Welcome to the Winter 2017 Short Story Contest Submissions!Support our writers by reading and voting for the story of your choice.
Still working on the poll, but until then, enjoy reading.
PLEASE READ BOTH STORIES BEFORE VOTING. Writers, if you notice any typos, PM me.
Suggested Topic: Winter Tales
***Stories are submitted to me by PM, and voted for anonymously.
Stories can be about 750-1,500 words in length (I’m not counting words).
Any genre or style (mystery, romance, suspense, sci-fi, action) is acceptable, as long as it is fiction.
• There will be three days to read the stories and vote. Voting will be closed at 11:59pm on Friday, Feb. 3
• The winner/s will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 4
The Winter 2017 Short Story Contest Winner will be announced here in the Articles section of the forum with a thread dedicated entirely to their short story. Yes, you get bragging rights and shiny winner's badge which I will design. Get a Gale original.
There are two short story submissions. 1) A Night With the Wolves 2) Ayrana's Journey
1) A Night With the Wolves
I can’t sleep. While my mind is quiet, I seem to be out of breath. I am having a hard time taking in a breath and breathing out. I am painfully aware of the deafening silence that comes with the night. The loneliness. The cold creeping up my back despite the two blankets I have enveloped myself with. It’s only been 6 months since my husband and soulmate passed away. I thought I would have never found love. That I would never be loved.
My eyes felt heavy towards the end of the night. I loathed the fact that I am only going to sleep two hours but a feeling of relief also took over me at the idea that I will finally have some rest.
I was right. Two hours was not enough. So I woke up gruntly and unhappy, but the cold I felt before falling asleep was shooting from my legs. When I looked down, shocked, I realized I was standing, bare feet in snow. I didn’t understand what was going on and how I got there. My heart began racing and I felt confused. I didn’t have the habit of sleepwalking.
As I was spiraling down into panic, I felt a brush against my feet. Something warm and furry sat by my freezing blue toes. Terrified I looked down to meet eyes with a wolf. It looked up at me and stared into my eyes. I looked away instantly, afraid that if I displayed my overwhelming fear, it would snap and attack.
It got up and brushed again my legs again and nuzzled its face at my calves then began to walk. For some reason I understood that I should follow, so I did.
I walked after it in the middle of a white and snowy forest for hours. And as we drew closer, I heard howling become louder and louder. When the wolf stopped, I stopped with it and looked up. I saw another wolf crouched and howling at the top of its lungs, in front of it was a white wolf lying on the ground still without movement.
As the wolf howled I felt my heart grow heavier. There was nothing about my situation that made sense. I am in an unknown corner on this planet, freezing cold and shivering, with no company but of that of wolves. …mourning wolves.
Warm tears began to roll down my cheeks and the louder the wolves howled the louder my weeps were.
I lost the love of my life and I pretended that I was able to continue on with my life. That I can be strong through this, that I was the woman of steel that could not crumble.
I slowly began to wake, shivering and feeling cold. The blanket rolled up just at my feet and pillow wet with tear. It was a dream. But a dream that pushed to face my pain and allow myself to grieve my husband before I was ever ready to move on to a normal life.
2 ) Ayrana's Journey
The stiff snow crunched under my feet exposing the powdery dry snow underneath. My legs were aching now and the cold was sinking into my legs despite the underwrapping. I knew that we had to continue on as our party had only been walking for a few hours and it was not even mid day yet. The winds had at least subsided and it was a bright cold day, a day perfect for traveling and making up some time we had lost earlier in our voyage. The cold brushed against my face and I could feel the sting of the air on my cheeks, Breathing was hard when the temperature dropped to this extent, I could see the men in the front of the party breathing heavily, their breath hanging in the air as we climbed up a small rock face. Our party was arriving at the top of the hill when I felt that something was wrong. There was a dead silence then one of our men fell backwards. His lifeless body rolling towards me rolling down the hill. I saw the broken arrow sticking out of his neck and expression of horror on his face. His eyes met mine, there was terror in his eyes as his blood dribbled out of his mouth. I took his head into my hands and pressed him into my chest. There was no chance for him, I felt the energy flow out of him, and away. I wanted to run as fast as I could to get away from the approaching terror. Other cries filled the still air as we ran down the hill, cries of our men and other cries, throaty warbles that filled me with terror. When we reached the base we were surrounded. I was captured.
