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Tendrils of Time


I started writing a scene, and had a decent one done at the 500-word count, then didn’t know where to go from there. I scrapped what I wrote after reading the first six chapters and wrote these 1,025 words. I used prompts from Inspiration Monday, Word-a-Week, #3WW and SM Cadman. This is also a switch back to present tense. Do you like past tense, or present tense?

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Reese’s eyes snap open at day break, and she disentangles herself from her bedfellow. She silently dresses in her cloth uniform, and her hand caresses the leather armor draped over the back of a chair.

“Sneaking off?” a voice calls from the bed.

Reese spins and takes in the view. Sky walks toward her slowly, her hands fussing with her curly blonde hair. With Reese’s help, Sky washed the blood from her hair. After their night together, Sky stood unashamed of her nakedness. A flush had risen on Reese’s cheeks, and Sky smiled at the younger woman’s embarrassment.

“As often as we bed, I would think you would be familiar with my body.” Sky winks, and retrieves her uniform from the floor.

A sharp knock on the door interrupted Reese’s response. “Enter!” Sky shouts, continuing to dress.

“Mi’Lady,” a runner speaks, his blind eyes failing to discern the potentially embarrassing scene before him. “The chamber has been located.”

Sky smiles. “Tell the elder sisters I will be there shortly.”

The runner nods, and turns to leave. Reese let out the breath she had held. “Sky…” she starts, but Sky holds up a finger to silence her.

“Speak not of it, Reese.”

“But, mother…”

“Your mother is not just your mother!” Sky shouts before regaining her composure. “The Queen has too much to worry about,” she finishes her sentence with a whisper.

Reese couldn’t meet Sky’s eyes, and they suited up in silence.

“Snow will be at the chamber,” Sky declared, grasping Reese by the shoulders. “We can talk to her then if that is what you want.”

Reese nods and follows her commander out the door, certain of the events to come. Continue reading

02 – The Shielding Tide

newYAprojectOkay. I had so much fun writing The Burning Seas. Thaddeus Howze declared that the flash I wrote this morning was insufficient, and demanded more. Thaddeus Howze is a newcomer to the musings and writings of one Mark Gardner, and unaware of the depths of my depravity. I have granted Thaddeus Howze more of the story, but in a fashion you regular readers have come to know, love and fear. Here is a second tale to Chuck’s prompt, and I’ve worked in another Inspiration Monday prompt as well as Sunday Scribblings 2 and S.M. Cadman’s Margaret Atwood prompt. I chose a line on page three of Oryx and Crake. Here’s another 1000 words for all parties interested:


A burst of bubbles raced to the surface, disturbing a freshly shucked body. The hollow carapace was placed there as a warning to all other crustaceans. Death awaits those that… Shield sighed and released a bubble of air. He was so bored. Nothing ever happened since…

It’s been a year, he thought. No one could’ve seen it coming.

He tried to suppress the thoughts, but he might as well tried to hold back the tide. He should’ve recognized the signs. Granted, he didn’t train as long as a Joy or a Don, but he walked his own beat by the time he was fifteen. He doubted any of his childhood friends would recognize him now. His training under the Don was rigorous. He gained muscle mass in those two years.

He and the other Shields wrestled sea life to demonstrate their prowess. He was proud to have risen in the ranks. The Don had singled him out for this assignment. It wasn’t special treatment, but recognition of his skills. In three more years, his accomplishments would put him in an enviable place for attracting a mate.

Shield’s head popped out from the silt, and his translucent arm lashed out and seized a crustacean scuttling about. I’m the master of all I survey, he thought as he examined the crustacean in the low light. The multiple armored legs writhed, attempting to find purchase on Shield’s arm.

His other hand came out of the silt, the debris falling and forming what looked like a veil of mud. He wiped the silt stubbornly clinging to his arm on his chest and returned his attention to his prey. The rock came down on his dinner with precision, and the crustacean was cleaved.

Shield spent no time sucking the contents from the armored legs. He crushed the carapace between two rocks. His molars were perfect for grinding, but the baleen that occupied the front of his mouth was worthless.

Only the Shield of the Protectorate was allowed to kill lower species for sustenance. It was a taboo that Shield flaunted, his arrogance befitting a warrior of his position. Don had frowned when Shield gobbled up some invertebrate under the great arch.

Shield’s hand brushed the scars left by the invertebrate’s tentacles left as it tried to escape death. No one had believed he could do it, but he choked down the slimy tissue. Arch patrons were horrified by the violence and the fine mist of red diluted in the water around Shield’s face. Wispy tendrils of red followed Shield as he found the closest Healer.

