If you’ve tried to ride a cat into battle, you should know it doesn’t turn out well.
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”
The Brave Knight has been kidnapped against his will by the Beautiful Princess, now it’s up to the Scary Dragon to go rescue him.
I awoke in bonds, hanging from my wrists. I lifted my head, taking my bearings; the inside of a cabin, perhaps a peasant dwelling. No tapestries, no trophies, no portraits, the furniture all made of unadorned wood. The wood wasn’t local, and though plain, the craftsmanship very good. A silver cross on the wall. Perhaps not a peasant’s home, but a tradesman’s, or a priest’s. Simple, but not poor.
My armor, which I had been wearing while out riding, lay piled on the table along with my sword belt. I twisted to look behind me – I had been tied to a support column, and there were cuffs of metal on my wrists, secured by a tightly fastened bolt. I could cry out, but would anybody hear me? I heard no horses or carriages, no sounds of human civilization.
Best not to alert my captor yet, if I could help it. I crouched, bracing my feet on the floor, and pushed back against the support column as hard as I could; perhaps I could break it. I strained against it with no luck, then lifted away, and slammed my back against it. “Don’t bother dear, the house is very sturdy.” I snapped my head up, and a familiar face came out from deeper within the house.
“Princess Ravencort? Karina? What the hell is going on here? Quickly, get over here and loose these shackles.”
She looked at me, a little surprised, then giggled, a sound like pure crystal. “Oh, Prince. Don’t fear. I kidnapped you.”
Continue reading “Gentle Slayer”
You work at Magic Support. It’s like Tech support, but for magic.
Another crystal lit up red, as their counterparts would be doing on a dozen other desks. I watched it for a moment, hoping someone else would reach for it first, but after a moment it was stubbornly red. I reached out and picked up the crystal. It turned yellow for me – if someone else grabbed it now, it would still show red. This was my call, now. After a moment it turned green, and a voice rang out in my mind.
“Hello? Is this thing working? I’m trying to get a ‘cure disease’ spell to work, but it just gave me a headache.”
I sighed and covered my face. Another careless teenage mage, trying to resolve their teenage stupidity without their parents finding out. Continue reading “Mag Support”
Valhalla does not discriminate against the kind of fight you lost. Did you lose the battle with cancer? Maybe you died in a fist fight. Even facing addiction. After taking a deep drink from his flagon, Odin slams his cup down and asks for the glorious tale of your demise!
Author’s note: It’s not the tale of his demise, but I think it adhered to the spirit of the prompt. Close enough.
In life, I never drank. In death, it was merriment and partying, and there was no work or reputation to worry about. I drank experimentally at first, then more freely. Soon I was drunker than I’d ever been, though that didn’t say much. Then the man at the head of the table – after all I’d seen, was it possible he was truly Odin? – slammed his cup down, making me jump.
“I look at our newest member, and I don’t see a warrior!” His voice carried down the hall of Valhalla, resonant and booming. “I see a paper-pusher! A functionary!” He spat the word as if it were a curse.
Continue reading “Defense Rests.”
Um, no. How about we don’t, and say we did…
Artwork by Tomislav Jagnjic (ArtStation)
I stared up at the living mountain before us. We rode atop a ridge, and we could look at the spiral emblem on its ‘face’ without craning our necks too far. When we got close, we’d have to climb its body just to attack the top of its toe.
“So . . . that’s the thing, huh?”
Jamon looked on with me, nodding once. “Yup.”
Continue reading “Retirement Plans”
You slay the princess you were trying to save. Instead of being angry, the king thanks you and awards you the dragon that was keeping her in the tower.
“I . . . I have questions.”
“Ask them, human.” I could tell he was trying to whisper. His voice was like the grinding of stone on stone, and I could feel the vibration of it in my bones.
“Okay, look. First, my name is Caliban. And to start . . . who was this witch, that she could fool an entire kingdom into revering her as their adored princess? And how did she put a dragon under her spell? Aren’t dragons supposed to resist magic? And what use was it for her to make the king think he had her as a daughter, and then be awarded like a piece of meat to some knight? And what hold does the king have over you that he can just give you to me?”
The dragon just stared at me balefully, his jaw muscle twitching.
“Do I have to order it? Can I order it? Answer me.”
The dragon winced at the order – it looked like he had to obey me, but he did not have to make it easy for me.
“In order. Her name was Alina. She possessed great artifacts that enhanced her strength, stolen from me. Normally, yes. The king loved his imaginary daughter too much to marry her off, but to inherit the throne she needed a husband that she could control, an idiot knight was ideal. The king . . . holds the eggs of my clutch, and I must obey him for my children’s sake. Yes. And yes. I will not repeat myself.
Continue reading “Dragonkin”
Rise! Rise from the earth, I command thee!
The red mountains by Seven-teenth
I came to the overlook and staggered to a halt, looking over the plains. Green and verdant, the grasses flowed and rippled in the wind. It was beautiful, so beautiful. A fitting sacrifice for mankind to fulfill its destiny.
I pulled my hand from my side, where I’d been stabbed. A knight in shining armor, saving the world. Well, his armor wasn’t so shiny now, but he’d done his damage before he died. I couldn’t blame him, though. If I succeeded, the air would be too foul to breathe within a few years. The world would die.
Continue reading “Blood Hack”
Naval battle of beasts. (Image prompt)
I stared into the darkness, forcing my eyes open despite the rain lashed into them. We had extinguished every light to keep us hidden, but our foe wouldn’t lose us so easily. Behind me, men with axes chopped away the wreckage of a broken mast and its rigging. The ship writhed beneath my feet as the dead weight broke loose and slid into the ocean.
“Watchmen, an extra half-share to the man who calls him before I do.” I had to shout to be heard, but I kept my voice even. They needed a strong voice right now. I heard my promise called out down the length of the ship, for all the watchmen to hear. “Patrol master, how long before our air patrol is due back?”
“They’re five minutes o’erdue, captain!”
Black scales shone in a flash of lightning. I saw the spindly wreckage of the one wing we’d destroyed in the first volley of cannon fire. Immediately I leaned to the pipe that would make me heard on the gun deck. “Portside cannon, two degrees fore, fire as you bear!”
Continue reading “Powder and Teeth”
Write a story that makes you happy.
I wiped the ink from my pen’s nib, set it down carefully, and regarded the page. The ink was still drying, but it seemed immaculate. I was especially smug about the diagrams of the Antikythera. That was a bit of engineering far ahead of its time. I had been giddy with anticipation for a week, given the chance to copy those schematics, and I felt like I had done it with precision. I carefully stoppered the ink and set the pen aside.
My parents had despaired of my education ever repaying the investment it required, but I was satisfied. Nobody else could do work this fine, and everybody knew it. Only Davuus of Broken Hills could match my technical diagrams. I had seen one bookbinding finer than what I could usually manage, but I didn’t know who did the binding, or how far away they might be. It was likely that their business was nothing but bindings. I smiled, sure that nobody I would ever meet could surpass my skill, not if I spent my career always growing.
Then the smell hit me. Fresh bread, garlic, parmesan. “Rouseaux! Did you even hear me calling? Dinner’s ready!” Continue reading “The Dream”