SPF: Master of the Storm

This story is in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, hosted by Alistair Forbes, that asks that you write a story / poem of around 200 words using the photo as a guide.

Photo Prompt:

Photo Prompt: © Alistair Forbes

Master of the Storm

Gerent closed his eyes, his head thrown back and arms cast wide as the buffeting wind swirled around him. Rain drenched him through to his skin, encasing him in chill fabric. The power of the storm enlivened his senses and set his magic alight.

It was strange to think he’d once hated being apprenticed to the Weather Witch. He’d thought himself condemned to a life of drudgery, summoning and dismissing rain-clouds for farmers like his predecessor, accepting payment in cabbages. Thankfully, ambition and ability had allowed his skills to be deployed far more rewardingly than that.

After several violent storms had bombarded the Citadel in quick succession, the High Lord was willing to pay any price to avoid the devastation of another.

Gerent cast his magic out, lightning dancing around him as he bound the storm to his will. He couldn’t help but grin as he drew its roiling energies into the vial in his hand. For a while the High Lord’s payment would allow him to live the wealthy life he deserved. He corked the bottle and slipped it back into his pocket.

Once the money ran out, then it would be time to release his storm once more.

Word Count: 200

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SPF: The Weight of History

This story is in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, hosted by Alistair Forbes, that asks that you write a story / poem of around 200 words using the photo as a guide.

Photo Prompt:

Photo Prompt: © Al Forbes

The Weight of History

Jae reluctantly followed his classmates as they trooped onto the ship. He’d been dreading the field trip for weeks; had begged not to go. Typically, his mum hadn’t listened to a word he said.

“It’ll be educational,” she’d told him. “History’s important to know.”

History was actually the problem but unfortunately he couldn’t tell her that. He knew how she’d act. He’d be talking to the bloody shrinks again before he knew it. Not to mention, rattling like a pill bottle. Jae sighed, focussing on the guide prattling before the group. He’d just have to grit his teeth.

Above deck was bearable. Just. With concentration he could ignore the scents, sounds and sights that drifted across his senses. He dealt with worse echoes of the past every day. As their tour moved onto the gun decks, however, the weight of years pressed closer. Odours of sweat and gunpowder mingled in his nostrils whilst voices chattered, shouted and sang in disordered cacophony. The boom of cannons set his ears ringing and he ducked as deadly splinters flew. Screaming men and flowing blood turned his stomach.

Ignoring his classmates’ jeers, he fled. Sometimes he wondered whether his mother had the right idea.

Word Count: 200

If you want to read other entries or upload you own, click on the little blue frog.

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FFftPP: Faded Calligraphy

This post is for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. For this challenge we are given a photo prompt and an optional opening line / prompt sentence. This week’s prompt line is There it was. You could see the corner of the folded yellowed parchment sticking out of the torn lining of the battered book.” I’ve not used the exact words this week but I’ve kept the general sense of it. The story should be under 200 words and have a clear beginning, middle and end.

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Photo Prompt – Public Domain Image

Faded Calligraphy

Hettie rubbed weary eyes as the candle sputtered its death throes; the scrawl on the page growing increasingly illegible in the oscillating shadows.

Sleep dragged at her mind.

She’d stopped comprehending the meaning of the words some time ago; had read the current passage three times at least, yet still had no idea what it said. The trail of allusion and conjecture she’d followed to this point didn’t even guarantee success – there was only the faintest chance the author had handled the Treatise. It was possible, probable even, that she was researching another dead end. 

As tired as she was, it hard to tell the difference. It was time to accept defeat – at least for tonight.

She noticed the folded parchment that peaked from inside the torn lining only as she closed the battered text. All thoughts of sleep fled. Possibility danced before her.

Unsteady fingers drew the fragile document free from its hiding place as the candle-flame gave a final guttering flare and vanished. She barely caught a glimpse of the faded calligraphy on the pamphlet’s cover but a glimpse was enough. Excited laughter burbled free. She’d found the Treatise.

She’d found the proof they needed.

