Prompt Fiction


Three steady, long strokes of the sharpened flat brought the staff to a neatly carved grip. Not my best work, but not my worst either.

I squinted down the length of Shadow Aspen wood, trying to ignore the call of the black veins that made the wood so attractive to work with.

Earth Elementals usually didn’t end up working with the very material they were synchronized with, but my life was a study of contradictions and I hadn’t expected this to be any different.

It was and it wasn’t, in the way that things grow and change. I learned that what little difference was there, could be easily managed. I also learned that my elemental mastery meant that I could make better staffs than even our master craftsman—on the point of sheer power alone.

Good for them. Bad for me. Good because the Guildmaster appreciated my contributions to our guild and its reputation. Bad because no master craftsman wanted to be outdone by a homeless street orphan who earned her keep by using her gifts to the best of her ability.

They would have preferred me to use my body instead of my mind. Idiots.

I set the carving tools down and blew off the two-toned dust from the staff. Holding it out in one hand, I tested it for balance, feeling the weight of the wood and the pull of the wild energy inside of it.

This block of wood was something that none of the other masters had wanted to work with. Shadow Aspen was difficult to begin with, but they’d all tried in the wrong way.

You didn’t force the wood to submit to you. That didn’t even work with people—much less a piece of living wood.

No, you had to talk to it. Explain what you were trying to do and ask if it would mind. Work with it to bring out the best. A better result overall in the end.

“Stop gawping at the wood, girl!” The Craftsman to my left scowled. “You have fifteen other pieces to finish today.”

I hummed in answer. There was never a safe reply for him, anyway. But when I twirled the staff in hand and smiled over it at him—he paled the same shade of the wood in his hand.

(c) S. Harricharan

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