Hello, Oath Takers and Deal Breakers.
Do you know what you’re doing? This isn’t something to be taken lightly. Once you say those words, you can’t take them back. And words can be light as thread or heavy as chains. If you’re absolutely sure, then place one hand over your heart, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
I Swore an Oath
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!
A lot of people will tell you that an oath is just a really strong, really important promise. They’re not wrong, but… they’re not entirely correct either. An oath is something much more binding, spoken word pertaining to something sacred, or at least thought highly important.
Whether that thing is sacred to everyone, a group, or even an individual is up to you. It can be a knight swearing an oath to protect an entire kingdom, or swearing to protect the next in line for the kingdom’s throne. It can be a guardian who’s sworn to protect some child with magic that no one knows about. Perhaps a newly appointed Druid has just fulfilled the vows she was required to see through in order to join a higher council. Or even just two children who don’t entirely know what the word “oath” means, but swearing nonetheless to be friends forever.
And what happens when oaths are broken? Well, it depends on what was promised. After all, not all oaths are good ones. Your life was saved, and so you’ve sworn to this savior that you’re forever in their debt, but you didn’t realize just what that meant this savior would make you do. Or maybe some witch has sworn to dark forces to do their dirty work in ways they can’t, but she fails to carry out an order for whatever reason. What happens to her power? Her mind? Maybe even her very existence? Consequences can be anything from being banned from the tree house for ten minutes to having one’s soul collected.
It really all depends on who made what oath, to whom the oath is sworn to, and the intentions behind it, whether known to the oath taker or not.
So get your sacred artifacts and make your deals, but do be careful. Breaking an oath can have… unpredictable consequences.
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 Saturday 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!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- 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.
- 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.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- 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.
- 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).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
Choices (Tales from Adfidem – Book of Boghos)
By Alan Baker
Then a young man asked him:
“How do I live a good life?”
“To live a good life, one must first know what is good. And to know what is good, one must first step through the veil of lies in this world and go in search of truth.”
Boghos took out a coin and said:
“Look at this coin. On one side, it depicts our king and on the other a number. The number denotes its value and the picture legitimises it.
So too, truth and goodness are two sides of the same coin. The pursuit of one requires the other, and the other requires the first to light the path.”
Turning to the people around him, he said:
“Find truth. Act on it when you are able. Share it with all those who will listen. This is the path I chose. To it, I have devoted my life.
As the history of those who dwelt by the river Arratut teaches us. You can either heed hard truths or reality will teach them to you later, and by then, it might be too late.”
The young man posed another question:
“What of oaths one swore before finding truth?”
“Some need oaths from which they draw strength in times of need.
Others will break all vows with no regard for their contents. Be they good or evil.
For not all oaths are good. From these, you should seek release.
And remember this: Our highest duty is to goodness, to heaven. Any pledge that forces you to do evil is meaningless in the eyes of the most high, Aṙajinancʿeal.”
Am Impossible Promise
Vlu rushed towards the source of the sound as quickly as her feet could manage. Panic flooded her heart as she arrived in the chamber of pods, and waved the torch inside of the room to detect the source of the disturbance. Another chance!
Torchlight lay upon a pod, the case opened and gooey contents slumped to the floor. Setting the torch into a sconce, Vlu’s hands trembled as she examined the sludge; it sucked the heat from her as she rummaged. The feeling was all too familiar to her, and her racing heart and mind; a cocktail of panic, nausea, grogginess, and hope was furiously shaking in her brain and kept her from a fate of stasis. Her fingertips did not feel, and her palms began to turn cold and numb as it stuck. Then she felt something hard within the sludge, and her breath seized. She blindly ordered her nerve-shot fingers to close, and then she pulled back with her whole body.
A mass of chitin was attached to her dead hands, in the shape of an arm. A body followed. Vlu took it into her arms, prying the remaining sludge free from the shape. Humanoid, like her. She shook the body, but found no response.
She brought her face close to theirs, and listened. She heard only the crackling of the nearby torch, which is all that kept the silence from becoming deafening. The slime blurred the line where her hands ended and where the new body began…If only she could grab the heart and lungs and make them move herself! If only…! If only…
Several minutes passed. Her eyes became glassy. She embraced the shape, a sob shaking her. To think that she was inches from this fate. It could have been any of them to wake first…Empathy could not be any more painful, and her thoughts were laced with grief.
“Why did it have to be me?! Why do I have to watch failure after failure? How many deaths do I have to hold in my arms? I don’t want to be alone anymore!”
By Elijah Hershey
Father Joesph stood in the doorway blocking his escape.
The priest stared madly at his student on the ground before him, blood dripping from a thick hammer in his hand.
The purge had already begun.
Eliyon was right.
When he spoke, the middle aged priest radiated an air of calm tension.
“Oh my boy, I am sorry. I swore an oath, a covenant that cannot be broken.”
He started towards him.
Aiden backpedaled slowly back down the narrow hallway, keeping his eyes on his friend and mentor.
