Writing/Articles

Daily Writing Challenge #8

Welcome back readers! Just another day in the pandemic that we’re all going through, but my motivation today is that I have Savoy’s pizza preordered and so I excited knowing I have a great dinner on the way! Here’s todays Daily Challenge prompt below, based off the image of a bonfire with friends:

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“Bond-Fire”

On a late August afternoon, Matt walked through the back fenced door into the small backyard, and smiled to himself at all the faces already sitting around a lit bonfire pit. Peter, Tony, and the three other guys they were living with had all sent out a mass text telling everyone who was back at school to come over to their place and have a reunion, and Matt had no idea so many of his friends had returned. 

Eden was the first to notice him walking, so she squealed with joy and rose up out of her lawn chair. Her blunt bangs bouncing in tune with the clap of her flip flops, Matt’s mood continued to rise as she jogged over to wrap him up into one of her signature bear hugs. 

“Oh my goodness! It’s so great to see you, Matt!” Eden gave him a peck on the cheek, and everyone else’s greeting could be heard over the crackling of the fire. “Come, come! Sit next to me, I’m sure we can pull up a chair somewhere.”

“Right here, bud.” Peter gestured to a chair he’d grabbed that’d been resting against the house. “Happy to see you, can I get you a beer?”

“No, I’m fine, but thank you.” Matt sat down and smiled around the fire. “I missed you guys, it’s great to be back.”

Jared grinned from across the circle. “You look like you got plenty of sun, Bedbreaker.”

Matt chuckled. “That’s what being a lifeguard will do to you.”

“So that’s why you’re so blond.”

Madison flipped her long hair over her shoulder as she peered over while sipping on a WhiteClaw. “No way, he totally got some highlights.” She got up to get a closer look at Matt’s scalp, and he squirmed in his seat when she made a satisfied noise in her throat. “I knew it.”

Matt groaned. “Nice to see you too, Mads.”

“Love you, boo.” Madison tossed him an air-kiss before she went back to her chair next to Jared, who’s grin only widened.

“Don’t worry, I think you look pretty neat,” Eden said with a wink.

“I see it now,” Peter said. “But you look good, bud.”

