Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Close Encounters Prompt #WEP #WEPFF #FlashFiction #Scene #StoryExcerpt #Fantasy

I mentioned in my June IWSG post that I planned to use a scene from an Existence high-fantasy side story (or "frame story" or "story within the story") for the WEPFF prompt this month. In the Existence books, you see Xavier and Wend in an online fantasy roleplaying chat-based game. 

Xavier's character, Monoghan, is an exceptionally massive breed of Great Wolf, and he has been cursed/ gifted with the ability to transform into a human at will. (Though transformation was spontaneous during puberty, he gained control in adulthood.) He also "suffers" from immortality and is now so old that only two people he knew in his big "hero days" are still alive. Monoghan is the last Great Wolf. As thanks for the time ages ago when he helped save the planet, he was gifted the territory known as "The Forest," which outsiders are forbidden to enter. (Accomplished mainly by horror stories spread throughout the realm for generations.)

Candra @JLenniDorner
Candra
Wend's character, Candra, is an island wood elf. Her human-equivalent-age would be about twenty-three. This is the early elf-adulthood period when her kind is meant to explore the world beyond their island. She had met Monoghan in his human form prior to this story, though it was brief. 

"The Nomads of Treachery present Phin Fynn." This character is specific to the story. He is not mentioned in the Existence books. The Nomads of Treachery are a small population, consisting mostly of humans, who hail from Treachery — a dangerous territory with a volcanic-like mass with a summit in the upper atmosphere which erupts regularly into space. This is the cause of the planet's rings. The nomads travel to civilizations to collect trash and such, which they sort and sell or feed into the "volcano." It is common to see these nomadic children as young as seven unaccompanied in human towns, usually gathering discarded waste. Neither Candra nor Monoghan has met Phin Fynn before this story.

Monoghan story quote @JLenniDorner

The beginning of the story includes that quest introduction. Monoghan, Candra, and Phin Fynn are the three who must travel together to the Shamlin Ruins (an incredibly dangerous place that is difficult to get to, especially in three days) to claim an unknown inheritance. 

Great Wolf size @JLenniDorner
Size chart of the three main characters for reference, including wolf sizes.

The Repear (not to be confused with a " Grim Reaper") was difficult to describe. If a helicopter were just a round ball, and the blades were more like bat wings and affixed to the middle 🛸 kind of like a flying saucer shape... but that long-neck could come out of the bottom center with a pear-shaped head (which looks more like a snake in this silhouette, because I'm a writer not an artist)... any suggestions about the story description versus my very crude sketch are most especially welcome. 

If you're wondering how to pronounce the title and river name (in English anyway), it's Re-Pear-Grave. 🍐 

Monoghan's makeshift torch is a real-world survival tactic. It only burns for about twenty minutes. The mud and bark are meant to catch falling embers. It only really serves as a signal, or as a safer way to heat something very briefly. 🔥

That's the background information to best enjoy this scene. Full critiques are very welcome, as I plan to turn this story into a book to sell and will include this scene. 

Close Encounters movie poster from WEP site

Close Encounters tie-in: The movie is about land beings (humans) communicating with sky beings (👽 space aliens) by using lights and sound. 

Tagline: A fantasy adventuring party of three must cross a river by communicating with a sky creature.

FCA 999 words



Repeargrave River Crossing

By J Lenni Dorner


"What's that sound," Candra asked as she rubbed her elven ears. 

Monoghan broke off some shrubbery. "Here. This foliage will reduce the noise. The Repeargrave River is still a fair trot ahead."

"Why is it so loud if we're not near it?" Candra tucked the thick shrub over her ears. 

"Low wind, flattened land, mighty river. Sound carries well in my forest." Monoghan rotated his wolf ears to protect his ultra-sensitive hearing.

Phin Fynn kicked the ground. "Is it safe to cross such a loud river?"

Monoghan moved a ball of shrubbery toward Phin Fynn's ears. "Not in the slightest. The river keeps the citizens of Mount Siegh from both invading Hiistocra and trespassing into my forest. The sound vibrations will fill you as we draw near to this part of the river. It is a way to ward you off."

Candra flicked Monoghan's tail. "Then we should go a different way. Cross somewhere more shallow."

"The river is the biggest danger on this route, which is our shortest path. I have a plan."

"Oh, well, as long as you have a plan," Candra emphasized the words as she cast her arms toward the sky. "I'll have you know that elves talk, so I am well aware that a river is not the most dangerous threat in this place."

His nuzzle tapped her arm. "You're right. That'd be me. Every other creature you've been cautioned against in my forest obeys my commands. Move along, we're on a tight schedule." 

Phin Fynn laughed as he skipped ahead, touching bushes, boulders, and trees with no regard for safety. Twice Monoghan had to snarl at camouflaged creatures who were one bite away from chewing on the child. At last, the river came into view. 

"Woo, swimming!" Phin Fynn rushed toward the water until Monoghan caught the collar of his coat and dragged him back to the treeline. Candra put her arm around the little one and shook her finger side-to-side in warning. 

Monoghan collected items, putting them beside a rock pile. He split the hardwood trunk of a leg-sized log, then shoved three sticks into it, wedging them all the way to the base of the shaft. Half a dozen pine cones were wedged into the log next. Adding gooey pine resin proved difficult. 

He gnawed and licked his fur, getting every drop off. The river looked so cool and wet. If he could just dip his muzzle in for a moment, this awful taste would be washed away. Just a sip

His paw sunk into the mud of the riverbank. He shook his head, breaking the trance. Repeargrave River hypnotized many creatures, drowning them. Monoghan wrinkled his muzzle as he returned to his task, glad the others didn't notice his near mistake. 

