Based on the feedback (yes, Orvan, you do have a voice, even if it mostly says Moo) we’re going to omit the emotions added to the prompts. Although it might be interesting to make the emotions the prompts… Just assign an emotion? That might be a thing next week. Writing to evoke an emotion is difficult, but modeling it with a character’s actions is a good exercise, rather than just stating the character feels such and such. For this week, though, we have our usual assortment of wildly creative (coffcoff) suggestions.
|AC Young||The sun and the clouds make pictures on the ground.||Fiona Grey|
|Fiona Grey||The rock-stretching man finished his latest piece and…||nother Mike|
|Becky Jones||The fire got cranky.||AC Young|
|nother Mike||The tadpoles swimming in the punch were unusual…||Leigh Kimmel|
|Leigh Kimmel||On the ground you find a silver coin — from three centuries in the future.||Cedar Sanderson|
|Cedar Sanderson||Up into glory||Becky Jones|
And the spares, for those of you who don’t do challenges and thrown gauntlets and all that.
|Spare||I love to tell the story, the old old story…|
|Spare||One potato, two potato, three potato… A STORE!|
|Spare||When he put his hand on the holy book, it caught fire…|
|Spare||Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea…|
Don’t forget to leave your response, or a link to your response, in the comments. Images don’t work in comments, sadly, so you’d have to host those elsewhere.
Have at it!
In this week’s prompt cycle, I received the offering of Becky Jones: The fire got cranky.
A fire gets cranky – it sounds like there’s a fire elemental in there somewhere. I’ve got a magical world from week 21 that people would like me to explore further, so here goes:
Harry was feeling good. For the first time since he had started learning the art of ritual magic – he didn’t have any innate magical ability, so would only ever be a ritualist – his trainers at the Walsall training coven had permitted him to cast a spell without supervision.
He had chosen a fire spell. He set up the sticks of wood in the centre of his working area – only a few small ones, his goal was to prove that he could light a fire, so it didn’t matter if it burned out quickly. Then he got out the chalk – white and orange for this spell.
Harry set about marking out the pattern that controlled the magic he’d be using. Step-by-step, every line needed to be in just the right place. He left certain key points blank – these he’d fill in at the end to complete the circuit and initiate the spell – he didn’t want to initiate a partial spell early and ruin the ritual he was attempting.
Then the stick of white chalk ran out. The pattern still required lines of white chalk to be drawn. He should go back to the stores and get some more white chalk out, but he was feeling impatient. He wanted to cast the spell. He’d already drawn the primary control elements. There were only the secondary control elements still to complete. Surely it didn’t matter too much if he used orange chalk for all the remaining lines – it was a fire-based spell after all, and orange chalk was de rigour for such spells.
Time to complete the circuit. Harry filled in the gaps with the orange chalk – he should have completed most with the white chalk, but he’d already decided to finish the pattern using only the orange.
The last gap filled, this was the point at which the magic should start to work as directed. And he smiled as the sticks burst into flame.
Then his smile drained from his face. Something was wrong. The sticks burned up more quickly than he was expecting, but the fire didn’t die down. It kept going, almost as if there was some external force maintaining it.
Harry didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t have the magical abilities to see the flows of magic to interpret the situation.
Harry called over the coven’s Supervising Magician for tonight, George Paulson.
“The fire’s not dying down, and I don’t know why.”
“You need to release the summoning,” replied George.
“I don’t understand.”
“Did you mean to summon a fire elemental?”
“No. I just wanted to light a fire.”
George breathed deeply and slowly. “An unintended summoning. That means that you don’t know the release pattern. And I don’t want to guess one. The elemental is already getting visibly irritated.”
George took another breath. “Fine. I’ll try this.”
George did something. Harry didn’t know what, as it looked like he was free casting, and Harry couldn’t sense the resultant magical flows. Whatever it was worked, for the fire finally died out.
“Right. What did you do?”
Harry started to explain. When he got to the point where he’d switched to all-orange, George interjected “You did what?”
Harry explained that section again.
“You have no idea how fortunate you just were. We haven’t taught you the importance of colour yet. Next week we’ll explain why you can’t draw a line in any colour you feel like, but have to use the colour specified in the spell’s pattern. In the meantime you’re going back on the supervised list, and your next task is to copy out exactly what spell pattern you used.”
Harry went to the store cupboard, and got out the special pattern paper used for the purpose (grey so that any white lines could be clearly seen). He also claimed white and orange coloured pencils. Then he carefully copied out the pattern he used onto the paper. As with the pattern-proper he left the key points blank. Then rather than fill in the blanks as he had done for the pattern he was copying (which might cause the pattern to operate as a spell), he put a small orange circle in each gap, in each case carefully not connecting the circle to any of the lines around it.
