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Author Topic: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread  (Read 11208 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« on: May 31, 2015, 09:30:05 PM »
Multiple POVs


Mini Heroes by Mafubash - not 100% fitting but the best I could find on short notice

In June your story has to contain more than one point of view.
Short stories not often have and it will be quite challenging to fit more than one POV into the word count limit.
Different agendas, different places, different characters (doesn't matter if they have the same or opposite goals), ... you'll most likely need more words and because I'm not mean you get 200 words more this time. Make the best out of it! :)


Rules:


1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. Must have more than one point of view, gladly more than two.
3. Prose must be 500-1700 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-600 words long.
5. One story per person or writing team (not per account).
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys next to the 'youtube' symbol.

Entry will close July 1st 2015 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

Please post your entry below. All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline SJBudd

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 03:19:21 PM »
Ok here's mine, never been first before!

It's called Shadow Hunter and is 1,175 words. Enjoy  :D

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Shadow Hunter

    My mistress lies in bed and beckons for me to join her, but I resist the temptation. There’s something I need
to take care of. She just wouldn’t understand. If she only knew half of what I got up to on nights like these she’d be appalled. She can’t help being simple.

But it’s my nature. I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks.

      I hear her calling after me, pleading with me to stay. I carry on walking, down the stairs and out into the
night. I’m looking good, just did my hair and it shines bright and slick with mischief; Exactly what I’m after tonight.

       I don’t make a sound as I move undetected like a ghost. I’ve been doing this for years. No one hunts         
better than me. Taking a left, I walk east down a dark narrow alley way and further down into one that is even
darker. But still, it’s not dark enough for me. For someone who kills as much as I do it’s a special type of
darkness I need to operate in, one that masks my past sins and future intentions.

          There’s one particular guy I’ve got my eye on. The last two times he’s managed to slip through. He thinks
 he’s making a mockery of me. His game won’t last long; I always get what I want. No one can stop me.This night is different, now I know everything about him. I know where he lives, who he comes home to, what
his kids look like and the places he likes to go when he thinks no one is looking. This one is special I’ve been
watching him for some time. I won’t rest, won’t sleep, won’t go home until I catch him

        Mick paced the floor nervously. There was something different about tonight. It seemed impossibly long.
 It would only be safe when the morning came back. He tried to consider his options but was too nervous to
 think.
         There was a bad man after him, one of the shadow hunters. Why he had been picked he did not know.
How had he come under the shadow hunters radar? He’d been so careful.  Twice he had eluded him, he’d
thought there might have been a way to reason with it, try and barter for his life. There was no way to entreat
a creature whose only desire was to capture and kill.

     
He was safe here in his new lodgings, as long as he laid low he’d live, but his wife and family
were in grave danger, and they didn’t know. The shadow hunter would come looking it wouldn’t take him long
to find them. He had to get back and get them out of there. Shadow hunters hated his kind it was a battle that
had been waging for millennia.

There was only route back, he had to take it; Prowler’s playground.


       Like I said, I don’t give a shit about anything but killing, I walk straight into Scaramanga’s territory and I
don’t care if he knows it. Actually, I want him to know it. I’m the new king in these parts. I spot his empty
 throne, where he sits and rules. Slowly I saunter over, taking my sweet time as I do so. I hear his subjects
scamper away from the sight of me. Oh yeah, I’ve still got it. When I reach the throne there’s nothing more
fitting than to take a big piss up against it. Oh yeah, that feels good.

Now back to business.

       I catch a scent and suddenly the gloves are off, I feel myself revert back to my primal state. My favourite
state of being. I am what I am and never will I apologise or it. I’ll never feel remorse.  The instinct to kill takes
over and I let it guide me like a beautiful girl leading me by the allure of her eyes.

And I follow straight to Prowlers playground


          Mick frets and bites his nails. He just needs to run as fast as he can. When he gets his family to safety
it will all be over. The heat will be off and they’ll be free once more.

               He waits for longer than he should but he’s not a brave man. There’s not a bad bone in his body. He
looks out fearfully to the black sky. It’s not safe up there either. He hopes the silent swoopers aren’t out
tonight. It’s a dangerous fretful life for someone like him.


              But tonight the skies are clear. He checks again behind him. From where he hides he can see his
home where his family waits. More than anything he wants to be with them to feel safe in their warm embrace.
He’s not strong but he’ll do all he can to save them. He’s wanted man and when he’s satisfied he’s not being
followed, Mick summons the courage needed to run. The night is too still but it’s too late now. Mick closes his
eyes and prays for his life.

He should have stayed away from Prowler’s playground.

                     He runs as fast as what his timid heart affords, he looks up and sees the distance he has
covered. His speed increases and he whoops with joy. He’s going to make it he’s almost there. But then without
 any warning he feels himself being impaled and lifted from the ground. His ribs crunch to pieces as he’s led
away. His skin is punctured everything feels so cold. He didn’t want it to end like this, he wanted to grow old
and meet his future grandchildren. The last things he sees in his mind are his wife and children. Then it all goes
blank….


            Now he’s in my grasp, my new toy to play with. I don’t kill him straight away; I like to prolong my fun.
I like the feel of fear, the taste of it in my mouth as I rip apart what was left of my old enemy. He’d been trying
 to escape me for some time, but I always get my mark. It’s just a simple game of cat and mouse.


                I see the eastern corner of sky getting light. I’ve done my business I’m ready to return home. Slowly
I walk back checking my lands. The day is coming back into force and I sigh. Days are so dull. I enter my
house quietly; I know my mistress will be angry at me for deserting her last night.

       I turn into the hallway and we come face to face. I’m ready for the consequences. She stops when she
sees me and rushes over with outstretched hands. Last night is apparently forgotten, she’s so stupid like that.
“Hey Prowler,” She smiles and strokes my back and tickles my ears just how I like it.

        I say nothing and enter the kitchen to eat my breakfast which is waiting for me. Ah hell, I do what I want when I want, because no one can stay angry with me.

I'm a cat.


« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 08:34:22 PM by SJ Budd »

Offline Eli_Freysson

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 07:50:54 PM »
Okay, here's my first contribution to these monthly contests.

It's called The Moments Before, and is 1358 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:

The Moments Before

King Kleus looked at his legacy in the making. The great orc horde from the east was marching south along the wide road built on his grandfather’s orders. The invading force was largest one in living memory, and arrayed against them was king’s army. Professionals and peasants alike stood in the orderly lines which had formed the realm in the first place. If they held he would be remembered as a great war leader who saved the fertile southlands from calamity. If they didn’t, if he had overlooked something or heeded poor advice, the world itself would be left poorer.

   His realm was surely the jewel of the south, his shining capital the centre of learning and art, the very things that made man great. He could not boast of having arranged that, his forefathers held that honour. It fell to him to defend the result of their labours.

   The king uttered a quiet prayer to the merciful gods, begging them for victory. Let it not all be lost during his turn on the throne. Let him not be the last link on the chain. His wife, for all her other qualities, had yet to give him a son.

   He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath as the stomping feet of the approaching horde got ever louder. Such thoughts were unbecoming. Surely he had done everything that could be done. His army was large, well drilled and stood waiting with the stoicism expected of them. Their steel was virtually unmatched. And Kleus had even bolstered his forces with mercenaries. By any measure his preparations should suffice against this beastly, disorganized rabble.

   King Kleus glanced to his left, at the treeline, seeing nothing but shadow.

   Granted, the plan assumed those capricious elves would do as they had promised.

   Elonna of the Glimmering Sky peered out through the trees at the men and saw balance in the making.
   The orcs made their thumping, grunting advance while she and her company of archers moved unseen and unheard through the forest, guided by the whispers of the spirits of the wild, ever true to the ancient kinship.

   How blatant they always were, men and orcs alike. How much faith they put in their metals and their talent for reproduction. Their king had offered much to try to convince them to do more in his war than they had offered; glittering stones, shiny metals and even treaties. But her people knew full well that a treaty with men would last a few decades at the most, and what were they to do with shiny things of the deep earth when they had the stars in the sky?

   No, their purpose for being here was balance. For all the short-sightedness that defined the race of men orcs were far worse. A certain cycle of destruction and rebirth was natural but this orc horde had grown far too big and if they claimed these fertile lands then soon in elven terms they would become a plague upon the entire world.

   At the same time this kingdom of men was expanding excessively, and ever attracting more and more people. Today these two forces would balance one another out. With a bit of help.

   Elonna gave a hand signal without taking her eyes off the horde. Her archers would pass it along the line. She slid an arrow from the quiver, placed it on the string and drew a bead on one of the trolls that stood among the orcs like towers among cottages.

   Removing them from this battle should even out the scales nicely, as they had promised the king.

   Her eye momentarily shifted to the rock formations on the other side of the road just as the horde began to pass it. It would be . . . unseemly to hit one of the northern barbarians.

   Kolgrim son of Beorn saw his chance for glory. He and his fellow northmen crouched amid the rock formations, waiting to smash into the orcs’ right flank with the ferocity that made their people such prized mercenaries.

   The king had paid well in silver and in southern steel. Well enough that every man who survived the coming battle could return home to good prospects, but it was a different currency that truly interested Kolgrim. Life was fleeting and full of grief, regardless of one’s means. True value lay in living through the ages in song.

   The ravens had arrived in anticipation of a battle. Kolgrim took one hand off the great axe he rested on his knees and reached for the sky. The father of men and of war had sent his agents. They would tell him who had true courage in their hearts and deserved to drink in his great hall tonight. Kolgrim had no intention of shaming himself before such an audience.

   He peered around the rock he had chosen for himself and snuck a peek at their allies for this day. How dour they looked, standing in neat lines with their shields interlocked. How did they intend to win the great father’s favour by acting as a rock being battered by waves? It was boldness that won glory and poems. These unpainted men did not sing or make sacrifices before a battle. Who would remember them?

   He looked about at his fellows, many of them barechested in defiance of pain and death and to display the runes painted on their skin to the world.

   No few were already showing signs of the battle fever, breathing heavily and shaking as the father’s touch took over.  Kolgrim grinned, and the nearest man caught his eye and grinned right back. Perhaps he should seize the initiative before one of his fellows did, the king’s orders be damned. Only one would be able to boast of having drawn first blood.

   Kolgrim peered around the other side of the rock, at the orc horde. Now them he could respect to a degree. They at least understood the value of blood as a gift to the gods. The chieftain stood near the front, easily identified by his enormous top knot. Taking his head would surely be worthy of songs. With enough daring and ferocity it should be possible to fight one’s way to him.

   Kolgrim’s heart thundered and his blood sang as the touch of the father came ever more over him. He put the handle of his axe between his teeth and bit down until they left marks, then pressed the beard of the blade to his scalp. The pain felt like mere heat as blood began to leak down into his face. He took ever deeper breaths and licked his own blood of the blade, surely awakening the spirit the blacksmith had wrangled from the very earth.

   Let the southerners hide behind one another’s shields and wait for the storm to pass. Today he would either earn glory or feast with the gods.

   Chieftain Grublik saw the future of his tribe. After winning this battle there would be nothing left to defy them in this land. They would eat well of enemy flesh and then go on to take settlements instead of simply burning them. They would eat and breed and grow stronger still.

   The men waited with their glimmering steel and their swift horses but Grublik was unconcerned. He had many offspring and the tribe’s females were fertile. The body that was the horde would continue, regardless of who led it.

   The great horde did not relent, it did not retreat and it did not bargain. The horde gnashed its teeth and bellowed and clanged weapons together all around him, building the frenzy. Tonight the gods would feast on blood and the horde would scream at the sky in celebration.

   Grublik spotted the king, sitting on his high horse in all his ugly, glimmering finery. His land would feed the horde for a long time before they used it up and moved on. It would be most fitting to make a sacrifice of him.

   The chieftain held his spear high in the air and, with a great bellow, gave the signal to attack.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 10:00:03 PM by Eli Freysson »
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2015, 07:00:20 AM »
Two months and I'm back. Alright. 1560 words, not including the title. Hope you enjoy it.

Spoiler for A Garden Fit for Remembrance:
A Garden Fit for Remembrance



   There was much to do in the lands of Jesaille, and that meant it was time for a soiree. Yes, healing was needed. A revolution had failed. People were heading home and the aristocracy was saved once again. The least they could do was hold one more meeting; something to tide over the discontent. Perhaps pass a budget. Tend to the burned crops. Maybe even send a regiment down south for protection.

