Books!, Discussion, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Weekend Writer, Writing

Weekend Writer: February Writing Prompt Share Time

Hey all, Sam here.

Well, today is the first of hopefully many monthly prompt sharing blog posts. I admit to being a bit nervous with this one. I haven’t shared my writing publicly in a while, aside from my blog posts anyway. I’ve shared a few short stories and such with some friends over the past couple years, but when you share with people who basically only tell you “wow, that’s good,” it isn’t as much of a help to making your writing better.

Oh, and if you would like to share some of your writing with me, whether that is based on the prompts I’ve given in January or February, or just something you’ve been working on, please feel free to share it in the comments or share a link to the writing in the comments. I’d love to see what you’ve been working on as well.

I’d love to build up my own writing and creativity community here with these Weekend Writer posts, and a community needs people to build it up.

Okay, I don’t want to take too much time up here. With the snippets I’ve shared, this is sort of a longer post, so let’s just get into it.

You can find the posts on Chapter One and Chapter Two at these links, and I can promise that Chapter Three is coming soon. Would you like to have that next week with the prompts for March, or should the prompts be with a general topic discussion with Chapter Three being withheld until the second Friday of March?

Let me know in the comments! Okay, on to the prompt sharing.

February Prompt

The prompt I used for this month came from the Story Engine deck: A God-Slayer wants to save the world with/from A Forgotten Temple but one way or another it will be their last adventure.

This prompt immediately called out to me, and I knew I wanted to write something with it, but I also realized that it would at least be a novella, if not a full-length novel. Obviously I didn’t have the time to write quite that much over the month, so I’m only going to share a couple paragraphs, but I might have more updates on this story in the future, so we’ll see what happens. I still need to come up with a lot of information for this, including a title.

It’s one thing to feel divine power, to harness it and wield it, and it is another thing entirely to feel it unravel around you. Killing a god is no simple task, and I should know; they don’t give the title God-Slayer to just anyone. It is a reputation that gets a person noticed, generally with respect or awe. Unfortunately I just entered Vorshiipa, the Divine City, and as one can imagine, that is not the place where someone called God-Slayer fits in.

Vorshiipa has a vibrational hum to it, a resonance that other cities don’t come close to matching. And after all these years, I know exactly what it is. You get used to hunting down the overzealous, the fanatics, and those who abuse their holy power, and you can sense divine energy. It’s a sense that is very useful when hunting down gods, but overwhelming when in a city of the devout.

Unfortunately it also makes me think back to my formative years spent as a novice. The holy life calls to many, but it is not a path meant for all.

And…since I slumped and didn’t get around to sharing a bit of writing from January, I’ll go ahead and catch up with my prompt writing, and share a little of what I wrote then as well.

January Prompt

The prompt I chose for the month of January came from the Urban Crow Oracle Deck: Gifts, Sacred Space, Ghosts

This particular prompt made me think of a character I originally created for D&D, and I decided that this was an opportunity to flesh out more of her character and backstory. Again, I’m only going to share a couple paragraphs, but this is still a WIP story. It actually doesn’t even have a title yet.

The tops of each of the tombstones held a collection of multicolored trinkets. These days most believed it was a way to honor and remember those they lost, to leave small mementos to give a tangible tether between those gone and those who remain. What the majority didn’t remember was these mementos were also offerings to the Morrigan, asking her to protect the souls of their loved ones.

Her temples have started to dwindle over the years, taken over by the followers of other deities, or left in disrepair. But you can’t completely get rid of those traces of a goddess of death, and that is why I travel across the world, going from graveyard to graveyard and cemetery to cemetery. Because, even without all the temples and shrines around, my goddess still has a lot of sacred spaces dedicated to her, even if others have forgotten that dedication.

Finally, as promised from last week’s Weekend Writer post, I’m going to share a little from the beginning of my current WIP novel. It’s called Tale of Blood and Mourning. I wrote the first two chapters a couple years ago and then set it aside, but I’ve picked it back up and this is my current project on 4thewords. I’ve written another chapter and a half on it, and I think with a little focus, I might be able to finish a rough first draft in just a couple months.

Actually, I’m just going to share the whole first chapter. Enjoy!