“Well, now that my hair has gotten enough attention, how about we change the subject,” Matt suggested. “Like, favorite summer memory?”  

~~~

I know, I know… it’s not much to go off of. I used some familiar characters I’ve created from my “When In Doubt” project (check it all out above on the main menu), and believe me, there were plenty of similar scenes like the image above when I went to college.

I thought some small plot or conflict would come to me as I started writing, but it just didn’t happen, so I can admit that today’s daily wasn’t all that much of a success. It happens, and I told myself that I’d post the less successful days on here too to maybe show others that not every day is a successful writing day, and there’s nothing wrong with that! To be honest, I’ve been working on my 2nd Draft of my WIP, and my focus was more on that.

Danielle, my cowriter and friend doing these daily’s with me, and I have another prompt for our next short story, and I should have it written later tonight and posted soon!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Writing/Articles

Daily Writing Challenge #7

Hello readers! Welcome to the seventh day of this daily writing prompt I’m doing with my friend from work, Danielle, and today we did something a little different: We each created a basic character for each other to work off of with the following information: Name, occupation, and social class. Here’s what Danielle gave me below:

  1. Elswyth
  2. Blacksmith
  3. Commoner

From just that information given, we had to create a story around the character, so here is mine below:

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~~~

Image courtesy of newsroom.posco.com

“Forged in Deception”

The finest steel must go through the hottest fire, and those have been the words Elswyth has gone by ever since he’d begun his apprenticeship with Gondlyn Wachovic, perhaps the greatest craftsman and blacksmith the kingdom of Cresthaven has ever seen. 

“Those swords ready for molding?” Elswyth asked his master as he looked inside the furnace at the claymore’s they’d been tasked to commission recently. 

“Aye, can you get started on that, lad?” Gondlyn nodded his head towards the front door, where three figures blocked the way, barely allowing any sunlight past their silhouettes. “I got some business up front to take care of first.”

Elswyth wiped sweat from his brow, and pushed his chestnut hair out of his dark eyes, darkening his skin with coal. He put on thick welding gloves, his welding mask, and grabbed a sledgehammer. One of the large swords was already placed on an anvil; the one his master was about to forge, and began to pound away to give the weapon a more defined shape.

The labor had been something to get used to, especially the heat, but Elswyth has never been exceptional at anything other than his crafting. He did carpentry before becoming a blacksmith’s apprentice, but wanted something that felt more substantial to him where he felt like he was making a bigger difference for the good of the whole realm, and not just the locals who adored his handcrafted furniture. Luckily, Gondlyn had been looking to take someone on under his wing, so when Elswyth had visited the shop one day to have his carving tools sharpened and learned about the opportunity, he’d decided then and there to take him up on the offer. 

Lately, there’s been a small group of men in cloaks that had been showing up more times than any other customer, and usually their visits required closing the store momentarily with Gondlyn taking them back into his private office. Elswyth was never allowed to join in, and usually just got a dirty look or two from them; silently telling him to mind his own business. Knowing his role, he learned to keep his head down and continue his work. He knew the Captain of the Guard, Sir Charles Hainswright, was the client looking to purchase new swords for him and whom he’d considered his top men. 

Not too long later, Gondlyn came back to join Elswyth and work on the claymores. The cloaked men were already gone as if they were never truly there, but left a look on Gondyln’s face that sent a chill down Elswyth’s spine despite the blistering heat emanating from the furnace. It was a look that he’d never seen cross his master’s face before. What did those men want?

Elswyth took off his mask. “Sir, who were those men?”

Gondlyn ran an absent-minded hand through his scraggly beard, his pale eyes miles away. When he still didn’t reply, Elswyth dropped his sledgehammer and walked over to tap him on the shoulder, the air getting chillier by the moment. 

Gondlyn jumped back as if brought out of trance. “Wha?…Oh, sorry El. Just thinking about the next supply run, and what else I need.” 

His master chuckled at himself, but Elswyth wasn’t buying any of it. 

“Is everything alright, sir? What do those men want?” 

Gondlyn sighed, and he glanced at his office door as the lines of his face deepened. “Nothing you need to worry yourself about. Tell you what, I need to go into the market and pick out a few things. You mind watching the shop until I get back?”

“Of course, Sir.” There were so many questions on Elswyth’s mind, but knew his master wasn’t going to answer a single one of them. He knew he’d have to get any answers on his own. 

Gondlyn left in a hurry, and Elswyth waited a few moments after he heard the door close. Sure enough, the man returned in a huff, forgetting his money pouch like usual, and barely nodded a farewell as he left once again. 

Now, Elswyth snuck into the back office, and made sure to wipe his darkened hands on his work trousers. Inside, nothing seemed out of place or strewn about; Gondlyn may be scatter-brained here and there, but one thing he always made sure of was that his workplace was tidy without hardly any piece of parchment or tool out of place. Nothing was on his desk, but then again, whatever those men wanted surely wouldn’t be left out in the open. None of the cabinets hid anything out of the ordinary; just a lot of documents keeping records of all transgressions and specific orders from all their clients. 

After peeking at everything twice, Elswyth was about to give up when he remembered about the secret compartment right where one was to sit in a chair. 

Eyeing the door one last time, Elswyth sat down on the chair he’d crafted for Gondlyn almost a year ago, and pushed the secret compartment open and another stack of parchment lay wrapped between a thick, woven cloth and tied with black twine. 

What lay within the wrapping was something Elswyth would never have imagined. He couldn’t believe his master would be a part of something quite like what was drawn out on the pages of parchment, and all the infamous names of noblemen that were somehow involved. This alone could get them all hanged for unspeakable crimes it’d be committing. 

Elsywth’s blood ran cold, and his heartbeat was rapid while his hands shook in terror. What should I do? Do I go to the guard? Request the presence of the king? Who else can I trust with this? 

Elyswyth shot out of the chair as movement at the door caught his eye. Gondlyn stood there, peering down at the diagrams in his hands. He walked into the office, carefully closing the door and locking it behind him, all the while there was murder in his eyes. 

