Insubstantial

Gossamer Dome by Steve Jurvetson
Full silver moonlight weakens boundaries, doubly so on All Hallow’s Eve. Faerie walls made from butterfly sighs and cricket whispers cemented together with dew-damp mushroom gills bar passage by bound mortal souls. Except, perhaps, tonight.

Dawn stains the east as Queen Mab finally retires. Time grows short as I hear opportunity’s window sliding closed. My indistinct hand reaches the invisible wall, morning fog fingers pressing against imagined creatures’ dreams.

Reflections of heat lightning throw me back into the faerie ring; distant thunder echoes this year's slamming window. I rush back before I’m missed, doomed to serve, hoping until next Halloween...

Memento Civilis

"Time grows short, Archivist. We must leave."

The bearded elder remains bent over the machinery spread across the table, twiddling crystals in the splitting and refracting ruby light. "You go ahead, Avi. I'll be right behind you."

Avi's forehead creases more deeply. "You have no intention of joining me, sir. And I would remain with you."

The Archivist glances up. "I have no intention of staying here, Avi. But I have a responsibility to the memory of our people. I must use every second I can." He sighs. "Get the last of the physical records through the portal and head through yourself. You will be instrumental in organizing the archives on the other side."

Maslow's Purse

This plain leather coin purse or pouch comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, but it always appears empty on initial inspection. It radiates low-level conjuration magic, and coins stored inside will disappear within an hour. Activating the purse's magic requires paying for a purchase of some sort.

If the owner holds the purse in hand while agreeing to purchase something needed for survival or security (food, basic shelter, a mundane weapon when unarmed, mundane armor, climate-appropriate clothing, torches, tinderboxes, etc.), the purse perceptibly fills with exactly enough coinage to pay for the need and not a penny more. Attempts at extravagant spending will not be funded by the purse, nor will attempts to purchase magical items.

The Veteran's Mantra

Plakias Gonates Cave 01She rounded the final bend and saw the tunnel open onto the sea. She stared at the beautiful crystalline depths of the sea she had hoped to avoid, but saw only mockery and defeat. Captain Fisher's ancient survey maps had led her astray. Again.

If only the Old Goat (as she calls the good Captain on a good day) had landed closer to the temple site, but he had insisted on landing at Idyls Downport in hopes of trading. If only the Old Goat had given her his hovercar, but he needed it to haul his stash of gods-damned single malt. If only the Old Goat had agreed to pay for a rental, but all his money was tied up in his hold, and it would take a few days to sell any of his cargo for a fair price.

If only she had insisted the Old Goat pay her something up front, but he had called in a huge favor. Worse yet, he sent his crew's doctor to talk her into bailing his ass out of jail after he tried to bribe a theocracy official with a flask of single malt. Typical. She dragged a hand through her red hair, adjusted her rifle, and exhaled. For the tenth time today, she muttered her less-charitable nickname for the Old Goat, which became her mantra every time she had to pull him out of whatever rathole he blindly ran down this week:

"Duckfucker."

Funnel Photo Finish

This snippet of story, all 800 words of it, exists solely because of the following image, used with the permission of its creator, Robert Cornelius. He does fantastic Photoshop work. Don't believe me? Check out his portfolio and blog. Look for more photo-inspired pieces like this in future posts.

This image screamed "DCC Funnel" to me, so I went with it. Enjoy!

Fight or Flight by Robert Cornelius. Used with permission.
Sixteen volunteers descend those cold and ancient steps in the keep's basement. Ninety minutes later only the Woodcutter still lives, desperate to find a way back up those steps to relative safety.