   But the Duchess of Bourgonne thought otherwise. It was a trait her lover found quite annoying. Not enough to not return home for the party, but plenty to give her hell on the balcony that night before. “Please dear, folk are starving. Is a stuffed boar necessary?” Jan de Albracht’s voice was strained as taught rope. Pleading almost, if a professional duelist could be anything of the such.

   “I don’t want to hear it,” the Duchess proclaimed, staring off into her grand garden. The garden she had slaved over for years in her youth. The lilies were in bloom finally. “Lauren caught and killed that beast just a day or two ago. Pierced to the heart with a spear tip of her own fashioning. She wishes to see it served at our feast. I shall see our daughter’s wish granted.”

   “Our feast for what? For another day barricaded in this manor?” The woman gave out a sigh of resignation. Jan went to her lover’s side and embraced fingertips. Pushed the Duchess to their marble wall and felt the cool night dew on her forehead. Had she been praying on the rail? “I tire of these arguments; you are the one fit for politics. There needs to be reforms.”

   “There needs to be cake,” the other woman whispered into her lover’s ear. “We have won another day. What more can you ask for?”

   Oh, she could ask for more. Much more indeed. But she let her lips do the talking for once, not her pistol hardened hands. Those she saved for later.

***

   Antoine Lafayette was a minor nobleman’s son in a small corner of the Queendom. Which is why he bent down at the Duchess of Bourgonne’s gate to pass a silver in the hands of one so-called peasant. The poor youngster was roughly his age, scrubbed in filth and if fortune had been any different, the man considered, their places would’ve been swapped. Antoine had earned his indigo frillery, yes, toiling away in the fields with the rest of his father’s serfs.

   Ah, but that was before the abolition. Before the laws had been themselves written and implemented, making all equal but none free. He nursed his bitterness through the white gate. Flashed a weak grin at the guard stationed at it. She was cute, in a three-legged cat kind of way, torn up and scarred under her brown mop of hair. Didn’t smile back. Merely held steadfast that spear, and well, that was good enough for him.

   Besides, he was here for the knife-ear.

   Three steps in showed him a different land to the grime infested walls he had just left. Fine cutlery mixed with fruits from all across the North. Glistened in the bright noon sun and reflected on the powdered skin of noble men and women mingling about. Antoine searched the entrance. Perhaps the host would be at the front gate to greet guests coming in.

   No such luck.

   He set off further in the crowd of perfume riddled gentry. Suffice to say, the cough could only be held in for so long. That time was another three or four steps, to wit he gave a fit to the closest peacock dressed lady he was near. She passed him a glare fit to kill his children, but he could care less. He continued on.

   The man did not make it much farther, smells choking his throat and senses. No, he was stopped at the water fountain by a young lass eyeing any gent that walked past. Desperation was clear in her grin. “Can I get you a drink?”

   “One for the gentlemen outside these walls, perhaps too?” he bit and coughed once again.

   “Ooh, you’re an interesting one. I’m Lauren.” The girl held her hand out to kiss, the other with a glass of white wine dangling ready to give. Antoine took neither. She pouted and grabbed at his shoulder as he left. “Wait.”

   He slung it off, but staring back into those blue eyes blared a sound of recognition. Just a snap. Of that cold autumn night in the chalk ring with his brother. Could it be? No, he surmised, and let his anger simmer downward. “I apologize, my dear.” He scooped up her fingers. Not a one dainty, he noticed, much to the contrary of her silken skirt. “I had some friends down south in the protests. Some that did not survive.” He pecked a kiss on her hand. She frowned. Too fast for common courtesy? Oh what the hell. “My name is Antoine Lafayette. You’ve probably heard of me.”

   Play the lineage, like every other pompous noble here. The Game was a long song, and he not well-versed. But the girl shook her head. “Can’t say I have. But if my mother invited you, then you must be of some importance.” He couldn’t tell if it was a playful jab or a request to leave, by the way she slinked her hand out of his. Just a little more plying, though. He had one question still for her.

***

   Jan was in the center of the garden, under the great oak tree her wife had planted when they were but children. Tulips and roses and blue peas snaked around it, like the stone divider she had fixed for the tiny plot months back. Back before she had left for Bereaux.

   The swamp lands there were different to the rolling hillocks she called home. And more the better. It had stunk and soaked gangrene once in her boot step. But nights under the stars had been comforting, away from all the rabble in her courtyard now. Silence in the forest was what she yearned for. Silence like last night. Silence like the seconds before a pistol crack.

   Oh how she missed the duels. However, not only age but one tiny misstep in the southern provinces had proven a reminder to her calling. The man had been a nothing, fighting for honor and ideals. Spitting barbs. It was the namesake of her profession, but the fire in his eyes spoke of a different story than the decades etched in her career.

   This had been his first fight. It had been his last.

Jan bent down to pluck a lily from the ground. Thing smelled perfectly divine. As if the fragrance could take you away from these chatterboxes. From this chaos brewing underneath the tables. Brewing outside. To a time before the Dissolution of Centralization had been passed. “We need the peasants no longer,” her wife had told her pillow. “Funny that it is them that need us now.” Quite a time they lived in. Of course the poor needed the rich, whether they wanted to admit it or not. The transition had been rough for them the most.

Alongside the vines and flowers there coiled clear tubes around the trunk. All the fashion, her wife had doted. The reason for the nobility’s newfound independence, Jan had bit back. Such a shame it was here in the shade, seeing as the glasswork only caught sunlight at daybreak and dusk. Caught her attention, however, to times past. When the couple danced between the petunias. Sang songs of tomorrow. How different the tunes were today.

And standing in these flowers of memory, Jan thought perhaps she needed to change her habits. Change her life for something better. Something other than coin and prestige. For them. For her family. For her once melody.

The thought left a sour taste in her mouth, sure, words never her strong suit. A breeze flitted in through the treetops and she grinned. There were more than one ways to steer a ship. Perhaps she could adjust.

***

There she was. Fitted in a riding coat and boots digging into the moist undergrowth, the knife-ear stood alone. All was quiet as Antoine started toward her. Toward the woman that had killer her brother in cold blood.

All for an insult, he shuddered. Because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut for his people. These nobles were all the same. Thought they were owed something. Thought they owned the world while they were at it. Giving back? Hah. More like danced on the corpses of children starving outside these walls.

Maybe he shouldn’t have declined that white wine after all. 

The young man gripped his fists into a ball and started forward at the aging girl. “Jan de Albracht?” She turned around, face as clear cut as a petal on rippling water.

“Yes?”

“You killed my brother. I’m here for your life.” His revolution had just begun. He pulled out a flintlock and set off with his mission. Time to make the game in his own image. Play by his own rules. The rules of the lower folk. A message had to be sent. For all of them that had died because of ill honor. Because of petty independence.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 07:03:34 AM by Doctor Chill »
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Offline SugoiMe

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2015, 02:37:38 PM »
And here's my poem.  595 words including the title, last I checked.  If it's missing criteria, doesn't fit, whatever, let me know.  Hope y'all like it!

Spoiler for Hiden:
Huntsman and the Doe

Here’s a story for your thoughts
Of a girl and a buck,
Of sporting fun and shooting spots,
And my lack of luck…

---

’Twas a fine and sunny day
That I went out to hunt.
I rode my steed into the woods
To find a wild buck.

All day I rode and walked and tracked,
But never did I find
A mighty catch to bring back home
To feed my royal pride.

I was about to end my search
When something caught my eye.
It was a doe far down the creek,
Drinking by the side.

I grabbed my bow, sprung to my steed,
And let my arrow soar.
But missed the mark, the doe took off,
And in my anger, swore.

Then in pursuit, I followed it
Into an open meadow.
But there within the grassy glade
Was a girl, not a doe.

Oh what a maiden of the glade!
I immediately stopped and stared
At the beauty standing there
With twirling locks of hair.

---

Oh curses to the skies above,
What once was anger is now love,
And I’ve no interest in this fool
Who prances ‘round with fighting tools.

Leave me be, you wretched fake,
And stop your stuttering mouth, I pray.
I know your heart, you selfish man.
You kill for sport throughout the land.

Oh no, please, away with you!
I do not want to speak to you.
You chased me here in your strife,
And I’d changed form to spare my life.

---

Ever did I speak to her.  Yet alas!
My duties beckoned me
So I said goodbye and left to heed
My kingdom’s company.

---

At last, he’s gone, the bigot prince,
And I am free from his wits.
Free to run and leap and sing
Far from the kingdom’s  future king.

---

The following day, I got up
And eagerly did I seek
The lady fair with golden hair,
Whom I’d the pleasure to meet.

Yet when I came upon the glade,
There was no pretty girl.
Instead, I saw that same doe
That I’d pursued to kill.

Again, I fixed an arrow quick
And shot it straight and true.
It hit its mark, the doe fell hard,
Landing in a slough.

The kingdom would rejoice that night
And recognize my prowess,
Yet my heart was torn, for I had yearned
To make that lady my princess.

---

What’s this that’s happened as of late?
My dear sister has met her fate,
Slain by the evil princeling’s shaft.
He will pay by my hand!

Come everyone!  Gather hither, all!
Tonight we rise to the call
To avenge my little sister’s death
And lay the princeling’s sport to rest!

---

I was feasting with my kin,
And drunk was I with wine,
When all of a sudden, to my surprise,
The doors burst open wide.

And in the hall came stampeding
A great and mighty herd.
It trampled nobles underfoot
And deafening screams I heard.

Then a buck took note of me,
And before me came to stand.
Then much to my astonishment,
It transformed into a man!

---

You pathetic fool of a prince,
I’ve come to crash your party since
You slaughtered my sweet sister fair
Whom I had loved and for her cared!

Now meet your end, you spoiled brat
And see the fullness of my wrath!
For now you die and die you must,
To end your mindless hunting lust!

---

…So there you have it, the story’s done.
I reaped what I’d sown.
Now forever I haunt the eating hall
Because I killed the doe.
"And then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Offline TOMunro

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 09:28:56 PM »
Here's mine. 

"The Fall of Niarm" 1700 words, not including the title.

Spoiler for Hiden:
There was a lot of crying.  Not the wailing of distraught grief but the muffled sobs of people who knew that the terrible thing which had already happened was not the worst that the day would bring.

The murmurs rose and wound around the intricate timbered ceiling diffracting into a drone of distress. The roof of the indoor market was one of the architectural triumphs of Niarm, city of beauty, city of lovers.  Now the eighth wonder of the mercantile world loured over a different kind of trade.

“What’s happening, Bree?  Why have they brought us here?”

Brila Yaventus gave her sister’s hand a tighter squeeze.  It was all the comfort she could offer.  She had no answers for the younger girl, or at least none she dared share.

The soldiers urged and prodded the women into order with grunts and spear butts.  They were lightly armoured, nothing thicker than boiled leather to be glimpsed through the vents in their silk surcoats.  Still, they were here and the chainmail clad defenders of Niarm were not.  Brila and Celida had woken to the shouts of alarm, the jangle of bridles and clink of armour as the men-at-arms of the beautiful city had fled, with barely an arrow loosed in defiance of the advancing foe.  Outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and, in the end unmanned, they had not waited to test their metal against the leather of the Roslyrian cohorts.

The frightened women spread in a reluctant line along the wall.  Brila locked fingers with her sister, driven by the single determination that they would not be separated.  She scanned their fellow prisoners seeking any glimmer of reassurance as to the soldiers’ intentions.  A whimper died in her throat.  They were all young, no old, no infirm, no children.  And they were all of the congregation of the Goddess, crescent symbols raised to lips that mumbled desperate prayers at the prospect of being produce. She saw one soldier slap a crescent from a woman’s hands and tread it into the dirt of the market place floor.  He jabbed at her face with a two fingered point.  In Niarm the followers of the Divine Twins and the faithful of the Goddess had always lived in respectful harmony – until now.

The soldiers fell abruptly silent, barring a few short physical commands to the women to do likewise. A dozen officers in plumed helms strode in through the double doors. Brila shivered as they paced along the fearful line. Women were made to step forward, to stand tall, to turn, to raise their arms.  She craned her neck to see what was happening, but a barked order and a thumped spear butt brought her gaze back to the front.

“Where are the taking them?” Celida’s eyes widened as the young women of Niarm were divied up into a dozen growing clusters of trepidation.

“Where ever it is, we go together,” the words were forced from the corner of Brila’s mouth in defiance of their guard’s furious stare.

