Let’s face it. If you haven’t figured it out by my lack of actually posting my prompt fills, I’ve decided to stop doing them. Life and general writers’ block got in the way too much for me to be able to realistically continue doing the weekly prompts. Life is still in the way a bit overmuch for me to post here in general with any regularity, at least for now. I’m not sure when things will settle down for me or when the muse will strike me again, but I’ll try to pop in with a story or two at least once a month if I can.
I’ve been bad at keeping up with my writing prompts recently. As of now, I’m currently 3 weeks behind on prompts. I’m mostly just writing this post to say that I’ll be skipping the week 29 prompt. It states that the story needs to start with the opening line “F*** you!” which isn’t something I want to start any of my stories with, to be honest. As such, the next story that will be posted will be the week 30 prompt, and then week 31 to hopefully catch up again. Thanks for being patient and for reading my little short stories. They are a fun exercise, even if some of the prompts are more difficult to fill than others.
Evelyn took a deep breath of the sunset air. It was chill, bearing the promise of snowfall and the faint musky scent of a campfire about a mile or so upwind. She turned to her companions.
The first was a hooded figure, about five or so inches shorter than Evelyn. His right eye was covered with a leather patch, and one hand always seemed to hover possessively over the exotic blade at his belt.
The second was a rough-looking redhead, covered in various battle scars and the only other female in the group. She stood at ease and held her halberd with an easy familiarity that might lead one to think she was off her guard. They would of course be wrong, but that usually worked to her advantage.
The final companion was a lion-esque catfolk. His clothes were as flashy as his well-groomed mane, though his usual smile was currently replaced with a look of concern that nearly matched what Evelyn felt.
There was also the wolf that stood by Evelyn’s side, but she’d long since stopped thinking of Cobalt as an entirely separate entity from herself.
“Are you sure we’re far enough away?” She asked. The concern in her voice lacked the anxiety she felt, though she couldn’t keep it out of her hands as the fingers of one traced over the intricate carvings on her staff and the other twisted itself into Cobalt’s thick fur.
Sieg, the hooded companion, spoke first. “It’ll have to be. Moon’s supposed to rise in an hour.” Upon seeing the way Evelyn began to bite her lip, he added, “Relax, Sweetheart. If you do turn and break your bindings again, we all have our contingencies to stop you from going on a murderous rampage.”
“Yeah,” the redhead added, pulling out a set of manacles and starting with the task of chaining her friend to a nearby tree. “Not that you’re going to break them this time. I went and found some extra strong ones. Guaranteed not to break.”
“Thanks, Nia,” Evelyn smiled. Then she frowned. “Where’d you get the extra money to buy masterwork manacles, though?”
The redhead said nothing, but gestured with her head at Sieg, who was currently ignoring the girls in favour of surveying their current surroundings. The catfolk — Firebrand, as he preferred to be called — was discussing something with him just out of earshot.
“First time testing this,” Nia muttered.
Evelyn nodded. “I guess we’ll know soon if the practice pays off.” The chains on the manacles clinked against each other as the half-elf rubbed anxiously at a silver bracelet on her wrist. “Spirits, I don’t even know how it’s supposed to work.”
“Just remember what I keep telling you, Sweetheart.” Sieg approached and knelt down in front of Evelyn, wearing his usual semi-smug half-grin.
“Confidence is key,” she parroted at him, only barely managing to not roll her eyes.
“I still think some lessons with me would’ve helped,” Firebrand added. He was busy setting up a campfire about ten or so feet away, but that didn’t stop him from picking up the conversation clearly.
“I’m not going to learn self-confidence by strutting around and posing, I told you!” Just because Evelyn didn’t need to shout, didn’t mean she wouldn’t anyway. It helped with the stress at least.
“It’s more than just that. Give me a chance.”
Evelyn felt a twinge of guilt at the plea, but decided to ignore it for the time being. There were more important things to worry about currently: the full moon, and what came with it.
