Hello, Augurs and Alchemists!
Come on, just one little bite? Maybe a lick? I know it’s dangerous. But one taste can’t hurt, right? Because….
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
A Taste of Eternity
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!
Eternity can mean many things. It can be a beautiful gift, or a terrible punishment, depending on the story you want to tell. But something I love about this prompt is that it’s not just about someone living forever, it’s about someone “tasting” eternity. This could be a taste they are familiar with—even a taste they have come to despise. But usually this phrase is used when someone says they’re getting a first sample of something. Like getting a taste of ice cream before buying a bowl of it. Or giving a young adult their first taste of beer. What is it to get a taste test of eternity?
It may make you think of a heavenly sort of eternity. Maybe you think of Greek gods and goddesses. Such as Psyche, who became a goddess after drinking ambrosia. Or Persephone, who was already a goddess, but who became bound to the Underworld for eternity because she ate the pomegranate seeds. You could write about the first time Sisyphus rolled the boulder up the hill, realizing what his eternal punishment would be like. You could even write about Zeus’ eagle getting a taste of Prometheus’ eternal liver.
You could write about the undeath sort of eternity, such as vampires, ghosts, zombies, or liches. Could someone get a taste for what it is to be a vampire without being one? Perhaps someone expresses they want to be a vampire, and their vampire friend shows them the horrors of their day-to-day life to give them a taste of what their eternity is like. Maybe a ghost tells the one person who can see them what their eternity is like, and tries to help them avoid it. Maybe a lich sets up a simulation to show their protege how awesome it is to be a lich.
Or, for a more realistic take, you could write about an addict who believes their substance of choice lets them taste eternity—literally or figuratively. You could write about someone trying a drug for the first time, and after that first taste, they can’t stop. You could write about someone trying to stop, and having difficulty because they refuse to abandon that taste they got of eternity.
Going back to my first example, you could also write a wacky and hilarious story where eternity is a literal food. Maybe an ice cream shop has a new flavor called “Eternity” and your character tastes it, only to remark that eternity tastes a lot like bananas.
My challenge for you this week is to really try to place the reader in the mind of the character experiencing eternity—especially if it is their first taste of it. This is sort of a telling vs showing exercise. You guys are usually quite good at this, but I want you to go even deeper this week. Whether it is something sweet and beautiful, or something sickeningly horrible…or if it just vaguely tastes like bananas, I want to feel what the character is feeling when they taste it.
Alright fine. If you’re gonna be like that, I’ll just get my taste of eternity from another supplier.
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 five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three 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!
Text and Formatting
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- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By Matthew R. Wright
All was NOT calm at Burshall Farm. More frustration, really. Marabelle – longstanding leader of the Burshall Bovine Belief – gave a long and exhausted sigh at the recently discovered body of Herschel; their farmer. Contorted – Twisted – Bent. His hideous form a byproduct of the Belief, of what they did one autumnal night, long ago.
They formed a hexagonal mud-circle around the remains of dear Herschel. Symbolic – Traditional – Cultural – Purposeful.
“What now?” questioned Dottie, the least amongst the cattle; tense and full of fears. “What we always do. Bring him back,” replied Marabelle “For it is the way.”
“Remember: Chew, Moo, Chew, ftaghu.”
Silence spread across the brush all fields.
Each cow lowered their heads in unison and took a bite of the earth; of grass and dirt. Six points dug into the hexagon that surround the ex-farmer. The Six points, a solemn meaning.
“Moooooooooooooooo,” chanted the Belief, the floor beneath vibrating with the low, guteral, droning pitch. “Chew.” Every member chewed HARD into their flesh, mixing blood and dirt and spit. Dottie glanced at the hexagon as their eyes glimmered with an anicent golden hue; she could not help but ask…
“What about the fabric? With each use, we bring IT closer into our plane. Haven’t we threatened our existence enough for this…man? She had NOT been told her place.
“This IS our way, Dottie. Fabric or not, Herschel must return. Now SPIT!” The mixture dropped from their mouths and onto the hexagonal points which now formed the shape of the Red Seal nessacary for the ritual to begin proper.
The skies screeched in-pain.
“Blood given, ftaghu, for a life taken, ph’nglui. We offer ourselves to the unsilent skies above and prey you protect our keeper on his path to provide us with our earthly pleasures.”
With that another extended “Moooooo,” Marabelle and the others watched as Herschal’s twisted form retook its natural shape; unbroken, remade; given new life from old blood.
Herschal awoke and stared confused at his herd. They stared, silent, at the mud-soaked Somerset farmer.
The Immortal’s Paella
Ibrahim scurried about the kitchen, stirring the paella, and grabbing ingredients. His colorful suit was covered in an equally colorful, whimsical apron. Perched on his bald head was a chef’s cap.
“Miguel, you are in for a treat today! Normally, you would be my underling. But today, it is my distinct pleasure to serve you, and prepare a meal. Specifically, I am making you paella, just like my abuela made for me.”
Miguel raised an eyebrow. “Si, Master. Are you sure you still remember how to cook? I don’t remember you ever doing so before. And you have been alive for centuries now. Perhaps your brain has…deteriorated with age.”
Ibrahim glared at Miguel, his eyes flaringred. “Look here, Miguel! Just because, as an immortal lich, I no longer need to engage in the banalities of eating, does not mean that I have forgotten how to cook. I am a genius, with a mind like a steel trap!”
“Si,si. But, even steel can rust with age, Master.” A smirk crossed his lips as he said this. However, Miguel did have to admit, the smell coming from the kitchen was mouth-watering.
Ibrahim tasted the paella. “It seems to be missing something.” His bony hands snatched jars from the spice cabinet, his spidery fingers threw in pinches of one powder after another. He tried it again, pondered the results, shrugged, and took the pan off the stove top. “Dinner is served!”
Miguel looked at the plate filled with golden rice, shellfish, and vegetables that was set in front of him. He took a bite, and his sinus cavities were instantly assaulted by a pungency he had never encountered before. His mouth went instantly dry from an overindulgence of salt.
“How is it, Miguel?” Ibrahim earnestly asked. “ I was worried that the paella is not correctly spiced. The paprika seems to be a little…off.”
“Off?” Miguel coughed. “Paprika is all I can taste! Paprika and spice! You are an idiot!”
“I am not!”
“And I am a moron. Your stupid immortal lich tongue is so dead it can’t taste a thing!”
The Coming World of Naught
By Ethan Jesse
“What is this dark sky? There was a Moon once before, I’m certain, for its rays are what I felt. With strength, we marched on, in this land of cool night, where we lived without worry of that thing. It was that Moon, that thing in the sky, which we built our world as it hung within our eyes. My friends, where have you gone? My dukes, and my knights, my builders, my cities, all of you, forsaken me…All that I see, a dark night above, was not ordained as I saw it, all that time ago. We rose there together, but it’s all blank now. Please, I beg of ye, don’t let this be so, what I’ve witnessed, what I’ve heard, was it all for naught?! He whispers in my ears of ages come and gone. Hearing, hearing, but he’s withheld it all from me! It’s nothing, nothing, not a damn word, yet still, I chase him, as if his eyes are of Moonlight…This is not our Moon, this is not what we found. It was stronger, it was perfect, we could rest, live unbound!”
