Tag Archives: Victorious Maiden 2

Intrepid Discourtesy

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Chuck’s prompt is a random phrase generator. These 890 words bring the total written for Victorious Maiden up to 15,040.

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Octavius continues to squeeze even after the light is gone from his friend’s eyes. He must be sure that Bacchus is dead for he knows he wouldn’t have the fortitude to try again. Also, it was expected – Octavius had never killed anyone before. The life of a religious man has never involved slaying beasts for food, or even the bothersome pests that lurk about for scraps of food. Until this moment, his thumbs pressing against Octavius’s windpipe, he thought murder to be beyond his skillset.

It is a wonder what a subject will do when a Goddess demands something, he thought as he noticed the white lines across his fingers – they began to numb, but his grip remained unbroken.

Octavius is finally convinced Bacchus is dead, so he slowly releases the body, and collapses into a heap on the dusty floor. His body shakes with uncontrollable sobs as the reality of the last few minutes sinks in. He has offered Kanoni a life, but not much of a life. Bacchus’s days were mirror images of the past, with no expectation that they would change in the future. It was very possible that Bacchus wouldn’t accomplish anything with the entirety of his existence. These thoughts didn’t change the fact that Bacchus didn’t deserve to be murdered by a man he considered a friend and a brother.

Shame begins to overwhelm Octavius. He finds no pride in killing Bacchus. The tremors begin in his still-numb fingers and spread across his body until his entire beimg is shaking. His breath rasps, and he finds it difficult to catch it. A profound loneliness fills him and subsumes to sadness.

What have I done? The thought repeats again and again.

“That was a surprise.”

Octavius whirls and at the site of Goddess Kanoni he prostrates himself at her feet.

“I have done as you asked.”

“You have, and with your bare hands. Quite impressive.”

Octavius dares to look up at his Goddess. She stares at the stained glass depiction of her earthly form, and shakes her head. As her hair moves this way and that, Octavius sees something that stills his soul. Her hair isn’t the dark brown he’s read about in the ancient texts. It is definitely unlike her depiction in the stained glass. It’s too dark, almost black and each tip seems to fade into a tendril of smoke.

“You’re not Kanoni!”

“That interloper?” The figure that isn’t Kanoni leers. “Don’t make me laugh.”

“Who are you?”
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Sacrifice

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685 words for #3WW this week:

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Bacchus reaches the temple as the horizon devours the lonely sun. The eerie orange sky bade his welcome as dark shadows lengthen. Had Bacchus not spent so much time in the temple, he would’ve missed the hidden entrance. Shadows of the rugged terrain obscure the entrance but for an hour each day.

As Bacchus prepares to enter the Temple of Goddess Kanoni, he pauses to contemplate his oldest and wisest friend. This recent decent into solitude and reflection bothers Bacchus on a level he can only admit when no one is present. He, like the other members of his order, believe resolutely in Goddess Kanoni. But the behavior of Octavius is so profound, so out of character that he worries if his friend is still fit to be the spiritual leader of their order.

Bacchus breaches the entrance and takes in the view the spartan temple. Plain wooden benches angle toward the ornate glasswork depicting their Goddess. Each bench accommodates ten worshippers. Not that there has been an issue with capacity – people seem to forget the old ways and focus instead on technology and twisted hedonism.

This day the temple is empty except for Octavius, knelt in the aura of the stained glass. Bacchus had expected the litany of prayer like the flow of the river from Octavius’s mouth, just like every other boring encounter in the last month, but the sanctuary is quiet. Octavius says nothing, but his face is still upturned to the depiction of Goddess Kanoni.

Bacchus steps forward, a new hope brewing in his belly. If Octavius has stopped his impetrations, then it might be possible for Bacchus to connect with his friend and convince his to pause from his devotions and address the fears of his colleagues.

Bacchus kneels beside Octavius. Softly, as to not frighten him, Bacchus asks. “How are you Brother Octavius?”

Octavius turns to Bacchus. “Very well indeed, Brother Bacchus.”

Bacchus smiles. “Will you return to the order? We are frightened for your safety.”

“That is of no consequence.”

“What-“ Bacchus starts, but Octavius brings his full attention to bear on Bacchus.

