writing prompt

Writing Prompt: Kingdom in Need

I felt like writing a darker story until I saw this writing prompt on Reddit.  A story popped into my head, and I knew I had found the one!  I actually wish I had taken more than an evening to write this one.  There are some details that I wanted to add to fill in some gaps and add more to the story.  However, it was already a bit long, and I think it’s important to stick with my time constraints and stay on schedule, so I made the decision to post as is.

This story is safe for all ages.  I enjoyed writing it and hope everyone enjoys reading it!

Writing Prompt: The only hope the kingdom has rests with a beautiful witch, a very loud princess, a clumsy thief, and a fairy that likes to set things on fire.

 

“GO LEFT!”

“Shhh!”

“Quiet!”

“Kara!”

Kara, Princess of Atimor, ducked her head, and felt her face heat in embarrassment, as princess she had never had reason to keep her voice down before.  Needless to say, she was still trying to get the hang of it.

“Sorry.” Her whisper must have been loud as well though, for her three companions cringed. She pointed down the left stone corridor, indicating, needlessly at this point, which way the dungeons were.

Aenaes, head of her father’s Mage Consul, gave her a look of forgiveness.  With long black hair, emerald green eyes, and a face bards wrote songs about, she was said to be one of the most beautiful women in the kingdom.  Something Kara’s mother always secretly mocked when no one else was around.  Her parents, the King and Queen, loved each other, but that didn’t mean her mother wasn’t a wee bit jealous where the beautiful witch was concerned.  Her mother had nothing to worry about though; occasionally Kara had heard her referred to as the Ice Queen from men.  Apparently she’d rebuffed many suitors.

Twig hovered a few inches above the ground, wings holding her aloft as she kept scanning the area around them.  Wings the color of flames, they’d had to use soot from their fireplace to darken them.  She wasn’t very happy about it, said it made her feel smothered.  Twig was a wood fairy from the neighboring Leafwillow Clan.  When she developed elemental powers, specifically that of fire, she had been fostered at Atimor Castle under an age old agreement between the two families.  Fire was one of the more difficult elements to control, though she had finally gotten the hang of it.  She was also Kara’s best friend… even though Kara had lost an antique chair, a favorite dress, and one time, a good hunk of hair due to their friendship.  They’d had to cut her hair really short and say she was trying out a new style.  Kara didn’t think they had fooled her mother, but she and Twig had found it hilarious that the hairstyle had become all the rage in the kingdom for brief time.

Nine Lives Jack, moved to peer around the corner, making sure the way was clear before the group moved on.  Jack had the bad luck to have been in her father’s dungeon at the time of The Great Betrayal. He had further bad luck when he picked his way out of his cell and been forced to hide deeper in the castle to avoid patrolling guards.  And then he had slipped and fallen through an illusion of a wall that Aenaes had constructed in a remote area of the keep.  Following the empty corridor hoping it would lead outside, he had only ended up nearly burnt to a crisp when he’d stumbled upon the place where Kara, Aenaes, and Twig had been hiding.  Only a timely trip on a loose stone tile had saved him from Twig’s flames.

Once tensions had died down, Jack, who turned out to be very charismatic, had convinced them to let him live.  Between arguments on whether they should stay put, find a way out, or try to reclaim the kingdom, they learned that he was called Nine Lives Jack because he should have been killed several times over long ago.  He had an uncommon ability to narrowly avoid death, usually by clumsy luck.

The four of them had hidden out in their makeshift bunker for several days while Kara and Twig argued with Aenaes about trying to take back the kingdom.  She wanted to try and smuggle Kara out of the castle to safety.  She needed a willing Kara for that to work though, and Kara was far from willing.

Fury burned in her gut just thinking about it.  Daryth, a longtime friend and emissary from the neighboring kingdom of Grailon had brought a wizard named Sehar with him on his latest visit.  Because Daryth had vouched for Sehar, he hadn’t been watched as closely as an unknown wizard usually would have been.

The night before he was to go before Atimor’s Mage Consul, a standard formality when one of magical persuasion visited a foreign kingdom, Sehar released an aural spell that entranced almost everyone in the castle and surrounding area, making them think he was the ruler.  Even the King and Queen had been entranced.  Aenaes and a dozen other witches had escaped the spell due to various protections they kept on themselves at all times.  But unwilling to hurt friends and family under entrancement, they didn’t put up much of a fight and were easily subdued and placed in the dungeons.

