October 12

Fictober, Prompt 12 – “What if I can’t see it?”

Warnings: implied violent death, implied eldritch horrors. Horror-flavored fantasy.


“Of course, the containment is in place!” The Head Sorcerer was clearly offended by my question, drawing himself up to his full, thin height and looking down his nose at me. “What did you say your credentials were?”

Keeping my face neutral, I held out the badge I had already shown to five different people to make it as far as the Head Sorcerer’s office. “I am an independent containment inspector, sent by Magistrate Susumu. I am making rounds of all the known Holding Places, doing a standard inspection, and I need to see the seals and locks myself.” I handed over the letter of command from the Magistrate before he could ask for it.

“Well, I’m sure this is all quite unnecessary, but seeing as Magistrate Susumu has commanded it, then we must comply.” He gave a put-upon sigh, tossing the letter back to me. I caught it deftly just before it slid off the edge of his desk and tucked it away in my robes. The Head Sorcerer grabbed a large ring of keys carelessly from a drawer, and stood, coming around the desk and sweeping out of the room without waiting for me.

I followed silently, noting the problems that would have to be entered into my report: unsecured keys, a dangerously arrogant attitude regarding the containment, and a failure to perform any basic magical verification as to the veracity of my person, my badge, or my letter of command.

I followed the Head Sorcerer down through the great stone building, and then further down still into the catacombs below.

Poor lighting, I noted, continuing my earlier list, unsafe levels of moisture on the staircase.

Perhaps that last was a little bit petty. Despite being only halfway through my tour of inspections, my tolerance level for authorities overly impressed with their own importance had rarely been lower. And a slippery staircase was never a good idea anywhere, much less one leading to a containment area, where one might conceivably need to move fast.

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October 10

Fictober, Prompt 10 – “Listen, I can’t explain it, you’ll have to trust me.”

Warnings: none? Brief space-related danger.


My breath echoed hollowly inside my helmet, and I kept it as slow and even as I could. Panicking now would do nothing to help retain the dwindling oxygen supply strapped to my back.

“Any luck?” I called over the comm. The systems I was looking at gave me hope, but the ship had been floating dead in space for…well, a long time. The wiring was intact, which was a good start.

A grunt was all I got back, and I rolled my eyes. “Arun.”

“There’s an SFOG,” he said, “seems to be intact.”

I let out a breath of relief and felt the worst of the incipient panic lift from my chest. “Let’s stay on our tanks for now,” I suggested.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “I’ve got at least three hours left, maybe more.”

“I think I’m about the same. That should be enough time to get us moving, and we can fire the SFOG at that point.”

“Which you’re going to do how, exactly? The reactor’s dead-cold. Suit’s not picking up any radiation from that direction, must have run out.” I could hear the frown in his voice; the ship had been drifting for a long time, but probably not long enough that all of the reactor’s fuel would have been consumed.

I pursed my lips, decided I wasn’t quite ready to explain yet, and certainly not over the comm. Arun was going to have a hard enough time accepting what I could do when he could see it for himself. “For now, we just need to get pointed in the right direction and get moving, so a burst should be enough. We can worry about steadier power and steering after that.”

“We’re only so far out of the debris field,” he warned, “but you’re right.”

“Check about the reactor?” I asked, buying a little more time. “I’ll come down to see the engines once I’m finished up here.”

“Yeah.” He clicked off, and I turned my attention back to the panel in front of me. I was going to have to give the engines a pretty good kick, but I did need a little bit of steering and diagnostic information first.

It was harder to do with gloves on, but I always made sure mine didn’t have the wrong kind of insulation in them, so the magic flowed out slowly but steadily into the discreet, five-finger port built into the control panel.

After ten, heart-stopping seconds of nothing, the screens around me winked into life.

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October 9

Fictober, Prompt 9 – “There is a certain taste to it.”

This is a follow-up to my Prompt 2 piece, and will make more sense in context.

Warnings: none. Fantasy.


We left the shrine and took a different path into the woods. Several hours’ rest and some food had restored my energy, so I felt up to the hike back over the hills toward the river.

A conversation with the kami had brought me up to speed on the situation, and I agreed with her assessment that it needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. The corruption that had weakened the high river path along the steep, rocky faces of the hills had begun to the north and was slowly spreading south.

The main path up to the shrine would be cut off soon, and I sensed that that fact, along with her dislike of whatever was causing the corruption, played a role in the kami’s urgency.

“Kamisama?” I asked as we wound through the trees on a trail almost too narrow to even be a deer trail. She had given me no name with which to address her, so I stuck to the respectful generic.

She must have found that acceptable, for she did not provide any name now either. “Yes?”

“How do you know that it is not another kami, or a demon?”

