Seemingly empty (part 4)

Written in response to: Start your story with a character saying “I can see it now.”... view prompt

43 comments

Fiction Fantasy Horror

"I can see it now. Fairy lights strung up here and there. Healing herbs on that shelf. Potions and concoctions on the other shelf. Crystals set on the display table. Can someone get the scented candles? Thank you, place them next to the books. Light them too, will you? The cauldron goes in the corner...no, the OTHER corner."


A petite, young woman is running around, ordering the crew to help her organize out all the decors. Her bright, sky-blue eyes meet mine and she stops in her tracks. "Dani!" She squeals, hugging my torso tightly which could squeeze my soul out of my body.


Ruffling Angie's fluffy medium champagne hair, I manage to awkwardly side hug her with my free arm. "Hey, how's my little angel doing? I see that you are royal commander of the decorating committee." My hand gestures to the rest of the construction crew who has HAD IT with my princess charming.


I honestly don't blame their aggression towards her. She can be a bit TOO happy around people, to the point where she scares people off because it seems phony or fake when it isn't. Angie's ultimate optimism is just how she functions. That's why my realistic, yet pessimistic view on the world balances each other out.


Cyrus, one of my close friends, was leaning on the yurt's doorframe, raising an arched brow at us. "Well, this decorating committee is exhausted. That one has been working us to the bone. It's already sunset. We want to go home, please." His voice was tired, but polite, which I appreciate because I know he's restraining himself from using his usual sarcasm.


Evangeline falters, taking Cyrus's words too seriously. She walks up to him, lifting his hand up so she can examine it properly. "I don't see any bones..." her voice trails off and I chuckle. "Baby, he didn't mean that literally. He just meant that you worked them very hard."


"No kidding she worked us hard! We've been here since the crack of dawn to dusk. If not for out lunch breaks, we would've collapsed from fatigue. I mean, look at my hand." Cyrus shows his calloused palms, which were shaking slightly. "I'm shaking from the extreme hunger. I am completely FAMISHED."


"You and your crew are dismissed. Thank you for helping us out." Angie gives Cyrus the money that paid for their hard labor throughout today. He does a curt nod towards the both of us and leaves the yurt with his posse following him.


We leave after tidying up the dwelling house, by then it was drizzling quite a bit. Opening a clear umbrella, we stroll the dimly lit cobblestone streets. Angie's warm hands warmed my cold ones. She inches closer to me to avoid getting wet since a few raindrops got onto her silk rose gold jumper. Heavy fog drifted through the dark streets. I squint to try and find the inn we're staying at.


A small, hooded figure lurked nearby. I felt an ominous aura radiating from the stranger, so I pick up the pace, pulling Angie along. Once we pass by, they start following us slowly. Even though the fog made it hard to see, the unmistakable gleam from the dagger told me everything I needed to know.


I am not about to stick around and get murdered tonight. I turn and run into an alleyway. Not exactly my ideal escape route, but it'll have to do for now. Racing down the narrow passage, dodging the piles of stinky litter left over by the homeless which could possibly delay our quick exit. Evangeline looks over her shoulder and her eyes widen.


"Danica... we haven't lost them." She points to roof tiles, showing the stranger was hot on our trail. We haul our butts as fast as we can, unfortunately for us, there's a dead end. Angie doesn't give up yet, she pulls out a small drawstring bag, and throws a tiny smooth pebble at the wall which plinks against it, making a ripple like water.


Soon it turns into a vortex, and we jump in. We finally land in our inn room. I exhale, not realizing that I was holding my breath in the first place. "No matter how many times we use the transportation rocks, I will never get used to that feeling whenever we fall. I always expect that we'll come out soaking wet but then we don't and it's weird."


Angie silently giggles, then her face becomes completely serious. "True, but that situation was awfully odd, don't you think? Aren't the patrols out at this hour?"