“Couldn’t you make an exception maybe just this one time?”
Joseph laughed bitterly, “Did you not pay attention in your studies? If we measure one building with two rulers, how fragile is this structure?”
Aiden continued the verse “it is good for nothing except destruction.”
“Ahhh, so you do recall the maxims Your manifestation is a heresy from the beyond.”
His face took on a dejected expression, “I will miss you my son, I know you’re still in there, take heart in knowing your suffering will end soon.”
Joseph closed the distance surprisingly fast and swung for Aidens head.
He ducked as the hammer impacted the wall. And then, without thinking, Aiden flexed that inner muscle in his being which allowed the extraordinary to take place.
Not wishing to hurt his old master, he felt the surge and blessing of the divine as he stepped through his master as one steps through a mist.
He gave Joseph a shove on his back so he fell down onto the cobblestone floor.
Joseph gasped in surprise as he hit the floor, his hammer clattering to the ground next to him.
Aiden wasted no time as he ran back down the hallway towards his intended destination.
The hallway led into a large dimly lit room with the exit on the opposite side.
“Stop right there” a voice with slow menace halted him in his tracks.
The voice emerged from the darkness near the exit in front of him.
Head Master Stephan emerged from the shadow, holding Eliyon with a knife to his throat.
by Maggie Webb)
Noah dragged Ezra across the threshold. Light spilled from the manhole above, bringing with it the sounds of footsteps and traffic. From their current distance, it looked like a strand of golden hair dangling from the ceiling. He kept his eyes forward, away from the vault and its twisting, infested corridors. The guardian hissed its final hiss somewhere deep within.
The strangled cry didn’t sound human anymore, let alone anything like Ezra. It wasn’t worth looking down to check on him. It would be okay. The surface waited.
“Noah,” it pleaded again. “Stop!”
“We can trade the relic for your treatment,” Noah said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Someone in Research has to be close to curing this.”
Claws sharper than the sword on Ezra’s hip raked down Noah’s arm. Finally, he looked back at the heaving wretch that had replaced his friend. Oily black bubbled out of Ezra’s wound, matting the new, needle hairs sprouting there. One elongated arm cradled the relic—a leather bound, ink-saturated book—close to its chest. The curse had been cruel enough to leave Ezra’s bewildered blue eyes intact.
Noah rolled his eyes. He dragged the burdensome creature closer to the exit. It anchored itself to the spot with its claw. The repeated protests were shrill and familiar enough to wound Noah.
“I’m not taking the relic back without you,” Noah grunted. He kept his eyes to the sunlight. They were almost there. Ezra sank as close to the ground as he could. His teeth were clenched together as tight as a sealed zipper.
“Ezra. We swore an oath. If we don’t bring it back, how are we going to protect it?”
“I could stay and protect it here.”
“Oh yes, the Archivists would love that,” Noah sighed. “Ezra, come on. Think about your boys.”
“I am,” Ezra groaned. “It’s not like I can go back anyway.”
The ladder waited for them to climb, burning with the white glow of sunlight. Noah rested his hand on it, frowning. Ezra didn’t join him.
Chronicles of The Dragon: Bad Guy
She was relatively small, with rainbow hair, and paper white skin. Small plastic figures from a board game danced around her cell.
At the sound of approaching footsteps, the figures formed up in ranks between her and the bars.
A man with dark hair, blue-grey eyes, and wearing a long coat appeared. She relaxed, though the figures took a more aggressive formation.
He reached his hand through the bars and tossed her an apple.
She caught it, looked at it, then set it on the floor beside her before looking back to him.
He stood, looking at a crystal. “If I give this to you, will you be able to hold onto it?”
“Yup,” she said, holding out her hand.
He tossed it to her and she caught it with two hands. She examined it for a moment, then the word “Hidden” appeared on her hand, moved down her fingers, and onto the stone, which vanished from his sight. She put her hand into the pocket of her hoodie and smiled at him. “All gone.”
“So do you trust me now?”
“No,” she said flatly. “You’re one of the Bad Guys. Why would I?”
“Just because I’m working with them doesn’t mean I like them.”
“Then leave them.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Yes it is! If you’re not one of the Bad Guys then leave them and get me out of here NOW not LATER.”
He looked back at her in silence for a moment. “If walking away was that easy I wouldn’t be here in the first place.” He paused for a moment. “And I never said I wasn’t a Bad Guy.”
She stared back at him icily, “So why would I trust you?”
“Because your friends are looking for you. And you want to get back to them. And I’m the only one here that wants you back together.”
A door opened down the hall, “Lady Death wants to speak with you.”
“I’ll be right there,” he responded.
He whispered back to her, “I swear I’ll get you out of here.”
“I won’t hold my breath.”
by Aidan Rameshead
Two guns smoked in the whipping winds, alongside a mist of dry river-sand. Rusted wrecks of cars sat like the industry beyond, pocked through with weather and time. A tall figure lowered the blasted scraps of his pistol, dropping it alongside the ruins to join the past.
