Dawnbringer – Take Two Tag

A couple of weeks ago, I invited Fatma Alici to play a little game of writing tag with me. I gave her some prompts and she picked the following:

“After a thousand years of darkness, he will come.”

From this prompt we both wrote a story. Mine is below, and Fatma’s can be found over on her site here. Please take a look, review if you like, and feel free to start your very own game of Take Two Tag if the idea interests you. ‘Guidelines’ can be found here.

For anybody interested, the initial prompt was from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, an excellent animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. I rate it highly.

Now that it’s time to Tag a new person, I was going to try to entice Rebekah Spark away from her novel-writing. However, Fatma beat me to tagging Rebekah, so I’ll save her for another round. Instead, I will tag Mozette with a choice of the following prompts:

1: A tragic expedition

2: Shadows in the mirror

3: The unexpected windfall

If you’re interested in writing a flash fiction for one of these prompts, Mozette, just let me know which you want, and your preferred deadline, and we’ll meet up after to compare notes!





“I hate you.”

“I know.”

Adain looked at me with those damned calm eyes, and they twinkled.

“I really mean it. I actually hate you.”

One corner of his dry lips quirked up into a half-smile. “What do they have you doing today?”

“I’m to start my day naming several babes, of course.”

He nodded sagely, and it was a wonder his head didn’t roll off its twiggy neck and onto the floor. “Of course.”

I sighed, sank down onto the throne and swept at some mote of dust on my robes. “After that, I have to attend a banquet.”

“Where you’ll no doubt be toasted several times and have to suffer the affections of many beautiful, buxom women grateful merely to be allowed to dine in the same room as your auspicious self?”

“You see what I have to put up with?” I growled. “The fathers are the worst. ‘Oh, my daughter is so fair and virtuous, please look first to her when considering your marriage.’

“The burden of leadership. It’s good that they want to see you happy.”

“They don’t want to see me happy.” Even to my own ears I sounded petulant, but I couldn’t help it. The feeling gnawed inside me, pulsing, growing, until I gave in to the violent urge. I tore the luxurious fox fur mantle from my shoulders and threw it down onto the floor. There, I gave it a stern glaring. “All they care for is themselves. They want to be seen with me. They want their daughters to be wed to me. They want their grandsons to be strong and strapping, just like me.”

“Well, you are the Dawnbringer,” Adain pointed out.

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped, a little too harshly. “Not you. Or do you want me to tell them the truth?”

My idle threat rolled off my brother like water from a duck’s back. Instead of replying, he limped to the mantle of fine fox fur and stooped down to collect it in his left hand. His right hand, gnarled and twisted as an old oak branch, was clasped reflexively to his chest in unending spasm.

“Here, let’s get this back on you,” he said.

At the sight of him trying to straighten the heavy cloak with only one hand to work with, something softened inside my chest. The anger and resentment melted to nothingness, and I knelt before him, allowing him to drape the mantle over my shoulders more easily. He carried a heavy enough burden without having to pick up my unwanted toys.

“Where would I be without you?” I mused quietly. “Where would any of us be?”

“You do yourself an injustice, brother.” He rested his good hand atop my shoulder. To an outsider looking in on our tableau, we must have seemed an odd sight; me, the saviour of our people, kneeling humbly before the wizened cripple. “You saved us. All of us. Spirits know, you saved me more times than I can count. I’d be dead a thousand times over, if not for you. Every time I stumbled, you caught me before I could fall. When food was scarce, you made sure I always had a fair share. When the Overseer wanted to put me to death because I couldn’t haul a full load of ore, you stepped in front of the sword meant for me.”

I looked up into my brother’s face and saw his eyes soft and moist, echoing the adoration of our people—only this time, tempered by love. He, too, saw me as a hero and saviour, and not for an instant did he begrudge me the praise that belonged rightfully to him. But that was Adain; where I was strong in body, he was strong in mind and spirit. I had stood in front of the sword meant for my brother. I had taken it from the hands of the executioner. But he had been the one to know what to do with it. He was the one who saw beyond the moment I lived in. Too clever by half, my brother.

“I tell you what,” I said, laying my hand on my brother’s and rising, “I’ll find a wife. But I’ll make sure she has a sister. A nice one. Pretty, but not too pretty that she’s arrogant about it. A sister who can look past your physical frailties and see man behind them. The hero that I see every time I look at him. What do you say to that?”

