Hello, Adventurers and Immortals!
How long ago do you think cities even became cities? Where was that turning point in time where a colony became big enough that it needed a new word to describe it? What were things like back then? It’s time now to look backwards at what used to be, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Ancient City
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!
The notion of lost or old civilizations is not an idea we are unfamiliar with. While this prompt looks so simple on the surface, there’s so much more here waiting to be unearthed.
Of course, we can go the route of an old Eldritch being residing over— or even under— a realm they have claimed for their own. Is this Eldritch creature living there to terrify this place, or perhaps they protect it from whatever could be threatening to destroy it from the outside? How long have they been there, and what old traditions have been put in place to please them? Perhaps we choose to explore finding a city lost to time. Certainly, an idea like Atlantis is enticing; a great city suddenly swallowed by the sea. But perhaps this ancient place isn’t lost in that traditional sense. Maybe this city is lost in time and space, residing between realities. Do they still age? What has changed in their daily lives? Is time even relevant to them anymore? Perhaps this city is an ancient ruin buried beneath the earth. Better yet, what if it isn’t a ruin at all, but a community that is somehow still thriving, completely unaware of what lies beyond their high, rocky ceiling?
You could explore a world that is ancient to its inhabitants, yet new to us. An alien planet, perhaps, that is far older than our own. How do our civilizations compare to one another? Who is further ahead in the department of technology? What ancient traditions have they kept that we could learn from? Maybe the ancient city is nothing more than a child exploring a history museum, seeing how things have changed for their home over time. Maybe this child realizes something that so many others have missed, sees that his city’s past hides something more than what they let on. Is it a dark side to the truth of how this place came to be? Does their city stand on something far greater than anyone could even imagine? Or maybe your story chooses to follow someone who has spent every second of their life inside a simulation, someone who desires to see what the real world looks like outside of their virtual paradise.
Regardless of where you take us, it’s sure to be a spectacular adventure.
Do travel with care, though. Some places are better left unfound.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Arriving At Fenix Rock
By Cansas Smith
A cold breeze rushed out of the cave like a rabbit bolting from a bush. Enkeli gazed into the cave, hands on her hips. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”
Stranger raised his eyebrows. “You sure this is the right place? It doesn’t exactly look like the magical misfit mansion Mindir described.”
“What’s the point of having a secret army if dragons are flying through loops of floating water, while soldiers train with the solid shadows?”
Enkeli cut him off. “Now if you’re done questioning me, I’d like to get out of these wet clothes.”
She turned on her heel and disappeared into the earth’s pore, leaving Stranger frozen in place.
“Do you—uh… Think it’s the right place, mister Stranger?”
Stranger jumped at the small voice behind him. He’d almost forgotten about Jonathan. Whipper and Ticker were coiled around his neck providing what warmth they could. Poor kid looked dead on his feet, and Stranger couldn’t say he blamed him.
“I don’t know, kid.” He knelt down and whispered, “But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s to not argue when Enkeli makes up her mind.”
Another rush of air came from the cave. Whipper and Ticker woke at once. They each lifted their head and sniffed intensely at the air. Without warning the chiipa unraveled it’s tail from Jonathan’s neck and the two furry bodies scurried into the darkness.
“They seem excited,” Jonathan said looking up at Stranger who replied with a grin.
“Guess that means it is the right place.”
Enkeli was waiting for them inside the cave, only it didn’t look like a cave. It looked like a never-ending meadow incased by an earth dome. There were humans, tonttalu, fairies, karpies, dragons, centaurs and more creatures Stranger didn’t recognize. A huge sandstone tower stood in the middle, seeming to go up forever. A winding river sparkled with the light of a thousand firestars. Whipper and Ticker were chasing a transparent blue and purple butterfly through the grass, nearly running into a gold tipped dragon.
Enkeli laughed at their dumbstruck expressions. “Welcome to Fenix Rock.”
The Old One
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Climbing down the dusty stone stairs, I immediately stumbled upon the decrepit entrance. It was blocked by a stout wrought iron gate. I peered through the bars, deeper into the catacombs beyond. Smiling, I pulled on the gate.
