The True Origins of Bjord the Commanding, Washer of Sheets, Undisputed Ruler of Absenthia

Writing Prompt: Potions and Elixirs

Potions

“Psst.”

“What?”

“Pssssst.”

“You don’t have to psst me, Neesh. There’s no one here, and I can see you just fine.”

“Just keep your voice down.”

“The library’s empty. I’ve checked.”

“You can’t be too careful.”

You can’t be too careful. I don’t even know why I’m here.”

“I did it.”

“Did what? Why couldn’t this wait until morning?”

“I’ve mixed the potion, Artur! The Potion of Command Galidor mentioned in his historical journals.”

“You did not.”

“It’s right here.”

“Let me see that!”

“Well? Look at it!”

“Sure, this looks like a potion, Neesh. So do all the flasks we mixed last week.”

“It’s not a potion. It’s the potion. Don’t ask me what I had to go through to get my hands on a Yuk-Yuk’s heart.”

“What did you have to go through to get your hands on—?”

“I told you not to ask!”

“It probably wasn’t even a real Yuk-Yuk. Old King Harold killed all the Yuk-Yuks, after his son’s nose fell off. Every noble in Absenthia assumed he was snorting faerie dust.”

“Look, I have it on extremely good authority that it was a Yuk-Yuk … I mean, the flying possum from which the heart was cut … and the instructions said that adding it would create a poof of green smoke that smelled specifically of mint and goat.”

“I think one of those smells will overpower the other.”

“Not for a nose like mine. The smoke was green, a nice poof of it, and the smell was minty goat.”

“When have you ever spelled a minty goat?”

“The weight’s just right, too. I checked it against the figures Galidor left in his journals.”

“Did you remember to add a half-crown for the weight of the flask?”

“Of course I remembered the half-crown. I’m not an idiot.”

“Well, you did tell Alchemaster Palu that the difference between a Potion of Short Flight and Long Flight was the length of the feather you ground—”

“That was an honest mistake! And besides, you mixed up green sand and red in reagents class.”

“That’s because I’m colorblind, you insensitive dolt.”

“Oh, right. Sorry, Artur. I just don’t like it when you belittle me. Alchemaster Tonjold always belittles me, and you know what he thinks about smallfolk becoming alchemasters.”

“Look, Tonjold’s an old prick, and I’m not belittling you, Neesh. I’m just being realistic. I just don’t think anyone is ever going to be able to replicate Galidor’s Potion of Command.”

“But I just did.”

“Well, if you think so, how do you plan to test it?”

“That’s why you’re here.”

“Oh, no.”

“I’m going to drink the potion, and then I’m going to tell you to do something. If you do it—”

“Absolutely not happening.”

“—then we’ll know the potion works!”

“What were you going to tell me to do?”

“I don’t know, um … hop on one leg, maybe?”

“How would you know I’m not just messing with you?”

“Because you wouldn’t do that! How long have we known each other, Artur?”

“Too long. Far too long.”

“I know you wouldn’t mess with me like that. You’re nothing if not brutally honest.”

“Well, I suppose that’s true.”

“So, stand right there, and I’ll—”

“Stop!”

“Hey, let go!”

“You can’t just drink it, you dolt. What if you got the formula wrong?”

“I didn’t.”

“You could end up attracting slugs, or turn into a purple mushroom and migrate spores all over the library, like that second year that ground up a tree frog.”

“There’s no tree frogs in this potion.”

“Or you could end up burping crickets.”

“Name one time that’s happened.”

“Potions Exhibition, last year. Dilution training, four months ago. Smell control, last—”

“Name one time recently.”

“All I’m saying is, if you really think this does what it does, we should test it first. On someone else.”

“Oh. Well … let’s think. Who do we know who’s stupid enough to drink a potion without asking what it is?”

“We’re at a school of potion makers, Neesh. The stupid ones never make it through the first year.”

“Haha, true. Oh hey, do you remember that long-nosed guy from Estonir, the one with the ponytail? What was his name?”

“Lejo something.”

“Lejori?”

“Yes, Lejori. That’s the first and last time I’ve ever seen anyone projectile vomit their own tongue.”

