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!
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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.
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“Come on you two slowpokes,” said Nick as he moved through the deep green thick forest, light on his feet. “Hold on Nick we’re coming!” said Velda. “Come on Sam let’s go!” she said, “Alright I’m coming!” said Sam tiredly struggling to keep up “Come on guys, hurry up!” echoed Nick’s voice through the forest. It was a bright sunny day with a nice cool breeze.
After three minutes of running through the forest…” We’re here, this is it “said Nick cheerfully. “Alright Nick, what did you desperately want us to get out of our seats from playing D&D to see?” said Velda triggered. “Yeah Nick,” said Sam out of breath “what did you want to look at?” “This! “said Nick. He then pointed to a plain green leafed bush. “This is it,” said Velda. “This is what you wanted to show us, Nick. A regular plain bush?!” she said angrily “Yeah Nick what the heck man” said Sam also upset. “I know what you are thinking, Nick it’s just a bush it’s nothing special, and your right but if pull these back you’ll see…” Nick then pulled back the bushes and revealed a large hole going into a large turquoise cave with pockets of medium lighting. “A masterpiece,” said Velda and Sam in astonishment. “Nick this is beautiful,” said Velda amazed. “Yeah, but why are we staring let go in and get a closer look,” said Nick as he slides down the crevasse of the cave. The other two then followed in pursuit.
The three of them then start walking through the damp cool cave. But after walking for two minutes, Velda’s ears perked up. “What’s wrong Velda?” Nick asked, “I hear voices,” she said. She then started running where the voices were coming from. Nick and Sam ran right behind her following the sound of the voices. When they caught up with Velda they stumbled upon a secret enemy campsite guarding an ancient artifact.
“Well, there’s something you don’t see every day,” said Sam. “What do we do?,” asked Velda “We need a distraction,” said Nick. “Okay, so how do pull it off?” asked Velda “We need to make a loud noise to move them away from the artifact”. Once when Velda was about to make assumptions, Sam then slipped on a wet rock and fell five feet, from where they were standing, to the ground below.
“Well, I guess that worked” Nick said.
The two then jumped from their hiding and landed safely on the ground.
“You villains are done here!”
The Broken Door
Standing by a broken door in an empty warehouse isn’t the ideal weekend, but here I am, waiting for Jimmy. Where was he? I tighten my grip on the key he gave me. The key to a useless door. Damn hi… What was that? No one else should be here.
“Jimmy, is that you?” no answer. Maybe this place isn’t so secret after all. I turn to listen, my heart pounding, but hear nothing. Maybe it’s just a ca…
“Liiiam!” someone yells
Shocked I turn to run, but trip fall instead. That’s when I hear a familiar laugh. Jimmy.
He walks over to me from the shadows holding out his hand.
“Warning next time!” I say as I take his hand glaring at him
“Not my fault your so jumpy.” he says as he pulls out his key from his coat.
“I wouldn’t be if you were punctual.” He ignores me and chuckles walking to the door.
“Brought the key I forged you?” he asked turning to me.
I reluctantly fish out it of my pocket. He nods pulling a small knife from his coat. What’s he doing? He takes a deep breath and cuts his thumb, and blood drips from it. He rubs it on his key, then hands me the knife. My hand shaking I take it.
“Do I really…”
“Lee, this is a rare experience and I want you to have it, but I can’t bring you. You have to bring yourself, so please, do.”
This place must be real special to him, and he’s willing to share it with me even “forged” me a key. I sigh and put the knife to my thumb. Damn that hurt.
Jim smiles and walks back to the door and puts his key in. The blood on it starts, glowing. This is it. It turns and the door opens to a bright warm light.
“See you on the other side” and he was gone.
Stunned I look to the bloody key in my hand, and slowly put it in the door.
“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.
It was midnight when Cyd, like always, slipped out of his front door without his family’s knowledge. He cast a last look back at his grandfather’s room, from which he could still hear his snoring. He chuckled to himself and slid through the front door, careful not to let it slam behind him.
“Never let yourself be caught by the humans,” Said his Grandfather. “They see us as nothing more than vermin, and they will squash you in an instant!” And he was right, as he usually was, but Cyd just couldn’t help himself. And so he would often sneak out like this, when his family was asleep, and go to his favorite place.
