Writing Prompt: Day 232

232.jpgDay 232 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Create a unique from of transportation.

Shannon: “I saw you guys riding around in that couch on wheels the other day. Though I did laugh, I have to admit it looked like a lot of fun,” I mentioned, unable to hold back a smile at the memory of them rolling down the hill with their makeshift steering wheel.

“You want to drive it don’t you,” he questioned, giving me a couple eyebrow raises.

“Maybe,” I hummed. “Is it still alive?”

“Absolutely not,” he laughed proudly.

Erin: My favorite form of transportation was taking a shrinking serum and catching a ride on a drone my friend flew.

It’s not about where they are going, but how they get there.

One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 232

  1. My cousin, Sasha from the Pulmo islands off the coast, was laughing heartily at a bad joke my dad told wrong as they shared a glass of merlot. According to my parents, one of the best practises stolen from the Earth dimension was the ability to ferment grapes with such ingenuity, though I might have chosen indoor plumbing or electricity which made it possible to save perishable foods for later consumption. Lazily stirring a pot of pre-made soup to prove to my cousin that she could cook, was my mother; you didn’t have to look further than the crisp iron on her apron to realise that was folly. When I listened to the forced laughter coming from Sasha, though, I knew all these false pretenses were unnecessary anyway, and that she was attempting to woo them back.
    It was common knowledge throughout our family that my parents were looking to offload some of their land for a reasonable price, and the vultures were just beginning to circle. As far as I was concerned, they could pick our fields bare and cover them in clover, but my folks were going to see if they could start a bidding war between the clans. Here, with me caught in the middle, was the first step to both their plans; they both figured they had the upper hand, and in the future, neither would admit they’d been played.
    “Well, this has been so wonderful catching up with you, Sasha, but I really must get back to, uh, to my needlepoint. You know, mother really must show you the pillows she made one of these days,” I lied easily, swiftly getting to my feet and moving to stand in front of my tall, sinfully-slender cousin. Standing, she towered a fully foot above my head and we embraced briefly before I retreated to the second floor with a heavy sigh.
    For the past two hours I’d been waiting for a slight lull in the conversation so I might excuse myself before I was forced to sit through what would have been a fantastically uninteresting contest of flattery. I should have gotten a medal for making it as long as I did without stabbing anyone in the room. As I leaned gratefully against my bedroom door, listening to the muffled conversations from the living room, there came a swift knock at the door, followed immediately by the heavy footfalls of several men mustering on our wrap-around porch. My breathing was shallow as I crept down to peek through the polished railing, watching my mother wiping her clean hands on her apron as she crossed to the door.
    With a moment’s pause, she gripped the handle and opened the front door with a creak that pierced my eardrums even at that distance. Standing in the doorway was a man in stunningly-shiny armour, carrying a leather tome in his outstretched hands, who forced a subtle smile at my mother’s look. “Good-evening, Madame,” his voice was gruff as he bowed his head quickly, covering up a fleeting glance at his book, “We are with the Royal Guard. Are you Artemis Vox?” The silence that followed weighed so heavily on my shoulders I was surprised it didn’t break through the stairs. Blood pounded in my ears and I was frozen to the spot for fear of making any miniscule amount of noise fleeing from the royal guards.
    “Oh, no, silly,” she cooed and I could practically hear the eye-fluttering in her tone, “Artemis is my daughter. Let me get her for you,” she remarked casually, having clearly remembered that her husband was still in the room, and headed toward the stairs. I shifted as her leather-soled shoes smacked on the wooden floors, scrambling up a few stairs as quietly as I could manage so I was leaning against the wall at the top of the staircase. As she put a hand on the railing, she called in a shrill, disciplinarian tone, “Artemis Vox, you get your butt down here this instant!”
    Struggling to hold my emotions in, I sucked in a breath of sour air and got to my feet, bowing my head and shuffling my toes against the floor. When I spotted my mother, I grumbled, “Yes, mother, what is it?” I descended the steps as slowly as humanly possible in an effort to come up with a believable lie to combat whatever it was they thought I’d done; there were several instances of law-breaking on my part, so I couldn’t be certain which they were coming to arrest me for.
    With the veins in her forehead popping out, though the smile on her lips stayed in place, my mother gripped my wrist when I was a few steps above her, yanking me toward the door with such force I feared for my limb. Shoving me between her and the guards, she grinned widely and asked in an innocent girl voice, “Oh, whatever did my dearest daughter do, good sir?” She glanced briefly over her shoulder at Sasha, who was pretending to be very interested in a bowl of fruit on the coffee table, and my father; when she gave him a piercing look, he muttered something to strike up a distracting conversation with my cousin.
    Addressing my mother, he assured her, “Actually, Madame Vox, we would appreciate talking to the lady in private.” When his gaze flicked suddenly to me, and the false smile finally hit his eyes, he asked me, “How about you step outside Artemis?” If I could have seen the stunned, and angry according to the bruises she put in my wrist, look on my mother’s face I would have laughed out loud.
    As it was, I nodded politely and unhitched myself from the over-bearing mother figure behind me and replied, “Oh, of course, sir.” I followed him out the door and shut in on my mother’s stupid, narcissistic face.

