Writing Group: I Left You Something (PRIVATE)

Hello, givers and receivers alike.

What? Oh relax, it’s not like it’s going to explode… at least it shouldn’t. No, it doesn’t tick either. Why don’t you trust me? It’s just a gift. Pretty paper, little bow, what’s suspicious about that? I think you should open it up and see what’s inside, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

I Left You Something

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

With the holidays upon us, this prompt brings one main thing to mind: gifts! But knowing the talent here like we do, we know the word “gift” can be twisted any which way.

Some of you could write about the sad side of this, like a father needing work on his child’s birthday, and leaving their gift on the table with a note. Perhaps it could be a long lost relative who has left a note and clues about their disappearance so many years ago. It could be about a parent who has passed on, and left something for their child or children to help them remember the happy days past. It could even be the loss of a pet who has left behind their toys, their collar, and their empty bed. Maybe that something that is left is simply loneliness and sorrow. Or maybe… that something is a warning.

You could write about a man finding a baby on his doorstep with a note from the mother, surprising him by telling him the baby is his. It could be some powerful artifact left to a simple assistant who is then tasked with completing their master’s work. Maybe what’s left for someone is a simple gift that brightens their day in a way they really needed, like a note in a locker or flowers at the front door.

One thing to remember is that not all gifts are wanted. Sometimes it’s a power given to someone who just wanted to live a normal life. Other times it’s a curse bestowed upon a person simply by poor circumstance. And sometimes, the something left is simply the dead mouse that your cat has decided to leave on your bed first thing in the morning because it thinks you can’t hunt on your own. Maybe the “something” isn’t even a thing at all, but a feeling. Maybe even just an interaction that left a bad taste in your mouth.

This prompt can be woven in so many intriguing ways, whether sad, mysterious, wholesome, or some weird amalgamation of the three, and maybe even more.

Now then, we’ll leave you to your devices and imagination. We look forward to what you do with them.


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 four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two 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.
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    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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2 years ago

Last Letter
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)

“I’m sorry Angela, I know you probably don’t agree with how I’ve handled everything. I’m just going to ask that you trust me, I have my reasons. And you’ll understand soon enough. Please, just take care of the doll, like you used to.”

Take care of it like I used to? I crumpled the letter into my fist. I’ve never seen this thing before in my life. The few dolls I had as a kid I tore apart or threw into the pond. Admittedly this one did look like it could have been patched together from all those pieces, dingy and raggedy.

To the outside observer it would appear that it was an emotional father leaving his only daughter with a cherished memory. But that wasn’t me; that wasn’t him, and it certainly had nothing to do with this patchwork doll with mismatched button eyes and a crooked-stitch smile.

But maybe that was the point.

One thing was for certain, if this was the image he wanted to play up, and he wanted me to play along, I would. Whether or not I liked it, he had an uncanny way of knowing what was best. I learned that the hard way, several times over, and it made me hate him all the more for it.

I clutched the doll close as if it were the most precious thing left in my life until I closed my door behind me.

The tight grip I had on the doll turned contemptuous, crushing it with every bit of animosity bottled up over the years. My thumb pressed into its crooked-stitch smile, my fingers pressing through its innards back into my palm.

I realized there was something solid residing deep within its stuffing.

I finally treated it like he had really asked, like all my old dolls. I tore it open happily, angrily; with tears hiding in my eyes.

I pulled my father’s old ring out of the doll. The emerald caught the light the same way his eyes had, and for a brief moment I thought I heard his voice.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
2 years ago

All He Had Left
By Jesse Fisher edited/looked over by i-prefer-the-term-antihero

He could hear the water hitting the wooden walls from the adjoint bathroom, the cracked door allowed the sound to meet his ear. He could hear the minor off-key singing of the female in the room. A voice that brought him joy he did not know he was missing, or atleast did not want to think about.

His ears fell flat against his skull as that old wound opened like a loose saloon door. A white book stood on the shelf that he added after he met the woman in the shower, looking to it as his mind recalled his first night here. His wolven face was torn as he wanted to let it be and let those emotions stay buried, dead from neglect.