"Probably, but heck, any felon can get away with a crime if they are sneaky enough. Though, I wouldn't recommend that you think about it too much. You'd be very sheltered if you haven't encountered someone dangerous at least ONCE in your life." I speak to her logically, balancing out the possible statics in my mind.


"But who was that? Why would they want to hurt us? Did we do something wrong?" Evangeline's innocent questions were conflicting to me, but I think about the answers carefully.


"I'm not sure who that was. Maybe it was an assassination attempt? A robbery? Something darker? We probably didn't do anything wrong, unless it was a thing against witches or through homophobic hate towards us."


She goes silent for a moment then whispers softly, "It's late. Let's get some rest."


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By the afternoon, the whole town was buzzing with excitement for the Autumn Festival. Vendors setting up their spots, food trucks aligned with hungry customers approaching, merchants with unknown items from foreign lands. Evangeline, Cyrus, his crew, and I were preparing for a tidal wave of people coming to our yurt to buy our rare finds with slightly reasonable prices.


Kids swarming in their creatively crafted costumes at the games section, challenging one another to win the biggest prizes. Parents frantically looking for their supposedly lost children who wandered off in the crowd. Upbeat band music playing in the main plaza, charming the pedestrians to join in on the dancing.


A fun-sized imp steps into our yurt. "Hello ma'am, how may I help you today? Would you be interested in some crystals? It's the new fall arrivals-" My voice was cut off when I got a good glimpse at the imp's pale-yellow face. Unmistakable scars crossing over the crimson eyes. The unruly jet-black hair in a bob cut. The dagger...


It couldn't be. It just couldn't be. There is NO WAY this is happening. I'm dreaming, right? This has to be some sort of sick prank.


"Why now... out of all times... how are you back?"


"Long time, no talk, Dani. Now, let's do this the easy way. Tell me, where are the ancient wrath reeds?"


"Morrigan, how could you?!"


-To be continued...-

June 28, 2022 17:00

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43 comments

Moon Lion
04:11 Jul 24, 2022

Ahh I love Angie, and I love her vibe and taskmaster-ness. Quick question, what's a yurt? And for some minor, minor constructive criticism, some of the word choices were a little interesting and confusing. Some examples: pick up the pace, pulling Angie along. Once we pass by (the once we pass by doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, perhaps once we speed up? Move away?) 2) possible statics in my (statistics?) 3) Evangeline's innocent questions were conflicting to me, but (confusing to me? Hard for me to answer, maybe? I'm not sure...

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Ace Quinnton
01:19 Jul 25, 2022

"A traditional yurt or ger is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by several distinct nomadic groups in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure consists of an angled assembly or latticework of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs, and a wheel possibly steam-bent." I meant to say that they speed up since they saw the small, hooded figure (Morrigan), and pass by her. Sorry if I can't elaborate to that one, the wording just kind of made sense in my head, and I didn't stop to think if others could...

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Moon Lion
01:27 Jul 25, 2022

Hello again. Thanks for your yurt explanation, I felt my brain expand a little. All the feedback I left here is purely word choice suggestions. I thought that instead of "conflicting" challenging would be a better word to describe Angie's questions. Sorry about that confusion.

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Ace Quinnton
01:43 Jul 25, 2022

No problem! I suggest that you look up 'yurt' because the pictures of them are really cool! (I've put it on my bucket list to camp in one someday.) Makes sense. Anyways, how've you been? I, myself, am busy with summer plans. Camp up in the mountains, kayaking with my stepfather, beach trip, there's a fare in town... lots of things.

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Moon Lion
02:28 Jul 25, 2022

I've been a bit stressed, I have a lot of work due this summer (and I'm quite a lazy person, so I brought it upon myself). If it all works out, I'll be over the moon. If not, I'll be really miserable. A fair in town sounds nice, creative fuel for sure! Have fun with the rest of summer.

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Ace Quinnton
03:10 Jul 25, 2022

Work, huh? I wish you the best of luck to it. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know. I may not be local, but I'll try my best to help from afar. Summer is exhilarating and exhausting where I live, because there is always a LOT going on, but the extreme heat really fatigues everyone.