Kara and Twig had been outside castle grounds in the orchards at the time the spell went off.  Sometimes at night, Kara liked to lob apples in the sky and watch Twig try to shoot them down with fireballs.  They had snuck in and out of the castle without even knowing a spell had taken place.   Aenaes had used hidden passages to get to Kara’s room, where she had explained the madness that had befallen everyone.  The same passages had secreted them away to their hidden lair.

None of them were sure why Jack hadn’t fallen under the spell and he offered no suggestions when they questioned him.  Just a quirk of one dark brow and a small smile as he kept his secrets.

Though Aenaes held out for days, she had finally caved into Kara and Twig’s dogged persistence to take back the kingdom.  Kara got Jack to agree to help them in exchange for a full pardon of all his past crimes.  She wasn’t quite sure she had the authority to do that, but she was sure she could convince the King to grant the pardon.

It had taken two more days to work out a plan.  By that time supplies had run dangerously low, and the few attempts to venture out for more, had resulted in very close encounters with guards.  Sehar had reduced the intensity of the searches for the missing princess, probably thinking they had escaped the castle, but he still kept up enough patrols that it made it difficult to get around without being spotted.

Jack now held up a hand behind him, indicating for them to halt.  They had reached the last passage to the dungeons.  Voice lowered, he turned to them, “There are two guards stationed at the door.”

Aenaes nodded, her long black hair whispering over one shoulder.  “I can put them under a sleeping spell, but I have to get close to them.  Unfortunately they’re under strict command to kill me on sight.”

Jack leaned in close with a devilish grin.  “I can help with that.”  And he disappeared in to the storeroom on their left.  Aenaes looked her question at Twig and Kara.  They could only shake their heads and shrug.  Twig hovered a little higher and grinned in excitement at Kara.  She was actually enjoying this!

Jack came back out of the storeroom with a wooden tray and two goblets.  Twig flew to hover over his shoulder.  “Um, Jack, those are empty.”

Aenaes muttered a few words that Kara couldn’t catch and passed a hand over the goblets.  They were suddenly full of ale!  Before she could berate her for holding out on them though, Aenaes said, “Its illusion.  Don’t let them actually try to drink.”

Jack saluted her and disappeared around the corner.  A few seconds later they heard a loud, “Halt!”

“Refreshments for stationed guards, gents.  That’s all.”  No sooner had Jack spoken though, they heard a loud crash.  The obvious sound of dropped dishes.

Kara looked at the other two women, and all three rushed around the corner.  Jack had taken another fall and was just picking himself up from the floor.  Before the guards could notice them, Twig lobbed a fireball over their heads to land on the stone floor beyond them.  As the guards jumped and ran to put out the fire, Aenaes quickly rushed forward on silent feet, muttering under her breath.  She placed one hand on each guard and they crumpled to the floor, out cold.

“Sorry ladies.” Jack’s cheek were red with embarrassment.

Kara grinned and yanked the dungeon door open, revealing winding steps leading down.  “Don’t worry Jack, it could happen to anyone.”  Groaning loudly, she froze as her voice echoed loudly down the stairway.

Twig hovered behind her, peering down the stone steps.  “Maybe no one heard?”

From below the sounds of men yelling and boots pounding on stone rose up to greet them.

Twig glowed brightly, readying herself.  “Well that answers that!”

Just then, three guards appeared below them, all brandishing swords.  Twig made to throw a fireball, but Kara grabbed her arm.  “Twig, no!”

Aenaes shoved between the two of them to place herself on the top step.  Rapid words in another language filled the air and suddenly the passageway became cold… very cold… in fact, their breath started to mist before them and ice was forming on the walls!

Feeling a tug on her dress, Kara looked behind her.  Twig moved back a bit and emitted a warm glow from her entire body.  Understanding, Jack and Kara quickly moved to stand near her heat.