The sound of the ruffling pages snapped him from his attempts to kill the undead emotions as he looked to his hands as the ran ink on the page greeted him. Words meant for comfort and images of a life that was played on. Ignorance of the world’s end far from their minds and only the world they had.

The laughter and joy of those days were like a blade with hooked edges being pulled out of his chest. What he once thought was love was turned to more protection and care, but in the end he could not save her.

Tears filled his eyes, to the last page that he never read. The words just sounded like that nasally robot shown in the book.

“To those whom may ever find this, if there is even a thing to find, know the images and words written here were of a family. A found family built from broken beings that lost it all only to rise again. If any of you are reading this, then do not carry the sadness of my passing nor of any of the others. We are at peace and await the next time we see you.”

“Hey sweetie, something amazing just happened!” The draconequus female rushed out, the water still dripping.

Closing the book Demon looked up. “What is it?”

“It kicked.”

2 years ago

By Hemming Sebastian Bane

When I first met her, I didn’t know what to think. She was attractive and a student of the Old Ways. When she found out I was a dragon, that’s when something sparked within her. I couldn’t just be a friend to her at that point. It was my place to act as a god and her place to worship me.

I went along with it at first. It had been a few thousand years since I’d grown a cult, so I was craving human attention. The Way to Better the Self, she called it. Honestly, I wanted something a bit less vague, but with the anti-religion laws as they are, it couldn’t be helped. It started out with a few of her friends that were interested. We set up ways for them to boost my magic power, my Breath. We set up the hierarchy to protect me as much as possible.

I was amazed by her zeal when it came to converting others to our cult. I think that amazement morphed into attraction because in the second year of our cult I married her. It was a wonderful service. All 300 of our members applauded us as we walked down the courthouse aisle. It was a wonderful day.

Too bad I didn’t anticipate the power disparity between us. It was stupid on my part in hindsight. I was her GOD. She would always defer to me when it came to making decisions. I may be a dragon and much longer lived, but I wanted her as my partner, not some passive existence. The annulment was a nasty shock to her, but I sat down and talked to her about it. Then, I went to one of my lairs to relax and let healing take place.

In two month’s time, she had her cult surging through the entrance of the cavern. She kept yelling about how their god had forsaken them. Then, they all drank something in a goblet, toasting me. I ended up having to flee. The guilt was too much. She’s still looking for me. Give up, Sindra.

2 years ago

“A Harsh Lesson”
By King_Nix

Arthur exited his armored car, and saw Chaplain Major Murdock approaching him.

Arthur greeted him, “Ave, Chaplain Murdock! How-”

“No time for pleasantries, ‘Emperor Trajan.’ There’s something you must see.” He turned and began to walk away, Arthur following.

Some distance away, a large tent loomed. Crosses adorned the entry flaps, which Murdock opened, following Arthur inside. Within, a multitude was gathered, kneeling towards an altar on the far end. The altar itself was a simple structure, easily packed away for transport. Upon it was a crucifix, but in front was a golden effigy of Arthur himself, in his Imperial regalia.

“What,” Arthur hesitantly asked, “are these men doing?”

“They are giving praise to you, of course, almighty God-Emperor.” Murdock spat at the ground. “Do you approve?”

By now, the men worshipping had taken notice, and one shouted, “Messiah!” Another came up to Arthur and, genuflecting, kissed his boot. “Come! Come up to the altar and bless us with your words, my King!” Arthur approached the altar, looking down at his statuette in disgust, tasting bile.

“So,” he began, “you would raise me up as a God?” Silently, Arthur prayed, “My King and my God, almighty Jesus Christ, I beseech Thee, chastise these, Your wayward children.”

He turned to the congregation. “Then witness what awaits you at the hands of your false god!” Suddenly, the Earth trembled. The air quivered before them. Many attempted to flee, but found their limbs shackled to the ground. They looked, and saw the altar as a burning throne, upon which sat a cruel mockery of the man they dared worship, chained and screaming. Behind him gaped a pit, wreathed in flame. They begged and pleaded, but it was only when Murdock spoke, “Kyrie eleison!” and they responded, “Christe eleison!” that the vision ceased.

Standing over the broken idol, Arthur spoke. “You will all repent for what you have done here. I leave you with this lesson: the Son of Man shall not again walk this earth until I myself have passed away, and the entire Empire of Rome with me!”

