Hello, Botanists and Druids!
Do you have a green thumb? Maybe a gift for working with plants? Do you feel more drawn to greenhouses and garden centers, or even fields and forests, rather than the paved and manufactured feel of the city? Then get your fertilizer and trowel, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Conquered By Nature
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!
We’ve seen it time and again, haven’t we? Mostly on television, sure, in those “explorational specials” or documentaries on ancient civilizations. But imagine what it would be like to push through the vines and the brush and find evidence that you weren’t there first. Imagine how utterly mind-blowing it would be to discover someone else had already come and gone, hundreds of years before you were even a thought.
Now is your chance to explore from the comfort of your home! Now you can venture out into the uncharted lands of wherever and beat back the vines and the brush. What would you discover?
Perhaps a long ruined city stands before you, trees growing through what little of the buildings are left standing while vines and briars twist, turn, and snake over everything in sight. Wild roses and all kinds of flowers and vegetation grow wherever they please. Where artificial colours and places once stood, where bustling and numb crowds once called home, now a whole new kind of life thrives freely.
Only your imagination and research can tell what truly happened here. Maybe the animals in the zoo finally broke out of their domesticated life and wiped humanity from the slate. Or maybe it wasn’t a zoo at all, but a council of druids that were tired of humans taking advantage of Gaia’s gifts, and taking her once lush and lovely world for granted. Perhaps the ents that guard the oldest forests finally rose up to topple the logging industry, and the rest of civilization with it for fear that it would just start all over again.
Every tree tells a story, but only if you cut it down and count the rings. Will your curiosity be sated just to look upon the overgrown greenery, or will you dig too deep and suffer Gaia’s twisting and entangling wrath?
Now that the seed is planted, nurture it, and let it grow into whatever lovely idea it wills itself to be. Drink from its sweet nectar to feed your imagination and fuel your pen.
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!
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What to Submit
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Conquered by Nature
The Great Guardian of the Forest
Nick was lying in the grass with his friends in the woods, taking in the view of the clouds and sun gliding by. It was a cool summer day with the colorful birds chirping, and the sound of wind crashing against the leaves on the trees. Otto was playing the guitar for Flara, while Sam and Veladinsa were having a picnic. Nick was about to drift off to sleep when he heard a noise. It sounded like someone was walking through the woods, crunching leaves with every step.
“Who’s there?” Nick called out. There was no answer.
Otto, Flara, Sam, and Veladinsa all stopped what they were doing and looked around, trying to see who was there.
“I don’t see anyone,” Otto said.
“Me neither,” Flara said.
“Maybe it’s the Guardian of the Forest, Adzotl,” Sam said. “Everyone knows he protects these woods.”
“I don’t know,” Nick said. “But whoever it is, they’re getting closer.”
Just then, a large creature stepped out from behind the trees. It was Adzotl, the Guardian of the forest!
“What are you doing in my forest?” Adzotl asked.
Adzotl stood there with his tree-like appearance with his ancient worn-out staff in his hand staring down at the team in anger and disgust.
“We’re just relaxing,” Nick said. “We didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“You humans are always coming into my forest and disturbing the peace,” Adzotl said. “I’m tired of it! You’re all going to leave now and never come back!”
Adzotl used his staff to create a tree-like barrier wall around the forest blocking Nick and his friends out of the forest.
“What about our things?” Otto asked.
“You won’t be needing them where you’re going,” Adzotl said.
And with that, Nick and his friends were forced out of the Forest by Adzotl, never to return again. They had been conquered by nature.
“Well, that’s great,” said Veladinsa angered “We’ve been kicked out of the forest. AGAIN!”
“Welp, time to call Animatrolis to tell his friend to let us back in the forest,” said Nick puling out his phone
I realized I wanted to make a private entry instead. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Thank you by LenneLenni “Hm? Where’d everyone go?” Five-year-old, Jessy Whimston, looked around for her parents. They had been riding on the Ferris Wheel when she fell asleep on her mother’s lap. Rubbing her eyes, she looked outside the window of the ride, to find the amusement park covered in trees and grass. Her eyes widened like saucers when she saw how high up she was stuck high in the air! She started grasping around for her mother’s hand before remembering she was all alone up there. Tears started forming in her eyes as she remembered her mother was gone. She looked around for a way to get out when she saw the door. Since the contraption was no longer moving, she decided to take the risk and see if the door would be open too. Just in luck, the door slowly creaked open as she pushed it little by little. Unfortunately for her, her luck had just run out. As she was pushing and pushing and pushing, she began to fall, forwards. She tried to topple backward to save herself from certain death, but she hit something as she fell. She stood up abruptly, holding and trying to touch her back in pain. That’s when the carriage began to move again. But, much, much, faster than before. She looked for anything, something to grab onto to avoid falling forwards. There was nothing in sight. So, she decided to take the best chance she got at survival. Jump out when it was at its lowest. She steeled herself for the rough fall, but nothing could compare to the pain she felt when she scraped her leg while falling. She cried out in shock as she watched blood drip down from her leg. She sobbed just by looking at it and tried to crawl towards something that could help her, anything! Just then, vines started creeping towards her from all sides. She screamed and tried to wiggle out of their grasp. She just wasn’t strong enough. As the vines began to move around her injured leg, she felt her body go limp in the vine’s firm hold. Her vision filckered in and out as she felt her leg tingling with a warm, crackly pop! She soon collapsed and lost all track of what was happening after that. “Dear! Dear! Wake up!” Someone shook Jessy up. Jessy cried as she remembered what was happening and shot up immediately. She looked around and saw her mother and father with her on the ferris wheel. She rubbed her eyes in astonishment as she saw them again. She lept forward to hug her father across from her, when her mother held her tight. “Nuh-uh! You still have to hug me little baby girl!” She hugged Jessy and kissed her head all over. The ride began to stop and they all got off, with Jessy in her mother’s hands. “Ahhh, nature is super magical!” Jessy exclaimed with a grin on her face. Her parents nodded and… Read more »
Long Since Lost
By: Hael Amon
Stone-like monoliths, long since eroded and breaking mar a horizon adorned with a setting sun. The tops have crumbled unevenly birthing hands grasping for the heavens. Abandoned by what they reach for.
