Reaching #WritePhoto

The five adventurers had been walking towards their quest for weeks now. They had across woodland, swamps and moorland, through sun, rain, snow and darkness, fighting goblin night raids, giant raven attacks and other monsters.

Stepping through a clump of wild brush that had been sneakily trying to ensnare them, the group saw they were at the base of sweeping hills as far as the eye could see. Weak sunlight fell through the cloud cover, causing beams of light to touch the hills.

In the dim light and under a dead tree, they gathered and talked quietly.

The elf ranger was certain this was the right way. The two men- one an aged wizard and the other a hardened solider- agreed with him for the elf had yet to lead them wrong. The dwarf cleric and the halfling thief weren’t so sure.

Nobody really knew what was beyond The Reaching Hills, those that went there didn’t often come back and when they did their minds were lost. It was said that evil ghosts and outcast Gods walked the hills, snatching souls and murdering. The hills were always cast in gloom and no normal light could break though the darkness that lay in patches providing perfect cover for enemies.

‘We must go on and see,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I can give us the magical light we need to see by and stop anything sneaking upon us.’

‘We don’t need to go through The Reaching Hills!’ the halfling cried, ‘we can go around them. To the west they only go as far as the Red River. We can cross the Long bridge there and go around!’

The elf shook his head, white hair spilling around his shoulders, ‘it would take too long.’

‘We could die!’

‘We could have died back there!’ the dwarf shouted, ‘we barely got out of that poisonous man-eating plant patch!’

‘We go forward then,’ the solider said and he started walking up the first of the hills.

The rest of the party followed, wondering if the tales of The Reaching Hills were true and what they would encounter there.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/12/thursday-photo-prompt-reaching-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Stone #WritePhoto

It was growing dark in the woods and everyone was locking themselves inside their homes. Candles and fires burned brightly, keeping the worse of the shadows away but the villagers knew it would not protect them. Nothing would if the monsters who dwelled underneath the trees decided to eat them.

Kissa led her lame nag pony around the moss covered trees, newly lit lantern held high in her small hand. The brown and white pony whined in pain but there was nothing Kissa could do. She was too busy trying to fight down the guilt of causing the pony to stumble because she had been running the poor thing too hard to try and get home before it was dark.

Now, it was too late. Kissa toyed with the idea of leaving the pony behind. The nag was slowing her down and Kissa could run, she wasn’t wearing skirts but dressed in boys’ clothes to help hide her identity. It was safer, her parents said to pretend to be a boy when traveling to see granny because girls were likely to be kidnapped on the roads.

Kissa looked at the pony. The animal was weary, pained and sad, it would be so easy to let go of the reins and walk away but she couldn’t, Bramble was her childhood friend. So, Kissa clutched the reins tighter and patted the pony’s neck whilst muttering soothing words. She also lowered the lantern to giving them more light to see where they were walking.

‘We’ll be home soon enough now,’ Kissa spoke, ‘look, there’s the stone marker ahead.’

Bramble neighed and limped on. Her hoofs tripping over fallen branches and pebbles.

‘We’ll rest there a bit,’ Kissa added, ‘even though I know we shouldn’t stop. It’s dangerous in the dark but we’ll look after each other right?’

They reached the stone pillar which was covered in green moss and surrounded by stones in a circle. No one alive now knew what the stones had originally been placed for but they were now used to mark the miles between places even though nothing was written upon them. Many people couldn’t read anyway.

Kissa sat on one of the stones, dropping the reins and placing the lantern down. She took the cloth bag off her back, pulled out a waterskin and a wrapped packet. She drink and ate the hard bread and cheese that granny had given her. Bramble stood still, right foot slightly raised off the ground, dozing.

A wind rocked the trees above them, an owl hooted and a fox cried out, the long sound taking awhile to fade away. Kissa huddled into her cloak, trying not to let fear get to her but it was hard as she was just a child of ten years. She finished eating, saving some just in case and took a few sips of water then packed everything away.

There was a rustle in the tall bushes close by and Kissa stood up, clutching for the lantern and the reins of the pony. She shone the light in the direction and waited. Perhaps, it was just the wind or a normal animal? Or it could be….

The breathe caught in Kissa’s throat as images of monsters flooded her mind. She had never seen one before but there was enough stories and drawings around for her imagination to create them. They came in all different forms and colours but the most famous ones were black and red, had huge horns on their heads, faces and bodies of beasts, cloven hoofs, human hands and a taste for human flesh.