“Okay, fine, let’s say we do it your way. We still need someone who’s not part of the school.”

“A mundane?”

“Why not? We’ll just tell them it’s a love potion or something.”

“Love potions are illegal, and if he reports us—”

“He won’t report us, Artur. They don’t even let mundanes in the guild anymore, not since the last peasant uprising. Steward Snodgrass had to order eight-dozen new vials from the Illusion Embassy.”

“Didn’t they get into the reserves as well? Some rumor about strength potions they could use to bash through the king’s guards?”

“Honestly, I think that’s where all the new statues in the hedge maze came from.”

“All right, so, we’ll go find a mundane. But we’re not going to tell them it’s a love potion. Maybe a truth potion, instead.”

“Ha! That’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?”

“Not if you know what that word means.”

“I like this plan. I like it a lot. So, first thing tomorrow?”

“Yes. Fine. But we should only offer the mundane a single drop. Assuming Galidor’s old journals aren’t all donkey scat, a single drop should give him the power of command for … ten minutes, tops.”

“Say, um … what if he commands us to give him more?”

“That’s why we take a dropper, with one drop, and hide the rest of the potion in your room.”

“Ooh, good idea.”

“Mix up a bit of ForgetMeSo. We’ll both take a drop before we leave tomorrow. That way, neither of us will know where the potion is, so even if he commands us to give it to him, we won’t be able to. ”

“But … how will we find it again?”

“When the ForgetMeSo wears off. Assuming you mix it right, that’s less than a day.”

“Oh, good idea! That’s why I always call you, Artur. You have all the good ideas.”

“Well, Seven forbid, if you have managed to somehow replicate Galidor’s Potion of Command, you’ll be the one with all the good ideas, Neesh. They’ll promote you to alchemaster for sure.”

“Gosh, you really think so?”

“They promoted Bujor, and all he did was turn the Potion Master’s cat into a slightly larger cat.”

“Alchemixed milk, wasn’t it?”

“He’s lucky the cat didn’t explode.”

“Okay. I’ll hide the potion tonight. Tomorrow, we prove it works, and tomorrow afternoon—”

“Alchemaster Neesh becomes the new head of the Galidor Restoration Project!”

“With his new Steward of Potions, of course, Artur Rainwater.”

“I like the sound of Steward Rainwater. He sounds very rich.”

“I could be Galidor, Artur! They could speak of me like Galidor someday!”

“Just remember to hide the potion better than the Potion of Flatulence you mixed last year, for Jester’s Day. Old Bjord always turns down the bunks. If he turns down your bunk—”

“Seven take me, I couldn’t go in the dorms for a week after that! But he won’t find it.”

“He’ll drink anything he sees, Neesh. It’s a compulsion he’s had since he mixed up the ingredients in his Dietary Elixir. That’s why they demoted him the Dorm Master.”

“Head sheet washer, you mean. I still don’t see why they don’t just fire him.”

“Honestly, how do you pass anything? He’s the last member of Galidor’s tenure track.”

“Tenure track?”

“That’s why you become an alchemaster, Neesh! So you get tenure. So no one can ever fire you.”

“Oh, right.”

“No one can fire Bjord even if he lacks the wits the Seven gave a caterpillar, which is why they have him turning down bunks.”

“He won’t find it. Besides, we’ll be back before turn down.”

“Just don’t hide it in your bunk.”

“I told you, Artur, I’m not an idiot!”

“I know. I know you’re not an idiot, Neesh. I’m with you.”

“Really?”

“We’re doing this. We’re going to be the toast of the Absenthia, thanks to your alchemical brilliance, and my political brilliance.”

“But mostly my brilliance?”

“Whatever you want to put on the wall.”

“Seven take me, Artur, we’ll be famous!”

“And rich, remember, but only if your potion works.”

“It’ll work! I know it’ll work!”

“Well I suppose we’ll see tomorrow, won’t we?”

THE END

 

About the Story:

This month’s theme, “Potions and Elixirs” was open, and didn’t initially inspire me to write any specific story. I eventually decided to try to do something I believe I always have trouble with: comedy. Once I’d decided I was going to try to write a “funny” story I then, just for the heck of it, decided I’d also try to write a story that was all dialogue … no descriptive prose whatsoever, and no dialogue tags.

