Prompt: Write a fantasy fiction piece using these words: Forest, Fortress, Flying, Forever, and Brimstone.
Word limit: 1,500
Deadline: Wednesday, February 8th at 9:00 pm ET

Alrighty. The prompt is Fantasy, and I got swept away with it. My plan is to just keep rolling with this until it is over. As I started to write this, three titles came to mind and the story grew around them. If anyone has read my past Flash Fiction attempts, they will recognize Sydnée’s name – I have no excuse, she came to my mind when this came up. I’m hoping nothing shiny will distract me, because I’ve got the beginning, middle and end planned. (yes, for once I have the ending in mind! More or less anyway. That must be a good sign.) Already, I know how I want to edit what has been written (like the dragon names, they need to change), but I want to make the deadline so I will just keep on trucking with this on my own.

Please, I would love to hear your honest thoughts.

The Never World

In a world that never existed, a sword was created. In a world that should not have been, a sword came to life. In a world that never knew, a love had to die.

Chapter One: Probabilities

“The woman will come. It has been foretold”

The hefty green dragon held his head imperiously as he stated the words, as if he expected the others to fall at his short feet in complete reverence.

“Oh crawl down off your royal rock, Zanthyr. We all know she will be here.” A slightly smaller dragon sauntered toward the cave’s exit, fiddling with the oval, bronze device with his six fine fingers. A moment later he held the device to his ear, waiting. All the while, the deflated Zanthyr watched his friend leave, a look of wistfulness crossed his very expressive reptile face.

“Hi Zef. Yeah, um, I’ll be home a bit late tonight. Looks like we might have an issue here, the Gaytes are making trouble again. … Yeah. … Oh yeah. Blood everywhere, little Zane would have loved it. … Eggs? Ok. … Right. … Again? Aw geez, we have that every week— … Oh, no no, it’s great! Love it! Can’t wait dear! Bye…”

Zeldan faced toward a view over a late afternoon valley as he spoke, unaware of the glances he was getting from Zanthyr within the cave. Zeldan, his call ended, returned inside.

“Fish eggs again for supper tonight. I tell you, if it wasn’t cheaper to eat the food she makes, I’d change wife.”

“Surely you don’t mean that. She loves you dearly, Zel, and your son is as smart as a Viper.”

Zeldan looked properly chastised.

“Oh, I know

“But do you have any idea what it’s like? We’ve been together for seven years now. Seven! And she still gets on my nerves! But—” Zeldan tossed his Talk-Tech in the air and caught it with a sigh.

“But, I do love her so much.”

“That’s better. Not all of us are so lucky, you’ll notice.” Zanthyr walked across the cave to grab a frog out of the small pond off to one side, and tossed it in his mouth.

“Those things are high in sodium, you know. Your heart won’t thank you for that…” Zeldan scolded his slightly round friend.

“Oh shush.” Zanthyr went over to his quite lovely desk, an affair carved in sanded granite, rectangular but with all lines slightly curved.

“She really will be here. And she will bring them with her.”

The cave became quiet. Two silhouettes approached each other to look out the cave entrance, watching the sun cast longer shadows on a landscape broken by mountains. A few large carrion birds soared in liquid formation, flying high over field and forest as they kept an eye peeled for a rotting dinner, their leathery wings at least seven times the width of their bodies.

“I know. But they will come anyway, eventually. Curiosity was always their strongest weakness. They just can’t say no.” Zeldan’s mind went to his son, and the world he might have to grow up in, not that it was such an easy world now.

Water dripped slowly into the well-populated little frog pond as the two pondered wordlessly what might come, what could be, what should never come to pass.

“Do you think,” Zanthyr broke the silence and turned his golden eyes to his friend, “…that perhaps we Dragons suffer the same malaise as they? That maybe we ask questions that were never ours to ask? Look at us.” Zanthyr spread his short arms and wiggled his long fingers with dramatic air. “We are clever, have created comfortable lives for ourselves, see things others of this world don’t, and for what? We are few, and getting fewer all the time. None of our superiority is doing us any good at all.”

One of the carrion birds broke out of a circular formation and dropped like a rock to one of the open grassy fields below it. Within moments, the rest of the troop followed, and even from the highly placed cave entrance, it was not difficult to see the vigour with which the scavengers enjoyed their meal.

