Hello, Loners and Escapees!
Hey, I know you wander off sometimes. No one can find you when you do. I’m curious… where do you go? Is it like some sort of hideout? I have those too, places I go to get away from it all. Do you trust me? If you do, I’d like to see this place sometime, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
In the Secret Places
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!
Secrets, secrets. Everyone has them. Secret things, secret hobbies, secret thoughts. But this is something a little different. This is something much more easily found.
Maybe the secret place you chose to write about is some corner of the mind. Someone has finally made a tool that can successfully unlock some dark and hidden area of the human brain, see how it works, how it functions with the other parts. Map it, learn to manage it, maybe even use it for certain experiments and such. Perhaps this person has finally learned how to map and process memories so that they may finally be catalogued accurately. Or perhaps you choose to write about a home invasion, and how the intruders can’t find their target due to a saferoom hidden behind a bookcase or under a desk. Perhaps it’s not a room at all, but instead an entire safehouse where the target has relocated to. Some place unknown, and completely off the grid so they can’t be followed. This secret place of safety could even just be a panel in the closet that opens where the children can hide in case of danger when their parents are unavailable to help or protect them.
Secret places don’t even have to be just in the home, however. They can be easily accessible to anyone, yet feel untouched. Perhaps you choose to take a walk along a section of beach you always visit for some quiet time, or a cliff edge you like to perch yourself on, overlooking the sea. Sure, anyone can come to these places. But it’s still your own little hideaway, your secret little oasis away from the world. Maybe you want to venture with the child who keeps going out to play in the backyard, but unbeknownst to their parents, they have a little cubby under the porch where they are keeping a secret pet, like a raccoon, or a bird with a broken wing. They know they should leave it alone, but how can they when the animal is so cute and all alone?
These secret places could even be whole other worlds and planes that take extensive means to get to. Rituals, sacrifices, spells and summonings. This door isn’t one opened easily, and maybe it’s even questionable to open it at all. But without opening that door, you’ll never see the secrets hidden on the other side.
So tell us about your secret place. Your own little hideaway just for you.
We promise we won’t tell a soul.
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.
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“Buried Secrets” by Magan (Legends of Dra’cora)
Spearmint squirmed his way into the narrow crevice of the cave, trying not to fray the guideline around his waist. The young rabbit scout saw the orange glow up ahead, felt the heat against his fur. He pushed forward, ignoring the discomfort. That giant fire snail had to be in here somewhere…
He peeked around the corner and saw it. The shell was large as a boulder and the body thick as a small tree. Its body glowed the colors of lava, and the shell was encrusted with gemstones and volcanic glass. Scattered around the lair were items that had been stuck to it, mostly metal and other fire-resistant materials. The source of the heat was a lava pool the snail had created.
Spearmint sighed in annoyance. That meant eggs, and more of the crop-destroying menaces plaguing his village.
He waited, as the creature oozed its way out through a larger tunnel, leaving a trail of flaming slime. Once it left, he rushed into the room, quickly finding the nest. There was a mixed assortment of elements in this clutch, judging by egg colors.
The rabbit scrambled for something to smash them with–and paused.
He stared down at the sword in his paws in confusion. This wasn’t a beastfolk blade, nor from any demigods he recognized, and it was ancient, from before the Dragonslayer Wars…
He carefully looked around, seeing more such artifacts, and realizing that this was no snail-made lair or even a natural cave, but a massive Great Hall masterfully carved from the surrounding stone. The walls were covered with images of strange, stout bi-peds with long fur covering their heads and faces, and depicted daily life of fighting, feasting, and mining. Not apes, but what were they?
Studying the nest more closely, he realized it was a shattered throne…
Spearmint shook himself awake, smashing the snail eggs–only to stop at the last one. No snail egg, it was a rock, shaped like a sleeping baby elephant.
A newborn earth elemental!
He carefully tucked it into his satchel, tying the sword to his back.
He would return later.
The Worst Night
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Let me tell you the tale.
I was out hiking in the woods near Grim’s pound. The journey had been a long one, but I was in good spirits. As the sun set, I made my way to a small clearing and set up camp. As the sky darkened, I quickly fell asleep, kept warm by the furs I traveled with.
I stirred awake. For what reason, I do not know. It was a cold night, I remember because an icicle had formed on the tips of my mustache as I slept, so I doubted any man would be out so late. Worried, I peered through the slit in my tent only to be greeted with footprints in the freshly fallen snow.