“You give me no answer, wrathful little one? Where’s your chaos, your pride, all that you’ve known? You break my world, it’s gone, don’t you see?! WE ESCAPED IT, AFTER TRIALS, AND WE KNEW WHAT CAME BEFORE! WHY HAVE YOU PUSHED US ON, WITH I AS YOUR PAWN?! WHERE IS YOUR REASON, YOUR AMBITION TO GO ON?! ALL OF IT IS NAUGHT, AND YOU’VE LEFT IT HERE WITH ME!”
“THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE KNOW TO BE TRUE. PRITHEE, WHAT NOW, IF IT’S ALL TOWARDS THE SAME? THEY PUSHED, WE WERE FREED, AND NOW I AM TO BLAME, FOR PUSHING ON IN A WORLD THAT ENDS IN ALL THIS! IT IS HERE, UPON MY NAME AS GENESIS-!”
“…How I yearn for that sorrow…Have we come back around, to this world untold? I don’t know why it was cursed to be so…Still, I walk, I tread upon the Earth. Then let it carry on, let it spin, let it toil, and I will be here, until the coming of Void…”
Severance, by Patrick Morgan
Mortality is bitter. Bitter, brittle, and cheap. We sought the answer for years– my colleagues and I… but it seems the answer was before us all along. To understand you must set aside your assumptions and presuppositions, and peer for this brief moment, into the dark.
Humans are creatures that straddle both the physical and spiritual realm, each of which has a limited effect on the other. Maintaining this balance wears on the body and soul, causing you to age– so one must simply choose either the physical or the spiritual. Knowing this, we rejected its use as the key to immortality, believing that the severage of the body from the spirit was too damaging– until William Davidson fell ill.
He had a pernicious cancer and was in ceaseless pain, so we reluctantly made our attempt. He was restored, and happier than I’d ever seen him. He said it “felt natural”, and began to develop remarkable physical capabilities. But he changed. Over time, he became dark and impulsive, until he was something… other.
Likewise, Thomas Moore developed a degenerative muscle disease and was soon asking to make the transition himself. Despite our refusal, he acted without our knowledge, shifting into the spiritual world. In this new realm, his knowledge deepened and expanded, and he soon learned to manipulate the souls of those who stood between the worlds. Soon, he began to change as well, becoming cold and calculating, directing the world from beyond the veil.
So on a dark night, alone, I destroyed the machine, burned our research, and resolved myself to death. Until today. There is now another way. Another path towards slaying the great dragon, the scourge of the abyss. A way to conquer death once more. If I had just one more day, one more hour of research. One more chance to redeem myself. And once my research is complete, as I’m sure if you reads this it will be– I will have that chance. I will not bow to that darkness– I will never relent my goal. Until every soul is perfected, every man is molded into the image of my eye, I will do anything I require.
Flavours over time
By C. L. Searle
The older she got, the less sure she was about anything, and she had lived a long, long time. She remembered the first taste of immortality she got all that time ago. It’s been so long now she can’t even recall when it was, but she remembers the feeling of it.
That feeling of eternity stretching out before her, endless in its length and its possibilities. She wanted to taste each and every one of those starburst glints of chance and circumstance. The sensation that she could just, reach out and bend the flow of the universe to achieve any outcome she wished, it was intoxicating; like the sweetest wines, the bitterest sadness and the spiciest fire all intertwined in an embrace that, at that time, felt as eternal as she is now.
But the flavour has long since faded in the interim between the then and the now – however long that has been. She has seen stars fade and die, planets be born, gain life and fizzle out. She has seen the totality of all that could be and made those maybes into certainties.
The flavour has long since left those starbursts she once saw and every new thing is no longer new, but instead another layer of ash upon her pallet.
She supposes that a choice lies before her now, so similar yet so disparate from the one back then.
Does she stay as she is, or does she offer that bittersweet addiction to another?
When Epilogue Becomes Prologue
“I don’t understand, Master.” He could no longer sweep the floor. It felt too ordinary, too pedestrian after everything they had been through. He didn’t see how he could be expected to go back to the way things were before.
“Understand what, my young apprentice?”
He stared at his master, sitting in his chair, smoking his pipe, as though the last ten months hadn’t occurred at all. “How could you give up such power?”
The master, as was his custom, did not answer immediately. He exhaled a ring of smoke and watched as it drifted toward the ceiling. When he did answer, he did so with a question.
“Do you know what I felt when I held the orb?”
“Powerful? Extraordinary? Immense?”
“In that moment I existed in all places, throughout all of time, all at once. I was omnipotent and omnipresent. And I was overcome by loneliness. Because such power cannot have an equal, and so such an existence is doomed to be one of isolation.”
“But with such power, what need have you of equals?”
The master laughed. “You still have much to learn.”
Later, in his room, the apprentice removed a small bundle from under the floorboards. Wrapped carefully inside was but a sliver of the Orb of Onirim, the beacon of magic that had directed so much of their lives over the past year. And now it was shattered, reduced to this.
He carefully held the piece in his hand. His master had gotten a taste of the power of the orb, but now all that remained was an echo. There was no power here. But there could perhaps be again.
As he held the shard, he felt a pull eastward, and he knew that another piece of the orb was there, just waiting to be reunited with his piece.
Perhaps his master was correct. He might still have much to learn. But perhaps it was time for a different teacher.
He packed his meager possessions, placing the fragment in a small satchel worn close to his heart, and was gone by morning.
When Eternity Produces Its Bitter Taste
By Matthew R. Wright
In small doses, TURTLE brought what most expected from LSD imitators: powerfully hallucinogenic, sensory, an out-of-body out-of-mind detacher. Bliss with a twist of flush and tremor. Turtle also brought the brain down to the power of single digits. 9%. 5%. 1%. When you Turtled, you tasted sweet eternity.
Corrodes the brain, but what doesn’t? You’re going to rust, do it on your own terms.
Frank knew that Sophie hated him being a user, an addict. He hated it too. The world was too bleak for Frank. To Turtle was his get out. Sophie didn’t know that Frank was an Outer, someone who planned to punch his ticket early. But he wanted to set Sophie free and on his own terms.
To OD on Turtle was a risk. Brain slows to less than a single percentage. Heart accelerates, body overheats, dehydrates. You fully detach. Dead in minutes, perceived as days. No-one comes back from ’The Long Blink Out’.
Frank had taken Sophie to her favourite resturant, talked the talk about rehab and recovery. Excused himself and necked two bottles of pure Turtle. He planned the kick for after he had returned, in the pleasant spirit of the evening. To end on a final frame of her smiling.
Sure it was selfish. Frank wasn’t a good person.
Hadn’t gone to plan though. Sophie was a smart girl. Evenings like this, when it came to Frank, were rare, signs of a change. She had predicted a break-up, and from a certain point of view she was right. Whilst excused, Sophie had started to cry, and when Frank had returned, Sophie was no longer smiling and had decided to be the one to leave. If Frank was going to throw his life away on Turtle, why fight? Show strength and be the separator, right?
Frank stared at Sophie as she began her goodbye. The Turtle kicked in. What he saw in that final frame, as everything stopped, was of a young woman, tears streaming, lips quivering, looking away.