On a closer look the cracks and fissures of a once pristine surface are dotted with green and brown. Vines, roots, and wood with their gnarled surfaces like a constrictor squeezing its prey as they crush and erode the great columns that upheld once mighty towers.
A skyscraper collapses. The strain of nature too much for the manmade construct to bear. As its pillars collapse in on themselves the tower falls lopsidedly with not one large sound, but that of a rain heavier than any nature could conceive. Great billows of dust rise one might even see a flash of white amongst the browns, greens, and grays.
As the dust falls, the white is once more revealed. Skeletons. Two of them, with a third and fourth to the side. Half buried in dust, dirt, and rubble the skeletons paint a picture of untold age. Their brown stained bones in misery of failure. One skeleton, with ribs crushed and spine in two, faces a second, smaller skeleton. The smaller skeleton with not a scratch but its skull being smashed like a small, fragile egg.
Just before the skeleton covering their child, a monstrously massive skeleton lay; bigger than a bear the canine skeleton’s claws, even in death, rake the protective skeleton’s wide pelvis. The behemoth bones’ skull is pierced through with jagged edges lining the singular hole.
The final skeleton lies off to the side, no damage mars its aged bones. Collapsed on the ground in the shape of the one who fell, it’s only comfort a rusted rifle just in hands reach. A mere few more rusted metal rounds within.
Scenes of such skeletons, telling stories of loss and despair litter the lost city in all corners. As the forests close in, as the plants crumple concrete like paper. All while a small, green plant growing in the skull of a long since dead child.
Conquered by Nature.
“It’s funny,” he once said to me, in that deep gruff voice of his, “when all is said and done it’ll all fall, it’s all meaningless in the eyes of time.”
I had been sceptical at the time; I wasn’t ready to believe. A few years later when Igor passed on I sadly felt very little, we had long walked separate paths since the war. I put the cause down to the difficulty of remaining friends with a man when all that binds you is violence and trauma.
Now the dull grey shell of a helicopter greeted me, the blades angrily chopping away at the air, making it bleed. The pilot barely noticed me, he was a machine, trained to ferry his passengers to their grave.
The fiery world passed under me, a hell I knew well, ruled by the cruel gods. They have no mercy on those whose days of blood are in the past. Not in a hundred years did I think I would be back, in the midst of the blood. The same lands I had helped liberate years ago, through bloodshed and loss… I was now giving it into the hands of the men who we had taken it from.
My god of war was waiting my arrival, he had name, a name that makes my tongue bleed… Sergeant Doyle.
He was grinning from ear to ear, “Didn’t think I’d see you back here, I was under the impression war is for men, not cowards.”
I grimaced, struggling to bite back my rage; the bastard now outranked me. Whatever rank there was no hiding his blackened, scarred face. He was a monster, and he had been the one who had put my name in the list, the list of who to recall to war.
I spat on the floor, finally unable to resist, “As an old friend once put it, everything will fall to ruin, that includes both this war, and you.”
Doyle smirked, unwavering “At least I get something out of this war, you lay down your life for nothing, now why do you think that is?”
“Human nature. We fight to enslave a nation we once fought to free, all for greed and power, all to feed the darkest parts of ourselves. We may be the conquerors, but our demons have conquered us. ”
He was speechless…
His Nature (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Jostica sat sideways on the couch with her legs thrown over Thomas’ lap. “Luckily the whole box didn’t catch fire or I would have been in REAL trouble.”
Thomas laughed. “I bet!” I can’t believe you got away with it as is.” He chuckled and said, “Reminds me of-” He stopped and looked away. “Or-” he started, and stopped just as quickly. He coughed. “Uh, never mind.”
Jostica leaned into the back of the couch. “What is it?”
Thomas opened his mouth and sighed. “You make me want to say things that would make you hate me.”
Jostica straightened and leaned in. “What do you mean?”
Thomas thought for a moment. “How much do you know about me?”
Jostica chewed on her lip. “After months of working with you, I think I know you pretty well. But of your past… I think I know more about Shockwave than I do Thomas Herrner.
He grimaced. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that.” He ran his fingers through his hair and after a moment said, “One of the things I keep wanting to tell you about is something I’m really proud of, but also really ashamed of.”
Jostica nodded for him to continue.
“So you know I worked with The Tank a lot? Well, we were best friends in high-school. A perfect Brains & Brawn duo. Even before high-school was over he was a BIG dude. By the end of it he was a monster. I think he was seven-foot-ten? He could lift over a ton. And he was tough, but he wasn’t like, bullet proof tough. So-” Thomas laughed “So I built him his armor because I thought it’d be cool. He could have been a high level bodyguard or enforcer for some mob boss, but I turned him into a genuine super villain. That suit has been giving heroes problems for fifteen years. One of the most impressive things I’ve ever made…” He sighed. “But I wish I’d never built it.”
“Well…” Jostica said, “I think the greatest thing you ever built is your new life as a hero.”
The Queen of Heaven
by Joris Lemoine (aka. Amaunator)
Inanna decided to take a break from the city. It was just as well; the markets and avenues sweltered with busy bodies. Instead, she wandered off from the sparkling brick walls, glazed in turqoise, ochre and ferric red.