~~~

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Personally, I was pretty happy with how this daily turned out! The idea popped into my head almost immediately after I read the word “blacksmith” when Danielle sent it to me, and from there, these short stories just flow out of me! Are they any good? I don’t know, no one’s really said much about them or reached out and commented, but whatever! I enjoy doing it, and that’s all that should matter. I’m trying to tell myself that one shouldn’t do anything just to seek out glory, and I’ve always just been someone who needs acknowledgement from others in order to feel happy. I know I will end up being happier if I learn to veer away from that way of thinking

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Writing/Articles

Daily Writing Challenge #6

Hello readers, and welcome back for my Day #6 of my Daily Writing challenge! It’s based off the image by Tara Spruitt above—give her a follow on social media (@taratjah), her art is amazeballs—and it was actually quite a fun prompt that I personally selected. I feel like there is plenty of stories to come up with in this image of four young wanderers in the woods with some magical bird perched in the heroine’s arm. Read below what I came up with!

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“The Guardians of Sparak”

“Did you hear that?” Caleb already had an arrow tight against the coil of his bow as he stared out amongst the thick foliage of the forest. Serena followed where Caleb’s eyes traveled and frowned.

“No, what did you hear?” she whispered as she tried to calm down Sparak, the young phoenix they’d ran away with. Sparak was still easily spooked, and her feathers ruffled as small embers began to fall off the edges of her tail. 

“I guess there’s nothing,” Caleb replied. His brown eyes darkened as they continued to dart through the dense trees, a deep sigh hummed from his chest.

Sparak cooed a few times while almost unfurling her wings, and even though that alone caused a bead of sweat to run down Serena’s face from the heat, she got her guardian to calm down and rest on her nearby perch. 

Serena’s shoulders sagged in relief, one crisis averted, and peered over at Caleb. His rusty brown hair had grown longer than how he usually wore it, and a bit of stubble coated his jawline, and she had to admit that being on the run for almost four months was really doing wonders for his appearance. Back home at Cresthaven, the former head ranger for the royal family usually kept his looks more sharp and clean-cut, but now they had no time to worry about grooming requirements. 

Her chest ached at the memories of them training together, both firing bows at their targets, passing secretive looks during strategy meetings with the much older captain when he wasn’t looking, and sneaking a pitcher at the pub after hours when they had free time afterwards. She especially remembered the night he’d been selected to be the head ranger, and what almost happened. Now it seemed like Caleb didn’t even know how to release the breath he was always holding, the tension never fully leaving his shoulders, and Serena couldn’t remember the last time he’d even smiled. 

Sparak lightly pecked at her shoulder for attention, so it brought Serena back from her inner thoughts, and she smiled as she reached into her satchel to grab a small treat for the needy little firebird. 

“Did Aerin or Lyssa say when they’d return?” Caleb asked as he returned to their campsite and sat down on a fallen log near the firepit. 

“They said it’d take a while if they wanted to catch something for dinner,” Serena replied, and threw him a grin. “I remember you’d take extra long whenever it was our turn to go check the traps back home.”

Caleb gave her a look. “Sorry If I couldn’t face looking at whatever got caught.”

“That’s what I like about you, Caleb. No matter what, you’re still a big softie on the inside.”

Caleb looked away, but Serena caught his face turning red. “Don’t let the others know. Lyssa still looks up to me,” he admitted under his breath.

“Your secret’s safe with me.”

Caleb’s lips tilted at the edges, but he got up to get their fire started. He grabbed a handful of twigs from their nearby pile and laid them out in the pit, and Serena silently watched him with worry in her eyes. There was much she wanted to say, but never felt like it was the right time to bring it all up. For the moment, it was just the two of them; it was the perfect timing to be able to say what’s been on her mind. If only she wasn’t so much of a coward when it came to her childhood friend. Instead, she silently helped Sparak clean off some loose feathers that’d turned to ash along her back. 

They all jumped at the crunch and crackles of two pairs of feet drawing near, and Sparak cawed while she ruffled her feathers once again. Smoke began to protrude from the flaps of her wings, but Serena knew no real threats would make their appearance so obvious. 

Lyssa and Aerin returned, the former having a bit more swagger in her step than ever before. 

