Thursday, November 7, 2013

Prompt: Walking to the moon

Anders divided his attention between the rough road and the sliver of the crescent moon low on the horizon. Its orange glow warned of the cold to come. He glanced down at the child’s head, barely visible as she slept snug against his chest in the sling he had improvised when she grew too weary to walk. At least she would be warm enough. He shrugged into his tunic and wished he still had his fur-lined cloak. And a horse. And food.

He paused and leaned on his battle staff, pulling open his water bottle and taking a small swallow. She stirred, and he held the bottle to her lips. He let her take more. Dear goddess, please let us find shelter, or at least a spring by sunrise.

“Where are we, dear kedjin?” she asked in a sleepy voice, snuggling back down in the relative warmth of the sling. He almost smiled at her unusual endearment.

He stowed the bottle and started walking again. “Still on the road, tana baq. Sleep.”

“Don’t drop me,” she mumbled. It was almost a joke between them. Imagine, having a private joke with a baq. He never would have believed it until now.

“I will do my best,” he groused, then added under his breath, “At least you’re not kicking my kidneys anymore.” She replied with a sleepy chuckle, unfazed by his familiar tone. Her back wasn’t bruised from dangling feet thumping against it for leagues on end.

He smelled the torguin before he could see them, then he heard a soft snort and a hoof stamp in the darkness ahead. The moon wasn’t bright enough to reveal much of the landscape, but Anders had trained as a kedjin for the baq since he was little older than the child he carried. His eyes gathered moon and starlight enough to see the slow-moving shapes near the trees on the left side of the curved road.

“Tana baq,” he said more softly than a whisper. “We have company. I cannot carry you and fight them all.”

She pulled down the edge of the sling, and her eyes glowed as she peered into the darkness. “It’s all right, my dear kedjin. You won’t have to fight them all. Look, the orange moon will fight them for us.” Before he could stop her, she twisted her fingers in front of them, then blew the sigils into the crisp night air.

“What have you done?” he breathed. As he stared into the darkness, the slender crescent moon grew brighter, and a beam of orange light, like sunlight, shone on their would-be attackers ahead. Anders dropped to his knees and wrapped himself around the child as the air froze around them. He buried his head in her hair to breathe her warmth.

The cold faded from his back, and he lifted his head. No sound, no smell from the torguin or their riders. Anders rose and shifted the sling to a less uncomfortable position. “Are you all right, tana baq?” he asked as he continued walking.

She pressed her head against him once more. “Of course I am, my dear kedjin. Please don’t drop me before you make camp.”

“I’ll try,” he said, thumping his battle staff as he walked past the frozen party, some with weapons half drawn against a foe they couldn’t have seen. They looked like a ragged band of thieves, not uniformed soldiers. He breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe they weren’t being followed.

He glanced back at the men as they passed and shuddered. He’d never heard of a baq with this kind of power. She didn’t need him as a kedjin, that’s for sure. Maybe as a torguin. And a friend. Friend to a baq, who could have imagined it?

Dogs in house
Time writing:
35 minutes
October word count:


  1. Prompt: Walking to the moon

    I balanced carefully. The moonbeam was unsteady beneath my feet. The world was washed in a pale blue-grey, with highlights of deep sapphire. I was rising. Tree tops fell beneath me; soon birds soared below.

    I dared not look up, though. Only forward, at the beam, fragile bridge, on which I trod.

    I hit my first cloud. In the strange blue light it looked smokey, but felt cool, like the thick fog that sometimes formed along the shore.

    Above the clouds, the sky was different. I stepped now through one slice of many, clouds above and clouds below. Somewhere, up there, was the moon.

    A second cloud past cold into icy. Little needles of freezing pattered against my cheeks. I kept walking.

    Another slice. Clouds still stretched above. I looked back down, quickly, before my eyes caught sight of the moon. I had come this far before, before I could not resist and looked.

    And fell. This time I would not fall.

    The clouds were getting thinner and icier. The wind was strong, threatening to tip me from the moonbeam. I knelt and continued on on hands and knees.

    It was easier this way, to not look. I could see only my hands in front of me, on the pale path, shifting forward. Not having to force my eyes away, it was my mind that now roamed forward.

    What was I going to do when I got there? And then I remembered why I had never made it. Why I always looked. I raised my face to the moon.

    Time writing: ~15min

    1. Oh, I like this! Great use of the prompt! Walking on a moonbeam, indeed!

  2. Nice world building! I want to know more!

    A bit foggy on how old the child is; carrying her in a sling suggests quite young, but she seems somewhat older. Although perhaps that could be from being a baq...