11

Welcome to another Writing Challenge!

In line with the previous one, this includes a topic, a prompt, and also a challenge!

  • Topic

    Write about something magical as a major element. It does not have to be a fantasy magic. Anything that feels magical will do.

  • Prompt

    [...] feel [his/her] emotionless gaze strangely calming.

  • Challenge

    Write something in conversation, using the word "stubborn" at least three times.Feel free to add anything in between the conversation!

All of these options are optional - feel free to write something completely unrelated as well.


So to enter the challenge, you simply write something, and post it below. It can be a work in progress, and continue working on it while receiving feedback, or it can be a finished work - anything goes.

You can submit your entries until the end of the three weeks. After three weeks, we'll choose the next prompt and put up a new post.

You can either post the whole thing here, or, if you usually post your writing somewhere else, you can put a link here - although I'd advise putting something in to get people interested.

Remember: this is not a contest. This is merely for fun, and for some practice writing. There will (hopefully) be writers of all different skill levels posting - I'm certainly not super good.

You're welcome to provide feedback, but please make sure that it's constructive. And remember: Be Nice.

Remember that the age limit for the site is 13 - so please avoid excessive graphic content or strong language.

I look forward to reading the submissions!

The original meta post - How would having the writing challenges on Meta work out? - that started all this may be helpful. All of these challenges can be seen under the tag.

  • Could you use the prompt in a sentence? It's probably just me, but I'm having trouble picturing what it's intended to look like. – The Spartan Oct 21 '17 at 19:48
  • @TheSpartan for example, "I feel his emotionless gaze strangely calming". You can modify this to suit your need, of course! – Vylix Oct 21 '17 at 19:52
  • A question because this post looks closest to what I am searching and I couldn't find something like it on this Meta: do you guys have something like fortnightly topic challenges on Writers? Writing something on Meta is a cool way to get some traction for Meta, but I feel the Main Site is a bit... slow... and could use some more attention. I only recently started looking more into this site. – Secespitus Oct 26 '17 at 11:36
  • @Secespitus I don't think we have. What do you have in mind? At present, I think our range of questions on main site is a bit limited (but that's me). It's vastly different from Worldbuilding where we can "review" or "take a glimpse" on other's world. – Vylix Oct 27 '17 at 4:21
  • I didn't think too much about the topic and I wasn't present when the topic challenges were a thing on WorldBuilding. Monica might know more about that. I would think that more or less randomly choosing tags might be an idea. Some people choose a tag where they would like to see more activity, people vote and then we would start a topic challenge where people are encouraged to promote that tag by asking questions in that category. For example brainstorming and then people start asking questions about brainstorming techniques. – Secespitus Oct 27 '17 at 10:26
7

Karen sat before the monk in the same lotus position as him, as he had commanded. She felt his emotionless gaze strangely calming, as evidence he was not with her at all. After twenty minutes, however, despite a stubborn attempt, she could no longer remain motionless and shifted to relieve the pain in her hip.

That broke their eye contact and broke the spell, the monk looked at her in irritation. "Did I not tell you to remain still? How am I to find him if you are jumping about the room?"

Karen unfolded her legs and stretched them. "This is not a comfortable position."

The monk sighed. "Would you prefer to stand? Can you stand still for an hour?"

"An hour? Seriously? I'm pretty sure, no. Can I meditate lying down in a fetal position?"

"How would I see your eyes if we are both in a fetal position?"

Karen considered that, and rejected the fetal position. "Can we just lie down facing each other?"

"We would be lying on different sides of the body, that is not the same position."

"Okay, more like head to head, then." She tried to demonstrate with her hands, fingertip to fingertip.

"Then your eyes would be upside down. It is difficult enough to navigate the turbulence of your mind, I am not inclined to try it upside down."

"I feel like you are just being stubborn," Karen said.

"Me? I gift you with my time and energy freely, and you cannot perform the first exercise of a five year old novice!" He raised his voice. "Remain still!"

He rose to a standing position in a single smooth move, and held his hands to her, palms up, speaking calmly. "I think you are being stubborn. Perhaps you should seek help from some more acrobatic monks."