“Check it out, folks. We’ll be eating like kings and queens tonight,” Lyssa boasted as she held up two large trout from the nearby river, and shook her hips with two dead rabbits swinging from her belt. 

Aerin scoffed under his cloak. “Please, you got bored and decided to go chase a squirrel, so I caught everything before you scared it all off.” 

“That sounds more likely.” Serena smirked at Lyssa, who glowered at Aerin. “But I’m sure you provided excellent moral support, Lys.”

Lyssa crossed her arms. “Well, someone obviously never had fun growing up, so I figured ‘better late than never.’”

Caleb looked on while he started a fire. “It’s getting dark quick, so bring that all over here.”

“You guys are no fun.” Lyssa deeply sighed as she stomped over, and she eyed Sparak from the corner of her eye. “Tell me again why we can’t just have her start a fire?”

“Because she’s still a chick, and can’t control her fire quite yet,” Caleb reminded her. “We can’t risk her burning down the whole forest.”

“Yeah, I suppose we better wait on that,” Lyssa agreed.

Serena watched as Aerin went into his tent and reappeared with the thick volume he’s been reading on their journey. He gave her a slight nod as he sat down on the same log as her, head already buried deep within the book’s pages. Serena turned her attention towards Caleb and Lyssa; their heads bowed close together while she watched him clean the fish and slap the meat onto the flat stone they used as a skillet. Lyssa intently listened to every word he spoke, and Serena couldn’t help but smile at the scene. 

Lyssa was the young daughter of a merchant, and has never had an older brother growing up to help take care of her, and now her whole family was dead for helping them all escape from Cresthaven. Lyssa may hide any pain she’s suffering, but Serena’s heart broke for all that the young child has been through, especially with the situation the four of them were currently stuck in. Because of Sparak, and what their court had planned for her, now the four of them were on the run from their own kingdom, and who knew what was probably coming for them in search of the last known phoenix in existence. 

No kingdom should want to go to war, and with the hope of somehow crossing the Baltric Sea to get to the Western Continent for answers, Serena took a deep breath as she reminded herself of their mission; the fate of everything they know hangs in the outcome, even if it means betraying their homeland. 

The skyline above the canopies grew to a deep cerulean with hardly any clouds, and the four silently ate their portions as they watched the flames dance along the twigs and logs… well three out of the four did; Caleb went back to scanning the tree’s surrounding them. 

“Does anyone remember that song from back home?” Serena inquired as she fed a small helping of trout to Sparak. “You know, the one about the ogre and the donkey?”

Both Caleb and Aerin looked at her with bemused expressions, but Lyssa perked up with rabbit still in her mouth. “Oh yeah! The one where they battle an ox in order to be able to drink with the King? Then they battle it out with the guards because they beat him in a chugging contest?”

Aerin snorted. “Always a fan favorite around the campfire.”

Caleb nodded. “Give Serena a couple pints of ale and she would sing louder than anyone else in the guild.”

“Well at least I sang well whenever I did,” Serena retorted.

“Says you.”

Serena mock-gasped. “Caleb Mallier, you should hear yourself sing whenever you’ve got the guts to try.”

Lyssa snickered. “Sounds like we’ve got a sing-off happening.”

Aerin’s face lit up in slight amusement. “Not even pints of ale can make his singing any better.”

Everyone but Caleb laughed at that, but he couldn’t hide the smirk that appeared on the edge of his frown. He looked at Serena, and at her playful shrug, finally cracked a small smile as he took another bite of his dinner.

It was like a weight lifted off Serena’s shoulders at the long awaited sight of Caleb’s smile. With its return, the air shifted, and it felt like the group could finally lean back and breathe for one night since they’d narrowly escaped the kingdom. Specks of ember floated up from the crackling of the fire, and Sparak nipped at them in amusement, and the others chuckled as they watched her happily caw as she caught a stray flicker with her sharp beak. Even Caleb relaxed his shoulders as he watched the phoenix play along the edges of the flames. 

Serena’s eyes met his, and they shared a look that said so many things still unspoken between them. Things they hardly had the privacy to discuss, but the mere thought of them caused her heartbeat to quicken. Maybe once Lyssa and Aerin were both asleep, the two of them could sneak off, and she could try again.

