By Force

Written by OrdDiff


“Dragons. Beautiful creatures, aren’t they?” The magician said, gazing out of her tower’s window. “Faster and tougher than any beast in the natural world, yet fully aware and able to speak. There isn’t a single adult dragon that hasn’t mastered the arcane.”

The group gathered in the magician’s study was diverse. A military commander fidgeted in ceremonial armour, protecting him from the cold and not much else. A long-nosed bureaucrat scribbled away on a sheet of parchment, recording the meeting for any fuel he might use to ascend a rung on the political ladder. A kind-hearted nobleman sat with rapt attention, while his aide scanned the room for the closest exit.

“You like drakes. We get it,” the bureaucrat interrupted. “Can we please get to the point?”

The magician eyed the bureaucrat with disdain. “Very well. As you know, the secrets of flight have eluded us for the longest time. My predecessor,” she spoke the word with unconstrained vitriol, “declared it an impossibility, stifling any and all research into the area. Young apprentices were intimidated into dropping it, and sponsors were encouraged to invest in more stable research.” She turned her golden gaze to the rich man. “I must thank you again for your trust.”

The nobleman beamed with pride. “You have always done right by me, it was the least I could do.” He said with misguided humility. The bureaucrat made a particularly aggressive note.

“We knew that the secret of flight would never be found on our own,” she continued, “so we turned to the natural world. Thanks to recent accidental discoveries by the military, we gained solid groundwork on the mechanics of mundane, or physical, flight. We found out how birds and other small creatures flew and, through collaboration with the mountain dwarves, created a prototype glider.”

“Which failed.” The commander interjected, much to the magician’s chagrin.

“Indeed.” The magician countered with a sly grin. “While it was capable of carrying an amount of weight over a short distance, it was impossible to create one sturdy enough to carry anything as heavy as an elf, let alone a human or dwarf. So, we left the designs with the dwarves and turned once again to magic. Clearly, birds did not hold the answer.”

“Let me guess,” the bureaucrat said snidely, “dragons did.”

The magician smiled. “Exactly. According to our previous understanding of flight, dragon wings should never be able to carry their immense bulk. We needed their secrets.”

“And that’s where we came in.” The warlord grunted.

“That’s right, and I thank you once again for your sacrifices.” She said somberly.

“Weren’t my sacrifices.” He said, accusingly. A glare from the bureaucrat reminded him of his place, and his brow, previously furrowed, slowly smoothed once again. “Did you get what you needed from the specimen?”

The magician nodded. “Yes. With the live dragon you captured, we were able to study its magic and biology. After several weeks, and a lot of accidents, we finally got it. Gentlemen, you may want to step back.”

She ushered them away from the desk and moved to the edge of the chamber, pulling on a silken rope. The large table the group had been sitting by moved aside, revealing a large, dark hole. The sound of metal chains clinking against themselves filled the air, and slowly a wrought iron cage ascended from the depths of the tower. Inside, bound by the wrists, was what was once a human. Crimson scales covered her back, leading up to two massive, Draconic wings sprouting from its shoulder blades. A small pair of horns pierced the creature’s forehead, and a thin wisp of smoke escaped from her nose.

The three visitors looked upon the sight in horror. For the first time all night, the scratching of quill-on-parchment could not be heard as the bureaucrat’s board fell to the stone floor. “This is what we have accomplished, gentlemen.” The magician proudly declared. “A successful chimera! The dwarves can keep their gliders, this is the weapon we have truly been searching for. Take note, for we have taken flight from the dragons.”


Inspired as part of a past Half Hour Challenge, OrdDiff’s fantasy piece gives us the chills somewhat. A human turning into a dragon, though not by way of skin-changing it seems. It feels a little like a Marvel or DC superhero comic – swapping the science-fiction for pure fantasy here. By Force closes out our “Tipping the Scales” content for July, and it’s a rather apt piece to conclude on, don’t you think? If you enjoyed OrdDiff’s work, consider viewing his other short stories, including “Hunter and Prey” and “Bronze Regrets”. 

Featured Image CC // Kenneth Lu

 

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An Ode to Yesterday – Part 2

Written by Scarlet Hardy

A two-part journey into the poet’s world. The first part was published as part of our July “Tipping the Scales” content, which can be read here


What I would give to be young without a single care,
To once more experience being a girl with long golden hair.
Able to live without worries and forever young,
If only I could turn back time to where my travels begun.
See those friendly old faces that I once kissed,
Visit historic friends that I have often missed.
Looking back at ancient history to see where my journey started,
Returning to the distant place from where I once departed.