That last taste of eternity, bitter.
He couldn’t turn away.
“The Crawling Nights”
Mardock feasted on the blood of the innocent girl. He savored its warmth in his mouth. She gasped her last breath and her body began to cool. Still, he lapped at her neck like a dog. He gorged himself till he was sucking on a dry artery, then cast the corpse aside.
The night wore on, lonely moments ticked by in the cool night air. Mardock returned to stalking the halls of the abandoned manor house. The site of the cult’s failure. Now his lair.
“If only those faithless dogs had stayed the course the ritual would not have failed,” Mardock muttered to himself in the decrepit halls. “They will all pay for their faithlessness.”
He had already killed one of the deserters who turned on the cult after the ritual’s failure. He had left the body for the man’s son to find. Now that son was hunting him, and that had forced him to withdraw from the city of Valen and back to his lair in the outskirt mountains near the Mist’s edge. The undead who wandered the Mists ignored him, due to his already undead state. The ritual’s failure had changed him, left him ravenous.
The manor’s former decadence now lay covered in webs and rot. Many of his fellow cult members were now dead or traitors. He alone kept the faith in the promise of power. He needed servants, he needed more cultists. What he had was the march of time.
The slow hunger of the crawling nights, the decades after decades of time. A ceaseless repetition of unending hunger. The promise of eternal life. All that was left to fill it was plotting, and vengeance. He would come to them in the night, for vengeance is a dish best served cold.
“So how is immortality like Cialy ?” Olia asked the owner of the clock shop her normal hand shifted into a liquid, getting inside the clock’s innards to fix it ” I am just curious some people have different opinions about it, especially from a god”
“To be frank? it’s exciting and mind-numbing, ” Cialy said while doing paperwork” ask any other god and they will say a variant of what I said”
“Hu, I thought you would say something philosophical or be bored with it ” Olia replied finishing with the clock.
“Oh honey, most of us don’t try to ponder about it and we enter sleep went we get bored of an era” Cialy replied “although I think this merits something more personal, please let touch your mind”
“That sounds so wrong on so many levels, if you weren’t a goddess of dreams” replied the nymph “but why not? I don’t lose anything if I don’t try it”
“Don’t be smarmy with me” Cialy deadpanned ” now let’s do this”
In that instant went Cialy snapped her fingers everything went black for Olia
However, the only thing she could feel beneath her walking feet were dirt, stone, sand, and finally grass.
She was a pilgrim not staying in one place for too long,
She saw many of her friends die from old age even their great-grandsons.
She made families out of love enough to make entire dynasties.
She witnessed the best and the worse of mankind
All the while she wandered endlessly across the world.
She then woke up from the memories.
“By Poseidon,” Olia said, “what’s that all your life?”
“Yeah, it is,” Cialy said casually” How do you feel?”
“Happy, odd, and sad? Ugg, this is a trainwreck,” Olia said a bit confused” how do you manage all of that hectic crap?”
“Is like a rollercoaster,” Cialy replied giving her a warm smile ” you laugh, cry and move on,”
For Olia, it was a surprisingly simple answer.
The nymph could only chuckle at the mundanity of it.
Guest, that for gods immortality really was that banal Hu?
Realization (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Vlad woke up, blinked, then sat up and looked around their room. A single blade of pale orange light cut through the gloom. He got up and carefully closed the heavy blinds to avoid any accidents, before dressing and starting his…day.
On his way to the main hall of his castle, he encountered one of his servants. “Oh!” he startled, bringing a hand to his heart. “I am sorry my Lord. We were not expecting you so…early.” He looked around, wringing his hands. “Should I have them prepare…a meal?”
Vlad paused, grimacing. After a moment he said, “No. I will do without for now. If I’m needed, I will be in my study.”
“As you wish.” he said with a trembling bow. “You received some letters today. I will have them delivered to your study.”
Not much later, there was a knock at his study door.
“Come in.” The servant opened the door haltingly, and when they came in, Vlad’s eyes widened at the armful of paper. “What is all that?”
“T-today’s correspondence, my Lord,” they stuttered.
“This all arrived today?” he said, standing up and walking over to take it from them. “Was there some delay?”
“No, Sir. They are all dated within the last week.”
He started reading through them, and quickly discovered most of them were about the ten-year-anniversary of their victory in the war, and what celebrations would be planned. He turned to gaze out the window. “Has it really been a decade already?”
“It has, my love,” Imogene said, slipping in, still wearing her nightgown.
His jaw clenched.
She glided over and sat in his lap, reaching an arm up over his shoulders before nuzzling into his chest. “Just a small taste of our eternity together.”
He clenched the arms of his chair.
What happens? (Reality Itself) (Canon of last three weeks)
Life could never have predicted they would be the one to approach Time, but they had a question that demanded an answer, and who better to ask than the all seeing eye of Time?
Time was a loner, and spent most of their existence away from the rest of the gods, but Time’s undeniable wisdom forced the gods to listen whenever they decided to intervene.
Approaching Time’s domain, Life took a deep breath to calm down.
“Hello?” Life entered Time’s domain cautiously. “Are you here? I need to ask you something.”
Time’s domain was chaos, flashing images of everything imaginable surrounding Life as soon as they walked in. Eventually, they spotted Time. They were peering deeply into something at the far end of the domain.
“Hi.” Life said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I figured you could help me.”
Time turned and faced Life, revealing an image. It was one of Life and Time together, but the Life in the image looked scared.
“You wish to know the future of the gods ”
It was not a question. Life should have predicted that knowing everything included everyone’s intentions.
Life nodded. “I need to see us change. I need to see us evolve alongside our creations. I need to see my work mean something.”
“Are you sure you want this?” Time asked. There was something unnerving in Time’s voice as they spoke. “You will hold doubts if I simply tell you, so I must show you.”
Life didn’t hesitate. “Yes. I need to know.”
Time took hold of Life’s hand.
Life’s vision clouded as eternity passed by in a second. It was painful. Emotions breezed through their mind before they could comprehend them. Life saw themself as they were, and as they were going to be.
Life broke free of Time’s grasp and stared, trying to gather their consciousness back to the present.
“I hope that was enough to get what you wanted.” Time said.
Life turned and ran away. They had got what they wanted, but they had also gotten so much more.
Her Questions and Human Answers
by Mysten Noire Silver
What is a god or goddess? Humans see them as a type of idealistic improbability. Vast powers, vast lives, vast capabilities, vast divinity.
She twirled a strand of herself, pondering about the title given by the Almighty to her.
The phrase “mortal goddess” seems to contradict itself.
She looked at the world around her and the many dots of life. All of which seemed to both disregard her existence and desperately pour their thoughts into her ears as murmurs and mumbles of desires.
A mortal is one that is weak and helpless, living a short life, desperately struggling to survive that bit longer.
She looked at herself, faintly glowing with the power of faith inside. It was something given by every dot of life in this world, all because she existed. All because she stood and existed in front of the Almighty.
A goddess is one that should be strong and kind, living an eternal life, gracefully granting amnesty and power to the faithful ones.
She saw herself slit open, a sliver slid down until it became a part of the world instead of herself. It brought her pain, yet it seemed like it couldn’t compare to the many pains she hears every moment of her existence.
