Archive for August, 2010

The Fates to Guide

Prompt: the esthetic of lostness

When the sandstorm was finally over, Anders stepped out of the copse of trees and looked around. He blinked in surprise as he realized he had no idea which direction they’d been traveling in when they arrived. The winds had changed the landscape into something wholly unrecognizable.

“It’s sort of pretty, in a way,” Josiah said. His brows furrowed. “Which way do we go?”

“I was wondering the same thing,” Anders admitted. He smiled faintly and said, “We’re lost and yet, somehow, I don’t much mind.”

“Well,” Josiah said, frowning. “It’s not scary and… everything looks so different, it’s like the sandstorm plucked us up and dropped us someplace else.”

“Which way is Kaatslund from here?” Ephsie said, blinking in shock. She looked horrified when Anders and Josiah both shrugged.

Anders smiled. “We’ll get there… eventually,” he said. Lifting his pack into place on his back, he said, “For now, let the Fates guide our steps.” As they set out, Anders couldn’t help but smile. Yes, there was something beautiful in being lost, but there was more beauty still in being found.

On Pilgrimage

Prompt: where people go

Anders sighed softly. The sandstorm was still raging around them. It seemed they wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. He glanced over at the girl they’d rescued. Her eyelids were fluttering. He sat up and watched her a moment longer.

She woke with a gasp and looked around. “Oh,” she said, when she noticed Anders.

“We found you, collapsed in the sand,” he said. He tilted his head to one side. “Are you feeling better now? Feel dizzy at all? Any pain?”

“My… head hurts a bit,” the girl said, blinking at him. “Thank you, I suppose,” she added. “Are you on your way to Kaatslund?”

Anders shrugged. “We could be,” he said. They weren’t traveling with a specific destination in mind. Kaatslund seemed about as good as any other place. “Why do you ask?”

“Everyone seems to be headed there. It’s a popular place to make pilgrimage to,” she said. She smiled and held out her hand. “I’m Ephsie, by the way.”

“Anders,” he said, taking her hand. “What about you, Ephsie, were you on your way to Kaatslund?”

“Aren’t we all?” she replied, smiling.

Unexpected

Prompt: without sense of time lost

Anders settled down in the cover of the trees with a sigh of relief. “I was afraid we wouldn’t make it,” he said, shaking his head.

“Me too,” Josiah said. He shook his head and growled. “That sand got into everything! It’s so itchy!”

Grimacing, Anders looked at Marcus. “How is he?” he asked, looking at the person they’d rescued. He noted the soft features and the gentle curves of the body and blinked in surprise. Then he said, “Rather… how is she?”

“I think she hit her head,” Marcus said, as he finished settling her in. He frowned. “What’s a little thing like her doing all the way out here?”

“Hopefully,” Fiona replied, “that’s something we’ll learn when she wakes.”

Anders merely nodded in agreement. It remained to be seen if the girl would even wake. Besides her concussion, there was no telling how long she’d lain out in the sandstorm. Anders prayed the Fates would protect her.

Sandstorm

Prompt: wanderer broken down before the wind

Anders squinted against the wind that was stirring sand and dust up from the roadway. “Should we seek shelter?” he called, glancing back at the others.

Josiah was clinging to Marcus, hiding his face. His ears were pinned and his tail was curled between his legs. Fiona was covering her face, except for her eyes. Marcus was the only one who seemed unbothered by the wind.

“There may be shelter in those trees up ahead,” he said, pointing ahead of them.

Anders nodded and turned back the way they were walking. He nodded and pressed onward. He stumbled and fell with a startled cry. When he turned around, he saw a huddled form, half-buried in the sand.

He brushed off the sand and called, “Marcus! Help me out here!”

Soon, they had the person up off the ground and they were moving towards the copse of trees that Marcus had spotted. They could check their patient better when they weren’t fighting against the wind.

The First Report

Prompt: the whole unvisited world

Yori looked into the first crate and his eyes widened. He found a rolled up report right on top. It read like a journal or travelogue, detailing all the places that Anders had seen since he’d left the Gardens. Occasionally, a line would be highlighted. These lines referenced trinkets that Anders had picked up.

A faint smile touched Yori’s lips. He was glad to see that Anders wasn’t simply wandering around feeling sorry for himself. He was doing just what Yori had asked of him: exploring the world and reporting what he found back to Yori.