Could I tell a complete story, using only the dialogue of two main characters? That was my experiment! You can judge if I pulled it off.

Finally, for those curious about the ending of this story, just go read the title again. Hopefully, that should make it rather clear what happened.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/51771794@N07/5238433505″>Dry Ice Experiment 1</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Frozen Glass

Writing Prompt: Story Generator

TheFrozenGlass

It was past dark when Ren came in sight of old Prophet’s Church, and the local militia were gone. Perhaps in the first days, when the fires of revolution still burned in the minds of the people, those guards had not shirked their duties. Those days were decades past now, the great people’s revolution now reduced to boring history.

No one had worshiped in this building in decades, since it was abandoned by royal decree. Newly crowned King Darenth had not ordered it burned or torn down—that would imply the land’s newest monarch thought the Prophet’s rantings meaningful—but had instead ordered it left to decay in obscurity. Forgotten, like the Prophet herself.

Still, the church was in better shape than the Prophet. You could not behead a church.

Ren’s trusty velociraptor, Shrike, hunkered down as Ren reined him in at the stone fence. Time and opportunistic villagers had left its stones depleted. Shrike hated the church, hated what waited inside it, but that was because raptors were, by nature, distrustful of magic. What had brought them into the world could easily send them back out again.

“There now, girl.” Ren slid off Shrike and stroked his hand down the raptor’s long neck. “Don’t fret. I’m going in alone.”

Tonight, Ren knew, he would finally hold Elen into his arms. He would free her from her magical prison and bring her home to his father, to marry. He would tell her he loved her.

The inside of the church was in worse shape than the exterior. While stone and mortar had weathered the years gracefully, the wood inside was peeling, broken, and rotting. Ren chose his steps carefully. He was going down to the cellar, but he preferred to take the stairs.

He felt his way down stone steps in darkness, using the wall as his guide. Only once concealed by the cellar did he produce his wand and light it with a word of power—Solyr. Long ago picked clean by scavengers, the cellar was empty of all valuables save one—the full-length mirror with the golden frame and frosted glass. The mirror that had called to Ren from his dreams. Elen’s prison. A prison for the woman he loved.

The scavengers hadn’t touched the mirror. They hadn’t even been able to see it. Ren could see the mirror because he knew the old words, like Solyr and Vanis, because he had learned those words from his father. King Darenth’s mastery of those words had allowed him to seize the throne. All Ren wanted was to free Elen.

He walked to the mirror and set the wand aside. He focused and waited until a blue tint grew at the edge of his vision. He said the words that brought him to Elen six weeks ago, on the first of many nights they spent talking, commiserating, falling in love. “Revel.”

The frosted glass melted from top to bottom, revealing a surface beneath like the side of a soap bubble, transparent but always shifting. Elen waited beyond the frost. Her brilliant smile when she saw him lit Ren’s world brighter than the glowing wand.

“You’re back!” She was everything he wanted. “I thought I’d never see you again!”

Elen was close to his age, old enough to marry but only just, with golden hair to her shoulders and a green dress—the same dress she always wore—that rose to her neck and fell to mid-calf. She had soft curves and a nose that was just a bit rounder than his. She owned his heart.

“I found the word,” Ren said, and Elen’s eyes grew wide. “I can free you. We leave this church tonight, together.”

“You found it?” Elen clasped her hands together at her breast. “Oh Ren, I knew you wouldn’t fail me. I love you! I love you! I love you!”

Each repetition made the words more powerful, and Ren felt his face flush and his body heat. He thought of all the nights they had spent talking in this cellar, her on one side of the glass and him on the other, and the bond that grew as they learned they shared the same dreams, and beliefs, and hopes. Her to be free once more, and him to free her.

“I need you to stand back,” Ren said. He couldn’t wait to touch her, to hold her, to kiss her, at last. “Stand well back, Elen, and I should be able to make a hole in the mirror.”

“Will it hurt?” She swallowed and stared from behind the glass that kept them apart. “The Prophet told me it would hurt. She said I would die if I went free.”