First she walked by the riverside, only to be met by horseflies, fowl and musthy buffaloes. She swatted them all away and left the sun’s glimmer on the watercourse behind.
Then she strolled by the fields with their carefully kept drills and canals, the one oozing with algae and spawn and the other crisscrossed by an early rising of jade green shoots. Crickets, voles and cats scurried and furorred about in that undergrowth. She quieted them with a look, but thought better of it as she moved towards the edge of the forest. Let beasts be beasts, she sighed.
Tamarisk and juniper trees played in the perfumes wafting from the date orchards. At a wellspring she seated herself on a stone. She breathed in the paean of chirrups, gurgling water and whistling leaves that shimmered in the golden sunlight, and she breathed out her cares.
A gazelle stepped into a ray of light that clave the canopy. Its ears flicked while its black tail trembled, held erect. Then, hoof by hoof, the sleek brown thing approached Inanna and laid its head on her lap. Enthroned on her stone, she had a firmer grasp on the fawn than ever she had had on her congregation. Solitary bees buzzed, nuzzling wildflowers.
As she mused on her worries, a low growl set the fawn’s tail a-quiver again. She stilled it and gave her beneficent smile to the lion that stalked into her bower. He was an old male with a frayed mane and a scar-riddled snout. At her beckon, it sat by her side and started licking its chops. There she drowsed, cool water lapping at her sandaled feet. None would ever think to find her there, far away from her usual trappings. Not even Dumuzi. It amused her, and she let the rhythm of the savage outdoors take her out of her own mind.
By Matthew R. Wright
The problem was staring him right in his mud-washed rural face. The greatest thing to happen to him or his small country village, and he couldn’t share it, with anyone.
It was something. Budding flowers of various colours framed the aged stone back-wall of his cottage like a portrait. Green vines weaved and twisted across and along the surface of the wall like brushstrokes on canvas.
It produced what Buk could only describe as THE WORD.
Buk was a man of simple thinking, most would ask questions in a moment like this, Buk had one, what next?
He recognised it as something ‘not-everyday’, knew it he been designed, somehow. He knew that neither he nor anyone he knew had made it. This was something else.
Buk liked folks, they liked him for the most part. If Buk were to share this natural miracle, he would be giving everyone permission to hate him.
The problem centred around sharing, sharing THE WORD.
Could bring a friend round, describe it in a letter or on the telephone, take a picture. It was important that whoever saw it knew that Buk had not been the one to make it.
If only it had been some other word.
Buk stared at it, the awe-inspiring beauty of the illusion and the whiplash of seeing the vines form THAT WORD.
It’d gotten dark. he’d spent the whole evening staring at his back-wall. But from that came a solution.
He found his old Polaroid in the attic, took a snapshot of the wall. One day he’d look back with confused interest. First, hide THE WORD, from the world.
They would have just jumped to conclusions.
Careful to not burn down his cottage, Buk placed small dabs of gasoline across the canvas, struck the match, and watched in terrored amazement as the fire consumed.
It burned all night.
He reflected back to the fire, to the wall, to the events that followed. Had he made the right choice?
He remembered the wall, THE WORD.
Fire was the only sensible option.
Buk was a man of simple thinking.
The book of tree people
In the wake of the great blooming, there was a man, this was the man who started our society “the wise one.” after getting his leg torn open because he was running from a pack of wolves. The wise one searched and searched for medicine of the old world to help the agonizing pain. Unable to find any of the hard to renew medicine he decided to take a nap, he must have been thinking to himself that the nap might make him skip time to his death, because with a wound that bad there was no way he’d survive.
He dreamt of a terrifying dream of maggots eating his wound, but in this dream he found safety in the ways of nature. He awoke and the purple moss that comes out once every year healed his wound completely. Amazed, the wise one set out to learn as much as he could about nature. He studied and wrote all the amazing knowledge he learned in his journal. The more he learned the more he built his home up from a simple campfire into a castle. After his return to the soil, he left his book for our people to find.
The people who found it were amazed at how effective the knowledge in the book was in todays world. And with references to the great tree people, they named the book the book of the tree people. Our colony grew rapidly after finding the book. And then once every year. On the anniversary of the wise ones death. The purple moss comes out. And brings us new knowledge.
Human Nature (a tale from Gaea)
The ruins still stand, 300 years after their abandonment. Humanity colonized several places, naming this one New London due to the river reminding them of one they left behind. Their Thames had long been dammed by debris from a once-great bridge, turning the ruins into marshland. The bizarre flora and fauna of Gaea were slowly but inexorably reclaiming this transformed place – nesting in walls, swimming through flooded tunnels, gliding between buildings, and growing vibrantly from every seam and crack in the monolithic stone landscape.
A figure stood on one of the roofs. They could be mistaken for a short, cute human (albeit clad in an improbable collection of brightly-colored scarves), but this Faerie and their kind are natives. They contemplated the ruins, wondering why humans saw fit to change the land into this.
Ancient humans were clearly capable of flight – why else had they made their buildings incredibly tall? It’s said they first came down from the sky, and how would they be in the sky if they couldn’t fly? Did they fall out of the Tree like feeble hatchlings falling from their nest, hit the ground, and immediately build mountains? That makes even less sense. No, humans must have flown. They just seem to have forgotten how since then.
Yet, most of their towering structures had a curious lack of balconies or other air-accessible entrances, instead opting for staircases. This building’s staircase was filled with the echoes of someone cursing while climbing through the rubble. “I thought you said… It was easy to get up here!” a human voice called out in Abcedan.
