Coffee in hand, you might wander in, wondering what this week will bring. Can’t speak for anywhere else, but here at MOTE, it’s going to be a good one. Prompts to wake the brain up, like the coffee (or tea, or chocolate, or… squints what is that in your cup, anyway?) will. You never know what will become of them once they take up residence in your brain. Like squirrels in the attic, only friendlier.
|AC Young||The golden-age of steam. An overnight train trip. The first-class passengers have an evening string quartet concert scheduled.||nother Mike|
|Padre||Betsy woke up to the horrible, unmistakable sound of a cat horking up its dinner.||Becky Jones|
|Becky Jones||He disappeared with a loud “pop!”||Padre|
|Fiona Grey||“I miss the lightning bugs.”||Cedar Sanderson|
|Leigh Kimmel||Let’s go with a picture prompt this week. (hopefully in media?)||AC Young|
|nother Mike||There were footprints in the jello in the refrigerator…||Fiona Grey|
|Cedar Sanderson||The un-rescued princess||Leigh Kimmel|
If you didn’t toss a prompt into the challenge, feel free to grab a spare. For that matter, if you did take a challenge, add a spare for extra points (kidding, we don’t score this thing. But you can assign yourself points, or a gold star for doing your weekly writing/art/whatever if you want). See you in the comments!
|Spare||Clash of the Eagles.|
|Spare||Our love was hypersonic|
|Spare||The accidental invasion was resolved the old-fashioned way, with marriages stretching across the space dynasties.|
|Spare||The aliens arrived in flying teacups, and were rather bemused that anyone took flying saucers at all seriously.|
|Spare||“Terrorist hotline. What sort of terrorist are you interested in?”|
|Spare||The Paradox considered the situation and then did something its kind were most decidedly _not_ known for; It *boggled*.|
bonus visual prompt:
I had a little more freedom this week, with Leigh Kimmel supplying the prompt: Let’s go with a picture prompt this week. (hopefully in media?)
This could be taken in one of two directions. Since I’m a terrible artist, I went down the route of grabbing a picture to use as a prompt. And since it allowed me to respond to two prompts with one reply I took the bonus picture above.
Unfortunately I don’t think my scene matches the beauty of the original picture.
Klir-Gilik sat down at the table on the balcony of his mansion. Opposite him sat Miri’elk, who was his guest this afternoon. To his right, a rose in bloom climbed proudly over the safety fencing. He signalled to his servants, and they came outside and served the two men with tea.
Klir-Gilik sipped his tea leisurely. To the casual observer he was enjoying the view, but he kept a watch of his guest out of the corner of his eye.
Miri’elk paused his tea drinking, and made his opening gambit. “Your domain looks to be thriving.”
Klir-Gilik smiled, as he was expected to do, not that he trusted the compliment. Despite the friendship that had developed between the two men, they remained servants of rival powers.
Klir-Gilik was the governor of North Haskedra, at the far end of the Empire of Kerasis. On the other side of the mountain range called the Skeds by the Kerasians was the province of East Larasin, part of the Republic of Derastin, and Miri’elk was the governor of East Larasin.
Kerasis and Derastin had been rivals for centuries. Most of the time they tried to expand their influence by engaging in proxy wars and diplomatic games. But there was always a risk of a war directly between the two rivals.
Neither Klir-Gilik nor Miri’elk had any interest in seeing war erupt. In fact it was in both their interests for both their governments to look as far away from the Sked range as possible.
The foothills of the Skeds were prime tea growing lands, not that either government realised. Tea growers in both provinces made a fortune selling the leaves. Both Klir-Gilik and Miri’elk took a cut of those profits in exchange for misreporting their income – and thus cutting the tax payable by the growers.
Both of the men would lose a fortune if their government were to properly audit their province – and both knew that the other knew it. But more importantly, if either government knew how profitable this “useless” land actually was now, war was almost inevitable. While both countries were happy to let the other have useless land the other side of the border, they had already gone to war several times in the last two hundred years over valuable land the wrong side of the border.
“It looks no worse than the other side of the mountains,” Klir-Gilik replied. For in truth the East Larasin foothills were just as lush with tea shrubs as the North Haskedran foothills the balcony overlooked.
Miri’elk made no obvious move in response, not that Klir-Gilik was expecting any. Both of them know how this game was played. They both complimented the other’s province, pretending that theirs was not that impressive.
“I heard a disturbing rumour the other day.” Miri’elk was switching to other topics much earlier than normal. “My government is thinking of promoting me, and giving East Larasin to someone more suited to a backwater.”
“Can you not bribe someone to blacken your name appropriately?” Klir-Gilik kept a mental shortlist of the worst possible things that could happen. A sudden replacement of Miri’elk with someone unwilling to play the game and keep their provinces safe from war was on the list.
“I don’t think I can. Laka’olf messed up in South Derastin so badly that only a punishment assignment will do – given that he’s too well connected to be summarily fired.”
“And East Larasin is at the far end of the Republic, and is dirt-poor according to the official records…”
“Not much better off than North Haskedra – according to the official records.”
“You will have to introduce me to your successor.” Klir-Gilik needed to come to a suitable arrangement with the new governor – or disaster would result. If his own government learned how much he was skimming from his province, and how much he was under-reporting the tax income – it didn’t bear thinking about.
“I believe I can bribe officialdom to engineer Laka’olf’s arrival before I have to hand over power. I will invite you over so that you can try to come to an arrangement.”
