Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

June 30 – July 20, 2022 Writing Prompt “Scorned”

Theme: Scorned

Using the paragraph below, finish the story in whatever manner you wish.

Required Elements:

  • None

Word Count: 1500. 1,433 unique words + 77 words below = 1500

Your story must start with the following words (exactly):

“She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes. The power of the gods at her fingertips. The cleverness of the slyest man at her lips.

But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred. For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire. Men killed by her own blade. Destruction caused by her own wrath.

All to please one man she could call her own.

But nothing, nothing, was ever enough for him.”

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76 thoughts on “June 30 – July 20, 2022 Writing Prompt “Scorned”

    • Jagan Parthasarathy
      I am submitting the corrected version. Please remove the old one.
  • Adrienne Riggs
    Signing in. This will be a challenge.
    • For me too….but a fun challenge!
  • Maybe this is the push I need to finally write something that I want to enter. I have finished stories for each of the last few prompts, kept rewriting them, and still couldn’t find one worthy to publish on this site. Gonna give it the old college try.


    • The beginning is there, you just need to continue it!
      You can do it!
      Just post whatever you have. Something is better than nothing….

      ………..says the writer who rarely posts anything hahahaha

  • Signing in, I like the idea of the prompt. Trying to get my head around it. Will be my first writing exercise in months.
    • Hi All, I have forgotten how the ‘new’ system works. I did make an account in the other site but cannot remember how to log on or even where to go. I am having a major senior moment LOL. Can someone please remind me or send me a link to the competition entry and reading page. Cheers and thanks.
      • Carrie Zylka

        Hi! Welcome back! 😁

      • Carrie Zylka

        We are sticking with this site after all. So go ahead and post your story here.


    She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes. The power of the gods at her fingertips. The cleverness of the slyest man at her lips.

    But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred. For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire. Men killed by her own blade. Destruction caused by her own wrath.

    All to please one man she could call her own.

    But nothing, nothing, was ever enough for him.

    So here she now stood, atop the Hill of Adarrak, surveying her forces below – their silvery armour sparkling in the intense light of the two moons. And a league away, across the valley, at the foot of the Sasikume Mountains, stood Prince Maitalea. She could see his red helmet, like the luminous dot on the head of a zakila fish. Before him, his battalions were spread in a line across the valley floor like a huge black serpent.

    The sight of him made her legs tremble, but she fought her emotions; her subjects must not see her waver in her intent for she would be asking many of them to pay the ultimate price. Her resolve, and their devotion to her, were the only things putting fire in their bellies.

    Her adviser, Albokoa, moved to her side.

    “Shall I give the order, your Highness?” he said.

    She looked into his eyes and saw the love that she knew all her subjects had for her, and not for the first time this night, she felt in her heart the stab of her own treachery. She laid a hand on his shoulder.

    “Why are we here, faithful Albokoa?” she asked.

    Albokoa frowned, confused.

    “To fight the upstart Maitalea, your Highness,” he said, as if it went without saying.

    “Yes, of course,” she replied. She wanted to strike Albokoa for his impertinence in calling her erstwhile lover an ‘upstart’, but she resisted the temptation; how was he to know her feelings, after all?

    “Why? Why do we need to fight … Prince Maitalea?”

    “Because …” Albokoa began, screwing his face up to try to discern the reason. Finding none, he concluded: “Because you bade it so.”

    She nodded, satisfied that her power was intact but at the same time remorseful that her heart would cause the death of a great number of her subjects.

    With a sigh, she nodded to Albokoa.

    “Yes. Give the order.”

    Albokoa bared his teeth and growled his satisfaction; his axe would soon be tasting blood. He turned, took two paces away and shouted to a row of men facing the valley.

    A long, ominous moaning of bugles erupted from the hillside, echoed by cries from the soldiers below, then the chant – thunderous in its power.

    We fight today
    And if need be
    We will die proudly
    For Erregina Zuria

    Erregina Zuria raised her hand, holding the sacred ribbon of Itxaropena, fluttering in the breeze that drifted across the hill. The chanting stopped, all eyes on her.

    Her pulse was racing now. Though it might diminish her standing with her subjects, it would still be possible to call off the attack. But then she remembered Maitalea’s perfidy. He had said he loved her; it had been a lie. Now the memory of that deceit flooded through her very being. She dropped her arm and the ribbon to her side.

    From the valley came an almighty roar from a hundred thousand throats, and as Erregina Zuria looked on, the mass of bodies began to shift. The movement seemed gradual from where she stood, but she knew that her men would be sprinting full-tilt towards the shields, spears and swords of Maitalea’s fearsome army – the Gudari Beltzak. She knew also that those in the first wave would die almost instantly, but that the second, third or fourth waves would begin to breach the prince’s defences.

    The lines met now, and from the hillside they could hear the clash of metal and the screams. It was time.

    She climbed onto her horse, Kaltetsua, then she and Albokoa, along with her personal guard, made their way down the hill.

    Little by little, they approached the line of fighting, the sickening sounds and smells of death intensifying with each yard covered. As they got closer, Erregina Zuria could see that her forces had already breached the Gudari Beltzak line in several places. The entourage made for one of the openings.

    Some members of her guard fell, victims of arrows and spears, but the group forced their way onward and through the line.

    Once through, Erregina Zuria cast her eye about. In the midst of the chaos of hand-to-hand hacking, gouging, slaying, she spotted the tell-tale red helmet: Prince Maitalea, astride his horse and barking orders.

    At a signal from her, the guard formed an arrowhead of protection and cut through the fighting towards the prince, who was surrounded by his own personal guard. Now he saw Erregina Zuria too, and with a gesture of his own, he ordered his guard to confront hers.

    This was the cream of one side up against the cream of the other, the violence of the meeting of the two units terrible to behold. As they fought and perished, so Erregina Zuria and Maitalea found themselves facing each other. The prince nodded a greeting and grinned; Erregina Zuria spat on the ground.

    It was a sign that one of them would die. They slid off their horses, sprinted across the space separating them and fell upon each other. The prince swung his mighty altzairuzko sword and caught Erregina Zuria’s thigh with the tip. It stopped her momentarily but served only to stoke her anger. Using her hilgarria daggers, one in each hand, she went into a frenzy of jabbing and slicing. The prince was caught off-guard by her fury, and though he managed to protect himself from most of the thrusts with his shield, enough got through to first disable his sword arm, then cut the hamstring of his right leg.

    He slumped to one knee, leaning on his shield for support.

    “Mercy!” he pleaded, grimacing with the pain. “For our past?”

    Erregina Zuria paused her attack, the memory of their past filling her head. She had indeed loved him with the intensity of a newly-born star.

    She dropped her daggers. The prince bowed his head in gratitude. Erregina Zuria bent down and wrenched a scimitar from the hand of a fallen soldier. The flash of steel caught the light of the moons and the prince’s head, still in its red helmet, bounced away.

    Erregina Zuria would never love another man, choosing to bestow all her love now on her people. And in the aftermath of the Battle of the Sasikume Mountains, their love for her would be boundless.


    • Carrie Zylka

      First thing I noticed was the red helmet. Brilliant. And your descriptive writing never fails me.

      This line “A long, ominous moaning of bugles erupted from the hillside, echoed by cries from the soldiers below, then the chant – thunderous in its power.” was my favorite in the story.

      It took me a minute to make the connection that “Erregina Zuria raised her hand,” was the woman about to order people into battle. A small suggestion “Her Highness Empress of xyz Erregina Zuria raised her hand,” or something along those lines would have made it a bit clearer. I had to scroll up to see if Her highness had been referenced in name and this was the same person.

      Small nitpick, but the section where they basically ride through the opposing army, and she never once lifts a finger to deflect an arrow or sword strike while her guard took heavy losses is a bit unbelievable.

