Week 37 of Odd Prompts

How to odd prompt

Hail and well met, fair stranger and friend alike! Hie thee to the Land of Prompting, where creative endeavors are delightfully devoured once produced. Said land is just yonder, but a few spaces below.

PrompterPost hoc, ergo propter hocPrompted
Cedar SandersonYou don’t have to go that far, you could just…nother Mike
Fiona GreyEveryone looked forward to the annual water pig races. (See pork festival photo at link.)AC Young
AC YoungNo matter how dark the clouds, the sun still shines.Padre
PadreHer cup of coffee sat cooling between themBecky Jones
Becky JonesHe paced in the driveway, impatiently waiting for the mail to arrive.Cedar Sanderson
Leigh KimmelAfter many years you return to one of your favorite childhood vacation spots and discover…Fiona Grey
nother MikeIt’s my birthday and I’ll scream if I want to… You would scream too…Leigh Kimmel

Fear not, if thy forgetfulness overcame intent! A gracious hostess has a plan; partake in spares, if so inclined.

Spare“Even the weather mourns…”
Spare“When the gods cry, it’s us mere mortals who suffer.”
SpareWhen you enter the 4 1/2th circle of hell…
SpareThe mites of Yosemite
Spare“Transparency was supposed to be about openness, not taken literally!” shouted the skeleton with madly waving arms.

A most excellent journey to us all!

Header image by Fiona Grey

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16 comments

  1. Fiona Grey’s offering cycled round to me this week: Everyone looked forward to the annual water pig races.

    I wasn’t able to view the photo, so I went with the text alone.

    Every autumn there was the Autumn Fair. For a number of years, the highlight was the water pig races.

    Teams of four competed. Each of them tried to carry a water balloon shaped like a pig (the water pig) around an obstacle course over, under or through the various obstacles. If the water pig burst they would collect another one, and continue on until their allotment ran out.

    The first race was a decade ago. That year it was just one race, six teams of adults. Initially there was only one rule. The team to get the furthest won.

    The practice race didn’t go well. Five of the teams took it very seriously, and went around the course very slowly, taking every possible care. Only one team tried to go around as quickly as possible, and appeared to be having great fun as they did so.

    So a new rule was introduced: Any team that fell sufficiently far behind the leaders would be disqualified. This was coupled with an increase of the allotment to five water pigs per team. Surprisingly it worked better than anyone expected. The contest became one where the teams attempted the obstacles as quickly as possible to avoid disqualification. The teams took plenty of risks, and so everyone quickly became soaked – but everyone had plenty of fun.

    Over time the event was expanded. This year there were four races. Each of the local secondary schools entered a team in the boys’ race and a team in the girls’ race – with three water pigs each. Then various groups entered teams in the men’s and women’s races – still with five water pigs each.

    The fans congregated around the outside of the course. Children were in the front so they could see, adults were towards the back. Every year the front rows got soaked by the bursting water pigs, but no-one cared. Many of their parents were sprayed as well.

    The boys’ teams, four of them, congregated at the starting line. They wore the team colours: red, blue, green, or white; and held the first of their water pigs, the same colour as the team wore. Each team’s other pair of water pigs were held inside the oval course for when they would be needed.

    The whistle blew, and they were off. They scrambled their way around the course. The first water pig burst before the first obstacle was over. The teams kept going. The winners nearly made it all the way round to the starting line before the last of the blue water pigs burst. Every one of the contestants had enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and the audience had great big smiles on their faces.

    The next race was the girls’ race. Four teams of four, with the same four colours. The whistle blew. Despite everyone’s best efforts they didn’t quite get as far as the boys. It didn’t matter, for all the girls had had a great time.

    The women’s race was next. The local hospital held the women’s course record, as well as having won the race for the past five years. The four of them wore purple. The other teams – wearing red, green, white, blue and yellow – were determined to end their run.

    At the sound of the whistle the teams ran forwards. One of the teams of teachers (the sports teachers in green, not the ‘other subjects’ team in yellow) took the lead over the first obstacle. They kept the lead over the start line and into the second lap, although the hospital was close behind. Both had burst three of their water pigs, many of the other teams were now on their last.

    The sports teachers made it half-way around the second lap before their fifth water pig blew, spraying water over all of them. All eyes flashed backwards to the only other team still running. The hospital team were still completing the previous obstacle. Then their last water pig blew. The hospital had lost for the first time in half a decade.