Checking around to see that no one was around, I quickly got to picking the door open. After a few seconds, it opened, and I quickly rushed inside, closed the gate, and relocked it. I tied my roll of yarn to the most secure looking bar then plunged into the darkness. These kinds of structures are an urban explorer’s dream and a nightmare. You never know what you can find, and that both excited and terrified me.
The catacombs were a relic of the old town, an undercity that gave the people above a cooler place to stay in the hot summer and a place away from prying eyes. But here I was, a prying set of eyes.
Crawling through the stone edifices, what used to be underground storefronts now layed blocked off and boarded up. With most of the entrances from the surface having been lost or filled in long ago, none of the orthodox surface dwellers used these lots anymore. Cleaning off some of the dust of the old signs, I could make out the names of old-timey shops and other businesses.
It was damp and cold this deep underground, even in the middle of the day. Carefully avoiding a few puddles that had formed, I found myself face to face with an unboarded area. It didn’t really have any markings, at least none that were complete.
I peeked into the ruined structure. There was no-one inside, so I decided to explore it a bit. I squeezed through the old door and began poking around. Most of the stuff was in what remained of boxes, as if the inhabitants were planning on moving soon.
Brushing aside crumbling cardboard, I saw him. A skeleton, mostly rotted away, buried under four or five heavy looking boxes. I instinctively backed away towards the entrance.
“Of all the things to stumble upon…”
By Jesse Fisher, Warning: Langue
Dust and ash seemed protective from the unforgiving sun to the blue robot speckled covering. It’s visored face looked to the relic decaying in front of it, it looked far different from the other desolated settlements. Materials that seemed natural over the plastic and glass of the other places it saw.
“I don’t want to be afraid,” The bot played it’s borrowed voice. “The deeper that I go, it takes my breath away.”
It then noticed wooden T shapes with bleached metal strapped on them, just off to the side of the city.
“Soft hearts and electric souls.” Played as the bot creeped through the rotten remains.
For a good while the bot could not find words to articulate what to feel. It felt as if something was trying to drag it out of the city and strap it to a T. The long dusted remains stayed unmoving saved for the wind blowing over them.
The bot was trying to move on throught this place but it seemed to grow more as it kept walking, no running, to the end of this horrible place. No pre-recorded sound bit could come to calm the bot, the creeks of the buildings only fueled the speed that it moved.
Fear gripped it’s electronic processor until it came back to the unforgiven sun and the particles away from the horrible place it came from.
“Fuck that shit I’m out!” It seemed hyperventrented as it played out the words. “I don’t know what the fuck just happened, but I don’t really care I’ma get the fuck up outta here.”
Without looking back the bot just held up his middle finger. “Fuck this shit I’m out.”
The Roman Ruins
Cassidy pushed through the front doors of the London Coal Exchange. Her partner, Andrew Doyle, was directly behind her.
Inside, several groups of men in suits stared at her, appalled at the very thought of a woman entering a bastion of commerce.
“We’re not exactly inconspicuous, Cass,” Andrew said.
“Then we should find somewhere we can hide,” Cassidy replied. “Upper floors are probably offices, right?”
Andrew nodded. “I believe so.”
“Is there a basement?”
Andrew took Cassidy by the arm. “I think the stairs down are this way.” He led her toward the back of the entrance rotunda, and to a door. Andrew glanced around and pulled the door open, ushering Cassidy inside. A man quickly stepped forward to protest, but Andrew pulled out his government identification and levelled a stern expression to ward the man off.
Cassidy descended the stairs to an overlook platform. Below her was a vast stone floor, surrounded by dirt. Heavy stone tiles covered some of the structure, while stone pillars dotted the floor. A crumbling stone wall surrounded the floor, holding the dirt back.
“What the devil is this place?” Cassidy asked.
Andrew descended the stairs and looked at the structure. “Oh, this must be the Roman bathhouse! I read about this!”
Cassidy glanced down at it. “Roman? But this is England.”
Andrew smiled. “Romans used to occupy England centuries ago. London stands on the ancient Roman city of Londinium. They discovered the bathhouse when the Coal Exchange was built around twenty years ago.”
Cassidy stared at the stone structure, uncertain of what to make of the information Andrew had imparted.
“Don’t they have any Roman ruins around Gloucester?” Andrew asked.
Cassidy shrugged. “No idea. I have never thought about it.”
Andrew smiled again. “There are a ton of structures from the Roman occupation around the city.”