      I really loved this story, it was fast-paced and frantic in sections and really encompassed the scene.

      I think my biggest complaint is I have no idea why she’d go to war with him or kill him, what she did that was never enough for him. Did I miss something? In the beginning she felt remorse for the treachery to her people, but if he slighted her, her people would want to wreak vengeance upon him, so I think I’m just a little confused as to “why” she went to war and ultimately killed him. It felt more like a scene without the backstory.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Carrie. Good points! The final question … well, she was scorned (reading between the lines), and that was enough! 😉
  • Wow Phil,

    Who’s been a busy boy, then?

    How did you get this down on paper so quickly?

    It’s a superb piece of creative writing that fully meets the prompt and tells a story as old as time ( Hell that no fury like a woman scorned) or the fight for power, land and glory. It’s so believable too as this was the way battles were fought, with mass killing and maiming, often at the behest of a single person, a King or a Queen. If we have learned anything from history it is that we are now more efficient at killing our enemies and often without even seeing them.
    State sponsored killing at arm’s length

    The whole story just caught my imagination and interest. If it was a book, it would be a page turner.

    I was reminded of the English archers against the French, killing thousands of soldiers from hundreds of metres away, firing ten to twelve armour-piercing arrows a minute, then the heavy soldiers getting bogged down and crushed and drowned in mud by those behind pressing forward not knowing what was going on in front but desperate to get in on the fighting, and then later the archers moving forward with their long, thin daggers to finish off the wounded.

    Your story is equally as image provoking.

    The setting and the descriptions are great and I liked the names of the protagonists too.

    Great writing my friend. This is going to be a hard act to follow.

    Ken Frape

    • Thanks again, KenF! I was going to give this one a miss, in fact (as the genre is not really my bag), but glad to hear you think it worked.

      You should have a go too! That paragraph beginning “I was reminded…” is great!

  • Jagan Parthasarathy
    You are already in with a great entry.
    • Thanks, Jagan! I hope you get to enter a story yourself.
  • Pretty quiet in here.
    I’m going to extend the prompt a week.
    I have one almost done that needs some serious editing!
    • Hi Carrie,

      I have started a story and wondered how I was going to finish it in time so the extra time is very welcome.

      Ken Frape

  • Jagan Parthasarathy
    I am not happy with the hurried finish to my story ‘Firestorm’. If you are extending the time, I might want to revise it.



    • Carrie Zylka

      No problem. Do you want me to delete it?

      • Jagan Parthasarathy
        Not yet. Once I am ready with updated ending, I will get in touch
    • Carrie Zylka

      We did extend it another week

  • The Immortal’s Sword. (1319 words.)

    Her eyes blazed with rage; her sword crackled with God-like power. Her soothing voice and ample lips could disarm the most devious foe, but her heart was like glass: clear and fragile as a goblet of fine, cut crystal.

    She had slaughtered men of honor; razed entire villages; and bore witness to the destruction caused by her own selfish wrath. All of this to please one man, her man. But nothing, nothing—was ever good enough for him…

    … Or his lords and counselors; his genuflecting rabble; his noble kin; his vicious dogs or his decimated ranks of Royal Guards; their limbs and entrails strewn and scattered among the gates, in the plaza and around the courtyard.

    The King grimaced, standing in front of his throne, surveying the carnage. His platinum armor polished and gleaming in the bright morning sunlight. Twenty paces distant, his Queen yanked her sword from the jester’s severed head. It fell to the floor with a sickening ‘thlopp’.

    The king had two arms, one made of flesh and the other made of steel. Though little was known it was believed that the steel arm possessed a strange and powerful weapon within its artificial construction. With this arm, the weapon, and a keen understanding of his foe’s mentality, he had emerged from the catacombs, rallied an army and amassed an empire that he now ruled from this very courtyard.

    She found his bionic assets intriguing and his rigor charming—at first. One could not deny that he was a man who understood people’s motives. Even the Gods are fallible when it comes to emotions. The king was not. He was also skilled in the art of war.

    Their affair was physical and torrid.

    To sanctify the tryst, he arranged a gaudy celebration—a kind of unofficial public marriage that came with obligations, but no authority. To him, the wedding was a trivial invention to justify a feast; to her it was an armistice, for the sake of a fleeting lust. Like most passionate flames, it burned hot and bright for a short time until all that remained was a cold, black scar.

    In the brief but intricate term of their intimacy, she found the arm disturbing, but no other evidence of a secret weapon, strange, alien or otherwise.

    Such was the state of affairs when the King, in her presence, speculated on what her greatest fear might be. “My greatest fear,” she said, “is that I might lose my head.” Then she took the dogs and went hunting.

    Her abrupt departure did not sit well with the King, so he raised the issue the following day. “On the topic of losing your head: Do you fear, my Queen, that I would grow tired of your perfect features?”

    She smiled, “What I mean My Lord, is I fear I might lose my temper, and slay half your subjects. It benefits no one to pursue this pointless quest. I fear nothing.” She took his leave without another word.

    ‘Such talk is bold,’ his advisors clucked, ‘even for a Goddess, or whatever she is.’ He had to quell their indignation, despite being in agreement.

    The third time he raised the issue of her fear, she said, “I—am invincible. Do you not understand the word My simple Lord? Perhaps the jester can explain it to you.” She left the King’s court in a state of embarrassed silence. Thunder and lightning could be heard throughout the kingdom that night, ‘everyone but the King cowered in fear.’

    It was said that the king was not well-suited for long-term commitments, especially with ‘Hell’s Whore’, as he soon began calling her. It explained his sudden and perverse behavior. He made it known that he ‘would welcome her sudden drowning,’ failing that, he was determined to drive her from the kingdom ‘by any means possible.’ If his actions were to leave a mark, on her dark and fragile heart—so be it, he reasoned.

    She held out the sword, examining it for nicks and dents.

    “Are you finished?” The King snarled.

    “With what?” She said, “Oh, you mean playing with your things? King?”

    “Let’s be reasonable, shall we? Queen? Eh? What was your name again?”

    The sword jerked as if struck, and began to pull her towards the throne. It tugged and twisted in her grasp, like a steel hound, straining at its leash.

    “Are you going to try and kill me?” The metallic King inquired. “With that?”

    “You would test the patience of my sword?” She was stunned. He was laughing in the face of death. So be it. “Answer my question, Lord of blood. Have you discovered my singular fear?”

    “Yes,” he whispered.

    “I did not HEAR YOU,” she bellowed into his face.

    “Yes, Queen.”

    “And was the pursuit of this question worth your whiles, oh king of desolation?”

    He looked at the destruction around him, the breached gates, the tattered bunting, the blood of his servants, the heads of his sages, the remains of his Royal Guard, scattered among the rabble. They would all have to be buried together in one, vast…

    “SPEAK!” She thundered. Shattering his ruminations (and loosening the keep’s mortar.) His own mighty sword tore itself from its decorative scabbard, and clanged to the floor in fear.

    “It was not fruitful,” he admitted.

    “Pray tell us, why not?”

    “Like most gods, you fear rejection.”

    “And naught else,” she concluded. “You will surrender your artificial limb.”

    “I’d rather die,” he said.

    “If you live, or die, you will forfeit the limb.”

    “I’d rather not,” he said, with the arm pointed at her midsection, “and stay your distance. My weapon is lethal, even to a Goddess, if that’s what you are.”

    In the blink of an eye, her sword severed his mechanical arm. It clattered to the stones and rolled to a stop.

    There was no one to support the King and he fell back into the seat of his throne. Having been disarmed so quickly, he was wounded in pride as well as in person. “You filthy—vile, detestable…”

    She had the skill to cut his offensive tongue from his head—but the sword pulled her towards the severed, metallic arm, skewering the awful thing and lifting it up for inspection.

