Writing Group: The Leaves Tell a Story (PRIVATE)

Hello, Detectives and Diviners!

Leaves are amazing things, aren’t they? They can be so small, or absolutely huge. All different shapes and sizes, all kinds of textures. Some can give you a rash or even leave hair-like needles in your skin! But I think it’s time we took a closer look at how else these flora are so unique, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

The Leaves Tell a Story

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!

Leaves are a gorgeous adornment to nature, aren’t they? They can canopy an entire forest, they can waltz gracefully with the wind, or can blanket the ground in browns, reds, oranges, and golds, like a duvet of jewels.

But one thing that doesn’t always come to mind when thinking of nature’s beautiful dancing tapestry is a leaf’s ability to tell a tale. Yet, if we really think about it, leaves have been telling stories far longer than we have.

A prime example of this is about as simple as it gets; hunter and prey. While wolves can track with their noses, humans couldn’t do such a thing. We had to rely on our ability to follow the tracks our prey left as it bounded off in attempted escape. We’d look for broken branches, footprints in the mud, or for the leaves to be disgruntled enough to point out where our prey had fled after trampling over the small flora below. This practice didn’t end with just hunting, though. Over time, police and investigators, even the K-9 unit, all have to rely on nature to tell them where to go to find their answers. The leaves and trees witnessed everything, and all they can do as they shiver on the forest floor is to point the way to the scene of the crime. Or they join the search parties, waving frantically from their treetop homes in an attempt to tell everyone they found the missing child, yelling to the wind as they try to keep the little one warm. 

Another way the leaves tell us stories is through divining them. They leap into fires, metamorphosing into a billowing smoke that allows the Seer to read them before they dissipate to become one with the air. They display their synchronised routine as they swim about the bottom of the teacup, ending their rehearsed number in a shape that communicates with the Reader what the future may hold. Or they wait patiently to dry until they are burnable, then dip their edges into the flame just enough to smoulder, telling unknown tales through their wispy dance to put a home at ease.

Past, present, or future, the leaves know so much more than we could possibly comprehend. Listen closely as you walk down the beaten path, and hear their whispers in the wind.

Dance with them, O Writer, and tell their tales in ways they cannot.

—Shawna

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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L. L. Marco
L. L. Marco
4 months ago

Fallen Leaves
By L. L. Marco

Sunlight washed over Balto’s face as he stepped into the courtyard. Although he had no eyes to see he could feel the soft breeze that called from the mountains and hear leaves rustling above. Autumn had come.

He stood utterly still for a moment, letting the sensations wash over him. Autumn.. It used to be his favorite. No, THEIR favorite… Pain shot through him at the mere taste of that distant memory. He turned to flee back into the depths of the abandoned hospital, hoping to outrun the feeling. However, just as he began his retreat, a sound caught his attention. A single leaf fluttered down, kissing his face before it settled at his feet. Balto’s head followed its path. The sensation of orange bloomed in his mind, and before he could stop it, a memory flooded over him.

`”One day we’re gonna get out of here.” Sven’s soft voice matched the massive pile of fur beneath them.

Balto felt the rumbling purr of the large cat beneath them. His hand idly scritched at the beast’s soft tummy, which only elicited more pleasant sounds. Sven continued to babble from beside him, spinning stories of what they’d do when peace finally came between monsters and humans. Sven was so sure, speaking as if he’d seen the future with his very own eyes. Balto simply listened as the wind tousled their hair. The sun’s warmth fought off a crisp breeze as the scent of pine, bark and freshly baked sweets spun around them.

“Hey, you listenin’?” Sven’s voice lulled Balto from his daydreaming. The boy nodded, although he couldn’t hide a sheepish grin. Sven sighed and then laughed, wrapping his arm around Balto’s shoulders and giving him a little shake. “Just promise you’ll come, ‘kay?”

