Secrets of Renaissance—Finale

October 26, 2011 12:01 am by MRM in Campaign, Flash Fiction, Writing

The end of the #REN3 blogfest is upon us, dear readers, and I’m sad to see it go. More than anything else, I learned that I can put a story into just 600 little words. I felt the limit this time more than any other, because I needed to conclude the action and get to the true meanings of the Oracle’s readings. I’m sad to see the Ren-faire stories end, but I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it.

Thanks to Damyanti, J.C. Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager for hosting such a fun story festival. If you haven’t checked out their entries and fantastic blogs yet, you should.There are a ton of other writers participating, and if you’re wondering where you can find them, have I got the link for you: Damyanti has a copy of the master list in a post on her blog.

Once again, I took the word count right to the limit (remember to omit the title and the #-scene-splitter if you paste it into Word to check the count). Wish I could go on longer, but like the Oracle says, I don’t make the rules.

Rule of 3 Logo

Word count: 600

The Prompts for Week Three (chosen ones in bold/italics/underlined):

    1. The misfortune is resolved/accepted.
    2. Relationships mend/are torn asunder.
    3. The final event becomes another secret for generations to come.
    4. There is a new arrival in town.

  1. You can catch the first three parts of my story on my blog:
  2. Part 1
  3. Part 2
  4. Part 3

The Oracle

Three horses were tied to the makeshift hitch by the old cypress tree when Dant got to the Espadon overlook. Three was a bad number. Dant leapt off of his tired horse and fell. Gunshots spooked the horses before he could get up. He held his breath as he raced into the familiar, secluded nook ahead.

Dant felt another shot ripple through the air. He could see Remi crying out, but his ears told him nothing. A crumpled body lay in Remi’s bloody arms. Jana’s fiancé, Tegan, stood before them both, pistol in hand. Dant didn’t have to think hard.

Tegan had just enough time to look Dant in the eyes before Dant slammed into him. Tegan staggered and windmilled his arms as Dant fell to the ground. The muzzle of the gun flashed twice more before Tegan hit the edge. The Espadon overlook was as deadly a drop as it was scenic.

The last seconds of Tegan’s scream echoed faintly in his ears. Apparently the deafness was temporary. He crawled over to his best friend and the woman they both loved. The sight of Jana’s lifeless eyes made the nightmare real.

“Said… I’d be with her ‘til the end…” Remi murmured. He leaned forward and kissed Jana.

Dant couldn’t feel anything as he spoke. “We have to bring her back home.”

Remi looked up at him. “Not we.”

Blood coursed down Remi’s chest and soaked his torn, dirty shirt. A dark crimson patch stood out on his chest. He cradled Jana’s body and leaned over.


People stared when Dant hitched his three horses outside the Oracle’s sanctum. Could have been because he was past hours. That, or the bodies strapped to the horses. He didn’t care. He hadn’t even looked for the horse that ran away.

The door wasn’t locked. He found the Oracle in her reading room, looking at a row of cards.

“You lied,” he said.

“I cannot.”

“You said I would be the most important man in her life.”

She sighed. “You’re the reason she died so young. Who’s more important than that?”

“What? I didn’t—”

“Shoot her? No, but you convinced her to get a reading all those years ago. She didn’t want to. Remember?”

Dant stood speechless.

“Her cards said that any man who loved her would be the death of her. That’s why she broke it off with Remi and tried to marry a man that wouldn’t love her.”


“Had she never been read, she never would have left him, and Remi’s reading, that he would be with her until the end, would have had a very different meaning.”

Dant’s arm twitched. His vision blurred with tears. “You made me…”

“That’s bull. You had a choice. You could have pushed them together for good and been important in that way, but instead you sent her to me. Did you think I’d tell her she was destined for you? Sorry, Dant Dranall, but it wasn’t in the cards.”

Dant fell against her bookshelf. His fingers came to rest over a sliver of cold, sharp steel.

“I read my cards once, and they foretold the coming of the three. I watched you. Wish I could have told you more, but I don’t make the rules.” She smiled at Dant, the wrinkles on her face curling back. “‘Three lives, intertwined, will come between this world and thine.’ They always sang to me, even for my own reading.”

The Oracle closed her eyes. “It’s been so very long coming, Dant. Do what you came here to do.”

Dant’s gripped the dagger’s hilt and stood.

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Secrets of Renaissance – Part 3


For the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in the Rule of Three Blogfest, a month-long, shared world, short fiction festival. My continuing story follows three friends dealing with their intertwined fates as told to them by the town’s oracle. You can find the first part of the story here, and the second part here. Each week has a different prompt, but they are all limited to 600 words. Once again, I’ve hit the exact limit (though in this case MS Word is counting the scene breaks as words, so I’m technically two shy). You can always keep up with the latest entries in the blogfest by checking out Stuart Nager’s online paper.


