The challenge: On Monday night at our bi-weekly writer's forum we were told to choose three illustrated cards from a stack, and to write a bit about the images. The images were all fairy-tale related. My images were: a prince, a village, and red capped mushroom. Read below to see what I came up with!
He traveled through villages with houses made of thatch and streets of poorly cobbled stone. He kept his hood high and his face down as his trusty steed picked his way past the peasants. They barely stopped their constant scratching at the caked red soil to look up at him through weary eyes. They were his people. He was supposed to care, right?
For now his mind was occupied only with the object of his greatest desires. It was out there somewhere, waiting for him. Calling to him in some mysterious way that he could not describe. Pulling at his soul, perhaps. The thought of it drove him, had pushed him for miles from his comfortable castle and willing handmaidens through the harsh and unforgiving landscape of his dying land. Was it dying? He thought it was, and he might have cared before the first dream.
It had come to him on a windswept rainy eve whilst he reclined in his bath. His barely drunk tankard of ale had dangled from boneless fingers as his pretty Sophia had worked her magic upon his body. His mind, however, had been far away. Daydreaming, he supposed. The image of the crown had appeared to him in the moments just before his climax, a dizzying frenzied strike of lightning that delighted him far more than the pleasure of Sophia’s soft hands and mouth.
It waits for me! he thought as he urged his horse to move faster over the dirth of endless plain. In the forest where no man dared to go, it was standing tall upon a hill with a shaft of dazzling sunlight feasting upon it. Some kind of magic had put it there, where no other man might seek its glory. No other man but the true king, he was sure. With its magic he could strike down his enemies, call angels from Heaven and raise demons from Hell. Or perhaps in the moment that he stood before it, it would become the loveliest woman in all the kingdoms. A Queen fit to rule at his side.
He scratched at the beard he’d let grow long and gray. How many years had it been since he’d wandered from his home to seek his prize? His cloak was tattered, his steed bones and sagging skin. He looked out at his land through travel-weary eyes, and still it shimmered there in his mind.
He came to the forest in the last days of the world. Before it heaved a last breath and broke them all upon its back. The ground rolled beneath his feet as he abandoned the stallion and crawled over the rise. There it was! Glorious. Perfect. His breath could not sustain him as he moved toward it, his hand out to receive what was meant for only him. Before his hand could close over the stem of his prize, he died.
The forest swallowed him up, and the sacrifice was enough to appease the earth. What was broken became whole again as his blood ran through the rivers and streams, his tears fell with the rain. Vines covered his body and pulled him down, deep beneath the loamy soil, and perfect red-capped mushroom appeared. His prize withered and became dust as he took its place.
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