There appears, of late, to have been a bloom. A bright, beautiful blossoming of community challenges that taste like honey on my tongue and spark lightening flashes of curiosity in my mind. This is my submission for Matthew Fromm's High Fantasy Challenge.
But I am time poor and stimulus rich. And though I said to myself I must make choices, I am greedy. So this is also my submission to Mother Combs Twisted Endings.
And to L.C. Schafer's moonlighting prompt.
And to Jazzy Goncalves' Perfect challenge, a little.
This challenge to myslef, to have my cake and eat it, proved tricky, and I very much hope that I have sufficiently met each brief. This was made harder by a word count of 500 or over for one, and 500 or under for another! There are 500, of course. But most of all, I wanted to enjoy the story, and I did. So thank you community fellows. Who says we cant have it all?
In The End, Death knelt on the shifting sands of the great throne room, Destruction to his left, Disorder to his right, the rest of D troop assembled behind in supplication to their master. Beneath formless pillars in the fading beyond, the lesser troops knelt in ranked masses, the crackling of thwarted thunder fizzing in the spaces between them. Only Time knelt closer to where the amorphous Lord of The End raged in nebulous shades of black and red upon his throne.
“It is taking too long”, snarled Entropy. “I do not understand, with all the power I have granted you, why they persist. Time, have you grown too lenient? Disorder, have they bettered you? Death, what of you, who promised to visit them all?”
“My Lord”, Death spoke, his voice like the cracking heart of a mother bereaved, or as soft as that mother’s breast to those who heard it that way. “I visit more each day in your name, and yet more come. Disease and Conflict are collaborating on a support plan, it has been done before to great effect. We will prevail.”
“Inevitably. But I grow impatient” sighed Entropy, and every entity in the room felt he whispered into their ear alone. “Now go.”
Death stretched in the warmth of the sun. The summons had cost him time, and Time rarely bent the rules. He stood now above an Elvish settlement strung between great trees clustered near a gentle river. He had work here this day, and he smiled as he mounted the ladders. Fire would take all this at once, he thought, and Disease would have a field day. But Death was a perfectionist.
Sight fades without fear
Then hear a soft sigh,
For loves all held near,
Taste pleasures gone by.
This was his mantra, but often as not pain, regret, or just plain desire got in the way and despite the individual attention he gave, Death was often frustrated with how his visits went. Besides the plants, Elves were his favourite though. He would have liked to get the human done first, but it made more sense, geographically, this way.
Death waved at an older elf squatting outside her home in the shade of the higher branches as he passed on one of the wooden bridges which swagged between the trees. Smiling, she returned his gesture, and went on waiting. Two trees down, Death stooped to enter a room in which a woman lay warm in her bed, her family gathered round. Their time together was brief, but he felt with relief Entropy’s quiver of satisfaction as he took the woman’s fragment of Life.
Outside, Conception waited, disguised beneath an elvish cloak. Death let the fragment fall from his robe into her basket. “You honour my mistress,” she muttered, “who spreads herself to clothe the world.”
Death nodded his acknowledgement, for though he knelt in Entropy’s hall, even there he was not alone in his duplicitousness. His loyalty, always, was to his sister, Life.