Writing Group: An Unexpected Guest (PRIVATE)

Hello, Surprise Hosts and Drop-In Visitors alike!

Do you like surprises? Are you the kind of person who likes to plan ahead? Yes? No? Well, whatever your answer is, do me a favour and take care of this prompt for me, will you? Great! I’ll leave it in your care, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

An Unexpected Guest

Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

A prompt like this is pretty self explanatory, isn’t it? You’re either rushing around to get ready to go out or just having a lazy day to yourself, when suddenly the doorbell rings and makes you go “Who could that be? I wasn’t expecting anyone.” as you move to answer it.

But like all of our wonderful prompts, there are more sides to this than it first appears. By the term “guest”, we can assume that whoever is being visited ends up playing host… whether they want to or not. Of course, there’s the very common “I was in the area!” kind of guest. The one who was running errands and happened to think of you, so they figured why not? They’ll surprise you by showing up randomly. But we also know that sometimes that very line is said casually but actually means “I came straight here. Just for you.” Now this can be twisted in several ways itself. Perhaps a friend you haven’t seen in a long time decided they just wanted to come see you. They missed you and wanted to surprise you with a visit! But what if the visitor isn’t so friendly? Perhaps that demon you made a deal with was “just in the area” and decided to pay you a visit to see about you holding up your end of the bargain. 

Maybe there’s even more than one guest! Like those holidays you find out you’re hosting the family dinner by everyone showing up, and your sibling swearing they told you it was your turn this year but you know they didn’t and they just laugh it off while you have to now find a way to get a dinner ready for several people. Perhaps the “unexpected guests” are a few thieves who broke in in the middle of the night, and you come face to face with each other as you’re getting a glass of water from the kitchen. Maybe they panic and leave. Maybe you just don’t get in their way, letting them take what they want. Or maybe you manage to actually sit them down with a cup of tea and talk to them about life choices. 

Who knows? Maybe the unexpected guest is simply you finding out you have another personality, or maybe even multiple personalities within you. Or perhaps it’s finding out your best friend has telepathy by them suddenly speaking inside your head from across the room.

There’s many, many ways to spin this kind of prompt. It all depends on how you would define the word “guest”.

Now, go on and weave your tales. We’ll keep the tea warm while we wait for you to return with your submission.


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 3:00pm 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! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.

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!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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).
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

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1 year ago

“Holiday Ham”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

Gurgen stirred his soup, the yellow-brown broth beating against the sides of the bowl as ocean waves against stone. He clenched his jaw as the gray-red bearded intruder slurped, gulped and horked down the fine Frosttide venison soup. With a smacking of his lips, the much shorter man hoisted the bowl into the air.

“More, please!”

Gurgen’s father laughed. “Pace yourself, Berach! There is no need to rush soup. Besides, we have three more courses!”

Gurgen yawned and popped his ears. He groaned as Berach placed his bowl on the table. An older man that resembled Berach yet was much shorter sighed, a twinkle in his eye.

“Thank you once again for your hospitality, Misho. To think you’ve remembered our promise all these years…”

Misho laughed heartily. “How could I forget you, Cairbre? I owe you my life!”

Cairbre seemed to blush through his thick white beard. “Oh, I wouldn’t know about that!”

Gurgen groaned. Here they went AGAIN. Something within Gurgen snapped. The young changeling slammed his hands on the table and stood.

“Father, must we suffer these fools every year?”

Misho looked as if his son had slapped him. “My son, surely the Frosttide preparations are getting to you. Sit! Have some soup. Ease your—”

“How could I relax when this simpleton is downing soup like a starving pig?!”

Berach stopped and pulled his bowl down. “I’m sorry, Master Tsirek. It’s been so long since I’ve had a warm meal. I got carried away!”

“Carried away?! Ha! I know your type. You’re the kind that tries to weasel their way into people’s pockets. What’s the name of your boss? Aodhan?”