“The fuck was that?” he asked calmly, turning to the other shooter astride her horse up-bank. The veritable antique gun moved down slow.
“We don’t do that, Hal.” The horse kicked more dust coming down to meet him, riding along the riverbed to the third; a prone figure stuck in the imminence of their death. A crater nearby, so close nearby, bled fear into their wide eyes. It was simple for the woman to dismount and cuff them.
“Do what? Deal with killers? Give people closure? Protect the damn town? Marjorie you know full fucking well-”
As he came forward shouting, she roughly shoved the catatonic prisoner, now pulled standing, into him. They tumbled to the ground together, between the gun and that crater.
“We don’t kill. If there’s any alternative, even one, we don’t kill. You know that fuckwit, you swore it. Now get up.”
“Even this?” he dragged the criminal back up, shouting over even as a gust died away.
He found himself at gunpoint, the rider ready to fire if she needed. He knew her well enough, she was.
“Every individual, even scum like you, might have a memory we need, from before things went offline. Could know how to build a generator, make meds, grow grain. Even some blurry dim glow they’d forgot forgetting, could save us all. No killing, or you’ll wish it was you’d been killed. That’s what you promised. And this… “
SNAP, and another bullet flew into the wreck of his gun. A plume of grey dust, and the criminal flinched in their cuffs. “This is whatcha damn nearly did. Never again. Understood, killer?”
He watched her stride the horse back up the bank, moving on casually. Knowing she was right. He followed, prisoner in tow, saying nothing.
The Terms of Hunt and Snow
Accalia detected a scent up north were no mortal dared not tread. It seemed as both Sullivana and Sidra noticed it as well, and the two foxes darted in pursuit of the intruder. Following close behind, a sudden cold nipped at her in response, and it escalated to gale force winds and whirlwinds of howling snow. Finally, she reached the poor soul who was not only at the mercy of the elements but to her companions as well.
“Mortal, you are trespassing on sacred grounds. It is best if you leave now, or you’ll be forced to face the consequences of your actions.” Accalia’s stern voice rumbled over the roaring storm as she gazed at the black cloaked fool being corner by her two vixens.
“You don’t recognize me, Calia?” A familiar voice chuckled as it echoed out of the cloak like it was spoken in a tunneling cave. “I thought the sudden chill gave me away. Oh, ain’t that a pity? Now, how about a trade? Get these two off of me and I’ll stop this old coldburst, eh?”
She froze in surprise and was at a lost for words. Then she noticed, the figure was cloaked in cobalt and navy blue and brandished a brass lantern that glittered dimly in the storm. It was Styx. She had finally found Styx. She call off her vixens, and in turn, the blizzard ceased and left a sleet, light blanket of snow in its place.
“It has been sometime.” Styx breathed a sigh of relief as his unveiled his hood as unfurled his cloak into a pair of ragged dark, almost black, blue wings.
“And, where have you been all this time?” She muttered out. Her mind felt like a mixed bag. She didn’t known whither to rush and embrace him or to punch him in his stupid teeth. “You were gone for nine months! I looked everywhere for everywhere you now that!”
“Yes, I known and I’m sorry, but it was to keep you out of harm’s way. I-”
“Listen, Accalia, I swore an oath on Kleptis.”
By Danny Gilhooley
“I don’t want to do this,” he said.
He sounded like a child again. I looked at him and couldn’t help but notice how much he’d grown. Peach fuzz sprouted along the side of his face. The hand holding the scythe was full of bruises and callouses. Behind us, the truck sat idle on the empty street. He was old enough to drive it now.
“Dad, don’t make me go in there,” he said. He looked at me. His eyes were blue. Like his mother’s.
I shook my head. “A deal is a deal.”
“Why did you take that deal?”
“I wanted you to live.”
“And let me do this?”
“Stop,” I said. “I told you already. I couldn’t save both of you and I didn’t have time to think it over. I chose you because you had more life ahead of you.”
He took a deep breath, his voice shaking as he exhaled. The night air was refreshing. A warm summer breeze blew the leaves over us.
“You should’ve let me die,” he said.
“Hey,” I snapped.
“Yeah, I want to die now. You can keep this stupid job and take me away.”
“It’s not your time yet.”
I pointed to the house we were standing in front of. We knew the house well. He practically lived there during Garrett’s birthday parties. I wondered what Garrett was dreaming about. I wondered where he wanted to go to college and what he wanted to do when he got out.
Then I pushed the thoughts away. They only made things worse.
“It’s his time,” I continued. “The monoxide alarm is already off. I checked.”
“You’re a man now. This is your role in the world. Go in there and take care of it.”
I wished he were still a child. I wished he still had the time to spend summer nights like this sneaking out with his friends, with no responsibilities or cares to worry about.
They shouldn’t be spent here.
Suddenly, I wished I hadn’t been so harsh.
“I hate you,” he said, and he walked toward the house.