He flew into the street, careful to keep out of sight of the street lamps and the humans as he approached the towering building that stood across from his home. Carefully now, he snuck inside, fluttering through a window the humans tended to leave open. The smell of paper old and new and the warm glow of candle light greeted him as he landed on a tall shelf stacked with what the humans called “books.” This was his sanctuary. His own little corner of the world. His secret garden, so to speak.
Aha! Right on cue, a bespectacled human girl walked through the door, greeting the old man at the counter with a small wave. She ordered something called a “coffee” (some bitter thing the humans drink, said his grandfather) and wandered between the shelves, perusing the vast collection of books. Cyd couldn’t help but hover over her shoulder, anxiously waiting as she pulled one from its spot. He struggled for a moment to read the title… “Frankenstein”? Odd title, but he trusted her taste.
The girl sat in her favorite spot by the window and opened her book, not noticing as he settled on a shelf above her to peek over her shoulder. This was his paradise… A treasure only he knew about.
“Do you come here often?”
Where Dreams Come to Die
Nightmares chase me, even after I awaken. I am haunted by the most foul creatures roaming the night; I woke up in bed, greeted by darkness that was merely challenged by the moonlight shimmering through. Bony arms came up from under my bed, thick slime dripped from the monstrous jaws raised high above me. Frightened as I was, I ran away; out the door, into the forest. My feet had begun to bleed from the rough terrain, but one could not falter, for the monsters might catch me.
Eventually I got to an open field, with a great oak in the centre. I was surrounded. Monsters started dripping into view from all sides, each one more hideous and terrifying than the previous. The moon was full tonight, and her illumination acted as a spotlight to this cruel spectacle. I sat down and closed my eyes, ready to meet my fate, as suddenly, I felt a calming hand on my shoulder. I opened one eye to look up, and saw there was this beautiful woman, dressed fully in white, standing over me.
‘Do not be afraid, my name is Luna.’
I stood up at her sign, and looked around. Somehow, there were no monsters to be seen. Befuddled I stood there, while Luna smirked.
‘Come, do you see that tree?’ She pointed towards the great oak.
‘It is a very special tree, one whose existence is only known to you and me. How about we go there?’
I followed her to the oak. Even in the dark, it was a magnificent tree. A ladder hung down, and as we climbed up to the highest peak. The first beams of sunlight came through. Luna smiled again.
‘If the nightmares come looking for you, remember this place. For a nightmare is nothing but a dream, and when the morning comes, all dreams must perish. So remember where this oak does lie, as it’s the place where dreams come to die.’
Now I come here every night; because no matter what the darkness will send, all nights must come to an end.
By Tamela Redfin
Feldspar Augen turned off the switch and I was asked to leave shortly after. Or maybe it had been longer. I still was just shocked as Radon Cecilia and Sapphira had been.
Time passed and Radon Cecilia appeared to disappear. Sure, the little bugger could literally turn invisible, but that wasn’t it. We’d be able to spot those rings at least, right?
Maybe my supervisor Phrosporus Max would have more advice to give me, if he wasn’t busy in Adler. Well, a call never hurts.
The dial tone rang in my ears, but somehow the stars aligned and he picked up. As I spoke, I wandered the desert wasteland. “Hello Phrosorus Cameron, what makes you call me today?”
“It’s about the cyphas you and Sulfur Cora asked me to research. There’s one… I can’t seem to forget.”
“Don’t ever talk about cypha like that. They are very forgettable creatures. The plaything you outgrow. What’s gotten into you?”
“I… I don’t know sir.” I sighed. But then I heard whispering and what sounded like crying. “I’ll call you back.” I snuck closer, following nothing but my ears. I had to ignore the winds of the desert.
“You have to believe me, Cecilia. It’s not your fault.” Was that one of the cyphas that tied me up?
She spoke through broken sobs. “It is my fault, Travis! Sapphira should have never been punished like that.”
“Cecilia, you’re the bravest cypha we know. Facing the humans head on?” A girl cypha replied.
“But it’s not worth it to get Sapphira hurt like that. She’s just a kid.” Cecilia sobbed.