“Gurgen!” Misho interrupted. “This is no way to treat a guest. After all, it’s Frosttide! There’s enough misery the rest of the year—”


Gurgen’s shout hushed the hall. Cairbre looked at Misho and shook his head.

“He knows the oath, right, Misho?”

Misho nodded. Gurgen collapsed, his heart pounding.

“What… what is…”

A horrific squeal echoed through the hall. Pink flesh bubbles. Four hooves formed. A curly tail sprouted. Cairbre approached Gurgen.

“Well… who’s the pig now?”

1 year ago

The Spot
by Lunabear (Trigger/Content warning: implied miscarriage)

Abbi swayed, nearly pitching left into the refrigerator. The cold concoction passing itself off as coffee dribbled onto the floor. Abbi groaned at the offending puddles.

She continued her shuffling walk to the sink where a mountain of dirty dishes greeted her. Gritting her teeth, she swiped the stained dish towel from the filmy countertop and bent to wipe up the caffeine.

It only made the floor sticky, but if she couldn’t SEE the puddles, then that was good enough. She tossed the towel over her shoulder, pretending not to hear the wet splat with its landing.

Abbi chucked the drink out of the back door and shivered. She hurriedly shut out the cold, then added the cup to the neglected stack.

Heading back to bed, Abbi noticed a small, black spot on the refrigerator door. It was no larger than a quarter, and it was perfectly round. She attempted to remove it with the sleeve of her frayed robe, but it wouldn’t budge.

A yawn accosted her. She decided it would keep until later and retreated to the safety of her bed.

The drama series held little appeal for Abbi. Thoughts crawled and interlocked inside of her head.

The beautiful bundle.


That DEVASTATING checkup.

Crying she would never hear.

Abbi hopped from the couch, her tablet cracking onto the floor. A hollowness ate at her empty stomach, but she beat it back. Maybe getting clean would help.


Tending to her basic hygiene had served little purpose. A weight pressed into her neck. Worse yet, that spot had returned, except on the mirror. It hadn’t come off. She’d get it later.


Abbi watched as the rain pummeled the earth. Condensation fogged the windows.

Her phone ringing left her sighing. She tapped the decline button, knowing Austin would worsen things. Besides, there was nothing to say. No magic words to make it all better.

Abbi powered off her phone. She just wanted to–

“No,” she croaked.

Tears clouded her eyes. In the phone screen’s reflection, Abbi saw the spot had appeared on her cheek.

1 year ago

My Final Assignment
By NocteVesania

Hup… two… three… four… hup… two… three… four…

Marching has never been my strong suit, but I always find myself doing it. I’ve found myself marching in the driest of deserts and the most squalid of ruins, even marching through the frigid wastes of the north, but no snowstorm had ever been as heavy on my body as today.

My ears, bright red from the cold, hear a faint sound. A soft melody, a jubilant throe of bells and chimes whisper like a sweet siren’s song in the distance. The cold might be getting to my head, but I can’t complain. Their call, distant as they may be, reminds me of past glory. The days when streamers lined the streets, confetti rained, and cheers filled the air. We marched with heads held high and smiles on our faces, like lamb being brushed and cared for, all before the slaughter. The streamers turned to smoke, confetti to sand and ash, and the cheers to cries of fear and despair. The mortar fire drew closer and closer as we sprint from the shore, each blast a countdown to our demise.


I crouch down, hands on my head. As I open my eyes, I see only white. Where am I again? Another explosion rings in the distance, followed by joyous cheers. An orange ball of fire glimmers in the blue sky. Fireworks.

“It’s over,” I remind myself as I regain composure, “it’s all over.”

I continue on my way, trudging through the snow until I finally reach my destination. I stand on the snow-covered porch, staring at a maple door. I raise my right hand to knock, but no sound comes.

“Oh, right,” I sigh, clenching my right shoulder, where an arm used to be.

