Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#REN3 / Rule Of Three - Chapter 4

The Messenger - Chapter 4

Rule-of-Three prompts chosen:
- relationships mend/are torn asunder
- the misfortune is resolved/accepted
- the final event becomes another secret for generations to come

Prologue (not part of the challenge)
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

word-count: 595

My brain had a hard time catching up with what was just happening. I wished I was back at home in my old life, but that was far away and it felt long ago. Besides, the things I've seen and done have changed me far too much.

A few moments ago, I had experienced the strange sensation of being completely cut off from my master.
It was that man, this storyteller. I was drawn to him, like a moth to the light. At first, I believed it was just his enticing voice and handsome stature and I felt a bit like the foolish girl I once had been.
But then his eyes gave him away and I was able to break free from his spell. I knew these blue-grey orbs, so pale they almost seemed colourless. The Shadow's 'gift' had shown them to me. If I opened my bundle now, they would undoubtedly stare at me out of a crystal ball that will have turned from black to grey, since it has been so close to the Chosen One.
I had felt a strange relief when I had been assaulted by my master's voice afterwards. To proof to myself that our bond had not been severed I even had dared to question it about those men in the forest. However, before I could ponder about its weird answer, the fabric of the world around me suddenly had seemed to shift and had left me breathless.

I recognized the voice behind the laughter immediately, I just didn't understand what this storyteller had in mind. As I hastened back towards him, pushing through the crowd that has been stunned by the Shadow's touch, I realized that somebody must have called it. The people of Renaissance probably weren't aware which curses actually had some power in them.
**No! Leave him alone!** Of course, it was useless. My master would never listen to me in such a moment.
I stopped and stared. A circle of free space had formed around the Chosen One. The eager listeners who had not fled in time were crouching in fear and pain on the ground, or simply did no longer move, among them the one who had uttered the curse. My master hovered over them, like a frayed storm-cloud. This was wrong.

**What happened?** I did not dare to approach further or touch anybody, I've learned to be cautious the hard way.
**Oh, don't bother, little Ariki. This one will soon cease to exist and you'll be free - at least from this master.**
I recoiled when Keo's thoughts invaded my mind. I didn't know how this was possible, but I surely suddenly knew a great deal more about him than before. Such a link between minds opened you up to one another, and the name you currently went by was apparently close to the surface.
"Who are you?" I refused to touch his mind willingly, hoping this would keep him out of mine, too.
"That's none of your business." An annoyed look crossed his pale face, which did no longer seem attractive to me.
I could sense the bond to my master weakening. Keo must have known about its vulnerability while answering a curse, and he obviously had the power to harm a Shadow. This had been a bad choice.
**Fight him! Take what you need, do what you must, but fight or flee!**

Every single soul in Renaissance felt the surge that left its marketplace filled with motionless bodies. Later, a broken ball of white crystal was found in one corner.


So, this is the end - or is it?
The fantastic challenge of the "Rule Of Three Blogfest" seems to be over - but now starts the reading of all the other last chapters and then there is the waiting for the judges' decision.
I don't think I will stop doing writing challenges. Well, of course NaNo will start soon and that will keep me quite busy during November, but afterwards?
And what about Ariki, her Shadow and Keo? Is their story really over - or do they just travel beyond Renaissance?
I'm certainly a bit sad that there won't be new prompts on Friday, even if I really should concentrate on my NaNo-project now.

Anyway, I hope I'll stay in touch with some of my fellow Renaissancers even if there won't be new chapters of these little stories waiting in their blogs each week.
If you still don't about the rules for this challenge, look here for example.

Reviews would make me happy, even if you are not pleased with my ending.

If you want to get an eMail whenever I post something or about something specific on my blog, just contact me, please.

