So this week’s FF piece is the result of a writing exercise done with my writing group last week. We sat down with 3 pages of randoms words collected through various online word generators. We had 15 minutes to look through the words, and choose ones that popped out to us. Originally it was supposed to be 2 or maybe 3 words to inspire us – I went to 5, but they sort of grew into each other. After that, we had 1 hour to write a complete story, which is the real exercise. It needed a beginning, a middle, and an end or, may more importantly, it needed a conflict and resolution. The hour time frame forces you to shut off your internal edit and just get words on the page. It ain’t great, but I love the bones of the concept, so expect to see more writing from this idea.
I will leave this here in all of its UNEDITED glory for you to see what a zero draft write looks like for me. I spent about 25 minutes writing the first part which is just worldbuilding stuff for me. The last 35 minutes I spent on the story itself. The whole thing came in at 863 words. I hope you enjoy.
The past millennia has forced the Gjorld to evolve. Ever since the Vyastr attempted to invade Heraldruun and failed, a baneful curse was cast over their people. The Gjorld were driven into an insatiable appetite for destruction. As a result, the towering beings have slowly diminished their race from a countless swarm to mere hundreds. Their bones now lay in the ashen desolation of Herladruun, rib cages arching and faltering back to the infertile wastes below.
Their evolution was two-fold. First, they needed a way to flee from Heraldruun – the blood of their fallen ancestors had turned from slightly noxious presence into a life-stealing scourge on the very land itself. Second, they needed a way to satiate the hunger, known as Felljorn. With the dying breath of the eldest remaining generation, the Gjorld’s leader used pact magic to contain the Felljorn for the two youngest generations in an attempt to cease the unrelenting genocide.
The pact worked, to an extent. Each Gjorld, as a biproduct of the supressed Felljorn, grew abilities unlike anything experienced by their race before. Once the discovery of how to travel from planet to planet was actualized, the Felljorn returned. However, something darker lurked within their essence now. The Jarl Fara, a sinewy titanness with the ability to transport other Gjorlds offplanet, was cursed with only being able to send her people in small groups, and only to places of peace and prosperity. The Gjorld were sent to utopias, where their genocidic bloodlust turned into immediate reckonings on the denizens of these worlds.
The Jarl-Fara was knelt over a slab of quartz large enough to span most canyons. It glowed a faint purple in reflection of the sky above. One cord of her raven, rope-like hair fell from the knot bundled atop her head and into her eyes. She cast it aside and Djarld couldn’t help but notice the scars on the back of her hands pulsed with the same light as the quartz. None of his people knew of these rituals, as they were forbidden to watch until they were called upon to leave Heraldruun. Djarld wondered, vaguely, if the ritual was the same for every pack.
Within moments a serpentine band of light began racing around the edges of the dais. It bothered Djarld slightly that the script of light was actually made of a pure absence of light. It was eternally deep and black beyond his comprehension.
The Jarl-Fara motioned for the tribe to stand atop the dais, and Djarld took count of the six others he grew up with. A recollection of animosity swelled somewhere in the back of his stomach. He looked at the ritualist and nodded. Then everything went black.
A silence consumed Djarld, eviscerating any understanding of sound as streaks of color raced by in blurs. Something grew from warm to hot to searing within him. It burned at his lungs. It welled his eyes with watery rage. A period of time passed that could have been minutes or hours or ages. Djarld’s senses were assaulted by a blinding white light, then a caccaphony of noise that rattled his mind. The sheer chattering of birds and wind raked against his temples. Somewhere below, the cries of an entire race floated up towards his ears, offering a nearly sweet tone to the chittering chatter that surrounded him.
Then the thunder came. A crash so loud and so close it rattled Djarld’s teeth, nearly shattering them with the concussion. His vision turned blurry again as he stumbled backwards. Several successive rumbles caught up to him – their stacatto falling quickly and in perfect rhythm. Djarld knew, somehow, that he needed to sprout poisonous thorns from his body. He did just that. He screeched out, nearly as much from surprise as from the caustic pain that erroded his flesh. The barbs, jagged and as long as trees, blossomed from the spots where his flesh melted away.
Another rumble of thunder gathered around Djarld’s head. He tried to focus on the sounds of the footsteps and with a great snap of his arm, several thorns shot from his palm, littering the sky with streaks of gray. A scream let out. A high-pitched wail of terror replacing hte gathering thunder. Djarld regained his senses and saw Khela crashing to her knees, three thorns protruding from her cheek and eye. Her knees devastated a portion of the lands below, demolishing thousands of year of tranquility in an instant. The lands were lush green fields and rolling hills. A massive suspended lake began spilling our from the fissure created with the crash, and quickly started to consume the coutnryside and the settled areas alike.
As Khela’s body rolled over, one arm hapleslly draped across her face, a strong lurching sensation grabbed at Djarld’s stomach. He was instantly consumed with the surreal silence and the prism of lights. After an other unfathomable period of time, he regained his senses and found himself kneeling on the quartz dais once more.
There was a look of shock clearly proturuding from the Jarl-Fara’s face. She lay next the slab and her face had aged several hundred years in the moments he was gone.