October 17

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

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 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 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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