Happy Friday! Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who submitted.
First Place = Regar and Amandiell (US1) - 'The Dummy and The Diell, Volume 5'
Second Place = Viranda (US2) - 'The Viranda Chronicles: Chapter VIII'
Third Place = leonardoaqp (US1) - 'Did anyone see Prisma?'
By Regar and Amandiell
Chapter VIII: A Drastic Decision
Small leather boots hammered down on the cobblestone paths. Wagon wheels, merchants and fungi of various sizes thundered past. The child held onto the package, fear and panic etched across her round face. She held onto the brown leather package like life depended on it. In a way, it kind of did. She couldn’t let her father get a close look, as long as she kept it all wrapped she’d be safe. Then she could put it in her vault… Dad can’t get in my vault, I’ll be okay… she kept reassuring herself.
She ducked to the side as a large blue fungi hauling an overburdened trailer lurched past her. Unlike her, the Fungi was calm and steady, likely raised from a young age. It’s handler sat on it’s back on a small saddle, expertly guiding the massive beast through the dense crowd. She had to all but dive into a pile of boxes to avoid more people. I hate crowds. She grumbled and kept going.
Another wagon thundered past her, in her haste to evade it she rammed right into someone. “Hey watch it kid!” The man glared down at her, a shining red wizard staff clung to his back and he wore a distinct red and black robe.
“Sorry Sir!” She ducked her head and ran.
I can’t keep going on like this….She stopped and looked around. There! A tall pole stood in at the corner of the street, surrounded by large crates. If I could just climb up… She bolted, weaved through the crowd of blurred people and noises as she made her way to her goal. Clambering up onto the crates she scanned the constant eb and flow of bodies for a means of escape.
There! She spotted the edge of the crowd. 40? 50 feet away? 20?? I suck at this... She leapt down and made a beeline for the edge. Everytime she bumped into something, she apologized. She wound up apologizing to at least 7 crates and 2 barrels among the crowd by the time she stopped. Did someone just call me?The noise of the crowd blurred together in a mass of noise. The only distinguishable sounds to her were that of the music played by the minstrels at the corner. She shook her head and kept going. Almost there, almost there! She could see the edge now…
“VIRANDA!” Viranda leapt at he sudden shout and backed right into a giant blue fungi. It reared up and made a terrible, loud sound that drowned out the rest of the sounds of the crowd. Vira slammed her hands to her ears in a vain hope of shielding them from the sound. As the handler tried to get a grip on his mount, a large hand grabbed Vira’s upper arm and spun her around.
“Dad!” Her heart began to race harder.
“Vira! Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” His face was furrowed and red in anger. She ducked her head low.
“I can’t hear anything in this crowd!” I’m not lying and you know this…. Still she held her breath, he may get mad anyway.
“Vira I told you to be home by six. It’s almost seven!” He let go of her arm and held a hand to his head, as if to suppress a headache. Only then did Vira realize she wasn’t holding the package anymore.
“I’m sorry! The lines were long and I got lost!” She frantically scanned the ground. He kept his head in his hand.
“You. Got. Lost…. Of course you did…” There it is! She stooped down near a fallen crate and snatched the package just as he looked back up. He didn’t look pleased. He never did…. She couldn’t help herself… it was true.
“I’ll try harder to get done faster next time, I promise!” She held her breath.
“Just go home NOW!” He swung his arm in a wide arc to point to the house. Vira couldn’t help but flinch when he did, fearing a swift blow to the ear. She only nodded and bolted, the crowd, having heard her father, made a small path for her as she ran past.
She didn’t stop or slow down until she was in her room. She collapsed on her bed, heart racing, legs aching, breathing rapidly. It was only a few moments, but it felt like a forever until she could properly breathe again. She held up the package and slowly began to peel back the layers of leather and fabrics. There you are. She smiled, gazing at her little prize. Pristine and white like snow with a light blue trim. She held the pair up to look at them better. I did a pretty good job with these. She seldom had something she could be proud of, but these… these she made with her own two hands… for her own two hands.