Leaving the Dance
The flute music seemed almost tangible, filling the clearing as the figures danced; following where the melody led. Several of them had pointed ears and gossamer wings. These almost seemed to float as they moved. They called encouragement to Leslie to dance with them and to join the fun.
Leslie danced along as best she could. The melody from the music flowed around her as she spun and twirled, reaching out her left hand in front of her; sunlight glinted off the rings she wore, catching her attention.
Stepping out of the circle for a moment to catch her breath, she studied the 3 gold rings she wore together. The first ring was a plain band; the ring next to it had a large faceted stone that caught the light and seemed to glitter; and the final ring had four smaller stones set into it, each one a different color.
“Come dance with us”, they called. Leslie looked up to see her friends dancing past and calling to her to join them. One of them stopped and grabbed Leslie by the hand.
“Come you must dance with us,” She said smiling widely showing off slightly sharpened teeth.
Leslie let herself be drawn back into the circle. As she danced she twisted the rings around so that when she made a fist the large stone dug into her hand. As her body circled around in the dance her mind circled around to the rings. They meant something…
She looked around her at the trees ringing the clearing they were in, she could just make out the path she had taken here, it seemed more overgrown than when she arrived. As the entrance to the path neared, she stepped out of the circle and turned to speak to her friends.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.” She said.
The flute music ended on a flat discordant note. The dancers turned to her, their joy turned to menace.
Leslie turned and bolted down the path keeping her left hand in a tight fist around her rings.
So one more time I’m trying to write in this foreign language, I hope I’m little better than last time, I still have a lot to learn.
A Good Man Always Keeps His Word
By Samurai Jackson
I did a vow to you and to a higher force in that fateful day, I said that I was gonna live as a good person, even tho I’m not, and I kept my promise throughout many years, I fought this evil inside of me with my own force of will. So I definitely can try again, this was just a moment of weakness after years of perseverance.
“You broke your oath, now you must pay what you promissed” Said the voice echoing through my head.
I’m a man of my word, that’s why I endured so many years of temptation, I hate what I did right now, I hate what I’m, I hate my own weakness for not keeping my vow, but I’m sure that if I can have another chance, this time I won’t be weak again.
“You broke it, now give me what you promissed… Give me your life.”
I don’t know if this voice is real, if it’s a higher force charging me for the debt that I now have, or is just a product of my guilty mind, forcing me to end my pathetic existence. I guess It doesn’t matter, I’m a man of my word after all, if I don’t keep my part of the oath, I’m just showing weakness again.
“You’re a cursed being, you won’t find peace here in this world, end the suffering that you cause on other people, and end you your own suffering as well.”
I was born this way, with this insatiable thirst, and I fought my nature for so many years, I kept myself strong for so long, I just need to be strong one more time, a good man always keeps his word.
I pick up the knife soaked in blood, and put it against my throat.
“Well done, at least once, you kept your word”
Ride of the White Band
By Seoman Snowlock
They rode on to the plain before the city leaving the tall stone hedges of the farms behind them. The white lion was in the fore with his guard and his staff. A sigh, escaped him as he gazed upon the besieged city. He noted the few Archontopoulai that manned the walls and the absence of the imperial banners. “Nicodemus! I shall take the white band and ride to the empress through the gate of the Imperators.” He said, pointing at the greatest of the gates where the fighting was fiercest. “Meanwhile you will lead the army. Let none escape.” With those words he rode forth at a fast trot, half his guard following behind. In his mind a Great Working was taking place. “We ride now to the empress! When we placed her on the throne I swore to never let anyone take her hand by force! And we all swore her fealty! Now is the time to fulfill those oaths! The guard has turned their backs! We are all that stands between her and death! Ride now for land and lady!” They roared their approval.
He put his horn to his mouth and let out a great blast.
It tore the horn asunder.
He gripped his lance and shield, as a bright light shone from his men, himself, theirs and his own mounts. With lances couched, they charged. For a moment there was a dead silence, followed by an explosive panic rush to meet them.
A wall of steel greeted them, they smashed through it. Lances shattered sending deadly splinters flying in all directions and swords began their macabre dance through flesh and bone, as they carved their way to the gate. Though outnumbered none fell for no blade would bite them and none could pull them from their horses for their very touch burned cold. Charred wood and half melted bronze was all that remained of the gate as they surged through the gap, the defenders left them, and into the city streets. They rode for the temple square.
I’ll drink to that
Darrun set the shot glass upside down with a heavy, weary arm. He’d drunk a lot, but he wasn’t planning on leaving the bar. It was, at least to him, one of the only safe places left.
A hooded figure walked up to the table. He had a menacing aura, leaving the rest of the bar in a nervous silence, waiting to see his purpose in their small building. Darrun, however, was unperturbed.
“Darrun Walker. You have broken your oath to the Order. You will come with me.” The man said in a low, commanding voice.
Darrun pointedly ignored him. “Waiter! Another drink.” He called. A waiter swiftly moved over to put a shot glass on the table, then hurried away.
Darrun moved to grab the glass, but the man put a gloved hand in front of it, blocking his path.
