Tag Archive | prompter: Cal

Spoils of War VII: Hostile

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender
Previous: Trail

Nikol was beginning to be a little sick of Aran’s attitude.  “I didn’t say, ‘get down there and hunt me some sewer alligator.’  If you don’t want to, we have stores enough that you don’t need to.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to!  Just that…” He trailed off, muttering.  “This is stupid.”

“It is,” she agreed.   “We’re not in safe territory.  Let’s save the fight for when we’re off in the countryside again, why don’t we?” Continue reading

Spoils of War VI: Trail

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender
Previous: Rest Stop

The horses seemed to be in good shape, well-rested and well-fed, and were willing enough to be loaded up and mounted.  Nikol did a final sweep of the building – someone might be able to tell the place had been occupied, if they looked closely, but they’d shoveled dirt over the coals and put most everything else back where they’d found it.

“You’re really worried, aren’t you?”  Aran was eyeing her sidelong. “I thought it was just, let’s get out of here, that sort of thing, but you’re really worried someone is going to come after you.”

“Us.”  She rubbed her arms and looked off over the destroyed neighborhood.  “Yeah. Yeah. I was fine fighting for money until, well. Until I saw what the Mountain did.  Then I tried to turn in my banner and leave. Merc, you know. You fight when you want to. But they wouldn’t let me.  So running, well. It’s the best option, but I still don’t really believe it will work.” Continue reading

Spoils of War V: Rest Stop

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender
Previous: House

Aran came down from the upstairs bathroom scrubbed, looking like another person.  He had even found a razor and cleaned up his scruffy beard to something that reminded her of a goatee.  “Guessing they left in a hurry.” He ran his hand through his hair. “Haven’t used anything like those soaps in a long time.  I smell like a funeral.”

“You smell like flowers.”  She stepped up close and sniffed his hair; he froze but didn’t complain.  “Well, like the chemical equivalent, at least. Not bad.”

He leaned down and sniffed her hair.  “You, too. Like one of those days in spring where everything is going crazy.” Continue reading

Spoils of War IV: House

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender
Previous: On the Road

The road was smooth, the horses were smooth, and every step was still jarring into wounds that Nikol hadn’t even realized she had until she mounted.

They traveled for half the day with no good prospects, both of them tight-jawed with pain neither of them were going to admit and not feeling much like talking.  They were moving through what had once been a suburb and was now a burned-out husk; from the looks of things, at least three separate fires had gone through here over the last several decades.  Nothing was left now except half of a convenience store, its plastic sign melted into a lump of green and white.

That wasn’t going to get them any food.  And the tiny gathering of people they found on the outskirts of town didn’t look like the sort that had much to give them, even if Nikol had anything she was willing to trade. Continue reading

Spoils of War III: On the Road

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender
Previous: Spoils of War II: Shelter

Their bed that night was not the most restful, but the horses made the cave plenty warm and exhaustion made the ground soft enough with the addition of stacked bedrolls.  She slept close to her prisoner, not because she was particularly fond of him, but because she would wake if he started to leave. And he was warm, too, the way men seemed to be.

She woke before he did and made a sort of porridge from the rest of the food in the saddlebags.  While the mush was cooking over the fire, her prisoner woke and sat up, groaning.

“You cheat,” he complained.

“What were you going to do if I didn’t order you to sleep?  Aside from sleep badly, I mean.” Continue reading

Spoils of War II: Shelter

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender

Their horses were tired but not injured; they were tired and they both had their share of injuries. They moved at a steady pace rather than rushing, doing their best not to look like they were running away.

Nikol heard Aran mutter Workings two more times.  The second time, the words trailed off into a string of cursing.

“Just a little while longer.”  The man had tried to hamstring her.  Still. “Just hold on a bit longer. It won’t do us any good to have survived that battle if we end up at the Mountain.”

“Aren’t the people running the Mountain your people?” Continue reading

Spoils of War I: Surrender

It was long past sunset when they heard the trumpet sound.  

Nikol didn’t let her guard down.  Just because the treaty had been signed didn’t mean the enemy would-

She spat out a Working as someone tried to hamstring her and kicked him in the face.  He must have good night vision – or, like her, know where everyone on the field was in a ten-foot radius.

She put her boot on his neck and spat out a couple more Workings, her blade poking into him where it would slip through his ribs and cut into his intestines if he got too rambunctious.  “Surrender,” she suggested.  Nobody else was moving.  She didn’t have to kill him.

The trumpet sounded again.  The man under her boot spat out something that was probably not a surrender.  “Prisoners of war go to the Mountain,” she told him, letting her blade break the skin.  “On the other hand, personal prisoners stay with their captors.”

“Not a prisoner,” he grunted.  He was not trying to get away, which was clever, but which also made her wonder what he was trying.   Continue reading

Under Water

This comes from a conversation I had with Inspector Caracal & Lilfluff on Mastodon. 

Content warning: Attempted murder.  


The school pool was empty, which meant, technically, Aelia should not have been in it.

She needed to swim off some stress, though, and she needed to make sure she was in decent shape when the match came.  They’d lost against Rotterville-Hampton the last three times, and that was just not happening again. Continue reading

A Fresh Start…?

Written to @inspectorCaracal‘s prompt: 

Waking up with no memories and a pamphlet explaining you have been given a fresh start in life


He woke.

He was in a room with a bed, a small table holding a suitcase and a bag, and a mirror; two doors and a window led out of the room.

He knew all those things, but he had no idea how he’d gotten there.

He had no idea who had gotten there.  Continue reading

The Magic Tree

Written to @InspectorCaracal’s prompt, also the title of this piece. 


The tree stood in the middle of a blasted wasteland, and the one thing that everyone agreed on was that it was magic.

Whether it had been put up by one of the last mages in the great wars as a way to heal the wasteland, or whether its creation had formed the wasteland, nobody could agree.  Whether it was a blessing or a menace, no two people concurred on.  And thus there were two paths through the wasteland, one that ran right next to the tree, and the other which wandered almost a mile away to avoid it.

The tree itself loomed over its own oasis, a small circle of greenery in the middle of an otherwise lifeless expanse.  It was easily over thirty feet wide at the base, and it loomed two hundred feet in the air.  And yet its lowest branches were easily reachable from the ground.  Continue reading