Kissa was stuck between running and staying, she felt the tug of fleeing more strongly but she knew Bramble wouldn’t be able to move fast. Staying still and hoping the beast passed by was the best thing to do.

Kissa wasn’t sure it would make any difference though, she had seen dogs hunting rabbits and fox out of hiding by smell and sound. The stories said the beasts had great senses; they could see in the dark, hear and scent twice as better then any dog.

The rustling stopped and the bushes that had been swaying before came still. Kissa bit her lip and slowly moved. She put on the cloth bag and started to led the pony away. It was difficult to soften her footsteps and the hoofs of Bramble. There were too many crunchy leaves and snappy branches.

‘Come on,’ Kissa urged Bramble on, ‘We’re almost home, just try a little harder.’

Before they could get out of the stone circle, a tree next to them, give off a  loud crack, branches snapped and showered down on them. A large beast let out a roar so loud it shook the ground and a huge weight swung down to land before them.

Kissa screamed and threw her arms up to protect herself. The lantern banged against her arms, the candle inside wildly flickered, almost going out. The pony cried in fear and more pain as Kissa had suddenly pulled the reins upwards. Bramble twisted hard away, causing Kissa to drop the reins then using whatever energy the nag had been saving, she ran away.

‘Bramble, come back!’ Kissa shouted, spinning and getting ready to chase after the pony.

A massive, heavy, hairy hand hit her shoulder and Kissa fell to the ground. She dropped the lantern and there was a tinkling of glass. Gasping, she picked it up before the candle could go out. Breathing deeply, she stayed on the ground, tasting rotting leaves and soil whilst staring into the flickering flame. Kissa couldn’t move nor bare to look behind her.

She could hear the monster breathing heavily and sniffing around. Hoofs clomped about and the tree was still making snapping sounds. There came a smell of wet fur, dung and the stink of animals that remembered Kissa of the long haired cows some of the villagers kept.

‘Don’t eat me,’ Kissa mumbled.

She shut her eyes and lay still, waiting to feel that hand again picking her up and placing her inside a wet mouth, full of sharp teeth. She held her breath and prayed, for someone or something to save her, anything that would keep her safe and Bramble too, wherever the poor nag had ended up.

The hands and claws never came though, the monster was still walking around, letting out snorting and growling sounds. It seemed to be keeping it’s distance.

Kissa slowly pulled herself up and sat next to the lantern. She saw the monster; a towering, hairy beast with twisted horns growing on either side of his head, black and red fur, stood on two legs like a man, only the feet were cloven and the long fingers curled up. The face was made up of a large snout, with a wet black nose and a snarling mouth where white fangs were stained black, the monster had deep red eyes that were staring at her.

‘What do you want?’ Kissa spoke as she curled up into a tight ball.

The monster roared and leaped towards her but before it could touch her, the monster was thrown back. A tree trunk broken under it’s weight and the tree fell with a crash.

Kissa shuffled and hit the stone. She cried out then stopped as the monster ambled towards her again. The beast paced around the edge of the stone circle, staring at her and snarling.

‘It can’t get in….’ Kissa mumbled.

Kissa got more comfy and moved the lantern to be at her feet. She hugged herself and hopped that Bramble has made it home. Not sure what to do, Kissa put her head onto her knees and despite the danger she was in, began to doze off.

Three times, Kissa woke herself with a start and the second and third times, she found the monster gone and the woods quiet. She thought about leaving the circle and trying to follow the path home but the candle was getting low and the night was still pressing down.

Finally, she lay down and gave into sleep. Sometime later, the candle gutted and went out. A curl of smoke drifted upwards then the darkness fully settled. The monster crept forward two times and tried to break the protective circle with all his might but nothing would make the strong ancient magic give.

As dawn approached, the monsters faded into the shadows of the trees, going underneath them into the cold, darkness. Sunlight touched everything, birds burst into morning song and Kissa awoke.

Rubbing her face, she looked around and saw no monsters. She prayed her thanks, gathered the lantern and with a deep breathe stepped out of the stone circle. Nothing rushed towards her and she felt the sunlight warm on her face.

Sticking to the path, Kissa walked home, feeling weary with lack of sleep and fading fear. Soon the path wove down into her village and she saw most of the villagers standing around getting ready to head out into the woods. Kissa spotted Bramble standing by her house, her brother holding the reins and she rushed forward to hug the pony.

‘bramble! You’re safe! I’m glad you didn’t get eaten!’ Kissa cried.

Then her parents were sweeping her up and fussy and asking where she had been and what had happened.