Novel Snippet: Tale of Blood and Mourning

Lemley – Reaper Outside Your Door

It was hard and fast and satiated me in a way few other activities did. Oh, and the sex earlier that evening had been nice too. I felt just a little out of practice with my assassination duties, and I suppose I had my best friend to blame for that. Alaina Lesark, princess of Halesa, has been the darling of the country since the day she was born, but that always left her in a dangerous position. There was no shortage of people, of factions, of the criminally insane, who would wish to do harm to her. King Macon had enlisted my services for the past six months, believing that there was some truth to the rumors of attack.

But now, it seemed that he believed that the royal military could adequately protect her, so I had been sent out to eliminate a few individuals believed to be feeding information to the countries that bordered us. The Court of Mourning, the approved group of assassins in the world, had been a bit leery about sending me out as a bodyguard. Technically that duty should have fallen either to the royal military, or better, the Court of Blood, who were the mercenary soldiers. But my repeated contract kills for the family had led to my Court making an exception.

I had been perfectly fine with the assignment for the first few weeks. After all, I was being paid to hang out with one of the few friends I actually had. Plus Alaina didn’t treat me like a blood-soaked murderer…which I was in truth, but I did not regret my lot in life. I chose to become an assassin. That was a decision that had freed me from what would have otherwise been a miserable life of sexual servitude. I enjoyed sex as much as the next woman, but at least I decided who and when and where it happened.

With only the briefest glance at the body next to me, I slipped out of the now deceased Lord Kessle’s bed and strolled to the bathroom that connected to his expansive personal chambers. There I turned on the faucet and filled the bathtub with water before climbing in and soaking for a long while. After the time I had had with this contract, I deserved a little pampering. Kessle should have been an easy kill, especially with his attention on other activities, which left him completely vulnerable to me. But I suppose he had not maintained his position in nobility by being weak.

Still, I had managed to get myself in a position where I had the leverage to snap his neck. All in all it had been a little difficult but still relatively quick. And hey, how many people get to enjoy the pleasures of intercourse in the hour before death?

When I finished soaking in the tub, I took a few minutes to wash the residue of the evening from my body. There was no real reason for me to rush. This particular death had been paid for by the king and sanctioned by the Court of Mourning, which meant no charges could be held against me. No one dared enter a legal battle with assassins unless there was no other option.

Of course, if I wished to avoid culpability then there was protocol to follow. I lifted the plug from the drain in the tub and proceeded to dry myself with the robe left in the room. What did I care if it was Kessle’s? He was dead and certainly didn’t need it anymore. A couple minutes later I returned to his personal chambers, not even bothering to glance over at the cooling corpse on the bed. Instead I focused on gathering my clothes and dressing once more in the rather revealing and tight sapphire hued dress I had used to grab my mark’s attention the previous evening. He had been too focused on the view of my womanly assets to notice the assassin’s mark gracing the inside of my left wrist. It was a foolish mistake on his part.

Once I had finished donning the flimsy dress I picked up the tiny purse I had needed to carry and took out the paper that announced this as a sanctioned death by the Court of Mourning. It was this document that would absolve me of anything should someone believe that Lord Kessle’s death was unjustified.

Only then did I allow myself a moment to take in the room, checking to be certain that I left nothing extra behind. While it was true that my actions were completely legal, there would still be those who would seek to learn my identity in the hopes of enacting their idea of justice. It was best if I left no personal items behind; they could be used to divine my location. There was always the chance that someone would find a strand of hair, but hair and blood were only viable for a few days as a scrying focus.

After being certain that I had all of my things I stepped out of Kessle’s bedroom…and almost ran straight into the servant girl standing in the middle of the hallway. “Apologies, Miss,” she said softly. “A messenger just arrived from the palace for you. He sounded impatient.”

I offered her a smile. “I imagine he would be. Thank you,” I replied as I stepped around her. For a moment I thought of telling her that her boss was now deceased, but the Court of Mourning preferred that we finish our duties and leave with as little interaction with others as was possible. Besides, if one of the royal messengers was here for me then it meant that King Macon had another task for me.