I must have blacked out because I had no idea how I arrived in this place which was not only warm but also smelt of rancid oil and sweat. It was clearly a cave of some sort with animal skins hanging on the walls. My misseltine and kesterina had been taken off me, but at least I did have the partial dignity of still wearing my calliginga. My underwrappings and boots were gone, however, and I felt the slimy cave floor under my bare feet.
“Welcome to our lodging,” a voice called out to me. In the darkness of the cave. I could not see who was addressing me. It was a male voice with an upper accent, spoken in the common tongue.
“Sir,” I answered back standing up. “It would appear I am your prisoner, You do understand the common tongue so I will make a request of you which is my right under the law. I am a noble born and demand that I am allowed to cover myself in a dignified way, as is my right.”
An old woman hobbled toward me with a bolt of animal skin, probably from a marmtle, judging from the smell. She did not address me but motioned me to lift my arms, which I did, and then she began to wrap my chest with the skin, using bone clips to hold the skin against my body, It was not dignified garment, but at least I was partially covered, which was some concession to my modesty. The old woman then motioned me to follow her, which I did, carefully walking across the dark shiny rocks to a fire-pit. I sat down and looked around but there appeared to be no one sitting with me.
“Are you going to reveal yourself? You have my misseltine and kesterina so I think you know who I am already..."
“Yes Mistress Ayrana. We do know who you are. I regret having to take your garments but you know the power of those objects, especially in the hands of an experienced sorceress such as yourself."
“Experienced? How can I be experienced, you can see I am not old enough to have reached my Faltrion. I am not a Mistress at all, and I am certainly not Mistress Ayrana as you assume.”
“We considered that, but dismissed it. There is no way Mistress Ayrana would just surrender her misseltine and kesterina to a boundling such as a yourself. You are Mistress Ayrana, either projecting this illusion or you have had a rebirth as this boundling we see before us. Because you maintained this form we can only assume this is not an illusion, and that you are reborn. We know you are a powerful sorceress and we dare not show ourselves.”
It was all truth of course. I was reborn as this boundling several weeks ago, a new body grown from my old person. All my skill, wisdom, and experience would be contained in my new body. What they did not know was that the process depleted me and I was weakened, at least temporarily, by the experience. I had also not reached my Faltrion within this body, which was of course obvious even to a casual observer. This placed limitations on my powers.
“For Hinterlanders, you speak the common tongue very well. I used to be Mistress Ayrana but I have been reborn as Missea Lyatina, so you may address as such. I am the arch-daughter of Mistress Ayrana.”
I felt the top of my left arm glowing and becoming hot and felt my stomach going into knots. I hated the display that now about to happen. The heat traveled through my arm to my hand and through my fingertips, I could see the sparks now flowing through my fingers. I tried to close my hand but it was no use. The lightening now just flowed though me and it also started flowing through my right hand. My entire body was now heating up and glowing, illuminating the whole cave as the energy flowed through my fingertips. There was nothing I could do now, but wait for the energy to subside. After about a minute the energy stopped flowing. I was on the cave floor gasping for air, trying to compose myself, and crying mostly out of frustration and the loss of dignity. I hated these flare ups but there was really no way I could control them, because I, despite my pedigree, was still a boundling, and boundlings cannot fully control the energy, especially when the energy surges.
Though I could not see my captors, I could feel them staring at me.
“Missea are you intact?” the disjointed voice again addressed me.
I stood up and tried to compose myself. “What are your intentions here? To hold me as a captive?”
“Missea you have trespassed on our lands,” the voice again addressed me.
“You have not answered my question. What are your intentions? To hold me captive? To demand a ransom from my coven? What is it?”
The man now showed himself, He was old with a long grey beard dressed in animal skins and fur. Typical of a Hinterlander. He moved slowly toward me.
“Missea you may be the fulfillment of a prophesy of our people. We are not Hinterlanders but we called the Callash. We do not own this land. It owns us and we are charged with being its caretaker. Our teachings tell of a stranger who will come to us to lead us to take back our rightful place as the Keepers of the Flame.”
