Weekly Writing Prompt: 19/01/2022

Gillian Church posts weekly Writing Prompts every week and I like to take part with a few snippets and pieces of flash fiction.

The Prompt:
It looks like you’ve lost your way. Maybe I can help you.

The Submission:
By the time the swordsman idled past the dilapidated hut, the day grew short and his choices were limited. The brigands had taken his pack, his canteen was down to one pathetic mouthful, and the solar batteries on his cycle were shot. With Alfgard still a good two days’ ride ahead of him, and the temperature already dropping, he had little choice but to dismount his cycle when the old lady in the tattered robes flagged him down.

“Come,” she said, her voice like a mouthful of bees. “Warm thyself; take rest.”

“Crokk,” he cursed, for only the mad, one-eyed God could be responsible for his utter misfortune.

The hut was rancid and seeped in squalor, but it was warm; blankets and soft furnishings had ben placed before a pleasant fire, over which a small, bubbling cauldron brewed a stew that made his mouth water.

“Eat, be comfortable,” she invited, handing him a small, cracked clay bowl.

Despite his reservations, the swordsman didn’t hesitate; he hadn’t eaten in three days and was ravenous. The stew was hot and thick; potatoes and vegetables mixed in with chunks of meat, probably the mindias he’d seen scurrying about in plains and dashing to and from their boltholes.

“Tell me,” she asked, sipping from a cup. “Howzit be that one such as thyself finds thy way out here?”

The swordsman looked up from his second bowl and raised a weary eyebrow. “You toy with me,” he muttered. “You think I don’t see the sigil plastered everywhere? Surely a Sooth such as yourself already know these answers.”

The woman wheezed a cackle and settled before her fire. Through the flickering flames, the swordsman could see the silvery gleam in her eyes. “Indeed,” she agreed, and lowered her hood. The swordsman wished that she hadn’t, for the crone was wizened and afflicted with boils, a common crutch of the Sooth. “I can help you, though.”

The swordsman set aside his bowl and laced his bandaged hands together before him, rubbing them, warming them on the blessed heat. “I need no help for such as you.”

“One does not wander out here on purpose,” she mused. “Thy’ve lost thy way; let me aid you.”

The swordsman shifted slightly, but said nothing.

“They took her, yes?”

The swordsman glared at the crone. “Like cowards, they struck in the night as I slept.”

“She is not far.”

The swordsman scowled. Three days tracking the brigands across the plains, struggling against the hordak that tried to pick his bones clean, had yielded nothing. “The trail went cold.”

“The trail is simply eluding thy,” the Sooth whispered.

A queer sensation filled the swordsman’s aching muscles; at first, he thought it the warm light of hope, that he was on the right track and would find her anon, but since when had hope left him so lightheaded?

“Stay the course; the Old Ones wish to see thy succeed,” the crone cooed, licking her lips. “The would have her, draw from her.”

“Crokk!” the swordsman spat and launched to his feet. He blinked and shook his head, his vision blurry. “Strakking witch!”

The air grew dark, as if sucked towards the rocking Sooth. She cackled wildly, her silver eyes shining with glee. Words tumbled from her drooling mouth and an icy blackness filled the once warm, soothing space.

The swordsman didn’t hesitate; who knows what may happen if the Sooth finished her incantation! He swept Flair from his back and swiped it at the crone’s hooting face; her head tumbled to the floor, a black ooze dribbling from the stump of her neck.

The swordsman stood, blade at the ready, the Sooth’s blood sizzling like acid on everything it touched. His head cleared, and light and warmth slowly filled the small space once more, but still he heard her gravelly cackle ringing in his ears

They would have her, she’d said. Draw from her.

He swore by all that there ever was that he would not let that happen.

What did you think to this week’s writing prompt? Did you submit anything for it? Have you ever written any flash fiction before? I’d love to know what you think to my snippets and writing prompts, so feel free to sign up and let me know what you think below or leave a comment on my Instagram page. You can also follow Gillian Church to take part in her Weekly Writing Prompt challenge.

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