Balto nodded. “Promise.” ‘

The orange memory wilted as quickly as it bloomed. Balto was left, alone, in the shadow of the hospital. He suddenly felt so cold. There was no Sven beside him. Not anymore.

The monster’s face curled up into a scowl. With one decisive step, he crushed the freshly fallen leaf.

Lavorther
Lavorther
4 months ago

Tree’s Testimony (The Phoenix Guild)
By Lavorther

The dead leaves surrounding the whithered tree crunched beneath the boots of two adventurers as they approached the deserted town square.

Julian picked up a broken sword. “What the hell happened here?”

“Why don’t we go ask?” Cailana extended her hand—and her magic—towards the massive tree at the center. The gnarled bark was cold and rough beneath her fingertips.

“It’s no use, it’s clearly dead.”

The elf ignored her companion and closed her eyes, reaching out with her consciousness. She gasped when something answered. A consciousness much older than her, once vast and powerful, now reduced to a flicker of life.

“Hi there,” she whispered, smiling.

The tree answered wordlessly, but Cailana understood. In that moment, they were one and the same, linked by her druidic magic. The tree was an extension of herself, as if she’d grown an extra limb.

“You wouldn’t happen to know what happened here, would you?” she asked. The tree answered before the first words left her lips. “You can… show me? Alright.”

The druid kept her hand firmly on the tree, waving the other as her magic coursed through her once again, conjuring a breeze that whirled through the square. She let the tree take control, allowing it to act through her, and watched in amazement as the wind picked up the dead leaves and rearranged them. The leaves rustled as they formed piles, then took shape further still, displaying scenes frozen in time.

First, a hooded figure, casting a spell at two sword-wielding men.

The leaves shifted, showing a new scene. The men were dead now, but more rushed onto the square from all directions. The hooded figure was standing next to Cailana, one hand on the tree.

Another scene. The figure conjured a blast of magic, rendered in floating leaves, sending the crowd flying.

Then the final scene, as the figure walked off to the north, after which the wind ceased and the leaves fell to the ground once more.

“What the hell was that?” Julian asked, hand on his sword.

“You asked what happened, yes? Well, there you go.”

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
4 months ago

Clues that leave
by Jesse Fisher

The area was taped off as the chill of the morning creeped into the jacketed officers that stood beyond the cordoned off area. Behind the officers was a forest of trees that were going through the natural cycle of the season. A team of forensics began to study the shifts of the fallen leaves near the poor soul that was found there that morning.

Much more could be learned from studying the ground, such as physical evidence that could point to the offender. However a tale that would be lost would be the patterns of the fallen leaves. This could allow investigators some clue where the players in this macabre story.

The silent snaps of a camera began to piece together the past as best one could. Going from the poor soul to the edge of the taped off area. The worn path of years past is clear under the leaves, as well as the blood under it all. The wind began to pick up as the leaves began to shift and scattered to other parts of the forest.

Thus is the story leaving what happened blown away with only captured moments remaining. However this showed more at was left behind, seeing that the forensic tech took more pictures and called to others to help document what they found.

—-

“Due to quick thinking of a junior forensic tech noticing disturbances in the leaves to find there the victim was attacked.” The news anchor read out. “The police are using dna testing to find the killer that has been haunting the city for the past month.”

RVMPLSTLTSKN
RVMPLSTLTSKN
4 months ago

Stories Crafted From Trees
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)

The Wanderer sat, watching her companion toss a pile of wooden plates like leaves. The clatter was an unnatural thing, but quite mundane. A clever hobby, perhaps.

A final toss, clattering like dull poetry, then she stacked her wooden plates and gestured to them.

“What?”

“Reveal them.”

“All of them?”

“If you like.” A hesitance.

“You’ll learn more by what I don’t reveal, won’t you?”

“It’s more like a framework for perceptions, kunige.”

The Wanderer knew the word. It meant something venerable, like Osareph’s clerics. It was an honor and woefully inapt. She smiled at her companion, and lifted the top plate.