“It’s just one jump!”
“You could have… Carried my backpack,” he panted.
“You should bring less stuff, not make me carry it.”
“I need this gear, getting around is hard work if you can’t fly!”
“Fuka! Always complaining! You really want me to move your stuff? Fine. Bye!”
The human was gone – unharmed, but finding themselves back in the wilderness. This wasn’t the first time they had that argument, but perhaps it would be the last.
The Broken Wheel Turns Once More (Mary’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
“Oh Mary, don’t be scared.”
Sometimes, when her mood darkened, Mary would remember the voice of her father, as much as she tried to forget him.
“You need not fear pain, or disease, or even the torment of ageing anymore.”
In that, he had been right. For over two years, she hadn’t felt what she had once known as pain, and no disease could touch her anymore. In that time, she had feared that even her time itself had stalled.
“I have taken them all away.”
Yes, he had. By feeding her a poison so toxic and pervasive, that it had not only killed her, but everything inside her too. So that when he reanimated her, she would not decay…
“Now, you are free to live.”
Until he took her freedom away too, that is.
But things had changed. She had escaped, and she had made sure that he wouldn’t follow. She had walked the woods again, she had found her mother’s house again, she had reconnected to nature again.
Mary peeled away the clothes from her chest, and forced herself to look down, no matter how much she might hate what she saw.
There, nestled within the valleys of old scars, was something new. A mottling of sorts. New spots on dead skin. A spreading of darkness on what had once been pale white.
Mould. Mildew. Rot. The things her poisoned body was made to repel, and yet here it was, only a couple of years late.
Mary stared at it for a while.
She should be horrified, right? She knew that if she could see this, then this was just the surface. That there was far more growing beneath her skin, spreading across her body, eating her away.
But to her surprise, she didn’t. She didn’t feel worried, or even sad. She felt more at peace than she had been in years.
Because now, she knew there was a part of her that breathed. And if she had to embrace Time again, to reconnect with the world and all its life…she’d make that choice every time.
The Grand Necropolis is lost. There is a sad irony in its ruin. We had seen the downfall of so many civilizations, but only my sight bear witness to our end.
Gnarled wood breaks the stones that house the bones of our most celebrated dignitaries. Vines dangle where once our banners stood proud. The sun searches through our dilapidated tunnels for places where it has not shone in millennia, finally laid bare for the stars to touch.
For a moment, frozen memorialized history escapes our records, before dissipating and dissolving in the air…
No masonry, no politics, no magic… nothing could stop the flow of time. We thought we could at least stop decay, and preserve our accomplishments, our history. In our sacred death, we thought we could stave off that other death, the final one. The void where memory is lost. But we could not stop time from acting on us, and around us.
Great nations rose against our intent, claiming us an unnatural abomination. Despite our pacific ways, we defended ourselves. We would not have the world suffer from the lack of our grandeur. By the inexorable march of time, peace came, when no other civilization could mettle with us. When none remained, but us.
Time, that capricious ally and enemy, would bring about our downfall. The desire not to be forgotten fed our existence, but even the dead grew weary. It was our pride to stave off forgetfulness. Our science, our philosophy… that was not to be lost. So many others, gone before their time, only survived in our memories and records…
Still, none of us remains, save for me. And I will soon stop, and forget. I can feel the flowers growing inside me. Flowers and fungi are the first to come. Then grass, vines. Trees.
In the long time they take, I observe their growth. The trees that grew out of the record hall seem so still, but in a geological time frame, I can see them dancing.
I’m glad the trees broke the ceiling. Changing skies will be my last vision.
Nature is not always green
By Matheus Ribeiro
“Ok, it’s almost 01:00 P.M. and I’ve got to write this prose for Tale Foundry, but how? I’m not too much of a nature person, how can I draw inspiration from all this green stuff and silly nature witch talk?”
“Why do you always associate nature with green?”
I almost fell to my right, I was startled by this voice, even though it was delicate like a crystal. When I looked to my left, I saw this girl floating by my side. She had blond wavy hair down to her waist, blue eyes and a long dress that changed its color from white to blue. There was mist up to her lower leg and crystals sparked all around her.
“What?!” I screamed, I was totally confused, scared (and enchanted).
“I noticed you thinking about writing a prose on nature, then I showed up to remind you that nature is not only about green landscapes and all that hectic life forms. It ‘s also about me, winter!”
“Wait… you manifested in human form just to speak to me?”
“Why not? You were always fond of me in your heart. I’m your favorite season and now that you have a chance to demonstrate your gratitude for all the good feelings and sensations I provoke in you, you forgot me.”
“Are you jealous?…”
“Maybe! It’s not only you, everyone forgets who is responsible for healing the earth and giving rest, everyone thinks of death when they remember me, I make stupid humans interrupt their wars, I make people remember to care for each other, my snow replenishes and nurtures the soil while animals take a break from consuming… in reality, I’m the one who conquers death!”
“It’s true, I’m sorry. I’ll write about you, thank you for showing up to me in this form, in truth, you conquer not only death, but also my heart.”
And with a smile the winter avatar was enshrouded by mist and sparkling crystals, leaving only her sweet memory behind. Maybe she will appear again someday.
Hunter and Prey (A Song for: Kit)
by Lunabear (Private Repost)
No iron bars.
The stars had never looked more clear, more beautiful. Her heightened sight caught far off streaks and the brightest lights miles above her.
A breeze’s featherlight kiss chased over her abused skin. It tangled within her hair and gently swayed the hem of her white sunflower dress.
Clean, FRESH air.
How long had it been since she’d felt this?
Her eyes stung with the encroachment of hated tears. Such weakness. Her bottom lip quivered. Her fangs bit into the sensitive flesh but just as quickly released their painful pinch.
