PROMPT Plot Picture Challenge 39

Discussion in 'INSPIRING MUSES' started by Greenie, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words, as is often quoted.

    How does the picture below speak to you? Perhaps as a poem? Perhaps a roleplay idea? Maybe a story?

    Whatever comes to your mind, write those words down!
    All is well and welcome, whether a couple of sentences or more!

  2. It did not want destruction, it needed it. It did not desire death, it hungered for it. It had come from fire and brimstone and so it desired all things to end in fire and brimstone. It expelled flames from its throat hot enough to scorch the air and blacken the castle walls. The shortest breath was enough to cause the ignition of the lungs. To take hold of a weapon was turn your hand into a burning, blistering mess no longer recognizable as human flesh. To run was to be burned alive, to be enveloped in flames and left a blackened skeleton so charred the weakest breeze would scatter your ashes amongst the land.

    There would be no bargaining with it. There would be no fighting, no escape and no hope. There would be no blood and no graves. There would only be fire and brimstone. For fire and brimstone are all the dragon knows.
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1
  3. Let me tell you about hate.

    As I looked up towards the kingdom that rested on the cliff side towards the dragon as it incinerated everything in its fire breath, I finally understood hate. I heard the screams of the castle denizens until they were heard of no more, choked by smoke. The stone doesn't burn, but it still burned hot, and like an oven trapping heat, cooked the people inside. The castle dwellers thought that being on high gave them power over their enemies. Those that jumped from the stone bridge realized how far it was to fall.

    It didn't have to be this way. An orb had been placed deep inside the darkest depths of the castle, the dungeon. That was where a royal spy stayed for the remainder of his life, under the cruel tools of the king's torturers, punished for doing his job so well that paranoia took root in the court, and vile lies became worth more than his loyalty. He saw though unblinking tired eyes as I buried the dragon's treasure under the dirt. There were no muscles left on his thin pale face.

    I didn't have to escape from the flames for I was already gone. The orb had collected hate over many years. I endured the backhanded compliments of the court like a whip across my back, gritted my teeth as I went though my regular administrative tasks. I had been a sorcerer once, but with the prohibition of magic, I was forced to blend in. There had been rumors about me, of course, but they were clouded in the guise of a fool whose work consumed his life and whose only friend had been a traitor to the kingdom.

    It was now that I witness the payoff. The orb which I planted like a seed sprouted. I had given the honor to my friend to be the trigger to the kingdom's destruction. The dragon had been enraged by the supernatural, collected hate it sensed from the kingdom, and as a blind agent, set out to destroy. It was angered, but it wasn't in the dragon that I finally understood hate.

    I could feel only a cold emptiness as I witnessed the destruction. The slow burn inside wouldn't stop ever since the fire was ignited. It didn't matter if those inside died even a thousand times. The injustice had already been done. All I could do was let it burn. Let it all burn.
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1
  4. Jenara watched from the mountain top as tears fell down her cheeks. She had warned them, seen all of this in her vision. If only the King had believed...

    Three weeks earlier...

    Jenara woke in the middle of the night sweating and gasping for breath, her hands blindly reaching for the tablet beside her bed as images only her mind's eye could see made the mad dash from her mental images to the blank page. It had been a very long time since she had been overtaken with such force by a vision. The image finally stilled and her mind cleared.

    Looking finally on the image created by the vision, she frowned and scampered out of her bed and went to her library to find the ancient tome of dragons. Grendylfyr was coming. her hand covered her mouth in horror. It could not be so, had he not been killed by their knights two hundred years ago? She reached for another book, this one on the history of Lyren. She read the chapter on the defeat of the mighty dragon three times and frowned. She had always thought the dragon had been slain, but it does not say as much there, only that the reign of terror had ended. She was sure that she had been taught that the dragon was dead though, positive of it.

    She pulled the books close to her chest and carried them back to her bedroom. There was no time to lose. A vision of that strength meant time was short. She dressed and put the books in a bag along with the sketch and made for the barn to saddle her horse. Traveling at night was not something she would normally do, but the urgency of this vision was pressing upon her with such force she could not ignore it. The horse even looked confused when she began to saddle him, but she gave him an carrot and he stood willingly while she did what she must. She mounted and then kicked at him to move quickly as they sped toward the castle.

    They arrived with the breaking of day and she stood at the tall gate and called up to the watchman. "I must needs speak with the King!" she cried. "It is most urgent!"

