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Short Story: A Wrong Turning

She looked at the double story townhouse before her, then looked down at the picture clipped to her folder. They looked similar. Except one was blue and the other was beige. And her picture showed a triple story townhouse. And this house had a garden set in the front that wasn’t in the picture…

No, they didn’t look similar at all.

She sighed. She must have taken a wrong turning somewhere along the way. She would have to retrace her steps.

So, first step. Where was she?

Rows of quaint houses watched silently as she tried and failed to match the street signs to her map.

A shadow covered her map.

“Would you like some help?”

“Yes please.” She looked up.

A four eyed man with curled ram horns on his head stood before her.

She blinked, then rubbed her eyes. The stranger looked at her with an amused smile and closed his two outer eyes.

“Does this help?” he asked as he pointed to his face.

Her eyes drifted up to the horns on his head.

“That’s alright. You can leave them open,” she said with a voice that she hoped didn’t sound as shaky as she felt.

“Where are you trying to go?” he asked. She pointed to her map. “Ah. I know where that is. I’ll bring you there.”

He offered her his arm and led her down the streets, engaging her in casual conversation as they walked past the locals, who cheerfully waved to them with hands, wings, and paws.

Was she… dreaming?

“Here we are.”

She looked up. The house before her matched the picture in her folder. This was the place!

She turned to thank her guide, only to find an empty space.

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

Short Story: Hidden History Held

Best read after Of Caves and Candles, Creative Cave Crawling, and Of Strength and Skills.

 

Everyone came to the caves with their dreams. Dreams of wealth, of glory, of a better life. Holding these dreams, they ventured into the dark caves.

What the outsiders didn’t know was that the caves weren’t discovered, but created. The cave dwellers weren’t real, and neither were the treasures. It was a complicated ruse to draw people to their forgotten skeleton of a town.

But it worked. The influx of people breathed new life into the dying town. Most of the economy was centred around the caves, but other opportunities also appeared to cater for the needs of a growing town.

The original townsfolk continued to maintain the caves in secret. They collected treasures to be sent back into the caves and took on apprentices sworn to secrecy to conjure the cave dwellers that would protect the treasures.

They didn’t know how long they would be able to maintain the ruse, but he hoped that by the time the truth came out, the town would be strong enough to continue existing.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Short Story: Of Strength and Skills

Everyone came to the caves with their dreams. Dreams of wealth, of glory, of a better life. Holding these dreams, they ventured into the dark caves.

And there was enough treasures for everyone, if they could go deep enough instead of squabbling among themselves at the surface cave chambers.

Using the light and scent of a fragrant candle as bait, she stood at a corner of the cave chamber and slashed the cave dwellers as they pounced at her. She aimed for their weak points to take them down one efficient strike after another until the cave chamber was cleared. Only then did she collect the treasures from the cave and any valuables left behind after the bodies disintegrated.

Sometimes, she crawled the caves with a group, sometimes she crawled alone. Both had their own dangers, so she made sure to prepare for both. In the caves, it was always better to be over prepared than under.

“Please be our teacher!”

But she wasn’t prepared for this.

She regarded the team of five before her. They had crawled the caves together a few times in the past. They weren’t strong, but they genuinely did their best to help and hadn’t backstabbed her so far.

“Alright.”

Cave crawling alone was lonely. Even if she was strong enough to deal with everything herself, it would be interesting to change things up with regular teammates.

And if greed whispered its temptations and they decided to betray her, she would be prepared for that too.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

 

Related to Of Caves and Candles, Creative Cave Crawling, and Hidden History Held.

Short Story: The Master Key

“We used to be free,” her grandparents would say. “Beyond these mountains is the whole world. If we can find our lost master key, we can be free again.”

For her, who had only ever known the life she now had serving the masters in the mountain basin, it was hard to understand what ‘freedom’ meant. But it was important to everyone else, so she also looked for the fabled key too.

And they found it.

A cube with symbols on each side, small enough to fit in her hand. Each side opened one of the six hidden doorways that connected this place to the outside world.

But finding the master key was just the beginning. They had to bring the key to one of the six hidden doorways without being caught by their masters. Her grandparents still remembered the way out, so in the darkness of the night, they gathered everyone and slipped towards one of the hidden doorways.

The masters were already there.

“You didn’t think we’ll let you go so easily, did you? Hand us the master key.”

The masters were much stronger than them, so they had no choice but to hand over the cube. Before their eyes, the masters smashed the key. Except, the key wouldn’t break, so they kicked it into the river instead.

She didn’t understand what ‘freedom’ meant, but it was important to everyone else, so she chased after the key and jumped in.

The frigid water stole her breath the moment she went under. She pressed her lips together to keep the rest of her breath in. Pushing past the pins and needles in her body from the cold, she swam deeper into the water towards the sinking shadow that was the key to their freedom.

But by the time her fingers closed around the cube, it wasn’t the cube that was a shadow, but everything else. She clutched the cube to her chest as she sunk helplessly into darkness.

When she woke up, it was to unfamiliar faces at a new riverbank and an endless sky.

She was outside.

Her fingers still clutched the master key. She kept it close, and refused to let go even as she slipped back into unconsciousness.

