Prompt: Stranger

Today’s Prompt Is:

Stranger

My response:

The people in the village continued to treat me as a stranger despite my efforts to participate in the community. It baffled me when just before the dawn of winter, a new man arrived, rescued from the river-an exile of the Queen-and they accepted him as one of their own. Edith told me it was because most people entered the village by the river or were born here; my entrance was a rare thing, almost unheard of. I did not take it to heart too much, following Edith’s advice, but I could not help but feel some anger towards the man.

This man came to us with bad news, worse than I could have imagined. The Temple of Memories was due to be closed down in one mooncycle; the hall would be turned into ‘Ahkmar’s School of Swords and Sorcery’. As though Ahkmar cared for the people, cared what they did or did not learn; I knew he cared not for us, particularly not those of us exiled to this village. Astra’s people rioted in the streets, and they were massacred by the Sun Warriors. Priests and Priestesses were cast out of the city-and those who were not cast out yet would be soon, unless of course they ran first.

We mourned for those who had fallen and we lived then in fear. The Queen had no one left to stop her, for both Evelyn and the King lay dead. The King had died of a sickness only a week before the man was cast out. He had been a servant and he believed that the Queen had poisoned the King. She was crazy-and she was likely to lead a ‘purge of those barbarians’ in the near future-such things had been done before by other monarchs who did not realize that our existence was crucial to the survival of the kingdom.

I practiced my sword now more than ever. We believed the attacks would begin a few days after the temple was officially closed. I woke up earlier and went to bed later so that I could practice as much as possible. Edith sent a messenger to the town of giants-something I wasn’t entirely sure existed-and we began to prepare for a food shortage. I practiced just outside of the town, twenty feet from the fence. Always the man with the long hair watched me. I did my best to ignore him, but it grew more unnerving with each passing day.

It was ten days after the man came out of the river when the stranger came to talk to me. As I began to wind down my practice and the sun was setting, he approached me. I finished my routine as though I had not noticed, but then I turned to him. I noticed for the first time a silver pendant the shape of a falcon claw, which held an emerald. It was a beautiful pendant, and something-long lost knowledge, most likely-told me that the pendant was very magical. It gave off its own small aura, an aura which was bright green, though it didn’t seem particularly nourishing or helpful.

He smiled slightly. His teeth were good-or at least better than most of the older locals’ teeth-and his eyes sparkled in a friendly sort of way. I waited for him to speak; I was still not sure if I had anything to say to this man.

“Hello stranger,” he said.

“Hello stranger,” I replied.

“I see you practicing. Are you afraid?”

“Not entirely, for I am skilled with a sword. But one skilled sword will not matter if the queen comes down upon us with an army at her feet.”

“I suppose it will not. What is your name, stranger?” Of course he had to know the answer to this question. Word got around fast in a small town like this. But I supposed I might as well humor him.

“I am Ceri. What is your name, stranger?”

“My name is Donovan. I am a man of many talents, particularly those of magic and archery. I can see you are a woman of equal talents, and I would like to invite you to have dinner with me and my comrades.”

“So I shall,” I said. He turned away and led me to the village. I had no idea what I might find there on this chilly evening, but something about my new friend told me that it was worth finding.

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About Dianna Gunn

I am a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. My first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing.

Posted on May 9, 2011, in Prompts, Short Fiction, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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