“How long do you think it’ll take him?” Rune asked, opening a second crate. He smiled at the contents. “We could open a museum to exhibit everything he sends back.”

“That would be a wonderful idea,” Yori said, nodding. He lifted a woven blanket out of the crate and admired the intricate design for a moment. “How long do think it would take anyone to explore the whole world, Rune?”

“He’ll be at it for a while,” Rune said. “Trying to teach him a lesson?”

“I’m hoping he’ll learn something,” Yori said, shrugging. A faint smile touched his lips and he added, “But I’m really just giving him a fresh start. No one out there knows what he did, unless he decides to tell them. He’d… never really be happy here, Rune. Not after what happened to Clara.”

Rune nodded. “You are, by far, the sneakiest captain of the Snow Lions,” he said. Yori chuckled softly and looked away.

The sweet sound that calls

Prompt: the call of sea, stars and sky

“What made you want to travel?” Anders said, looking over at Marcus. Of the four of them, he seemed to be the only one who’d chosen a life on the road. “Were you seeking adventure or was it something else?”

“I grew up in a little town,” Marcus said. He shook his head. “After a while, it got to feeling cramped – like I could never really be myself there. I felt like I needed to see everything, so I left.”

Anders nodded. “Sometimes, people will leave the Gardens and go out to sea,” he said, his eyes getting a far away look, as if he were seeing those young people setting out on their ships. “It’s said that they hear a voice calling to them on the wind and they need to find out what it is.”

Say What?

Prompt: grin like a dog

They were walking along the sidewalk in front of the row of houses. It was early yet. People were just beginning to stir. Anders heard a call from above and then a splash as water hit the ground and splattered across the back of his cloak.

He turned to see Josiah. His ears were pinned and his tail was lashing angrily. He was soaked. The water had just missed him. Josiah had not been so fortunate. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“No,” Josiah wailed. He shook himself, sending water in all directions. Marcus chuckled, earning a glare. “I’m soaked to the skin and you stand there, grinning like a dog! What’s so funny?”

“You – you shook off,” Marcus said, waving at him, as if it were obvious.

“I’m wet!” Josiah replied, his tone petulant.

Fiona hid a laugh and said, “Grinning like a dog?”

Josiah sighed. “You might say… like a fool?” he ventured.

Anders smirked. “We might,” he said. Clearly Josiah was even more feline than he appeared to be.

Making Plans

Prompt: where we will, we’ll roam

“Did you have any specific destination in mind?” Marcus said, his brows furrowing slightly.

Anders arched a brow at him. “My task is to see the world, Marcus,” he said. A faint smile touched his lip and he waved at the open road. “South,” he said, “We go south and, what we see, we see.”

“That’s a no,” Fiona said, smiling. She looked at Marcus. “Have you heard of anything in the south that you’d like to see?”

Marcus looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he smiled. “We’ll know when we get there, I suppose.”

A Meal for the King

Prompt: Off the beaten path I reign

“What made you think you could trespass on my lands?” a low, dangerous voice said. A tall, broad form stood, blocking their path through the narrow canyon.

Josiah gave a small cry and ducked behind Marcus, who drew his sword. Knives seemed to appear out of nowhere in Fiona’s hands. Anders arched an eyebrow. “Your land,” he repeated. “How very interesting. What, pray tell, do you call this land of yours?”

“Mine!” It stepped into the light and Anders realized it was an ogre. “I am king here. I eat all who pass through my land.”

“Well,” Anders said. “We don’t want to be eaten, so perhaps we should leave.” He gave a mocking bow and said, “Your majesty.”

Not There Yet

Prompt: longer ways to go

“Why’d they send you on this mission anyway?” Marcus asked, as they made their way through a forest. “I mean… see the world? Report back on what you find? That’s sort of a tall order for one person.”

“I suppose,” Anders said, nodding. He shrugged and gave Marcus a wan smile. “Captain Hummel felt I needed a change of scenery. Things… happened and I was partially to blame. My own actions brought about the death of a woman for which I cared very deeply.”

“A change of scenery is going to change nothing,” Fiona said, her brows furrowing. “The woman is still dead.”

“It’s given me a new perspective,” Anders said. His eyes lost focus for a moment and he added, “It also gave me a chance for a fresh start. I can… leave my guilt behind.”

“Have you?” Josiah asked, his ears twitched and he tilted his head to one side. “Have you left it behind yet?”

“Not quite,” Anders admitted. “It’s sort of a work in progress.”