***

Capito Sorndes’ attention was drawn by the two girls near the centre of the line.  The tall dark one with the slighter fair girl hanging on her arm.  There was pride in the tall one, despite the shame of her predicament.  Abandoned by her menfolk and indecorously dressed with arms and head both uncovered in violation of the strict rules of the Roslyrian faith, yet still she stood straight and tall chin jutted forward as though she were the one in command of the situation.  Spirit, Sorndes liked that kind of challenge.

He walked ahead of the other capitos, passing by a string of miserable and unallocated women, until he drew level with the two girls.  They were related, it was clear in the shape of brow and nose as much as in the way they clung to each other, sisters no doubt.  He stretched a hand towards the blond girl but she shrank away from his reach curling into the shadow of her sibling.  The tall one snarled at him, a real baring of lips. “Don’t you dare touch her, Roslyrian,” she spat.

He smiled and hit her. Hard. A moan rose from the other women, a sharper cry from the blond girl flinging herself into a protective crouch over her fallen sister.  The dark haired girl rose slowly, her cheek reddened from his blow.  She said no words but her eyes were eloquent with a loathing that only made Sorndes’ smile broader.  “That was my open hand, crescenter,” he told her.  “The next time you speak out of turn to me I will use my fist.  After that I will use weapons.”

A hand fell heavily on his shoulder and stayed there. “It does not do to damage goods that might be allocated to another capito’s company, Sorndes.”

“Why, Capito Llidres,” Sorndes greeted the newcomer with a broad beamed smile and hard unyielding eyes. “If I have been over eager then I will happily forgo one or even two others of my allocation and content myself with the fruit that I have already bruised.  Perhaps you yourself could take this girl with the yellow hair.  I am sure your men would prize her.”

“She is young.”  Llidres spared the girl a cursory glance, his face blank apart from the scars.

“I had heard that you liked them young, Capito Llidres.” 

The older capito’s expression blazed with unhappy ugliness and, for a moment, Sorndes feared he might draw down the veteran’s venom. Still, it was common soldiers’ knowledge that, in all the towns and villages they had won for the glory of the Divine Twins, Roslac and Lyrus, Capito Llidres had always claimed the youngest prizes for himself. Indeed, unlike other companies, it was said that Llidres’ men never got even to see sight of their capito’s allocation from the fruits of conquest.

Llidres leant in and patted the younger capito on the cheek.  “I will take them both, Sorndes.”

***

Celida glanced from face to face as the two men locked glares.  Brila was leaning heavily on her shoulder. The thunderous slap from the man Celida might otherwise have considered handsome must have shaken her more than she would admit.  Certainly she was in no hurry to open her mouth in further defiance and it was with some surprise that Celida found her own voice shrilly berating the two officers.  “What do you want with us?”

The handsome one sneered at her.  “Your sister will service my men.”

“We are people of the Goddess, not slaves, we do not serve.”

“I said service, not serve,” the man corrected her with a glare. “And in time you will join her.  Had your precious Goddess intended for it to be otherwise she would not have had those cowards in the metal suits flee.”

“My company was the first to claim this city, Capito Sondres.” The scarred one spoke, his hand flexing over the hilt of his curved scimitar.  “And I will take both of these girls.”

The officers glowered at each other in a long moment of unblinking intensity. Sorndes drummed fingers on his own sword hilt but the ugly man did not stir. Then, with an abrupt laugh the younger man broke off the challenge, flinging up his hand in surrender.  “Very well then, Llidres, have them.  Have them both.”  He turned to Celida and drew a fine fingered hand across her cheek.  “I would have waited for you, girl, but from this ugly bastard’s reputation I would say both you and your sister will be in service before sunset.”

***

It was a handsome billet.  Some merchant of Niarm had been displaced to make way for Capito Llidres.  The warrior was sitting at a table in a silk chemise and pantaloons eating grapes when the two sisters were brought to him.  Brila hesitated in the curtained doorway, reluctant to enter and desperate to keep her sister safely beyond the room.  However, a firm push from their escort sent both girls stumbling in.

“Let my sister go,” Brila’s words were muffled by the bruising of her cheek.  “You don’t need her.”

Llidres merely raised a quizzical eyebrow. Brila found her own eyes were damp as she begged, “Just let Celida go, please.”

The capito flicked away a pip and scowled.  “You crescenters,” he said with a sad shake of his head. “You always think you are the ones to give the orders.”

“The path of the Goddess is the true one,” Brila intoned automatically

Another twitch of disagreement. “The Roslyrian faith was here before your prophetess brought down the Monar Empire.  It was the Divine Twins’ followers who salvaged fragments of civilisation from that wreckage, who preserved learning and human dignity.  It was you crescenters from the Petred Isle who brought war to our cities and our faith.”

“That was an age ago,” Brila insisted.

Llidres took up a quill and added two scratchy names to a list on a strip of parchment, talking as he did so. “There is a caravan to Salicia assembling south of this city. Lieutno Varres will take you to it and enter you as my merchandise.  When you reach Salicia a trader I know will collect you and ensure you are quartered in a respectable house.  Respectable and free.”

“Salicia?” Brila murmured the name, last bastion of the people of the Goddess, her people.  “You’re sending us to Salicia?”  Llidres merely nodded.  “Why? Aren’t you Roslyrian?”

He laughed at that, deep and joyous.  “I am most definitely Roslyrian, child.  More so than Capito Sorndes. I think I know better than he how the Divine Twins would have us treat our enemy’s womenfolk.”

“He’s sending us to safety?” Celida could not believe it.  “Why?”

Llidres smiled.  “Because I want you to know that there are no evil faiths, only evil men.  The two should not be confused.”

“Thank you,” Brila said inadequately.

***

Llidres sat long into the night after the girls had gone and thought of his own daughter, a hundred leagues away, far from the Roslyrian Heartland.  He hoped she was well and that, if she were not, then someone would look kindly on her as he had looked on the sisters.


Offline JMack

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2015, 11:37:53 PM »
Ok, here goes.

"Three Times Seals the Spell"

1,700 words, excluding the title. Mucho bad language.

Spoiler for Hiden:
THREE TIMES SEALS THE SPELL

"Do you remember this shit?" asked Jannie, pulling down a clay pot of pitch-black herbs from a dusty cupboard in their grandmother's old kitchen and giving it a sniff.

"Leave it alone," ordered Gemma from across the room, where she and Three of Her Closest Friends were unpacking groceries and filling the countertops with everything needed for the rehearsal dinner that night. The two sisters and the three bridesmaids were to get things started before Terry, the maid of honor, came later with a whole crew of helpers. Even the groom, Robbie Albright, had said he might show up.

The smell of the herbs wasn't as bad as Jannie recalled. Maybe your nose matured as you grew up, even if nothing else did. "Didn't Meema call this her 'amplifier' or something?" Their grandmother had had peculiar names for all the weird things in her house. Gemma's house now.

"Just leave her stuff alone, sis. I thought you wanted to help."

Oh, yeah, thought Jannie. I'm just that helpful sister type.

"Maybe you could - " Gemma cast about her for something she probably figured her twin sister wouldn't screw up. "- slice the carrots or something." There were five big bags of carrots crowded between a tower of plastic-shrouded spare rib containers and a stack of six-packs.

One of the Closest Three said, "Maybe there's a food processor. I'll help you look." The woman retreated at Jannie's glare. Like Meema would have ever owned a food processor.  If it wasn't invented at least sixty years ago, it wouldn't be in her kitchen. Which made Jannie remember the Veg-O-Matic.  The twins had found the contraption at a yard sale ten years before, and they'd immediately thought of their tiny grandmother.  The old gal had literally cackled with glee at the 1960s-awful black and orange box, the white plastic chopping device inside and the TV-tested motto: "It Slices! It Dices!"

She found it shoved down in a deep bottom drawer, buried under abandoned utensils and mouse turds. Perfect.  She could almost hear Meema laughing as she pulled it out in all its kitschy glory.

As she glanced at the Veg-O-Matic's yellowed instructions sheet, she tipped out a portion of the black "amp" powder from the pot into an ashtray she'd unearthed from another drawer. Was that a bit more of the herbs than Meema had used? She found a lighter and held a flame to the black stuff. It flickered to life.

"Tell me again why Robbie's family isn't doing the rehearsal dinner?" asked Closest Number Two.

"Because Robbie's family hasn't got a fucking clue," muttered Jannie.

"Because Robbie's family is clueless about a proper wedding," answered Gemma. "This has to be perfect."

And that's my perfect twin, thought Jannie. It was too bad they'd agreed to hate each other years ago.

"I'd have just booked a nice restaurant and handed them the bill," said Closest One.

"Well, we're all here now, aren't we," said Jannie, "and Meema's ghost will be royally pissed if we dirty up her kitchen for nothing." Gemma gave her a halfway friendly look, the first since Jannie'd arrived in town. She put the six packs on the floor and set the Veg-O-Matic down by the carrots. "I guess we need to skin these?"

"And cut them in half or they won't fit in your machine," Gemma instructed. "The recipe calls for eighth-inch slices."

"Right." Eighth-inch. Oh yeah, she loved kitchen work.

The other women were chatting and doing whatever when Jannie pounded the first carrot through the julienne blades with a satisfying thwack! They all jumped. Jannie laughed and set another onto the slicer. She pulled up the top handle with a scratching sound, then pushed down sharply with both palms.  Wham! Right through. Carrot slices, just the perfect size.

They all came over to see. Jannie whacked another carrot through and smiled around at them. "Cool, huh? Meema loved this thing."

"Let me try," said Closest Two.  She was a nurse that Gemma said she'd known for a few months, and had a body way too short for her bust. Jannie would never want to be cursed with big boobs. God, the hassle.

"Knock yourself out." She wandered back to the ashtray, where an oily coil of ebony smoke was winding its way to the ceiling. Meema's amplifier. Jannie had seen her grandmother burn the herbs a few times. She'd said it was an old, old recipe and one day she'd teach Jannie all about it. One day had never come, what with all the shit that went down between Dad's death, Mom's breakdown, and Gemma screwing Jannie's boyfriends every single time.

There was a skritch and a grunt and a "huh?" from Busty. "It's stuck," she said. Jannie was so glad being maid of honor was out of the question. She might have had to remember stuff, like the other women's names. Or actually have her sister's back.

"You just need to put some force behind it," said Closest Three.

"You just need to name a name," said Jannie. She looked over at Gemma. "Like Marty the Crotch."

"Fifth grade," recited her sister.

Jannie pushed Busty out of the way and took her place at the handle. "Marty the Crotch," she intoned in a slow, deep voice, and slammed it down. Carrot exploded through the blades. "One dead fucking vegetable."

She got another. "Penny the Priss."

"Ninth grade," intoned Gemma.
Slam.

"Oh" said the three bridesmaids.  Now they all wanted to try.

The kitchen was starting to feel hot.  Closest Three stepped up to the Veg-O-Matic, put in a carrot and called out: "My mother-in-law!" Down went the handle and out blew the slices. She whooped and reached for another, but Busty pushed in. "My turn." The nurse closed her eyes, took a deep breath, called out "Richard Banerjee, MD!" and slammed down. "Your boss?" laughed Gemma. "Oh yeah," said Busty, unconsciously licking her lips. "What a dick-head. Thinks he's got a bedside manner, if you know what I mean."

Jannie stepped back to let them have their fun. Damn, the place was starting to smell strange. Her eyes followed the curl of smoke from the amp up to the ceiling, where the twisting smoke was coiling around on itself. How funny, Jannie thought. There's a black thread coming down and touching each of the others' heads. How weird, she thought, that no one is bothered by this. I wonder if there's one touching me?

Gemma took her turn at the slicer. She put in a carrot and said, "Chris Cunningham." Jannie didn't like that. Chris had been her own heartthrob in tenth grade before Gemma cast her Miss Perfect spell and snatched him away. What was so wrong with Chris? Did he deserve to be sliced to ribbons?

Closest Number Three had grabbed another carrot and a knife and was furiously carving away at it. Sweat rolled down the bridesmaid's skin, and she was flushed all over.

Gemma grabbed eight. "All my goddamn boyfriends," she said. "Except Robbie." She began to run through them all, one carrot and boy at a time. The kitchen seemed to get stuffier with each whack of the machine.

Except Robbie? What had Robbie done so right that he was safe? Except be the current boyfriend when Gemma decided it was time for the next rung on her ladder of life. She had Meema's house now, so she needed a husband to fill it with. And Jannie had screwed Robbie herself back in the day. He was always trying to nail anything that moved.