Unfortunately, their mutual gaze meant neither of them caught the dark shape that jumped from the trees hanging over their campsite.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Writing/Articles

Daily Writing Challenge #5

Hello Readers! Here is my next daily writing challenge, and my friend and I switched it up this time around when she selected a song for our prompt! It’s a catchy, bouncy, and whimsical song performed by Celtic Woman, and I even embedded a Youtube video for anyone to listen!

I was inspired when I did some research and read the lyrics about one urging their lover to join them on a quest, and was told in Tolkien’s Elven language. It inspired me to think about two traveling Elves, and went on from there. Enjoy below!

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Two cloaked travelers entered through the thick wooden doors of a pub near the river in town as soon as the sun had completely set. It was a calm summer night, but there was an air of tension between the two figures as they went straight towards the bar. 

The heavy-set barkeep looked them both up and down while he wiped down a glass mug, his expression revealing nothing. “What’ll it be, boys?”

Dior, the younger of the two, peered over towards his companion. “I don’t think we need anything. Do we, sir?”

“Actually, we’ll take two ales, and we’ll both take the special if there is one tonight, kind sir,” Raegel replied with a small smile. He placed a few coins down, probably more than what his order was worth, but the barkeep nodded in confirmation before he turned away, a little pep in his step. 

Raegel decided to lower his hood and even on the dim lighting, his silver-white hair gleamed like starlight as it fell almost halfway down his back, and he swiped a few strands behind his elongated ear. Dior followed suit, and his eyes darted around their entire setting, not missing a single face or possible danger. 

“Where did your informant say to meet again?” Dior whispered to Raegel. 

The older Elf sensed an uneasiness about his companion, which was uncommon for their kind. An elf always exuded calm confidence in any situation. Dior was almost adolescent when compared to him; his aqua eyes were filled with naive wonder and his golden-amber hair was only half his own length. He knew he was beginning to advance in his years, but Raegel knew he still had a lot to teach his apprentice currently sitting next to him up by the bar. But first, their mission. 

“They made sure to keep it as brief as possible,” Raegel answered. He gestured for Dior to turn in his seat so they faced opposite directions. “They couldn’t risk any information being revealed, which based off the information they could share with us tonight, only proves how necessary it is to take these precautions.”

Dior frowned. “So we have absolutely no idea what they’ll look like?” 

“Remain calm, the letter they sent informed me they’ll make a signal when they make themselves known,” Raegel calmly assured Dior, noticing the returning barkeep with his hands full. “In the meantime, breathe and enjoy yourself. there’s no need to be impatient.” 

“Here ye go boys, just what ye ordered,” the barkeep set two bowls of a warm soup in front of them, then placed the full mugs of ale down next, not spilling a drop. “Pleasure to serve, it’s not every day we see yer kind around these parts.”

“Suppose that means business is usually in abundance,” Raegel commented.

The barkeep chuckled. “Ye could say that. Usually elves only visit Shirewood on serious business, I always forget yer kind need to eat too.”

Raegel made it a point to sip his bowl of soup. Not too bad, but he’s had better. “Not as often as most, but we need sustenance just like any living creature.”

Dior turned around on his stool. “Luckily, we are just passing through, so there’s nothing to cause much concern..” 

“Right, right, well happy to have ye here tonight.” the barkeep nodded. “Let me know if ye need anything.” 

The two elves both politely thanked him before he walked down the bar to serve other patrons, no doubt to wager on why the two of them were in their small riverside town in the first place. It must be an uneventful area for the two of them to receive this much attention. 

Raegel took another sip of his soup before he turned back to Dior. “I quite liked the man, I wouldn’t have minded continuing our exchange with him, like how he referred to me as ‘boy’ even though I’m most likely three-hundred his senior.”

Dior didn’t even bother eating his meal. “If he’s not our informant, then why waste our breath?”

“Because our presence already draws much attention, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.” Raegel paused as Dior once again eyed the room and felt everyone’s stares while none of the conversations ended. “Why draw more attention to ourselves? It looks quite suspicious if two elves come into a bar, and don’t even bother to purchase a meal or refreshment, don’t you think?”

