Tagged: fairy tale

The Dragon and the Dying Stars

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 31

Challenge #14: Write a story in the style of a fairy tale, including phrase repetition and involving stars as physical objects. It must be serious in tone but also include a Phillips screwdriver.

This challenge was set by G. Deyke.

Once upon a time, in a world far distant, the night sky grew dark. Slowly, at first, the stars grew dim. The king’s philosophers at first thought that this was nothing more than the action of passing aeons, and that more would burn anew. But ere long their numbers dwindled, and the naked eye saw plainly what no telescope could: the stars were consumed.

Troubled, the king sent out his greatest knight upon a steed of chrome. Agravane was that knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a sword born of a dying star. Never would that blade break, and never would its edge grow dull. For many weeks Agravane rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone that stood before his throne.

At last, Agravane found his foe, and the king at last saw who it was who plucked the stars from the aether like grapes from the vine.

It was a dragon, vast as his kingdom and black as the void. Each wing was as wide as a galaxy, and its eyes glowed like quasars. Its manner and its motions were that of a great animal; its structure and its form, that of a terrible machine.

When the dragon spoke, it spoke not to the knight before it, but to the king beyond the stone: “I have lived since before the days of time. Since before the noise of creation and beyond the notion of being. Your universe is an affront to me, but in its matter I have found a host, and that host offers a solution. From one hundred billion dying stars I built this body, and with it I shall consume all the living stars that remain. Then there shall be stillness and silence and peace until the heat death of the universe, wherein there shall be stillness and silence and peace still.”

In his throne, the king trembled at the threat of such a foe. But Agravane was fearless.

He held aloft his sword: “You might have seized your matter from the stars by force, but mine was a gift granted in a time of dire need. When I stood alone against the hordes of Far Reach and my weapon snapped in twain, bright Achernar crystallised into a blade that would never fail me so.”

But though Agravane was fearless, he was not wise, and his sword did not avail him: the dragon was forged of star-steel too, and though the blade did not dull against its scales, neither could it cut them, and the beast crushed him in its mighty hand unhindered. Agravane’s sword was lost to the aether whence it came.

Fearful, the king sent out a second knight upon a second steed. Carador was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a spear born of a dying star. Never would that shaft snap, nor would the point fail to find its mark. For many weeks Agravane rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone.

“What fool comes to challenge me?” demanded the dragon, in a voice that carried even through the void.

“No fool am I,” Carador responded, keeping his distance “for I carry the same spear that came to me during the siege of Omega Centauri when my own weapon was lost.”

The dragon snorted: “Never can you pierce my scales with your stick.”

Carador took aim: “I do not intend to try.”

He did not direct his spear against the dragon’s scales, but instead towards one of its vast eyes. Unerring, the spear flew, yet clattered from the boiling orb: even the eyes were forged of star-steel, and even the eyes could not be harmed.

With a single pulse of its fiery gaze, the dragon tore the knight’s very atoms asunder, and Carador’s spear too was lost to the aether whence it came.

Holding little hope, the king summoned still one more knight. Gilhault was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a hammer born of a dying star. When swung, the head was weightless, yet when it struck a foe it held the mass of a thousand moons.

But before Gilhault could mount his steed, an unseen assailant cracked his visor with a cudgel so he could not brave the void: Elayn, his squire, stole the reins and rode off in his stead.

Furious, the king sent all his knights to pursue her, but all were left behind: none tended the steeds with more skill or kindness than Elayn, and so none could catch Gilhault’s, which she had so long cared for.

Elayn faced the dragon.

The dragon laughed. “Will you fight me with a simple cudgel?”

“No.” Elayn drew her own gift of star-steel from her voidcloak. “With this.”

And the dragon laughed louder, for the item she produced was but a Phillips screwdriver.

“I too was at the battle against the hordes of the Far Reach, and there my master was dismounted. I leapt through the void to reach his steed, but found it maimed beyond motion. For weeks we drifted, helpless, until we were caught in the orbit of Leporis. From that star was born this screwdriver, and with it I saved this steed.”

“Go home, little girl,” said the dragon. “You have some years yet before I trouble myself with your sphere: do not forfeit them.”

Elayn did not answer this insult. She merely charged forwards, and the dragon, without even going to the effort of stretching out its neck, consumed her whole.

But though every piece of the dragon was formed of a dying star—every piece indestructible—they were held together with screws of star-steel. And though their threads would never strip and their shanks never break, no bond held them in their place but simple force.

