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Posted: Oct 17 2016, 03:36 PM
Writing Challenge #12
Welcome to another writing challenge here on Unbound. The AU entries were so fun to read, but I've decided to give ya'll a more open-ended prompt this time around. If you haven't participated before, this would be a great opportunity to give it a go. If you have any questions about the changes or the challenge generally, feel free to PM me on this staff account.
Prompt: Your theme for this challenge is music.
Submissions should be at least 400 words, but more is always welcome if inspiration strikes. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end October 30th at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.
Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
Posted: Oct 24 2016, 04:26 PM
"Sweetheart... Shireen come out of there please." When no response came the dark-haired elf sighed, leaning one hand against the wooden structure of a dilapidated building and bending down to peer between the space between the supports that held the building up and out of the mud. Patiently she waited, and although she could hear the quiet crying of her daughter somewhere within the dark space beneath the housing she was offered no response.
It was not often that the shems ventured into the alienage, but when they did it never usually ended well. Luckily it had only been a bunch of human children looking to start a fight, bloated with overconfidence and inflated egos big enough to match the nobles of Orlais. They had caused quite the stir but had been easy to chase away before they caused too much damage, and Adaia was glad she had been there, otherwise she wouldn't have seen Shireen fleeing the scene, tears streaming down her red cheeks and little hands balled into fists.
Still the crying had not stopped and so, with a sigh, Adaia got down on her hands and knees and crawled through the opening towards her daughter.
It was cramped and dark beneath the tired-looking buildings of Denerim's alienage with a strong stench of wet mud and rotting wood. A few feet ahead of her Adaia could see another opening, and when she emerged into the sunlight she was momentarily shocked by what she saw.
Tucked away in the corner of their sad little alienage, surrounded by the tall wooden walls of cramped houses, was a pocket of grassy paradise. The sun was warm and bright as its golden beams lit up the little hideaway; wild flowers littered the small area of grass giving it a splash of cheery colour, and in the middle sat Shireen, knees tucked up and arms wrapped around herself, her head cradled in the hollow of her arms. Adaia looked sadly at her daughter and approached quietly. She sat cross-legged beside her before pulling her daughter into her lap, arms wrapped around her small frame. She encompassed Shireen in her warmth, and Shireen let her hold her close. For a while they sat there, and slowly her daughter's crying softened to quiet sniffling.
"They made fun of us Mama. They called us knife-ear, said we was ugly and belonged in the mud. They threw stones at us." Adaia cooed softly as her daughter's tears started again, and when she brushed away Shireen's dark hair from her forehead she noticed the small cut that was bleeding sluggishly just at the front of her hairline. It made Adaia's heart sink, to think that her daughter had been subjected to such cruelty. "Humans can be cruel, my darling. When they treat us poorly it is because they think it makes them better than us. But they're not. It just makes them sad, lonely creatures in a world that will soon have no place for them if they carry on the way they do."
More often Adaia wondered whether it would be best to leave the alienage. There were rumours of the Dalish; elves who roamed free from the tyranny of humans, who lived off the land and practiced the old Elvhen ways of life. Admittedly Adaia had little knowledge of such things, she had never left the alienage and many elves thought the Dalish to be a myth, a story made up by desperate minds. "I wish they were dead, Mama. I hate them." Adaia's heart sank and she held Shireen close to her, wrapping her up in her arms as if she were trying to protect her from all the world. They did not have a bad life in the alienage, but she dreamed of a world where her daughter could grow and flourish, a world where she could play in fields of flowers rather than puddles of mud. A world where her daughter laughed more, rather than worried about the shape of her ears. Gently she placed a kiss to her daughters forehead. "Don't hate them, Sweetheart. Pity them, but never hate them. Don't become them."
It was peaceful in the little clearing between the buildings, and when Adaia closed her eyes she imagined their little patch of grass went on for miles and miles, filled with flowers and trees. No humans, no trouble, just peace. As she rocked her daughter she hummed a lilting tune which soon formed into a soft song.
