Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writing Prompt #31

I feel like I've been up to my eyeballs in editing lately, and I haven't written in two weeks. I love editing, but too much looking at other people's work is driving a need in me to actually create something for a change.

No work on EG just yet since I don't have the time to delve deeply enough into it, but I did snatch a few minutes for an impromptu prompt!

It's a dose of fan fic free writing. Choose your favorite novel, shared world, video game, what have you, and write something set in it.


Here's mine:

Isovien sat astride her mare in the shallow depression sunk into the hills of the Arathi Highlands that housed the outpost known as Refuge Pointe. Things were still in the pre-dawn light. Jiahana’s hooves clomping on the ground as they’d entered camp and the faintest jingle of her tack had been the only sounds on their arrival.

Isovien preferred it that way.

She ducked farther into her hood against the chill fog that wreathed the hollow and scanned the lean-tos for a place to rest. The onus of her new assignment was an uncomfortable weight on her shoulders that she couldn’t shrug off, and the bitter taste of resentment lingered on her tongue. More than anything she needed a moment to herself. Time to brace herself for the indefatigable optimism of the League of Arathor knights. Time to hide her disappointment and frustration. Time to assume the guise of enthusiasm and cheery determination necessary for her new role as medic to the defenders.

She spotted an unoccupied berth at the end of a row and led Jiahana there. She tethered the mare to the nearby post, retrieved her bedroll and ducked inside the tent. They’d discover her arrival soon enough, but for now she wanted her last moments of silence and peace. She wrapped herself in her cloak, keeping her head covered, and curled up on her bedroll.

(I wrote more on this prompt, check my "comments" farther down on this thread to see the rest)


  1. Tyr The Just, Lawgiver Titan
    Alone against the Wolf-God stood
    Portal closes, Wolf-God defeated
    Portal closes, Azeroth safe

    The blood-price paid, Tyr is taken
    Aesir healers close his deep wound
    Another hand they offer him
    Another hand to hold his blade

    Hand of Silver, pure Light shining
    In its gleam the fearless fight on
    Standing ready, Tyr's Champions
    Standing ready, with honor and blood

  2. And to answer the question of Vikings in WoW, I give you Fafhyrd's backstory:

    In the ancient times of King Ymiron, after they were abandoned by their titan gods, the Vrykul clans began to be affected by the condition now known as "The Curse of Flesh", in which Vrykul children began to be born "weak and ugly", and became known to the Vrykrul as "Skraelings". King Ymiron called for those whose children were thus born to be killed, but some of the parents could not bear to thus slay their children. Those parents who rebelled began to raise their children in secret, and instead sent them "to grow up far away from Northrend."

    These "Skraelings" formed several settlements on Azeroth, notably in the northern parts of Lordaeron. Initially guarded and taught by their full-blood Vrykul parents, within generations these settlements became self-sustaining, until the upheaval of the Sundering broke the spine of the world. Remnants of these settlements survived, to eventually become the people of Arathor, but by then the memories of their ancestors had become the stuff of myth and legend.

    Fafhyrd was born in a Skraeling settlement, several generations after their founding. His family were blacksmiths, and as he was raised in the service of the god Tyr, learning the crafting of runes, and the ways of battle. Of the Titans, Tyr was particularly revered as the protector of the Skraelings, a god of order and justice who sacrificed his own hand in the battle to protect the weak from the ravening of worgs. Tyr replaced the lost hand with a closed fist made of mithril, a symbol to that true justice may only be accomplished through personal bravery and sacrifice.

    One day Fafhyrd was engaged in battle, protecting his settlement from a marauding attack by forest trolls, when he was struck down by a Troll warrior. When he awoke, he found himself in the Caverns of Time, being cared for Alexston Chrome in the Tavern of Time, having been taken there by agents of the Bronze Dragonflight. Recovering, he worked for the Tavern for some time, brewing mead for Alexton, assisting the blacksmith Yarley at the forge, and occasionally helping Galgrom with his supplies, all the while learning the Common Tongue of the prevalant age.

    Soon Fafhyrd was able to convince a mage to allow him to accompany her to Stormwind via portal. As he bade farewell to his few friends, he was stopped by the bronze dragon Chronormu, in her gnome guise; when she was informed that he intended to leave the Caverns of Time and never returned, she intoned:

    "Forever and Never are neither for Men,
    You'll be returning, again and again."