"My turn again," she said, shouldering Gemma away from the machine. Jannie could feel her twin looming behind her, breathing heavily.

 A big fat carrot. Right there on the blades. Lift up the handle. "Robbie Albright!"

Slam.

"What did you say?" said Gemma.

"He's a jerk, Gemma." Another carrot. "Robbie Fucking Albright!" Slam.

"Stop that!" said Gemma, grabbing at Jannie, but she shrugged her off and hunched protectively around the machine.

"Don't do it. You don't know what you're doing," spat Gemma.

Three times always sealed the spell. So that was twice for Robbie. Jannie wanted to finish it. She wanted to say the name so bad. Gemma pulled hard at her arms and hands, but Jannie pushed her away hard.

Carrot, handle - breathe. "And all your fucking friends, too, Gemma!" Which was not three times.

Then it was name calling, and fingernails. Busty screaming that it was her turn again, and Closest Three stomping vegetable totems into the kitchen floor. It might have gone on forever, if Closest One hadn't opened a window and let in some air.

*****

By the time dinner was over, the guests were gone, and the dishes had been washed, Gemma Tudor was able to take stock. What had started as disaster had collapsed into catastrophe. Jannie has disappeared after the fight, as always. Her bridesmaids had veered back and forth between tears and hysteria the rest of the day. They couldn't get the amp stench out of the house and had to set up tables on the lawn, with moths and beetles flying around and the food getting cold. Somewhere during dessert, Robbie and Terry had gone on a beer run, and come back looking like they'd run a 5K with their clothes off. Another thing not in Gemma's wedding plans.

At least Jannie didn't need to pretend to be happy or normal. She could stand to the side of everything in her black jeans, psycho tattoos and face piercings, radiating unhappiness. But Gemma tried so hard to keep up the image of a normal bride from a normal family. Oh yeah, some family. Some bride.

Robbie was chugging a beer on the back porch, laughing and bullshitting with his best man. Gemma could handle Robbie. She was thinking about Terry and the Veg-O-Matic. Three times always sealed the spell, and there was a reason Meema had left the house to her and not to Jannie.  Terry Fucking Maid-of-Honor.  She went to find some carrots.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2015, 11:47:44 AM by Jmack »
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Offline ClintACK

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2015, 07:43:27 PM »
Here it is: "Big Bad Wolf"

This is a totally new kind of story for me, so I'll be really interested in critiques when we get there.

Some bad language and violence.

890 words, including the title.

Spoiler for "Big Bad Wolf":


The Big Bad Wolf


“Then thwack! The Princess chopped the Wolf’s furry head right off with the Woodsman’s axe,” Virginia’s Daddy read.  “The shepherds and the farmers and the townsfolk all cheered because the Big Bad Wolf couldn’t hurt their children ever again, and they all lived happily ever after to the end of their days.”  Her Daddy closed the book with a flourish.

“Again, Daddy.  Read it one more time, pleeease,” Virginia said.  She loved the way her Daddy did the voices.

He kissed her on the forehead.  “Sleep now, my little Princess.  May your dreams be as sweet as you are.”   He tucked her in as snug as a bug in a rug, switched off the light, and pulled the door almost closed.  She wasn’t really tired yet, she thought, yawning.

The doorbell rang.

Virginia heard the stairs creak, crept out of bed, slipped into the hall, and crouched at the top of the stairs, hugging her knees and making herself as small as possible.

Her Daddy answered the door.

A bad man with a gun was yelling.   Something about a little girl?  What did he want with her?

Virginia closed her eyes and hugged her knees tighter.


***


Gerry turned off the engine.   His hands were shaking so badly it took three tries to get the keys into his pocket.

She’s just a little girl.  She’s just a little girl and I’m her only chance.

He got his gun out of the glove compartment and got out of the car.

It will all be over soon.  Then she’ll be safe.

It looked so normal – a mid-sized colonial with a neatly trimmed lawn and a Volvo in the drive.  And a “Princess Home” doormat with a little crown dotting the ‘i’.  Vinnie Damon lived here?

He rang the doorbell.

The door opened and there he was.  Vinnie Damon answered his own door.

“What can I do for you?” the bastard asked, calm as you like.

His hands shook.  He wanted to shoot him.  She’s just a little girl.

“Let the girl go,” he said, jerking the gun.

“No problem,” he said.  “I’m a reasonable man.”  Damon stepped back.  “Please come in.  Let’s figure this out.”

Gerry went in.


***


“Stars or hearts?” Nettie asked.  Butter sizzled in the frying pan, adding to the blend of bacon and coffee and maple syrup that was Sunday mornings.  She had the paper open to the crossword, but she wouldn’t write anything until she poured her second cup of coffee.

“Just round ones, Mommy.  Shapes are for babies.”  Maddie was growing up so fast.  How long before their little girl wanted granola or oatmeal for breakfast, or just black coffee?

The doorbell rang.  Gerry’s desk chair scraped in the other room.  He was getting it.

Shouting.  She grabbed Maddie.  What do I do?  It was too late.  Men with guns took Maddie.  A manila envelope.

“It’s business.  Do what you’re told and no one gets hurt.”

They took Maddie.

Gerry was bleeding from a scalp wound, but neither of them cared. 

Maddie.

Their little girl.


***


The phone rang.

“Yeah, Boss?”

“It’s a no go.  Clean it up.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.”  Click.

Well, shit. 

“It’s a bust.”

Scowls and grimaces.  Bad enough a job goes south, but there was a little kid.  Some piece-of-shit adult was too full of their own shit to think about the kid, and now she had to suffer for it.
 
At least he could make it quick.  He was a rip-the-band-aid-off kind of guy.


***


The man at the door held a Glock 22 in one violently shaking hand.  It was never just one thing.                                       

“What can I do for you?” Vincent asked, trying to stay calm.  He comes to my house?  My home?

“Let the girl go,” the man shouted, out of control.

This was going to be a problem.

“No problem.  I’m a reasonable man.”  Vincent stepped back.  “Please come in.  Let’s figure this out.”

As soon as the intruder was off balance, he grabbed the gun.


***


Nettie read the typed instructions and collapsed to the linoleum. 

“Oh, Christ,” she said.  “Gerry, I can’t do this.”

“Nettie, you have to,” he said, not understanding.  “They’ve got Maddie . Whatever it is, you just have to.”

“I can’t – not alone, not in time… God, not at all.  It can’t be done the way they think.”

“You have to tell them.”

Which them?   It didn’t matter.

“They’ll kill her.”  Our little girl.

“That’s never going to happen,” Gerry said. 

Their eyes met. 

She nodded. 

Do it.  Whatever it takes.  Get our little girl back.


***


Gerry stepped into the house.

Damon grabbed the gun.

They struggled.

Bang.

Oh shit.  Ohshitohshitohshit.

The bastard was dead and he had no way to find Maddie.  No way to save her.

He heard a scream.   At the top of the stairs, in a frilly pink nightgown, a little girl silently accused him with Maddie’s eyes.

He’d failed her.


***


The bang hurt Virginia’s ears and she screamed.

Her Daddy was all red.

Virginia fought back tears.  The bad man had big eyes and puffy cheeks and a big fat nose and wrinkly head.  She had to remember.

She’d be an all-growed-up princess someday, and then thwack! – she’d chop his furry head right off.  That’s what princesses do to Big Bad Wolves.


Does anyone know: Is there an easy trick to get from a Word document to posting here without having to manually redo all the italics?

Offline m3mnoch

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2015, 11:27:13 PM »
here's a bit about (nerdy enough!) one of my pathfinder characters titled "danyell and horace".  it weighs in at 1685 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Danyell and Horace

“Many thanks.”

Horace pocketed the couple coppers he received back in change from the merchant behind the counter. Were pitons really that expensive? Did he really need them for this next trip up north? From the drawn eyebrows and grimace on the burly shopkeeper's face, the question must seem scrawled in bright, flashing ink across his forehead.

He didn’t say any of that out loud, right? There was another pinched look from the large, completely frightening man. Hopefully?

With a sigh, Horace turned away and looked toward some of the more exotic items lining the shelves. He needed to find Danyell, gather what was left of their meager coin pile, and head back to the monastery.

Horace found him, disheveled-looking as always, standing over by a low shelf filled with porcelain figurines. Him! And porcelain! Porcelain which looked quite nice even. It was much more expensive than Horace's pitons, for sure. What did his clumsy, gray-haired friend need with any of those? They looked to be finely wrought cats lounging around in various well-posed scenes. Or maybe they were dogs? They were certainly small, delicate animals of some sort. And after a longer look, they indeed appeared very, very delicate.

Danyell picked one up.

Strange that he would pick such a fine piece of art. Horace hadn't thought the friar possessed such discerning taste. Besides, he barely kept any of his wages. Danyell seemed to relish in his role of giving it away to orphans who, of course, brought the money promptly to the master beggar. Or he gave it to widows who left most of the coin with their pimps. His copper coins always seemed to tumble after lost causes since he had barely any possessions at...

PLINK!

Danyell dropped it on the tile floor.

Horace sucked in a quick breath and glanced over at the merchant who was, luckily, helping a too portly woman in a too sheer silk dress. He hadn't noticed nor heard.

By the time Horace looked back over to Danyell, the wobbly priest was picking up the shattered pieces of the figurine. There were far too many pieces. And too many small spray-shaped piles of porcelain dust where the pieces of cat (Horace was sure now the presently dust was previously a cat) powdered as it hit the stone floor.

Danyell was scraping most of it into a pile, sucking on his thumb occasionally where a sharp edge must have slivered his finger. Rather, he sucked on his thumb until he realized it was covered with porcelain dust wherein he started making rapid and breathy spitting noises with his lips and tongue.

The heels of Horace’s hands immediately went to his eyes, pressing hard. He was struggling to push the disaster developing in front of him out the back of his skull. A deep breath and an inescapable moment later, he dared to peek out from behind his hands.

Most of the pieces and powder had been scooped up. Danyell's face screwed into one of his famous “I'm going to make this right” looks caught somewhere between focus and quavering brain cramps.

“Oh, in Zodal's name,” Horace whispered, not realizing his fingers were now rubbing at his temples. “No, Danyell, don't.” He glanced over his shoulder at the wicked battle axe, well-worn and leaning against the backside of the counter. The shopkeeper was definitely a large man.

Horace turned back just as Danyell's nose twitched and Danyell looked around with a sly expression making sure nobody was watching him.

Of course two other patrons had stopped what they were doing to eye him openly by now, but Horace didn't think Danyell even noticed them. This despite his exact attempt at that very precaution. Luck had it the meaty merchant was still pandering to the woman in the green silk. Though Horace was pretty sure Danyell would have kept right on even if the shopkeeper had been staring straight at him.

On he went, with his crinkled expression, his pursed lips, and his brows drawn in concentration. He cupped his hands together, surrounding the shards of the shattered figurine, and closed his eyes. He mumbled a few indiscernible words under his breath and it seemed to Horace as if a small bit of warmth shone from Danyell's cupped hands.

Horace watched him intently and debated on whether he should just take his pitons and leave the shop. Just leave it right now. While he still had a chance. He could almost disappear in the crowd on the street before a shopkeeper’s axe clove him in twain – he could see almost enough people outside to cover his escape. Almost.

Horace realized he was standing, staring out the window. His arms folded across his body and hands tucked tight into his armpits as Danyell walked right by him toward the door. Horace blinked. Well, it was more like lumbered by him. Danyell had all the grace of a fleeing monkey but was closer to a tortoise in raw speed.

Danyell turned to the shopkeeper as he shifted his robe. The large quarterstaff he carried almost overturned a small barrel of replacement arrow shafts with a bump-clang and two loud thumps. He had mostly turned to the shopkeeper anyway. Truth told, he was facing about a foot to the man's left for some reason.

Every person in the shop was now mouth-hung-open staring.

“Good day, master merchant”, Danyell said in a loud and craggy voice. He gave the shaky impression of a courtier attending their court as he bowed at the waist. Something clattered against the arrow shafts again. This time they did fall over and yet Danyell still didn’t seem to notice.

“I'm afraid I shant be needing your fine services on this such a blustery day. I have urgent business elsewhere, though by Theena's blessing, you certainly do tend a magnanimous establishment. Zodal shine down on thee and thine as each we barrow roughly through this day. I bid you safe vending and many pleasurable exchanges.”

