Another prompt, another round of great responses! Check out the stories and vote for your favorite in the poll at the end of the post:
Story 1 by Siobhan Muir
“You certainly have a way with the guards.”
The smooth, cultured voice came from the cell to my left, and someone leaned forward into the limited light seeping through the bars from the smoky torches burning in the aisle.
I couldn’t be sure he was speaking to me. I didn’t know if he meant it as a compliment or sarcastically. I still struggled with the basic niceties other people naturally understood.
“I wasn’t going to let them have their way with me.” I rubbed my arms with my hands, grateful I didn’t set my own clothes on fire.
“Nor I. I may not be the greatest being out there, but I draw the line at taking a woman against her will.”
I suppose that was comforting, though what he’d be able to do when iron bars separated us was unclear. I glanced around to find a place to sit, but the grime made me wrinkle my nose and avoid all surfaces. Who knew what crawled on the two stone walls. I shivered and wrapped my robes tighter around me.
Robes that aren’t mine anymore than the ability to control the fire in my hands.
Nothing made sense. I once heard people pinched themselves to wake up from either dreams or nightmares or weird occurrences, but I’d never had to do that before. There were a lot of things I’d never done that had occurred in the last hour or so and that seemed to be the new normal.
So I pinched myself.
“Ow!” Other than pain, nothing had changed.
“What’s happened? Are you all right?” The figure relaxing in the other cell leaned forward and his eyes glowed like a cat’s for just a moment.
“I’m fine. Sort of, but not hurt. Much.” I frowned. “Who are you?”
Story 2 by Cara Michaels
“You can explain this, right?” Explain how we were absolutely, one thousand percent, not in our world anymore. Not in any world we recognized. And not exactly ourselves. Recognizable but oh so different. “Why we’re here. Like… this.”
“The short answer is magic.”
“Lady, Your Highness, Goddess Divine—”
“That last one’s not bad,” Athana hummed.
“I have pointy ears and armor and a hammer I used to bash someone’s head in like that’s just a thing I do now.” I swept my arm toward Tae Woon, catching him hard in the gut with my gauntleted hand. He doubled over with an oof of protest. “Shit, kiddo. Sorry about that.”
His tail came whipping up and snapped across my back.
“Ow! Shit! Yeah, that. Exactly that.” I glared at the goddess. “My brother’s got horns and a tail and claws—”
“He seems to be adjusting quite well to the tail.”
“Not gonna lie, it’s kinda cool.”
“You’re cold?” The goddess lifted her hand to do… something.
“No, no,” Tae said. “Cool. Sweet. Badass. Daebak.”
“I—I have no idea what he just said.” Athana blinked at me.
“He likes it.” I crossed my arms and threatened Tae with future bodily harm at this betrayal.
“Sorry, Noona.” But he gave me a sorry, not sorry shrug. “Beats being the scrawny Asian nerd the brainless rednecks think is contaminated.”
“Ah, hell. You really want this, huh?” I dragged a hand through my hair, forgetting about things like armor and buckles until they snagged. “Swear to god, if you tell me this is the new normal—”
“Child.” Athana managed to nail benevolent and condescending in one smile. “I’m the only god you swear to now. And as you can see, magic adds a dash of flexibility to the definition of normal.”
Story 3 by Daelyn Morgana
“Hell’s darkness, Mortaem! What happened?”
Death waved off the obvious shock and concern in his friend’s voice, leaning heavily on his staff. He knew he was a sight for sore eyes but that was not his true concern right now. “I need to get into that room.”
“The Fates, Hades! I need to get into that room of yours and demand to know what cruel joke this journey and talk of legends is!”
For just a moment the God of the Underworld paused. Even though Death was not looking directly at him he could feel his eyes scrutinizing the newness. He tried to hide his hands within the sleeves of his cloak to not avail. They shook more than anything. Without a word Hades managed to coax him to sit in a nearby study.
“Mortaem…” His voice soft now. “What happened? I thought you were in search of Hekate or Jesus. Someone familiar with raising the dead and dark magicks.”
Death took an unneeded deep breath and looked down at hands that were no longer just bone, but now a patchwork quilt of new flesh and familiar bone. “I was. I found neither of them. Hades… Have you ever heard of a god named Viten?”
“Can’t say I ever have. What religion?”
“I don’t know.”
“What does he have to do with this?” Hades leaned forward over his knees.
“Nothing. Everything. He said it was a complete rite. It was supposed to reanimate full flesh. This, though…” He flexed his hands and pushed up a sleeve. What used to have been nothing but air and shadowed bone was now patch-worked like his hands. “This was not the new normal told of my first task. Something went wrong. Either this…Viten or the Fates lied.”
Let your voice be heard!