  3. Roland shrugged a muscular shoulder to shift the uncomfortable load in his backpack. It didn't help a bit. He scowled and spat down into the desert dust. At least during his days with the Crimson Lance he’d had gear that worked, and fit. The delusions of grandeur that had buoyed his first month since leaving the martial life for treasure hunting were rapidly fading. It seemed all he had done since arriving on the derelict planet Pandora was get nearly killed running fool’s errands for the mad Dr. Zed. And so he found himself once again, trudging out the gates of the small outpost of Fyrestone to try to scavenge a working M2 power unit for Zed from the ruins to the East.

    He smelled before he saw the corpses of the bandits who had almost ended his life on his first foray outside of town. These men, convict laborers left when the Dahl mining corporation abandoned the planet, had shocked Roland with their savage bloodlust and apparent disregard for their own lives. They attacked like predatory animals and fought to the last man. Roland let his gaze linger too long on their baking bones. When he turned his eyes back to the road he faced two dog-like scags, very much alive and poised to pounce. The first leaped and knocked Roland on his back before he could even point his repeater pistol. The beasts’ savage claws and flaring, fanged mouths tore at the shocked soldier, not yet penetrating his flesh but rapidly depleting his third-rate personal force-field.

    Then there was a blast of blue light and the attack was over. Roland hadn’t managed a single shot, but the scags were dead, hurled meters away by the strange power. A slender shadow loomed over the Roland's startled face and a deceptively gentle voice spoke.

    “Well, are you going to thank me for saving your life now, or what?”

    “Li.. Lilith?”

  4. David – Two words: Love. It.

    What an intense piece of poetry! My knowledge of Tyr was very limited before this, and your poem got me interested even before you posted the backstory. Fafhyrd’s history is great! I’d forgotten all about the Skraeling situation, which we get a glimpse of when we assist the Vanguard in Howling Fjord. As always your characters are rich with history :)

    I have to admit, my favorite part was the inclusion of Chromie. I have a soft spot for the unassuming, ever-impressive “gnome.”

  5. James – If ever there was a doubt that a windsurfing marine biologist could write a novel you have effectively dispelled it. What a fantastic opening! I was right there with Roland, tasting the dust of Pandora’s baked earth in the air and hearing the shriek of skags as they surprised him.

    This drew me in immediately with its characterization, and you provided just the right amount of details to give us a vivid image of the setting. Thankfully, this setting was lacking the cute-but-oh-so-obnoxious CLAPTRAP.

    And I loved Lilith’s intro. :) Great Borderlands stuff!

  6. I used "shocked" twice in the second paragraph and I didn't quite capture the scary surprise of the scag attack. I think what you said about hearing their shrieks would improve it, or maybe hearing some other noise as they prowled up behind him. :)

    Really liked how "chill fog wreathed the hollow" in yours.

    David's made me look forward to "The Revenge of The Skraelings."

  7. I thought we'd agreed there was no critiquing your own promts. Else I'd have to go back and rewrite all my past ones!

    Bask in the liberty of free form writing and ignore your internal editor :)

  8. @ James ... followed by "The Skraelings Strike Back"... )

  9. @ David: Yes! Although I was thinking the sequel would be "Revenge of the Skraelings II; Skraelings in Paradise"

    @ Lady Notorious: Sounds good. I like to bask. :)

  10. if you and Lady N. were basking at her place, would that make Buri the Hound of the Basking-villes?


  11. Now that I've finished judging contest entries, the need to write is upon me. Isovien has been on my mind since I wrote this prompt yesterday so I wrote more of that scene. It picks up where it left off. (It's too long, I'll have to post in pieces)

    It wasn’t long before, in the barrenness of a pre-dawn morning, thoughts of her drifted in. Perhaps thoughts of her never truly drifted out. Isovien’s mind was the vessel that carried her around and could never pour itself out completely. Some days she felt near to overflowing with the memories, the mystery. Some days their remnants lay like a still pool, surface unrippled by the activity of daily life.

    The emptiness inside spoke her name.


    The Moon Priestess. The youthful ancient. The healer.

    Isovien heard her laughter and frowned, curling deeper in on herself.

    It was inviting, that sound. She harkened against her will, fighting its echo, fighting the shade herself.

    Where have you gone?

    She should be here now, huddled in the lean-to as well, gentle jibes made at the League’s knights’ expense whispered in Isovien’s ear. She’d commiserate on the assignment. Dislike as much being tied to an outpost that served only human concerns. What need had the Kaldorei for the resources gathered in Arathi? What cared they for the humans’ decimated Stromgarde and its fallen empire?

