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Nightingale

Nightingale
Sturmer's avatar

I get it, fanfiction isn't my strongest suit, lol.

Alex Sinclair's avatar

I thought you'd ranked in the top three for our fanfiction bounties before? Please don't be put off from entering these, I've very much enjoyed reading your stories. If you're referring to the "flash-fiction writing advice" section, I promise that's not directed at you (or anyone in particularly). We've got a couple of fiction writers on the bounty team, and it's something we've noticed across our flash-fan-fiction bounties and thought we'd try to help entrants out with 😊

Caitriona39's avatar

Hooo boy I got this! Other than screenshot photography, writing is my JAM.

Lanah Tyra's avatar

Not getting much sleep I see but looking forward to this :D Excellent bounty!

Calico-Brimstone's avatar

Whispers of the Blood Moon

In the ethereal realm of the Fae, where reality dances with the whims of magic and dreams, two souls, bound by an unbreakable love, find themselves cruelly torn asunder. Seraphina and Alistair, lovers intertwined by fate, are separated by the whims of the faerie realm's capricious rulers. Their love, however, burns bright even in the darkest corners of the Fae Realms.

Under the watchful gaze of the blood moon, which cast its crimson glow upon the enchanted forests and winding paths, Seraphina and Alistair embarked on their separate journeys. Each relentlessly seeking the other, their hearts beat in tandem across the vast expanse of the mystical lands.

Seraphina, with her emerald eyes filled with determination, traversed through the whispering woods, where shadows danced in the moonlight and the ancient trees murmured secrets of forgotten tales. Her path was perilous as she navigated past treacherous faerie traps and eluded the sly tricks of mischievous sprites.

Meanwhile, Alistair, his dagger gleaming in the moon's eerie light, ventured into the heart of the Fae Realms, where danger lurked in every shadow. With each step he took, he could feel the pull of Seraphina's presence, a beacon of hope guiding him through the labyrinthine maze of the faerie kingdom.

Their paths converged one fateful night, beneath the boughs of an ancient oak tree, its branches reaching up to touch the stars. As the blood moon reached its zenith, casting an otherworldly glow upon the forest floor, Seraphina and Alistair found themselves face to face again, their souls reuniting in a moment of pure, unbridled joy.

But their happiness was short-lived, for lurking in the shadows, the dreaded Humbaba, a fearsome creature of nightmares, watched with hungry eyes. With a loud roar, it lunged forth, its monstrous claws outstretched, intent on tearing the lovers apart once more.

Quick as lightning, Alistair drew his dagger, the blade shimmering with ancient enchantments, as he stood between Seraphina and the oncoming beast. With a mighty swing, he clashed with the Humbaba, the clash of steel echoing through the silent woods.

Her heart pounding with fear, Seraphina called upon the magic of the Fae, weaving spells of protection around her beloved. With each chant, she strengthened Alistair's resolve, imbuing him with the strength of a thousand warriors as they fought side by side against the monstrous foe.

The battle raged on in a whirlwind of steel and sorcery, the ground trembling beneath their feet as they clashed against the darkness that sought to consume them. But despite overwhelming odds, Seraphina and Alistair refused to yield, their love serving as a shield against the darkest of evils.

At long last, with a final, decisive blow, Alistair drove his dagger deep into the heart of the Humbaba. The creature let out a guttural roar before vanishing into the shadows from whence it came. With the threat vanquished, Seraphina and Alistair collapsed into each other's arms, their breathless laughter mingling with the whispers of the night.

As the blood moon faded into the dawn, casting its last fleeting rays upon the enchanted forest, Seraphina and Alistair knew their journey was far from over. But together, hand in hand, they faced the trials and tribulations of the Fae Realms with unwavering courage, knowing that as long as they had each other, they could overcome any obstacle that stood in their way.

And so, under the watchful gaze of the blood moon, their love shone brighter than ever before, a beacon of hope in a world filled with darkness, illuminating the path that would lead them back into each other's arms once more.