    The hospital captain, still with a smile on her face, approached the teachers, held out her hand, and said “Well done.” The captains shook hands.

    The men’s race was the finale. The team from the local army barracks hadn’t entered last year due to deployments, and were determined to regain their title. In their absence the local gym had won, and were here to defend the crown.

    The whistle blew, and everyone exploded into action. The barracks and gym teams were neck and neck through the first lap. They pulled further away from the remaining four teams on the second lap. By the end of the second lap they were the only two teams left in it, and were on their last water pig each. They both attempted the first obstacle again. The army team pulled slightly ahead, but burst their water pig getting down the far side. But the loud bang and sudden spray of water caused the gym team to fumble their water pig, and it burst too. The army team had reclaimed the crown.

    The races were over for another year. All had had a great time, and most were already looking forwards to next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cedar Sanderson smote…

    You don’t have to go that far, you could just…

    [this popped into my head…]

    Kelly started chuckling as Helen described what the mystic had told her to do for a warding.

    “First, you have to draw the inner circle.” Helen stared at the wall as she talked, her hands waving as she thought through the steps. “In white, starting at the north edge of your circle, going clockwise, in one continuous flowing arc until you complete the circle. No breaks or interruptions.”

    “Then, draw the outer circle.” She smiled now, evidently remembering each step. “Start at the southern edge this time, and go counterclockwise. Again, one continuous arc until you complete the circle, without any breaks or interruptions.”

    “Next, you draw the four mystic symbols of power in the space between the inner and outer circles. East first, where the sun rises, then west. North, and south. In between the mystic symbols, you put the candles and incense cones.”

    Kelly laughed out loud at this point. Helen bit her lip and looked at him.

    “I’m sorry,” Kelly said, “but your mystic master was carried away. You don’t have to go that far, you just need some kind of border that you can concentrate on. In fact, almost anything will do. Heck, I’ve used a hula hoop!”

    “Look, there’s three parts to an effective ward.” Kelly lifted his fingers as he named them. “A border, your will, and the one that we can’t change, the power in you.”

    “Power?” Helen looked puzzled.

    “Yep. Power.” Kelly nodded. “Look, you draw a circle or something, and concentrate on it. Then you need the will, the intention to make a ward. And then, from the depths of your soul, the power will or will not flow. That’s something that maybe you’re born with, or maybe it’s a gift from somewhere, but none of us can give it to you or teach it to you if you don’t have it. I’m guessing your mystic master was getting all of you involved in that ritual so that at least one of you would probably have the power and make the ward for him. But if you have the power, you don’t need anyone else.

    Helen nodded.

    “Okay. I know when we did it, I thought I felt something, but I just guessed everyone else did too.”

    [hum. Now why are they trying to make a ward? And what happens next? Stay tuned!]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AC Young prompted me with “No matter how dark the clouds, the sun still shines.”

