Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
This week: Part three of my summer serial. This nine part series, related to my Dragonspire universe, will be posted weekly in line with the Sunday Scribbles prompt of the week. Part one is here: The Hidden Village.
Last time Prince Flynn and his mage bodyguard Calix escaped into the woods with their captors hot in pursuit. A bit of magic saved the day, but lost in the jungle they came across a new problem…
Onto the story!
Previously on The Hidden Village:
Flynn steadied him. His skin was pale, and his breathing shallow. ‘You sure you’re all right? You look like you might pass out.’
Calix shook his head and eyed the wild, sprawling forest below them. ‘I think we have bigger problems. I have no idea where we are.’
Every tree Flynn shoved aside looked the same as the next, and as the sun moved lower a branch caught on his arm. He winced and tugged it away to assess the damage. A thorn. Great.
He paused to pull it free and peered back through the forest, in the general direction of the cliff, maybe. It was hard to tell where they were, and he’d long ago lost sight of the edge. The only constant was the tall mountain, which loomed closer with every step.
He shook his head and jogged to catch up with Calix. ‘Slow down, you’re in no shape for this.’
‘It was just poison,’ Calix retorted with a roll of his eyes. ‘I’m over it.’
He began to cough, and Flynn placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘Take it easy.’
Calix pulled away. ‘I will when we find shelter.’
‘There’s still plenty of time before sunset,’ Flynn said. He pointed at a small gap in the canopy of leaves, where the late afternoon sun filtered through.
‘Not if we have to build our own,’ Calix replied. He pointed at the mountain, where a waterfall cascaded down. ‘We’ll camp at the bottom. Should be far enough from the last place the bandits spotted us.’
Flynn sighed as he eyed the still considerable distance between them and the mountain. ‘Can’t you teleport us there with your magic?’
‘And risk attracting the bandits we just escaped from? No thanks.’
Calix’s eyes flashed. ‘Magic in emergencies only.’
‘Fine,’ Flynn replied. He kicked the dirt and yelped when his toe hit a concealed stone. ‘Adder venom makes you really cranky.’
‘Oh for-‘ Calix sucked in a deep breath. ‘Why couldn’t I be stranded with Sam instead? He’s far better company.’
‘Leave my brother out of this!’
‘Your mother’s right, you know. You’re too hot-tempered to be king.’
Flynn grit his teeth and shoved past him. ‘I said shut up.’
He stormed ahead, shoving branches aside and putting distance between himself and Calix. The trees thinned out, and he emerged into a clearing but he didn’t stop. The sooner they got to the mountain, to shelter, the sooner this terrible day would be over.
‘Idiot mage, knows nothing of politics just like mother…’ A scowl twisted his face. His brother would be a terrible king. With his kind heart he’d be dead within the first week of his reign.
A chill wind dislodged a few reddish-brown leaves. Flynn brushed one from his shoulder and tilted his head at the sudden, swift moving, dark clouds which appeared overhead. In between the clouds a shape flickered, blue for a brief moment before it blended with grey. He’d just taken a step forward to get a better look when Calix barreled into him and shoved him behind a bush.
Flynn flinched and shoved at the mage. ‘Get off me!’
Calix raised a finger to his lips and nodded across the clearing. Flynn followed his gaze as the bushes opposite them rustled. He fumbled on the ground beside him, but the only weapon he could find was a small sharp rock. Better than nothing. Calix crouched beside him, palm open and ready to cast if it came to it.
The rustling intensified, as did the tension in his limbs, but it all released in a large sigh when a rabbit leapt from the bushes. It froze when he stood, eyes wide and statue still, before it fled. Flynn sighed and stalked off in the opposite direction, Calix hot on his heels.
As the sun began to set the edge of the cliff loomed in front of them. Calix huffed as he slumped against the rocky surface and spoke for the first time since the clearing. ‘There,’ he said around a deep breath. His shoulders heaved as he raised an arm to point to the south.
A large waterfall cascaded over the cliff, and its river cut a path down the mountain, but that wasn’t what drove Flynn forward. Behind the waterfall, carved into the mountain, was a mossy cave with a small lake pooled around the entrance. He took a step back. Visible only from the side of the mountain, where Calix leaned eyes closed and panting, it was the perfect hideout.
