Friday, August 19, 2011

Writing Excuses: 6.11

Writing Prompt: Go someplace, use all five of your senses, and for thirty minutes write about the place you’re in. Not the people though. Just the place.

Sapel waited in a small café that overlooked the busy street. The quaint little store was run by a young couple who had thrown their life savings to bring a glimpse of the western world to a bustling city utterly preoccupied with itself.
He ordered a cool drink to fight off the humidity of the summer day and took the stairs up to the balcony that overlooked the bustling marketplace. It was clear to him that the owners had worked hard to create an image of a western home. Oversize sofas were intermixed with hand-carved wooden benches, giving a sense that nature itself was accepted the invitation of peace offered here. Potted plants and trees were scattered throughout the balcony to provide shade for customers who were now huddled underneath the cool shade afforded by their branches.
Sapel sat on a bench apart from the other customers, some of whom made no effort to hide their surprise at his cultural slight. In a country so densely populated the sign of greatest arrogance was to claim solitude. Sapel knew this, but one can only endure the same conversations, questions, and frustration their dialect posed for only so long.
Music wafted up from the lower café, the lone musician plucking a quiet tune on his instrument providing a contrast for the sellers hawking their goods steps away from him. It was as if this place waged a war to keep the chaos of the eastern culture at bay, with mixed success.
The musician added his voice to the sound of the lute, and Sapel smiled. It was a harmony of an western instrument playing a western tune, but was threaded with the warbling voice now popular here, holding little concern with matching the key of the instrument.
The drink arrived in a tall glass, condensation already budding in the heat of the mid-morning sun. He took a sip and relished the taste of home, a deep richness of the chocolate balanced by the slightest hint of bitterness. The wooden bench he rested on, while beautiful to look at, lacked any real comfort. Privacy was worth the cost, with the comfortable chairs already claimed by the early morning patrons.
As he was looking out onto the chaotic street below he heard a crash come from behind him in the direction of the bar where the drinks were made. Sapel sighed, and as if on que the musician below reached for a note he had no chance of grasping. The patrons of the store roared with laughter at the distraught server who had dropped her tray, her week’s wages surely now lost to pay for the glasses shattered on the floor.
He forced the bitterness down that welled in his stomach and raised the glass to his lips to distract himself from the scene, searching for the semblance of the aura that had driven him here in the first place. Casting his eyes about the balcony his eyes fixed on the potted tree nearest him. Sapel wondered at how such a tree, 4 meters high, could survive with such a small pot. It was bearing flowers common in this area, with waxy leaves that drew his attention further.
Restlessly rising from his chair, glass in hand, he made his way through the crowded balcony towards the tree. Indeed, the leaves had a glossy look to them, and now as he was closer, not only the flowers but also the bark itself appeared as if coated and sealed with wax.
He realized with a start that the tree was dead, frozen in time. It must have been dug up somehow submerged in wax to provide the appearance of life, when in fact life had long departed.
In his growing frustration he filled his mouth with the drink, hoping to drive away the anger, but he tasted only imitation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Writing Excuses 6.10: Idea

She stormed out of the kitchen, fists held tightly to her side it balls of rage. Another refusal. Another year of mystery. Another year alone in the prison of nature. The young girl flung open the door, the thud of the wood on wood reverberating through the small cabin.
“Wait, Scarlet!”
She barely heard the pleas of her mother as she found herself run into the safety of the woods that surrounded the homestead. Scarlet let her feet carry her where they willed, the miles surrounding her home were as familiar to her as of a crib to an infant. The ancient oak and elm were all she had ever known, and she felt the tension of the captive’s revulsion of their cell with the sweet familiarity of home.
To be refused permission to wander past the old familiar boundaries hadn’t shocked her. That particular battle was one she had all but lost hope of ever winning. But the reason had always been the same. There is no one else. There is no safety, no one to see.
Then she had found the painting.
Never before had she seen a work of art, let alone one that seemed a wisened image of her own reflection, so carefully studied in the quiet eddies of the stream than ran behind her home. Scarlet had suspected there were family members that existed outside of the quiet valley, but her mother had always fervently denied such claims. After this conflict, Scarlet refused to let herself believe anything her mother said.
Who was the old woman in the photo? And why was her mother so quick to deny her existence when it was clear she had taken great pains to keep the painting safe?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing Excuses 6.10: Millieu

Writing Prompt: Apply the M.I.C.E. quotient to Red Riding Hood, and write at least one page of story per element. Wow, this sounds a lot like homework.


Cane peered longingly into the blue sky that taunted him from the enveloping darkness. Freedom beckoned, the faintest whisper of wind teased as it brushed softly against his ears before retreating back to dance among the trees. Freedom.

He slowly turned around to the task at hand, even more bitter than before at the task set before him. “Why are we doing this”, he growled, daring one of the pack to answer him. None acknowledged the question, but continued to dig, nose to the earth.

Just as he was about to rejoin his brothers he felt the bite of something eating into his skin. Fleas and beetles were all that lived in this hole, insects that could not or would not risk their exposure of their scent. The thought of this snapped something inside the already broken wolf.

Life was all I have, he thought. Breath, choice…and I will not waste it here. I will hunt.

And so without a word, Cane left the pack. Never again would he rest beneath the earth. He would hunt. And those that caused the debasing of his brethren would be his prey.