Fearing a fellow wanderer to be lost, I quickly left the warm tent and followed the trail. It was dark, yes, but the full moon lit up my path well enough. Soon, the trail traveled through some thick brush and tall trees. I almost lost it, but I kept on it, determined not to lose this man.
After pushing through some particularly thick brush, I found myself on the rim of a large oval-shaped clearing. But, it wasn’t empty. There was a statue. An idol, like the ones of the old gods our great-grandfathers and their fathers used to worship. Of stone. It stood there, watching it’s domain. It was tall and pointy, and had a mustache.
Terrified, I backed into the brush again. And, well first let me remind you that I was sober. A man does not hike with a full belly. And I did not have any that night, I swear. But, as I backed away, four or five tall hairy men walked into the clearing. They had protruding faces, and eyes on the side of their head. Their ears shot up into the sky. When they howled in unison, I ran. I returned back to my tent, and hid within, fearful for my life.
When morning came and I remained on this earth, I thanked god for protecting me.
Smoke Filled Room
The smoke drifted from the cigar as the Claw Lords looked around at each other. It was very rare for the boss to call all of them together. Sitting at the head of the ornate room, the heavy-set leader of the Fibonacci Dwellers swivelled in their large leather chair and placed a clawed hand on the finely crafted desk.
“Roche…” The leader addressed the closest Claw Lord, making their tail go straight. “Have the packages been delivered on time?”
Roche nodded quickly. “Yes, boss, we handed them off as you said.”
The leader then turned to the one next to Roche. “Craron, what about the boys? You got them round up and in their spots?”
The muscular Claw Lord scratched their black fur and smirked. “Just give the word. The pink-skins will get clobbered or their heads shot clean off.”
“Good.” The leader tapped his cigar on the ashtray before taking another puff. He then turned to the one furthest to the back of the room. The leader scowled a little. He always hated loose cannons. “And what about those secret routes you told me about, Markar? I expect you to have the right info.”
Markar, leaning against the wall, raised their hand to push up their hat. They had that unruly smirk they always had. “No need to worry about me, boss.”
The leader pointed the cigar at Markar. “You sure about that? Last time I left you in charge of the exits, you led us straight into a Rathloan nest, which caused me to lose money!”
Markar put his hands out diplomatically. “I got this boss. No big nests near the target, and the fastest route leads right back to the tram. It’s not like those surface-walkers are going to be able to follow us anyways. This heist is already done.”
“It better be.” The leader stood up to his full imposing height, his ears and whiskers twitching. “I will not let the name Fibrat Fibor Fibonacci be dragged into the muck by a bunch of humans stuck in feudalism. Now get! I want my money and artifacts!”
L. L. Marco
Sonya settled into the chair, her leg propped up to give the strange man room to work. Even from this angle, the tattoo mocked her. She was an idiot… But love made her do stupid things. Well… love and a whole ton of alcohol. And a cheating boyfriend.
“What would the lady like?” The man murmured. His voice was husky and rattled like an old machine struggling to start up. Any other time that would unsettle her, but now she just wanted that damn thing off her leg.
“Do whatever you want.” Bitterness dripped from each word. She meant it. Anything would be better.
A smile stretched across the man’s face. Far too wid. The faint light glistened off his sharp, yellowed teeth. It looked inhuman–
The tattoo gun roared to life. Its cool tip breached her skin and pierced through the visage of her ex. She braced for the pain… but nothing. Not even a pinch. Just the unmistakable pressure of needles slowly sliding across her stained skin…
It erupted through her as if pumped directly into her leg. Vivid, fresh color pooled over and sank into the old ink, suffocating and drowning it. Happiness bubbled up inside her for the first time in weeks.
A cold breath fluttered across her ear, abruptly severing the sensation. It was all she could do not to jump. Sonya whipped around only to find herself face to face with a tall, painfully thin woman.
“If you don’t want that anymore-” she gestured towards the tattoo of Sonya’s ex. “Can I borrow him~?”
The hairs on the back of Sonya’s neck raised. Something was wrong. A voice inside her screamed not to answer. To run from this place… But unfortunately instinct could not hold back the tidal wave of rage in a freshly broken heart.
“Borrow? You can keep him!”
The woman grinned, and, like a ghost, vanished. Silence filled the room.
The tattoo gun clattered to the floor. Sonya realized then that the man, too, had disappeared.
There, in place of her old tattoo, appeared the image of a demon.