He finished with a sort of clumsy, but well-intentioned flourish and tripped. He stumbled face-first into the street, as he attempted to close the shop door behind him. It shut with a muted thump despite Danyell's help.

Horace let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding and dropped his arms to his sides. His head hurt where his arms had been tight-wrapped above his ears and he only now realized he had been pressing in on his skull.

Horace looked over at the shopkeeper who was staring at him as if expecting something. He supposed he'd seen him walk in with Danyell and assumed they were together.

“A good and decent man,” was all Horace managed to get out, his voice cracking a bit, as he turned to walk away.

Curiosity grabbed him by the boot-heels and Horace slid over to where the figurine should have been sitting on the shelf. Sure enough, there was a set of four small feline shapes, all made from delicate porcelain and finely colored. They perched, arrayed in all the varying poses expected of a cat and it honestly did form a graceful little scene.

However.

Right in the middle of the pack of well-articulated kitties stood what Horace assumed had been the fifth cat in the series. Now it was quite lanky, still cast in the same porcelain with roughly the same color palette. Except it had large blotchy spots.

Oh, and it was also a giraffe.

***

What a humble exit! Thanks be to Zodal! It was surely his fortune Danyell was able to fix that ceramic figurine before shopkeeper should fret.

Danyell didn’t have enough money to buy such a beautiful and exquisite piece of work.  The only reason he even picked it up was because he had been thinking to give it to the widow Marlena. She loved giraffes and indeed would have been joyous at the gift.

And it was fortuitous he possessed the most-blessed ability to repair almost anything – Often better than new! It made this clumsiness others often spoke of even less of a bother.

The air out on the street was fresh if a bit windy and the sun was bright. It was an amazing opportunity to get out and see the wares of the hard-working village folk. Being mired hip-deep in his work at the monastery could sometimes be a dreary existence. But yet, The work he was doing made the sacrifice worth it.

Especially when he was able to get out and mingle amongst his flock. His people were marvelous!

Danyell grinned.

Looking around, Danyell searched for some faces he might recognize from the weekly services. Unfortunately, the more regular pew attendants appeared to be home on this glorious day rather than out walking alongside their shepherd. He would be sure to mention that from next week’s pulpit.

Danyell turned as the door to the shop he had just exited made a clapping sound and came to a close. Horace was there, lurching down the establishment steps like a man stricken, his eyes saucer-wide and staring. Danyell even thought his lower lip might have been wavering a bit. The look was something he had come to get used to as poor Horace was afflicted with a malady that occasionally spiked his stress levels.

Together, they were working on a cure. After all, Zodal placed Danyell in this world to make it a better place. So in light of that mighty task, relieving a little anxiety should be a simple problem to solve.

Unfortunately, Horace’s condition seemed to be worsening. Danyell would have to get to the bottom of that soon. Maybe another relaxing shop visit would do him good.

“There you are, Horace,” said Danyell, arms waving with enthusiasm. “I was just looking for you. Let’s go visit that weaponsmith. I think I just saw your friend Kara walk in!”

Danyell paused mid-stride because, in that moment, Horace looked as if he’d just swallowed a live rhinoceros. It could only mean he wasn't in the mood to see Kara right now.

Danyell could fix that!

Offline Elfy

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2015, 01:46:01 AM »
So here we go. I initially thought I was going to have issues coming up with a concept because of how broad the idea was, but I got one fairly early and this is the result. It's called The Golden Hoard, and is 1469 words including the title. Enjoy!

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Golden Hoard

Russell ‘Rusty’ Yates looked at the vast glittering mound of coins, weapons and ornaments piled in the centre of the giant cavern. He whistled through his teeth in amazement, took off his battered Akubra and used the back of his hand to wipe the perspiration from his forehead.

The Australian archaeologist had spent a lifetime searching for the legendary golden hoard amassed by one of the Khans in Central Asia sometime in the 15th century. Many of Rusty’s contemporaries didn’t understand his obsession with Central Asia, and preferred instead to concentrate their efforts on the more well-trodden archaeological paths in Egypt and South America. Rusty had done his time there, too, and had more than one big find to his name; but the golden hoard had fascinated him ever since reading the story of Aladdin as a child, and then later formulating the idea that the legend related to the Khan’s rumoured fortune.

The cave was an odd one. The cultures of yesteryear that amassed riches, or buried their rulers in elaborate tombs, tended to booby trap them in order to foil grave robbers and treasure seekers. Despite this cavern being devilishly hard to navigate through the labyrinth of tunnels that had been cut into the mountain it was located within, and being in the badlands of Central Asia, he had not encountered any of the obstacles he usually expected. Maybe the Khan had relied on his own fearsome reputation, and how hard the mountain was to find. There were also the local legends about the mountain itself being haunted, or inhabited by some sort of monster. Rusty suspected that the Khan himself had started those rumours to discourage thieves.

Rusty replaced his Akubra, and held up his lantern to better illuminate his surroundings. No traps were immediately visible, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t there. The lantern’s beam showed him something that he had not seen before, with his attention being drawn to the mountain of treasure that dominated the cave.

In front of the treasure trove were skeletons. They were human, and had clearly been here for some years.

The archaeologist’s eyes narrowed under the bushy red eyebrows, the colour of which had gave him his nickname. The skeletons were most likely ambitious treasure hunters, who had met a bad end, but there was something odd about them. They’d made it this far, but never left the central cavern. Rusty had not seen any evidence that they’d tried to make it out on his journey through the mountain, and the fortune itself did not seem to have been plundered.  There had been signs on the way in that he wasn’t the first person to enter the mountain cave, but time had erased all other indicators of their passage. These people had died where he now stood. Some of the bones were missing, and others bore the marks of teeth. Rusty hadn’t seen any rats or other animals on his way here, but he was willing to bet that rats were around somewhere. There were always rats. The little buggers were one of nature’s great survivors and prolific breeders. They could have done some of the gnawing on the bones, although they weren’t big enough to carry off entire bones on their own.

Then there were the positions of some of the more complete skeletons. They looked to have been purposely posed, and their hands were outstretched, almost as if they were warning intruders, or possibly beckoning them in. Why would someone want to invite thieves? The thought ran through Rusty’s mind, as he crept step by careful step to the mountain of gold.

Then he was there right in front of what he had spent his entire life searching for. He reached out a trembling hand and delicately plucked a golden coin from the pile. He stared at it and shook his head in disbelief. It was old, much older than the 15th century. The Khan had clearly plundered far and wide. It would take months, possibly years, for an entire team of experts to go through this near unimaginable treasure and catalogue it all, before allowing it to be exhibited in museums around the world.

Rusty heard the unmistakable sound of a rifle being cocked behind him. He dropped his hand to the butt of the revolver holstered at his waist, then stopped cold, as a smooth cultured voice, with the hint of a Spanish accent said, “Move your hand away from your weapon and turn around slowly, Senor Yates.”

“Alvarez!” Rusty hissed from between gritted teeth.

                                                                 ****

Eduardo Alvarez teeth shone whitely in the light thrown across his face from the lantern at his booted feet.

“Once again you lead me to the prize, old friend,” the Spaniard said. “Really this has been happening since our second year at university when I copied from your exam paper. You need to learn to look behind you.”

Alvarez had a vindictive streak, it was one of his many failings, and he liked to turn the knife.

“Honestly, Rusty, what were you going to do with something like this fortune? Display it in some dusty old museum so that a group of snot nosed school children can get credit on a field trip?”

“And you’re going to sell it to the highest bidder!” the Australian spat back at his fellow archaeologist.

Alvarez shrugged. “I like money, you like glory. I can see you picturing the headlines now, listening to the newsreel commentary in your head. We’re not that very different, you and I. Why don’t I cut you in? The proceeds could finance the rest of your career. No more cap in hand to wealthy patrons or government departments.”

The Spaniard knew that Rusty would never accept the offer, which he felt was more than generous, even if he had no intention of making it an even split. Yates’ sullen silence was all the answer he required.

“You know, Rusty,” Alvarez said, keeping one eye on the Australian, and his finger on the trigger. “There were times when I really did think your stories about the Khan’s hoard were simply that, stories. You have proven me so spectacularly wrong on that score, old friend.”

“Now you’ve found it, how the bloody hell do you think you’re going to get it all out, Alvarez?” Rusty spat.

Eduardo shrugged. “That could prove a bit of a poser, true, but my buyer has significant funds, and he’ll be willing to do what he has to in order to gain possession of this,” he threw his free arm out, encompassing the collected wealth in the huge cave.

                                                                      ****

Once Alvarez moved his arm and only had the rifle held steady with one limb, Rusty made his move. He launched himself at the Spaniard. He buried his shoulder in the smaller man’s chest and drove him to the floor of the cavern with a bone crunching tackle that would have had his old high school rugby coach cheering with delight.

The rifle flew out of Alvarez’s hands and landed metres away as the two men wrestled on the ground. The gun went off with a thunderous report in the vast treasure room. The bullet hit a precariously balanced goblet on top of the pile, it fell, and precious items and coins cascaded in an avalanche of gold down the side of the hoard.

                                                            ****

"Thunder? How can there be thunder in my cave?" I think.  "Who wakes me from my slumber?  And why did my  gold move?"

Two-legs, it must be two-legs mischief.  I poke my head up through my golden bed, and look down into my cave.  Two-legs!  Of course it is two-legs.  Why can't they just leave me and my gold alone?  I haven't bothered them for years.  I'm so old now that I don't even need to eat the furry or horned four-legs any more.

Two-legs aren't my preferred food, but my stomach rumbles.  I am awake now, and I may as well eat as the food is here.  At least these ones don't have shells.  The shelled ones boil just fine, but I prefer my meat on the crispy side, and once I crack open the shells, the meat isn't charred on the outside the way I like it.

I clear my throat, and the two-legs stop their dancing and look up at me. I show them my teeth; that always makes them scream.  I feel the fire kindle deep in my belly and let smoke trickle out of my nostrils; that's always effective.

The two-legs turn and start to run towards the tunnel.  They always try that, but no one can outrun the fire.  I'm still grumpy about being woken, but at least this time I go back to sleep with a full stomach.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline wakarimasen

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2015, 02:55:04 PM »
Well... this was an exercise in brutal editing. Not sure if it holds together afterwards, but here its is anyway..

Steel Alphabet
(1672 words)
@badDayHappenin

Spoiler for Hiden:
Alpi winced at every sharp clang of the hammer on the forge. She caught the brawny smith’s attention with a loud cough and backed away from the heat, relieved by the breeze from the wide doors.

Bern wiped the sweat from his brow with a thick forearm and followed the woman outside. She pointed at a knife hanging alongside its dozen brothers and he grunted approval. The ring pommelled blade she had chosen had been one of his better attempts. He accepted her coin and handed it down with a pang of loss.

Ceralt lounged back, drawing on his reed pipe. He had been watching the inn keepers daughter cutting meat, no doubt for a stew he could afford even less than a night’s lodging. He stood, spurred by decision. He may not have a penny to his name, but he still had charm dammit. Dinner should be no challenge.

Dorn did not like his new son in law. He shook his head and stabbed the good knife into a piece of wedding cheese. He had always tried to give his girl what she wanted. He had not, he reflected, been able to give her what she needed. Good judgment in men.

Eras had his father’s eyes. Though the proof was only in his mother’s memory. The man had left with grandfather's savings before he was born. Whittling a stick, the boy watched his mother sorting barrels. Still breaking her back to keep the inn alive. He threw the stick down and tucked the knife into his belt. This was not the life for him. He deserved more.

Fan-Lu looked with astonishment at his belly. The bandit hooked one finger in the ring at the blade’s end and yanked it out as suddenly as he had struck. Blood spluttered from his lips, his punctured lungs expelling more than air. The fact that the Grip would avenge him was less comfort than he had always supposed. His wagons were already being ransacked when he slumped to his knees.

Gerel watched the drunken youths from a nearby rooftop. He could tell the leader from the way he ordered his tribe of pilfering urchins about with a gleaming knife. He wondered if the Grip would be satisfied with just his death but he knew the foreign merchants better. They would settle for nothing less than the slaughter of them all. He began some stretches to limber up.

Harri shook with unaccustomed fear. There was something about the way the man moved, the easy way he had taken the boss’s knife. Harry had thrown punch after drunken punch at the lithe attacker but he was never where his fist struck out. Instead he flowed smoothly around the small campfire, slitting throats. The killer twirled the boss’s knife on the ring at its hilt and flung it. Harri felt a click in his head. Then nothing.