Word count: 600

The Prompts for Week Three (chosen ones in bold/italics):

  1. The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
  2. Betrayal is in the air.
  3. Relationships unravel or strengthen.
  4. A long-kept secret is revealed.




Remi threw a rock off the overlook, trying to hit the Espadon. It landed a half-mile short, as always. The noonday sun bore down on the secluded nook behind the red, wind-carved rocks. It was the same nook where he’d spent dozens of nights with Jana. He held the note she’d left him in his hands and tried not to hope.

I’m going to the Espadon overlook today for old times’ sake.

It had to be good news. The oracle had foretold it, after all. They would be together ‘til the end. She wasn’t supposed to end up with some butcher. Simple enough words from an old, wrinkled woman’s mouth as she’d read his cards. Some people griped about only being allowed one reading in their lifetimes, but not him. The oracle had promised him Jana. What else did he need?

The Espadon twisted through the valley beneath him. She would come. The oracle had promised.


Dant had just gotten the stench of Remi’s mess out of the back bar’s floor when he heard someone calling from the front. He groaned and checked the clock. Ten in the morning. Way too early. It was illegal for him to serve anything now.

He stomped out to the front, prepared to fend off someone chasing the hair of the dog. He found Miri Willam instead, the redhead that worked with Jana at the flower shop.

“Mr. Dranall?”

“Yes, Miri?”

Her brows pinched as she spoke. “Have you seen Jana today?”

“This morning before she went to work. Why?”

Miri looked at the ground and folded her hands. “She never came in. Her fiancé was looking for her. I told him she might be here.”

“Tegan hasn’t been here today.”

She looked up with tears in her eyes. “He said that he was sad she wasn’t at work, but not surprised. Then he left. I’ve never seen him look so cold, Mr. Dranall, and he’s not a warm man.”

Dant tried to swallow, but there was no moisture in his mouth. His hand shook as he poured himself a glass from the tap.

“Thank you Miri. I think you should go back to the flower shop now.”

“But… but what should I—”

Dant closed his eyes and drained the glass. “Nothing, Miri. Please go.”

Jana hadn’t. She wouldn’t have. She said she wasn’t going to go. He checked the clock again. Just past ten in the morning. If he borrowed a good horse he might be able to head them off.


Jana laid her hand against the wind-carved rock that led into the nook. So many nights were back there. So many very, very, good nights. The rock was warm this morning. Inviting. Her horse gnawed at grass with Remi’s, tied to the makeshift hitch by the old cypress tree. It was far too late to worry about how stupid this was. Time to find out why she was here.

She watched Remi pitch a rock off the edge of the cliff.

“You’re never going to hit it, Rem.”

His jaw slacked for a heartbeat when he saw her. Its corner peeled back into that same half-grin that melted her heart every time he aimed it at her.

“There’s something I have to say,” she said. “I should’ve told you before. I owed you better.”

“You never owed me anything, Jan,” he said.

“It was the oracle. She told me that any man who loved me—”

The click of a pistol cocking cut her off. “I wish you hadn’t come, Jana. It would have been easier.”

It was Tegan.

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Welcome Back to Renaissance, Where Everybody has a Secret

Today marks part 2 of the #REN3 blogfest, in which I continue the tale of Dant, Remi, and Jana. For those who didn’t catch my first installment, check it out here. The Rule of Three Blogfest is a shared setting collective storytelling experience, hosted by Damyanti, J.C. Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager, and you can see some of the latest news and entries by checking Stuart’s online paper.


There are a different set of prompts every week and a 600-word limit (not counting the title). Because I have to push it as much as possible, this entry (like my last one) is exactly 600 words. The prompt I chose was: A relationship becomes complicated. The exact way this prompt applies won’t be fully apparent until later installments, but I assure you that I’ve used it (in triplicate, actually). As requested, I’ll mention the word count and the prompt at the bottom as well.

Old Times’ Sake

Jana found an envelope wedged in her door when she opened it in the morning. It fell to the ground face-up. A sketched picture of a tulip stared up at her. She sighed. Tulips were her favorite. Three men would remember that, but only one wouldn’t simply buy a picture of a tulip and paste it on there. Remi. She eyed the trashcan by the door.

What was Remi thinking? What if Tegan had come by this morning and seen it? She slipped Remi’s note in her pocket and hurried out. Now she’d have to make a stop before the flower shop. There was only one person who could talk sense into Remi. Hopefully he was awake.