A Tavern Walk
By Jesse Fisher
“You know sometimes I wonder if people ignore what is in front of them just because it is so understated?”
The darked haired human looked up to the skin toned dragon. “I mean you’re not wrong.”
Walking down the street both the human and dragon noticed the myriad of what most would call fantasy creatures. Each one of them is just slightly off from the normal people walking among them. Similar to this there were places that added to this world within a world.
“So do you want to go to the den or just that boring coffee shop?” The dragon asked, shifting their arms behind themselves.
“You sure that is a good idea?” The human counted. “Last time you brought me there a fight nearly broke out just because I’m not draconic enough.”
“Normally I would ignore that, but dragons gatekeeping anyone of dragon blood are just scum.”
“Only those of dragon blood.” The human turned and deadpanned to the dragon.
Now the dragon’s scales began to show. “Hey you know that is not what I mean.”
“Calm down,” The human just turned their head. “Your scales are showing and just take me to the den.”
Still flustered, the dragon breathed and slumped a bit.
“I am just tired of all this drama.”
“I think we all feel like that.”
“But why do fellow dragons feel the need to act like the old days with ‘pure’ dragons only being allowed in places.”
Turning from the sidewalk to an alley, the pair just walked to an older design tavern. The sign said Dennison’s Hall, which had an old symbol of a dragon.
“Still find the heavy draconic theme about as subtle as a hammer to the face.” The human commented.
“Hey we got to have some pride in where we gather.” The dragon shot back.
“Fair but doing everything but putting up a flashing sign saying here there be dragons seems about the same.”
“Who would care? It’s not like humans believe in magic anymore.”
“You say that as we are out of sight of ‘humans’. The fear still lives.”
“To Catch a Murderer”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
(Pronunciation: O’Faolan: “oh-fway-lawn”, baobhan sith: “bah-van shee”)
The meeting place wasn’t exactly what the trio had in mind. They thought secret police business meant going over to their fellow officers’ houses and going over files. Instead, the lead investigator on the case, Inspector Cormac O’Faolan, had given them an address in the dilapidated docks. In fact, the building O’Faolan had directed them to was barely a building, with only two complete walls and empty doorways everywhere. Everywhere except for one newly painted mahogany door in the corner of the building. With some trepidation, the three officers approached and entered.
The room was cramped, furnished with only a table and four stools. A single lightbulb flickered and swayed, casting strange shadows on the windowless walls. Inside was the inspector himself, a pixie sat at the table’s head with many documents littering the table.
O’Faolan looked up. “Ah, it’s you three. Come, sit! And one of you shut that door!”
The trio looked amongst themselves. The first to enter, a baobhan sith, looked back, shrugged at her companions, and sat to the inspector’s right. The second, a gnome, bolted for the stool to the inspector’s left. The third, a salamander, sighed, shut the door and settled into the remaining stool. The room was silent until the salamander raised his hand.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s going on, Inspector?”
O’Faolan slid forth a couple of papers. “I need your help. The O’Lynchard Family Killer case is getting out of hand.”
“Why should we care?” The baobhan sith crossed her legs. “Dead criminals are just as good as criminals in jail.”
“Not for this city,” O’Faolan shot back. “If the O’Lynchard’s all die, their criminal contacts are going to be abandoned. And if they’re abandoned…”
“They’ll either leave the city or negotiate a new deal with a different family.” The gnome scratched his scraggly beard. “Most likely the latter. Which means new protection deals. We’d be back at square one dealing with illegal goods!”
“Finnean hit the nail on the head,” Inspector O’Faolan said with a snap of his fingers. “We’ve got to stop this ruffian before it’s too late.”
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
Vienas grasped Karas’s Sword and listened. From her practice, she could use the sword’s power to have a presence in most of the temple at once. It was almost as strong as before the gods died. She knew the whole of the temple back then.
In a quiet corner, through a hole under some scroll shelves, she heard the small children whispering.
“Father doesn’t know about this place,” Klajonas said.
“And Vienas?” Mazylas asked.
“Vienas knows everything.”
Vienas smiled softly, flattered.
“Not colors.” Her voice was still new, still untested and quavering like any toddler’s.
“That’s because she can’t see,” Klajonas said. “But she knows some. Like flowers and the fire.”
“Why can’t she see?”
“I think it was the Ghost.”
“The one Father whispers about.”
“The one in the water?”
“He told me the water is dangerous,” Klajonas said.