Alex Sinclair's avatar

Lovely descriptions, and a very worthy third-place prize. Great work Calico-Brimstone

Calico-Brimstone's avatar

Thanks all, I enjoyed writing it! The game certainly pulled me into writing it.

Caitriona39's avatar

PACT OF THE FAE

“You need not remain so vigilant, Fleshling.”

It must have looked surreal to him- standing there in the moonlight in my bloomers and jacket, loaded rifle in one hand and miner’s lamp in the other. I’d woken quite suddenly, as I had every night since the Pale, convinced the Bound were once again at my door, convinced the fog that had enveloped and silenced my people had finally reached the shore of my cairn. I knew by now that it was unlikely- that the defenses I’d painstakingly built and the magic the Puck had taught me to weave into them would hold so long as I was here. But trauma never responds to logic, and by this time I had grown used to the tradition of patrolling my property in the early hours to chase away the nightmares that had roused me. 

The Puck, or Robin as he had asked me to call him, materialized at my side, feet touching the ground for once. His full height and stature had been hard to determine initially as his every appearance had taken place a full 2 feet off the ground like a hummingbird moving too fast for me to perceive the motion of flight. He had always presented in a fanciful costume and mask, something akin to how books had always portrayed him. A porcelain-faced clown with a smirk. I had never seen his true face- one of the myriads of reasons the trust I’d placed in him in my hour of need had very quickly faded away to a tacit acceptance of circumstances, and the bargain I’d made I knew was likely a permanent situation. 

“I do not suppose reminding you that your cairn below and the portals we constructed nearby serve to ward off the Bound rather effectively would encourage you to seek your rest once more?” He asked, his normally bemused and detached tone surprisingly softening.

“No, it would not,” I retorted, staring into his blank, painted gaze with a mask of my own.”I have not forgotten that those creatures first appeared upon opening the portals that led me here. If this magic were so infallible, they and the Calamity would not have fallen upon us in the first place, yes?”

Something resembling a sigh escaped Robin’s lips and startled me so much that I momentarily dropped my guard.

“The Bound caught wind of you because of your fear, Caitriona,” he clarified, “as you note they appear in all places when you believe you stand alone in the dark.”

I sighed in response, and set my lamp upon the railing. I would not, however, drop my weapon. Not that I feared any attack from this particular Fae, but the comfort of the solid feel of the rifle in my hand was one I was not keen on giving up just yet. 

“I am alone in the dark, Robin. Every night since the Pale took away everything I ever knew,” I murmured quietly, dropping my gaze and returning once more to scan my surroundings, ever vigilant, ever watchful. 

I sensed him shift beside me, standing rather closer than he usually did. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt his hand settle on my shoulder, and that skin came over with an electrifying sensation when the fingers of his other hand slid under my chin and tilted my face up to him.

“From the moment I discovered you in that cave, Caitriona, you have never once been alone,” he said, firmly and for once without the slightest hint of that Fae condescension I’d grown so accustomed to.

I stood, stiff and silent, swallowing hard and suddenly more afraid than I had been mere moments before when carefully aiming my weapon at the treeline, and not entirely certain why.

“Do you remember the first night in this realm? Taking shelter in the ruin near the gateway with nothing but a boulder obscuring you from the prowling Bound outside?” 

He asked.

I shuddered and was instantly forced back into that rather vivid memory. Curled around my pack, hands to my ears, fighting back tears and humming, trying to drown out the screeches and growls of the creatures a mere 10 feet away hunting me as I tried to seek my rest. 

“That memory is why I stand here tonight, armed to the teeth, and remembering your words, Robin,” I retorted angrily, finishing with a sarcastic imitation of him, “‘Remain vigilant?’.”

The Puck removed his hand from my shoulder and further surprised me by cupping my face with both his gloved hands. 

