Princess of Nothing

There once was a Princess of a glorious land
Determined to determine someone to ask for her hand
And so she put out the call for suitors far and wide
To earn her hand and share in her pride

Many a man did come, intrigued
And many a man did leave, quite piqued
As the Princess of her quite glorious land
Was gloriously brash in making demands

Then there came a poorly-dressed man
And the Princess frowned as only a princess can
And wanted to know how the Princess of such a glorious land
Could have a suitor so very far from grand.

The man bowed, and said, “I’ll explain;
But first, you must agree to a game.
You’ll give an answer and I’ll ask a riddle;
And you’ll find what you seek somewhere in the middle.”

Some further explanation ensued
Until the Princess understood what she was to do
And then with a final clearing of her throat
She at last declared, “I am a moat.”

“Around stones and bridges that men hath sent,”
The man, with a smile, began after a moment,
“I circle and circle but never shall strike
There’s nothing I hate and little I like

And yet still I reflect and still might I kill
But I stir only at man or wind’s will
I fill with laughter when the heavens do cry
Now can you guess, what am I?”

“Not bad, not bad! Though I see a few flaws,”
Cried a Princess loathe to give her applause
“Yet the riddle is over and I still don’t know
What’s the thing in the middle that I’m meant to know?”

“If you were listening closely, you would have heard
Between answer and riddle was never a word
Therein lies your kingdom, the greatest of all
And Prince of Nothing is where I belong.

The Inkwell: Cynric’s Rumination, and a Piece of the Past

I was supposed to do this last month, with this entry inspired by/including the word “revolution…” Goldie, who I’m borrowing these prompts from, already has done the entry for March… which… is almost over, isn’t it? I feel like now would be a good time to mention that I’m terrible with time. Anyway, if you care to, you can find the story that this is an extension of here.

***

Cynric’s Rumination:

“It starts like this, little sister:
With a silent, failing song
And we find we know the steps
And we start to sing along

And people call it revolution
As if it’s something new
But it’s as old as the world
And even older too

See, here comes the crescendo:
If we can keep in time
Then perhaps we’ll solve this mystery
And might one day solve mine.”

***

20 years ago:

The little girl screamed and screamed as her father’s hand, open or closed, found her brother’s head again and again. She cried and begged for the ten year-old’s sake, pleading for the staying of her father’s drunken rage. But in his red-tinted eyes, he saw only her age; not the age that he and a bitter world had made her, but the one that told him she was three years more of a child than the small monster upon which he now poured his temper.

“You’re no son of mine!” slurred the drunken man, smacking the boy again, who inched fearfully backwards. “You’re the devil’s son, you are!” Another blow, another retreat. “If your mother were alive, I’d throw you into the fire, spare her the pain of having to see the beast that you are!”

At the words ‘your mother,’ the boy froze, and fear gave way to fire. He became aware that he was standing just before the furnace, and at his father’s words, something rose up within him. “Do it, then,” the boy hissed, and for a moment he felt he might truly be some son of the devil. But he went onward, the words spilling out almost before he was aware of them. “If you were more of a man you might, but you’re not. You’re a coward and a fool. She’s dead, because you’re weak.”

The room went deadly silent as they stared at each other, the one with such a look as made the other flinch, the other with eyes that grew wider with each second that passed. “You really are a monster,” whispered the latter, horror slowly dawning into righteous anger. He went into motion, grabbing the boy by the collar, thrusting him into the furnace and shutting him in. There came up screams like a howl, and they seemed to go on and on as the father staggered backward, hand over his mouth. The little girl stared in shock, tears spent, as her brother’s screams finally died off.

The drunken man, much sobered now, turned toward his daughter. His eyes softened at her pitiful countenance, and he took a step towards her. She flinched. “It’s alright, Joy,” he said, coming closer, beckoning. “It’ll be alright, just come to me, child.” She shook her head, tears finding their way to her eyes again.

“I had a dream,” she whispered. “You tried to hurt me… But Cynric saved me.” She looked up at her father. “He was all burned up.”

“You…” The man groaned, a sound like a strangled animal; something faded from his eyes. “You too?” He grabbed a length of pipe from a nearby table, debris from a project he never began. “I see now,” he said, nodding sagely. “I should have done this before. Demon children, both of you.” He took a step forward. Then another, and another. Her fear was a glue that held her to the wall as he approached, and she sat crouched, shaking, when the first blow came. It hit her on the head and knocked her sideways, and the next she was aware she was on the ground, helpless as the second blow came down upon her side, accompanied by a cracking sound and a terrible pain.

Consciousness was beginning to take on sand-like qualities; but she looked up, and the last thing she saw was her father’s slumping body, and her brother standing behind him, clothing — what remained — in burnt tatters, a bloody knife in hand.