Cassidy raised a hand to quiet Andrew. She reached under her skirt and pulled out her revolver. The door above them creaked open.
Andrew nodded and pulled his own revolver out from under his jacket.
“Seems like Van Nilsson’s men have found us,” Cassidy said.
“Descent into Hell City”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (CW: ritualistic suicide, some dissociation, mentions of death)
“The sun is setting.”
Wukkasu drew his blade and pointed the tip towards his stomach.
“Under the cherry blossoms.”
A swift motion. Blinding pain. But Wukkasu made no noise.
“The winter wind blows.”
Move the blade left.
“My shame is unbearable.”
Move the blade right.
“May my blood honor my clan.”
Wukkasu removed the blade, set it on the ground, and kowtowed. The sound of a blade being drawn. Metal through air. Suddenly, Wukkasu was in the middle of a square surrounded by rotted wooden structures. The garuda furrowed his brow as he looked around. Where was he? That’s when he noticed the wide stone steps. Cracked granite steps that lead downward. Wukkasu looked around, sighed, and stepped onto the first step.
There was a rush of energy in the back of the garuda’s head. Down. He had to go down. Without even thinking about it, Wukkasu stepped down to the second step. Another rush, like fire in the dry season. He took another step down. Wukkasu tried to stop, to understand what was going on. But his body did not stop. He had to descend.
That’s when Wukkasu noticed the stairs lead to an empty area, a black void where there was nothing by a coil of stairs. The young garuda continued his climb down. There was no end to this. Wukkasu tried to remember how long he had been going. A minute? Two minutes? An hour? A day?
Suddenly, a large spire appeared in the middle of the void. The spire then turned into upwards turned tiles on a large temple. More wooden and stone structures came into view and Wukkasu knew where he was. Jiyuo-ichen. Hell City. The garuda looked down at his feet and a chill shot up his spine. He was shackled. Stone stair became trodden ash under foot. Wukkasu looked around as the yokai in the blackish-gray streets eyed him, then went about their business. Suddenly, Wukkasu found himself stopping in front of a slate door. A stone house with a makeshift door. This was it. This was his home until he died again.
Sing, o Müza, of Nikopolis, the victorious city of Man! How high her ramparts stand, tell us, and of her bold victories regale us!
Long ago, when Beastmen strode the earth, Man awoke to an age of war. No great Lords from afar did guide us as they had guided the Fairfolk. So we took up arms and matched the strength of our does with naught but tenacity and zeal. Against the Baraki, that tragic race whose warriors were unmatched on the plains, we fought, ’til Skör himself, their noble chieftain, did concede.
Not all obeyed him, and our foes came again, driven on by the foul warlock Mogyim. Had they expected our people unarmed, our homes unguarded, our temperament soft from triumph? For when they came like careless fools, the hills were clad in bronze, and spears like a field of grass bristled eagerly for battle. For Alekhankix the Great, hero of Men, had rallied all mankind to his banner, and his body rests in the city of his victory, in the mausoleum of the kings, where we shall meet again.
O Nikopolis, ancient city of a thousand battles! How hateful Nix did seek thy fall! From the chaos of the wilds came the Saharin forth, that Man would spill the blood of Man. Horrors of ivory they rode, with such size and might to rattle the very bones of the world. Yet, the walls held, and bold Timostacles rode with a host of Gryphons to drive the filth from our homes!
O Nikopolis, city of our fathers! Must we remember our shame? Thou wast the shining beacon of mankind, o spear, o shield against the chaos! The Dæmons came, leading their thralls into our lands. O God above, may the soul of our king be with Thee now! O Alekhankix Tileutáyos, let none forget how thou rode to face the enemy, even as the gates failed and the heavens and earth cried out! The city is fallen!
We shall meet again, o victory, in the mausoleum of kings, on the high hills of the city of Nix.
The city groaned. An audible growling sound of creaking lumber and stone, barely noticeable to those unfamiliar with their surroundings, unlike me. I knew its voices, its moods, and its breath as intimately as I might a sibling. It was not a living thing, not in an organic sense, but it had character and personality in the way it stretched and settled, breathed. This was my city.