The woodcut depicted a harvest scene.

“The past is Carnivale,” the woman said. “A culmination of your work.”

The Wanderer revealed another card. On it, a genderless human, masked and carrying a threshing flail stood invitingly.

“The future is Death, but not yours, I think.”

The Wanderer suppressed a laugh. No, not hers. Hers had come and gone.

“And now, your present.”

The Wanderer flipped two plates simultaneously, one to either side.

To her left, a shadowy figure carrying a sword—painfully mundane, she double checked—and staring forward at the viewer. The Warlord.

To her right, three women sat. The adult, The Mother, painted plates while the youngest—a child, perhaps The Student—read them under the tutelage of the third, her sister. The Oracle?

“The Warlord and The Mother. You seem at a crossroads. Before you, the choice of a legacy. You could pursue your future with the ambition and hunger of war.
“Or you could return to your past and forge bonds within your family, perhaps your .”

They sat in a silent, brief moment until The Wanderer laughed. She lifted and tossed the plates as she spoke.

“No, I’m afraid you’re overthinking it, oracle. It’s not a crossroads. Your deck is a clever toy, perhaps it will be better in the future. Behind me is my story, my legacy. Around me, my enemies, The Warlord pursuing me and your Mother shielding her children from me.
“My only choice is to go where they cannot. I must meet Death.”

Eddy
4 months ago

Time to Zeus Things up (It’s Always Sunny in Olympus)
by Alexsander Edwards

“Jesus Christ, my head…” said Clotho.

“Stop using his name, he hasn’t been born yet!” responded Atropos, also holding her head in pain.

“Will you two stop yelling?” yelled Lachesis.

The three fates were never exactly beauty pageant material, but they seemed more like victims of Thanatos than usual that morning. The deciders of future and fate, it was in their realm to know everything, and yet…

“What the Tartarus happened last night?” asked Clotho, getting up.

“More like last week, apparently…” said Atropos, looking at a wall calendar and counting the days she’d been unconscious.

“Gals, you need to look at this,” said Lachesis, looking through an opening.

Outside, a myriad of gods looked triumphantly at the gates of Tartarus, with Hades pushing the titans further in by poking at them with his bident. Behind him stood Artemis, aiming her bow at Hyperion; Poseidon, rifling through Oceanus’s old belongings; and Prometheus, trying to pick the flames at the hearth kept alight by Hestia.

But, above all of them, stood a man with a beard chiseled to such a perfect angle that his face looked almost like a perfect square. A man smiling as the other gods avoided his body odor. A man holding onto a bright, golden light. A man known as… Zeus.

“Lachesis, what did you do?” asked Clotho.

“Hey, I only decide when people die, not how! Surely Atropos was the one responsible here!” responded Lachesis.

“Come on, you know I only do these things after checking with you two! I wouldn’t let this happen!” said Atropos.

“Then how in Chaos’s name did Zeus – ZEUS – become their leader? We all agreed Hades was the far more reasonable option!” yelled Clotho.

The three sisters kept at it for what felt like hours until, one by one, they all faced a small corner in their chamber. A corner blackened with soot and ashes. A corner littered with bottles of ambrosia and leaves of marijuana. Lots and lots of leaves of marijuana.

The trio looked at one another for a brief second before uttering a single word:

“Fuck.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Eddy
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
4 months ago

[Removed]

Last edited 4 months ago by i-prefer-the-term-antihero
NocteVesania
4 months ago

Here’s The Tea
By NocteVesania

“It’s just that… I don’t really know where I’m going wrong.” Lucas sighs, staring blankly at the Divination classroom’s ceiling. He sits on a wooden chair, slouching on the backrest like a sad blanket left out to dry. “I mean, a dashing young man with a pleasing personality? What’s not to like?”

Without a word, Kat pours tea into a cup and hands it to her friend.