2 years ago

Vexing Hex
by Lunabear (Title provided by RVMPLSTLSKN)

Four sharp raps jolted Cal from sleep. He nearly toppled backwards out of the chair but righted himself before he met the floor.

Rising groggily from the desk, he crossed to the door and pulled it open.

As usual, no one was there, but the customary food tray rested on the ground. He collected it and settled on the enormous bed.

While he was elated to see the blood samples he’d asked for, the cold thump at not seeing Sephrina grew louder each day. Ever since he’d agreed to help undo the curse on her sister, her visits had been reduced to dropping the tray off with the requested items and retrieving it.

There were also the different flowers she left him each time. He wasn’t complaining about those, though.

~Get a grip. You’re leaving once the curse is broken.~

He shook himself and turned the vials into and out of the light. He watched in amazement as the purple substance gleamed and dimmed. One contained a faint green tinge.

He took his spellbook and flipped the pages until he came across curses and hexes. According to Sephrina, Helatia’s transformation was slow, which would suggest low venom potency or low dosage. Cal cycled through his limited knowledge of dragons.

Either mountain or forest dragons administered the bite. He would need to talk with Helatia to confirm it, however. In the meantime, he had samples to study.

One drop from each vial was placed on a thin bit of glass. He then magnified a second piece of glass with an enlargement spell and overlaid the samples.

Formations in Helatia’s blood showed spiked crystalline shapes while Sephrina’s had a ribbed oval shape.

Cal scrubbed a hand down his face. The venom was intertwined with Helatia’s blood. A simple blood transfer wasn’t going to undo it.

He searched deeper. Swallowing hard, he realized that dark magic would also be required.

An unscheduled knock interrupted him. His heart raced as he opened the door.

Surprisingly, Helatia stood on the other side. Her green, red-tinged eyes appraised him coldly.

“I need a word, human.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Lunabear
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
2 years ago

The Offering
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

As the sky darkens, a car pulls up into a lonely parking lot next to an abandoned warehouse. The driver scans the scenery, looking for any signs of pedestrians. Satisfied that they were alone, he turns off the car and takes a deep breath.

“Is this really the place, dear?” Rebecca says as she finishes the last of her extra cookies.

“Yeah. Trust me, it’s grander on the inside.” Ollie flashes her a warm smile as they exit the car.

Hand in hand, they approach an empty wall. Ollie whispers a code word and suddenly an entrance forms, leading deeper into the warehouse. Ollie hesitates a moment before finally nodding and taking the plunge into the darkness.

“Are you alright, Ollie? You look nervous.”

“Y-yeah.” He swallows down his discomfort. “It’s just that I’ve never done an offering to Uthlec, the many headed god of fire and despair, before.” He grabs the back of his head. “A-as the name suggests, things can get out of hand quickly.”

“I’m sure you can handle it, babe.” She pulls him into a side hug as they arrive at the sacrificial chamber.

The room is lined with fabulous gold decorations, the centerpiece being the 7 pillars surrounding the altar. As Rebecca marvels at the craftsmanship of the ancient looking facade, Ollie carefully places the cookies they brought on the pillars. With a short passage in an archaic tongue, Ollie finishes the ritual and stands back.

After a few moments pass, nothing happens.

“Ollie? Was something supposed to happen?”

“Yes.” Ollie stares at the pillars fiercely. “A fire is supposed to consume the offerings. I-I think we’re too late. I need to summon Uthlec.”

Ollie rushes forward and slits his hand over the altar. Immediately, a fire bursts forth and a dark visage begins to appear within the flames.

“I-it’s s-so… CUTE!” Rebecca swoons as the figure of cat-sized hydra emerges from the flame.

“So… Who dares summon me right before my delightful evening of wrath-filled destruction?”

Ollie carefully raises his hand. “Uh, me, sir. W-we left an offering for you.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
2 years ago

A Well Intended Gift
By MysteryElement

Dear Housestaff

I would like to start by expressing my appreciation for your tremendous work in the maintenance of the premises. Everything has been kept clean and orderly, to my standards, and deemed satisfactory. You are greatly appreciated.

