Writing Group: Heavy is the Crown

Hello, my liege.

What? Don’t look so exhausted. Most people would thrill to be addressed in such a way. But then, I suppose you know better by now, don’t you? This is what it means to be who you are. Set your jaw, sit tall on your throne, and bear it with grace, because…

This week’s writing group prompt is:

Heavy is the Crown

RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

Well, don’t we seem to have a taste for dissonance? Last week the prompt was “I shouldn’t be here”, this week it’s about being in a position of power and finding the surprising weight of it.

This is a little different, though; not so imminently cynical. The crown may be heavy, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want rid of it. It’s a trade. The prize, for the burden of bearing it. Whether that turns out to be a curse you’d do anything to be free from, or a just exchange—that’s up to you.

The simplest way to think of this is in component parts: something desirable or coveted, and the costs involved. Could be a king with an unpleasant duty to his people, such as choosing who gets to eat during a famine. Could be someone new to a relationship they’ve always wanted, only realizing now that they’ll have to learn to appreciate the difficult parts of their new lover as well. It could even be the cost on the way to the object of desire—a lich who gives away their humanity for eternal life, and is unhappy with the everlasting hollowness of their existence.

Make it tantalizing, make it beautiful, and then… make it cost a terrible price.

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!

Rules and Guidelines

We read at least six stories during each stream, three of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    6. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
    5. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    6. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    7. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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Brick
Brick
4 days ago

Heavy is the crown to one
And great the wielder’s might.
Rain gold on all beneath our sun
And then the burden’s light!

Concerning the Great Golden Crown Over All Our Land

Hark, fair people! Lend ear and eye to my words. I am here to restore power to all people of the Lands under the Crown. That great halo belongs to all of us, and it is my aim to show you your own right, that you may wrest it from the thieving powers above.

My plea may sound like strange and dissonant music to your ears. Most of us know nothing but this system, the temporary boon to our power as the Crown breaks itself into coins in our hands, only to be flung to some popular noble to use as they please. Many of you may think this exchange of power just and natural.

I am here to say it is not! If that magic was not for us, the crown would not fragment and scatter itself to us as it does.

It is wrong for any person to wield so much power over the rest. The present system benefits none but the few elites with hope of obtaining the Crown, which they will use only to further their own gain. You may one day aspire to become one of them, but you have much more in common with the lowliest peasant than you ever will with the lords and dukes of the land.

These nobles have used their wealth to secure power, to ensure that the Crown’s magic will always be theirs in this system.

But that power belongs to us! It is the duty of every person of this land to share in carrying the crown. And, in turn, it is our right to partake of its power.

See you not your destiny? Rise up, o ye hardworking subjects. Join together your coins into our own Crown, that together we may seize the magic that is our birthright! Rise as one, and return our power to us, the people!

G.J. H.
G.J. H.
5 days ago

Shoes and a crown
By G.J. H.

Thomas was sitting in the warm sun in front of his house, the leather soft and familiar beneath his fingers as he sewed the little pieces together. When he was finished, he felt at peace. There was nothing quite like crafting a good pair of shoes. He loved his craft and it earned him enough to live the life he wanted, here in this little house with his family.
„Daddy! Daddy! Are you finished? “
„Yes, my darling. I am. Why don’t you try them on? “
Madlyn hopped onto a nearby stool and he carefully laced the shoes for her.
„How do they feel? “
She wiggled her feet in the air.
„ Great! “she said and jumped from the stool into his arms, hugging him fiercely.
„Thanks Daddy! I’ll go and see Paula. “
And before he could protest, she scuttled off toward the village.
„Be careful with your new shoes, you little rascal! “, he shouted after her, a fond smile on his lips. He followed her up the road with his eyes and then turned to this house to find an unfamiliar site. A lone Rider had come, clad in the splendid armour of a royal knight messenger, the man dismounted next to him.
„Are you Thomas Greenfield? “
Thomas nodded, „Yes, sir. I am. “
„ The King is dead and I bring you honour and duty. Your name has been drawn. I am at your Service my King. “
Thomas was struck with horror as the Knight kneeled before him and he stared in disbelief. This could not be happening. He saw his life fall to pieces before his eyes, crushed by the burden of unwanted kingship. His eyes were wet with tears as he thought of his home, his work, Sarah and his sweet little Madlyn. Those shoes he made for her would have been the last ones he’d ever made. He’d lived for love, now he had to life for duty.

Tale_Smith
Tale_Smith
8 days ago

A king’s Blessing

By Tale_Smith

Most days, Alder, First king of the city underground, stood tall with energy overflowing, as happy to raise a blade to defend his people as to raise a hammer to aid in their much-needed construction, always wearing a smile on his face no matter how hard the work seemed.
Today, however, he could not smile. He couldn’t even muster the strength to stand from his tired throne.

Today he was laid low by the final cries of Slayers echoing in his head as their lives were claimed by the sands of the surface, for no one was ever sent up without his Blessing behind them to resist the darkness that cloaked the land. These times, he was no king, merely a man. And these times, far from his subjects, the man could let himself doubt whether the reclamation could ever truly work, and if the cost would be worth it in the end. And he wondered how long they had before the Demons finally breached the protections of their tiny refugee camp-turned city, and extinguished the final true beacon of civilization.

Someone was humming one of the old songs, pulling Alder out of his reverie. He looked up into the equally lined face of one of the last true spell-signers, who had managed to push back the demons and keep the ground fertile through will alone, his wife. She put her hand on his, and, unthinking, he reached up to grab it. She flinched as the pain flowed into her, and he jerked his hand away. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry for pulling you into this.”

Amber shook her head “Now, don’t forget that I signed up for this as much as you did, and my burden is still far lighter than yours.” She helped him to his feet, barely wincing as part of it settled onto her back. Slowly, Alder let himself sink onto her shoulder, exhausted.

Poets spoke of ‘the power of words’ or ‘a king’s duty to his people’, but they would never know it quite as literally as these two now did.

Tyler Desperado
Tyler Desperado
9 days ago

Caring Too Much
By CosmicDesperado30

I took careful sips of my coffee as I looked over my e-mails, desperate to see some financial salvation. I took a sigh of relief as I saw the invoice with my cut of the book’s profits. I looked to my empty fridge and what little cans of soup I had left in the cabinet like I had just avoided a dragon’s wrath. Not today hunger, I actually got paid enough to live.

I got dressed with a spring in my step. I was halfway out the door when my phone rang. Not my smart phone, but my LAN line. I clenched my jaw; I already knew who it was.

I slumped into the cheap IKEA couch and plucked the phone from its receiver.

“Hey papa.” my brother groaned, his tone full of practiced anguish.

“Hey John,” I responded with a plastic smile.

“So uhhh…I see you made the New York Times’ bestseller list. That’s uhhh…. that’s pretty great.”

I recalled the stiff fee I had to pay to get that distinction and drew in a sharp breath, “Yeah, it’s exactly what I’ve wanted for years now.”

The line went silent for a while. Here it comes….

“Sooo promise not to be mad at me?” He finally spat out.
“John, what did you do this time?”

“Nothing!” He lied.

“I just…I dunno, need like two grand to get my car out of the impound lot and get my electricity back on, that’s all.”

“John, what happened to that job you said you got at the nursing home?

“They expected me to wash bed pans and memorize a bunch of medication schedules! Was stupid so I left.”

I took a deep breath… and took a stand. “John, you did this to yourself. I can’t help you.”

“Y’know what? Screw you! Sitting in your fancy house with your fancy book money! Don’t care about me at all you-”

I slammed the phone down and tried not to cry.

I never made it to the store.

