Writing Prompts Week 28: A Story That Ends At Sunrise

“It’s not safe out there,” he said, pulling the curtain closed against the oppressive darkness. A high-pitched wail emphasized his point.

Three figures huddled closer together. One was crying, another consoling him, and the third held the fire poker they’d commandeered as a makeshift weapon.

“And what about Emily?” The second asked. “You can’t expect us to stay here until morning and hope there might be something left of her to find and bury.”

“If I let you out, you’re as good as dead!”

“Well at least I’ll have had the guts to try,” the third one spat. “Step aside!” They strode towards the door, shoving the man aside when he tried to block them. “I’m not abandoning Emily.”

The air outside was filled with high-pitched screaming. Large bat-like creatures flew across the canopy in a blur and the sky was glowing from a large fire not too far off. They forged forward regardless, working their way down the path they knew their friend would have taken before night fell.

Twice, they were assaulted, but they managed to fend off the beasts with their makeshift weapon. Once they nearly turned their ankle as their foot slid down toward the bottom of a gully they had misjudged the location of. There was no sign of Emily.

“Can’t give up,” they muttered, more as an encouragement than out of conviction now.

They eventually came to a thick grove of trees, just outside town, that had dozens of the creatures swooping and screaming at it. None could get past the densely packed branches, though. One spotted them and made to dive at them when it was pierced by an arrow with red fletching. Her arrow.

They wasted little time worming between the trunks that ringed the grove. Stray branches pulled at their clothes and scratched their face until finally there was a gap in the trees.

“Lue! Thank God you’re alright!” A tall figure enveloped them in an embrace, their vision momentarily blocked by the fabric of her robes.

“I could say the same to you, Emily. I thought I was going to find you dead.”

“Not a chance. They can’t get in here, so I’m just waiting for dawn. Or company, I guess. Are you my brave hero?” Her eyes took on that flirty glint that usually sent Lue’s heart crazy, but the effect was dampened by a horrendous screeching from a creature caught in the branches of a tree.

“Huh, holly. Should have thought about that before.”

“I told Eirik they would be weak to that, but would he listen? No. And now we have to hole up in that silly shack every night.”

“I mean, would you rather be there or here, though?”

“At least here there’s fresh air. And I can watch the sunrise.”

Suddenly, the air was filled with piercing shrieks from every direction. Both of them flinched initially, but Emily recovered quickly once she jammed pieces of cloth in her ears. She gestured for Lue to do the same and beckoned them to follow her up a tree. They looked at her like she had gone completely crazy, but followed her all the same.

Rather than being beset upon by the creatures, they were treated to the sight of them all fleeing in the same direction away from the rising sun. It was the most beautiful sunrise they’d ever seen.

“We should head back,” Lue finally stated. “The others are worried.”

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Writing Prompts Week 27: A Story Featuring A Song

Spinning, laughing, dancing
To her favourite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
Is all alone

She was like a spirit, the way she glided across the ground, her dress fanning around her like blooming flowers as she twirled. The field grass waved alongside her, giving rhythm to her steps. From somewhere, music played, carried on the wind.

Crooked little smile
On her face
Tells a tale of grace
That’s all her own

Humans didn’t come here. Only fairies and spirits. They watched her move with entranced eyes. She came here often, and they loved her. Sometimes one would try to join her, pull her into their own dance, but she payed them little mind as she made her own steps, humming her own tune.

Eyes wide open, always hoping
For the sun
And she’ll sing her song to anyone
That comes along

She always vanished with the sunrise, returning home and leaving her audience behind. They were left with the final notes of the music lingering in their ears. What magic did she possess to entrance the fae so well? None of them knew.

Writing Prompts Week 26: A Story About Nostalgia

For some reason, the smell of fresh bread reminds me of when I was small. Particularly when I would play in the garden with my sister. I’m not sure why, but it makes me miss those simple days.

We had grand adventures together in the woods, fighting off imaginary beasts and climbing mountains that were actually trees.

And I remember sneaking sweet peas while helping my father with his vegetable garden. He was always the green thumb in the family.

It also reminds me sometimes of the day we got our first dog. A golden retriever, with thick, fluffy fur and big brown eyes. She was a good dog, always looking after us.