    Sune, in her soft way, would make light of the assignment and temper Isovien’s impatience to be back in the capital city.

    Around her sounds of the camp waking rose. Isovien ignored them and held on to her last minutes of solitude. She pulled one of hundreds of precious memories from the bundle and untwined it, rolling it open to a song of pain, want and tenderness. Alone, she remembered.

    * * *

  12. “You shouldn’t have done that,” Sune said with a laugh, brushing the pad of her thumb over my cheek. I turned my head the slightest bit into the touch, knowing she only did it to wipe at a smear of blood, hoping she wouldn’t notice.

    Or hoping that she would.

    “I told you that thing was too powerful for you.”

    “Only just,” I protested, alive with excitement. “The next time I’ll have it.”

    Sune shook her head but her silver eyes glinted with the same excitement. “It’s too soon yet. If I’d known what you meant to try I wouldn’t have agreed to come.”

    I chuckled. “Liar.”

    We sat in the grass on a rise amid the Hillsbrad Foothills. Until recently it had held a camp of Syndicate thieves. Since clearing the bandits out—permanently—a month ago, it had become a favorite spot of ours. The hill rose toward the south only to be sheared off, forming a precipice that overlooked the fields below and we enjoyed the view while catching our breath.

    “Your robe,” she said, pointing to the arm of my garment where a three-taloned claw had shredded the fabric. The sleeve was soaked with blood. My blood. I shrugged but she frowned softly. “You love those robes.”

    “I’ll find a tailor in the trade quarter who can stitch them.”

    “They won’t be the same, not with seams all across.” She sighed, a sound of mock suffering that still held amusement. “Really, Iso. A shadowfiend?”

    I flexed my arm, feeling the healed skin and muscle beneath bunch and stretch just as it should. My back felt better too, the lines of fire that had marred it cooled to a dull ache. A single unhealed cut on my throat still stung. She’d left it there without a word.

    I could have healed it myself but I wouldn’t deprive her of the chance to chastise me when I so rightly deserved it. I had nearly died when I’d lost control of the shadowfiend.

    “I almost had him.” I smiled at her in the way I couldn’t help sometimes. “And you had me.”

    “Well of course I did. Pah.”

    I had been deep in the Shadow, locked in a contest of wills trying to battle the fiend into submission when my control slipped. I knew the moment it happened, as he had too. One strike was all it took to send my life hurtling toward the edge. I couldn’t find the Light to heal myself but I hadn’t worried.

    Sune looked after my body, as she always did.

    I’d felt only raging excitement from the struggle when her cool shield enveloped me, not the mortal fear I should have. My body wanted more. My mind screamed for another try even as my blood spilled. When the fiend tore a hole into the nether I’d wanted to follow, but then Sune’s light washed over me. I knew rationally it was Elune’s grace, channeled through her, but it only ever felt like being touched by Sune’s soul when she healed me.

    Which was enough to hold me in place anywhere.

    I flexed my hand again. I felt well enough, if exhausted. Maybe after some sleep—


    I didn’t bother trying to deny what I knew showed on my face. “One more try, Sune. I can master this.”

    “Don’t even think about it.”

    “I know I can. After some rest—”

    She shook her head. “I won’t heal you.”

    “You can’t help yourself.”

    “I won’t even stay around to watch.”

    “I’ll try it without you,” I countered.

    The words cut through the excitement of battle that still lingered on her, changing her mood in an instant. Her brows drew down.

    “Promise me.”

    “Sune, I—”

    “Promise me Isovien. You won’t summon a fiend without me there to protect you.” The weighted force of her voice was quiet but implacable. Almost I could hear the hint of fear she sheltered.

    She had loved once, had lost once. It was not to be spoken of.

    I loved still, and I couldn’t bear her fear.

    “Never without you.”

    She finally released her breath, trusting my words. “You are far too foolish my friend, even for a human.” She touched my face again, the hand of a healer on a patient, and the sting on my throat eased. “Far too foolish.”

  13. So. Awesome. I love the contrast between Isovien's brooding melancholy in the third-person sections and her passionate drive in the first-person flashback. You illustrate the lush, complex emotions between Isovien and Sune effectively with the poetic metaphors in the first part, and then give them even more intriguing depth in the second part with poignant details of the remembered scene. Great writing.