If roads and alleys were the mind, then I knew how my city thought. She still had her secrets, a small number of them, but the majority of her thoughts lay open and honest before me. I may have gotten lost once or twice upon a time, traversing aimlessly without understanding or regard for where I stood, but not anymore. I knew her ways, and she accepted mine.
A breath in her presence was joy, contentment, home. I felt at peace no matter where I stood, perhaps what the warm embrace of a mother or lover might feel like, though I could only speculate. What I felt within this place stretched into my marrow with familiarity, creeping into my finger, wrapping around my skull, and leaching into my blood with each pulse of my heart.
To leave would be betrayal, a heresy, heartbreak. I was here when the stones were laid and I shall be here when they crumble, to hold my dear friend close as her life slips away leaving only ruins and ghosts behind. I will remain. I must remain. Until then, I bask in her presence as I imagine she basks in mine. We are intertwined, my city and I, intertwined to the end of time.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“Again, there’s some ruins to the southwest of here, about a forty minute walk through the woods. Wanna go explore them?”
“But, I…” Charlie stammered, their face coated with a lack of comprehension, “how? Like, is it legal? Do we need equipment? How dangerous is it?”
“To answer those in order,” Lilac pulled a pair of hiking boots from her closet, “by going there; probably; not much; and not very. And c’mon, it’ll be fun! Plus, it’s cheaper than the movie theatre, and by that I mean it’s free.”
“So, we can just… walk right in?”
“It’s a little more like hiking, but yeah, basically. The ruins are so pretty! And, uh…” Lilac cleared her throat, “I kinda thought you might wanna draw some of them? I know you like art—”
Charlie shot to their feet. “Yes! I mean, uh… sure. Yeah. Let’s go.”
“Perfect!” Lilac smiled. “Grab a water bottle and we’ll be on our way!”
The stonework wasn’t elegance beyond elegance, and the ruins themselves didn’t seem to have much archeological value. But Charlie wasn’t an archeologist. They were an artist, and from the perspective of the sketchbook cradled in their arm, the ruins were magnificent.
Lilac kept the pace slow so Charlie didn’t hurt themself. She’d been to this place enough to know the weird corners and uneven paths by heart, but she couldn’t help but smile as Charlie’s sketches took vine-covered rubble and conveyed it with storybook wonder.
“Enjoying yourself so far?” Lilac asked.
“Yes! Absolutely yes!” Charlie snapped the sketchbook closed as they finished a drawing of an interesting weathered corner. “This place is amazing! Where do we go next?”
“Well, we’ve basically seen everything, honestly. This place isn’t very big, I know, but I’m… glad you liked it?”
“Maybe there was more, way back when,” Charlie spun around, still taking in the details. “Maybe this was a whole city, and this is all we have left?”
“Hey, Lilac,” Charlie placed a hand on her shoulder, “thank you. You may not think it’s much, but I do.”
Lilac chuckled. “Uh, thanks.”
The Night City
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
Vienas swept. The rhythmic, stiff rustling of her feather-broom filled the air. She supposed it was night. Padas was asleep and he would wake to go fishing at dawn. He never complained about the pile of sweepings by the barred door and he would jettison them with a few sharp strokes.
The night tasted different in the temple. It was stickier than day and the wind was more subdued, as if feeling less welcomed. She would pause every few steps to listen. She couldn’t hear the dogs tonight.
Sometimes they would be braying in the empty streets. Sometimes they would whine. A guinea might scream from the temple roof, where the dogs couldn’t go.
The stone floors didn’t absorb the humidity like the dirt floors in houses would. She would leave the dirt to absorb it, but she detested the feel of dirty floors underfoot.
Guinea feathers whispered on stone. Once, twice, thrice. She stepped, swept and repeated.
The Everflame crackled in near-silent pops. Karas’s sword hummed between breaths. Sometimes she held her breath to hear it.
The Everflame shouldn’t still be burning, she thought. When Raimundos had revealed it, apologists and theologians bickered. The general consensus was that Raimundos Himself kept it burning—clearly not the case—but the next best theory was the belief in it, in the miracle of it, was its fuel. This might be true, but how much belief could Padas muster in such a thing? She had believed it doused when the gods left.
She heard Padas shift in his sleep. She paused her sweeping to listen. Her sightless eyes turned toward him slowly. His breathing was the most rhythmic part of her life and she missed the rhythms of the populated city.
