Week 16 of Odd Prompts

Some weeks the only thing creative happening is because of the prompt. Some weeks it’s a shining beacon of ‘you got that done, at least.’ Some weeks…

AC YoungThe recipe called for fire-blossom petals, which only grew in a few isolated valleys high up in the Draconus Range.Leigh Kimmel
Fiona GreyPlay to win. Whatever the cost.Cedar Sanderson
nother MikeThe dragonberry bush was dropping its fruit early this year. The baby dragons fell to the ground, uncurled, and crawled away, their wings still tightly furled…Becky Jones
Becky JonesYou could actually see the bamboo growing and moving through the yard.AC Young
Leigh KimmelThe Doobie Brothers “The Captain and Me” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFKwklkSeKA)Fiona Grey
Cedar SandersonWith a ripple of iridescent wing…nother Mike

Spares are always good if you want to mix and match. Prompted by one, let the other take you in a new direction. Do twice as much, this week. Or not.

SpareThe grave-robbers raided the correct mausoleum, but took the wrong body.
Spare“Toastmasters? Nothing so tame or mundane. Toast*MONSTERS*.”
SpareThe last thing out of Schrodinger’s box was either hope or despair, but no one knew for sure.
SpareLet the storm rage on… the cold never bothered me anyway!
SpareAnd frolicked in the autumn mists in a land called Hona Lee…

Come back and tell us about it. We’re here. We listen. We’ve got the time, even if we don’t have the energy.



    • Once upon a time I had an instructor who would prompt puzzled students with something like, “Are you going answer? Are you going to stand there? Or are you going to sing Puff the Magic Dragon?” Evidently he’d done this bit for years and years. And, one fine day, someone, without that prompting, was at a loss and fell back on at least the first words of ‘Puff’… and everyone was astonished that in all the time, that was the FIRST anyone actually went and did it, even in a small, incomplete way. It even took said instructor by surprise as evidenced by his nearly falling over at that event.

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  1. Cedar Sanderson left this soap bubble of imagination…

    With a ripple of iridescent wing…

    [hum, let’s see… first thought…]

    The class was held outside, and the students were quiet, although excited. The teacher looked them over, then raised her hands.

    “Now, I don’t know who would like to try this, but we will all do it today. Does anyone want to be first?”

    Somehow, Joe found himself pushed out in front. He bit his lip, and stared at the teacher.

    “Well, good. We have a volunteer. Joe, don’t look so worried, it’s easy. Here, take this…”

    She handed him a small willow branch.

    Then she lifted a sheet of paper so he could see it. On it was a set of arrows, numbered.

    “What I want you to do is to make your wand, that branch, go through these motions. While you do that, I will repeat the necessary invocation. And then I think you will be surprised.”

    He shrugged, and held the branch carefully. They had all practiced how to hold it, back in the classroom. Then he started to trace the mystic sign.

    The teacher spoke while he drew. And as they both finished, the students behind him gasped. He looked around, and they were all pointing, and staring at him.

    The teacher smiled, and lifted her hands.

    That’s when, with a ripple of iridescent wings, he took his first flight. Up, up, into the air over the other students and the teacher. He laughed as he flew, and saw the roof of the school, the houses nearby, and the woods where they all played. It was wonderful.

    Then the teacher lowered her hands, and his wings slowed, dropping him back down’ down, down to the ground where he had started. She made one final gesture, like grabbing a handful of air, and his wings vanished. At least he thought they did, although he had only see the edges of them.

    He took a deep breath, and bowed to the teacher. Then he turned around and looked at the other students, with a big grin. He stepped back towards them, and they backed away.

    “You had wings!” Someone said.

    He laughed.

    “Yes, I did. And if you step up and follow the directions, you can too!”

    Several students looked at each other, then they started to press forward, eager to be next to fly.

    The teacher chuckled. The beginners magic class was always so much fun. Next week, they’d try transformations. Now, should she start them out with giant frogs or wolves?

    [oh, that’s fun!]

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  2. Becky Jones supplied me with: You could actually see the bamboo growing and moving through the yard.

    Apparently some species of bamboo can grow very quickly, so if the conditions are right the prompt could be satisfied by natural causes. But what if it was instead the result of a magical horticultural mistake?

    Time to return to Farandimium.

    It was spring. At the Farandimium Academy of the Magical Arts the gardeners were working hard to get the plant beds ready for the harvesting of the potion ingredients they supplied.

    Aspidistrel was in charge of the section around Greenhouse Number 5. All the plants had been planted. Now all that was left to do was to encourage their growth with the use of some Fast Growth Potion.

    Aspidistrel carefully read the instructions on the container, diluted the potion to the required amount, and poured the diluted potion into her watering can. She went out to water the beds to the north of the greenhouse. As she went she sent her undergardeners in to the greenhouse to collect their potion and do the same for the other beds.

    After completing her task, and checking that the plants were growing as they ought – not too fast but not too slowly either – she headed to check the results in the other beds associated with Greenhouse Number 5.

    The western beds were fine. She complimented the undergardener on his good work, and mentally logged that he would make a fine gardener in charge of Greenhouse Number 2 when that position became vacant at the end of the year.

    The southern beds were carnage. The bamboo was growing at a rate faster than she had ever seen, and had already burst its bounds and was sprouting up in the middle of the lawn. It looked as if it would colonise the other beds in that section, and possibly spread to the eastern beds as well.

    “What exactly is the cause of this?” she shouted at the undergardener in charge of the section.

    “I think I gave the bamboo too much potion. By the time I finished watering that section it was out of control.”

    “How much potion did you give it?” The results didn’t look like the application of too much potion, but rather the application of underdiluted potion.

    “I don’t think I gave it more than the normal amount when we water the beds, but…”

    “Did you read the instructions? Did you dilute the potion properly?”

    “Dilute? It isn’t already suitable for application?”

    Aspidistrel was furious. Undiluted Fast Growth Potion was ten times more concentrated than the dilution that should have been applied, and based on the warnings on the container more than ten times as effective. “Go to the main building! Find the duty member of the Chloriology Department, and confess your idiocy! Then escort said member back here to help me clean up your mess!” She made no attempt to moderate her voice as she shouted at him.

    The undergardener ran off. Aspidistrel privately determined to advise the head of the gardens that he needed to have his employment terminated as punishment for this debacle.

    Now what to do. Slow Growth Potion would work, but Greenhouse Number 5 didn’t have any, and she didn’t know how the two potions would interact – some pairings had unusual effects on the plants. A slow growth spell perhaps – except that potions were used for speeding up and slowing plant growth because they were much more effective than spells for the magical energy expended.

    Restrict the spread of the bamboo – that she could do. A simple shield/boundary spell would work. Aspidistrel swiftly composed the spell she needed in Kalantarian (use a dead language in preference to a living one her instructors had advised, as the meanings of words can’t change without your knowledge). She reviewed it once in her head – she would have preferred to write it down first but there wasn’t the time. She put out her right hand, used it as the focus for her magic and cast the spell.

    Good. It created a hard limit beyond which the bamboo couldn’t spread. It incorporated more territory than she would have liked, but that couldn’t be helped. The boundary had to contain all of the bamboo’s rhizomes or the bamboo would be able to spread beyond it using the rhizomes not caged within the boundary.

    The sound of running feet could be heard on the other side of the greenhouse. Around the corner came Phlorium, the Head of the Chloriology Department. Aspidistrel bowed to him as he came to a halt.

    “What a [Old Lantar word for a dungheap]! What steps have you taken?”

    “I’ve limited the expansion of the bamboo using a shield/boundary spell,” replied Aspidistrel. “We don’t have any Slow Growth Potion, and I don’t know what damage the two potions combined would do to the plants; and I don’t have the power to cast an effective slow growth spell.”

    “Good. A pity your idiot of an undergardener didn’t think of that himself – even those that deficient of common sense…” Phlorium paused and took a breath. “What damage has it done to the other plants?”

    “I haven’t checked. It looks like this section of the lawn is ruined. We’ll need to rip out everything and replant. I suspect that the other plants in the bed have been heavily damaged, and we’d be better off starting again with those also.”

    Phlorium reviewed the mess himself. “We may be lucky with some of them, but I think you’re right.” Then he switched tone. “You did a very good job at containing this mess. The next step is to bring the growth under control. Only then can we rip out all the bamboo and start again.”

    Phlorium turned around to where the guilty undergardener had re-appeared. “Idiot, go fetch the gardeners for the other greenhouses.”

    The guilty party understood that he had been rechristened and fled.

    “I can’t trust this to one so incompetent.” Phlorium cast a summons spell. It would summon all the members of the Chloriology Department. “Now I’m afraid we wait. Until my colleagues arrive we can’t stop the growth, and I’m still hoping we won’t have to resort to burning the lot.”

    Aspidistrel seriously hoped that the latter was not the only option. Burning the bamboo out would not only destroy it, but would also ruin most of the soil. As it was they’d have to dig out large portions of the beds, but anything they didn’t have to take out they could leave. If they needed to burn the bamboo everything in the affected area down to below the level of the roots would need to come out just in case.

    Ten minutes later the full might of the Chloriology Department cast a growth slowing spell. It didn’t work – the Fast Growth Potion in its undiluted form was too powerful. To everyone’s disappointment the only option was to burn the still visibly growing and spreading bamboo.

    That spell worked, but the burning bamboo, above and below ground, ignited all the plants around it. Only a second shield/boundary spell kept the flames from spreading outside the area the bamboo was cordoned within.

    When the flames finally died down above ground, and the vegetable matter below ground had stopped smouldering, it was the turn of the gardeners. All of the ruined soil had to be dug out by hand – spells for removing it were beyond the exhausted Chloriology teachers, and the gardeners preferred to save their spell energies for what they couldn’t manage by physical labour.

    Idiot (as he appeared to have been renamed by everyone) was made to work from start to finish. Everyone else had breaks when necessary, with gardeners swapping out (there not being enough space for all the gardeners to dig simultaneously).

    Eventually all the ruined soil was out of the ground. New soil was carted in from storage, mixed with compost and put into the ground.

    Only then could the ruined section of the lawn be relayed and the ruined plant beds be replanted. Except that the nurseries didn’t have any replacements for the ruined beds, and wouldn’t for a week. Aspidistrel was pleasantly surprised – she was expecting to have to wait at least a fortnight for the nurseries to re-grow the plants she required.

    It was full dark before the gardeners went to bed that night. It would be at least a fortnight before Greenhouse Number 5 caught up to where it should be in the growing season.

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