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I hate socks.
Prompt: Betrayal is in the air.
Garret looked over the list again. It was short, and the items were familiar to him: boracic acid, whiskey, lemon, and a cinnabar crystal. The first three he already had, and retrieving the crystal would take him about half a day – not nearly the amount of time he had told Amai. She couldn’t know he’d been preparing for this eventuality for years, and what she didn’t know would hurt her. He shredded the paper with his fingers and prepared for his trek to the Kastanes Caverns.
The caverns were dark, and Garret walked slowly and carefully, lighting his way with a small oil lantern. The sound of his feet against the loose earth shuffled against the stone walls, echoing and multiplying until it sounded as if there were fifty men sneaking through the passages.
Finally, he came to a small pool. He was deep underground by now, and the air and water were still. He set the lantern atop a large rock and sat down in its light, pulling his pack onto his lap. From it he pulled a large loaf of bread and a large thermos. He opened the thermos and the scent of beef stew overwhelmed the stale air of the cavern. Garret set both items in front of him, leaned against the rock, and feel asleep.
Two hours passed before the water began to ripple. Garret sensed the change and woke, but did not move or open his eyes. slowly, a large pale creature pulled itself from the pool. Slime oozed off the creature, leaving a slug-like trail behind it. It stopped in front of the food in front of Garret, and the skin flaps over its large nostrils vibrated fiercely as it inhaled the enticing scents. Garret woke, pretending to just notice the presence of the creature, and gave it a half bow while remaining sitting.
“Garra…” the creature exhaled with a gurgle.
“Walla,” Garret addressed it. “I have brought you a gift.” He cut a bowl out of the bread and poured the now cold soup into the center. He placed it closer to the creature and sat back again. Walla fell upon the food with much gurgling, and when he rose to face Garret again, there was an extra large pile of slime where the food had been.
“I have come for the items I gave you for safekeeping.”
The creature stared motionlessly back at Garrett.
“Of course I do not expect to abuse your kindness. I have another gift, to thank you for their safe return.” Garret returned to his pack and pulled out a bag of apples. He cut one open, and the creature’s nostrils flared wide as it caught the sent. In a sudden motion, it slipped back into the water. Garret set the bag of apples beside him and waited.
A few minutes later the monster returned and tossed a sopping wet bag at Garret’s feet. In return, Garret stood and threw him the apples. While the monster fell upon the bag, Garret quietly picked up the bag and his lantern, and left.
Once he was a decent distance, Garret stopped to check the contents of the bag. From it he pulled the cinnabar crystal. He wiped it off before storing it in his pack. He reached back into the bag and slowly pulled out a deep green hallo crystal, in color and properties the exact opposite of the cinnabar crystal. And the key to his plan.
Prompt: Someone is killed or almost killed AND a relationship becomes complicated
Amia raised an eyebrow at the shopkeeper. “Inquisitive type.”
“Keep your distance.” He stood squarely facing her, arms crossed, eyes unblinking.
Garret Feston had aged. After thirty years she didn’t know what else she had expected, but the creases and folds and color of his well-worn body surprised her more than she liked to admit. And I, she thought, I haven’t aged a day. Aloud, she said, “Come, now, Garret. Is that a way to greet an old friend?” She slinked closer to him, her hips undulating, the light reflecting off the folds of her dress just so, articulating her assets, echoing the color of her eyes. Her charms dashed against his stoic figure.
“To business, then,” she said with a sigh, and slipped to one side, fingering a set of ribbons on display. “I would like to employ your services once again.”
“Now, now,” she tutted. “You haven’t even heard my proposal.”
“Garret,” she admonished.
“People who work for you end up dead, or worse.”
“You didn’t come out so bad last time, did you?”
“Now, I’d think most folks would file “murderer” under “or worse”.
“Don’t be melodramatic, Garret. You didn’t murder anyone.”
“As good as. So you can forget whatever scheme you’re planning on tangling me up in – not this time.”
Amia let her face fall into a mask of regret. “I’m afraid that this time you have no choice.”
Garret’s grim facade broke with a guttural laugh. “What can you do to me? I’m an old man. With no wife, and no children.”
“There is the boy.” She nodded to the far door where Neil had disappeared.
The old man twisted around in comprehension and stumbled to the stockroom’s door: no mess, no struggle, no Neil.
He turned back to Amia who let no smile of victory cross her face. “I knew you’d come to see it my way.” She pulled a small sheet of paper from a reticule hanging from her wrist. “The items should be easy enough for you to find. How much time do you need?”
