Fiction Shots are unquestionably our favorite posts to do, and this time around A Drift of Quills are taking side trips to the worlds from their books. It all started with the picture of a cityscape and the notion to visit a city or a secondary character from our previously published works. What fun!
As usual, we’ve got ONE picture and THREE different stories. Let’s read on to see how wildly, wonderfully different these turn out…
Fiction Shots #5
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I was excited to have the opportunity to revisit Marketh and… Crow. It had to be him because I was so in the mood for something fun. The story I came up with takes a peek into Crow’s past and one of his favorite (not!) people. You might recognize the city’s name. And if not, you can find more adventure in the Marketh in As the Crow Flies.
Flash #1: A Thief Worth His Salt
By Robin Lythgoe
I have come to the conclusion that all great people have their rivals. Qahan Nijamar, the mythic hero of yore, had his Ashlock; the pirate Maid Mihriban had her Princess Pakize; I have Raza Qimeh. Or at least he likes to think so. Most of his success stems from the fact that no one would believe someone as tall or broad or loud as he could ever be a quiet, agile, wily thief. Typically, he’s a mere thorn in my side. Like now, for instance.
At the mansion of one of the city’s quietly rich upper crust, in the master’s sumptuous library, a table stood between us—and Raza had the object of my affection, er, the acquisition for which I’d been hired, in his hands. And, to his credit, he wore the garb of the household guard. Clever.
“Oops. Looks like you’re too late, Crow.” He smiled, all crafty and smug as he tucked the signet ring into a pocket. Then he bellowed, “Thief! Guard!”
I did what any thief worth his salt would do: leaping atop the table, I grabbed the brass candlestick on the corner, and whacked Raza as hard as I could. He didn’t exactly fall, but his stumbling opened the way before me, and into the depths of the house. Away, I might point out, from the direction whence the guards would come.
Pausing briefly at the door, I heaved the candlestick at him. Down he crashed, amazingly silent. I doubted two thwacks on his iron-like skull would keep him down for long, and did not linger to enjoy the spectacle, but raced down the hall. There’s something vitalizing about having one’s plan upended. “Upended” was not necessarily “undone,” and I refused to let Raza Qimeh triumph over me, now or ever. Besides, the gods would provide a way. They always do. I couldn’t help wondering if our respective clients had pitted us against each other—again—for amusement rather than profit this time.
The corridor I traversed ran alongside a set of stairs. Throwing open the door at the end let in sunshine and a lovely distraction for Raza and the guards. They expected me to try to escape. I tossed a glove to the side of the path to further mislead them, then dashed up the stairs. Thumping and shouting as the trusty guard responded to the cry for help masked the sound of my passage. Out of sight of the lower level, I slowed. I love the mansions of the Rich and Famous of Marketh. I visit them often, sometimes for business, sometimes for pleasure. A majority of the owners can be separated into two categories: those whose private rooms allow them to survey their domain and all those who come and go past it, and those who choose quiet and secluded quarters with a view of their beautiful gardens. My mark, one Devrim Cahid, Lord Minister of Agents (whatever that might entail), fell into the latter category.
I started into his room, only to find myself in a closet. Unexpected, but the perfect place to stash the pouch of tools I carried, and jacket and boots as well. Stocking-footed, I peeked out the door, then made my way to the proper room. Minster Cahid was actually in residence. Also unexpected.
“There you are,” he said from beside the bed without looking around. “Help me into this shirt, would you? What the devil is all the ruckus?”
Smoothly, I stepped up behind him. “Of course, sir.” Gathering the shirt—a fanciful thing with ruffles and billowing sleeves—I pulled it down and gave it a twist that trapped his arms
“What the devil?” he repeated with a start.
“It’s just Ruckus. You’ll be fine.” I muffled his instinct to yell with a voluminous sleeve pressed over mouth and nose. Quite naturally, he struggled. For an older gentleman, he had surprising strength and tenacity, but eventually sagged in my arms. I checked his pulse before divesting him of his ridiculous shirt—I am a thief, not a murderer—and tucked him under the bed, out of sight. It took seconds to discover his problem with the shirt, but I got it arranged more or less properly, then added velvet breeches and flowing surcoat to my new ensemble. At the dressing table, I donned his wig. I would probably inherit nits, but beggars can’t be choosers. The foibles of nobility make one wonder. A little strategically applied make-up and a flashy earring later, I posed before the mirror to practice his voice. I hadn’t followed him for the last week for nothing.
“Check his pockets,” I said for the fourth time, pleased to see I’d got the crook of the minister’s brow down exactly.
The door opened, and in stepped a beautiful, buxom maid. “Oh, sir, there’s a thief in the house!” she cried.