Fibrous bark rolled into a wick, coated with resin, and affixed in the log. He moved large chunks of bark into the hole of the rock pile. Now he needed mud from the riverbank without being lured to the depths. Water splashed at his tail. He shook it off. A daydream of rolling in the river crossed his mind. Wash off the stink of this journey. Leave the frustrating elf and the too-giddy human child. They'd be lost forever, like every other who dared enter. 

No. They were here at his invitation. He chose the route for his traveling companions, he brought them here. This journey and the ones on it were his responsibility. He growled at the water as he completed his task, affixing the torch log into the muddy bark in the rock pile. 

"Fire," he communicated carefully to Candra, knowing she could not hear him over the raging river. He nudged her to the torch. Upon seeing the makeshift wick, she understood. Her small, metal tools flickered a flame to life. 

It would only burn for a few moments. Just enough to signal the Repear. 

A round darkness loomed overhead. The scattered bits of daylight that permeated the canopy were gone. Candra and Phin Fynn pressed against Monoghan, who emitted a howl. The darkness came nearer. Black, flexible membranes connected between sharp talon-tipped fingers to form wings. The wingspan encircled the ball-like, black fur body, flapping up and down slightly, but mostly rotating. Such special wings allowed it to hover in place. A long neck stretched toward them from the underside of the body, a pear-shaped head sticking out of the end. 

"Re re?" it squawked.

Monoghan used a stick to poke around the flame, creating images and gestures with the light and smoke. 

"Re, re, reee, re re?"

He let out a whimper and bowed his head, his tail wagging. 

The Repear's wings spun faster, extinguishing the flame. Monoghan pressed against his companions as darkness and wind overtook them. He felt them grab his legs as they screamed. 

A moment later, they were on the other side of the Repeargrave River. He sniffled and licked them both, checking they were okay. Candra shuddered at being licked, quickly using the sleeve of her gown to wipe herself. Phin Fynn clapped and twirled. Satisfied, Monoghan picked up a branch with green leaves and waved it at the Repear. 

Light filtered down from the sky again, the creature gone, back to the hidden pocket of darkness where none could ever find its kind. 

Monoghan led his party to a creek, an offshoot of the river, where the sound no longer hurt their ears. 

"What was that?" Candra asked him as they watched Phin Fynn try to catch a fish in his little, human hands. 

"That was a Repear. It is suspected that they came here from another world. They communicate with colors and sound, on the rare instance they make themselves known." 

"How can it have spinning wings?"

Monoghan shrugged. "I have only seen them alive, and only while hovering over their river. They can suck a fish out of the water without nearing the spray of the rapids. I've never examined one well enough to fully understand them."


28 comments:

  1. Hi, I didn‘t read your introduction, I started directly with the story and I was drawn into it easily. The river was their biggest danger yet the shortest route increased the tension which you build up continuously and it also kept my interest. . I find this story as fascinating and from what I see of the the plot, it will keep peoples‘ attention. Shalom shalom

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  2. Hi again, I forgot to say that the comment above is from me, Pat Garcia. I could only post as anonymous on your blog. Shalom shalom

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    1. I don't know why Google was being mean to you. I wish I could fix it.

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  3. Hi! This was very engaging. Great use of the prompt and I am impressed with how you introduced us to the characters and the size charts. They definitely added to the overall feel, but even without them, this story had a great build up and I was hooked.

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  4. Nice! I enjoyed the adventure tone of the piece and the fascinating creatures and setting! Great job :)

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  5. Crossing a mighty river with the help of such a mysterious creature feels like a risky business. You build the tension very well.

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    1. That's what I was hoping to do. Thanks so much.

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  6. A gripping excerpt and awesome world building. The illustrations added a depth to the story, but it can stand even without them. Liked the close interpretation of the prompt. Thank you for sharing this engaging entry with us at WEP.

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  7. Well J Lenni you grabbed readers by the throat and took us for an adventurous ride. Some mysterious creatures to make your story more captivating. Excellent world building.

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    1. Thanks! The whole book is like that, which is what I love about it. I'm looking forward to finishing it.

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  8. I loved all the extra information as well as the story itself. The descriptions were excellent and the story line was easy to follow.

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  9. A vivid and descriptive adventure. I wonder what will happen next.
    Nancy

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    1. I really hope that's what all readers will feel. I have a serious twist at the end.

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  10. Love the creature descriptions and drawings, as much as I love the story. Wishing you all the best on the book. I've no doubt it'll be a blockbuster!

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    1. LOL. I don't know about blockbuster. But hopefully enjoyable to a niche audience. Thanks for the support.

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  11. Hi JL - I enjoyed the learning ... how you used the pine resin with the bark roll to create a wick. Your creative ideas for the creatures are interesting - definitely ready for more story telling. Cheers Hilary

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  12. I have had to change browsers to comment. I hope it takes this time. Colour me intrigued. I have been drawn right in, and my mind is wandering. And wondering.

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    1. Curious. What could be the cause of some browsers not working?

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  13. I enjoyed this very much and want to read more. A strange forest creature sucking them over the river? Or more teleportation? Either way, cool creature, good use of the prompt.

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  14. It really helped to have the intro, J Lenni. Your creatures are amazing and I'd like to read more about them and their powers.

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    1. I hope you get to read the book when it's done. Thanks.

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  15. Your storytelling skills truly shine, and the way you've woven suspense and intrigue into this narrative is commendable. It kept me on the edge of my seat, eagerly reading until the very end!
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