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 19: A Story Set In A Theatre

Duck beneath the fallen beam and creep around the rubble at the entrance. This was a familiar path. Past the long abandoned popcorn stand, around the hall. There was only one door still useable on the first floor.

Entering the theatre hall, a lone person was in view. He sat alone at the middle row, watching the abandoned stage.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Continue reading

Writing Prompts Week 14: A Story from a Villain’s Perspective

They were a tenacious bunch, she had to admit; more-so than most, at the least.

How many before these had given up before they’d really even started? She’d lost count of all the so-called heroes she’d watched through her scrying pool that had been turned away by the man at the gate, who offered a handsome sum of gold to turn away and forget their mission. A fair few who got past him were often frightened off, if not eaten, by the various carnivorous pets that lived in her enormous garden. Some managed to make it past the great thorn hedge that surrounded the moat, enchanted to show whoever looked into it that which they most desired.

This group had made it past all those previous obstacles and actually inside the tower. She watched with a cat-like fascination as they crept past traps and battled her spiders, then turned away, bored, as they began scaling the webs.

“It looks like you finally have some heroes to rescue you, my dear.”

A young man lying across the couch looked up from his book. “Must I go back? It’s been so lovely here, and I don’t want to go back to being the princess.”

“Now now, you know it’s all part of the plan,” she said, extending a hand towards him and leading him towards a large, guilded cage. “When your parents become overbearing and try to make you wear dresses and court other young men again, you just slip this poison into their food at dinner. They’ll waste away, and when they’re gone, I’ll return to you and I will have the means to make you as you were always meant to be.”

“And you’re certain this will work?”

“Of course. You’re the royal heir to the throne, after all. Why would they suspect you of being in league with the ‘wicked sorceress’ who kidnapped you in the first place?”

The two smiled at each other, and then she vanished. The heroes came to free their lost ‘princess’ and never suspected a thing.

“And now we wait.”

Writing Prompts Week 5: A Story Set in London

(Sorry this one was late. I had a bit of a week and didn’t remember to write until I was too busy to get anything done on time.)


Amelia never particularly enjoyed riding the tube. It was dark and crowded and far too difficult to get anywhere with a loaded suitcase. She did enjoy the Charing Cross Library, however, and the tube was the fastest and arguably easiest way to get there from her house. The bus was far too easy to lose track of oneself on with the passing scenery and quiet radio.

Finally, Charing Cross Station. Amelia wasted no time hanging about the underground and went straight for the surface, taking the familiar path to the library. There was an air of calm inside, settled gently over the room like a fluffy blanket. It smelled like old sealing glue and wood. Perfect.

The familiar shelves stood tall as Amelia wound her way around them. There was one book in particular that she was looking for. It was a musty old tome, bound in leather and string. Open it too quickly and the velum pages might just tear themselves out. It was with an air of reverence that she plucked it from its shelf, carrying it ever so gently to the lecturn.

With delicate touches, she turned the pages. When she reached the one she’d been looking for, there was a reverent pause. A deep breath. Fingers traced the air just above cryptic runes. Muttered words beyond comprehension.

The room hummed with electricity, and all the books on the shelves burst into life. Creatures strange and wonderous flowed from the pages and danced through the air around Amelia’s head. Unicorns, dragons, harpies, chimera, and all manner of other beasts weaving to and fro on an invisible path, whispering into her ears.

A thousand stories told in a single day.

Writing Prompts Week 4: Tale Of Three Siblings

Taylor was the oldest, always running ahead and the first to trip and skin his knees because he never watched his feet. He was gangly but not quite yet tall. His sandy hair stuck out in every direction no matter how hard his mother tried to comb it into submission.

Gavin was the middle child. His growth spurt hadn’t started yet, and his cheeks still held onto their youthful chub. He preferred to walk slower than his brother, hanging back to make sure Elizabeth didn’t get left behind.

Elizabeth was the youngest by a few years, still dressed by her mother in lacy ribbons and little black shoes that snapped on and made clicking noises when she ran across the floor. Her hair came down in a mess of curls, which she often complained would get in the way.

They saw themselves as adventures, exploring every nook and cranny; first in the big old house they lived in, then in the back yard, and then in the surrounding neighbourhood. Gavin had dozens of maps drawn out in his room of the various areas they’d been.

The only place left uncharted was the woods on the edge of town.

It was an old forest, untended for years and full of large gnarled trees. Their parents had always warned the children against wandering within its bounds, lest they be spirited away by fairies or darker beings. That wasn’t going to deter Taylor, however, and naturally his younger siblings would follow after him.

Elizabeth chased after her eldest brother, dressed in pink overalls and hair tied up in poofy pigtails. She was determined to not be left behind, no matter how many big roots tried to get in her way. Every so often, she’d pause to pick up a pretty stone or a fallen leaf and shove them into her pockets.

Gavin meandered at the back of their little group, eyeing the trees and mentally counting his steps. He didn’t like how the shade felt.

They wandered on for perhaps an hour, perhaps more. There were trees and scattered patches of flowers, large stones rising out of the ground and packed dirt beneath the covering of leaves. Shafts of sunlight would filter in the few gaps in the canopy, making the air look like it sparkled, especially where the light would fall upon the flowers.

