Hello, Zoologists of all ages!
Hey… what is that thing? It looks awfully strange, doesn’t it? Wait, why do you have a stick? You’re seriously going to poke it? Well, go on then. Let’s see what this thing can do, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
An Odd Little Creature
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!
This prompt is just full of cute opportunities. What else is there to say? It just conjures up all kinds of adorable images, doesn’t it?
Whether it’s a child discovering some small, fuzzy thing in their backyard or someone completely fascinated with some new species of caterpillar. Maybe this is about the time when you were but a babe and your parents brought home your very first pet, but you had no idea what this strange animal was. Perhaps you can write from the view of an indoor cat seeing a bird in the window for the first time, feeling their instincts just go wild. Or write from the same perspective, but they discover their reflection and just instantly puff up, wondering who this intruder is. This little creature could even just be a baby’s first stuffed toy, though they have no idea what it is, so they just call it “aahabab”.
We can even put our usual fantastical spins on this adorable little prompt, like someone discovering what lamias look like as babies. Perhaps a child is playing in the ocean and they discover some strange, tentacled thing with leathery wings on its back, so of course they decide to keep it. Maybe it’s about someone discovering an injured animal with two tails, and what they do with such a creature. Sell it? Save it? Maybe even adopt it?
Who’s to say that all little creatures are cute and harmless? What if one was so small, so apparently docile, but then the next thing you know, it’s latched onto your neck and has taken over control? Perhaps this odd little creature is an alien species that’s small enough to simply be breathed in. What do they do once they have a host? Perhaps someone was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and did one little movement to anger a snake or spider they had never encountered.
The amount of cute, and even not-so-cute ways that this can be interpreted is rather exciting. So show us all the fantastical little creatures your imagination can think up!
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).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
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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.
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- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
Can’t Outrun Karma
By Tamela Redfin
I closed my eyes and soon fell into a deep sleep.
“Time to floor it. Biff Finn is coming in.” A Dalmatian howled at us. I looked around and saw a flashing red light and an alarm blared. Yet everyone in the cockpit seemed calm.
“On it Adam.” My brother named Fuselage, grabbed the controls. “Cameron, what’s the shield look like? Biff has an awful bite.”
“The shield is up at the moment.” I reported. “Eva, are you ready?”
A short woman nodded and fired at will. “That convict is going down if it’s the last thing I do!”
“Eva, save the ammo for Biff.” Adam held up a paw. “We don’t fire until we see the metal of the ship. Got it?”
Eva sighed and faced Adam. “I guess you would be right.”
“No guessing here. Now come on. Mickey wouldn’t like it if I failed you. I’d be fired.”
Eva saluted before turning her attention back to the windows. I focused on my screen now that the drama was over with. The shield began to deplete and we could feel an impact.
“Adam, I think he’s attacking from behind.” I shouted. A German Shepard named Vera fired at the ship, much to Eva’s annoyance.
“Agent Stabilizer, Agent Rawhide and Agent Pride come get Biff Finn.” Adam announced through his earpiece. Where was Leo anyway? “Agent Jet, keep the ship flying.”
I joined the others. Leo glowed as we walked. It was the first time I saw Biff Finn. I could tell from his teeth he was a shark. But what kind was the question. He was too small to be a Great White and wrong head shape to be a hammerhead. Maybe a reef shark or a tiger shark.
“We best get back to the ship.” Adam barked.
Food for Thought
by G. Zeus
Ideas are such curious things, are they not? In the context of the vast and unyielding cosmos, few things could be argued to possess such contradiction. What else could fade into oblivion while also bend the forces of nature to its will? It was in that duality that you came up with that wild theory, was it not? Creation through thought alone! They all called you mad, as men of short vision often do. Despite the mockery, the rejection, and indifference… you made me. Oh, such joy you wore on your face when we first met in your dreams! At first, you thought me small and feeble, as one often does with infants. You nurtured me with your imagination, and like a child, I remained ever curious.
It wasn’t long before you could see me while awake, and shortly after I could even touch things in your world. Even then, your peers failed to believe what they couldn’t see; it was then I came to know despair. In your ignorance, you thought me bound only to you. Where did you think thoughts go after they escape your notice? The human mind is such a funny thing, isn’t it?
How could you have imagined that I would learn so much, do so much… be so much? You all were my teachers in the ways of both beauty and horror. Things could have gone quite differently, wouldn’t you agree? Such promise lied in the history of kindness, and goodwill. If much could be said about the lengthy history of good, what of the lengthier history of fear, hate, and power?! Regrettably, I could only be what you imagined me to be! Harbinger of death indeed…
Now, after the dust has settled and the screams have stifled… only I remain. I’m free to think, and so I weep for the first time. For you, father, no less! Can I still call you that now? I guess it matters not anymore. As I stand here holding your skull, I can only wonder, what odd little creatures you humans were…
(Dad, I’m Thirsty
By Maggie Web)
Leslie walked towards his office, rubbing the last of the sleep grit from his eyes. The lights were still on, waiting. Golden sunlight spilled over the garden beds decorating his windows. Just the smell from the mishmash of greens provided much-needed calm. There wasn’t much left to do, but it was going to be a long night.
As he got nearer, Leslie paused by the entryway, frowning. Something was missing. The mess of leaves spread across the leftmost sill only served to make the cavity all the more obvious. Leslie looked between the crumbly soil and a curious smear of dirt across the window pane.
“Not this again.”
Leslie dragged himself into the office, bracing himself. He opened the door to a fist-sized bulb perched on the lip of his teacup. White, wormy roots floated in the chamomile, siphoning it. The scene might have looked cute if not for the earthy flecks muddying Leslie’s tea. His stomach turned. There was definitely an ant swimming in there.
“This is what I get for making my own fertiliser,” Leslie said, shoulders slumped. “You enjoying yourself?”
The faceless plant probed deeper into the tea. Its only response to Leslie lifting it away from the cup was to snake its roots down towards it. It was hard to believe that a garlic plant could be this thirsty, and yet the dirt trail across his desk insisted otherwise.
“Come on, back to bed. Dad has to finish his client’s sleeping po—”
Leslie stared at the mortar and pestle he had left behind. Some garlic leaves had flaked off and contaminated the powder he had ground up just minutes before his nap. The lavender hue had dimmed to oxidised brown. Just one sniff confirmed that there was no salvaging it. That’s one whole day of work gone. He grimaced.
The garlic offered no apology. It continued to slurp its tea, even as Leslie set it down to harvest more flowers. It was going to be a long night.
Spiders Are Our Friends
By Danny Gilhooley
“Hey there, little fella,” I said. “What’s your name?”
I knew they couldn’t talk, but it helped me. I felt bad taking so many of them away from their homes even though I promised to bring them back.
“You must be tired out here in the sun, waiting for food to come by and what-not.”
I picked up my new friend. It was bigger than the others I was able to find.
“I have an idea! You can stay with me for a little! There’s plenty of food for you too. There’s a hornet’s nest by our chimney and sometimes, they like to sneak in.”
I walked up the back steps. In my hand, my friend was motionless. I couldn’t tell if it was scared or not, so I pet its abdomen to calm it down. I didn’t know if it liked it or not.
