Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Writing Prompt: Castle

Electronics Diq Org Fantasy Art Scenery By Chen Wei

I help to moderate a writing page and occasionally we post writing prompts. I thought I might start to join in and share the prompts with a wider audience. So, I'm starting a new tab for them: Writing Prompts (unoriginally). 

When I do them, I'll include the picture (above), the prompt, and then whatever I came up with. If you click the picture above, it should enlarge.

Please feel free to have a go yourself and post your stories in the comments below. It's just a bit of fun, and a useful way to inspire new writing ideas whilst avoiding brain drain.

The prompt for this one was: In under 500 words, tell us about this kingdom.




Nobody knows the true origins of the Kingdom of Galliah. Legend has it that it simply melted out of the retreating ice when the last great winter ended.

The first record was made by the explorer Avemann Drithk, almost three hundred years ago. He was travelling with his companion, Gilbert Dankrisin, a distinguished geologist. They were attempting to trek to the ice-line, hoping to find fertile grazing land where water was still plentiful.

Drithk kept his records on cowhide, scratched with a worn quill. Scholars have since translated his diaries into something more legible, and the first description of Galliah is widely considered to be the finest given of any new land.

To quote directly: “The sky towered behind it. Everything was blue, to the point where neither the clouds nor the snow-capped mountains could be separated.”

He went on to describe how the closer they came to the palace, the more the clouds began to resemble dragons, drifting and swooping around the turrets as though keeping a watchful eye for intruders.

They stayed for three nights at the base of the palace, unable to enter due to a large section missing in the approaching road. The paths down to the lower bridges were rendered completely impassable by ice, which clung to the sides of the cliffs in sheets, reflecting back their own astonishment.

The buildings around the sides of the mountain were all empty. Not just empty of people, but empty of food, of furniture, of any sign that life had ever existed there at all. Dankrisin, in a discussion related by Drithk, asserts that the temperature within the houses seemed to plummet by five or six degrees, causing the explorers to abandon sleeping there in favour of their elk-skin tents.

Three hundred years later and very little has changed. Drithk and Dankrisin’s onward journey, supported by several expeditions thereafter, found no paradise of pastoral lands, so there has never been an incentive for tribes to move this far North. It is one thing to be hungry, and another to be cold and hungry.

I came here for the only reason anybody now does: to conduct scientific research. We are cataloguing new species of heliun bugs, which secrete coloured liquids used in fabric dye. They are quite sought after in the South, and our research is funded by a wealthy cloth merchant who is hoping to capitalise on any finds.

I find it hard to concentrate, though. Whereas I can’t say that I’ve noticed a significant drop in temperature in the buildings, or dragons in the clouds, I can certainly attest to the sheer, magnificent beauty of Galliah, and the way in which light plays tricks with her.

Only yesterday, I swear that I saw a woman standing at one of the balconies.

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