Flash Friday: Alchemist’s Dream

alchemist

Alchemist

He was so close. The residue in the glass had gleamed in such a way he knew making gold was in his grasp. Once again he mixed fluids, heated them gently, stirred them diligently. This time, he would add one more ingredient.

It had taken a lot of negotiation with the thieves’ guild before they agreed to get it. In the end, he promised a year’s supply of that gray powder he had discovered. They used it to blow open locks, a weapon that had all traders paying the guild so their coffers would be spared. He had given that task to his new apprentice. Let the fool grind charcoal and sulfur, and mix it with saltpeter. He was meant for better things.

Very gently, he lowered the glass back into the flames, gave it a final shake. The concoction welled up again, and a golden shimmer began to coat the glass. His heart beating with glee, he lifted the glass high. Finally!

“Master!” The scream was followed by rapidly retreating footsteps.

What…?

Before he could finish the thought, a huge explosion shattered the laboratory, tore apart the walls and smashed all hopes of ever finding the alchemist’s dream.

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Flash Friday: Perfect Murder

Mudman

Mudman

The mud moved, heaved and bubbled. Parts of it solidified, grew, rose from the murky depth. Round bulbs elongated, turned into a head, and arms. The creature rose further, stretched into the air and finally stood on its own two legs, dripping mud, still shifting in details. Eyes opened, the nose twitched, the mouth heaved, lips stretched, molded into place, finally split to show misshapen teeth. They gleamed strangely bright in the dark, brown face.

“You called?”

I shuddered, forced my thoughts back to the task at hand. “Yes. I ask you to do my bidding.”

“So be it, Master.”

Triumph, sudden, and bright. “Seek out my sister. Kill her.”

“Yes, Master.”

“When she is dead, return here and dissolve back into the puddle.”

“Yes, Master. It will be done.”

I walked away, careful not to get any of the mud on my shoes. So easy. And CSI wouldn’t have a clue.

Your Turn:
What do you think? Would CSI solve this one?

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Flash Friday: Gryphon Harvest

grpyphon

Attempted Gryphon

(Yep, it’s Saturday. These things happen. Posting a story anyway.)

It was hot in the steppe. High buttes reached up to the sky, dotting the steppe. Selina had come to climb up to the top of one. Only here did gryphons nest. Now was the right time for the harvest, as they set on their nests, warming their eggs.

Carefully, Selina clawed her way up the sheer walls of the butte the gryphons had chosen this year. It took her several hours of exertion to reach the top. After a short rest, she crept towards the gryphon nest. The mother gryphon was crooning to her eggs, even as she turned them. Selina smiled, it was good to see them breeding well.

She pulled on the leather hood which would keep her safe from bites before crawling into the nest itself. Calming the mother with soft croons of her own, she went for her prize.

A little later, she stood at the edge of the butte, opening up the gliding wings which would take her safely off the butte. She had tucked three golden gryphon wing feathers into her belt. The molting mother gryphon would never miss them, but they would gain her enough coin to last until the next harvest.

Your Turn:

What do you think?

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Flash Friday: Mage Wars

Bad guys coming

Bad guys coming

I couldn’t believe my eyes when Mom threw our bedding into the big wagon, while Dad hitched the horses to it in great haste.

“But… but it’s summer. We don’t travel in summer.” I gestured towards the fields.

“We do now.” He looked east and winced. His face paled. “Get Mara and jump in. Don’t stop for anything else. The mages are almost here.”

“How do you know?”

“I can feel their spells. Now run!”

I ran and picked up my little sister. As soon as I had lifted Mara to the seat, and hauled myself up, he shook the rains, and the horses pulled out.

I crawled past my mother who had curled up on our bedding, stumbled over a few packages and made my way to the rear end of the wagon.

“We can’t let the mages catch Dad.” Mom sobbed quietly.

“I’m casting a small hiding spell, darling. The farm will distract them, so they won’t notice.”

I looked back at the little farm house that I had called home for several years now. A fireball descended on it and exploded in dark red flames.

“We’ll return in fall,” Dad promised. “The mages will be gone then.”

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Flash Friday: The Halfwit

Bad stuff

Bad stuff happening

“Rain!” his high voice wailed.

“But, Dayda, the rain season is over. See, the sky is blue.”

“Bad rain!” Dayda looked frantic. I didn’t know what to do with him. He was the family halfwit, and today he was in my care.

“Dayda, shall we have a picknick in the forest?”

He nodded eagerly. “Pack food. Bad rain coming!”

Sighing, I packed bread, fruit and some cold meats. We would find water in the forest.

“Everyone come!”

“No, Dayda, they have work to do.”

He threw a screaming fit.

“Shall we go or not?”

A little later, he was pulling me through the forest. He only stopped when we had climbed the tall hill behind our village.

“Bad rain”, he sobbed and pointed. A huge black cloud stood there, with lightning flashing through it. Thunder rumbled, so loud it shook the earth.

Then the rain started. Ash fell from the sky, followed by rocks. Dayda curled up on the ground, whimpering. I stared in horror, when a foul smelling flood of mud rolled through the fields and covered my village with everyone living there. I sank to the ground, shaking.

If only we had listened to the halfwit.

Image Source: F. Moebius

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Flash Friday: The Winner takes All

Mage

Mage

This final duel would determine who would become archmage of Tsaranval. Both Saniral and Ysanna had proven their might as mages, but only one of them could rule this realm. Saniral won the draw of first strike. Ysanna simply smoothed her gown, tossed back her jet-black hair and created the circle that would protect the audience from their magic.