“And she survived. Don’t let those stupid humans control our lives. Here, eat this root, it will help you relax.” Wait, cyphas did this? But that’s not in line with what I learned. Cyphas were barbarians who sometimes fought to the death and lived in complete solitude. Had the humans, no, not this bunch.
Maybe cyphas had always been this polite. At least to their own kind. I still needed to look into it.
“Secret Places of the Heart”
I stood next to Alethia. If I strained my hearing, I could almost hear her heartbeat. We looked out over the afterglow of the sunset’s end. I knew the night’s work would begin soon. The hunt, and there were other tasks laid out by Master Telcane. Still, I lingered by her side. I loved her. Yes. And yet, nothing was said between us. I felt that she must share these feelings. But—
“The sunset is beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked softly.
I cocked my head slightly in thought, then answered, “It is. As are you.”
I turned toward her, and we locked eyes. I was careful not to use my powers, even accidentally. I could easily compel her, but that would defeat the point. I wanted her to love me, of her own free will. To love me as I am, even though I am still of heart, and dead of flesh.
She simply turned away, back to the dimming glow of the sunset with merely a coy smile as a response.
“My relationship with you is something special. Something I have with no one else,” I began.
She smiled again saying, “There’s a lot of work ahead of you I know. You should go, and I should rest.”
We linger here at the sunset’s end. I with the fullness of the night ahead of me, and her with a night full of slumber. We hold together in that moment in time. She is of the day, and I of the night. Here in the slipping moments between those two times, we can linger together.
Now. Now I should say it! But before I can speak, she already seems to know, and simply silences me with her finger upon my lips.
“Go. The night calls to you,” she adds with a smile.
I can’t help but return her smile with my fanged grin as I turn and leave. Tomorrow perhaps. Tomorrow waits for me, with all the secrets of the heart.
The Mind Theif (Repost from Private)
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?
“A Concealed Funeral”
“Why do we have to haul this…thing all the way out here?” Zulitrea’s eyes walk up and down the body bag yearning for a cut of flesh to sate her appetite.
Prodding at the ground with a shovel in hand, Thestris glances back at Zulitrea. “Don’t even think about it,” he says, steadily placing the bag on the ground, then relinquishing his grip from its handle.
Zulitrea scowls tossing down her shovel. “Why in all of the hell’s did I have to attend this half-assed, haphazard funeral?” She jostles against the body bag disregarding the necessity for its careful handling.
“Zulitrea Anashkii Mrelith” Thestris exclaims. His words bellow around in the forest, bouncing off of the trees, and frightening the delicate personalities of the plant life. Aware of his blunder he slaps his left cheek, leaving on it a visibly bright handprint. He reels in his vocal range, whilst addressing her with the sternness of their village elders. “A day’s walk, that is it. A simple day’s walk!” His attention turns towards the writhing in the body bag. “Ancestors be damned,” he chagrins.
“It’s coming back isn’t it?” She releases her grip from the bag, shuffling over to where her shovel was tossed.
Thestris nods, tightening his grip on the shovel’s handle, and leaning in towards where the writhing is most active.
He thrusts the shovel as though it were a spear, and straight into the center mass of the bag. A piercing screech comes forth, echoing with such intensity that the trees begin to whirl. The lustrous plant life around them recede in an attempt to shield themselves from its animosity.
“Aim for its head” Thestris yells.
Zulitrea’s eyes sharpen themselves against the whirlwind of sound, honing in on the things head. In one movement she pounces upwards, angling the shovel at its head and pushing it in with both feet.
Thestris unclasps his hands, finding it difficult to straighten his fingers. “Th-that’s why you’re here…why we’re here,” he says, exasperated.
“I-I’m sorry”. Zulitrea glances around them, noticing the damage done to the plant life. “I’m sorry…”
Chronicles of The Dragon: Serendipity
The tower on the north east corner of the church was damaged. It was a small hole, but it was big enough for a person to climb into, revealing the hollow interior.
That someone had stuffed with blankets.
Kat found it by chance, while waiting out a sudden downpour. Curiosity made her climb in. A lack of any place better to go made her stay.
The next morning she woke to the sound of someone climbing into the tower; a girl in a berry-like hat and a dirty oversized coat.
The girl noticed her halfway in and glowered at her. “This is my place.”
Kat ignited a ball of fire in her hand.