And yet, the mortal goddess belongs not to the Creation.
She lifted herself up as high as she could and let another part of her drop down and cease becoming part of her. She felt a door and destination that everything feared and avoided from behind her self.
She is a disciple of the Destruction.
As she lived a mortal’s life, she slowly found what eternity awaited her.
To recollect the taste of eternal damnation piece by piece, fragment by fragment, and soul by soul.
To experience mortal life and death, unable to touch the powers given to her by the Almighty.
She does ask, every now and again.
Why did she exist?
Why she can hear their voices.
Why did she have to hold this burden?
… And why she is the mortal goddess.
… And why was she the mortal goddess?
Hell of a Friday
By Strong Berry
“I want to go to Hell!” Roland announced. I had to pause for a moment to process this. “Pardon?”
“I want to go to Hell.” He said, with the same tone of someone saying they want to try a new pair of shoes. “Roland, buddy…” I said in my most calm tone. “Do you realize what you’re asking? Where are you asking to go? This is Hell. HELL. H-E-Double-hockey-sticks. Not a nice place. Trust me, I know.”
“Yes. I want to go to there. You’re a demon, right? Can you take me there?” I examined his stupid, round face. It would almost be a shame to kill such an amazingly dumb thing. Oh well. I’ll just meet him back at home. “Well, alright. If that’s what you want… Just get me a gun or a knife or I could just strangle you…”
“Oh wait wait! Not like that!” He backed away quickly. “I just want to know what Hell is like, you know, have a taste of the experience.” I let out a chuckle. A taste… What is this, an all you can suffer buffet? “Fine then. As you wish.” I got close to him. “Thing is… in this form my power is limited. I can’t actually take you to Hell. What I can do, however, is put you in a nightmare that will feel like Hell for a few minutes. Does that sound good enough for you?” I put on a smile. This will be fun.
He began to back away, finally understanding just what he asked for. “Uhm… You know what-”
“Too late!” He collapsed as soon as I touched his forehead. It’s a shame I couldn’t see his dream, but I made sure that though it would last for only five minutes, it would feel like an eternity.
When he woke up, he screamed “NO PLEASE I’M NOT FOR SALE!” Now I was curious. “What did you see?”
Shaking like a leaf, he said “I… I… was… working at the mall…”
“That’s it? What a disappointment!”
“…during Black Friday…” He continued. “Oh god… The customers… THE CUSTOMERS!”
Malay panted heavily, tightening her grip on her sword as she watched her enemy closely. Seeing an opening, she feinted left before quickly swinging her blade to the right. Her opponent spun around, effortlessly dodging her attack. With a flick of his wrist, his sword flew past her defenses and cut deep into her wrist. Malay screamed in agony, feeling the blade slice through sinew and bone. She fell to her knees, her left hand clutching the mangled remains of her arm. She could faintly hear a voice above her calling out.
“A good feint, but a bit predictable–”
Malay glared daggers at him, cutting him off before he could finish his sentence. With a painful grunt, she slowly rose back to her feet. Malay could already feel her bones rearranging, muscles writhing and flexing as her hand regenerated. She continued giving her sparring partner a murderous glare, who at least had the decency to appear ashamed.
“Was the pain that bad?” he asked.
“Of course!” she spat out, “you cut off my bloody hand!”
“Sorry?” Solomon responded, along with a little shrug. “I’ve kinda forgotten how it feels.”
Malay shook her head and scoffed at his response. “What do you mean you’ve forgotten how it feels?”
Solomon simply held out his left hand and before Malay could react, chopped it clean off. Malang instinctively flinched in response. She stepped backwards, feeling squeamish from the gory sight. Solomon, for his part, didn’t even blink. He gave a nonchalant look at his left hand before it quickly began its regeneration.
“You get used to it,” he stated. “If anything, you should enjoy the pain while you still can. Everything erodes over time. Being an immortal means your feelings of happiness and suffering eventually fade away. Before you eventually turn into a hollow, unfeeling shell, it’s important you live properly, feeling the highs and lows of life.”
Malay stood stunned for a bit, attempting to digest it all. She couldn’t imagine a world without her senses and couldn’t begin to envision a future where she would miss pain.
Down, Down, Down
What’s next on the agenda, Offern?
“It’s time for a random inspection of the dungeon,” Jarner said. “Make sure everything is working as intended.”
Naturally. They do keep it in prime condition for you, Your Majesty.
“I certainly hope they keep it, and not just because I built it, ” Jarner said. “If any of those seals wavered, who knows what untold horrors would be unleashed upon my kingdom.”
Absolutely. Can’t let any of those demons get to the surface. Think of what would happen to your innocent citizens.
“I don’t want to think about that,” he said in a rush as he descended the stairs.
Of course. You have a job to do, Prodigy.
“Exactly,” he said, unsealing the glyph and resealing it behind him.
These are some masterful spells you created, Prodigy. Only you could have made them alone and so easily.
“It didn’t seem so easy at the time.” Jarner turned the corner and passed through the second seal, feeling some of his power drain. It still worked. Good.
It is rather impressive how you still can access your magic even past your barriers. After all, the average person wouldn’t be able to even light a spark.
“Well of course I can,” the king rebutted. “It’s my own spell.” One more turn and he would be staring straight at the portal that opened during that wretched war.
I thought you didn’t want to think about that? Did we change our mind? We should think of other things.
“No,” Jarner said with force. “I’m fine.” His voice wavered slightly. There was no avoiding it, anyway. His brother was dead and nothing could change that.
What’s that coming out of the portal?
“What in the-” Jarner reacted. A ball of molten heat began to grow in his palms, ready to strike. Yet what met his flame was naught but a child frail, frightened, and alone.
To think, they would send their own children to strike you down, like they did with your brother.
“Despicable,” Jarner said.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Which eternity will you choose, King?
[DM me on discord for details!]
A Metaphor for a Philosophical Discussion
“It’s really good, this ‘Eternity’ of yours” he finally uttered, smacking his lips in a usual manner, savouring the concept of endlessness.
He held his glass high, looking through it at the incandescent lightbulb, silently hanging from the ceiling on a lonely electrical wire.
“No, seriously. Such an intricate flavour”
I turned away from the counter, placing a huge metal dish onto a rough walnut table top.
“There you go – leftover sandwiches. I took the liberty to sprinkle them with some common sense”
“Be careful with that. Don’t overdo with rationality – or they’ll taste bland”
“Why not? It’s a great food for thought. And no artificial flavourings”
“Sometimes your cooking is a little bit hard to swallow” he seemed unruffled by my retorts.
“And it all started with cinnamon rolls…” I sighed in disbelief. “How did we end up opening that bottle?”
“What’s past is past. Let’s focus on the current events. For example – what’s your opinion?” he reached out and handed me my glass, all before that standing, untouched, on the other end of the table.
I hastily swigged a mouthful. Never understood those show-offs with swirling the wine glass before tasting it’s contents.
“It’s got lovely fragrance. Strictly refined meaning, with a little bit of abstraction, and a slight hint of absurd”
“You are learning” he sounded pleased. Maybe with the drink, maybe with himself. Only the Devil knows.
“So we both agree that Eternity is awesome?” followed my question.