I knock with my left, then take a deep breath. I’ve been assigned across the world, fought at different fronts, all to see my family safe and sound. Today is the day of my last assignment, I should be glad. After all, I am where I’ve always wanted to be.


I am home.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
1 year ago

Dropping on In
by Jesse Fisher

My head is throbbing, might just be the travel from one place to another but not like this. It might help if I open my eyes.


The wolf opened his cyan eyes, noticing he was on the ground he picked himself up and began to dust off his outfit. As he looked over his shoulders and fluffed his jacket, he noticed that there seemed to be a bar around him. Which was strange to the wolf as he did not recall there ever being a time that he would appear in a building over a remote location. His blue fur seemed to stand up for some reason.

Could be just a feeling or the headache, but the wolf moved to the bar to get some information on what the deal was around here. Well it might have worked if not for the force slamming him into the nearest wall.


That voice, he knew that voice very well but almost could not believe what was in front of him. Questions as to how that was possible but the choking was kinda making it hard to ask them. So thinking quickly the wolf sent a brown boot to the assailant’s face.

“Well I guess I should not be surprised that you would not like me showing up. But come on Demon, why you gotta be like that?”

The similar but darker wolf just held his nose, snarling at his counterpart.

“I’m this way because of you and you’re rage, do you know how many issues you have?”

“We both know that is not fully true, you can just control your own rage.”

“I have, but you just bring the emotion out of me.”

With a sigh the lighter blue wolf just looked to the bar. “Just let me have a drink and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Fine.” Demon replied going off to another part of the room.



Last edited 1 year ago by Tale Foundry
1 year ago

By Daniel Weaver

They are so high and mighty, the saviors of the world. The heroes, that this world needs. Ridiculous. They are merciful, eh? Should’ve killed me. Letting me live with this constant pain is less then merciful. Filling my guts with blades, is less then merciful. Beating me up until I’m unconscious… IS… BARELY… MERCIFUL!

The sky crackled, roared and shouted. Bright lights filled my eyes, thunder after thunder. One rain drop after another, as clouds filled with anger and sorrow crept above me. There I stood, in front of the house. I heard their laughter filling the living room, heat radiating from the walls. They were happy…

The sky crackled, roared and shouted. Bright lights filled my eyes, thunder after thunder. One rain drop after another, as clouds filled with anger and sorrow crept above me. There I stood, in front of the house. I heard their laughter filling the living room, heat radiating from the walls. They were happy…

I nodded to my grunts next to me, and after a second they disappeared in the shadow surrounding the house. A sharp pain ran through my body and I had to hold back my raspy shout.

My henchmen got back to me, with a satisfied grin.

“It’s ready boss.” Said one of them while handing me the detonator. My eyes rested upon this small, yet so delicate device. Truly beautiful, what a destruction can on small button cause.

The taste of blood lingering in my mouth brought me back to the moment, my men looking at me. I see it in their eyes. They think I’m weak. They would be right. Not for long.

A hero, is nothing without the villain. A savior is expendable, if there is no monster to be slain. So be it, I’ll play along.

“Don’t you want to let me in?” – I’ll be your monster – “It’s awfully cold outside.”

1 year ago

The Wanderer Where the Mosquitoes Hum
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)

The Wanderer approached a lonesome hovel on aching hips and throbbing leg. No other buildings on the marsh’s edge, just this stoic reminder of humanity dark against the shadows of mudwillows and green as a forest’s night.

The Wanderer, in whose nature it was not to stop, paused and stood and, listening, saw.

The house was small and grim. Footprints at the door. A songbird screaming in anger. Where once was a garden, a confused mass of feral crops competed for space. Mosquitoes hummed. The marsh was in the wind and earth. No fire lit the hearth, now not for a long time.

The Wanderer walked closer, wary of surprises and weary of travails. The house was stone and lockelichen and smelled of carnal decay, a fresh reminder of safety. No windows, one room, an aged and heaped body in one corner. The Wanderer surveyed the marsh again and saw no sign of humans.