“Maybe I need to up my game somehow,“ Lucas continues his rant, taking loud sips of tea every so often, “I think my approach could have a little more… pizzazz.”

Kat reaches for the now-empty cup. “Oh, thank you,“ Lucas says as he hands it over.

“I know!” Lucas jolts up, his eyes wide, barely able to contain his excitement. “I could⁠—”

Lucas stops himself. He leans over to Kat, who is nonchalantly tapping her finger on an overturned cup. “I could use some basic spells as my hook!” Lucas speaks in a hushed tone, grinning, “that’ll definitely get their attention!”

Kat turns the cup right side up and observes its contents, her relaxed expression now focused.

“You’re probably thinking, ‘oh, but what if the school finds out?’ Well, my friend, if I only use tiny spells, I can pass them off as cheap tricks!” Lucas rubs his chin in triumph, his smug aura growing. “I’m a genius!”

“Well,” Kat finally speaks up, “you’re definitely gonna get a girl’s attention.” She smiles at Lucas, uncharacteristic of her usual gloomy demeanor. “A little one-on-one and she’ll be all over you. The tea leaves say so.”

“Nice!” Lucas stands with newfound vigor. “I’m gonna go submit my assignment and head straight for the mixer!”

He grabs his cup, already bone-dry from neglect, and starts marching toward the teacher. Kat wishes him good luck, snickering as soon as he is out of view.

The next day, Lucas got an F for his tea reading. Apparently, “I’m gonna get a hot chick tonight” doesn’t sit too well with the faculty. He was also sent to the guidance counselor, which in turn led to Kat getting an A.

GJFuller
GJFuller
4 months ago

The Wind Whisperer
By Giovanna J. Fuller

On the edge of the world, where the land ends and the infinite begins, sits the home of the last Wind Woman. Almost as ancient as the stars, with wrinkles set deep into her skin, she sits at the opening of her tent and listens. She hears all truths and knows all lies. For many generations she was sought for her wisdom and her knowledge. Yet, as mankind moved further East, fewer thought it worthwhile to make the long journey to the end of the world.

The last to make this voyage, was the last with the blood of stars in her veins.
She had inherited the urge to return to the skies from her ancestors, yet her human heart loved her family. She knew not how to leave her body and return again. The longer she waited, the more her spirit ached until she reached the foot of the Wind Woman. Her clothes torn and ragged and her stores of supplies dwindled to nothing.

“Have mercy on me!” she begged. “I am in agony from the weight of these bones and the thundering beat of my heart. How do I ascend as my mothers did and how do I return?”

The Wind Woman sat in silence, not speaking for three days and three nights. On the dawn of the fourth day she stood and retreated into her home. When she emerged, she said,

“The day is coming when the wind will be silent. The stars will dim as the land produces its own light. The animals will scatter into the shadows and hunting will be scarce. When that day comes, travel between the worlds will be impossible. You must choose one and reject the other.”

On the ground before the girl, the Wind Woman placed two choices.

One was a set of new clothes with a bag full of food.

The other a crude, bone knife.

WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
4 months ago

“The Hallowed Tree” (CW: body horror, implied mass human sacrifice)
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

In the blackest woods of the southern temperate forests, there is a tree with lumberjacks and woodcutters avoid. No matter how needed the wood – whether for structure or fire – the workers always avoided this tree. Some said it was because of its size, and one could not blame them. Its trunk was like a small hut. Its branches stretched out as long as a human body, thin like arms as they divided into thinner limbs. However, those were not the things that made them leave it alone. The leaves were almond-shaped and displayed markings reminiscent of eyes. The bark was a brownish-pink color, similar in size and shape to a deformed fingernail or toenail. Among its many branches were many holes, and through them the wind sang of pain and death.