This is in response to how the story ends: supposedly after red riding hood and the grandmother gets cut out of him by the hunter, they refill him with rocks and push him into a well…

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Exploring Magic

This is simply me messing around with a magic system. Catch is I cannot figure out the 'cost'. Concentration? Too simple. Faith? Huge issues, and Brooks kinda already hit it. Dunno. 'Fatigue and natural limitations' seems to generic. So we'll see. Other than that, I like the scene, Levinti's character, etc.. I do need to go back and deal with the 'camp' part at the end, how no one actually enters the shed during / after the confrontation.

Levinti could feel his muscles quiver, the tension refusing to leave despite his best efforts to slow his breathing. In the quiet dark of the woodshed, the sound of his heartbeat, a beast that railed in fear within him. He could hear the shouts in the distance as the camp roused itself, a beast that had been roused. That he had roused.

What was I thinking?

The shouting grew nearer, and Levi forced his heart to slow, recalling his training.


All is known.

Peace comes.

The words of hope that had been ingrained in him, braced against the wave of doubt he knew would accompany the coming chaos.

Eyes opening, he unclenched his fist, to reveal the goal of this endeavor. A small leather pouch rested quietly in his hand. Was this really worth the cost?

Levinti hoped it was. And then knew it was. The practice of calming complete, doubt was gone, sealed off to the recesses of his mind.

A change in the air. The door opened, and doubt attacked him. Wave after wave it assailed him, as he knew it would. The doubt that accompanies every dark one. Levi was not caught unprepared.

Under his breath he began the chant of earth, in the ancient tone. A change began to occur.

In the old woodshed, the dust that had coated everything, began to rise. To a normal human, the change would have been inperceivable, especially in the deep black of the early hours, the two moons having become hidden behind the veil.

His stalker was no human. Levi could feel the being tense with the sudden realization that its prey was within reach.

Before it could signal its companions, Levi, still chanting, changed its tempo and he drew more deeply into the authority given him.

The ancient words still flowing, a form of beauty that danced in his mind, he formed an image in his mind, hardening it against all doubt.

And the dust obeyed.

The harmless particles that had rested in the air slammed together and bonded instantly into a rod. His opponent seemed stunned at seeing the chanting. All knew the monks of the age were gone. Levi didn’t give him the chance to reform that belief.

Whirling out from behind his cover with impossible speed, he slipped his fingers around the newly formed staff with his right hand, continuing to spin as he crossed the distance of the shed in a single step.

Never stopping his chanting, he raised his voice in earnestness to enhance the strength of the staff. The staff slammed into the head of the opponent. The dark one shuddered at the blow and fell to his knees.

But Levinti knew he was in trouble. The blow should have ended the fight.

Rising to its feet, the warrior unsheathed its bronze sword, a deep laughter coming from its throat, chilling the night air. The bulwark of certainty in Levi held. Barely.

The attack came. Blow after blow slammed into Levi. Desperately he parried with his staff. The foe was impossibly strong, and he could feel the melded staff begin to weaken from the blows of the bronze blade.

The fight grew increasingly difficult in the confines of the smaller shed. Shifting his chant between blows, he dropped the tempo for a moment as he forged a new image in his mind. The staff became two.

The dark one grunted, changing its attack. Slamming the sword down, Levi was forced to bring both rods together to block the attack. The dark one slammed its left fist into Levi’s exposed stomach, knocking the wind out of him.

The bulwark trembled under the strain of doubt.

Defeat was inevitable. It always had been.

Sword drawn, the dark one stepped forward, kneeling to Levi’s level. He reached a hand, pulling the monk’s face up to meet his own. The hand was as cold as ice. Its voice colder.

“Tell me, singer. How did you escape the inquisition?”

Its tone was distinctly curious. And demanding.

Dawn was coming, the faintest light seemed to leak into the shed. The being had left the door open. Levi forced himself to meet its eyes as he continued grasp for air, in a vain attempt to fill his lungs. Fear…the certainty of death, raged in his soul.

What was the point?

The dark one gripped Levi’s chin, bringing the tip of the sword to bear on his chin. He could feel the cold metal slit open the skin, the warm moisture of his blood dripping down his throat.

The dark one’s eyes bored into Levi. “Tell me.”

All curiosity was now gone, replaced by a heartless authority.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the mist of early morning seeping in through the doorway. Hope surged, within, and doubt gave way. The dark one felt it, and glanced in surprise to what had caused this change. This was all the monk needed.

Levi silently chanted the song of morn, drawing the mist to himself. It raced to him, feeding hope, seeping into his skin. Giving life. Lending strength. Taking the chant, he shifted to combine the melody of morn with the harmony of dust.

The fallen rods had left two piles of dust at his side. They leapt towards his hands, coating them, gauntlets of dust as they melded.

All of this took place in a momentary glance. When the dark one looked back, he saw the steadfast hope in his victim. Knowing his mistake, he drove the sword home.

But it was too late. The chant rhythmically holding sway in his mind, Levi grabbed the blade with his left hand. The sword sliced his cheek open as it passed. Clenching his right fist, he brought it up with all his might into the chin of the dark one. With the force of both chants it lifted the being into the air, throwing him across the room.

Blood dripping from both wounds, Levi pulled himself to his feet and walked to the broken body of the fallen.

Keeping his vow, Levi let the sword lay where it was as he approached. He maintained the chant in his mind, as he leaned forward to the angel of night. “The answer, demon, to your question, is simple. I was questioned. And I lied.”

And with all of his self hatred, the monk slammed the fist into the stunned face of the demon, sending him into oblivion.

And then, Levi wept.