“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.” Edgar Allan Poe.
BlogBattle has begun. This months word is “Cave.” I often use word prompts to explore writing before deciding if there’s enough backbone to continue. This is no different!
BlogBattle is Back
Find us Here
Way back in April I used the A to Z challenge to explore my writing via a third-party narrator called the Amanuensis. He soon developed a character of his own locked in an ice prison where once a thriving Keep existed. His story began with amnesia and figuring out who he was, what had happened and how to escape.
That was the core of an idea whose back story I continue to play around with in flash fiction prompts such as this and Linda Linda Hill’s Stream of conscious writing.
For reference here, Yish is much younger and still courting an acolyte librarian who will ascend to the title of Amanuensis in her future. Naz is a friend to both and more so to Yish in an unlikely bond between elf and dwarf.
One day the WIP will get assembled…one day…
The Time Paradox
“Caves are our lifeblood.” The dwarf, as was his way, spat on the ground.
Yish rolled her eyes, “Except this one clearly.”
Nahir stroked his beard before looking up at her. A nervous trait that gave his demeanour away almost immediately. They stood in front of a large cavern. Sun on their backs, darkness in front. He knew ten paces back and nature spoke. Insects, birds, wind in the trees. It reminded him of the Cromlech. That hadn’t gone well.
“It feels wrong.”
“Is that a dwarven specific saying you’re scared of a hole in the ground?” Yish smiled.
The dwarf saw through that too. He beard fondled, she smiled that way and turned her eyes rather than her head to look at him directly.
“Can’t you feel it?”
The elf nodded. “It’s too dark,” she searched for the right words, “like light is being eaten.”
Nahir spat again. He knew exactly what she meant. A cave entrance with no definition. Sun fell on the surrounding rocks, but not into the aperture. It simply ceased to be. Almost as if falling onto a black door or barrier.
“It smells wrong too.” He sniffed loudly to emphasise the point.
This time it was the dwarf that nodded, “There isn’t one.”
This time Yish did turn towards him. Nahir knew about holes in the ground. Mining was their heritage. Often their downfall too. Digging too deep and waking things that should remain undisturbed.
“Do we go in?”
He laughed. It was as fake as the thing in front of them. “My gut says no. It also says you will anyway, whether or not I do.”
“You know me too well dwarf.”
“And you can illuminate the path again?”
This time Yish snorted, “What Do you think?”
“I do mines. Sorcery and this…” he picked up a stone and hurled it at the cave, “…is your domain witch.”
Both watched as it hit the black barrier and vanished. No echo or sound followed. It reminded Nahir of slinging pebbles across lakes. Bounce, bounce and gone. This was a vertical membrane, not unlike the tension holding water together where it meets the air.
Yish moved forwards. Nahir watched as she came to a standstill inches from the barrier. He watched her head move left to right, up and down as she examined it.
From this angle he knew why his trainee librarian friend was besotted. Not that she had the rich beauty of dwarves, but for other races certain things obviously held appeal. She was good company though and for elf and dwarf to become close then maybe the acolyte book-keeper actually had good taste. His mood was turning.
He moved to join her. “It’s not a cave is it?” A statement of the obvious. Between the palm of her hand and the blackness strands of conjuring light cracked and sparked.
“So it seems.”
“And?” He held his palm up and nothing, but empty space filled the void between it and membrane.
“It’s a portal.”
Nahir sad nothing. Mines good, cromlechs doable, portals no.
Yish turned to face him. “It’s old Naz. Very old.”
He realised her pale face looked blanched. Something he’d never witnessed before, even in the tomb when undead sprang forth. There she was reactive, knew what to do. Now she looked lost, like a child on its very first night away from home.
“It’s first generation thaumaturge,” Yish continued. “From a time when magicians were absolute. Pure bred, operated in clandestine secrecy ruling the world as self-appointed deities. Ruthless and vile. The source of hatred towards our kind. It’s rumoured…” She tailed off.
“What Yish? Tell me what’s wrong.”
Her hand gripped his shoulder. Something else he’d never seen her do.
“They had death portals. Ones created to send exiles to other elemental planes. Ones nobody returned from… ever.”
Nahir placed his hand on hers. “We should leave.”
“Too late. It’s already merged my aura. The sparks. I touched them. The portals field is already surrounding me.”
He tugged her backwards, but her hand pass through his and the force of no resistance dumped him onto the ground. Her form was passing from solid to translucent. He could see the darkness through her ghosting figure.
“Tell him I love him. He should be the Amanuensis now.” Her figure was almost gone, shadowing in this world now.
“Who should? What are you saying?”
“Chronomancy. The portal field. You’re in it and it’s displaced you in time too.”
Nahir blinked, “Yish, I don’t understand.”
The ghost was no longer there. Silence greeted him. The elf was gone.