Karen sat on the stone floor confused. "Are there more acrobatic monks?"

The monk shook his head in irritation, and dropped his hands. "No, of course not. I am being sarcastic. Get up."

Karen struggled to her feet, panicking. She put her hands together, as if in prayer. "No no no, I apologize, sincerely. I spoke out of turn and did not intend any offense."

"Of course you intended offense. Do you think me stupid as well?"

"Okay, then I also apologize for lying about that! Please let me try again, his life depends on it."

"You are not really listening to me, I told you before that life is an illusion. But I will accept your apology. How do you intend to remain still while I search for his thread?"

Karen felt relief, but looked pained at the demand. "Maybe I could have a pillow to sit on?"

"We have no pillows."

She was trying to think of something else, but then the monk raised his gaze up and to the right. "However, we could fold some robes."

"That would be perfect!" Karen said, "Point me at the robes!"

5

"He will be here." Dor nodded his head. "Very soon now." A hungry look hung on his pale face.

Kiara adjusted her grip on her spear, keeping it trained on the gaunt creature's chest. "I hope so." She gave her first officer, Gren, a deadpan look. "You still believe him?"

The former king's guard mopped his forehead with his sleeve. "Aye. Saw 'im, marm, with me own eyes." He shook his head. "And I knows magic when I sees it."

Her expression didn't change. "And it was just fire, you say?" she asked. "I saw firesingers when I was young, Gren, at a circus. I thought it was magic--all of it." She shook her head. "Petty tricks won't win us a war."

Gren rolled his eyes, tiredly, to the gray sky and back. "I told ye what I saw; ye always was a stubborn lass. A spot o' trust 'ere and there does a soul good, y'know. And if 'e were just a charmer..." He winked at her. "'E was a damn good 'un."

Kiara allowed herself the barest of smiles. "And you were always a damn fool." She gave a dry chuckle. "And stubborn."

With a nod and a grin, Gren went back to scanning the northern horizon, where the mountains met the brooding storm. "Won't argue with ye there, marm."

A distant flash of lightning lit up the sky over the mountains, blinding her for a moment. A few seconds later, a rumble of thunder answered it, echoing down through valley and sending a chill up Kiara's spine. A drop of rain landed on the tip of her spear.

Her heart started beating faster. She gave the creature, Dor, a glare. "I hadn't planned on drowning today, thin one. How much longer? Where is he?"

Another flash and more thunder, closer this time, made her flinch. Dor didn't answer her--she could only hear his breathing as he stared at her, unblinking. Though her lip curled, slightly, in disgust, she felt his emotionless gaze, before the coming storm, strangely calming.

The rain started to fall in earnest, sweeping across the valley in sheets. Kiara watched as dark clouds, threatening a complete downpour, crawled closer to their position. As they did, the grass of the valley rippled, violently, toward the east, pummeled by the wind. It looked, for all the world, like a boiling ocean of green.

A rumbling sound, faint at first, began to grow. The black sky churned, almost directly overhead now. Something was coming, she could feel it. Her hands began shaking, but she held her weapon as firm as she could. She inched it closer to Dor's throat; she had to yell to be heard over the crescendo: "Where is he?"

Dor smiled in the midst of it all and pointed to the sky. As he did, it parted, as if cleaved in two by a heavenly blade. She looked up, and saw blue for the first time in her life. It grew and grew as the clouds raced away, to the east, the west, the north. Light flooded across the valley.

Kiara's gaze, eyes wide, was locked on a stark shadow that hung in the sky. It began descending.

She heard Gren's voice, close by. "Firesinger, me arse," he whispered.

She shook her head in wonder as the object took shape. A smile of hope crept across her face. "Damn, stubborn, old fool."

