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boda

Boda relishes chaos above everything. If the old gods still picked heralds, Pandemonia would have snatched her up in a heartbeat. A brazen kiss in a Kraestonien market was all it took to make me dance after her shadow, forgetting family and oaths in an instant.

Two years later, here we are. She grins with that fox-sly mouth and adoration swells in my breast, spills across my cheeks, like the blood through my fingers.

Boda adjusts the dagger tip on the priest’s fluttering throat and rummages in the stolen tithe bag.

We’re dancing with death again, and she’s excited.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: brazen, relish, tithe)

a tithe in flesh

Someone is groaning pitifully. I try pursing my lips to shush them, but I can’t feel my mouth. Well, shit. I am sauced, again.

I force open an eyelid, and the moan cuts off, as the sun drives a fiery spike down into my brain. Hissing, I shut my eye.

I remember collapsing on the way to the temple. I remember laughter. I remember rough hands lifting and pushing me onto the tumbrel. I remember prayers and…screaming. I…remember…

I try to wiggle my toes, but feel nothing. I cannot feel my hands.

The gods have taken their tithe.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: collapse, sauce, tumbrel)

Third

Blood clots at the corners of her eyes, the viscous, purple-black liquid sizzling slightly as it’s touched by the air. I stare at her. Heat and ice ripples across my back, and I reach out and stroke a finger across the feathers below her throat.

Osmaern will be frenzied when he finds her gone. I remember the sound of his trilling moan, how it hums across my skin. Do I tell him what I saw? Do I risk it? Her death means I’m no longer Third, no longer banned from the sky.

I watch as light fades from her eyes.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: clot, feather, third)

frozen

Her skin glistens in the radiant, unbound light, rime-coated flesh indistinguishable from the snow. Brown hair fans around her, and curls over the buttoned collar of a thrifted, sickly green coat. It reminds me of the threadbare sofa at gram’s house, pointedly sheathed in plastic.

Byron stomps up beside me, cursing as his foot slides in the icy snow. “Another one,” he says, his rage clear as he stares into the gutter. She looks like his daughter.

“We’ll catch him,” I say. The certainty is a rock in my gut. I’ve been careful, but nothing good lasts forever.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: gutter, rime, thrift)

the mountain’s door

Untangling massive arms from a mess of lichen-smeared scree and withered roots, the stone woman pushed herself upright.

Rai flipped her cloak up protectively, as small rocks cascaded off the woman’s shoulders. She winced as something struck her head, then nearly fell backwards off the steep slope when the guardian stamped an enormous foot.

“Who are you,” the woman said, voice rumbling like thunder.

“I seek the Mountain’s Door.” Rai craned her head back to glimpse the woman’s granite face.

“You do not conform to the garb of the Seekers.”

“The Seekers are gone. I am the Key.”

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: conform, lichen, stamp)

distraction

Callon was not one for abnegation, especially when it applied to whiskey and medieval weaponry.

“You plan the best dates,” Jaen said. She grinned a tight, dark smile and ran a finger over the sharpened point of a crossbow bolt lying on the table.

“What, no words of caution? No demands to think and sober up first?” He grinned. “No attempts to handcuff me again?”

Jaen handed him the bolt. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

“You’re hoping Sirius puts a bullet in my chest, aren’t you.”

“You’ve got a strong core. You’ll live. More importantly, you’ll provide a distraction.”

Read the on-going story here

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: abnegate, core, whiskey)

just another friday

The girl was unmemorable from her pale, slicked-back hair, to the straight line of her mouth, to the perfectly buttoned dress that skimmed the tops of stocking-covered knees. I would have dismissed her all-together, save for the preternatural stillness with which she stood by the wall.

My eye watched hers as the door’s chime sounded, and her dead brown eyes shot sideways. The movement was so fast, so unexpected, that I nearly missed the dagger slide from her sleeve into her hand.

I sighed, drained my bland beer, and reached for my gun. Life really was a perpetual hunt.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: bland, chime, perpetual)

the passing

A charcoal veil of ash lays light across our hair and shoulders, dusting bone-white strands and pale flesh, as though with powdered stone. Lvia grins wildly up at the darkened sky, her delicate hands dancing, as she plucks another blinded moth from the air.

“It’s begun,” she says.

Cooling blood splatters my upraised face, as a bird, clutching ropey entrails in red-dipped talons, passes overhead. I kiss a palm and raise it skyward.

“It’s not Mother,” I say, feeling certainty spread like rot in my belly. Her perfection is not present in the fire-swept sky.

We are betrayed.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: entrails, kiss, perfect)

scent

Hands on her thighs, Emily took a deep, ragged breath, drawing in the familiar aroma of peppermint and spearmint. Another scent crept in, strange and fetid. A smell that didn’t belong.

Frowning, Emily opened her eyes. She looked towards the tall, rough rock wall that separated her garden from the wilds of Graemforth Park. Gifted to the city long ago, it’d been sealed three years back after a series of unexplained wolf attacks. Unexplained, as there were no wolves in the city.

An itch began on one earlobe, and she tugged at her silver earring in annoyance.

Something howled.

(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: earring, park, spearmint)

favours

Mama saw the Favour Man today. She put on her best dress, the one with lace at the collar, and combed her hair into a bun. Ade tried to put dandelions in the gathered silver-turned strands, but Mama shooed her away.

Elisa was sceptical that Mama would come home at all, saying she’d finally gone and left us, but I said she’d be back with Monday’s beans.

Mama arrived at dinnertime, and she smiled and said we’d be all right, but we all noticed her shaking hands, and how the buttons on her dress were in the wrong holes.

(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: favour, Monday, sceptic)