Catching the subtle dig, Dior finally lifted his spoon to his mouth. “I see your point.”

Raegel chuckled, and could sense the newfound relief wash across the room after. “There’s no need to rush these meetings. I know you have many years left, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to enjoy these small moments from time to time.”

Dior took a large gulp of his ale, his shoulders dropping just an inch. “Yes sir, I just detest remaining in the dark on any of the information we need. You know how important this information is, and how much our Queen requires this information.” 

“Our informant should have arrived already,” Raegel assured Dior. “Now, we simply wait for a signal.”

A curvaceous woman stepped up onto a small stage towards the back, and a small troupe of musicians began to strum their instruments. The woman immediately joined in and sang a song about two lovers; one urging the other to join them on a journey, of the ancient sun, and to seize the day. It was a campfire song that Raegel remembered from his younger days, before he became a soldier, and he’d lost his first love. He was impressed at the perfect elven pronunciation the human woman sang, so he turned his head to give her his full attention. 

On stage, she smiled as she continued on, and even got most of the other patrons to gather around and joyously dance along; she even joined after a few other patrons gestured for her. Her smile was infectious, and her hair shimmered as it caught the light of a nearby oil lamp. 

Still seated, Raegel watched over the whole scene with a mix of nostalgic joy and melancholy. He took a deep breath at the memories the song brought back to him. All the while, Dior finished his meal, then his eyes returned to scanning the pub as it began to fill up as the night grew late.

When the woman’s eyes met his own, Raegel knew that instant that he’d found their informant. 

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Writing/Articles

Daily Writing Challenge #4

Hey readers! Thanks again for dropping by, here’s the fourth writing challenge during the pandemic; the prompt is the image below. Full disclaimer: I wasn’t feeling it today, the writing that is…I’m dealing with a personal issue currently, and it lead to me being distracted and not writing something as great as it could’ve been. But that’s okay, not everyday is going to be a day where I’m at my best with my craft. It happens, and the important thing is that I don’t beat myself up too much and keep at it!

I was definitely getting some Mad Max + Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace with the image I selected. There’s just a lot going on, and I feel like any writer could be able to find a story out of all the busyness of it.

***Trigger Warning: minor character death, swearing***

“Torque”

“Move out the way, motherfucker!”

Watt viciously swerved his battered blue Stallion 5Qx to the left, and out of the way of those damn Arajnic pirates as they swooped across the track in an foolhardy attempt to run any of the competition off the road with their tank; cackling like maniacs as some poor kid spun out and decimated his kit-bashed vehicle into a pillar of rock that jutted out in the middle of the course. 

Watt didn’t dare look back, but rather heard the eruption of the devastating collision against the unforgiving stone. A cloudy trail of sand and dust soon followed, threatening to blind everyone else who remained, so he scrambled to lower his goggles down off his crown and back over his one actually good eye. 

He still had to get used to that thought. 

The sun continued to beat down bright rays, the heat reflecting off the red sand of the desert, and a wide turn was about a mile up ahead on the track. Watt hated to do it, but pushed his gear shift down to allow some of the other cars a lead; the image of his wife flashing in his mind. Most of the cars made the turn with little issue, but those damn Arajnic pirates managed to use the torque of their tank to shove another vehicle off the track and out of the race.

Watt made sure to send them a silent word of peace as he passed by the carnage moments later, and vowed to seek out justice.

A large monitor was raised out of the canyon, showing live footage that switched back and forth between the leaders of the race, then back to the colossal stands filled with cheering, bloodthirsty fans yearning to see fire and smoke. All they want is a good show.  

Watt shifted up once again, spotting a side road just off the track that might just give him an edge. It had a small opening; all the other racers had missed it, but Watt’s mechanical operating orb where his other eye had had pointed it out to him. Sure, it seemed like an unfair advantage, but he’d come to learn over the years that honesty and integrity only weighed a racer down on this track. The small photo of his son on the dash reminded him of his past mistakes. 

Like I said, it wasn’t fully there, but I feel like when I’m feeling my groove again, I could go back and either retouch or simply add more to it, we’ll see! I’m not afraid to post the challenges that aren’t quite so successful too!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell