Writing Execise #1
October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
Here’s my first writing exercise. The prompt was “The prince has gone missing.”
Tendrin stumbled out of the brothel and into the frigid night. He cursed to himself as he pulled his long cloak tighter in a vain effort to keep out the harsh cold. It was the kind of bitter, stabbing cold that chilled a man’s very soul and removed all hope of ever being warm again. Being cold forever was a fear that tugged at the back of Tendrin’s mind often as of late. The nights were growing longer and the chill was getting colder. It wasn’t the topic of polite conversation, but people still whispered about it. In back rooms and around private bar tables rumors abounded that the time of The Long Night was finally at hand.
Snow piled up in heavy drifts, causing the young nobleman considerable difficulty. I bet they didn’t have to give up their coaches and drivers in the Eastern Quarter, Tendrin thought angrily. A nobleman shouldn’t have to walk to and from his late night trysts. I would wish that they never find that spoiled Prince except then I’d never get my servants back.
It had been nearly three months since Prince Halthsins’ disappearance, and there was still no sign of him. Since that time every soldier, servant, and slave in the Central Quarter had been conscripted into the search effort. Tendrin’s family had managed to hold on to most of their slaves and servants longer than any of the other noble houses, but as the search widened beyond the borders of the Four Quarters even the most powerful houses couldn’t hold on to their workers. Tendrin didn’t care much that the young fool had gone missing. He only cared that he was freezing to death when he could be safely inside a warm coach.
As he struggled down the street moping and whining to himself, he was startled by a sudden movement down an alley. He turned to get a better look in time to see a large drift transform from a heap of snow into a terrifying wretch of a man. The vagrant was tall, thin, and stank. His long black hair and beard were knotted in thick clumps, and Tendrin could see that the harsh frost had taken its toll on the man’s body–what remained of his nose and ears were a thick purple and a deep blackish color. He also appeared to be missing a few fingers.
Tendrin tensed a little as the ragged figure slowly shuffled towards him. Stories his old nan had told him as a child flooded his mind. Stories of nameless demons and faceless spirits. Stories of the Frozen Walkers. Shifting forms who took the souls of men who strayed to far into the wilds at night. Frozen Walkers were used to scare little children into obeying their parents. They were blamed for every missing item, every sickness, every dead livestock. Tendrin had never given much credence to the stories, but he couldn’t help thinking about them now. The man standing before him certainly fight the description of the icy terrors.
The man extended a hand towards Tendrin and mumbled something about coins. As a rule Tendrin tried not to hand out money to beggars of any kind, but something about this man made him consider giving aid. Tendrin stared hard at the man in the dim light, trying to figure out why his face looked so familiar. Before he could come to any sort of conclusion the man suddenly lunged at Tendrin. He slammed his shoulder into Tendrin’s chest, knocking him to the ground. The man was heavier than Tendrin expected, and he found it difficult to both keep the man’s hands out of his satchel and try to throw him off at the same time. He swung hard at the man’s twisted face but only succeeded in hitting his shoulder. The man howled in pain and grabbed Tendrin by the neck. Tendrin clawed at the man’s hands, but was unable to get ahold of them as the wet snow had made them slick. He thrashed about in a blind panic as he felt the life being choked out of him when he remembered the small dagger in his boot. He contorted his leg and reached down and managed to grab the handle. Just before he lost all consciousness he pulled out the dagger and in one swift motion ended the fight.
The man’s eyes grew wide with fear and he let go of Tendrin’s neck. He grabbed at the dagger sticking out of his neck and tried to scream but all that came out was a wet gurgle. He reached out for Tendrin one last time and then…nothing. The man didn’t move. Tendrin lay there in the snow for a moment terrified and unsure of what to do. He shoved the man off and sat up. He coughed a few times and checked himself over for any other injuries. Finding none, he stood up and stared down at the lifeless heap.
A wave of smug satisfaction washed over him. “That’s what you get for attacking a nobleman of the House Claine!” He kicked the man in the chest for good measure. He stooped down to retrieve his dagger and as he pulled it out of the man, something caught his eye. A shining piece of metal–a gold necklace–was around the man’s neck, hidden under the matted folds of his hair and beard. Tendrin undid the clasp and pulled it free. As he held up the necklace he saw something that drained all the smug satisfaction from him. It was replaced by an overwhelming sense of dread and fear. Hanging on the necklace was a pendant–one that Tendrin recognized instantly. One that explained why the man had looked so familiar. The pendant was of a crescent moon beside a white dove.
It was the Royal crest.
Tendrin had just killed Prince Halthsin.
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