Legend says that when the forests were being settled, there lived a man and his wife. They lived happily together away from the rest of their settlement. One day, the wife discovered she was pregnant. The man, overjoyed, ran through town and told all of his good fortune. Over time, the settlement saw less and less of the man’s wife. Some said she had been confined to her bed. Others said she had miscarried. No one was certain, though.

That’s when one day, a few days before the man’s wife might go into labor, he came running through town in his nightclothes. His scream was like a knife to the heart. He couldn’t find her. A few elected to go help him, gathering lanterns and headed into deep woods. The next morning, the seekers had not returned. Half the village went looking for them. Today, that village is deserted. You see, the man was a devotee of the Dark God known as the Blood Nexus. He and his wife bound the townspeople together in a ritual. No one knows why.

All these years later, the tree remains. Some say that if you burn the leaves and inhale the smoke, the human spirits from the trees can give you visions and possess you. But that’s just a story… isn’t it?

MasaCur
MasaCur
4 months ago

Lord Sedlow’s Murder
By MasaCur

Andrew knocked on the front door of the manor. It was answered by a man in the tailcoat of a butler.

“Are you with Scotland Yard?” the man asked, his face ashen. He glanced suspiciously at Cassidy then back to Andrew.

“Not exactly,” Andrew said. He pulled out his identity card. “We’re with Her Majesty’s Home Office.”

Cassidy flashed her own identity card, smiling only with her mouth.

The man bowed. “I’m Chambers. Lord Sedlow’s personal valet. This way please.”

Chambers led the pair to an office. At the desk was a man in his forties, his head resting on the top, surrounded in blood.

“I have not touched anything after determining that Lord Sedlow was dead,” Chambers said.

Andrew nodded. “We’ll take it from here. I’ll examine the body. Cassidy, check around the room for any clues. Start at the window.” He pointed to the windows at the side wall. A breeze was causing the drapes to flutter, and strewn below the window were several fronds from a nearby overturned banana tree.

Andrew walked over to Sedlow’s corpse, and examined the back of the head. The upper half was deformed inward, indicating that he had been felled by a blow from a heavy, blunt item. The weapon was not nearby.

From the corner of his eye, he could see Cassidy step gingerly up to the window, and lean out of it.

“Assailant entered and exited from this window,” Cassidy said. “Toe print in the garden soil out here indicates a large man’s work boot.”

“Keep looking,” Andrew said. He glanced around the desk to see what Sedlow was working on, but most of the papers were soaked in blood.

“Andrew! I need you to read these leaves.”

“You’re better at tracking than I am, Cass.”

“No. I need you to read them. I’m not good with my letters.”

Cassidy thrust the fronds toward him. Each had a large number written on the underside of the leaves. He grabbed the first one, and turned it over.

‘To Whom it May Concern. If you are reading this, I am already dead.’

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
4 months ago

Maple Leaves
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

Griffin was solving a mystery.

She darted through the City’s artificial park, filled with cybernetic shrubs and trees and grasses. She skidded to a stop at the only pear tree. Griffin activated her ankle braces, leaping straight into its branches, landing with catlike grace on a large bough.

Now where was it…

There!

Attached like it were growing from the tree, a cyan maple leaf sprouted out, supported by the breeze.

Griffin snatched it, holding it as she crouched on the branch. Then she gently tore the cyan coating off so she could download the clue to her wristwatch.

“Sarah!” someone called from the ground, gasping for breath.

Griffin grumbled. “Not my name, Elliot, and leave me alone. I’ve almost solved this!”

“You’re not thinking this through!” Elliot skidded to a stop at the base of the tree. “This ‘MAPLE’ puzzle is not just a scavenger hunt!”

“Why not?” she hissed. The download bar was at 23%.

“Well, since you asked—”

“Ugh.”

“—ever noticed how you’re the only one chasing these clues? Or that they’re leading you to dangerous places?”

“I’m literally just in a tree—”

“And have you been READING the notes?” He held one of the previous clues up in the air. “For instance, the line ‘we were a pair as natural as nature, yet I tore her limb from limb?’”