Soon, she wouldn’t have quiet nights like this. There would be pain and bawling. Perhaps even death. Unlikely, but it might happen. She would tell Padas the secret of the pearls if it came to that. He would need her after.
How would it feel, feeling needed again?
She finished her sweeping and lay down next to Padas, her swollen belly between them.
The infinite city
The walls had just started to rise, and I knew I had to follow him.
Through the opening, I saw his shadow take a turn on the left and from behind, people were calling me. I pushed them out, focused on catching him deeper into the labyrinth.
While walls rose around me, I looked for his trail, pursuing it like a predator. Avoiding debris from buildings, replaced with ones that had been thought but never made, I followed the trail of his black robe until the ground split, and a white column of granite rose from its depth. Its tremor made me fall over and when it stopped a white barrier had taken place, blocking the path and his trail.
As I looked around, I realized what had happened to the main heart of the city, and its twisted fate it had undergone. The old market, now a maze in rising continuity. From one side, I saw the bakery, split in half, its oven and roof on fire. From another, the middle of what was the street well, was now a rising spire of pure chalky blocks, reaching further into the lands of god.
While I was agape, a stench slowly rose. One I hadn’t realized earlier and now couldn’t ignore. Its rise lifted my stomach and almost made me vomit.
I thought it might have been an effect of this damned fortress, but looking back, I realized my mistake. It wasn’t the spell that made the smell, but the wall lifting the sewers, cracking many in their path, and some so old, their rocks shattered and passed the rising defences, some landing near me, scratching the wall and leaving its noxious gas all around. I realized I couldn’t stay here. But what should I do? What could I do? The city had been swallowed, and the white teeth of this black hooded devil were slowly masticating it.
Only the screams of the baker woke me, and I ran to help in any way I could. The city was doomed, but its people weren’t and I had to help.
A Whimper of History (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
The Monument must have been tall, Ember imagined. Twenty foot tall? Thirty? Maybe forty or even fifty? Hard to tell, when the only thing left was a corroded stump of metal that barely reached five foot in height. She sighed, and turned back to one of her companions. “So, why exactly are we here again? If you wanted to see the ruins of long-dead civilisations, I can think of three in this sector alone that would have much more to see than-”
She gestured at the Monument, and the desolate sands surrounding them all. “-this.”
Astra huffed in frustration, standing up from her own close examination of the Monument. “‘This’ is not just any ruin Ember,” she said, with that lecturing tone she always used when annoyed. “This is the last remnant of a whole Lawforger city! The fact that there’s anything left to see at all is already an incredible rarity, so I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t-”
“Hey.” Clev’s calming voice sank into their ears. “It’s really hot here. And dusty. Please don’t argue.”
Ember looked like she’d been about to snap back at Astra, but she stopped herself, turning her gaze instead towards the sky that she longed to return to.
Astra cut off her complaint as well, a brief moment of silence passing before she looked away from Ember’s face. “What do you have there, Clev?” She nodded her head towards the shards of material he held in his callused hands.
“Oh. These are degraded composite shells. A lot of it is buried in the sand.”
Astra blinked. “Yes. May I ah, enquire what that means?”
“It’s a building material. Similar to what some of our buildings use, though cruder. Perfect for resculpting and recycling into new forms. Tends to fragment and degrade over long periods of time. I like how these look,” he concludes simply.
Ember released a dry laugh. “So their city wasn’t built to last. Everything was just temporary. Disposable.” She pointed towards the Monument. “I guess this was the only thing in the city that truly mattered. Whatever it actually meant.”
The Sunshine Effect
By Twangyflame0 (Edited by DukkiFluff)
Aila frowned as she looked at all the work they still had to do for a research project on ancient cities around the world. Of course, this would go a hell of a lot faster if a certain someone would pay attention more. Instead, Ryan just sat there and scratched his head as he tried to remember basic geography.
“Alright, dude, just get some books from the history section.” Aila sighed. “I can write all the important stuff and organize it. Then you can make it look nice.”
Ryan scratched his head, but still kept his signature smile. “Sorry that you got paired with me.”
Aila glared at him. “I don’t want apologies, I want books. Now go!”