That being said, it pains me to inform you of a crucial shortcoming in your otherwise exemplary work. I am afraid there is very little variety in the food being prepared each day. I understand you do not eat at my table or share my meals, but I have grown rather weary of the monotony and wish for you to expand your knowledge in this area.

To that end, along with this note you will have found a fowl, a rather fine beast procured from my latest hunting trip. I expect it to be prepared for dinner tonight, and for this style of meal to be a trend in the following weeks.

Do not fret about how you shall obtain more of them. I have noticed your family’s lack of hunting experience, so I shall procure more birds on your behalf. Or, if you prefer, I am prepared to make you the magnanimous offer of teaching your offspring to hunt. It is never too late to learn and this skill will aid them later in life.

I hope my generosity has not overwhelmed you, and I look forward to the meal you shall prepare for me this evening.

Dutifully and Sincerely, Lord Regent Claude Felonious Wyskerus III

A.K.A. Mr. Whiskers

2 years ago

Alone again
by Gage Jarman

Mattan dragged his arm through the dust to touch the gash on his temple. ‘How long had I been out?’ He braced himself against the wooden stand and steadied himself as much as he could. The workshop was empty. The tarp was still bundled. She was gone.

Mattan ran to the cliffs. The dome was growing dim and all that would light the world would be small fires beneath its blue pulse. The rain disappeared from sight, but he still saw the flashes of their strikes. It pattered against the stone steps going up the cliffs. There was mud footprints lingering on the steps. Everyone had long returned home. The rain should have washed away any clear traces of the laborers by now.

“Gahhh! It must be her. I didn’t think she was raised to be this foolish. Leaving at night. Idiot!”
Mattan marched up the cliffside. It was getting harder to see. A slip would be the end. He reached the top and hurried to the edge of the tents. His eyes furrowed. One pair of tracks led into the timberlands. He howled with all his being.

“Bronach! Bronach, come back! Bronach!” Saline rain fell down his face like tears and he collapsed in the mud. “Please… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean— you can’t—”

He sat slumped in the rain until the cold rain dug its roots into his soul. He couldn’t stay here. He slowly picked himself up. Needles pricked his legs as he walked back down to the warm glow beneath the tarps of Tearmann.

Mattan walked to his workshop in a daze. He stood in front of the bundle for a while before unfurling it. Inside was a set of hide armor. He ran his calloused fingers over the sinew stitches, the intricate patterns of woven pine needles. His hands shook.

Mattan pulled out a small, hidden basket, and picked up the whittled-bone pendant of a flower inside it with such care, his breath might have shattered it. It was the only thing he had kept of theirs.

Rain fell down his face once more.

Last edited 2 years ago by DesOttsel
Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
2 years ago

Tearful reunion[Aleph null sci fi universe]
By gregovin

The earth shakes. Get down! I crouch, holding onto the door with all my might.

She isn’t so lucky. Right at the edge when the quake strikes.

I look away for a moment. She’s gone.

Oh no… no no no no no no no.

The shaking stops.

Without even thinking, I look over the edge.

I see her on the ground. She has to be fine. Has to be.

The emergency services arrive. That was fast. Stupidly fast. I guess not very many people must have gotten hurt.

She’s whisked off. I cry.

I find myself in a hospital a while later. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. She’s in the next room over. How did I get here? Nevermind, not important.

The doctor comes out. “She’s not going to make it. This was on her person.”

He hands me a letter, sealed in an old fashioned envelope. It appears to be addressed to me with instructions to deliver upon death.

The letter quickly becomes stained with tears. No… not my Laura. She… she… she’s going to die. Maybe she can still be saved. Yes yes. A better hospital, no this is the best in the region… People don’t just fucking die anymore.

I… can’t think. I manage to open the letter. All it has is a series of numbers which I recognize to be an IP address.

Home. A small bit of hope flows through me. Maybe there will be something more substantial there. I just have to get home. Her home or mine?

I put the dots together. I know where to go. There’s a place she’d been scoping out in town.

I manage to form enough words to say “I guess it’s time for me to go home”, before leaving the hospital.

I ordered a car to the place. It doesn’t seem to be in use. Upstairs I find a holoconsole and a large server rack.