The gloves were low level, sure, only 5, but someday she’d wear them properly. Her mind began to dance with the thought of running into battle, smashing in monsters faces with a morning star, healing any wound with a snap of her fingers…
A knock threw her out of her daydream.
“Vira? Are you in there?”
“Yes dad! Just a moment!” He can’t see these! Oh Shoot oh shoot oh shoot” She stuffed the gloves under her pillow just as he walked in. She felt sweat begin to form on her forehead.
“What were you getting in town?” His voice was cold and even. So not angry anymore, that’s good. For how long though?
She gestured to the fabrics and leathers that were now strewn on her bed. “I was just stocking up. A vendor had a sale and-“
“You won’t need Thornskin for a while yet.” He now stood by the bed, holding the leather in his hands. She gulped.
“Well, it was on sale so I thought I’d be prepared. I’ve been doing really well at tailoring so I thought it’d be a good idea.” She chose her words carefully, never knowing which one might set off his anger again.
His voice was cool and even still; “Well don’t get ahead of yourself. I want you to focus more on spells than anything else right now-“ He stopped. His voice seemed to have been caught in his throat. Vira followed his gaze and felt the ground drop out beneath her feet. Oh elders… He was staring straight at the pillow.
His face became more focused as he reached forward and grabbed the white fabric that lay beneath the old pillow. They were small but now looked even smaller in his large hands.
“Vira..” He slowly looked up from the gloves, meeting her gaze. His eyes, while a cold grey, burned like lava. “What are these?”
They’re for my friend! No. … I found them and was going to return them tomorrow! No he wouldn’t fall for that….
“VIRA” She startled, leaping back a bit. “I just asked you something.” His hand balled into a fist around the gloves as he took a step forward. “What. Are. THESE”
The room suddenly grew colder. Vira could see her breath in front of her face…
“I ….” Her voice was scarcely more than a whisper “I just wanted….” Her eyes began to water as her lip and voice quivered under the weight of her fears, sorrow and father gaze.
“You just wanted WHAT??? To be like her!?!? To go galavanting off like some pretend hero when you’re not?!??!”
“She was a hero and you know it!” Vira took a step and looked into her fathers eye’s in the short streak of boldness. His face contorted in raging fury and hers in desperate defiance.
“She left us behind! Why would you want to be like her? Why would you like to be like the one who abandoned EVERYTHING? For what? Thrill seeking? GLORY?”
“She was just trying to help and you know it!” Tears streaked down her face “She just wanted to help…” her voice broke into sobs. “You won’t even say her name anymore…”
His face twitched, his eyes locked on to her as she lowered her head and sobbed. Her body shook like an aspen leaf.
“Her name should never be spoken.” He whispered hotly “She deserves no recognition. Not after what she did! SHE LEFT US!” His fist shook and his face turned red. “I thought we had left that life behind us but she still clung on! She had you and I to worry about but NO she chose fame over her family!”
She looked up at him and opened her mouth to speak, but he didn’t let her.
“I thought you were finally past this pathetic nonsense. But you’re just like her. You leave me no choice.” He stomped over to her window and held his hand to it. Ice crawled its way from his palm across the dirty glass and beyond the wooden frame. He turned from the window and went straight for the door.
“NO!” Vira lunged forward to grab the knob before he could, but instead fell over her own feet and slammed straight into the wooden floor.
He grabbed the copper doorknob and it instantly began to freeze. “You want to be a priest like she was. You want to leave like she did. I’m making sure you can never leave again. Someday you’ll understand.” He slammed the door and she could hear the ice crackling along the wooden door and seeping under the door.
Vira just stared at the door, laying there with tears streaming down her face. She laid her head in her arms and cried, his words echoing in her head.
“You want to be a priest like she was. You want to leave like she did.”
“You want to leave like she did.”
“You want to leave”
You want to leave
She looked up and turned towards the window. Her mind began to race. That’s it. She stopped thinking. She began packing. She only grabbed one back and filled it with whatever she could. Her father had taken the gloves but not the materials. She packed some leather and fabric, a set of boots, blankets, pillows, a journal, pens, a sketchbook, one set of robes and pajamas. She reached up, took her Piggy Bank from the shelf and shook it out; 1 gold, 4 silver and 98 copper. Better than nothing…. She swung the bag onto her back, checked that her mothers necklace was still around her neck, hidden under her robe, and took a deep breath.