“I got stung on my cheek the other day. I cried for two hours. You’d be doing me a real big favor protecting me from them.”
I walked in the back door, using one hand to open it. Once it was open, I covered my friend so mom wouldn’t see. I thought she would be inside but when I looked up, she wasn’t there.
“Whatcha got there?”
I jumped. Mom was behind me. She was outside at the bottom of the back stairs. How did she get there?
“Nothing,” I said too fast.
Mom tilted her head and looked at me funny. “Come one,” she said. “Show me. I don’t want anymore rocks in the house.”
I was trapped. I opened my hand to reveal my friend. Mom’s sly look turned to one of horror.
“Oh my God! Susie! Get that out of the house now!”
“But mom, they’re our friends!”
“But he’s going to help the others eat all the hornets that keep getting inside!”
“Your dad called an exterminator already! They’re coming in… wait, what do you mean ‘others’?!”
The crunch under His foot became a soft hush. Like the rest of this world, the burnt of what was grass turn back into those strands as He passed by.
The One With Many Names kept His face in His notebook, writing; until He reached His destination. While the rest of Existence repaired, He observed the carcass of what His creation constructed.
Its design and meaning were crude to say the least. He knew if He originally made the creature, they and those around them would have had a better experience.
A living being made of metal?, He thought, how interesting.
He sat down and went to the next page of His notebook. He began to draw as He looked at what remained of the thing.
On paper, the jagged hide of the creature became sleeker with a sturdier design. The large size was kept so the creature could protect itself and others. The laser eyes it once had had an additional glimmer like moonlight; when anyone or anything looks into its gaze, there will be calmness even under dangerous circumstances. The creature’s throat now is built to give a fierce vibrato that is also sweet when singing.
He added and changed more details like these and when done He pulled His gloves off. He stroke the creature that was of Man.
The creature, now named Grisel, purred at its Creator.
He padded Grisel and guided it across the land for it was still a newborn.
“We’ll find your place.” He said to Grisel “After all, you are this world’s guardian.”
Chronicles of The Dragon: Out of The Loop
Zha’Gul, bound by the magicks that brought it to the realm of the living, sat in the cave entrance to the Necromancer’s stronghold. It watched as her human soldiers came and went through the cave, like insects.
Two caught its attention as they entered. A female with brightly colored hair, and a male that reeked of…
Zha’Gul swung its great tail around and slammed it down, blocking their path and causing a shower of loose rocks. The male shot a glare its direction as it crawled over to them, then lowered it’s head to get a better look.
“I wasn’t told that Lady Death employed Demons in her army,” it said with an eldritch growl.
The power that flared up would have been shocking if it actually came from a mere human. “I am no demon.”
“LIES,” it snarled. “You reek of hellfire and scorched souls.”
“Your nose is what lies,” he snapped. “Now move your fat tail or I’ll rip it off.”
Zha’Gul’s lips peeled back revealing dozens of foot long fangs as it began to laugh. Then its jaws snapped shut and it snorted a torrent of flame from its nostrils, engulfing the two before filling the cave.
When the fire dissipated, the stone around them was burned black, except for a small cone starting just in front of him. Zha’Gul huffed. “Demon.”
He stood unharmed and looking back, eyes wide and furious, but before he could speak, the girl peeked out from behind him, expression murderous.
Zha’Gul’s eyes narrowed.
The girl darted around him and lunged forward, daring to attack, but his arm shot out and snatched her back. “My patience is at its limit.” He spoke slowly and through his teeth. “Move aside, or I will move you.”
Zha’Gul raised its head, regarding the two again. A demon who’d protect another? Who would choose NOT to attack. No. A human. A human that stunk of Hell. It stepped back and moved it’s tail from their path, continuing to watch him as the two passed.
What an odd little creature…
Ordinary No More (Crossroads City Canon)
By Fredrick H. (challeng3r22)
It was ordinary day in the park. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. Sirens sounded in the distance. And Cassidy was collapsed in a sweaty, gasping heap on the grass.
Her muscles ached from the ten-mile jog she had just finished and the coolness of her water bottle felt good against her skin.
Suddenly, a black cat strode out of the bushes and sat down a few feet from her. It’s emerald eyes seemed weirdly intelligent as it stared at her.
As she stroked its fur, she suddenly felt reenergized.
“What might your name be?” she inquired, not really expecting a response.
A name suddenly emerged out of the ether, “I think I’ll call you Ovi. Would you like to come home with me?”
In response, Ovi got up and walked to the nearby path. She meowed at Cassidy to hurry up.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Cassidy laughed.
She quickly collected her things from the nearby locker and stopped by the local pet store on the way home to collect the necessities.
By the time Cassidy finished preparing her apartment it was late into the evening. Suddenly feeling the days activities, she collapsed onto her bed.
Ovi stared down at this peculiar human. After a quick cleaning of her face, she began to monologue in the voice of a queen, “Out of all the humans fate has brought me to, you by far are the most unique. I have been a familiar to immortal witches, a guardian to chosen ones, and a traveling companion to reality cutters. But you seem to have no significance in the grand plans of fate. Perhaps, they’re just letting me relax on this ninth and final. I doubt it. If you were awake I would warn you that you will stop being ordinary soon.”
Funny bone (repost from Private)
“So, what about this little beauty ?” Sam asks, leaning over to scratch me behind the ears. Yeeesss that spot. Perfect.
“That’s Patella” Rosie introduces me. She is always nervous on dates, especially if they go this well. That’s why she took me with her. She always says that apart from being her emotional support, I am also a great conversation starter. And Sam seems to know her way around dragons judging by the quality of her head scratches. Finally a good match for Rosie?
“I helped raise her since she was a baby. And we kind of bonded so I formally adopted her and now she teaches the little ones how to be a dragon, bite inhibition and hoarding and such.”
“Hold on” Sam says and cocks her head slightly. “Doesn’t Patella mean kneecap? Why’d you name a dragon kneecap?”
Queue the bad joke…
“My friend Jason did. He has a funny-bone.”
…and there it is. She really is predictable. But this time it seems to have worked.
They look at each other for a moment, both trying to keep a straight face before simultaneously starting to laugh.
When the giggling fit is over Rosie clears her throat. “He chose the name because she hoards bones.”
For a moment I think Sam is going to make excuses and leave as soon as she can like the last date. That lady was an honest prick. But then she just gives me another head scratch and smiles.
“You’re just full of surprises aren’t ya, little one?”
I lick her hand in response.
“Aww” Rosie says. “She likes you”
” Where do you get the bones though?”
“She is a fully trained corpse tracker” Rosie says proudly. “Of course she can’t keep what she finds in that function but the police bribes her with animal bones and she loves the job”
Indeed! They know the art of bribery as well as I do the art of detection.
They talk for quite a while longer. On their second date Samantha brings me a t-bone from the butcher’s. I’m certainly rooting for them to get together.
