Well, it’s time for another picture story exercise. We’ve collected a goodly number of new followers lately, thanks to the amazing post that Abbie wrote for us! So, if you haven’t done this very before the goal here is to develop a story of 1000 words or less that explains the picture below. This should be a completish (it is only 1000 words) story, not just a scene or an introduction. So, this should be a flash fiction piece. So, here’s your picture:

This piece was done by Ralph Horsley and found here.
This piece was done by Ralph Horsley and found here.
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19 thoughts on “Story Challenge of the Week

    1. Yeah, it’s a pretty cool idea :). The first idea I had was a story about a wizard who’s summoned some kind of hellhound to assassinate a rival. No idea if I’ll ever have time to write it up though.

      1. I had lots of ideas about demonic dogs, but that seemed a little too on-the-nose for me. I like to write with a bit more of a twist than that. haha Nothing wrong with them, just not me.

  1. I have a story for this that I should be posting later today. Question, it’s okay to add a viewpoint character that’s seeing the picture, but is not in it, correct? In this way I didn’t change anything within the picture, but was able to write a complete story.

    1. Of course. The rules are that you can’t do anything that is clearly opposed to the picture (for instance, you can’t turn the hound into a tiger), but adding things that aren’t in the picture but fit with it well is perfectly fine.

  2. Huntress.
    By Justina Luther

    As I trampled the cobblestones the morning’s stillness was unbroken. Huntress growled in warning when I rounded the corner. I dropped to the cold pavement as I had when I first met her. My eyes locked in her yellow gaze. She was a mother defending her pups and I had to prove I was of no threat.
    Her ears flattened, her teeth bared and dripping red, she crouched slightly as if ready to leap. The noxious quality in the air swirled around me and I realized the green wisps this wolf like alien exuded were not flames, but fumes. I began to choke as the scent of death, magnified by twenty, engulfed me.
    My gaze darted toward Alfred. Had he been here when the king’s men had arrived to steal her young? He clung to a shop door’s knocker in half consciousness, his bloody handprint streaking the door, the skin of his arm lined in welts of perfect unison. His body seemed to be shielding something. When I saw the sword at his side, I knew he had battled them. I clutched the stones. I should have been here, not him. Huntress was my responsibility. I was the one who had found her.
    I became aware of whimpering and realized he had saved at least one pup. “How many did they get?” I said, my voice barely breaking a whisper as Huntress continued to growl.
    “All, save one.” His breaths were shallow.
    “How badly are you wounded?”
    “What difference does it make? She wouldn’t let you aid me now for all the worlds. She only cares for her pups. The rest of us are garbage.”
    “A thought she shares with the king. Which way did they take the pups?”
    “Back—the castle—I think.”
    I shook my head. “How much of a start do they have?”
    “You might be able to beat them there, Malcom.”
    As I began to crawl backward her stance didn’t change. The thought she wouldn’t leave her remaining pup to follow me gave me hope. Turning away, I catapulted myself toward the castle. The morning’s chilling air stung my lungs. The streets should be busy this time of morning, but all the doors and windows remained locked. Had they seen what happened and left Huntress undefended?
    My breathing became labored and I was forced to slow down. I knew I wasn’t far from the castle as the road had turned to dirt and the forest grew tall around me. Had I managed to cover more ground than their party? Party—How many men would I be facing? What was I thinking? Surely they wouldn’t expect anyone to come after them, but it was just as assured one man could not beat them alone. I concealed myself in the tree line.
    A trap would be my only option. Was there even time to set one? It couldn’t be something that would injure them. That would affect the pups too and the mother’s continued fury was not something Alfred could afford. Glancing around, I realized I was surrounded by berry bushes.
    I peered closer and began to grin. The bushes were a mixture of gum berries and sleepers. Many decades ago the king had set aside one alchemist, who had shown no aptitude with metals, to work with plants. The king believed they could be turned to weapons. He had been right, but fortunately he had also been dimwitted enough to be unable to recognize their use. He had deemed the fields useless and left them to overgrow the forests. I had found their usefulness in playing tricks when I was a boy.
    The air was still and I felt safe enough to begin my work. Across the width of the road I scratched a trench and quickly gathered as many gum berries and sleepers as I could. I filled the line, hiding their placement in layers of dust until they were undetectably buried. The distant whimpers of pups announced their approach and I quickly tramped down the dirt that remained unused.
    Returning to the tree line, I went some way into the forest and concealed myself behind a bush. My line of sight wasn’t perfect, but I’d know when it was safe to approach. As they drew nearer I caught bits of their conversation.
    “Oy! What does the king think these mutts can do?”
    “Do you think the mother is after us?”
    “That mother was a pest, she was! And who was that bas—.”
    When their conversation died I covered my nose and mouth, my ears met by the bursting of fruit.
    “Oy! I can’t move!” Several of the guards had become hopelessly stuck to the road by the gum berries.
    “What’s that smell?” In seconds the sleepers that had burst underfoot left all but two unconscious. The final soldiers had managed to cover their noses and were unaffected by the fumes.
    Taking up a large fallen branch, I crept toward the road. My footsteps covered by the whimpering pups. I angled to exit the forest behind them.
    They were young village boys, obviously new to the guard as they never checked behind them. I repaid their mistake with large cracks in their skulls. Slinging the bag of pups over my shoulder, I prayed they would be enough to save my brother, Alfred.