Garret crossed the store and snagged the paper from her hand. He took a moment to look over the list. “Three days.”
“Make it two.”
“Make it possible. I’m on a schedule.” She turned to leave and glanced over her shoulder. “We’ll meet here at dusk, two days from now.”
Garret locked the door behind her, flipping his sign to “Closed”.
First entry for Rule of Three Blogfest.
Prompt: Someone might fall in love.
Neil scrubbed away the red dirt that smudged his face. He’d spent the night in one of the underground rooms that opened off of Heroit’s Pass instead of his normal spot up in the inn’s hay loft. It had been otherwise occupied by the innkeeper, Rofer, and a girl who most certainly was not his wife. At another time and and place it would have been entertaining, but Neil wouldn’t risk catching Rofer’s attention. As long as the surly innkeeper was unaware that he was providing a free room, Neil had access to a comfortable and warm, if smelly, bed.
He checked his image in the reflection of a window and wiped the few missed streaks of dirt from his face. He straightened his dark vest, brushing away any dust. No one would be close enough to see the numerous well-mended tears and holes. With a quick nod of satisfaction, Neil turned toward the main street of Renaissance.
He mounted the stairs of the general store’s porch with an easy leap and entered quickly, sliding neatly behind the counter and grabbing an apron. He had just finished tying the strings around his waist when an older man entered, his round glasses perched pecariously on his nose and his wispy white hair sprouting in wings from the sides of his head.
“Good morning, Mr. Feston,” Neil called, beginning his morning prep routine.
The older man mumbled a greeting, moving around the shop with unconscious familiarity.
Neil prepped the cash drawer, retrieving it from the back office, while Mr. Feston wandered among the shelves, noting the stock that needed replenishment.
Mr. Feston handed his notes to Neil. “Good thing the train’s supposed to be coming through today. We’re completely out of pickles, and Deidre Lewberry has been fussing about her fabric order every time she comes in here. But,” he said with a sigh, “find what you can. If the train is delayed again, I may have to close up shop.”
Neil started toward the stock room when the bell over the door jangled and a young woman walked in.
Her dress was a bright peacock blue, tight around her waist and billowing at her hips. Her dark hair piled in curls on her head, topped by a small hat with precise edges. Neil paused mid-stride, dropped the list on the counter and turned to her. “Can I help you, miss?”
She smiled at him, and Neil gripped the counter for support as his leg muscles wavered.
Mr. Feston stepped in front of him, blocking his view and Neil took the opportunity to sternly reprimand his body.
“What are you doing here?” Mr. Feston said, curtly.
Legs now under control, Neil stepped to the side, his view of the woman no longer impeded.
The woman raised one dark eyebrow, glancing at Neil. “I do apologize for arriving so early. I came in on the train, you see, and there was an incident with the track a few miles back.” She shrugged her small shoulders. “Thankfully, one of the gentlemen who came from the train depot was kind enough to lend me a horse.” She kept her eyes on Neil.
Mr. Feston growled, and turned back to see Neil staring. He pushed the list at Neil. “The shop’s not going to stock itself, boy. I’ll see to the lady.”
Neil dragged himself away, glancing back at the woman, and let himself into the back room. He tried to leave the door open a crack, but Mr. Feston followed him and shut the door tightly.
I think it’s fairly obvious I am not (yet) a very dutiful blogger. I have, however, been getting back in the habit of writing. I’m having a lot of trouble working on large writing projects like a novel — even though when I was younger, that’s what I worked on almost exclusively. But even then, I never finished a project. I’ve discovered that I am much more likely to start and complete a short story when working of a prompt.
I completed a short story a few weeks ago for a writer’s challenge, where we all worked off of the same prompt. I finished it minutes just before the deadline: midnight. Oh, the adrenaline! I was wired. Now, I love sleep. I may spend more time sleeping than I do with my husband, and I am almost always asleep by 11pm.
I could not get to sleep until after 3am. I was alive. The story wasn’t very good; It needed polishing, but I had FINISHED it.
And then I finished another.
Before I realized it, ideas were flowing through my head like they haven’t since I was a kid! Characters started popping in for tea and assassinations – everything spawned an idea.
But then life got in the way, the writing put on pause, the ideas dried up; I have to give myself a good kick in the bottom. So this is my kick in the bottom: The Rule of Three Blogfest. Four weeks of prompts based in a shared world.
I’m pretty darn excited.