  • 2
    I really enjoyed this! Thanks for posting! – Vylix Oct 27 '17 at 4:27
4

Trailing behind a raggedy old man through the woods, the cool October air nipped at my nose and ears. The staff or walking stick the old man held had a small carving of a bear in the head part, it looked to be fighting a buck. I shook my head, clearing it of possible explanations as to why that was carved into his staff of all things. The man slowed to a stop and pointed to a large mound of earth, it was covered with bright green moss. A pathway of small stones led to an opening to the mound, there must be a hidden room inside. The old man turned around and walked back the way we came, I think he was just dropping me off. I turned to thank him, but he was nowhere to be seen. Almost as if he wasn’t there in the first place. I faced the mound again, but when I laid my eyes on it this time, it was a shack. Like it was a cabin out in the woods on a campground. I was more confused than ever at this point. I walked up to the door and knocked. Once, twice, and then a third time. It opened to reveal a lovely young woman, her rosy cheeks were bright against her pale skin. She wore a silk dress, almost like a slip, a feminine undergarment. There was a warm smell coming from inside the cabin, and I caught a whiff of nutmeg and ginger.

The woman smiled warmly and pulled on my hand, ushering me inside. Her hair was waist-long, ebony with beautiful curls that bounced with every step she took. She had piercing green eyes, pouring the spirit of the forest into my own. I held my breath as she sat me down at a wooden table, obviously made of a thick tree trunk.

“I am Isabelle, I want you to know that you’re very special,” she spoke suddenly. Her voice sounded like the breeze in a field, grass swaying to the melody. She sat across from me at the table, her posture absolutely perfect.

“You are full of wonder, stubbornness, and love. You have a tendency to wander through the woods when you are avoiding something, and your caring heart has so much kindness.” Her eyes brimmed with tears, I didn’t know what was happening, but all I knew was that she knew me in a way no one has ever known me.

“Thank you, but, why am I here? Why do you need me?” I asked, she said I was special, but I don’t know if that is to be taken as a good thing or not. She looked at me puzzled, her head tilted to the left.

“Didn’t you know? You’re the new king of Earis. Your stubbornness will lead the faey to victory and harmony.” She said this like I should already know what that meant. I’m now more confused than ever in my life. She stared straight at me, digging into my soul to see what impurities she could pick out. She eventually sat slumped in her seat, eyes still trained on me. My face reddened as she pulled her hair out of her eyes and behind her ears. They were as pointy and sharp as mine. I thought I was the only one. I thought it was a genetic mutation, that I wasn’t really real. But this is real. And she is real. And I am the King of Earis. I’ve heard about this place from an old folk-tale. It was a hidden part of the woods near where I lived and grew up. My foster parents always told me to stay away from it. From anything outside our property. I stood up from the table and looked through the window to the outside.

A fir tree was rooted not twenty feet away, fire-flies twinkling all around it. But upon closer inspection, I realized to my surprise, that they were not fire-flies, but little flying people, with glowing skin and wings like a dragonfly. Their faces turned to me and I smiled in admiration. They giggled, and the sound was like a million tinkling bells. I smiled with pure happiness, they were so cute.

I looked to the left of the tree, a tall man in green robes looked at me and smiled, bowing slightly. He stared at me for a while, his emotionless gaze strangely calming. I turned around to face Isabelle, but she was standing at a cauldron, mixing those wonderful smells together.

“Isabelle, what am I supposed to do. I have no idea how to rule,” I said, exasperated. She hummed a melody, deep in her throat so that it sounded like a stringed instrument being played in a concert hall. Echoing off of the walls of the cozy cabin.

“In a way, all you have to do is create a system in which no one gets hurt, and people will love you and cherish your judgement.” Isabelle replied, swiveling on her heel to face me. I nodded my head, mulling over the thought of having so many people love me at once.

I walked outside and was met with a crowd of woodland creatures, some more human-like. The taller ones had a green tint to their skin, shimmering in the pale moonlight. Some applauded while others bowed in respect. I stubbornly stood there, unmoving, unsure of how to react. Isabelle came out behind me and handed me a crown of ivy. The leafs were shaped to look like a steeple, a real beauty. There were antlers on the sides, reaching two feet high. She placed it on my head, I looked out at all the creatures below me, and then I felt myself coming back. Memories flooded through my mind of the man by the tree holding my hand when I was only a child. He was my uncle, my Godfather. He was my father figure in my life after the accident that killed my parents. The winged fairies giggled again, making more memories come into focus. I was chasing them, while running from a squirrel, we were all laughing. Isabelle was there too, she was only a child, like me. This was where I belong. I am home, and these are my people.

