October 30

Fictober, Prompt 30 – “I’m with you, you know.”

Warnings: general weirdness, brief mentions of stabbing and beheading, but nothing graphic. Fantasy of some sort.


I passed down an old road.

Once, I would have done so alone.

I wished that it were still so.

“I’m with you, you know,” he reminded me from behind. “I will always be here.”

“Not always,” I said. “I know of always, and you do not.”

“I have the means to follow you no matter where you go, or how you may try to escape.”

“For now,” I agreed. Already, long years had passed, and thus far his words had been true. I had given up attempting to escape or evade him. No matter what power or path I tried, by the next night, he always dogged my trail once more.

Acceptance had given me patience, and strength. I had not stopped looking for a way to sever the connection, just as he had not ceased to try and destroy me.

I was not indestructible, none of my kind were, but the means to end my existence would never be within his grasp. He had corrupted his own soul to gain the power for this…this leash. The power that he would need to destroy me had to be gained by other means, ways now closed to him.

Perhaps if I told him this (if he believed me), he would go away.

But I was cruel, and since he tormented me, I had chosen to silently torment him. At the end, he would know that all of this had been in vain, and despair. But only when I could be free of him.

He would not have believed me, in any case, though lies had never once passed my lips.

That was why all the others I had met, those who did have the power and will to destroy me, had never done so. We spoke, and they let me pass on, walking the old roads as I had always done.

I was older than humankind, and no friend to any. But that was not always the same as being an enemy, and my sustenance I could take in various ways. That this human did not understand that there were differences in my kind, just as in his own, was another mark against him.

This road, this was one of the oldest. I did not allow myself to hope that what awaited us at the end of it might allow me to be rid of him for good. I had had such hopes before and been disappointed.

But I would continue to walk this road, and the others, and he would follow me unwittingly, unlearning, uncaring, and long forsaken of the chance to have been something more than he was.

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October 25

Fictober, Prompt 25 – “I could really eat something.”

Warnings: off-screen eating of carrion? Fantasy. With dinosaurs. Because I can.

(I’m a bit late tonight, this one wanted to get away from me.)


As we got closer, it became obvious that the large mound ahead was what remained of a dead frill-horn.

Very obvious. A brief whiff made me gag, cough, and pinch my nose as soon as I could to block out even that bit of stench.

Below me, I could sense White-Eye’s opposite reaction. She lifted her head, deliberately sniffing the air.

I could really eat something, she told me hopefully.

“Okay,” I told her, “but maybe let me down here? I’m going to stay back.”

Obligingly, White-Eye bent her strong legs and lowered herself down, letting me clamber out of the minimal saddle strapped over her hips before rising and making her way towards the carcass with long strides.

I smiled fondly after her, still holding my nose, and retreated upwind. There was a small rise nearby that would give me a good vantage point on the surrounding area, so I made for that and put a simple barrier spell before settling down for a stretch and a rest. Most predators would smell White-Eye on me and were willing to respect her judgment, but there were always a few who didn’t care. More importantly, it would also temporarily stop any of the large plant-eaters, who tended to wander around without paying too much attention to what was happening down around their feet.

For a little while, I watched White-Eye eat (a somewhat terrifying process that was better viewed from a distance), but she seemed content enough, and unbothered by the smaller predators swarming the carcass. Soon, the warm afternoon sun had me yawning; we had walked most of the night and all day today. White-Eye was in no danger, and the barrier would warn me in plenty of time to do something about it if anyone approached me, so I let my eyes drift closed.

The sun hadn’t moved too much when I woke, feeling a familiar tremble in the earth from heavy footfalls. I adjusted the spell to expand and cover White-Eye as well as she lowered herself next to me, and forced myself to shift around, tucking up against her side near a small arm.

You are well? She asked, her voice sleepy as she turned her head to peer at me, the patch of white around one eye contrasting brightly with her mostly-dark hide in the sun.

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October 23

Fictober, Prompt 23 – “You can’t give more than yourself.”

Warnings: implied violent deaths? Nothing onscreen. Fantasy, rural fantasy if that’s a thing. Not quite midwest gothic, but leaning that direction.


Abby paced, agitated and upset, and I could only watch, sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of hot cider to warm my hands. Hers sat abandoned across from me.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said again, stopping only to stare out the window at the rapidly darkening corn fields. “And I’ve got to decide soon, the ritual is in three hours.”

I frowned down at my mug, lips pressed together. I didn’t like the group she was part of, especially the man leading it, but just because she was my sister didn’t mean I could interfere. She had to make her own decisions.