Yes. Yes. Yes!

I power it on. She appears.

I’m crying. Of course she had a backup.

2 years ago

For You, the Living
By RVMPLSTLSKN (from The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)

Padas stood in the seawater, ankle-deep and foaming coldly. His hands stung, but he’d learnt to ignore the sensation years ago. Still, he was careful as he collected clams. He kept his gaze on the horizon.

It had been months since The Deep One ascended, but the whelming wave had ruined mudbrick houses, stone piers and wooden seawalls alike. The sea acted strangely ever since, riptides and whirlpools replaced the tidal habits. The fear had receded as the months dragged on, so Padas was more careful than afraid. Still, fear is difficult to unlearn.

The clams were the only meat in season.

He felt one crunch underfoot. His numbed foot warmed with pain. He glanced to the horizon before putting the broken clam in his bag. You never knew what blood might attract. He saw a pearl in the shattered remains. Juru Dovana, he muttered; seagod or seas’ gift.

As the pearl touched his skin, he felt the impression of divine presence, numbed and faint, like the sensations of his fingers.

-These are for you, the Living.

Padas blinked as the pearl vanished. He looked again at the horizon. It was flat, grey and cold. He decided he’d had enough of clamming. He needed to cook them still and Vienas wasn’t much good with fire tending anymore.

Her blindness limited them to her former god’s temple. Padas, a simple fisherman still, had nowhere else to offer her home. The temples were warmer and stronger than his old mudbrick house. He never ceased to be amazed at the speed of decrepitude upon empty homes. The city looked like ruins, even now. Not even a ghost had been left by the Deep One.

He liked her. She fed herself. Always. It was a strange thing to like about someone. She was smarter. Weakened, but still strong. Each should’ve been unsettled by the other. They weren’t.

That night every clam yielded a pearl. Padas tried to collect them. They only vanished when touched by skin.

-These are for you, the Living.

Vienas bit one and smiled through her sudden tears as it vanished.

2 years ago

Unwelcome Attention
By: Giovanna J. Fuller

She had sequestered herself in the cave for two months. Whenever someone came to the entrance, blocked off only by a deerskin flap, a cat would creep underneath the fold of hide to glare menacingly at the intruder. The enormous predator’s fur would bristle and its lips curl back with a warning hiss, revealing long, white, curved fangs that extended beyond the jaw. Her soul link, the animal that was the physical manifestation of her spirit, kept all would be visitors at a distance.

The beast did not do this out of a misguided or an unwanted sense of familial protection, nor did it do this under her direct orders. There was good reason to keep the others away from the cave while the woman isolated herself.

The female hermit beckoned to the feline and it padded over to her obediently. It placed its head, about the size of a volleyball, into her lap and began to purr as she found that special spot behind his ears and scratched.

She closed her eyes and concentrated, her hands continuing the soothing motion without her giving it much thought.

Then, just as she thought she had found that inner light, something outside drew her soul link’s attention. She knew it before it happened as the gentle purring became more aggressive and she withdrew her hand just in time. The cat sprung from her lap and sprang at the entrance to the cave.

The hermit jumped to her feet and raced to catch up, only to find there was no one there.

She looked down and made a face.

Wrapped neatly in a sacred white hide was a wooden box.

Reluctantly, she peeled off the wrappings and opened the lid.

Inside was a string of beads made of ivory and wood, all painted in blue. Her favorite color.

She gulped and dropped the necklace back in its container and snapped it shut. She was shaking.

“How…How did he find me?” Her voice quivered as she asked her soul link what he could not answer.

It was time to leave the cave.

2 years ago

Her Morning Routine
By Twangyflame0

Rihonnan grumbled as she turned over in her bed. She rubbed her eyes and opened to find that Morgan had already gone. She sighed, already missing the warmth of his body. She pulled the blanket up and rubbed her face into the fabric, his scent still there. She eventually looked over to her digital clock to see the time, but saw a sticky note instead. She rolled over and read it:

‘Sorry I had to leave early. I hope you have a beautiful morning —-Love, Morgan.’