Kissa told them everything and when she was exhausted, she fell sleep on her father’s shoulder, truly safe once again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/25/thursday-photo-prompt-way-stone-writephoto/ for thanks).

 

 

 

Summit #writephoto

It had been a long climb to the summit of the castle but the adventuring party had reached it at last. The breathtaking view unfolded before them and all other thoughts went away.

The small towns and countryside nested under a grey summer sky looked like the places of miniature people or the child of a giant’s toys. There was so much stretching before them it was hard to take it all in.

Then the weight of their task came back to them and they turned to look at the ruined castle. Somewhere here lived the monster and they had come to kill it.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/07/19/thursday-photo-prompt-summit-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Hunter #FridayFictioneers

The sun rose on another day, the light touching the roofs of the nearby houses and I prayed thanks to God. In the distance, I could hear the hissing and shuffling as the monsters retreated into any solid darkness they could find. Sunlight burnt them as well as fire, sending them back to Hell where they had originally came from.

I checked my weapons, strapped them to myself and prepared to go out. The best time to hunt monsters was between now and three PM. I was determined to send them all back and restore the world right again.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/07/18/20-july-2018/ with thanks).

The Monster of Depression

mortality-401222_1920

The Depression monster was lurking in the corner again. She tried to shrug it off but she could still hear it’s whispering voice. She paused frowning over the questions Depression was raising then pressed on. Yet the doubts still swirled in her head and she was forced to stop. The Depression monster laughed and rushed forward, crushing her hopes. Tears wet her face and she turned away. Abandoning the half painted canvas, she went to the sofa and lay there. Depression consumed her, filling her with a hopelessness and darkness that weighted too much to escape from.

Twilight #writephoto

 

Twilight was the most dangerous part of the day. As the sun set and the moon rose the portal between worlds became unstable. Evil leaked through like oil into a river, covering everything it could. People hide, frightened by stories travellers told of the things that ruled the night.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/06/15/thursday-photo-prompt-twilight-writephoto/ with thanks)

Creature

cave-creature

Jack knew he shouldn’t go further into the cave, but he was angry and didn’t care. Sand and shells crunched under his hiking boots and water dripped steadily. The light beam from the torch showed him how narrow the walls were getting. He hitched up his rucksack and heard it scrapping the wall.

He stopped and saw his breath misting before him. It was colder then he thought then. He shone the torch around, but there was nothing unusual about the cave. It looked just looked like the back of any cave on any beach. Jack turned back the way he had come. He couldn’t see the cave entrance, but he knew it was there.

They’re all outside having a good laugh at me now, he thought, whatever. Sod them.

He slipped his rucksack off and sat down on it. He tapped the torch about in his hands then turned it off. Darkness settled around him and he breathed in deeply. He shut his eyes and just listened to the distant sound of the sea. He also thought he heard the crackle of the fire and gusty blow of the wind.

The sound of soft footsteps moving towards him grew within the background of dripping water.

Great. I can’t even get a bit of space!

Jack thought about turning the torch on, but then decided against it. Let whoever it was find him in the dark. They liked playing games anyway didn’t they? His so called friends…

The footsteps came into focus and Jack knew something was wrong with them. It didn’t sound like boots or bare feet coming towards him. It sounded more like paws…

‘Hello?’ he shouted and flicked on the torch.

The light chased the shadows away and showed Jack nothing but the damp walls.

‘Quit messin’ and leave me alone! Jerks!’ he yelled.

He turned off the torch again and sat breathing heavily in the darkness.

The sound of paws picked up again and were followed by a low growl. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and Jack turned the torch slowly. Carefully, he guided the beam around.

Something moved against the wall to his left. He flashed the torch over and the light reflected two large grey glowing orbs.

He swore and scrambled to his feet. He tried to hold the torch steady to see more, but he couldn’t.

The growling came again. Fur brushed against the wall. The paws picked up speed.

He dodged to the side and ran. The light beam bouncing everywhere. He burst from the cave, kicking up sand as he arrived. He spun around and shone the light back into the entrance. Was it still following him?

His friends were scrambling around, he could see that out of the corner of his version. They were asking him what was wrong. But he couldn’t reply. He had no words to describe the creature he had just seen.

 

Story prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2016/10/27/thursday-photo-prompt-creature-writephoto/ with thanks.

Attic

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There’s something in the attic and it wants to get out.

At night, it groans and wails, throws things around and makes sleep impossible.

The problem is though, only I can hear it.

