Behind the village stood an indomitable forest, filled with unlimited riches.
And endless danger.
No one knew where the treasure came from, or why the trees were impossible to cut down, but that didn’t matter. To the strong belonged the treasure, so the village rule went, and greed was an excellent motivator to not dig deeper.
But not for her. Let the others play with their shiny toys. Her treasure was to uncover the mystery behind the forest.
She checked her tools, one by one, made sure everything was in its place, and took a steadying breath.
“To the strong belongs the treasure,” she repeated the familiar saying.
Once again, she stepped into the forest.
Inspired by the prompt ‘strength‘.
Genre: fantasy, mystery
Almost every day for the past three years, this girl appeared out of nowhere to visit him before she disappeared as abruptly as she arrived.
At first, he was alarmed. He stayed alone in a monster-filled wasteland. If a little girl could just waltz through his defences like they didn’t exist, so could they.
Then he figured out that he didn’t actually have a security breach. This girl was just too good at going wherever she wanted.
By then, this girl had grown comfortable with him, to the point that she regularly invited herself into his home to talk enough for both of them. Now his concern turned from his defences to this confusing girl’s safety.
Using his solitude-honed patience, he watched and waited for two years before he discovered her secret.
She literally appeared and disappeared into the air.
The discovery lifted a weight he hadn’t realised he had been carrying with him. Not that it changed his relationship with this chatty girl. He stayed in the wilderness to get away from people. He wouldn’t waste his energy trying to chase her out, and he wouldn’t waste it trying to keep up with her energy.
“Have you ever wondered why salt tastes salty?”
She gently tapped off the dirt encrusted over one of their new findings from the buried city. It was hard to tell with all the dirt in the way, but she liked to guess anyway. Made her work just a little more exciting.
It was around the size of her head, found inside one of the buildings. The exposed bottom glimmered faintly in the right light.
A metal bowl, she thought as she tapped away, A hand basin.
The dirt fell away little by little until she could see the rim of the bowl. She moved her attention elsewhere.
A little further up, she found a crystal. A rich family’s bowl then. The kind that had the family history engraved on it to be passed down the family line. Sure enough, she found more jewels and engravings as she brushed off more of the dirt.
She tapped her way to the tip, and found that the top was a little spikier than she expected for a bowl. Could it be?
The dirt fell away to reveal a pointed tip with an empty socket where a jewel could be.
“Did they really?” they whispered.
“Heard she got cornered near the labs.”
Holding their food, Leora and Edmund made their way through the gossiping Fighters.
“Everyone’s lively today,” Leora commented.
“Someone found out who Shadow is. They’ll announce it tonight in Training Room E-5,” Edmund said.
“I haven’t decided yet. What about you?”
“No. I’m pretty sure Lavi’s going to shut the whole thing down anyway because ‘it’s a distraction and a waste of time’. You won’t want to get caught.”
When the time came, they deliberately started a game in Leora’s unofficial office, far away from the training room where the identity reveal was happening.
By the time they finished fifteen minutes later, everyone involved had been slapped with extra duties as punishment by a very unimpressed Lavi.
To rub salt into the wound, the people who organised the announcement weren’t even right.
They didn’t fulfil the mission objective of finding the Beauris heir, but everyone who went out came back unharmed.
The two extra people stood side by side before the team. The sound of a chair scraping over the floor made Darius turn his head to find his housemate on his feet.
“Esther?” The name left Wilfredo’s mouth like a gasp.
“That’s me,” a familiar voice said.
Darius turned his head back to face the two new faces. Was that…
“Hello, Beauris. I am Esther Turnery. This is my husband, Roger.” She gestured at the man beside her. “Thank you for your help. As promised, I will tell you where the Sharoon heirloom is. But first, I need some time with my son, Darius.”
That was the same voice as the person who made a deal with his housemate. So this woman was his mother. And the man beside her…
His breath caught at his throat. Darkness crept in at the edges of his vision. His fingers shook.
A hand clapped his shoulder. He jumped, but it was only his housemate.
“Something wrong?” Wilfredo asked.
The shroud of unexplained panic pulled back. Darius shook his head, not trusting himself to speak. His housemate didn’t look convinced, but didn’t press the issue.
Wilfredo led the family of three to an empty room. Darius kept his distance from his father. He didn’t remember his father at all, but his body did. The reaction didn’t bode well for his relationship with his father.
His mother broke through his thoughts with a gentle hand around his.
