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Sarah Otter

Mad Otter Games
A bit late, but still here! For those who celebrated it, hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! (I know I for one, am very thankful that it's over. ;))

Great entries last week! Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who submitted!

First Place = Blonde Moment (US1) - 'Birth via Gralla Seeds'
Second Place = Pavitr (US1) - 'Only Soulbound'
Third Place = Chisal and Lady Mordoria (US3) - 'Happy Thanksgiving'

Birth via Gralla Seeds by Blonde Moment

I hold the well-worn letter and read it again. I have two reminders of my parents that I
can touch and feel, this letter and the bracelet that my Da made for me. The bracelet I have
worn for as long as I can remember and the letter Granny gave me last year on my 11th
birthday before she left me in Pleasantville for a few months. I read it often and try to remember
their faces and voices and the way they smelled, but it fades more each day so I read the letter
that I know by heart and close my eyes and remember.

Dearest Granny Tanks,

It has been too long between letters. Leandra and I are safe and have established a
modest, nondescript living in a small village far away from Ardent City. Leandra has her garden
and works her alchemy quietly, but provides healing for the villagers nearby and has earned a
good reputation that garners us an extra layer of protection. I work at a local mine. It is hard,
honest work and I enjoy it. We wish you could be near, but understand why you have kept
away, maybe now we are settled enough to have you join us. Would you come stay with us?
Before you say a quick no I have wonderful news to share! We have welcomed our first child, a
blonde fireball with green eyes that light up a room. She has completely captured our hearts.
There is a story to her birth that I know you will appreciate.

Leandra has been a midwife at many births and I do believe had been working this idea
for quite some time. From the time we found out she was with child she started cultivating
different Gralla plants and studying the effects of the seeds. You know she is brilliant! And you
also know there have been blonde moments, as I like to call them, to her successes. Well this
‘blonde moment’ via Gralla seed led to an 8 pound newborn that quickly grew to 24 pounds
while my dear wife shrunk back to her normal size. Oh Granny how I wish you could have been
here! The laughter and tears and joy and....well fire! The Gralla seeds must have wakened her
gift as well and my latest project has been quarrying out a stone room with natural magical
defenses. Control for an infant...well...we are there a lot. I have been working with a jeweler on
a bracelet to dampen her powers until she learns control and then maybe we can venture out
more. At present we are quite tied to our humble home and are happy in that.
I hope this letter finds you well and I hope to see you soon.

All our love,
Markin, Leandra and our little ‘Blonde Moment’

I remember what happened the days before I met Granny Tanks, the last time I saw my
parents. I was 5 years old when my world changed forever. This day is burned in my memory
clouded only by ashes and embers floating through the sky and covering the ground.
Snap! Pffft! Followed by the small puff of smoke as another ant is burned to ashes, I
looked at my arm and still nothing. Snap! Snap! Snap! There it is! A single cut healed as the ant
falls prey to the flames. I practice a bit longer, increasing my control and healing more often
than I had yesterday. 1 out of 8 today and yesterday was 1 out of 10. A small smile of triumph
flashes across my face and I check to make sure all of my scrapes are healed before skipping
towards home. Following a butterfly, squishing a spider, singing with a bird, counting the legs on
a caterpillar, making a mud pie, baking it bone dry with fire, and...so very many things to do…

“Blonde!” My father’s voice boomed across the clearing!
“Coming Da!” I replied and do my best to focus on getting home as see that the sun had
set and the moon has risen and hear my belly grumble. Again I lose track of time in the sheer
wonder of our little place in this world.

I open the door to a crackling fire in the fireplace and heavenly smells rising from the
table. I breathe in the aroma deeply, reach unthinkingly for a steaming roll and feel the crack of
the wooden spoon my ma is holding as it rings across my knuckles.
“Wash your hands!” She exclaims with a firm smile on her mouth and a twinkle in her

“Yes, ma,” I absently reply, looking with longing at the rolls while quickly removing the
day’s dirt from my hands.

We all sit at the table and I manage to listen respectfully while sitting on my hands to
keep them from the wonderful food just sitting untouched on our table. I bow my head as Da
thanks our wonderful Maker for His provision, mutter an amen and wait for Da to start, then Ma,
then...Oh my! Ma is such a wonderful cook! They talk about the day while we all eat and then
Da says something I miss while working the last pieces of succulent meat off the bone on my
plate. Ma doesn’t answer right away and her face loses its laughter around her mouth and eyes.
They both look quickly at me then turn to each other, Da clears his throat and asks me about
my day. I wait a minute trying to focus on what I had missed then the wonderful memories come
flooding back and out my mouth and the moment is gone, lost in adventure and laughter.

Da comes in to tell me a story and tuck me in and he says he needs to go away for a
while to ‘take care of something’. He asks me to be brave and to mind Ma and to practice my
control and to have lots of stories to tell him when he returns. I want to tell him not to go but he
starts the story and I get lost in his tale of adventure. I get up in the morning and he is gone. Ma
and I look at each other, force a smile that later turns real as we enjoy each other even though
we are missing him.

