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The Guardian

This was my second microfiction work after writing "Lewy" in 2019; imagine my surprise when that first attempt garnered enough interest from the judges to advance me to Round 2! Once again, I was tasked with producing a 250-word story within 48 hours. My prompt for this story was Fairy Tale or Fantasy (genre) / Waving Goodbye (action) / "Fixed" (word).

Any time I can use a Fantasy genre prompt to add to the lore of Estirya (the fictional kingdom featured in my novels), I like to take advantage of the extra practice; standalone pieces like "The Guardian" rarely happen. Microfiction exercises are interesting for several reasons. First, producing a coherent plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end in only 250 words is complicated -- not impossible, but tricky to master. I think writers need a strong sense of narrative pacing to pull this off. Secondly, the short format prevents you from delving deeper into characters or themes that spark your creativity. This was definitely true for me while writing "The Guardian" because there's so much potential here for a longer story! Maybe we will see Morgan return in a future tale. For now, we will have to be content with this small sample of her world and its challenges.

 

The Guardian

“They say the fighting is worst in East Azakir,” Warrick said. “But Sir Elgin thinks it will be a while before we get to the front lines.” His mother nodded, silent and solemn. The sailors were starting to call for passengers to board, and Warrick’s knight, Sir Elgin, was searching for his squire. The woman pulled her boy close and held him tight.

“I’ll write every day,” Warrick assured her. She did not respond. It didn’t matter if he wrote – she wouldn’t receive the letters. He left her embrace and ran to join his mentor.

The crowd on the pier waved their kerchiefs at the ships that would bear their sons and brothers from Eldermoor to distant, savage lands. Morgan stood alone, apart. Her fingers fiddled with the broom in her pocket, shrunk down to the size of a toothpick. With it, she would reach Azakir well before the fleet did.

“Not a single tear?” her familiar squawked as Morgan approached the tree that hid her luggage. “Poor Warrick.”

“Silence, Romulus,” the witch commanded. “He won’t be out of my sight for long. Bring my wand.” The crow fluttered down with the rod of applewood clenched in its beak. Morgan resized her broom and secured the rucksack of supplies to it. She fixed her eyes on the departing fleet as she mounted. “Azakir awaits,” she said to the crow. “Come, Romulus. I may not be able to end this war, but I can keep it from claiming my son’s life.”

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