Shield shook his head and focused on the movement of the water. Even as deep as he was, he could feel the tug of the moon. Not that he’d ever seen the moon. Just as his privilege of eating lesser species instead of straining krill or eating from the vast kelp and seaweed fields, only Joys and Dons ever swam to the surface. He felt the tide ebb and flow. Back and forth, back and forth. It cycled the same rhythm as his heartbeat.

The ebb and flow had been a constant in their great city. Sadness overcame Shield. He looked off to where the great city still stood abandoned.

It’s only been a year.
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Nala’s Story, Part Nineteen


[525 words – SM Cadman]Nala had had a life of strife. Some slaves were worse off than she, her strong will both her savior and the bane of her existence. The love she had for her sister, and the desire to protect her drove her to be the young woman she was. Never, however, had she ever wanted to give up and end it all. The luxury she was now afforded allowed her the scant time to consider her life. No longer was it all about protecting her sister, and her thoughts and fears weighed heavily upon her soul. The absurdity of her agreement with the Han Champion Standing; the reoccurring recollection of her murdered father; the loss of her friends over the years. These and other themes conspired to darken her soul.

Why fight? she wondered. I do not know, she silently answered herself. Why live at all? She blinked back tears of sorrow; tears of remembrance. It would be so easy to end it all and join father. Why bother living in a world dominated by murderers, assassins, corrupt men, >and complete strangers?

Nala’s home had been destroyed years ago by the domination of men she so despised. I do not know where I belong, she thought.

She wanted to go back, she realized. She longed to return to the world where her father and friends were still alive. Where she had a family that cared for her and a home to belong. A place where cruelty didn’t exist, where she and Hazina could be happy…

Hazina, she thought.

As sudden as her tears overwhelmed her, she blinked into nothingness. No longer could she see her life that could’ve been. No longer did I do not know matter. She embraced nothingness. There was no akonai field, no father, and no breeze. Nala sat motionless, a state of deja vu. She had returned to her childhood garden. Identical evenings and situations hit her with the force of a camel kick, and she was powerless to stem the tears.

She withdrew her hand. It had started aching, and she hadn’t realized it in her trance. The ache within her remained. It was a reminder that the pain of losing her father had never truly been hidden behind the strength she had built over the years. Her strength was built like a foreboding wall, but the pain lingered; it was the bedrock on her mountain of strength had been built. She was aware of the sudden realization that her pain was both the origin of, and the driving force behind her strength.

She also realized that Shui was still watching her.

He suddenly looked older, mature and beyond his years. The same eyes her father had aimed at her in her formative years. Shui’s eyes gazed with such intensity that she felt he were looking right through her, seeing the lies she told herself to keep going.

He looked away, eyes scanning the darkening horizon. “I understand,” he whispered, he placed his hand on her shoulder – the tender display at odds with his prior actions, but not with his character.

He stood and strode away to leave Nala to her thoughts and her tears.

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Nala’s Story, Part Fifteen


[525 words – SM Cadman]”How do you know my name?”

He frowned at her. “Pardon?”

It was the twenty-first day. Twenty one days since she had entered into agreement with the man, twenty one days of unsuccessful attempts at assassinating the Champion Standing.

While relating a religious story of her people, it occurred to her that he knew her name. The last week he had been addressing her by her name, instead of girl, or slave. She had wanted to confront him about it since the first time he called her by her name, but there was always something to distract her.

“How do I know your name?” he asked, regarding her, suspicious of her motivation.

“Yes.” She turned her back to him. “I do not recall telling you or your thugs my name.”

He shrugged his shoulders, he chose to indulge her in her line of questions. “A warrior has many needs,” he smiled. “I know the name of every woman in my harem.”

Nala’s face darkened. His harem? she thought with a morose scowl. Hconsiders me a part of his harem? She mentally counted to ten before replying. “I am not a part of your harem.”

He seemed surprised at her tone. “Why are you angry with me?”

“Because I am not,” she emphasized the word by stamping her foot, “a part of your harem. I am merely…” She waved her hand, grasping for the word.

“My assassin?” he supplied, trying to be helpful, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“Righteous vengeance,” she declared, “and I will strike you down as Seth destroys the unworthy.” She glared at him. “I am your murderer, Death incarnate. I shall be your punishment, your damnation.”

He smirked. A twinkle in his eye reminded her of a sky full of stars that at one time infuriated her, but as of late, she found endearing. “If this is damnation,” he replied, “then I do not wish for salvation.”

Nala ignored his flippant response and started to resume her story. “So a mound of dirt and rock rose from the ocean, and Atum, the first God on Earth, was born.”


She looked at him, face lacking comprehension.

“My name,” he clarified, “you have never asked.” He shook his head. “Not that anyone ever does.”
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Nala’s Story, Part Eleven


[580 words – SM Cadman & Write Anything Wednesday]”From where do you hail?”