Ino took the proffered blade with mild curiosity. The assassin knelt before her. She liked this one. He knew his place. She turned the blade over a few times, weighing it. It was fine work. She had only part listened to the story that brought it to her. The score had been settled, that was the main thing. She passed the knife to her servant and drew the man’s payment from her silks.

Jerren-Du-Sonel hurried through the streets, her cloak was pulled tight. Her faith in her cleverness, so certain when she had accepted this assignment, now choked in self doubt. Watching Ino’s manipulation of every aspect of city life had done that. She reached the door, checking every gutter and shadow behind her before pushing it open.

Kal wondered if he should pull his protégée from her position. Her tension was greater at each rendezvous.  Still, his affection for the girl could not override his lust to bring down the foreign gangsters. He nodded over the knife as she explained its significance. It could be evidence he needed. He waved Jerren back to her double life, excitement and triumph mounting under his breastplate.

Lau smiled widely as she peeked through the timbers at the guard captain, coveting the blade the assassin had brought her mistress. Lau hated the girl that had displaced her, but even she could summon pity for what would happen when the Grip found out she was a traitor.

Mayor Mundi listened to his old friend’s report wearily. Kal always appeared to have such energy. Perhaps if he had chosen the army instead of the legislature he could have retained some of his youthful zeal. He took the knife, handle first, and sighed. Now he would have to confront the foreign merchants.

Nial hid his nerves by gripping his shaking hands together behind him.  The defendant sat serene by comparison. If she was concerned by the evidence she gave no sign. Her reaction shook Nial’s faith in the knife’s bloodstained blade. Did she know something he did not?

Officiator Lorne stared down from his pulpit at the cold steel on his evidence table. The right thing to do was clear. It had always been that way for him. He looked at the knife’s sharp edge and could not help but imagine it slipping across the slender neck of his eldest girl as the man had threatened. Yes. The right thing to do was clear.

Prealos threw the box down in a corner almost as dark as his own skin. He clicked his tongue at the waste of it all. He had seen a good knife in that box. He would never understand the foreigners need to horde everything involved in their trials. In his village every scrap was made use of, no matter its history. 

Queen Beatre had ordered her troops to tear, burn and defile every aspect of the decadent city. Boxes were being thrown from the court house, spilling into the streets. Her men picked over their contents, two arguing over a knife that had rolled from one.

Ral did not want the stupid knife. He just didn’t want his smug bastard of a cousin to have it. He had been told that war forged brothers of men, but all it had heated in him was his hatred. He spat as the other man lunged again.

Sen made another feint for the knife, but his other hand was drawing a blade of his own. He had been waiting for this chance for months. In the heat of the battle no one would notice. Finally he would silence his idiot cousin. He whipped round his dirk and slashed at Ral’s neck.

Thamos threw another body in the flames, shielding his eyes from the shower of sparks and fat thrown back in reply. The next one was the other‘s cousin, executed on the spot for murder. There was a good knife in the man’s belt that Thamos added it to his prizes.  Anything he wanted was his. His huge arms made him the natural choice for this work, but they also ensured no other scavengers could take the job from him.

Umos looked at the giant in front of him. The two men were as far apart in appearance as could be. A previous life as a mercenary was clearly drawn in the lines of the old beaten face. Umos did not care about the cruelty they described. To him, his father was the strongest, kindest man he had ever known.  Now he sat on the unlit pyre, patient in death. Umos’s hand drifted to his father’s favourite knife,  then he reached for the torch his mother held.

Valdryn took out her betrothed’s knife, for the twentieth time that voyage, and began carving. She was keen to finish the tiny fire god before they met again. Occasionally her eyes flicked out to the unchanging horizon, a curved line between two shades of blue. Absorbed in her work, she did not notice the black sail until the ship beneath it was well into view.

Warun Pel, scourge of the Talon Gulf, paced by the crewmen. His twisted smile held more disdain than humour. These weaklings only confirmed his sovereignty. He would have fought, died even, before kneeling to another.  One of them, a woman, surged forward from her crouch and slashed at him with a knife. He avoided the worst of the blow, and backed away with a deep laugh.  A week later he was pleased with his decision to spare her. The girl was a fighter, equal of any man on deck. She had used that ring handled knife to ensure they knew she was a more than a match below deck too. He clapped her on the back as she coiled ropes. If the Goddess was willing they would leave her ashore at the next port.

Xavier was only too happy to have the company on the long wagon ride into the hills. Trading with the new settlements was lucrative but tedious. He had never suffered boredom well. In the home country he had thrived in the markets, shouting promises and jests. This odd driftwood of a girl, carving her heathen god with an archaic knife, was at least a willing conversationalist. That alone covered the cost of her ride.
   
Yuri tugged at the child, its screams mingled with the mother’s. The young father looked down, fear evident on his face. They were always so skittish these first timers. She gave him a smile. The noises were a good thing, she reassured him. With a flick of the wrist she used the sharp knife they had given her to cut the baby’s chord, handing it to her apprentice.

Zachariah used the old knife to gut his fish. Its edge was still sharp and he made short work of the trout. He was looking forward to his parents returning home. His first proper catch, served up and waiting for them after a day on the hills. He dragged the big pan on to the stove then cleaned the old knife and hung it reverently on a hook.

Offline RussetDivinity

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2015, 04:32:19 AM »
This is something I've been looking for an excuse to write for a while, and I figured it would fit in well with the prompt. At 1,498 words, here's "A Gentleman Keeps His Secrets".

Spoiler for Hiden:
It was a good job, or so Rose’s cousin had told her again and again. She had no right to complain, not when a rich man like Astrophel Sterling was willing to take her into his home and give her a position managing his various accounts. It seemed he had so much money he couldn’t look after it on his own and had nothing better to do with it than pay for a crippled girl to live in his house and play bookkeeper.

“It’s better than facing a firing squad,” Philip had said as the carriage brought them to Sterling’s manor. “If Astrophel didn’t owe me a favor, that’s exactly where you would be for getting involved in a revolt.” He must have seen her frown, for he leaned across the carriage and set his hands on hers. “Having a scarred hand doesn’t make you a cripple, Rosie. You’re brilliant, and I know you’ll do well. He needs the help, and you need the protection.”

Philip – she couldn’t think of him as Pippin any longer, not after he had executed one of her comrades – wasn’t wrong. Though she was sure she would be able to manage without some rich man’s protection, she wasn’t sure how Sterling had managed without her. All his accounts were in disarray, and it had taken her a month to get everything in order. It was a wonder he hadn’t accidentally gone into debt, since it was clear he knew nothing about running a household. She suspected he was a younger brother who had only inherited through some unfortunate accident.

But that wasn’t the only thing that alarmed her about him. He wasn’t just careless; he was downright strange. She wouldn’t have expected anyone named Astrophel to be normal, but he went far beyond what his name might suggest.

He was thin and pale, and at their meals (and he continually invited her to eat with him, which she hardly minded) he barely ate. He looked as though he barely slept, too, and the hollows above and below his cheekbones made them look far sharper than they should have. He was startled by small noises and shied away from shadows.
And he was young. Rose had expected to work for someone old enough that his mind would have started to go, but Sterling – calling him Astrophel was too familiar, and she wasn’t about to call him sir – was about Philip’s age, possibly a few years younger. There was something haunting him, but she couldn’t tell what.

Even if she could have told, it wouldn’t have been her place. Her job was to manage his accounts, and once the ones from the past were all rewritten and put in order, it was a remarkably easy job. The other servants reported to her about the household spendings and whatever income Sterling got from his lands, and she made sure every penny was accounted for. Once she’d even lectured a maid for spending some of the household money for herself, and it had felt wonderful to have a way to ease her temper.

Now that she didn’t have as much to do, she found herself sitting up late at night to read. Before the revolution she had always gone to bed shortly after sunset, but it was hard to sleep while trying to overthrow an emperor. She could have blamed her current late nights on the habit that had come from those months, but she suspected her employer’s insomnia was rubbing off on her. The other servants looked haunted as well, and even if it wasn’t to the same extent that Sterling was, something in the house made them nervous. Rose had even found herself looking wan and weary, and she thought she’d somehow managed to lose weight, even on the rich food the cook served.

At least his library was well-stocked. Rose had spent the past month working her way through some scientific literature and had lately been considering taking a break to read some poetry. The Romantic tradition sounded interesting, or perhaps the now banned Enlightened.

Then she heard the scream.

***

Shadows, reaching out, writhing just beyond the corners of his sight, always there but never seen, ever since he had opened that gate that should not have been opened, ignored the warning that should not have been ignored. Pages stained in blood should have told him to run, but he hadn’t heard their words, not until it was too late, not until he had stared into what lay beyond his mind and known just how deep the universe went, that there were stones and stones stacked to the bottom, and some of those stones were skulls…

Fingers, hands pressing against him, and he realized a moment later that they were not part of the dream. His eyes opened, but he could not have said whether he truly woke, for all he saw were the writhing shadows, twisting in a way that nothing ought to. “No,” he gasped, trying to push them away, but the hands were warm and rough, and they came with a voice.

“Sterling! Sterling, wake up! You’re dreaming.”

“No,” he said again, but this time it was a refusal. It had been no dream but a hint of whatever he had opened inside his mind and outside the world. “No…”

“Damn it. Philip never told me you were crazy. He just said you needed me.”

He did need the voice. It was steady and strong, like solid ground, and it drove the shadows from his vision so he could see the speaker, her red curls in disarray, her cheeks paler than they had been when she had first stood in his home, her green eyes reflecting yellow candlelight so she barely looked human, but she was, delightfully so, and he flung his arms around her, pressing his cheek against her neck to feel her pulse and the air running up and down her throat. He wanted to say her name – and it was the simplest name to say – but the only sound that would come from his mouth was a dry, shaking sob.

“What’s wrong?”

“The shadows,” he whispered, his breath rushing across her skin. “They move in ways they should not.”

She sighed, and he did not care that it was in frustration. That frustration could hurt, but it could also protect, and for a single moment he thought she might face the shadows herself to save him. He would never ask her to go into danger for him, but if she were willing, he would accept it.

“It was probably just a bad dream,” she said, and pushed him off her shoulder just enough to press a hand against his forehead. “You haven’t got a fever, at least. I’m your bookkeeper, not your nurse.”

He grabbed her hand, though the sudden movement startled her and made her eyes grow wide. “It was no dream,” he said. “There are shadows. They move in ways they should not. Please believe me.” He was not sure what to do if she did not. He could not send her away, for his friend’s sake and for hers and for his. He needed her there.

“The shadows,” she murmured, and her eyes darted about the room. Frowning, she pulled her hands from his and stepped away. “Those shadows?”

She saw them too. Joy and horror rose within him: joy for being not entirely mad and horror that perhaps the shadows could see her. He needed to protect her, more even than he needed to protect himself, but he did not know how. If he could not save himself, if he was too weak to do anything against the shadows when it was his life threatened, how could he attempt to protect the one who might need to protect him?

And still she moved away, following the shadows with her gaze. He followed them as well, where they danced around a door he tried to keep hidden. He must have forgotten to cover it with curtains tonight – or perhaps the shadows had moved them – for now it was wide open and she was making her way toward it.

“What’s through here?” she asked, in her voice all the innocence that her sharp glares must have hidden during her time in his house.

He had to protect her.

“No,” he gasped, nearly falling from his bed. “No, please!”

But she did not listen. She opened the door.

***

It looked like a laboratory, but clearly it couldn’t be. The books laid haphazardly on the counters had strange symbols in them, and the shadows that shouldn’t have been moving cleared away as soon as Rose laid her eyes on them. Perhaps it really was a laboratory, but it must have dealt in magic, and illegal magic at that.

“Please,” Sterling whispered from behind her. “Tell no one.”

Rose rolled up her sleeves. “Of course not,” she said. “I have to set this in order for you.”

Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2015, 04:51:39 PM »
I had far too much fun writing this one. Didn't have quite as much fun chiseling it down 400 words to fit the word count, but it was still totally worth it.

Anyway, coming in at 1700 words, here's What Really Happened...

Spoiler for Hiden:
Captain Briggs looked at the two watchmen in front of him and resisted the urge to cradle his head in his hands.

“You two do realise the seriousness of this situation?” He said. “A princess is missing. And your heads are on the block.”

