Archive for July, 2012

Trifextra: Fantasy

Posted in Fiction on July 29th, 2012 by Annabelle – 19 Comments

It was not until the third time that the manticore knocked that Sara noticed.  The knocks, at first polite, fell heavier and heavier until at last the thundering drew her from her books.


This weekend’s Trifextra prompt from Trifecta Writing Challenge requested a 33 word opening line to a novel. I have never been bowled over by “Call me Ishmael” (or indeed, any of Melville’s work), but after reading the prompt I spent most of the morning with the first line of Gene Wolfe’s Nightside the Long Sun stuck in my head: “Enlightenment came to Patera Silk on the ball court; nothing could ever be the same after that.”  I went with two sentences instead of one, since I think 33 words is an epically awkward length for a first sentence. 

In case you’re wondering if I know what happens next — no, I have no idea.  I’m kind of curious, though.  I’m imagining some sort of lyrical Patricia McKillip-esque fantasy.  Maybe I should write it and find out.  Thanks for reading!

Trifecta: Reunion

Posted in Calere, Fiction on July 23rd, 2012 by Annabelle – 12 Comments

This is this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge response.  This time around, they gave us a chance to write some longer fiction — no prompt, just between 333 and 3,333 words on a subject of our choice.  Many thanks to Andra for suggesting subject matter and Jessie for suggesting a way to wrestle with my profound lack of enthusiasm for short stories.  This follows last week’s The Secret, so if you’d like a little background on how Sarili got where she is, take a look.  Thanks for reading!


In the long list of stupid things she had done in her life, leaving before her people had decided where to settle might end up taking the prize. Sarili looked grumpily up and down the length of the dusty road, and then waddled off into the grass and sat down. She pulled a foot up into what was left of her lap and rubbed her ankle while she contemplated her stupidity.

They had told her not to do it.  How will you find us?  We can’t afford to lose each other now.  At least wait until we’ve found a home.  It had been a reasonable question given that they were planning to hide, to make themselves as unfindable as they possibly could.  She hadn’t listened.  She’d been too wild with grief and horror and the need to run, and the elders had been too devastated at the loss of the City, too overwhelmed by the task before them to do more than tell her not to.

I’ll find you, she’d said.  Just go, I’ll find you wherever you end up.  She would.  Eventually.  The question was whether she would find them before the baby came.  She hadn’t imagined time pressure and a condition that made it increasingly difficult for her to travel.  It had been months of not finding them.  It was what she would have expected, but it was starting to be a serious problem.  She was getting close now.  Her feet hurt, her ankles were swollen, and she was pretty sure that no one carrying this much extra weight in baby should walk this much.  If the baby came, it would be an end to safe searching.  The only way she could protect the baby on her own would be to walk off into the woods and hide.  Stay there, just the two of them, until her child was old enough to be able to search with her or be left alone while she searched.  It would be years.  This one last place to look — it would be just about the last thing she could manage before finding somewhere safe to give birth.

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The Secret

Posted in Calere, Fiction on July 20th, 2012 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

The room was dark and lively, with a strong scent of ale.  Shouts flew toward the tavernkeep’s pretty wife.  “Where are you really from, Sarie?”  It was an old game, one they never tired of.

“My mother was a Xemish pirate,” she called across the room while wiping up a spill.  “She was shipwrecked in the southern sea and I was raised among the Synalei.”  Snorts of laughter, hoots, and careless splashes of ale greeted her latest outrageous lie.  “Why do you think I’m so good at telling the weather?” she demanded with exaggerated innocence.

“Don’t believe her for a second, boys.  She came here straight from heaven!”  Her husband seized her by the waist and buried a kiss in the crook of her neck.

She laughed, and put a hand up to his hair.  “You heard the man.  He’s the authority here.”

The results of that were, as she expected, lewd.  She flipped her skirts at them, swept an armful of empty tankards up, and swept off to the kitchen.  She dumped the tankards reflexively into the basin for washing, and then stood, hand resting on the edge, and sagged.