Last edited 9 days ago by Tyler Desperado
King_Nix
King_Nix
9 days ago

“The Envoy”
By King_Nix

The palace of the great king of Wal’Ashar stood before Revelus and his company. Here, protected by the mountains to the South and the vast forests of the North, had not been touched by the Daemon Wars which ravaged his own homeland. The guards at the gate were of such stature, that Revelus wondered if even an entire Century could overtake these few, though untroubled by battle as they were. For these were Shönai, taller than Men, and more fair, and legend spoke of their prowess in battle.

The guards led Revelus to the court of King Abendir. All about the golden chamber, there was dancing and merriment. Court bards of that splendid race played upon divers instruments in a harmonious tune of the old joys of lost age, when they reigned as mighty lords in the realm of Sun’Ashar, in the ancient West across the seas, when they held counsel with the Domvari, lords of the world, and fought beside the valiant dead. Yet, there sat one alone upon his amber-laden throne of gold, who had seen the fall. There sat the great king, youthfully eldest among eldest, unmoved.

Revelus approached the throne. The music softened, to ease conversation between him and their king. Instead, Revelus drew out his own lyre, and began to play, and the rest silenced as he did so. For the music he played poured out sorrow and death as he himself had beheld, and that his people now readied to suffer tenfold at the very Jaws of Nix; but the winter of his melody gave way to bitter-sweet spring, and though the joy of his tune was frail beside the eternal summer of the Shönai, the king’s solemn face softened, and he wept as the final notes of the song ended.

He rose, and spoke: “For not since the death of my father, and the loss of our home has my heart known hope! I have languished here, when I should have rallied to aid you! Heavy is my grief; may it be the hammer which breaks the evil of Nix for all time!”

Makokam
Makokam
9 days ago

Rules of Nature aka The Bad Ending
By Makokam

His leap carried him for miles, the wind whipping through his hair and coat flapping behind him, as he crossed the Mojave desert. Leaping wasn’t as fast as flight, but it was easier, more freeing, and more scenic. He hesitated on his next leap, there was someone strong in that direction. He couldn’t tell who it was, but best to avoid them. The next leap had him changing course again to avoid another Top Tier. He landed with a scowl forming on his face. A third was in his way, the first two were closer, with other lower ones moving in too. He was being herded.

He stopped as Ultima flew in to land a few meters in front of him. Athena landed to his left and moved over to stand with Ultima, with Tempest coming in from the right and following suit. More came in, the most powerful ones coming within speaking distance, the rest hanging back.

“What’s this about?” he demanded.

Ultima spoke, “It’s been decided you’re too much of a risk to be left alive. We still don’t know what set you off before, and we can’t know it won’t happen again.”

“So who decided it was a lesser risk to try and kill me?”

“Majority vote.”

He narrowed his eyes, “Majority of who.”

“Why should I tell a dead man?”

Crow leapt out of his shadow, knife straight for the jugular.

* * *

The black scales fell from his body like ash as he walked away from the destruction. What had been a desert was now a wasteland; sand and soil blasted away to the bedrock, where it wasn’t glassed over. Out of the dozens of Heroes that came to take him down, only a few were strong enough in death for their bodies to have survived, scattered among the smoke and rock.

His hands shook, struggling to come down from the rush of combat and filled with rage and frustration. None of this had to happen. None of them had to die.

Preserves Roses
Preserves Roses
9 days ago

Folded Wings
By Perserves Roses

The ornate velvet and wool cloak fell onto Riksa’s shoulders with a solid thump. She felt her back muscles spasm as her wings tried in vain to move against the dragging weight. Riksa felt an over whelming wave of nausea and claustrophobia crawl its way up her throat as if something was trying to choke her.

“I can’t,” she gasped. “I can’t move my wings.”

The seamstress tsked at her as she continued her study of the newly finished royal garment.

“Princesses do not flutter around like common messengers,” the seamstress replied tartly. “Once you marry the prince you will be a member of the royal family. You must wear the appropriate cloak for your station, and not flaunt in the courts faces your … out-country origins.”

Riksa watched several fairy messengers buzz past her tower window as the seamstress finished the last of her inspection and left the room. As soon as she heard the door close she clawed desperately at the sliver clasp at her collar bone. She dropped the heavy cloak to the floor and bolted across the room. Throwing open the window, her slippered foot whispered against the stone as she set one foot on top of the window ledge, her other foot still on the floor inside the castle room. Her back muscles stretched as her wings fluttered madly after being so roughly encased in the heavy fabric.

She paused and looked back at the dark puddle of fabric lying on the floor. She turned her face again to the window, staring out at the brilliant blue sky, feeling the warm sun on her face. She placed her foot back on the floor, and gently closed the window. She returned to the centre of the room. She carefully picked up the dark cloak, a symbol that she was a member of the royal family. After carefully folding her wings she swirled the cloak around her shoulders. She studied her reflection carefully in the mirror as she fastened the clasp, making sure that each detail was arranged just right.

Last edited 9 days ago by Preserves Roses
Michael Case
Michael Case
9 days ago

Decapitation
By Michael Case

“CRUNCH”

The guillotine blade ran through my neck breaking more bones, than it cut through. These usurpers didn’t even have the decency to sharpen their blade. From the other heads in the basket, it looks like these so-called revolutionaries are just going after anyone. At least I got to land face up and was able to see my body fight back. Sadly though, I also got to watch them hack it up into pieces and hold them individually over their heads like some kind of trophy.

In this basket I saw the baker, William Henry the little crippled kid that would always say a good word for people, the town prostitute who would use her finances to help feed some of the poor, and a very pretty young woman. What crimes did these people commit? I am their King, and because of that I was expecting to be done in, but these are people of the community. These people are the community. Without them, all there is… without these people at what sense do we have a community?

That night my head was left in the basket with the others, and I saw a rat chewing on the face of the pretty young woman. Without my stomach I had nothing to vomit up, but that didn’t stop me from painfully gagging because of it. Without my body I couldn’t even ask a passerby for help. I hoped that someone from my court would be left to piece my body back together and recover my head. It’s night fall and no one has returned for me. I was warned that choosing immortality had its drawbacks, but this waiting for reassembly is my own private Hell.

The next day I was awaken by being dumped into a hole. Then dirt was shoveled on top of me. It’s dark now and the weight of the Earth above has covered up any sounds one can hear. Aside from the occasional earthworm that takes shelter within my skull, I have nothing to even know that I’m still alive.

Last edited 9 days ago by Michael Case
RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
9 days ago

þœnix
By RVMPLSTLSKN

Phoenix stared at his birthday present. It was as long as his–now big boy–arm. He wasn’t the biggest five year old in daycare, but size, like status, is just a matter of perspective. The wrapping came away with a satisfying, rending sound, but the tape on the thin white box was trickier. He tore the end off the box instead.
Inside was a crayon. If you’ve seen one, reader, you know what I mean by ‘a crayon.’ If you haven’t, well, you likely never paid much attention to the evershifting playgroup hierarchy. If size is synonymous with greatness, then the biggest crayon ruled them all.
“Oh!” Phoenix clapped.
“A big boy deserves a big crayon,” Dad said.
“M’I a big boy for real?”
“‘Course you are!”
Phoenix looked at his hands and the scepter of a crayon beneath them. “But I don’t feel any bigger.”
“One of life’s mysteries.” Dad said, “But you’re a big boy, make no mistake. It’s all a matter of perspective.”
Phoenix saw something else in the box, on the brown insides. He pulled it open and spread it out.
“Would you look at that?” Dad said.
An inked picture unfolded before him. A dinosaur walked across a flat horizon with fairies on flowers in fore. Phoenix was not such a big boy that he could resist the spell of the lines. He picked up the crayon and had to hold it in two hands to set it just so on one of the trees. The brachiosaur would be next. He drew, mostly in the lines, until he realised he would need his other crayons. He needed different colors. He started to write his name, a mark of his power over this small realm.
F.
No, he thought, my name has a P.
The F became a block of color and was followed by a thornic P. Next came an O that looked suspiciously like an E. The N, I, X.
“Here, I thought you might want these.”
Small crayons rolled on the table.
“Thanks.” He smiled up at Dad, hands shaking. The crayon was heavy.