“I’d say you have a long search ahead of you, brother.”

“We’ll see.” I sighed as Adain’s hand fell away from my shoulder. It was almost time to perform my duties again. To wear the robes of a King and pretend to be one. To pretend that I actually had any idea about what I was supposed to be doing, how I was supposed to be ruling. “The first boy-child I name today, I am naming after you.”

Adain’s face wrinkled into a frown of disdain which perfectly matched my own. In our faces, at least, our twindom showed. Those who saw me tower over Adain’s crippled frame never believed we had been pushed out of the same womb only minutes apart. “Must you?”

“I must. Now, don’t argue with your King.”

He laughed, a carefree sound which echoed around the grand chamber and lifted my spirits on ephemeral wings. “See, I knew it was only a matter of time before you would become comfortable bossing me around.”

“Speaking of which, you’ll have tomorrow’s speeches done by the time I get back from the banquet, won’t you?”

He gave low bow, a flourish of an imaginary cloak. “Of course, your Highness.”

“And the plans for the sewer dredging will be—?”

“On your desk by the end of the day.”

“Good. Now, regarding that boundary dispute between Lord Coppice and Lord Kennery…”

“I already have the clerks looking back through the records and a surveyor out at the site examining the historical markers.”

I couldn’t stop the smile from tugging at my lips. “It’s a good job one of us has a head for rulership. Between us, we almost make an acceptable king.”

“Almost,” he agreed. “Now, be off. Your subjects await your ruling.”

I gave him a bow and swept out of the room, the echo of my footsteps following close. As I passed through the antechamber, the sharp grey eyes of Alusius Farseer watched me from his portrait, hawkishly judging my every movement.

What would this long-dead Seer make of his own prophecy? He’d seen the invasion before it had happened. Seen in his mind’s eye how our people would suffer. Seen, and then prophesied that a thousand years after our enslavement, a saviour would come.

Dawnbringer, they call me. Lord of Light. Redeemer. Hero. Alusius Farseer had been right. A saviour had come. I’d taken the weapon of our enemy and turned it against them. But my people would never know the truth. Perhaps that was why Alusius hadn’t named his saviour. Perhaps he, too, had known that my people would never follow a cripple.

A World Full of Nothing

A World Full of Nothing



My Granddad travelled a lot, when he was younger. He went to France several times, crossing the sea in a small boat when the water was least violent, and claimed he even made it as far as Italy before coming home and settling down with Grandma. Once, when I was just a few years old, I asked him what the rest of the world was like.

He said, “Child, every place on Earth is different. But no matter where you go, it’s all the same.”

I was twenty six years old before I learned what he meant by that.

Image is © Copyright Paul and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Iron Road

The Iron Road


Railway Tracks_resized

When Mama died, Granddad decided to take me away from Edinburgh. He had a cousin in Carlisle, so we followed one of the Iron Roads for a hundred miles or more. Granddad said that in the times Before, the Iron Roads carried great vehicles upon them, and thousands of people rode to distant places in only an hour or two. After The Cataclysm, the vehicles were stripped down for materials, and even their bones were carried away by Scavengers.

Another of his wild stories. I can’t imagine what it would be like, not having to walk everywhere.

Blankets of Colour

Blankets of Colour


Wiener Blaustern (Scilla vindobonensis)

When I was eight, I found a beautiful flower peeping shyly out from a crack in the concrete. Granddad told me, that Great Grandpa told him, that before The Cataclysm, flowers used to grow everywhere. They grew tame in Gar-Dens and wild in great fields called Maid-O’s. They filled the world with a wonderful miasma of perfume, their hues and shades too many and varied to name. A blanket of colour upon a carpet of green, or so he said.

Granddad made up many fanciful stories; he liked to give me hope that our world could be something more.

Days Until Home

Mark Gardner of Article 94 is, along with fellow writers David Kristoph and Greg Dragon (who has an awesome pen-name), writing a 21-chapter sci-fi/mystery web serial revolving around a mining-ship space disaster. It sounds awesome. It probably will be extremely awesome. Check out the landing page and link to chapter 1 below.

Take Two Tag

Take Two Tag

(or, The Urban Spaceman plays writing games with you)

At the end of February, the Queen of Quotes, Jade M. Wong, and I had a play-date with our inner-fangirls, and the result was two Harry Potter one-shot fanfics based on the prompt of “Arthur Weasley at work” — one of three prompts I suggested, and the one Jade liked best.