Jana hustled down Faraday Street, giving up on trying not to jog when she passed Metley. She was sweating by the time she saw the familiar sign: Heriot’s Pass, home of Dant’s famous Renaissance Brown. The windows were still shuttered.

She knocked. “Dant?”

The door to Heriot’s swung open, protesting with a squeak that Dant never got around to fixing. He always said it gave the place character. She edged her way in. The bar smelled like soap. It always did before customers came in.

The voice of a man swearing echoed from the back. Jana smiled. Dant was in the back bar. It was never a good thing when he had to clean up back there. She made her way through the connecting hallway, wondering what sort of crazy private party had been held last night.

When she got to the back bar, she found Dant scrubbing under a bench on his hands and knees. He wore a mask over his nose.


Dant jerked up and banged his head on a table. He rolled to the ground.

“What the fu—” Dant’s eyes locked on her face and widened. He rethought his exclamation. “Jana? What are you doing here?”

She fished out Remi’s letter and tossed it to him. “An employee of yours left that in my door this morning.”

Dant pushed himself up. “Remi? How’d he wake up early enough to get that to you?”

“What am I supposed to do?” Jana asked. “If Tegan had seen that he’d have flipped. Can you talk some sense into Remi?”

“Of course,” Dant said. He tore the envelope open.

“Don’t—” Jana protested.

Dant pulled out the note and held it up to the light. “Congrats for everything, Jana. I wish you all the best. I’m headed to the Espadon overlook today for old times’ sake. Meet me if you want. Love, Remi.”

It was sweeter than she had expected. No pleading. It hardly sounded like Remi. “I can’t just run off to the river to meet an old boyfriend. I have work. I have a fiancé,” she said.

Dant nodded. He laid Remi’s note on a table and sat down. “I know. Didn’t sound like him, though. Maybe Remi went and grew up while we weren’t looking.”

“Too little, too late,” Jana said. She watched Dant stare at the floor. “You actually think I should meet him?”

Dant shrugged. “It’s the first time I’ve heard him act like a grown-up. Maybe he just needs to end it clean, hear it from your own lips.”

“Then he’ll have to hear it another time,” Jana said. “Please tell Remi not to leave letters in my door anymore.” She spun around and left. She exited Heriot’s and headed west. The flower shop was east. Her heart beat like a jackhammer. Damn it all, Remi! And damn Dant too.

She was headed to the Espadon.

Prompt: A relationship gets complicated. Word Count (according to MS Word 2010, excluding the title): 600.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out the dozens of other fantastic writers participating in the #REN3 blogfest. The easiest way to find them is just to read Stuart’s online paper (and as a bonus, you get to see how cool is).

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Welcome to Renaissance–Everyone has a secret

October 5, 2011 12:02 am by MRM in Campaign, Writing

We take a break from our regularly scheduled #writecampaign entries to look at a brand new contest. Because I must do ALL OF THEM. The new writing challenge I’ve embarked upon is hosted by Damyanti, J.C. Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager (some of whom have commented in this blog earlier). It’s name is the Rule of Three Blogfest. My new fun with fiction adventure takes place in the shared story town of Renaissance. Perhaps an introduction is in order. It even has a cool logo, just like the other campaign.

For this contest, I’ll be posting a new entry every Wednesday in October (though I’m getting a head start on this one) related to certain prompts. The biggest difference between the #REN3 contest and the #writecampaign is that all of the #REN3 entries are related. You’ll be hearing more about the characters below for the entirety of the contest, and every entry from all contestants will be taking place in the same city (though not necessarily in the same time or with the same “rules”). I’m stoked. I’ve been on a fantasy kick lately, so here goes.

We had a choice of prompts this week, so I picked “someone might fall in love.” Of course, I could never take the easy way out and just write a love story. That’s too easy to be interesting. Good stories always hurt.

The word count limit was 600, and because I can’t help myself – I pushed it right to the limit. Incidentally, I’m not counting the title in that. Hope that’s okay. Without further ado, welcome to my little corner or Renaissance

Last Call

Dant checked the clock behind the bar. Last call. It was about damn time.

“Make it quick, gents. One more round and the law says you’re drunk enough,” he said.

The ratty assembly of miners grumbled and swore. A man with a soot-covered face told Dant in no uncertain terms where he could stick the clock, along with his empty mug and half his boot. Dant laughed. It was one of the more creative threats he’d heard this week. Everyone got one last pint of ale. People loved his Renaissance Brown – he couldn’t brew it fast enough. Travellers came all the way to the North End to get a sip.

“Remi,” he called. Might as well get started cleaning up the back bar early. Everyone was out front tonight. If he was lucky, he could get to sleep before the sun started poking its head where it didn’t belong. He looked up. Where in the seven hells was Remi?