In this way, with nothing but a screwdriver, Elayn beheaded the monster whose neck no blade could sever.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

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The Twin Chalices

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 24

Once upon a time, there lived a powerful enchantress. But though her strong magic sustained her for a long, long time, there came a day when she began to grow old. She knew that it was time to choose an apprentice to someday succeed her, and so she called upon her two most promising students.

Aegorath was of noble blood, born under the Dragon Moon, and saw through the world’s veil as through a still pool. Yet where others of noble birth counted upon name alone, and others with special gifts relied upon those over study, Aegorath worked hard, far more proficient as an acolyte than many masters.

Thilo too worked hard, but the seers had found him in a nameless village, far away, and he had therefore begun his studies later than the others his age. His efforts had been spent first in gaining an equal footing with the others, and later in compensation for the fact that his gaze pierced the veil no more clearly than the others.

“The ways of our order dictate that I must decide upon an apprentice,” said the enchantress, “and I have decided that it will be one of you. However, the final choice will be by way of a challenge.” Continue reading

Little Red and the Three Bunkers

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 19

Once upon a time there was a terrible dragon, which crawled along the ground on endless feet. The dragon was an ancient beast—forged long before Little Red was born—and only Grandmama was old enough to remember it. But Little Red had heard stories, and so when she saw the dragon coming she rolled her bike into a wooden bunker nearby and waited for it to pass.

But the dragon saw her inside with eyes of infra-red, and so it spoke: “Little Red, Little Red, let me come in.”

“Not by the spikes on your tinny-tin-tin!”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your fort in!”

The dragon breathed out a huge gout of fire that burned the wooden bunker to ash, but Little Red was clever, and so in the commotion she escaped and rode away across the wasteland to a bunker of steel. Continue reading

Hans and Greta

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 14

Once upon a time there lived a poor peasant family. This family was so poor that they couldn’t afford free samples. This family was so poor that their front door and their back door shared a hinge. This family was so poor that ducks threw bread at them. More relevant to this particular story, though, this family was so poor that they had to send their two children, Hans and Greta, out into the woods because there was no food.

This might seem like bad parenting to begin with, but what made it even worse was that these particular woods were well known for being absolutely crammed full of sinister fairytale creatures that ate nothing but children and spoke only in rhyme. But Hans and Greta were both exceedingly clever—as children often are in this sort of story—and so although they found themselves cold, hungry and alone in a hostile forest, they were confident that they would soon make a home for themselves and live happily ever after.

However, innate personal attributes only get you so far without any material resources to back them up, and so by nightfall Hans and Greta were still cold, hungry and alone, but they had managed to dig up a small, hard, wild potato. So that was something. Continue reading

The Worm of Whitewall

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 12

Once upon a time, there was a busy and prosperous town. Whitewall was its name, for every building from the mayor’s great house to the shepherds’ simple cottages was built of stone that shone white as snow in the sun. On one side of the town was a deep quarry, whence the stone was taken, and on the other a vast forest with an ancient pool. The town could not expand into the quarry, which was a solid barrier, and would not expand into the forest, which was held sacred, and so as it grew the buildings formed a line against the trees. In this way too, seen from afar, the place resembled a wall all of white.

But though so constrained, the town grew great, and the quarry still greater, and in time the sound of steel against stone grew loud enough to reach the forest’s pool. In this pool there lived a great worm that had slumbered too long for any to recall that it existed. In days of old, the heathen peoples of that place had revered it as a god, but it grew tired and they forgetful, so that only that vague memory of the pool as holy place remained. But the workmen woke the worm, and the worm remembered.

“Who has woken me from my slumber?” the worm demanded. “Who will serve me in these strange new days?” Continue reading

All the Better to Eat You With

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 11

Challenge #5: Write a post-apocalyptic fairy tale with a non-linear narrative.

Little Red pushed open the door of her grandmother’s cottage, knowing what she’d find long before she saw it. There was blood on the doorstep. The Wolf had left his car hidden in a stand of trees, but the atom-scorched trunks did little to disguise the bright warpaint and burnished chrome.

“Eyes bigger than your stomach, eh?”

She primed her weapon.

The creature on the bed bared its teeth.

***

“Wouldn’t recommend going that way,” the Wolf said, clearing flesh from his car’s grill with the end of a tyre iron. “Big horde of ghouls. Barely got through it myself.”