    The King’s ruse had fooled the sword, but not her. Before turning away, she glimpsed a weapon in his other hand, the one of flesh and bone. A weapon she’d never seen before, a curious, angular lump of polished metal, with a hole in one end. It had an alluring technological appearance.

    She froze, with the arm attached to her raised sword. “What is that, King half-wit?”

    “It is a ghun, you evil, psychotic…”

    She swung her sword with such speed, it abandoned the arm and sheared the kings head off before the arm hit the ground. His body jumped to its feet before it realized it had no head, nor mouth with which to utter insults.

    While its head rolled away, the corpse took one feeble step, raised the weapon and squeezed its firing trigger. The deafening sound was not as bad as the crushing blow to her body that followed. The pain was like having a hole blown through her torso, which is exactly what had happened.

    The king’s corpse collapsed at her feet.

    With her immortal strength ebbing, she raised the hilt of her sword high above her head, blade down, stood on her toes and plunged the blade through the heart of the dying king with such fury, that the sword continued to drive itself into the stone beneath him, embedding itself into the rock, where it still resides.

    She recovered, in time, as Goddesses do, but lost her memory of the event, and with it, her sword. To this day she wanders the planet unaware that she’s unique and immortal, and beautiful as well.

    • Carrie Zylka

      Hi Una, while I actually really like how you re-worded it, the prompt stated “Your story must start with the following words (exactly):”

      A few very small nitpicks.

      Platinum would never be used for armor, it weighs twice as much as steel and is too soft, every sword stroke would leave a dent. Unless of course it’s just for show!

      I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this line “Twenty paces distant, his Queen yanked her sword from the jester’s severed head. It fell to the floor with a sickening ‘thlopp’.” I could hear the “thlopp” in my head, hahaha!

      It benefits no one to pursue this pointless quest. I fear nothing.
      “Quest” – I think you meant “pointless line of questioning”

      These two lines did not make sense to me: “The sword jerked as if struck, and began to pull her towards the throne. It tugged and twisted in her grasp, like a steel hound, straining at its leash.” and also this line: “but the sword pulled her towards the severed, metallic arm” Is the sword alive? I ask because you assign motion to the sword of it’s own volition. Not that she was wielding it – more like it was wielding her.

      And just curious – why did she lose her memory? I’d have loved a little explanation on that because it’s so random.

      Ironically, the story is a bit choppy. There are sudden departures and tendrils of story chopped off. But it really, really works.
      Many old stories are written this way. The Brothers Grimm stories, are definitely in this style. So the choppiness, the abruptness of the segments really work here.

      I really liked this and I also love that you didn’t name them. They could be anyone!

      • Thanks for all the positive feedback regarding the specifics of my story, Carrie. As well as the corrections.

        Please pardon any bizarre effects generated by this comment while I experiment with spacers.


        The intent of the original prompt was ‘crystal clear’ to begin with, so my re-writes were simply designed to make it more powerful, if possible, not shorter or neater. (The original prompt can be easily spliced in before I repost it, if I choose to do so.)


        I thought it would be easy to improve the original prompt, and decided to do so just for fun, but it was rather challenging, and after all that work, I simply made it different without improving it.


        The story, in its original form, had two critical separators that helped the reader differentiate the ‘present’ active voice, from the past-tense, expository narration. The separators simply vanished upon posting the story. That’s why I’m experimenting with different sets of characters in this comment, to find one, or two that will remedy that issue when I repost.

        I am grateful for your knowledge of metallurgy. Platinum! What was I thinking? (That it was a cool-sounding metal, that’s what. That must be changed.) I should have done a little research.

        Regarding: ‘Twenty paces distant…’ I rewrote that paragraph twenty times, never changed the word ‘thlopp’ even once. It’s rare to invent such a perfect word. (When you need it.)

        I will change ‘quest’ to ‘line of questioning’, or ‘inquisition.’ I was trying to medieval-ize my dialogue. (Not ‘Dungeons & Dragons it.)

        You said: ‘These two lines did not make sense to me.’ And then you posted the lines. From what I can see, you understood the lines perfectly. You just didn’t believe what you read.

        I deleted the word you used in your critique, ‘volition’ from my exposition in the editing process. But my intent was to make the reader think of that word, without me using it, because this story is about the sword. It’s in the title. (Which nobody ever reads… I understand.)

        Loss of memory is a convenient plot device. It is also a common side-effect of violent bodily trauma. No real mystery there.

        I’m glad the choppiness worked. Not sure if it was intentional.

    • Really liked this, unamoona. The action is very well described, and there are aspects (the weapons, the sword wth a mind of its own) that really set the story apart. Having said that, the King’s arm reminded me of Ash in the film ‘Army of Darkness’. Great stuff.
    • Jagan Parthasarathy
      Your story is action packed and the ending is unexpected with a gun brought into a sword fight.
      Well done.
  • Jagan Parthasarathy

    “She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes. The power of the gods at her fingertips. The cleverness of the slyest man at her lips.
    But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred. For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire. Men killed by her own blade. Destruction caused by her own wrath.
    All to please one man she could call her own.
    But nothing, nothing, was ever enough for him.”

    Agnes de Andover stood still staring at the scene of destruction and devastation in front of her, still her thirst for vengeance was not fully satisfied. It was amazing how infidelity and deceit could destroy her innate self-confidence and embitter her usually cheerful and sunny soul. Her morose thoughts reverted to William and their happier times.

    She remembered her first glimpse of William Deville of Argon while she was involved in a hand-to-hand combat with small sword with Elric, her elder brother. The knight was riding on his noble black stallion Valliant for a tournament nearby with his usual coterie of knaves and camp followers. Tall and handsome and clad in all his armor, he was indeed an imposing and arresting figure with noble aristocratic features and devil may care attitude.

    Agnes was more interested in getting the better of her brother and went on with her attack. Being a tomboy and fiercely competitive, she was more interested in wielding the sword, throwing the lance, and jousting with her brothers than learning any female wiles. Her father and brothers had always joked that the stork brought the wrong gender baby by error.

    Harold, her father, was interested in the wealthy and famous aristocratic neighbor for his only daughter. The brothers warned him that proposed bridegroom was a well-known rake and womanizer. Setting aside brothers’ objections, the father broached the topic of her marriage to William after getting consent from his daughter.

    Her parents came to her chambers all smiles. Mother Argenta embraced her daughter with affection. “We have glad tidings. William was happy with our proposal. We have agreed to his request for courting you for a few months before betrothal.”

    Knowing about the arrangement, her maid Lillian bowed reverentially and whispered “Milady! Knight William easily won the tournament you recently saw him riding to. He won against allcomers from all around the country. His exploits and fame are spreading far and wide. He has a large following amongst all neighboring lads and squires.” Agnes’ bosom swelled with pride about her affianced.

    Few Months Later:
    “Will you marry me and make me the happiest man in the universe?’ William was on his knee in front of her, and she had blissfully consented. The betrothed couple had fairy tale wedding and a joyous married life thereafter.

    William continued his quests for jousts and tournaments. He was invariably successful. Since the feudal mores and customs dictated that the vanquished bargain for their freedom his winnings added considerably to his lands and wealth. Hence, his life centered around his manor and possessions. Further, being a favorite with the duke, he was frequently called upon for fighting for his lord.

    Lady Agnes also followed a packed schedule of a noblewoman. It centered around the upkeep of their manor and lands and overseeing the running of the household. Further, she also had to take over all of the duties of her husband during his frequent absences. She suffered these periods of separation and neglect stoically as inevitable in the lives of a valiant lord and his noble maiden.

    She remembered the scene about a year back vividly. Wilson, coming back from one of his tournaments was accompanied by beautiful and willowy woman whom he introduced, “My Lady! This is my clanswoman, Matilda. She recently lost both her parents to typhus. I am her guardian.” Agnes heart melted and she welcomed the poor orphan with open arms.