I smiled and again, they bowed to my feet. “Long live the king of Earis.”

  • Wow, I can feel I'm the king of Earis when I read your last paragraph! Very well done! – Vylix Oct 27 '17 at 4:33
  • @Vylix thank you so much!! I have been writing this short story for a week. (: – Aspen the Artist and Author Oct 27 '17 at 21:16
  • You may have emulated a great writer in writing a grammatically ambiguous first sentence: english.stackexchange.com/questions/386234/… Based on that and your good writings here I sincerely predict for you a bright literary future @CHRISTMAS STARTS ON NOVEMBER 1! – English Student Dec 5 '17 at 2:28
  • @EnglishStudent Thank you so much!! – Aspen the Artist and Author Dec 6 '17 at 18:41
  • You are most welcome @CHRISTMAS STARTS ON NOVEMBER 1. – English Student Dec 6 '17 at 20:35
4

The dog just lay there looking at him, one eye closed, one following his actions, not moving or even twitching, and although he had never been able to trust one before, he could feel the mutt's emotionless gaze, strangely calm, calming him down.

The place looked safe enough.

Sure, he couldn't get out. But this meant they couldn't get in either. And the dog...

It had had a chance to rip his throat open, but instead had actually protected him.

Had he been wrong all this time?

  • Stubborn! - he muttered enraged. - Why do you always have to be so stubborn? - the boy told himself.

Things could have gone so differently if he had acted like a sensible man.

  • OK...OK... boy! A boy... - he thought grumbling, still watching the dog.

He was only twelve and ready to admit, to himself only, because he would never admit to them or anyone else, that he was not a man... yet!

The dog sighed and he jumped and let out a small cry.

The dog raised one eyebrow and he could swear it was mocking him as the hazel eye twinkled in the dim light.

  • Are you mocking me? - he asked it.

The dog waged the bushy white tail and, closing both eyes, stretched out against the blocked door.

The boy looked around.

The half demolished room was warm and comfortable enough. He even had enough food and water to last him a couple of days, more if he was careful with it. The others in his Gaggle knew where he was and would be looking for him since he was the only one who knew The Path by heart.

All he had to do was relax and wait. So why couldn't he?

  • Stubborn... - sounded the growl.
  • I'm having difficulty jumping between the dog POV and the man's. – Vylix Oct 25 '17 at 9:19
  • The dog is the it, the boy is the he. But I'll edit to make it clearer. – shieldedtulip Oct 25 '17 at 18:42
4

“PUSH” they all say in an annoying yet encouraging way, all the while I feel my husband’s emotionless gaze strangely calming. Ah, the miracle of childbirth. The magical journey toward parenthood is imminent and the future is both exciting and scary. All I need is for my stubborn body to function as intended, and my stubborn child to cooperate with my birth plan, and finally for my stubborn Mother-in-law to forgive me for not using her name for my baby!

4

We had heard the cry of a dragon, but when it came again we knew that it was moving away, and that it was not hunting. The moon was high in the sky, and I felt her emotionless gaze strangely calming. We found a clearing in the forest and Anya raised fire to keep us warm against the cooling night.

Joshua was the youngest, and felt the cold more than those of us who had become hardened to it. He stared into the fire intently, as if he had seen a vision in the flames.

Sarah had noticed too. “What are you thinking?”

Startled, Joshua looked up, but he smiled. “I was just dreaming,” he said. “About magic. I was wondering how it would be if your chamber could know how warm you wanted to be, and could drive out the cold before you even stepped into it.”

Simon didn’t like the idea. “Your chamber would have dominion over the cold? I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Though Joshua was a novice he had shown aptitude for fire, so Anya was the first to come to his aid. “You would say that. Frost mages always think nothing is stronger than ice.”

Simon spread his hands to encompass the night, its cold shaming the heat from our pitful fire. “Am I wrong?”

Anya frowned. “It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about sharing ideas. You never want to do that.”

It seemed Sarah agreed. She muttered, half under her breath. “Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.”

Simon scowled at her. “What about you, then? What would a water mage think if a chamber in the castle suddenly started getting pretentions and messing about with the flow of the rivers?”