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Jk Bowling
17:59 Jul 08, 2022

The names made my brain so happy, they're such pretty names. The interactions between the characters are really fleshed out, but I'd have to say that Danica is my favourite. I think the ending could be a little more dramatic, or a little more clear, but aside from that I realized enjoyed the movement in the story.

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Ace Quinnton
18:42 Jul 08, 2022

Thank you for reading and commenting. Danica is personal favorite for me as well, but I love all my characters equally. If you'd like, I suggest that you read the other parts (1,2,3) to understand everything a bit more. I could go fix the ending, but do you have any suggestions on raising the climax up? Like, how dramatic should I end this?

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Sharon Hancock
01:58 Jul 03, 2022

Hello! I think I missed a chapter or two so I’ll go back and read those. I’m digging Morrigan so far. And I love the dynamic amongst the friends. Very exciting and full of action! Great job!

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Sharon Hancock
02:00 Jul 03, 2022

Oh yeah and I was very excited about the yurt. I heard of them a while back and discovered there are some state parks in the US that have yurts for rent. It’s on my bucket list of course 😊

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Ace Quinnton
19:44 Jul 03, 2022

Morrigan plays a big role when it comes to Nilson's servants and Praxidike even though she's only a secondary character. The dynamic between Danica and Evangeline is romantic polar opposite/opposites attract trope relationship. I would highly suggest renting a yurt, I've been inside one once, and let me tell you, you won't regret the experience one bit. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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Zack Powell
17:22 Jul 02, 2022

Now this is an interesting installment. We have a few more details about the Autumn Festival, and some more new characters, but now Morrigan is here too. Not sure which direction you're gonna take part 5 to, and I'm very interested in how this part will connect with the previous ones, but I'm also very happy to be on the journey. This is some interesting stuff. Other random notes: I really, really liked the concept of teleportation rocks. That's a really detail to have in this universe. Also, thanks for teaching me what a "yurt" is. Literal...

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Ace Quinnton
17:35 Jul 02, 2022

I can give you a bit of spoilers on the next part if you're interested to know about it. Morrigan actually plays a big part for a supposed side-character. She has some serious beef with Danica about Praxidike. (Screw Nilson, he's not apart of this family drama. He's like an adopted heir). You and me both, Zack. My mind process when trying to figure out if I wanted a shop (which wouldn't work because they are traveling merchants) and not a tepee (they are not barbarians, Angie is a wholesome vegetarian who loves animals too much to eat them...

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Philip Ebuluofor
06:37 Jul 02, 2022

Fine work no doubt. But to be continued? --well maybe you work in prompt department over there in Reedsy.

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Ace Quinnton
14:04 Jul 02, 2022

No actually. This is a series that I am currently making, based on prompts given. I just change it up a bit. If you enjoyed this story, I suggest that you read the other parts (1, 2, 3). Thank you for reading and commenting. If you have any critique, encouragement, opinions on this story, I would like to hear them all.

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Philip Ebuluofor
17:20 Jul 03, 2022

Best of luck.

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Kevin Marlow
01:57 Jul 01, 2022

Alright, I'm hooked. I want to read part 5, yet I am waving the red ink pen for a sentence of dialogue ending in a preposition.

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Ace Quinnton
14:06 Jul 01, 2022

Oh? Humor me with critique. Also, have you read the other parts yet? If so, what are your opinions?

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Kevin Marlow
15:33 Jul 01, 2022

Will read this weekend. It felt more like a joke than a critique, something lodged in my brain from many English teachers ago.

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Ace Quinnton
15:39 Jul 01, 2022

Would you mind telling me, so I can possibly fix my mistake? I'm fine with any critique, serious or not. Part 5 might be coming around soon, so be alert.