She was quiet for many paces, but said at last, thoughtfully, “There is a certain taste to it.”

“The power of it?”

“Yes.” She considered her words again. “Those like myself, I know. The youkai are distinctive in their power, and those that live here do not challenge me. The older earth spirits here have quite a different feeling, a different sense to them, and they are too…too vast for this, too old.”

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October 8

Fictober, Prompt 8 – “Can’t you stay?”

Warnings: none. Fantasy, with a snake friend.


I felt my tracking spell die as I climbed out of the culvert and scrambled up the dirt embankment that rose just outside the city limits. Cursing, I hauled myself up faster, and darted across the road and through the trees on the other side.

Coming to a halt at the edge of the huge field that suddenly stretched out before me, I quickly pulled the tuft of fur out of the pouch at my belt and crouched down to perform the spell again. It should still work, I had only nabbed the fur a short time ago.

The spell flared to life…and then promptly died again.

I stared at the fur, and then out at the field. Distance shouldn’t have been an issue, not at this range, and even if there were a lot of rats here, it should still have worked.

But, the tracking spells were not perfect, and a large number of rats might be enough to confuse it, especially if there were any that might be related to the one I had tracked.

I stared out at the field again in deepening dismay. How was I to find a single rat in this huge field without my tracking spell? I couldn’t just let it go. More people were falling ill by the day, and my searching had led me to that rat, specifically. I had to get my hands on it, or the illness was going to spread, and that inevitably meant that a lot of people were going to die.

I started running through the list of possible spells that I could use, wondering if there was any way I could modify the tracking spell sufficiently to get it to work—

Something moved, slithering, out of the corner of my eye, and I jerked my gaze down.

Along the edge of the grass came a snake, a large one, patterned light with regular dark patches down the length of its body, shading from nearly black to light brown.

Slowly, I crouched down.

The snake froze, clearly looking at me. It flicked its tongue once, but otherwise remained still.

“Ah, hello,” I told it in a soft voice, carefully reaching out one hand, letting magic spark low at my fingertips. “Would you be willing to help me, perhaps?”

The tongue flicked again, out-up-down-in, but the snake did not move.

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October 7

Fictober, Prompt 7 – “No, and that’s final.”

Warnings: none.


“No, and that’s final.”

This seemed unlikely to me, since he’d said the same thing yesterday, and the day before.

“Then why are you letting me come back to ask again? I know you’re more than capable of keeping me off your property if you wanted to.”

He narrowed dark eyes, glaring at me for pointing out this truth. “I don’t understand why you’re even coming to me in the first place.”

“You’re the only witch I know,” I answered. He had made it clear the first day that he was a witch, thank you very much, none of that ‘warlock’ business around here.

“This town is full of witches!”

“And I don’t know any of them,” I said, keeping myself steady. In spite of his mixed signals, I sensed that something about my problem had intrigued him. I just had to figure out why he didn’t want to get involved.

“You barely know me,” he was quick to point out, and I was forced to nod in acceptance of that truth. Still, he had heard my story, and hadn’t banished me forever from his doorstep, and that was more than I could say of anyone else.

Instinctively, I held my tongue and waited.

“Argh, fine!” he said after another long moment of stewing. “Fine, I’ll help. But you’re paying me half up front, and I’m not doing any driving. It’s not a good week for me to drive.”

“Agreed,” I said immediately, sticking my hand out to accept his bargain. His expression said he was already regretting it, but he shook my hand anyway, and gestured me inside for the second time.

“Curses aren’t my specialty,” he warned me. “I’m more of a potions kind of guy.”

“It’s not exactly a curse,” I reminded him, “and I think it might be a potion that I need.”

“Well, we’ll see,” he grumbled.

But I caught a glimpse of a smile on his face as he turned away, and let myself feel hopeful for the first time in quite awhile.

October 5

Fictober, Prompt 5 – “I might just kiss you.”

Warnings: None. Fantasy, smidge of romance.


“No, no, no, you cannot—” I cursed as the thick block of ice began to slip, the ice tongs not gripping it tightly enough.

Jumping back, I saved my foot from being smashed. It was only a small consolation as the ice shattered against the cold stone of the floor, and I contemplated the necessity of going back out into the freezing cold night to cut another piece. I was trying to carry pieces that were too big, but I was only going to have the energy to perform this spell once, and the larger the piece of ice, the longer it would last. My group desperately needed the help; we had several wounded and ill among us, and while this place could give us shelter, it was too cold to remain in for long.

Unless I could get this spell, with its thrice-cursed components, working.

Grimacing, I turned around to trudge back up the corridor, passing a handful of other shattered ice blocks along the way. If only I could carry the ice myself, or with magic, then I would be finished already. The touch of anything but metal would contaminate the ice for this particular spell, though, so it had to be with the tongs.