“Those questions,” Zeldan felt his green stomach begin to rumble with hunger after watching the birds attack their own meal, “have nothing better to do than wait for someone to ask them. After all the waiting they have done, the least we can do is try to answer them. Anything else would be disrespectful.” The short manes on the two Dragons’ neck vertebrae ruffled in the late afternoon breeze.

“Oh I know Zel. Really I do. But things are changing, and I just don’t know if I can handle it. She is coming, perhaps already here, and that is where it all begins.

“Zel, bring your son tomorrow. I think better when he is here. Zane isn’t nearly as serious as you are.”

Zeldan’s eyes very nearly exploded, they widen so quickly.

“What? Me?? If anyone is a Serious Sam here it’s you, you old fart! I happen to like change. You’re the one who won’t give up his freedom and settle down.”

“Hey— that’s a bit of a low blow.” A flush of angry crossed Zanthyr’s long, crocodile face, the soft skin between his expressive eyes furrowed at his friend’s remark. “Not everyone can find someone as amazing as Zef to spend their lives with.” There. He said it, after all these years. He did not look at his friend.

The gaggle of birds had finished dining and most were now gone, only two were left, picking at what the higher-rated birds had left them.

“I’m sorry,” A contrite voice finally broke the silence. “I am. Reading through the Probabilities has me as worried as you. Are you seeing as much as you did over the past months?” Zeldan had not missed the feeling Zanthyr had put into saying Zef’s name, but Zeldan also knew Zef very well, knew much that Zanthyr didn’t. And hopefully, would never know.

“Yes. Every night. It has become difficult to see what is just fluff and what is a true dream, but they don’t stop coming. Many of the Probabilities are becoming very strong. There will be a lot of blood, and it will start from nothing, from a meaningless choice. And the woman is in the middle of it all.” Zanthyr’s words came fast and a bit tremulous now, his lips moving quickly over teeth flattened over millenia by grains and leafy foods. And the occasional frog.

“Zel, it is not sure we will make it through this one. There is not one strong Probability on that. Much of what happens will depend on him, and the choice he makes.”

“Who is he, Zanth?” Zanthyr, the third of his kind so far to be able to begin understanding the language of the sleeping mind, could be just a bit fragile sometimes, Zeldan thought to himself. But so had the other two, so perhaps that had something to do with it. He would have to look into that eventually.

Zanthyr seemed to feel his friend’s thoughts, as he stood a bit straighter before speaking. The cave was becoming cooler and the smell of dew in the air gently drifted their way.

“He is among us already, one of the Euphratese, but probably in the fortress of the Cromags, or will be. Or was. I’m just not sure about that one. He is good with a sword, of that I am sure, that is why the Cromags want him.”

“Oh dear. None of that is good news. If the Cromags are after swords again, that mean the Gaytes must have found a new supply of Brimstone.”

A Talk-Tech jingled at those words, and Zeldan went quickly to the desk to answer it, no question in his mind who it was.

“Yes dear I know how late it is I’m coming home right away and I won’t forget the eggs… Oh. … Yes, of course. … I promise, fifteen minutes.” The device went into Zeldan’s shoulder pouch this time, a sure sign he would leave the cave.

“Is everything ok?” Zanthyr couldn’t let his companion’s serious tone go without questioning. Even if that was his normal tone.

“It’s nothing. Everything is fine, Zanth, I had better get going.” Turning off his Info-Tech machine, Zeldan headed for the steps outside the cave, turned and paused before descending. “No frogs before your dinner now, don’t forget.” A long, wagging finger accentuated the words.

Zanthyr gave a smile.

“No, sir.” And then he was alone. It seemed like he was always alone, would be forever alone. He sighed, looking at the now-quiet cave with resigned green eyes. The off-limit frog pond bubbling placidly, info-tech machines powered down, the mess on the floor from a regular day of managing inter-social Dragon affairs, between the Dragons themselves, and other societies as well. Though usually they were more than two about it.

Crickets began to sing their nightly song, as little fireflies danced among the bushes below. At this time of season the marsh, a stone’s throw away from the cave, was easy to smell when the sun went down, a deep mix of rotting earth and grass that almost pleasantly filled the lungs.

Alone again. Naturally.

Fine. I’m on my way home, he thought, just like everyone else. I’ve got a life, yes I do. Right after I’ve taken a last look at the Probability Book.

Zanthyr rubbed his short hairy mane and dug out the records, knowing full well (but not wanting to know) that he would, very probably, be in the cave until the sun came up, because really, he had nothing better to do.


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