“Let’s do this.” She grabbed a staff from the corner of her room and readied herself. She lifted it high in the air and slammed it into the glass. The ice began cracking and the giant fire gem left a dent in the glass. She heard footsteps on the stairs. She swung again; the glass shattered into shards and covered her bed and window frame.
She lept over the pile of glass and dove out the window; She didn’t even bother to climb down from the roof this time, she simply jumped down on to the grass below and bolted. Her ankle burned with pain but she ignored it, making a beeline for the main square.
The sun was already down now and the merchant’s stalls were mostly gone, with only a few left standing. Wagons stood stoically in the streets, obediently awaiting the merchants to load them with supplies. The wagons! She scanned the crowd, searching, hoping to spot one that could hide her.
“VIRANDA!” Shoot. Hodr wasn’t far behind. Gotta hurry, gotta hurry! Her heart hammered against her chest. It felt as though it would burst out or suddenly stop. She reached the end of the street, near where the portal to Shiverspine was.
There! A small wagon with fabrics and trinkets sat in the road, the merchant was speaking to someone on the ground while he himself sat right behind two large blue fungi. Quietly, Vira snuck around them and came to the back of the wagon. She hoisted herself up onto the rails and dove beneath a pile of fabrics. Burrowing down till she hit the wooden bottom.
“VIRANDA!” Her father’s voice was muffled through the fabrics; she held her breath.
Time slowed to a crawl as she felt the air grow cold, even from beneath the fabrics. She heard the merchant and the other man discussing something with her father, but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. Suddenly her father’s voice grew angry. “In here…. Somewhere… Help me…” She felt the load on her back begin to lighten. He’s digging through the fabrics! He’ll find me! Horror struck her chest and a small squeak left her throat.
She clamped her hands down on her mouth and held as still as possible, ice cold beads of sweat formed on her face.
She heard the voices again; the merchant was mad, her father was mad, and the third man was trying to reason with them both in vain. It felt like it went on for hours until finally; the air grew warmer.
He left… She risked herself taking a small peak out from beneath her pile of protection. She could see the merchant shaking his head as his friend held a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m gonna get going before he changes his mind. I’ll be seeing you Paul.” The merchant turned from his friend and climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Alright, have a good one, Frank.” Paul waved to Frank as he lifted the reins to the fungi and clicked his tongue.
The wagon lurched and began to slowly rumbled forward. The sound of wooden wheels on cobbled stone grew louder as the wagon picked up pace. It gently rocked back and forth. Her breathing slowed and her eyelids grew heavy as Vira slowly began to succumb to sleep.
She was jolted awake only when she felt a tingling sensation, followed by a slight bought of nausea washed over her in a blue light. I’m finally leaving maiden! She felt a pang of fear. I’ve never left maiden before…. Before she could have another thought, bitter cold slammed into her full force. For a second she thought her father had caught up with the wagon. Instead she heard the crunching sound of ice and snow beneath the wheels and it continued on through the cold desert mountain.
She sat up a little as she peaked over the edge of the wagon; The mountains clawed and climbed high like dragons taking flight. Everytime she tried to move, she slowed down. The ice seemed to seep into her bones and she couldn’t shake it, no matter what. She looked to the merchant but he didn’t seem bothered.
She turned back to look behind the wagon and set her chin on the edge of the railing. She felt the gentle rocking of the wagon beneath her and began to drift off to sleep again. They began following a narrow mountain path; she looked over the edge and saw no bottom. Just snow .
A loud hiss erupted from a small ledge above them as a giant tarantula leapt down upon the wagon, knocking it to its side, spilling out much of it’s contents… including Vira. She felt nothing beneath her as she felt her insides lift up as she plummeted off the cliff into the snowy abyss.
Viranda, US2, "The Viranda Chronicles: Chapter VIII A Drastic Decision"