My apartment doesn’t allow pets.

I miss home. I should stop making bread all the time.

Writing Prompts Week 25: A Story Set At Summer Solstice

First day of summer. For Delilah, that meant just one thing. Summer festival!

In the sleepy little town she lived in, the festival was probably the only thing she had to look forward to there. Well, and Christmas, but that was ages away.

The festival was the one time of year where everyone from around town and the outskirts of it would gather together and set up an entire day of fun activities, local goods, and various contests, all capped off with a fireworks show and an entire night spent telling folk stories around the bonfire.

It helped that this was about the only time of year when she could see the cute boys that lived in the area.

Delilah usually spent half the festival helping her mother with her bakery stand before swapping out with her brother to go dancing. She did the same this year as well.

Dancing was a great tradition that took place during the fireworks. It was an immaculately planned event where the fireworks went off in time to the music. The most seasoned dancers knew the best ways to accent their performance as light exploded in the sky.

Delilah knew one boy who would make an excellent partner; the mayor’s son was trained nearly all his life to dance in the most flashy way possible to the tune. He wasn’t much to look at, however, and his hygiene tended to leave more to be desired than she would prefer.

The butcher’s son was more attractive in Delilah’s opinion, but he had a terrible personality and was known for stealing kisses just for the fun of it. It was also rumoured that he had wandering hands.

Now the farmer boy was very sweet. He knew how to be polite and didn’t try to talk down to people or act like he was better than anyone, and he had helped Delilah on more than one occasion when she found herself stranded halfway home. He had two left feet when dancing, and his freckles and curly hair made him look more childish than handsome, but Delilah found herself thinking about him more than she ever expected.

Decisions.

“It’s not right for a lady to be alone on the solstice,” a soft voice came from behind her.

Delilah turned around to find the farmer boy, Jeremy.

“Are you alone tonight? I could accompany you if you like.”

“That would be wonderful, Jeremy, thank you.” She put her hand in his and they walked out to the open part of the field, where music was beginning to play.

Writing Prompts Week 24: A Story that Ends in a Cliffhanger

The witches of the Three Songbirds Corner inn were a well known bunch. They were always ready with a spell or tincture for whatever happened to ail you, be it illness or ill fortune, and while witchcraft was technically illegal, none of the locals breathed a word about it.

Amelie specialized in warding charms. Everyone knew that if they were worried about an event, or thought there was bad energy around them, they could go to her. No two charms were exactly the same. Sometimes it would be a small glass jar filled with semi-precious stones, and sometimes it would be a sigil written hastily on a scrap of homemade paper. Moonlight was one of her favourite methods of charging the charms she handed out.

Lucia was a master at making ointments. Half the people in town didn’t even bother going to the doctor anymore for their complaints because Lucia could take one look at their symptoms and have something ready for them within the hour. “Take this three times a day, with your meals if you prefer,” they would tell their customers. Whatever problems they had would vanish within the week, usually, if not sooner.

Coren was very good with ghosts. No one quite knew why, but he had a way of speaking with them, and it was well known that he could simply walk up to a building and be able to tell you whether or not it was haunted. Some folks said he had one of his own following him around.

The three of them lived happily together, running their inn, caring for the townsfolk and sometimes even the people just passing through. It was a fairly quiet life, but it was a good one. Amelie and Lucia would go out to the woods in the afternoon to collect wild-growing herbs and mushrooms, and then Amelie would go again in the evening with Coren to trade with the fae and collect plants charged by moonlight.

It was during one of those evening outings that Amelie noticed that something felt different about the forest. It had an eerie chill to it that certainly wasn’t the wind. She hugged the iron nails in her coat pocket for comfort and looked to Coren. His face was stern, looking straight ahead as he watched around them for signs of danger.

“Do you feel it too, Coren?”

“Yes. Prepare tonight’s offerings. I’ll ask the fae if they know anything.”

Amelie nodded and did as she was asked, taking stock of what they had to give in a small burlap bag and setting out a small hand mirror and a slice of honey cake. She stepped back. Coren was better at dealing with the fae, Amelie herself knowing full well that she was easy fae-bait.