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Kevin Marlow
16:00 Jul 01, 2022

Third line from the end "Tell me where the ancient wrath reeds are at." would be better phrased "Tell me, where are the ancient wrath reeds?" It's pretty nit picky, it was a good read, I will carve out some time to read them in order.

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Ace Quinnton
16:05 Jul 01, 2022

Ah yes! I'll go fix that right away. Thank you for telling me. Once you have the time to read them all in order, comment on each one and tell me what you think of it so far. Questions, critique, encouragement, opinions, I'm not picky.

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Philia S
15:10 Jun 30, 2022

Okay. I loved this. You portrayed their relationship so nicely without overdoing it. The descriptions were really really cool. Lil critique(TvT): "But who was that? Why would they want to hurt us? Did we do something wrong?" Evangeline's innocent questions were conflicting to me, but I think about the answers carefully. This sentence was slightly confusing for me. I thought the crew left before Dani and Angie? Also, I didn't exactly understand in what sort of world this was set in. Hidden magical creatures in a normal world or everyone's ...

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Ace Quinnton
15:19 Jun 30, 2022

The sentence was when Danica and Evangeline escaped possible near-death scenario, from the supposed bandit (who was...DUN, DUN, DUN... MORRIGAN. Nilson's forever loyal imp servant). Angie was questioning the bandit, wondering why they were coming after them. Like: "They could've chosen anyone BUT us. Why now did they decide to attack?" Hidden magical creatures in a normal world, but in certain areas there are more seen magic than other places. I like to imagine it like a DnD medieval style with more modern tendencies. If could tell me whi...

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Philia S
15:33 Jun 30, 2022

Oh! I thought Angie and Danica were alone together and Evangeline was a part of Cyrus's posse lol. How are Evangeline and the two of them related, again? My apologies. Aha! I see now. That's a nice setting. :) I think I really liked Angie. She was sort of relatable. Overly optimistic (in some situations, at least). XD I suppose the best ones for me yet were the first two paragraphs in the last scene. I could exactly imagine the scene in my head. The chaos of festival time and the general gaiety lol.

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Ace Quinnton
15:54 Jun 30, 2022

Don't apologize, mate. I understand if things are a bit shaky because I just introduced some new characters into the mix. Evangeline and Danica are dating. Danica and Cyrus are childhood friends. Cyrus and Evangeline are cousins. I know right? It's renaissance faire era based. Some places are more progressive than others. And some stick with tradition. Angie, the spunky short stack, very smart but oblivious to social cues. The little angel, princess charming. She's sweet. Polar opposite to Danica who can be seriously SALTY. They are my t...

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Philia S
16:01 Jun 30, 2022

WAIT WAIT WAIT- Evangeline and Angie are the same people. 🤦‍♀️I had a brain fart. I see! Its like some are still stuck in the past and the others have wooshed forward. Okay, Angie is totally me. "oblivious to social cues." I've been called out. XD Oooooh! Now I'm immensely excited. When do we see it?

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Ace Quinnton
16:17 Jun 30, 2022

Evangeline = Angie. It's a nickname, silly Philia! Dani = Danica. Cyrus = Cy. Morrigan = Morri. Moxie = Mox. Tacito = Tac. Nilson = Nil. Praxidike = Praxi. Beckett = Beck. Charlie = Char. Irene is still Irene. So on and so forth. Yes! Luckily some vendors from the progressive places brought over technology so they can still be within tradition but be aware of the outside world's knowledge. SAME! I can barely tell the difference between sarcasm and seriousness. Well, I was originally going to work on it today and finish it tomorrow, but ...

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Philia S
08:05 Jun 30, 2022

Kinda read this in a hurry. Will comment properly later. Lovely story, though! Liked how you built up the suspense and then left us hanging like so. Be back properly in a bit!

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Ace Quinnton
15:01 Jun 30, 2022

Come back when you can. I'm interested to see what your feedback will be, since you are quite good at giving critique (which I appreciate you giving me). Always with the cliffhangers during this series.

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