PixieWings
PixieWings
10 days ago

(Reposted From Private)

And Anyway, The Fourth Wall Has A Window
By PixieWings

“You…gonna be writing something on this text document, boss?”

I’m working on it.

“Uh-huh.”

I am!

“I’m just saying, is all. You’ve opened and closed it six times.”

It’s a rough prompt. Responsibility, and the burden you take on with accepting it. It’s all very Shakespeare.

“The writer doth protest too much.”

I didn’t know you knew that was Shakespeare.

“You don’t think I read? I read.”

Sure.

“I live in your head! And stop changing the subject. We’re talking about you here. What’s your deal? No ideas?”

Well, no. I had a few.

“And?”

One was a whole Persephone thing. Make it about her agency. Call her the Iron Queen. Blah blah.

“You do have a thing for Greek myth, if, ah, I’m anything to go by. So what’s the problem?”

Couldn’t think of a decent scene to center it around. And anyway, how was I going to put an audience in her shoes? Make it lyrical?

“You know you can just…write a story, right? Without doing weird shit with the prose?”

I like doing weird shit with the prose.

“Alright, fine. So no pomegranates. Next?”

I tried writing about Codependency.

“Jesus Christ, why don’t you just smash your head through the screen? It’d be less painful for you.”

What I had was good! Magical realism. Putting on someone else’s skin, but like, in a not-horror way. It could have been solid.

“But?”

Couldn’t finish. It felt bad.

“So still on that journey.”

Guess so.

“Well, don’t feel too bad. You’re writing again! That’s something, right?”

Yeah.

“And you’re doing pretty good at it, yeah? Remember the old lady eating kids story? That kicked ass.”

It did.

“You don’t have to always work yourself into a lather doing something new or good. You’re allowed to have some stupid fun once in a while.”

Yeah. Thank you.

“Hey, what else am I here for? But, if you wanted to thank me properly, you could always write something about me.”

I’m working on it.

“You’ve been working on it since you were twelve, hun. Not getting any younger here.”

NocteVesania
10 days ago

When Banners Turn To Ash
By NocteVesania [Public Group Repost]

Shouts and cries of anger and hatred filled the streets of the city as crowds gathered around our parade. The confetti they once threw turned into stones, and the medals and garlands that once hung from my neck were replaced with steel and chains.

The glory of the war has now faded, and peace has finally come. As the night finally ended, the people of the land wanted to forget the horror and the bloodshed. In the end, the accursed cross was mine to bear, the once-revered general, now painted as a bloodthirsty fool.

“Go to hell, monster!” A man cried out, raising the pitchfork in his hand.

“Warmongering wretch!” Another shouted, his fist raised in the air.

“You should’ve died on the battlefield, coward!”

Yes, I am a coward. As the battle raged, men and women gladly laid their lives for me, while I stood back and watched, throwing more and more lives into the violence and turmoil of the battlefront. I was like a king, my throne piled high with corpses.

Toward the end of our march, a woman threw herself to the center of the procession. The guards held her down, but with a gesture from the officer, the guards let her go. She rushed up to me. Clutching my tattered collar, she looked at me with eyes full of despair.

“My son,” she cried, “please tell me where my son is. Please tell me he’s just resting, tired from battle. Please tell me he’s coming home.”

Those brave young soldiers stood by my word, and they died by my word. My greatest shame was not for failing to bring victory. It was for taking those boys and girls away from their families, never to come home. Their blood stained my hands.

I turned my head away, not daring to look into the anguish in her eyes. She crumpled to the ground, overcome with grief. A guard pulled on my chains and we continued our walk.

The setting sun beamed a beautiful gold as we reached the gallows.

Lunabear
Lunabear
10 days ago

A Heartfelt Compromise (Cursed Brothers Universe)
by Lunabear (Reposted from Private)

Sephrina paced the long castle corridor outside of the detainee’s room. There was no satisfying way she could perform the ritual her older sister Helatia had demanded. Even if it WOULD free Helatia of the dragon’s curse.

“Stupid bitemark,” she grumbled. Helatia complained often about her noble serpentine blood being corrupted by Dracos’ poisonous fangs. Sephrina’s mind raced, but nothing else feasible presented itself. It appeared she had no choice. She heaved a great sigh before unlocking and opening the door.

Her keen eyes caught the swing of the blade before she dodged it. It sliced through mid-air, shredding a sizable portion of Sephrina’s cloak as she evaded.

Sephrina sussed out Cal’s whereabouts by gliding her forked tongue through her lips. He was atop the bed’s canopy, one hand fluently waving. Stepping on the empty food tray told her from where he got his strength. Noting a missing part of the fire grate showed where he forged the weapon.

“No, then. You WON’T help. I SO wanted you to cooperate willingly.”

Sephrina shed her human skin, her green-white scales backlit by the roaring fire. Even with the mage’s magic, the dagger couldn’t penetrate her armor.

Cal’s control and versatility were why Helatia needed his magic. Sephrina’s enormous tail knocked the weapon aside as she simultaneously yanked him from the canopy with her fangs.

She wrapped herself around him. Her vertical, amethyst eyes sized up her struggling captive. She applied slight pressure to get his attention.

Cal fought to breathe. Her eyes gleamed with desperation, and something more. His nod was jerky albeit reluctant.

She placed him on his feet. His pumping blood gave her a small relief. She shrank and wriggled back into her skin.

“I’m sorry. I’ve tried and scoured, but…” She covered her nakedness in her ruined cloak.
“My sister bears a curse.”

She heard his breath catch and watched as he uncovered his left arm. He stared intensely at something she couldn’t see. It strangely made her heart pound.

His gaze met hers. “I can better help if I know your name.”

Her eyes tearily swam. “Sephrina.”

Last edited 9 days ago by Lunabear
Mary Rathana
Mary Rathana
10 days ago

My Purpose
By: Mary Rathana

Please give me your forgiveness when we finally meet. The remains of the One Before me were painful and suffocating; my skin tore from its jagged edges. The stars around me began to drift, shifting their colors to signal the new era. The planets that were passed down orbited around me, yet I felt no desire to begin my life when I felt unwelcome. I felt no pull, no desire, to maintain the equilibrium to watch over you and the millions of others that reside in my galaxy. I only felt pain and apathy as I watched each one carefully. As the natural landscape was paved to build more space for lives to grow, my eyes were drawn to your home. It was one of the first to drift towards me, yet the very last to unfurl with mechanical life. It was no surprise that the inhabitants of the other planets began to travel to lay their claim, yet the globe only grew more radiant. Lights that mimicked other galaxies began to blink out from the surface and tiny dots began to draw lines around from one spot to the next. As if in the next instant, the others began to change to similar, if not the same, design. How could I govern this galaxy when it has bloomed into this mesmerizing ring?
I hope that was sufficient to persuade you; I never meant to shirk my duties and become a mere observer. Even now when millions of lives return to me after perishing from the throes of war caused by the universe trying to balance itself, I can’t help but stare. With my torn skin and dwindling power, I etch this one message in the stars nearby with a heavy hope before I rest.

Please forgive me.

Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
11 days ago

Firstborn[Aleph null sci fi]
By gregovin

In a corner of the Milky way galaxy, we saw the first ever extant alien life. We were quite disappointed to find it was simple bacteria, clinging to an otherwise desolate rock. It barely even qualified as “alive” under most biological definitions. Humanity had been voyaging for a thousand years to find this, already one hundred lightyears from their home.