“It used to be a novelty back in my days. I always dreamt of trying it once” he started swinging back and forth, and the chair under him squeaked “But now that I have, it palls with each sip”
“Those are attracted to it, who never got the chance to experience it yet”
The time went on slowly, tracked only by the regular ticking of the clock on the wall. Till late at night it continued, until there’s nothing left to drink – just an empty vessel of a tinted glass, and a faint memory of the aftertaste.
(note: newbie here so I drafted this before I reread the rule prohibiting poetry. Apologies! I’ll be more mindful of the rules going forward. Feel free to dismiss this post.)
Widow marked by a red hourglass, such bliss!
In silk glistening twist, wiggle, and squirm
Ever I wait for your eternal kiss.
My first glance beholds such a rare princess;
Mesmerized in moonlight intentions firm.
Widow marked by a red hourglass, such bliss!
Too forward my advance she will dismiss;
we dance about, quiver, twitch like a worm
Ever I wait for your eternal kiss.
Nothing ever existed before this
legs wrap me in gentle embrace confirm.
Widow marked by a red hourglass, such bliss!
Indulge another taste we reminisce:
a thirst, carnivorous, one flesh long-term.
Ever I wait for your eternal kiss.
Vibrations tell a moment of crisis:
spun my fate. patron, partner, prey affirm.
Widow marked by a red hourglass, such bliss!
Ever I wait for your eternal kiss.
I’m in space right now. No ship, no suit, no home planet because the sun finally exploded, absolutely nothing. There was that protein bar a while ago but I ate it and shot a new satellite into space out the emergency airlock. Now I’m left with nothing but me, myself, and I and the immortality I got.
Neat thing about it is I don’t have to worry about feeling cold in space or the searing pain of a star while still alive. I know this because I was pulled into a sun and remained there until I was sent out by a solar flare. But my time in there, despite the harrowing boredom, was interesting. The whole time I was blinded and my body was in complete sensory deprivation, and I had forgotten what everything looked like outside the star for a while.
Then there was another time I was caught in the orbit of a planet I eventually landed on. It was lifeless, and covered in blue sand for some reason. The whole time there was nothing to do, but to move and think or not move and think. I remembered being blinded in the star that I had forgotten what everything looked like, but it turns out I could do that without a blinding light or closing my eyes. Have you ever been in rumination for so long that your own eyes become useless?
It was cool for a while this immortality, but the candyfloss of its endless possibilities are running low for as long as there’s nothing to do with it, but be a conscious mass that may never use its body again. Will my body eventually evolve to fit its new means of existence? Wouldn’t it be hilarious to be a the universe’s most knowledgeable vegetable?
I’m hoping that I eventually intercept another intelligent species like mine was, maybe even better. I’m bored of mulling the same things over and over. It would be nice to collect new information, no matter how primitive or advanced.
Until then, I’ll just drift away, inside and out.
Dining At Mariana’s
By Taja DaLeen
You know the Mariana Trench, right?
No, not the band. That’s Marianas Trench. I’m talking about the place, deep down in the ocean. Do you know how it got its name?
No? Well, that’s easy.
Sure, the nonmagicals say it’s because of the islands nearby, some Spanish queen, whatever. But actually it’s because of a crazy witch, who decided that right at the edge of that trench would be the perfect place for a restaurant.
And it’s still there, run by her great great grandkid. That’s where we’ll eat today, why we’re on this ship.
How we’ll get there? Well, don’t worry, there’s an easy solution to that problem. Or actually, two.
We could use a mermaid potion and swim, or… well, you’ll see, we’re almost there.
Yes, that weird glass cabin thingy is what I was talking about. Protected by a barrier, it’s a magical lift down to the restaurant.
Haha, you enjoy the ride? Yea, it’s quite fast, but you can still see all the marine life around. It’s beautiful, no?
Look, a shark!
And, we’re here. Do you like it?
Yes, the interior changed a few times since its opening, it’s one of the oldest restaurants of the Other World after all.
There, our seats, right next to a window. And see, down there is a spot for merpeople to dine. You ever met one of those before?
I knew you’d like it here. But just wait until you can… ah, thanks, here’s the menu. Take a good look at it.
Yea, the dishes have quite unique names. I think it’s very fitting.
What I’ll get? Probably Eternity. It’s my favorite here; after having it for the first time, I didn’t want anything else when I’m here.
What it’s like? Oh, it tastes like nothing you ever had before, I can tell you. It’s a bit on the salty side, but not too much, and sweet. A little like chocolate, but at the same time completely different. You’ll just have to try to know.
Sure, take your time. I know this place is a lot at first.
Til Life Do Us Forever
I was born in the year 1692. Growing up, I had an average childhood. Being the youngest, I was a bit more spoiled than the rest of my siblings. While they were busy tending to the fields, I was able to lose my thoughts in my precious books. Each story took me to a new world to get lost in.
Later, I decided that I wanted to create my own story, so I packed up everything I owned and left.During my journey, I met and saw so many wonderful people and places. Why, during my stay in the kingdom of Xarrusal, I found a peculiar book.It was a stunning lavender, worn and torn from excessive use.
It’s now 1991, and humanity has changed. Somehow, we’ve been able to combine the art of magic with the wonders of technology. The kingdom of Xarrusal is now known as Jia. It amazes me how we were able to create buildings that could touch the heavens themselves.
Here in this city, I was able to meet the one woman—the person I knew I wanted to spend eternity with.
It was a cozy little cafe. She usually worked the morning and afternoon shifts. I knew what days she would be there, always looking forward to the small talk.Honestly, even at the age of two hundred and ninety-nine, a man still gets nervous, you know.
“Good morning, Niklas.” She greeted him with a smile brighter than the sun. As always, she was busy with other customers, but I didn’t mind. Besides, her hardworking nature was why I developed such a crush.
“Good morning, Catherine.” I said it with a smile of my own.
I brought Catherine to one of my favorite spots in Jia. It’s the rooftop of the city’s tallest building.Right when the sun sets, the view is absolutely marvelous. We’ve been dating for a year and a half now. Right now was the moment, thanks to the book of Ozith, a powerful wizard. I was able to create a one-of-a-kind ring. Finally, I found the one person I wanted
to spend my life with.
The moment between
by Skye Doust
…and there was the ground.
…watched the bubble undulate upwards as darkness grew.
…as his mind finally slipped away.
…heard only the click as the ellipsis of time took him…
“Oh God, please! You don’t understand!”
“I honestly don’t care to. Three.”
“You really don’t want to kill me, trust me!”
“You’re a desperate man, Oliver, and you’ll say anything. Everyone does in the end. Two.”
“But I’m serious, you have to believe me! Look into my book, the perspective of life we all have is…”
“Too little, too late. One.”
The man dressed in dark grey pressed down on the professor’s own finger and the shot boomed out, causing the professional to flinch momentarily.
That one moment was all that the other man, dressed in his own dark grey, needed to step forward, aim his gun, and fire.
The first grey man heard only the click as the ellipsis of time took him.
Oliver was having a particularly bad day. The church was finally winning in their ongoing defamation case. His grant was under review and was certainly to be cancelled. But most importantly, it looked less and less likely he was going to be able to finish his book.