“I’ve learned so much already,” she said, back to pacing. I nodded, still frowning at my mug. That much was true; Abby had been able to harness her strange powers much better, with better control, than she had before, and that was certainly a boon for all of us. It wasn’t that I thought the group was all bad, but something about this ‘ritual’ of theirs made me uneasy. It was supposed to be some cross between a final exam and a party, the leader had told her several weeks ago, a chance to use their new skills and boost their power, and then celebrate.

“I’m not going to tell you what to do,” I told her, my first words in quite some time. She stopped pacing, sighed, and came back to the table at last, reaching out a tentative hand to cover mine where they still clutched at my mug.

“I know you don’t like any of it,” she said.

I shrugged. “You’ve learned a lot, like you said. I don’t like the sound of this ritual, but what I don’t like even more is that you’re not sure about it. That’s the thing you should pay attention to, not what I think.”

Abby blew out a breath and sat back. “I guess you’re right. It’s probably all your fault that I’m feeling weird about it anyway.”

I shrugged again.

“But…I don’t know. Something about it, about the way Master Barrett talks about it sounds a little, well, strange,” she admitted. “Like the sequence of events sounds fine, and it’s fine when the rest of us talk about it, but when he does, it’s just…”

“Which words he uses?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she said, frowning at me now. Not angry, more thoughtful. “Yeah, something like that.”

I grimaced again, but held my tongue. That was one of the things that had sparked my intense dislike of ‘Master Barrett’ shortly after he’d wandered into town several months ago. He’d soon set up camp in the Dirksen’s pole barn and offered to teach those who needed teaching in magical things, and soon enough everyone was chattering about him as though he were the best thing since sliced bread. But whenever I listened to him speak, I couldn’t help but hear double-meanings in his words, and I didn’t like it.

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October 22

Fictober, Prompt 22 – “We could have a chance.”

Warnings: pursuit, implied creepy things. Urban fantasy.


Our footsteps pounded down the alley, echoing too loudly from the old brick walls. There was no way we could avoid pursuit, but my heart sped even faster than the exertion at the thought of the noise giving us away. We had gained a small lead, at least.

Cass skidded to a halt ahead of me as we neared the end of the alley. The buildings gave way here to the street and then the river and dam beyond. I stopped also, and we panted for a moment, staring at the open space ahead.

That was not safe either.

This was a small town, though, not a city with plenty of tall buildings and potential hiding places in between.

Behind us, the sounds of pursuit echoed suddenly loud down the narrow way.

Cass’s head jerked around, eyes wide with terror. I didn’t look, my eyes stuck on the river.

The river. The bridge.

“We could have a chance,” I said quickly, hearing Cass draw in a ragged breath. I would have to take a chance of my own, but I could accept that. “We have to get to the bridge.”

Crossing the open space would leave us vulnerable, but as I began to let my other senses stretch, I thought that most of the pursuit was behind us, fast approaching.

Cass nodded, and I said, “Go!”

We both took off again, breath just barely under control from our last sprint. Human shouts and footsteps mingled with other, less identifiable noises behind us, but they hadn’t been expecting us to make a break for it.

The bridge, I thought, willing us both to have enough energy. The bridge.

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October 21

Fictober, Prompt 21 – “Change is annoyingly difficult.”

Warnings: magical battle, slight creepy imagery.

Fantasy follow-up to Day 2 and Day 9 (starts immediately after #9).


It was large, amorphous, and colored with a sickening swirl of unpleasant greens and reds and oranges. It looked like something that should have oozed over the ground, but instead it was fast, and the discordance jarred my head worse than the colors.

The creature came straight for me, scarcely seeming to notice the kami.

She intercepted it before it could reach my shields, cutting off a reaching, gooey arm with a sword made out of light.

The thing screeched in pain and drew back, only now seeming to focus itself (did it even have eyes?) on the deity standing before it. Still, it did not move to strike her, but squirmed sideways, working towards me again.

I sent out a blast of my own power, dark and heavy, aiming for another multicolored arm.

The magical punch struck home, and did some damage, but this time the creature shrieked in rage rather than pain.

I was the target of its malice, clearly. Because I was human? What did that mean?

The kami went on the offensive now, darting forward with her shining blade, her sword strokes fluid and practiced as she hacked off piece after piece of the strange, magical flesh. Some of the pieces quickly reattached themselves, while others wisped away into nothing.

Now it did strike back against her, but either it was unable to touch a deity, or her own magical protections were strong enough to fend it off, for she sustained no apparent wounds. Slowly, she drove it back.

I followed as close as I dared, sending my own magic in whenever I could get a clear shot. I doubted that my strength would do much to touch a kami, but I did not wish to hit her, even by accident.

