Cycle 10 - Stories!!

Posted by Kat 09/11/2020 2 Comment(s)

Ready, Set, Write!!

 

We are ready for the next batch of Inanna’s Game stories! What have you created with this cycle's inspirations?

 

This cycle’s stories should be utilizing the inspiration that was posted yesterday. Once you have written your tale and corrected it to make it as readable as possible, please post it here as a reply to this post, so that others can read your work. Make sure to put the snippet, character, and scenario numbers that you used in the top part of the post!

 

Two days before the next cycle starts, comments and voting for the best story will be cut off at EOD Central. The following day, a winner will be announced.

2 Comment(s)

Paul C. Middleton:
09/12/2020, 08:01:37 AM, http://Paulcmiddleton.com
Reply

Hi everyone. I only got one chapter written this week. I just could not fit enough pieces into the continuing storyline, so this is NOT a story to vote on. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 10 – To Judgement

That evening and night, Aldrig did something unusual for him. Rather than teach by example, task, or question, he had decided to start impressing on Rhodri one of the key parts of the Hunter’s Creed. What he had seen in the forest disgusted the older man, and impressing the significance of the problem on Lula would not hurt either.

Their stewardship of the lands they hunted was core to their responsibilities. Take too much of one animal, and it would be years before the forest recovered. A forest could be hunted as heavily as the one to the South for a single season. Any longer, and it would be a decade of careful management before the woodlands would be healthy.

The Master Hunter explained many other things. How resting the woods for a year was needed, or the South forest would be as useful as a desert for the people of Briwanon when it came to helping them through hard times. As it was, rabbits and hares would need to be culled whether they were required for their meat or not. Otherwise, there would be a plague of them in the spring.

If there were a plague, then the crops would be decimated. Everyone would suffer, and the pressure on the hunters to bring in meat from empty forests would be immense. Everything depended on balance. Aldrig placed much emphasis on the duty and responsibility of a Hunter to maintain the balance of forest borders to prevent these problems.

When Aldrig was finished, it was clear that Rhodri was exhausted. After Lula put him to bed, she stayed up with her old teacher, sharing some ale from a small cask that had been left for him.

Rhodri might have been abed, but he could not sleep. Lula’s gentle hands had reminded him of his mother too much, and homesickness struck again. Silent tears fell from his face until he heard an angry statement burst from the quiet conversation the master and his former apprentice had been having.

“Heneg knows better, and so does the Lord and his sons. I don’t believe the hunting parties always traveled out as far as I was told, not with how sparse the wildlife was,” Aldrig bellowed.

“The parties I was with always did,” Lula answered, calm against her elder’s anger, “and we had several refugees with us to help carry the meat back. However, we always went North or West. There was sufficient sign in those forests, but it is a long day at a quick pace across the fields to reach them.”

Aldrig grunted. There was forest to the West on the plateau, or to the south-west, down the mountain. None from Briwanon ever went down towards the plains except him. The Briar clan were highlanders, and superstition combined with a weird pride prevented them from hunting there. If things were as bad in the East forest as they had been to the South, that tradition would have to be broken by winter’s end.

Lifting his tankard and draining it, he clumped it onto the table. “Enough. I need some sleep if I am to confront the lying snake Heneg tomorrow. He may not be much of a hunter, but he is as cunning as a fox. I’ll need my wits about me tomorrow.”

“Of course, old man. I’ll just sleep here, in front of the fire.”

“Whatever you wish. These old bones cannot handle the stone floor any more often than they must.”

“Then go get those lazy old bones into your bed, Aldrig.”

<<<>>>

Aldrig and Lula were up early the next morning. After most of a lifetime as Hunters, neither could help but wake in the dim light of pre-dawn. Aldrig started to prepare breakfast while Lula went over her former teacher's clothes and his apprentice’s cloak. She was unworried about her own appearance, as she had not seen the incident that was to be judged.

Once she was finished laying out the clothes, she frowned briefly. While there was wool cloth as fine in the village, there were only a handful of people that could afford any clothes made of such expensive fabric. These were the Lord’s family, his highest officers, and the wealthiest of merchants and tradespeople.

“Why did you take that boy in?” she asked.

