The Quiet of Rage

This was an image prompt. I knew a little about the source material – this is an image of a warrior who struggled to pursue her profession against perceptions of her gender. It gave me an idea of why she might be so angry.

This story isn’t about Cisca, but it is about someone in a similar position.

This image is the work and property of user ‘Josu Herniaz’ on Artstation, and is used here with the artist’s permission.

I forced him back. His sword came at me again, heavy and overpowering. I deflected it with my sword, but it wasn’t enough. I leaned the angle of my shoulder into the blow to glance it off my armor and despite all I had done to divert the force of it, my joint complained, something inside burning painfully.  Now past his sword, I rammed the hilt of my sword into his throat. He went down like a tree, clawing at his throat, and I leaned over, sword poised to strike. His left eye, steel grey, the target of my sword, filled my vision as the target of my strike.

Continue reading “The Quiet of Rage”

Kerrygold Bank

Prompted by a request to assign professions a mythical animal that suits the role, This beginning of a story was born. It’s the beginning of a strange bond, and there may be more later. This story is still not yet free.

I went to the vault, intending to clear it. The time – lock would engage soon, and we didn’t want anybody getting stuck. The massive wheel was heavy, but spun without resistance, not even a squeak. I pulled the door open,and looked in at a huge red lizard, looking back at me in startlement.

No. That was no lizard. That was a damn dragon. Fire erupted, just a wisp, and I slammed the vault shut, turning the wheel. Hell no. To hell with that. Maybe someone slipped me something and I was hallucinating, but I wasn’t going back in there without backup.

The intercom crackled on. “Officer! Wait!”

That voice. That pitch, that command. I wasn’t used to hearing it plead, but…..”Miss Kerris?”

“Who is that? Is that Tolson? O’graf?”

“Slate Grey, ma’am.”

There was a pause. “Is that a joke?”

“You’d have to ask my parents, ma’am. Ma’am…..are you alone in there?”

“…..Yes. Please let me out.”

I’d never heard her say please, either. I spun the wheel and pulled the vault open, coming face to face with …

“Miss Kerris.” I leaned around her to look into the vault, but it was empty.

“Please keep what you saw to yourself.”

“Miss Kerris . . . what are you?”

“Listen, Officer Grey, if you cause trouble for me, I will make you disappear, just like that. This bank is mine. I built it from nothing, and I will not risk losing it for the life of one human. You will keep my secret, one way or another.”

My mind was reeling, a a corner of it had hidden away from emotion.  It had a plan.  I bottled up thw swirling panic, and let that corner run on autopilot. “It’s just a little surprising, ma’am. You looked pretty fierce.”

She stood a little taller. “I was pretty fierce – looking, wasn’t I? And majestic.”

“Very majestic, ma’am. Noble.”

“Carry on, Grey. I may have use for you later. Stand ready.”

She walked away, strutting a little more than normal, and I sighed in relief. I don’t know what I just stepped in, but it looked like I was okay, for now.  I left my feelings bottled for the moment, to process later; I still had work to finish.

A beeping started up behind me, and I went to look around the vault briefly, before closing it. A row of lights lit up, a series of thunks as the vault locked itself for the night. Maybe the vault was the wrong word. Maybe it was more properly a hoard.

Ms. Kerry -Tasiel Kerry, more appropriately, though her birth certificate said Tasha – went home to her flat, a little extra spring in her step. Noble, he’d called her. Sure, she’d prompted him, but humans just didn’t know how to give compliments. “Pretty,” and “lovely,” as if her pride should be in her appearance. He had complimented her character – ferocity and nobility!

She closed her door behind her, and leaned back against it, allowing herself an undignified little dance of delight as she kicked her heels off, directly onto a shoe rack. It’d been so long since she’d gotten a proper compliment. She would have to reward this man with his silly name. Slate Grey. Might as well call him Grey Grey. Double Grey. She’d think of a better name to embarrass the human with later.

She strode into her bedroom and to the bed strewn with gold coins. She undressed, reveling in the cool air on her skin after the heat outside, and threw herself onto the bed of coins. Reaching over her head, she scooped her fingers through the coins, holding a few aloft. An aureus, a yin yuan, a floren, and a bezin. Not originals, of course, replicas of particular coins she owned, those locked in a safe in their cases, with their certificates. But still gold, most of a purity higher than the original’s standard. Paper money just wasn’t the same. It was so flimsy, you couldn’t feel the value of it. She scooped a handful of coins over her stomach, smiling, sheltered once again with her treasure.

As she luxiated in her gold, she thought back to her compliments. She knew she was letting them influence her, but she didn’t care. She’d let the childish human manipulate her, for now. It felt nice to get real compliments, for once.

The Choosing of the Gods

The request for this prompt was merely “define this character”. I decided that her outward appearance of strength would not be what defined her.

I peeked through the tent flap and caught a glimpse of movement in the distance. A lookout. I shrank back to wait, then peeked out again. They would not stop me, of course, but neither would they leave me to myself. Finally, the way seemed clear. I rushed into the shelter of trees and darkness to the holy spring, the only place that was mine. Any other would be driven mad to walk here, they said. Perhaps it was true.

I looked into the water and beheld myself, painted in the patterns that marked me as the God-Chosen. I did not feel God-Chosen. Paint stained the water as I touched the surface, and it was like it washed the strangeness out of me. Suddenly I had to be clean. I scooped water, scrubbing the paint away. I rubbed my face and neck until my skin felt raw, and the paint bloomed into the water, carried away by the spring’s flow.