As we pressed closer to the river, the thing seemed to temporarily regain some strength, surging up larger again, as if drawing form and power from the area where it had originated. I could almost tell what the kami meant about its power having a weird taste; it wasn’t quite that, not for me, but the smell of the air was strange here, a swampy miasma where there should have been only forest and rock and river.

Still the kami pressed it, relentless.

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October 20

Fictober, Prompt 20 – “You could talk about it, you know?”

Warnings: none. Fantasy.


I traced the last rune and watched as the energy poured down into the mixture bubbling on the stove. It looked good so far, the color was shifting from brown to orange the way it was supposed to, and I’d double-checked all the ingredients three times, so it should—

Something in the magic twisted, and whole pot flared briefly orange, and then faded into a distinctly unappetizing gray.

I cursed at length, spinning away from the stove and trying not to stomp along the floorboards like a petulant child.

“Still having trouble?” a voice asked from the doorway, and I glanced over to find Nkiru standing there before turning my head sharply away. I thought she had gone out; I didn’t want her to see me like this.

I didn’t want her to know that anything was wrong at all, but it had been impossible to hide for long with the two of us sharing the house right now.

Nkiru sighed and came over to wrap a dark-skinned arm around my shoulders, squeezing a little. I kept my head turned and tried to accept the comfort for what it was. She was open with physical affection and while I was discovering that that could be nice, I was…not used to it. Not after living on my own for so long.

“You could talk about it, you know?” she said softly, voice warm and understanding.

I squeezed my eyes shut tight against the sudden threat of tears. Kindness made this harder, somehow, but I couldn’t bring myself to shrug her off and turn away.

I shook my head. I didn’t think I could stand to talk about it. Not with my latest failure still simmering on the stove, smell becoming fouler with each passing moment.

She squeezed gently once more and then let me go when I turned away to move the pot off the heat, replacing it with the kettle. No sense in having gotten the stove going for nothing, and tea sounded appealing. At least all my non-magical cooking still went smoothly, which was just as well, because Nkiru wasn’t very good at it.

“Maybe it is a curse,” she said.

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October 19

Fictober, Prompt 19 – “Yes, I admit it, you were right.”, Original Fiction

Warnings: none. Fantasy, follow-up with Day 3′s raven friend.


On the fifth magical blast, the last of the Constructed soldiers finally fell apart and dissolved into black dust.

Lowering my hand, I panted, gulping in enough air to get my breath under control. I couldn’t risk speaking an incantation incorrectly, but I had to be sure there weren’t any more of them in the area.

When I was sure I could speak steadily, I enacted a magic-seeing spell and then turned slowly in a circle, watching for the cloudy glow that would mark the presence of an active spell or magical being (including Constructs of any kind) for at least a mile around.

It was a relief to come back to my original position having seen nothing.

I let the spell collapse, and staggered off the road just enough to be out of sight before putting my back to a tree and slumping to the ground, all the strength going out of me now that the danger had passed. It would take food and rest before I would be able to manage that kind of magical battle again.

The soft displacement of air by feathered wings was sufficient warning, and I did not open my eyes as my companion dropped out of the trees and landed on my shoulder. The raven croaked in an inquiring way, nibbling at my sweat-soaked hair.

“I’m fine,” I told her, summoning the energy to reach a hand up and gently stroke her chest feathers. She switched her gentle nibbling to my finger, then croaked again.

“Yes, I admit it, you were right,” I said, laughing a little. “That was definitely the best place to set an ambush for them.”

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October 17

Fictober, Prompt 17 – “There’s just something about them.”

Warnings: none. Urban fantasy.

It turned out that this was a continuation of Prompt 13, which I was not expecting. I really like this world though!


With that specific group of United Wizards Legion members thoroughly removed, thanks to the help of my new…friend from elsewhere, the next few days were calmer than I had anticipated. There were more of them out there in the world, but this loss would be a blow to their group, and this had been the most immediate threat.

We were lying low at my small house in Oak Hill outside the city, which mostly consisted of trying all the different foods we could find take-out for, and me buying new subscriptions to both the electronic and magical entertainment services so that we had something to fill our time other than the internet. The former was more than I anticipated, and the latter was probably a bad idea, since it wasn’t going to give my friend the most realistic view of things. Still, he seemed almost as interested in how the technology and magic worked (sometimes separately, sometimes together) as in the content of the shows and movies we watched.

On the second day, I made the mistake of saying, “Um, is there something I can call you? A name, or title, or anything?”

He blinked those human-but-not eyes at me, then smiled. (Like his laughter, it made my spine crawl, but…not in a bad way? Or maybe I was just getting used to the feeling.) “My native tongue is not one that humans find easy.”