Runge and Iske gulped.

Briggs towered over them, grinding his teeth. “Now which of you is going to explain exactly how you let her get snatched in the first place?”

“I-It’s kind of a long story.” Iske stuttered.

“Well, we’ve got plenty of time.” Briggs paused. “At least, I have. Don’t know about you two.”

More gulps.

“Look, let me explain.” Runge said. “It all started last night…”


“You’re late.” Runge noted as Iske came jogging up.

“Sorry.” Iske said, panting heavily. “I lost track of time.”

“It’s fine.” Runge said. “It’s only guard duty. I can do it by myself.”

The two had been assigned to guard the room of Princess Carina, a patron of the Castle’s Lord. Naturally, such a prestigious guest had been afforded a high-class private room with a constant guard. It was also close to the castle stables, as Princess Carina was known to love riding.

“How long have we got to guard this royal brat, anyway?” Iske said, flexing his shoulders. “Seems like a pain.”

Runge frowned. “You should show a bit more respect to her Highness. Her patronage to our Lord is most important.”

“Whatever.” Iske scratched his nose.

Runge was about to reply when a noise caught his attention. He squinted down the dark corridor.

“Shut it.” He said. “I think we’ve got intruders.”

“Eh?” Iske looked at him disdainfully. “Don’t be dumb. Like anyone would-“

Suddenly, a small rock flew from the darkened corridor and struck Iske directly in the forehead. The guard’s eyes glazed over and he collapsed in a heap. Runge drew his sword just in time to deflect another stone.

“Villain!” He shouted into the darkness. “Show yourself!”

A figure dressed in black stepped forward with a sling. Runge recognised him as a member of Prince Valiere’s Reaper Corps, elite soldiers trained in assassination and kidnapping. And Valiere had been in competition with Princess Carina for a long while.

“I come for the Princess.” The Reaper said. “Stand aside if you value your life.”

Runge readied his sword. “I will not abandon my duty.”

“Very well.” The Reaper drew a shortsword of his own and attacked.

The two fought fiercely, with Runge getting in several good blows. However, the Reaper’s superior training and skill eventually started to take its toll and, when the Reaper distracted him by throwing sand in his eyes, Runge was defeated and knocked unconscious.

When the two guardsmen awoke, the Reaper and the Princess were both gone…



“The Reaper Corps?” Briggs frowned. “Would Valiere be so brazen to-?“

“W-Wait!” Iske interrupted. “That’s not what happened! I didn’t get knocked out like that!”

“Y-Yes he did.” Runge said, doing his utmost to avoid eye contact with Briggs. “He’s just lying to cover his ass.”

Briggs stared suspiciously between the two. “Alright then Iske, why don’t you tell me your side of the story?”

“Of course.” Iske smiled. “You see, it all started when…”


Iske strode confidently down the corridor towards the Princess’s chamber. Obviously, he was exactly on time, just as always. Punctuality was very important to him. As he approached the door, he saw Runge slumped against a wall, snoring loud and stinking of booze.

“Wake up, Runge.” Iske, his voice booming. “We’ve got guard duty to do.”

Runge opened one eye and stared at Iske with barely concealed hatred and jealousy.

“If it isn’t Iske, the star of the Guard Corps.” He sneered. “Shouldn’t you be polishing your immaculate armour somewhere?”

Iske’s back straightened. “The art of a knight requires me to treat all my duties with utmost seriousness, no matter how small.”

“Whatever.” Runge spat on the ground.

“Silence.” Suddenly, Iske’s highly trained combat senses tingled. “You people. In the shadows. Reveal yourselves!”

There was a slight pause before 5 heavily armed Reapers stepped out. At the very sight of them, Runge let out a cowardly scream and ran terrified into a wall, knocking himself out.

“Very impressive.” The Head Reaper said. “To sense us like that. You must be a very skilled knight. We would be interested to introduce such a talented man into our ranks. I’m sure we could give you a better job than a simple guard.”

“Enough talk.” Iske said, drawing his sword. “I will not abandon my duty.”

“Very well.” The assorted Reapers drew their weapons and attacked.

Iske leapt forward to meet them and, with his outstanding swordsmanship, he was able to fend off all 5 of them at once. However, eventually, the sheer numbers made up for the difference in skill and he was subdued.

Thus, when the two guardsmen awoke, the Princess and the Reapers were gone…



“And that’s what happened.” Iske said.

“…Yeah, I’m sure it did.” Briggs rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Now, let’s move on to--“

“Wait!” Runge blurted out. “Captain, I’m sorry but I was trying to protect my fellow guardsman’s dignity in my last story. I wish to tell the real truth of what happened that night.”

“I don’t think-“

“You see, it all started last night…”


Runge stood with perfect posture guarding the princess’s door, calmly ignoring the hordes of adoring women who had gathered adoringly to watch him in his duties. He had been tasked with this duty personally by the princess before she gad confessed her love and had amazing sex with him.

He heard the sound of footsteps and saw Iske lolloping towards him, stinking of manure and being generally fairly ugly.

“You’re 3 hours later, Iske.” Runge said, his manly baritone causing the adoring women to swoon.

“That’th because I dethpise you and your obviouth thuperiority!” Iske spluttered, sending phlem flying everywhere.

“Hark!” Runge suddenly said. “Your natural hatred of just and honourable men must wait! I hear intruders!”

There was a flash of light and suddenly the corridor was filled with dozens of grotesque, half-demonic Reapers.

“Foolish guards!” The lead Reaper hissed. “We are here to kidnap the princess and cast darkness upon this great land! Stand aside or be destroyed!”

“Nay, foul fiends!” Runge drew his sword, Rexenwulf, given to him as proof of his valour. Its holy light caused the Reapers to shrink back in cowardice. “You shall not pass!”

With that, he charged, slaying Reapers right and left. None were able to keep up with his impeccable swordwork and within seconds half of the Reapers were dead. However, just before Runge could finish them, he felt someone shove him.

“Out oth my way!” Iske squealed, running away girlishly. “Thcrew my duty! I’m too cowardly to fight!”

This distraction allowed a Reaper to sneak into the princess’s room and steal her away with vile teleportation magic…



“And that’s what really happened.”

Briggs’s eye twitched. “Do you two actually think I’m this stupid?”

“Of course not!” Iske jumped in. “You can’t be fooled by Runge’s lies! I shall tell you the true story of what happened that night!”

“Good God, no.”

“It all started last night…”

“Are you two even listening to me?


Iske rode triumphantly on his horse through the crowds of adoring fans chanting his name. Before him stood the country’s nobles, led by the King himself, with Briggs standing by as guard.

“Sir Iske, Strongest of Knights!” The King said, overcome by emotion. “It is an honour to be in your presence!”

“Amazing…” Briggs said, tears flowing. “Truly you are the greatest man I’ve ever known.”


(The real Briggs was currently too busy headbutting his own desk to interrupt.)

“Thank you both.” Iske spoke with such masculinity that it caused all women in earshot to become pregnant. “What mighty task must I complete for you?” Upon hearing this, all of said pregnant women immediately gave birth to beautiful deep-voiced babies.

“Please guard my nubile daughter.” The king said. “I can only entrust this task to you, our greatest knight. Be warned though. Your unparalleled masculinity may be too much for her.”

“My handsomeness truly is a curse.” Iske admitted. “But I shall do my duty.”

“One more thing,” Briggs said. “I have assigned another guard to aid this task. Though you obviously need no aid, I hoped your shining valour might inspire a change in his wicked ways.”

“Oh?” Iske raised a perfectly chiselled eyebrow. “And what is the name of this malcontent?”

“That would be me!” said a voice so sickeningly foul it caused the ovaries of nearby women to dry up and die. “Runge, the Despicable! And I have brought my armies to lay waste to you all!”

Everyone turned to see an army of red-eyed, monstrous Reapers approaching, led by the most disgusting being who ever existed. More primordial goo than man, Runge blinked his seven eyes and ordered his hellspawn to attack.

“Fear not!” Iske said. Immediately, everyone in the audience lost all fear and reached a lesser form of enlightenment. “I shall defeat these cowards with a single swing of my sword.”

With that, he drew his amazing sword, Excaleadurakusacalihruntbolg III, gifted to him by the Gods for being just that gosh darn awesome. He did not even need to swing it for the very sight of the blade caused all of his foes to violently disembowel themselves in terror.

And, thus the kingdom was saved forever...



Briggs’s eye was twitching quite furiously by now. “Are we done?”

“Well…“



Briggs stalked to the stables, considering his next move. While sentencing the two idiots to be boiled in honey and fed to a bear was indeed cathartic, it didn’t get him any closer to retrieving Princess Carina, who… who…

…was at this moment walking towards him.

“Good day, Captain.”

Briggs’s jaw dropped. “P-Princess! You’re okay?”

Carina looked confused. “Of course. I just went for an early morning ride. I told your two guards, but they looked fairly drunk so maybe they forgot.”

“I… see…” Briggs sighed. “Unfortunately, I have business right now, so I can’t chat.”

“Oh? What business?”

Briggs stepped past her, scowling. “I'm making some boiled honey...”
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline Raptori

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2015, 02:00:32 AM »
Complications (1698 words)

Spoiler for Complications:
Sora perched on the edge of the roof, savouring the moment—the world felt so alive.

The sky was already tinged with blue—sunrise was due only a couple of hours after midnight—and the birds were awake, flitting from pine to birch and back again, harmonising with each other's songs. The warm breeze filled the air with the rustling of leaves and the summer scents of the city and the sea.

A shadow joined Sora on the roof, emerging from the darkness below with a graceful leap.

Sora tensed, then giggled when Peppermint stepped into the light. Pepper had developed a habit of following her everywhere, and the little rascal made everything a lot less dull. Lookout duty was boring—the streets were deserted at this hour—so the company was welcome. She scratched behind Pepper's ears and returned her attention to the building across the alley.

Something moved in one of the windows.

Sora cursed under her breath and leaned forward to get a better look. Her father was at the other end of the building, so it couldn't be him.

The guard was awake, lantern in hand, walking through the hallway.

Sora took a deep breath, then started mimicking the birdsong.




Peppermint's friend was making weird noises again—she did that a lot.

Pepper was pretty sure the sounds were an attempt at communicating, but they were impossible to understand. Humans were odd creatures. Her friend—Sora—often disappeared at night, and always brought a variety of interesting smells with her when she returned. Tonight, Pepper had decided to find out where exactly they went, and she was a little disappointed.

Their destination was, apparently, a building like any other. Andras had gone inside, while Sora had climbed the building opposite. The roof seemed perfectly ordinary too, but perhaps there was something interesting inside…




Andras's footsteps fell soft and silent on the carpeted floors as he made his way through the vaulted corridors. He entered the merchant's study, easing the door shut silently despite knowing that the rich bastard was hundreds of miles away, and that they only employed one guard.

He felt a pang of jealousy as he studied the room. The furniture was ebony carved in swirling patterns, the walls were hidden behind bookshelves that strained under the weight of thousands of books, a grandfather clock stood in a corner, ticking quietly. The drinks cupboard was filled with fine wines and rare liquors.

This was what Andras deserved. It was a shame that he couldn't steal the house itself—he'd have to be content with stealing certain items instead.

Andras crept across the room and examined the map framed above the drinks cupboard—his information said that the safe was hidden behind it. The map was beautiful, showing the trade routes out of Liljefeld in intricate detail. He ran his hand along the frame, tripping the hidden catch, and the frame swung forward to reveal the safe.

A rhythm in the birdsong caught his attention.

He paused, listening to the rhythm, then continued his work. He had more than enough time.




An oak in the courtyard of the house opposite spread its branches across the alley—a perfect highway for a cat to travel from one side to the other.

Pepper scampered to the nearest limb and ran across, gripping the cracks in the bark with her claws as she jumped from branch to branch, then leaped the final gap and landed with a soft thump on the roof. She glanced back across the alley, wondering why Sora had started to call her name.

She noticed a strange scent on the air, coming from the open doors of the balcony below her...




"That stupid cat. That stupid cat." Sora's knuckles turned white as her grip on the edge of the roof tightened.

It was her job to watch the house, to signal whenever she spotted something that her father might need to know, but they weren't prepared for this. Aside from some specific things like guard movements, she could signal that he should hide, move with caution, or even abandon the job and run. But all of those seemed like an overreaction—Pepper hadn't caused any trouble yet.

