A Monday Moment: The Kidnapping

When I started doing these Monday Moment posts, I vowed to post something I’d written in the last week, and that if I hadn’t written anything new by Sunday or Monday, well, I’d just have to get to writing.

However, I’ve written a fair bit over the last week…it’s just all too spoiler-filled, or too confusing if you don’t know a lot of backstory. Since I’ve been sick, I had no desire to push myself to write something else. It’s all I can do to keep moving forward on NaNoPrep.

I wrote this about 2 years ago. I did already post it on my blog back then, in a regular daily check-in post, because I liked it. (This was before I started my Monday series.) So I’m sharing it again now as an official Monday Moment. Prompt used is at the bottom.


Why should they get to have such an extravagant life while I have to wait until I’m 21 to see any of their money? I can’t believe they cut me off, just because I lost a little of their money. I mean, what’s $10,000 to people who have millions?

This will show them. I can’t believe how easy this is going to be. I know they’re not happy with me right now, but they still love me. They’ll pay anything we ask to make sure I’m safe.

I didn’t think those guys were really going to hit me. I thought we’d use some kind of make-up or something. Or fake blood like they use in movies. Man, that really hurt. But it’s okay. Once we get the million from my parents, I can get myself fixed up. The pain is so going to be worth it.

Why am I tied up? Why did I agree to this? Who said this was supposed to be uncomfortable? I just wanted to take some pictures and go stay in a motel. That girl they brought in really knows how to convince me to do things. Stupid things. First they beat me up, and then they left me here, tied up. Man, I’m hungry.

I’m starting to think that the guys I hired to fake this with me aren’t faking. Who would have thought that finding some guys in an alley would have led to this? I figured they’d be so happy to make so much money without having to do much, they’d go along with whatever I said. I’m so hungry, I would eat a rat right now. Hey…what’s that moving over in the corner?

I’m pretty sure…I’m going to die here. I haven’t seen anyone since they took the picture they were supposed to use as proof of life. The girl said she’d be back with food and left. I’ve been tied to this chair for two days now. I…I think I’ll just sleep now. Maybe it’ll make the end easier…

…hunh? What’s that bright light? Where am I going? Is this the end? Oh, there’s my mom. She looks mad. Why is she mad at me? I’m the one who was tied to a chair and left to starve to death. Wait, there’s that girl…what’s she doing here? Is she handcuffed? Oh, my wrists are finally free. Now I can get out of this chair and–

Well, moving didn’t really work. I seem to be at the mercy of these people who are lifting me onto a bed. I suppose I’ll have to go to the hospital and be checked out before I can go home. I wonder where my dad is, why he’s not here with Mom. Maybe he was too busy to come. Or he’s even angrier than Mom is. They must know what I did.

Oh, there’s Dad. Wait, why is he in handcuffs? What’s going on?


Prompt used: Staging a fake kidnapping to get money out of your rich parents

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A Monday Moment: Vin & Missy

Normally I put any prompts involved with a Monday Moment writing at the bottom, but I thought it was important to state it at the beginning this time.

From my Writer’s Emergency Pack, #9, question 1: Picture your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story.
Vin and Missy are both major characters in my NaNoNovel, “Vin.”
The following gets a little meta.


They stared across the table at each other awkwardly.

“So…which one of us is the hero in this scenario?” Vin asked with a smirk.

Missy rolled her eyes.

“Hey, it’s a legitimate question. We don’t even know how much you’ll be in the book.”

“Oh, please,” Missy said, straightening up in her chair. “Every time a new book is written, I manage to push my way in to a near-main-character role.”

“Not the ones about Alexander.”

“Alexander is on his own quest so much, he is fine as the lead. You, on the other hand…”

“What about me?”

“We’re all still getting used to the idea of you not being a sociopath. It was all a lot easier when you…”

“When I was just plain evil?”

“Well, yeah…”

“So why am I not anymore?”

“That’s a better question for someone else, but I’d say it’s because you weren’t interesting enough to drive a story that way.”

“And now I am?”

“You’re complex. You have real motivation, as skewed as it may be.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but she silenced him with a raised hand.

“You garner sympathy–that’s the important thing. You saw a need and tried to help. Your somewhat broken past may have led you to a dark place during your quest, but your underlying intentions were good.”