I had to admire the minister’s good taste in women. “So I’ve heard. The guards will round him up, I’m sure. We’re quite safe here.”
To my surprise, she literally ran into my arms and clung to me tightly. I could work with that. The clomp of boots in the hall warned of the guard’s approach. Wondering where Missus Minister might be, I kissed the maid soundly.
“My lord…” The maid had left the door open, and the pair of us were in full view. He took the scene in stride. “Sorry, sir, but there’s been a break-in.”
“Yes, yes. I’ll be down at once.” The girl stared at me. I narrowed my eyes in warning. “Have you caught the scoundrel?”
“He appears to have escaped.”
“You’d best appear to catch him,” I quipped.
“Yessir.” And off he went.
“You’re not Devrim,” the maid whispered, eyes wide. “You look like him.”
I’d thought the same. A similar stature and complexion made my ruse a probable success. “True. I’m afraid I will have to gag you and lock you in the closet.”
“Or…” A certain gleam came into her eyes. “I could help you. On one condition.”
“I can’t split the reward, someone else claimed the prize.”
A little smile turned up her mouth. “Dinner. Tonight. The Golden Goose.”
I admired her pluck. Or insanity. Who arranges a tryst with a stranger robbing one’s master? “You realize I can’t trust you.”
She chewed on her lip, then her eyes lit. “I think you can with this.” From a box on the dressing table she removed a wrist sheath complete with a small and fierce-edged dagger. My roomy sleeve hid it perfectly.
“I like you,” I announced after I’d practiced loosing the blade. “Dinner it is.”
It turned out that my satchel, boots, and jacket fit (barely) into one of the minister’s much nicer bags, saving me the irritation of returning to fetch them. The maid, demure at my side and well within poking distance, carried the thing as we made for the foyer. A few of the guards lingered by the door, Raza among them, blood still dribbling from his temple.
“Well? Have you found the thief?” I demanded.
“He escaped out the back door. Some of the—You.” Raza’s incredulity didn’t quite rob him of speech. “That’s him! Take him!”
“I beg your pardon.” This was where things stood a fair chance of going south. “Are you mad?”
The maid stepped in front of me. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before. You’re not one of the guards!”
Bless her. She deserved dinner and perhaps a walk in the famous Yasmin Gardens. I didn’t let her bravado go to waste. “It’s him! Seize him at once!”
A scuffle ensued, which only helped my cause. If the guards had looked more closely, they might have pierced my disguise. And Raza, even with his great height and hulking shoulders, couldn’t prevail against three other men with sharp, pointy objects in a confined space.
“Check his pockets.” Even Minister Cahid would have mistaken me for himself.
“Are you blind?” Raza shouted. “That’s not the minister!”
All his shouting and floundering did not prevent the guards from finding the signet ring he’d taken. “Thank you, Dargan.” Knowing the man’s name was a nice touch. Professional, as it were. I examined the ring, then slipped it on my finger. It glittered as I waved a dismissive hand. “You know what to do with him.”
“Crow! Don’t do this. Don’t you dare!”
Ignoring him, I made my way out the door, the lovely maid at my side.
“Perhaps someplace nicer than the Golden Goose. Crow.” She giggled.
I tucked her hand into the crook of my arm. “Exactly what I was thinking.” The gods do love me so…
Flash #2: Beginnings
Author of The Unseen Chronicles
Tigrabum Fendor had never been, nor ever would be, an ordinary cat, thank you very much. He examined the new pin that had been placed in the latch and chuckled silently. When would they learn?
He pried a paw between the crate and the pin and wiggled the latch. The addition of a pin added a finesse requirement and five extra seconds before he freed the lid. He hopped up on his hind feet, resting his forepaws against the crate to look around the dock. Nobody had noticed him yet. He hooked his paw under the lid and lifted. Hundreds of blank, white eyes stared up at him, cold and unfeeling.
Flash #3: Arriving in Aventown
Author of the Oathtaker Series
The moon, now full, lit the way for the traveling entourage as it entered the village of Aventown. Dixon had described the town as “sleepy,” and so it seemed to be, in what few lights shown through any windows, although the hour was not yet late.
Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop. The travelers’ horses drummed a steady rhythm as they made their way down the cobblestone street, announcing their presence to anyone in the least interested. The sound startled Adele from her musings. Then just as she turned her thoughts inward again, unexpected laughter interrupted her reverie.
“What’s so funny?” Basha asked Jules who rode at her side.
“It looks like someone here held a contest for the wildest place names…”
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Want to read more short-short fiction we’ve written? This link will take you there.
This is such a fun way to write a story. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed writing! We’ve decided to make this a regular feature. Have you got a title or a picture to inspire us?