She smiled as she began to get out of bed, her cheeks growing red. She put on some sweatpants and a shirt before heading to the bathroom to freshen up. She shook her long brown hair as she made her way to the bathroom. She walked up and reached for her toothpaste and toothbrush before seeing a note on the mirror:

‘Stop worrying about your hair and all that make-up, you look beautiful no matter what.’

She rolled her eyes and snickered at that one. In spite of her husband’s attempts, she proceeded to worry about brushing her teeth, her hair, and tying her hair in her signature braid. She then went to the kitchen.

She went to the teapot only to see that it was already somewhat warm, filled with delicious tea and another note on it:

‘I hope this is still warm. Sorry if it isn’t.’

She just simply pinched her nose and smiled as she finished reading. Her cheeks brimmed pink as she began to reheat the pot to get it warmer. She went to the fridge to find something to eat, only to then shake her head some more as she saw a stack of pancakes, sausages, and some eggs on a plate, wrapped in thin plastic with a note:

‘Sorry, it isn’t warm. I hope you like it. You deserve it for all your hard work.’

She looked at the note long and hard, smiling ear-to-ear. Her heart swelled, “Gods, I’m happy I married that idiot.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Twangyflame0
2 years ago

The Remains of Clearpeak Manor
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

The last of the flames burned themselves out just as he arrived. Smoke and ash still filled the air as he stared at the ashen remnants of Clearpeak Manor.

He still would have cried without the smoke stinging his eyes.

His grandmother had basically raised him, helped him get his place on the city council instead of being trapped as someone’s apprentice for the rest of his life. He’d listened to every story she ever told him, whether it be about long-forgotten dragons, his parents, or any of the mysterious objects that lined every surface of the manor, ranging from the historic to the fantastic.

And now it was all gone.


There had to be something. Anything. And…

Wait, what even started the fire?

He ran into the wrecked building. Every step kicked up ash. He couldn’t stop coughing. The tears kept falling.

Something. Anything. There had to be something—

The backyard. The tree.

He ran. It had fallen across the ground, smoldering.

He dug at the oddly loose dirt with his hands.


A metal jewelry box. Intricate carvings traced the lid. A metal latch sealed it shut.

He slid it into his coat pocket.


A proper search of Clearpeak Manor was conducted by the city council, revealing that nothing of value survived the fire. The body of Lady Clearpeak was nowhere to be found, either.

Her grandson kept to himself. The people let him mourn.

But he wasn’t mourning. He was decoding the letter in the jewelry box.

It took him three days.

“Dear Vance,”

“Sorry for the scare. I know it’s mean of me, but I need to leave and I need a cover. If you want to find me, I’d highly recommend against it. Still, knowing you, you’ll try anyways. I’ve gone to your cousin’s estate across the ocean under their surname. You’re a smart boy, you’ll figure it out.”

“Love, Granny.”

Vance made sure his tears didn’t hit the parchment.

She was alive. And, against better judgement, had given him instructions to find her.

Astrid Jones
Astrid Jones
2 years ago

The King’s Favorite
by Astrid Jones

Princess Briony, only daughter of King Latham and thirteenth in line to the throne, sat across from her mother in the Royal Study.

“I know you’re anxious to be gone, dear,” Queen Ursa said, setting down her teacup. “But we must discuss a few things.”

Briony leaned back in her chair. “Father is dying,” she stated. “I’m expected to marry a suitable husband from a neighboring kingdom. I’ll be an obedient sister and do as Liam says once he takes the throne. There. We’ve discussed everything.”

“Do you think your father cares so little for you that he’d make you do that which you detest?”

“No, Mother,” Briony said, looking away. “But Liam will.”

“Your brother has notions of how a lady should behave,” the Queen allowed. “He also loves your father and will honor his wishes, even if he doesn’t like it.”

Briony sighed. Her eldest brother honoring her father’s wishes would only last until she did something to anger him. Her mother knew it as well.

“Your father’s setting aside a duchy for you,” Queen Ursa said, raising her teacup to her lips again. “It encompasses a place I believe you’re familiar with.”

The Royal Study door creaked open and the women stood to confront the man entering.

“You’re supposed to be in bed,” the Queen scolded as Briony rushed to her father’s side and helped him to his favorite chair by the fireplace.