“Remi,” he called again. Still no answer. Dant took a wary look at his patrons. None looked like much trouble tonight. The worst one might try would be to steal a refill, so Dant took off the tap handles.

“Don’t get any ideas, gents,” he said and ducked under the bar. He slid by two men who looked like corpses that learned to drink. He usually put Remi on the back bar. Only half his patrons even knew about it, and it was best to keep Remi in lower-profile positions.

Dant hurried down the hall and into the empty back bar. He stepped in something wet. Remi was passed out at a table by the door. Vomit spilled out from under his head and onto the floor.

“Gods damn it Remi!”

Remi jerked upright, his blue eyes wide. The left side of his stubble was coated, as was his hair.

“What? What?” He looked back and forth until he saw Dant. His eyes came into focus and he looked down. “Oh, man. I’m sorry. I’ll get this.” Remi tried to push himself up. His hand slipped on the side of the table he had generously lubricated and he fell back onto the bench.

“I’ll get the mop,” Dant said. So much for getting to bed early tonight.

Remi pushed himself back into a sitting position. “She’s gettin’ married, man.”

So that’s what this was about. Jana. “I know.”

“You knew about it?”

“She told me,” Dant said.

“How could you not—”

“I was going to tell you tomorrow because you had the day off. Had. I was hoping to avoid something like this.”

Remi deflated at Dant’s barb. “I’m sorry man.”

Dant grabbed a bar towel and threw it to Remi. “Just dry yourself off. You got it in your hair. Get a pint of water and I’ll get the mop as soon as I clear out the customers.”

“You really think she’s gonna marry that guy?”

Dant looked at his friend. He’d been feeding him the same half-truth for years. He hated getting Remi’s hopes up when he couldn’t tell him the whole answer.

“No, I don’t,” Dant said.

Remi’s eyebrows relaxed. “Really?”


Dant headed back to the front bar. Only three miners remained, nursing their dwindling lagers for all they were worth. No trouble tonight. Well, none but Remi. For once, though, Dant didn’t blame him. He understood the pain all too well. But Dant knew something Remi didn’t. The oracle had been quite clear: Dant was destined to be the most important man in Jana’s life. He just didn’t know how to break it to Remi.

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#Writecampaign Second challenge–Imago Regis

September 26, 2011 9:52 pm by MRM in Campaign, Writing

The #writecampaign is barely two months old and here we go with writing challenge number two. The prompt was a little different this time:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:

· include the word "imago" in the title

· include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post. For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

I’m not usually a fan of this particular type of prompt, but I found that the nature of the words chosen dictated the tone of my flash fiction. I sort of had to do flash fiction; a two hundred word blog post felt like a waste, and besides that I couldn’t see that coming together without going meta and making fun of the prompt.

The result surprised me. I actually enjoyed it. I actually got an element of fantasy into it. I hit the optional challenges as well, adding a reference to a mirror and hitting two hundred words exactly. It turns out that twitter is great practice for how to shrink your post to exactly N characters or words.

I had to look a few of these up, so for the benefit of those who didn’t also do the challenge, here are the definitions of the words.

  • Oscitate – to gape, to yawn
  • Lacuna – An empty space or a missing part; a gap. A cavity, space, or depression, especially in a bone, containing cartilage or bone cells
  • Miasma – A noxious atmosphere or influence. A poisonous atmosphere formerly thought to rise from swamps and putrid matter and cause disease. A thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation.
  • Imago – An insect in its sexually mature adult stage after metamorphosis. An often idealized image of a person, usually a parent, formed in childhood and persisting unconsciously into adulthood.
  • Synchronicity – The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.

Without further ado, my second entry (#124 in the list for those interested):

Imago Regis

Now was the time and this was the place. An entire world waited for him. Its body was fragile, held together by weakened sinews and tendons, its great lacuna begging to be filled. And filled it would be. They were waiting. They were wanting. For far too long he had stood in the shadows, letting the masses oscitate in the miasma of their own desperation. That had been her idea. Mother had been right, of course. She always was.

He could hear them now, just beyond the stage. Screaming. Begging for someone. For something. He smiled, letting the moment fill him up.

His whole life, he had trained for this. He had been timed for this. The date of his ascendance had been planned for decades, set for perfect synchronicity with the attack. It was carefully crafted destiny. Too bad Mother hadn’t lived to see her plan through.

All that was left to do was step up. He opened the door to let the people’s cries in from the stage. The jewel on his necklace glowed faintly as he kissed it before dropping it down his shirt. He checked the mirror to make sure it didn’t show. It’s time, Mother.

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