“I owed a favor, and he showed potential from the beginning.” The tone he spoke in closed any further conversation. Lula wanted to investigate further but knew Aldrig would say nothing more.

The smell of cooking food woke Rhodri. Looking around the room, he found his furs. He had been so tired the night before that he slept in his tunics. Hearing him moving, Aldrig yelled back, “Bring your furs out here and eat your breakfast before putting them on.”

Rhodri was momentarily confused but followed the orders. Understanding dawned on him as he saw the clothes laid out for his master. The furs were neat and clean, of a higher quality than the worn clothing the Apprentice had seen his Master wear. Finally, the lad remembered today was the day the Lord had designated to judge the threats against him and the wildcat kits when they first arrived.

Lula was served first and ate quickly. She then laid out Rhodri’s furs and brushed them. These clothes were older and worn but appropriate for an apprentice to wear. The huntress was worried about the dichotomy between the cloak and his other clothes. The quality indicated a wealthy family, so in the end, she dropped her concerns.

The Master Hunter and his apprentice dressed in the furs over their tunic and leggings. Before they left, Aldrig sat the lad down. “Today, you’ll likely be questioned. Stick to what happened. Tell the truth. That’s all I can ask.” Both the serious tone and the grave expression told Rhodri that today would be consequential.

By the time the small group left, it was mid-morning. A few others could be seen making their way up the hill to the Dun, but they would arrive early, well before the formal court. Aldrig planned on stopping in on the Beastmaster, to allow Rhodri to see his cub before they made the trek up to the Dun.

When they stopped in, Kare was not present. His oldest son greeted them, and Lula promised to stand with them again in the Dun before leaving. Bozel quickly took the pair back to the large cages in a large but low roofed structure that the house concealed from the roadside. The female kit was obviously excited to see Rhodri, and when Bozel opened the cage, she ran for the lad. A troubled expression formed on the junior Beastmaster’s face when he saw the reaction, and Aldrig noticed it but said nothing.

Today had enough potential problems ahead. New situations could be resolved later.

The kitten cleaned the grease from breakfast of Rhodri’s fingers, then looked up at him mournfully. Bozel tapped the younger man on the shoulder and handed him most of a rabbit, fur and all.

“Feed her, lad. It will help her bond to you.” There was a strangeness in Bozel’s tone to Aldrig’s ear as well. The older hunter knew he would need to follow that up. Later.

The kitten tore into the meal offered to her with gusto. Once she was finished, she enticed Rhodri to sit on the floor beside her by rubbing up against him. When his lap became available, she moved onto it, lay down, and to the chagrin of all the humans, promptly fell asleep, clearly happy to be with the lad again.

After several minutes, once it was clear the cub was fast asleep, Bozel knelt down and whispered to Rhodri, “Take her in your arms, then stand up and put her back in the pen. We all need to be at the Lord’s court soon.”

Rhodri nodded his understanding and followed the instructions. Finding an old tunic the cub had clearly been using for a bed, he placed her gently down on it. Before leaving, the lad picked up the rest of the rabbit and put it in the cage with her. Turning around, he found both Aldrig and Bozel nodding at him in approval.

The side trip had removed the sense of dread that had been building in the young man. However, once they joined the procession of villagers and farmers heading to the Lord’s Court for the judgment, his trepidation began building again.

This would be the first time Rhodri had been present at any ruling of laws and acts, and he was one of those whose actions were to be judged. Even his youthful certitude that his actions had been righteous could not prevent worry that something he had done was unacceptable.

His boots felt filled with lead, not fur. Breakfast felt like it was forming a cold rock inside his stomach. A growing awareness of how foreign things in Briwanon could be only increased his worries. The encouraging smiles of many villagers they passed were only fleeting aid against the springlike tension building in him.

By the time they arrived at the tower, there were already dozens of people present. The witnesses cleared a path for them. The tables had been removed to the edges of the room. Most of the benches had been stacked on them. Only a dozen of the long seats remained, and apart from a handful of the oldest people present, no-one sat on them. Even the raised platform was different. There were three large, backed chairs. All the rest of the furniture that had been there for the feast was gone.