Finally, I saw my face reflected in the moonlight. This young girl, who was she? Not the God-Chosen of a tribe. The elder God-Chosen — my mother — said that the gods spoke to me through the spill of runes from my hands. But did they? My hands felt like a girl’s hands, clumsy and unsure. I heard no voices, and I made no promises as she had done. Perhaps it was for the best. The gods were capricious, and had used false words to toy with her before.

I touched the water as if laying my hand upon a friend’s brow, addressing my words to the reflected moon in the night sky. “My name is not Hesralta God-Chosen. I am Sryilla Tusfelt. I am a girl. And I am lonely.”

“Your mother was not lonely, at your age.” Continue reading “The Choosing of the Gods”

Gentle Death

A quick little story about dating an agent of death.

I saw her, again.  Every day, riding the 45T.  I normally got off at the tracks, the last stop inside the city.

Today, I was curious.  She never spoke and was always alone.  I couldn’t tell why.  She was cute, with short black hair, blue eyes, and adorable freckles, a little on the slender side.  She might have been in her early thirties, a little on the slim side.

I didn’t care.  Today, I didn’t get off on my stop.  The bus was almost empty at this point, just me and her.  “Do you mind if I sit?”

She didn’t respond, just looked out the window.

“Ah, miss?”

She seemed to start, and looked around, not meeting my eyes.  Only after she realized the bus was empty did she look at me.  She seemed surprised to find me looking straight at her.  “Are you speaking to me?” Continue reading “Gentle Death”

Deadly Wish

Explore a character’s moral dilemma – either he gets a million dollars, and someone he doesn’t know dies, or someone else gets a million dollars, and he dies.

“A million dollars?”

“Yes.”

“Very well.  It’s mundane, so I’ll grant it.  But . . . let’s make it interesting.  I’ll also kill someone.”  The genie that had sprung from the antique lamp pointed out my window, and in the window across the way a woman was dusting; she looked like a cleaning lady.  “Her.  I’ll kill her.”

“What!?  No!  That is nowhere in the wish I made!  I didn’t ask for anything like that!”

To be fair, I had kind of been surprised when a human form billowed out of the lamp.  It was like a silly fairy tale.  But after I spent half an hour crawling around my kitchen counter as a cockroach, I was ready to believe.  It was either that, or risk some new torment.

“Who cares?  The terms of your wish are fulfilled.” Continue reading “Deadly Wish”

The Stench of the Hunt

What is that smell? And why are you wearing that?

“What is that smell?”

I wrestled the hip-waders off on the step, then peeled my socks off. Maya came to the open door. She was a head shorter than me, and considered plain by some. But the sparkle in her eyes and her questing mind made her shine. She came to the door now, and looked at me, watching me discard the protective gear, the poncho, the rubber gloves.

“And why are you wearing that?” Continue reading “The Stench of the Hunt”

When You Wish Upon a Star

There are more rules to wishing stars than you realize. One is that your wish only comes true years after you make it. Unfortunately for you, your wish has just come true.

I woke from a dream of shaking earth and sirens, and sat up, grumpy. The sirens didn’t stop. Somewhere, there must be a fire. I plodded into the kitchen in my underwear, then turned back to put on my slippers and a bathrobe. Thus armored against cold tile floors, I returned and filled an over-sized coffee mug with coffee. Sugar. Cream.

I looked at the curtained window, wondering what the ruckus was.  I sipped my coffee, taking the time to indulge the bleary, half-asleep fog of early waking. Then, with another sip of coffee, I shook off my sleepiness and went to the window. I found myself looking at a red stone wall. Not brick, a kind of glazed stone. It wasn’t flat; the wall curved, and each fitted stone had a curved surface, almost like . . .

“Scales?” Continue reading “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Wings of Burden

Image Prompt: Water by WLOP

Original

Image: Water by WLOP (DeviantArt)

I looked into the water with a sigh, feeling the chill of the water soaking into my shift. The water adhered the fabric to my skin revealingly, though the ripples on the water distorted my form. I crouched closer to look at my shape in the water. It was artistic, nature. This art was the highest and purest kind, born from the interaction of natural principles. Below my reflection fish swam, venturing closer with my stillness.

And then there were the wings.

Continue reading “Wings of Burden”

Dire Gifts

The elf queen, hearing that yet another young hero was slain during a heroic monologue, decides she’s had enough. She gives her last magical weapon to the grizzled, no-nonsense human guard and says it’s up to him to slay the great evil.

Dire Gifts

Original

“Dammit! Damn it all, another man dead while bragging to the enemy! Another blade lost! What do these idiots think dire blades are, Efran?”

I had not moved during her tirade. She would blow herself out and calm down. She never spoke to me, though. She spoke to her guards all the time, but never to Kirin, or Efran. I was surprised that she knew my name. “I don’t know, grace. But really, what are they? They’re not a birthright or a destiny. Just a rare and powerful tool.”

In her frustration, and being alone, she had laid across her throne. Her head laid on one arm, her knees hooked over the other. Now though, she flipped over, kneeling in the seat with her hands on the arm, and her ocean-blue eyes on mine. Her gaze was uncomfortably intense. Continue reading “Dire Gifts”

Murine Honor

If you’ve tried to ride a cat into battle, you should know it doesn’t turn out well.

Original

The enemy lined up in the distance. Their snarls and growls made me shiver, the tremble shaking me to the bones. “Steady on,” my mount purred.

I took a breath, calming myself, reaching forward to scratch behind his pointed ears. “Nerves like steel, whiskers like wind.” I repeated the battle mantra, imagining the steel in my bones. It was a pretense, imagining strength where there was none – I knew how easily my bones, tiny in comparison to the enemy, would break. And yet, it worked. I was calmer, and ready. Continue reading “Murine Honor”