Friday Fictioneers – Pollution

Here’s my Friday Fictioneers piece for this week. Please check out Friday Fictioneers Central to submit your own 100-word piece and to read other submissions.

“The water is dirty,” I tell my mother, who stands next to me on the bridge.

“It is,” she agrees, looking over the waters we’d paddled in on hot summer days. The once clear brook is now a filthy brown. “The soldiers upstream are muddying the river.”

“When will they move? When will the river be clean again?” I ask, impatiently.

She doesn’t answer immediately. Her frown firms up as she stares at the horizon, making her jawline and cheekbones appear as a sharp silhouette against the sky.

“When the soldiers move, we will not be worrying about the river.”

Sunday Photo Fiction – Torture

35 11 November 24th 2013

Copyright – Alastair Forbes

If you’d like to submit your own flash fiction story based on the photo, click here.

I place the pen against my mouth and close my eyes, trying to pull the threads of my emotions into a straight, logical line that I can write about. I find that they’re all connected into a tangled web, not very flattering to my intelligence or my conscience. My lips quiver next to the plastic, and moisture gathers at the corner of my eyes.

It’s my lack of guilt that makes me guilty. We were all stood in a line together, eyes down, whilst they assessed us. I was the person next to you, not the one who chose you. Not the one who dragged you out of the line. Not the one who directly caused those screams that triggered never-melting ice to grow in our spines.

I can’t be dishonest about the sleepless nights in the cells, where I didn’t feel bad for you because I was too busy thanking God it wasn’t me.I don’t kid myself that a lifetime of this is worse than what you went through.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Revolution

30 10 October 20th 2013

 

This photograph was taken by Alastair Forbes and the challenge comes from his photo fiction blog, which can be found here

These grand castles, with their ostentatious towers and proud relics, are symbols of an aristocracy we learned to despise. Their trophies and heirlooms are not theirs. They were made with our blood. We were squeezed as dry as the marble in their pillars, but it has made us hard, like granite. We will crush them, not to take their opulent artefacts for ourselves, but to bring an end to this age of inequality.

Our anger is righteous and must not be squandered. Let it drive us to create a better society, free from the parasites that have burdened us for so long. Let our treatment of them reflect the amount of compassion they have shown us. These vermin have shown themselves to be unfeeling, so are undeserving of mercy.

Hate. Burn. Destroy. Kill.

Their death is the bridge to peace. 

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Cold Hands

Image

Copyright – Alastair Forbes

This flash fiction was written in response to a prompt from Alastair’s Photo Fiction blog.

All that’s left of them are bones buried under the battlefield. Those, and the sibilant whispers that echo through the corridors of my home. I washed the blade so carefully, sluicing off the evidence of combat until no sticky, scarlet drops tarnished the steel. I see my face reflected in its surface, and I know that something still contaminates this sword. Something that will not be washed, polished or buffered away. Perhaps the blood penetrated below the surface, and that is from where it speaks.

“You could be us,” they hiss. “You looked into our eyes as you killed us and we saw that you knew. You knew that the sword in our belly could as easily have pierced yours. That Death would have collected you as swiftly, would have opened His arms as wide, and would have swallowed your life as easily as He swallowed ours. From His land we watched you revel in your victory. One day, you will feel our cold hand on your shoulder and you will know that we are equals…”

Taking Back The Crown – Thoughts

Okay, so I know it’s been a few days since I posted the ending of TBTC, but bear with me. I hope you enjoyed the series, I had a good time writing it, and it was great for me to able to focus on a longer project in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who stuck with it, or went back and read the whole thing! Thank you so much!

Honestly, how did you feel about the ending?

I hated it! I was so disappointed with myself! I kept on telling myself I had plenty of time to fix it and I never quite managed to get it to feel right.

Obviously, the relationship between Seta and Sonya is so complicated. Seta’s transition from guardian to romantic partner is tricky. I felt like I managed to make them equals from Sonya’s point of view, but I could never really figure out when Seta realizes Sonya isn’t a child anymore. When does it become acceptable for him to have romantic feelings for her?

I originally wrote Seta as younger than I really wanted him to be. For that reason, there’s an edge of jealousy when he thinks Sonya is sneaking out to see a boy. I never changed that when I rewrote Seta to be older, and that’s a mistake on my part. That was originally when I wanted to hint that Seta was beginning to develop those kind of feelings. With the later age differences, we’re on dodgy ground right up until Sonya sees him on the day of her coronation.