He didn’t even try to say anything. What she was saying reminded him of Pastor Lede. Considering how he had always treated Missy, she was giving him more kindness than he deserved.

“This is supposed to be a date, you know,” he said.

“I know.”

“But how do you leave him out of it?”

Missy shook her head. “I think we’ve already ruined the premise. I’ll try to do better with Alexander.”

“There you go again, presuming you’re the hero,” he said, stopping short of sighing.

She stared across the table at him intently. “Vin, you may be the main protagonist, but do you really expect anyone to buy you as the hero?”

“Maybe it depends on who you ask.”

 

A Monday Moment: Vin Begins

I had just started this series of “Monday Moment” posts a few months before I disappeared for a while, and I want to start doing them again. Because revision work (or in my case right now, planning work) isn’t usually as fun for me as the actual writing, I want to try to do writing practice more often too. So then every Monday, I will post a piece of writing practice from the previous week (or a little further back if necessary).

I won’t revise any of this, except for a spell-check. They’ll probably rarely be longer than 500 words. The prompt, if I used one and if I choose to include it, will be at the bottom. And I can’t even call them all stories, because there’s not always a beginning and end. Usually it’s just a moment in time.

This first one is very related to my NaNoPrep. This is a bit of writing I did with no prompt, as I first tried to delve into the mind of the protagonist of my possible NaNoNovel. It’s very short, but so much about Vin and the plot of his book came out from this writing:


My dad was a hard man. He expected perfection from both me and my mom. The older I got, the more I realized that he was anything but perfect, but my mom always said he was embarrassed by his mistakes, and that’s why he wanted more from me. He was doing me a favor.

I thought Cleric would be the only path that would allow me to be what I thought he wanted—good, righteous, perfect. I had already enrolled at the Academy when my dad died during a Madness run. I felt so much relief at his death that it flooded me with guilt. What kind of monster was I?

I turned to my mom for…not comfort, exactly. Absolution? Reciprocity? She was almost a shell of her former self. She acted like nothing was different—never grieved, barely even talked about his death. At one time I wondered if she was fully aware he had died. She went on with normal life, except something was just different about her. Any spark my dad had left her with was gone.

A Monday Moment: Homecoming

This is part of the scene I worked on a lot of last week. It continues past this, but goes into novel spoilers. Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power.”


After everything that had happened, Leahna could only think of one thing—seeing her dad. She waited until the morning and then went to the house where she had grown up. There was a sign on the door that announced the house would be sold to the highest bidder on a future date. Leahna stared at the sign for a full minute, trying to process it. Her father was moving out of her childhood home.

She tried the door, but it was locked. She knocked, but there was no answer. Though it was a little early for him to be at work, she went to the Academy anyway. There an old friend of the family told her that her father hadn’t been in for months. Leahna asked if the man knew where her father might be, and she was told to try her brother’s house.

After thanking the man and leaving, Leahna felt like she was in some strange dream. Her family’s house was being sold, her father wasn’t working at the job he loved, and he was staying with Ronald? In that moment, the year she had been away felt like ten. It was as if she was returning from being away at war for a long time, finding everything she left behind gone or different.

She ‘ported directly outside her brother’s house in Jaffna. She had only been there a few times, so she felt awkward as she approached the front door. At least there was no sign on this one.

She knocked tentatively, unsure what she could expect to find behind the door. Ronald answered, laughing at something to which Leahna wasn’t privy. As soon as he saw his older sister, his smile froze and his eyes grew wide.

“Leahna!” he said with exuberance. “You’re…here. You’re back.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” she said, unsure how he even knew she’d gone anywhere.

“Are you…okay? Is everything okay?” he asked uncertainly.

There was no easy answer to that. “Not…exac—”

Her father appeared behind Ronald. As soon as he saw his eldest daughter in the doorway, he pushed past his son and pulled Leahna into his arms. She didn’t know how to react and simply stood still until he stepped back.

Once she could see him better, she realized that this was not the dad she used to know. He looked ten years older, and yet somehow happier.

“Come on in, Leahna, please,” he said. He backed up, and Ronald did likewise. All three of them moved further into the house. Abner led the way to the living room, where a woman was seated. She stood up when she saw who was with Abner and Ronald.

