Asian, though in American garb. He searched for a rank and found it missing, likely torn off and dropped to the ground in the confusion, deliberate. But he was alive.

Artem looked up, hunting for his own people. The snow was coming down heavy now, filling in his own tracks from moments ago in heartbeats.

Snowblind. A blizzard.

Artem scowled. Russian winter had come already, too soon and inopportune. But he knew where there was a good place to hunker down and wait it out. He had grown up in these woods, and he knew them very well. He would keep himself and the American alive until his people came back for him, and when they did, he would have information for them. Or a prisoner, either one.


That’s it for this week’s prompt, methinks. Lets see who else did it, yeah? If you do the prompt, let me know! I’ll link you here!

Responses:
Kayla’s | Amanda’s

-Natasha

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Weekly Writing Prompt Response: 7/31-8/6 (2016)

Writing Prompts1

What am I doing. It’s very very late, and I’m very very tired, but here, have a prompt.

I’m still going to blame the Amanda for this week’s prompt which spawned just shy of a thousand words: The assassin looked to their partner. “I’m going on a mission, and I need you to stop me at all costs.”

One day I’ll do this nonsense in a timely manner, but in the meantime, have some original work below the bar:


Gordian Knot

The assassin looked to their partner. “I’m going on a mission, and I need you to stop me at all costs.” Why me, the partner wondered, and asked as much. “Why, love, because you’re the only one I trust.”

It was a tale as old as time, assassins in the throne room. A dance Olivia knew well, too; watching her partner’s back, because Ricardo didn’t usually watch his own and had a dubious tendency to get himself into a pinch. But Olivia would trust him with her life, and did, on more than one occasion. She was the one who had vouched for him; her word to the king, her life on the line. It was desperately important that he not screw up, and if he did, she, not he, would be the one for public execution.

Partly because Ricardo would be dead. But that’s what sponsoring was. A risk, a trust in his belief and his character.

For anyone else, Olivia wouldn’t have done it. But they had known each other as children. They had been two of the precious few to survive the Gordian Nest had been torn apart, two teenage assassins just shy of their mastery, two of a dozen. None of Amarn’s forces believed a girl could be an assassin, so Ricardo had been forced to flee and leave her behind if he wanted to live– Olivia had insisted on it– but Amarn’s soldiers had taken her in and treated her kindly. She had spent her time mending soldier’s garments, earning her keep, and she had managed to keep her sunset practices well hidden until one day the company commander had caught her sneaking out to run through her forms.

Yes, she had been taught to fight, she told him. All of them had, everyone the Gordian had taken in. Knives in the dark, daggers in silk. The littlest babes were going to be, and the toddlers they had found already knew where to put the pointy end. The mothers the Amarn solders had let go were full-fledged and full-blooded, some of them born and bred for the Gordian. The fathers, brothers, sons they had killed; not even half of the vipers.

Olivia had earned her way up through the ranks from prisoner to trusted court guardian with careful diligence. Most– many– thought her a simple court servant. They didn’t, and couldn’t, know the truth of the snake that slunk in their midsts, and Olivia would be cross to remind them without cause.

In a matter of two years, Ricardo came back to her. Somewhat haggard for the years, which had been less kind to him, as they were wont to someone with the Gordian Knot emblazoned upon their skin. Olivia had vouched for him, to the city guard, to the castle guard, to the king.

I give you my word, she had said, and she had meant it. She had pledged in front of guard and king and Ricardo himself that if it were a trick, she would kill him herself and bow her own head for the blade. But it was not a trick, she said, for she knew and trusted him with her life. And thus Ricardo was brought in, and had so remained for the last two years.

Last month there had been a break-in into the castle, and Ricardo had gone missing. The prince was safe, and the attackers– or at least some of them– lay dead in pools of blood. The prince hadn’t been sure what had happened, if they had taken him or he had chased them, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was Ricardo was gone. And remained that way, until last night, when he had stolen away into her room.

Olivia, he’d whispered in the darkness, fingers held tight around her wrist to prevent the completion of the stabbing she had intended to grant him. Olivia, I’m sorry. I’m going on a mission.

He hadn’t had a lot of time to explain, and he couldn’t tell her what it was he had to do. He was expected back, and he was testing the limits already. He had made her promise to do whatever it took, and then they’d sealed it with a hug and a prayer.

Come back. I can’t. Do it anyway. Okay.

Okay.

Which brought her to this morning, the Yorian diplomatic party, Ricardo in chains– not locked, Olivia knew immediately, not locked, barely held on by sheer force of will, they were Gordian and the only knot that could hold them was their own, no locks could bar them– in the center of the group like a leashed dog.

He glanced up beneath his bangs, grown long in the month of missing, and she watched his gaze slide from her and passed King Brigod to Prince Ymir, who had held Ricardo’s heart since the moment he had laid eyes on him. She could see the next few minutes in a fraction of a section, by the anguish in his eyes, and knew exactly what had happened, what the Yorians had done, what she had to do.

Olivia stepped forward to offer their guests wine at the behest of their hosts, her king, a dagger wrapped in silk between her fingers.

Sink the blade into the heart of the knot, slice it clean; it was gossamer, magic woven in a shape burnt into skin, their source of life and death.

“You’re the one I trust the most.”


Now, the question remains, who else did this magic this week? Did you? Ehh, maybe not. I swear, one day I’ll start doing them at a decent hour. One day. Don’t hold your breath! In the meantime, let’s look at who did.

Other Responses: 
Kayla’s | Jasmina’s | Amanda’s

Till next week, folks!

–Natasha

(PS: Yes, this is cross-posted on my Ao3.)

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