I guess I just felt a huge amount of pressure to get it absolutely perfect, because Sonya and Seta are my favorite couple in the TBAM series by miles, even though they hardly feature/will feature in the main books.

Another possibility I considered was having Seta help Sonya with the final battle, as it would allow him to see her in a leadership role rather than as a child. However, I felt this would veer far too closely him “saving the day” and that is absolutely something I wanted to avoid. This was Sonya’s coming of age story; she did need to do this by herself.

If you would like to read the series, click here. That link will take you to the first post.

Taking Back The Crown – Ending

 Later that night, after the ceremony, Sonya found Seta in the newly refurbished Palace gardens. He turned to her, looking upset.

  “What’s wrong?” she asked.

  “I’ve been talking to people here. The amount of difficulty you’ve been through in the past five years… Why didn’t you allow me to help you? Did you really think the Elders could have stopped me if I thought you needed me?” His face looked pained.

  “I didn’t need you, Seta. I needed to do this myself.” For the first time, Sonya realized they were of almost equal height.  If they battled now, would she beat him? “I hope you understand.”

  “I wish I could forgive you straight away. Did you have any idea how worried I was?”

  “You didn’t need to worry about me. I’m not a child anymore.” As if to prove it, Sonya took what she felt was the boldest leap of her life and kissed him.

 Afterwards, he held her tightly and they stood in silence as thoughts trickled through their minds. Seta was the first to speak.

  “Do you think the Elders knew that this would happen?”

  “I suspect they did.” Sonya murmured into his shoulder.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Nineteen

Half a year since they’d won the battle, and Sonya was still working tirelessly with the other magicians to restore the Palace and other homes in Litia. They sent out the message that Litia had been reclaimed. Slowly but surely, families and individuals came back to reclaim their properties. They formed an emergency government with Sonya at its head, planning for a proper election within the next three years. Their main project was rebuilding the Litian academy, a school that would educate both magical and non-magical students.

 Sonya had never really given up hope that Naria and Trin would return. However, she knew that Litia needed and wanted its Queen. Under pressure, she agreed to a coronation ceremony, scheduled after the Palace would be completed. It was going to be Litia’s fresh start, but she knew that she couldn’t begin until she had determined one last thing.

 One evening, she warped to the Natetic Training grounds. It was midday there, and the sun shone down on her. Sonya hoped it was a good omen. Luck did seem to be on her side, she came across nobody as she walked to the old combat room they’d trained in. They must all have been eating their main meal. As she waited for him, she looked out of the window and told herself that if he stayed here, she’d understand. It would still hurt, but he would have his reasons.

 “Hello?” Sonya swung around to see him. He suddenly dropped the tray of tea he was holding. She winced and hoped that the noise would not attract the elders. “Sonya?”

 She nodded. She wondered if he would recognize her, even without the scars. It had been five years for her, and a year for Seta. There was a big difference between fourteen and nineteen, but did Seta still see her as a child? Sonya swallowed. She hoped not.

 “Where have you been?” He stepped over the mess on the floor and grabbed her arms. “You’re so much older.” She looked him in the eyes.

 “Litia.” she replied, honestly.

“Is that where you’re from? Sonya, why did you leave? I was angry, but I didn’t think you’d run away. I didn’t want you to go away.”

 “I came back before. You didn’t recognize me, but I came back.” Seta’s eyes widened.

 “That was you? What happened to you? The elders never told me…”

 “The elders haven’t told you much, have they? They forbade me from coming back here. They knew who I was, where I was from, and they neglected to tell you.” Sonya explained.  “Let me show you where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing.” She held out her hand and Seta took it.

Sonya teleported them both into the foyer of the Palace, which had been decorated for the Coronation. Seta looked around, taking in the view, especially through the windows where the ravaged city could easily be seen.

 “The country was attacked and I lost all of my family on the night that you found me. They’re crowning me as Queen tonight.” she said. Seta closed his eyes.

 “The Litian Royal Family. I’ve heard of them. I should have known.” He opened his eyes again to see Sonya smiling.

 “I think Litia deserves a Queen that’s actually completed her training. Will you help me, even though the elders forbid it?” she asked.

 “As long as you are honest with me from now on…”

 “I promise. Always.”

 “…I’ll assist you in any way that I can.”

Taking Back The Crown – Part Eighteen

Sonya laid her plans carefully. This time they would not be surprised by the enemy.

