31 Fantasy Characters, #27: Waithar

31_fantasy_badgeWaithar stopped his Quodil at the end of the path that led to the house. In one hand were the reins, in the other a large bouquet of wildflowers. His beast snuffled through its beak-like mouth and turned its scaly and feathered head to look at its rider. It blinked at him as if to say, “Are we doing this or not?”

“Of course we are, my friend,” Waithar said to the beast, even though it didn’t actually speak. “That’s Jonna’s home right up that path. She’s waiting for me. I just… I just need a moment.”

The Quodil snuffled again and extended its neck to a great height to grab a cluster of fruit hanging from a high branch. It chomped loudly as Waithar sat astride it, his eyes on the distant house.

“She waits for me,” Waithar said. “She waits for me.” He smiled, brought the flowers to his nose and inhaled deeply with closed eyes. Then he turned and sneezed, startling the Quodil, who nearly threw its rider off. To maintain his seat Waithar had to grab the saddle with both hands. The bouquet fell to the ground, and several flowers lost their petals.

Waithar grunted as he got off the Quodil, picked up the flowers and examined them. He glanced around for a moment to see if there were any other flowers to compliment the damaged bouquet, but found none. He sighed in frustration, returned to his saddle, then bid his Quodil forward down the path.

Upon reaching the house, Waithar saw that the door was ajar. Something did not feel right. He immediately dismounted and drew his sword, which he realized looked ridiculous paired with his “flower shield.” He crept to the door and heard laughter: Jonna’s and another’s.

He opened the door and there stood Jonna in an embrace with a hideous troll-like creature with long thick arms and grey, leathery skin that was barely covered with rags.

“Unhand her you foul creature!” Waithar shouted, pointing his sword and startling the troll and Jonna.

Jonna saw the sword and her eyes grew wide. She stepped in front of the troll with her arms spread wide in protection. “No, Waithar! Stop! This is Mogot, my betrothed.”

Suddenly Waithar’s arm couldn’t hold his sword up and the blade slowly lowered. “Your… your… betrothed?” He felt dizzy.

“Yes!” Jonna said, smiling. “Mogot and I are to be married this very day!”

The bouquet dropped to the floor. Waithar soon followed.

(The word prompt today was “Bouquet.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

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31 Fantasy Characters, #26: Maive

31_fantasy_badgeMaive sat on a stool across from the prisoner. He was not the same man he was just days ago when he attacked her. When he…

She closed her eyes and tried not to think about it again. It was still too hard to face it.

The prisoner lay on the dirty floor behind thick steel bars. He wouldn’t make eye contact with Maive. She continued staring at him, wondering how a seemingly normal-looking man could do such a thing to another person. Lust was a petty excuse. Was it just a show of strength? To feel more powerful than someone else? Was he angry at someone else, and took it out on her?

Maive still didn’t know his name, and she didn’t want to know, but she agreed to exercise her right to confront her attacker. She didn’t know what would happen. She didn’t know what she would say.

She still didn’t know.

Finally the man looked back at her. His brown eyes, like hers, were not cold or full of malice. He was afraid.

“What have you decided?” he asked Maive.

“I haven’t,” Maive said after a moment.

The man sighed. “Just have them execute me and be done with it.” Maive thought she heard him whimper.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Maive’s voice started to rise. “To just die and not have to live with what… what you did to me.” She fought back any tears. She would not let him see any sort of weakness in her.

The man looked away again. Neither said anything for a few moments.

Finally, “Why?” Maive asked.

The man turned his eyes back. “Why what?”

“WHY?” she asked, firmer.

He shook his head and a tear fell to the ground. “Because you were there. I don’t even know why.”

Maive stood and kicked the stool away. She raised her hands and in each was was a colored scrap of cloth, one dyed red, the other yellow.

The man knew what it meant, and he sat up, watching.  The watchmen came closer to witness her decision.

Her hands trembled. Then she dropped the yellow cloth to the ground. The prisoner buried his face in his hands.

“Are you sure?” a watchman asked Maive.

“He lives,” she said, brushing back her long brown hair, “and will remember forever.” She spit on the ground and stormed out from the jail.

(The word prompt today was “Confront.” Maive is a character from my book, By the Light of the Moons)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #25: Istrafe

31_fantasy_badge“They say you exist,” Istrafe said aloud to… well, he wondered if to someone. Or something. “If you do, then show yourself to me!”

Istrafe stood atop a high mountain peak. Weeks of preparation, days of travel alone, he rather enjoyed the journey here. The nights were cold, but he was used to freezing winters. This land was foreign to him, with its hot deserts and barren fields. Although from this height, it wasn’t as bland as he thought. It was rather beautiful.

But the scenery was not his reason for coming.

“How does a god expect to be worshiped if he won’t make himself known?” Istrafe said. He wasn’t convinced he was being heard.