    Their neighbor Alaric Demille was present in the next ball organized at the manor. He met Matilda and it was love at first sight for both. Soon with the consent of the guardian, he wooed and wed her. Within a year of their marriage, the couple welcomed the birth of a bonny boy and heir with pomp and joy.

    It was a year later, Agnes was woken up from sleep by a huge commotion and outcry in the courtyard. Her maid Lilian came running to her and announced breathlessly, “Milady! Alaric is reported to have been killed in a joust. The rumor is that it was with William who challenged him in jest and unfortunately it ended in a tragedy.”

    “Poor Matilda and her infant! We need to help her any way we can,” said visibly shocked Agnes. She realized that since with a male heir, and nowhere to go, the willowy young widow would be forced to stay in her manor and was determined to offer whatever succor she could.

    William’s absences grew longer and more frequent. She protested, “My Lord! We are never spending time together. You had yearned for a male progeny, and we need to take suitable steps.” However, he continued his merry ways. He was barely talking let alone spend any time together.

    During family get together, her mother queried, “When are you going to provide grandchildren for us?”

    She cleverly evaded the topic asking her brother Elric for a joust. But her family realized that all was not well with her.

    Few Months Later
    Her attention wandered to the animated conversations between her brothers and father. She meandered towards them without letting them realize that she was in hearing distance. She was appalled to hear Elric saying “There is no doubt about it. William’s behavior is blatant. He is visiting Matilda for hours together and couple of servants had seen them in compromising situations.”

    His brother added, “He also plays with the child regularly and rumor has it that it is his child. This means that the affair is long standing one and his joust and killing of Alaric may have been premeditated.”

    Even though Agnes had been having disquieting suspicions that her husband had mistresses and was visiting them regularly for his carnal needs, the realization that William had been flaunting his tryst with the neighbor and possibly already had a son with her was a great shocker. She started weighing her options. She knew that ladies of manor could not easily obtain permission from the duke for divorce since William was one of his favorites.

    Her family investigated the matter further. There was absolutely no doubt about the double life that William was leading. There was a lot of evidence to suggest that Matilda was his mistress when he introduced her to Lord Demille. Agnes’s clan also speculated that it was a deep-rooted conspiracy.

    Although the family thought that Agnes’s property and riches were protected by the dower agreements they had prior to the marriage, they found that William had managed to transfer all the lands and riches in the name of Matilda and her son. Family was trying to find ways and means of recovering her lands and estates. Agnes was silent in family deliberations.

    Fifteen Days Later
    Duke formally proclaimed the annual contest open. After the usual archery and other contests mainly for the yeoman, the much-awaited main joust tournament for knights was thrown open. As was the custom, the contestants could challenge anyone else one on one.

    Suddenly an unknown knight in full armor came riding on a white steed and much to the surprise of the audience, issued a formal challenge for fight to finish to William. The latter agreed with glee calling out to his opponent to get ready to die quickly.

    In the first contest, both lances broke. As per rules, long swords were next. The contest was ferocious and ‘unknown’ able to withstand the fierce assault of William easily. After what seemed to be hours of cut and parry, one of the contestants went down in a heap. The audience were surprised to see it was William.

    His followers were loath to accept that their lord and master was dead in the hands of the young unknown. They clamored for revenge and rose in revolt which was against the conventions for the vanquished side.

    The unknown opened the mask and revealed herself to be Agnes! Her family gathered around her and fought against her fallen husband’s knaves and followers. Agnes’ fury was unchained. She extracted full personal satisfaction of wreaking destruction by killing all her opponents and setting fire to all their homes and possessions.

    • Carrie Zylka

      Jagan – you’ve become one of my favorite writers, so please do not think I’m being harsh in my critique. These prompts are for fun, but they’re also for working to become better writers. A few things I noticed while reading your story:

      missing the a devil may care attitude

      You used the word interested several times here:

      Agnes was MORE INTERESTED in getting the better of her brother and went on with her attack. Being a tomboy and fiercely competitive, she was MORE INTERESTED in wielding the sword, throwing the lance, and jousting with her brothers than learning any female wiles. Her father and brothers had always joked that the stork brought the wrong gender baby by error.

      Harold, her father, WAS INTERESTED in the wealthy and

      When her maid Lillian spoke of Knight William I thought for sure she was going to make mention of his reputation as a womanizer, maybe even going so far as to reveal she’d bedded him.

      tense mix up “William was on his knee in front of her, and she had blissfully consented” just remove “had”. Either it’s present tense or past tense, but not both.

      “Since the feudal mores and customs dictated” I have no idea what this means. I think you’re trying to say “the rules of the tournament dictates the loser may negotiate for their freedom in exchange for lands and holdings, thus adding considerably to his lands and wealth.”

      So, your writing style is very “Wordy” which I don’t mind, but there’s a lot of unnecessary words and sections that (just in my opinion) could have been allocated to the final fight scene and ending.

      It was a lot of descriptive build up to very little payoff.

      It’s a little unbelievable that a woman with nothing but tomboy aspirations, after years of suddenly becoming this demure meek, only caring about having babies noblewoman, could suddenly without any training…not only “withstand the fierce assault of William easily” but then beat a world renown warrior without a scratch. Not to mention suddenly know how to ride a horse and hold a 10′ 20# lance at the same time.

      I think you were trying to establish with the tomboy reference that she would have skill later on to win the joust. But it would have been better to insert her family secretly bringing in a battle hardened soldier to teach her how to fight. Or maybe negotiate with dark forces to suddenly become this strong warrior.

      Also – if he’s dead, what happened to “her” lands? Do they still belong to Matilda? In your story, you insinuate that the loser could negotiate, but you never stated that if he died, the lands became the winner’s property anyway. And that would negate the need to negotiate for their life.

      I really like the story, I liked Agnes, and I’m all about that time period.
      I think you have a really solid conflict and story line, I think it just needs some work. 🙂

      • Jagan Parthasarathy

        Thanks for your detailed and valid comments and observations and suggestions. Most welcome.
        I am still raw and need more experience which is why I am participating in Fiction Writers, in addition to writing classes in AACC.


        • Carrie Zylka

          Your writing is really good, so keep at it.

          My very first critique was a writer in a sci fi group on LinkedIn 15 years ago. He absolutely annihilated my story. I was broken-hearted – literally because I thought I’d done such a great job.
          After my 15-minute pity party, I took a hard look at his comments and suggestions, re-wrote the story and came out swinging. I came in 2nd place and really ended up becoming a better writer.

          I think that’s the inspiration for this site, and the previous group.

          It’s gotten off that track and I’m hoping to get it back on the right path!

    • Jag sir,

      I quite enjoyed the story as written, there were a few missing ‘a’s, occasional extra words, but the plot is rich, the pace is quick and the story is entertaining. It also appeals because it’s realistic, not fantasy, and the whole concept of a woman of superior power is elicited by the prompt.

      Since it requires ‘a minimal suspension of disbelief,’ I did not balk at the prospect of a woman besting a man in medieval combat.

      If you wanted to defuse such objections, you could describe how Prince William is really a coward and a poser, who bribes opponents to take a knee, thus racking up false wins against superior knights. Rather than enriching the Kings holdings, his feckless antics diminish the treasury as well as the Kingdom’s standing.

      The milkmaids might not dare divulge this information to the bride-to-be, but there would be some in the kingdom who might have motives to divulge the Prince’s subterfuge. In other words, rather than making the woman stronger, or better trained, diminish the skill and prowess of the Prince. But to me, the story, with minor corrections, is quite good as it is.