    I rode quietly through the crisp, black early-morning air, Stardust, my horse, braying gently into the breeze and watching the stars swimming above my head. Out in the open, and away from the suffocating folly of my current life, I could finally think straight about the insanity of what was happening; the princess of Cor needed a body guard so they were hosting a contest to find the best candidate. Apparently there were hundreds of applicants already, and no shortage of very interested and well-educated parties among them. In my side pocket was a rolled up page of parchment with instructions on how to get past the first trial written in the royal scribe’s perfect hand. I felt terribly sorry for the fellow having to write out hundreds of these scrolls, though perhaps that was why they waited so long to begin the search. After all, Natalie was already eighteen years old, and they’d had at least twelve years to realize she’d be in need of an aide.
    As I continued past orchards and vineyards and the occasional hut with candle lights flickering from the windows, I thought remorsefully about how my parents were going to keep the lights in our house on throughout the night. In a desperate moment as I re-entered the house after my discussion with the royal guard I’d lied and told them one of my friends in the village had been killed and they were coming to request my assistance. It was possible the two of them would be awake throughout the night, but a vengeful part of me thought they deserved a sleepless night every once in a while.
    Rounding a corner, we were greeted with a fully-lit town with streetlights snaking their way along streets and through alleyways, illuminating what you would expect to be dark. At the entrance to the main village were two armed guards leaning their shiny metal swords gently on their toes and peering out into the darkness; I was pretty sure they could tell someone was there, but as I wasn’t yet bathing in electric lights they weren’t certain if I was friendly or not. When I was almost upon them, Stardust’s hooves clattering loudly on the occasional paving stone, I pulled out the scroll and called to them in a chipper, if slightly chattering, voice, “Good-evening, sirs. I’ve come for the first trial; the royal guard said I could begin as soon as the sun rose.”
    The two exchanged some sort of look from beneath their visors and attempted to stifle a bout of laughter. “Oh, well ‘ello great witch ‘o’ the wiles, please do-bah-ha-ha,” he exclaimed, doubling over as he struggled against the laughing fit.
    “Don’ mind ‘im. Been int’er the ale, that ‘un,” replied the sober other guard, reaching his free hand up to take my scroll. With a nod to himself, he threw it into a fire pit they had for warmth, grabbed a string that was hanging on the brick wall and tied it around my wrist before I could make a sound. Grinning up at me, he chuckled, “Didn’t mean t’er scare y’a, throwin’ tha’ int-er the fire; been a long nigh’. Jus’ show y-er wrist at the wall an’ they’ll know y’er in the runnin’.” I nudged Stardust forward as he unlocked the gate, calling as he shut it behind me, “Good luck!”
    As I trotted away, muttering about stupid, normal humans, I headed toward the towering walls that encircled the great castle. Through slim city streets I rode, glancing around at the faces peering out of windows, gawking at the contestant for a royal position, who must have magickal abilities. I’d been used to people staring out by our house, since secrets within well-known families never lasted, but this was a more intense kind of gaze; they seemed concerned and full of feverish interest here.
    It only took us a few minutes to cover the space up to the castle, where there was a large cluster of people milling around and leaning against the impenetrable fortress. I dismounted smoothly, expecting some admiration, but everyone seemed to self-involved to notice a newcomer in a fleece cloak and expensive leather boots. As I was glancing around for somewhere to tie up Stardust, and considering why no one else had ridden horses to the castle, a terribly short fellow in a neon yellow tunic ran up to me with his eyes wide. Swinging above his head was a golden lantern that cast a warm glow around his head as he bobbed on his heels.
    “’Ello,” he squeaked, staring up at the palomino nuzzling my shoulder gently, “if you’ll please register, I can take y’er horse to the stables f’er safe keeping.” In his hands he was clutching a book with names scrawled in messy handwriting, and a couple mostly-empty columns for steed information. Quickly, I scribbled in my name and Stardust’s information before passing the notebook back to the gentleman and searching my pockets frantically. After a second pass I found the carrot and gave it to my faithful beast, rubbing her shoulder lovingly as the neon man led her away through the crowd. I watched his light zigzagging toward the edge before he was gone.