It was super fun. The goal was to see how one prompt could inspire different stories, and to offer up some good old feedback on what we thought worked well—as well as what needed improvement—in each others’ stories. Then Jade was all like, “Hey, we should play this on WordPress, too!” only she was much more articulate about it. And since the idea works equally as well for WordPress/Blogger/<insert your blog type here> as it does for fanfiction.net, I’m game for a bit of Take Two Tag here as well.

The premise is fairly simple: one author runs up to another author, whacks them with the flat of their hand and goes, “TAG, HAHA!” then runs off whilst the tagged author is still recovering from seeing Roger Rabbit-style stars.

I’ve adapted my rules (they’re more guidelines, really) from ff.net since blogs do not suffer the same constraints — we don’t have to write fanfics. But we totally can, if you want!

Some guidelines!

• Story must be flash fiction, between 500 and 5,000 words.

• Any tense (past, present… future???) and perspective (first, second, third, fifth???) goes.

• The author who is “tagging” should ideally suggest 3 prompts, and allow the “tagged” author to make the final decision on which prompt to use. What kind of things should you prompt with? Anything. A genre. A title. An opening line. An idea. A theme. A description. A piece of dialogue. Whatever the hell you like! Though I would recommend avoiding anything too specific, such as “Erotic steampunk supernatural thriller involving three protagonists and one of them is a robot.” I’ll give an example below the guidelines, as I’m about to tag my very first author.

• Deadline should be agreed upon by both authors in advance

• Rating should be agreed on by both authors (not everyone likes to read smut or strong violence) — this isn’t as much of a problem here, since I doubt <insert blog type> will go deleting your posts/account simply because you wrote some naughty bits (ff.net will actually do that from time to time), but it would be nice just for politeness’ sake if authors could discuss whether there are any ‘areas’ they should avoid.

• Critique should be as fair as possible, with aspects of positive and (constructive) negative

Today I am tagging one of my favourite flash-fiction writers, the talented and creative Fatma Alici (whose Instagram would probably be worrying if her love of dragons and owls didn’t seem to rival my own).

Dragons and Owls

Dragons AND Owls *nods sagely*

I’d just like to say that no author I tag has to accept my tagging. If you’re too busy, not in the mood, or just plain don’t like the prompts, please feel free to say ‘No’.

Today, I offer Fatma the choice of following lines as prompts. They are just lines. Themes. Ideas. They don’t need to be used as titles, or as part of the dialogue; they don’t even have to feature directly in the story. Just pick your favourite (tell me which you’re picking so I can write too!) and we’ll set a deadline (say, end of March? Feel free to suggest something different if it doesn’t suite).

We go do our stuff, reconvene, do the whole read and review thing, then Fatma gets to be the “tagger” and have some creative fun with one of her readers. Woo!

Line 1: It’s still just the heart of a child.

Line 2: After a thousand years of darkness, he will come.

Line 3: There’s probably some kind of secret society behind all this.

And because no post is complete without a shameless plug, here are the results of the first round of tag:

Jade’s Story: Weasley’s Work Woes

Spaceman’s Story: Weasley’s World

As you can see, the Alliteration is strong with us.

Bonus points to the max if any of you reading this can ID where any of those prompts are from (without using Google! *stern glare*)

Colony – A Flash Fiction Piece

Today is Thursday Friday, which means it’s surely time for another of Chuck Wendig’s attempts to break his web server by having his many loyal fans flood it with their responses to his challenges!

The challenge for today is right up my wormhole. I’ve been experimenting more with shorter flash fiction in an attempt to curb my tendency to ramble (the result is a serial of short stories found here) and Chuck now wants his dedicated followers to write a five-sentence story, no more than 100 words. Perfect! This is exactly 100 words (not including the title).

.     .


.     .



Come to Cimmeria!” the frenetic advertisements opined, “Amazing Opportunities for All!” Of course, we believed them; we, the desolate and the downtrodden, so desperate for a chance to be masters of our own lives that we signed on the dotted line without reading the fine print. Perhaps they hadn’t known about the psychotropic compound-releasing fungi endemic to Cimmeria, or perhaps they simply didn’t care. Eight thousand colonists driven insane—a public relations nightmare back on Earth, but a literal nightmare for us. Evacuation was never promised and never came, but I don’t mind; you learn to live with madness, eventually.