The berry girl shrunk back. “You can have it.” And backed out.
Kat snuffed the flames out and lay back down.
A moment later the girl poked her head back in. “I can show you a better place.”
Kat looked over at her. Nothing below her eyes was visible and she slowly sank lower until even her eyes were barely visible.
“There’s actual beds. And it’s warm. And they’ll give you food.”
“If it’s better why aren’t you there?”
She pulled herself higher. “People know to find me there.”
Kat sat up properly. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do any- watch your head.”
Kat flinched as her head bounced off one of the support beams, taking a chunk out of the wood, as she’d tried to stand.
“See? You’re too tall for here. It fits me fine though.”
Kat glared at the girl, who disappeared through the hole again. She swore under her breath for a moment before she heard the girl’s voice again.
“So… want me to show you? We could still make breakfast.”
Kat grimaced for a moment then said, “Show me.”
You walk home along the same route you always have when you spot something across the street that wasn’t there before. Even stranger is that no one else seems to notice it. An alleyway.
But this one is different. Moss and grass cover most of the ground and walls. As curiosity seemingly gets the better of you and you cross the street to get closer, you note the song of birds as the deafening roar of inner city traffic fades into nothing. You walk in before you can catch yourself.
The brick walls give way to natural rock. You feel the grass between your toes as at some point you lost your shoes. As you spin in place to take in the green smells, you stop when you notice a silhouette on the far side of the crevasse. She’s covered in darkness but you can still make out her slender form and long hair. She has pointy ears.
You tilt your head a little. So does she. You move a little to the left. As does she. You move closer. So does she. Every move you make she imitates perfectly without delay and without fail. Even the little ways you move or carry yourself. You inch closer and closer to her, and she to you. You should feel alarmed or uneasy, but the more you look at her, the more familiar she feels. You come closer and reach out. Just before your fingertips touch hers, the loud and sudden roar of a car horn distracts you.
As the car races past, you suddenly find yourself back on the opposite side of the street, shoes and all. The birds are gone. The smells are gone. The magic is gone. You look towards the alleyway, but it too is gone. Both buildings effortlessly meld into one another.
Was it just a daydream or was it real? It felt real, and if it was, were you cast out for intruding or was it an invitation?
What you do know is that in there was the first time you felt like you truly belonged…
The House at the End of the World
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
“The World comes to the House.”
Charn heard this first when He came to the House. He heard it from Death’s own mouth. It was dire then, frightening to the child He was.
“The World comes to the House.”
He heard it again with each new child who arrived. War made orphans of many and filled the House with their sustenance. Over time, He decided it must be a form of black poem; gallows humor, perhaps. Admittance or surrender to inevitability and the basest of inhuman acts.
And then the sky opened up and It came to the House. That was the day Death left the House and all Death’s children. Save Charn. Charn stayed and waited for the World.
“The World comes to the House.”
Charn said it lastly as a promise. He told it to each corpse He carried; whispered it into the lungs of the dying, heard it echoed in their exhalations; gave the knowledge to His children, war orphaned each and all; spoke it to the Foreigners who come to His House, with their skins of grey shades. He told it to the Wolf when it came crawling to the House. The House could not accept the Wolf, so He told the same to the Hunter who killed it.
Father. An old man with a crooked, funny smile and the look of a man who does what needs doing. Charn never asked why he killed the Wolf and not the Interloper.
“The World comes to the House.”
He said this to the Wanderer when she came to the House (she asked to sleep and He let her in). He said to the Hopeful Warlord who pursued the Wanderer (he did not let Xer in). He said it too to Mother Fate, when she asked Him about His children.
When They met in that place where nothing living nor dead could go, Charn told the other gods again. It was the day that Mother Fate painted for Him and He said it with finality.
A Path yet Unbeaten
By Mango Gravy
There are many secret places in the world. Eighty six, to be exact. Through the Pathic Poems, these Secret Places are no secret at all. Everyone knows of the Tulgy Wood, or the Blurqoise Osis, and even the Frospy Mountain. But none have yet found them, for though the way is known, the path is unknowable.
“It says ‘turn east when you see the wigwig tree’,” Jack said, pointing at a tree that bent this way and that for no discernible reason. “Wigwig obviously means wiggly, and this is the wiggliest tree I’ve ever seen.”