      • Jagan Parthasarathy
        First, leave out sir which makes me feel old.
        Excellent suggestions as how I could give a plausible explanation of a tomboy besting a medieval knight.
        I need to learn twists and turns like you brought the gun to the sword fight.
    • Phil Town
      A very detailed and involving saga, Jagan, well set out. I agree with Carrie that it’s a little hard to believe that Agnes could be a tomboy, then have a comfortable life as a noblewoman, then vanquish the fearsome William. There needs to be something that gives her the edge in the final fight (it could simply be William fatally underestimating the slight figure he’s facing). I think the little subtitles (‘A few months later’, etc) could be incorporated into the actual text; as it is, they kind of interrupt the flow a little. Anyway … I enjoyed the story; it kept me reading to find out what happened to Agnes. And William deserved all he got, the rat!
      • Jagan Parthasarathy
        When I wrote, I used the term tomboy to denote the fact that she was more interested in manly sports like sword fights etc. instead of womanly chores.
        But I see why it has been pointed out by almost everyone/
        I need to follow the logic from the readers’ perspective than my own.
        Thanks for the feedback.
        • Phil Town
          I think the issue, Jagan, is that it might be difficult for such a tomboy to accept a life of domesticity so readily.
          • Jagan Parthasarathy
            Yes, I see it Phil.
  • Ooh la la.. the date’s got extended. I didn’t like the prompt one bit, so wasn’t even trying to think on those lines.
    Wicked women just ain’t my cuppa.
    Need to think how I can make a nightingale out of that blazing woman.
  • A Woman of Many Parts

    An original short story by Ken Frape

    July 2022

    1500 words

    “She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes.
    The power of the gods at her fingertips.
    The cleverness of the slyest man on her lips.
    But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred.
    For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire, men killed by her own blade.
    Destruction caused by her own wrath.
    All to please one man she could call her own.
    But nothing, nothing was ever enough for him.”
    …………………………………….. ……………………………………. …………………………………. ……………………………….
    Dame Fontana Desingalle, doyen of the theatre, quivered with barely suppressed anticipation as she held in her hand the script that would be the pinnacle of a glittering career. No other actress could perform this part as she could. It was a role to die for and she would be prepared to kill any other actress who might dare to challenge her right to perform in what was certain to be a box office blockbuster.

    Then she would claim her prize and finally, Jasper Riveau would be hers and she would be his.

    If only.

    She set the script down on her occasional table, the edges of the pages curling at the corners. She lifted her head and tightened her jaw, admiring herself in the full-length mirror that was surrounded by white light bulbs to recreate that sense of theatre and glorious anticipation that never failed to thrill her before a curtain call. It was like a drug and she was addicted.

    “Ms Desingalle, ten minute call,” the stagehand’s shrill voice would announce. Then the star of stage and screen would grace her waiting army of admirers with her presence and one smile would set their hearts racing, male and female, equally adoring.

    Dame Fontana took a deep breath and admired her proud bosom and shapely legs, so much admired throughout her life and career. She held her stomach in and ran her hands over her hips, twisting her reflection this way and that in the mirror.
    “Not bad, eh?” She spoke aloud as she lifted her chin once more to stretch the wrinkled flesh of her neck and clenched her fists to try and tighten the flaps of sagging skin under her arms.

    She picked up the script once again, barely aware of the curled and yellowing pages. She limped awkwardly across the room and returned the slim tome into its place on the packed shelf, where it jostled for space amongst the other volumes depicting famous stage women, both heroic and despotic. She had played them all.

    And in every film or play there was Jasper Riveau, the only man Fontana had ever truly loved.

    She allowed her memory to take her back to every film location. The adoring audiences loved it when the heroine swooned in Jasper’s arms or rested her head on his shoulder as they glided in his Rolls Royce through the streets of London’s West End, or past Rome’s Coliseum, along Paris’ Avenue des Champs Elysees or down the River Seine in his powerboat, one arm draped around her shoulders and the other casually holding the steering wheel. His trademark Gauloise dangled carelessly from the corner of his mouth as the river breeze whipped away the pungent odour of the tobacco.

    She could almost taste the oranges hanging so plentifully overhead in Seville’s street cafes and bars. She could clearly recall the damp and decay of Venice’s canals and waterways until they came to their favourite restaurant, nestled behind high walls away from gawping tourists as fresh pasta, olives, huge slices of ripe, red tomatoes, drizzled in olive oil and warm, crisp bread was served, washed down with endless crystal glasses of chilled Venetian wines.

    In every film and on every stage, Dame Fontana poured out her soul as if every performance would be her last. Surely Jasper would fall in love with her, she dreamed, as her Cleopatra beguiled his Mark Anthony. Her Ophelia, the toast of The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Summer Season, brought tears to the audience’s eyes as she sunk into despair, madness and suicide. For Jasper her performances evoked immense admiration that this handsome but yet, not quite beautiful woman, was such a wonderful actor who could transform herself into a heroine or she-devil and make the audience believe her every word, her every gesture and glance. When she cried, the audience cried. When she laughed, they laughed.

    But Jasper never loved Fontana. He never wanted her as a lover. It was not because he loved another, to whom he had given his heart and soul. No, quite simply, Jasper truly loved no woman. He loved himself more. He knew he was a handsome man but he was also a narcissist, a deceitful man and selfish lover in a world where there were too many temptations for men like him to resist. A leggy chorus girl, a budding actress straight from drama school, the occasional stage hand, make-up or props assistant were his daily fare. He had no desire for a long term relationship when he had not yet tasted all the goods on display in the sweet shop. When he inhabited the screen or the stage with Fontana they were a dazzling couple but as soon as she removed her make-up his eyes saw only tastier treats and younger, fresher temptations.

    “You’ll grow old and alone, if you’re not careful,” Fontana chided him on too many occasions, when once again he declined her offer of supper after the show.

    “Old, certainly,” he replied with that winning smile, “but alone? I doubt it.” Then he would slip out the stage door with his chosen partner for the evening on his arm.

    Amongst the cast the question was, “Have you been Jaspered?” Those bold enough to answer yes were rarely completely satisfied with his administrations and those who had not yet succumbed had their disappointments to come. Warnings from those already burned rarely had the desired effect.

    Whilst Jasper happily indulged his sexual fantasies they never included Fontana. She was the most talented actress he could ever wish to meet but she could not tempt him in any way unless he was acting.

    But Jasper did not grow old and he certainly wasn’t alone when he died.

    He was stabbed to death at the theatre. After exhaustive investigations, several months of huge press speculation and hurry-ups from the Top Brass, an arrest was made and six months later, The Trial of the Century took place in London’s Old Bailey.
    The jury found the accused guilty by a unanimous verdict. A life sentence was mandatory.

    The convicted criminal screamed at the jury, “I’m innocent. I’m innocent.”


    Outside Fontana’s room two carers Julie and Dawn, were chatting. Julie was new on the job and still learning about the residents.

    “This is Dame Fontana’s room,” Dawn explained, “but don’t call her by that name.”

    Julie raised her eyebrows in question. “Why’s that then?”

    “She has dementia and insists on being called by the names of the people she played, you know, Ophelia or Cleopatra or some such character.”

    “Who will she be today then?”

    “Who knows? Every day is different.”

    “Wasn’t there some big scandal about her co-star, Jasper something?”

    “That’s right. Jasper Riveau was stabbed to death by a spurned lover, I think she was a woman from the props department. She got life.”

    “Hell hath no fury..,” Julie added as they opened the door.

    Dame Fontana, dressed as Ophelia, holding an open copy of Hamlet in one hand and a plastic knife in the other, turned to face them. Her eyes were wide and staring madly.

    Julie and Dawn looked at each other in alarm.

    “I killed him.”


    “Jasper, of course.”

    “But somebody else was convicted,” said Julie.