“Darrun Walkers.” He repeated. “You will come with me.”
Darrun looked up, finally acknowledging the man.
“Can’t a man enjoy a drink in peace?” He asked rhetorically.
“Darrun Walker. You will-”
“Yeah, yeah.” Darrun interrupted. “I hear ya.”
Silence for a moment, as both men waited for the other to continue.
“You have broken your oath to the Order. You will come with-”
“I ain’t going anywhere, and you can tell that to the group of bootlicking scum that sent you.” He reached for the drink again, but this time a dark shackle appeared on his arm and it was locked to the table. He tried pulling at it, but it was intangible.
“I have been authorized to use necessary force. Do not resist.”
Darrun sighed. He hated dealing with magic users, even if he was one himself.
Darrun took a deep breath, trying to concentrate, which was hard with all the alcohol he’d had, and snapped his fingers.
Instantly the hooded man became a pillar of fire, with cloth and flesh all becoming ash in just an instant. All that was left of the man was a pile on the ground.
Darrun finally grabbed his drink, relaxed in his seat, and resigned himself to another night of drinking.
The Weight of Immortality (From Grael’s Library)
By: Insania404 [Private Repost]
The heavy weight thumped down each and every stair, finally coming to rest at the bottom of the basement. No one knew what I had hidden down there, not that anyone would care.
The Madness changed everyone it consumed. I saw it cloud the minds of what used to be my neighbors, warping them mentally and physically. I was equally warped into this monstrous shell, occupied by my cracked mind.
My footsteps creaked down the old wooden stairs to where my latest victim rested. The body was bruised, but The Judge would still be pleased to receive it, so long as I kept it in one piece. I dared not make him angry.
I felt myself changing every day. It started with the eyes, shedding my pathetic fleshy orbs for golden pearls that revealed more than reflected light ever could. I could see the Chosen and the Lost at a glance. I saw beyond the flesh, peering into the soul.
I knew which ones The Judge wanted, though I tried to fight it at first. He assured me they were simply delusional corpses, clinging to a life they no longer held. This understanding does not fully ease my burden, but still I do the work. Such is the Contract.
I bear it gladly and I would do it again, knowing that my family is being cared for by the Lifelight. The Judge reminds me of that fact daily. They will never be in pain again, for they are as immortal as the Wounds.
I am but a shadow for now, but I will join them again in time. I am changing every day, growing stronger and stranger. Will they recognize me when I see them again, or have I already been forgotten?
I carried the body to the circle. The Judge stood there, waiting for his executioner to begin the process yet again. I started to turn away, but memories burrowed into my brain, reminding me of what I could lose. I took the glass dagger into my shadowed claws and reluctantly marked the flesh.
Such is the Contract.
I Swore an Oath
Birds chirped and the wind blew a pleasant breeze. You could almost smell the fresh apples, ripe for picking. The carriage stood silently in probably one of the most agreeable spots on the entire continent, its driver’s hands nervously raised above his head. The horse’s reins lay quietly on the toe board.
“You need to come out now,” Lord Thornden thundered. “I have sworn to kill the Monster of the Black Maze and I will fulfill my charge.”
Lord Thornden adjusted himself on his great white charger, his armored suit gleaming in the summer sun. But all remained silent from inside the coach. “Look, your name’s Mac, isn’t it?”
A deep growl escaped the interior. “Yes.”
“If you don’t come out. I’m going to have to set fire to the carriage, killing everyone inside. You don’t really what that do you?”
With a creak, the door slowly opened. Squeezing his bulk through the door, a massive minotaur appeared, his horns twisted like the shell of a snail. “So how would you like to do this? Shall I hold my head down so that you might lop it off? Perhaps here,” the creature pointed at his burly chest. “A bit of stabby-stabby through the heart, yes?”
Lord Thornden drew his sword. It sang the song of steel as it swung free of his scabbard. “You must fight me,” he roared. “I do not slay the innocent.”
“I have stepped from the carriage with reluctance,” Mac announced. “That’s about as much of a fight as you are going to get.”
Sitting uneasily upon his steed, Lord Thornden sat perplexed. His hand wrapped apprehensively around his sword’s hilt.
“You must kill him,” his squire whispered, not wishing to arouse the knight’s ire. “You have sworn an oath.”
“I have also sworn to protect the innocent.”
“But he is a monster.”
Sheathing his sword, Lord Thornden veered his mount back down the way they had come. “Whoever heard of a monster riding in a carriage? I swore to fight a monster. Not rob a traveler upon a road.”
To Guard the Eternal Library (Crossroads City Canon)
By Fredrick H. (challeng3r22)
Zenodotus was enjoying his afternoon tea when a knock came at the gate. He rose on the knees that carried the weight of eons and shambled over to the door.
“Who is it that desires entry?” He shouted through the metal.
“Hiro Yari. Here’s my pass if you don’t believe me,” a young, arrogant voice called in response followed by a slip of parchment through the slot.