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your eyes
And when they open, the sun will rise..."
She imagined Shireen, happy and free, running through that field. Imagined them both in a better place, a better life. One day, she hoped, things would be better.
It had been years since Shireen had set foot into the little clearing, but it was just the same as she remembered. The grass was long and swayed gently with the breeze, the colourful flowers winking playfully in the sunlight; a pocket of peace within the alienage, tucked away, Shireen and her mother's little secret.
Shireen stood in the center, blood dripping slowly from the sword in her hand, her face speckled with with red and smudged by the tears that trickled from dark eyes. "I'm sorry." Barely a whisper. Slowly she sank to her knees, letting her weapon fall to the earth, using her her hands to cradle her head as she wept. "I'm sorry." Her mother had never wanted this for her, had always told her not to hate the humans, to not become one of them, and here she was, soiling their secret place with blood and sin. "He killed you. I couldn't... I had to..." Fingers gripped painfully at her hair but she didn't care. She deserved the pain, wanted the pain. It distracted her from the ache in her chest, the colossal weight of the loss of her mother that constricted her lungs and twisted her heart. He had deserved to die... hadn't he?
As Shireen cried she wondered if her mother would be proud of what she had become.
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you."
Posted: Oct 24 2016, 08:16 PM
Wildest Dreams - Taylor Swift
He said let's get out of this town, Drive out of the city away from the crowds I thought "Heaven can't help me now" Nothing lasts forever, But this is going to take me down.It was as if the Maker and created this day to be perfect. The cool autumn air, the bright cloudless sky, the array of flowers all blooming in perfect unison. It was indeed the perfect day for a wedding. Her gown was beautiful, layers of silk and satin with hand stitched pearls adorning the tight bodice. Only the best for the daughter of a Magistrate. Her dark locks were tied in an elegant updo by only the finest hair dresser in Orlais. Her face was flawless with a natural elegant glow to it, the only bright color coming from her lips which were a brilliant shade of crimson to contrast against the color of her gown. So beautiful, so perfect. Like a doll waiting to be played with.He's so tall and handsome as hellHe's so bad; but he does it so wellI can see the end as it beginsMy one condition is...Dark eyes watched the handsome groom with the look of adoration. He was a great man, Gideon. Graced with beauty that so few held, intelligence to back that beauty, wealth, power. If there was ever a man that Octavia would call her equal it would be him. He was a rare jewel in an ocean of coal that she so too often found herself drowning in.Say you'll remember me,Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset,Red lips and rosy cheeks,Say you'll see me again.Even if it's just in your, Wildest Dreams...It was all she could do to keep herself from crying. It was all too real now. If only time could stop at this moment. Allow her the moment in time to keep forever. A perfect moment. How her heart loved him. How could the Maker make such a perfect man? I said "No one has to know what we do."His hands are in my hair,His clothes are in my room.And his voice is a familiar sound. Nothing lasts forever.But this is getting good now.Watching him now, it brought back memories of their last night together. His smile could put a god to shame. His touch warm and soft, like satin and silk. How often had she gotten lost in his scent? There was no where she preferred to be. Her pillows still smelled of him, her skin still tingled from his feather like caresses. How lucky she had been.He's so tall and handsome as hellHe's so bad; but he does it so wellAnd when we've had our very last kissMy last request is...If anyone could show just cause, why these two should not be wed. Speak now or forever hold your peace.Octavia felt her brother shift at her side and instantly placed her hand on his arm to keep it pinned in his lap. She didn't look at him, she wasn't even sure she could even if she tried. Her eyes remained locked on the man at the front of the Chantry. He who looked right at her with a sad expression in his beautiful eyes. That should be you up there, Octavia. He shared your bed not a week ago and now he weds another! her brother whispered harshly in her ear. Slowly, she swallowed