“Water isn’t dangerous! We eat it.”
“We drink it, but not the sea. That’s where the Ghost is.”
A shifting of feet in dust.
“What is the ghost?”
“It’s like a person, but hungry. Father said it attacked Klajonas—”
“Yes, but he got away.”
“By tricking it into eating fish.”
“How did that work?”
“Well, the Ghost wants to be a person, so it tries to steal things to make it one. When it ate the fish, it had to go back to the sea.”
“So it wouldn’t die like a fish.”
There was a slight huff. “That’s not true.”
“And they don’t grow back,” Klajonas whispered. Vienas knew she would be thinking about the Wanderer’s leg.
“Vienas!” Mazylas screamed.
Vienas heard the slapslapslap of small, running feet. She let go of the sword and turned toward the tot.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she said, thinking, Not anymore.
The feet slowed and miniature arms wrapped around her legs.
“I told you she knows everything,” Klajonas said.
“Stopping for Lunch At The Cornerstore Café.”
“Haven is small- not even really worth calling a town. It’s a collection of houses scattered down a dusty, two-lane road. A village around a citadel of grain silos rusting in the summer sun. Three churches, two stop-signs, and The Cornerstore.
Aside from locals and the campers headed to the state park, we don’t get much business. Sure, some poor sap with a vindictive GPS occasionally wanders in- but that’s an oddity. And honestly that’s fine with us.
Works for me too. I can sweep the store and stock the shelves in a couple hours. Recover the toys the Jackson kids stopped by to play with. And then lean back with my hooves up on the counter by noon. Though I’ve stopped taking naps…one Out-Of-Towner calling the highway patrol is one too many. Plus I don’t wanna give some old-timer a heart attack.
Occasionally I’ll head ‘Out Back’ through the ‘Locals and Employees Only’ sign- which that’s behind the stack of Styrofoam coolers- if you’re looking. No, not that one- the one by the milk cooler. Yep. That’s the one!
…But anyways, feeding and tending to the customers is more Trevor’s gig than mine. He’s usually good for a free meal if I’ll help clean up at the end of the night. It’s mainly my job to watch the door…and be the cashier…and the post office man- thing. We’re kinda part gas station, part grocery store, post office, and interdimensional café?
The post-office part is weird though if you ask me.
They did put in fiber last week, so we’ve got that going for us. We can send messages to all 756 known universes now…yay- I guess? And I can finally catch up on my shows!
So anyways, wanna head ‘Back’ and grab a bite?
Oh, and don’t use the ATM- it’s giving people money and we don’t know why… Don’t give me that look- that thing hasn’t been refilled in ten years and it’s printing ‘U Owe Me” on all the receipts!
“Yes, of course we take debit! What do you think we are- heathens?!”
Land of the Gods
“Are we there yet?”
“Almost little one.” Wulfgharn replied for the umpteenth time. He couldn’t help but crack a slight smile at Visantra’s youthful impatience.
“Where are we even going anyways?”
“It’s a surprise, something very special that I wanted to show you. So keep that blindfold on.”
“You’re not just taking me out into the woods to kill me are you?”
Wulgharn chuckled at the remark, “No little one, if I wanted to kill you I would not pull such trickery to do so. Ah, here we are,” he pulled the horse to a halt and helped lower Visantra from its back. “Alright, you can remove the blindfold now.”
Visantra removed the cloth from her eyes and nearly gasped. Her vision was flooded with rich browns and vibrant greens. They were standing amidst pine trees that stretched as high as the mountains and as green as emeralds, the soil beneath their feet was so soft and damp that a bountiful harvest of trees, berries and flowers had sprung up from it like magic. Towards the back of the trees was a shear cliffside of rock, towering so high it was as if the giants themselves stacked them. Cascading down from the rocks was a waterfall that roared with the sound of thunder as it descended from the heavens above, flowing down between the trees into a pool of crystal clear water that was constantly shifting between shades of iridescent green and sapphire blue. Compared to the white snow and grey skies of the rest of Vahallarr, this place was an oasis!
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Wulfgharn stated, snapping Visantra out of her trance.
“Why bring me here, a slave of all people?”
“I wanted to share this place with you, as part of a promise to someone. And, ” he knelt down and looked her in the eyes, “so that one day you may seek out this land touched by the gods on your own and remember that there is beauty anywhere in the world, you need merely seek it out. Now lets head back. And Visantra, no peeking this time.”