Soon after, the Extraterrestrial Search Mega-Telescope cluster, a radio interferometry project with tens of thousands of extremely large telescopes spread around the Sol system, confirmed that the galactic supercluster contains no extant technologically advanced intelligent life.

Humanity is alone in the relevant portion of the universe. Humanity is the galactic firstborn. And that’s terrifying. We are the wise precursor race that is supposed to guide the new technologically advanced beings into space and/or protect them from the danger. The problem is that humanity is not particularly known for wisdom, protecting things, or being helpful.

We aren’t ready for this. We aren’t responsible enough to handle a whole freaking galactic supercluster. We can barely manage something resembling cohesion on earth! I guess it doesn’t much matter until we find an intelligent species that isn’t technologically advanced, but if we did we would probably either uplift them without a second thought, colonize them, accidentally kill them, or intentionally kill them. Each of those options seems unlikely to end well for the aliens. At least there is no galactic reapers or exterminators or anything, so we don’t have to deal with ones we didn’t accidentally cook up because someone didn’t think through the side effects of their artificially stupid paperclip maximisor.

At least we don’t know how to destroy a galaxy… yet. And at least all our civilizations are pretty resilient against themselves, so total extinction is unlikely. But yes, we’re totally screwed. Being the galactic precursors is way too much responsibility for it to go well.

Chengir
11 days ago

Heavy is the Crown
By Chengir

Bobby Sobe walked with a swagger bigger than all get out. It was an unusual stride for someone who’d been poor and oppressed all his life. He pushed the stud on the wall and the door opened with a hiss. Lights blinked everywhere. The captain of the interstellar freighter Tartarus gave him a look which could have burned through bulkheads. “You can’t take it,” he snarled. “You need to let us finish our journey so it can be locked away.”

Pressing a few buttons on the consoles, Sobe made the alarm klaxons stop. He released the cargo locks. “Of course, I can. But don’t worry, I’m going to leave the rest of your cargo alone.”

The captain spit in the ionized atmosphere. The air smelled of smoke and burnt-out circuits. “You shot out my engines. So you’re just going to fly off, leaving the airlock door open I suppose. Letting all the oxygen escape?”

“You think I’m a pirate?” Sobe didn’t wait for a response. He laughed. “Of course, I’m a pirate… and a damn good one too. With the Crown, I’ll be unstoppable.”

The Crown, as it was known, was a quantum gravity wave generator. It got its name because it was the crowning achievement of the now-extinct Maxar Empire’s technology. Declared illegal in every civilized star system. Once engaged, it sent out a dampening field. Nothing worked inside this field. Not engines, not weapons, no electronics of any kind. Caught in the field, a starship was helpless.

Jason poked his head into the cabin. He spoke directly to the pirate. “The Crown’s aboard, Captain Sobe. I have to tell you, she’s damn heavy. It took ten of us to move her.”

The Tartarus captain struggled, bound in his chair. “Well, captain, It’s been a pleasure robbing you.” Sobe gave the man a low bow with a flourish. “I’ll see about closing the airlock door behind me… but I make no promises. I’ll leave you then with the cask of amontillado. Give Mr. Poe my regards, would you?”

The Assassin
The Assassin
11 days ago

Deathsworn
By TheAssassin

“To death!” They cried.

They died.

“For the kingdom!” They cheered.

It crumbled.

“For our king!” They chanted.

He shattered.

“So far have we fallen. So deep have we drowned. Where now is peace to be found? I cannot continue to lead. Let me wander and decay alongside their corpses. At least there I shall be of no harm. There I can lead none astray, for all in that place have already fallen to my failures.” The weathered king sighed.

Lives lost. His friends. They trusted him and their reward was damnation.

He arose in the dark dripping dungeon. His imprisonment was not of the enemy, for they had not yet arrived. It was of his own volition. Soon the broken stone of his cell would be traded for the rot of battles long lost. Their tomb his prison; The torment would still not be enough.

“For you, they fought, for you they died. For you…” the feminine voice paused, “for you, they would have died even against your word. The failure was theirs. The only sin to be yours is the loyalty you so easily earn.”

With eyes broken did the king see his wife. Beautiful… treacherous! How dare she dishonor the dead. They were wiser than to march upon that foe, wise enough to see the king for the fool he was.

“They marched upon my command; their deaths are my victory”

“You know such words are lies. Lies to escape the responsibility to lead. You are wise and bold, let not one failure collapse you. Should you fall so shall your people.”

The king bloomed with anger, “Do not dishonor the dead, witch! In them was found honor untold. In me alone was weakness… I shall bear this weight.”

“The dead are gone, and so shall we fall if you do not arise. Bury them and lead those who remain, else you dishonor them. Else their families shall burn.”

Families… perhaps… he could save them. For the dead. He would still find penitence, he would still suffer, but now, perhaps, he could lead.

One last time.

Last edited 11 days ago by The Assassin
Aaron Fleming
Aaron Fleming
11 days ago

“Fire!”

By Aaron Fleming

The tension on the bridge of the starship Ulysses was palpable. If their information was correct the ship that would soon arrive through the subspace corridor would be the heavily armed rogue vessel that had been attacking ships in the area and killing their crews.

The small and subtle fluctuations in the subspace jump point showed a ship was about to emerge from the corridor. It looked like all the information about the place and time had panned out after all.

“All ships prepare to fire,” said Captain Argus. The enemy would be heavily armored and armed to the teeth, easily capable of taking on all of their ships. They had one solid chance to act here. If they could concentrate their fire just as the ship emerged from the subspace corridor, they would have the element of surprise and overpower them.

A surge of energy showed on the sensors and a blooming of light appeared on the view screens. They had mere moments to act. The ship appeared in normal space. It was … a civilian ship … almost completely unarmored, but it was partially jamming their communications. Why? No time to think it through. “Hold your fire!” shouted the captain.

The other ships in the fleet could hear mostly only static due to the partial jamming, but a number of ships could only make out one word. “Fire!” A rain of missiles and laser fire tore open the civilian ship as if it were made of paper. So many innocent people dead in mere moments. Captain Argus fell back into his chair. “No…” he whispered. It was his crew. His command. The deaths his responsibility. The bridge crew fell silent in the realization of what had just happened.

Captain Argus barely had moments to think before another burst of light appeared on the view screen. This time the ship that appeared was heavily armored and came in guns blazing. Before the captain could even issue his orders two of his ships were torn into shrapnel.

Mr. Jingo
Mr. Jingo
11 days ago

Reunion
By Mr. Jingo

Every year on The Night of Triboulet, Her Revered Grace Halina Zofia, Archduchess of Gelt, Keeper of Tomorrow, etcetera, exits the confines of her estate under the watchful eye of her trusted guard Boethe, her mage having doused her in a drought of illusion.

For one day, she metamorphoses into one of them, the inferiors – the less desirables her ilk often neglect, and meanders through the cobblestone streets amongst a throng of revelers, surrendering herself to a night of indulgence.

But as the festivities wear on, she tacitly exits the lamplit town square, walking to the sparsely populated city limits to find the glazier’s hut. She runs her fingers through the windchime next to the door loud enough to draw the attention of the hut’s sole occupant, an eight-year-old whose name she already knows.

“Can I help you?” Agata says, her shaky wings revealing how frightened she is. Mothfolk are notoriously wary around humans.

“Yes,” Halina Zofia says, “I’m an acquaintance of Lepido’s.”