    She was not as well known as the other seers in the kingdom, nor were her visions as frequent as theirs, but unlike the others, all of hers came to pass. Still, she was kept at the gate for three hours before she was allowed within, and even another three hours passed before she was admitted to speak with the king. The vision pressed upon her and she rushed into his presence passionately. "Your Highness," she said as she bowed deeply her face almost touching the floor.

    "Seer. What requires my urgent attention?"

    She lifted her head and handed him the sketch. "Gryndlfyr is coming. I have seen it just as this image shows."

    There was laughing and snickering among those gathered. "But Gryndlfyr was destroyed hundreds of years ago by the knights of Lyren. Everyone knows that..."

    Jenara looked around but she boldly pressed on even in the face of the rebukes from every corner, "I thought so too, but this book does not speak once of the great dragon being defeated, only that the reign of terror had ended."

    "That terror would never have ended unless the dragon had died. They do not cease to kill otherwise."

    "They like gold. Maybe he was paid..."

    The king raised a hand then at the loud ruckus that comment created in the room. "Seer Jenara. I thank you for your concern and for this ... information. I will consult with the other seers and reach a decision on the validity of this claim. Good day to you."

    "But your must flee...get thyself away to safety. This will be dust..."

    "The great castle of Lyren reduced to dust?" A seer next to her jibed, "No dragon is that powerful, not even the great Gryndlfyr."

    "He is much stronger than before and his anger waxes hot. Please heed my warning. I am never wrong!"

    The other seers were immediately offended by her tone and implication. They began to systematically tear her arguments apart until there was a loud outcry for her death in the room. Not being willing to do so the King instead had her removed from the castle and ordered her taken outside the walls of the city and forbidden to reenter upon penalty of death.

    Jenara returned home in shock and sorrow. She packed her few things and settled them on her horse and began the long solitary trek away from the only home she had ever known. She felt the terror of the vision grip her on the night of the full moon, three weeks later as she crested the mountains of the Far Kingdom of Vrym. She turned back to see Grendlfyr consuming the great city of Lyren in his heat and anger. Was any kingdom anywhere safe from his wrath? Did any kingdom possess enough gold to buy his peace again? For how long?
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  5. The Dragon Knight

    Vaylin gazed at the morning sky. A shadow blotted the golden hues, growing larger and more defined by the second. He squinted, wondering just which of the stories painted the beast true.

    "Hemlein says we have until mid-morning," came a low sigh. Dread aged the otherwise youthful Eggen so that, glancing, Vaylin scarcely recognized him."Says dragons can't ignore their hunger. The villages..."

    Clenching his jaw, Vaylin turned and set a mailed hand on Eggen's pauldron. "Save your guilt. All-knowing as the court mage may seem, his knowledge comes from the same stories told to babes."

    Eggen looked out the window with a hollow smile. His mismatched armour glistened in the warm light. Vaylin knew each piece had a story, many of which he'd seen unfold, but the memories escaped him now. He wondered if another brash lad might soon pluck his own scorched armour from the ashes.

    "Then how long do we have? Tell me true."

    Vaylin pointed to the shadow, larger now, with its head angled directly for the castle. He grimaced and sighed, "Make peace with your gods then meet me in the field."

    Eggen replied with a low bow and turned fully toward the window. As Vaylin neared the entrance of the hall, he heard the whispered prayers to gods old and new. He took a deep breath then made his way to the courtyard.

    He knew battle paid little mind to innocence or age or truth. Even an honest man could succumb to blood-rage on the field, and if not that, the fog of war would see even the youngest innocent fall at their hand. Yet, even then a man's heart cooled. The fiercest among them could only stomach so much blood. But what of dragons? Where did their appetite for destruction end or what might move one to spare a life? He passed a group of servants huddled by a window near the court mage's study. They stared out the window, fingers scratching here or there.

    "Fear not," Hemlein boomed. The mage appeared from his den smelling of strange herbs and dusty tomes. His purple robes were fine, almost royal, with golden wings or flames spreading from his chest to his arms. "Dragons are kin to the New Gods. Humble servants and kindly to those loyal to the True Lords. Better to pray so that you may be spared. Now go, bid your children pray too. Make sacrifice to the True Lords. Go on."

    The servants thanked the mage and scurried off, leaving only Vaylin and Hemlein in the hall. It was not long the mage stepped toward the window and beckoned him toward.

    "I won't bother asking who wins your prayers, good knight. But, if you'll indulge me, I do wonder what you see."

    Vaylin sighed deeply before leaning close to the window. The glass was warped from age or perhaps by some profane magic. He replied, "I see Death on the horizon. I see the villages and farms to the east, exposed."