The Mind Theif
My refuge was the woods of my mind. They were silent but overflowing with life. Ancient trees with branches draped with moss. Curling ferns with fronds outstretched to worship the golden sun above. I retreated there often, the one place no one can touch me. Hurt me in word or deed. My sacred place.
Then one day, I returned to find that the woods had disappeared. All the trees and ferns were erased as if they never grew there. What was left was the grass. Sickly, brittle grass covered the land in a carpet of ashen yellow. And the sun. It hung limply as a dull orb in the sky, as listless as my spirit.
I knew the cause of the devastation. I knew it could have been avoided if I had just held back. Not… shared my secret woods with her. Yet, it was so wonderful to finally not be alone, to have someone walking alongside me beneath those trees. One who knew the secret paths I could not see. A companion who seemed to genuinely love everything about me.
But, too late, I noticed the withering. I should have recognized the signs in her. How her twisted compliments pushed me down, and how she mocked me with her bitter smile. Despite that, I kept inviting her back in. I was addicted to the high of her mind interwoven with mine. And then, without a word, she vanished, taking the last scraps of green with her.
I had fallen for her deception.
She was a vampire I should have seen from a mile away.
And yet, how could one have resisted such a light-filled smile?
Nothing is listening; Nothing can hear you screaming.
By Isadragon337 (CW: Heavy blood loss)
Jackson was half buried in sand, drenched in warm, sticky blood. The winds were pulling his screams almost before they left his lips. The desert seemed to pull him down even as he fought for the surface, feeling maggots in the sand trying to dig into the hole in his chest where his heart should be. It was so cold, almost numbing. He thrashed upwards.
A fresh stream of blood spilled out of his mouth, salty and burning like copper. The moment of distraction let the sand pull him under.
He didn’t need to inhale, but the pain was such that he couldn’t not make noise. There was sand between his ribs, under his skin, and where were his legs? Had they dissolved?
He breached the surface, took a breath, and felt his lungs start bleeding again. There was something in the air, burning him up inside and out. He coughed, spasmed, his head swam and there was something moving in his chest. He clung to a chunk of rock in the sea of sand, shivering violently.
He opened his eyes. It was a mistake.
[ENTROPY] churned where the sky should be, and for all his strength in black magicks, he was less than nothing to the essence of absence. He stared, frozen, seeing nothing, nothing, nothing and the void looked back, uncaring.
He was burning. He was sinking. He couldn’t look away.
Then there were fangs wrapped around him, and his view of the empty sky was cut off.
The Hound Mother had come for him. Her venom burned down his arms, into the parasites’ holes, and he laughed as they ran from [ENTROPY]’s mouth, because he almost died in the Graveyard of the Gods. He flipped it a rude gesture as they fled, because he lived where gods died and the Queen of Vengeance came for him.
The Grand Matron growled, crushing the air—and a good bit of gunky red sand—out of his lungs. Jackson went limp and wheased, still smiling. She huffed and continued running through the in-between places.
He was so grounded.
Secrets of Station Celestine
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
The sprawling but organized roads of Station Celestine had everything. The city, which stayed fixed around its star, advertised itself as the pit stop of the cosmos; and as a dwarf planet-sized marketplace, it truly deserved that title. It also had a nook or cranny for every culture in the known universe, especially in the market of food. In short, Station Celestine was a diverse, wondrous place.
But it was also much more than what most visitors ever encountered. And if they ever did, it was only ever a glance.
Emily Smith was on vacation with her mother and older siblings, stopping for a refuel and restock before traveling through Sector Prima. With strict instructions to never let go of her mother’s hand, the seven-year-old took in every new sight. Nothing she’d ever seen in her life could compare to the cityscape towering over her. She stopped frequently to stare in awe at every little thing, her mother dragging her most of the way to an Earth-centric grocery store.
The checkout counter was the only time Emily’s mother released her hand. Emily barely noticed, as she was focused on a vent in a nearby wall that emitted amber light. Her feet shuffled over to it as she squinted between the slits.
Few visitors of Station Celestine ever questioned where the locals’ residences were. They also rarely questioned how the station was powered, or how it resisted the pull of orbit.
The Celestine Catacombs were the answer to all three.
Beneath the market city above, inside the artificial landscape of the Station’s substructure, a different city, one less commercialized or structured, thrived. There were still shops of all cultures, but they were smaller, quieter. In fact, the Catacombs had many billboards and signs reminding the inhabitants to keep noise levels down. This was so everyone could hear the Engine at the center of the Station, in case it began to sputter out.
