Saturday, May 18, 2013

Prompt: Braving the Lady Pythia in her lair

Thanks to Alexandra Semushina for permission to use her beautiful artwork, "Pythia"!

Darren held his courtier’s bow and tried to still his trembling muscles and jangling nerves. He heard a soft, musical voice say, “Rise, visitor. What brings you here?”

He stood in a courtly pose of respect and looked around curiously. The tower room was luxuriously furnished with large cushions and sheer hanging curtains that waved in the breezes from the open windows. He could not see the Lady Pythia.

There. A curtain blew to the side and he saw her on the balcony. She faced away from him, her golden hair tumbling in extravagant curls all the way to the floor, mingling with the lush folds of her red silk robe, lined with white fur. He wondered about the design painted on the silk—it almost looked like letters, but his eyes couldn’t quite capture their meaning. Ah, magical runes then. An odd thought crossed his mind: were they meant to protect her, or others. She turned as gracefully as a flower in the breeze and looked at him. He started to look away—he’d heard the rumours. But he was captivated by her beauty. Her silver eyes glowed in the moonlight, lit from within. She wore seven jewels of power across her forehead, and their magic glittered in the darkness. A delicate gauze draped over her nose and covered her mouth. He was overcome with desire to see her lips. To taste them…

He shook himself and then stared at the sight of the white fur falling open, revealing most of her breasts. He shook his head sharply to regain his focus. What was the matter with him? He had seen far more beautiful—and scantily clad—women at Court!

Her voice caressed him from across the room. “Why do you come, visitor?”

He started to speak and had to clear his throat. “Ahem. My lady. My apologies for the intrusion. I’ve come to ask your aid on the King’s behalf.”

She laughed, a sound like delicate bells chiming. “The King asks for my help? Really?” Her eyes glowed brighter, and Darren blushed.

He cleared his throat again. “Ahem. No, my lady. That is, the King does not know I have come.”

“Does he not? And who does know you have come to me, visitor? What is your name?”

Darren felt a rush of unease, but he could not resist her questions. “No one knows I have come here, my lady. My name is Darren of Rochefort.”

“Ah, the Consort’s son,” she said, nodding in thought. “For the third time, I ask you, Darren of Rochefort, why have you come?”

Darren blinked. He didn’t know. He frowned, trying to remember. Her eyes glowed with amusement, and the jewels on her forehead seemed to draw him closer. How he longed to touch her pale skin, to kiss her hidden lips, to brush his fingers across…

He pulled back in dismay. He was a seasoned courtier. What was happening to him? He opened his mouth to plead his case, the King’s cause. “I came to offer myself to you,” he said, to his own astonishment.

“Did you now, Darren of Rochefort. What will you do if I accept?” She laughed that delicate laugh again, and it swept through his body like an electric shock. He could not move. He watched with mesmerized eyes as she moved across the balcony to the doorway. Her every move was so graceful, she seemed to float rather than walk. As she moved into the room, he heard the slide of scales on stone and felt the first frisson of fear. He tried to take a step back and found he truly could not move at all.

The Lady Pythia slid across the room toward him, and he saw what the robe had hidden on the balcony. Below the red silk and her golden hair was the body of an enormous snake, golden scales gleaming in the tower’s torchlights. As she slid toward him, the robe fell away, and he saw the scales become flesh above her hips.

She hovered before him, so close but not touching. She waved gently, as if she were dancing around him. He could smell her delicate pale skin, like jasmine, and his fingers twitched to touch her, despite the fear that made his brow prickle with sweat.

Even as he wished it gone, she reached up to pull away the veil that hid her lips. They were soft and shining, a delicate peach rather than the red he had somehow expected. He licked his own lips nervously, and she smiled. He thought she would kiss him as she leaned closer. Just before she ducked her face toward his neck, he saw her fangs extending.

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Fudge

101 Strings Orchestra, Classical Favorites Sampler

Time writing:
~40 minutes

May word count:


  1. Prompt: Braving the Lady Pythia in her lair

    Gemmi breathed shallowly through her mask, the vapours which filled the cave seeping through and making her lightheaded despite the protection. Sunlight was reflected from polished brass mirrors, leading the depth of the cave to be lighter than it should be. Still, the thick vapours and increasing distance from the entrance made it ever more difficult to find her way.

    Finally, she could go no farther. Perhaps it was as they said, the oracle was long gone and it was wild animals who devoured the offerings left by the villagers. She reached to the cave wall. It was damp, dripping with the same vapours that made the world spin. Instead of steadying herself for a turn, however, Gemmi found herself stepping forward. She had to know. She had to reach the back of the cave, and confirm, for herself, that it was empty.

    "Who goes there?" said a surprisingly vibrant voice.

    "I do." Gemmi pulled herself erect and took a steadying breath, which backfired: she swooned from inhalation of vapours. "I do, mother," she whispered as collapsed.

    Time writing: 15 minutes

    1. *as she collapsed.

    2. Oh, nice beginning! Good description and world-building. :)