Enjoy my heroic offering of the simple written word,
I truly hope and pray that my humble voice will be heard.
I still remember the days of my distant fanciful youth,
I will never feel too distant, remote, or aloof.
Memories once shared might just live on,
Friendships enjoyed are perhaps not all gone.
Close your eyes and try to remember an old close friend,
A prayer for your missing loved ones you could still send.

After reversing the sands of time I saw an old school yard,
I truly felt that the gods had dealt me a winning card.
At four years old I often wanted to dance and sing,
I should have sung about the joy that youth does bring.
Who knows how their destiny will finally fall,
Does anyone hear fate when it comes to call?
If you get the urge to follow my initial lead,
Share your inner wisdom whenever you feel the need.

History rushes by, though my sands of time are not wasted,
A taste of love and devotion I have often tasted.
Memories do live on, long after any important event,
Perhaps a few letters to your old mates could still be sent.
Do you remember how things were when you were young,
Were songs of praise duly sung?
Life moves at such a rapid pace it just drags us along,
Precious memories will indeed last your whole life long.

The street where I once lived no longer exists,
The old ways of living may or may not be missed.
One small street looked just like a million others,
Princess Street had no twin but perhaps a few brothers.
Our true destiny was written in the stars long before we were born,
Between ambitious dreams and innate ability, we all get a little bit torn.
I always wanted to write an intensely riveting book,
When it came to dreaming up new ideas I never got stuck.

Terrace houses used to stand neatly all in a row,
Unfortunately, none of them are left now you know.
Enjoy a moment lost in times long since gone past,
Re-experience moments that you once hoped would last.
Remember catastrophic mistakes that we have all made,
I wonder if I will make even the lowest possible grade?
Stop and consider those who are dead and gone,
Who is your truly beloved long lost number one?

Try reading this astounding tale of both surprise and wonder,
Run for cover if you hear any loud claps of thunder.
We can keep very little from our vast historic past,
Yet precious memories we keep just seem to last and last.
The sands of time shall never stop still,
Passages of time are impossible to stop even if you had the will.
Our lives take many twists and the odd unexpected turn,
I still seem to spend my whole life just trying to learn.

Where will all that specialist knowledge eventually go?
Will anyone remember any of my achievements, I do not know.
The highlights of my life and times are all just passing me by,
I cannot stop the clock no matter how hard I try.
Tonight history is about to be recorded as I duly sit and write,
Indeed I could well be working rather late tonight.
Few lucky people enjoy a stress-free life – this I know to be true,
Obviously, I am no longer a small baby all tiny and new.

I used to have a future date with destiny but not anymore,
Once I was tempted to go in search of a nice sandy shore.
I still worship awesome gods as my love for them keeps growing,
But will they ever love me back? I still have no way of knowing.
This bizarrely enduring tale may well live always and forever,
People will not forget about my peculiar troubles ever.
All I wish to do is to tell my strangely twisted tale,
Straight through my life and times you may ever so gently sail.

I am now a mature woman standing steadfast yet alone,
You may find me lingering somewhere in the twilight zone.
I would like to become a highly articulate and forthright woman,
However, immense energy and emotional drive I still need to summon.
Now I will return to Princess Street where I once so happily used to play,
Once again, I shall re-visit many a wonderful hot summers’ day.
One small ambitious little girl indeed I used to be,
When I was still ever so young, wild, and my childish spirits still ran free.


New contributor Scarlet Hardy’s wonderfully woven and nostalgic tale comes to its conclusion in the second part. Looking back on the days of childhood, when full streets of houses still existed and old friends from the past still kept in touch, An Ode to Yesterday spans a lifetime of memories. If you’ve read the first part and been captivated by Scarlet’s words, you’ll know this narrative tale was partly inspired by falling in love and those memories associated with it. Again, if you enjoyed this piece, please consider leaving a like or a comment in the section below. 

Featured Image CC // Duarte JH

An Ode to Yesterday

Written by Scarlet Hardy

A two-part journey into the poet’s world. The second part will be published on July 25th.


I often think about yesterday,
When I miss young friends with whom I used to play.
The innocence of youth has long since gone,
Of opportunities to turn back time, I have had not one.
This poem is an ode to my youth that I have long since lost,
Exactly how much does the process of growing up cost?
This story is a truly long and twisted tale,
It is fresh and inviting, without being boring or stale.

