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)

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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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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 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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