    “I don’t like the look of this weather. Do we have any idea where that son of a whore is hiding?” There were clouds on the horizon and a scent in the air that promised rain.
    “Be nice, Drak. The ladies of the evening in his hometown have standards. They refused to service his father, requiring him to go find a donkey to breed with. And no, I don’t know where he is.”
    “We checked his house, but it was empty. We checked the livery stables, but they hadn’t seen him. If he has gone to ground, we will have to watch you overnight again. And if he gets out of the city, who knows how long it will be until we can deal with him.”
    “I know, Drak. I know. But it’s my life that is in the balance here, not yours.”
    “True. And by my ancestors, Vinal, if the shadow gets you, I will track that pig-fornicator down and stake him myself, though I die in the attempt.”
    Vinal looked at him, surprised at the vehemence in his voice. He nodded, solemnly. “I hope it doesn’t come that, my friend,” he said softly. “There is one more place we can look. We must check his warehouse before we give up for the day.”
    “We won’t give up for the day. We will search until the daylight fades, then escort you home under torch and lantern light. For as long as it takes.”
    Vinal looked at Drak and the rest of the men around him and nodded. He owed every one of them his life, many times over. And today might be the deadliest day any of them had ever faced. He shook his head. ”Come, Drak. Let’s get this done.”
    The loose knot of dangerous men stalked through the city, heading towards the merchant district. One glance at the hard faces of the men convinced many ordinary citizens to give them a wide berth, and even gave pause to the normal small bands of cutthroats and brigands that haunted the poorer quarters of the city. Drak was known enough that few would have tried them anyway, but the small band of guards presented what his second-in-command called a “hard target.” It was obvious to everyone they passed that they would not get enough, even from the rich merchant, to be worth the price they would exact from any who attacked. Only the well-trained city guardsmen looked them in the eye as they passed and they gave them the nod of respect due one professional from another.
    They were closing on Fillon’s warehouse when a wall of black clouds swept over the sun. Drak muttered a foul oath as the light began to dim. “Hurry!” he cried. “Get him under light.”
    The rain fell in sheets, sweeping across the cobblestones, making it impossible to keep a torch lit. The street under the guardsmen’s feet was suddenly slick, treacherous footing for the last race to the warehouse where they hoped to find the sorcerer that had summoned the shadow.
    Drak looked around and cursed. “Move! Here it comes!” He grabbed Vinal and hurried him along up the street towards the warehouse as his men responded instantaneously to his command. They sprinted as a group, barely keeping their footing on the rain-slick stones.
    Suddenly, Drak swore again and pushed Vinal sideways, then spun on his toes, not quite avoiding a slash from the set of claws that went through his armor as it wasn’t there and burned ice across his chest. He instinctively drew his sword and slashed at creature that had jumped in front of him and his master. The sword whisked through empty air as the creature jumped again.
    A few seconds later the rain began to let up slightly and the blackness faded to gray, just as the band of hunters arrived at the warehouse.
    The door shattered at Drak’s kick and Vinal and Drak led their followers into a cavernous space lit by flickering torches. Deep inside they saw a man quickly trying to hitch a horse to a wagon.
    “Going somewhere, Fillon?” Vinal called. “It’s a little late in the day to be leaving. Night will fall on you before you’re even an hour out of the gates. One wonders why you’re in such a hurry.”
    Fillon looked up from his fumbling attempts with the tack. “I have my reasons. The fact that you’re after me is reason enough. Though why you pursue me is a question the authorities might want to know the answer to, as well.”
    Drak seemed to listen to something for a second, then began to stalk towards the merchant with his sword at ready. “He’s the one. His soul is stained with the foul magic.”
    “Not that you can prove. Not until it’s too late for Vinal.”
    “I don’t need to prove it to anyone. My grandfather sees it on you.”
    “Well, I don’t see your grandfather here, and the testimony of a barbarian, no matter how old, will never hold up in a court of law in the Empire.”
    Drak didn’t bother to respond as he continued forward towards the fat merchant, Vinal a step behind him, and the rest of his warriors spreading out in their wake.
    Fillon blanched as he saw his doom approaching, then began to back away, towards the wall of the warehouse. He reached it just as Drak reached him and Drak reached out with his left hand, grabbed the merchant by the front of his shirt, and dragged him up on his tiptoes and into his face.
    “You have no idea what you’ve done. You think you are untouchable because of your wealth, power, and position. You think you will answer to no one for your actions, that only power matters in the end. But I’m here to tell you that it ends here, as do you.”
    Vinal placed his hand Drak’s shoulder before his sword began to move. “It’s my right to take the first cut,” he told him.
    Drak looked back over his right shoulder at Vinal and began to nod, then suddenly threw Fillon violently to the side… just in time to intercept the rake of the shadowy claws that were aiming for Vinal’s chest. Fillon’s face froze in horror, then he tumbled to the floor as the claws ripped him almost in half.
    “That ended well,” said Vinal, as they exited the warehouse.
    The sudden storm had passed on and the westering sun shone through the dark storm clouds to make a brilliant rainbow over the city.
    “We got lucky,” Drak told him.
    “Well, yes. But we make our own luck. Your skills, your grandfather’s wisdom, and the strength of your men’s sword arms carried the day. Still, I think this city may be a little to hot for me for a while, as there are bound to be questions asked when his body is found.”
    Drak nodded. “Where do you feel like trading next, Vinal?”
    “I think we should head south to Farthin.”
    “I’ve never been there. It sounds lovely.”
    The setting sun paved the street in gold as the two men began to lay plans for their next venture.

    Not my best story, but it finishes this one out.

    Liked by 3 people

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