I was born in a distant northern English city,
I was never rich and that is such a terrible pity.
I was the youngest of three little girls,
I had a few cute kiss curls.
I was born with the capacity for thought and wonder,
Through the first stages of growing up I did blunder.
I was quite a happy child of no great talent or ability,
I longed to have some true financial stability.

Due to my endless curiosity I asked questions all day long,
And when I felt happy I would burst into song.
Of the tiny cobbled street from where I once came,
One day that place would achieve its fair share of fame.
My memories stretch back to the tender age of just three,
I still remember being nursed upon my mother’s knee.
I knew nothing of dire poverty, I did not quite understand,
My untimely birth had not been planned.

I thanked awesome gods for my unexpected creation,
At that time I had no known position or power within any nation
Many mistakes I made; they fill me with such deep regret,
No way was I ever likely to become a teacher’s pet.
With limited finance and rather plain looks,
My life has proved to be a strange blend of change and flux.
Trapped inside my own world as a lonesome child,
While reading precious fairytales I felt quite beguiled.

Imagination was the only true gift that I ever possessed,
Where my thoughts would lead me I could not have guessed.
Personal desires and wants seem to come last,
Relief from financial desperation does not always arrive fast.
All the days of my life I have seriously struggled,
With truly horrendous bills I jiggled and juggled.

This book contains the details of my life and times,
And explain why I might be accused of committing treasonous crimes.
I am a humble servant of awesome gods,
However, they may prove to be highly contrary bods.
If only I knew where I first went wrong,
Maybe roads that I chose to travel might not seem so terribly long.
Read my tale and digest the meaningful words,
I have omitted all curses and four-letter verbs.
In my strangely wondrous books, I choose to fondly remember and reminisce,
This tale is about my youth that I still do miss.

Decades passed before I undertook the business of writing,
My life and times have proved to be ever so exciting.
Errors I made go on seemingly forever,
I will not stop trying to learn new things all together.
If it is money that makes this big old world go around,
I would be happy to own the odd bar of gold weighing a pound.
My newfound wealth I shall gladly share,
If I were rich, I would not have a single care.

This book speaks volumes about my great love of life,
I attempt to explain my ambition to overcome trouble and strife.
I grew up and I made more than just the odd mistake,
I was unlucky to meet the world’s biggest rake.
A spectator of my highly exciting life and times you could easily be,
Yet I am unable to give away precious books for free.
I hope that my poems inspire you in a variety of ways,
I would very much like to entertain people for the rest of my days.

It may be possible to encourage another to reach their full potential,
I would like others to expand their own imaginative deferential.
Should you reach for beautiful distant stars residing above,
It may be then possible to share respect and true love.
Nothing in life is more important than giving affection deep and true,
The powers above are watching me; they are also watching you.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy my enduring tale,
Straight through my never-ending fantasy you shall ever so gently sail.

Twisted tales come from deep within my peculiar imagination,
Writing often proves to be a highly pleasurable form of recreation.
I sometimes wonder where all of my treasured memories will go,
How this intrepid tale will end I still do not know.
These books are the result of an intensive labour of true love,
One day I hope to please awesome gods above.
I also would like to please the occasional passing stranger,
Reading rhyming novels is unlikely to put anyone in danger.


An Ode to Yesterday is the first of its kind here on Inkblots. A beautiful and lengthy narrative poem, we’ve split Scarlet’s work into two posts. Heavy in nostalgia, her work reaches afar with emotion and spirit. The tight rhythm and rhyme scheme used within shows Scarlet’s unwavering dedication to form. For new contributor Scarlet, her inspiration came from falling in love. So much so, her written work now spans across nine novels and a collection of short poems. An Ode to Yesterday is just a snippet of the labour of her love. If you enjoyed Scarlet’s poetry, feel free to leave a like or a comment below. 

Featured Image CC // Cross Duck

A Conversation of Song

Written by Warp Spade


The moonlit waves swashed back and forth over a stretch of sand two miles long. Gentle and soothing, its sound a dull wash in the back of the mind. A clear night’s sky stretched out above like a black canvas filled with flecks of white paint. Not a soul to be seen, the sandy shore was smooth and untouched, ready to be shaped by the footprints of hundreds of visitors the next day.

A wooden pier stood old yet proud, stretching out to sea like a great finger, pointing to a distant unknown. Empty but for a jet black piano that rested at the pier’s end. Grand it stood there, waiting to perform to the world under the great spotlight of the moon.