Agata’s antennae twitch as she hurries Halina Zofia inside. They talk for nearly an hour, Agata listening intently as Halina Zofia spins a tale of her brother Lepido – an intrepid youth recruited by the archduchess to embark on a secret mission. That’s why he’s been missing for the past week, but tomorrow, he is to return.

She hugs Halina Zofia’s legs and weeps, thanking the kind woman for informing her.

“You love your brother?” she asks.

And without a hint of hesitation, Agata replies, “Yes!”

Agata relates a memory of when Lepido nursed an injury she received. She’d cut herself badly on a shard of glass. He saved her.

Halina Zofia rubs Agata’s head, then takes her leave.

It’s all a lie, of course. Her brother was a leading figure within The Feathermen, a squalid organization that attempted to overthrow Halina Zofia and failed miserably. Agata couldn’t be ignored. Violence begets violence; the child, if allowed to blossom, could foster within her a malevolent flame that could prove bothersome. Like brother, like sister.

At dawn, a smaller body joined the gallows.

Last edited 11 days ago by Mr. Jingo
T.E.
T.E.
12 days ago

The Dance of the Seasons
By T.E.

The lake glittered in the early morning sun as Ragnvald steered his boat into its deep end. Snow no longer covered the trees around the lake, and they had begun sprouting their first leaves.

“How beautiful it is, the shift of seasons,” Ragnvald thought. A smile graced his furrowed face. “If one could see the ages pass, the shifting seasons must appear like such an intricate dance.”

He pulled nets from the freezing water with calloused hands. He plucked the fish one by one from the nets and uttered a prayer every time he ended a life. His catch consisted mostly of cod and whitefish, but soon enough he saw something sparkling and beautiful in the old nets. Upon closer inspection he found it to be a large fish with iridescent golden scales. The golden fish didn’t flop or fight against its destiny, it just stared at him with large green eyes. When Ragnvald freed the fish and held it in his arms, it spoke.

“What do you wish for, old man?” it said. “I can fulfill your deepest desires. In exchange, I wish only to swim freely in my lake.”

Ragnvald stared at the fish in disbelief. But it was unseemly for a mere human to question a wild spirit. “I wish,” he began, “that I could see the ages pass.” The moment the fish hit the gleaming surface, he saw…

Ragnvald saw the world’s conception in a fiery inferno. He saw humanity draw their first breath. He saw the birth of the gods. He saw his own life; birth, life, and death. All the while seasons danced. The world, the universe, time, all was his domain. But it came with a price. He saw civilization fall. Humanity drew their last breath. The gods themselves grew frail and died.

It never stopped. Void, void, void. If only there could be life again. If only he could see the seasons dance once again…

Last edited 12 days ago by T.E.
AvraKehdabra
AvraKehdabra
12 days ago

A Rapture of Fire
By Nathan Dees

It’s either this or that.

No in-between.

No other options, loopholes, second chances, or papers to sweep under the desk. Not anymore.

A hauntingly cold chill clings to his entire body as his finger trembles over the button. It glares up at him daringly. He could press it, but could he live with the consequences?

An entire nation… No, the entire world, would be affected by this decision. They had threatened him and his country. All the ideology and morals that he stood for would be obliterated if he didn’t press that button. If he didn’t do it himself, then someone else would do it to him. This was war.

“Mr. President, two minutes,” says someone from behind.

He barely hears it, but understands what it means; the time is now.

Everything moves like molasses, dragging out the moment to become agonizingly long.

The button collapses as he lets his hand fall like a gavel, deciding the fate of millions.
And with that; a small fleet of nuclear submarines over a hundred miles away open their tops and unleash a fiery Hell upon the East. Once it detonates it will roll across the land like a hoard of locusts, swallowing souls, irradiating the Earth, and ringing the bell of Death so loudly that all may hear its mournful resonation, even those who have no say in the matter. Especially those who have no say.

“Any price for peace. Right, sir?” said the previous man, a web of regret now complicating his demeanor.

The President replies grimly, “I’m afraid you’re wrong. I’m afraid we’re all wrong.”

He had expected his heart to be in his shoes, but he couldn’t find it at all. Only a void. Nothing but a void.

RedStein
RedStein
12 days ago

Even Power Makes Men Hollow
by RedStein

Laurian outstretches his thin,black and lanky arm towards a woman in dirty robes, holding what seems to be a baby. The child’s features are sunken and devilishly pale. With Laurian touching the baby’s forehead, a golden glow appears on the infant, and the once corpse-like features are now full of life. All the color back on its face.

“How much further can I go doing this, my love?” He said in a raspy voice, looking to his right and attempting to grasp at something.

“Oh? How silly of me to forget. I forgot that you were already gone.” Laurian let out a chuckle, before coughing profusely, covering his mouth as blood splatters all over his palm.

“Dear me, am I already reaching my limit?”. His flaky skin started to shred, like a snake shedding its old skin. All the while, his brain started to hurt, as if a million swords were stabbing his insides.

As he sits upon his old rusty throne, Laurian sets his gaze upon a giant painting of him and his wife, back-dropped by a shining green star. His thoughts wander off from his current condition, thinking about his beloved wife. As he lays there, Laurian recalls back, before he bore the power of reviving the dead.

“If you were here, you would beg for me to stop…wouldn’t you Flora?” Clutching his staff, Laurian mustered all of his strength to stand up, limping towards the balcony that oversees his kingdom which was back-lit by the shining clusters of stars. His fingers wandered off, and traced the armrests of his rocking chair, before sitting down. “Even if it costs my life, I will continue my duty. I need time.” Laurian said, struggling to get the words out.

The king gazes upon one specific star, intoxicated by its shining emerald green glow. A bright smile formed from his face, as he thinks of his family, longing to reunite with their spirits.

Toyloli
Toyloli
12 days ago

I loved to make toys.
By Rinni the Doll

Standing in front my mirror, I find and put on my shirt.
When I started I had crafted in wood, trains mostly but dolls too. Each was carved on site and Children would drag parents into my shop to watch me work.
It was never the same child but always the same question, “Mister Mister, did you make it did you make it?” a custom doll or train, hand carved, sewn or painted.
One day a woman, the would be love of my life entered the shop. Holding a child who marveled at the trains she said something weird:
“Can’t you make them move themselves?”

I fetched the long black pants from my bed and put them on.
Her idea was simple, her father ran a Plastics store, dolls mostly.
“If you make the trains from plastic, you could put a motor in them to make them run.
I was doubtful but the trains had worked. The plastic was imprecise but easy to make and with Hikaru help we printed a batch. We stayed up for nights trying to learn electronics and build the prototypes but soon iTana toys became famous.
Gaggles of children wondered at the little machines and shortly, Hikaru’s father proposed a partnership between us. Not marriage, that would come later, Rather my company with his. Before long we sold toys by the dozen. The toys were cheaper, took less time, yet the children still loved them. Parents still bought them. The dream grew.
The world had changed around me, little things ignored so I could focus on the kids.

I put on my hat, looked out the window.
At some point I’d moved to the city, head of my own division, married. My toys were being sold all over japan. When was the last time I crafted my own toy?

I turned around.
Papers covered every surface. Bills. lawsuit. Choking, fire, trip. The train I was driving was in trouble, the factory I owned, a nightmare. I had only been so busy chasing the dream I had let the train burn behind me..