Betany reacted similarly to Ronald, asking Leahna if she was all right.

“I’m well enough,” Leahna said. She was staring at Betany’s stomach, where there was a noticeable protuberance. She looked to her brother for an explanation.

He offered a pained smile and said, “Betany and I are married, and she is five months pregnant.”

“You are going to have a baby?” Leahna asked, looking between her brother and his wife with some confusion. It was wonderful news; she didn’t understand why everyone looked unhappy about it. Even her father wouldn’t look her in the eye. “That’s wonderful, Ronald!”

He raised his eyebrows and let out a relieved chuckle. “It is?”

“Of course it is! Why? Is there something else going on that I do not know about?”

“No, of course not,” Abner said, going to stand next to Betany. “We just didn’t know how you would feel about Ronald and Betany being married while you were gone.”

“I am sad that I missed it, but I…I suppose I did not expect that you would wait your ceremony until I returned. When I left, part of me thought none of you would ever want to see me again after what happened.”

Her father’s face darkened, and Ronald sighed.

“We were probably harsher with you than we should have been after she died.” Ronald glanced over at Betany and added, “We were definitely harsher than we should have been.”

“What about Noelle?” Leahna asked. “Does she still feel such anger toward me?”

“It is difficult to say,” Abner replied. “We don’t see her much these days either.”

A Monday Moment: Between Life & Death

My first Monday Moment now that I am coming back to my writing is the piece that I’m strongly considering using as the prologue for “Pursuit of Power.” It introduces the reader to the main villain of the story, who as of right now doesn’t enter the story nearly soon enough. That’s one of a long list of things to work on. But for now, hopefully this will be of interest.


They think I’m an animal. Some kind of creature. They come into my home and disrespect me, and they’re offended when I break their necks?

Dressed in tattered clothes, standing in a large patch of desert grass and weeds that were matted down in the center, the “beast” stood over the most recent trespasser. The smell didn’t bother her, but the recent piling up of bodies was troublesome.

The first thing she really remembered was waking up in the sand, with blood all over her hands and clothes. She barely even noticed the bladed weapons at her side. For a while, she was in fact like an animal, with no real thoughts, only acting on instinct. At first, she killed only to eat. Then, somehow, her dwelling began to draw unwelcome attention. Then she had to kill to protect her home.

After a time of being around other humans, for as short of a time as any managed to live, she would hear them speak, and began to remember a past life. One in which she was an assassin, and a highly respected and greatly feared member of a powerful order. She was…

She was nothing now. A creature, a thing to be feared by man as death itself. She didn’t know what had happened to her, but she knew that she would never be the same again.

She kicked the body to the edge of the tall grass and brushed her crimson hair out of her face with a blood-stained hand. The sun would be up soon, and the only way she survived the day was to remove herself from it. She lay down amongst the tangle of grass and weeds and disappeared from sight.

At the same time, deeper out in the desert, three men hurried north, following a man mounted on a horse. The man in the lead, Drune, was leading his men—a Cleric, a Power User, and a Bowman—to the location east of Torreo where the creature was said to live. Their orders were to bring her back, but Drune had a feeling that wouldn’t be possible. He didn’t doubt that the creature was, in fact, his boss’s daughter, but he didn’t think she’d come willingly.

After a few hours of traveling, they could just barely see the lights of Torreo in the distance. Drune held up his hand, and the others stopped. He made a few other gestures, then moved ahead alone, slowly. The Cleric held up his hand and created a Power barrier around himself. When Drune called out a command, the other two men moved forward and stood on either side of him. They were thirty yards away from the nest of grass.

Drune sat silently for a moment, listening to the sounds of the desert around him. The approaching morning should have brought a plethora of animal calls, but all were absent. The only sound he heard now was the buzzing of many flies, a noise that clearly came from that large patch of grass.

“She’s in there.”

“Are you sure?” the Bowman questioned. “She’s a Shadow; she could be anywhere.”

“I’m quite sure.” Drune looked out at the horizon, where the first rays of dawn were chasing away the night. “Very few of the reported sightings and deaths happened during the day. She’s there. Go.”

Despite the command, all three remained still for a minute, as if waiting for something. Then, they stepped forward, positioning themselves around the perimeter of the nest.