“Yeah, that’s telling you it’s on a pear tree limb. Duh.” 77%. Almost there.

“It’s also telling you this ‘MAPLE’ person is probably a murderer, Sarah!”

“Again, it’s Griffin!” she yelled back. “Besides, you’re overthinking this. Just let me have this!”

“But what if you get hurt—”

Griffin’s watch beeped, a holographic display popping up, covered in words. Griffin skimmed the paragraph, brushing passed descriptions of violence and betrayal and landing on the last line:

“… from the top of the world.”

She repeated the line to herself a couple of times, then shot up, looking west.

The Orikleth Building, the tallest landmark in the City, stretched above the clouds.

“Oh no, you don’t,” Elliot’s eyes widened, “there’s no way you’re—”

But Griffin was already running.

Connor/Dragoneye
Connor/Dragoneye
4 months ago

The Seed’s Whispers
By Connor/Dragoneye

“Now now, work with me here.” Mazalir ran his claws up the flower’s stem, and it started to rise. Threads of faint red light whirled from his fingertips like smoke, and its wilted brown fibers surged with life, now a healthy lush green.

He stood up and looked out to the field of flowers he made, relief swelling in his chest. Flecks of vibrant color were scattered across the verdant canvas, each of them crafted by the Sage’s own hands.

“It’s beautiful.” Tolukin had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

“Thank you,” Mazalir said with a smile.

“But you’ll need to manage it if you want it to live.” Tolukin knelt down and examined one of the flowers with exorbitant detail. The Amnispora’s very presence caused small polyps to grow from the dirt, the neuron-shaped growths sparking with electricity.

“It’ll be worth it. The Great Beasts will appreciate what I’ve done.”

“But there are dangers to keep in mind. Grazing creatures, turbulent weather, not to mention others wanting to pluck them.”

Mazalir chuckled, his reptilian eyes darting up to Tolukin. “Can’t you just enjoy the moment?”

“Once I have all the precautions identified, maybe.”

“This isn’t a ‘Children of the Hunger’ situation, it’s just a flower field.”

“I wouldn’t want all your work to go to waste, friend,” spoke Tolukin.

“Even if it’s destroyed, the Seed speaks through it all. Every blade of grass, speck of dirt, flower pedal, drop of morning dew. It serves a need for something or someone else. Nothing is wasted…”

“Everything persists,” Tolukin finished his quote. “Well, I hope your project gets the attention it deserves.”

Mazalir straightened his posture. “Even if I don’t, your praise is worth enough.”

Tolukin bowed in return, saying “You’re too kind.”

The two took in the rest of the scene, white clouds streaking across a vibrant blue sky with ice-capped mountains reaching upwards.

Toluin broke the silence, announcing, “I came here to tell you that I’m leaving for now. Phyderi’s requested me to enter his mindscape. So long for now, old friend.”

Mazalir frowned before nodding his head. “So long.”

Rattus
Rattus
4 months ago

A Message from Mother(Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)

Rianthe knelt to the ground, the dirt cold and rough beneath her. A single leaf rested amidst the rocks and soil, the single patch of green breaking up the monotony of browns and greys. She reached a delicate hand forward, grabbing the stem with her thumb and forefinger.

“What is it, Sister?” Amalri’s voice, dancing across the wind from behind her. As Rianthe turned around, Amalri’s eyes fell to the leaf, her face dropping in response.

“Mother is weakening.” Rianthe fought to keep the sadness out of her voice. “Another Scourge is beginning.”

The wind whistling through the trees seemed to take on a different tune now; where before it sang of peace and tranquillity, now suffering and decay had crept into its once gentle timbre.

“What do we do?” Tears dotted the corners of Amalri’s eyes.

“There is nothing we can do, I’m afraid.” Rianthe let go of the leaf, watching as it fluttered to the forest floor. “If the Scourge is beginning, then all we can do is hope our Guide will come soon.”

