This story is by Jonathan Lagunez and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Richard Harper always wished that stories could be thought into existence whenever he wanted. It could all flow out of the streams of his conscience into existence without the need to touch a pen or keyboard, or sit in one spot for long hours contemplating what would happen next. He wouldn’t so easily be discouraged by the sludge of having to go back and fix typos and syntax errors.
Well, that was exactly what Richard was wishing for right now.
He sat there in his dim and cold room, typing in a very disgruntled disposition at 12:39 AM. It was quite a sad scene really: his clothes were all in a grunge from sleeping in them, his eyes were bloodshot, and his stomach was sour from too much coffee. He’d rather be done already with this part than to waste another hour overthinking it, but he knew that this piece couldn’t afford a single error after it was done. He was his own editor, after all. The fault would be on his own head. The thought of that made him all the more bate as he stopped typing and sighed despairingly.
The thing was, he wasn’t happy with how it was playing out, and he only had one week left to get his next draft to his publisher. His sore hand reached for his red mug with the MAGA logo on it, although his mind was fervently advising against that. It was already the fourth cup he downed. It wasn’t doing any wonders for him, except maybe the wonders of sleepless nights.
Suddenly, a bright light shined in through the window of his room. As it hummed in a low sound, it entered in the shape of a small sphere that glowed with a radiance of a white Christmas. Richard shielded his eyes from the magnificent aurora as it grew larger. Slowly, it shaped into a thin and fair human form. When the light disappeared, there stood a tall lady adorned in a blue dress. Her head was crowned with an olive wreath, a quill pen rested between her right ear, and a long scroll rested over her left shoulder like a beauty pageant sash. Everything about her seemed to sing wise divinity, as Richard took in what stood before him.
“Usually, I have to take something to see shit like this.” he said, too jaded from the stress to question the logics of reality. “Who are you?”
“I am Cassiopeia,” said the mysterious woman, “the Holy Patron of the Arts.”
Her sweet voice, as though by magic, suddenly reawakened Richard’s deteriorating spirit. “Oh, well, nice to meet you Cassiopeia.” he responded with a relaxed smile.
“I heard that you were besieged by writer’s block over a very crucial part of your story,” she said. “So, I have come down from above to see if my assistance can lend you to overcome this dilemma.”
“Well,” said Richard, holding a blue folder in his hand. “I don’t know what you can do for me. But then, I guess it doesn’t hurt to try. Here’s my outline so far, if you’re willing to have a look.”
Long ago, in the western realm of Norgaul, there lived a wanderer who was born from a human mother and a male orc. His name was Redarr. Not long after Redarr’s mother passed away while he was still a boy, his grieving orc father abandoned him. Embittered by anger and loneliness, Redarr left his home to find and kill his father for the pain he had inflicted upon him. In his journey across the land, Redarr joined a company of mercenaries under the employment of the House of Citadel, one of the most powerful royal families from the kingdom of the High Elves. As a hired sword, pillaging and marauding became a means for sating Redarr’s wrath until he could obtain his revenge. When fall arrived in Norgaul, the High Elvish army his detachment was marching with lost against the forces of the vampire lord Dzien, at the Battle of Thorn Valley. Along with Redarr’s company, hundreds of captured elves were taken back to the vampire fortress of DarkFell. During his imprisonment, Redarr reluctantly befriends an aging prisoner named Zephyr Longstride, a grey yet lively wizard who despises the ways of vengeance. It was he who mentors the boorish half-orc in the fundamental basics of education and philosophy. Redarr also learns from him about a pilgrimage that orcs of all kind undergo within a certain year, to a temple found in the outskirts of Thorn Valley that is dedicated to one of their gods. Zephyr says that Redarr’s father will likely be there, and the time when the pilgrimage commences is within five months. Suddenly renewed with motivation after knowing that he is close to his life-long goal, Redarr aids Zephyr in devising a way to escape the vampire’s dungeon. The duo escape, but Zephyr loses his life in the attempt. With his dying breath, he asks Redarr to save his grandson Helios, who was sold off years ago by Lord Dzien to Zummurra, the Red Spider Queen of Kier. This heartless matriarch is infamously known to harvest mana from magic users to not only strengthen herself, but to replenish her youth as well. Redarr then decides to fulfill his debt to the wizard, believing that he has enough time to save Helios before the pilgrimage. Along the way, he encounters a wondering elvish druid named Cerebos, a human shield maiden named Katrin, and a dwarfish bard named Brandon O’Crachonheim. They join him on his quest to the kingdom of Kier, learning about each other along the way. Cerebos is a Druidic Wood Elf who has lived in exile for the last twenty years since the High Elves conquered his forested homeland of Alvalorien. Druidism, the ancient religion of the Wood Elves, was strictly outlawed under High Elf law, but it did not hinder any of the beleaguered Wood Elves from preaching their