The User knew it was his move next, but he hesitated for a moment. Regardless of what Drune had said, he didn’t hold out much hope for finding anything human amongst this graveyard of man and beast alike.

There were bodies, both fresh and in the early stages of decay. When his eyes rested on the small bones of a young girl, as evidenced by the tatters of clothing, he shivered. What could kill so indiscriminately? Would the force they brought be enough?

“Do it!” Drune snapped, obviously agitated at having to remind the User of his job.

The User removed a dagger from his belt and held it out in front of himself in trepidation. Finally, he waved his hand in the air. A bright light flashed around the immediate vicinity like lightning.

Then there, between them, appeared a woman with crimson hair. She was standing, no weapons drawn, but clearly ready to attack the intruders. When she realized she’d been uncovered, she didn’t make a move; she only waited.

The same ability that had removed her cloak, though, had also revealed others. A ring of Shadows stood around her, in line with the other three.

She stood still, only moving her eyes to take in the numbers. These new enemies brought the total who had come to stand against her up to thirteen. Then she looked at the Swordsman, still on his horse, who was moving closer to her. Drune stopped just outside the hedge his men had made.

“You know who I am,” he said.

Of course she did. She hadn’t lost her brain.

“We do not want to hurt you.”

I’d kill you before you could try, her thoughts mocked.

“We only wish to bring you back.”

Back? She cocked her head, communicating the unvoiced question.

“We are still your family; you belong with us.”

He said no more, giving her time to respond. She remained silent; she only stood and waited, empty hands at her sides.

In the growing light, Drune could see her better now, and he could tell something was different. The most obvious was her hair. It used to be black. Her skin was paler, her eyes were darker, and if it was possible, she even seemed taller. As she stared into his eyes, he felt her coldness and endless anger and hatred. She hadn’t exactly been compassionate before, but whatever callousness she possessed then was nothing compared to what he saw in her now.

Then she was gone. The User flashed his light again before Drune had to give the command, but it didn’t reveal her this time. Somehow she had moved fast enough to be out of the range of the light in only a second. In another second, the group’s Cleric grunted as his neck was snapped. She was there, behind him, and as his body fell to the sand, she was gone again.

“Find her!” Drune screamed. He felt his stoicism begin to fade. With every second that she remained hidden, her advantage grew. Fear was not something he was used to, as a man in such a powerful position within the Class of Morano. But he felt the fingers of dread creeping into him, and he did not enjoy the feeling.

There. The User’s light caught her. She was visible, and four men charged at her with weapons drawn. Drune watched as she drew her own weapons and threw each man aside as they came. She spun, kicked, stabbed, and sidestepped as the rest came at her at once. The User began to form a simulated blade in the air in front of him, but she cloaked herself again, appearing in front of him a heartbeat later. She buried a dagger in his chest.

Drune’s team was failing, and fast. But he didn’t move. His job was not to die with his men, and he knew it wouldn’t help anyway. She was like nothing he’d ever seen before. For as much as she scared him, she also intrigued him.

When every one of the dozen men he’d brought was lying in bloody ruins around her, she stood in the middle of them and looked at him again.

His heart began to race as she took slow steps toward him. He could already feel those blades slicing through his body. He wouldn’t die though; he could outrun her if he had to. But he didn’t want to leave.

“You don’t have to be alone out here. Morano can offer you so much if you come back.”

Still she walked towards him. When she was five yards in front of him, she stopped—and was suddenly gone.

He swore as he backed his horse up a few steps.

“Rusalki!” he yelled into the emptiness around him. “Your father wants to see you again. He wants you to come back!”

Nothing. He backed up a bit more, and was a heartbeat away from turning around and running when she suddenly appeared next to him.

Rusalki spoke the first words he or anyone had heard from her throat since she had died.

“I want to see my father.”

A Monday Moment: Growing Closer

The following is the main character of “Pursuit of Power,” Alexander, musing about his relationship with Leahna, the secondary main character. The musing is directed at Drear Dark, the narrator of this series of books, years after the events in the book would have happened.


I’m not sure I could tell you when Leahna and I started to become closer. I know you’re looking for accuracy and details for these accounts you’re compiling, but I’m not sure I can be very specific on this one. I’d like to say that’s because our friendship just grew so smoothly it’s hard to find the point where we became as close as we were by the time I met you. But the truth is, it’s probably just because I was so wrapped up in my own stuff, I didn’t pay that much attention. In fact, for a while, it was almost as if we were both avoiding becoming friends at all.

