Welcome back readers! It’s already day 10 of my daily writing challenge, and I think this is my longest one yet. The weather is starting to get much better out, which means yard work, but of course I’m more interested in both my major writing projects (When in Doubt and an Untitled Fantasy series) if not finding another article or source for improving my craft.
Total side note: CNN has an online creative writing masterclass bundle for only $30 about ALL the aspects of writing: creating a novel, a kids book, freelance, journalism, editing, publishing, etc. I just bought it, and plan to take advantage ASAP, and HERE is the link to check it out yourself!
Anyways… for today’s prompt, it’s the image below and for my short story: I kind of went on the Sarah J. Maas route and the idea for a young blonde woman in a gorgeous gown and venetian mask ascending the marble staircase, but she’s not there for the reasons many would rationalize.
A portly man in a dark wine colored tunic shoved his way past several other audience members out of his way as soon as the lights for intermission went up. He ignored their yells of protest, and picked up even more speed with his pace until he was just under a jogging pace. He cursed himself for having the bladder of a small rodent, and of course the nearest lavatory was still a small journey.
Outside the theater into the atrium, he descended a grand marble staircase and distracted himself by mentally tallying the cost of the many crystal chandeliers that were lit up upon the high ceilings. He chuckled to himself with satisfaction that the ones back at his villa were more impressive. They better be; he paid plenty for them.
At last, he made it inside the lavatory and was able to relieve himself.
Once again, he paid no attention to any dirty looks fellow guests shot his way as he made his way back up the stairs, and didn’t see the young woman as he turned to get around a pillar.
The woman wailed as some liquid splattered all over his front, and he groaned with the shattering of glass on the marble floor.
“Oh my goodness! My apologies, sir, I should’ve watched where I was going,” she apologized.
“You’re lucky it’s a dark material,” the man fumed while he checked the stains running down his front. “Do you have any idea how much this cost?”
The woman wailed. “I can’t tell you how sorry I truly am, is there anything I can do?”
“As a matter of fact, You—”
The words died on his lips as he looked up at the woman. She was young with blonde hair in a half-up style, amber eyes widened in fear behind a venetian mask, had amazing breasts on display wrapped in a strapless corset-dress. She had to be the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen; never mind she was probably half his age. He thought to himself how women like her would appreciate what men like him could do for them.
He cleared his throat. “You know what? Forget about it, as I tell my soon to be ex-accountants, accidents happen.”
The young woman laughed with relief plain in her eyes. “Oh my, well is there a way I can make it up to you? I can pay for any damages.”
The man guffawed and patted his gut. “Nonsense! I’m sure we can reach some sort of agreement.”
Her eyebrow lifted at that. “What did you have in mind?”
He wrapped his arm around her bare shoulders and turned her towards the stairway. “Let’s discuss it in my carriage and share a nightcap at my villa. This play is horrendous anyways.”
“If you say so, lead the way,” she replied as she wrapped her arms around one of his. He silently gestured to some attendant to go clean up their mess, hardly making eye contact with the boy as the two of them descended the stairs.
The two of them were packed into his carriage, and were already on the cobblestoned street to his villa thanks to the fact that he’d paid his driver handsomely to stick around and wait for him to sneak out like he’d planned on. He was smug as he noticed the woman seemed more impressed with him by the second as she took in his ride. His carriage was spacious, but she settled right next to him on the bench as they rode through the night.
“You never did tell me your name,” the man pointed out.
She curled a lock of hair through a gloved finger. “Merindah, sir. My father is a diplomat visiting Cresthaven to secure a new trading agreement with the king. I thought I’d enjoy some of the finer aspects of entertainment your city has to offer.”
He hardly paid any attention to what she said after she mentioned her father. “That’s absolutely riveting. Can I grab you a glass of wine, since you spilled your last all over me earlier?”
Merindah nodded with a serene smile, and he turned his back on her as he reached over into a side compartment to his secret stash.
“Do you happen to have the paperwork on the Magraven case in there too?” Merindah asked, ever so innocent.
The man scoffed as he reached in further for two flutes. “Of course not, Why would—”
He stopped. How would a visiting diplomat’s daughter know anything about the Magraven case?
Something wasn’t right.
He frowned as he turned back to her, but a blade against his throat stopped any words from escaping off his tongue. That, and the cloth Merindah shoved in his mouth.
“Scream, and I end your miserable life right now.” Merindah’s smile dropped, and the dark look she now wore chilled the man to his bones. Her blade edged against his throat, and he gulped, already feeling a thin trickle of blood slip down his Adams apple.
He was too terrified to even answer.
“I take it you know I’m not really a diplomat’s daughter by now, right?” She whispered against his ear; to anyone who possibly saw the two of them, it’d look like they were a canoodling couple.
“What is the meaning of this?” he sputtered out.
“You and several other key players are planning something, and the Magraven case was just the first step, am I right?”
His silence confirmed the answer she’d already suspected.
“Well, there’s another group that thinks your plans to further separate the classes in order for more money in your pocket isn’t a very useful idea for the wellbeing of everyone, so they hired me and some of my friends to take care of it.”
Sweat beaded down his forehead, and he attempted to shove her off, but she only stuffed the cloth deeper down his throat and stabbed the blade into his thigh. Pain unlike any other tore through him and he bit down on the cloth.
With a smirk, Merindah dislodged her blade from his leg and returned it to his throat. He was shaking all over, and copper stung his nostrils as he felt more of his blood flowing down his leg and settling into his handcrafted leather loafers.
He should’ve stayed at that horrendous play…
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell