Tuesday, August 03, 2010

24/7, Divination 3

Dice Prompt 3

I am participating in Folded Word's writing month event, called "24/7," during August. Participants spend the first 24 days of the month writing short works, then spend the final week in revisions. The second part of this entry gives more details.

I'm not required to give a central theme to the entries, but I chose the theme "Divinations" and am using a pair of dice to generate prompts (values shown below). The "one" symbol on the purple die is the logo for Comic Emporium, which gave the dice away as freebies during The Wrath of Con in 2008. My prompt for August 3 is to write divination-themed flash fiction that uses birth.

Totality (494 words)

Aejos the Sage gazed out the window of the Queen's chambers, ignoring the screams. "The child will be trouble."

"Yes, M'Lord," murmured the midwife, distracted by other things. Her slippery hands, for one. The Queen's agony, for another. The child was already trouble. What child wasn't?

The Queen looked enraged, but she should be; she was in labor. Yet when her contractions eased, she shot a poisoned glance at the sage's heavy silks. She'd heard his words well enough, no matter how delicately he might frame his soothsaying for the King.

The midwife doubted the prognostication would land his head on a pike. Aejos would have been out tracking boar right now, as smelly as the King in their hunting clothes, if this were another night. But tonight the Moon was steeped in blood and the heir to the throne was ready to crown.

She wiped a clammy forehead, spotting fear beneath the Queen's exhaustion; but that, too, was natural when delivering, with new contractions howling at the gate. "A royal makes trouble for his enemies, Your Highness."

A pained smile rewarded her. Then the Queen's eyes lost their momentary spark and opened wide. The midwife knew what it meant and hurried back to the foot of the bed.

The Princess Umbra slid into the world as the full Moon pushed from its gory womb, its brightness blinding after hours in shadow. The eclipse made a slow sweep across the window. Aejos stepped to the side so that everyone in the room could watch the light fatten.


"The Moon looked like this when you were born." Aejos pressed a blade into Umbra's hands.

She grasped the sturdy haft and tested the scimitar's balance with a limber wrist. "Not my weapon of choice."

"No," he agreed. "But still."

Umbra's cheeks dimpled like the Queen's as she smiled. It was a pretty thing, but try hiding it in a gown. Better to hang it within her four-poster's satins as a talisman for her dreams, within easy reach if an assassin breached her door. "Aejos."

"Yes, My Lady?"

"When you predicted I would be trouble, were my lessons with you what you had in mind?"

The old man paused. Candle light brought out the chemical burns as he laced his fingers together. "Dark moons presage dark arts."

She snickered. And if she'd been a son? What then? Dark moons presaged dark excuses. "I'll miss you, you wicked fool."

A hint of tears sparkled before he blinked. "I'll read your coded letters and picture you as I see you now." His silk-draped arm guided her toward the study door. "It's time. Your prince awaits, dear bride."

Her eyebrow ticced up. "Beauty conquers. My mother taught me that." Just as important, the King had taught her the value of land, including what lay across the border.

She reached out and squeezed the sage's callused hand. Her veil would hide her knowing smile as he blessed the wedding.

Total Lunar Eclipse, 20 Feb. 2008, shot #16
Total lunar eclipse, Feb. 20, 2008. Photo taken a few minutes after totality.

Dice values:

Blue Die
1 (CE logo). Twitter poetry (140 characters or fewer)
2. Twitter fiction (140 characters or fewer)
3. short poetry (8 lines or fewer)
4. prose poems (under 100 words)
5. micro fiction (40-100 words)
6. flash fiction (101-500 words)

Purple Die
1 (CE logo). Birth
2. Water
3. Air
4. Earth
5. Fire
6. Death

My Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, defines "divination" as 1. the attempt to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means; 2. augury; prophecy; 3. perception by intuition; instinctive foresight. One meaning of "occult" is "hidden." That gives me a broad range of interpretation.
Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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