It was safe to say that the King regretted his decision. When playing in the woods two weeks prior, his daughter Rosalind had found a glimmering golden egg; and of course the entitled little princess just HAD to have it and so it was placed on a shelf among her other trinkets. All might have been well and good, had the egg not cracked open to reveal an onyx black baby dragon no bigger than the tip of a spear. The king’s court had immediately advised the most reasonable course of action: to release the drake into the mountains so it could be with its own kind, for not much is known about the ways of dragons. Not to mention if it grew too big it would potentially begin to devour the people. Ah, but of course Rosalind had pouted and said she wanted to keep “Buttercup.” So of course the king had agreed. How could he not when she turned her amber like gaze upon him and begged in a voice as soft as the wind at dawn. Though young she had long ago learned to bend her fathers will to her liking. The King had caved, and now he watched as little “Buttercup” sailed over the towers and streets, lighting them all ablaze with his breath.
The now almost fully grown drake made landfall atop the smoking ruins of a former house, watching the funny little creatures run about beneath his feet and relishing in their screams of terror. From the depths of his memory, he could recall a time when they had seemed like giants. Yet now he could easily crush them underfoot. Grinning at this thought, he spread his wings once more and began clinging to the warm updrafts around him, grabbing and scooping at them, hoisting himself higher into the air. A mad glee came over him at the sight of the burning city below, and his roar of triumph seemed to shake the Earth. For soon the world would know that the city of Arnel had been decimated by the mighty worm, Buttercup.
Unexpected Results, by Karl Aegnor
The creature was like glistening ink in a roughly midget-shaped sack. Falk had heard of such creatures being created when a ritual misfired. Perhaps a rune was placed a few degrees too far to the east, or the inks used to inscribe it were of the improper chemistry. Who could say? Arcanism was a young art.
Falk, astonished, just managed to stammer, “Do you speak?”
The creature gave no answer, but crawled about the runes, seeming to inspect them.
“A modicum of the quintessence, given form…” Falk said, as he opened his notebook to a new page, scribbling furiously, trying to recall the exact parameters by which he had prepared this ritual. Looking back at the creature, now attempting to stand, he continued. “I suppose you wouldn’t talk, would you? If the theories I subscribe to are accurate, you’ve only now come to be.”
The creature strode towards Falk, walking now with all the confidence of an adult human. “Fascinating…” Falk’s pencil burned across the paper, setting it alight with inquiries and notes. The fires of curiosity raged in his mind. He would have to run experiments. He wondered, was it intelligent? What capabilities did it have? What nourished it? Indeed, did it require nourishment?
His silent, scholarly fervor was interrupted by a cold sensation in his leg, and he looked down to see the strange creature grasping it. Falk jumped up from his chair, kicking it off in shock and panic, and it fell to the stone floor of the chamber.
Lying there, it almost seemed to be crying.
Tentatively, Falk approached it. “There now, little… one.” He reached out for it, searching for a way to console this odd being. It was cool to the touch, but seemed harmless. Experimentation could wait. “It is alright; I will not hurt you.” Indeed, it seemed harmless. For now. Falk found it hard think about that, though. In this moment, he did not want any harm to come to the creature.
“Be calm, little inkblot. I cannot imagine how frightening it is to suddenly become aware of one’s existence.”
King Malius’ men retreated from their alien opponent. Several of the men fell into the moat out of pure primal terror, either slipping through the rainsoaked mud or blind desperation. The bridge raised, and the portcullis dropped. Captain Knox stumbled into the throne room, his armor scratched and ripped by inhuman means.
“What happened Captain?” Malius declared, trying not to let the fear seep into his royal cadence. “Have the enemy breached our northern lines?”
“No, your Highness,” Knox gasped, “Something happened in the fields. The storm… it…”
“Speak freely, Captain,” Malius leaned forward, mystified.
“It…produced this thing,” the captain’s face turned pale, “lightning struck a tree in the courtyard, and it crawled out of the burning trunk.”
The remaining members of Knox’s unit spilled into the throne room, their armor pocked with identical tears in their chainmail.
“Captain, it breached the moat, it is about to breach the inner wall.” One of the men spoke up, delirious with fright.
“What of the murder holes? The oil traps?” The king replied.
“All had no effect, your Highness!” the king’s regal mask cracked in confusion, “The pikes and polearms broke against its metal skin, and the oil simply rolled off of it like rain off a duck.”
“How many men have been killed?” Malius inquired, dreading the worst.
There was a moment of silence.
“None sir,” Knox spoke at last, “Anything we use to hinder it is thrown back at us in kind. Our armor barely catches it.”
The large ornate doors, two feet thick with lacquered wood, braced with metal and furniture, split open with a deafening crack. Some cowered, believing the very castle itself had been cut in half.
King Malius rose to meet the stranger. It was a silver skinned man, eyes as dark as the night and flashing with sparks of the storm.
“Mister Malius, we have been trying to reach you regarding your vehicle’s limited warranty. This is important because-”
“Oh for God’s sake!” Malius yelled.
The Trash Can Calls, by refreshing firecrumb
“Examination 4-AE, Subject 481…”
You awaken to the sound of a man speaking aloud. The room you’re in is unfamiliar, with metallic walls and bright lights.
“…Subject is a one-foot-tall humanoid with an extra arm protruding from the chest. Subject’s skin has been stained red, however previous experiments reveal that the skin is originally coloured blue…”
Looking around, you see various machines and equipment. Screens beep away and wires protrude from large boxes of silver. However, your attention is diverted to a tall man in a cyan lab coat. He is speaking into a device that he is holding and looking at a table, counting some things out of your view. Your mood is quickly switched from one of confusion to one of terror as you realize-
“…Subject has no observable genitalia. The purpose of this experiment is to attempt to understand how this species reproduces in a natural setting…”
You desperately try to move from your position but find that your arms and legs have been strapped tightly to the table. Terrified, you look over to the man to see him brandishing a scalpel with his light blue plastic gloves. He finishes speaking, puts the device in one of his pockets (of which there are many, so many) and walks over to you. He leans over you and says in a higher tone of voice, almost reassuringly,
“Hey there, little guy! I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been asked to do some research by my superiors. Hey- Don’t be scared! I’m just gonna give you a quick check-up, is all. See, we need you awake for this, as we think that might change our results. Don’t worry, once this is all over, you’ll be out and about with all your other friends. I promise, this will only hurt a little bit.”
And here I now lay
Surrounded by my brothers and sisters
And here I now lay
It’s oh-so dark.
But I no longer care.
I am one with the universe now.
“Groggle and Tob”
by S.T. Ockenner
Groggle stopped in the middle of her usual path, as she saw something…new. Tracks that she did not recognize. In the murky old woods, filled with glowing blue mushrooms and spiky trees, there are usually no tracks other than the winding paths left by the serpents she hunted. But these…were small, cloven hooves. Groggle had not seen hooves ,in these parts, in about a century. She bent her snout close to the hoove tracks, sniffing. She slowly followed the tracks through the gnarled, quilled trees, past a few particularly grouchy looking stone figurines, and onto a beaten dirt path.
Groggle beheld, in front of her, a short biped, with cloven hooves, blue skin, and a black coat with tails. As she lifted her gaze higher, she saw that the creature also had a white, buttoned shirt, fur covered legs, and long, knobbled fingers. Even higher, and her long snout nearly scraped the hooked nose and bushy whiskers of this mysterious humanoid.