    “Ha! Her, little Edith!” Dame Fontana spat out the words. “That little hussy got what she deserved, sleeping with Jasper. He was mine, mine, don’t you see?” She slashed the air wildly with her “dagger.”

    The carers took a step backwards.

    “We were doing a line run, in his dressing room,” Fontana went on, “ just Jasper and me. We were doing Ophelia’s mad scene from Hamlet and I could smell that little tramp’s perfume on him. He ridiculed me when I cried and told him I had always loved him.”

    “So what did you do?” Wide-eyed Dawn asked.

    “I picked up his dagger, like this, and when he went to get dressed I stabbed the bastard through the curtain. It seemed like a fitting way for him to go as we were doing Hamlet and if I couldn’t have him, nor would anyone else.”

    She raised the dagger above her head as she uttered the words,

    “Alas, poor Jasper.”

    Her maniacal laughter rang out down the corridor of the Care Home.

    “Don’t worry, “said Dawn to her worried assistant, “tomorrow she’ll probably be Mother Terese!”

    • Message from Ken Frape

      The word administrations that appears in my story should read ministrations


    • Phil Town
      Refreshing that you went +/- contemporary, Ken. This is very good, Dame Fontana reminiscent of Norma Desmond in ‘Sunset Boulevard’. I like how it’s Dame Fontana who does all the running to try to get Jasper, all those yers of rejection accumulating into madness and revenge. It’s pretty obvious who done it when Jasper turns up dead. Maybe (it’s your story, but this is just me spitballing) the fact of DF’s dementia could have been held back until the very final reveal? Having said that, it’s great that because of her dementia, no one believes that she killed Jasper, even when she admits it. This made me lol: “Have you been Jaspered?” Enjoyed the story very much.

    By Marien Oommen (1496 words)

    “She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes. The power of the gods at her fingertips. The cleverness of the slyest man at her lips.
    But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred. For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire. Men killed by her own blade. Destruction caused by her own wrath. All to please one man she could call her own. But nothing, nothing, was ever enough for him.”

    Sara closed the book she was reading. It wasn’t helping her one bit.

    No tutorial was good enough on how to please a man. One thing she knew was that he loved eggplant and she hated it. So every night was eggplant night. Squished, baked, fried with gochujang chilli, chopped, steamed with coconut.

    Her dad had said she must walk the path, however hard it was. Be loyal, be faithful, cook well, work and raise kids like a star.
    The eggplant walk was a hard knock walk.

    July was here. Her date for medicals had arrived. She needed to go to the gynaecologist for a long overdue check up. You know, to take those tests that women have to put up with.

    Don’t start getting wild ideas.
    It was neither a baby nor camel in question. She had long passed that age and was nothing like her biblical namesake, never would be. Neither did she laugh at midnight angel visitors.
    Besides, truth be told, the man by her side was poles apart from Father Abraham.

    These crucial tests were long pending which Wisdom says one must follow up from time to time. The wait was incredibly long. The appointment was at 11 am but by the time the doctor was free it’d be a good hour and half.
    There was nothing to do but be patient.

    How long can one gaze at the phone and read all the silly posts?
    Then repost them by adding your own inane thoughts.
    As if anyone asked!

    The IPhone was turning hot in her hands and she hated its feel. Sara purposefully avoided looking at it for looong periods of time, which ended pretty much soon.

    Her book by Pourquoi wasn’t helping her either.

    There was nothing left to do but indulge in her favourite pastime.
    People watching and building stories around them.

    Next to her, was a young couple. O God, they were all young! Nobody was Sara’s age.
    All the women looked harassed, with little baby bumps, carrying their bulges as bravely as they could.
    Their men walked close behind.

    EarthShaker 1

    One expectant dad was sitting as if he had accomplished a great deal. His legs shook furiously as a machine churns in a flour mill, while he was sunk deep behind the newspaper.

    “Had an electric wire been wound around his shaking knees, electricity could be produced.”
    “A productive thought,” conceded her right brain.

    His job being done, it was over to her. His woman sat with her shoulders slumped down, looking ever so mournful.
    Now what was their story?
    No idea.

    EarthCouple 2

    Across sat a pretty woman who kept staring because she had nothing better to do. Her husband was incredibly bored, it seemed.
    Sara reckoned the woman would’ve liked to talk but was sitting far away.

    “Now had I my dog with me, we’d have easily made friends,” Sara spoke rather loudly to no one in particular.

    Haven’t you noticed how easy it is to talk to strangers with dogs at the end of their leash? But a hospital corridor is no place for a dog.
    The husband was closing his eyes with his palms folded. It looked as if he was praying earnestly.

    Sara told herself, “Look how he is praying. Definitely praying for a son right from the first trimester. His mama would be super happy, and call him her pyari beta (loving son).”

    It’s an Indian huge having a son to carry on the line, the name, and whatever else.

    “If you ask me, girls are even more capable.” Her right brain retorted.

    Earth Man 3

    Suddenly in barged, a man with broad shoulders, pushing his way around. In a rather stylized manner, he announced to all loudly that he’d been waiting for 15 minutes and his patience was being tested.
    Not that anybody had asked him.

    Sara was of that age where it was quite normal to talk aloud.
    “Now what’s his hurry? Does he have a uterus? Or is he transblender? So should I watch whether he’s using the female toilet?”

    These questionable problems had newly arisen on planet earth.
    Why was he in a tearing hurry to see a doctor who caters to female complaints only?
    Search me.
    No, don’t.

    “I’ll never know and I never asked him. He’s got no dachshund with him. Not allowed in hospital corridors, like I said.”

    Earth Man 4

    There was another man in full suit. There wasn’t any pregnant wife by his side.
    It was annoying to see all these men sit at the woman’s consultation area.
    The Gynecology department is definitely a women’s area of domain- to wait patiently, waddle slowly, breathe deeply, drink tons of water, get ultrasounds and walk freely like ducklings.
    Definitely not a place for men in black suits. They shouldn’t be made welcome.

    Why was he sitting there, Sara wondered.
    Maybe his mama asked him to check out, go peek on how women look after they get married?

    He was busy talking on his phone, rather loud, to his mama far away in Chennai.

    “Yes, Amma, I can handle it. It doesn’t look that terrifying. Just a little bulge, that’s all, an architectural protrusion. The women look quite strong, Amma, to carry out all domestic chores even if they get pregnant.
    I think I will go ahead with the proposal.”

    “Your story is over even before it begins, Mister!”

    Earthman 5:

    Now walks in, a brawny man holding his wife who seemed to be in some sort of agony. She didn’t look like she would pop on the floor but was surely in some form of distress.

    He looked deeply stressed too. But that was because he had taken leave from work, around his coffee break time. He needed his caffeine shot most desperately.

    Some dignified eavesdropping revealed that.

    But this muscle man was chivalrous to hold his woman as she hobbled to the doctor’s office.
    (Or was it a ruse to barge in and break the queue? One would never know).
    Never a dull moment at the doctor’s office.

    EarthPeople 6

    Here comes a family of four very, very tall people, surely of Nordic descent, Sara thought to herself.
    (You’ve noticed by now, today was a day she did a lot of thinking).

    The woman in front was largely pregnant, followed by her big family, which included her mother; all carrying bags of great import. Mama Astrid strutted in with a confident air and a revealing dress that clearly showed her country of origin was Viking.

    Sara liked her confidence, the way she proudly showed off her baby bulge, and the way she was calling the shots. Nothing demure about her.
    Women from Asian countries don’t have that confidence or that bearing, especially when pregnant with a big stOmAch.

    How came about this difference in bearing?

    The Indian woman walks, hiding the bulge behind a sari, till her baby’s almost full term.
    She works double hard outside, in an office or on the field, then returns to more work at home cooking, cleaning, sweeping the yard while her husband reads the newspaper and asks for tea, and more tea laced with cardamom.

