Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prompt: Suddenly able to hear others’ thoughts | the illegitimate son of a king | is stalked by a jealous admirer

I wonder if he’s awake yet, the lazy bastard.

Sima Zhou stiffened at the table, where he was transcribing saying of the late Emperor Wu Di. He was a bastard, that didn’t bother him. But he wasn’t lazy! He’d been up before the thin streaks of dawn filtered in through the thin rice paper covering his window. His fingers were stained with ink as he painstakingly paid homage to the great man he remembered simply as Grandfather Sima Yan.

“Enter,” he commanded stiffly, and the door to his room opened, bringing the scent of fresh jasmine tea and his favorite spicy duck eggs. He glowered at the serving woman as she set his breakfast table. But she was perfectly polite and efficient, concentrating on her work and not giving any sign of disrespect. Had he imagined it?

“After breakfast, I will want a bath,” he said curtly, and she bowed with folded hands above her forehead.

As if it matters if he smells like jasmine or pigs. Did he hear a laugh as she carried her tray out of the room?

Voices followed him through the morning until he thought he was going insane. He finally sank into the hot water of the bath and let the water cover his head.

How I long to lie beside him…

Sima Zhou shot upright, spluttering. Was there no peace? And who said that? He thrashed in the water, looking all around the bathing chamber, but it was empty, as he had commanded.

If his brother had an accident, he would be appointed heir. He would thank me…

Sima Zhou shouted, “Who’s there?”

He was frozen with terror. If something happened to Sima Lun, he was as likely to be accused as appointed. He climbed out of the pool and dried himself quickly, struggling into his robes without waiting for the servants.

He had to find whoever was thinking such dark thoughts and convince them otherwise. But how?

To be continued, perhaps

Dogs in house

Time writing
~35 minutes, including research

December word count

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