Usually they would find a small fairy or another of the lesser fae when they came to the circle of mushrooms. This time, it was something greater. A growing shadow rose up from the ground to tower over the both of them, wearing a bleached white mask and gloves, and a robe that seemed to absorb all the light around it. It was the most beautiful and the most terrifying thing Amelie had ever seen.

“You call us at a dangerous time, humans.” The figure spoke with a voice that never seemed to emanate from itself. It was layered, constantly shifting pitch. One moment it sounded like a venerable man, and the next it sounded like a young girl.

“We call you as we do every night,” Coren replied after a moment’s hesitation. “We wish to know why the forest feels uneasy.”

The figure turned its head, as if regarding the two humans before it, but its face did not change. “Surely ones such as yourselves should be able to divine such answers on your own. What have you to offer for wasting my time?”

Amelie stepped forward then, offering a small vial filled with a bright copper-coloured substance. “Red from the hair of a traveler.”

The being reached long, elegant fingers to pluck the vial from Amelie’s hand and regarded it. “A very rare colour. Very well, you have earned your answer. The land is changing, locking away its magic. Humans have declared a war on our ‘heathen’ kind, and so we shall fade into obscurity.”

“And what will become of us witches?” Amelie asked, stepping forward again. Coren flinched at her sudden demand, and she realized too late that she might have been rude.

The figure looked down at her with a disdainful gaze. “You do not have enough to give for such an answer, and you would do well to learn your place, human.”

Amelie shrank, biting back an apology.

“Your offering, however, is enough to afford you this as well. Leave while you still can. Loyalty is easily forgotten in the face of oppression.”

Coren and Amelie both bowed to the figure, neither being surprised that it was gone when they looked up again. They shared a glance, then turned and ran out of the forest as fast as their legs would carry them.

Lucia could tell something was wrong when they arrived back at the inn. They said nothing, and instead ran up to the attic to fetch their luggage while Amelie and Coren rushed to close the inn.

When morning came, everything changed.

Writing Prompts Week 23: A Story About a Birthday

Nix Nightingale hated celebrating his birthday. This was usually due to the fact that, as a member of the nobility, birthday celebrations usually involved his parents throwing a large party, to which they would invite many other nobles either much older than him or all young ladies looking to be married off. Now, Nix might be a caring soul and might like people well enough, but he had a very low tolerance for the airs and lies that constantly ran from the mouths of the nobility.

It should have come as no surprise to him that his parents would decide to do something so extravagant for his twenty-fifth birthday as to rent out an entire cruise ship for an evening. He was fairly certain that they were just trying to impress people, because they even invited some “new money” to attend the festivities.

“That girl over there is Delilah Carter. Her father owns a security company,” his mother lectured dispassionately. “Genevieve Thorold is the daughter of one of the Big Oil executives, and Felicity Downly in the blue cocktail dress is the heiress of that new jewelry company your father buys all his cuff-links from now.”

Nix rolled his eyes. “Mother, I honestly couldn’t care less.”

“Oh, I’m sure you would much rather be off galavanting with that little friend of yours, but you’re twenty five now. The fact that you’ve gone this long without so much as courting a lady frankly disturbs me.”

“First of all, Mother, his name is Mostyn. Second, what he and I do in our spare time is none of your concern. Third, as I’ve told you at least a hundred times now, he’s straight.”

“And fourth, you’re completely uninterested in getting married or giving us grandchildren, I know. You’ve told me all of this plenty of times before. But listen here; either you go and find a nice young lady to court tonight, or your father and I are setting up an arranged marriage which you will have no say in or over. Do I make myself clear?” Her tone left no margin for doubt, and Nix was left cringing to himself as his mother left to greet more guests.

Looking around, it was basically a sea of unfamiliar faces. Nix rarely knew anyone his parents invited, and even more rarely deigned to remember anyone who came with any regularity aside from what common courtesy dictated he must know. A glass of champagne sat in his hand, fizzing away, untouched. It had been handed to him by a more inebriated patron who’d insisted they do a toast; he hadn’t noticed when Nix did not drink. If he were more honest, Nix would have preferred whiskey, but that was kept tucked away in another room filled with old men smoking cigars and chortling about whatever might have caught their attention at the time.