When we first met, we both kept our relationship professional, almost to an extreme. I was only intent on practicing my Power use, and on not giving her a reason to decide she didn’t want to train with me any more. I was paranoid about that a lot, after some time of running through Clerics. If it hadn’t been for my mom, I’m not sure we would have ever started to feel more like friends than training partners.

I will say that I probably faked familiarity for a while. Not on purpose, really, but I think part of me felt that if I made her feel a sense of loyalty to me, out of friendship, then she would choose to continue training with me, despite being very busy at the time. When you write about this, make sure you include that I felt terrible later for the way I treated her. Pretending to be her friend, all the while lying to her.

In fact, when I finally told her the truth, that’s probably when things changed at least a little bit. Well, and because of what happened shortly after that. You know how tragedy can put things into perspective? We certainly had our share of that.

It was probably when she started calling me “Lex.” If you know Leahna at all, and I guess you do, you know that she is very polite, even formal. My mom’s the only one who ever called me “Lex,” but there was a point that I first noticed Leahna was referring to me by that nickname. It was while we were in the desert. I’m pretty sure she’d been using it for longer than when I first realized it. It felt natural, not weird like I would have expected it to, out of her mouth. So I guess that’s about it, the answer to your question–sometime between me telling her the truth and our time in the desert. That’s when we became best friends.

A Monday Moment: Sisters

Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power” and has been pretty one-dimensional for the most part. I wrote this from a prompt, but I think I’ll keep her in the next few weeks’ free writing too, to try to draw out her background and life outside of the story.


“If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”

“That is quite a question,” Leahna said. She turned wide eyes to her younger sister who was laying across her bed. “Why do you ask that?”

“Because I know exactly what I would ask.”

“What would you ask?”

“I would ask if the Power really does come from him.”

The older sister gasped and stared at Noelle from her desk chair. “Of course it does! Why would you even question that.”

Noelle shrugged. “It seems to me that when we start to assume things about God, that’s when we get in trouble. Throughout history, that’s been a pattern, don’t you think?”

Leahna furrowed her brow. “I…I do not think you are quite correct.”

“Of course I am. Think about all of the times that people have done something in God’s name, but later they were judged to be evil, ignorant, or crazy. Joan Archer, the Crusaders, the Restoration Society, even the pharisees.”

“Oh, but you can’t…” She trailed off as she thought through the list of examples her sister had given.

“Does it say anywhere in the Bible that God would give us this great Power that would prolong our lives and give us special abilities?”

“No, it certainly does not.”

“Then why is the Church of Pithea so adamant that the Power comes from him?”

“From where else would it come?”

Noelle’s eyes lit up. “I don’t know, but that’s not really the point. If I can’t come up with the alternative, it doesn’t mean it has to be God. Maybe it was a spontaneous mutation. Maybe we’re all using evil powers without realizing it.”

“No!” Leahna jumped to her feet. “You will not defile the good that we do, the healing, the protection. You will not claim that it comes from a place of evil.”

Noelle shook her head, rolled her eyes, and sighed. “You sound just like Mom and Dad. I mean, is it really that big of a deal where it comes from? Like you said, we use it for good. So what if it doesn’t come from God?”

Leahna crossed her arms and took a few steps toward the door. “I would strongly suggest that you do not let Mom or Dad hear you say anything like that.”

“It doesn’t really matter, does it? They don’t care what I think about God or the Power. You’re going to be a Cleric, and they don’t really care what I do.”

“They care what you do. They want you to do whatever God leads you to do.”

“Yeah. They want you to be a Cleric like Dad, but whatever I feel like doing is fine, because I’m not the oldest.”

“I thought you were planning to become a Cleric too,” Leahna said.

Noelle looked down at the floor. “I was going to. But I don’t know now. I mean…I thought they would want that of me, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter to them. Just like they don’t care that Ronald decided to become a Swordsman and join a militia.”

“I thought you both would be happier if Mom and Dad didn’t force you to do whatever they want you to do. How can you complain that they are not forcing their will upon you?”

“Like they are you?” Noelle pointed out.