This time was my farthest distance yet, though, and I was close to the room where I wanted to place it. Maybe this time I could make it—

“Need this?”

Lost in my not-too-hopeful contemplations, I jumped at the voice ahead of me. It was Tamás, one of our fighters and certainly the strongest member of our group, and he was carrying…

He was carrying a block of ice even bigger than those I had managed, supported by the metal blade of a shovel underneath, and steadied by another pair of ice tongs on top.

“It’s okay as long as only metal has touched it, right?” he asked, hesitating. “The saw blade was metal, and I thought the shovel would be okay too.”

I spent half a second realizing what an idiot I had been for not thinking of that before the relief got ahead of my brain and I blurted out, “I might just kiss you!”

Tamás blinked, then raised an eyebrow at me.

I felt my face go red, and cleared my throat quickly. “I mean, thank you. I wouldn’t— I know you’re not— It isn’t—”

“It’s fine,” he cut off my increasingly meaningless attempts to explain myself. I was glad he was taking that very unplanned confession so calmly and got my mind back on track.

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October 3

Fictober, Prompt 3 – “Now? Now you listen to me?”, Original Fiction

Warnings: none especially. Fantasy, with a stubborn (but smart) raven.


“Would you please just help, for one moment?” I pleaded with the raven.

It was not actually my companion, of course, and was under no obligation to assist me. But it had been hanging around for several weeks now and had offered help on several occasions during that time. I’d thought that we had an understanding at least.

The raven turned its head and began preening a wing, ignoring me.

Taking a deep breath and blowing it out in frustration, I turned back to the rock wall in front of me. I was not skilled enough at rock climbing to make it up on my own, and rock was strangely resistant to magic for reasons I hadn’t been able to pin down. I could use magic to assist myself up…but only if I could get something physical of mine up to the top to use as an anchor for the spell.

Resigned, I re-tied the hook to the end of my rope and resumed my fruitless attempts to toss it up high enough to hook around a thin tree I could just make out at the top of the cliff face.

It was nearly half an hour later when I finally sat down, put my back to the wall, and buried my face in my hands. Tears of frustration welled threateningly in my eyes, and I tried to breathe through the emotion, knowing that it wasn’t helping. I needed to get up that wall, though, so I was stuck here until I could somehow get the rope to the top.

A slight whoosh of displaced air was my only warning before the raven was suddenly on the ground next to me, croaking softly and pecking at the rope where the hook was attached.

“Now?” I asked, lifting my head out of my arms to stare at it disbelievingly. “Now you listen to me?”

My hands were already moving to untie the heavy hook, though, being somewhat ahead of my mind in that moment. If the raven had decided to help after all, I shouldn’t question it.

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October 2

Fictober19, Prompt 2 – “Just follow me, I know the area.”

Warnings: None really this time. Fantasy, minor spookiness.


“Whoa!”

I backpedaled quickly as the path started to crumble beneath my foot. Well. That was a problem. Eyeing the ledge ahead, it didn’t look too stable either. I chanced a quick glance down at the river roaring a long drop below me, high and white with the early autumn rains.

Definitely didn’t want to go that way.

To my left, up the slope, was a safer bet, though I didn’t really fancy the idea of climbing the steep slope, thick with dirt and damp leaves underneath the clustering trees. I had thought the path I was on was a good one to keep following the river, no signs saying it was unsafe, but obviously that was no longer the case.

“Are you lost?”

My jerk of surprise pulled me left, fortunately, plastering my back to a damp tree trunk as I turned just enough to see who had spoken. There wasn’t supposed to be anyone else out here, not this far up from the falls.

The young woman standing on the path several feet back seemed normal enough: brown skin, straight black hair cut in a neat bob, and dark eyes, she was obviously from what had originally been a Nihon family. Her lack of accent told me she had probably grown up around here, though, or at least had been here for some time. Her clothes were unremarkable as well: jeans, sensible hiking boots, and a plain, tough-looking canvas jacket in dark green.

None of which explained why goosebumps had suddenly broken out across my skin.

“Um, a little,” I replied carefully. “I thought this path continued up the river, but it doesn’t seem safe now.”

Where had she come from so suddenly? How had she managed to avoid slipping in all the mud that I had on the way up? And was it coincidence that had brought her here just as I couldn’t go any further…or something more deliberate, and sinister?

A chill down my spine reinforced the goosebumps, and I did not take my back from the tree. I hadn’t paid any heed to the stories, people were always saying they’d seen something weird up in the woods, but now…

“In that case, follow me,” she offered with a small smile, “I know the area.”

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