Word Count: 199

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MftS: Silent Guardian

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Silent Guardian

From her small balcony, the witch watched the world go by.

It was a peaceful life – the perfect escape from civilisation’s exhausting demands. Charms draped the house in jingling disorder, shielding it from her neighbours’ notice; others sewn into her clothes diverted their attention as she mingled with their crowds.

As much as she loved the quiet, she did have to admit to the occasional bout of loneliness. Her three hundred years of guardianship had stretched on in the long silence demanded but, at times, she longed to talk to… someone. Anyone.

Those times were rare, however.

As she watched the girl skip along the path – a path that had been familiar with her tread alone for centuries – she knew her peace was about to be shattered. She shivered, unsettled, as she faced the realisation that her duty neared its end. The universe had chosen her replacement.

Her long silence was finally over. She rose to her feet.

“Greetings, Child,” she said.

Word Count: 150

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MftS: The Bare Bones

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

The Bare Bones

The cemetery spread along the area known as Devil’s Abode. Some knew it by a different name: The Gateway, home to the King of Bones.

The group paraded in solemn order, Andrew’s coffin borne aloft. Will’s despair grew with every step he took. Had he not left early, not been distracted by seductively swaying hips, he could have stopped them – his brother would still be alive.

Tears dampened his cheeks as they entered the mausoleum, descending into darkness. For centuries their family had interred their dead within the chamber below, the underworld’s guardian assuring the departed soul’s safe passage.

“Farewell, brother,” Will murmured as they placed Andy’s casket before the king upon his skeletal throne.

Piercing eyes glinted as the ancient being turned his gaze in Will’s direction: uncovering truth; easing guilt. A voice rumbled through his mind. “No blame lies with you, wise protector. The brave one made his own choices.”

Will bowed his head, accepting absolution.

Word Count: 150

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MftS & SPF: A Sister’s Love

This post is in response to both Monday’s Finish the Story and the Sunday Photo Fiction flash fiction challenges, run by and Alistair Forbes, respectively. Monday’s Finish the Story, run by Barbara W. Beacham gives  a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics. Alistair Forbes Sunday Photo Fiction challenge gives a photo prompt and asks that you complete the story in around 200 words.

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2015-08-24 – Photo taken of an old photo in 2014 – Barbara W. Beacham

A Sister’s Love

The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be anything special.

After all, how could he, with blood tainted by an unmarried, working-class mother? His arrogant relatives rarely missed an opportunity to remind him that they fed and clothed an orphaned by-blow out of charity alone. Even decades later the pain of their disregard stung.

Only Edith had supported him.

Luigi touched gnarled fingers to the faded face of his beloved half-sister, the picture drawing him to days nearly a century past.

“My success was all because of her,” he told the biographer scribbling notes.

Edith’s affection never wavered, despite her mother’s disdain. She’d dried his tears and encouraged his play among the cogs and wheels, uncaring of the smears of grease; she’d praised his strange contraptions. Later she’d used her own allowance to augment the pittance granted to him, allowing him to follow his dreams of intricate clockwork.

Without her he’d never have become one of the world’s greatest horologists.

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An intricate wristwatch – © Alistair Forbes

Word Count: 150

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frogs.

               Monday’s Finish the Story                                                  Sunday Photo Fiction

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MftS: The Prophet’s Words

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt - © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt – © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

The Prophet’s Words

“I see absolutely everything,” Draeg answered, glaring at the man invading his sanctum, “past, present and future. And it is true – the treaty with your people compels me to answer your questions.”

The sun was at its peak when the man arrived, disturbing the most potent dreamtime. From the flouncy clothes and measly bag of tribute, he was obviously a townsman who’d heard tales of the dragon prophet. He hadn’t, however, heeded the warnings.

“I,” the man announced pompously, “am embarking upon an overseas venture. Will it be profitable, Wyrm?”

Draeg huffed a wisp of smoke. His response was carefully worded. “A great profit will be made from the venture,” he said.

