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Posts tagged ‘challenges’

after the bath

He watches me, leg rising from the tepid bathwater, as I step down onto the tiled floor. I flip clear my wet, caramel hair and look back at him, seeing his eyes slid down my tattooed spine and linger on my backside. I reach for my robe, but he seizes it in quick fingers, and folds it over his arm.

“You’re like a Degas painting,” he says, his smile pure honey. “Woman in a bath. You know it?”

“What do you want, Noah.” I turn, and he sees I’ve released my claws.

“I got a job for the wolf.”

(Inspired by a Edgar Degas painting & written for The Prediction. Challenge words: caramel, Degas, seize )

orphan

Telan held the brittle shard of ice candy in her tiny, dirt-streaked palm, and tried not to cry. 

“Do you not like it?” the young woman asked. Her accented voice was confused, as she stared at the orphan.

“I-I do,” Telan said quickly, swiping at her eyes. “It just reminds me of Papa.”

“Ah.” The woman knelt and placed a hand on Telan’s shoulder. Her sculptured face seemed more metal than flesh, the skin painted gray, and her eyes shiny inside rings of black. “Memories make us weak, little one.” 

She stepped closer, blocking Telan’s view of the blood-washed courtyard.

(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: brittle, orphan, sculpture)

poison

I could feel my bladder loose, as he stared at me with dead, gray eyes. A different time I might have felt shame, but all I felt now was terrified confusion. He was dead, wasn’t he?

The contagion had done little to detract from his beauty. The purple scars looked more like filigree grafted atop his skin, than the ravages of poison.

“Don’t bother begging for mercy, Anna.” 

Mercy. Mercy was already lost to me.

“I will burn them all, Anna. I will raze them to the ground.”

He was wrong, like before. I had already destroyed them.

(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: contagion, graft, mercy)

shut up, josie

Bell eyed the mountain with all the affection of a half-starved cat contemplating revenge. She shoved herself upright, wincing as the torn skin of her knees stretched and complained. Her backpack lay half a foot away, the extraneous contents Josie had insisted she bring, scattered across the mossy stones, and muddy ground.

“One way to be weaned off hiking forever,” Bell grumbled.

“Did you break anything?” The voice floated beside her ear, hopeful, familiar and insufferable.

“Just my pride.”

“An indelible mark, perhaps?”

Bell grabbed the skull, and scowled at the empty sockets. “Shut up, Josie. We’re almost there.”

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: extraneous, indelible, wean)

hollow

Elle scrubbed her arms with the bristle brush, a rapid back and forth, praying each rough stroke would rip the magic from her thinning skin.

Undante seethed beside her. “Can’t change your blood, little demon girl. You should be grateful. You should be on your knees, praising the Dark Mother.”

“I’m not my father,” Elle said, her voice breaking.

“No? Look at this bloody mess.” Undante barked a laugh. “You’re eligible for the Dark Hall now. You’ve made your first kill.”

“No.” Elle scrubbed harder, tears dripping down her cheeks. “I’m not my father.”

It sounded hollow, just like her.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: bristle, eligible, seethe)

tosca

“The trick to finding someone, is to stress them into fleeing,” Tosca said, eyes crinkling. She lifted tattooed fingers to the mask covering her nose and mouth, and inhaled. The blue smoke, rising from the lit cigarette in her hand, disappeared into the fine mesh of her mask with an unpleasant, rasping sound.

“I’d expect this from you, but a priest?” Tosca gestured at Aella. “This saddens me.”

“I was not running,” Glimmer said, eyes defiant. “I was going to Galborea to retrieve your payment.”

Tosca’s brows lifted. “Curious. If you have ties to them, why borrow from me?”

Continuation of Ironblood

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: trick, inhale, sadden)

on the road north

The evening sky had a queer plum-yellow tint to it on the day Sayla found herself riding north with Warden Draeyn. She had no idea if she could trust the man, but she could not ignore the map, or the hastily penned note from Kalen inside its edge. Follow Draeyn, Sayla, it had read. My life depends on it.

“I prefer traveling at night,” the Warden called back to her. His massive, black stallion snorted, perhaps in agreement.

Sayla eyed the rowan trees along the road’s edge. “Isn’t it more dangerous?”

The Warden’s laugh boomed. “Only if you’re a bandit.”

Continuation of Ironblood

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: queer, north, rowan)

pursued

Aella cauterized the wound with calm efficiency. She eyed Glimmer’s sweat-beaded face as she set aside the heated fire poker, and set to work bandaging her shoulder. “It’s a miracle the bolt didn’t go through your heart.”

Glimmer’s grimace softened. “Lucky for me Tosca employs the cheapest, not the best.”

“I don’t understand why she’d send the Collectors after you. You don’t gamble.”

“I had to do everything I could to find Sayla’s brother…”

“Ah. Does Sayla know?”

“No!” Glimmer blurted. “No. She still does not know about his…crimes.”

“I hardly believe it. Kalen always followed the rules. Always.”

Continuation of Ironblood

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: cauterise, miracle, Tosca)

hammer & seal

Crafted simply, but skillfully, the colossal hammer resting on the large man’s shoulder seemed at odds with his friendly, sun-beaten face. Staring at it, Sayla could not decide what it was about the weapon that prickled the skin on her arms, and yet the feeling washing over her was gut-souring malevolence.

There was no bloodthirsty zeal in the man to match what she felt from the hammer, and Sayla watched with wary confusion, as the Warden leaned the intimidating weapon against the table, and handed her something from his pocket.

It was a border map, and bore her brother’s seal.

Continuation of Ironblood

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: border, malevolent, zeal)

warden

Gold eyes met green across the beer-splattered table, neither blinking, as their overturned drinks dripped onto the floor. Hand on her brother’s sword, Sayla could not see a way out of this deadlock. She doubted she could intercept the man’s hand if he lunged with his knife, but perhaps her longer blade would be quicker.

A hand, more boulder than flesh, fell onto her shoulder. “You’ve insulted the maiden,” a jovial voice boomed.

The man facing her gaped, his ruddy cheeks paling. Abruptly, he dropped his knife and straightened fully, raising both palms. “No offense meant, Warden Draeyn.”

Continuation of Ironblood

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: deadlock, intercept, maiden)