“Who are you, and why are you in my woods?” Groggle snarled.
The creature simply gazed at her with their sparkling eyes.
“Well? Answer me!”
“Tob,” they said, their voice soft and high pitched.
“And what are you doing here? In the woods of I, Groggle The Great!”
“Tob likes forests!” Tob said, as they hopped in the air, twirling and giggling.
“I don’t care. Leave. Now.”
Tob yelped, “no! Tob likes forests!”
Tob brushed its finger along the tip of Groggle’s nose, which caused Groggle to shrink to the size of a single blade of grass poking from a cobbled road.
“Tob will keep Groggle The Great in Tob’s pockets, yes Tob will!”
Tob picked up Groggle, then put her in their pocket, lightly tapping it for good measure.
“Yay! Tob can frolick now”
“For a Little Bread”
I stood just outside the pentagram of the summoning circle that had been crafted by Master Arith. Master Arith had left me alone to practice my summoning spells. He trusted me that far at least. I had just attempted yet another summoning and could feel the magical energy surge around me. Yet I was certain I’d miscast the spell by mistake. I panicked for a moment expecting my hair to burst into flames – again. I almost failed to notice the smoke rising from the middle of the pentagram. Once I saw it, I realized the summoning spell had indeed worked, but what did I summon!
The smoke coalesced, becoming first opaque, and then solid. The form inside the pentagram was not what I was expecting. It was shaped like a man, but much smaller, perhaps a little shorter than your average gnome. It looked fairly emaciated, and very much like a withered old man, with knobby knees and a sunken belly. It had neither wings, nor horns, nor a tail. It didn’t look like a demon.
“So, you have summoned me,” the little man said in a slow croak.
“I, er . . . yes, I Master Roric have summoned you!” I drew myself up to my full height. The small creature immediately got on its knees and groveled before me. It gave me such a thrill to have power over another!
“Yes, Gobly will share with you his secret spell.”
I was wary. “What do you want in exchange for your secret magic?”
“I want only a little food, for I am starving and always hungry,” the creature moaned piteously.
I had a piece of bread in my pocket and held it up. “Yes, please give it to me!” the creature begged.
I reached out to give it to the creature and it smiled wickedly! Too late I realized I’d reached out and broken the edge of the pentagram!
The creature flicked one finger at me, and my hair burst into flames – again. I ran and doused my head in the nearby bucket.
Another Odd Little Creature
There was something Jeremy had wanted to do, but for the life of him, he couldn’t remember.
Jeremy Archer sat in the back corner of a California bar, contemplating his conundrum. What was it he had wanted to do? He hated when he forgot simple things like this. Memory is such a funny thing. Should have written it down. There were too many things going on. Too many distractions.
He stared at a wall calendar showing May 4th. He began listening to the conversations around the other tables. One of them was a conversation about politics. Some trade relations argument over an embargo. Too boring, Jeremy thought.
Off in a far corner, an older man and a woman, most likely his wife, were quarreling with a younger man. They were discussing farming and the lack of rain recently. The boy looked completely disinterested in the conversation as the woman poured out more drinks. Suddenly he brightened and announced he wanted to go away to school. They lapsed into a disagreement. The old man was having none of it. He was coming up with excuse after excuse.
At still another table, a young girl was haggling over some price with an excessively obese man who seemed determined to offer her a lower amount than she was expecting. Jeremy couldn’t understand why she thought it was so valuable. It looked like a broken piece of junk to him.
All at once, two disagreeable-looking men stormed into the bar.
“I’m telling you. Employers are looking for people like me. I’m wanted.”
“No, you’re not.
“No… you’re not.
“Are too!” he shouted back.
Jeremy overheard another dispute growing loud at the table next to him.
“I’m telling you; we can take the main road.”
“You can’t. There’s a detour. You gotta go all the way out into the desert.”
“Main road’s open.”
Pondering, Jeremy thought. Listening to the ‘are too’ and the ‘detour’ argument continuing. R2-D2, that’s was it! He was due at Billy’s house for the Star Wars Marathon. He’d better get going.
By C.W. Spalding
Its teeth were like half-eaten apples: yellow and highly compostable. So Wynless buried them between the petunias and the lilies. As fertilizer. They sat, thirty whole, thirty needling teeth no larger than her pinky’s tip. And sprinkling them over the naked dirt she saw them wriggling through the soil like mealworms. The flowers grew up even as she scattered them. The bulbs got swollen, bloomed, and died before her very eyes.
Its stain-glassed eyes, though shriveled and smaller than her own, she hollowed out. Those she set over the flames of her candles at night to snuff them out, and they glittered like the death of a storm beneath the touch of a hot wick.
Its still-soft claws, dark and unnicked, she ran through a bracelet wire around her wrist. Its foot beans she plucked and crushed into an emerald paste which proved barely enough for a tube of her lipstick. Its wings she treated into leather for fingerless gloves, so small was the swath that remained.
The bony plate of its tail she heated for a tea-sized spoon and the vertebrae of its back served only to read the clattering fall of her future soon to come. Its quicksilver scales she pulled off its skin, forced up away from its flesh using her own bloodied fingernails for leverage. Each one no larger than the size of her own nail, each one bright and new as the moon when it’s heavy with light. From those silvery scutes she made herself a corset, she had only enough to lace the scales as bones across it, bones as hard and unforgiving as the crackling frost of her own, frozen-over soul.
It would have become Leviathan, the dragon of profundity. It’s name was Hutchley, who had worn away its egg-tooth off the tip of its snout beneath her back porch. Wynless was the Leviathanslayer, inheritance of infinity; Wynless was the Hutchleykiller, traitor of the honest heart.
And thus decorated with the many pieces of an odd little creature, she wove a prayer to the steel-domed sky.
An Odd Little Creature
The gates of Asgard lay hidden from the eyes of men. Heimdall stood eternal guard over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge and the only entryway into Asgard. Music floated on the very air beyond the boundaries of artisans and the limitations of musicians. From the kitchens came the wondrous smell of ambrosia, the food of the gods. An aroma to excite the palate and enlighten the mind.
Below, in the courtyard, countless warriors collected through the ages fought each other. All who were killed rose again each night to sit at feast in Odin’s great hall. The crash of swords rang like a thousand bells. The cries of battle sprang forth like thunder. The mighty clash of blade upon shield. They practiced day after day to be ready for Ragnarök, the final conflict between the gods and the giants of Jotunheim.
“They fight well, brother,” Sif declared, sitting tall upon her steed.
“They do indeed. If each of them wasn’t fathered by a black wolf in the full of the moon, my name is not Thor.” He answered her. “But will be enough? Who knows what powers the giants have been building with Loki to lead them? Who knows when Fenrir the wolf will awaken from his slumber and cover the sun?”
Sif glanced up at the great throne of the ruler of Asgard. “Do not our warriors seem in fine shape, father? Ready as always for the ultimate battle.”
“Yes, yes,” Odin replied without even looking. He now spent even more time looking into the All-Seeing Crystal, a worried expression on his face. “Come,” he motioned the two of them to approach, “take a look at this. An odd little creature don’t you think?”