“Sit here.” She sat on a sofa and pulled him down beside her. When he sat stiffly at the edge, she pushed him until his back rested against the cushioned back of the sofa.
“Relax.” She hooked her fingers under his jaw and tilted his head back until it also rested against the sofa back. Her palms passed gently over his eyes and he closed them automatically.
“You have amnesia,” she said, “I can bring your memories back, but it might be uncomfortable, and no matter what, you can’t fight me. We can both get seriously hurt. Understand?”
“You are my son. I won’t harm you, so trust me and let me in.”
“The easiest way is to sleep. Let go of your fears and let me do all the work.”
Darius released a short laugh that was equal parts nervous and bitter. “Easier said than done.”
“I’m your mother. I know you more than you know yourself. Just trust me.” Her hands moved to run through his hair. She hummed a tune that he had never heard before but tugged at the forgotten corners in his mind.
He forced his body to relax and emptied his mind of all thoughts but the wordless song. The rest of the room faded away until it was just him on the sofa with his mother. Eventually, even that faded away as he slipped into a daze.
~To be continued~
My response to the prompt mystical.
Genre: fantasy, mystery
Every department had its own mysteries. Theirs was Shadow. Boasting unparalleled strength and power, she was a one-person army no other Fighter could match.
She also didn’t exist.
At least, that was what he thought, until she actually appeared in the flesh at his team practice session, and she was every bit as strong as the rumours painted her to be. Even when the whole team attacked her with their best team effort, they couldn’t even touch her.
So their mystical Shadow was actually real. Now he was curious. ‘Shadow’ was too tacky to be a real name. Who was she really?
After the session was over, he put all his stealth training to good use and shadowed Shadow. He wasn’t the only one feeling curious. Two of his teammates had the same idea, and Shadow picked up even more followers as she walked, until it felt like there was someone watching at every corner.
And Shadow still managed to shake them off and disappear.
Just like a shadow.
Check out the related story Identity Reveal.
Written in response to the prompt ancient.
~The Ancient Tree that wasn’t Ancient~
That tree was as old as time itself.
Was what people said. She knew the tree wasn’t as ancient as people thought. After all, she was the one who planted the tree as a young sapling, and she wasn’t that old.
But for a tree she had only planted five years ago, it certainly looked ancient, towering effortlessly over everyone and everything with branches and roots that stretched for miles. She knew the sapling would grow into something big, but it wasn’t supposed to burst into something so big so quickly.
It didn’t make sense.
Casual questions revealed that she was possibly the only person left who remembered a time when the tree didn’t exist. Even her cousin, who had watched her pat the earth around the slender stem, thought the tree had been there for as long as he remembered, and he wasn’t the kind of person to play pranks on others.
She stared up at the tree, hands on her waist.
It still didn’t make sense.
* * *
Two fairies hid behind a mushroom.
“She still remembers.”
“We can’t do anything. The magic won’t work on the tree planter.”
“We can’t go back home if she’s still there.”
“We’ll just have to wait. She has to go back eventually.”
“Go back faster human. I’m hungry.”
“Shh. Don’t let her hear you. It took us so long to find this home. I don’t want to find another tree.”
With a quiet grumble, the two fairies settled down and waited for the human to leave the tree.
When I was brainstorming ideas for my response to this prompt, one of the sentences I came up with was “That tree was as old as time itself”.
The sentence sounded too interesting to throw away, so I put it down as the start to my drabble. The rest of this piece was basically me trying to spin a story out of that sentence. Never thought I would write about fairies, but hey, whatever works.
My response to the prompt twinkle.
~Twinkle Twinkle Little Mirror, How I Wonder How You Got There~
The mirror twinkled down at her from its cradle of tree branches. She stared up at it while she tried to ignore the three panicked children around her.
How did that mirror get all the way up there in one piece?
The children weren’t very helpful. They just babbled some nonsense about throwing things at the flying monster and accidentally throwing their auntie’s mirror at it too. She didn’t know how these scrawny little arms could possibly lob a mirror all the way up there, but she knew it was better for her to get it than them.
Very carefully, she climbed up the tree to the mirror. No flying monsters attacked her as she took the shiny item and stashed it carefully in her bag. Using the same footholds, she descended and joined the children on solid ground.
“Now, bring me to your auntie,” she said, just in case the mirror wasn’t actually theirs.
It turned out that the children hadn’t lied about the mirror, but how it got up in the tree remained a mystery.