She clamped her hands against her silent chest, trembling from her unseen conflict. The tears clung to the precipice of her lower lashes. She lifted her nose to the sky, sniffing for his scent. She scanned the distant horizon and lingered over the tall grasses.
‘He isn’t here,’ she mentally assured herself. ‘For now, you’re safe.’
Her Maker wasn’t there.
Her head tipped back, and she smiled to the heavens. Relief caused a waterfall of tears down her face, and it felt so GOOD. The rush of it nearly sent her to her knees.
A strained, soft laugh fell from her, and she gasped in joy that she could still make the sound.
White hot thirst pilfered her of the moment. It scorched its way up her throat and forced crimson into her vision. She doubled over from her clawing, empty stomach. She groaned and whimpered as her entire being sang out its agony.
A different onslaught of tears assaulted her. She took a shuffling step forward, then deeply inhaled. Nothing.
Another step. Sniff. This scent was earthy and cool. Distinctly female.
Step. Sniff. Nothing.
THERE. To the south. Light and sweet, like brown sugar. She recognized it as male.
A reluctant smile stretched her face as she followed the delicious, aromatic trail.
It was her first solo hunt, and she was going to make herself enjoy it.
If she DIDN’T enjoy herself, he’d know. If she ran, he’d find her and never let her go again.
She was going to prove her worth.
The Burden of Truth
By Adrian Solorio (Private Repost)
From behind the concrete rubble, Deniz and Isra scanned the grounds of the ruined library for movement. And Isra once again attempted to warn Deniz off his foolish mission. “You’re courting death, Deniz,” she said. “One of us will be killed. Let’s turn back before it’s too late. If you give these stupid ideas up, the Elders will forgive you–I’m sure.”
“I’ve come too far to give up now.”
Isra frowned and unclipped her lazer-whip.
“Watch the shadows,” said Deniz. “We don’t want to be surprised by anyone or anything–not now–not this close.”
Isra whispered hollowly, “If there’s anything dangerous: man, animal, or mutant, their ass is grass. Just find what you need–and fast. Won’t be long ‘fore the locals catch our scent, and when they do, we don’t want to be here.”
“Looks clear,” Deniz said. “ Let’s go.” They zig-zagged from one pile of rubble to another till they reached the inner-alcove of the library. Inside the smell of books, mildewed and musty, mixed with hundred year dust which lay on the marble floor like a fresh-snow. “Nothing’s been here for ages,” said Deniz.
“Mutants fly and crawl, too.” Isra snapped her whip on, and it whirred and vibrated an angry red. “Besides, some things are more dangerous than mutants.”
They crept deeper into the cavernous hall until they reached a row of computers. Deniz used a powercell to turn on the machines, then he began his work. He searched for the files that told the story–the true story–of civilization’s fall. Isra read the articles and documents over his shoulder, and the more she read, the more she frowned, and the tighter her grip on the lazer-whip. Mankind had destroyed itself in its attempt to conquer nature–to become Gods. “This will destroy the Elders,” said Deniz. “The people need to know–”
“No!” Isra’s whip sliced and sizzled the air. “They don’t. The truth is better left with the dead, Deniz.” His head fell from his body and thudded to the floor. The Elder’s had warned her about Deniz, but she had refused to accept the truth–until now.
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost, CW: dirty jokes)
Kat’s eyes widened as scenes of unimaginable horror unfold within her crystal ball. In them, green haze crawled through streets, the city’s metal signs rusting and stone buildings crumbling to dust to its touch. In its wake, tall grass and mighty trees sprung out, completely replacing the concrete jungle with an actual jungle.
“Th… the Witch of the Wilds,” Kat gasped, “she’s…”
“What is it? And chop-chop. Yours truly has a date.” Lucas brushed his hair to the side, one eyebrow raised, waiting for a reaction.
“They say a witch went rogue long ago,” Kat explained, ignoring Lucas’ dumb expression, “her powers were drained and she was exiled, but she swore revenge once she gathered her strength again.” Kat turned to Lucas, her eyes wide in disbelief. “They called her the Witch of the Wilds.”
“Wild, just how I like ’em. Know what I’m sayin’? Hey-yo!” Lucas put his hand up for a high-five.
“Ugh! This is serious!” Kat scrunched her face, looking back at the crystal ball. “She’s coming.”
Kat watched images of robed mages attempting to contain the haze, but it just kept coming. “There’s too much! It’s getting everywhere!”
Lucas snorted, biting his lips as his cheeks turned red.
The haze, unaffected by the mages’ efforts, enveloped the crowd. Kat gasped as she watched the haze wash over the people, leaving behind only still figures, sparse leaves and branches jutting from their wooden bodies. She starts to panic. “What should I do? This is way too big for me to handle!”
Lucas, no longer able to control himself, blurted out, “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” He whipped his head back, cackling and wheezing.
Kat smacks Lucas’ arm with the back of her hand. “GROW UP!”
All I Need
I would walk and sip my coffee, contemplating life. Something, in particular, caught my eye today.
An overgrown coffee shop encountered me on my walk today. Vines choked around the delicately carved tables, flowers yellow and orange with a bit of each on their petal tips.
Moss dabbed on the corners and walls of the building. It climbed to a stack of dead roses; a crime scene portraying itself.
The yellowed walls showed only a hint of the original white and gray on their surface. The paint was splattered or perhaps worn.
The inside looked so alone. No one came near it. No one showed kindness. Fierce as nature is with its growth and determination, never does it let a building ruminate in its solitude.
The sun shined inside, only a few rays piercing the veil of grime. It looked less alone, a smile inside a lonely building.