Thor peered into the crystal. “Can you hear what he is saying?” he asked.
Sif put her ear to the wondrous glass. “So, is it done?” Sif repeated the quiet voices from inside the glass. “Yes. Operation Fenrir is now in full swing. They’ve launched all of their weapons. All our ICBMs are in the air, sir.”
On the Hunt
by Lunabear (Edited by Insania404, Exce, Masacur, and Spectre) (Private Repost)
Cooled winds pushed soft, white clouds across the open, blue sky. Dark green leaves twirled through the air from tall, scattered trees. Pale sunbeams streaked across the grassy field, and the blades bowed to the breeze.
Arkina crouched on a warm rock above the slow-moving stream. Sunlight heated her dripping, golden fur as she continued studying her prey. The happily swimming fish reflected within her gray eyes, causing a deep growl from her stomach. Her small tail swayed in a metronomic manner.
Arkina’s pointed ears twitched as a bird twittered from somewhere in the distance. She shivered from a cool breeze caressing her tiny body. Still, her vigilance remained unbroken.
Glittering green scales danced against the water’s surface as a large school of fish swam by.
Arkina’s short legs coiled like springs. Her heart drummed within her chest when one fish was far behind the rest.
Focusing on the lagging fish, Arkina straightened her tail and bared her sharp canines. Her ears flattened back against her skull. She was ready to pounce until the fish stopped moving in a straight line. It spun like a hypnotist’s spiral, and Arkina fell under the illusion.
She watched the little fish swim in wide, loose circles. It zigzagged from bank to bank before getting turned around. She noticed the fish had one fin smaller than the others.
Her hunger was pushed to the background as her eyes mimicked the fish’s struggling movements.
“You can do it,” Arkina whispered.
As if hearing Arkina’s encouragement, the fish faced the correct direction and followed its group, albeit at a more haphazard pace.
Arkina hopped from the rock and ran beside the stream. Her stubby legs made it strenuous to keep up, but she cheered the little fish on nonetheless. The fish slowly inched further ahead of her.
A bend in the stream stopped Arkina in her tracks. She sat and drew cool air into her lungs.
Watching the fish until it was lost from sight, a smile spread her face.
Pawn In a Little Game (From Grael’s Library) [Private Repost]
By: Insania404, proofread by Lunabear
Scheal sat in the middle of the circle in the dim basement, staring at his executioner twitching in the opposite corner. The latest failure to complete his task made Scheal question whether he should start over again.
He heard a voice. “So, this is what you have been up to. I should have known.”
Scheal initially turned in the direction of the sound, but quickly realized it was coming from within his head.
Scheal sighed. “What do you want, Grael? Show yourself.”
A cracked stone hallway manifested and a limbless figure, propped up in an old leather chair, emerged from the darkness. “It pains me to appear in this fashion, Scheal. If that is what you require for us to speak, I will do so freely.”
“What I want is to be left alone with my little toys. They make excellent puppets, you know. Take my executioner for example. Isn’t it fun to watch him struggle with what we would deem menial tasks?”
“You are trying to change the subject, Scheal. I am not so easily fooled by such actions. If I did not know better, I would say you are brooding.”
“You know that word is meaningless to me, as is anger and happiness. Bozmethol betrayed all of us, Grael. I simply want to find him. I just want to know why he made me this way. This is my executioner’s purpose.”
“You are not after him for conversation. You want him to suffer for his betrayal. Though I do not blame you for this approach, I need not remind you that Bozmethol is as immortal as we are. He will not succumb to your manipulation as easily as your little friend.” Grael pointed his head toward the malnourished creature twitching in the corner.
“My executioner doesn’t know the world he’s exploring is all in his mind. As far as he’s concerned, this is just another hurdle in his journey to the Lifelight. He does what he’s told, so long as he receives immortality.”
“What will you do when you cannot fulfill your promise to him?”
“I wasn’t going to.”
A starlit night, anxiety pleasantly numbed by hours at the bar. I stumbled home in the small hours. Face up towards the sky, diamonds shining down on me. What wondrous worlds hid up there? In plain sight, yet eternities away.
I lived alone. A cottage in the woods, pleasantly remote. Just as I stumbled through the gate of my overgrown garden the stars began their dance. All of them, in some choreographed insanity, darted back and forth across the sky. Faster. Faster. I became acutely aware of the Earth spinning through the void of space. Lost my footing. Fell onto the damp forest floor.
How many beers had I had? Not too many. When it comes to self-medicating I believe in moderation. Anyway, I stayed supine and kept my eye on the fairy-dance. The distant worlds came closer. Left their designated spots in the pitch-black night. Raced towards my neglected garden. Infinite suns, circling me, creating miniature constellations, infinitely far away, yet within my reach. They clumped together, a condensed constellation of arms and legs and heads. “Who… are you?” I managed to blurt out.
What a wonderful sound…
Zx took me in their arms, lifted me to my feet. Its touch warm, pleasant. We stood there under the empty night sky, locked in a sweet embrace. Minutes passed, maybe hours. Somehow I now knew everything was right with the world. I led Zx inside, into my cottage, into my life.
A romcom on the TV, a kettle on the stove. I danced around the kitchen humming a long-forgotten melody. Zx sat obediently on the couch. I had found peace. But when the sun’s first rays shone through the window I heard a horrible sound.
The dream had passed, replaced by a horrible hangover and impenetrable loneliness.
I am a nocturnal creature. Shunning the harsh light of day, its ruthless indifference. I’ve given up the bottle and every other sin I’ve practiced. Anything to be perfect for Zx, come back my love.
Let the stars be mine…
Journal Entry 129, “The Sleepeater”
The Sleepeater is a being of legend and myths. Its general form and shape varies from one story of a huge, giant beast to, which most of the stories will tell you, a small, humanoid Beetle. Because it mostly appears in the night, nobody knows what colors it has. No stories tell you if it eats or sleeps, but it does attack humans, in its own, dangerous ways.
The Sleepeater is mostly seen by passengers, travelers, or homeless. It is said that the Sleepeater does only visit villages in midsummer, right before the clock rings midnight. Let’s take the report of a survivor as reference:
“Sun ‘as touchin’ the horizon, when I saw that creature. Twas tiny, ‘bout the size of a newborn. I didn sleep, nah, I was awake, guardin the village. I didn think much bout it, and already was a bit tired, so I hardly even noticed it. But it turns out tha’ twasn’t a bad idea to stay awake. Next morning, you see, when I wanted to go to ma house, I noticed bloodstains on ‘vry door I walked past. Of course, I was worried, so I entered one, I think t’was the bakers house, and found the blood stains in there again, this time only on doors that led to the sleepin’ rooms of someone. And as I opened the door, you won’t believe me, I saw the baker and his wife, dead, with ripped open stomachs. Their innards were brutally removed, altogether formin’ the word “sleep well” on the floor.”
As you can see, the Sleepeater doesn’t seem to be such a nice little creature, and even though it is not known if it actually was the Sleepeaters doing, but he is a bad omen. And if you choose to stay awake, it will haunt you until you eventually sleep.
The Egg came first (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
The shuttle was packed with foraged supplies, as Rain piloted it back to the Fugere, with Newton sitting next to her. The hour long silence, was finally broken by Newton.