The room that Pepper had entered appeared to be empty, and it wouldn't be too difficult for Sora to follow. She could easily get onto the roof of the other building, and it was a short drop onto the balcony from there. The problem was that Pepper could go anywhere while she made her way across, plus of course there would be no lookout.

Things would get a whole lot worse if Pepper made a noise—the guard was already patrolling the house, and they couldn't afford to attract his attention. Pepper was uncontrollably clumsy... Sora decided that she just couldn't take the chance.

She edged towards a drainpipe and began the climb down into the alley.




The room was bigger than the ones Pepper was used to. Most of the floor was a single open space, and tall furniture loomed along one wall. A huge bed stood opposite the balcony doors, netted curtains drawn.

Pepper stalked across the room, ears twitching at the sound of snoring as she approached another piece of furniture that stood near the bed. She could see strange objects on top of it, clustered together in front of an oval mirror.

The smells were so strong they made her nose itch, but she had to find out where they came from...




Andras closed the safe and swung the frame back into place, pausing to study the map once more. His bag now held papers worth more in the right hands than all the antiques in the room combined. Worth more than his life.

I'd be a rich man if I could sell them myself instead of handing them over. He pushed the thought away. He had decided to be patient, and patient he would be. Better that than risk exposure—or worse. He would get his rewards in the end.

A door closed nearby.

Andras froze for a second, then dove for cover, crouching behind a sofa moments before the study door opened. Someone entered the room, metal clinking quietly with every movement.

A second guard? Surely not—the merchant himself knew nothing of the messages hidden in the numbers, he wouldn't have hired extra security. It must be the house guard—but why wasn't I warned? Andras listened to the birdsong, but couldn't make out any of the signal rhythms. To a practised ear they stood out like a shout, but he heard nothing.

The guard made his way to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a glass of wine.




Pepper judged the distance carefully, then leaped onto the dresser. She landed in a small space amongst bottles and boxes which glinted in the predawn light. The smell was coming from several of them—now that she was closer, Pepper realized that it was many different smells combined, each one strong enough to prickle her nose.

She leaned in closer to one of them, sniffed, then sneezed violently.

The person in the bed shifted, then continued snoring.

Pepper's tail twitched nervously, knocking a bottle to the floor. It landed with a thump, then rolled away...




Sora eased herself over the edge of the roof and dropped onto the balcony, landing in a crouch. Pausing for a moment, she listened intently. She thought she had heard a noise as she fell, but she couldn't be sure.

Something clinked in the dark.

Sora could just make out a dresser against the far wall, and a cat-shaped silhouette on top of it. Its tail twitched and swept around, disturbing the bottles, until one box shifted too far, fell, and landed on the floor, spilling a puff of powder.

Sora sighed and rubbed her face, glad that the door to the hall was shut—at least Pepper hadn't been able to venture further inside. Careful to step quietly, she entered the room.

A bottle rolled as she trod on it, flipping her onto her back with a crash.

Someone yelled and jumped out of the bed, but the curtains caught him before he could stand.

Sora scrambled to the dresser and grabbed Pepper, then tried to dodge past the stranger and escape—but his hand darted out and held her by the sleeve. She yelped and dropped the cat, then started writhing and battering the man with her fists and knees.

She couldn't break free.




Pepper hissed and sprang, leaping onto the man and clawing her way up his back.

The man screamed in pain, then released Sora and squirmed, trying to dislodge Pepper—but she didn't give up that easily. She sank her teeth and claws into his flesh, taking vicious pleasure from her victory. Nobody got away with attacking her friends.

Sora grabbed her, ripping her claws from their attacker's clothes, then they escaped onto the roof and ran, leaping from building to building until Sora could run no more. Sora rested, looking around warily, then they set off towards home...




Andras straightened up and stood beside the sofa for a few seconds, listening to the din coming from the other end of the building. The guard had ran off when the first shout split the silence, leaving his glass of wine on the table. Andras was fairly certain that the guard would not return any time soon, but it irritated him that he had no idea what was going on.

There was still no hint of any signal rhythm in the dawn chorus. I taught her better than this—she should not disappear at the first sign of trouble. He would deal with her later.

Andras picked up the glass of wine, taking a sip and eyeing the study once more, then replaced it and left. Instead of going back the way he came—out onto the roof as planned—he decided that it would now be a better idea to simply leave through the front door.

The corridors were deserted, and Andras found his way to his exit without incident. As he walked down the street, he could see the guard stomping around on the roof. He permitted himself a satisfied smile—the job had gone smoothly for once, with no real complications.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 02:09:28 PM by Raptori »
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Offline Jeryn

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Re: [Jun 2015] - Multiple POVs - Submission Thread
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2015, 12:34:28 AM »
The Braying Jack -- 1,599 words
Some profanity included



Spoiler for Hiden:
The Braying Jack was positively humming. To some, the common room would seem bustling to madness, with men shouting and laughing as barmaids raced between tables, distributing food and drinks and shouting orders back to the kitchens. To Turner Larkin, it was the sound of money being made.

Then the front door opened and everything ceased like a violinist whose strings had snapped.

The figure that emerged from the darkness had long since seen his hair go gray, but he moved with the smooth confidence of a man in his prime. Sergio Valenti had come to town almost a year ago, but the man had never once stepped inside the Braying Jack.

Valenti took a long moment to survey the room as he shut the door behind him. If he noticed the unnatural hush that came over the room, he paid it no mind. Then the most dangerous killer the kingdom had ever seen turned to Turner and asked for two beers.

With shaking hands, the barkeep poured two glasses, intently aware that all eyes were upon him. Valenti gave him two coppers and a nod of thanks, then took both beers to an empty table in the back corner.

Tabitha, the most buxom barmaid the Braying Jack had to offer, was suddenly at Turner’s side.

“Is that …?”

Turner just nodded. He clamped his hands down on the bar to stop the shaking.

“Shit. You think he’s here to kill someone? I hope it’s …”

-------------------------

While everyone else stared at the sword Sergio Valenti carried on his hip, Tyral Cranner watched the old man’s eyes. The eyes, he’d found, could tell you everything you needed to know in a tight spot.

Valenti’s eyes moved constantly.

From the moment the old man entered the doorway, he’d been scanning the room – first the patrons, Tyral included, then the barkeeper. He scanned the room once more before crossing the room in silence and taking a seat in the back corner.

His glance never settled on Tyral, nor did he ignore him entirely. In fact, if Tyral hadn’t known better, he might have thought the legendary killer was here for someone else. But Tyral did know better. The only question was who hired the old man in the first place.

Garratt Malcom had good reason to kill him after that business deal went south, and Devron Pyre would be well within his rights to have him murdered on general principle. If Soloman Wagstaff had learned of Tyral’s affair with his wife, he might have hired Valenti, and now that Tyral thought of it, his own wife might be similarly inspired if she put her mind to it.

To be honest, the possibilities were dizzying.

Regardless of who’d hired the assassin, Tyral still had to figure out his next move. His first instinct was to stand up and walk out, but that was obviously Valenti’s intention – to drive Tyral out the door and into the arms of whoever he had waiting in the streets. So leaving was clearly out of the question.

At the same time, fighting Valenti in the common room of the Braying Jack wasn’t much of an option either. The swordmaster may be past his prime, but he was still a professional killer. Besides, a straight-up fight had never been Tyral’s style.

He leaned down just far enough to check the knife in his boot, then leaned back in his chair. This was clearly a situation that called for patience …

-------------------------

Elmore couldn’t pull his eyes away from the man seated in the corner of the room.

“They say he’s the only man crazy enough to break into Gorvir Prison.”

“And the only one to break out,” added Jarrad.

“I heard there are three different poisons named after him,” said Tod.

“And he’s killed more men than all of them combined,” finished Simon.

Seated at their familiar table, all four men were attempting the difficult task of surreptitiously watching Sergio Valenti without being noticed. In fact, they were so focused on the legendary killer just two tables away that Elmore didn’t notice when the door opened again and a newcomer entered the common room.

“Oh gods.” Tod’s terror and fascination drew Elmore’s attention to the newcomer. Like Valenti, the man had silver hair and weathered skin, but moved like a predator. The newcomer looked past their table to where Valenti sat.

“Who is that?” Elmore asked, but Tod ignored him as the man walked past their table and pulled up a seat across from Valenti.

Finally, after a long moment, Tod whispered, “That’s Ellion Kray. I’ve seen his face on the wanted posters.”

The table grew silent. “Should we leave?” Elmore asked.

“Definitely,” said Simon. He paused. “You go first.”

Elmore was no coward, but that didn’t mean he was about to risk the attention of two men who all agreed had killed more men than the plague. Instead, he watched as Sergio Valenti and Ellion Kray sat together just two tables away, drinking their beer and speaking quietly, looking for all the world like a pair of gray old men merely enjoying each other’s company and a couple of beers on a quiet spring evening.

At least, they did until Kray reached into his pocket, pulled out a small pouch, and slid it across the table. Valenti picked up the pouch, opened it just enough to glimpse inside, then smiled appreciatively.

“Did you see that?” Jarrad’s voice rose in panic. “He just …” Simon clamped a quick hand over Jarrad’s mouth.

“Jewels,” said Tod.

“Poison,” Simon guessed.

“Gold,” said Elmore thoughtfully. “The question is whether it’s payment for a job they’ve already done, or something they’re about to do.”

The table grew quiet as they considered the possibilities.

Finally, Jarrad broke the silence. “You don’t think they’re here to spoil the Pumpkin Festival, do you?”

-------------------------

Sergio closed the package and tried – unsuccessfully – to prevent the smile from coming to his lips.

“Thank you, Ellion.”

“Honestly, I’ve never met a man so happy to get a gods-damned seed.” Ellion flashed the same shit-eating grin Sergio had learned to hate over the years. “This isn’t even the fun kind of seed that gives you hallucinations or kills a man. You’re deliriously happy about a lonely sunflower seed.”

Half a mile over Ellion’s left shoulder, Sergio’s garden was waiting for sunrise.

“Have you ever heard of a Wintermist Red?”

Ellion shrugged his shoulders. “I presume it’s a wine?”

“It’s one of the rarest flowers in the world. It only grows naturally in the Northern Province. The Amstatt Mountains, specifically.”

Realization dawned on Ellion’s face. “This is about Graycie.”

“The first time I saw her, she was wearing one in her hair.”

Ellion, gods bless him, was silent for a long time. There was nothing more to be said on the subject, so instead they drank their beer and enjoyed the companionable silence that irritated the young but was one of the few pleasures remaining to old men.

It was a long time before Sergio spoke. “I’ve got to admit, I thought retirement would be far more relaxing.”
Ellion waved a carefree hand at the rest of the room. “You mean to tell me the country life isn’t relaxing enough for you?”

“Have you been paying any attention since we got here? The barmaid is trying to figure out which of us will accept her feminine wiles in exchange for murdering her husband.”

Ellion glanced over and raised his eyebrows. “I’m intrigued.”

“The guy near the door is convinced I’m here to kill him. He’s checking the dagger in his boot every five minutes and seems to believe he could stick me with it given the chance.”

“Always nice to meet an optimist,” Ellion said.

“And the four gentlemen two tables away are debating – surprisingly loudly, I might add – whether they should flee now or merely pray we don’t kill them before paying for our drinks.”

Sergio leaned forward and dropped his voice. “I’m tired, Ellion. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder for the next young swordsman who wants to make his name killing the great Sergio Valenti. I’m tired of folk whispering behind my back, either plotting to use me for their personal gain or fearing that I’m here on behalf of their enemies. I just want to live in peace, tend to my garden and mourn my wife. It doesn’t feel like too much to ask.”

Ellion remained silent for a long moment. When he finally did speak, the grin was gone, the weight of too many years of hard living briefly evident on his face.

“The simplest dreams are sometimes the hardest to reach,” he said. “But tomorrow morning, you’ll wake up and you’ll plant that seed in the ground. And in a few months, the people of this shit town will see a Wintermist Red for the first time in their lives, and they’ll get just a glimpse of the beauty you saw for the first time all those years ago in the Northern Province of the Amstatt Mountains.” The old swordsman drained the last of his beer and set the empty mug on the table in front of him. “That has to count for something.”

Sergio opened the pouch once more and looked down at the single seed within, and felt his grin returning. He was only vaguely aware of the sudden, terror-filled silence that overtook the room.

“Let’s pay our tab and get out of here, Ellion. I’ve got some gardening to do in the morning.”
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 02:13:14 PM by Jeryn »