Week 22 of Odd Prompt

Some days you just need to spark the brain. It’s like setting a fire. You start with a spark, and inspiration… you know that means breath, right? Blow on the spark, and watch it all burn.

So here are your sparks, people. Time to start huffing and puffing!

PrompterPromptPrompted
Cedar SandersonThe woman screaming at the dark house wasn’t the odd thing, no, that was…nother Mike
AC YoungThe squirrels working at the Oak Tree Bank spent the Bank Holiday preparing their vaults for the spring/summer nut deposits.Leigh Kimmel
nother MikeThe fuzzy caterpillar was almost as big as a loaf of bread, and not nearly as pleasant to find in the back seat of the car…Cedar Sanderson
Leigh KimmelIt looks like an ordinary list of things to do — if you’re a magical being.AC Young

And for those who haven’t got the time, or mental energy, to commit to a prompt challenge, there are always the spare prompts!

Spare“Today is the most normal day of the rest of your life.”
SpareWhen they saw the picture, there were several extra people in it. Ghosts…
SpareAt the bottom of the wine bottle, they found a key to a safe deposit box.
SpareA mongoose, a cat, and an elephant walk into a store
SpareBarrels of laughter fill the canteen as two soldiers start singing competitvely in the middle of dinner.
SpareThe metal flower slowly drooped…

Don’t forget to put your prompt responses in the comments! Come back and cheer the creators on, or take a spare and do your worst. Er, best!

Don’t forget to mail in your prompt challenge, or put ‘spare’ in the subject line if you don’t want to play that way, to oddprompts@gmail.com. We will be here!

18 comments

  1. This week I was assigned Leigh Kimmel’s prompt: It looks like an ordinary list of things to do — if you’re a magical being.

    After a little thought, I realised that this was the perfect prompt for another episode in the Challenges of Artemis.

    The next morning Alice awoke in the room she’d been given in the Palace of Artemis. She got dressed, choosing from the selection of blue and white outfits in the wardrobe. As she exited the room Amanda left her room and joined her, wearing a red outfit. (Artemis had made it clear that from the second challenge onwards they were to wear the colours of their primary magical abilities.)

    The pair greeted each other and made their way down to the Palace Dining Room for breakfast. Artemis was already there, eating.

    “Good morning, Your Majesty,” greeted Alice.

    “Good morning Alice. And you Amanda. Your second challenge will start after breakfast. Eat well.”

    After the pair had had their fill of breakfast the Adjudicator of the Challenges escorted them to the Throne Room. Artemis was once more seated on her throne between the pegasus and the hind.

    “Your second challenge is to assist the sick with his daily tasks.”

    Alice and Amanda looked at each other. This made as much sense as the instructions for their first challenge – but they knew from that that no further information would be forthcoming.

    The Adjudicator of the Challenges gestured that they were to follow him, so they did. He led them to the top of a tower. In the room was a frail elf, lying in a bed. The Adjudicator left them with the elf.

    The elf didn’t speak, but with great effort gestured at a piece of parchment on a side table. Amanda picked it up, quickly read what was on it, and passed it on to Alice.

    It was a list of the day’s tasks. A fairly ordinary list – for a magical being. Obtain fire-milk from its source; Collect the noon-day sunlight in a jewel; Collect a bucket-full of water from the heart of a waterfall; Pick a flower from a Silver Blossom.

    Alice looked at Amanda. “Four tasks, two each?”

    “Makes sense. You deal with the water, and I’ll start with the fire-milk – that’s from an inferno-cow, right?”

    “Yes.” Alice turned to the elf. “I’m sorry, sir, but we’ll need equipment for some of these tasks.”

    The elf smiled, and gestured to the corner of the room near to the door. Sitting there was a glass bottle, a bucket, and a colourless jewel.

    Alice and Amanda nodded their heads in respect. “Thankyou,” said Alice. She picked up the three objects, put the jewel in her pocket, and handed the bottle to her friend. “We will see you again once we’ve completed your tasks.”

    The elf dismissed the pair, and they left the room. Outside they found the Adjudicator of the Challenges waiting for them with a pair of servants.

    “In order to complete this challenge we will need a guide each,” said Alice.

    “If that is what you wish. They cannot assist you in your tasks, they may only guide you to where you can complete them.”

    “We understand.” Alice then turned to the servant on her side. “I need to visit a waterfall. Could you guide me to the nearest one please?”

    The servant curtsied, said “Of course, follow me,” and headed down the stairs. As Alice followed she heard Amanda request directions to where she needed to go. Alice put that out of her mind; she had her tasks to do and needed to trust Amanda to carry out hers.

    Alice followed the servant through the palace to a garden. Several minutes’ walk later she was led to the bank of a small river. Just upstream it flowed over the edge of a cliff in a waterfall.