Underneath

Frantically, she tore up the floorboards. “It has to be here!” she half-screeched, as she darted to and fro, searching different places. In the end, she collapsed, crumpling into a heap in the middle of what was left of the floor. Her bleeding fingers pulsed with pain, a reminder, and her glazed eyes wandered to one of the places where she’d torn up the wood. There should have been something underneath of it. A secret passage, a beating heart, a hidden stash with all the answers in it. Dirt, even. She would’ve taken dirt. But instead there was nothing. Just the void, that endless dark. “There should have been SOMETHING,” she whispered, eyes tearing up. “But there wasn’t,” her mind hissed back. Instead of crying, she began to laugh; a mad laugh. The darkness didn’t end at the floorboards.

The Inkwell

“And next week,” the paper read, “there will be a murder somewhere in the East section of The City. More details pending.” Joy Wells sighed at writing such an ominous — and not to mention tremendously unhelpful — bit of news. Normally, the dark and foreboding was her brother’s province, but lately her dreams showed only crimson, and however much she grasped at her usual optimism, she came up blank.

Cynric Wells came in just then with a cup of coffee in hand, and he stopped briefly to read over her shoulder. With a vague nod, he continued on to his desk, sitting and staring into space as he sipped at his liquid caffeine.

“Hey, sis,” he said after a moment, “your dreams told you that Officer Tannis would live a long life, marriage and kids and all that, yes?”

“Yeah, why?” She answered, looking up in confusion from the typewriter she’d been staring at as she wracked her brain for a happier way of sharing unhappy news.

“He’s dead,” answered her brother matter-of-factly.

“What?” She demanded, rising in surprise and horror. “How?”

Cynric took another sip of his coffee before answering. “An earth wyrm. Came right up out of a manhole, believe it or not; swallowed him whole. Now that’ll make for interesting reading for the common folk tomorrow morning.”

“But he could still be alive! Have they–“

“Oh no, Joy dear. I assure you, he’s very dead. Julius doesn’t like it when things happen to his underlings without his say-so, and had the rest search until they found the thing and gutted it. That’s where I’ve been these past few hours. I got a front row seat of the… operation.”

Joy fell back down into her chair, holding her head. “That’s terrible,” she muttered.

“That’s one word for it,” said her brother, eying her intently.

“Just say it, Cynric,” she groaned.

“Alright. You were wrong, sis. You’ve never been wrong before, and it’s not a good look, for either of us.”

She looked up at him. “You’re blaming me for appearances, when someone — a man we’ve known since we first came here — is dead? I knew you could be heartless, brother, but I didn’t realize you could be this petty as well.”

“Pettiness has nothing to do with it. Your ability has never been wrong before. If it can be wrong once, then why not twice, thrice, three hundred times? And if that’s the case, then I’m sorry to say, sister, but your ‘gift’ is downright worthless, and could potentially even be considered fraudulent. Once is bad enough already. But if this happens again, how long until the whole City starts to lean towards the ‘fraudulent’ answer? Tell me, Joy, have you ever been skinned alive before? Because let me assure you, it’s not very fun.”

“The Inkwell is the newspaper for the entire City. We have friends all over. You really think they’d just turn on us?”

Cynric scoffed. “What do you think happened to the people the job belonged to previously?”

“I thought you said they retired to a unicorn dimension?”

“No, dear. That’s called sarcasm.”

Joy’s face dropped. “Oh.” She took a breath. “So what are we going to do, then?”

“We make darn sure it doesn’t happen again. So… what do you say to a little investigative journalism?”

***

Per Goldie’s challenge. To be continued… Possibly.

Rose Colored Glasses

Did you lose them on a walk?
Did you drop them down a well?
Come, my dear fool, talk!
We’ll find out where they fell.

Did you lend them to a friend?
Did they crunch beneath your boot?
It must’ve been an ignoble end
For you’ve turned into a mute!

What, did you lose them to a vat of rum?
Were they stolen by a ghost named Fred?
You needn’t look so vexed for them —
They’re there upon your head!

Tourniquet

I don’t want your little war;
I have my own to fight.
Still you battle on, but man, what for?
There’s no end for you in sight.
You make up reasons for the blood to pour;
I just want to pull the tourniquet tight,
And cling to the symbols on my uniform
As I wait and watch my waning might.

The Loyal Servant

He’d been a loyal servant for years, keeping to his master’s side, staying true even when that darned woman had betrayed them. He’d saved his master’s life, time and time again. But what did he get in return? Nothing but warnings and admonitions. His master always found something to take issue with: Blood on the carpet, loose ends, that pesky little thing people call “evidence.” So what if some people disappeared? They wouldn’t be missed. More importantly, they wouldn’t be found. But his master had decided that it was HIS turn to disappear.

All because of some harmless snacking.

***

Inspired by Goldie’s Creative Writing prompt:

“In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking.“