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The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
This is, once again, a daily writing exercise. Each weekday I'll post a prompt consisting of a single word, for us to interpret as we will. In case it wasn't obvious, I'm doing this to ensure that I write something every day. If I can bribe inspire people to follow suit, even better.

Speaking of... inspiration, I'm still offering five points for anyone who completes all five prompts in any given week. You have until I tally up the entries, which will happen Sunday night, some time after midnight EST.

The point is to write. I reserve the right to ignore entries that seem to have missed the point. That said, writing is messy. I absolutely welcome shitty first draft material, and you're likely to see some from me.

Ready? Week nine starts now!

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago


The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago

impromptu haiku, because I counted the syllables of the first line for some reason:

clean white crisp paper
the page's edges are sharp
cuts into my hands

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
"You want to forge a Writ. A fucking Writ of the fucking Deathless Queen. You really think your newly hatched conspiracy is going to pull that off?"

"I-- we have an original Writ. We've made a cast of the seal. Reconstructed the pigments in the wax. Lots of trial and error there, but we finally hit on the perfect match. The ink is black, which simplifies things. Look, my-- the Queen gives the impression of infallibility, but it's just that: an impression. And we can duplicate that impression in this Writ."

"Seal, wax, ink-- what about the paper?"

"Oh, yes, that was a little tricky. Hundred-pound stock, off-white, with rose petal inclusions."

"Roses. Roses! So this supposed Writ you've got is really just correspondence with one of her lovers."


"Idiot! Do you think she pens all her letters on rose-paper? Unless you're planning to incite a lovers' quarrel, you're going to have to use different paper -- and there are dozens of possibilities, all with their own inclusions."

"But--" The prince fell silent.

"Tell me. Tell me what you're really trying to accomplish... and maybe I'll tell you what paper you need me to write on. If I think you have a chance."

"And if you don't?"

"I'm a professional. If I don't, this conversation never happened... and you find someone else who claims they can write in the Queen's hand. And I don't blink when I watch you both hang."

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago

My first attempt at drawing a comic by myself.
My school decided to no longer use Pixton, so I don't get it free anymore.

No, there's not a plot to my comic, but it involves paper and I really didn't feel like writing, but I felt bad that this thread wasn't getting a lot of attention.

There are words, so I'm gonna hope it counts. All up to you, Morgan. I have doubts as to if I'll ever get to the other four prompts so it probably won't matter anyway

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
That 100% counts, and you should post it somewhere other people might actually read it. The cute art style juxtaposed with the punchline made ME laugh, and I am not known for my sense of humour!

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago


The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
I didn't notice my feet were numb until I tried to get out of bed and nearly fell over. Instead I staggered forward until I fetched up against my bookshelf. The spines were lit by morning light, promising me tales of hope and heroism.

They were all written before the Blight.

I looked down at the feet I couldn't feel. The wide legs of my pajamas hid most of the traitorous appendages, but I could see my toes. They were gray. I wiggled them, and felt nothing. My mind felt numb, too, although I knew it would take days to travel as far as my brain.

Or I could go to the hospital. Amputation was still an option. An option with a less than 50% success rate, but an option.

I didn't want to die.

Still numb, I clung to that thought as I navigated getting dressed without touching my feet. I called in. Told them why. My supervisor asked me if I was sure. If I'd gone anywhere else before I went home. "Because if I shut down the store, and it wasn't here--"

I didn't stop anywhere. I tell her so. I can tell she's trying to find a reason not to shut down, not to call the Blight Remediation Department. "Mind your feet," I say, and hang up.

On the bright side, if the Blight does kill me, I won't have to go back to work.

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago


The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago

The hammer falls and strikes the metal, bending it slightly. I grit my teeth. I'm going to make this sword.

"Girl, what have you- oh, you foolish child! You are not an apprentice! Put down that hammer and go pump the bellows!"

The blacksmith, a burly, stooped woman, stomps over to me. I don't respond to her calls, attempting to focus only on the steel before me. However, that seems like a bad call, as a gloved hand snatches the hammer out of mine.

"Hey!" I shout, "I was using that!"

She stares at me, her eyes at the exact same level as mine. This doesn't happen often, and I quickly decide that I don't like it. I stand up to my full height and look down as I usually do.

"Don't think your height makes you any better than me, missy. You didn't pay the apprentice wage, you're my helper. Helpers don't make swords. You're lucky I even let you stay here, with all that nerve.. You know the only reason you are still under my roof is I promised Adelle."

I turn away. I don't need to be reminded of my mother today.

The woman sighs, crossing her arms. "If you're going to try and make a pole-"

"A sword."

She growls. "You did it all wrong. If you want to make a sword you have to do it right. Watch me closely..."

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
"It's just some broken sword that didn't fall apart all the way," said my brother. Twelve years old, the age at which boys know everything.

"It's the Shattered Sword. It broke in the fight against the Demon King, and you can see the pieces of it just floating, and there's a glow between them like it's straight from the forge but really it's the soulstuff that's holding it all together." I was fourteen, and a girl, and I knew I didn't know everything about the Shattered Sword... just everything anyone would tell me. I had to see it.

Even if I was supposed to be watching my brother, and neither of us were supposed to leave the house.

"Come on, I know how we can see the Choosing. If you wear some of my old clothes--"

"What? I'm not dressing like a girl! I don't even care about the Choosing. Go by yourself if you wanna go that badly!"

I hesitated. Mother had told me to watch him...

"I won't tell," he said, "IF you bring me back a mince tart. No, TWO mince tarts."