the lump in her throat and inhaled a shaky breath, her tiny hands quivering over her brother's who folded his free hand over the top of her's. When no words were spoken the priest continued with the Wedding. It was only after the old man began speaking again that Gideon tore his gaze away from Octavia.Say you'll remember meStanding in a nice dress, staring at the sunsetRed lips and rosy cheeksSay you'll see me againEven if it's just in your, Wildest Dreams... Gaius was correct, it should be her up in the front of the Chantry marrying Gideon. He had asked her, she had said yes. But it was never to be. Scandal ruined everything and her family was drowning in it. There was no way Gideon's father would allow him to marry her. Even for all her accomplishments. They had toyed with the idea of running away, but when reality set in the idea was banished from their minds. So they spent that night memorizing each other's bodies and imprinting the image of their last moments in the back of their minds. See me in hindsight, Tangled up with you all nightBurning it downSomeday when you leave me,I bet these memories fall you aroundCome, Octavia, the wedding is over. We needn't tally at the reception. Gaius said softly as he guided his sister towards the doors. Octavia was a master at hiding her emotions. Being a noble meant that anything could be used against you. That especially included your emotions. They were almost outside when a hand gently grasped her arm. Octavia didn't need to turn to see who it was. Octavia...Gaius turned to speak but his twin raised her hand to silence him. Slowly, she turned to face her ex-lover and smiled beautifully at him to hide her pain. "Congratulations on your marriage. She is beautiful. I wish you many years of happiness." Maker did those words burn her tongue to speak. Slowly, his hand moved from her arm down to her hand where he pulled her gracefully onto the dance floor. She had heard the whispers the moment she and Gaius had entered the Chantry. It wasn't exactly respectful for your ex-lover to show up at your wedding but if it was to be the last moment she say him, then she would bury her feelings and wish him the best. Gideon pulled her close, making sure to leave no room between them as they began their waltz around the ballroom. The soft candlelight and the enchanting music did not help the pain in her chest. His hot breath lingered near her ear, she could tell he wanted to say something to her. But whether it be honor, or fear she didn't know. I am sorry, Amatus. he whispered so softly she almost missed it. Please say something. Blinking away tears, Octavia tightened her grip on his hand and smiled. Turning her lips towards him, she whispered for only him to hear. "Say you'll remember me, standing in a nice dress staring at the sunset. Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you'll remember me even if it's just pretend."Say you'll remember me!Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset.Red lips and rosy cheeks,Say you'll see me againEven if it's just in your, Wildest Dreams...Gideon leaned back and looked into her watery eyes. Octavia watched as the corner of his lip turned up into a soft smile. He said nothing else. No words needed to be said. They would never see each other again after this. As soon as the song was over, Octavia dipped into a bow and excused herself back to her brother, who she allowed to lead her from the reception. Stepping into the carriage, she finally let her tears fall. They left a hot trail down the swell of her cheeks. Gaius tapped on the roof of the carriage signalling the coachman to head home and gently wrapped his arms around his sister to hold her during her pain.Heart break was something she never wanted to feel again. Especially one as horrible as this. If she could help it, she would never fall in love again. It was better to be alone, that way no one could hurt you. All she needed was her siblings. They would have her love. What remained of her heart would belong to them. Say you'll remember me,Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset.Red lips and rosy cheeksSay you'll see me againEven if it's just in your, Wildest dreams....Slowly, she glanced out the window behind them to see Gideon watching their carriage drive away before his bride came by his side and quietly dragged him away. In Your Wildest Dreams.
Posted: Oct 28 2016, 09:29 AM
Two more days to submit entries for this challenge! Jitterbug and Sal, these are both lovely, and don't forget to post in the moderation thread and claim your points if you haven't yet.