Taylor stopped at one of the larger oak trees and put a hand on the bark. It was very old and some of the branches drooped so low that one could pull themselves up to sit on them. Taylor did such, kicking his feet in the air as he surveyed their surroundings. Gavin watched mildly as his brother began to climb the rest of the tree, up and up and up, all the way to the top.

“There’s just so much green!” Taylor called down. “It feels like I’m floating!”

Gavin made a face and turned to sit against the tree’s trunk. He still felt uneasy, though he couldn’t quite figure why.

And then it hit him.

“Liz? Lizzie?” He jumped to his feet, looked around in every direction, even ran around the tree a few times. There was no sign of their little sister. He cupped his hands to his mouth. “Elizabeth!”

No response.

Taylor came swinging down from the tree. “What’s wrong, Gavin?”

“Lizzie’s gone! We need to find her!”

And so the boys ran around, calling out for their youngest sibling. It felt like hours were slipping by as they searched, paying little mind to where they were going. Gavin was the first to realize they were lost. Taylor fell to a crouch and began muttering.

“Please let her be safe. Please let us find her. Please let us get out.” Over and over he repeated those words while Gavin tried to get some bearing on where they were.

“What wrong?” A tiny voice asked behind the boys.

Both heads whipped around to see Elizabeth standing there, smile on her little brown face and dirt caking her overalls, completely unharmed.

“You idiot!” Taylor shouted, throwing his arms around the little girl. “Where were you?”

“I follow fairy parkles. See? Pretty flowers!” Elizabeth held up a tiny bouquet of bluebells and flashed her brothers a toothy grin.

“You shouldn’t wander off like that, Lizzie,” Gavin chided. “We thought we weren’t going to find you again. And now we’re lost.”

“Not lost.” Elizabeth pointed in a direction. “Miss Grover house that way.”

“You already got out?” Gavin asked, shocked. Elizabeth just nodded and began leading the way.

Sure enough, they soon emerged from the forest onto the road right in front of Miss Grover’s house, one block away from their own home.

They didn’t tell their parents where they’d been or what had happened. Later that night, Gavin could have sworn he heard his sister talking to someone in the room next to his. A strange light seemed to hover by his window, then disappeared.

Writing Prompts Week 3: A Retelling of a Fairytale

Little red riding hood, skipping through the forest to bring her sick grandmother a basket of goodies, was attacked by the big bad wolf. That’s how the story was told. That’s not what really happened, though.

Johanna, or ‘Red’ as her friends tended to call her, was a hunter by trade. Taught by her mother, who was taught by her father, and so on up the family tree, she saw herself as one of her home village’s main providers. Of course it would fall to her to defend the village when the woodsman came back with reports of a terrible great wolf plaguing the forest just south of the sheep pasture.

Her red hood was the auburn hair on her head, and her basket of goodies was her pack full of hunting supplies and food.

With her shotgun in hand, Johanna set out along the path the woodsman had taken. Her keen eyes surveyed her surroundings critically. Every detail could be a clue. A broken branch could mark the creature’s passage, and a rustle in the underbrush could potentially be the wolf waiting to strike.

Darkness approached and there were still no signs of a wolf. Johanna had wandered far off the path by this time to check all the places she deemed likely for a wolf to pass, based on the wandering patterns of local deer. All she found for her trouble was a dilapidated little house in a tiny clearing.

She’d brought no torches with her, and traversing the forest in the dark was always something her parents had warned her against. The forest was full of little gullies and steep ridges that one could easily break a leg falling down. There were more sinister things rumoured to lurk at night.

With little other option, Johanna entered the old house and set up for the night.

It wasn’t morning when she awoke. It might have been midnight. A howling ripped through the weathered boards of the little building, seeming to make the very floor quake. Johanna pulled her shotgun close, eyeing her surroundings. Outside the dirty window, she caught sight of it.

In the clearing, standing taller than any man she’d seen, was a great hulking beast. It had the head and tail of a wolf, but its arms were muscled and bore fingers like a human. She’d heard tales of such a monster in whispers from the traders to the shopkeepers. Werewolf, they’d say. A danger to more than just the sheep if it reached the village.

Johanna moved to be in a better position to shoot the creature, but it spotted her first and tore across the clearing to leap through the window. The glass shattered, scattering everywhere and drawing blood from multiple places on Johanna’s body. One shard cut across her face, blinding her in one eye.

The wolf creature turned to face Johanna and she spat blood at it, readying her shotgun. The creature lunged. Johanna fired. The woodsman lay dead on the floor.

Dawn came and Johanna returned to the village. No one could understand why the woodsman never came home.

Guardian Angel: part 1

“We cannot keep them back any longer.”

“This gate is lost!”

“Gabriel, take the girl and flee. Whatever you do, do not let her fall into enemy hands!”

A winged form bursts from the thatch roof of a village house. Mere moments later, Hell literally breaks loose on the small town, wretched demons descending upon all those unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire. Gabriel’s flight doesn’t go unnoticed by these denizens of the sulfurous pit, as was quickly evidenced by four of the monsters taking flight after him.

