A – Z Challenge Day 17

 

 
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Today’s prompt comes from the brilliant Geoff Le Pard. Geoff has written some very interesting posts about London during this challenge, and he has been kind enough to provide me with two prompts for mine. The theme for my own challenge has been heavily influenced by Geoff, as he wrote a short story every single day last November for NaNoWriMo. I was astounded to learn of this feat and have been inspired to have a crack at something similar ever since!
Geoff’s suggestion for today is “QUISLING”. This is a great word which I have only come across a few times and it presented a fun challenge. Thanks again, Geoff!

Here’s what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.

QUISLING

“You would bite the hand which feeds you, woman?” Captain Siper asked as he stared at Alesia over the top of his clasped fingers. The inside of his command tent was cramped with the huge wooden desk and two burly guards flanking him. The air inside was stuffy and smelled of sweat and leather. Alesia shrugged, irritated by the question.

“That is why I am here, is it not, captain?” she replied, folding her arms and raising her chin. “The people in this village have done nothing good for me in the last year.” Her angular face was held with pride despite the dirt covering it. Captain Siper found this behaviour extraordinary.

“So it would seem,” he said slowly. He leaned across his desk, splaying his hands over the rough maps of the surrounding area as he peered into Alesia’s face.

“Tell me, woman, is there any truth to the rumours my men have heard about you?” He asked, an unpleasant smirk curling his mouth. “They have learned that you were once a respected woman within the village, and a favourite of the local lord, no less. They also learned that you were tossed aside like a soiled blanket once a fairer, younger maiden was made ready for said local lord! Could this be the reason for your traitorous scheme?”

Alesia’s eyes blazed with fury and her breathing quickened. Oh, how she would love to hit him right in his smug, self-satisfied mouth! She stood straighter and her voice was cool as she answered him.

“They are not quite true, captain,” she said, narrowing her eyes at Siper’s stoic guards. They were watching her with same alertness as a fox would watch a rabbit.

“I was indeed favoured by the local lord, as I was once his mistress,” she continued. “But that time has passed, as you may have deduced by my slovenly appearance. I was not “tossed aside” as you so delicately put it, but there was another woman embroiled in my fate and that was the lord’s wife. She has seen fit to wield her influence on these simple-minded villagers, and suffice it to say my fortunes have declined of late.”

“Yes, that much is quite obvious!” Captain Siper barked a short, cruel laugh. Alesia sniffed but maintained her composure.

“Well, will you accept my help or not?” she demanded. “I know that your leader desires this village for its strategic position along the trade routes and you know that the villagers won’t let you take it without fierce resistance. I can help you minimise the losses on your side considerably.”

“Perhaps we don’t require any aid, hmm?” Captain Siper sneered at Alesia, who was beginning to loathe the oily little man. “Our numbers are enough to flatten that miserable village and put every man within it to the sword. We know this and the villagers know it, too.”

“Whilst that is true, you must also realise that it will not be so simple,” Alesia said, with a wry smile of her own. “The villagers have vowed to burn the entire place to the ground if it seems as though your army will succeed. They would rather see their homes burn than fall into your hands. I can help you prevent this from ever being a possibility.”

“Go on,” Siper said, his smile vanishing. Alesia allowed herself a moment of silent triumph.

“I know the schedule of each and every man who will be on sentry duty over the next week,” she said. “In three nights’ time I shall open the main gate for you, so that your men may enter the village under the cover of darkness. You can then occupy it from within and do whatever you will with it and its people.”

“How will you get the gate open if there will be men guarding it?” Siper’s tone was scornful as he sized Alesia up. She was tall and slight, with small hands and feet; she was not a figure which inspired physical prowess in any way. Alesia merely laughed at the implication.

“Oh, captain,” she said, shaking her head and grinning. “If I only ever know three things about men, they are that they believe all women are weak, unthreatening and desperately attracted to them. There will be one guard on duty that evening, a dullard called Thom, who most certainly thinks those things of me. Simply put, I shall kill him and open the gate. Understand?”

“And how, pray tell, would you benefit from this betrayal, woman?” Siper asked, his expression guarded but interest gleaming in his eyes. Alesia approached his desk, and leaned closer to the captain’s face. Her grey eyes were alight with ambition.

“I would benefit by being permitted to rule the survivors!” she replied, as if it were the most obvious question in the world. “That is my condition! I will allow you entry to the village if you will grant me control once it has been tamed.” Siper gave another bark, this time sounding relieved and astonished.

“By the Gods, I like you, woman!” He chuckled. He stood up and extended a gauntleted hand towards Alesia. “On my honour as a man of the Empire, it shall be done as long as you uphold your end of the bargain!” Alesia grasped the offered wrist and shook it.