“Have you not heard the rumours, Sister?” Amalri spoke almost at a whisper, as though she was afraid the trees themselves might be listening. “They say the Guide has fallen from his Path, and been lost to darkness.”

Rianthe thought for a moment, weighing over the possible implications if the rumours might be true. If the Guide really had been lost, then there was nothing to stop the Ashen One from consuming the world. And with it, the last remnants of Mother’s life would be gone with it.

“We can only hope the rumours are false.”

John Schneider
John Schneider
4 months ago

Odin and Saga – Wisdom of the Word
J.P. Cain

The old wanderer, in his ragged great cloak, leaned on his staff. How had she bested me? How could I lose that bet? We wondered as he looked off into dark, dank fens. Knowing if he was late, she’d feel scorned and there would be hel to pay, he set off. Entering the swamp, and made his way toward the well at the center. He would meet the seeress aspect of his wife there, deep within Sökkvabekkr. Books by the Humans. She had won the bet, but now, in payment, wanted him to judge these books.

The wanderer was a storyteller and had taught humans that storytelling was a gift to lessen their suffering. The Skalds had told great sagas. Worthy stories about pain, desire, and sacrifice. But this newer lyrical form. He wasn’t sure. Did this count as a story? As he continued toward the meeting place. He reflected on how the arts had changed. Sappho had started a revolution. Rumi had expanded the form into the Islamic World. Chaucer and Shakespeare, both of good Norman stock, were great skalds, but also wrote these poems.

The wanderer was close to the meeting spot where the cool waters rush. He thought about the volume to judge by the American Whitman. The writer had spent his life collecting the poems, his Leaves of Grass. When the wanderer arrived at the appointed location, he set his staff aside. He sat on a log in the clearing; the waves flowing with a bubbling babble. His wife arrived, bearing two gold chalices, a cask, and the book. Filling the cups, she handed one to him and drank deeply of hers.

She read, “Song of Myself.” So full of spirit and wit, he thought, drinking. Then he read, ‘O Captain! My Captain!” Authentic and beautiful, compelling enough to stand against authority. She read, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Metamorphosis of the soul, life, and death. He toasted with his wife, and they both drained their cups.

Yes, the Leaves tell a story.

Lari B. Haven
Lari B. Haven
4 months ago

Thors on a bleeding heart
By: Larissa (Lari B. Haven)

The red steps on the floor worried the chambermaid. A concoction of petals and dried leaves complimented the desolated path. Poppy followed it with caution, fearing for her queen.

“Your majesty?” she cried. “I brought the robes you asked for!”

But there was no response, except the crushing leaves under her feet.

“Your majesty?” Poppy looked side to side in the empty hallways until she found herself in the queen’s winter garden.

Sharp red thorns now covered the room. The queen laid in the center, placidly sitting on the edge of the stone bench, looking at the only sliver of sun that penetrated the vine ceiling.

“M-majesty?” Poppy muttered under her breath.

“Oh look, if it’s not my favorite chambermaid.” The queen glanced at her with a nervous smile. “Step inside, Poppy. Those robes will do.”

The queen moved her hands and the thorny path opened itself for Poppy. She walked over the red tainted steps and handed the silk robe over to the queen.

“We have known each other ever since you were children… You would never betray me, right Poppy?” The queen held her by the hand.

Poppy saw over her shoulder the broken sword under the thorns. In horror she finally realized what sat graciously adorned with red peonies on the stone bench. The consort’s head.

“They sent him,” she sorrowfully explained. “They sent my lover to kill me.”

“By the gods…” Poppy held the weeping queen.

The garden withered away around them in a gentle rain of dead leaves, now remnants of the once blooming castle.

“They will pay, Poppy.” She wiped her tears and caught the broken sword that laid under the limp corpse of her former lover.