"If you stay right here until I get back, and don't tell Mother, I'll bring you THREE mince tarts."

He grinned, spat on his hand and held it out. I grimaced, but followed suit, clasping my dampened palm to his.

I slipped out our cottage door as if I were being watched. Which was ridiculous, Mother was out selling strings of dried apple slices to the gathered crowd. I'd have to avoid the benches, but those would be packed full by now anyway. People who wanted to sit would have gotten up before dawn. And they'd be hungry, which is why Mother would be there. And why I wouldn't be.

I walked quickly, not wanting to miss any of the Choosing. I'd been four during the last one, too young to even understand what I wouldn't be allowed to witness.

What I still wasn't supposed to witness, but I was fourteen. Near enough to sixteen that nobody would know the difference at a glance. Almost old enough. In another ten years, I'd be twenty-four. It was rare for anyone over twenty to be Chosen...

Wrapped up in my thoughts, I almost stumbled into a woman at the trailing edge of the crowd. I sidled past her and further in, finding a spot where I could see the stage from. The Choosing had already begun. The candidates were making their way onstage, one by one. They each greeted a red-headed woman who bore a sheathed sword on her back. Iliana of Three Rivers, I thought. Current wielder of the Shattered Sword.

Which I wanted to actually see, but apparently that wasn't part of the process. So I watched, as girl after girl walked onstage, some more briskly than others, clasped hands with Iliana, and then were dismissed with a smile and a nod.

She seemed so poised, up there on the stage. So calm. Maybe that was why she'd been Chosen, ten years ago. Or maybe it was just that she'd had ten years to get used to the idea.

I did wonder how she chose. Or how the sword chose, if the rumors were true.

And then I could see the end of the line, and one by one the girls climbed the steps to the stage, and then back down. And then it was the last of them climbing down. It wasn't going to be one of us, then. The next wielder would not be "of New Orchard."

I knew I should go. Get my brother his mince pies, be back before my mother. But I still hadn't seen the Shattered Sword, and I badly wanted to. I stared at the hilt of it, steel wrapped with leather, and willed Iliana to draw it.

She met my eye. I thought I had to be imagining it, but a deeper part of me knew that I wasn't. Iliana of Three Rivers met my eye... and drew the Shattered Sword.

It was beautiful, I thought, amid gasps from the audience. It was broken, of course, but it glowed at the cracks. Not red, as I'd somehow always imagined, but a white tinged with blue.

"You did not come forward," said Iliana, her voice projecting like an actor's... although she was climbing down from the stage. "But you are our Choice," she said. Her eyes still locked with mine, though I had the fleeting impulse to look behind me. The crowd melted away before the Shattered Sword.

And then she was in front of me, and the point of the Shattered Sword touched my cheek. I saw a small scar on Iliana's cheek to match the sting on my own.

"You know what you must do," whispered Iliana, as she held out the sword to me, palms up.

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago


The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
Technically, most of what I do doesn't even involve tea. But everyone calls it tea, so I'm not about to be the pedant who informs them that I've actually served them an herbal infusion.

Also, sometimes it IS tea. White, green, oolong, black... I stock it all.

But it was nearly dark, well past the time for caffeinated beverages. My last customer left, with a smile and a wave, which I returned. I sighed, leaning against the counter. Time to--

"You're open," said a voice, relief overlaying exhaustion. A figure hurried towards the still-open window I'd been serving from all day. Regretfully, I set aside my mental checklist of closing tasks. Time to serve my new last customer.

"What can I get you?"

They had medium-brown skin and short hair, shiny black and messy in a way that suggested they'd only recently vacated their bed, despite the hour.

"Coffee with milk and extra sugar," they said, and I tried not to wince. I don't serve coffee. The various teas and herbal infusions I brew harmonize surprisingly well with each other. Coffee, not so much. The smell of it is just too assertive, too this-is-a-cup-of-coffee, to be a team player. But I hated to have to tell a customer no.

I hesitated, and they seemed to realize their mistake. "Oh, damn, right, no coffee... uhhh... tea I guess?"

"Of course," I said, and selected a mug. It was a cheerful yellow, and 16 ounces. If they were used to coffee, they'd need plenty of tea to get their caffeine kick. I planned to brew it strong, too. My hand hovered over my selection of blacks before settling on an Assam.

I could have asked, of course, but part of my job is knowing when not to ask. When to take an order for 'tea' and turn it into a delicious hot beverage -- with milk and extra sugar, in this case. I set it before my (hopefully!) last customer with a smile.

"Night shift?" I asked, as they took a cautious sip. They looked pleasantly surprised, and took another before they nodded.

"Yeah. Thanks, I needed this. What time do you close?"

"When there's no one who needs a cup of tea," I said.

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago


The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
Witches know when they're going to die. Not right away, but when it gets close. When it's time to wrap things up, neat and tidy and tied with a bow. Which sounds nice until it's you. Until you suddenly know that you have three weeks to live.

Witches have apprentices. Two apprentices. Redundancy, you know. And it keeps them on their toes, keeps them aware that they might not actually be the one to inherit. But that means you have to choose, now that you're dying.

Unless you refuse. A strong enough witch can do that, according to the whispers. A strong enough witch can look death in the eye and say, "No."

If you believe the whispers. The official word is that death comes to everything and everyone. Even witches. Even strong, clever, creative, desperate witches.

Not that you know any of those.

The Owl's Challenge - Week Nine

one year ago
No winners this week, but on to the next!