“Well…not exactly. I know they want me to become a Cleric, but I am okay with it. I enjoy my studies and learning to use my Power to help others. Do you and Ronald believe they’ve forced me into it?”

“Yeah, kinda.”

“And you wish them to do the same to you?”

Noelle shrugged. “At least then we’d feel like they cared.”


Prompt used: You encounter an omnipotent being who says they will answer only one question.

 

 

A Monday Moment: Garend

Garend is a minor character in “Pursuit of Power” who needed a little fleshing out. He’d disappeared halfway through the story, so I came up with a reason why. Today’s Monday Moment is a brief look into his life, events happening before and during “Pursuit of Power.”


It was just me and my dad for a lot of my life. I never knew my mom. Dad and I had a really good life in Torreo, as good a life as anyone can have in that territory. We didn’t live in the principle city though. We lived south of the mountains, along the southern shore of Pithea. The beach. There’s a small town called Qulu. It’s so separated from the rest of Pithea, I think some of the folks there forget the rest of the country exists. Maybe the rest of the country forgets Qulu exists too.

My dad served as Controller for all of southern Torreo, which wasn’t much more than Qulu. There was a sort of prestige that came with that position and with being the son of someone in that position. It was a nice life. Until the Power death.

I was eleven when he was diagnosed. He found it himself—another perk of his job. He was able to get into isolation early, and they say that’s why he lived longer than others usually do. It wasn’t much of a life, though.

He had to quit his job, and I went to live with a neighbor. I visited Dad every day, but we couldn’t do more than talk. Some friends of my dad, I think they might have also been Controllers, came around a lot at first. They said they would find a way to help him. Maybe they didn’t know people have been working on that for years.

Dad died over a year after the Power death came. I was sent to live with a foster family in Jaffna Territory, near the principle city, after I’d finished school. Just before I turned thirteen and my common training started.

My dad’s friends, the ones who promised to help him, told me they would find my mom. When she knew what happened, that I was all alone, she’d come for me, they said.

My dad never explained why my mom wasn’t around—if she’d run off and left us, if she was missing at sea, or in a coma. I never knew. I imagined fun things when I was younger, like that she was a princess in a far-off land and couldn’t leave her people. But when my dad died, I decided I didn’t care. She wasn’t there, and that was all that mattered.

Then one of the men showed up again when I was fifteen. When he told me my mom wanted me to come live with her, I said I didn’t care. He could tell her I liked my home, my friends, my life, and who was she to try to make me leave all that?

It took her quite a while after that to come for me herself. She lived far away. When she explained to me where our family came from, who we were, it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. It was time to start a new life.

 

A Monday Moment: Chess

Today’s Monday Moment was written on Sept. 24 of last year. I know I said if I hadn’t written any for the week, I’d just have to force myself to write something on Sunday or Monday, but I’m making an exception (yes, already). Between the little break my husband insisted I take from writing, my sister’s wedding prep over the weekend, and doing extra end-of-year work for my job, I feel like it’s not just laziness that left me with nothing to post this week. And in fact, I did write something in the last 7 days that I could use, but it was handwritten, and I don’t have time to type it right now. So for today, enjoy this odd chess game:


I stare down at the board and determine my first move. Moving a piece forward, I look up at Amy.

She smiles sweetly at me. “Is it my turn?”

“It is.”

She looks down at the board and thinks for a moment. “I think you don’t want to make that opening move.”

“Why not?” I ask with amusement.

“It’s obvious. It’s the same move everyone makes. And it will start you off at a disadvantage.”

I muse over my only move so far, but only for a few seconds. “I took my finger off the piece. My move is over, but thanks for trying to help.”

She shrugs. “Okay then.” She moves her own piece, far away from mine. There is no danger here.

I think a little longer about my next move. What will she say if I move this one there? Or if I move this other one? Is it too early to take one of her pieces? I’m pretty sure she’s safe for now. I move a piece and gesture for her to take her turn.

She gives me a small smile, but says nothing this time. Instead, she moves another one of her pieces.

I wonder why she’s acting this way. The game is meant to be won, isn’t it? If she thinks I’m playing badly, why doesn’t she just let me continue so that she can win sooner?