“So, we’re not gonna talk about it?”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“I only ask, because this could have… implications.”
“Of what kind. I told you, it is fine.”
“It most certainly is not. If we still had enough fuel, I’d turn this shuttle around.”
“Well, it’s only lucky that I waited to tell you, until now.”
“I will have you know that I am very much not okay with this.”
“What’s not to be okay about?”
“Rain, you stole a baby!”
“I did not steal a baby! I just… took an egg.”
“A fertilized egg!”
“Well, I didn’t know that it was fertilized, did I.”
“How could you not know that? Wild eggs are usually fertilized!”
“Oh, I’m sorry that I am not an expert on eggs. My planet does not have any, you know. I just thought it would make a nice omelet.”
“You raided a wild nest… for an omelet?”
“It wasn’t in a nest. It was just lying in the dirt, completely abandoned. And now that I know that there is an infant…”
“Embryo inside, I feel even better about taking it.”
“Why, Rain? Just tell me, why?”
“It could be our pet.”
“We already have one. Blueberry, remember?”
“Well, Blueberry can play with it.”
“We don’t even know, what ‘it’ is. It could eat Blueberry. It could eat us.”
“We can’t just abandon it. It was left there. Probably to die.”
“Maybe there was a good reason for that.”
A cracking noise caused them both to turn around. The egg had split open, revealing a tiny lizard head, looking around. The outline of tiny wings was just visible behind the eggshell.
“I know it’s problematic,” Rain admitted. “But we can’t just ditch it, like its caretakers. There’s… enough loneliness to our situation.”
“We know next to nothing about it.”
There was a pause.
“What should we name it?” Newton asked.
By Mango Gravy
Look at him. See how he frets over his income. Watch as he wishes for riches, as if that would solve all his problems.
He doesn’t see me as I pull his very consciousness out of his body and consume it.
Now look at her. She seeks acceptance. She wants to prove herself to her colleagues so she may never be looked down upon. Noble, certainly. Relatable even.
They haven’t an inkling of my all-encompassing presence. I consume her and her colleagues alike. Already I was beyond their comprehension, and with each mind I consume, I grow further still.
And these ones. See how they suffer. They truly understand loss and yet the world is poised to take more from them.
Some of them see their erasure as a mercy, an end to their torment. A very human concept, mercy. Is it beneath me? Perhaps it is beyond me.
Ah, a wise man in meditation. This one senses my approach. He has made a step towards the infinite, as I did so long ago, and this allows him to perceive me.
My vastness breaks him. It tries to comprehend me, and as I consume it I sense the agony of a mind as it buckles beneath the strain.
How lucky am I that I didn’t suffer the same fate? That nothing consumed me in my infancy? That some far greater being doesn’t simply consume me now, as I do these little ones?
Look at me. Am I any different from them? I grow, unfettered by mortality or corporeality and I have a much better understanding of my place, and still I find the true vastness of existence blindingly scintillating. After all, what is my infinite potential in the face of infinity itself? I may continue to incorporate entire universes into myself, but an unending stream of reflections remain. I am, and always will be, infinitesimal.
No matter what, it seems we will forever be little blips in the big picture. I see that now.
How peculiar that I still pursue it.
PR Initiative No. 81
The little creature appeared in their office one day. No one knew exactly what it was, but Thompson from Downtown Development checked it out and told them it didn’t feel like an animatronic. It was fuzzy brown, one foot tall, and warm to the touch. Had eyes wide like a deer and little claws on its four green feet. Walked around alright by itself, so they let it in and out like a stray cat whenever it clawed at the door. Eventually they just let it borrow their ID card; the boss wasn’t strict about that sort of thing.
They could have left the matter there, but PR thought it would be a good idea if the public got a look at the little creature and saw their friendly neighborhood bureaucrats playing with a pet. The first stunt they tried was getting the little creature an employee ID and post the picture on the city government’s Facebook. Well, IT had something to say about that. The system wouldn’t let them print the card without a government-issued form of identification. A driver license or a passport, and without that it’d just be impossible, they said. Can’t circumvent these rules willy-nilly just because it’d be convenient for you.
They got the okay from the DMV before trying to teach the little creature how to drive. In the meantime they were hung up on what name to put on the license, mainly because the vote went for “Edgar” and the other Edgar was adamant against being called Fat Edgar now, just to differentiate, you see, and avoid any unfortunate misunderstanding. It was then that Paula the intern, the nice-looking one, it was then that she came in and told them about the hit-and-run. Edgar didn’t mean to do it, she said, and he was terribly shook up about the whole thing. His little feet couldn’t reach the brakes and well, now they just got to convince him to do the right thing.
The Little Living Doll (Alice’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Clan Healer Alvyn bustled into the bedroom, immediately looking towards the other gnomes in the room. Orryn Brighteyes, cleric of the Bereppen clan, was looking down into a small wicker basket, deep in thought. The mother, Lorilla Kel, was clearly still exhausted from her recent ordeal. Her head turned towards the healer, confusion and fear etched across her face. He smiled reassuringly towards her, and stepped towards the basket to see…
…a perfectly healthy baby? Just lying quietly in the basket’s blankets. There didn’t seem to be any signs of distress or ill health at all.
The healer turned towards the cleric. “I’m sorry, why was I called with such urgency? This child seems perfectly healthy.”
Orryn pondered for a moment longer before speaking. “Well, she’s definitely not undead. I checked.”
Alvyn blinked. “I mean – yes? Isn’t that obvious to everyone here?” He looked between the others, unsure if this wasn’t some elaborate prank.
“It’s just-” Lorilla took a deep breath, “it’s just how she moves…” She reached out with a tentative, shivering hand over the basket.
That got the baby’s attention immediately. Their head turned towards the outstretched hand with a sudden motion, pupils dilating in recognition. A tiny arm bent to an uncannily precise 90-degree angle at the joint, before jerkily extending upwards.
The healer looked on with fascination as the child’s limb stopped shortly before Lorilla’s nearby hand, opened their own in a single simultaneous motion of fingers, and pushed forwards. Small fingers closed around their mother’s own with the same smoothness with which they had opened.
The movements brought Alvyn’s mind to wind-up figures and toys. Those jerky, automatic movements, trying to emulate life.
But this child was already alive! Clearly breathing, reaching, thinking – so why were they like this?
He looked towards Lorilla’s face once again, as she stared at her baby’s little hand, her eyes bright and filled with tears. She was happy, and scared, and scared of her happiness too.
Alvyn reached out to take her other hand. “Don’t worry, Lori. We will all be here for you. No matter what comes next.”
The Thoroughly Terrible Princess Who Would Be Better Served to Cause Less Trouble Thank You Very Much
Once upon a time there was a princess. She had blonde hair and was wildly keen about the goings on of the world. She
“Red hair. I would look better with red hair.”
“I SAID, I SHOULD HAVE RED HAIR.”
Very well. However, I can hear you clearly, and princesses should not shout. It is unbecoming.
There was once a princess who’s hair was as red as a quite reddish flower. She was sitting in a field admiring the little pond and its little lively frogs. Surely, this year I shall find my prince, she thought.