Nia gave a final tug on the chains to make sure they were secure before sighing in satisfaction and rocking back to sit cross-legged on the ground. Sieg followed suit and pulled a tiny flute from his pack, ignoring the glare the redhead sent his way.
The sun finished sinking, all reds and purples smeared across the sky before it settled into a deep and dark blue. The stars were already starting to appear, and the moon would rise any minute.
“Are you guys sure you want to sit this close?” The chains clinked as Evelyn shifted nervously. “If I do still-”
“You’re not going to turn. If that bracelet’s worth even half what we paid for it, you’ll keep being little Evelyn like you usually are.”
“You know,” Nia piped up, “it’s really funny to me how you keep calling her ‘little Evelyn’ when you literally have to tilt your head back to look her in the eyes.” She grinned around a stick of jerky.
“It’s a turn of phrase,” Sieg snapped. “She’s little compared to when she goes all wolfy.”
Cobalt, from beside the campfire, let out an amused huff, but otherwise ignored the group at large in favour of the remains of a badger he’d killed.
The moon began to creep over the mountains. A growing drop of silver in the dark sky. Evelyn felt her eyes drawn to it like it was magnetic. Hypnotic. She did not realized when her breaths came quicker and her shoulders shook. Swallowing a deep breath, she closed her eyes and willed herself not to change. She wanted to stay as she was. She wanted to stay herself.
In the back of her mind, she counted the seconds. One… two… three…. She was holding her breath. Her lungs wanted to burst. Four… five… six.
“Ten seconds,” she heard Sieg’s voice say.
Tentatively, Evelyn opened her eyes. Her friends were there, watching her. She could still recognize them as her friends; that was a good sign. Nia was smiling hopefully, and Sieg looked satisfied with himself.
She chanced a look down at herself. The same, slender half-elven hands. Fine, long legs. Her general waif-like frame was still as it was, and not a bit of fur in sight.
Evelyn sighed heavily and sank back against the tree whilst Nia and Firebrand moved to unlock the chains.
“See? I told you it’d work, Sweetheart.”
Evelyn wasn’t sure if she wanted to scoff at the smug grin on Sieg’s face or squeeze him in gratitude. She opted for neither and just wrapped her arms around herself as she made her way to the campfire and sat beside her wolf companion.
“Thank you, Sieg.”
You might have noticed, two categories and their contained story chapters are now missing from my blog. That’s because I’ve just removed them.
“Tale of Thorns” and its supplement, “Belladonna’s Journal”, were originally inspired by a role play I had taken part in on a site I’m no longer a part of. The character of Belladonna was rather hastily thrown together, with bits being added on as I saw appropriate. I’d thought I’d done a decent amount of research in the relevant subjects of Depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. I had done a few quick wikipedia searches on the basics of the subjects.
Looking back on her now, having been separate from both that role play, the story its setting originally been based on, and “Tale of Thorns” itself for a good long time, I’ve come to realize that Belladonna is not the best portrayal of any of those mental issues in any capacity. I’d fallen into the media trap of making them scarier and over-dramatized for the sake of raising the stakes in a story I’d barely planned out from the beginning. As she is currently, Belladonna is not a good character. I failed to make her human beyond the things she suffered from.
In light of these recent revelations, I’ve decided to remove “Tale of Thorns” from this blog. I want this site to contain my best content, things I can be proud of, and things that are truly original to me. That story is none of those things as it currently is.
I may attempt to rewrite it in future, with more thought put into the story, characters, and how things would play out. I want to make it something unique to me and I want it to be a truer portrayal of those living with the mental illnesses Belladonna suffers from. I might change what she’s diagnosed with, or remove something entirely, but I will definitely be revising her backstory and the world she lives in. When it is something I can be proud of again, I’ll be more than happy to post the pieces here.
Again, I make no guarantees that this will be something happening in the future, but if it is, I promise it will be better. I’m currently debating whether or not to keep vampires as part of the story and whether or not interactions with them are actually a necessary part of her becoming who she is.