A former prisoner of war, Istrafe was released after five years in captivity. His nation, hundreds of leagues away, was defeated. He had no idea if his wife was still alive. But he couldn’t go back. He couldn’t bear to see her, dead or alive.

“My captors have tried to integrate me into their culture, tried to convert me to their religion. They call you ‘The Only God.’ My people believe there are many…”

Istrafe stopped. Could his people even call themselves a people anymore? Most of the men were dead or captured. The women taken for slaves or as new wives. The children were taught to call themselves by new names, taught new a language, and culture.

No, they were gone. An entire people erased.

A rage that Istrafe had kept inside him for years grew furiously in his gut. He let out a growl so loud and fierce the few eagles nearby fled.

Istrafe could have wept then. But for what? It was over. He pulled out his knife, held it to his throat, and challenged the Only God.

“What god is so impotent that he cannot stop the suffering of his world, even when unchallenged by other gods? If you care at all for your creation, you will stay my hand!”

Istrafe waited. Nothing.

“SHOW ME A SIGN!” Istrafe shouted.

A faint rumble sounded. A small avalanche of rocks on a lower peak to his left fell, and he turned to look. When the dust settled, a hole in the mountain was revealed.

Probably a den for some mountain creature, Istrafe thought, and he started to turn back.

Until a light started to shine from the hole.

Istrafe dropped his knife and ran toward it.

(The word prompt today was “Sign.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #23: Elruban

31_fantasy_badgeElruban came to the furnace just before sunrise, as he had every morning for the last two hundred years. He started the fire and stoked it for a few minutes, then let it get hot while he perused today’s ledger.

Ah, the princess had another request of him. A tear fell, uncontrolled, almost immediately. He read carefully: A glass goblet, with a teardrop stem, wildflower filigree, in any one of Elruban’s signature colors.

He smiled. Such a request would have normally taken but a few hours. After a bit of sketching, Elruban decided to take the entire day.

He checked the fire, then prepared his materials. Since she had not specified a color, Elruban would use blue sand today. It would accentuate the teardrop, and with careful use of yellow sand, he could make the request flowers appear as forget-me-not’s.

The first glob of glass was almost always the most challenging for glassblowers, but not for Elruban. He knew it was all in the balance on the blowpipe, combined with just enough time to cool before the first blow.

It had taken him all night to finish, but when he had, he held aloft one of most beautiful pieces of art he had ever created. He burned its image into his mind, for he would never see it again, just like the princess.

Elruban hoped she would enjoy it. Once again he had placed inside the stem a single pearl, made to look like a bubble, as he had done for every piece he had made for her over the years. She probably would never notice, but that was fine. He was determined to return her pearls to her, even if it took him two hundred years more.

A father gives good gifts to his children, and he would be no different. But she would never know that was his reason.

(The word prompt today was “Blowout.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #22: Theocolese

31_fantasy_badgeTheocolese stood atop the step pyramid of Alandalbhe, clinging tight to the rough wall with his climbing claw. No one had seen him scale the back of monument on this moonless night. None would ever think to look up. None would ever dream what he had planned.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out two small bottles smaller than the palm of his hand. They contained the most extraordinary potion he had ever had the privilege of stealing. According to their former owner, the liquid changed your body for a few moments, such that you could pass through solid things. The problem was that this included the ground itself, unless the drinker had undergone a lot of practice.

Naturally, Theocolese had not practiced; he had not even tried it yet. But he had the notion that he wouldn’t need to practice for this particular theft.

He looked up at the stars and oriented himself along the top of the pyramid. He looked down at his feet. Was this the right spot? If he was off by just a foot…

Theocolese uncorked one of the vials, took a deep breath and drank. It was actually quite sweet. Nothing happened for a few seconds. He burped. He suddenly felt his body feel warm all over.

Then he was sinking.

His movement down was quicker than he expected, and he panicked when the floor met his face. But like a muddy pool, all he saw was brown. To his surprise he could breathe, but he wasn’t sure what he was breathing. He was now a little more at ease despite the strangeness of the situation.

Oh no, Theocolese thought. I forgot to count! How long have I been falling? Must be seven seconds by now. Only ten or so left and then… But what if my calculations were off? I could be stuck… well, too late now.

Suddenly it was pitch black, and he could somehow tell that he was no longer falling through the rocks of the pyramid, but through air. He had made it! He was in the chamber!

His body quickly chilled, and a breath later he fell much faster and hit the floor hard. Luckily it had only been a few feet.

He had twisted his ankle, but he didn’t care. He pulled out a torch from his bag with excitement and lit it up.

His jaw dropped.

The sarcophagus of the emperor Alandalbhe, last seen 1000 years ago, was right in front of him.

(The word prompt today was “Off.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]