Aila watched him go and got back to work. Though she already knew what was about to happen. She had coined it the Sunshine Effect. Ryan was a gigantic ball of light, metaphorically speaking. He would go off and everyone would notice and everyone just wouldn’t know what to do with themselves around such positivity. It didn’t help that he’s popular.
She watched the perfect example happen. Ryan walked by a girl on a stool who was reaching up to the top shelf. She suddenly wobbled and screamed as she fell back. However, she soon found herself held in Ryan’s arms. Of course, she turned as red as an apple. Completely infected by his shine.
As he was picking out books, it happened again. A group of other students saw him and became infected by his shine. They started talking to him and Ryan made conversation back. They even exchanged numbers. It was so sickening. Aila cringed as she watched it happen.
Ryan came back to the table and set down the books. “I can start working on a style of presentation if you want.”
“That’s fine.” Aila nodded as her eyes drifted to the group Ryan left. Sure enough, there was the downside of the Sunshine Effect; the cloudy aftermath that he would always leave behind in the form of disappointed faces and broken hearts.
Lore of the Unseen
C. M. Weller
Small feet step a dance to a tune that doesn’t exist. A lone corpuscle against the arteries of Bryss, dodging and weaving. Evading the sharp shoes and bludgeoning bags of those who choose not to see her. Call her Kid. Those who actually acknowledge her presence do the same.
She is on the same mission as always. The mission, the game, of Enough. Be clean enough to be part of the crowd. Be clever enough to find the things that won’t be missed. Be quick and wily enough to not get caught taking them. Thus, get fed enough to do it again tomorrow.
Today, Bryss had a gift for her. A shining silver circle with holes in it. Not money. A kind of picture. A central column with winding lines radiating out from either end. On one side, points. On the other side, sort of… lip shapes, but without the little hollow under the nose. SMG would know what it was meant to represent. SMG knew everything.
Backpack full of unmissable things, some for trade and others for necessity, Kid resumed her gavotte into the steaming nostrils of the undercity. Where the forgettable, the criminal, and the mad shared an unwritten contract: don’t bother me, and I won’t gut you. Kid skirted the invisible borders of the underpeople and they ignored her.
Down again, through winding staircases in buried towers, through the forgotten bones of Bryss-that-once-was, down and down until there was light that came from itself. Where SMG waited for her. He was a kind soul, and very patient. Willing to listen to, and explain, anything. He had, after all, been dead for hundreds of years. Be alone that long, and any kind of company is welcome.
“Lookit,” Kid said, holding the medallion high. “What’s it supposed to be?”
Spectral fingers directed her to turn it lips-side-up. The ghost shaped like the stone man lying amidst the filth said, “That… is a tree.”
Faltered Faith (Godhood Series)
“Hello? Anyone?” Tom skulked across the forest grass, before he decided to hover off the ground. The many hovels of what once stood as the cats’ seat of power lay still, deathly so, Tom had feared.
The king approached the centermost tree, patting the door with his paw. It refused to budge open. He called out again, “Tim? Tina?” Only the wind whispered back with a shy and hesitant hiss.
This didn’t make sense. If the people believed in him again, they should have come back, right? Every cat and their magic should have returned. He was a god, he had kingdoms worshiping him as their patron. And yet, here sat an empty city of the cats.
Tom soared up to the topmost branches of the tree, to the royal palace. Past the leaves and branches, a bed for the kittens lay untouched, with not even a stray hair tucked within its folds. The neighboring throne’s grape vines were wilted, left with nothing but dying twigs.
He nearly wanted to rip the crown off of his head and throw it away. What was the point of it anyway? To take the Crown of Mists and flee, hoping there’d be a solution? He couldn’t shake those memories off of his mind. Tim lying in his bed with empty eye sockets, Tina hoping for kittens, Percival limping to battle. Those villagers failed to believe in them, so they started to rot. The royal wine grew sour, there were no heralds from the other fey crowns, and yet they should have prepared.
Tom scrounged through the royal alcove, only to come across an empty scabbard, what once held the king’s sword. Its silver body glittered, with the reflection of the golden filigree snaking in the patchy sunlight. He raised it in the air, mournfully nuzzling it with his face. If anyone of worth would come out of this place, Tom was sure to take it. He had kings and dukes to attend to, but mourning would come, and to move on, a final piece of home needed to go with him.