“Who are you?” The Wanderer muttered, hands in the skeleton’s pockets. A sharp crystal, jagged and beaten. Seeds and mummified fruit casing. Fingernails.

“Well? I know you’re here.”

A spirit spoke back to the Wanderer. It spoke of betrayal and abuse, then fear. The spirit, lost in its pain, remembered nothing of its life.

“I can give you rest,” The Wanderer said softly. Dark hair caressed between fingers.

“I am no one.”

“I will call you niekas. And you will be someone.”

“When You are done with that, what of me?”

The Wanderer, understanding the difference between spiritual and bodily pain, wept then. The spirit could offer nothing, for while it is difficult for the living to touch the dead, it is moreso for the dead to touch the living.

The Wanderer offered to carry the spirit, show it the world. The spirit, gnashing, cried until the Wanderer took the crystal from its corpse and held it still while the spirit climbed inside.

In the morning, the Wanderer with niekas left the house and walked a forgotten path. Behind them, the marsh reflected firelight.

Last edited 1 year ago by RVMPLSTLTSKN
1 year ago

Nocturnal Waltz
By Zanneel Halvorson

I awoke in a forest, in that liminal space between waking and sleep; both aware and unaware I was dreaming. I started walking, listening to the strange sounds around me, feeling the air shift about me in an accustomed way, yet one not of the Earth I knew. I was somewhere else, somewhere far beyond the bounds of my once blue home. And yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this place was more familiar to me than the world I’d spent my whole life in.

It wasn’t long before I came across a peculiar sight. A house, from its shape and dimension, yet made of no man’s hand, as its walls were the very soil and grass it rested upon, like the ground had simply willed it into being. I smiled, as despite it’s alien frame, I made my way through as if I knew it like the back of my hand.

Then came the rain. A gust of cold wind it’s only preamble before the melodic percussion rang through the undergrowth. Despite my surroundings, the sweet scent of petrichor soon filled my senses, reminding me of the world I’d left behind. A brief moment of nostalgia that brought a smile to my lips as I let the raindrops dance across my face.

Time passed. Minutes? Hours? Days? I didn’t care. I had lost myself in the wonder, so much so that when I next became aware of myself, I was gazing up at what I thought were stars, until they began to move. Floating about me like daydreaming fairies. I shifted my gaze and found I was surrounded by natural stone walls. I’d somehow found my way into a cave.

As I walked, and my sense of oneness with this alien land grew, I finally peeked the blue sky before me through the waning canopy. I don’t think my legs ever carried me so fast. I knew not what lay beyond the leaves, but I didn’t care. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I knew.

I was home.

Last edited 1 year ago by Zanneel
1 year ago

A Stupid Assignment (Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

Sam leaned on the table, squishing her face with her hand, mumbling angrily. She had a lot of words to describe the assignment in front of her, and she couldn’t say any of them from her chair in the school library.

The assignment was for Infiltration/Sabotage, a class she’d only been in for one full week. First day of week two, and suddenly she had seven days—six, since it was already Tuesday, drat—to record a video of herself stealing something, from someone, while they were there, without them noticing, and also bring the stolen item to class next Monday. Ew.

There were many things absolutely horrible about this assignment. Filming was always a recipe for disaster, everyone in her family had echolocation-levels of hearing, and if the object in question was too important, the little ones would cry and her dad would freak out. And to top it all off, this stupid video functioned as the first quiz of the semester.

Sam circled the assignment name a third time, grinding her pencil into the page.

“Hey Sam, what’s up—”

“Gah!” Sam flinched, her chair sliding backwards. “Oh. H—hi, Roselyn.”

“Woah.” Roselyn stared at her. “Did I actually startle you instead of the other way around? That’s new. Is something up?”

“I, uh, this thing…” Sam handed her the paper.

Roselyn read through it. “Wow, week two, and something this complex? We’re still on safety procedures.”