 

Violet Sky

dark-dawn

This was the dusk Slate had been waiting for. He sat on top of the hill, taking sips of pure dark rum from his silver canteen. All around him the forest and lake were settling down for the night. He could hear the calls of birds and wild animals echoing. The wind rocking the trees and the lapping sounds of the lake.

Slate swirled the rum around his mouth. Enjoying the dark warm spices, before swallowing. It had been expensive, but worth it. The sea pirates always had the best stuff, even though trading with them was a high risk. He won’t go anyway else now though for his precious drink.

He slipped the canteen into the inside pocket of his black leather duster coat then slowly withdrew his gun. The thing was an antique; all silver, gold and wood, but it had been super modified. It was a double barreled, electrical generator, quick fire baby. With one finger, Slate lovingly stroked down the gun’s left side as if it was the leg of a beautiful woman.

‘Your the only lady I need at my side,’ he purred to the gun.

He almost pressed the side of one of the barrels to his cheek, but stopped himself. Something was shaking the trees below and the forest had fallen eerily silent. The last of the sun’s pink and burnt orange streaks give just enough light for him to see the creature taking form.

His breath caught in his throat for just a moment, then he quietened his breathing as much as possible. Switching his gun hands, he brought his right hand up to the machine that covered that eye. It was a complex mechanism of microscopes, colored glass, cogs and many moving pieces. He moved the settings around so that his biogenetic eye could see. He shut his other eye and focused solely on the scene below him.

Straight away, it seemed he was down there and meeting the creature eye to eye. He drew back a little, being gentle with the sensitive controls. He saw the full view and that the creature was the demon he had been tracking for months. Slate smiled. He had always known tonight was the night.

Slipping his gun away, he drew his canteen out again and took a mouthful. He swallowed, relishing the taste before putting it back. Slate got his eye piece to map the best way to go then set off. He walked carefully, but with purpose and tried not to be loud. Yet the forest was against him in this because it was all ready late autumn. Dry leaves and twigs crunched and cracked under his heavy platform boots. Bare branches snatched at him, snagging on his long hair and coat. He knew being the second only thing moving between the trees didn’t help this noise.

However, Slate was there fast enough and standing on a high ridge looking down into a ancient bomb crater. The demon was below him and it was breathtaking. It seemed to be the skeleton of a giant rhino. The bones were all ice white and joined together with a stretchy grey skin, which looked fragile, but was as tough as steel.

The rhino turned its head up as if sensing something and Slate got his first look at the monster’s face. It was extremely rhino like; with two large horns coming off the top of the snout which looked like the tops of snow cover mountains, the wide face and large ears. The huge nostrils flared and the eyes that rose to meet his were pitch black.

Slate grabbed his gun and fired. The silver bullet ripped through the night, shattering the pause that had held the forest. A tail of red and blue light followed it then here was an explosion of sound and electricity.

The demon screamed and roared in one. It reared up and tried to charge out of the crater.

Slate fired again and kept going in quick secession. There was no other way to bring this thing down. Luckily, he had been packing special bullets for this hunting mission. Keeping his focus, he aimed for the head area, knowing soon he’d hit an eye and get into the brain.

The demon rhino had started to bleed out thick black blood, but it was showing no signs of slowing down. It kept trying to plough up the side of the grassy slop, however there was very little grip for it’s smooth flat feet and heavy bulk. With a might cry, it changed tactics and threw itself head first at the side of the crater.

Slate felt the earth shake from under him. He reached out to grab the trunk of a nearby tree. His hand brushed it then he was falling. His feet slide down and he lent back to keep his balance. Slate surfed down the soil as the rhino pulled out, shaking dirt everywhere. For a second it seemed that the demon would turn away, but then those black hell eyes saw Slate and the rhino put his head down again and flicked out his horn.

Slate dodge to the side and felt his legs give way under him. Pain shot down his side and he knew the horn had caught him. Tumbling into the crater, Slate scrambled to his feet, even though burn like pain had seized his muscles. He two handed his gun, holding far out in front of him. It was the only barrier between him and the demon now.

The rhino monster turned. Bones crunching together as if breaking and blood dripping from a half shot away face. A single eye fixed on to Slate.

Slate backed slowly up. He shut his good eye and looked through the machine one to perfect his aim. He squeezed the trigger on an exhale of breathe and felt the gun kick back in his hands. Blue and red waves danced before his eye then he opened his other one and saw the rhino was stunned.

He stepped forward, getting almost too close, before he fired straight into the demon’s head.

The rhino let out a gasping groan and crumbled to the floor.