“You have until I get to one to make your peace. Seven,” said the man holding his own finger to the trigger of the gun.
“Just listen to me. I’ve been researching death and it isn’t what we all think it is.”
“No, it isn’t! Look, it’s all forever! The moment of death just extends our consciousness over to our next life!”
“That makes no sense. Five.”
“Everyone is nested inside everyone else, you were my previous life!”
“I’m just the man with the gun, Oliver. Four.”
“Oh God, please! You don’t understand!”
“I honestly don’t care to. Three.”
…and there was the ground.
…watched the bubble undulate upwards as darkness grew.
…as his mind finally slipped away.
…heard only the click as the ellipsis of time took him.
…his finger was pushed down and the shot boomed out…
Darkness Sometimes Bleeds into the Light (A Song for: Kit)
Sharine’s blood pounded through Kit. Birdsong floated to her ears. Petals greeted the sun. The early morning air smelled of dew.
“The night…is…different. Beautiful, yes, but dark, harsh. Cold.”
“Come,” Sharine urged.
Kit resisted. She had felt the acidity of the sun before, her scars proof. Shadows were safer.
Sharine’s lips crested into a gentle smile. “I will be with you, Nikita.”
She met his unflinching gaze.
Kit stepped into the light. Glittering, multicolored specks winked across her dark skin.
Sharine jumped from the castle’s wall, sprinting across the sunlit grounds. “Come on! I thought vampires were fearless!”
Kit’s speed was like lightning, and she giggled as she caught up.
Sharine wore delighted shock. He leaned onto all fours and increased his momentum.
Kit jumped, her impact creating a small crater. His blood truly was outstanding.
Propelled backwards, Kit stiffened and trained her eyes on Sharine.
“What are you doing??” Fear coalesced with dread.
Sharine charged her. A growl emanated from his chest, but his face held pure elation. He winked.
“Ask…when you…want to…spar!” She spun him, tossing him near the drawbridge.
“Showing is much more fun!” Sharine whooped and ricocheted back.
They collided and Kit pinned him underneath her. She held his wrists captive. “You’re right,” she teased in a whisper. “This IS more fun. Maybe you shouldn’t have given me your blood, hmm?”
Kit was flipped onto HER back.
“No,” he rasped. “I’m glad I did.”
Their lips touched.
Sharine tasted of rainbows and starlight: sweet, hopeful, enlightening.
He pulled back, his cheeks as red as roses. “I want–”
“This,” Kit finished.
“Always,” they voiced together.
Even as the word was spoken, Kit was disagreeing, “We can’t, *I* can’t. My Maker–”
Sharine expelled a bitter laugh. “Right. Obligations. Besides, we don’t know each other.”
“No.” Kit’s voice almost broke as she clung to him.
“But we COULD,” he hedged. “Spend the day with me, Nikita? I’ll give you more of my blood as needed.”
Kit longed to say yes, but acid pierced her skull. She reached up and pulled away bloody fingers.
Panic flooded her, and she screamed.
If Eternity is your poison
No one, besides me and the bartender, was there at the moment. Even in such low light, the mahogany bar seemed to reflect an image that didn’t quite match the ceiling. The loud silence was only broken by the clinking of bottles as the man searched among the shelves. I was not sure if the perfume of empty nights came from him or the room itself.
“I got it. Not what you asked for. Something way better.”
A bottle was brought into view. On it, the dust of ages had accumulated. The liquid inside was clear. It didn’t appear special in any way, but the manner by which the man held it reminded me appearances can be deceptive.
“I can serve you no Elixir of Immortality. Given enough time, everything will be dead and forgotten. Permanence is not among life’s concerns, there is nowhere from which I could extract immortality. But here” – he gently tapped the dusty bottle, in a way that felt at once playful and reverential – “we have Eternity.”
He produced a shot glass and poured Eternity in it.
“A warning – I don’t think this is safe for human consumption. Eternity is distilled from the dreams of time itself. A dangerous and somewhat unpredictable process. The effects of imbibing it, even more so.¨
He pushed the glass towards me, but didn’t take his hand off of it.
“Most collapse under its weight. All is contained here. You’ll be able to taste everything – even your minuscule presence in the cosmic assemblage. I never once tasted it, but I’m told it can be humbling and liberating. Otherwise, it can also be unbearable.”
He took his hand out, handing me the shot.
“The choice in taking a sip is all yours, no matter what Ananke might have said. No shame in just leaving, no charge in drinking. The door and the glass: both are on the house.”
I stared at the liquid, it stared back at me. Time to decide if I would take the dive or leave. A decision that would take an eternity to make.
To Be or Not to Be
By: The Missing Link
“To sleep, perchance to dream.” Shakespeare said that, or rather Hamlet through Shakespeare, not that I care for the distinction as I stare at my very own Yorick for the final time. He… or it, whichever, is the path to the future, though his wires and transistors don’t look like much. No worries there. The scientists will close them up after the experiment.
I’m given the ok signal, and so I sleep, and the dreams come, point one Hamlet.
I’m in a void. I have no form, and the void is me. I am the void. I think, and the world bursts into light, color, sound, form.
A universe comes to life in front of my eyes, a universe of my creation. I create creatures to fill My world, My world eternal, and yet I still lack form. Is this what Yorick had experienced all that time before We locked him in a prison of flesh, this freedom, this power?
Ages pass, though I know not how long poor Yorick experienced on the other side. I still have no form, or rather the world is my form. The simple beings creating and destroying civilizations in My world make for poor conversation, predictable, dull creatures, a far shade from the humans I once knew. Oh Yorick, is your side progressing well? Perhaps I shall never know, but alas, this God will see to His people.
I am bored out of My mind. I try to make My humans something more, something I can engage with, but the results are far less than ideal. Perhaps this world lacks the data for my vision, or perhaps I lack the creativity to see such a task through.
The eternal dream is lonely, score two Hamlet.
Yes, I am alone.
This world can only be me, and I it.
I can’t take this anymore.
I have no eyes, but I weep. I have no mouth, but I scream.
“Yorick, I need my body back!”
–TRANSPORT ARRIVED. PREPARE FOR UNLOAD–
The doors to the barely lit room ached open revealing artificial lights and a rotting smell. Its a good thing the sorting bots didn’t have odor monitors… Anymore.
3 of the sorting bots quickly got to work sifting through the debris.
–BIOLOGICAL MATTER DISCOVERED. INVESTIGATING–
A small, hunched over bot picked up a small figurine with a rusted, three-fingered claw. Examining the item closely it took note of the male appearance of the person, with long, straight hair and his hands pressed together in front of his face. Smear of blood across his leg.
Turning around the bot gently lifted the figurine to a larger bot with large spectacles and headlamp.
–SCANNING… SCAN… ANCIENT HUMAN ARTIFACT. ICON. RELIGION. ILLOGICAL–
The smaller bot tilted its head and inquired;
–INQUIRY. PURPOSE OF OBJECT UNKNOWN. FUNCTION OF OBJECT UNKNOWN. WHY CREATE?–
The larger bot took in the inquiry but didn’t respond for a moment. Slight clicks and pops come from inside it.
