Another prompt, another round of great responses! Check them out below and vote for your favorite:
Story 1 by Siobhan Muir
“What is this place?” Roxanne skirted the large hole gaping in the floorboards and stepped up on the first riser of the stairs. “Have you ever been here before?”
Ambrose picked his way carefully across the rotted planks, listening to the groans of the old wood. “No, I’ve never seen this place. But it looks like an old temple.”
She nodded as she ascended the steps, staring at a broken, intricate window covering the back wall. He didn’t trust the stairs to his weight and remained at the base beside a statue of the Goddess. At least, he thought it was the Goddess. The figure stood in robes with a headdress of some kind. It held a staff in one hand and a small orb in the other, and had a decidedly female shape despite the wear to the facial features. Sunlight streamed from the broken window to decorate the floor, but the statue stood in semi-darkness, shielded from the light.
“Who’s that?” Roxanne trotted down the closest staircase and paused beside him, her hand lightly caressing his barrel. She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “Looks like a fertility goddess of some sort.”
Ambrose wanted to answer, but the unexpected heat and pleasure from her hand on his side struck him dumb. She’d never touched him before, even casually, and for the first time he found he wanted it. He liked the physical contact with her.
What in Epona’s name is wrong with me? He didn’t like to be touched or brushed or even gripped by the wrist in greeting. Why would he want this human’s hands on him at all?
He snorted and shrugged her touch off, but felt strangely cold and abandoned when she moved away.
Story 2 by Cara Michaels
We climbed the ruined stairs, Kai with far less caution than Taewoon and me. I tested each step carefully as we ascended. Sunlight filtered through the remains of what looked an awful damn lot like a cathedral rose window from churches in our world.
“Dude walks through here like he doesn’t know collapsing buildings kill people.” Tae nudged my arm. “Must be real damn confident about your ability to bring him back from the dead again.”
“He should be more worried about my willingness,” I muttered.
Tae snorted, a tiny flicker of flame escaping his nose. I clapped my hand against his jaw and pushed his face away.
“Yah. Don’t set me on fire, little brother.”
“Sorry, Noona.” He pressed against my hand, all scaly yet adorable apology.
Kai reached the first landing, scowling at a giant marble statue off to one side. I recognized the effigy immediately.
“This is Athana’s place?”
“It was,” Kai said. “Before Oldwell fell, this was her greatest shrine. People made pilgrimages from all over Greylea.”
“What happened here?”
“I guess you don’t know the stories.” Kai turned toward us. “This is the outskirts of the real horror. The closer you get to the capital—”
“Trying to scare off my new priest, Kai?”
Athana emerged from the statue, every inch of the marble’s fifteen foot height. With each step, she contracted, until she stood eye to eye with us. The last thing I expected was Kai’s subtle shift, positioning himself between me and Athana. Defensively. Protectively, even.
“Interesting.” She smiled at me. “You inspire impressive loyalty. He let the last one take two arrows to the chest.”
“Now who’s using scare tactics?” Kai bristled and shifted closer to me. “We both know ‘the last one’ had a death wish long before she met me.”
Let your voice be heard!