    Whereas most women, across other shores, when pregnant, get their men trail behind them doing most of the odd jobs.

    Sara surveyed all of them, husbands and wives, with an air of ‘been there, done that.’ She felt neither redundant nor worthless, but mighty relieved that part of her life was over and done with.

    She recollected the agony and the ecstasy of giving birth almost a century ago. The squeezing of her mama’s tender fingers while in the throes of pain, the breaking of the water bag, the joys of seeing a tiny, almost perfect creation so dependent on you, of reading story books and rhymes to them…

    Motherhood is worth it. Baby, it’s worth it. Worth all the waiting, the pain and the agony.
    Motherhood makes us strong.
    Mothers can handle anything.

    The closest men feel that kinda pain is when they get their molars extracted.

    Sara chuckled. It’s really the men-who-pause.

    “A man will never know the exhilaration that follows the agony of birth pangs. Especially that one with the shaking leg syndrome.”

    “Madam, you are next,” said the little nurse as she came forward with a BP apparatus.

    Sara knew all was fine with her. As long as no purple eggplant grew within her insides. And that’s what she wanted to find out.

    Tonight was another eggplant date night.

    • Vicki Chvatal
      Hi Marien,

      Good use of the prompt that isn’t in your preferred genre or style.

      But … have you recycled parts of an older story? The man calling his Mum and the Nordic Amazon sound familiar … 🙂

      • Yesssss! You’ve got a fantastic memory, Vicki!
        rehashed an old tale, remixed, stirred it up to suit that prompt. But the eggplant addition is totally new. Having erupted from a recent conversation with my ‘young’ school friends. Strangely it seems their men love it, but the wives don’t. 🙂
        • Vicki Chvatal
          Heh. Hubby & I are the opposite: I love eggplant & he hates it. 🙂
          • My head is whirling reading all the lords, ladies, gauntlets. I know I deliberately swerved horror women, knighthood fantasia to something eggplanty 🙂
            It’s my take, heheh.
    • Phil Town
      Hi, Marien. Really liked this, and I can relate: I’m a great people-watcher, too. I think this is one of your more coherent stories in that all the parts seem to belong to the same story (I always like your stories but sometimes they jump around so much I get a little confused!). This one has your usual entertaining wordplay, which makes a lot of the lines a surprise package (a good thing). I thought you cheated a bit with the subject – avoiding the direction of the opening text by simply closing the book Sara’s reading. But apart from that – great fun!
      • Thanks for your detailed feedback, Phil. I did purposely avoid the theme and had fun going the way I did.
        I’ll try to restrict my jumpin’ but can’t promise 🙂
        Congrats to the winners!
  • Vicki Chvatal

    She held the ferocity of the blazing sun in her eyes. The power of the gods at her fingertips. The cleverness of the slyest man at her lips.

    But her heart was glass, easily broken and scarred. For she had watched homes burnt by her own fire. Men killed by her own blade. Destruction caused by her own wrath.

    All to please one man she could call her own.

    But nothing, nothing, was ever enough for him.

    She strode through the garden, the heels of her boots sinking into rich loamy soil. She stayed off the path out of habit rather than any actual need for stealth, since no guards were present anywhere – pathetic, really. Not that any guards ever born could’ve stopped her; still, she felt faintly insulted by such a complete lack of security.

    She almost walked past Prince Mirdal without sparing him a second glance, mistaking him for one of the palace gardeners at his toil. He was crouching over some shrub, dressed in drab clothes undoubtedly borrowed from some servant. Yet her heart told her this was the man she wanted to see.

    “Still grubbing in the dirt like a peasant?” she asked archly.

    Mirdal whirled around at the sound of her voice. He rose, holding mud-covered hands slightly away from his body.

    “What do you want, Cabelas?” he asked stiffly. His usually warm brown eyes stared at her coldly from under a ratty wide-brimmed hat.

    “You were born for more than this,” Cabelas curled her lip, gesturing around with a gauntleted hand. “You should be surrounded by glory and splendour, not mud.”

    “You know I never wanted to be king,” Mirdal answered wearily. “I’d be perfectly happy working in my garden and raising a family.”

    “You can’t escape who you are,” she countered with a roll of her eyes. This old argument was wearisome; yet Mirdal stubbornly refused to see the truth.

    “I know. I’ll do my duty if … when I become king.” Mirdal wiped his sweaty face with the back of a sleeve. “I’ll make sure that my kingdom prospers. I don’t need the glory of conquests you always go on about, though – I’d rather have the people live their lives in peace. I’ll make sure everyone has food to eat and a roof to sleep under. I’ll encourage merchants to come from the most distant lands. I’ll invite scholars, artists, bards to visit, or better – to make their home here … Well, I would have,” his voice turned bitter, “if you hadn’t come along. Who’ll want to come here now, apart from mercenaries … and vultures?”

    “I did what you failed to,” Cabelas snapped back. “I protected your kingdom from enemies.”

    “You made all our neighbours into enemies!”

    “They were massing on your borders, preparing for war.”

    “I could have made peace. Worse, you murdered my own people, burned down entire towns!”

    “They were plotting rebellion!”

    “I could have brought them around. I keep telling you that there are other ways to solve problems, but you never listen. You insist on destroying everything!”

    “My powers are fire and blood,” Cabelas snarled. “Will you have me simper prettily instead, like a proper little lady?”

    “Smiths use fire to create. And … potters as well. …” Mirdal paused to think. “Look, I don’t know if your powers can be used for good. But – have you even tried?”

    They glared at each other in silence.

    “I did it all for you,” she said quietly.

    “No!” He shouted in frustration. “You did it all for yourself, for your own desires. You keep trying to make me into a puppet who’d do your will, and never mind what I think or want.”

    “I’m merely trying to help you achieve greatness.”

    “I abhor your idea of ‘greatness’, Cabelas. If you truly care for me, the best thing you can do is leave this kingdom and never come back. And I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to repair the damage you’ve done.”

    “You insult me, Mirdal,” she said with forced calmness. “You know I can easily kill you.”

    “Why don’t you, then?” Cabelas couldn’t decide if Mirdal’s expression was defiant, weary, scornful, resigned … or some mixture of them all. “It won’t be a big loss, anyway. I’m not the hero this country needs,” he added bleakly, “to protect it from you”.

    Cabelas snatched the spade hurtling for her face out of the air, while thinking of a witty retort. The rake managed to graze her cheek slightly. Mirdal’s aim wasn’t bad, considering. But he was no warrior, had no proper weapons to start with – and now had nothing to attack her with, however ineffectually. And no-one gave you points for trying on a battlefield. This sort of bullshit got you killed quickly, that was all.

    “Go on, kill me,” Mirdal’s face hardened with resolve. “Because if you leave me alive, I’ll learn every weapon and every art of war I so despise. I’ll make the sorcerers teach me their darkest magics. I’ll awake every fell beast in its lair. And then I’ll hunt you down and destroy you – or die trying.”

    Cabelas stared back coldly. For all his brave words, Mirdal wasn’t a warrior. He was pathetic. He was a man who refused greatness, refused her. She could kill him without breaking a sweat. She could burn down everything her eye could see, turning his beloved gardens into a charred wasteland. She could make him watch as she killed everyone he loved, then turned his kingdom into a charnel house, leaving him for last.

    But … He would die hating her. Worse, despising her.

    Without a word, Cabelas turned on her heel and strode out of the garden.

    • Phil Town
      This is terrific, Vicki. There’s a swapping of expectations (the war-hungry woman, the domesticated King). There’s the echo of current times (we need a King like that on Earth right now). There’s the tragedy of Cabelas, who can’t change to gain the most important thing in life for her: Mirdal’s love. One false note for me: “This sort of bullshit got you killed quickly” seems too modern a turn of phrase for the feel of the story. But a great story.
    • Ken Frape
      Hi Vicki,
      Well done to you, another quality piece of writing.
      Ken Frape
  • Carrie Zylka

    Darn, really hate the story I’ve written, so I won’t be posting it.
    Great round of stories! I have more critiques to post, too.