A few buds lined the sidewalk. They looked so delicate, possessing a tough exterior. They were smooth to the touch, so hard to crack open.
Someday, it would unfurl its petals with its many valleys, smiling when the sun came up. Delighted to see its friend again, it would shine a reflective light, giving all it had to grow and die.
The dead flowers crumbled to the touch, coming alive in the musky corners of the abandoned building. They had dark red and purple veins running up and down their valleys, showing no smile when the sun came to greet them. The flower had lived its life to the fullest without breathing a word and died without weeping for what was left behind.
It left behind the sun’s smiling friends. A vibrant, colorful family. Though I might not remember the family I once had, nor the life I once strived for, I want to leave behind some brilliant things for everyone to enjoy. I want them to thrive in the sunlight. I want them to smile.
The World at Universe’s End
Such a small word to describe something so big.
Enlani is a vast, lush planet governed by the forces of nature and the ancient magic spiraling through the peaceful atmosphere. The Heart Blossom Sages, however, argue that the two powers are actually one and the same, that the natural and the ethereal are just one ruling body.
Enlani is home to roaring waterfalls flowing up instead of down, moonlilies that reach towards the twin moons, and little fey-like creatures that dance and sway for the mighty trees they inhabit. Mountains as sharp as needles pierce the thin clouds drifting lazily overhead. There are large swarms of pink and lilac butterflies that like to do nothing more than to flutter around a potential friend. Then there are the calm Grumphs, large mammals with thundering footfalls, shaggy brown fur, and kind eyes. And of course, who could forget the Ukani? These exciting spirits light up the night sky with all sorts of colors, circling and dancing, and sending their message of tranquility all the while. Then there are the wonderful sights of magic everywhere you set your gaze: traces of the elemental magics curl up around their sources like wisps of bright smoke, shimmering leylines crisscross the sky, and the divine spells that magical creatures toss around for their own amusement. It is truly a sight to behold.
But all of this pales in comparison to the Heart Blossom. On the distant continent of Cladien, there lies a colossal lotus with pure white petals reaching taller than even the large moonlilies, releasing sparkling spores which emit a faint, golden glow. At the center of this massive flower is what looks like a small star. This “star” gives off an almost blinding light and brings life to all of Enlani with its rhythmic pulsing pattern, sending magical ripples with each beat. The proud Kaldechani saw this magnificent landmark, dubbed it the “Heart Blossom,” and assigned themselves with the task of protecting it. Thus the birth of the Heart Blossom Sages.
Enlani’s magic will live forever.
Roots for Veins
By Ethan Hutchinson (Neptune GT)
Stiff, that’s all I really feel anymore.
The pain stopped a while ago if I am being completely honest. Much of what I used to call my past is now replaced with false memories that I was always here and creates a small amount of self pity. A gust of wind comes in every now and then, swaying me slightly. Other than that, my movement is limited to the ground I am in, my safe place so I am not caught and blown away into the chaos. My purple hair stretches towards the sun, hoping I could be carried away into a new land to populate and embrace my life that the Sun has given me.
I can not give in though, that decision would solidify me as an object when I know I am human. I must not subject myself to such a hell. One day, somebody I used to know will come and find me, I swear on it. I must be patient with myself and just keep my hope. Hope will be my savior, not this stupid star that tempts me. Many people have walked by, most of them too blind to see the human male laying in the middle of their trail, if only I could see my body. I may be able to move a finger, a foot, somebody will notice me. How can these people be so blind?
Did I do something to bring wrath to all these people hiking? In my life, I was a good person, I helped all I could. Why would they do this to me? They must be evil, they must have been the ones who did this to me. If only I could remember how I got here. The Sun tells me this is my home, that can’t be the case. My name was… what was my name? Why can’t I remember? Somebody please notice me. Just one person is all it takes. I do not care what the Sun tells me…
I am not a flower.
Beyond the Metal, Through the Vines.
By The Ink Chimera
Michelle looked up at the massive wall of metal that laid before her. It was roughly three or four stories tall, made of various pieces of sheet metal, and scrap that had been welded together into a massive makeshift wall, with blooms just barely cresting the edge.
It had been around longer than her or her mother. But her grandmother warned her not to disturb those walls. But here she was, staring at the hole she’d just cut out of it. There was a thick curtain of green blocking her view though. She was tired of the concrete and steel she’d lived with her entire life. She wanted to see nature. Even if it just coated the buildings and streets.
She smiled as she dropped her welding torch and safety equipment, carefully nudging the vines aside as to not break any of them.
On the other side, it was like another world. Green as far as the eye could see. Buildings with trees growing through them. Flowers and vines tearing through thick layers of asphalt to reach for the sun. It felt like she was in a fantasy world. She could hardly contain her excitement. She was tempted to bare herself to this nature but resisted and kept her modesty. She elected to step on the vines, thick as industrial pipes, that filled the road as she walked, rather than accidentally crush the beautiful flowers growing in the cracks. It would break her heart to see any color taken from this beautiful place.
As she wandered what she could only describe as her dream world, she was drawn to the massive tree, as tall as a skyscraper, in the center. And as she drew closer, she found… people. Girls just like her surrounding it, watering and tending to all the beautiful plants. As she approached, she tried to call out, but they all simply ignored her. She was reaching out to tap one when she felt a sharp pain in her neck, and heard a teenage girl’s voice over her shoulder.
“Enjoying my garden? Why don’t you stay a while?”
Trees of Meat (from the world of “Moonstone Alley”)
by Lee Strangely
Officers and analysts were combing the area. A yellow field of energy surrounded the crime scene. Bones stared at the tree with utter disbelief. After waiting for him roughly over ten minutes, Geiger entered the scene.