    "Always the doomsayer," chuckled Heimlein. The mage raised a hand with one unnaturally long finger pointed to what Vaylin named Death. "I cannot blame you. After all, you and your ilk were born from the Old Ways. You swear oaths and abide by the codes of the Old Gods. It's all you know."

    "I mean no disrespect," the knight interjected. "A crisis is nearing and, I can assure you, I am far better equipped to deal with this menace than I am to debate the mysteries of the divines."

    Undisturbed, Heimlein continued, "Dragons swear no oaths nor do they abide by such fickle laws as those dictated by Man. They are here to cleanse. To build something greater in the name of the True Lords." The mage turned to the knight. Wrinkles had spread over his forehead cheeks drawing strange patterns across his face. "Not all need be cleansed by dragon fire. A worthy few may be taught."

    "You speak of me. You think me devoted to the Old Gods, yet worthy of the new ones," Vaylin explained aloud. He turned his chest toward the window and leaned close. The dragon was perfectly visible and moments away from the castle walls. If he'd meant to mount a defence it was too late now. "And what of my brothers?"

    The knight rested a hand on his swordbelt. His gauntleted hand felt heavy as it crept toward the hilt of his dagger. Indeed, he felt entirely too heavy within the plate armour.

    "Obedience will be tested. Doubt will be shown. Treason will be burned."

    Vaylin spun to face Heimlein as the steel slid from its sheath. Instinctively, the knight dropped into a crouch with his sword arm cocking back for the strike while the other lunged for the mage. He caught the shoulder of his robes and drove the dagger into his belly. Once, twice, three times the blade plunged into the fabric until the purple darkened and stuck with blood. If the knight lacked knowledge of magic and gods, he made up for it with a practised blade. Vaylin drew the dagger from the mage's belly and met his eyes.

    "So be it," Heimlein coughed through bloody teeth. The mage's eyes glowed fiercely.

    A bright light shined from below Vaylin's chin. He felt a great heat through his cuirass and the air beneath his boots. There was a terrible roar that seemed to shake his very bones, then the sound of glass shattering. He saw the window from the outside and shards of glass falling around him. His boots raised into his view, but as soon as his mind caught up with what he saw, he found the courtyard.

    Vaylin awoke to the smell of burnt flesh, blood, and shit. His eyes opened then closed quickly, stinging. He blinked fast and made to wipe his face, but his arms resisted. Please no, the knight thought desperately as he struggled to raise his arms. Do not allow that creeping, treasonous bastard the satisfaction of taking... A sound like slurping muffled his own grunt. His fingers stretched and coiled fine, but felt coated thick. He held a hand to his nose, then choked. Vaylin hardened. It smelled of death.

    The knight accepted the sting and opened his eyes. A dull haze hung low to the ground, which itself was reduced to a sea of putrid muck. White specs fluttered from the sky as well. He caught one on his tongue then spat at the bitter taste. Ash. When his vision cleared fully Vaylin found large swaths of the castle walls reduced to smoking piles of rubble. Pieces of walls littered the muck in the form of smouldering hunks of wood and the charred bits of those who guarded them. The castle itself stood as little more than a burnt husk. What banners displayed the sigils of the lord and his bannermen left only pale shapes amidst the blackened stone. The pride of men great in name and action alike now ash.

    Vaylin staggered to his feet, then coiled. He brought a hand to his stomach, gloved fingers exploring his armour. It was gnarled and rigid to the touch. Beneath the plate and arming doublet, he felt at once bruised and burned. He glanced up toward the window from which Heimlein had thrown him. Aside from the broken glass and ash-tinted walls that portion of the castle stood largely intact.

    "Suppose that's more than good luck," Vaylin sighed. He glanced at the door to the keep and touched the sword hung from his belt.

    Kicking through the still-burning door roused a strange satisfaction. Embers and strands of scorched wood fluttered briefly in the air before bouncing off his pauldrons. It hushed the sting in his stomach a little. Vaylin drew the broadsword from its sheath and began the search. He glanced into broom closets and pantries before nearing the kitchen without hearing more than the odd cry. The muddied knight raised his broadsword to parry or stab any surprises, then leapt through the doorway.

    "Spare us, please!" begged a man half-hidden by a basket of plucked feathers. A cook, by the look of his tunic and a father based on the children, crouched behind him.

    Vaylin lowered the point of his sword and replied, "Spare you? I'm a knight of this castle, not a dragon."

    "Is there a difference when the court wizard throws fire at chefs and servants?"

    "Where did the wizard go?"

    The cook pointed out from the kitchen toward the stairs. "Took any who'd swear to his gods. Burned the rest. We escaped, of course."