    It only took the sun half an hour or so to be tickling the top of the mountains around us, bleeding crimson across the pastel lavender sky. Some of the others were getting nervous as the time wore on, fidgeting and shifting in the still air. When a thunderclap sounded high above our heads, there wasn’t a sound to be heard in all the kingdom.
    “Hello contestants!” shouted the familiar voice of Queen Louise, having sent off the thunder to gain our attention and respect; some of these folks might have never known the queen. She cleared her throat and continued in a booming tone, “It is so wonderful to see so many fresh faces out this morning. Without further ado, however, we shall begin the first trial of many to come. You challenge is to find a unique and magickal way to get into the castle.” At her words, murmurs broke through the relative silence like an influenza catching on as everyone excitedly began to plan. “But,” she paused for attention and received her wish, “there are only forty spots and hundreds of you; the first forty to make it will earn their place in the next round. And,” she paused again as her audience began to writhe and wail like children, “it is only the first forty with different methods of gaining entry who will pass the trial.” Suddenly, all was silent as anyone who’d been speaking their ideas aloud turned to internal methods, lest someone steal their idea. “Good luck to you all,” bade the queen, disappearing behind the rampart.
    I watched several groups of people heading off in seemingly random directions following one or two people with real plans, but remained stationary for a while, simply thinking things over. After a few minutes, watching half a dozen of my competitors make it to the top using things from levitation magick to ropes and flocks of birds, I had a fleeing image of vines and smiled up at the castle. Shooting toward the dark and enchanted forest to the left of the enormous wall, I rushed between trees searching for signs of root disruptions as I went. Behind me, cannon fire could be heard when a slot was filled, leading to much panic among the remaining contestants. People were dashing through the shrubs around me, crashing into each other, though avoiding me as I had a field to protect myself from wayward, untested magickal spells.
    When I finally found a patch of recently disturbed soil, tree roots snaking their way through the brown-grey dirt, I stopped dead in my tracks and took a deep breath. The piece of magick I used was from an ancient text I’d been given for a birthday present, stolen from a powerful witch apparently, and was in the vein of natural magicks; using the energies present within the physical world to manifest what I wanted. Chanting in a low, guttural voice, I called upon the spirit that had recently possessed the tree before me, and granted it freedom in exchange for doing my bidding. After a few run-throughs of the spell and more cannon fire than I would have liked, the ground around me shook and a gust of oxygen-laden breath washed over me.
    “Hello, young witch. What is it you have woken me for?” asked the cracked face of the ancient maple, bending gracefully as it stretched its branches.
    For a moment, I simply admired my handiwork, until I heard another boom and snapped out of my reverie. “Oh, great tree spirit, please take me to the castle wall and allow me to climb your bows to breach the hallowed grounds beyond,” I answered surely, glancing around to make sure no one else was listening to my plan.
    With a gentle, leafy nod, the tree bowed a branch low to the ground for me to grab on to and tucked me in a crick in its branches. Pulling up its roots with great difficulty, it moved quickly for a tree, between its inanimate brethren that moved aside to let us pass as though they were speaking to each other. I wanted so badly to ask, since I had the chance, how trees communicated with each other, but I had more important tasks at hand.
    We broke through the outliers in the forest and stamped our way across the short distance to the castle wall, people in the houses nearest us staring with slack-jawed mouths as an uprooted tree moved on its own. As we approached the wall, I began to climb up the tree, being cognizant to not break off any twigs or leaves as I went. Stopping as it leaned on the cold bricks, the tree settled its roots into the loose earth and set to work reaching up and helping me get a good grip. Because I’d picked a rather tall tree, its human-bearing boughs stretched right to the top of the wall and I was able to easily hop down onto the parapet.
    The cannon fired, making me smile internally and out with pleasure, and I turned back to the tree. Whispering into the wind, I released its spirit and the inanimate maple grew still. Though it was sad to see my strange mode of transportation return to normal, I was also floored to have made it to the next trail. When three guards hurried over to congratulate me and give me instructions on the next task the joy continued to flow. Yet another wave of positivity washed over me as I remember my parents were likely still worried sick.

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