 On the night of the attack, Sonya transported herself into the bathroom attached to Naria’s old bedroom. She peered out of the door and saw Magdalene sleeping in what once had been the bed reserved for the Queen. She recognized her as the woman who she’d attacked the day she’d came back to the Palace, shortly after the raid.  Sonya knew that Magdalene wouldn’t be able to resist the idea of taking over that room, taking full glory in the fact she’d overthrown the Royal Family. Sonya had no doubt that Magdalene saw herself as the Queen of Litia now, and thought that the bedroom rightfully belonged to her.

 “Magdalene.” Sonya called out, as she walked out of the bathroom. She couldn’t kill Magdalene in her sleep; it would be dishonourable.

 Magdalene suddenly sat bolt upright, and slashed her arm across the air, making Sonya think she had perhaps been awake the whole time. Sonya managed to reflect the attack, sending it into the wall, causing brick dust and plaster to fly across the room. Magdalene jumped out of bed, but Sonya’s next blow caused her to fall the floor. They duelled wordlessly, panting with effort, but Sonya always had the upper hand.

 A messenger came to warn Magdalene of the troops attacking the Palace and Sonya struck him dead within seconds. It wasn’t long after this that Sonya struck Magdalene across the body and she collapsed lifelessly to the floor.

 Sonya grabbed Magdalene by the collar and dragged her corpse out of the room, leaving a trail of blood behind her. As she walked towards the staircase, she heard the noise of intense battle. If her plan had worked, the majority of troops would be in the palace foyer. Sonya wasn’t disappointed. Proudly, she looked on and watched as her army fought with the Rutilus.

 She then took pleasure in the faces of all the dark magicians as they watched their leader’s dead body tumble down the staircase.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Sixteen

“Do you think she’s any closer to waking up? It’s been weeks.” Sonya heard Orika’s voice, but couldn’t open her eyes. Her body seemed to be made of pain. She paid for every breath with agony.

 “She sustained serious internal injuries, especially on her brain. Even if she wakes up soon, it will be months before she fully recovers without a properly trained healer.” Linden replied. “We need to go. It’s time for another patrol.”

 After both Linden and Orika had left the room, Sonya finally managed to lift her eyelids. When she’d almost gotten used to her aching limbs, she pulled herself out of the bed she was in. Once stood, she felt heavy but delicate. Most of all she felt defeated, and she could think of only one place to go, of one person that she wanted to be with.

 Using energy she didn’t know she had, she warped to the Natetic training ground. She ended up in the upstairs corridor and stumbling towards Seta’s room. It was empty, so she went inside and ended up sitting on the floor, her back against the wall. She didn’t have to wait long. She heard voices outside in the corridor.

 “Elder, I don’t understand why you want to see my room, there’s nothing in-“ Seta’s voice suddenly stopped as they opened the door and saw her. Sonya had never seen an elder before. “Who are you?” he abruptly asked. Her heart sank. How could he not recognize her?

 “Seta, you must leave us alone while I talk to her.” the elder said. Seta reluctantly obeyed.  The elder watched him leave then turned back to Sonya. “I know who you are. I know why you’re here. We are not interested in your wars or agendas. We won’t tolerate you coming here ever again.” He turned on his heel and left.

Summoning all of her remaining strength and swallowing back tears, she warped back to the camp.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Fifteen

Sorry about the missed day. Been a little distracted of late. I can only hope this mood improves by the time I start NaNoWriMo.

 Eighteen months later, their small army marched into Helena with Sonya and Linden at their head, but they didn’t see a soul. They pressed on, Sonya feeling uneasy, until they reached the central square.

 “This is a mistake.” Sonya breathed.

No sooner than she had finished whispering those words, a screaming mob of Rutilus and dark magicians had surrounded them. Sonya found herself taken back to the night of the raid on the Palace, watching as people were slaughtered. Not again. It wouldn’t happen again. She surged forward, throwing attacks at her enemies and watching them fall. Her recruits followed her into the chaos. She suffered blows on her back, front and legs but kept going until she found herself against the tall Palace gates. Sonya turned to see hundreds of Rutilus pressing towards her, and she couldn’t keep them at bay.

  What can I do? What can I do? Sonya thought. A Rutilus threw an attack, and she was blown into unconsciousness.

 Linden saw this happening and used his magic to shoot a blue flare into the sky. This was the signal to retreat.

 “What about Sonya?!” Orika yelled above the din.

 “She’s gone! There’s nothing we can do!” With that, he teleported back to the base.

 Orika ignored him and dived into the mass. With the aid of some other recruits who did not want to lose their leader, she retrieved Sonya’s body and finally retreated.