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#REN3 / Rule Of Three - Chapter 3

The Messenger - Chapter 3

Rule-of-Three prompts chosen:
- betrayal is in the air
- relationships unravel or strengthen
- the impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laughs at it

Prologue (not part of the challenge)
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 (here)
Chapter 4

word-count: 599

"By the pyramids, that was quite a storm, wasn't it?" Like everybody else in Renaissance, I had hurried inside as soon as a regular evening suddenly was turned into the blackest night. Most of them believed it was just a bout of weird weather, which wouldn't be unusual in this season.
"I wasn't afraid at all!" Several other young voices seconded this brave statement. They all belonged to a crowd of children that had gathered around me as soon as I had crossed the little bridge near the pub. I offered some praise and allowed two of the girls to take my hands.
"Keo, will you continue the story? The one about Star, the Traveller?"
By now, even some adults were following me. If asked, they would pretend that they just had some business to attend to at the market - of course they did not waste their time by listening to my tales. That's why I made sure my voice carried well enough over the whole place, despite the merchants and other entertainers.
The annual Midnight-Market was always a great event. However, why it was held in a season that was prone to sudden weather-changes was beyond me. But I've learned fast that the locals were a little weird. It suited me well, just like all the strangers that passed through it on occasions like this.
"All right, listen - listen to me. Catch the words, before they catch you. What do you know about Star, the Traveller?" My voice had them under its spell immediately. Not all of them, that would have been to obvious. Just the little ones, they were easy.
"It is a shooting star!" "It is magical!" "No, I know! It's an enchanted prince!"
Pleased with my audience, I let my gaze sweep over them, trapping a few more in my net. The older girls were especially susceptible to my pale blue-grey eyes.
"Yes, there is truth in all of that. And yet, the true nature of Star was about to become his doom."
I hesitated - the entranced crowd didn't mind, believing it was part of the story. But what I sensed in that moment was worth a tale of its own. I hardly believed this was happening, although the signs had been unmistakable for those who could recognize them. Just a storm from the Roundeli Mountains - indeed.
"His light shone strong and a long tail of glittering dust was Star's companion. Unerringly, he headed towards the Crystal Castle, which already shimmered at the horizon."
There she was. Her blue eyes locked with mine and I knew she had been caught by my voice, too - a sound that could break even her bond. She was small, if I had not towered over the crowd, she might have had to come closer to see me. Instead, I could do nothing to keep her from turning away, reconnecting with her master - not unless I revealed more than I wanted right now.
"Star was so close to his goal, he could almost touch it." Like I could touch the tender cheek of a little boy on his mother's arm – both such an easy prey.
"But the Shadow was closer."
Eyes widened, a collective sigh betrayed every single one of my listeners and at the far side of the marketplace I noticed a fish-merchant warding off evil with a gesture.
“Star's light shall scorch the dark fiend!” cried someone nearby.
For an instant, all was silent - until my laughter broke through it and welcomed the Shadow which was descending on me.


This third part for the "Rule Of Three Blogfest" was not easy, because this character is brand new and did not feature in the original idea of flash-fiction "The Messenger". I had to do some brainstorming and let my Muse run quite free, until Keo finally came alive.
I'm curious about the other "3rd character"s and of course what kind of prompts we'll get for the finale. If you don't know yet about the rules for this challenge, look here for example.

So, please review if you like it or even if you don't! Speculate on what will happen in chapter 4, if you want - I know it will depend at least partially on the prompts ;)
If you want to get an eMail whenever I post something or about something specific on my blog, just contact me, please.

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge


The little hairs on my skin stand up when the cool breeze from the sea touches them. I shiver all the way down my spine and long to be in my warm bed. I am here for her, but her warm, familiar hand is only a small compensation.
The low morning sun is hurting my eyes and makes them water, so I turn my head. I see nobody else on the beach of Tacise, which reminds me of those artificial looking postcards I always loathed. The monotonous rushing of the waves is whispering in my ears and almost lulls me back to sleep. But the salt on my lips reminds me that this is a real beach, and not just a synbatec hologram. I don't dare to sleep here.
I take a deep breath to relax, for her sake. The sudden urge to vomit calls my attention to the revolting smell of - I don't know, I'm getting a headache from this - and a cramp in my belly. It's as if someone has mixed foul eggs with a leaking wastopaneer-package. Doesn't she notice this at all? I momentarily relax my hand which had clutched hers fiercely when the wave of stench assaulted me from behind. I don't let go completely, I never would. She is my anchor in this insane world.
When I realize that I can neither sit up nor turn around I begin to worry. Is there a leak of paralyzing gas? Why is there no alarm?
I squeeze her hand, desperate for any reaction and any support. My fingers grasp only thin air. She is gone.
I recognize the horrible burning that fills my nose and lungs and belly as the harbinger of the end. How could I have forgotten? Ah yes, the challenge-drug.