There were four guards in front of the raised space, facing the crowd. Two stood in the center, and one at either end.

Rhodri’s legs felt like jelly by the time Aldrig guided him to the proper position, facing the platform on the righthand side. The only saving grace of the situation in the lad’s eyes was that Heneg was not yet present. The master laid a reassuring hand on his apprentice’s left shoulder, and some strength flowed back into the young man’s limbs.

Aldrig was confused by his rival’s absence. The case was, in his opinion, clear cut. There was nothing the Huntmaster and Ewenn could do but pay the fine for breaching the Lord’s peace and incitement to brawling.

Rhodri nearly jumped from his skin when a gentle, long-fingered hand rested on his shoulder. A presence seemed to suddenly appear to his senses beside him. Lula whispered, “All is well. Heneg has been delayed by matters of the lodge.” Aldrig’s eyes slid across to her and noted the mischievous grin on her face. Something passed between them that was beyond Rhodri’s ken.

The lad’s nerves were somewhat relaxed by the incident, and he looked around. He could see Kare, the Beastmaster, with all four of his apprentices. To his surprise, both Alys and Vorana also stood with them, both armed and in mail shirts. Neither Swordmaiden nor her apprentice had not been at the incident, so their presence confused him.

The Bard and Loremaster arrived from a door that led directly to the platform. Rhodri schooled his face and eyes forward as they took their seats. Looking across the crowd, they too noticed the absence of the Huntmaster. The Bard seemed to shrug, but anger burned on the other advisor’s face, and the large axe he carried twitched in his hands.

A bell sounded at the same instant that Heneg and his subordinates arrived. They were still finding their positions to the left and facing the platform when the bell rang again. On the third bell, even though they were more of a mob than people standing orderly and respectfully to receive their Lord’s justice, they froze in place, straightened, and faced towards the platform.

Once the ringing of the third bell faded, everyone rose. The Lord entered in such a way that his presence filled the hall. Although he was clearly into his fourth decade from the white salting his pepper-black beard, none who saw his entrance could doubt he was a strong warrior. The Briar’s chief wore a fine wool tunic, with a heavily embroidered cloak that was across his left shoulder and back. The leggings he wore were of fine doeskin.

He was flanked by his two sons in mail shirts. Both wore a sword at their hip. Each carried a spear, one in his left hand, the other in his right. Taking positions at either side of the three chairs, they grounded their carried weapons at a slight angle, pointing forward.

The Lord took his chair, and the Loremaster passed across the two-handed axe. The Lord planted the axe between his legs, blade facing straight out.

The loremaster intoned, “May the Chief of the Gods, Delaninos, grant the Lord of Briwanon and Chief of the Briar clan his wisdom in the judgments given today!”

The soldiers in the hall and the Lord’s son’s thumped the floor with their spearbutts three times as the doors to the hall were closed.

Mark1724:
09/12/2020, 08:29:48 PM

Nice! I vote for yours!

Taki Drake:
09/14/2020, 12:33:15 PM
Reply

Hotel Poseidon

A Destinations Tale

by Taki Drake

Snippet 1, Scene 3, Character 3

Chapter 1 – Check-In

Barnabas J. Hacking ten, Junior sat in the back seat of the taxi, quietly fuming. He hated to take public transport of any sort, but it was essential to his plans that no one knew exactly who he was or his goal. What was Mary thinking when she booked me this ridiculous rideshare taxi? he thought to himself. Destinations was a strange name for a taxi company, but at least the no-frills ride was clean, and the driver has not bugged me with idle chatter.

Acknowledging to himself that in every other way, the woman who had been his assistant for the last twenty years did excellent work, even though he knew better than to say something like that to her, Barnabas had spent the entire half-hour cab ride texting furiously back and forth with the others of his penetration team.

The corporate raider was quite proud of his strategy at this point. He had been trying to buy out the facility for almost a year, with no success. Barnabas was not used to being stymied and was quite annoyed by the trouble he had to go through to pick up one hotel, no matter how fancy or exclusive.