    Alice thanked the servant, put the bucket on the ground beside her, and thought. Only water from the heart of the cascade would do. If she took the bucket under the fall she wouldn’t be able to get it out again before some of the other water splashed into the bucket and displaced some of what she was after. She could shield the bucket on the way out and in. But she could also use magic to move the water she needed from the flowing curtain to the bucket – it may not be the most efficient use of her magic but Alice felt that that was the simplest solution to her immediate problem.

    Alice focussed on the water falling through the air. She saw the shifting patterns of the paths it took. Then she used her magic. She took a small cross-section of the waterfall, as close to the middle as she could determine at this distance, and shifted the path of the water. Under the guide of her magic the water flowed as if in a pipe, travelling nearly horizontally until it was close to the bucket. At that point Alice widened the pipe, to slow the water down. Once the water flow was over the edge of the bucket Alice angled the flow down and let the water flow freely into the container.

    A few minutes later the bucket was full. Alice released the magic, with much relief as the strain of maintaining it was becoming very unpleasant. The excess water she’d gathered fell into the river and onto the bank with a great splash.

    Alice didn’t want to fail the challenge because she’d spilt too much of the water on her way back to the tower room, so she placed a magical seal over the top. To her surprise she could already feel the strain of maintaining it. Only a slight strain, but it would only get worse. And the more she drained her reserves on her other task the faster the strain would grow.

    Now she sat down on the grass, took the jewel out of her pocket and studied it. She needed to capture the sunlight. Currently rays of light passed straight through, deflected only by refraction. But if she could create a three-dimensional whispering gallery within the gem any light entering the inner portion of the jewel at the right angle would reflect around for ever.

    Alice needed to plan the alterations with care. The barrier between the inner and outer portions had to be a regular or semi-regular polyhedron with lots of faces, and the refractive index between the two portions needed to be just right.

    She looked up into the sky. She still had an hour or so until noon. That was good, because while she had good instincts when it came to light – those who had primary abilities in more than one of air, water and earth always did – she wasn’t that capable in earth, so the necessary transformation would take time.

    It was slow going, but Alice managed to adjust the interior of the gem to create an inner portion of the right shape, with almost the perfect refractive index between the two parts. It still wasn’t quite noon and she didn’t want to capture any light in the gem until the right time.

    A few minutes later and it was noon. A short burst of magic and the transformation was complete. The jewel swiftly glowed with captured sunlight. Another shift, this time to the outer portion of the gem, and any light entering the gem was now refracted so that it either never entered the inner portion or passed through it.

    Now Alice was very tired. She really needed a nap between lunch and dinner – assuming that Artemis didn’t expect them to start her third challenge this afternoon, that is. But first things first, get the bucket and gem back to the elf. She put the gem back in her pocket, stood up, and picked up the bucket.

    Looking around she spotted where the servant had sited herself in the nearest shade. “Could you guide me back to the elf’s tower please?”

    “Of course, follow me.”

    Meanwhile …

    Amanda watched Alice and the servant head down the stairs, and turned to the other servant. “Does this palace have any inferno-cows?”

    “Yes, in the red pasture.”

    “Take me there.”

    “Of course, follow me.” The servant headed down the stairs.

    Amanda followed her through the palace. She was led to a small field in which a red grass-like plant grew. In the field was a single inferno-cow, red with flames flickering all over its body.

    Amanda approached the inferno-cow with care – she didn’t want it to spook. All seemed to be fine as she made her way round to the rear end and the flame-coated udder.

    Now she smiled. One of the advantages of being a pyromagiac was temporary immunity from fire. She concentrated and created the flame shield over both her hands, wrists and forearms. It wouldn’t last for very long – flame shields cost a lot to maintain and she had only so much magic reserves.

    But now she was protected from burns she could milk the inferno-cow. Holding the bottle in her off-hand under the udder, she went through the motions. It took some time to figure it out and correctly align the bottle, but she managed it. Eventually she had a bottle of fire-milk, a constantly shifting mixture of white milk and red flames.

    She backed carefully away from the inferno-cow and returned to the servant’s side. “Is there a garden with a Silver Blossom?”

    “Yes, there is.”

    “Take me there.”

    “Of course, follow me.”

    Amanda followed the servant back into the palace, and through the corridors to a garden. The garden was full of exotic plants in various metallic shades.

    Fortunately the plants were all labelled, so Amanda was able to find the single plant she wanted within the beds. The Silver Blossom had silver flowers, silver leaves and silver stalks. Amanda was tempted to use her skills with fire to melt through one of the stalks to release a flower, but if the entire plant was made of silver (as opposed to just appearing to be) that would be a mistake as most of the plant would melt and there wouldn’t be a flower left to collect.

    Amanda thought some more, but couldn’t see how to safely carry out the task. So she turned to the servant. “Could you fetch me the gardener, please?” Yes, this time she had remembered some of her manners.

    “Of course.” The servant left and returned after a short time with a gardener.