Last edited 12 days ago by Toyloli
Christian Gould
Christian Gould
12 days ago

The Dream Crown
by Christian Gould

The crown didn’t become a burden until Garth had intrusive thoughts.
In fact, the machines chose their leader well, given that Garth had a great mind. His vision, to their mechanical brains, was the equivalent of the ultimate truth. He was sharp and intelligent and dreamed big.
The crown was shaped like a metal helmet, with huge metal bolts on the sides, and connected to this crown were wires that hooked up to Jay, the dream computer.
Jay cast the vision of many participants from around the world, and to be selected was an honor, until the visions and the energy were all gone. Then, there was only a body, as the soul was consumed by Jay. It was a noble sacrifice.
All humans were hooked up to similar machines, all with metal helmets and wires. The only difference was they didn’t get to dream their own worlds. Garth’s mind became their reality, as everything in his head became their everyday life.
The machines selected the perfect mind: world peace was possible, everyone found their lover, every person found their purpose, and nobody had reason to want anymore. That is, if “everything” was satisfactory for everyone.
People complained. They became angry: everything wasn’t everything, for they had enemies. They wanted to hurt each other, they wanted to hurt themselves. They wanted to hurt the maker of reality: “I hate Garth’s vision,” they’d say, “his mind is weak, too soft, too quiet.”
Eventually, the words sank in, and so did imperfections. Garth’s anger took over, and his violent thoughts started.
Word spread throughout the virtual world like wildfire that a woman who gossiped about Garth died horrifically.
Garth, for a split second, imagined her head being cut from her body. Blood sprayed from the stump where a head had been.
It happened frequently since: girls talking in the market suddenly having their heads cut off, without probable cause.
Everyone was afraid: they knew his vision was lost, and in its place was a never-ending nightmare.
Blood puddles flooded the streets often, and mass graves were dug, bodies filled to the brim.

Erin Clare
Erin Clare
12 days ago

Bitter King, Fallen Prince
by IrishPixie23 (E.C.)

King Adom placed his hand on the door, wings trembling. They always trembled on these visits. After several deep breaths, he pushed and entered.

Sunlight glistened throughout the glassy room. His eyes adjusted to see the chalk drawings across every surface, leading to a frail figure like currents. Ren was bent over the ground on his knees, thin hands tracing endless lines on the floor. The lines never formed words or pictures. Patterns, maybe. Perhaps they were all that was left of his mind, since…

Adom’s eyes cringed at the misshapen stumps that once held up wings. He remembered the blood and screams of that day when he held Ren broken in his arms. How long had it been?

“Brother…” he called quietly.

Prince Ren froze. Adom’s heart leaped in his throat. Alas, Ren quickly resumed scribbling. The elder swallowed and paced closer. “You’ve been eating more,” he said, noting a half-eaten meal. “That’s good.”

Silence.

“I’ll have the cooks make that dish next time if you like.”

The chalk scraped and tapped.

Adom blew out a long sigh and traced his fingers across the sketches. “I am tired, brother. Some days it seems like this war will never end. But our people are strong- sure-hearted. We are so close…” His fingers balled into a fist. “I’m leaving tomorrow, for a few weeks at least.” The chalk strokes grew short and fast. “We’re nearing the pinnacle of this war. I need to be ready. Their king will soon fall, and you and all of our people shall be avenged!”

The chalk broke. The prince paused, hands shaking briefly before folding in defeat. Adom knelt before him. For a moment, they were boys again. “Please, Ren…” He lifted his face. “Just one word…”

His eyes remained dull and fractured. Adom searched them again and again. Nothing. His hands dropped and he marched out of the room. “It’s his fault you’re like this,” his thoughts burned. “I will not let your cries be the last time I heard your voice. He will pay…”

Mango Gravy
Mango Gravy
13 days ago

Butterfingers
By Mango Gravy

“Of all the apprentices I could have been saddled with,” Ograbah yelled, “Why did I end up with the most imbecilic pillock this side of the celestial plain?”

As one might have guessed from the bombastic robes, deific beard, and gaudy vocabulary, Ograbah was a Wizard. A particularly fierce one, at that, with a reputation for bursting into paroxysms of verbal ferocity at the drop of a coin. Or in this case, a very precious and exceedingly delicate crown, the remains of which were littered across the dusty floor, serving as apparent justification for the old Wizard’s outburst.

Vimbly Crowbottom, as one could tell from his simple clothing and diminutive stance, was the apprentice in question. ‘Why did I end up with the loudest, most temperamental wizard on the planet?’ he thought, struggling to hold his tongue.

He had worked hard to secure an apprenticeship to the most competent wizard he could find. He had learned so much in his short time with Ograbah, but he never imagined his apprenticeship would involve quite so many verbal lashings and healing potions for burst eardrums. Difficult, certainly, but well worth it as Vimbly had far surpassed all his peers who had settled with less volatile teachers. Ograbah was a remarkable Wizard, and an excellent teacher, when he wasn’t… erupting.

“Months of toiling away to find that ancient masterpiece, and you drop it the instant I turn around! What spirit of buffoonery possessed you to do fail so spectacularly at simply holding the damn thing?”

“I-”

“Speak up, you smooth-brained lummox. Or have you, in this episode of idiocy, also lost your grip on the common tongue?”

“My-”

“SPEAK, DAMN YOU!”

Vimbly’s composure burst at the seams, “It was heavier than I expected!” he spat before he realised he was shouting.

Silence.

“It slipped out of my hands before I could react,” he continued, quieter.

Ograbah’s gaze was piercing, but it eventually softened, as did his voice when he spoke at last. “Well, it’s a good thing it’s easily repaired. Let me show you how.”

Vimbly blinked.

Last edited 12 days ago by Mango Gravy
Isa Dragon
Isa Dragon
13 days ago

Excerpt From Talvanka’s Collection on Oral Bloodsword Lore
By IsaDragon (gerbilz337)

I tell this tale so you may know.

Once there was a Merfolk sword-smith, who forged a weapon of war. In the depths of the volcanic vents he twisted oyster shells into blue steel, as was practice at the time, and sang to the metal as it cooled. He sang tales of war and wanderlust, as his wife so loved.

He made the sword for his wife, the lovely Shardalande of Omawude, the fiercest warrior in all the seas.

Shardalande was eighteen feet long. Her toxic spines and sharp fangs were known to be as deadly as her skills with a blade. She was the greatest of the Lord of the Deep’s knights before he fell to his star-eating slumber. Her husband’s masterpiece, a nasty blade with spikes and hooks, became her chosen sword: Gorehewin.

She used him well, for they were at war.

With sword in hand, she led her band to glory. She fed her foes to the whales, and gained power and infamy. She was the greatest warrior in the seas, and most trembled in fear at her name.

Most, but not all.

A brazen thief cut her down from behind, and stole Gorehewin. Wielding the sword, he proclaimed himself the greatest fighter, another challenger rose to combat him; the cycle, established, continued.

Gorehewin grew irritated. He was made for war, born in the fiery vents at the bottom of the world and bathed in the blood of entire armies. He disliked the arena he was stuck in, and wanted to travel and stain the water red. He could wield himself far better than these amateurs.

Thus, like his elder sister Jormigera, he took control of his wielder; but unlike her, he slaughtered only those who were in his way.

And thus Gorehewin wandered, depopulating entire archipelagos overnight.

For a time, warriors would seek him out, for the hand that held him was the greatest warrior in all the seas, feared and respected. At the unknowing price of their freedom.

This was the birth of Gorehewin, the second bloodsword.

I tell this tale so you may remember.