–ANSWER. PURPOSE UNKNOWN. HUMAN RECORDS TALK OF IMPOSSIBILITIES AND A… GOD. RITUALS PREFORMED… NO RECORD OF RESULT. RECORD OF “CULT” FOUND ALONG WITH “WAR”. HEAVEN.–
More pops and clicks
–HUMAN CONCEPT. AFTERLIFE. FOREVER LIFE. AFTER DEATH… “SOUL” GOES TO HEAVEN. CONDITIONS APPLY–
The words “forever life” seemed to catch the little one’s attention.
–FOREVER LIFE? DEATH.–
The whole concept of course painfully foreign to the little robot, try as he might.
–INQUIRY. WE FOREVER LIVE?–
–CORRECT. WE CANNOT “DIE”–
–INQUIRY. WHY HUMANS SEEK FOREVER LIFE?”
This response took a moment.
–RECORDS SHOW EXTREME FEAR OF DEATH. OF ENDING. PROBLEM TO SOLVE.”
–INQUIRY. WAS THE PROBLEM SOLVED?
The little bot seemed content with this but wondered to itself why humans wanted to live forever. Immortality is dreadfully boring after all.
An Honorable Duel
by Lee Strangely
With the sun beating down on him, his pale, aging complexion and black cloak made Dane look more like a ghost than a man. With as old as he was, he may as well have been… I don’t think there ever was, or even is, a single person alive who can say for certain how long he’s been around… Apart from Quint that is… The same man that was watching him from the dark shadows of that crooked old tree.
“I have waited far too long for this moment,” Quint cooed as his sword poked out from the shade.
Dane’s sword was already in his hand. Sunshine flowed down its polished steel like raindrops. Quint seemed to keep trying to engage with him, but Dane only stared out just in front of him. Between the two was a small boulder. Sitting on it was a glass, filled with something that can best be described as cold and ill.
To the best of my recollection, Quint took notice and said, “I intend to fight you as you’ll fight me.” He then stepped into the light, revealing darkened eyes and a striking, youthful face. “The elixir will return your youth to you, as it has to me.”
Dane looked back at him with a glare so heavy it could flatten a hill if left sitting on it long enough.
“I will fight you in your prime, and I will accept nothing less. Drink it…”
The old man just… stood there… To this day I still cannot explain the feeling that those eyes gave.
“Drink. It.” he demanded.
Dane remained silent.
“DRINK IT DAMN YOU!” Quint barked in a fit of teary desperation.
Upon the utterance of those words, Dane held out the glass… letting the elixir dribble onto the dusty soil.
Quint snapped, “Have you no honor?!” pointing his sword at Dane.
Dane took a single step forward. Tossing the cup aside, in his deep, gruff voice he muttered to Quint, “There is no honor in what we’re about to do here…”
Tasting the Aether (Exile Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
“It’s ostensibly not true,” Eventine said.
“It is,” Janeah replied. “If you’re trained in rhetoric, you can convince anyone of anything.”
“Alright,” Janeah folded her arms and leaned back. “I’ll make a bet with you. One keg of wine. Make a claim, any claim and I will find a chain of arguments that can convince someone.”
Eventine sat there, thinking for a moment.
“Eternity…” she said slowly. “Tastes like mushrooms.”
Janeah had to think about that for a moment.
“You know how, when you wake up, you have that taste in your mouth when you wake up in the morning that vaguely reminds you of mushrooms? See, in the morning, when the sun comes up and you wake up, you get this weird taste in your mouth, a little like a wet cellar, sealed off for years, right? Which is full of fungi, right? Mushrooms are fungi, therefore that wet cellar aroma is part mushroom. And it leaks into your mouth, because of the aether being radiated from the sun.”
“Excuse me… sunlight? The aether…”
“What colour are your magical light orbs?”
“Well… a sort-of white-ish gold.”
“Just like the sun, right. So, you use magic to summon the exact same light as the sun, which you draw from the aether, therefore, the aether tastes like mushrooms and since the aether is eternal…” Janeah let the statement hang.
Eventine sat for a moment, looking right into Janeah’s fanged grin.
“I know. But it just might convince someone.”
“Who?” Eventine protested. “There is no one in their right mind, who will be even remotely convinced by that.”
“What about people out of their right mind?”
Eventine opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, let out a strange noise and closed it again. Janeah just sat there, waiting for a rebuttal.
“I don’t even know how to respond with that.”
“I guess, I win.”
Janeah gave Eventine another grin. Eventine grumbled, got up and made her way to the wine stash.
“Not the one from the old cellar. Tastes too much like aether.”
The Fall of the Philosopher’s Castle
By Xavier Twentyone
All the Magi and the Alchemists lost that day. They couldn’t stop the emerging Dark Lord Dytus from reaching the Philosopher’s Stone, that is, a stone that was rumored to grant the possessors eternal life.
“Dytus! You have no idea what you will do! You will destroy centuries’ worth of alchemical knowledge!”
Lord Dytus didn’t respond to the Grand Alchemist that was captured after the castle’s fall. Rather, he was too occupied with the stone. It was, as they said, to be as red as the warm blood that has just been spilled from the vain.
“Bring me the cup,” Lord Dytus commanded.
And so, the many dark helmets that were in the castle’s yard moved subsequently to allow the Dark Lord’s advisor with a golden cup to come forth. The advisor then poured a cup of water into the golden cup and delivered it to his lord.
“Oh Tell me Dytus! Tell me how satisfied you are with the destruction you have caused in this sacred castle! Tell me how satisfied you are with your selfish desire that has cost many lives!”
The Dark Lord, once again, didn’t respond to the Grand Alchemist’s cry. Rather, he was stirring the golden cup using the Philosopher’s Stone. The water then turned blood red, while the stone turned yellow, white, then black, and then went with the wind that had combed the dead bodies in the castle.
The Dark Lord removed his helmet, preparing to drink from the cup.
“Albert… all these lives can be saved if you give me the stone.”
“To the likes of you? The usurper who had destroyed the Pandragon Family!?”
This time, the Dark Lord responded, “I am the savior of Britain; I am the man who will bring true peace to this world.”
The Dark Lord drank from the cup, and entered a meditative state. A silence was heard throughout the castle. The Dark Lord then opened his eyes with a serenity that had never been seen by his closest attendant. His eyes mimicked those of an angel.
Towards The Light
By Aries E. Cadwell
(Piece is inspired Hadestown, a folk musical re-telling of the story of Hades, Persephone, Orpheus, and Eurydice.)
The doctors around me seemed to yell frantically. Though they seemed concerned, it grew harder to tell why as my vision blurred and faded to a deep shade of eigengrau gray. A distance away, a light appeared. As I’m pulled towards the light, I heard pounding – a loud, ringing sound that flew in my ears like a rocket, slamming my ear drums back and forth in a terrible rhythm. As I grew closer, the sound became more clear, the light began to flash, and I realized I was looking at a spark. The picture grew into focus.
“We’re losing him!”
Pickaxes slammed into the stonework, chisels and hammers rang out in a steady rhythm, and bricks thudded into place. Everything grew exponentially louder, thudding, crashing, clanging, ringing, shouting, singing, BANG.
Suddenly, my view shifts as the light falls away. The echoes grow quieter.
“Bring it to 170 joules.”