Anyway, this was a long announcement/journal post. Expect the next writing prompt story by Saturday as usual.
Machines hummed and whirred. A man rubbed his eyes and adjusted his position on the chair. Too many late shifts were taking their toll.
The monitors flickered for a moment, a blink and you’d miss it occurrence. Hallways and holding rooms were displayed, their occupants either curled up in their corners or pacing endlessly. One was scratching at the walls of its cell, howling, but soundless to the cameras watching it.
The man was startled out of his chair when an alarm blared. With a panic, he scoured the screens for any sign of a disturbance. None of the alert lights were lit either. And, just as quickly as it had started, the alarm stopped. Everything went dark.
The man’s breath caught in his throat and he had to force himself to swallow the rising lump of anxiety. He’d trained for this. Shaking fingers fumbled for the flashlight on his belt. He couldn’t stop the sigh of relief when it switched on and illuminated the space before him.
Something groaned. It was long and deep, like metal slowly buckling under the pressure of a large amount of water.
The man reached for the gun under his desk and started towards the door. The hallway before him was pitch black and yawning. Step by careful step he walked through the darkness, his light barely able to illuminate the area before him and adding to the eeriness of the place.
Don’t look. Never look. It’s a distraction.
Onward, he walked.
Was the air getting thicker? Probably just nerves.
Focus. Don’t turn around.
Another low groan. Closer. A creek.
He squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed hard. Don’t turn around. Do not turn around.
Something brushed the back of his neck. He whirled around out of instinct. Nothing was there.
There was a clatter as the flashlight fell to the ground, then flickered out.
You’ve come a long way since then.
Once, you were a bright-eyed, naive little thing. You wondered if the world stretched on forever and dragons slept underground to make mountains. Classes seemed to go on forever and Summer was never long enough. The trees were filled with all manner of fae and the dark corners of the hall held the scariest monsters.
And then you grew up. You learned that things were not so wondrous as you had once believed. Your eyes lost their gleam and your steps became heavy. Things you’d once enjoyed did nothing to lift your spirits and became a chore. Life was hard for you.
You sought help, though. It wasn’t easy. Therapist after therapist, medication after treatment; nothing seemed to work. But you weren’t alone. Your friends, your family; they all encouraged you, helped you the best they could. So you kept trying.
One time you nearly gave up. You were found, though. Saved. Because you are worthy of being saved.
It took a long time, many tears, and more than a few meltdowns, but you finally found something that worked. Everything started to look up again. The childhood innocence you’d cherished once was gone, but there was light in the world again. Your sense of wonder had returned. Unicorns and trolls might not exist in this world, but they did in your own. Stories could almost tell themselves as they ran through your mind and out of your fingertips.
Even on the days the stories would not come, there was still small magic to help you. The early morning sun peeking through rainclouds at just the right angle, a knot on a tree that made it look like it had a face, unexpected letters in the mail from faraway acquaintances. All these things and more. You’re no longer what you once were, and the journey here was hard, but you made it in the end. You are stronger.
Silence ruled. The river bubbled, the trees applauded in the wind, but no one was there to hear, save for the deer and the butterflies and the bees and whatever other small creatures deigned to wander the isolated valley.
Crumbling stone buildings covered in moss continued to stand against the elements. Though the wind and rain buffeted them, still they were there. What once were carefully tended gardens and fields became overgrown and wild. The rusted plow was all but hidden amidst the tangling long grass and vines. Relics of a bygone era.
Humans had not walked through these woods in many years; not since before the woods were but a few scattered trees that had been too thick to fell. The orchards had long since joined the forest. They gave easy food to the squirrels and the birds in autumn.
What was once a village square, all neatly cobbled and meticulously maintained, was now just a collection of loose stones and falling archways surrounding a well far older than anything else.
A stag looks up from his grazing at the sound of stones shifting further up the mountain. A lone human stands there, utterly in awe. The faded map that had laid tucked in the darkest corner of the archives had indeed been correct. This was the lost city.