“I know! What am I gonna do? I’d never get away with staging it—you know me—and I can’t steal from my family,” Sam tugged at her ponytail, antsy.

“What about me?”

Sam froze. “What?”

“You can steal from me. I’ve got so much expensive junk in the castle. You get extra credit for snagging something valuable,” she pointed at a paragraph Sam must have missed, “and my jewelry box lives by the window. Unexpected, unstaged, this conversation never happened. Easy, yes?”

“You’re… okay with this?”

“Just give whatever you steal back after, ‘kay?” Roselyn smiled, returning the paper and heading out the door.

“Yeah, that’s… fine…” Sam watched her leave, face turning somewhat pink.

1 year ago

“Sibling Bonds” by Magan (Legends of Dra’cora)

Gale carefully worked his earth magic, sealing the leaking roof of his burrow from rain. He was a griffon-like mix of crow-bird and canine called a canvid. He was bluejay and jackal. Like all magical creatures of Dra’cora, he was a demigod.

He released the spell, stoked his fireplace, and settled to eat. Movement caught his eye and he ducked as a sword impaled where his head would’ve been.

“Nice to see you too, sister,” he grumbled, tugging the sword, “Good news?” She must’ve drained an earth spirit for strength, the blade was embedded to its hilt in the clay wall.

“Surprisingly, yes. Humans are greedy fools.” Flare said, shaking her wet red fur as she entered. Half-blooded, she was beastfolk on mother’s side–magicless, talking animals. Flare was a fox, with father’s bluejay markings. She went to the fireplace, stealing Gale’s dinner of beastfolk mice. Dracorians eating each other was taboo outside funerals, but neither sibling cared.

Gale saw the fading glow of earth-elemental magic around her, sighing as he gave up on freeing the sword. “Stop eating spirits. We’re trying to lay low, remember? How long before word spreads about you selling our ancestor’s petrified remains like common jewels? Do you even know where The Labyrinth of Apocalypse is? How do you know the humans can find it?”

“I know what I’m doing,” she made a rude gesture with her cursed paw, emerald stone clicking together as muscle and bone moved underneath.

Gale saw her wince, laid a claw on her shoulder where the fur and flesh were still petrifying. He couldn’t stop their bloodline curse, no one could, but he could slow it, ease her suffering.

Flare snarled, shifting her entire emerald foreleg into a blade, biting back screams. Gale ignored the threat, poured his magic into her. She was too exhausted to fight his healing and help to bed.

“Promise me you’re not trying to free the Nex like our crazy, cultist ancestors. You just want the hidden magic libraries, right? Not that monster?”

“I promise,” she lied, “I’m doing this for us.” That part was true.

Last edited 1 year ago by ArkansanDragoness
1 year ago

Coming Home
By Lumikat117 (Lumi)

When Helena was finally returning home after weeks of being on a quest, she had been expecting to return home to a quiet and empty house. After all, she lived alone in the middle of the woods, she had no living family or any friends that knew where she lived other than a general direction from town, why expect otherwise?

Granted, she hadn’t expected to be away for so long, what should have taken a week, maybe two at most, turned into a wild hog chase after she got turned around by the damn centaur’s riddle, which made her take the extra long detour AROUND Mount Arlendo instead of going through the damn tunnels-

She cut off that train of thought before she riled herself up. Again. Anyway! Regardless of this last adventure, she certainly hadn’t expected to see smoke rising from her home’s chimney.

Oh great, a squatter.

Helena sighs heavily as she readies her staff, approaching the house cautiously as the jeweled head began to glow a dim blue. She stepped up onto the porch, avoiding the creaky spots as she made her way to the window, wanting to get an idea of how many had broken into her home and what damage they might’ve caused to her precious books.

Peering in slowly, she spotted a lone, slouched figure huddling itself as close to the fireplace as possible while shivering heavily. Huh.

Another quick check yielding no new results, Helena used her staff to silently unlock her front door as she tiptoed inside, ready to attack the intruder if it came to it.