“You were not alone then, either,” he responded, leaning forward, his face now but an inch or two from my ear, his voice muffled behind the mask. 

Before I could snap back at him and pull away, he began to sing. I found that my feet were planted firmly into the stone of the balcony floor, so arrested was I by the subtle and soft beauty of his voice but more importantly, the words that immediately conjured a memory I had previously perceived to have been a dream. 


Baloo, my deare, lie still and sleep

It grieves me sore to hear thee weep

If thou'lt be silent I'll be glad

Thy crying makes my heart full sad

O'er thee I keep my lonely watch

Intent thy lightest breath to catch

O, when thou wak'st to see thee smile

And thus my sorrow to beguile.


My mind transported me back behind the stone ruin, no longer shivering with my arms around myself, but embraced from behind, warm and solid encircling my shoulders. My head swam and the sounds of the screaming Bound faded, surrendering to the soft lullaby my own Gran employed to help me chase away my childhood nightmares. I squeezed my eyes shut and shook away the vision, and when I opened them, Robin had released my face and raised his hands to his porcelain visage, removing it for the first time and meeting my blue eyes with his own piercing golden ones.

“From the moment you made your pact with me, I promised to ensure your survival, Caitriona. And from that night I never wavered… else the Puck a liar call” he breathed quietly, his gaze never leaving my stunned face.

“I …thought I was dreaming,” I stuttered, unable to do anything but take in his features, his song still echoing in my head. “H-how do you know that song? What it means to me?”

Robin smiled- a brilliantly warm yet unsettling smirk that mirrored the mask he had used to obscure himself all these months and slipped his arm about my shoulder, gently yet firmly guiding me away from the balcony edge towards the door to my home. 

“Come inside and relinquish your watch, and seek comfort at my side, and I will do my best to answer that, as well as any other service you may require,” he replied simply. “You believe your deal with a Fae serves only me, but I assure you most ardently that tis I that serves you with much greater measure than you know… Cait.” 


E

This was fantastic. I really felt like I was there experiencing this moment as Cait.

Alex Sinclair's avatar

Congratulations on first-place! We all think this is an excellent piece and thoroughly enjoyed the read! It's unpredictable, well thought through, enchanting, and left us wishing for more. Thank you for writing it!

Caitriona39's avatar

Thanks a lot! Maybe Ill turn it into a full fanfic?

F

If fate will have it

Irene grunted as she tumbled from the ever-whirling vortex, her shoulder having took most of the impact. Rocks and the like dug rather uncomfortably into her skin as she lie, gathering her bearings. It took her a while to right herself; she was a lady after all, she wasn’t meant for such rough travel. Unbeknownst to her a creature was floating nearby, watching as a hand slowly crept out, sifting the ground for its companion.

“My love, are you alright?” She called out when she couldn’t find the hand that had been wound tightly to hers within the portal.

“Alone again I’m afraid, dear” Puck -deciding to reveal himself- supplied. A wicked smile bloomed behind his mask as the woman scrambled to her feet, her gaze lingering fearfully on him before daring to search the surrounding area, presumably for her companion.

“Again? Have we met? Who are you?”

“I am Puck, if you so remember, it was I that directed you through the place between here and the pale”

“Then you must be friendly. My name is Irene Crosgrove and I came here with a woman by the name of Chepi. Please, have you seen her?”

Puck’s head tilted ever so slightly, careful not to give anything away. He recalls, not but two days ago, a woman who regarded him with wariness in her eyes and a careful tongue. ‘Chepi’ she had said, ‘a woman will come looking for Chepi. If fate will have it, you will point her in my direction’. Clever, Puck had thought, she had both concealed the name of her companion and herself by not assigning the given name. Had Puck been a fae who dealt in names, no doubt, that quiet attention for detail would have been frustrating. Pity for the woman that her companion lacked whatever teachings she obviously had.

“I know not this Chepi, but if she is in the realms then I can give you the means of finding her”

“Yes, it is imperative that I find her. I’ll do anything!”