“Don’t be mad,” Jock said, shying back, “but I saw a wigglier tree about mile back.”
“Why didn’t you say anything!”
“I thought wigwig meant… wig. As in hair. So I was looking for a willow tree.” Jock paused, bracing for a shower of insults, “I haven’t seen any willows. Incase you were wondering.”
Resisting the urge to throttle his companion, Jack thought back to the Poem of Tulgy Wood. Each of the Pathic Poems had lines that gave advice in the event that one became lost.
“‘Should you find the finding tough, listen for ties and call its bluff’,” Jack recited. He stood for a second, considering the sentence, before bursting into a rage, swinging his fists and tromping about as he yelled, “What in the bloody hell does that mean?”
Jock stepped away so he wouldn’t be caught in his friend’s frumious fit, and waited for Jack to calm down. He stared at the ground as he contudiously considered their conundrum. Solutions to the many problems posed by this Pathic Poem churned in his head, and in the minutes it took for the red to leave Jack’s face, Jock drew what he considered to be the most reasonable conclusion.
“I give up,” he said.
And so they did. Never again did they return to the Tulgy Wood. No frabjous day for the whiffling travelers, they remained bewused and mimsy, and this Secret Place had once again resisted prying eyes.
And the path had yet to be beaten.
The Hidden Things (reposted from private)
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) [From Private]
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.
Carving on the Roof (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Jen strained to hear if anyone was outside their room, then quietly slid out from under their thin blanket and tiptoed over to the window. They opened the modest chest sitting under it and moved their things aside to grab a small block of wood and a small knife. Looking out to make sure no one else was breaking the city curfew, they opened the window slowly as to not make any sound and crawled out.
Even the short climb up to the roof was long enough for Jen to start feeling the effects of the constant winter. Still, they sat down and began whittling.
“What are you doing?”
Jen jumped, but forced themself to not make a surprised sound as they tightened their grip around the wood and knife to avoid dropping them. They looked to where the voice came from and saw the cloaked figure of Oberon crouching next to them.
“C…” They began before holding up the wood. “Carving.”
“Would it not be wiser to do that where it is warm?”
“Knives are contraband, and the wind can get rid of the evidence.” Jen held up a strip of shaved wood before going back to whittling.
“What is so important about this that you would risk freezing to death?”
Jen used their head to point at the building across the street. “The woodworker is helping the doctor with prostheses, and I’m helping make the parts.” When they noticed Oberon’s confused look, they added, “False limbs. For people who need them.”
A chill ran down their back, but they managed to keep their hands steady as they worked. After a few seconds of silence, they heard shuffling followed by the feeling of a fur cloak being dropped over them.
“Be better prepared for the weather.” Oberon spoke.
Jen adjusted the cloak so it was over their shoulders and nodded before returning to their task.
“How do these…’prostheses’ work?”
Jen beamed at the question, then began explaining enthusiastically as they worked. As they did, the worries of the day joined the wood shavings in the wind.
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.”
by Lunabear (Clatter Moon Universe)
The air after a rainstorm always quiets Monta’s tumultuous mind. It’s strong and earthy. Everything is washed clean away.
If only it were the same way for her Death Touch.
Monta passes the Dream N’ Scream ice cream parlor. Peeking from under her hood, she sees three of her friends, Alden, Galbria, and Piper, all laughing and enjoying scoops. Trivell must be on his own today.
More than anything, she wants to join them, but after Halloween, they’d begun avoiding her.
Well, it FEELS that way to her.
Whenever she asks about it, they give her no answers or say not to worry.
The more she attempts to think about why they might be disregarding her, she’s stonewalled by a headache.
After the disastrous masquerade party, she doesn’t blame them. Still, it rips a new hole in her chest each time.
Monta gives a soft sigh before slogging on.
People walk to and fro, umbrellas raised high to deflect the falling drops. If anyone greets her, she takes no notice.
The tree on Skelter’s Hill waves a solitary hello.
The walk up Sutter Boulevard is longer than she remembers. Monta hunches deeper into her drenched hoodie.
A monument to Clatter Moon’s two founders looms above her as the chapel comes into view.