The guards were struggling to get up the icy steps now.  Aenaes spread her arms as wide as the passage would allow and a strong wind sprang out of nowhere and blew into the men.  All three went tumbling back down the staircase.  Gasping, Kara rushed forward to gape in disbelief at the darkness below, Twig and Jack right behind her.

“Now I get it!  The Ice Queen!”

“Jack!”  Kara frowned at him, but she saw Twig struggling to control her grin.

With a small smile that showed no offense, Aenaes gestured down the steps.  “Twig, would you mind?”

“Oh!  Yes!”  Flying ahead of them, Twig heated the passage, clearing their way of ice.

The three men lay in a heap at the bottom of the stairs.  Thankfully all three were groaning so were still alive.  After Aenaes put them under a sleep spell, they were able to finally enter the dungeon where they were met with shouts of astonishment and greetings from the imprisoned witches and wizards.

Quickly freeing her friends from the magic nullifying prisons, Aeanes laid out their plan to the others.  Collective grins all around, the others agreed to help.  They wanted their home back, their family, their friends.

Now backed by a dozen witches and wizards, they quickly made their way back through the castle, quickly nullifying anyone they came across.  The only reason Sehar had managed to imprison everyone before was due surprise and confusion.

A heavyset wizard named Crixos, had just put the two guards stationed outside the throne room under a sleep spell.  He, and a witch Kara didn’t know, pushed open the heavy doors.  The mob flowed into the grand room, where Sehar had jumped up in surprise from the throne.  Kara’s parents and the emissary from Grailon stood off to the side, bearing trays like servants.

“Wha-?  Guards!”

Kara moved forward, her voice booming over the angry crowd.  “They won’t help you Sehar.  Give up and let my parents go!”

“You!”  Striding forward, Sehar moved down several steps of the raised dais.  His dark robes flared out as he began an incantation.  Kara knew his wouldn’t be a harmless sleep spell.

Shouts rose from the other mages and they began their own invocations.  Kara was surprised to see several of them chanting together and making the same symbols in the air.  Aenaes and Crixos were moving in synchronization, their movements beautiful.  She had never seen the Mage Consul work together like this.  Magic began building in the room sending goosebumps down her arms.

Suddenly afraid of what was about to happen, Kara grabbed Jack’s arm and pulled him towards her parents.  They were now huddled behind the dais with Daryth, watching with wide eyes.  “Mom!  Dad!”

The spell still had them in its grip though, for when they spotted her all three rushed forward to grab them.  Jack’s luck chose that moment to kick in again, and he tripped on the hem of her dress, sending all of them sprawling to the floor.

Finding herself on her back, grappling with her mother, Kara caught the sight of Twig flying over them, unsure of what to do.  She couldn’t use her fire or she’d hurt someone!

Feeling a sharp pain on her scalp as her mom pulled her hair, Kara cried out.  Praying for forgiveness, and not to be grounded for life, she pulled back and took a swing at her mom.  Her fist connected with her mother’s cheek and knocked her off Kara.  Her legs were stuck under Daryth though as he wrestled with Jack, who was trying to fight both men without hurting them.

On the other side of the dais, the room lit up with lightening, fire, and different colors of magic as the Mage Consul battled Sehar.

Managing to free one foot, Kara kicked with all her strength, connecting with side of Daryth’s head and knocking him out.  Quickly freeing herself, she struggled to her feet just as her mom took a swing at her.

She had just barely managed to avoid the fist, when a foot flew above her, kicking her mom square in the jaw and sending her flying onto her back where she lay, incapacitated.  Not sure if she should be angry or grateful, Kara waved to Twig in thanks.  They both turned to help Jack with her father.

Only to find him tying the struggling king with a rope from one of the window tapestries.  Kara turned away, unable to watch her dad yell incoherently as he struggled against his bonds.

All three became aware of the sudden silence in the room at the same time.  Rounding the dais, they found Aenaes struggling to hold Sehar with a containment spell.  Of the dozen or so mages that had entered the throne room, only two were left standing with Aeanes, and they seemed to be working on a different spell in tandem.

Sweat pouring down her face, Aenaes shouted at the two mages.  “Hurry up!”