“I must fulfill the wishes of Goddess Kanoni.”

Bacchus’s eyes close for a moment. “What wishes? Please talk to me, Octavius.”

Octavius speaks rapidly pausing only to breathe. Each exhale is an affront to Bacchus’s senses. Octavius grips Bacchus by the shoulders; his smile is frightening in the wan light of the setting sun. “She visited me!”

Bacchus steps back. “What did she say? Will she guide us through these turbulent times?”
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The Settlement

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Another 500 words to Victorious Maiden written to Adan Ramie’s Word-A-Week prompt. I think I’ll write some more of it tomorrow.

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Octavius has spent the last month deep in prayer. He didn’t venture far from the stained glass depiction of Goddess Kanoni. In his venerated position as the leader of his religious order, no one would begrudge his time of contemplation and prayer. His obsession with Goddess Kanoni after the dismissal of Rashid, and the disturbing dreams that haunt him; he has become a recluse.

At first, he tells his brothers in faith about the disturbing imagery, but as the nightmares became more frequent, he started to retreat from those he considered more than friends.

“I’m worried about Brother Octavius,” Bacchus states as he leans back in his wooden chair.

Brother Celsus was the first to respond. “I know dreams of Marquis Oya and his former pupil Rashid haunt him, but he has forsaken his duty to the order.”

A few murmurs of assent make their way around the table.

“What does he expect of Goddess Kanoni?” When Dorus asks the question, there is a slight pause as each man sitting around the table venerate Goddess Kanoni in his own way.

Gavius returns his attention to Bacchus. “Octavius has been your friend far longer than we, what should we do?”

“Should we do anything at all?”

Dosus closes his eyes before responding. “He needs to bathe.” Nods ripple around the table.

“It’s not just the stench of filth, he eats only what we bring him.” Celsus leans forward. “Even his breath is fetid.”

Bacchus brings his hands up in a placating manner. “I will head to the temple myself, and attempt to bring Octavius back to sanity.”

It is insanity that the brethren fear. With the world on the brink of war, they hope Goddess Kanoni would remain neutral, but the visions that Brother Octavius reported in the early days of his voluntary exile, were telling of a world of endless war, fear, and so much death. And to think a member of their small order would be instrumental in the chaos to come was unthinkable.

The notion that Marquis Oya could corrupt the young Rashid reveals a flaw in the selection process. If all they knew couldn’t prevent someone as pure of heart as Rashid from falling, was there hope for any of them?

Certainly, Bacchus thought as he stares at water a vitreous cerulean. In the craggy arid region they lived, the wide river was the only source of drinking water, swift transportation, and irrigation. He turns and examines the cluster of brick buildings in a lazy crook of the river. Chimneys poke out from dark stone roofs.

The proliferation of brick and stone thin as the distance to the water increases. On the horizon, only the dry mountainous lives they live in solitude lay. Most of the caves that litter the region are abandoned, just as this settlement was. But a secret cave containes the brethren’s only tangible evidence that the ancient Legend of Kanoni was true: a piece of her clockwork wings.

Bacchus bids the settlement farewell, and starts the long trek back to his friend and his home.

Next: Sacrifice


Piper at the Gates of Dawn

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[1000 words]Chuck’s flash fiction challenge is to use the name of a random cocktail as the title of our flash fiction. I also worked in a phrase from Inspiration Monday. If you’re interested, here’s the recipe.

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The morning sun peeked through tall trees, glowing orange and casting long shadows across the shallow valley. Crepuscular rays shone across the sky, crowning the great orb as it greeted all in attendance. The longest of shadows from the tallest tree crept across the gently swaying grass. The scene was idyllic, sung about in song and described by poets. The air shimmered and leaves fluttered too and fro as if the needs and actions of man were insignificant. The presence of the green blades was out of place, but no one cared. Armor gleamed in the sunlight and soldiers swayed with the grass. The perfection of the day was hypnotic. Their sole purpose today was not to point out a break in reality, but to die. As the shadow reached a predetermined spot on the field, the perfection was broken by the thunderous sound of stomping feet marching as a single unit.

Over the top of a small rise in the field of green grass and clover marched a massive army. A man of indeterminate age, but who had obviously spent a significant portion of his life in the endless ocean of sand rode atop a horse of pure darkness. Tendrils and wisps of smoke emanated from the horse. The man glanced over his armored shoulder and smiled. Directly behind him marched thirty legions of men. Their mismatched armor and weapons told a tale of disparate groups coming together under the banner of the man atop the dark horse. Only a marching chant and a dull black smoke indicated that these men were a single force. The man withdrew a great brass sword – clockwork movement glinting in the sun. At the sight of the gleaming weapon, the army cheered and yelped, quickening their pace.

“It is your destiny, Rashid,” a feminine voice whispered in the ear of the man atop the horse of smoke. Rashid’s smile grew wider, bearing his teeth. A low growl escaped from deep in his throat.

“Are you speaking to me, Mi’Lord?” a flaxen-haired boy asked his master as he walked next to him, clutching a giant leather scabbard. This boy was the only one wearing no armor, for armor would slow him as he rushed beside the dark horse.

“Silence, sword bearer,” Rashid responded blankly, looking straight ahead.

“It is your destiny, Rashid,” the voice continued to whisper.

“Really? How could it be?” Rashid asked the heavens. It wasn’t the multitudes of gods he asked, but a singular one. “I lead an army of thousands of men! I know nothing of the enemy, their weapons or…”

Rashid stopped speaking as the sword bearer stared, eyes wide, mouth agape. The boy saw his master, but he also saw the spectral form of Marquis Oya, bastion of change and revered servant to the Lord of Wind.

“Kanoni save me,” stuttered the boy.

Rashid’s smile transformed. It was no longer the smile of a man drunk on his own importance, but the lecherous leer of a man about to select his nightly conquest.
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Stories Impossible

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“Then what happened? Tell me more about the gem!”

Themba stared out across the endless desert. He raised the pewter mug and drank deeply. As he swallowed, Taj did the same, noting a distant thunderstorm somewhere across leagues of worthless sand.

Taj cradled the mug to his chest. Ever since Themba’s companion kissed his cheek, he could think more clearly than he had ever. His newfound clarity allowed him to process the story Themba told. Fifty years of a fantastic adventure, he thought. He searched his stores of memory, trying to place his oldest and dearest friend with any woman, let alone one of such beauty.

The silence lingered as Themba stared. “The memory we used to share is no longer coherent,” declared Themba with a sigh.

“You speak in riddles, my friend,” replied Taj. “Your story defies logic.”

“Logic,” muttered Themba. “Here’s to logic.” He raised his mug to the heavens and up ended it, but when no mead flowed, he lowered it, defeated.

Taj clanked his own mug against his friend’s. “The hour is late, my friend. Perhaps we can meet tomorrow under the arch for your story to continue.” Taj waggled his eyebrows. “I’ll bring the mead.”

Themba nodded and rose, bracing himself against the arch. His fifty years out of time had granted him habits that his young body no longer needed. He stared up at the arch. Lady Akila was right, he thought, the arch was definitely better covered in brass.

* * *

Rashid slept peacefully in the luxurious bed. The proprietor had offered several maidens to bed him that night, but Rashid refused. His mind and body belonged only to Marquis Oya, bastion of change and revered servant to the Lord of Wind.

His dreams of epic battles and commanding legions of men no longer woke him in the night. He was unaware of the thick black smoke that rose from the burning incense. A smoke that loosely resembled a woman that slept peacefully in the bed next to him. As the smoke moved over his sleeping form, Rashid smiled in his sleep.

* * *

Sabiti stared out over the ocean of sand. The night was clear and he could see far into the desolation. Nomad campfires dotted the horizon as if the stars themselves had descended to the earth to warm the disparate groups that roamed the desert. The dreams of Mistress Osun allowed little sleep. Sabiti shivered in the cool air. He tried to discern the storm to come. A storm not of lightning and rain, but of the thunder of hooves and the clashing of armor. Sabiti dreaded the task to come, but knew it had to be him.

Next: Piper at the Gates of Dawn


Desperate Measures

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#FFC52 #3WW #bekindrewrite I’ve been busy this last week. I missed TiV’s prompt last week. I started a story and everything, but never finished it. This 1050-word continuation is for TiV’s final prompt of 2014. I also maintained my InMon streak and three word Wendsday.

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“I’m telling you this story because you are the only person I can trust not to judge me . . .”

Taj froze in response, mug of mead partway to his lips. His friend looked older somehow. It may have been the lighting in the tavern, or it could’ve been the many mugs of mead prior to the one he held. He set the pewter mug on the table and leaned back. “This oughta be good.”

Themba scowled at his friend. They had grown up in the village neighbors. Neither of them worried of the advancing years. They were celebrating Taj’s twenty-fifth birthday. They had celebrated the same for Themba only six months ago. “If you can’t handle it, perhaps I’ll keep it to myself.”

Taj leaned forward conspiratorially. He managed to force a smile through the cloud of inebriation. “Tell me, Themba.”

“I saw a woman in the desert,” Themba replied thoughtfully.

“Saw? Did you gather the courage to speak to this woman?”

“She spoke to me of desperate measures.”

Taj smiled, fervently empting his mug. “What did she say?”

“Not here, my friend. Meet me tonight at the arch.”

Taj shrugged. “You bring the mead and I’ll meet you anywhere.”

* * *

Taj leaned against the great arch. He didn’t know why they called it ‘great.’ There were stories about the arch. It used to be covered with gleaming brass. Artisans used to polish the brass with leather and cloth so that it gleamed. There were great men whose sole purpose was to spend hours every day to maintain the arch. The great arch could be seen many legions across the desert. It was said that caravans never ventured out too far as to not lose sight of the landmark. If ever one felt homesick, the next dune promised a view of the great arch.

Taj shook his head and ran his palm against the rough stone. Bandits stole some of the brass, but the wars of the past were the true thieves. The brass was ‘repurposed’ as swords and armor. When the war finally ended, no one returned the precious metal, and the world had lost a monument to human engineering.

Taj felt something in the pit of his stomach as he ran his fingers along a recess in the arch. He had been told the original purpose was to store the tools to maintain the metal, but now…

Now, Taj thought, it gathers sand.

Taj shook his head and sat at the base of the arch. Great or otherwise, he thought, this is where I’lll meet Themba.
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Faith in Smoke

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When I read the Inspiration Monday prompt from Stephanie, It was as if she had written it just for me. I also worked in Sunday Scribblings 2 and Three Word Wednesday. Here are 1200 words for you to consider:

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I have chosen you, Rashid.

The whisper echoed. Rashid sat upright in his meager bed. It was a bed in the servant’s quarters that a friend of a friend of a… Well, the degree of separation is high, but unimportant. He had made his way to the farms skirting the border of the great desert. Rashid filled the washbasin from a clay pitcher and did what one normally does with such things. He walked to the open window and hurled the contents out. The used water struck the dirt and as expected, part of it evaporated under the constant heat, even in the morning.

Rashid was about to turn away when something unexpected happened: Instead of steam, black smoke rose from the water. Rashid slammed the shutters closed and sat on the edge of his straw bed, face covered with his hands, rocking back and forth. Moving his hands ever so often to glare at the window.

“Leave me alone!” he shouted. Rashid rubbed the spot on his finger where the ring was and the woman had kissed. There didn’t appear to be anything amiss, but Rashid’s mind kept churning out scenario after scenario – each one ended with him atop a steed of putrid black smoke holding aloft a great sword of gleaming brass. When he closed his eyes, he could hear the clockwork mechanism emanating from the weapon.

In his dream, the ticking and thudding of the sword grew until his heart followed suit. Oya turned to him, smiled with obsidian lips and tapped him in the center of his chest. The clicking and thudding increased in intensity and duration until he felt as if his chest were burning from the inside.

Oya smiled and reached into his chest, removing a clockwork heart. The intricate gears and movement throbbed with a life essence. Oya smiled, her tendrils of hair-smoke billowing. She raised the heart to her lips and the object of her fascination became smoke itself. Oya breathed deeply and inhaled the smoke until her hand was empty. Before Rashid could clutch his hand to his chest, Oya spoke:

Have faith in smoke, Rashid.
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