Of course I wanted no part of this. Every Hinterlander tribe had this belief that had this glorious past and that they are the true Flamekeepers, and that they would somehow be lead back to the civilized lands by a mysterious stranger. This belief somehow sustained them and made them think they had a higher purpose than merely scratching out an existence out here in the Hinterlands.
I pulled the hair away from my face to address this savage. Wearing my hair in boundling fashion, as I was compelled to do, was certainly one of the most frustrating features of my new form.
“Sir, you know I am a Missea and have lived as a Mistress in my recent life. What possible interest could I have in your people, as the fulfillment of prophesy? We have no interest in the affairs of men. You know we serve the Goddess energy. I can make you a promise for the return of my misseltine and kesterina not to destroy the Callash and to continue on my quest.”
“The law demands compensation of you Missea. What will you give in return for your freedom?”
This was tricky. I was thinking and I started sucking on my lip, a most undignified thing to do. Immediately I stopped myself. If one of my apprentices did such a thing I would have scolded them, but here I was, a boundling, doing the same thing. I was forbidden to reveal any secrets of the Goddess but I also had to do something for them. We all lived by the precepts of the law. Perhaps anointing one of them would suffice.
“I will annoint one of yours as a servant of the Goddess. She will have access to the Goddess energy which should suffice as compensation.”
“There is a problem with this Missea. We have no fertile women or girls to annoint.” The old man was looking uncomfortable now. “A sickness has wiped them all out or brought barrenness to them.”
Now I could see the problem. The Callash were facing their extinction. Following the precepts of the Goddess, I knew what must be done.
“Bring me a boundling of your tribe and I will transform her into a servant of the Goddess which will bring her fertility back. Put my misseltine and kesterina on her, and I will do what must be done."
A few moments passed, then a boundling about my age appeared before me. She looked afraid and was shaking, either out of fear or because she was cold. She was dirty and disheveled perhaps a maid and definitely of low ranking. She was wearing my misseltine and kesterina but not looking comfortable doing so.
I sat beside her and gestured for her to sit beside which she did. I summoned the Goddess energy which flowed through me with surprising ease. Then I touched her on the head and felt the energy flow to her. The whole process seemed to go for on for minutes, then suddenly I felt the energy stop. The misseltine and kesterina were glowing and I could see she was transformed into a copy of myself, another arch-daughter of me.
She opened her eyes, an identical copy of my form in every way. This was not expected, for me to produce a perfect copy of my own self, a twin arch daughter. She looked surprised, and I was too, but the Goddess sometimes works in mysterious ways. It was startling to see the copy of my form.
“Rise up my twin arch daughter, I anoint you Missea Lyatinana.” She looked at me and struggled to stand. It was truly like looking into a mirror of myself. Her grey eyes locked into mine for a moment and I could feel her own energy. Her head was bent back now and she began breathing deeply.
After a few minutes, she then removed my misseltine and kesterina and presented to them me. I put them back on, my new arch daughter kneeled before me, helping me with my misseltine, still warm with the Goddess energy.
I didn't feel right about leaving her with these savages, but this is what the law dictated and the Callash would be preserved.
I took one step toward her. She was still unclothed now, unconcerned with her modesty, looking at me with an inquisitive gaze. The cold wind blowing into the cave did not seem to bother her.
“Daughter I am sorry for what you must do and a regret having to leave you. Perform your duty as you need to do to save this tribe. I will return for you and teach you the precepts of the Goddess when your time here is done. Do you understand my words? In this form you should be able to understand the common tongue.”
She nodded, trying to speak but no words came out of her mouth. I knew she would not able to speak yet, as this was the last part of transformation and sometimes did not happen until weeks after the rebirth.
“You will find your voice soon enough Missea.” I said to her. She took a last look at me and smiled. Then she walked toward the chieftain. He properly fell to his knees faced with this embodiment of the sacred energy.
I walked out of the cave. The snow was falling hard now and I was ready to resume my journey, the cold wind blowing in my face.
Winter 2017 Short Story Contest Submissions! :)
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