    “I’m told you need some assistance.” The gardener was confident in his own abilities, and not at all confident in Amanda’s.

    “Yes. I’m taking the Challenges of Artemis. One of my tasks is to pick a flower of a Silver Blossom. I’m terrified that without expert guidance I’ll melt the flower rather than picking it.”

    The gardener laughed. “Fire is the last thing you want to use if you’re after an intact flower. If you’re taking the Challenges I assume I can’t pick the flower for you?”

    “I’d rather not risk it.”

    “Very well. You will find the necessary tools in the cupboard over there. This is what you do.”

    The gardener carefully guided Amanda through the process. Amanda followed the instructions with much fear and surprisingly little trembling. The process had a surprisingly large number of steps – just cutting the stem with secateurs would kill the plant.

    With much relief Amanda finished the process and thanked the gardener for his instructions. The gardener acknowledged her gratitude and left to carry out his duties.

    Amanda turned back to the servant. “Could you guide me back to the elf’s tower, please?”

    “Of course, follow me.”

    Amanda climbed up to the elf’s room, thanked and dismissed the servant, and then awaited Alice’s arrival.

    She didn’t have to wait long before Alice, looking exhausted, climbed the last few steps up the tower, accompanied with her servant. Alice also thanked and dismissed the servant.

    Alice turned to Amanda. “Have you the fire-milk and the flower?”

    “Yes. I see you have the water. Do you also have the jewel?”

    “Yes. Shall we go in?”

    The two women entered the elf’s room. They offered their collection to the elf in his bed. The elf acknowledged their efforts and tugged a bellpull carefully sited within his reach.

    A few minutes later the Adjudicator of the Challenges made his way into the room. “Congratulations on completing the second challenge. If you will follow me, your midday meal awaits.”

    The women followed him down the stairs, both hoping that the next challenge wouldn’t be until tomorrow, at least…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cedar Sanderson prompted…

    The woman screaming at the dark house wasn’t the odd thing, no, that was…

    Let’s see. Some possible odd things?

    The dark house screaming back at her.

    The flames crackling and glowing all over the house.

    The dog sitting patiently beside her, his tail gently flicking back and forth.

    The dragon she was sitting on top of. He was shaking his head, slowly.

    The enormous bird, Perched on the roof of the dark house…

    Okay, let’s pick it up… Here’s a rough draft, which kind of went strange as I wrote it. But it’s kind of interesting, too…

    Harold usually liked the night patrol, driving around the quiet streets, looking for things out of place, oddities like lights in a closed storefront, or sometimes dark movement in shadowed alleys. Making sure that the good people of his town got their rest. Tonight seemed to be one of the quiet nights.

    Then he turned the corner and started up Oak Street. The old trees loomed, casting dark shadows across the pavement under the streetlights. As he followed the curved road, he found them.

    His headlights flashed across them, standing in the middle of the road. She was yelling, screaming at the dark house. But the woman screaming at the dark house wasn’t the odd thing, no, that was the dragon sitting patiently beside her, his tail flicking gently back and forth.

    Harold parked his patrol car and set the flashers. He shook his head. It was going to be one of those nights. Darn it, he had asked her to avoid this kind of thing.

    He got out and walked toward them. They were still in his headlights, and she was still screaming a few last epithets at the house. She shook her fist at the house.

    Then she turned to him and smiled.

    “Evening, sheriff. Can I help you?”

    He chuckled. Then he swept his hand around, and said, “Well, for starters, you could tell me what you’re doing, and who your friend is.”

    She glanced down at the dragon, who yawned, revealing impressive dentition. He was young, only about as big as a St. Bernard.

    “Oh. Well, that idiot made me angry, so I came out here and told the house I was done.”

    That was when the house slowly groaned and collapsed, folding itself onto the ground. They all turned and watched.

    When it all settled and nothing moved, Harold looked at the woman. She was grinning.

    “I guess that will teach him. Give me the back of his hand, and tell me what to do, will he?”

    The dragon whined, like a dog that knows its master is upset.

    Harold shook his head.

    “You’re not saying that some man hit you, so you collapsed that house on him, are you? Because I’d need to arrest you for something like that, and right now, the town really doesn’t need something like that.”

    She toned down the grin to a pair of dimples as she turned to face him. She spread her hands.

    “Why, no, sheriff, I certainly didn’t mean that. Oh, I told the house I was leaving, but I certainly didn’t make it collapse. No, it did that all on its own.”

    At which point, she chuckled. He joined in. Then the dragon started chuckling, which was an odd noise.

    “That reminds me. Who is your friend?”

    He held out his hand, and the dragon sniffed at it.

    She blinked,

    “Oh, that’s Puff.”

    Now he laughed.

    “You mean Puff the magic dragon? All right, that makes sense.”

    (Well, it’s a start… although why wouldn’t the sheriff be more upset about her pulling the house down on somebody…)

    Liked by 1 person

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