ancient way of life. Cerebos’s parents were imprisoned for spreading their believes in silence, and eventually died together in prison. Katrin was the best fighter in her clan: the clan of Gun O’Dale. By clan law, any shield maiden who is defeated in a duel with another man must marry him. Katrin lost to an elvish noble from the House of ReinSeer, who left her for another woman. Katrin killed him out of rage, which consequently started a war between ReinSeer and Gun O’Dale. She is now the last of her clan. Lastly is Brandon O’Crachonheim’s story. He was despondently rejected from the Guild of the Lilies, a renown bard’s college that is sponsored by the High Elvish House of Fireguard. The reason why was for his unorthodox proses and songs that explicitly objectified elvish women, as ether tavern wenches or concubines. Despite his justification that he was praising the form of elvish women’s beauty in his own crass way, Brandon was nevertheless excommunicated from every bardic guild within High Elven territory. Redarr then shares with them his own tale, as well as why he is going to Kier and what he plans to do afterwards. Soon, the group arrive at the city in time before the Red Spider Queen’s ritual of sacrificing mana users. Working together, they break Helios out of prison and escape the city, but not before Zummurra casts a spell on them known as the Death Mark. The Death Mark allows her to know where those who have been marked are hiding in any corner of the world. Realizing that they cannot part in different ways until Zummurra is dead, the group follows Redarr to the temple in Thorn Valley which Zephyr spoke of. What he found instead was a town known as Versailles, where orcs and humans live in harmony. Redarr, not only realizing that Zephyr had lied about the pilgrimage just to lead him to Versailles, but now also learns from the towns people that his father had died long ago in a bar fight back in Kier. Now stuck in a maelstrom of indecision, Redarr resorts to heavy drinking until he contemplates suicide, despite consolations from his companions. Meanwhile, news arrive that the forces of the Red Spider Queen are advancing towards Versailles.
“I love reading about tales of high adventure,” said Cassiopeia, once she had finished reading. “So, what is this problem that vexes you?”
“This one scene in Chapter 42,” replied Richard. “It’s a turning point in the story where Redarr has to make a choice that could change everything for him.”
“I can clearly see why,” said Cassiopeia solemnly. “The road that Redarr has traversed is not a straight and narrow one. So many avenues of fate could unravel here, yet it is so trivial to choose which one. Does Redarr and his companions decide to stay and defend the town, or will they preemptively go after Zummurra herself? Do they live after the battle, or do some of them die while succeeding in their quest? And, what will become of Redarr in the end? Will he find it in himself to forgive his father, or will grieve and anger devour him? Let’s also not forget the other character’s story arcs. Will they find a satisfying ending to them as well?”
“Actually,” clarified Richard. “My problem is how should Redarr and Katrin fuck each other.”
A deadly silence suddenly fell upon Cassiopeia’s face.
“Katrin,” replied Richard, “you know, the shield maiden from before. She and Redarr fall in love with each other because, you know, they love to kick ass and binge drink hard cider, like they did at this tavern back at Kier. I—I think that’s a good enough reason for them to bang each other, you know? But I don’t know how many fantasy novels have done the “orcs banging human females” thing, so, I think I may be the first writer who’s come up with that idea. But I don’t know how they’re suppose to… well, do it.”
“So, let me get this straight,” said Cassiopeia, her sweet demeanor slowly melting. “I chose to come down preparing to grant you all of the wisdoms of the ancient arts, out of all the millions of other struggling writers in the world mind you, just to help you WRITE A SEX SCENE?!”
“What? Who says I can’t if I want to?” retorted Richard. “They’re both friends, they’re both consenting adults; and biologically compatible. Besides, I don’t need to write my fantasy characters as these clean Disney cartoons, or chess board pieces that you just tell to go here, do this, and then move on. They’re creatures of desires and necessities like real people; with flaws and outlets. And since when did you become the “Sex-Negative Patron?” Plus, I don’t even remember asking you for your h—
Cassiopeia’s hand reached out over Richard’s head before he could say another word. There was another low hum, followed by a light that enveloped his body. For a second, he couldn’t move. A few more seconds went by before the light died down, and Richard found himself wearing an outfit that somewhat mirrored Cassiopeia’s.
“There, wanna be partners? You qualify.” said Cassiopeia, standing before Richard in her birthday suit. “You also now have the power to think your stories into existence. Happy? Good. Happy writing, and I’ll see you in hell with E. L. James and James Fucking Patterson.”
She disappeared in a flash of light, leaving Richard alone with his thoughts. And what thoughts they were indeed. He imagined the words on his computer screen, and they appeared as he wished. “Thanks, Cassie.” he smiled to himself after a long night. He managed to complete Chapter 42, and the story, in less than twenty-five minutes. But it took him thirty minutes to google for a good, summarizing quote.
Character is the sum, and total, of a person’s choice.