“Oh dear!” Little Red stepped off her bike. “But I simply must get these supplies to my grandmama!”

“No fear!” The Wolf gave her a big, toothy grin. “Where does she live? Perhaps I can suggest a safer route…”

***

“Now remember what I told you,” said Red’s mother, for the fiftieth time.

“Yes, yes, I know. Stick to the path, don’t talk to anyone, and if I run into any ghouls—”

“Don’t cave their heads in.”

Red stepped out of the bunker and onto her bike.

“And make sure that your cattle prod’s got a good charge: you know how grandma gets when she hasn’t been fed!”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

The Dragon’s Lamp

Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 30

The corpse of the dragon lay steaming upon the floor, the marks of its wrath seared permanently into the cavern walls. Yet the heroes stood victorious. Leaving the dragon to stink and smoulder, they ventured deeper into its lair, appraising the stock of treasure the winged terror had amassed across the ages.

“This will ease the suffering of our land…” observed Khemaghan the Keen, lifting a gem-studded chalice, worth several fortunes on its own.

“…but it will not repair the devastation that the beast has wrought.” Quilbar the Quick was troubled by the same thought.

“We beat it,” said Skondar the Strong, speaking firmly as ever. “We won. It’s over.”

But from the bones of the dragon, there sprang forth a new threat. For in its hoard—beyond the reach of mortal man for years known only to the gods—there stood a copper lamp upon a bare pedestal. In every other room, gold and jewels had lain strewn across the floor, a careless bed for the vile serpent.

In this room, the floor was bare. A perfect, solid circle of clear stone marked a perimeter about the pedestal, as though gold and silver feared to draw too close to the base metal that stood atop it.

Continue reading

Epistory Video Review

If you’ve been following for a while, you may have already seen my first and second articles on the Early Access version of Epistory, an open-world typing game by Fishing Cactus. Well, now that the game is out, and now that my computer is capable of reliably recording gameplay, I thought I’d try a video review.

Continue reading

The Sundered Crown

Chapter One: The Watchtower

It was a marvel to see the White Queen paint. Marcia watched as the brush drifted across the surface of the paper, leaving no mark: its bristles held only water.

There was a knock at the door.

Marcia looked to the queen, and was answered by an almost imperceptible nod. Stepping neatly over to the door, she opened it.

“Your Majesty,” said the general, bowing deeply as he stepped inside. “We have repelled an attack at Hobnail Pass, but the lines will not hold.”

The White Queen traced the brush across the paper with extreme care. Marcia closed the door, then once again took up her place by the queen’s side, examining the paper with silent interest. There was no hint of her mistress’ work but a faint glistening of water in the light.

The general took no more notice of the queen than she did of him. Marcia observed him in one of the queen’s three grand mirrors as he strode over to a map laid out on a nearby table, cluttered with painted wooden models representing various companies and legions. The general scowled, removing a few dusty pieces and rearranging several more.

The queen dipped her brush in the little cup of water and dragged it back and forth quickly across the top of the paper, catching the little beads of liquid as they formed. She stared out of the window at the garden below, comparing this scene to the one she had formed. With a quick flick of the brush, she made an adjustment.

“It is my opinion that we must give up Wieseberg.” The general proceeded to shove a line of figures into place with a straight edge, then formed them into a swooping curve with a pudgy hand. “The city is of little strategic value, but eliminating this salient would shorten our lines considerably. The surplus troops here could be…”

“Give up the pass,” said the queen, dabbing carelessly at the paper.

“Your Majesty?”

“Give up the pass.” The White Queen folded her hands on her lap and turned to the general. “Our foe is determined to have that ground no matter what the cost. We will not be so foolish.” Continue reading

The Sun Always Rises

Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 21

Challenge #9: Write a 116 word story including a polysyndetonic sentence with a minimum of three conjunctions. The story must revolve around two of the following four themes: love, war, wilderness, loss.

Once upon a time, there lived a troll. Each day he would shelter from the sun beneath an ancient tree, and each night he would step out and marvel at the lights of the cottages on the horizon. Over the course of many years, the cottages grew into a village, and the village into a town, and the town into a city, so that the forest shrank to nothing more than a single tree, surrounded by buildings on all sides. Eventually, even this last tree was cut down, and here it was the people’s turn to marvel, because among the roots of that ancient tree they found a stone statue that nobody had ever noticed before.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook Cover

Click any cover to download that book in your choice of format.