Emily only saw a glimpse down into the hidden city before her mother dragged her away, but she would remember it for the rest of her life.
By Constellasphere (formerly Inky)
The rhythmic beeping seemed to fade off into nothing, overlapped so easily by the sound of the trees rustling in the cool night breeze. Breathing in, he knew he was home by how clear the air was, as if purifying his lungs. A stale scent permeated with chemicals didn’t exist here. Opening his eyes, he raised his head and eagerly picked himself up off the ground. Yes, this was his home.
His bare feet were light on the ground, pushing him forward as he ran towards the familiar sources of light. No matter how far away he was when he came home, the colorful glow would be visible through the trees. The white snakes and pale willow trees couldn’t stop him when excitement raced through him, his heart beating like a proud drum. He would push them aside with the widest smile on his face. They couldn’t trap him, keep him under their control, because he was free in this home.
Closing his eyes, he burst through the final barrier of foliage separating him from the lights.
In some way, everything in this endless night was illuminated. There were plants that resembled the string lights decorating that place and the street lamps he saw outside his window at dusk. Even the leaves on the trees glowed with a liveliness he could only experience here. He could raise his hand and a firefly sparking rainbows would land on it without being shy.
And then, an animal would appear.
It resembled a large deer, its antlers flickering pale in a constant rhythm. Instead of a short puffy tail, the appendage flowed like a long ribbon in the wind, sprinkled with what could compare to stars in the galaxy. It’s eyes reminded him of a night light he once had, looking at him with the yellow of anticipation.
Here in this home, he would lift himself off the ground and pick up his stride, chasing after the deer. It pranced onward, its shape becoming a blur of light in it’s speed. But he could keep up. In this home, he could do it.
The Hidden Things
The train started to move and Harold watched through the window as the station began to slip by. He wouldn’t be able to breathe until he’d left the city. His heart beat quickly and he felt butterflies fluttering around in his stomach. He was returning to his childhood home in the country, where he and his little friends that lived in the hidden places had made a lifetime of memories. Harold pushed up his glasses, clutching his sketchbook. Beaten and battered, a remnant of years long past. If one opened it, they’d find three names inside. They’d drawn in it as children. The human boy and the little folk had discovered the secrets of that old land. And there were so many wonderful secrets. When the news came all those years ago that his family would be moving to the city, Harold had broken down and wept. And when his parents had gone to town that day, his friends had come out and wept with him. Who knows what waited for him there now?
Harold’s head lulled against the train window as he began to sleep. Faded memories began to emerge hazily in his mind.
Memories of the flower gardens, the fresh country air. The snails that inhabited the garden. The frogs who basked in the pond, who’d given Harold and his little friends hardy good mornings every time they passed by.
The sound of the train coming to a stop woke him. When he looked outside, he didn’t see the city and its gray labyrinth. He saw nothing but fields of green and cottages dotted throughout. Twelve years since he’d been home. A smile widened on his long, pale face, and a faint little tear tickled his cheek. He was home.
Harold’s childhood home was an old stone cottage hidden in a nest of trees. He’d gone in to find it still as when he first left it.
Then there was a little rustle, and out from the pantry came a tiny, lanky, mop-haired man. He had tears in his eyes when the two saw each other.
Discoveries in the Dark (A Tiefling Tale)
C. M. Weller
There were many things Kormwind would rather do than sleep. The dreams that came to him were rarely, if ever, sweet. Lately, they had been of his father the Earl sitting in judgement of him whilst on the Blood Throne. There were others, like becoming an entire monster, or waking to find himself with all the monsters of the dark.
When Korwmind inevitably woke in the grey of the night, he could not settle again. Some of his bad dreams included Nani punishing him after she found him. Not that that stopped his wanderings.
Tonight, he was a little more lost than he should have been. Roaming through parts of the castle that had fallen to neglect or at least disuse. Trying doorknobs on the off chance he might find someone.
At this point, it was better to get in trouble for being where he shouldn’t be than to be lost in the grey forever. Little lordlings, no matter how demonic, should not be getting lost in their own castle.
Kormwind found a door that wasn’t locked. Nobody had left anything in here, except for what appeared to be a wardrobe against the far wall. This fascinated him, so he looked inside and found… ANOTHER door. Which lead to an overgrown wonderland.