“Bed’s boring.” The King propped his cane against the seat. “Besides, I couldn’t let you have all the fun of telling Briony about my death-present alone.”

“I’ve already told her, so you’ve exhausted yourself unnecessarily.”

“Father, isn’t a duchy a bit much?” Briony asked.

“Bah, I’d give you the entire kingdom if it wouldn’t start a war. But your duchy will be safe from Liam once I’m gone.” King Latham coughed and eased back in his chair, looking pleased. “Found some loopholes. Still part of the kingdom but independent. Liam can’t make you do anything without force.”

Briony wiped tears from her eyes.

“Hush, child. I had to leave my favorite daughter something.”

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
2 years ago

An Inheritance of Wood and Amber (Mary’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis

After four agonising years, Mary had finally returned.

Her mother’s now-abandoned hut had once been her entire world. She sometimes wished it had stayed that way. Maybe then, Mary would still be alive.

Her mother’s rough-hewn cabinet had mostly empty drawers, and a long-dead Magnolia on the top. However, one of the drawers hadn’t been touched… until Mary opened it.

The object inside looked like her mother’s Focus at first – the wreath-like talisman she used to focus her magic. But this one was different. The woven ring was not willow, but a darker wood – walnut, perhaps? More importantly, while her mother’s Focus held the tiny skull of a raven at the centre, this one held a chunk of amber, with something small deep inside it.

Almost without thinking, Mary picked up the strange Focus, and held it before her cloudy green eyes. There, the speck’s form became a tiny butterfly, trapped within the amber.

A butterfly… one of her favourite creatures. To see one now, within a new focus? This must be hers. Her very own Focus. Her mother must have made it for a coming of age that never came.

As she realised, light began to shine within the amber, and warmth flowed through her hands. A warmth not felt since waking up as a corpse two years ago. Her hair blew backwards as the wind started to swirl around, embracing her.

The light and the wind grew stronger, as the warmth spread through her arms and into her body, until every inch of Mary thrummed with energy, the Focus shining like a star.

Then, it was over. The light faded, the wind settled, the heat sank away into her body. But she still felt changed. The energy hadn’t left.

She looked up, catching sight of the wilted Magnolia once more. Delicately, she reached her hand out towards it, giving the stem a gentle touch.

As she did, warmth filled her fingers once more – and in seconds, the flower was alive, blossoming as if it had never known death.

For the first time in four long years, Mary smiled.

2 years ago

A Present of the Past
by Exce (corrected by Lunar and Wvlf)

Cool waves lapped around his bare feet as Exce waded into the surf.

The beach he found himself on wasn’t especially pretty, dotted with rugged stone and gravel.

“Utterly and absolutely unassuming…” the older man chuckled, before looking up. “Were it not for you.”

Above him, in the sky, hung a collection of Islands; connected by bridges, they moved steadily, like clouds driven by the wind.

But what Excelsius sought, what had brought him here all the way from his mountain ranch and family was a persistent dream.

“This better be worth leaving retirement…” With these words grumbled into his beard, Excelsius dove forward, parting the surface into the cold darkness beneath.

The dream only came when he reached the deepest sleep.

Excelsius always found himself back on that final day, seeing the world from the eyes of one of his aspects.

Unable to move, he was impaled again and again, holding back the King to buy precious seconds.
Again and again his body burned away in sacrifice; the soul splinter reduced to nothing.

And yet, as everything came to an end, Excelsius kept seeing the burning sword he had wielded plummet towards the ocean. Over and over, until he knew the landscape visible by heart.

At the end, there was only darkness.

It was quite similar to the darkness surrounding him now, going deeper and deeper with each stroke and kick of the legs. Finally, he spotted a faint light, twinkling like a lonely star.

Silt-covered rocks filled his vision, and sunken into them up to the handguard was Glorsbrand. A golden Zweihander made from hardened magic. After losing most of his soul, Exce had been unable to summon it. He had assumed it lost. Gone to the afterlife with his aspects.

But there was hope.

He grasped the hilt, and a rush of power filled him as he drew it free.

Water boiled around the blade, and light pieced the deep blue darkness. The magic pushed away the aching of his lungs, but after a heartbeat, his smile faltered.

He was still alone.