“So,” Geiger said once he saw the arm sticking out from the bark, “another body got dumped?”
“Yeah, it seems to look like that… This isn’t the first time?”
“Oh yeah, criminals used to dump people here all the time. Well at least they did up until we started monitoring the site. I’m assuming whoever did this was desperate.”
“Did any of them ever hide a body in a tree before?”
Geiger chuckled, “Hide the body in the tree? Don’t you know what kind of forest this is?”
Bones gave an obvious look of confusion.
“These are meat-maples.”
“It’s a tree Bones,” he explained as he walked closer to it, “A carnivorous tree.”
Bones went pale, “C-carnivorous?”
“Ah don’t worry, they’re scavengers. They only eat dead things… Probably because they’re the only things slow enough for them to catch.”
“Um, do they…”
“Unless you stand still for over twenty-four hours, you’ll be fine.”
Once he regained his nerves Bones waved to the forensics analysts, “Someone place a transparency charm on the tree!”
In minutes one of the analysts pointed their wand the tree and mumbled something under their breath. In mere seconds the plant looked more like a column of glass. There through the wood was the corpse, juicy and looking as if it was floating in its see-through shell.
Geiger barely but visibly winced at the sight, while Bones simply replied, “Yuck…”
Bones noticed the tons of shiny metal objects also surrounding the body, “W-wait are those, watches?”
“Yeah, people drop them all the time. However, we’ve yet to figure out why they keep ending up here…”
“Hey wait a second,” Geiger then muttered as he looked closer, “that one’s mine!”
Tough like Granite, Mica
By Tamela Redfin
“Human,” said Cameron. That joke wasn’t funny! I knew in my heart I wasn’t.
In fact, I could prove I was a whole cypha. I’d start digging through this marble like my lovely Sapphira did. And I knew I was an introvert, just my mom.
I looked for a weak wall. So my nails weren’t super strong, but I could cut the stone. I was a Granite by name. I stared at the bedrock. I swiped my nails against the stone. Nothing.
“Perkilkin!” I cursed in cyphan. “It has to break!” I swiped until my nail broke on my thumb.
Blood flowed, first a trickle, but then a gush. Must have hit something sharp. But, why?
“Geez, what happened?” I turned to see Cecilia. “Don’t scratch at the walls.”
“BUT I AM A CYPHA!” I cried out. “How could my mother be with a human?”
“I asked myself the same question about Cameron. It’s not the body that drew me in. It was him as a person.”
“But Cameron didn’t abandon you when you were pregnant, did he? Is that common amongst humans? I don’t want to leave Sapphira.” Mica looked down.
“Is that what you’re worried about? You don’t need to be afraid. So your father was a tool.”
Mica nodded, “And cyphas wanted to kill me. Until we got that influx of cypha hybrids, for some reason.”
“My mother got a lot of death threats, as did a child. I’m not going to repeat history. I can and will suppress my human nature.”
Cecilia shook her head. “You can’t do that. You are as you are. So you need to use human tools to dig and you like being social. Sapph is a social butterfly too.”
“Yeah she is. And it’s cute.” I smiled. True, it wasn’t common for us cyphas, but it didn’t matter.
I looked at my thumb. Thankfully, it stopped bleeding. That was my cypha side showing. But someday, I’d find this so-called father and question him.
By Lantis Armstrong
Jon swatted the lone mosquito on his face as he set out to hike the Appalachian Trail from Baxter State Park in Maine!
He’d planned for this vacation for so long, yearning to escape the confines of the daily doldrums of city life so his mind and spirit would have a chance to heal by venturing forth into the wondrous beauty of nature!
Having spent months preparing for the hike, he chuckled at the thought of never once considering bug spray. Oh well, a few mosquitoes wouldn’t deter him!
Sitting for lunch hours later many more mosquitoes and their tiny angry cousins the carnivorous black flies were covering his hands and sandwich. He just smiled and shook them off, taking a bite of his sandwich as they took a few bites out of him.
That night he was shaking and cold, his skin bumpy and bruised from bites. Every time he stopped to rest he was swarmed. He was no longer smiling as they came in greater, more bloodthirsty numbers.
Curling into his sleeping bag like a cocoon, he heard the ever-present buzzing of flies just outside of his polyester barrier all night long.
The next morning he went to the river to refill his water bag when he saw his face reflected in the water – swollen from bug bites, it was like a massive malformed blob of lumpy mashed potatoes!
Letting out an inhuman, guttural scream, he abandoned his campsite and fled through the woods!
Happening upon other campers, he tried to beg for help:
The campers screamed and fled from this swamp monster-like beast that had emerged from the wilderness!
Hours later, the forest rangers had been summoned to capture this beast, and had managed to trap it in a net after luring it out of its dwellings with a raw steak.
Jon buzzed angrily at the rangers as they drug him off in the net, his swollen throat incapable of telling them he was no animal. And yet, he found it hard to even believe such a sentiment anymore, himself.
Shattered and Forgotten
In a building that once proudly overlooked the whole valley, there was a window. An intricate one, with colored tiles that formed a scenery that may have happened here in former, maybe better times. The building around that window only faintly gave hints to the prosperity before… yeah, what happened here?
If one would have asked the window, it could have told of how the king of this place gave the order to make it. How it formed a consciousness, as tile by tile the window was pieced together. How it saw its first morning where the sunshine tickled it and made it shine even brighter to make the king even prouder as he stood watch.
Yeah, if one would have asked the window, it could have told how the king fell in a duel and his son took over, grieving. It could have told how it gave its best to brighten his mood with beautiful plays of light and color. How he got better, watching it every day.