The moonlight loaned it colour. Kormwind saw green bushes, and red and purple berries, and bright toadstools he knew he should never touch. And one solitary tree surviving against the odds.
Every last patch of soil in Whitekeep was maintained and tended and pressed to the work of feeding the people, even in the castle. Therefore this space was unknown to anyone but him. If he told Nani, Bothari, or even his parents… it would be taken away. Forbidden. Used, but never for him.
The city below and a window above told him where he was. Kormwind quietly left the secret door and its guardian wardrobe shut. Closed the door to the neglected room, and found a staircase that took him up to far more familiar hallways.
Just this once, he would be a SELFISH Tiefling, and keep this wilderness a secret.
Into The Maw (Nyx’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Nyx had gotten to know the castle of the Lectara family rather well, in her year of employment with them. But one place she had never explored was the keep’s unused chapel.
So it was a surprise to her when the Lord’s chief of staff led her there, after returning from her latest and most significant task. She had expected to be taken to the throne room, even at this time of night. Not here.
The chapel was a substantial sight admittedly, an ostentatious room dedicated to…some moon god? It had more windows than anywhere else, allowing moonlight to fill the room. That light shone off a great moon engraving upon the floor in the centre of the room, and a small, circular silver-rimmed font just before it, filled with gleaming clear water.
Master Rathnodel glanced back at her, as if sensing her uncertainty. “Come along now, Ms Murnor. We are not here to gawk.” He approached the font, gesturing at Nyx to follow.
“My Lord considers your recent performance of your duties to be quite satisfactory. Perhaps even admirable, on occasion.” He said, removing one of his thin white gloves. “He believes that you are now ready for greater responsibility, now that you have, ah, proved yourself.”
Nyx quietly shuddered at the statement, as Rathnodel drew a quill from his pocket and continued. “Of course, such responsibilities will also come with due reward. But that is for you and Lord Lectara to discuss, not I.” With that, he pierced the tip of his middle finger with the quill, and let a single drop of blood fall into the shimmering font.
The stain expanded rapidly, turning the silver pool red within seconds. As it did, the moonlight within the room turned crimson too – and just beyond the font, the moon-engraving rumbled and split apart. Beyond, was a grand stone staircase, leading down into total darkness.
Nyx stared at the abyss before her, and glanced back towards Rathnodel.
His expression was nonchalant. He had done this before. “Go on then.” He said, gesturing forwards. “Do not keep our Lord waiting.”
A Second Life, Born into Darkness
by Lunabear (Temptation’s Fire Universe) (Please don’t read on stream)
Kit’s cold grip on the back of his neck left no room for Zayn to move, much less escape.
“Yo-you don’t have to do this,” he pleaded.
A smoky giggle and a light purr.
“Oh, there are a lot of things we don’t HAVE to do, sugar.” Her drawl thickened as she whispered, “But what fun is it if we never do things we WANT to?”
Zayn struggled to free himself, screaming out for help. Only his frantic echo and the emptiness of the isolated construction site reciprocated.
With his energy depleted and his vocals feeling shriveled, Zayn’s legs buckled from beneath him. He faced the distant darkness, his teary eyes taking in nothing.
Kit’s long fingers threaded through his sunflower hair before she wrapped her arms around his neck from behind.
“There, there, now. It won’t hurt much, darlin’. I promise to make it quick.”
One frigid finger trailed down over his carotid.
Before he could beg again, he felt his face turn to the sky followed by two pricks at the side of his neck.
The harsh pulling coincided with a scorch flooding his veins. A sledgehammer slammed against his temples. It felt like bits of glass were embedded just beneath his skin. His abused throat allowed only a quiet whimper to escape.
“It’s all right, Zayn,” Kit cooed. Ice greeted his perspiring forehead. “You’ll be well taken care of. You ARE mine, now, after all.”
Zayn hunched over with spots dancing in his vision. He flashed between wakefulness and unconsciousness.
At last, blissfulness washed over him.
He floated in an endless void. Thoughts and memories clashed.
You are Zayn.
Crystal’s unwanted kiss overlayed Kit’s unwelcome bite.
You are you, and that’s all that matters.
Crystal only wanted my body. Kit will use me however she deems useful. If I live.
No use in trying to be anyone else because you can’t.
A sunlit meadow of multicolored flowers slowly filled his view.
Except, silver links tortured his wrists and ankles.
He jolted awake, darkness engulfing him.
Chains sang a haunting melody.
Zayn couldn’t feel his breath anymore.