Most of the Courts and the Guilds operated as neutral parties, accepting jobs from any of the individuals or nations who were willing to pay for the service, but the royal family of Halesa was one of my most frequent patrons. And yes, I had developed a bit of a personal relationship with them, but if offered enough money then I would have no issue accepting a job against them. Well…any of them but Alaina. I owed her a lot, and it was likely that my Court knew of that bond.

I walked down the hall, quickly made my way down the massive and elegant staircase, and headed for the front door. Waiting just inside the door was a lanky boy with unruly sand-colored hair wearing a tunic bearing the indigo shield and helmet sigil of the Lesark family. Noticing my presence the boy immediately straightened his posture and cleared his throat. “Lady Lemley?” he questioned.

“It’s just Lemley,” I responded as I stopped a couple feet away. It was almost laughable that he would believe I was high enough in status to be addressed as ‘Lady.’ “I understand that you were sent for me. What is your message?”

“King Macon requests your immediate presence. He told me nothing else.”

That was perplexing. Typically I could rely on King Macon Lesark to at least give me the most basic details of why he needed to see me. Either he was extremely busy and forgot to pass on the full message, or something serious had happened and he couldn’t say anything more. Regardless, I knew better than to waste time. “Thank you.” I grabbed the door handle and pulled the massive thing open so I could leave. Typically I would have returned to my chambers at the Court of Mourning first in order to change, but with the urgency of the message I dared not waste any more time. Even calling for transport to the palace felt as if it would waste precious minutes. Instead I stepped out of my heeled shoes and picked them up before starting to run through the streets.

With every step I felt my body tense even further and the sense of dread in my gut continued to build with each passing minute. As the anxiety intensified I found that I could not maintain my composure, and if a person stopped in my path then I shoved them aside, feeling no guilt or shame if they happened to be pushed to the ground. I needed to reach the palace now and figure out what was going on.

This was a rare sensation for me, feeling a variety of emotions swell up inside and force me to act against my usually composed manner. I needed to get back under control before I faced the King. He would not appreciate any neglect of formality, even if he frequently required the services of the court of assassins.

I slowed as I reached the main steps that led to the palace’s entrance. The building was more like a fortress, built into the side of the Lem Mountains, the same mountains I could thank for my name. To the north of the mountains was the nearly frozen realm of Colad, filled with nomadic tribes possessing ancient battle magic as well as the castaways of the tech invaders from a parallel world. Our northern neighbors remained peaceful so long as we did not cross their border uninvited. The threat of their size and abilities was all that was needed to ensure our compliance.

Then again, I had been there a few times by order of my Court. All of the Courts and Guilds ventured between lands, permitted wherever their services were required. As such we technically claimed no allegiance to any one country, though I still preferred to work with my home country. There were those who believed all of the groups would end after the Merge two centuries ago. The arrival of people who value progress and technology over magic and tradition had certainly complicated things but eventually everyone learned to adjust to a new way of living, sort of a compromise between their beliefs and ours.

There were 77 steps leading up to the massive palace entryway and I flew up them as if I had not already dashed through most of the city. I could at least say that my occupation kept me physically fit. Once at the top, I set my shoes down and stepped into the heels once more before continuing my brisk pace across the entryway towards the palace doors. At the entrance I slowed and pulled my shoulders back, straightening my posture and allowing an air of decorum to settle over me. The guardsmen standing by the door looked unimpressed, but one did stare intently at the dagger tattoo on my wrist, and that made him tense up in case of an attack. Silly man. If I were here to kill anyone they never would have seen me coming.

“King Macon is expecting me,” I announced in lieu of a formal greeting. “I am Lemley Thiel.”

The second guardsman merely grunted and then pulled the door open before gesturing that I should enter. It was amusing that I had spent the past six months in the palace and still none of the guards seemed to know me. Okay, well maybe a few knew me. I recognized all their faces, but didn’t care to learn names unless they were important to Alaina’s protection. I said nothing as I moved past both men and walked inside. No one here aside from the royal family expected me to be polite.

I was familiar with the layout of every important building in the city, thanks to a couple weeks studying with a member of the Thieves’ Guild. Add to that all my time with Alaina and I could get around the palace better than most of the staff. Right now that came in handy as I cut through an old servants’ corridor and came out a short distance from the King’s study.