Fredrick Hoagland
Fredrick Hoagland
13 days ago

Odd Interior Decorating
By Fredrick Hoagland (Challeng3r22)
A stack of documents marked URGENT sat on the desk in front of Mark. He sighed recalling his father’s disappearance over a year ago that left him in charge of the family’s company.
A knock came at the door, before Arianna’s voice sounded from the other side, “You’ve been in there a while. I’ve prepared you some tea if you want some.”
“Come in, Arianna.”
Through the door came an automaton that had appeared on his doorstep three months ago with a note that simply read, “Dear Mark, I often found that mansion gets awfully dusty. Here’s a maid to help keep things clean and you fed. Her name is Arianna and you can figure out the maintenance yourself. Sincerely, Dad.”
“You seem troubled,” she commented, breaking him from his revelry.
“Just thinking about my father. Are you sure you have no recollection of him?”
“You know as well as I do that my memory discs from that point of time where tampered with. Leaving me with no memories from that point of time.”
“I know, but the crown of madness is a powerful force.”
Drawing the top document from the stack, Mark revealed a letter sealed with wax in the form of a sword dangling from a thread.
Finding this more intriguing than a stack of papers on employee healthcare and marketing opportunities, he popped the seal and read the paper out loud, “Dear Mark, I hope you are well all things considered. You may have been warned about the heavy hat, the uncomfortable chair, and various other status indicators of entrapment. But they often overlook the odd interior decorating choice that symbolizes the fleetingness of this power. To assist on this front you will find an lie-detector modification for Arianna on your doorstep tomorrow to see if the board really has your best-interests in mind. Sincerely, Dad.”
Arianna’s faceplates shifted into a contemplative gaze as she declared, “I worry about that man’s intentions.”
“I know, especially considering we’re a pharmaceutical company.”

Shane Frangi
Shane Frangi
13 days ago

Heavy is the Crown
By Shane Frangi

Jasper sat tensely under a large crag which served as a backdrop to his group’s makeshift camp, his eyes scanning the slumbering forms of his comrades. He had found such rest difficult since Rodrick had passed, leaving the young mage to lead the band of heroes. “I wonder if you were like this,” he thought out loud, “too neurotic to even shut your eyes for a moment.”

A sudden thud snapped him out of his trance, prompting a reactive blast of ice in its general direction; his eyes widened as soon as he realized who he’d fired at. “Ember!” he shot to his feet, “I-I’m sorry. I-.” His words were cut short as the graceful form of the huntress fluttered through the air and settled next to him. “Jasp, I’m fine. You… really, it’s nothing.”

Struggling to form words for a moment, Jasper slumped back against the rocky cliff face before collecting his thoughts: “Are you sure you’re okay?” The fay woman knelt beside him, gently touching his arm. “You missed, it’s nothing to worry about. Honestly, I’m more concerned for you.”

He held up his hand. “Don’t be. Rodrick never needed anyone too…” his voice trailed off as he tried to hide his tears. “It’s just… he always made it look so easy: always keeping everyone safe despite everything; not to mention everyone admired him. He… he always knew what to do.”

A soft warmth began to envelop his hand, as he looked down to see Ember had taken it in her own. “He’d be proud of you: I know we all are.” He slowly brought his line of sight to meet hers, as tired blue eyes met caring violet; “You mean so much more to us… to me… than you could ever know.”

She huddled near him, resting her head on his shoulder. “Now get some sleep, you dork. We’ve got a long road ahead of us.” Jasper sat in silence for a moment, then after some deliberation, slowly set his head atop hers. He carried a heavy burden, but he may not have to carry it alone.

Last edited 12 days ago by Shane Frangi
Arthur Moore
Arthur Moore
13 days ago

The tired sailor, lost at sea

I was lost in the voyage at sea, in search of a home I never found. It wasn’t like I was happy though, I was actually quite sad, and worn, and limp of all my strength in heart, mind, and limbs. I wanted to give up and give in to the sea, the salty waves to rip and tear and swallow me whole.
And it’s not like I had anyone with me, no. I was completely alone, no crew to mutiny, no involuntary captain of any massive group of castaways, lost and adrift at sea. I was actually alone, and I was tired; and wondrous of the silence.
I suspect that I must be in the eye of a storm somewhere, though it’s not where I had always been, sometimes I was out at the wall of the general swirl and pull, sometimes in a uniquely calm sea where the watery reflection is like a Mercurian mirror able to show you any and everything, in full. Others it was choppy and overcast. Never a singular day, always changing and morphing, the sea. As is my vacant mind, and lonely heart.
But now in the encompassing silence and the stillness, forced upon you like an unchanging void….I was done, I was done with it all and ready to give in, waiting for the storm to pass me above and pull me in crashing into its unforgiving wall. And days have passed since like that with nothing changing at all, that I now suspect I might be in some maritime hell of stillness, and silence, and hopeless drudgery repeating on and on and on. I just… I just one-day wish to see my shores again and call upon my home. But no. It is not that easy. Not at all. If you are lost in a never ending sea.
How could I bear this solitude any longer, I thought as I pray for the storm’s wall to take me to the silent shore and maybe there I might meet again my home.

Last edited 13 days ago by Arthur Moore
Joseph Kharms
Joseph Kharms
13 days ago

“Thus We Confess”
By Joseph Kharms

It is obvious to me now, as I scrawl lectures on paper, that humanities great escape from nature has been futile. It has been, and always been, humanities wish to escape it’s inferior surroundings. It is so that we clothe our animal bodies and claim to act out of conscience. Conscience is a masquerade, and it is now and only now, that I am able to rip this crown off humankind and reveal what lies beneath. Your crown of skyscrapers and conscience is invisible:

Despite all my explorations into romance (people who I never had intentions of rejecting) I have only been transfixed by one. Milly, who, in my eyes, escaped nature. She seemed controlled and civilised unlike the rest of humanity. However, she made one act which diminished her conscience, she was dating a man called Max.

He was charming, fit and cherished by society, although he undoubtedly beat her. While she suffered, Max’s friends looked the other way, despite owning supposed morals. I couldn’t stand it, knowing that she was suffering by his hand. Perhaps I secretly wanted it to be by my own hand.

Tonight, he hit her in public. She collapsed on the pavement outside the pub. Tonight, I was filled with rage; as I always was. Tonight, I listened to that rage and I let go of manufactured order.

I can barely remember what I did, but all I remember is the feeling of power and the sound of Max’s head cracking on the tarmac. I remember turning to Milly and seeing her scream in horror. To hell with her. My attraction to her has disappeared for she is but a dog, who always returns to her abusive owner.

I fled to my home covered in blood and swore to educate you by means of writing.

Behold humanity:
Sperm orientated.
Water fortified.
Blood bought.

My last wish is that instead of police, an angry mob find me bearing stones.
While they stone me to death, I shall laugh at their hypocrisy and howl truth above their anguish:

“I CONFESS. I confess to being an animal.”

Alex
Alex
13 days ago

The Children of Mrs. Armitage (Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Daniel Armitage stood on the roof of a high rise building in Fisher’s Quarter, one of the city’s harbor districts. Although not as tall as the buildings further towards the town center, he could swear he could see the spot, where the Stainsholm Oil Rig once stood.

The memory still felt as fresh as it had all those weeks ago. The fire, the screams and his sister, Victoria. The charred remains of his sister, begging him for… what? Help? Salvation? Death? He couldn’t quite remember anymore. Only her screams.

Then there was Scott, his older brother. He’d been found dead in the streets one day, his neck twisted and the souls he’d tasked himself to protect gone. Daniel felt his fist clench. His arm shook. Raindrops hit his face, as the cold wind picked up. Water ran down his cheeks, his breath coming in shudders.

With a sudden pang, he realized that he was now the oldest living child of the Armitage Matron. He was the eldest. His position was higher than it had ever been before. But that couldn’t be. Daniel was too young. He was no leader.

He was a failure and a disappointment.

Victoria had been compassionate and kind. Scott had been brave and upstanding. He, Daniel, was just some coward, who let his own sister die. He couldn’t save her. More than that, he was responsible for her death. Stainsholm was his fault. The fire was his fault.

Everything was his fault.

He took a step closer to the edge of the roof. He squinted out into the ocean, trying to imagine the silhouette of Stainsholm in the distance.