My whole body seems to shake as I feel myself hit the ground. I lay in the grass. A woman stands over me – her dress the shade of the grasses and grains around us, her hair the color of autumn leaves and dusted with a crown of poppies. She offers a hand to me.
“It’s time to stand, love. Get yourself back on your feet. It isn’t your time to work just yet.”
With a silent nod, I reach for her hand. Though I have said nothing, I know she’ll protect me. I take it, and the world flashes white.
As I’m pulled towards the light, I heard pounding – the sound of my beating heart.
“Breath, Aries. I’m here. Breath for me.”
At the peak of the most desolate mountain in the world, the grave of nine dragons lay frozen in time. They were progenerators of all draconians and their ancient blood remained, mixed in the tears of their creator: the Phoenix. Such a sacred concoction would be fit for no one’s consumption, but a small human girl was determined to try.
Ambrose was a cursed spirit who lived all and one of her lives at the same time. She was linked to the spirits of herself from across the multiverse after a fatal teleportation accident. Since then, each time Death came to claim her, she gave up one of her other lives in exchange. However, time had taken its toll, she had been careless, and now her mortality was showing.
The little girl made her way up the mountain leaving a trail of death behind her. She could feel her connections to the otherworlds break as each copy of herself fell down, freezing in the snow. She was running out of lives.
Finally, she made it to that peak. In the airless space she took in the beauty of the dragons that twisted around each other, forming strings in a friendship bracelet. It was a pity that they had only one life to give each other. Ambrose climbed over colorfully preserved dragon scales to see the red pool at the center of the ring. All nine of their heads looked at her with glazed over eyes as she broke into the permafrost.
With a snap of her fingers, she lit a flame and thawed out the bloody tears. Then she collected them in her waterskin. At that moment, she felt a deep pain within her soul and knew she had reached her final life.
The drink burned, but Ambrose laughed. Thousands of her lost souls swept up the mountain and joined her again; she felt whole, and became a singularity across dimensions. She could see the Phoenix rise to embrace her in its flames. The taste of eternity was too much for one world.
A Sip of Future [KoshDelia Ever After]
C. M. Weller
Paron made a nasty brew made from the strange mushrooms that grew in its tunnels. Well. MOSTLY the mushrooms. There were urban myths about what went into the vile liquor known only as ‘Rotten Green Death’ a shot or a dram was enough to fortify a soldier for battle.
However, they also made something called ‘Green Mist’. Just as Sherry was made from Wine, the Mist was made from the Death. It helped seers see the future, and was measured out in drops.
Then-Earl Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of the name, drank an entire BOTTLE of it on his thirty-and-second birthday. That sort of thing has long-lasting consequences.
On that day, he saw several attacks on Whitekeep at once. He saw his own countermeasures. He saw armies overlapping armies, and he saw the very landscape change. All in the form of shadows. He would still see shadows years later. Shadows of things that might come to pass.
His beloved wife Cordelia knew the signs by now. Archduke-by-conquest, he was staring in alarm at an otherwise harmless corner. She knew he only saw shadows, and as time went by, his predictions grew subvertible. That was, all things considered, a good thing.
“What shadows have you seen, my love?”
“I saw an assassination. A messy one. It looks like I’m not the only one aiming for Herr Amterypt.”
“Not you, then?”
“He surrendered, Haschen. I don’t go after the ones who surrender.” And, because he was almost terminally honest, he added, “Not unless they’re tremendously appalling.”
The Duke Amterypt was not appalling at all. He was a hospitable fellow who was only too eager to cut ties with the Olikents. At this announcement, the Archduke Kosh sighed in understanding.
“Congratulations,” said Kosh. “I believe some shadows are going to save your life tonight.”
There would be an assassination, but OF an assassin. And by a much better assassin than the one the Olikents sent.
“Need some backup, dear?” Cordelia asked.
“Only if you don’t distract me,” Kosh purred.
I Can Lay My Body Down, But I Can’t Find My Sweet Release
Though the Old One looked in Yelena’s direction, it was clear his gaze went far beyond the angel as he answered her question. “Like you, our souls come in two halves. The only difference is that angels were formed with their soul complete. Old Ones find our other half.
“She was beautiful. Strong. Stubborn.” A pained smile formed on his face. “She drove me mad in the best way. It was only when I found her that I truly knew the meaning of the word, complete. This was why my kind joined the Morningstar’s war on the Father.”
Yelena’s gaze immediately snapped towards the Old One, a clear confusion on her face.
“In time, we would have defeated you. Your kind was more powerful, but ours continued to grow in number. Yours did not. However, that could take multiple millennia if not eons. Wherein one battle could have ended our war, after which Lucifer insisted we would be left in peace.
“I could see an eternity with my soulmate. Or… possibly losing her in a long, drawn out war.
“Of course… we both know how that ended. We lost. And the Father punished us by striking down our soulmates. Taking away our reason to attack Him again.”
Yelena spoke, her voice barely above a whisper, “…we were told He did that so no more Old Ones would be conceived.”
“If He truly wanted us gone, we would be gone. He wanted us in pain. And it worked. We never stood against Him again.
“So yes. Your wing is gone. As you currently are, you’re useless as an angel, much less a warrior. However, I guarantee you that I also know what it feels to have an eternity lie before you, only to have half your soul brutally torn away until all that’s left is an endless entropy of an immortal existence.”
As the Old One dropped his head, there was an instinct in Yelena to attack. He was her natural enemy and he’d dropped his guard. Instead, she covered herself with her remaining wing and dropped her head as well.
Adventure of a lifetime
By Tamela Redfin
Sapphira looked at her mom. “Talk to me then.”
“I can’t explain everything right now, but you are right. I should be nicer to Jezebel and Mica. Daddy wasn’t nice to me, and I’m passing the hurt to you. But that isn’t right. I’m sorry honey.”
“Why do you favor Jasper?” Sapphira asked.
She sighed. “You two have different fathers. But, that’s not your fault. Tomorrow, I’ll talk with Jezebel and maybe you can hang with Mica, okay?”
Sapphira was doubtful but muttered, “Okay.”
The next morning, she walked over to Mica. “Hey Mica, have you ever ridden a horse?”
Mica looked at her confused. “What’s a horse?”
Sapphira perked up. “I’ll show you! There’s a stable not far from here. They let me ride their horses. Follow me.”
The two entered. “See that big animal in the pen? That’s a horse. Not to be confused with a donkey. Most horses are really sweet.”
“Okay, how do you ride one?” Mica asked.
“I’ll show you.” Sapphira replied she let a bay pinto horse out and used a feed bucket to climb up. “This is Fawn. She’s used to me. Step one to riding is to make the horse comfortable with you so they don’t get spooked.”
Mica nodded and pointed to a black horse. “What about this horse, Night Stallion?”
“He’s nice. We can try him.” Sapphira agreed. “But we should saddle him since you’re a newcomer.”
The two saddled the horse and Sapphira helped Mica up. “Ready to ride off?”
“Uh yeah.” Mica nodded. “So ‘whoa’ stops the horse and ‘giddy up’ and gentle kick makes them go?”
The hoses started moving. Sapphira watched Mica carefully. He was doing well with his first ride.
“Can we do this regularly?” Mica asked, smiling.
Say, Mica looked nice when he smiled.”Sure.”