Drake Celaya, one of the Kingsguard, recognized me instantly as I stepped out of the dark hallway and moved towards the door. “You’re late.”

“I’m as early as I can be, Drake. I did have a rather late night, you know, working.” Part of me didn’t want to go into the study, didn’t want to know what urgent matter required my services. “I do find it odd that I’m being summoned here so soon. After all, I was just given a new contract two days ago.”

“He is aware of that, but this matter supersedes all others.”

What could be more important than eliminating those who posed a threat to Halesa? I was about to ask just that when Drake pulled open the door. “Quit stalling, assassin. The answers you seek lie inside.”

There really was no other option now. If I stood in the entrance too long King Macon would likely yell, and he could be quite impatient at times. I stepped into the study to find Macon pacing behind his desk, something I had never seen him do before. “Sire?” I questioned. “I came as quickly as could be managed. What is it you need of me?”

This was all terribly against my Court’s protocol as well. If he wished to put out a contract then he needed to speak to the Master of Mourning first and we would be free to discuss the target after receiving approval. The fact that he was so blatantly disregarding formalities had me even more on edge.

“We have a traitor within the palace,” King Macon stated as he stopped pacing and fixed his dark gray gaze on me. “They knew exactly when to strike, waiting until the assassin bodyguard was gone. I should have seen this coming and been more prepared.”

Gods no. I connected the dots rather quickly and felt everything abandon me, everything but rage and determination. I didn’t even need him to say the words now. The worry and weariness on his face said it all. Someone had taken Alaina and that meant Halesa would soon go to war. “When did this happen?”

“Sometime in the night. Everyone claims they heard and saw nothing. The chambermaid discovered her absence a few hours ago.” King Macon slumped into his chair and shuffled through some papers on the desk for a minute before he looked at me again. “I need your help to bring her home.”

I knew what he wanted even if he refused to speak the words. He wanted me to take care of those involved in Alaina’s abduction. We were way past formal protocols now. “What you’re asking of me will mean my death. There are strict rules on unsanctioned contracts.”

“Halesa will keep you safe. You need not fear retribution from within my borders.”

“The Court of Mourning does not abide by the laws of the land. No place will be safe for me.”

He slowly rose and stepped around the desk, deliberately bringing himself to a place only an arm’s length from me. It was a sign of trust, as I could easily kill him from here. It also showed his desperation to save his daughter. “There are few allies I would trust with this task. Please, I know you care for Alaina. I need someone who will succeed no matter the costs on this rescue mission. Will you help?”

I really didn’t need his impassioned pleas to convince me of my answer. Alaina was my best friend and I would do anything to ensure that she came home safely, even if that meant turning my back on the Court that had saved my life and granted me freedom years ago. I just had to hope that I could stay alive after this was over.

“I’m in.”

Nothing more needed to be said so I excused myself and exited the study. Drake stopped me by grabbing my arm just outside the door. “King Macon has already reached out to the Court of Blood and they are sending someone to go on this rescue mission as well. The group will be convening in the War Room.”

I always did like Drake. He knew his duties but often did more than was required. It was part of the reason he had reached his position guarding the king. Then again, I thought his talents were wasted here. “Thanks. I’m going to look around her room first, see if there’s any clues.”

He nodded and released me, his warm honey gaze piercing through me. Nowhere else did so many people meet my gaze. As soon as they learned I was an assassin most feared me. “Bring her home.”

“Of course I will. It’s not in me to fail, especially not on something this important. There’s no reason to worry, Drake. Everything will be fine.” Then I turned down the hall to head to Alaina’s room.

Drake’s voice followed me down the hall. “Be safe, Lemley.”

When I glanced back he was still at his position by the door. Hmm…did I just imagine that he was concerned about me? The answer was probably, because very few people allowed themselves to care about assassins. Our lives were dangerous and all too often we ended up hurting those we loved.

And that is all the writing sharing I’m going to do for today, but I’ll share some more at the end of next month.

I’d appreciate comments and critiques, but I’m going to ask for it to remain nice and constructive. Thanks everyone, and thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.


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