During NaNo 2011 I found and got found by the Chick Lit Cheerleaders.
They are a great band and always ready to encourage and advise, no matter what you are writing.
Their latest idea was to do some short-stories based on prompts we give each other during March.
The first prompt I chose was given by Lindsay:
He offered her the world. She said she had one of her own.
Countless tales got carried past her in the gentle breeze that made her shawl dance like a flag. It's colour mimicked the violet heather on the hills to the east. From there, her gaze wandered along the river, which flowed down into the valley. It turned and twisted, like it had no sense of direction at all. In truth, these lands were covered with patches of unyielding rock, leaving little room for farmland. There even were some rapids where the blue, clear stream got turned into white, dangerous traps. The fisher-folk, who were one of the few inhabitants of the valley, stayed well away from them, especially when the spring melt has hidden the riverbanks under icy cold masses of water. And still, she had had to save the one or other from drowning. In return, they brought her gifts, like the blue and white striped long dress.
The flame on her staff flickered, although the wind had ceased completely now. In a soft crackle she learned about the Traveller who was about to arrive soon. She didn't need to turn her head to see him, for she had mastered the visions long ago. There was no need to call them, she just listened to what the fire had to tell her. When she sought an answer, either for herself or for one of those who desired her help, it didn't take long until the wood that did not burn revealed what was to come.
It had taken her a while to learn how to recognize a true vision from a false one. The latter were caused by wishful thinking more often than by fear or hate. In time, those like her learned to control their feelings, which was one key to the secret. Every seer had to follow his or her own path. In Valeria's case it had lead her to the solitary tower on top of a steep hill, where she had dwelt alone until today - most of the time with the knowledge that the Traveller would decide on her fate.
Strong, confident steps carried him from the shore onto the cracked, dusty road. As usual, every fibre on him was soaked. So far, no mage had mastered to eliminate this side-effect of the water-bridge. He couldn't help smiling at the irony of that, although the joke was old by now. An ordinary bridge connected two sides of a stretch of water and was supposed to let you cross it without getting wet. The magic which transported you from one place to another via any accumulation of water large enough to stand in, no matter whether it was connected to each other or not, always drenched you. It was generally believed that this was part of how it worked, but some kept wondering if it wasn't rather a deliberate 'mistake' of the spell-casters.
Fortunately the sun shone bright and warm on this day, drying his clothes and hair, while erasing his damp footprints on the road as well. By the time he reached the first bend, he actually felt so hot that he pulled out the scarf, which was stowed away in his pouch, and wound it several times around his head. The cloth and indeed the style of wearing it had been picked up by him on one of his previous journeys. Never once did his feet slow down or falter, carrying him ever onwards towards the tower on the hill.
Soon it became obvious that the main-road, if it deserved that name considering its poor state, would not lead him to his goal but rather to a little settlement at the river-bank. Longingly he regarded the fisher-huts, smelling supper and hearing the laughter of undoubtedly lively, young women. Surely they wouldn't mind a visitor who could repay their hospitality with entertaining stories and rare trinkets? He could imagine it just too well, and found himself smiling contentedly at the prospect of encouraging a little village-feast, so that he could dance with some of the prettiest girls.
The ground beneath his boots suddenly grew softer. Despite his daydreaming, some part of him had noticed a half overgrown path that diverged from the road. While the laughter of the fisher-folk grew faint behind him, he soon had to pay attention on where he placed his feet. It was a rather straight trail of stones that lead up to the tower, and in the steep places they reminded of old, weathered stair-steps. Moss and thick grass padded them and made them probably very slick after a rainfall. He was glad it was not winter right now.
When Alexander's head came level with the top of the hill, all distractions of the valley, lazy mages or previous adventures were forgotten - the wind itself seemed to push him gently upwards until he stepped on the old cobblestones and approached the woman he was meant to marry.
To be continued ...
-> part two