Saniral blasted off with an impressive fire ball, tinged in purple and violett. Ysanna countered with an icestorm. The shards tinkled sweetly as they fell.

The audience yelled with glee. This was exactly what they had been waiting for.

In the next round Ysanna summoned a gigantic eagle that dove at Saniral with a wild screech. Saniral just shook his head, then made a gesture. A magic word transformed the eagle into a swarm of tiny flies that engulfed Ysanna. Grinning, he turned to the audience.

“I have won. Ysanna can’t fight anymore.” A heartbeat later, a rock hit his skull at high speed and he slumped to the ground, unconscious. The flies disappeared.

“Who has won now?” Ysanna smiled sweetly and daintily stepped over her fallen adversary.

“Archmage Ysanna!,” was the overwhelming response.

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Flash Friday: The Reward

Knight

Knight

Okay. I’m late. So what, I’m still going to let you have some Flash fun. And I bet in a week or two, it no longer matters.

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The Reward

The last enemy fell, slain by the swift sword of the man who had come in defense of Princess Charlotte. She lifted her skirts and daintily stepped over the corpse of the troll who had been in the process of ripping her dress.

“I thank you, my lord,” she said and dropped a courtesy. “To whom do I owe my freedom and life?”

The man bowed deeply. “My name is Ralph Flycatcher,” he answered. “And I am glad to have been of service.”

“You deserve a reward, my friend,” Charlotte walked over to him with quick, small steps more suited to a ballroom than a road strewn with corpses.

“Oh, don’t worry about that, my lady. I’ll be fine.”

“But you are my saviour. No, don’t protest.” She lifted a hand to his shoulder, and before he could duck, she bestowed a kiss on his unshaven cheek.

A bright flash made her close her eyes. When she opened them again, Ralph Flycatcher was gone. Charlotte blinked.

“Croak.” The voice was small, and sad.

At her feet, the Princess found a small, green frog, looking at her with plaintive eyes, sadly shaking its head.

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Comments?

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The Pain of Wasted Story Telling

Pain

Pain

Actually, the word “telling” in the headline is what it is all about. Stories are not about telling at all.  Stories are about allowing readers live through them.

And not every published book accomplishes this.

I’ve read (or tried to read) books with amazing worlds in them. Incredible creativity. Complicated plots and a host of characters. Bad, overwhelming enemies. Everything a great adventure would need.

Except they didn’t draw me in.

Their way of telling the story was just that: Telling.

Nothing else. No showing, no glimpse of the characters’ inner side, no personal growth, nothing to get me involved.

And it hurts. That is the Pain in the title.

It hurts me to see that much creativity wasted. To see all the effort that went into publishing that book spent in vain – because the author is not allowing me as reader inside the story.

It’s about as entertaining as watching a silent movie without subtitles. The characters go through the motions of the tale. They move across the landscape, they get into fights, they  have arguments, they may kiss and hug, and at the end they might even win – but it’s all hidden behind a glass panel.

Lifeless.

I, as reader, can only watch.

I wish I could teach those authors how to connect with their characters. How to limit their tale to one main character – or three – and make those come alive in my heart. How to show me why those people should matter to me.

I wish, with all my heart! I love stories.

Please, please, dear authors, look at how bestsellers work. Look at how some authors grip their readers by the heart and don’t let them go until the book ends. Please do not script silent movies and leave out the feelings. Practice and grow and learn.

And then rewrite those lovely tales you created, reuse those awesome worlds, grab those characters, breathe life into them and write a real story.

It is doable. It can be learned.

Please.

Image Source: F. Moebius

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Does this resonate with you? Write a comment.

PS: I do coach writers. (The link is Writers’ Dream Coach, up in the menu bar.) Until now I didn’t feel the urge to coach writers on the actual craft of story telling. I may have to change that approach, though. Please let me also know what you think about that.

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Flash Friday: Version 2.0

First step: Reset.

It wasn’t easy to wipe the slate clean. So much had happened, so many things had accumulated. It was hard to let all of that go, because there was good among all that bad. For eons he had tried to save that good, to clear out all the bad that was accumulating, but in the end it was obvious he needed to start over with the program.

Cleansing didn’t take long. The tools had always been available: Conquest, War, Famine and Death, leading up to Armaggedon as the final wipe. At least here, the program worked beautifully.

Second step: Create New Version.

Freed of the laden past, he reworked the program, weeded out bugs and added more safety features. Finally, he was ready. The program was uploaded, all tests had come up well. This time, it would work out, he was sure.

Final step: Run the Program.

“Let there be Light.”

 

Comments?

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Flash Friday: The Dancer

This one was written for a December Challenge – so it’s a little mushy.

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Dancer

“Mom, I want to be a star.”

The woman sighed and looked down at the girl holding her hand. “You have to wait until you grow up, you know.”

“But, Mom, Ashley is a star already. I want to be famous like her.”

“Honey, you’re not a dancer like her.”

A little creature hovering in the air above them gently shook its head. “Yes, she is”, it whispered. Then it aimed a blowgun at the little girl. A heartbeat later, the dart hurled through the air.

“Ouch!” The girl rubbed her neck, wiping away the dart with that motion.

Suddenly, her feet began to twitch. Then her arms spread out of their own accord. The little girl started to dance, at first a little clumsily, but soon she felt her way into the steps and became more graceful. She twirled and whirled until she reached the end of the path. People stopped and applauded when she finally came to rest on a bench. She bowed and smiled to them, while her mother stared with her mouth hanging open.

“I’m a star!”

High above them, a little winged creature giggled.

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