Posted: Oct 28 2016, 12:40 PM
MALENA DE BASTION - SONATA
It starts with a crescendo of skirts and tailored suits and heels clicking on tiled floors. The crowd gathers in contained excitement in the polished marble halls of the auditorium, corsets drawn tight, stepping toe to heel, toe to heel, in lively rhythm through doors and up staircases.
The concerto begins.
She plays the caged nightingale with a smile as her song, on display, out of reach, untouchable. Draped in golden satin, finely embroidered, her hair secured with near invisible pins, only a single ringlet out of place. She holds her velvet-draped clutch so gently it seems she might drop it out of carelessness, and yet it rests secure in a hand so steady, only the purest of blood could rush through its veins.
Crescendo to forte, the crowd teeters in delight, and even he smiles his leopard's smile on the opposite balcony. The drumming of his fingers follows them into calando, the transition from light to dark, from day to night.
From truth to secret.
Bassoon in rilievo; the crowd holds its breath. The lights dim as lanterns are extinguished, and the melody lights their path. It weaves through the audience like a lover's lament, and draws in their minds, their hearts, their ears. The boxes go dark. Their senses will not obstruct the pianissimo.
She lets fall the satin from her shoulders in the privacy of her darkened balcony. There is blackness underneath; a dark so deep it rivals the shadows for intensity.
She releases the ringlets of her hair, cascading softly to the bassoon's calmando. She has her mother's hair. Everyone has always said so.
Her clutch unlocks, opens without a creak, to retrieve the daggers that fold in on themselves, and fold out now.
Fortissimo piano. The time comes.
Minuet and trio.
Two oboes join in mezzo-forte, a union of three souls in compound duple, a pace so quick a dancer is not meant to follow it -- but she does, stepping softly, toe to toe to toe, across tiled floors in dimly lit spaces.
His door reads six. Hers reads eight. It is the metre of the steps that carries her through his door, the silent shadow that slips in behind the melody. His back is turned, square shoulders rigid, but at rest. He hears only the music, the flirtatious sotto voce of the second oboe's propositions, and the bassoon's excited marcato in response.
Sforzando piano, a sharpened point to a feather's touch. The ringlets of her hair caress his cheek as she leans in closer. His shoulders tense. He feels the touch of a ghost on his skin.
Pianoforte; no clean, quick death for the man who stole her heart. No sleek blade across the throat, no neck broken or heart pierced, but a sharp blow crushes his larynx to stop him crying out. The music swells a crescendo to fortissimo to drown out the cracking of bones and pained groans of a dying man.
A cavalcade of strings like vultures cawing, but she is the hawk with sharpened talons, striking without mercy. Her steel stains red as it plunges into his soft tissue; into stomach, into thigh, into arm, but never heart, never for the swift kill.
He will live to hear the sonata rondo, the finale. He will live long enough to whisper her name again, and know that he was wrong. He will live long enough to know that he is not the last name on her list, and in the perdendo, as his life ebbs to naught, that she will claim them all in the end.
Draped in golden satin in the polished marble corridors of the auditorium, she holds the composer's eyes as he tells her of the sonata's meaning, so inebriated now on complimentary spiced wine that his words slur, but his passion rings clear. The story of love's denial and ultimate victory, with each crescendo mapped out in the landscape of his mind, a roadmap of his inventions.
But it is not that anymore, she knows. It is the story of a daughter's mourning and a mother avenged. It is a story with years of larghissimo, but still unfolding, still with missing crescendos and diminuendos, quickening to adagio, moderato, vivacissimo, prestissimo... Only to face another calando.
Her map is not as clear as the one in the composer's mind. It is like that, for those who follow fact instead of fiction. The melody takes such unexpected turns, at times. Perhaps she’s not yet discovered the form her symphony must take, should she reach her own finale.
Posted: Nov 10 2016, 11:49 PM
This is belatedly closed with my sincerest apologies; the new challenge will be going up this weekend no matter what.
And thank you for your entry, Birthe, don't forget to claim your points if you haven't already.