A few days pass, and I am playing with the dishes before putting them away after super
and I hear a rustling outside, the front door softly opens and closes and my Da is in the doorway
with his finger against his lips. I squeeze mine together to stop the shout of joy at seeing him, as
his look of concern quells even my enthusiasm. He scoops me in his arms, runs me downstairs
into my magic practice room, puts me inside, takes off my bracelet, lays it on the floor and tells
me to close my eyes and count to 100. I can’t do anything else until I reach 100, we have played
this game so many times, the quiet game, the control game. I don’t want to play, I want to hold
him and hear about his adventures but he is so firm and the laughter is not in his eyes.

“You are beautiful. You are strong.” he whispers in my ear before he lets go and shuts
the door to my room.

I close my eyes and start to count. 1...2...3...I hear my Da and my Ma talking upstairs in
urgent sounding whispers...25...got to focus on counting...I hear banging on the door...35...36...I
hear loud footsteps...45...46...I hear my Ma scream and my Da shout...54...focus...55...I hear
the sound of metal on metal...68...69...70...I hear something large hit the floor...77...78... else
hits the floor...My Da shouts...84...85...Running across the floor...88...the door slams
shut...90...91...the door slams shut again...96...97...98...Screams and shouts growing farther
away...99...the door to my room opens and an ugly ant-like face stares at me and the ant-man
crawl-walks towards me. I cry out for my Da and Ma and neither comes, only the ant-faced
mean looking man who reaches towards me with pincer-fingers.

The room and my whole world erupts in flames. I hear my screams, I hear other screams
join mine, I hear the roar of the flames, I feel my flesh burn and heal. I smell burning hides,
wood, wool, herbs and flesh. My whole world is enveloped in the flames that consume all they
come into contact with, fueled by my fear. Ashes and embers are all I can see and feel, ashes
and embers, then nothing.

So cold, so dry, so empty and so very tired, I curl up tighter hugging my legs to my chest
afraid to open my eyes and too exhausted to open my eyes. I lay there unwilling to move and
drift off into a nightmare, wake up in a cold terrified sweat still afraid to open my eyes and I try to
find the oblivion of sleep, but the thirst. My tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth, my skin feels
withered and light and it takes too much effort to lift my head. I hear the crunching of boots
outside my room, far off at first and then closer until they stop next to me and I hear the pop,
crackle and snap that sound like old lady Clara that I took ointments to for her rheumatiz. I could
smell the ointment too and that familiar smell calmed me enough to try to open my eyes and my
mouth to try to speak, but nothing happened.

I hear more rustling, the opening of a canteen perhaps, the smell of water. Oh it had
never smelled so good, but try as I may I can not move. Then I feel the cool, damp cloth pass
gently across my face and the tip run across my parched lips. Mustering all of my strength I suck
on the cloth weakly drawing all the precious liquid I can from it. This continues until I finally
sleep again as I feel a coarse blanket cover my body and hear the striking of flint and the spark
of a fire starting.

I open my eyes and look across the dying embers of a fire and see a small older woman
lying across from me, watching me. They are the forest green of my Da’s eyes. Somehow I feel
safe and cared for as I stare into this stranger’s eyes that are so achingly familiar yet different
and new.

“Well now child it is about time ya woke! Now let’s get ya some warm broth and some
clothes I have set out for ya and ye can tell ole Granny Tanks what happened here!” the old
woman’s voice and tone are firm and clear.

And so we did. There is simply no arguing with Granny Tanks and I am still so weak I
don’t even ask why! Not even once! I sit up, drink what she hands me from her calloused,
gnarled, gentle hands. Put on well worn clothes that look like they are hers and smell of
rheumatiz ointment and lye soap. All black and gray with lots of pockets to hide treasures in. I
like Granny Tanks. She tells me that she is my Da’s Granny! And why she came and I tell her
what I remember, clutching the bracelet my Da had given me and holding back the words that
will let her know it is all my fault and what if I had burned my parents in the fire. My tears betray
me as they fall unbidden down my cheeks and she pulls me into her tiny lap and holds my head
to her chest and gives voice to all the reasons why it is not my fault. Including the one I had
thought of and am holding one to, my Da removed my bracelet and he knows more than anyone
what I would do if I got scared, how I would have no control in my fear. And he is right I had no
control and I don’t remember much that happened only the raw emotion of my own
overwhelming fear and loss. Without my parents there to comfort me and hold me and keep me

Granny doesn’t want to stay here any longer so later that morning she helps me onto
Winter Molasses, her horse, and hops up behind me and we head off searching for my parents
being very careful not to be seen by anyone. We do find tracks that led away from our home
that could be my parents along with so many more footprints. Many more headed to the house
than we see leaving the house and I think of all the ashes and embers and just hope that my
parents were not among those ashes and embers we left behind. Granny talks with people at
different villages while I stay back with Winter Molasses and tend to our camp. Set up or tear
down or provision making for our next travels, there is always a chore to work and something
needing done from sun up til sun down and the busyness and routine are good and keep my
hands busy. I still miss my parents so much I am surprised my heart does not split in two from
hurting so bad. My pack is often wet with my tears in the morning and Granny always makes
sure I have my bracelet on before bed. She has woke me from a nightmare too many times to
count and sometimes we are replacing food, blankets, clothes, anything I might burn during a
nightmare. The bracelet helps, it is just not always enough.

There are more adventures to tell and I will tell them if you care to listen. I am beautiful. I
am strong. I am Blondie the Fire Angel.

--Blonde Moment


By Pavitr


By Chisal and Lady Mordoria


Royal Guardian
Glockenfee / Glöckchen
....soulbound water.... ROFL 😂