Task complete, Harry handed in the paper to George, who double-checked it against the pattern still present on the ground.
“Good. I’ll pass this on to the theoreticians, and they’ll figure out what it was that you did. Now, you can tidy up your spell, and we’ll leave it there.”
Harry nodded. He collected a dustpan and brush, then carefully brushed the chalk he’d used into the dustpan, doing his best to first break the spell pattern and then not accidentally create another. The used chalk then went into the bin set aside for that purpose.
Harry glanced at his watch. It was almost time for his father to pick him up. He wandered over to chat with some of his fellow trainee ritualists. He wasn’t going to tell them what he’d done if he could help it. Oh, well – until next week.
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And why didn’t they teach about color before they asked them to do a color-sensitive ritual? Nicely done!
Every training coven does it differently. This one teaches precision first, and theory later.
Initially, all the rituals are supervised, so if a trainee tries to use the wrong colour for a given line, this will be spotted before it is too late – ideally before the line is drawn. If a trainee does use the wrong colour for a line, the supervisor will notice and order it corrected – which may mean rubbing out the entire pattern so far and starting again from scratch.
Only once the coven is confident the trainee can be sufficiently precise do they permit them to perform the ritual unsupervised. At this stage the trainees should be merely copying rituals from the books, not doing any experiments.
Only when most of the trainees have mastered precision do the coven start to teach them the theory. Initially the justification for the necessary precision – pairs of spells that have very different effects due to a single change in line alignment, or node position, or line colour. These theory lessons are considered essential and compulsory. The more esoteric aspects of the theory are only taught to the willing.
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Here I just thought it was the normal problem that a teacher must teach one thing at a time, and getting the order right is hard! But you’ve got a rationale for it! Yay!
Fiona Grey rolled the dice with…
The rock-stretching man finished his latest piece and…
Gregory looked at the piles of river smoothed stones surrounding him and sighed. He knew that his talent was a real aid to the village, but sometimes he got so bored with it. Take this stone, knead it, stretch it, pull here, push there, and… another plate. Or a mug. Or something else needed in the village.
Just then, he finished his latest piece and set it aside. Another ten plates done. That’s when Wilma raced in, dragging both a bag full of more stones and her little boy, Arnold. She smiled at him, and said, “Can I leave Arnold with you for a little while? I need to do some shopping, and he gets so bored with it.”
Gregory chuckled. “Sure, he can sit here and help me.”
She dashed out, and Gregory picked up a stone and pulled on it. It started to stretch.
Arnold looked at it, and said, “That one wants to be a bird.”
Gregory looked at the stone, already starting to stretch in his fingers, and cocked his head. A bird? Well…
He let his fingers play with the stone. Moments later, the stone had turned into a small winged bird. He handed it to Arnold, who smiled at it. He took it in his little hands and stroked it.
Gregory picked up another stone, and held it up. He looked at Arnold.
“What about this one?”
Arnold shook his head. “Oh, that one just wants to be a plate. Boooring.”
Gregory laughed, and quickly stretched the stone into a plate, adding it to the stack he had already made.
Then he picked up another one. Arnold was stroking the stone bird, and watching him.
“That one wants to be a giraffe!”
Gregory smiled, and stretched the stone, four long legs, a tail, and a long, long neck sticking up.
When Wilma came back, she apologized for leaving Arnold there so long. Gregory just smiled, and told her she could leave him there any time she wanted. She frowned, and said, “But what about your work? Doesn’t he distract you?”
Gregory waved at the work he had gotten done, and at the little pile of other stones, turned into art, that Arnold had suggested.
“Actually, he helped me a lot. See, I can stretch the stones, but he stretches my imagination. And I could use the help!”
Wilma looked more puzzled, but she said she would bring Arnold to visit soon.
And Gregory wondered what kind of stones they would stretch next time!
[ah, a little flaky, but…]
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I like it! Gregory can add the art stones to his repertoire and sell them too!
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And now mine is up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1173549.html. Memory can be painful sometimes — and kids can be mean to someone whose differences mark her out.
Ouch! Well done!
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Okay! And then what happened at the Dragon’s Tale?
I’m working on it!
[…] This week’s prompt was sparked by AC Young: The sun and clouds make pictures on the ground. […]
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Aha! The sky points the way! Yay!
Better late than never, I suppose. And I just realized that I forgot to include backlinks. *facepalm* https://www.cedarwrites.com/2022/07/05/odd-prompts-toss-a-coin/
What is this late of which you speak? Oh, a siren song across time? I hear the future calling? Well done!
[…] You can read the prompt responses and more at More Odds Than Ends. […]