Slate took in a deep breath of cold night air. He smelt the acid and decaying blood of the demon. The bitter taste of victory bubbled on his tongue. That hadn’t been worth the fight. He let his shoulders drop and his gun fell to his side. At the back of his mind he knew he was badly injured and in pain, but for the moment that could wait.

This demon hadn’t actually been the one he had been hunting.

He wasn’t sure how he knew that. Just that it was the fact. His mind wheeled and he wondered over the sinister nature of it all. The agency were doing this just to taught him, he concluded. They didn’t think he was good enough anymore….Well, he’d show them. Slater Gordon was still the fastest monster killer in the west. With that, he turned, put his gun away and slipped out his rum again.

 

 

(Inspired by Sue’s image prompt at; https://scvincent.com/2016/10/20/thursday-photo-prompt-violet-sky-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Hunger

candy, chocolate, delicious

Brian was so hungry, he could eat anything. Clutching the steering wheel, he drove down the dark motorway whilst licking his lips. At the moment, he was stuck out here with just the shadows of the trees and the glow of a farm house light in the distance. Soon though, he knew there’d be a rest stop and he could get something to eat.

He tapped the steering wheel and tried to listen to the soft music coming from the radio to distracted himself. His mind popped with images of beef burgers, fries, huge slabs of cooked meats and piles of crisp vegetables. Brian’s stomach groaned and he felt that if he didn’t eat soon he’d go mad.

His headlights flashed over a sign and he breathed a sigh of relief. There was a service stop a few miles away.

‘Soon, soon, soon,’ he told himself.

He sped up, taking the car over the speed limit, but out here in the middle of nowhere, close to midnight no one would see. He clutched the wheel tighter, so his knuckles turned white and even though his eyes were fixed on the road, he was no longer seeing clearly. He had to eat. He could feel the urge consuming him and riding over everything else.

The turn off came up and he yanked the car over violently. The wheels squealed then settled as he slowed down. Brian went through the parking lot and pulled up close by the door. He got out, locked the car and hurried inside. Warm lights and the pleasant smell of food filled the air.

He went to the first food place and got a burger, fries and a coke. Sitting down, he tried to contain the drool that was filling his mouth, but as he unwrapped the burger and bite into it, he felt wetness on his face. Brian moaned with pleasure into the bread and meat. He swallowed then finished the thing in two bites.

Not even bothering to wipe his mouth or fingers, he wolfed down the fries. They were gone in a few moments and he was left with the taste of salt and potato on his tongue. He picked up his drink, took off the lid and gulped that down like a man starved of water in a desert.

Brian sat back and wiped his hands and face. He felt better and the urge was slowly fading. He shut his eyes and for a few moments just sat there, patting his stomach. Then the hungry rose again, demanding more meat.

He got up, abandoning his tray and walked quickly to another fast food place. There he ordered a chicken burger, more fries, sides and a large coke. Sitting down again, he began eating. The urge was so great, it was the only thing he could think of. The burger tasted good, even better then the first and the fries were crispy, just how he liked them. He finished eating and drowned his mouth in the fizzy drink.

He burped loudly and threw his head back. The hungry began to fade again. He rested, but it only lasted for a few minutes. Getting up, he stumbled into the small shop and picked up random packets of sweets and snacks. He went to the till and dumped it all on. He swayed drunkenly and waved off the shop assistant’s questions. He paid with his card, grabbed as much as he could carry and went back to his table.

There he stuffed himself full of sweets, chocolate and savory snacks. It all felt so good and couldn’t get enough of it. He had to have more!

He looked up, deciding were to go next and saw that people were staring at him. All the employees of the service building and a handful of other late night travelers were watching him closely. He noticed some of them whispering to each other then turning away as they saw him watching them.

For a few moments, Brian came back to himself, what’s happening here? What am I doing? Then the hungry crashed in again. He hurried up and into the shop once more. This time not even caring what he eat, he tore items off the shelves and began opening things.

‘Wait! You can’t do that! Stop! You need to pay!’

Voices were shouting all around him, but he ignored them and carried on. His mouth was full of so much and he wanted to cramp everything in at once.

‘He’s gone mad! Someone phone the police!’

Hands grabbed him and Brian swung to hit them away. A fist crunched into his nose and he tasted blood. He spit out the mouthful of mixed food he had and reached for the hand that had hit him. Wrapping his hands around that strong arm, he brought the skin to his mouth and bit down.

Screams filled his ears, blocking everything else out, but all Brian could sense was the taste of flesh and blood in his mouth. It felt so good and finally he was satisfied.