April 10th, 2013


Salmon Riding

I wrote this to thnidu's second prompt, "Fish & fairies."

“A copper scale to enter and if you reach the top of the rapids without falling off, you’ll win three silver scales!” O’Dooley the leprechaun was making his pitch beside the stream as the silver salmon jumped their way up the short stretch of rapids. The sprites hovered around the stream’s banks, both on foot and on wing, eager and curious to see who would be the first to take up O’Dooley’s challenge and see if they could separate him from some of his coin. The payoff was good but they all knew from past years that riding the migrating fish any distance was not an easy task. The fish got big enough for brownies, pixies and even leprechauns to ride, but most of the jockeys would be sprites.

O’Dooley would probably lose money on the fish riding challenge itself but he would make money on the side bets. He’d probably make enough to fill another of his pots of gold, given that all the leprechauns just starting their day of running book on the rides, jockeys and mounts were either working for him or paying him a tenth of their take to be here. Even Black Shaunnessy, the only one who’d take money on the injury or death of a jockey, paid up without a quibble. O’Dooley used goblins as enforcers for a reason; there were far fewer arguments over business.

The first taker of the day was a young male sprite named Duskskimmer. He handed O’Dooley his copper coin from wherever it was exactly that the naked sprites kept their money and strode to the starting point. Goblins kept the spectators back from him, their employer didn’t approve of people pushing the jockeys to change the outcome of a bet. A long, silver fish broached the water and Duskskimmer jumped, using his wings only a fraction to correct his trajectory, and landed squarely astride his chosen mount, just behind its gills. He stayed on it when it went back under the water, keeping only his head in air, then it jumped again to clear the rocks and he stayed on to the cheers of the crowd. He clung to the scaly creature’s back for three more jumps, then it dragged him all the way underwater and when it launched itself for the fifth jump, he came off, saving himself from the churning stream only by using his wings. The crowd cheered, it had been a fine first ride of the day and he’d almost made it to the end of the rapids. Emboldened, more sprites queued to pay O’Dooley their entry fee.

O’Dooley smiled happily and jovially at them all. It was going to be a long and profitable day.


Cheering News

I wote this to aldersprig's second prompt request, "The son of a god."  This follows on, finally, from A Step Too Far and Next.

Argenthan, General of the South, was sitting at the map desk in his tent trying to work out what the enemy was planning. The enemy was equal parts vicious and desperate, being both demon led and driven. His opposition had the stated intention of bringing all the world under Hell’s dominion and generation by generation they seemed to be succeeding. When Argenthan had been young someone had described their situation as a slow burning apocalypse and, now he was older, it was a view he agreed with. Being a godsson, the child of a god and a mortal woman, he had a longer lifespan than those of pure mortal blood and he had seen the slow erosion of the demon-free world, not just heard about it as a backdrop story to this never-ending war.

His problem at the moment was to hold the Yarn Wall. It blocked the pass up from the lowlands, now completely demon controlled. If they could push the demons and their slave armies back, that would be even better but he didn’t have the men and none of the other Generals was in a position to lend him troops. If anything, he might have to lend one or more of them troops he could barely spare. What he needed, right now, was for his younger half-brother, Norvaz, to be here to lead a sortie against the enemy’s forward observation post but he was off at Father’s nearest temple dealing with a demon spawn. Argenthan wouldn’t have let him go if the temple wasn’t so near and, realistically if the Yarn Wall fell, the temple wasn’t their fall-back position.

The sound of someone arriving on horseback carried through his tent walls and then came the sound of Norvaz’ voice. He hoped the younger man would be able to ride out almost immediately but first he had to hear what had happened with the demon spawn. Norvaz didn’t keep him waiting and was still pulling off his gloves when he walked into the tent and bowed.

“Eldest brother.”

Argenthan took a good look at him and Norvaz was grinning broadly. “So, Norvaz, the thing with the demon spawn went well?”

“Not a demon spawn at all, my lord General.” Norvaz was almost laughing. “A First Born, and none of them knew until she walked on air to save their training master from certain death in the earthquake.”

“Will she be joining us here?” Argenthan cracked a smile himself. “Even if she’s not war trained, the abilities of a First Born…”

“I’m afraid not,” Norvaz told him, not particularly regretfully. “She’s under orders from her Father to build Him a temple,” he leaned over the map spread across the table and pointed with his index finger, “there.”

Argenthan felt his smile broadening across his face into a grin of his own, “Why, that’s…brilliant.”

This is now followed by Putting A Project Team Together 1.