I almost said, “Try me,” but managed to hold my tongue. For now. I was pretty good with languages.

“But,” he went on, looking thoughtful, “I would be happy to pick a human moniker, if that would suit.”

“Sure,” I agreed, and then promptly made my second mistake by introducing him to a few baby name sites on the internet.

“Are you sure that I cannot use Enguerrand?” he said after I had fervently vetoed his first half-dozen choices. “It has such a nice resonance to it.”

“What does that even mean? Never mind,” I shook my head when he opened his mouth to explain. “You’re trying to blend in a bit, right? If I’m going to call you by this name in public, then it can’t be too unusual.”

“I suppose you are right,” he sighed, and eventually settled on Alexander, to my relief. I was never going to be able to think of him as an “Alex” or otherwise shorten the name, but at least it wouldn’t sound weird.

Grocery shopping on day four was an experience.

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October 15

Fictober, Prompt 15 – “That’s what I’m talking about!”

Warnings: none. Fantasy of sorts.


“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Nadia called to me as we ducked low over our mounts to avoid the vegetation hanging low over our heads. Our mounts continued to pace forward steadily in spite of the thick foliage. “We can’t just ride up like this and assume we’re going to receive a warm welcome!”

I waved off her concerns, careful not to grin. We probably weren’t going to receive a warm welcome…that was half the point. The other half was to make a statement.

No one was going to ignore two riders who had managed to tame mounts like these.

Of course, “tame” might not be quite the right word. The pair stopped, necks stretching out as their heads swiveled, looking and smelling for something that had caught their attention.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Nadia whispered fiercely, careful not to disturb whatever potential prey had been spotted.

I did grin this time but leaned forward and touched the back of my mount, the bigger female. “Maybe later?” I asked, cajoling. “We did eat just a couple of hours ago.”

Her head turned slightly so that one large eye could stare at me. The look seemed more reproachful than irritated, which was a good sign.

“I promise we’ll find you some good hunting grounds when we get there,” I promised, raising my voice so that the male could hear too. It wasn’t clear exactly how well they understood me, but they weren’t unintelligent creatures, and talking to them seemed to be working well so far. “It’s good land, and we are coming to help.”

The female blew out a breath, relaxed out of her alert stance, and paced onward. I smoothed a hand along her thick scales next to my saddle in thanks and reassurance. Her mate followed without question.

I was hoping, if we could get settled outside the city according to plan, that there might be some little ones too, at some point. It wasn’t mating or nesting season now, fortunately, but it wasn’t too many weeks away. I was glad that mated pairs stayed together year-round, though, as it made this much easier.

“Well, at least they listen to you,” Nadia grumbled, but I saw her giving the male a surreptitious pat as well. Secretly, she loved them as much as I did, but felt that one of us needed to be “sensible” about it.

“It will be fine,” I told her, grinning again, and it would be. The city might not be excited to see us immediately, but once I explained and we four proved ourselves as a team, they would let us stay.

After all, who was going to turn down a pair of tyrannosaurs as gate guardians?


(RIP, Victor Mílan)

October 13

Fictober, Prompt 13 – “I never knew it could be this way.”

Warnings: none, I think? Slight creepiness, urban fantasy.


It wore the shape of a young man, though the pupils in its eyes were not quite round, and its teeth just a little bit too sharp.

It grinned at me. “Have I gotten it right?”

“Pretty close,” I said, and explained about the eyes and the teeth. Something in my vision rippled, and now it looked like a perfectly normal human was standing in front of me.

“And now?” It asked, with another smile. I nodded. “Very well. What next?”

“Follow me,” I told him – it – and turned to leave the clearing. I sensed its hesitation, but heard footsteps following.

I was taking a chance, turning my back on it, but it seemed more pleased than upset at being summoned, and I thought that it probably wouldn’t try to rip through the binding spells just yet.

It could, I suffered under no illusion about that. I hadn’t meant to summon something quite this powerful, but this had been the creature that answered, and I’d had no choice but to proceed with my plans. I was just fortunate that it was amused for now.

We crossed out of the woods and back into the town. I kept going, heading for my car, grimly intent on my goal, and didn’t realize that it was no longer following me until I was a dozen paces away.

The look of…was that surprise? Wonder? Curiosity? Whatever the expression was, it was not something I had expected to see on the face of something like this being.

Yet there it stood, looking up the small-town street of houses and shops and streetlights, and the distant skyline of the city, examining them with every sign of interest.

“The last time I was on this world,” it said after another moment of observation, “it was nothing like this.”

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