He turned to Calix. ‘Come on, lets go.’
Calix stumbled a few steps forward and held up a hand to stop Flynn when he tried to support him. He hobbled along the wall into the cave and sat with his knees pulled up to his chest, but when he waved a hand to light a pile of moss the flames flickered out.
Flynn brushed his damp fringe out of his eyes. ‘Stay here, I’ll get some dry firewood.’
He stepped out into the eerie glow of sunset and away from the river. The twigs scattered on the grass were drier here, and he gathered a bundle in his arms. When he returned to the cave he dumped them in front of Calix. Before the mage could say anything, he left again to scoop up every dry fern he could find and stuff his pockets with berries. He arranged the ferns on the floor by the now roaring fire inside the cave and gestured to Calix. ‘Sit. It’ll be comfier and drier.’
Calix frowned and shuffled over. ‘Thanks, but how’d you know-‘
‘My father used to take me camping, before Sam grew old enough to steal his attention. I know a thing or two about survival.’ He dug the berries from his pockets and handed half to Calix. Calix began to eat, and Flynn hesitated before he asked, ‘Feeling better?’
Berry halfway to his mouth, Calix blinked, paused, and then he nodded. ‘A little. Using magic when I’m this exhausted is hard, but I managed to light the fire. Should be better by tomorrow.’
‘Good.’ He turned away as a dark shadow flitted across the entrance of the cave. ‘I have a feeling we’ll need your magic to get home in one piece.’
‘You think we’ll need it now?’
Flynn shook his head and moved towards the cave entrance in a low crouch. ‘I think that was a dragon. If I had one of those no one would dare challenge my kingdom.’
Calix rolled his eyes. ‘You don’t want a dragon. How the hell would you control it anyway?’
‘I don’t know,’ Flynn replied. He sighed and looked up at the cascade of water. ‘But if I made it back with one, maybe people wouldn’t doubt me so much.’
‘You think we’ll make it back?’
‘I hope so. If I’m gone too long at least one of the contenders to the throne will challenge my father. He’s in no state to defend himself, and Sam’s too young.’ He made a face. ‘At least, I think so. Everyone else thinks he’s great.’
Calix shook his head. ‘I actually agree with you there. He’d make a great ruler some day, but he’s not ready yet.’
Flynn tilted his head. ‘Seriously? This from the guy who agrees with my mother?’
‘Yeah. Sam’s too idealistic to accept what needs to be done. Even your mother knows that. It’s why she hasn’t told your father to make him next in line to the throne yet.’
‘And what needs to be done?’ Flynn asked as he moved to sit beside Calix.
Calix rolled his eyes. ‘You know what. What we did to your uncle, only pre-emptive. Leaving contenders to the throne alive will only cause problems later.’
Flynn smiled. ‘Finally, something we can agree on.’
‘Right,’ Calix replied. He yawned and leaned back against the wall. ‘We should find out who’s more likely to cause trouble when we get back and make a plan.’
‘We?’ Flynn asked as he reclined beside him.
Calix nodded. ‘You could’ve left me for dead, when the bandits took you and back in the caves. I owe you, and I’ll help you, if your father keeps me around after this mess.’
‘I’ll tell him you saved my life and got me to the lord’s estate in one piece.’
‘Thanks,’ Calix replied with a small smile.
Flynn smiled back and nudged him playfully. ‘You’d do the same for me. With your power and my sword skills, no one’ll challenge me as king.’
‘I dunno about no one,’ Calix said as his eyes slipped shut and he yawned. ‘I think they’ll try.’
Flynn grinned. Although they were stranded in a sprawling forest, had no idea where they were, and had a long trek ahead, perhaps this wasn’t so bad after all.
Thanks for reading!
Part four will be posted next Sunday. Writing this made me realise just how hard I find plotting stories. I love beginnings, I’m good at visualising endings, but the middle? It’s much harder!
Why not write a short story or poem based on a prompt?
The prompts for July are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts weekly on Pinterest:
Wind in my hair and hand clutched to my chest, I stared at the small wooden shelter beneath the trees.
If you use one of the prompts, feel free to share your story links below.
Feeling creative? I also run a weekly hashtag game on Twitter, #sunscribbles, where you can share one-off lines or quotes from a #WIP around the weekly prompt!
See you next week!