She got within about fifteen ft before the figure tensed up, sensing her presence and clumsily shuffling around, revealing a shaggy, soaked young man clutching a rather large bundle to his chest, his eyes wide with terror.

“P-please don’t hurt me! I-I mean no harm, I just needed to rest for a bit, I promise to leave quickly I just-”

She let him babble on as she stares at the bundle’s contents, having come slightly undone in his panicked movements. It was a dragon hatchling.

1 year ago

A Secret Left to Rot
by Gerrit (Rattus)

Deep belowground, far beneath the lowest basement of the Arcanaeum, even the walls felt like they were watching him. Judging him. The stale air clung to him like a shroud, full of mildew and times long forgotten.

Areziah continued down the stairs, a mouse in a lion’s den, placing each step with careful silence. The only light was the soft glow from the stone beset into his ring, but even that he kept to a minimum. Just enough to see where the next step was. Just enough, he hoped, to not alert anyone who might have come down here ahead of him.

As he rounded the last turn in the twisting staircase, he noticed a light that wasn’t his own. Was someone already down here? Peering around the brick, the first thing he saw were the eyes. Silver and unblinking. Below them, the man’s lips slowly curled into a smirk.

“You’re a new face. Has my old attendant died already? Shame, I was just starting to like him.” Despite the man’s haggard appearance, his voice retained a fullness to it. “And who might you be?”

“I’m Areziah. Tolga sent me down here.” The man sat on his knees, arms shackled to opposite walls. His colourless hair and beard extended to the ground, likely growing for longer than Areziah had been alive. A ring of clear glowstones were placed around him, illuminating the multiple rings of runes that had been carved into the ground around him.

“Ahh, so you’re Areziah. Now that I think about it, I do recall Tolga saying he’d like us to meet.” The man shifted in his restraints, straightening out as much as his age-warped back would allow. “You should have warned me you were coming, I would have shaved.”

“Are you a God?” Areziah wondered where the question came from. Why else would there be a being chained up so far beneath the Arcanaeum?

“No, boy. I’m no God.”

“Then what are you? Why are you chained up down here?”

The man smiled, a slow, deliberate grin. “Because I’m something the Gods fear.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Rattus
C. M. Weller
1 year ago

Not Just Any Guest (a Tiefling Tale)
C. M. Weller

Tallo’s official title was The Boy, despite being a girl. It was her job to take in deliveries, take out the garbage, take down the laundry, take up the clean linens, and generally take the blame. She had no idea how she was going to get blamed for this one, but that was part of the ‘joy’ of her work.

When the Earl Valiant said, “The Boy will show you the available suites,” and rang his bell, Tallo rushed into the room to face…

A figure dressed in black, with a face and form from storybooks. Blue skin. Shining yellow eyes. Indigo hair and slightly spiralled upright horns. And a spaded tail twitching behind him. A Demon Lord! In her lifetime!

“Stop staring, Boy, and see the Viscount Kormwind to accommodations fit for the heir!”

Tallo bobbed a curtsey, “Yessir. Sorry, sir. If you’d follow me, m’lord?” She turned and rushed towards the empty suites of the castle, realising in horror that no footfalls trailed her. She turned to glance behind, but there he was, keeping pace without a sound.

When he spoke, he had a Zemnian accent. “You have questions. I will answer them.”

Tallo had to blurt, “I thought it was only Viscount Spitebane as heir.”

“Not shocked. One of the puff titles for all Kormwinds is ‘Living Shame of Whitekeep’. The old man prefers me invisible or dead, so he won’t have to admit it.”

“Admit… what?”

“That he sired a Demon Lord, that he did things to stifle me, that all his plans have turned to muck. Take your pick.” A very sharp and menacing grin. “I am not going to be invisible for very much longer.”

As she showed him a suite just like Spitebane’s, Tallo had to wonder how it was all going to be her fault.