The weekend was about writing and one of the things that helps writers is to have a writing prompt. There are books of prompts. There are web sites of prompts. There are countless rabbit holes in the warren that is Pinterest of writing prompts. There are no shortage of places from which to pull prompts.
One of the cool things that happened this weekend, though was that each of us got our own set of personalized prompts. Carma had created prompts based on what she knew of us (and I have to say she was fairly insightful with mine). I can easily see using this again and again.
One of my 'personalized' prompts was to use this as the first line:
"I'm only telling you this because you won't be able to tell anyone else."
I didn't know where to take this, to be completely honest. The great thing about being a pantser, though, is that if there is a spark, my brain tends to start the movie in my mind before too long. If there isn't a spark, it moves on to the next movie or to a previous work in progress.
This one didn't take long. It's rough. And it's unfinished. It has yet to be titled, but it is something that came from the retreat. I'll file it away and work on it at some point. There are many elements and it's a story that it quite out of my normal oeuvre. So, we'll have to see how it pans out.
"I'm only telling you this because you won't be able to tell anyone else."
I don't know what the look on my face conveyed, but her smile told me all I needed to know. It was the reaction she was hoping for. Although at this point, I don't know if it was the words she said softly in my ear as she held me close or the blade that was at this moment slicing a burning path of destruction somewhere just above what I could only assuwas my spleen.
I gasped. A rookie mistake. Although to be fair, I have never been stabbed before. The tightness in my chest felt as though a cinder block was crushing my rib cage. I realized with the difficulty I was having with the whole breathing thing, that it was less likely my spleen that the blade had met. My left lung, perforated and bleeding tried to eject the metal intruder with little effect.
"Shhhh, my pet," she cooed softly. I could feel her hot breath on my cheek as the words left her all too perfect lips. Tears welled in my eyes as I remembered kissing them not moments before.
"You see," she continued, "it's all part of the plan. Not killing you, that was a happy bonus. You were originally supposed to live to deliver the message. I convinced the council that you could still be used to deliver the message. Well, not so much you as your blood."
With this she looked down at the chalice she held just below my wound. I tried to look down. The ornate handle of the dagger was all I could see without changing positions, a feat quite impossible at the moment.
"The world is ending," her hand still on the blade. "Well, your world at any rate. Our daughter is the key. The key to unlocking the prophecy. All this time under our noses."
I knew that I had, at best, another minute before the pain caused the heavy black curtain of consciousness to fall. I had to act fast, if it wasn't too late.
I could tell she was still talking. Telling me of some secret. I knew I should be listening--it was important, it was about Coriander. But if I didn't act quickly, none of it would matter.
I moved my free hand up to the amulet around my neck. This time it was Lexaria's eyes that widened as she realized what I was attempting to do.
My hand clutched the talisman tightly as I closed my eyes. I could hear her screaming as I whispered one word.
And the world went black.
I woke in my bed chambers. So as not to awaken my wife, I gently slid out of bed. Donning slippers, I padded down the hall to the nursery.
Coriander made noises of satisfaction as she slept. To say she was mewing would not be overly dramatic, it was the peaceful sleep of an innocent soul that knew nothing of the evil into which she had been born.
Heading back toward my bedroom, I paused at the study. There was no blood on the rich Persian rug. At least, not yet.
I stepped in and pulled my quill and a parchment from the desk that had been a fixture in this castle since before my great grandfather was, himself, a newborn in the nursery.
"We have a problem. The timetable has advanced. The Council acts tomorrow."
I set the quill back in the inkwell. The parchment glowed a dull orange, briefly pulsing before disappearing.
I looked up to see Lexaria standing in the doorway.
"Problems dear?" she asked coldly, feigning what I could only assume she thought passed for the cute sleepiness I fell in love with years ago.
I smiled at her warmly.
"Not at all, Love. A last minute item I need Cedric to bring back with him that simply cannot wait for his next passage to the lower territories."
I stood and came around the desk. Leaning down to kiss her on the cheek I gently, but firmly, guided her by her elbow back to our bed chambers. My fingers worked a subtle protection spell much like the one I had just cast over our daughter. It would not do for Lexaria to get ambitious and decide to strike before dawn. I had less than twenty-three hours left and I would need all of them to stop her and the Council from what they had planned.
We both lay back in bed, but I know for my part I was not sleeping. I can only assume my wife was fighting similar demons of insomnia in the short hours before daybreak.
I struggled to remember details of an event that yet to happen. Everything was critical at this point--life and death.
My mind flashed back to the dagger. I normally have no reason for a personal protection spell walking among these inner chambers. The dagger was not one that normally resides in the castle. I could tell by the jewels that they wouldn't have any issues going through the protection spells. Both mine and my daughter's.
This was bad.
I tried not to get caught up in the emotion of the situation. I knew my wife wasn't skilled in the magicks, but she was incredibly gifted in the empathic arts, likely a trait that led her from courtesan to queen.
I rose before she did. I knew she wasn't asleep, but she played the part well. I grabbed my robes from the bedpost and head downstairs to the dining hall.
Breakfast was hot and on the table before I had fully crossed the threshold. Making my way to the head of the table, I saw a parchment. The wax glob bore the seal of The Order. I broke it and unrolled the scroll.
"The Phoenix will rise."
As I set the scroll back on the table, it flashed and disappeared. A faint smell of sulfur was all that remained.
I was well onto finishing my breakfast before my wife entered the hall. Finishing, I set my napkin on large stone table and stood to leave.
"I have things to attend to in town. I shall be back by supper." I kissed her on the top of the head as I passed. Walking from the room, I headed back to our bed chambers. Passing swiftly through them to the dressing area I chose the less obvious garments. Luther dressed me. I walked to the stables. Cedric met me there with a leather satchel.
Taking it I mounted my steed and pointed him south toward the village.
(that's as far as I got before we moved on to our next activity, which I believe was dinner).
The other cool thing about the prompts was that on Sunday we each got to create personal writing prompts for each other based on what we had learned of one another. It was a chance to give someone a prompt that either played in to their style/genre or writing or one that would challenge them to break through their comfort zone. I chose the latter for the prompts I created.
I will, in posts to come, throw on here some of the results of following my personal prompts. They will all be in the very raw stages and may never see the light of day beyond that.
But then again, they may just wind up being my next big piece.
Enjoy your evening my friends.