The only requirement was truth and truth he spoke. A profit would be made but not by the arrogant merchant.

Finally alone again, he settled back into the dreamscape with a sense of satisfaction. The pettiest vengeance was always the most enjoyable.

Word Count: 150

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MftS: The Challenge

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt - © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt – © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

The Challenge
Genre: fantasy

Where did they go?” Jonin snarled, knuckles white on his sword hilt as his gaze swept the ruins. No sign of his honour guard could be seen.

“Win the challenge and they’ll be returned.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

The strange figure made no reply, merely smiled, displaying an unsettling array of pointed teeth.

“This is ridiculous,” Jonin blustered. “I’m not playing your stupid games. I want you to return my men at once!”

“You trespassed on my land, killed my animals and polluted my home with your human stink. You’re lucky you’re not dead already. One game and, if you win, you’ll be able to continue your journey – with your warriors – in peace.”

“And if I lose?”

The creature grinned. “Then tonight I feast.”

Scowling, Jonin finally accepted the challenge. He’d win the game and leave with his men.

Tomorrow he’d return with his mages and he’d raze this place to the ground.

Word Count: 150

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Until a little while ago we’d had no internet in the village since the end of last week so I apologise to anyone whose left a comment I haven’t responded to and for my lack of visits to blogs. I’ve managed to get online a couple of times when out and about working but not enough to get around everyone I’d have liked to. One thing I did check yesterday was the Barbara’s prompt for MftS so this, at least, was all ready to go when the internet finally came back.

I hope you all like it – it’s been a while since I wrote a story with quite so much dialogue.

MftS: Belladonna

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt - © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt – © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Belladonna

The team employed the use of Nightshade to get the information they wanted from their captive. 

Leaning back in his chair, Leon watched events on the screen unfolding. The fool of an official paced, back and forth in the bare, windowless room, freezing at the sound of approaching footsteps.

He always enjoyed this: watching the unsuspecting victim fall under the influence, revealing all his secrets. It was his favourite form of entertainment. “We should’ve brought popcorn,” he announced to the room.

Ben snorted and shook his head.

Gina cast him a look of disdain. “Nightshade is active.”

Grinning, Leon returned his attention to the screens and the deceptively fragile figure shoved unceremoniously into the room: helpless, weeping.

The operative codenamed Nightshade, their own Belladonna, was the most effective weapon in their arsenal. With her innocent eyes and tremulous smile their captive would be wrapped around her fingers in no time, he’d tell her anything she wanted to know.

Then she’d silence him – with nightshade, of course.

Word Count: 150

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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MftS: Black Fur and Whiskers

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Black Fur and Whiskers

He thought he found the perfect hiding spot.

Jeffrey huddled beneath the curtain, listening tensely as tottering footsteps sounded nearby. Just keep going, he silently urged. Don’t find me. Please don’t find me…

“Where are you?” the high-pitched voice sing-songed. The accompanying giggle caused his hair to stand on end.

Why had he thought it a good idea to read that cursed book?

“Found you!” He gave an undignified yowl as the concealing fabric was yanked away and pudgy hands delved into his fur. Short arms hauled him off the ground. “Love you, Dada Kitty.”

“Meow,” he replied resignedly, rubbing his head against his daughter’s chin.

The spell was supposed to animate Emelie’s favourite toy – a bedraggled stuffed cat. It was not meant to turn him into a live version of the thing. As she dragged him back to the playroom he prayed it reversed soon.

He could only stand the toddler’s idea of fun for so long.

Word Count: 150


I’ve noticed that my stories have been getting steadily heavier and darker as the week’s have gone on so I thought I’d try for something a little lighter today. This was tentatively entitled ‘The Wizard’s Guide to Parenting’ as I wrote it. I would have liked to have left that as its title but felt it gave away too much of the story!

Jeffrey, by the way, is actually the name of my sister’s cat – I felt it suited my wizard daddy!  Here’s a picture of him that I took on my phone when I was visiting there last week. Unfortunately he refused to look at the camera…Jeffrey

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