“Then it is done,” she said, holding his gaze with intensity. “Assemble your men outside the main gate in three nights’ time. The way shall be clear.” She moved towards the tent flaps, but paused as a guard lifted the canvas.

“One more thing,” she said quietly, looking over her shoulder. “I’d like it if you could capture the lord and his lady alive, and then bring them to me. I have…plans…for the two of them.”

“My lady, consider it done!” Siper gave a mocking bow. Alesia exited the camp and stole back to the sleeping village with the captain’s laughter ringing in her ears.

 

 

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A – Z Challenge Day 13

Today marks the half-way point of this April’s Blogging Challenge. It’s come around bloody quick, I must say! It’s been great fun taking part, and although I’m not as on top of it as I would like to be, I’m enjoying reading the posts of other bloggers who are involved. Geoff’s and Lindsay’s in particular are proving to be very interesting reads! I’ll do my best to better follow the work of others during the second half of this challenge. If any of you here on WordPress can suggest a blog which I may not have come across yet, feel free to let me know!

Today’s word was suggested by the wonderful Esther, a lady who spends a hell of a lot of time inspiring and encouraging wannabe writers like myself! Go check out her blog if you’re a writer, you won’t regret it! Esther’s prompt is the word “MALEVOLENT”. A fine word and one which to my mind conjures images of cloaks and daggers, of contemptuous sneers in the dark and unspeakable deeds inflicted on the unwary. I was stumped for a short while on this one, but I have come up with something which I hope fits the word in an interesting way. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks again, Esther!

MALEVOLENT

By Adam Dixon

“I say we take a stand!” Number Twelve insisted, bristling with anger. “Just because they are bigger than us doesn’t mean we should let them push us around!” He addressed the gathering once they had all returned from their foraging expeditions. The haul was meagre at best and they had lost at least six of their number to the enemy this time.
“I agree.” Number Forty nodded. “I’m sick and tired of them and their smug superiority complex. Size isn’t everything! It’s time we brought them down a peg or two.” A smattering of voices were raised in approval and several individuals present fidgeted as they began to pay more attention.
“They fear us; that much is evident.” Number Nine said, rousing himself from a deep thought. He had survived longer than most, and so his words were taken very seriously. “In fact, it is laughable how much distress even one of us can cause them if we get too close! We should exploit this to our advantage.”
“Yes, good idea!” Number Twelve replied with excitement. He wandered around restlessly, the paper floor rustling slightly under his weight. “We ought to hit them where it hurts; to be most effective we should target their young! Experience shows that they are very afraid of us, more so than the older ones.”
“That’s true.” Number Nine said, cocking his head to one side. “Personally, I enjoy the idea of chasing after the children! They will flee like startled rabbits, heehee! Their screeching will be hilarious!”
“Very true, my brother!” Number Forty sniggered. “It will be pleasing to hear it! But we must not let our sport distract us from our vengeance; we must attack any and all of the elders who may seek to protect their young.”

“Attack? You lot?” Number Seventy laughed aloud, and the other females joined in. “You lot can’t do much more than get in the way! Attack them my striped thorax!” The males grumbled angrily, their enthusiasm ebbing away in response to the jibe.

“They may still be of use, my sister,” Number Seventy-three added, flicking her legs enthusiastically. “Our adversaries can’t tell any of us apart, so they won’t know which of us carry the real threat! The smallest of swarms will be enough to terrify them, even if there are only a handful of sisters among them!”

“Hmm, that’s a good point, sister,” Number Seventy stopped laughing and appeared thoughtful. “Very well, this is action both sexes can be a part of! Let’s be about it, then, whilst we are all in agreement!”
“The young ones will have more of the sweet food, too! We can bring food back to the nest! The Queen will be thrilled!” Number Twelve shouted, his excitement peaking. His mood was infectious and soon several buzzing voices were raised in agreement.
“Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that…” Number Seventy said with a hint of lust in her eyes. “Yes, we can do that, too, but as a secondary objective. Our primary objective should be to spread panic and fear.”

“PANIC AND FEAR! PANIC AND FEAR! PANIC AND FEAR!” Dozens and dozens of voices filled the stuffy air inside the nest, and soon the swarm was on the move. One by one, males and females left the safety of their home and travelled with purpose towards the nearest enemy dwellings. They were outnumbered and outgunned, but that wouldn’t stop them. They wanted to inflict pain and fear and by the wings of the Queen they would do so!

The nearest such place was a short journey away. A tall man and his pretty wife sat in their garden, enjoying the warm rays of the late summer evening. Their two children played in a paddling pool, splashing each other and roaring with laughter. A pitcher of sweet fruit juice and four half-filled glasses stood on a table nearby. The clumsy giants were content for the moment, blissfully unaware of the army of wasps which were about to descend upon them…