Week 18 of Odd Prompts

The first time you do anything, you’re going to mess up and make a few mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. It’s not training if it ain’t raining. Far better to encounter the problems in a controlled environment with a mentor at your elbow giving you tips, than in the real world when you’re miles from help. I’m not saying we’re know-it-alls here. But we are trying to learn, and this is a place to learn how to do things with creativity, because there’s no wrong way to art, until there is.

PrompterPromptPrompted
AC YoungShould she play the Ace of Rockets, or would that be trumped? (Oh, why did they have to change the suits of the cards – she didn’t think she’d ever get used to the new ones!)nother Mike
Becky JonesThe cat popped up from behind the dryer. Clinging desperately to its collar was a small fairy.Leigh Kimmel
Leigh Kimmel“Mother’s Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OusADDs_3psCedar Sanderson
nother MikeThere were six firecrackers in his pocket…Becky Jones
Cedar SandersonThe dusty, empty, shelfAC Young

Writing on command, or drawing, or any other creative action, is imperative to becoming a disciplined artist. Waiting for inspiration to strike is like standing in the field shaking your fist at the sky… and honey, it’s all blue up there.

Spare“Atom bomb, shmatom bomb. Anyone have a _challenge_?”
SpareWanna see me pull a rabbit out of my hat? That trick never works…
SpareAs he/she walked across the field, flowers started blooming everywhere he/she had stepped…
SpareThe tracks in the concrete were at least two feet long. Each foot!

If you want to get good at this, if you want to develop the six-pack abs of art, you have to exercise. Do it. Check your form. Do it again, and do it daily.

See you in the comments, flexing!

17 comments

  1. This week’s challenge was Cedar Sanderson’s: The dusty, empty, shelf

    Hmmm. What if the shelf was more than just a shelf?

    Ikradion and Sonjarina hiked across the plains. Ikradion was a mage of the Pegasus Order, while Sonjarina was one of the rare female Protectors assigned to the Order. They had qualified from their respective schools only the previous summer, and were engaged in their first quest.

    Their goal was a squat building that was now on the horizon. It was once in the middle of the town of Cantris, and may or may not have been part of the buildings of the Cantris School, where mages of the Centaur Order were once trained. For reasons long since lost to history the school or town had aroused the ire of a dragon, which burned down most of the town and school before being driven away.

    The Centaur Order had not survived – prospective pupils chose to go the schools of the other mage orders instead. Within a generation what was left of the school had fallen into ruin. The town residents (those that were still alive) also moved away, and Cantris gradually faded into the countryside.

    But thirty years ago the mage Graphikion had moved in. He had renovated one of the buildings, and refused to move out. No-one knew why, for he refused to explain himself. Last month he had died, and every mage order wanted to finally find out what his secret was.

    The Centaur Order would probably have had first pickings, due to the location, but they no longer existed, so the Pegasus Order was able to claim first look as Graphikion had been trained by them.

    Ikradion’s task was to travel to Graphikion’s residence, have a look around, and find his secret if he could. Sonjarina was along not to keep him out of danger, but to keep him safe through it. Having said this, neither of them expected their trip there to be particularly dangerous (the quest would have been given to a more experienced mage and protector if it was). So far her presence, in chainmail and with a long sword at her waist, had been sufficient.

    The sun was approaching the horizon in the west. Time to make camp – there was no point in trying to make it to the nearest village, for even many centuries after the incident there wasn’t a village within a day’s walk of old Cantris. Not even Graphikion moving in had been able to overcome the locals’ superstitions.

    They removed their packs and sat down on the ground. Ikradion got out his spellbook from its satchel and flipped through it. That spell, yes and that one. He cast the spells needed to keep their camp safe from bandits and wildlife.

    While Ikradion was spellcasting, Sonjarina extracted some of their stores of preserved meats, dried fruit and cheese. They didn’t have any wood with them, so they would have to eat their evening meal cold. They also had a drink of water from their canteens.

    After they had eaten, Ikradion lay down and went to sleep while Sonjarina took the first watch. Ikradion may have cast spells to protect their camp, but they weren’t prepared to rely on this. As they had experienced back in their Examination Quest some wild animals were immune to magic, and undetectable using it – neither wanted a repeat of the void wolf incident.

    It was full dark, with the moon shining bright overhead when Sonjarina woke Ikradion up to take the second watch. He still struggled to maintain his concentration during the long hours of a watch, but managed to avoid letting his protector down. It was a good watch as Sonjarina put it, a boring one as Ikradion still thought of it.

    At dawn he woke Sonjarina up, and the pair packed up their camp. A quick breakfast and another drink of water, and they headed off once more.

    It was mid-morning before they reached Graphikion’s dwelling. It was a single-storey building. The only door was on the far side of the house. It had no keyhole or handle.

    “Another door for you to unlock?” enquired Sonjarina.

    “Let’s hope I have a suitable spell.” Ikradion extracted his spellbook from his satchel. He selected the lowest energy unlocking spell he knew. It didn’t work. “We were never going to get lucky twice, were we?”

    Sonjarina chuckled at the reference to their first task on the Examination Quest. Ikradion selected a mid-range unlocking spell. That didn’t work either.

    Ikradion then selected the highest energy unlocking spell in his spellbook. It was a risk. Whether it worked or not he would probably be nearly drained for the rest of the day. But if he selected a lesser energy spell he didn’t think he’d be able to cast this one until tomorrow. To his great relief it worked. The door opened.

    On entering the house, the pair noted that there was no handle or latch on the inside either. So rather than allow the door to close on them, they used Ikradion’s pack to wedge it open.

    There were three rooms they discovered. The room where they entered was also a kitchen and dining room. Even better, it looked as if Graphikion had spelled a pipe to provide cold water on demand, so the pair refilled their canteens. He’d also collected a decent pile of wood for various heating and cooking purposes. The questers left the wood alone. If they were staying the night they might light a fire or two, but otherwise it might be better to leave the pile alone for the next visitors.

    To the left of the entrance cum kitchen cum dining room was a bedroom, complete with bed and chamber pot. A set of shelves on the wall appeared to have the remains of Graphikion’s spare robes.

    To the right of the entrance was a study. There was a desk and chair. On the desk was Graphikion’s spellbook, easily twice the thickness of Ikradion’s. Neither party attempted to lift it up – both knew that while spellbooks weigh next-to-nothing for their owner, everyone else has to lift the full weight, and this one looked very heavy.

    Opposite the desk was a shelf. A dusty, empty shelf. There was nothing else in the room. And this was the last room. There was nothing of any import in the house.

    Ikradion took out his spellbook. What spell could he cast that might reveal Graphikion’s secrets? He wasn’t sure what to do, so he put his spellbook down on the shelf.

    The shelf collapsed, and in surprise Ikradion let go of his spellbook. It fell to the floor, and the shelf returned to its previous state.

    “What in the Four Orders?” Ikradion tested the shelf. It was solid. He couldn’t move it up or down. The supports seemed solid as well.

    Sonjarina picked up his spellbook. She lifted it with some difficulty and put it back on the shelf. The shelf held.

    Or it did until Ikradion put his hand to his spellbook in order to pick it back up again. The shelf collapsed instantly. This time Ikradion kept his hand on his spellbook. As the shelf passed 45 degrees there was a click, and a secret door, hidden behind the shelf opened outwards.

    Beyond the opening door was a stair leading downwards. Ikradion stepped forwards and held the door open.

    “Clever,” commented Sonjarina. “Only a mage can open the secret door, and only by doing something most mages won’t do.”

    The pair headed down the stairs. Magical lighting lit the way. One floor down (at least that was what it felt like) the stairway opened into a chamber.

    As they stepped into the chamber magical lighting illuminated the contents: a set of shelves full of old books. Ikradion studied the titles.

    “Magica and Arcana by Kastion, Ancient Arts by Palirina, On the Theory of Magery by Ithikion…” Ikradion tailed off in wonder.

    “Are these rare?” asked Sonjarina.

    “Yes. The only known copy of some of these works was in the library of the Cantris School before the incident.”

    “How important is this collection?”

    “From a historical perspective, priceless. Some of these books contain the first recorded examples of certain spells and theories. From a practical perspective, very little. Virtually all of the magic ideas first expressed in these tomes have been replicated elsewhere, in widely available works.”

    “What do you think we should do?”

    “We can’t carry even a fraction of this hoard back with us. I suggest we take a tome each as demonstration of what we’ve discovered. Then we shut this library back up and head back to the Pegasus Order.”

    The pair did as Ikradion suggested. Ancient Arts went in Sonjarina’s pack. On the Theory of Magery was carried up the stairs and put in Ikradion’s pack, still wedging the front door open. Everything was shut up, their packs went back on their backs, and the pair headed back.

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  2. [eek, running late, so, a quick glimpse…]

    AC Young dealt the cards…

    Should she play the Ace of Rockets, or would that be trumped? (Oh, why did they have to change the suits of the cards – she didn’t think she’d ever get used to the new ones!)

    [rockets beat sprockets, and solar flares glare at stars, but nuclear blasts beat them all, bursting in the air!]

    She looked across the little kitchen table, and her grandpa winked at her. He always expected his partner to play the right cards, and she just wasn’t sure. She looked at the cards in her hands and shook her head. Should she play the Ace of Rockets, or would that be trumped? (Oh, why did they have to change the suits of the cards – she didn’t think she’d ever get used to the new ones!)

    Her little brother bounced in his chair to her right.

    “Hurry up, we haven’t got all day, you know?”

    Grandma chuckled.

    “What, are you in a hurry to get to the pie?”

    Now she nodded, and pulled the Ace of Rockets out of her hand. She laid it down on the table, and her brat of a brother started laughing. She looked at him, and he grinned, pulling a card out of his hand.

    “There you go! A nuclear blast to blow your Ace of Rockets out of space! Boom!”

    He laid the card over hers, and she frowned. Rockets, sprockets, solar flares, and stars. Plus those dratted nuclear blasts! At least there were only two of those in the deck… wait a minute. She reached out and flipped the cards over.

    “What are you doing?” Her brother gasped.

    She looked at the designs. Hah! They didn’t match.

    “Just wondering how you managed to play three nuclear blasts, when there are only two in the deck. I guess somehow that one from another deck got mixed into your hand, right?”

    Now her brother stood up and glared.

    “Are you saying I’m cheating?”

    Grandpa reached out and spread the cards.

    “Now, it does appear that this nuclear blast came from another deck. I’m sure it was just a mistake, so maybe we should stop playing cards and get a slice of that pie?”

    Grandma stood up and swept the cards off the table.

    “That sounds like a good idea. So, who wants a slice?”

    [little brothers are like that… even with new suits in the cards!]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yeah! I mean, there’s the kids and their interest in fantasy, along with someone’s troubled memories, and that clone in there… Worldbuilding flashbacks galore! YAY!

      Like

      • I hope to. It’s out of three sequences of novels that are all interrelated, and which lead up to the Shepardsport stuff. Some of it has its roots in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, when I was in junior high and high school, and I’m only now getting the necessary skills to give a proper treatment to a lot of characters and themes that are near and dear to my heart..

        My biggest problem right now is time. Between the demands of the retail business and the problem of family members dumping household stuff into my lap, it’s really hard to come by the sustained writing time I need for producing novel-length works.

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