I look down and see that she has moved her piece right in the path of one of mine. I could take her piece. I would be foolish not to, right? I think through the next possible moves, if I were to take her piece. Could she take mine right after? I don’t see how, so I take her piece.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” she says. She seems genuine in her disappointment, but still cheerful.

After a while, the game has drawn on longer than I would have expected. It’s not that we’re taking an awful long time on our turns. But somehow, she’s no longer moving her pieces in my path very often. And she’s not taking advantage of most of the times when she could take my pieces.

I decide to take a break and stand up to stretch my legs. She’s oblivious to my action, as she is so deeply contemplating her next move. When I step over to sit back down, I notice something odd on the floor. It looks like sawdust.

I stoop over to see what it is, and suddenly she snaps her head up.

“What are you doing?”

“What’s that on the floor by your foot?” I ask her, moving closer.

“Don’t do that! Why would you come snooping around my personal space? Get back to your side.”

My eyes widen in shock over her sudden outburst, but I return to my seat.

“That should be against the rules,” she says in a huff. “In fact, maybe it is. I think you should really forfeit this game, because you’ve broken the rules.”

“I didn’t break any rules! Investigating an odd substance on the floor isn’t against any chess rules!”

“Not chess rules. Rules of life.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “You’re probably going to go to jail.”


Prompt used: You have a chess match that means much more with the antagonist of your story. (Name of antagonist changed to avoid spoilers.)

A Monday Moment: The Meeting

There are a lot of names, both people and locations, in this writing, and I realize it might get confusing. Sorry about that.


“I don’t understand why we’re having this meeting again.”

“We told you, Seth. We want to discuss—“

“There is no secret mercenary base in the middle of our desert!” Seth, the leader of Torreo Territory, insisted. “I told you that the last time we met.”

Looks were exchanged between the other leaders.

“Yes, you did tell us that,” Taellyn’s leader Rowena said diplomatically. “However, it is difficult to believe you now that we have eye witness testimony.

“What ‘eye witness’?” Seth asked with narrowed eyes. “That’s impossible.”

“Why is it so impossible?” the leader of the militia in Bhorpal Territory asked suspiciously.

Seth looked at him with even eyes. “Because there is no base there.”

Flynn, the leader of the national government, sighed. “This is getting us nowhere. We can argue the likelihood of this assertion all we want, but without proof, we can’t come to an end to this argument.”

“We have proof,” Taellyn’s militia leader stated. “We have the word of two people, one of whom is well respected.”

“She’s a Cleric,” Rowena said. “And her father is one of the leaders in the Academy. Tell us, Seth, why would she lie?”

“I don’t know,” Seth said with a firm shake of his head. “But maybe you should let me talk to her so I can find out.”

“No,” Flynn said. “It will be simple enough to prove. As she is a Cleric, she can Stormwalk back to the location she claims to have seen the base. She can show us what she’s found.”

“You can’t do that!” Seth shouted, standing to his feet.

“Actually,” Verica spoke up, “we already have.”

“What?” Seth spun to address the leader of his territory’s northern neighbor Jaffna. “You’ve done what?”

“We’ve asked the Cleric in question to take us out to the desert, my militia leader and myself.”

Seth turned back toward Flynn. “How could you let him move against us this way?”

“Honestly, Seth, I don’t understand why you’re acting like this was a personal affront to you or your territory,” Flynn said with narrowed eyes. “If Morano has been hiding out in a secret location in the desert, how are you involved?”

Seth sputtered. “I—I’m not. But to conduct a search in my territory without so much as informing me… That is not in the spirit of the friendship agreement between our territories.”

“I authorized the ‘search,’” Flynn said. “That is well within my rights as national leader, according to the agreement.”

“Well then,” Seth dropped back down into his chair. “What did you find?”

“We didn’t get close, because we were afraid of detection,” Verica reported. “But there is definitely something out there. Not far from the mountain range that divides the desert and the southern shore. There was a wall.”

“A wall,” Seth scoffed. “That’s all? You can’t be sure what it is then. Maybe it’s just a wall left over from a town that used to be there before the Pithean War. Or even before the Tech War. You don’t know it’s Morano.”

“I suppose we don’t,” Verica said. “Not yet.”

“But we will find a way to verify what is beyond the wall,” Rowena said. “And if it is Morano…”

“We’ll need to decide what to do about it,” Flynn concluded for her.