Yish found herself kneeling looking at the ground. Nausea made her retch. Post teleportation disruption. The landscape was new, the sky dark and angry. She was in a bone field. A relic of a battle long since dead.
A mountain range ran east to west. She stood, her hands trembling. There was waybread tucked into a pouch on her belt. She needed water though to rehydrate. Another portal symptom. Behind in the far distance was a green hue shimmering in heat haze despite the clouds. The mountain was closer. She considered the options and chose that.
Unnoticed reptilian eyes were watching from a ledge high up in the cliffs. A bifurcated tongue tasted the air. The word it found was elf.
Nahir was in more familiar territory. It just looked wrong. Older was his first thought. Still the backend of summer, but something was off. He could smell smoke. Not close, but an odd tinge wafting on the breeze. He was still sat on the ground staring at where Yish was moments before.
Unlike her though, water was nearby. He felt thirsty.
The Amanuensis by now, he mulled that as he drank. Chronomancy. He mulled that too. One he knew about, the other he had only heard of in passing conversations at The Keep.
The former was the highest post any acolyte in book-keeping rose to. More than a librarian, more than a mage. Unrestricted access into places that most thought were myths. He should be the Amanuensis by now.
Tell him I love him.
That could only be one man. Nahir spat into the stream.
“Chronomancy,” he tasted the word and slowly pieced together conversations. The dwarf cursed rarely, now he outdid himself.
“Nahir looked up at her stroking his beard.” is that meant to say what it says? If so, then I find the following sentence confusing.
Will these two ever get a happy ending (separate not together)? It seems like their turmoil never ends. A great installment. I liked how you managed to pause time and make this scene appear to last much longer than it did in ‘reality.’
Speed reading, I accept there could be a coma by “her”. Something to add a pause?
As for happy ending I would like to think so, but I’ve not a actually written this as a novel yet apart from three chapters. #procrastinating
I think the coma would be helpful.
Never got alerts for your replies… :/
I enjoyed this Gary. I think I’ve read some of the others but I should probably try and read them in order !
Thanks Hayley. However good look with the order of read. I struggle writing it due to the chronomancy ducking and diving 😳
I don’t think I will have time and energy to participate in A to Z challenge! but certainly a great way to teste your writing skills!
I’ve only done it once and that was this year. Quite demanding and not something to try unless time permits. Same with NaNoWriMo too. Both are quite intense. That said, as you rightly mentioned, they are good ways to test writing skills!
I agree 🙂
i enjoyed your story Gary. Good luck with Blog Battle. 🙂
Thanks Marje. It’s my method of exploring backstory cast members! The BB is now less competitive too. It’s more a place to share writing and link up. I’m helping Rachael run it now so that’s why I’m trying to generate exposure more. Great to see you on the share group again too.
Another great story, Gary! Thanks for sharing your talents once again. Always enjoy! 🙂
Generous as ever Erin. Really missed this aspect of blogging of late. Did you spot Yish has dropped right into Dragon Stone territory where The Black lives??
I most certainly did, and I love following along with your stories. 🙂 They’re great!
Thanks Erin. No pressure on the next one now then 😂
Bravo, Gary! What happens next????…..C x
Thanks Claire. Next… hmm, good point. Mind you, this storyline has been ticking over in prompts and challenges since the A to Z. It’s back story that’s become something in its own right. So good to be back in the blogging world too. Missed that recently x
Missed you too!!
Aww thank you Claire 😊
Well, you’ve got me hooked! I think you’re going to need to continue this one! 🙂
Thank you so much Joy! This is actually one of a few I’ve done after the A to Z challenge gave me an idea for a WIP. That was a trip through all my writing but soon evolved into a new story in waiting. Since then I’ve written a few pieces like this as back story to that. I’ve already posted a chapter on where Yish is now too 😊
You know Gary, you have a way of story-telling that I just want to keep on reading. Eager to find out what happens next…
I looked at the rules of the battle. What is PG-13 ?
It’s just an age rating. Rachael writes YA novels so we try and keep it in that bracket. No swearing, that sort of thing. PG-13 means Patental Guidance 13 years upwards.
Thanks for explaining that.
And happy I was able to make you smile 😉
No problem Patty. Are you going to give it a try then 😊 x
I finally finished creating another coaching program yesterday, so yes, I might 😉
Awesome Patty, it’s good to hear your coaching projects are going well. Even better if you find time to have a go at the BB. Just remember 1000 words is a maximum, not a target 😊
I have a draft ready. Hope to find some time to finish it. Fingers crossed 😉
Oooh, how exciting Patty. Hopefully you will and hopefully become a regular 😊
Thank you Patty. Really appreciate that. Hard month and your kind words bring a smile as always. I’m toying with using the BlogBattle to short story this as my WIP backstory. See what grows as it were.
ohhhh I love a portal
I’m a shade uncertain as it’s dumped Yish into a place inhabited by another traveller of mine 🤔