Any respectable witch would bow and pay tribute in the place of worship, but Monta doesn’t feel worthy.
By the time she reaches the cemetery entrance, she’s soaked to the marrow.
She embraces the chill and how alive it makes her feel.
Monta wishes there were a headstone for Stella. Stella’s parents had been adamant about cremating her, however.
She suppresses a roiling in her stomach at Tyler’s wretched sobs over losing his love. She’ll never forget them as long as she lives.
Hunkering down in a far away corner, Monta listens to the language of the dead.
Nothing moves, but a pressure pushes against her back.
A strong gust of warm wind tickles her face despite the cold rain.
A disheartened smile graces her lips as she plucks tiny blades of grass.
They wither in her grasp.
Oh Great! Now There’s Two of Them!
Daisy appreciated her friends. She really did. She loved how much they cared for her. It really helped her in the tough times. But she also just needed to be alone sometimes and wallow in her misery without someone trying to cheer her up. It made her even more appreciative when they finally allowed her this time to be with her own thoughts.
‘It’s nice to want things,’ A voice echoed in her mind.
Daisy froze. Her blood became ice. She couldn’t breathe. ‘J… Jasmine?’
‘The one and only,’ Daisy’s former friend puckishly answered back.
‘…Alex promised. He PROMISED he’d leave me alone!’
‘Oh, this is all me. After all, the last time I saw you, you were being tortured quite spectacularly. I’m just… checking up on you.’
Daisy shuddered. She didn’t want to think about this. She REALLY didn’t want to think about this. ‘Please… just leave me alone…’
‘Poor Daisy!’ Jasmine mocked, ‘Is that what you tell yourself? That you’re the victim? Did you forget that I was there when you met Alex? He’s a multi-millennia old demon. A chaotic force of nature. You were the one who antagonized HIM. You kicked a bear, thinking it was a chihuahua and got mauled. If he’d been human, you’d have just bullied him like everyone else.’
“And you would have let me!” Daisy screamed, “You didn’t care how horrible I was to people as long as I was nice to YOU! I killed so many for Alex and you’re only angry at me because I didn’t spare YOUR family. You only care about yourself!”
‘Said the coffee pot to the kettle… How black thou art…’
“Screw you.” Daisy sobbed, “At least I’m TRYING to be a better person.”
‘Only because you’d be alone if your new friends knew the real you.’
“This IS the real me!”
‘Right. Keep telling yourself that. It’s sure to stick. Eventually…’ Jasmine’s taunting laughter echoed in Daisy’s mind, ‘See you around, Mutt.’
Finally greeted once again with blissful silence, Daisy stopped holding back her tears.
“…this is the real me…” Daisy whispered almost silently.
Tap, Tap, Tap (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
(Proofread by Lunabear)
Rosie had nowhere else to run. This was her space, her hideout, her bunker against the darkness and the light of the jagged line in the sky.
The corridor was decked out with gold and opulent carpets. It was quiet, peaceful almost. A respite from what lay outside. She approached the door marked with her number and, with trembling hands, fumbled for her key, almost dropping it.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She turned and froze. Nothing. Of course not. No one could invade her secret room. Just one more twist.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She turned the key and slipped into her room. She shut the door, locked it and breathed a sigh of relief, leaning against it.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
It was in the corridor now. But she was safe. Rosie was safe.
She heard it scratch at the wood of other doors, as it moved ever closer to her room. She looked down at her feet. Her shadow! It could see her shadow!
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Frantically, she hastened through her room and shut off all the lamps.
“Off. Off. Off,” she muttered, as she flicked all the light switches and the room turned dark.
The only light now came through the window, where the jagged, glowing line still glared down. But not here. This was her room. Here, she slept and played and watched TV, before going to sleep at night. She was safe.
There was a shadow under her door. Rosie backed away slowly. Something scratched at her door. The heavy wood began to splinter. Rot spread over the concrete walls.
The shadow turned away. She breathed a monumental sigh of relief. She heard more scratching on other doors, as the thing kept searching. It tested every door and had passed her by, passed her fortress and moved on.
Her heart stopped, as a sudden thought struck her.
Was her door the only one that was locked?
Something grabbed her by the ankle and yanked her to the floor. Before she could scream, she was dragged under the bed and into total darkness.