If one was persistent, it could have told more, of the downfall of the son, how he did his best but still lost, how people fled the valley, their home that nourished them so long. It could tell of the horrors it has seen, of the long silence after, how it clung to its memories for so long when everything else around it was washed away by wind, time and the strong arm of nature. How it did its best even with no one watching.
But no one was there to ask the window and so it very unceremoniously broke as if a last thread of hope faded away and returned to the soil where it once was taken from.
To Feel a Win From a Loss (A Tiefling Tale/Cordelia’s Journey)
C. M. Weller
This was not how the dreams went. Kormwind knew them just as much as he feared them. He was supposed to be running slowly, through places he knew well. He had run right off his little wilderness. Then the Dire Owl had come out of nowhere and snatched him from falling.
He had never fallen so fast in his dreams, before.
He’d never flown in them either.
WAS this a dream? He didn’t know any more. He’d been seeing ghosts of his Elisa for months. Ghosts of the Lady he had sent away. To her death. His fault.
“Either drop me or take me to her grave, verdammt,” he demanded. “Put an end to it!”
The owl let him go, and he fell -so fast!- into some convenient hay.
He knew what he needed to do. He needed to chase after his bride. That was how he was going to wake up. When he raced after the first flash of white he saw, he had never run so fast in his dreams.
It was exhilarating.
The wolf came out of nowhere, too. Large. It was so strange to have dreams while mad with grief. What else might his dreams conjure this time?
His race to capture his bride came to a dead end. A corner. He bounded up it according to his training. Up and over. He would find her. Perhaps he would catch her, this time.
There was no wolf chasing him. A bird had taken its place. But now as he raced after his bride, there were obstacles. Vines leaped out to catch him. Earth dropped away to trap him. He dodged them all.
All. Until one last vault over a wall, where the vines trapped him up in coils upon coils of their green tangles. He could not squirm his way free as the pursuing bird lit nearby and changed into the very image of the Lady. Cordelia. His Elisa.
“For the last time, you silly Tiefling, I am NOT dead,” she said, and put her lips on his.
He surrendered to the kiss.
That Boy Needs Some Therapy
Matt unleashed his wings for the first time and all the realms felt it. He practically saturated the surrounding area in his magic. His wings were so massive that they blacked out the sky. They had no definition or depth. It was as if they were a shadow that tore wing-shaped holes in reality wherever they touched.
Every magical being knew to be terrified. And every non-magical being was terrified anyway.
The sky wept.
The Earth trembled.
Death prepared herself.
And Laila knew the stakes as she forced her way through the buffeting winds of Matt’s power.
“Matt! You need to calm down! Please! You don’t want this!”
Matt turned his gaze to the angel. To his familiar. To his first real friend. The tears welled in the obsidian depths of his eyes, but the winds quickly tore them away. Laila could feel his pain. With their connection, she had no choice but to. Still, she stood.
“I’m sorry! I’m so… so… sorry! It’s not fair! It’s not! But you don’t get to be this angry! Everyone else can, but you can’t! You’re not like everyone else!”
With every word spoken, Laila took another step towards him. And every step hurt. He wanted more than anything to be left alone. To drown in his despair. She was defying his will. Every instinct she had cried for her to fall to her knees and let him do as he would.
She forced another step.
He needed to understand that he wasn’t currently in control of his power. His power was in control of him. And it was about to give him what he wanted.
To be left alone.
Because there would be no one else.
One more push and Laila was able to throw her arms around him. If his power was going to destroy everything, he’d have to watch her die first.
And just like that, it was over.
Matt took the chaotic magic back into himself and everything became quiet.
Existence was safe.
And Laila clutched him that much closer as he allowed his tears to fall.
Let’s have some Tea (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
As far as Lennah was concerned, the planet Ozymandias being dead was an absolute certainty. The ruins, shattered remnants and the mass graves she had spotted were proof enough of that for her.
She remembered the scenes. Piles of rocks, overgrown by trees. Towers covered in moss. And in between, skulls of completely unknown shapes.
“Rain, come on. Newton is waiting at the ship. He’s contacted me three times already and I think if we don’t get back soon, he’ll leave without us. And he’s a worse pilot than Morae, so…”
“Just a moment.”
Rain was standing in the ruins, admiring the crumbled remnants of a dead world. Lennah let out a deep, notable sigh.
“Look, I like a good dead civilization as much as the next girl, but we need to go. Our colleagues are waiting for us. I mean, Newton is one thing, but eventually, Jade will…”
“I get it,” she tore her gaze away from the ruins and went with Lennah, back towards the shuttle.
“What is it with you and this graveyard of a planet anyway?” Lennah asked. “It’s not like there’s anything left alive.”
“Nothing left alive? Lennah, everything here is alive.”
“What do you mean?” she scoffed. “Look around, Rain. Nothing but ruins and graves. This planet is dead.”
“It’s anything but. Yes, its civilization is dead, but we are surrounded by life. Birds, lizards, plants… and so much else. Just because the life isn’t sentient, doesn’t mean it’s not life. It’s blossoming.”
“Out of graves.”
“I find that beautiful.”
“I find it macabre.”
“Perhaps a little.”
For a while, they said nothing.
“We’re just destined to be conquered, aren’t we,” Lennah said, her gaze held to the floor. “Conquered and eaten.”
“Maybe…” Rain brushed a leaf with her gloved fingers. “But until then… what say you, we look forward to tonight? Morae is hosting another board game night. We can have some tea.”
At this, Lennah smiled.
“Sounds like fun.”
“It’s one way to while away the years, until we’re eaten.”
Lennah couldn’t help it. She started laughing.