So, this is the last challenge of the Campaigners ... I'll miss it.
For the first time, I noticed it early when the rules were online - but I had been waiting for them for days now anyway.
At first I believed this would be the hardest of all, and perhaps it was ... but by now I seem to be in a good challenge-mood.
I just wonder why my flash-fictions always tend to turn out rather dark ...

Anyway ... if you are interested in the prompts and rules for this challenge ... or if you want to read more entries ... or if you want to vote for mine (I am number 4 this time, yay!) ... just go here.

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#REN3 / Rule Of Three - Chapter 2

The Messenger - Chapter 2

Rule-of-Three prompts chosen:
- Someone is killed or almost killed.
- A relationship becomes complicated.
- A character lies to another on an important matter.

word-count: 593

The prologue (not part of the challenge) can be read here.
Chapter 1 can be read here.
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

I knew this forest was called Assart by most folk who travelled through it or lived nearby. It offered lots of places for me to linger and listen, if I chose to do so. Usually, names of places and people were of no interest to me - they didn't matter in my search for the Chosen Ones. Occasionally, however, it shortened the time to locate them by picking up rumours. And because of my agents, time was not entirely irrelevant to me. They were mortal and felt its passing, got weakened by it and I soon had to make another creature mine.
A cry pierced the night and suddenly I was aware of the words I had overheard. Time and sounds became significant all of a sudden. Ariki was in danger. A moment later I was with her, the shadows of the treetops gathering around me. Three men were closing in on her, unsheathed blades in their hands. They did not see me. To them I was just the darkness of the night, perhaps the shadow of a cloud as it passed the pale moon. They never saw the light again.

I watched her as she slept in the little hut. The men had not really hurt her, but the attack had shaken her and it usually did take its toll on my agents when I conveyed them with me from one place to another. But I did not want her to stay in that forest without a shelter during the approaching storm, not when a settlement was so near.
Why did I not want that? Did I just take three lives to protect one? I didn't care for those men, they were not Chosen Ones. Ariki was my agent, but didn't I make her mine simply because she was the nearest suitable creature when the one before her died? She is no Chosen One either - but I just chose to protect her, did I not?
To distract me from these irritating thoughts, I called upon the trace of my next target and manifested into a solid body to get a hold of the talisman that was created by this summoning. I could tell Ariki was not happy to find herself suddenly in a new place and with a new 'gift' from me at her feet, but she took up the bundle and accepted the task. She had no choice.
I discarded the solid form as soon as I left the hut, casting myself over the little town known as Renaissance. The Chosen One was near, I could sense him. And yet, I could not pull my attention away from Ariki completely. Part of me watched her as she recovered from the journey and my presence. I could even feel her discomfort - which was fascinating and alarming. Surely, none of my kind had ever connected like this with one of its agents. If I knew how, I would make it stop.

**What are you waiting for?**
Ariki began to wander towards a narrow alley. **You are aware that this marketplace is full of people? Or did you plan to kill them all, too?**
I savoured the touch of her strong mind more than I should. **I can take care of that.**
She stopped and actually turned her head a bit, although she knew there was nothing to look at. The long shadows in the alley allowed me to be all around her. **Why did you kill the men in the forest?**
My answer was a lie. **I chose to do so.**


I hope the second part/chapter for the "Rule Of Three Blogfest" does not disappoint. Well, at least I enjoyed writing it.
There are lots of great and very different stories taking part in this challenge. They and the respective rules can be found here for example.
So far, my vague plans for this project were not too disturbed by the new prompts, although I certainly had not thought it would continue like that. I did again manage to use 3 instead of only the required 1. Hey, this is the Rule Of Three Blogfest, after all, isn't it? :)

As always, reviews are very welcome!
If you want to get an eMail whenever I post something or about something specific on my blog, just contact me, please.

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#REN3 / Rule Of Three - Chapter 1

The Messenger - Chapter 1

Rule-of-Three prompts chosen:
- there is fear of an impending misfortune
- there is an argument
- someone might fall in love

word-count: 599

I could not tell what I noticed first, that the storm outside had stopped or that my back hurt like hell and I had a mean cramp in my leg.
"Curse it!" Stifling a moan, I groped for some hold on the nearby wall and pulled myself up. All the while there were far more 'pleasantries' of that sort on my mind, but I kept my mouth shut and the thoughts in the safe place where I was sure that it could not hear them. To concentrate on this was a good distraction from the pain. Only a fool would curse a Shadow - which was not only inviting misfortune, but feeding it, too.

