The Prompt Project’ are posts that are essentially a way for me to exercise my creative muscles, without all the pressure that comes from writing my WIP for example.
I post what I write on the spot, I don’t impose a word limit or time it, just go with whatever my brain spits out for as long it keeps up the momentum. I’ll literally see prompt, write and then post the results.
Today’s prompt is a Pinterest find:
I chose the storm-oak tree- scar option
Guardian against the night
I fucked up.
I knew I fucked up the moment I set foot in the woods.
Truth be told, I knew earlier than that. I knew when I’d charmed the bars open and left the safety of the hall. I couldn’t stand it for a moment longer, ‘the hall of whispers’ was aptly named because every moment was filled with that restless, endless whispering. The tutors can try to convince me otherwise until they are blue in the face but I know I could feel the lives draining away. I can feel the seconds the timers countdown in the ceaseless rush to oblivion.
But I should’ve known that worse lay out here. Known that control was just not on the cards for me. Not with the storm blowing in. People like me, the ‘chosen’, are fucking magnets for the things that lurk in the storms but unlike all the pampered children in the halls at my back, I had been taught how to survive moments like this. Had survived them for years alone before I was taken to the halls, before I was ‘chosen’.
I took shelter under an old oak tree, which I was lucky to find at the rivers edge. One would have done but both together is preferable. Already soaked through to my bones, I traced the symbols I would need into the ground with a large stick. The tutors had large, heavy, cerimonial staffs they liked to use but the truth is any old lump of wood will do. With one sweep of the staff over head, the shelter twinkled into being, creating a shimmering dome around me that glowed at each of the cardinal points. It couldn’t do anything about the damp ground and I didn’t yet trust myself to cast anything upon my own person. I could at least create a fire, that was within my control; I haven’t burned anything down in weeks. The fire might at least keep away some of the things that lurk in the dark.
Even with all this protection, I’m still a little fucked. My fingers unconsciously traced the inscription on the back of the pocket watch that I wore around my neck, another thing that marked me out for what I was. I cursed my stupidity in the same breath as I cursed my lineage. My parents might have been Guardians, might have been proud to call themselves so but I was not. I didn’t sign up to be shut away in a hall, training until every last independent thought was ‘educated’ out of me. It’s what killed my parents, that blind devotion. On nights like this, when the sky is dark and the monsters that crawl within it grew bolder, all the ‘gifts’ they left me serve to suffocate me to the point where I left without thinking. It shouldn’t be out here, it was a pointless risk.
Under the cracking of the flames, I could hear them. The clicking of talons, the slight whisper as their dark eddies lick against the leaves. Darkness grows just beyond the corona of flickering fire light. They whisper too but not like the souls we keep in the halls. It itches. The sound crawls around the back of your neck, spiking cold, prickling fingers into your ears, choking all other noises. The watch begins to glow in response, channelling my power. The talisman would have been enough to combat one or two but there had to be a least ten. Muted silver and pearly white eyes are soon the only lights I can see. The oily, smokey substance of their bodies swirling around the dome. It isn’t long until I begin to hear the screams. The souls they have consumed to fuel their dark power call to me. They know I am a guardian. They know my birth right. My purpose. Even as every pore in my body resists, they call to me but if I reach out to them and try to lay them to rest, I would soon join them beyond the grave. Instead I began to sing, weaving the music with my power, forcing the darkness to flinch away from my golden light. As claws slowly pierce my bubble of protection, the golden light seeks the pieces of night that crawl inside and consumes them.
Hours pass and the dome is just light, none of the charm remains. I cannot hold it any longer. I have drawn everything I can from the great oak. Have begged the river for enough of its aid and it has dragged as many of the shadows beneath its depth as it can. I watch as shadowy tendrils reach towards me, taking me chin almost lovingly in its grasp. I have walked with death long enough to know his touch. Those fingers on my chin draw my soul towards it, dousing the light from within me. I don’t know why no one from the house has seen the light and come to my aid. Maybe it’s a test.
If so, they will learn. There is a reason they live in dread of my power.
As my life’s essence crossed the bridge between my body and the creatures’, I feel the connection and draw upon it. The thing does not except me to be able to feed on its’ energy, as it feeds on mine. The talon upon my cheek breaks skin and warm blood pours from the wound but I do not relent. I pull the strange life force of endless, bottomless darkness to me. A black hole into which the rest of the dark beings are sucked into, as closely pressed together as they are. One by one they wink out of existence, the souls they consumed released from their shadow prison with sighs of relief before drifting into the watch. ready to be taken back to the hall for safe keeping.
I am distantly aware of human figures on the edge of my vision as the last one disappears.
“Finally.” I whisper before losing consciousness. Sparing a thought for the gash at my cheek, the only evidence of what had happened here. As my knees buckled, the fire went out but all I could wonder as I hit the damp earth was whether it would leave a scar.
Sometimes I come up with such fun ideas when I write these! What do you think? Is there more to the story? This went in an unusually cool direction.