Klir-Gilik was not blind to the implications of that casual claim. He would need to (indirectly) pay most of the bribes – since he was the one who would be continuing to make a great deal of money from the continuing arrangements.
“Very well. May I wish you the best of success in your future career, and may we know peace for as long as we live.”
Miri’elk gave a dry chuckle. “To continued peace between our lands.”
Klir-Gilik went back to drinking his tea. As he finished his cup he signalled for the servants to pour him another. As he drank he perused his land, his domain. The future was suddenly uncertain, but there was little point worrying about it just yet.
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Oh, the mixed messages and agendas! And here comes a man who is being punished to mix into things? The plot thickens…
AC Young turned the clock back with…
The golden-age of steam. An overnight train trip. The first-class passengers have an evening string quartet concert scheduled.
[Shades of Hercule Poirot and Murder on the Orient Express? Or maybe…]
Herman tried it again. He and the rest of the quartet were scheduled to perform soon, for the delight of the select passengers here on the overnight express to Amsterdam, but… when he had started a quick practice of his solo, he just couldn’t quite seem to do it! Then he tried slowing down, and soon realized that underneath his own playing, the train went tick, tick, tick as it rolled along. And he found himself trying to match that rhythm instead of the pace that the solo demanded. Which left him racing and dragging and totally bewildered.
He put the bow down by his leg and looked at the violin. It was his favorite, and he had tuned it perfectly. But this tick, tick, tick… this was his first time riding in an express train, and his first time trying to play in such a venue. What was he going to do? He couldn’t ignore that background, not completely. Oh, maybe…
He tried sticking the corners of handkerchiefs in his ears. But… no, the tick, tick, tick still came through, bouncing up his bones from his feet. He couldn’t hear his own playing now, at least not very well, but that dratted ticking still came through. He yanked the handkerchiefs out of his ears and glared.
Then he told his violin.
“I am better than this. I have played with the audience clapping, out of rhythm. I have played with other musicians who could not keep the beat! I. Can. Do. This!”
He swept the bow up, took a deep breath, and started to play. Yes, the train was not keeping the beat, but he would!
He played through his piece. Then he played through the other pieces they would be playing. He kept the beat that he intended, not that tick, tick, tick rhythm.
When he stopped, he swept an ironic bow towards the wall of the compartment.
“Thank you for your encouragement. I hope you enjoy the show!”
Then he opened the door and walked out, to find the rest of the quartet and go perform. He smiled, thinking of the applause they would get.
And the train ticked on.
[ho, ho, ho. I kind of like that one!]
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An unintended metronome set to the wrong beat. A realistic, if unusual, problem. Good fun.
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[…] This week Padre and I traded prompts. He gave me: Betsy woke up to the horrible, unmistakable sound of a cat horking up its dinner. I’ve heard that sound and it’s really not pleasant. And if it’s the best thing you hear that day, well… My challenge to Padre was: He disappeared with a loud “pop!” I invite you to mosey on over to More Odds Than Ends and see what he and everybody else came up with. […]
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I traded prompts with Becky Jones this week and she challenged me with “He disappeared with a loud “pop”.”
I went with Robert Howard for this one.
The cloying scent of incense floated in the air as the man took a deep breath and began his incantation. He was stripped to the waist, his bare chest and round belly gleaming with sweat in the firelight of the flickering torches. The evening air barely stirred the curtains of the room.
The words he uttered had a weight to them, adding to the oppressiveness, words that no mortal tongue was meant to speak. Slowly the shadows in the room began to coalesce into a shape in the center of the salt circle that the man had drawn on the floor of the room, the shape of something out of the darkest nightmares of humanity, a thing that had roamed the plains of Doralan before the first cities had risen in the south, kept at bay by the fires that the first tribes that had into wandered those vast grasslands had learned to keep burning lest it or worse creatures should take one of theirs and disappear into the dark.
A guttural rasp came from within the darkness. “What do you seek? Why have you called me?”
“I seek death. The death of my rival, Vinal the Fat.”
The shape in the center of the salt circle seemed to nod, looking over the two items that were bound in the circle with it. The pile of hairs purchased from his rival’s barber through several intermediaries and a wooden bowl of mares’ blood, sacrificed to placate the spirit and give it the power needed to seek out its victim.
He… the man got the distinct impression that it was a he… He disappeared with a loud “pop.” The circle was empty except for the pristinely clean bowl that had held the blood.
The man took a deep breath. Though dangerous, it was a good night’s work. It was difficult to draw the attention, let alone bargain with, those ancient spirits. And if it were known that he were doing so, his life and fortune would be forfeit. He would be hunted down and impaled on a stake for the deed, for the emperor had decreed death for those who trafficked with demons. But the risk was worth it. He was now the only merchant in town who imported the silks of the Shan from far to the East, fabrics coveted by the nobility. His wealth would know no bounds. He smiled tightly to himself. Yes, it was worth it.
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He’ll be asking himself that question again when something comes back to him for payback…
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I think the payback is going to come from the captain of the intended victim’s caravan guards, not from the creatures he is bargaining with. They tend to be satisfied by the mare’s blood and the chance to hunt again.
I wimped out with a visual response. Art assisted by MidJourney. Really dang tired, sorry, but my son has his driver’s license, woo! https://www.cedarwrites.com/2022/08/30/odd-prompts-bioluminescence/
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I also wimped out with a visual response. Which was…not as expected. https://fionagreywrites.com/a-bento-box-of-dinosaurs/
And now mine is up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1203112.html. It proved to be yet another piece of the ongoing project.
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