All the beautiful flowers that adorned her crown had fallen, in their place now grew the same thorns that were taking the palace bit by bit.

Poppy the chambermaid, was the sole witness of the queen’s power. Reborn from her grief, Queen Peony, the beautiful, had become the Queen of Thorns, the unforgiven.

Marx
Marx
4 months ago

Maybe They Should Have Opened with That…
By Marx

“What are you smiling about over there?” Matt asked with a chuckle before sitting next to the goddess.

While Teriana’s features remained ethereal and almost monochromatic at times, Matt noticed that since he’d acknowledged her, there were hints of color.

“I can hear the forest again.” Teriana replied, flashing Matt a dreamy smile that made him return it with one of his own.

“I’m glad I could help.” Matt’s face momentarily fell as he guiltily remembered that Teriana’s position between both existing and not, which extended to the temple they were hiding in, was what kept them invisible on Heaven’s radar.

Teriana playfully nudged Matt. “Worry not. It isn’t nearly enough to make us seen. But it is nice to regain that connection.”

“What does the forest say?”

Teriana closed her eyes, a serene expression on her face. “It tells me of you.”

“Good things I hope.”

“Yes. The forest tells me of your respect for nature. Your compassion for those who fall to it’s brutality. It tells me of your relationship with the angel and the demon. Your love for both.”

Matt smirked. “They do have names…”

“The forest cares not for names. But I will try to-“ Teriana’s eyes suddenly shot wide. “Oh my…”

“What’s wrong?” While Matt didn’t know Teriana well, he’d yet to see her worry about something. It immediately put him on edge.

She turned to Matt, the panic clear in her eyes. “The forest also tells me of the fairy’s betrayal.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “Lynette isn’t that bad. She just needs some time to-”

His words were cut off as the temple and ground around it began to violently shake. “She told Heaven where you were…”

Matt stood up, enraged. “What do you-? WHY would-? What does she even GET out of that?”

“She believed you two were fated and would survive the smiting.”

Matt pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m going to have a very long talk with that fairy.”

“It will be a very one-sided conversation. Your demon did not take the betrayal very well…”

“Fuck’s sake…” Matt groaned.

Constellasphere
Constellasphere
4 months ago

“The Returning Leaving”
By Constellasphere

The door is opened the first time by Spring.

A brief, fluttering “Good-Bye” is sung. It’s sweet like the flowers sprouting from the ground, sweet like the perfume that is carried in the breeze. Alongside it is rejoicing and the hope of better times, bursting loudly with the birth of new life. It waltzes out, dancing like petals when ever so gently disturbed by the small lives that rely on them.

But it will come back, it always does.

The door is opened the second time by Summer.

A hearty, bright “farewell!” is declared. It’s warm like the sun shining down upon the world, blessing all living things with its rays. Confident in its strides, like the ocean’s rolling waves in an eternally repeating march, it is ready. And yet, it will take its leave like a storm, brash but natural in its ways. Beautiful and dangerous, it will emerge radiant in its return, just like humanity.

But it will come back, it always does.

The door is opened the third time by Autumn.

In the falling leaves, carried by the chilled wind, a “Cheers!” is murmured. Though mellow, it comes with the weight of prosperity and a rich harvest, the promise of comfort in the coming months. It too will be grateful though it was the one to give. And yet, the colour seems to follow it out. Soon the leaves will be no more, the sun to shine less. Still, the scent of a pristine coolness is a gift left behind.

But it will come back, it always does.

The door is opened the last time by Winter.

With the tinkling of snow falling, a delicate “Goodnight” is sighed. Even in the limited sunlight, it sparkles with fields of muted colours. Its cold demeanor will fall, revealing a world of beauty, undisturbed as if it were a painting. Even in this frigid time, there is celebration. Joy, peace, and love are uttered in every word, festiveness conveyed in every movement. Its eyes shimmer, decorated by humanity itself.

But it will come back, it always does.