Examining the slip closely Zenodotus found he was reading the pass of an old friend.
Quickly he threw the door open and cried, “The Eternal Library welcomes you, and thanks you for your service.”
In walked the young Japanese man that seemed as though he had barely aged a day.
“How long has it been since I’ve last seen you?”
“Millenia in your time, a few years in mine. How have you been holding up, Zenodotus-san?”
“Fine. What brings you here?”
“Research to avoid calamity.”
“As I said last time, the Great Battles cannot be moved so simply.”
“But what if there was something bigger?”
“You went to the 24th century, didn’t you?”
“I did. Now, can you tell me where the records may be to prevent that course of action?”
“You know I am forbidden from providing specifics.”
“Then, provide me with a slim generality.”
“Need I remind you of what I did for you in Alexandria.”
“The law is unchangeable. Unless it threatens the Library directly I can’t tell you anymore.”
“From what I could tell the Library could very well be in danger.”
After a moment of silence the librarian sent out a summons, “Franklin, run a cross-reference for witches, nobility, birthdates in the late 17th century, and last names beginning with the letter T. Leave all found materials in study room 4 for Mr. Yari.”
“Thank you, old friend.”
Get Back In There, Tear
Rhea sluggishly opened her eyes, rousing from her slumber only to be jolted by the realization that someone was looming over her, staring. The only reason she didn’t completely flip out was because she recognized the perpetrator. “Daisy, what the Hell?! What are you doing?” Rhea whispered harshly.
“Debating on whether or not I should kill you.” Daisy whispered back.
With most people, Rhea would have taken that as a joke, but she knew for a fact that Daisy had killed people before. She also knew from previous tussles that Daisy was much stronger than her. “W… why?”
Daisy sighed and looked across the room to the half-demon sleeping blissfully unaware in his bed. “I really like Will. He’s nice to me.”
“I’m not making the connection here…” Rhea murmured, following Daisy’s gaze.
“He chose you as his thrall.”
“So? He chose you first.”
Daisy slowly shook her head. “No. He didn’t. I used to be with… someone else…” A violent shudder went through her body as she thought back to that time. “He… discarded me. Will just… accepted me after that. He didn’t choose me.”
“But Daisy… he did choose you.” Rhea countered. “You know that, right? Will cares about you.”
Daisy narrowed her eyes. “You don’t get it. I know what happens when a chosen thrall is compared to the… other one. I don’t want to go through that again. I can’t…”
“Okay… let’s say you’re right… what would Will think if you killed me?”
“He’d… be mad at me… I promised that I wouldn’t kill again without his permission. And he really likes you, so… He’d never trust me again…”
“And we can agree that’s bad, right?” Rhea asked, hoping logic would win out. That was when she noticed the falling tears.
“I can’t go back there…” Daisy’s body shook with her sobs. “I can’t… I just CAN’T…”
“Come here.” Rhea sighed, pulling Daisy into an embrace. After a moment of hesitation, Daisy surrendered, clutching her back with so much force it was almost painful.
“I’m sorry I-”
“Shush.” Rhea said softly. “Apologize later. Hug now.”
A failed Vow (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
It was utter chaos.
Screams of terror and pain stung in Holly’s ear, searing her heart. Crashing noises mixed with the smell of dust and fire. Her mouth was dry. She hadn’t had a drink of water since yesterday; barely any hedge witch in the factory had.
Their job was an ugly one. Holly herself had been forced off the streets and into service of the Syndicate, where she received basic witching training, all to prepare her to mutilate human souls and carve them up into small canisters, to be sold to collectors, magic-users and other interested clients. And she had, ignoring the agony she put them through.
She hated her job. She hadn’t regretted a thing, when she’d messed with the sigils of the factory, in order to let a reaper in.
Now, Holly wished she hadn’t done it.
She’d seen guards slaughtered by the destroyer’s sickle, felt their souls dissipate into oblivion. She’d witnessed the roof collapsing, crushing everyone beneath its debris. Fissures opened in the ground, swallowing workers, guards and hedge witches alike.
The rage in the reaper’s face had been absolute in its horror. She had felt pure hatred burning from him, as he shattered the factory, trapping people beneath the rubble. His screams of fury had been like icicles in her mind.
Holly had run. Terror had overtaken her. She’d ducked under a bench, praying to any of the 222 gods who’d listen that the reaper just ignored her. Not recognized her as the one who’d let him in. She knew he would never.
The ground shook, as a fissure came closer. Holly curled up in a ball and covered her ears. She didn’t want to die. Debris crashed onto the floor around her.
She didn’t want to die. But she wouldn’t survive, would she?
“I swore an oath of protection,” the reaper, Felix, said, as he stood over the rubble. “I just did what anyone would have done. If protection fails, vengeance remains. You can’t hold it against me!”
The sky did not answer.
Felix’s head turned, as the dust began to move.