Everyone at the party looked more or less the same, when things came down to it. Fine jewelry, fancy tuxedos or dresses either far too tight or far too voluminous to be of any practical function, and natural-coloured hair pinned up or slicked back in whatever was considered the latest fashion. It was only natural his eye would suddenly be drawn to one particular young lady near a wall on the opposite side of the room with bright blue hair shaved into an undercut on one side of her head, several more piercings than was usually considered appropriate in this social context, and wearing a denim jacket over a plain black shirt.

Nix found himself drawn to her, partly because she looked so different from everyone else and his curiosity had been piqued, and partly because he suspected that the flask she kept sipping at might just contain the stronger alcohol he was currently craving to make it through the rest of the evening with his sanity intact.

“You look about as miserable as I feel,” he commented, coming up beside her and depositing his unwanted drink on a passing server’s tray.

She eyed him warily for a moment. “Mebee. Least you look like you fit in ‘ere.”

Nix shrugged and leaned against the wall next to her, silently asking permission first. “My parents would probably kill me for not doing so if I wasn’t the only heir to their estate, save for my cousins, but Heaven forbid they should inherit all that money” He rolled his eyes skyward and sighed. “How did you get your parents to let you come dressed so casually?” Now that he was closer, he could see that she was also wearing a dark red pleated skirt and black boots.

“My da’s not so stuffy as most folks ‘ere, I guess.” She took a sip from her flask. “I would ‘ave worn jeans if it were all up ta me, though. Hate skirts.”

“Why’s that?” Nix asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Because I can’t do half the stuff I wanna do without somebody seein’ my underwear. Too girly for me, anyhow.” She took another sip.

“Would it be too much to ask for a bit of whatever you’ve got there?” Nix pointed at the flask for clarification when the girl turned a mildly accusing look his way.

She scrutinized him for a moment, swishing the liquid around in thought. “Wot’s your name, first?”

“Nix Nightingale. I’m the supposed reason behind my parents throwing this godforsaken party.”

“Aah, so you’re the one that fancy lady at the door was talkin’ about. M’name’s Trixie Hatter. My dad got a last minute invitation from your folks right after his watch company got featured in one of those frou-frou magazines.” She extended a hand to shake his and Nix could feel a mutual understanding pass between them as she handed over her flask. “I snuck this in because I figured I’d need the strength. I was right.”

Nix took a heavy swig and grinned in satisfaction. It certainly wasn’t the best brand of whiskey, but it was one of the better ones. “Much appreciated.” He handed the flask back to Trixie with a smile.

The pair stood where they were in silence for a while longer. They went completely undisturbed. While Nix was easy enough to pick out of a crowd by virtue of his height alone, Trixie seemed to grab everyone’s attention first and scare them off by virtue of her existence. It was nice, for a change.

“Wonder if’n we could sneak off with one o’ them lifeboats they got outside,” Trixie mused aloud.

A wry grin played across Nix’s face. “We probably could. At this rate, I doubt anyone will notice we’re gone.”

“Woah, hold up! I ain’t suggestin’ we go off playin’ Titanic’s star-crossed lovers in there, if that’s what you’re thinkin’!”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Nix replied cooly, “because neither was I. I can’t stand these parties my parents throw for me. I decided it might be a better use of both our time if we row ourselves back to the dock and find someplace else that doesn’t require us to act overly polite.”

Trixie spent another minute eyeing Nix. She shrugged, apparently having decided to believe him for the time being, and grinned. “I know a great pub by the water,” she suggested. “The owners are friends of mine, an’ we can get cheap drinks and watch the show.”

“Show?”

“Thursday’s wrestlin’ night. Anyone what can beat Bella in an arm wrestling match gets a free drink.”

“Sounds like fun. I’ll row.”

Writing Prompts Week 22: A Story Written From the Perspective of Someone Dead

I remember this place. I used to come here all the time. Look, there, you can see me running around, smile on my face. I was a cute kid. Where did I even find that kite in the first place? Oh, that’s right.

My grandfather took me to the toy store for my birthday. I grabbed the biggest, brightest kite they had. It was such a pretty blue; shaped like a butterfly. He took me to the beach after so we could fly it. Continue reading