A figure appeared, a shadow, gaunt and tall. It stood beside the piano, looking around before sitting quietly at the keys. It had no discernible features, seeming to almost change in shape as it stretched its arms out to touch a key. A single note resonated, sending ripples through the water beneath. Another note, higher this time; more ripples.

Note after note came, each one as spine-tingling as the next. Yet there was no song, no melody. It was as if the pianist was lost, tapping note after note, getting faster and faster, more angry and frustrated, no sense of rhythm. The sea began to surge beneath the disgruntled figure, moving this way and that in a swirl of confusion. Each note causing the water to jump in a mist of rage.

Then, in an instant, it stopped. The figure slumped down, defeated. The sea receded and the calm from a moment ago returned. Sitting motionless, the shadow was fading and re-appearing as if breathing deeply, heavy with thought.

A sound. The pianist turned its head suddenly. Another figure, standing upon a huge rock at the water’s edge a short ways down the beach. With violin and bow in hand, it quickly slid the bow across the strings creating a shrill, rough sound that clung to the air around it. The pianist replied wearily with a long deep note.

A moment passed. The violinist tentatively created a sustained and wafting sound, and the air around breathed effortlessly as the music ebbed and flowed. The pianist joined in, beginning to find rhythm and fluidity and the two instruments began to work together, one following the other. The noise grew louder and stronger as the musicians began to feel more confident in themselves and each other. Melodies grew and changed, rapid one minute and slow the next.

As song filled the air, so too did the air begin to move with it, the sea erupted around the pianist like a sudden storm. Water crashed around the pier, excited and spontaneous. The two figures were speaking and the elements were listening.

They played together, minute upon minute, hour upon hour. A symphony of sound, wind whistling and the sea seething, working together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. The music between the two musicians was not meant to have an audience; it was a love letter to fall on only their ears, yet played on the world’s greatest stage. The pianist’s hands moved in a blur. Hunched over the ivory keys, the figure was pouring his soul into the song and the result was magic.

The violinist, head bent and arm moving to and fro, created a merry song that danced from the strings and into the air. The sensuous sound wrote words of love into the wind. The two instruments were symbiotic, crafting sweet music together from night ’til the approaching dawn. A conversation of song.

The black of the night slowly turned crimson as the horizon came alight, setting the sea on fire with the approaching sun’s rays. The violinist stopped suddenly, and the pianist turned to its musical partner perched upon the rock, pausing in anticipation.

The violinist turned to face the pianist before bowing long and deep, and letting its violin and bow drop onto the warming sands beneath, crumbling away into nothing. And with that, the early light engulfed the figure leaving nothing but a slight breeze behind.

As the violinist was engulfed, so too was the pianist, not by light, but by rage. It hammered its fists down on the keys, returning to its ways of frustration and anger. This time the sea grew monstrous, huge waves rolled high and crashed into the pier from all sides sending spray everywhere, covering the pianist in a mist of sea and salt. The noise from the piano grew and so too did the waves. Suddenly the pier was engulfed completely and with it the piano and its companion, swept away into the sea, drowning in the sorrow of loss. The loss of that perfect night, never to be recovered.


 

New contributor Warp Spade’s short fiction is eloquent in word choice. Wrapping together the beautiful sounds of music with the frenetic rage of the sea works so wonderfully, it gives us the chills just reading it. The personification of the sea within his short story keeps us gripped to the certain tragic conclusion. But all things come to an end, sadly, we’re just happy we got to read such a great piece. If you enjoyed Warp Spade’s work, feel free to leave a like or a comment below. 

Featured Image CC // 2thin2swim

 

Psychosis

Written by Lost in a Dream


I.
The buzz of everyday trifles
Swallowed by the sea.

The giddy heights had endowed me with perspective:
I read the black abyss with maddening clarity.

II.
Master of my demons at last.
Or did I realise I was so small too?

III.
I stayed long enough to catch a chill—
A sobering breeze breaking the intense still.

IV.
While the views were sublime,
The very essence of truth,
It is impossible to live here.

A dark and brooding hermit
In a drunk, informed solitude.

Too powerful. Too weak.


The beauty of simplicity resides in this poem from Lost in a Dream. It’s, perhaps, a stark contrast to what she’s written in the past for our publication, but her words are still as piercing and on point as ever before. A battle of the mind, Psychosis, brings forth human emotion, pain and the act of being at one’s end. Completely at a loss, the poet appears transfixed by their own mentality, their own psychosis. We love this piece, so if you enjoyed it as well feel free to leave a like or a comment below. Lost in a Dream has written many other works for Inkblots, including her gorgeous poem “Star Talk ii” and short fiction “Man’s Crisis”.