She would return, and she would set her family free.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Short Story: The Caught Star

Follows after The Special Star.

 

Once a year, a special star flew across the sky. It was said that whoever caught the star would get a wish granted.

Well, he caught the star. What now?

Close by but out of sight, he heard his other competitors looking for the star. He wrapped the star up to conceal its light and slipped it into his bag.

He would do the research later. Right now, he needed to make sure he didn’t lose his star.

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

 

 

 

Short Story: Creative Cave Crawling

Everyone came to the caves with their dreams. Dreams of wealth, of glory, of a better life. Holding these dreams, they ventured into the dark caves.

She ventured into the caves too, but not as a cave crawler. Down in the caves, the biggest threats weren’t the cave dwellers, but the other cave crawlers. She could deal with the cave dwellers, but not if she had to fight off the other cave crawlers too.

In the beginning, she tried cave crawling in a team. Didn’t like the politics and backstabbing. She tried cave crawling alone. Didn’t like getting picked on by bigger teams. But she wasn’t going to five up on the caves so easily.

Before she came to the caves, she was a daughter from a long line of merchants. going back to her roots, she tried something different.

Cave crawling required resources, and the deeper people go into the cave, the more scarce those resources became.

She would fill that gap as a travelling merchant.

It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Competition was fierce in the cave, and any other cave crawler, even one on the same team, was a threat. But she learnt the fastest and most efficient paths to travel to the safest spots where her wares would be most appreciated. She built up her reputation as a valuable ally who shouldn’t be crossed. She traded smartly, exchanging her goods with treasures from other cave crawlers who could go deeper faster than she could.

In time, she became untouchable. And she continued her journey deeper down the cave, not as a cave crawler, but a travelling merchant.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

 

Check out the related fic Of Cave and Candles, Of Strength and Skills, and Hidden History Held.

Short Story: Of Caves and Candles

Everyone came to the caves with their dreams. Dreams of wealth, of glory, of a better life. Holding these dreams, they ventured into the dark caves.

But there were costs to venturing into the caves. It wasn’t just the danger posed by the cave dwellers, or the fierce competition with the other cave crawlers. In the caves, there were no shops, and even the rare travelling merchant sold wares that were heavily inflated to include their hazard pay. If anyone wanted to succeed in the caves, they had to prepare for everything and anything they could need before they entered, or be prepared to pay an exorbitant price to keep going.

Long ago, he came here as a cave crawler with his dreams, only to find himself completely outclassed by his competitors. It was only luck that allowed him to survive the caves intact, but now he knew that the caves couldn’t grant him the dreams he had come here with.

So he became a chandler. Everyone needed candles to navigate the pitch dark caves. And he didn’t stop at just normal candles. He made candles that produced different coloured flames to detect the different dangers in the caves. Candles that would cleanse the stagnant air and noxious fumes. Candles that could double as bombs or amplifiers with the right accessories.

In time, his candles became a must have for any serious cave crawler. He might not be able to go into the caves, but now the treasures in the caves came to him in exchange for his candles.

It wasn’t the life he expected when he came here, but he was happy all the same.

~End~

Genre: slice of life, fantasy?

 

Related to Creative Cave Crawling, Of Strength and Skills, and Hidden History Held.

Short Story: The Special Star

Once a year, a special star flew across the sky. It was said that whoever caught the star would get a wish granted.

He never bothered with the star. There were endless number of people with endless number of wishes, and only one star. If he wanted something, he would rather get it with his own hands.

But this time, he needed a miracle.

So this year, he watched the sky, and when the special star flew across the sky.

So did he.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Check out the related fic The Caught Star.

 

Merry Christmas everyone 🙂

Short Story: The Flamingo in Her House

There was a fabulous flamingo in her house.

… Why?

Not just why. How? She made sure she locked every door and window before she left in the morning. How can something as large as a flamingo get in?

She rubbed her heavy eyes and looked again.

No flamingo.

Huh?

She must be tired. Of course a flamingo wouldn’t mysteriously appear in her house. She should take a nap.

She headed straight for her bedroom.

Behind her, the flamingo faded back into view.

“Is this why you weren’t surprised when you got turned into a flamingo?” said a voice through the medallion.

“Something like that,” the flamingo said, “So, where is the shard in this time period?”

“Take a guess.”

“… My old bedroom.”

“Got it in one.”

The flamingo sighed and muttered. “Should have gone to a real doctor.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing.”

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy, time travel

Short Story: The Life of an Office Pigeon

The life of an office pigeon involves a lot of travelling. Travelling to deliver a message, travelling to summon someone, travelling to pick up a document.

The life of an office pigeon involves a lot of ‘now’. The kind of tasks an office pigeon gets are the urgent ones that can’t wait for the usual channels, or important ones that can’t afford to be ignored by the intended recipient.

The life on an office pigeon involves a lot of secrets. Verbal messages leave no trace, and a handwritten note is easier to destroy than an electronic one.

But they forget that an office pigeon only looks like a pigeon. At the end of the day, after the office is empty, an office pigeon returns to human form and files a report of every known message, note, and secret. Nothing is left out.

The next day, human hands change to feathered wings, and the office pigeon begins another day.

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

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