My 250 from last year
250, Mother's Love
"Can't I just stay here, mama?" Dyah turned her head, eyes closed, and smiled up at her mother. "Please?"
Sahmi cringed. "Don't call me that." Dyah had to move to the orphanage, or Sahmi wouldn't be able to keep her oath to the Five. Her Sight for mine. I cannot love her.
Dyah Saw the reaction and the smile fell from her face. "I'll try again."
Sahmi's heart ached. When Dyah had been small, it was so easy to comfort her and pretend she was just another baby in need of affection. The older she grew, the more Sahmi longed to talk to her, tell her stories, smooth her hair when she slept. "Get it right and I'll let you eat."
Dyah took a deep breath and opened her unseeing eyes. Quickly, she crossed the simple temple cell, stepping over a pile of clothes, going around a bowl filled with water, until she reached the opposite wall.
She spun, eyes still open, and jumped up and down. "I did it! I did it!"
Sahmi's broke into a smile of pride before she forced the feeling back down where it belonged. She waved her hand at the plate of roasted cava meat and potatoes sitting on a rug. "You may eat. But do it with your eyes open."
Dyah's smile faded, but she skipped to the rug. "Yes, mama."
Sahmi opened her mouth, then closed it. They had time. She could let that one go.ENDNew 250
They came for years.
Knights in barbeque-ready chainmail, swirling swords and preening for princesses. Oh, that crunch of defeated pride. Sorcerers in ermine and leather, premixed for the serpentine palette. Magic adds spice to a meal. And armies, my favorites, wave after wave of young meat scrambling onto my table.
None could conquer me. "Slay the dragon," they'd cry before dying as had those before.
Then he came.
A peasant with a lilac bouquet and a smear of tallow in mud-brown hair. Floral perfume on a breeze, rich and impermanent as life. He stopped before my cave, not even issuing the appetizer of threats.
His voice, neither resonant nor strong, did what no sword, no spell, no soldier could. Dragon heart, they say, is used in all manner of magic, but they never mention how empty it feels, beating solitary in a cave.
His song ended. I'd transformed, shrunken and enriched. Bronze skin replaced smooth scales, cheekbones and thin lips instead of eye ridges and razor-sharp teeth. He approached, wrapped me in a handmade cloak. It encompassed me more than all the hoarded riches.
By dawn we'd wed, the magic done.
He knew the recipe. Where he'd learned it, he wouldn't tell, even later when we'd listen to owls and crickets, when I begged to know.
"Does it matter?" he'd say, smoothing my hair. "We have one another. That's what matters."
He knew the secret. The only way to slay a dragon is by capturing their heart.END
I don't know if I see too much of a difference. Perhaps that I told a stronger story in the second one, but I am a terrible judge of my own writing. I know my writing ability has grown enormously this year. I've written a huge amount, and my prose is so much stronger than it was even in March. I've got two forthcoming publications. I am forever indebted to Wulf for beginning this challenge, supporting us all, sharing hard-earned wisdom and boosting our ability and our confidence. Thank you, Wulf. And thank you to all of the SuperSecrets Beasties, working hard and supporting one another, and growing a community. It's an amazing thing to be a part of, and I'm humbled by it!
Best of luck with Q3 results, all, and Q1 drafting. Onwards we ride!