Gabriel looks back at the snarling beasts with their twisted horns and red smoke spewing from their putrid nostrils. They are catching up. He glances back at the little bundle in his arms.

“Hold on tightly, Adia,” he tells her softly before putting on a sudden burst of speed. More demons take up the chase as Gabriel works hard to maneuver around their vicious attacks.

A demon with long sharp claws takes a swipe and gouges Gabriel’s leg. The boy’s grip loosens with the pain and shock of the wound. Another demon, this one with the face of a dog and a pig and the body of a barrel, slams into Gabriel’s side and knocks the girl from his arms and sends her plummeting towards the dark woods below.

The child’s screams are overpowered by the wind and the unearthly noises of the demons who failed to notice her descent. The demons see Gabriel’s empty arms.

“Hsss, this boy was merely a decoy!” Snarls a snake-like demon.

“He was trying to trick us!” Grunts another.

The demons turn back to the village. Only one remains, having seen the child fall. Gabriel dives for the forest, desperate to reach Adia before the demon does.

“Give it up, boy,” the succubus cackles beside him. “You have failed your mission, and the girl is mine!” The demoness suddenly tucks her wings in, sending herself into a straight free-fall.

Gabriel, desperate, sends himself careening directly behind the fiend. He grabs onto the succubus’s legs and throws her backwards, but she comes back on him almost instantly. The two tussle in the air like a pair of angry cats, still falling at breakneck speeds after the child. The closer they get to the girl, the more desperately they claw and slash at each other.

Gabriel tosses the demoness aside and grabs Adia mere moments before she would have hit the trees and slows to a stop, landing just below the canopy of leaves. Finally succumbing to his grievous wounds, the teenage angel slumps against the tree’s trunk, blood oozing from each cut and gash.

Breathing heavily, he looks down at the blanket-wrapped girl in his arms. “Adia, are you hurt?”

“Gabriel,” the little girl cries, “so scared. Don’t like fall.”

“Hush, you’re safe now,” the boy soothes, hugging the child closely.

“Blood,” Adia gasps, seeing the redness that is soaking through the angel’s tabard. “Gabriel hurt.” A white light begins to emanate from the girl, tendrils of gentle power caressing each wound on the boy’s skin and closing them as if they had never been there to begin with. A silver necklace of angel wings cradling a shining moonstone appears around the girl’s neck.

“So that’s your power,” Gabriel sighs. “I’m glad… that you’re safe.”

“Gabriel, what wrong?”

“Nothing, Adia. I’m just tired.” Gabriel’s eyes close and his breathing soon slows to a steady sleeping rhythm. Adia looks at his sleeping face, then looks to his angel wing necklace carrying a stone of Ocean Jasper. She reaches out and touches the stone. Its warmth radiates through her and lulls her to sleep in Gabriel’s arms.

 

Five elderly angels gather around a stone table, a large ball of light filling the centre. Concern is etched on every one of their bearded faces.

“The boy is late,” states one.

“I told you it was foolish to send Gabriel on such a mission,” another sneers. “We should have sent one of the archangels to transport the girl to safety, not a newborn angel still wet behind the ears.”

“The boy may be still new to his wings, but his ability is undeniable,” argues one angel with a long silver beard. “His power of protection is close to that of Michael’s.”

“That may be true,” agrees the youngest of the elders, “but his skills in using that power are as yet unrefined.”

“Let us send him some aid, then,” suggests the final elder. “Even the strongest archangel would have trouble against hundreds of demons fresh out of Hell.”

“Very well,” the others agree.

 

Morning does not come over the forest. When Gabriel awakes, it’s just as dark, if not darker, than when he had fallen asleep. He looks down at Adia nestled in his arms, still slumbering peacefully. He sighs in relief.

Creeping to the end of the limb, Gabriel looks up into the sky. What he sees is not an encouraging sight. Dozens of demons patrol the skies, spreading darkness in their wake and blocking out the sun.

“If we don’t leave soon, that darkness will corrupt Adia,” he whispers to himself.

Seeing no possible means of escape by air, Gabriel decides to flee on foot. Silently he drops from the tree to the ground. One of his legs collapses beneath him as he lets out a gasp of pain. “The wound is gone but the pain still lingers,” he mutters to himself. “If that was a demon of rot that caused that wound, I could still be in serious trouble.”

Gabriel limps towards his original goal, still cradling the sleeping child. He doesn’t get very far before a demon happens upon the two. The demon, a beast with fangs nearly as long as its legs and eyes that burned like a fire, leaps on Gabriel’s back and knocks him off balance. Adia tumbles out of his arms unseen and into a bush where she wakes to silently witness.

“Where is it?” the demon snarls into Gabriel’s ear, digging its claws into his back. “Where is the child that the master wants?” One of the monster’s feet presses on one of Gabriel’s wings, slowly crushing the bone beneath.

Gabriel could only cry out in his pain, but with one desperate look to where Adia hides, the command to run is made clear. Adia didn’t hesitate to run away as fast as her little legs could carry her, and she didn’t stop running until she had left the dark sky behind.