She was married.  What had she been thinking?   She scrubbed at her face in frustration.  It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, a good place to land, to spend a few decades among people who liked her even if they didn’t know her.  Someone who could love a piece of her while she did what she had to.  And she’d been happy, happier than she’d been since the day the city where she’d been born had become a name that could never be spoken.  The one thing that could keep her from staying had never occurred to her.  Their birth rates were so low, and she was so young.  It had never even crossed her mind.

Her hand curved protectively over her abdomen.  He hadn’t noticed yet, but he would soon enough.  And then he’d look for her if she disappeared, and not stop looking.  An errant wife was one thing, but…  She closed her eyes as his voice carried through the doorway, and allowed herself to picture, just for a moment, how he would take her leaving.

She turned away, lifting her chin defiantly against the tears.  He wasn’t what mattered any more, and neither was she.  That game might never find the truth, but once they saw the baby, there would be no question.  That was the only thing that mattered now.  There was no more time, and nothing left but the baby.

She wiped her hands carefully on a cloth, dropped it on the table, and walked out the back door.


This week, I’m taking my first pass at Write On Edge‘s Red Writing Hood challenge. The prompt calls for up to 450 words inspired by the following Robert Frost poem:

The Secret Sits

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

This is part of the same series as The Fall and assorted other prompt responses that I should probably link together.  I’ll get on that!  Thanks for reading.


Posted in Calere, Fiction on July 11th, 2012 by Annabelle – 7 Comments

They fled on foot, and all night.  There was no choice.  The baby was too little for anything else, and not for anything would they leave him.  They had left it too late, she realized.  They just hadn’t been able to believe it.  Not until the stories started coming, of burnings, quarterings, people chased to their deaths from horseback.  They were no longer welcome in this new world.

They were going south.  If they were lucky, they might make it across the border before the invaders reached them.  Maybe.  They kept going.  There were no choices left.  Only the hurry.

Since this week Trifecta has given us *gasp* two and a half weeks to come up with a more substantial bit of fiction, I’m trying my hand at 100-word fiction with this week’s Velvet Verbosity challenge.  The prompt: hurrying.  This goes along with The Fall.  Thanks for reading!

Trifecta: Fireworks

Posted in Fiction, Tacar on July 3rd, 2012 by Annabelle – 17 Comments

“Until dinner.”  Par finally left.  Thank heavens.  There wasn’t enough wine in the city.

“Did he propose to you, or is he saving that for dinner?”  A wickedly inflected baritone caught her ear, and Raicha turned with relief to see Par’s brother Avash.   “You could do better.”  He lifted an eyebrow suggestively.

“You don’t imagine my grandfather would let you anywhere near me, do you?”  Avash combined his brother’s middling social position with youngest-son ineligibility and a scandalous reputation for affairs with married women.

“Grandfathers never seem to approve of me.  Even my own.”  A regretful look that she didn’t believe for a second appeared.

“Well, mine is here,” she laughed.  “Go away before you get me in trouble, Avash.”

He winked and strolled off to the imperial balcony where Camilia and Sahmin were sitting.  He casually dropped into the chair next to Camilia.  Sahmin addressed a friendly comment to him.

Raicha froze.  She could see the corner of Avash’s mouth turned up ever so slightly.  Avash?  She had never caught so much as a whisper.  And joining her this publicly could only mean one thing.  She folded her lips under and firmly bit down on them to control the hysterical bubble of laughter that was welling up.  Her eyes darted around the room.  The Temeru patriarch had stopped with a glass of wine halfway to his lips and was staring toward the balcony with an expression he’d be embarrassed by later.  Raicha quivered.

“My lady.”  A servant bowed.  “Her imperial majesty invites you to join her to view the fireworks.”

“I think my view of the fireworks would be better from here.”  Dahla Faro’s face was furiously red.  Raicha’s great uncle – Camilia’s grandfather – caught her and gave her an amused glance.  Raicha quickly looked away.

“My lady?”

“Yes, by all means.  I would hate to miss them.”  Camilia turned and caught her eye.  Raicha choked, but her shoulders only shook a little as she sauntered off to join them.


This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge!  33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word  FIREWORKS (noun)

1: a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions
2: plural a display of fireworks
This follows The Newlywed. Thanks for reading!