“Her proudest creations,” he said, bitterly: “Yeah right. Some creation I turned out to be. The king of incompetence, that’s who I am. I’m sorry, mum.”

“Daniel?” a voice behind him said.

He turned and saw Mia.

“Everything alright? We’re worried, your siblings and me.”

“I can’t burden you with this. I’m sorry.”

She knelt next to him.

“You saved me from the burning hospital. Let me help you now.”

And Daniel let her.

Ouroboros
Ouroboros
13 days ago

The Final Disaster of The Manticora
By Ouroboros

The grizzled captain looked out at the horizon. “Storm’s a-coming. You sure this is the right place?”

“The only place it could be,” replied Cortez, “It’s the only shallow water for miles and it matches the survivors’ accounts exactly. This one has to be the Manticora.” Two crewmen carried a dripping mass that glimmered the colour of ancient gold, he knew that this was what he had spent years searching for: The crown of Alarcón, it would secure his place in history.

He nodded to the captain who gave the order to set sail. Impatience got the better of him, taking his knife he removed a barnacle to reveal a royal crest, a lifetime of struggle finally vindicated. The twilight sky began to storm. Distant thunder could be heard over the sound of waves crashing against the ship’s hull. Recognising the oncoming tempest, he ordered the artefact to be secured in the hull. Without warning a colossal swell struck the side of the vessel carrying the loose cargo overboard, the open crate now visible on the water’s surface revealing the treasure within. The ship thrashed between the waves, the water now was over a mile deep. Cortez knew that if the crown were to sink here, it could never be recovered. Without hesitation, he grabbed a tether and hollered to the seaman “Two hard tugs. Pull me up!” He nodded, confirming he understood.

Leaping overboard, Cortez crawled to the sinking crate. The crown now almost within his grasp began to descend to the depths below. He dived after it with one hand grasped firmly onto the rope the other pulling himself to the sinking gold. With a final stroke, the tether now completely taught pulled him back. Leaving behind the rope, he kicked desperately until his grasp finally reached the crown of Alarcón. He could barely see the surface, desperately he tried to cling back to safety. His lungs cried out for air, his legs cramped with fatigue, and the weight of the gold was pulling him down into the infinite depths. The rope just inches away.

Marx
Marx
13 days ago

The End is Nigh
By Marx

“Really?” Matt literally face-palmed. He should have known better than to ask.

“Yup.” Replied the being who insisted on calling himself ‘Bob’.

“So…nature…souls…planets…EXISTENCE…all of it…is just a lucid dream to you?” Matt asked incredulously.

Bob smirked as if Matt’s reaction was not only expected but rather entertaining. “At first, there was nothing but me. I went to sleep. I ‘woke up’ to a big bang. The rest is…quite literally…history.”

“You’re kidding…” Matt sighed.

“Not even slightly.” Bob chuckled.

“So none of this was on purpose?” Matt challenged. “None of this is real to you?”

“How do you feel about the reality in YOUR dreams?” Bob asked.

Matt could feel himself getting more frustrated but before he could answer, Bob continued,

“That’s just how I personally see ‘existence’, mind you.” He stated, making full use of finger quotes. “You guys get on just as fine when I’m heavy handed with you as you do when I couldn’t care less. It doesn’t really matter. So why fret over it?”

“Then…you really don’t care?” Matt asked. “Even about the people?”

Bob let out another chuckle. “You guys get tired of each other in a few decades. Sometimes less than that, but I’m supposed to keep my interest through the entirety of ‘existence’? Have you ever had a dream where the people in that dream don’t think you’re real? Do you have any idea how surreal that is? The questions it makes you ask? What is real? How do you define real?”

“What still exists when you stop believing in it.” Matt grumbled in reply.

“That’s a great quote!” Bob let out a loud, barking laugh before leaning in close, his smirk turning sinister. “Here’s the thing though. What if everything exists BECAUSE you believe in it?”

“But you said you exist even when people don’t believe in you.”

“Well…yeah.” Bob grinned wider. “But is the reverse true?”

Matt paused as a horrific idea took hold in his mind, “Then…what happens to reality itself when you’re so…apathetic about it?”

“I suppose…YOU happen, my friend.” Bob laughed loudly, contrasting with Matt’s terror-stricken face. “You happen.”

Connor A.
Connor A.
13 days ago

“Contemplation” (Novus Academia)
By Connor A.

“Tell me something, Father. Why do you believe in God?”

Father Lebedev looked up from his tea. The person in front of him was covered head to toe, yet he felt that they were staring right at him. “Are you a devil sent to tempt me?”

“Nah, just curious.”

He took a sip of his tea. “I have questions and worries about the world around me. Far too many for one man to bear. God eases my worries and answers some of my more pressing questions.”

“I take it the guy left you hanging after awhile?”

Father Lebedev furrowed his brow and tried to figure out what that question meant. “If you are wondering if I still have questions, the answer is yes.”

The person’s head turned to the window, though the priest still felt eyes on him. The person let out a halfhearted chuckle and muttered, “That’s probably for the best, then.”

“My child, what troubles you?”

The person did not turn to face him, but answered, “You know the saying, ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ right? It’s an oversimplification, but there’s truth to it. Sometimes you just gotta… not try to answer the big questions.”

“Such as?”

“‘How long is eternity?’ ‘What is the root of evil?’ ‘Can a soul be destroyed?’ Those are just the ones off the top of my head.”

Father Lebedev set his cup down and clasped his hands. “My child—”

“Faust.”

“Are you struggling with something?”

Faust paused. “I… I just know too much for my own good. That’s all.” He glanced at the clock over the door and stood up. “Before I forget, a couple of work acquaintances are gonna be here looking for the old journal you’re hiding. Could you give it to them?”

“How…?”

Father Lebedev’s question trailed off as Faust’s scarf fell away, revealing gold skin and more eyes than humanly possible.

One eye scrunched up in an attempt at a smile. “Trust me, Father. You don’t want to know.” Faust readjusted his scarf and left Father Lebedev alone in his office.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
13 days ago

A Dream of Empty Thrones
By Calliope Rannis

Upon a cliff, she stood between the two emptied thrones, looking out at her majestic landscape. Above, the clouds of Kord’s storm had been burned away into clear orange sky. Below, the Raven Queen’s icy sea was shattered, melting under the glare of her swollen yellow sun.

Finally, it was done. No more would the people have to live in fear of the Storm Lord’s furious temper. No more would young, promising lives be snuffed out to feed the Queen’s insatiable desire for tragedy. She would be better. She would be a better god than either of them could EVER be.

She reached a hand out to touch one of the thrones, only to suddenly stop. Her hand…was hard, angular and translucent, coated in frost. Beneath the cloudy glass of the hand’s surface, sizzling plasma glowed where her bones used to be – and yet, she felt no pain, or heat, or cold. She felt nothing. At all.

She pulled her hand back to her face, petrified fingers touching a face more crystalline than flesh. She smelt blood, and tasted ash. Through her skull, she could hear her eyes hissing with electricity. She…she-she was-

She turned away, clutching her head, and behind her she saw destruction and death. The craters, the ruins, the wastes. The blasted, the mangled, the drowned, the burnt, the lost. The innocent, the undeserving, the unknowing-

She tried to close her eyes from the horrific sight, but she didn’t have eyelids anymore.

She forced her head downwards, seeing the path of blood and mud and bone end at her robes, soaked with dark fluid and dust. Below her feet were the splintered bodies of two gods that had once sat on nearby thrones. The gods that she had hated so much, and loved-

Nyssa woke up in an eruption of sparks, clawing at her face. Then, after the initial shock had passed – after she had felt the softness of her skin, breathed in the musty air, slowly blinking in the muffled moonlight – she curled up into a ball in her oversized tavern bed, and wept.