Thursday, September 22, 2011

Writing Prompt #32

I’m waiting in the airport to head home from vacation and thought I’d grab the time to write a quick prompt. I visited the south for the first time in my life really, excepting a short stint into Disney World. We were ensconced deep amid the Spanish moss on Edisto Island, SC, and the vegetation was as beautiful as it was intriguing. This, of course, leads to a prompt about setting!

Your character arrives in previously unknown setting, how do they perceive it? This can be a foreign land, another planet or something only as exotic as another person’s bedroom. All that matters is that your character has never seen this “world” before.


Here’s mine

Isovien kept her eyes tightly shut as the residual energy of the teleportation spell washed through her, grounding her hard in the Alliance base in the Arathi Basin. The last of the magic shivered its way out of her skin. She opened her eyes to the sound of the company reorganizing itself around her. The clatter reverberated against the bare planks of the staging shack they stood in. Absent was the usual banter, replaced by the creak of buckles being drawn tight against leather armor and swords sliding in and out of scabbards as they were checked and rechecked for readiness.

Isovien turned her attention to the League of Arathor’s stronghold. If such a collection of uneven and badly laid planks forming floor, walls and ceiling could be called a stronghold. Rain ran in along a gaping seam on one side. The stained boards there were already growing a snowflake-patterned mildew design. She pulled her cloak a little tighter against her and shifted away from the rat droppings lining one wall.

The captain clomped down hollow stairs and she followed him out, anxious to escape the mustiness of the shack before it permeated her gear. Mist dusted her blonde hair. She crossed the grassy yard, the beaten leather of her leggings stained darker by her passage through a stand of wildflowers. The knights-captain’s eager readiness came up hard against the iron scrollwork encircling half a league of graves.

“Here,” he said, eyes shining with purpose as he pointed down the hill. “That’s our first objective.”

She turned at his voice and got her first look of their battlefield.

It was surprisingly serene in the watery late-afternoon light. Sporadic paving stones made a path from the stronghold down to what looked to be a stable.

(That’s as far as I got)


  1. Those aren't rat droppings - those are capers!

  2. "From the fountain, ride uphill east... past the ruined tower at Beggar's Haunt, and into Deadwind pass. Follow the road, and when you get to the crossroads, take the left-hand fork. The right-hand fork will take you to the Vice, and the Deadwind Ogres... you'll want to avoid that..." the fellow chuckled. "Keep a-going east until your foot gets wet - then you're in the Swamp of Sorrows."

    Fafhyrd nodded. "Thank you," he said, turning his horse along the eastern road that lay between Ravenswood and Darkshire. There was work waiting for him in the goblin outpost of Bogpaddle, which had been established on the north coast of the swamp. Trade Baron Silversnap of the Steamwheedle Cartel had been quite eager to pay Fafhyrd's travel expenses, which meant that Fafhyrd had asked too little payment, but that was as may be. The mountains surrounding the goblin outpost were rich in thorium ore, and the swamp itself was quite hazardous - so much so that the risk outweighed the profit potential, even for goblin miners.

    The cobbled road gave way to dusty stone a short distance beyond Beggar's Haunt, and Fafhyrd found himself in the area known as Deadwind Pass. Well-named, nothing seemed to exist within the pass itself but scavenger buzzards, and the giant spiders which preyed upon them - or anyone else stupid enough to enter the pass without caution. Once upon a time, there must have been life; the husks of dead trees that had not yet fell to the strong winds in the ravine walls still occasionally decorated the road. The only apparent water was the river in a deep chasm that flowed rapidly through the rocks, ending up in a small lake at the Ivory Tower of Karazhan. All was dead and lifeless.

    Fafhyrd reached the Deadman's Crossing without incident, and turned east. Soon, the roadside became a more healthy shade of dirt, and grass began to appear at its edges. The roadway sloped downward sharply, and Fafyrd could see as he descended from the pass the Swamp of Sorrows. Where the Deadwind Pass had been a study in dry dessication and the dreary gray of unliving stone, the Swamp of Sorrows seemed to revel in its fecundity. Everywhere, something green was growing, whether the arboreal splendor of the treelines, festooned with leaves and vines, or the abundant overgrowth. Tendrils of water were everywhere, and Fafhyrd was grateful for the raised dirt road and its many small bridged which allowed his horse to outspeed the constant threat of enormous arachnids and the ubiquity of crockolisks which lurked near the road under the cover of bush and frond, ready to charge onto the land to rend and consume the unwary.

    Days later, Fafhyrd walked into Bogpaddle, his armor covered in the blood and gore from his ordeal. His horse had disappeared into the night while Fafhyrd had slept in a hammock he had strung between the limbs of a tree, his campfire underneath him; the cries of the Swamp Jaguars had been loud that night, and they'd probably panicked his mount into the swamp, to its fate to become dinner for the myriad swamp creatures. Fafhyrd had carved his way through the Fallen, Bog Oozes, and the other overly-ambitious predators of the area until he had seen the walls of his destination.

    Of course, he had headed for the inn, where he had been (no doubt) over-charged for room, bath, and enormous bowl of "Mystery Stew" (Fafhyrd didn't care to know, and its highly-spiced broth certainly made the taste of whatever meat or meat-like substances impossible to identify). They had no mead, but a small bottle of Goblin rotgut would ensure that Fafhyrd found the sleep he had missed the last few days of his trek.

    Tomorrow was soon enough to seek out the Trade Baron, and work. For tonight, the rotgut was sufficient.

  3. Lady N- I liked the sensual details like the feel of the rain / mist, the sound of the weapons, and the musty smells. You take the reader away from the comfy computer chair and into an outdoor world where dangers are palpable. I'm impressed that you wrote this imaginative stuff while we were sitting in the airport!

    David- That's a bummer about Fafhyrd's horse. Curse those overly-ambitious swamp predators!

  4. Here's my try...

    Jack didn’t feel like he had been driving long, but he knew not to trust his senses of time and space- they were surely distorted by the coursing hormones of his pre-date excitement. Nevertheless, he pressed his Subaru wagon Westward, monitoring the transforming scenery with rapt attention. The tunnels and towers of Boston gave way to broader, open landscape, where modern malls and office complexes mingled with tall, deciduous trees. Several gentle hills and smooth stretches beyond the city Jack found his exit, taking it a bit too fast but grinning with physical zeal as he traced the curve of the off-ramp. Glances at his GPS told him he was closing the distance to Marbleton, to his first meeting with Susan at her own place.

    On smaller roads now, Jack struggled to absorb and characterize the rolling, rural terrain. The lakes woods, and farms he passed were very like the countryside he had known in Virginia, but small details differed- here was a row of spruce where he might have expected crape myrtle, there was a glacier-carried boulder, and that pickup had a Patriots sticker in lieu of the rebel flag.

    As he entered Marbleton proper he found its relaxed, suburban feel familiar and soothing. It said something about Susan that she had chosen to live here instead of in the city, something good, Jack thought. Turning at a stone gate into the manicured entrance of the Rosewood Heights apartment complex, Jack flipped open his phone.

    “Hey Susan… Yep, I’m here… “

  5. What great posts!

    David -- Love the reference to "mystery stew." Your description of Deadwind Pass was perfect, I could picture every bit of it. I could definitely hear the wind whistling through the bone-dry pass and feel the dust stirred by every hoof-fall.

    James -- Very energized prompt! I love that the setting was augmented by seeing it through Jack's amped up filter. Great way to infuse characterization by using the POV as a tool. Nice touches of backstory by contrasting the vegetation he expected to see with what he actually found.

    And of course, points for mentioning the Pats!