“Then take my hand Irene Crosgrove and seal what we have already sealed, so that amends may be re-restored and friends we may be once again” as fate would have it, Puck would not lend a hand in their reunion.

And as she clasped Pucks hand, he uttered words that shook something deep within her core and sent chills throughout her body; it dawned on her then that perhaps she should had been more cautious, not as desperate, with this being, but it was too late now.

“Omesit in-kunnel ome”

……………

Irene gently floated down a cliff, carefully balancing a pack of goods as she tightly gripped her parasol. She had settled in the abeyance forest months ago; it was somewhere she felt Chepi would settle, and it was her least frightening option compared to the swamp and desert. She had found, to no surprise, that she wasn’t much for fighting and Puck wasn’t one to hide his displeasure. The fiends and monsters of the fae terrified her. She barely survived the first few weeks and when it became clear that her fear and incompetence would not subside, Puck grew bored of her and suggested she stick here.

She cast aside her ill thoughts on her own failure and focused on the task at hand. Thanks to the needlework her mother forced her to do as a child, she found she had a knack for stitching up cloth and clothing. She made use of her sewing skills to build rapport with the merchants and now had a weekly meeting to trade clothing and armor repairs in exchange for supply.

“Ah, Ms. Crosgrove. You chose the right time to stop by, I just got a fresh shipment” the merchant called out upon spotting her.

“Do tell good sir” She encouraged as she sat the heavy sack of leatherworkings he requested on the table.

He motioned for her to take a look at the wares as he made to check out her work. Irene snagged her a loaf of bread and some cheese, sitting them on the table as she continued browsing.

“Fine necklace you have, must be popular back home”

“Hm, oh, it’s one of a kind actually” Irene grabbed her necklace, which must have slipped out her shirt earlier and examined the intricate pattern of carved stone and wood.

“Really? Could’ve sworn I saw the same one on someone else’s neck a few weeks back”

Irene’s heart stopped and her eyes shot to the merchants, “Was it a woman?” she croaked.

“Why yes, a quiet lass, not very friendly if you ask me”

“And her name?” Irene asked desperately.

“Hm, it was very odd. What was that name again, Sasse? Something like sepi, chippy-”

“Chepi” Irene stated, already knowing. Chepi was here in the realms. Chepi had been at this table and Irene had missed her. Chepi was out there, traveling the realms and probably looking for her and Irene had been so caught up in her fears, that she let her chance of reunion slip away.

“Yes, that’s the one!”

“Where did she go?!”

“Mentioned something about a Nellie Bly, but She went some distance off and was talking to some fae, an eerie fellow with a goat-like mask. Didn’t seem like they were meeting eye to eye”

“Puck” Irene seethed, turning on her heels.

“Miss! Your payment!”

She ignored him. Her heart burning anew with resolve.

……………..

“Puck!” Irene called out angrily into the air, “I know you’re watching, show yourself!”

“You summoned?” Puck husked darkly from behind.

Irene turned to him, her eyes like fire. “You kept her from me, don’t bother denying it. You’ll teach me how to traverse these realms and you’ll point me in her direction”

 Puck chuckled quietly to himself, observing the new light in those steely eyes. Fate was an odd thing.

His voice cold, “Very well Irene Crosgrove. Take my hand”

Ah, yes, fate was a funny, fickle thing. So be it then, he would reunite the two who spoke of none but finding each other. 

Yes, as fate would have it, Puck would join the two entwined souls and then, strengthen by their bond, they would do Puck’s bidding.

Alex Sinclair's avatar

We love this story, and it very almost claimed first place! The tension is great, the ominous twist and foreshadowing is great, and you've managed to tell a story with twists and turns, which isn't easy in the short-story format. Fantastic stuff!

Limal's avatar

What a wonderful stories, glad im not a mod, as for me it would be nightmare to rank them for the rewards

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