Prompt for January 4: The Breakdown

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[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com/ . Characters and story from a novel series idea entitled Hand of Fate.]

Tori was still sitting in the chair by the fire, one of Cris’s blankets wrapped around her. The fraying fabric had slid down past her shoulders in the time since I placed it around her. Like everything else, she did not seem to notice her shoulders were once again bare.

“Go ahead.” Neci’s hands were pushing me forward. “We have tried everything. Even got the healers involved. Nothing. She will not talk to any of us.”

In what world was I the last hope for anything? Seeing me, the son of the first life she had ever taken, might actually send her into complete madness.

I took a step towards her. “Tori?”

It was the first time I had spoken to her since the incident with my father and Cris in the field. Even though her wellbeing had been the only substantial thought in my confused mind, saying her name aloud after all that had happened was strange. I used to long for an opportunity to say her name. Now, I was worried that if she did turn to look at me, she might not look at me the same way ever again.

“Tori, it’s me, Vitus. I wish you would eat something.”

Her breath hitched. The first reaction any of us had seen to words. I heard Neci gasp behind me and did not linger to feel her hands push me forward again.

“Ossin caught more rabbit, just for you. Neci cooked it just the way you like, with the outside a bit crispy but mostly lightly cooked. She even rubbed some of Hipek’s spices onto the skin before setting it aflame.”

I was rambling, I knew, but with each word I said, Tori showed another sign of life. By the time I had finished my entire recount of the dinner preparations, everyone in the room had ceased to even breathe.

Tori had turned to look towards me. Her eyes stared through me, into the past she could not escape, but at least she was no longer staring straight into the dancing flames in Hipek’s hearth.

“V-v-vitus?” she whispered.

I took a knee beside her. “I am here, my sweet.”

I held out a hand for her. She slowly withdrew one of hers from Cris’s blanket and set it within mine.

“I’m sorry.” Tears were beginning to bubble up in her green eyes. “I’m so sorry.”

Then, when everyone thought I had broken through the barrier, she let out an ear-shattering wail and dropped her head in her hands, weeping as if every soul’s sorrow was hers to bear.

Prompt for September 14: Death Row

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[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com/ . Characters and story from One Realm, part of my novel series idea Hand of Fate.]

It was what I had imagined the war to be like.

Before the wooden stand was every Renterran within a one-day’s ride distance. Their faces were twisted with disgust, their mouths screwed into forming around hateful words meant to harm me. Everyone, from the old men who knew how far the realm had come, to women carrying their unborn children, to youth like me who had only been raised on stories of the horror, held clenched fists high. I was surprised to see these fists empty, for surely I was walking into battle and Renterra’s children meant to kill me with whatever forces they had.

These people truly did hate me, which seemed strange. While I was Lucan, I was much beloved. As myself? Despised, possibly more than my grandfather. A strange turn of events, indeed.

On the wooden stand stood the remainder of my family. Lucan stood looking out over his people. He radiated royalty, his tall posture and blank face the very image of a commanding ruler. Yet, as his eyes flitted among his people, there was a compassion in his blue eyes that spoke more than his face ever could. Unlike our grandfather, he cared about his people and wished to see them well-off.

Then there was Amicus. He stood behind Lucan, a sword held in his left hand. Even as I approached, I saw his fist tighten and loosen repeatedly over the hilt. When had he last held a weapon more powerful than a hammer and chisel? He, too, stood stoic. But where Lucan’s eyes told a different story, Amicus’s spoke nothing. It was as though he had drawn curtains over those brown eyes, hiding any emotion from view; a true warrior’s impassive gaze.

And Silvia—my mother. Fate above, why was it so hard for me to see her as such?—stood off to the side. Her shoulders were stiffly placed, her hands clutched the fabric of her skirt. She, too, was wearing the same impassive gaze as her brother, but hers couldn’t quite stay in place. It was a constant battle, I could see, her trying to seem as though my execution wouldn’t affect her. But she was my mother, after all. Even though she knew what I had done, or almost done, she had given birth to me all those years ago. I was her first-born, her son. Lucan and I were the only things she had left of our father.

I would have been more surprised if she had managed stoicism, even in the face of my atrocities.

I was now at the foot of the wooden stairs. I could see the chisel marks and the nail heads. Every fiber of the pine planks were distinct and singular as I moved to take the first step. Strange, indeed. I wish I had that clarity earlier, to prevent myself from getting into my predicament in the first place.

The jeering and harsh words had reached their peak just as I fully came onto the stage. Stage. What a perfect word. How appropriate that this would be my final part to play.
I walked up beside Lucan and stood there, taking in everything. A sweep of the faces showed me the dismal truth, the one I had refused to accept throughout my entire journey to the stage. Abelinda didn’t care. Of course she wouldn’t. I had betrayed her just as I had my own flesh and blood. There would be no reason why I should expect her forgiveness. I didn’t deserve it on any account.

But there was movement at the right edge of the crowd. My gaze jumped over there, still holding onto the smallest thread of hope. And there, those ruby eyes. I felt smile tug at my lips as the thread of hope expanded into a quilt, wrapping around me in a warmth I had never expected. I felt tears, but not out of sorrow or regret. No, those tears I had shed earlier in my cell.

I was forgiven by her. I could now accept my death with open arms.

Prompt for July 17: Faint

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[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com/ .]

His voice was no more the roaring thunderstorm it had been right after his death. I used to hear him professing his love for me in the middle of the night. I could still hear every confession he had made to me, as if he was lying beside me, his fingers twirling their way into my hair.

But as of late, his voice has lost its strength. No more can I clearly hear him speak my name. The thundering
timbre is now only a whisper caressing my cheek like the faintest gust of wind. Where I used to fall asleep listening to his protestations, I now stay awake throughout the night, fighting my memory to give me even a glimpse of his deep chocolate voice.

Why must time be so cruel as to heal the wound slightly only to snatch away the very sutures that were holding you together?