So. In the Dragon’s Rocketship, Rick proposed a bad writing contest:
“I propose a bad writing contest. In 1,000 words or less, write a fantasy or sci-fi story that is as terrible as you can possibly make it. Use tired clichés, tropes, or whatever you love to hate about the genre.
I’ve no idea how we’ll judge the contest, or what kind of prizes we could give out, but I’m open to suggestions.
I suggest that you post your story on your page and link to it in the comments. Who knows, it might draw some folks to your pages.
Or angry mobs.
Sounds like a win-win to me!”
In the spirit of the thing, here’s my go at a terrible fantasy story. And, okay, it’s more of the start of a story. But that makes it a terrible fantasy story, right? Because it’s not even a complete story. I’m sure that’s true. Aren’t you? Anyway, enjoy … or not.
The Quest of the Neophyte Farm-girl Temple Priestess Wannabe
Mace’donya hurriedly braided her red hair, her fingers flying as she rushed out the door. Her grandmother would have her head if she were late again. Despite losing her father and mother in a dragon attack not five years ago and having to run the family farm on her own, Tyer Alyss expected her granddaughter to be on time for S’thara-ja training every week.
She affectionately rubbed the head of Dongrel the dairy cow before dashing down the rutted wagon trail that led to Zhabadoe, where all S’thara-ja hopefuls trained with staff, fan, and magic to earn their place at the Great Temple of S’thara. It was an honor bestowed to only two neophytes every Sun’s Turn and Mace’donya had no hope of winning the Tournament. She was too tired most days from hoeing and weeding, watering and feeding, to work hard on her studies.
Still, Tyer Alyss insisted. She had won the Tournament her twentieth year, the youngest neophyte to do so. Mace’donya was but seventeen and certainly had no delusions of greatness.
She just wanted to sleep in instead of getting up with the sun to feed the chickens. Was that so much to ask?
The sound of the temple bells spurred her into a run. She waved as she passed Jaxson the Bard, who was plucking the strings of his lute in the shade of the Bloo Tit. He sang each night about the S’thara-ja and woke each morning in the bed of a new lady looking for a little adventure. Or so Mace’donya had heard. She knew better than to let Jaxson near her knickers but even so, she liked to gaze at him and wonder just how talented his lute-plucking fingers were.
Up the steps of the Temple and then a jog to the left to enter in the Small Doors. Only true S’thara-res could enter the Grand Doors at top of the steps. Mace’donya wasn’t sure what the big deal was about the Grand Doors or the S’thara-res. They ate, drank, and shit like everyone else, did they not?
“You’re late,” S’thara-res Yeo-tan barked, her expression stern as Mace’donya crossed the glossy floors of the classroom to take her seat.
She glanced at the Time Sands as she sat on the bench. “I’m not late. I have–”
S’thara-res Yeo-tan smacked her with a long, slender rod called a yish-whip, something all S’thara-res carried and used at will.
“Do not argue with me, deeshile.”
“I’m sorry, S’thara-res Yeo-tan–”
Mace’donya worked for an hour in silence, squinting at the grimoire she was carefully copying from. It was one of the requirements of becoming a S’thara-res: a completed spell-book, copied by hand by the hopeful initiate. That some neophytes had spent years copying their books only to fail to qualify as a S’thara-res was a fact not worth dwelling on.
Halfway in to a spell to create pox on an enemy, the Great Temple shuddered. A statue of the goddess Ra-men-ya fell from its perch at the far end of the classroom and shattered on the floor.
S’thara-res Yeo-tan hurried across the floor and the gazes of her students followed her.
“What do you think is happening?” asked Grunwald, Mace’donya’s only friend in Zhabadoe. He was a tall boy with an unfortunate overbite and a way of staring at people that made them fear for their lives.
Mace’donya shrugged. “Another dragon?” Grunwald’s eyes got wide and she snickered. “I was just kidding, dolt.”
“No, look.” He gestured to her spell-book and Mace’donya looked down to see the pages glowing, the words she’d meticulously copied leaping off the page in white-blue flames.
“Mace’donya!” The words were sharp and they made her jump, her book falling off her lap in a heap at her feet. “What did you do?”
“Nothing! I was just rewriting the Pox Spell and …” Mace’donya stopped as the book flared brightly. Grunwald leaned away as S’thara-res Yeo-tan yelled at her to get away from the damnable thing.
She tried, she did, but she was so tired and that made her feet clumsy. She stumbled on the hem of her dress and fell back in a heap. The magic consuming her book leapt to her skirts and spread rapidly over her body.
And oh it burned. She writhed and screamed. “Get it off! Get it off!” But there was nothing any of them could do and the magic sank deep into her body, into her skin, into her very bones.
It took forever.
When she could breathe again, when she could sit up, the entire classroom full of students moved away from her with gasps of awe and horror.
“What’s wrong? Did it …” she let her words trail off as she caught her reflection in the Mirror of G’lass across the room.
Her eyes glowed blue. Sparks of magic danced across her skin.
In seconds, everyone was on their knees, heads bowed.
“I don’t understand. Stop. Please, tell me what’s going on.”
In a voice filled with awe, S’thara-res Yeo-tan said, “You have been blessed by the goddess Ra-men-ya. She has filled you today for a purpose known only to Her. Your life will never be the same.”
Fear was the only thing filling Mace’donya. She ran from the room, part of her worried that no one tried to stop her.
Back down the path, back through Zhabadoe. Jaxson stood as she came upon him and bowed low.
“Stop it! Why is everyone bowing to me?”
“You are blessed, lady.” He straightened, his dark eyes gleaming.
At that moment, a shadow passed overhead and in a rush of sulfurous air, a gigantic black dragon landed on the road. Mace’donya thought her eyes must be the size of wagon wheels. And then the dragon bowed his head to her and she put her face in her hands and burst into sobs.
“Majesty,” said the dragon, his voice a low rumble of rock moving under the soil. “I heard your call.”
A hand on her shoulder gave her strength to lift her head. Grunwald. “I didn’t call.”
The dragon showed his teeth. “A call to quest, Majesty. Bring your Bard and your Friend, for only they can help you find the Shards of S’thara and return them to their rightful home.”
Mace’donya quailed at the journey ahead, but knew she could not go back to being a farm girl. Not now. Jaxson, Grinwald, and Mace’donya mounted the dragon and with a push of the beast’s wings, they were aloft. Away into the sun they flew, on a quest to save Zhabadoe, the S’thara, and, perhaps, the world.