    "Thank you," he said with a nod and turned toward the door. "A dragon was spotted earlier. Loud and giant thing. If you hear and see nothing of the sort I suspect the stables will be unattended. Good luck."

    Ascending the stairs, Vaylin heard voices echoing off the smooth stone walls. One quiet and lengthy, the other spoke in loud bursts. He observed the scorch marks on the walls, blackened outlines of bodies and a blood drops on the floor connecting them. Mage and executioner. His pace quickened as the voices grew clearer.

    "Madness. They don't care for gods or men, they're beasts. To them we are meat," argued a youthful voice with the rapid rhythm unique to an irritable Eggen.

    "Look outside, boy. How much of the castle still stands? The dragon has spared me for my faith in the True Gods. I would share this protection to those wise enough to follow."

    "Has magic addled your mind?" Eggen scoffed. Vaylin heard his young comrade spit, then a crack like a whip, and a whimper. "A warning, aye? Spare your followers. Burn the rest. Is that it?" Passing the mage's corridor, the knight paused and listened to the echo of their voices. His ears twitched from the hiss of steel being freed from its leather binds and broke into a run. "Heimlein, I name you a traitor to the realm. Call an end to this lunacy or pay with your life."

    The mage laughed as the world itself seemed to shake, "Foolish boy. Don't you see? My life is sworn to greater forces than you."

    A flash of light bounced into the hallway. Vaylin turned into the solar with eyes obscured by quick breaths and air thick with candle smoke and dust. He felt a great heat kiss his face and, squinting from the near-blinding light, glimpsed a silhouette consumed by the light. In seconds the room dimmed to the dull glow of smouldering wood. Over the pop and crackle of burning came a meaty thump as a charred corpse fell heavily against the scolded stone floor. Vaylin dashed forward as a deep growl filled the room. Heimlein appeared at the edge of his view standing before a great shape filling the window. Servants and folk from the castle grounds huddled behind him.

    "At last," Heimlein cried out. "Divine judgement at last!"

    With little more warning than a small, bright light came a second burst of light. The chanting cry of the court mage disappeared in the audible rush of heat flooding the room. Vaylin lost sight of him, the prisoners, and Eggen. His vision turned to white. He felt the sun's warmth caress his skin, encasing him completely. He heard a hum behind the roar like an unborn babe might hear a mother's voice. He dropped to his knees, suddenly fatigued, and as he struggled to pull meaning from the hum, Vaylin succumbed to the dragon's fire.

    Smoke billowed out from the chamber doors and windows. Below the windows pools of softened glass glistened from the embers lingering throughout the room. Black statues decorated the room. Clothing, weapons, and even their features melted away in the flames. All except for one.

    A wheezing breath broke the quiet. One of the statues shifted in place and staggered to its feet. The charcoal coloured figure lunged for a nearby statue that seemed to raise its arms toward the windows. With a touch of its finger, the statue burst into a cloud of white ash. Several more huddled behind that one followed shortly after. The figure turned on its heel to face the last statue apart from the rest. It stood with an arm held forward and a charred handle in hand. It seemed to reach toward the figure as if calling out. Then, finally, it too crumbled.

    "Ehhen," the figure cried out, its voice rasped and forced.

    The figure reached its head and found metal. It flung the helmet with an unintelligible grunt. The helmet sent a puff of ash with each bounce until settling next to the glass pool beneath the windows. Slowly, the figure approached the gnarled metal helmet before turning it into a similar looking boot. It caught a glimpse of a face in the glass.

    "Hoo ehm eh?" it grumbled, hands now exploring the hairless, wrinkled skin stretched over its face. The unnatural grey tint seemed to spread beneath its armour as well, which also appeared to have taken a black and jagged form.

    The glass cracked under the heel of its boot. A deep rumble of a sigh escaped the figure's nearly inflexible lips as it raised its head to the window. Deep within its mind, a song called from outside. It gazed out at the dragon resting in the courtyard. The feet of its hind legs dug into the muck, the beast stood like a tower Hindlegs feet dug into the muck, the monstrous tower of a creature stood with burning eyes aimed toward the window. The figure trembled and the song stopped abruptly in its mind.

    "You are anew," said an echo of a voice, like another's thoughts forcing its way in. "You are mine."

    Compulsion dropped the figure dropped to a knee. It remained as the dragon roared outside, the scorched castle walls shaking while the beast took flight. An overwhelming feeling stopped it from watching anything aside from the floor. Stopped it from following the strange form as it disappeared into the sun wondering if any of the stories captured the truth. Instead, it was obedient.
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1