“Introduction from The Gentleman’s Cookbook; or 1001 Ways to Cook Dragon”
by Johnny Saguaroseed
Not for any small reason was it called the Kingdom of A Hundred Thousand Dragons. They inhabited the land in a number that has rarely been seen on this Earth since; and no matter what precautions, procedures, and preparations goodly men and women took to avoid the scaly multitude, they couldn’t turn this way or that without blundering into a wyrm’s lair or stumbling onto a serpent sleeping atop its hoard. The dragons infested crag, cavern, and crumbling ruin. They roosted in attics and settled in cellars. From under steaming stones they hissed at travellers like angry tea kettles. And they lit up the countryside at night with their ferocious territorial disputes. The odious nature of a dragon knows no single form or size, so it was just as likely for a rider to be swallowed, horse and all, by what he had mistaken for a grassy hillock as it would be to have one’s fingers nipped as he reached into the pantry for a bit of yesterday’s cheese.
Clearly, the kingdom needed help. A large reward was offered.
Knights came by the dozens. The Kingdom of A Hundred Thousand Dragons chewed them up and left their discarded plate strewn across the land. The dragons were too big—or too small—and always too numerous.
That was, until the arrival of Sir Edwardo Edwardo, the Gentleman Gourmand. He labored under the geas of an oath he swore to slay, and sample, every species of dragon that burdened the earth. To Sir Edwardo, The Kingdom of A Hundred Thousand Dragons was cornucopia and challenge and destiny. He rode across the land, silver fork and knife at his side, banner depicting a diagram of choice dragon cuts streaming from his upheld lance, armor and porcine helm glinting and gleaming with reflected moonlight; and with a lick of his lips and a spark of determination in his eye, he had his dinner.
This book reflects the fruit of his labors.
A grim castle stood upon the hill, overlooking the dim countryside, it was late at night, but the king on the castle was not at sleep, as well as a few guards. Through the courtyard under the light of a single torch strode a figure draped in a deep brown cloak.
Once the figure stood before the old king’s throne, he did not remove his hood, nor did he bow, a grave insult. The old king stood to face the darkness that surrounded the figure’s face.
“Who are you, I’ve had enough of those beggars coming here, calling me the Mad King”
The figure answered not with a name.
“Mad King? I always knew you as the Ironhanded”
The King’s eyes widened, as he realised who might be his guest, none alive may have known of his old cognomen, not speaking further, he lunged forward with a surprising speed for the old man, and tore the hood of the figure’s head.
“Oathbreaker! I have exiled you!”
“And I have come back, bearing a message”
“I care not for your messages, go away or be killed, the old punishment stands”
Oathbreaker reached into his cloak, the King was faster, drawing his sword, he pierced Oathbreaker’s chest. Spewing blood, the Oathbreaker gasped for air, as he extended a hand with an inscribed note on it, he managed to say one last thing before bleeding out.
“Please forgive me”
The King picked up the blood-soaked paper and read the inked letters. ‘From your companion-in-exile Roderick, even though much time has passed, I hold no animosity towards you old friend for the just punishment of my and Oathbreaker’s betrayal, I have asked him to deliver this message, I am dying, and Oathbreaker is sure that once he steps into your court he too will be killed, so in our last moments, we ask for forgiveness’.
A Guard approached the body.
“Hang him on the traitor’s tree?”
The Old King had subtle tears rolling down his cheek.
“Bury him in the monastery grounds, his oath has been honored”
By Carolus V.
A warden stands beside the gates of Elysium. His face is covered by a black veil. His stature is stoic and poised. The winds of heaven are dancing all around him, whipping at his visage and pushing along a chain of souls stretching out from Earth up to the border he guards. He sees wisemen enter, reciting to children’s souls, parables that they learned in life. He watches former huntresses speak in fiery tones with kindly commoners of great struggles with great beasts and victories in the most Pyrrhic battles. He hears laughing and singing ringing out into infinity as the souls make their way up that path. He only listens and watches. For that is his fate in eternity.
Fallen angels pass him by on their journeys to and from the Earth, lamenting their fate with curses and cries. He hears tunes played on golden strings and feels tremors of thunderous celebration shake the floor of the sky. Demons try to hide in the crowd and sneak their way past him. With a great candle snuffer he puts out their fire and casts them back down to wander the mortal plane. When wraiths nip at the heels of the righteous, he tears them asunder. Most days, however, he only listens and watches. For that is his fate in eternity.
A young soul once came to him, asking, “What’s your name, warden? Who were you before your oath?”
The warden remained silent.
“What does your face look like? Who lives behind that shroud?”
Still the warden was quiet.
The young soul was disappointed and began to leave. But before disappearing back into Elysium, it left the warden a piece of a star, calling it a gift. The warden pocketed it, and let the soul go on it’s way.
He stands there still, never erring in his mission to fulfill an oath he’s long forgotten the grounds for. But some say, if you get a good enough look at him, you can see a piece of a star glowing where his heart once was.
Fel Born, Oath Bound
C. M. Weller.
Twenty-six years ago, Kormie had peeked over the edge of a cradle and vowed to the newborn within, “I will protect you from the bad things.” At age six, that had meant guarding against other monsters under the bed. Then they sent him far away. To Zemnia.
Today, it was extracting Lord Spitebane from a pickle of his own making, and included catching arrows meant for his estranged sibling. Working under a false name. Hired by a go-between who had no idea. Accompanied by fellow adventurers who were similarly ignorant.
“Get out of my elbows, you stupid Tiefling!” Lord Spitebane snarled.
Kosh caught another arrow. “I swore an oath,” he threw it back at the enemy archer. “And they’re aiming for your head.” This time, the bolt struck. One more down. “Herr Russen, do something USEFUL for a change!”
At least the Barbarian was pointed at the enemy. If his wild magic went off, the worst would happen to them.
“Gods damn you and your kind,” whined Spitebane, missing another strike. “You’re ruining my luck!”
This time, the arrow hit a shoulder. “Just keep going towards the exit. We can be friendly later.” He didn’t complain. It never paid off.
“As if I could trust the likes of YOU,” Spitebane countered. “You’re leading me into a trap!”
“It’s the only way out!” Two darts. Two archers. Thank the deaf gods they fell. By the time they all reached relative safety, his body more closely resembled a porcupine than a demon.
Spitebane was not happy about it. Especially the bit where the Tiefling was acting contrary to assumptions. “All of those were aimed at me?”
“Ja. I am not an untrustworthy Tiefling.” He offered his hand.
Spitebane sneered. “I only have your word, and I refuse to shake hands with any fel trash Tief.” From his mouth, the slur stung. Their father had taught him everything, even unreasoning hate.
Kosh had had more than enough. “You are in the presence of Viscount Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of his name,” Kosh aggressively proffered his hand. “And your big fucking brother.”
Shipwreck (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Kentol dragged himself to the shore and put some distance between himself and the ocean before he collapsed on the sand. When his breathing was under control, he sat up with hope that his ship was still afloat.
All that he could see for miles was broken wood, useless supplies, and lifeless bodies.
“No!” Kentol shot up and tried to sprint out to at least one of the bodies, but pain shot through his left leg and brought him back down. He pushed himself up and spit out the sand that got in his mouth. As he looked out to the wreckage, he noticed a figure making his way towards him.
This would have been a relief, but the figure was not walking on water, occasionally bringing a war scythe down on the bodies they passed.
Kentol watched in horror as the figure eventually slowed down and stood before him, peering down with hollow eye sockets. This, he realized in horror, was Death of Sword Isles.
“You… you can’t take them.” The orc spoke before his mind could fully process the situation.
“It was their time.” The way Death spoke felt like there should have been an accent, but it fell into a hole and never crawled back out. “Nothing could be done.”
Kentol shakily pushed himself back up to his feet. “I swore an oath to bring those people back alive! Take me and let them—!”
“It is not your time.”
“Make it my time, then!”
Kentol did not realize Death slapped him until he was on the sand again.
“You will live,” Death spoke with an edge that could cut metal.
There was a tense silence before Death helped Kentol to his feet and draped the orc’s arm over his shoulder.
“Come,” Death said in a softer voice, “you need to tend to your wounds.”
Kentol limped alongside him with little resistance. Silent tears rolled down his green cheeks as the faces of the ship’s crew and passengers passed through his mind.
By RVMPLSTLSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)(Repost from Private)
Jabil-Tai, the eternal god-king of the south, was many things first: infant, young, warlord and shaman, but only one did Tai choose. Tai chose to be a shaman and that choice was the foundation of Tai’s identity. To be a shaman was to have great responsibility, to be strong of will, to have the strength to hold on to your freedom and dictate how you are accepted. When the dead are your daily routine, the experience of living flesh is wonderful.
Shamans stood between the living and dead, between the mundane and divine, to be an arbiter of vows in the reality of chaos.
Now to be a shaman was to be alone, for Tai alone remained. Tai’s people had gone and taken their spirits with them. They had left Tai during a battle of wills, like spirit’s erasure of identity, like a fire dying.
Tai was all that was left, until others appeared. The first was a cunning-woman, who wasn’t quite a shaman, but neither was she simply a wife. Tai found her with a petulant child who called her ‘sorceress’ and ‘child-thief.’
Tai felt the tug of duty at that, but even Tai couldn’t sooth the child’s aches, which flared up like a cauldron set alight.
Tai instead set to the shaman’s other duty and protected them from the spirits of the woods and sky, tents, cairns and wells.
All this is why Tai was alone in the night when a ghost finally arrived. It was a strong thing, but lamed and left forgotten. It was a crippled thing of pain and rebirth and unbirth. It had been a god and now was nothing more.
Tai tried to commune with it.
It lashed out.
Tai held it, knowing the physical can’t harm the spiritual, but the reverse is untrue. Tai killed it in a way known only to shamans, for such is the nature of their wills. Tai bound it and broke it and remade it. It became a vessel for the shaman’s future and Tai named it Hope. For Tai, hope was all that they had left.