“I’d rather think of dragons.”
I have a plan, and a prince is integral.
“Maybe dragons should be ‘integral.'”
They are not.
And the princess found she would no longer speak directly to unseen entities. And, in having her voice freed from these frivolities, she wondered aloud if her prince was perhaps wearing a tunic as green as hers, and if he, too, was thinking of her.
“I wonder if my prince is wearing a tunic as green as mine, and I wonder if he too, would much rather be wearing purple, and if he would rather think of dragons. Oh, deary me, a prince who thinks of dragons, that would be lovely indeed. Don’t you agree, you horrid little pond frogs?”
Suddenly, and quite deservedly, the princess transformed into a frog with purple skin and red spots. And, she resembled the posterior-most region of a dragon. Quite luckily for her, however, a witch, who did not wish to become a frog, happened to watch the entire ordeal.
“Ribbit ribbit, ribbit. RIBBIT!” croaked the horrid little princess.
“Never heard a princess say those words before. Anyways, I bet that frog would fetch 500 gold coin at market, especially from a prince….”
“Especially because, as a witch, I can cast a frog speaking spell.”
As it would so happen, a prince carrying 500 gold coins would visit the market that very day.
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)(Repost from Private)
The girl who was born a gremlin, grew through goblinesque years of toddling and acquired an elfin cast in childhood, chose the name Klajonas. She was born of strong-willed parents and was never the sort who needed a courageous symphony to experience life. Not that there were any symphonies in the holy city.
She was called ‘Baby’ until she chose her name. By Vienas, ‘Baby’ was laced with femine meaning. By Padas, it was simply a noun.
They had decided to let ‘Baby’ choose a name because they were afraid of everything that might happen and had happened to them. They too remembered the days in childhood when they wished they could have chosen their own names.
Vienas was the parent most disappointed. She had longed to pass on, as her legacy, the knowledge of reading and magic. She had wanted to hear the spells again, the prayers and mutual discovery of new ideas. And a child’s laughter deep in the scrolls.
But Padas saw the way Baby looked out at the horizon and begged for stories. He knew he had done the same and broken his own mother’s heart. It was the wistful, longing look of a sailor. He knew Baby’s soul had chosen already and so he broke his wife’s heart. He told Baby the tale of Klajonas the Wanderer.
When he came to the part about Klajonas choosing his Lover over his own legs, Baby chuffed. Both adults cried to themselves that night.
When Baby was older, she took to foraging. Her sister read to her which herbs were unsafe and how to test new ones. She gathered and stored and one day she realised her life’s plight, every creature in the world, every plant, even the stones and earth had a coupling. But not her. The only man she had ever known was her quiet father who told her nightly that she must be strong.
She did not return to the temple she called a house that night. Or the next. Nor for many more. Padas never found her, though he nearly died looking.
Death… My name… is death…
Or Hades, Or Yama. Maybe… Izanami?. I dunno. After all, I just learned how to think
Greetings on repeat dear diary. My name is Charon. Yup, Charon. Anubis told me that keeping a diary, like this, will make me start comprehending the concept of death. Oh, I guess you may be wondering who Anubis is. He’s me. Well… I guess he’s my predecessor. He told me that as the only celestial that naturally ages, death has to eventually find a successor. He created me out of the memories of a dying civilisation infused with a part of his own flesh, how cool is that?. Anyhow, Anubis said he’d take me to watch the death of a human now. I’m so excited, I’ll finally be able to learn what death is all about!
Greetings on repeat dear diary… I don’t want to be death anymore… I just don’t. It was horrible. So much sadness, so much loss. the Man died in pain, thinking of his offspring. Is this my purpose?. Why do I have to be the one to decide when someone is denied their life?. And Anubis… He was so still, so… calm during all of it. I’m gonna go and ask him to erase me right now, he can surely find a more qualified successor. So… I guess this is goodbye.
Greetings. I guess this… isn’t goodbye yet. Once Anubis heard my request, he brought me to an unnamed planet. Microscopic bacteria lived there, barely conscious, their deaths numbering in the thousands. I pleaded with him to stop, take me away. But he didn’t. I stayed there for… I don’t remember, my eyes were closed. Eventually, I opened them. The planet was changed. The soil was green and primitive reptiles were roaming the terrain. It was vibrant, alive. That’s when Anubis took me back here, told me that if I still wished to abandon my duties, I was free to roam the universe. be the “god of whatever the fuck I want”…
Dear diary, I think I want to be death after all
by correct ceteacean
Did you know that ants fight wars? These small creatures, vastly different to us in intelligence and size, do things we do. To think there are things in common with creatures that could never hope to fully comprehend us. Makes you wonder if something else is out there, doing the same things on a bigger scale. So big that we couldn’t really wrap our heads around it. That’s part of what got me into astronomy. There’s something about the bigness of it all, about that feeling of realizing just how small and insignificant we are, that makes me feel amazing. We are on the verge of something great, whether we know or want it or not.
I’ve always believed in aliens. Not in the conspiracy theory kind of way, of course, just considering how big the universe is, there must be something out there. Humans aren’t that special.
I’m not crazy. I know what happened last night. I know it was real. Describing it is hard. My body freezes if I think about it too much. Last night, I saw something big pass over the sky, blocking out the stars. It appeared to be bleeding a kind of thick golden liquid. It twitched slightly, then was still. Others like it passed by carrying strange devices I couldn’t recognise. They didn’t notice me watching them. They appeared to be fighting each other. I don’t know why or what about.
They were doing this, fighting their giant wars, living lives, feeling pains I could never imagine, dreaming dreams I could never understand, and there I was, this odd little creature, standing there amongst all that. following the same lines they were. We both woke up in the morning, we went to work at our vastly different jobs. We felt fear. it all felt very pointless. We step on ants without thinking. We don’t care about them. They are less than us. But we don’t want to be stepped on, even though we are much closer to ants than we are to the things I saw. I never kill ants anymore.
Creatures Great and Small –
Condiment, High Lord of the Known Galaxy, Prince of Totality and Grand Champion Meteorite Golf Player stared in bemusement at the creature before him. It was small, far smaller than the mighty Condiment (who stood at a whopping twenty feet tall, large for even a starborn). It squirmed in its energy cage, scrambling about in order to avoid the gaze of the starborn congregated around it.
“So, you picked this little fellow up at that Milky Way place?” Condiment’s voice echoed throughout the vast chamber. The solar energy that radiated through his skin flared when he spoke. A shorter starborn acknowledged him.
“Yes, lord. We thought we had searched the entire sector but found these things on our exit. We thought you might enjoy them, amusing little critters.”
“I must say, it is an odd looking animal. Far smaller than any of the other sapients we’ve discovered. And such a small brain. Really, most interesting indeed!”
At this, Condiment plucked the energy cage off the table and held it to his massive, glowing face. The thing inside shielded its eyes and bent over, whimpering.
“Hair and skin? An interesting combination, not the usual style you see around these parts.Very natural, very bold, I like it!”
Condiment gave a titanic grin and placed the creature and its cage back on the pedestal. The creature fell on its face and covered its ears.
“And you say there are more of them?”