Always before, he had been able to leverage stockholders with a buyout or intimidate the board. The few that had resisted that level of what he fondly thought was intelligent negotiation still caved at the end. Thinking about those situations, Barnabas grinned at the memories of the adrenaline surge that he felt whenever he triumphed over somebody’s resistance. It is terrible how some organizations just have runs of random accidents and unexpected problems that got in the way the profitability.

Barnabas’s thoughts were interrupted when the taxi pulled up to his target, the Hotel Poseidon. The building was certainly impressive with its marble pillars and sweeping peaks filled with breathtaking leaded glass. Barnabas stared around the grounds as the taxicab driver printed off his receipt. Looking at the expansive gardens with their massed blooms and winding pathways, all the man could think of was how inefficient the whole thing was.

Instead of one hotel on all these acres, they should be leveraging the shoreline frontage and the property to a much higher degree. I am going to really enjoy the challenge of getting this project underway!
Taking his receipt from the taxicab driver, Barnabas ignored both the driver’s thanks and the attempt to hand him a business card. There was absolutely no way he was going to take a common taxi home. By the time the corporate raider was done, everybody at the hotel would know who he was, and it would be simple to have his regular driver come to pick him up in the big limo.

Barnabas certainly noticed when the doorman held the door open for him, and a uniformed bellman smoothly picked up his two bags of luggage. Marching through the front doors, the corporate raider felt like a scout on a military campaign. Smiling thinly, Barnabas strolled across the floor toward a discreetly labeled reception desk.

Looking at the curly-haired woman behind the desk, Barnabas said, “I believe I am expected. My name is Brian Henderson, and I have a reservation here for the next five days.”

Immediately, the woman smiled got broader, and she exclaimed, saying, “Welcome to the Hotel Poseidon, Mr. Henderson! I am sure that you will enjoy your stay. Pedro is taking your bags to your room. If you would care to sit on the couch, we have a welcome drink for you, and the hotel manager will be over shortly with your keys.”

Barnabas saw that the nameplate on the desk spelled out, “Aurora Lumina.” Smoothly, the big man dressed in a flawless dark suit smiled back at her with conscious charm and said, “Aurora is a lovely name. I am certainly looking forward to spending some time here at the hotel. Perhaps if you are not too busy, you could give me a little bit of a tour from up here.”

Aurora immediately responded, “I would be pleased to give you a quick orientation to the hotel. However, perhaps we can conduct that orientation with the two other groups that just checked into the hotel. It looks like they also are ready to find out what the Hotel Poseidon is all about.”

Surprised, Barnabas turned and looked across to the other side of the bright, airy lobby. Moving toward him like a well-dressed bulldozer was a man in his mid-40s, dressed in an impeccable suit and herding one group of three people and another of two toward the reception desk.

As the man and his charges neared Barnabas, a young woman dressed in a flowing Greek tunic seemed to spring out of midair next to Aurora. Immediately offering him a choice of the glowing drinks on her tray with a smile, the server once again moved quickly toward the five people accompanying the hotel manager. From that distance, Barnabas could identify that she was quite attractive, although her unusual violet eye color and long light blonde hair were extremely intriguing.

Donning his deliberately charming grin, Barnabas picked up one of the drinks and delicately sniffed it. He was pleasantly surprised by the effervescent nature of the concoction. Based on that evaluation, the big man delicately sipped. Flavors exploded on his tongue, and he, all of a sudden, felt supercharged and capable of anything.

His senses were opened up, and he could hear the soft music that was playing within the lobby and smell the energizing aroma of some herb that mysteriously combined the salty bite of seawater and a floral note of luxurious growth. There was no way that Barnabas could identify the band or even the instruments that they were playing, just like he could never pinpoint the particular flowers whose scents were seducing his nose.

Perhaps after we close the hotel down, she might be open to some sort of liaison. After all, there are not that many jobs in this area. Especially for something so inane as serving drinks to people that check into a hotel. I might even find her some job in one of my other companies, provided she is appropriately grateful, Barnabas thought with an internal smile.

Barnabas had some difficulty keeping his face from reacting when he noticed that the group of three was really one of his other groups. Consisting of two men and one woman, this was the team that did the most physical of his penetration tactics. All three of them were fit and powerful, and the corporate raider considered them his top team.

Write a Comment