Nala stared at the man, recognition absent. Had he dismissed my rant? She thought.

He cleared his throat and repeated his query.

Miscreant! Nala thought, my outburst meant nothing! “Swenett,” she replied, burying her impotent rage.

His expression turned thoughtful. “The first cataract of the Nile,” he said, and nodded. “I have never seen the syenite quarries, but have seen the great obelisks your people have constructed.” His face softened. “Have you?”

“What if I have?” Nala snapped. His prominence failed to impress her. For a brief moment, he was simply the honey-eyed man and she the humble slave girl.

He squinted and crossed his arms as the silence between them hardened. Nala felt her rage subside. He didn’t appear to be able to relent, and Nala just wished for the encounter to end.

“Tell me a story of your people,” he whispered, his head tilted slightly.

Nala blinked. The situation compounded unexpectedly. “What?” she queried, as she attempted to discern his motives.

His bearing visibly softened. “Tell me the legends and stories of the great Kushite Kingdom. I have been fascinated by your people.”

“Why?” She retorted.

He waved his hand, encompassing the chambers. He pointed at Nala. “To save your life.”

Nala seethed. “Do with me what you will, Mi’Lord.” She spat to emphasize the honorific.

The man brandished a wide smile, and Nala regretted her impudence. She did not desire death. She still needed to care for her sister. She was overcome by a flood of emotions. Resentment and anger were at the forefront, but he coaxed another emotion – a emotion alien to her. It made her act and talk with abandon.

“You are not alone,” he declared after the silence became unbearable. “I saw another girl with you. You came to me in her stead.”

How could he know… The thought died as he continued.

“Will you perish by my hand this night and leave her unprotected?”

Nala knew that was precisely the situation she wished to avoid, but admitting it was a betrayal she was unwilling to commit. She swallowed, visibly working through the ramifications.

He sighed and stepped back, Nala’s dagger at his feet. “You are a difficult woman.”
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Nala’s Story, Part Four


[545 words – SM Cadman]The sun began its rise as it did every day in the east. For Nala, it was a day like any other: mundane and inane. The taskmaster yanked on the chains linking his wares numbered thirteen. Their bare feet shuffling against the manacles and constant pull of their bindings. Each step seemed to add to the grit floating only inches above the ground. The taskmaster shouted out prices for his wares that were exorbitant.

Nala looked towards the sky as she trudged along. Pray for rain, she thought. It was during the long trek to the market that she was grateful for the thin ruqun, the woven cotton breathed well in the oppressive heat.

“Such a delicate flower, wilting in the sun.”

Nala reloaded the scowl she constantly wore with fresh scorn. She stared ahead and ignored the handsome man. He couldn’t’ve been older than twenty, and the fresh style of his clothes indicated he came from a wealthy clan. Nala knew the best way to combat his advances was to act disinterested with a conviction so profound, he had no choice but to move along.

Nala’s spirit rose slightly as the man walked past her, but the excitement of another noble scorned died as dread replaced it. The man stood beside Hazina, gripping her frail wrist. His ogle was a clear indication of his desires. Hazina’s delicate features were pinched with reluctance.

“Come with me,” he demanded, “I will shower you with gifts and stones as precious as you are. A bountiful…” His eyes lingered on her bosom and he licked his lips. “….woman such as you belongs in my house.”

Nala’s hackles rose as the spoiled man tightened his grip on Hazina. She squirmed, trying to free her wrist.

“Please let me go!” Hazina cried, the discomfort clear in her eyes and on her face. She had seen so much in the last thirteen years.

The man chortled – a belly laugh devoid of cheer, but that dripped with malice. Hazina turned from discomfort to a terror that only victims of the sex trade knew. He yanked on her wrist, pulling her towards him. “Come with me, wench, I will buy you.”

Nala reacted without forethought. The man yelped and rolled on the ground, both hands cupping his manhood. All those within hearing distance of his yelp and subsequent fall to the ground, watched with interest. As the man rolled in the dirt, he moaned and wailed, his pretty clothes gathering the loose dust. Eleven other slaves in the troupe stared at Nala – some in in awe and others in shock. Hazina, however, was horrified.

Nala returned her stare. “You know what life he will force upon you.” She looked down at the man, streaks of dust caked on tears. “In fact,” she shuffled to the man, preparing to lash out again, “perhaps he needs to be taught a lesson!”

“You whore!” he bellowed as he rose to his feet. Nala clenched her fists for another strike, when the chains binding her tightened. She fell back, tripped, and collapsed in the dirt.

Fool! She chastised herself as she looked up into the eyes of the taskmaster for the second time in as many days. This is going to be very bad…

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