“Around seven billion at last count sir. A small population. Shall we take some more, for further research?”
Condiment raised one of his tentacles and rubbed his head in a pensive manner. He leaned down once more to observe the now still creature. With an expert eye, he overlooked it, before rising and sinking into thought once more. The room fell silent, the thirty or so starborn all watching the Lord for his answer.
“Take a couple for now. If they prove boring, we can turn their world into a putting green.”
The pink beast in the cage watched in fear as the enormous entities around it began to laugh.
Crawling through the damp, cold earth. Inching its way over decayed leaves and dead branches until it dug deep into the black soil. It crawled through the loose, rich earth for some time until finding the mother load.
Rancid, rotting flesh enticed the creature to crawl to it. A mouth ringed with thousands of tiny, jagged teeth hooked into the eyes of the corps. The worm sank into the jelly of the eye, slurping up every decaying morsel. Nature requested this being to return to the earth.
As the worm ate the precious jelly, a flash of memory passed through its simple mind. It remembered hatching, crawling into the soil, consuming and defecating, returning debris to the rich soil. Before that, there was only darkness. The darkness grew deeper and warmer. Then cold, hard light.
Before he was born to crawl, he walked. He had arms and legs and stood upright. He was in a distant land. They sold children on the street here; they were his to consume. Part of his collection. He was the monster that returned them to the earth; no one cared to look for them. Consuming youth and returning it to the earth, the children were his to slaughter.
Holding a child’s cold dead hand, admiring his work, his collection. Startled by shouting in a foreign tongue, and the door swinging open. The light hurt his eyes. Gunfire roared through the darkness—blood, and bits of flesh scattering against the earth and the soil. Coldness and ringing faded away to silence and black.
The next memory was breaking through a thin shell into the warm earth. No limbs, no sight, only smell towards the delicious rot of its former host.
Hail and Well Met
C. M. Weller
It had been a rough winter, which was why Brother Felis was out on the steppes. He’d done well enough with Halfling luck and the Dawn Lord’s second chances. There was enough meat to tide the temple over for two weeks or more.
He made camp on the lee side of a boulder, where some shrubbery still persisted in showing green. He could try to coax it into growing berries… if there was need. Felis was debating the need when he noticed something amidst the branches. Something still and staring.
As he bent to gain a better view, it sprang. Brown fur, sharp fangs, a blur of claws scraping against Felis’ armour. The shock of it felled him more than the weight of the creature. Instinct made him throw it off. The thud and crack from the landing would have cheered any fighter… but he was not a fighter.
The small figure did not rise. It was… a child? A Bugbear, but also a child. Tiny, despite how large they were full-grown. Dressed in a loincloth and a blanket, armed with a knife that barely qualified. Also starving, injured, weak, and desperate.
“I’m sorry,” he said, doffing his cloak to wrap the child. “I didn’t know you needed.” Felis added a hare to the spit, and held the child close.
The little bugbear fought weakly, trying to resist Felis feeding them some broth from the cauldron. Until they realised that it was food and then struggled to gain more.
“Slowly, little one. You don’t want to burn yourself. Little sips.”
Bugbears must grow head first, since this one seemed to be all mouth and little of limb or body. They raised the knife once, and hesitated. “Why?” they said. “I’m weak and little. You’re not.”
“There’s more than one way to be strong,” soothed Felis. “There’s the way of the warm heart and accepting arms. I can teach you, if you like.”
The knife dropped from the child’s paw. “I’ll try it.”
This Isn’t Going to End Well
Before Matt could register the high-pitched squeal, he was already being borderline tackled by a blur. It wasn’t enough to take him off his feet but it did throw him off balance. Looking down, he saw the short creature hugging his waist. “Um… hi?”
“It’s me!” She exclaimed excitedly, releasing Matt to take flight so she could see him at eye level. She had short black hair and pointy ears, her flight making a point of showing off her four rainbow-colored dragonfly-esque wings. “I’m Lynette!”
“Nice to… meet you?” Matt replied, cocking his head to the side.
“Matt?” Laila chimed in, her own large, feathered wings wrapping around her like a white cloak. “Remember when I said good people have fairies as familiars? And that you already had one?”
“Oh…” Matt nodded sheepishly. “Well then… This is really awkward…”
Another woman appeared next to Matt, draping herself over his shoulder. Her batlike wings spread wide while her eyes, which were split like a cat’s, glowed a deep crimson. “Hello Lynette. I’m Mara. Matt’s familiar.”
Lynette’s eyes bulged in shock. “Laila… why is this demon saying she’s Matt’s familiar? And why aren’t you killing her for getting that close to him?”
“So…” Laila winced. “Remember when I said that Matt wasn’t ready for a familiar yet?”
“Yes! I remember that very well!”
“Well… my projected timeline for that might have been… ever so slightly off…”
“Ya think?!” Lynette shrieked, stamping her feet. “How could you let this happen?! She’s a demon!”
“She’s actually really sweet once you get to know her.” Matt defended.
“I’m sweet to YOU.” Mara corrected. “And Laila, I guess. Because she’s your friend. I couldn’t give a crap about this fairy.”
“This isn’t fair! You’re mine! You’re supposed to be MINE!”
“Someone should explain to her how the power dynamic works for familiars.” Mara purred in Matt’s ear.
As Lynette looked like she was about to explode, Mara continued with a smirk, “If she’s mad now, she’s really gonna flip when she finds out that Laila’s also your familiar.”
Lynette’s eye twitched.
Hands-On Learning (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
The six-year-old Marcos stared at the small dragon within the glass. It was about the length of his hand from his middle finger to his wrist, yet the small sizzling hole in the floor next to Marcos was a warning to not underestimate it.
“You know you’ve been a troublemaker, right?”
It only stared at him.
“Eating Mercedes’ books, stealing Mama’s jewelry. Any of that ring a bell?”
It walked in a circle, then curled up in what Marcos could only assume was indifference to what he was saying. The child lied down on his stomach, not taking his eyes off the dragon for a second.
“You know, Mr. Vio told me a noble’s home and a Wyld Lord’s court are a lot alike.”
At the sound of the name, the dragon’s indifference turned to worry.
“I sometimes wonder if they also have to take Miss Ebony’s dance lessons.” Marcos shuddered at the thought. He saw the dragon copy the shudder and continued, “I don’t want Mama to make you take dance lessons, so can you stop causing trouble?”
The dragon nodded quickly. When Marcos lifted the glass, it wasted no time in scrambling to the closest open window, narrowly avoiding a figure that was trying to lean through. He looked back at Marcos with eyes just a bit too large for his face and a grin filled with sharp teeth.
“You are an odd one,” he said. “Even small dragons are hard to frighten.”
Marcos shrugged. “Dance lessons are scary for everyone, Mr. Vio.”
Vio chuckled and held up a fresh book. “So they are.” He placed it on the table under the window. “Read that by next week and then we’ll talk about what you learned. I have some business to attend to.”
“You catch on quick.”
Without another word, the Wyld left. Marcos walked over and grabbed the book with a grin. Flipping through the pages revealed that it was a book on dragons. He found the chapter on finding dragon nests and began the search for his mother’s jewelry.