Sarah furrowed her brow. “Why would that be bad? Instead of walking to the stream, there would be a way of bringing the stream to you. That would be truly magical.”

We sat for a while, pulling our robes tighter as the night grew colder. Then Joshua looked up from the fire, his eyes bright. “How about a way of preserving ideas forever, so anyone could know them?”

There was a sneer on Simon’s face. “We already have that.” He waved a hand in my direction, and I could not tell whether the sneer was meant for me or for Joshua’s thoughts. “What do you think the bards do?”

Joshua was not discouraged. “But what if you weren’t a bard?” He gave me an apologetic glance, but his idea was stronger than his embarassment. “I’m thinking of a way that would mean that anyone in the world could know your thoughts. Could think about them. Even a way that they could answer your thoughts with their own.”

Simon was having none of it. “Now you’re just being silly,” he said.

2

This is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel.

Snick, snick, snick went the flint and steel. A few sparks glowed in the tinder and then died. Kalaya furrowed her brow and tried again.

“Cup your hand around it to keep the wind out,” her father told her.

“Yes, Papa.” She wondered how many fires she would have to light successfully before he would stop reminding her how to do it. Kalon squatted beside her, watching every move.

Snick, snick. This time a shower of sparks landed in the pile of pine needles. Kalaya dropped the fire striker and cupped her hands around the fragile fire, gently blowing to warm it up. Carefully she added more needles, then twigs, and finally larger sticks, propping them against each other in a pyramid. Then she sat back and admired her handiwork.

“Good,” said her father. He dug two holes in the dirt on opposite sides of the fire, set a forked stick in each of them, and balanced on top the spitted duck he had shot earlier. “Turn this,” he told Kalaya, “while I shape the fire.”

Kalaya took the end of the spit and twisted slowly. Her father sat beside the fire, cross-legged, staring into the flames. Then, leaning forward, he whispered, “Isazi.

The fire leaped at the sound.

Carefully, Kalaya’s father extended a hand into the flames. “Isazi, yol-amu,” he murmured. He drew his hand up and out. The fire followed, curving around the duck. “Aiu, aiu. Peram t’a.

The flames stayed where he had put them, and he moved to the other side of the spit and repeated the procedure. Kalaya watched in fascination, barely remembering to keep turning the spit. Beside her, Kalon shivered with barely repressed excitement. They had not known their father was a firetamer until he had started taking them on missions last year, and he was still the only firetamer they had ever seen. Watching him at his work never got old.

“It is a good fire,” he said, sitting back. “Eager to hear its name called, eager to please.” The flames crackled merrily around the duck. The bird would cook much faster and more evenly with a shaped fire.

1

I came upon this 'challenge' very late and could not resist composing and posting a flash fragment:


The sight of the levitating doll made his eyes pop out. He hadn't dropped any acid he could remember. He just couldn't make out how the little thing hung in the air and kept moving up and down a bit, as though floating on invisible air currents. It was short and well-fed, with neat looking doll's clothes, a big cloth cap and a mystic expression. Its emotionless gaze was strangely calming. It resembled a little girl child in size and shape, and said with a certain air of smug satisfaction, "this is not Alice down the rabbit hole and I am not the Mad Hatter."

He opened his eyes deliberately to wake himself up and found himself in the same place. He was sitting in an armchair in a corner and the fat little doll still hung in the air unsupported, writing in a notebook with an frown of concentration. The room was unremarkable and looked like a typical schoolhouse. Bright daylight came through the large windows. Several animals and infant dolls were studying their lessons with a loud chatter. He suddenly realised that the levitating doll was a schoolteacher.

What more to narrate? Dreams and visions do not often make sense. The kid was obviously a very forceful personality and quite a competent teacher, well liked by her 'students'. Everybody ignored him and continued their lessons. He strongly suspected that someone had spiked his drink, but couldn't pin down the when and the where of it. Writing good dialogue is still a challenge, he thought irrelevantly. As he drifted in and out of the scene the infants chanted a 24-syllable free form haiku: "writes flash fiction for a meta contest// twenty days after the event// stubborn, stubborn, stubborn..."


thanks for the opportunity; thanks for reading!

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