    1. I like this. The gum and sleeper berries are a great idea! Even though Alchemy was a pretty broadly used term, you might want to identify him as an herbalist, or perhaps an alchemist turned herbalist, instead. The idea of a guy working on weaponizing plants through magical genetics is pretty cool. I’d like to know what exactly Huntress is and why her pups are so important to the king as well :). It sounds pretty cool. Have you considered trying to work these ideas into the same world as the last story you wrote?

      1. Thank you for clarifying the rules. When I researched the word ‘alchemy’ it was said to be the forerunner of modern chemistry, so that’s the idea I went with. (-:
        I hadn’t thought of combining the stories into one world, but I like the idea. It opens a lot of possibilities in my mind. I’m still really new to writing fantasy/scifi so I think ‘wold creating’ will take me a little more time. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I tried to be more careful about my wording this time so nothing sounded like it was suddenly shape-shifting. ha Huntress might just have a second story coming up.

        1. Alchemy works in the context of your story. It’s simply that the term tends to have an assumed definition in fantasy that equates with the concoction of magical potions, metals, and materials. There are certainly some works that break that (the anime Full Metal Alchemist comes to mind), but it’s something to be aware of.
          I could tell that you put more thought into the way you worded things. This story flowed better and nothing jumped out to pull me out of the world, which is a very good thing. I mention this in some of my posts on world building, but one of the most important aspects is figuring out the rules for your world. How do things work, why do they work. For instance, if your world has no moon, or three moons, how does that affect the oceans? Shipping? Calendars?
          How does magic work and why? What rules govern it? Etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming at first, and it’s generally a bad idea to try to tackle it all at once. However, figuring things out little by little is good. When you come up with a new idea, don’t just try to throw it in. Examine how it relates to and effects the rest of the world. The more ideas you fit in, the more well-defined your world will become, and the more easily you’ll be able to see what fits and what doesn’t.
          Also, never be afraid to throw out something that doesn’t work. However, make sure that you’re throwing out the right idea before you do.

          1. Thanks. The way I tend to think about these stories is that their worlds are the real word, back in medeaval times, save the characters or items that are alien. Such as Huntress in this case.

          2. An alien’s pet. She belonged to the aliens that supposidly visited the ancient Myans. She got left behind when they came back to earth to see another part of the planet.

          3. Yes, it honestly isn’t something I ever would have thought of, but it opens up some really cool doors. There are a few ‘fantasy’ series that double as science fiction series as well (Pern comes to mind), and good, bad, or strange they are inevitably interesting. I think that it could make for a very different kind of story.

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