When I stood more or less upright, which was as crooked as an old crone at that moment, I took in my surroundings, trying to remember where I was and how I got here. There was no doubt about the 'why'. There was the unmistakable weight of the bundle in my hand, the one which wasn't holding on to the rough mantelpiece of the little hut. Nobody who had ever been recruited by a Shadow could forget for one second how the presence of its 'gifts' felt -
**Stop wasting time! Go! Find the Chosen One!**
- or how annoyingly painful its voice could be in your head, not to mention its almost omnipresence. One could get used to the headache and one could learn to keep at least some thoughts private. The brightest spot of midday sun or the darkest hole where no light casts any shadow offered an occasional moment of peace, too. However, that sound - this booming and yet whispering voice - it always sent shivers down my spine and made me feel slightly sick.
**Stop bothering me then! I've always fulfilled your tasks, haven't I?**
There was no response, and I was glad for it. It was true, I had learned to talk back to my master with my mind, which seemed to impress it more than spoken words. But this was as far as I ever wanted to have an argument with an Itaranga.
As I stretched my sore muscles, I wondered briefly how others got along with their Shadow, if there even were any. For all I knew, mine could be the only one which had decided to stop being a story to spook little children and I'm the only one it had singled out to do its ghastly work.

When I finally stepped out into the street, I was a bit confused and worried. Just a moment before I had glanced into the loathsome bundle and there had not quite been what I had expected. It was true, I had seen worse, like blood-talismans and once even a hand. This could even be easy. However, this town was small, known as Renaissance. It might be difficult to find the Chosen One this time - and perhaps even more difficult to deliver my message.
The noise of people lead me around a corner and I found myself in a little but busy marketplace. The smell of a booth full of river-fish made me move on, marveling briefly at some grilled desert-snakes - when a deep, rich voice caused me to turn around until I found the speaker.
He was tall and thin, but obviously of a fine stature. His auburn locks were short and charmingly unruly. I felt myself move towards him, wishing he would notice me. How odd. His profile revealed a longish, strange and somewhat elegant face. And then he turned and I saw his eyes.


So, this is the first part/chapter for the "Rule Of Three Blogfest".
Since I got so many lovely commentaries on my Campaigner flash-fiction "The Messenger", I decided to continue it on this occasion. However, you should be able to read it without knowing these 200 words. If you do or want to, they can be considered as the prologue.
I hope I understood the rules right - and if not, I hope somebody will tell me how to do better.
In any case, I like what I wrote and I'm curious how my vague plan for the next parts are going to be influenced by the future prompts.

Reviews are very welcome ;)
Please, give me a hint if you are taking part in this challenge, too, and if you have posted your entry already so that I can read it, too.

The other chapters and the above mentioned prologue can be found here:
05.09.2011: Prologue
04.10.2011: Chapter 1 (here)
10.10.2011: Chapter 2
19.10.2011: Chapter 3
26.10.2011: Chapter 4

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Second Campaigner Challenge

Papilion Calls Imago

All inhabitants and crew members of the station please beware of the following symptoms:
- decreasing synchronicity between the physical and mental timeline
- partially or completely vanishing reflections in the mirror
- experiencing a feeling of being trapped in a lacuna or stupor

We regret to inform you that there are only few counter measures that can be taken to protect yourself:
- in the rare cases when the miasma is visible, evade it at all costs
- try not to oscitate in the outer regions of the station, because there is the most danger of infection

The Company is constantly increasing its efforts to decontaminate the whole station, beginning with the most vital sections.
Please understand that private living-quarters don't have priority and might have to be discarded entirely if they become a liability to the station.

Don't use the emergency escape-pods, they are currently accessible only via highly infected routes and there is absolutely no need to abandon the station.

Finally, the Company requests that all individuals who are able to initiate their imago state on their own report to the department "Papilion" immediately. Any info-terminal will tell you the fastest and safest route to get there.

This is my post (I'm number 180) for the Second Campaigner Challenge as was set up here:
(It really was a lot tougher than the first, but a lot of fun, too!).

(this was original posted first in my Livejournal, including comments)