Sehar yelled in anger and frustration, a terrifying sound that rattled the castle walls.  A burst of magic abruptly exploded from him, knocking all three mages down.  Staggering and breathing hard, he made his way towards Aenaes who lay still on the stone floor.  Coughing harshly between words, he started an incantation that had his hands glowing a deadly green color.

“NO!” Screaming, Kara rushed forward, knowing she’d be too late.

Two fireballs rapidly hit Sehar in the back and he doubled over, his robes on fire.  Turning, madness in his eyes, he lobbed the deadly green glow at Twig who managed to dart out of the way, flinging her own magic back at him.

Reaching Aenaes, Kara knelt beside her still body, wiping a dark strand of hair away from her face.  Jack appeared on her other side and felt for a pulse in her neck.  “She’s alive.”  His words brought thankful tears to her eyes.

A wave of heat had them looking up at Twig who was glowing so brightly now, they had to shield their eyes.  Sehar continued to throw magic at her, but she flew too fast for him to hit anything.  His screams of anger were chilling in their insanity.

“Jack!  Help me!”  Kara knew what Twig was about to do, and Aenaes and several mages were passed out way to close to the upcoming inferno.

With Jack’s help, they managed to drag them away just in time to see Twig flare into a blaze so intense they could feel the heat from where they stood.

Fire engulfed Twig, became her.  Or she became it.  Either way, she was going full elemental and it was glorious and terrifying at the same time.  Wings of flame tucked tight, she flew into a dive.  Straight for Sehar.  A huge ball of flame burst from where the two slammed into each other, the heat from the blast knocking Jack and Kara off their feet.

For long moments, Kara couldn’t hear anything, then slowly the crackling of flames and her own harsh breathing came into focus.  Sitting up with a groan, she looked to the spot where Twig and Sehar had exploded.  Something dark and broken lay surrounded by blackened stone.

Groaning started to sound from all around her as people started waking up.  She was vaguely aware of Jack helping her to her feet, and Aenaes’s voice asking if she was okay.  But she couldn’t see anything past the burnt bodies surrounded by ash.

Ignoring everyone around her, Kara slowly made her way forward, her feet leaden with dread.  Barely aware Jack and Aenaes walked beside her.

When she reached the charred remains, she only had eyes for her friend, who lay face down, still and unbreathing before her.  Sehar lay next to her, a crumpled mess.

Jack kicked the body with one foot, unceremoniously moving it away from Twig.  “Rotten get.”

Kara and Aenaes knelt next to Twig’s lifeless form.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as Kara gently rolled Twig over and held her in her arms.  Completely covered in soot and ash, she felt so small and strangely cold.

A look of denial infused Aenaes’s face, and she began chanting as she held one hand over Twig’s chest.  A soft glow emitted from her palm, and Kara felt hope take root as warmth slowly spread throughout Twig’s body.

A coughing gasp wrenched Twig from Kara’s arms and it was the sweetest sound she had ever heard!  “Twig!”

Coughing harshly, Twig looked to the three of them as they grinned openly at her.  “You guys look like crap.”

Laughing, they helped her sit up.  Looking about the room as the mages took turns helping each other heal from their battle, the four of them couldn’t stop beaming.  Kara hugged Twig tightly, making her grunt in pain, but neither stopped the fierce grip.

Aenaes, hair tangled about her in disarray, laughed.  “Kara, I’m so proud of you.  I wanted to run, but you showed you were your father’s daughter.  The daughter of a king!  You showed bravery where others would have run.  And look!  We rescued the kingdom!”

Her father!  Leaping to her feet, she ran to the other side of the dais.  There she found her mother and Daryth groaning as the slowly came to.  Her father was still bound hand and foot, but seemed to be in a sort of daze, probably the fading results of the enchantment.

Aenaes, Jack, and Twig had followed a bit more slowly in deference to Twig, who wasn’t up to flying yet.

Crouching to untie her father, Kara heard Jack’s loud whisper behind her.  “Do you er… think the King will be mad I bound him?”

Aeanes loudly whispered back.  “Yes.  I do believe so.”

A slight pause.  And then, “I reckon he’ll be doubly mad about the shot to the nads then.”

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed this short story!  Please feel free to leave comments below.  I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”.  Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked!  And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.

And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!

Please don’t mind the mess.

Jessica Signature2

 

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