Archive for August 5th, 2019

Cat’s Honors

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Aug 05 2019

I have been exploring the world of my upcoming high fantasy adventure novel, Cat’s The Pajamas, in 250 words or less over on Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads as well as doing weekly polls on my Twitter to introduce the characters–which I invite you to engage with for a bit of diversion at the least and some insight into the characters if you look for it.

The week before last, judge B.A. Tortuga gave me Honorable Mention for my second flash fiction about Hunter Lee–so I thought I’d share both flashes of him here in order.

HUNTER 01

Once discovered, ruins tended to be cleaned out quickly. Most were inactive these days. Active ruins took a little longer. Sometimes their contents ended up in museums or those fancy learning places, but usually they just disappeared into private collections. There was big money in raiding ruins.

The Cistern was discovered sixteen months ago and had yet to be breached. Very unusual, even for an active ruin. Word in port was that was about to change. The navy found a cliffside grate they determined connected to The Cistern, planned to open it by bombardment, and come in behind all those nasty defenses.

Hunter couldn’t see the grate from the sea’s surface, but he knew its location, and had something the navy didn’t. Patting his twenty foot saltwater crocodile on the side, Hunter pointed to the break in the cliffside.

“Okay, Schooner, let’s get paid!”

Feeling his croc surge under him, Hunter laid low on his back and soon they were sailing through the air and through a conspicuously destroyed grate. Standing up once inside, Hunter looked around the bottom level of The Cistern, strewn with the remains of more automaton defenders than he’d seen in his entire career.

“What the brink happened here?” Hunter whistled.

“Just a bit o’ fun!”

A small girl in a captain’s coat and hat perched on the edge of the next level.

“Did you leave anything for me?”

“Defenders, or treasure?” she adjusted her oversized cutlass. “Either way it’s no. But I like yer crocodile!”

HUNTER 02

Hunter Lee squinted out at the sunbaked sand of the arena from the ready room shade. Heat radiated in search of his exposed skin, promising a rough ride. The cowhide vest covered about as much of his chiseled torso and broad arms as he was used to, but the ass-less chaps were not his idea of a good time. He held the ten-gallon hat Jerem gave him over his crotch and kept his other hand over his exposed bum.

“This is the most degrading thing I’ve ever done for money…”

The effeminate Jerem looked up from his checklists at Hunter’s grumble.

“You expect me to believe that? Remember, I’m the guy you come to every time you hit bottom.”

Hunter clenched his fist angrily, then hurriedly relaxed it to restore coverage.

“That ruin should have been my biggest score yet! Instead that girl beat me to it!”

Jerem returned to his lists with a hum.

“Try not to mention that. The Duchess and her ladies aren’t paying to see a performer who got beat by a little girl.”

Hunter slapped his hat against his thigh impatiently.

“Fine! But do I have to rope from horseback? You know how I feel about horses!”

Jerem peered over his half-moon spectacles.

“Says the man who rides a twenty-foot crocodile. The ladies are looking for an authentic experience.”

“Authentic my ass!” Hunter snorted.

“It’s gonna be. A busy night should see you financially solvent again though.”

Then this past week I was again honored by judge Katheryn J. Avila for my flash concerning Sforzando Alighieri. As with Hunter, I’m going to share two flashes here–the second one being the prize winner. I actually hadn’t figured out how old Melody was when she and Sforzando first met when I wrote the first flash, so I have changed 1 word compared to the version I submitted to Thursday Threads on that older flash.

SFORZANDO 01

“Thank you so much for responding to our summons, Maester Alighieri!”

The tonsured Brother Everard bowed as deeply as his pot belly allowed. Sforzando Alighieri tossed his long prematurely grey hair back with one hand, grateful for the brief air on his sweaty neck. The hill up to the temple had been steeper than it appeared.

“As a humble researcher, I’m honored to be summoned by The Celestial Temple.”

“Please, come in.” the priest bowed and ushered Sforzando inside. “We have fresh tea in the welcome room.”

Sforzando stood head and shoulders above Brother Everard, despite the priest’s subtle orc heritage. The young arcanist occasionally struggled to find fashionable clothing in his size, but never to make himself the center of attention. In the welcome room Sforzando lowered himself into a high-backed basket chair while Everard attended to the iced pitcher of tea.

“Lemon or sugar?”

“Lemon, please.”

The holy half orc passed Sforzando a tall glass with a lemon wedge on the rim before shoveling several scoops of sugar into his own glass.

“The whole temple is thrilled to welcome the man who single handedly lifted the art of Song Magic out of myth and legend into a modern science! Maester Alighieri, you are truly a saint!”

Sforzando laughed earnestly.

“I’m no saint! And please, just Sforzando.”

“As you wish, Maester Sforzando. This winter a child was brought to this temple to be raised in faith.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“She is the new Songstress.”

SFORZANDO 02

Mother Josephine stood like granite between Sforzando Alighieri and the door to the cloister. He hadn’t noticed when his half-orc guide, Brother Everard, dropped behind him but there was no one between Sforzando and Josephine. Easily a head shorter than him, there was still something about the sour-faced woman that frightened Sforzando.

“I, ehm, I’m here to meet the child?”

The old priestess harrumphed dismissively but deigned to scrutinize Sforzando further with sharp clear eyes.

“This is Maester Sforzando,” Everard offered delicately. “He’s here to train the child?”

The Mother’s eyes narrowed and Sforzando could feel Everard step back, abandoning him to the terror of every religiously schooled child.

“Neither Songster required training to fulfill their destiny. What can this layman possibly teach young Melody?”

“We talked about this,” the bulky Brother squeaked from a safe distance. “The elders all agreed it was a good opportunity…”

“Not all.”

Josephine cut Everard short. Sforzando took a breath and centered himself. It didn’t seem like his smile that had charmed the Queen would help here, but he was too nervous to go forward without it.

“My studies of Song Magic have shown good results; I’ve even taught myself to perform it without being a Songster. Perhaps Melody can teach me something?”

The Mother uncrossed her arms with a reluctant sigh.

“Before I let you through, I need to know; are you confirmed?”

Sforzando scratched the back of his neck.

“Actually, I’m not religious.”

Her arms re-crossed.

“We need confirmation.”