    In the rules it says “Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback, do not post a story.”

    I’m thinking about changing it to “Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback, place at the top of the story “No Feedback”.

    Thoughts from the group?

    • Jagan Parthasarathy
      Hi group,
      I would like honest criticism since I am a beginner here & need to learn from mistakes. I am in a fiction writing class and I always look forward to comments and critiques particularly from class teacher who is very constructive.
    • Ken Frape
      Hi Carrie,

      Writing comments and giving feedback sometimes takes a lot of time and I sometimes feel that I may have shortchanged other writers. However, having said that, it is one of the reasons I have continued to post my work on this site.
      Professional quality feedback , given free of charge by people I respect, my equals, because I have read their work, is absolutely priceless.
      Can’t see why I would ever want to just post a story on this site and then……nothing! It would be like all those anonymous competitions I have entered and paid for and for what?
      Whilst I am open to hearing what others have to say on this subject , I vote to leave things as they are.
      Ken Frape

      • Feedback is always good. Such care taken to read into the nuances of somebody’s else’s mind is time consuming. Also an essay in itself and keeps our brains sharp, I say. So there’s a dual benefit.
        Keep them coming, Ken F.
        As for the receiver, he can take it or leave it. Since he is the author of his own inventive brain which gives him a kick anyway.
        I’ve been traversing the globe this last month and could hardly fill in.
        Thanks everyone.
  • Welp, my perfectly planned day got fubar’d and I won’t be able to do the voting until later this afternoon, early evening. Just in case anybody needs some extra time to vote. I’ll probably be about 5 hours late for tallying the votes!
    • Jagan Parthasarathy
      What is the tally?
      You have gone silent.
  • Adrienne Riggs
    My dear friends, I feel I must apologize for not participating more in commenting this go around. While you all were writing wonderful stories and fighting medieval battles, other battles, eggplants, dementia etc. I have been fighting excessive high temperatures, a broken air conditioner (I’m thinking of letting the A/C guy move in – not sure how his wife will take that) and a vicious cycle of rebound migraines. I have read all of the stories and voted. I loved them all for varying reasons.

    Phil, so quick out of the gate with a masterful story! How do you do it? Wonderful story!! Jagan, your stories have really grown in the short time you have been with us. I was willing to suspend disbelief in the reading of your tale that allowed Agnes to win in the end! Unamoona, action packed until the end! The gun was a surprise in a battle of swords. Well played. Vicki, I loved your characters, especially Mirdal, ever patient and determined to hold on to his values in spite of the evil intentions of his wife. His kind character was skillfully portrayed. Well done. Marien, your tale made me laugh. Your depictions of those in the waiting room were spot on! I’m at that age now. I officially knew I was “old” when the x-ray technicians no longer asked me if I might be pregnant before doing an x-ray. I nearly cried. It was one of those defining moments I didn’t want to face. Ken, yet another masterful story from you as well. I loved the thought of a woman with dementia reliving her favorite acting roles as she declined. It made the tragedy of dementia somehow a little more bearable. Throw in a little true confession that no one believes and you have the perfect murder. Well, done everyone!! (If I left anyone out, please forgive me!)

    I pray I can get these migraines under control so that I can get back to my writing without searing pain, nausea and my thoughts jumbled into word soup. (You definitely don’t want to hear me try to talk when in the grip of a severe migraine.)

    • Phil Town
      Thanks for the kind words, Adi.

      Kick those migraines in the head! (Oh, hang on …)

      • Adrienne Riggs
        Thanks for the laugh Phil!

        My former neurologist, specifically for my headaches, was named (ironically) Dr. Head. He was a complete jerk and I would have loved to have kicked him in the head. After many appointments and failed treatments, he walked into the exam room, literally THREW a brochure at me for an inpatient week-long headache clinic in Chicago, and stated, “You have bad headaches, you will ALWAYS have bad headaches and this is where you need to go!” and walked out.

        I walked out and never saw the man again. I restrained myself from physically assaulting him however well deserved it was, I did however report him to the medical board. LOL!!

  • Jagan Parthasarathy
    First, I hope that your migraine is better. I know how it affects as my wife used to suffer from it.
    I admire that you have been able to comment on each story despite it.
    Thank you for your comments which help me in course corrections.
  • Jagan Parthasarathy
    Hi Carrie,
    What is the next prompt? When is it due?
    My wife and I are travelling by car to Boston on 2nd & 3rd. Then involved in quality audits for a week towards week of 22nd..
    If the prompt is available, I can try and squeeze the story.
    Please don’t take this as rushing you.
    • Sorry for the delay everyone.
      Got slammed at work on Wednesday and Thursday, and we hosted our annual summer barbecue last night. 80 people came. And I smoked a dozen racks of ribs plus all the sides.
      I always forget how much work these barbecues are until I’m waist deep in it.
      I started prepping for it on Monday and basically didn’t stop cleaning, or preparing food, or staging our backyard until about midnight!!

      I’ll get the prompt, due August 4, up today officially but it is:
      The story must begin with the line “It was the most beautiful …”

      Required elements:

      A beach

      A message in a bottle

      • Jagan Parthasarathy
        Since we are travelling on the road on 2nd & 3rd, I will skip this time.
        All the best to the group. I will try to read and vote.
        • Actually I think I’m going to extend it to Aug 11 since we lost 3 days.
          Enjoy your trip to Boston, my boyfriend is from that area!!
          • Jagan Parthasarathy
            Thanks for extending it by 3 days.
            Still, I am skipping it this time as I need to prepare for the audits.
            Will join in the next one,
            Thanks once again.
            • Carrie Zylka

              Hi Jagan,
              It’s actually extended by a week.
              We’ll see you next round and have fun with those audits!

  • Ok writers here are your winners!
    Congratulations to all. A great round of stories for sure!

    1st Place: When Nothing Is Good Enough by Vicki Chvatal
    2nd Place: Hell Hath No Fury by Phil Town
    3rd Place: A Woman of Many Parts by Ken Frape
    4th Place: Firestorm by Jagan Parthasarathy
    5th Place: When Men Pause by Marien Oommen

    Story with the favorite dialogue: When Nothing Is Good Enough by Vicki Chvatal

    And the favorite character was “Fontana Designalle” in Ken Frape’s A Woman of Many Parts

    *Did not qualify: The Immortal’s Sword by unamoona

    Thank you for your patience, and has a reminder, the next prompt is due August 11.

    The story must begin with the line “It was the most beautiful …”

    Required elements:
    • A beach
    • A message in a bottle

    • Phil Town
      Congratulations, Vicki! Fine story.

      Next up: nice topical theme. Thinking cap on.

    • Jagan Parthasarathy
      Congrats Vicky. Twice in a row.
      Felicitations to other contestants.
      Thanks, Carrie,
    • Adrienne Riggs
      Congrats Vicki, Phil and Ken! Congrats to everyone who got a story in. I loved reading them all. I attempted to write one, it just never got off the ground. Well done everyone!!

      We’ve got to find a topic to tempt Roy back into the fold.

  • Jagan Parthasarathy
    I missed. Adrienne was the winner last time & Vicky was second in prompt family.
    My bad.
  • Hi Carrie,
    Just to be clear the extension is until 27th? You mentioned somewhere an extra weeks grace. I am hoping to finalise but that is one day away and my story is a bit messy to say the least. Cheers.
    • Carrie Zylka

      Hi John,
      The prompt is from July 21 – August 10, 2022.
      So you have a few weeks yet. 🙂

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