The Prophet again. Ren worked to hide his anger. The Prophet deserved to lose her head for all the awful things she had done, least of which was imprisoning her own daughter in this mirror when King Darenth took power. No one deserved to suffer forever in a mirror.

“It won’t hurt,” Ren said, because he wanted to reassure her. “And you won’t die.” That he did know, having researched every book in the old king’s library regarding enchanted mirrors. “You’ll be free, we’ll be together, and we’ll rule the kingdom as husband and wife.” He smiled. “In a few decades, of course. After Father passes.”

“I’m ready.” Elen stepped back. “I trust you, Ren. I know you’d never hurt me.”

Ren focused on the golden frame, on the bubble glass, and waited until the blue tint came. It was all around the edges of his vision now, crackling more than normal. Was that a warning? Ren didn’t care. He focused on the word, fixed it in his mind so he could think it as urgently as he said it, and spoke. “Liber.”

The surface of the mirror shimmered like a still pond struck by a heavy stone. A wind grew inside it, tossing Elen’s blond hair and pressing her dress close against her body. Frost appeared at the edges of her hair, and her teeth chattered. “Ren!”

“Come out, Elen!” Ren shouted. “Walk toward the wind!”

“I can’t!” Her eyes were wide now, the frost spreading across the glass. She reached for him, struggling. “Help me, Ren! Help me!”

Something was wrong. He had said the word of power wrong, but he couldn’t let her die in that mirror. He couldn’t let her freeze.

Ren dashed forward and, for the first time, reached through the mirror. He strained for her and Elen for him. Their hands touched, warmth upon warmth, and for the barest of moments time ceased to be. There was just Elen, her hand in his, her smile and her love.

The world melted around him.

Ren stumbled into hard stone, except it was not stone, not any longer. It was glass, clearer than any he had ever seen and tall as the sky. A golden frame surrounded a mirror shape in the wall of glass, and behind that glass and endless sky was a dark cellar and a glowing wand. Elen stood in it, staring at him, smiling, her hair still tipped with frost.

“Elen?” It was cold in this world of sky and glass, and Ren saw his breath mist as goosebumps rose on his arms. “Elen, what’s happened? Are you all right?”

“I’m fine now, Ren.” Elen’s smile grew as she watched him through the glass that had once separated them. “No, beyond fine. I am perfect. I am avenged.”

“What?” Ren didn’t understand any of this, and he pushed his hands against the glass that separated them. It was no longer a bubble, and it was hard and cold. “Elen, what are you doing out there? How am I in here? What is this?” He loved her!

“Your father’s reward.” Elen’s smile turned chill. “My mother’s gift.”

She was the Prophet’s Daughter. The Prophet had imprisoned Elen, hidden her, damned her, and King Darenth had killed the Prophet. Elen should be grateful!

“Elen, no. I love you!” Had she lied about everything? He realized he didn’t care. “I’m not my father. We can overthrow him, Elen! We can rule together!”

“My mother can’t rule without her head.” Elen picked up his glowing wand and turned her back on him. “And your father can’t pass on a kingdom to a son that doesn’t exist.”

She was mad! She was going to leave him here, in this mirror, where no one would find him, because he loved her. Because he wanted to save her. “Stop! Please! Don’t do this!”

Even as he shouted, even as his heart pounded and his head thumped, Ren knew she wouldn’t listen. He knew, because he remembered those words. The Prophet had uttered those same words, in that same tone—before King Darenth chopped off her head.

“Farwell, Ren Darenth.” Elen climbed the steps. “Farewell, you blind fool.”

Ren was still screaming when the cellar grew dark again.

THE END

 

About the Story:

This month, the mods made their own “story generator” and everyone rolled a set of random numbers to determine what elements they would have to incorporate into that month’s story. This resulted in a number of stories with similar elements, but those stories ended up being very different. It was a remarkably fun exercise, and I was surprised by how much of this story “wrote itself” as I worked to incorporate all the elements I had rolled. Below, the story generator matrix:

934irgw

My roll ended up as the following:

Paranormal Romance
Royal Heir
Church
Wand
Too Trusting
Evil Wizard/Witch

AND…

DINOSAURS

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/25494789@N02/27894292603″>Chapelle de Cazeneuve</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;