Featured Image CC // Justcallme_Bethy

Spark of Hate

Written by Terrestris Veritas


It’s a world of grand illusions. There, love is just a dream. Strangers talk to people but no-one ever hears the words they speak. Listening is obsolete, conscience is lost. It’s only human nature to keep away from pain but they always use that pitiful excuse. When they fail, and they don’t want to admit why; they say they’re “only” human, like they were born with a blight and cannot do anything to overcome it, as if they are powerless. Yet they exert their power over others, when it suits them the rules apply.

You started this.

The days go by in a blur, traveling all the more quickly when I realize how little time I’ve left, how much there is to do. Others feel lost when they have naught but themselves, but I’m happy to be one and all at the same time. Eating into the atmosphere of deceit, stripping away one lie at a time while they build it back in waves. See me crawling as I’m slowly falling off the edge; the sharp edge of a delicate balance, imposed ever so gently by you.

This speck from everywhere is you.

He saw a pretty maiden on the other side of the one-way mirror and thought: “She will be the death of me”. All the boys are the same to her, even as she rides away with another traitor, not knowing his name and forgetting him even before he fades. The wind reminds him that he’s cold, locked in his cage of helplessness. He jumped into the sea, feeling the waves drag him into a shadowy embrace, filled with the warmth of isolation. As the blood froze in his veins he thought, “Well that explains a thing or two”.

You blame one too many a person for what you created.

You saw the summer light the sky in an explosion of dreams, felt the spring return to the miracle of a thousand births and even less deaths. You thought you could rid the world of autumn, the tragedy of decay, the warmth of a million drops of rain and a hundred puddles of pain. You saw a winter without snow, wrapped in the security of comfort with a multitude of friends. It came, you went, and I remained. All from the spark of hate you saw when you felt me close. The spark that you nurtured.

Remember me I made you, dressed and trained you, turned you into the deceitful little rat you are. Lesson learned? Not for a second. Trapped in your revenge you threw yourself into an ocean of animus and forgot to come out. I would catch you, like a fisherman saving the salmon from the shark, but you might break apart from the kindness.


Having read this so many times now, I still find anger and the salty tang of bitterness upon my tongue. But author Terrestris Veritas didn’t find it bitter at all when writing this short piece for a past Half Hour Challenge. Maybe the vehemence didn’t quite spark within him. Let us know if you enjoyed Terra’s work either by leaving a like or comment below. However, if you’d like to read more of his work perhaps try reading, “The Wisps on the Moor” or “For Loved Ones”. 

Featured Image CC // Sundaram Ramaswamy

July Editorial – Tipping the Scales with a Range of Content

Hey Inkblotters,

Wow, what a busy June we had, whizzing by in a flash. But now isn’t the time to be thinking about the madness of last month, rather I’ll be looking forward to July and the content we’ve got on offer. As the summer holidays kick in towards the end of the month for the kids, sports days arrive, and the temperature just keeps rising – especially during this British heat wave – it’s a good idea to slap on the sun lotion once again to save yourself from getting burnt. Though, that being said, it’s an unfortunate Factor 50 for me again.

So with July just beginning, we’ve got a whole range of content to share with you under this month’s theme, Tipping the Scales. It’s a theme that’s given a lot of our writers food for thought, so regular contributor Terrestris Veritas brings his A-game on the 5th with HHC, Spark of Hate. Later, we’re featuring beautiful poetry from Lost in a Dream on the 10th, while on the 20th and 25th we’ve got a double poetry special from new contributor Scarlet Hardy with her wonderfully written ode. Of course, lots more short fiction is on its way as well, so check back continually throughout the month.

As per usual, our Half Hour Challenge for July shares a similar theme to the one we run on Inkblots. So if you’d like to submit anything to us this month, make sure you write a piece within 30 minutes with Justice in mind. Also on the agenda is our Fiction Frenzy – which we’re running over two months starting from now until August 31. We’ve got two fantastic wide-ranging themes to inspire you: Sunlight and Moonlight. Remember to check our submissions page for all the details on our Fiction Frenzy rules; you can take as long as you want on your entries!

So with all that said, have a great July and I look forward to reading all of your submissions as part of our Fiction Frenzy.

– Colette, Inkblots Editor

Featured Image CC // Mike Bitzenhofer