Tagged: sister

“Don’t Say a Goddamn Word, Darlene”

  • by jenbounced his face on the pavement
  • when he visits Bermuda to golf
  • Jack’s a doughnut
  • couldn’t understand why Darlene
  • refused to return to his bed

Tune in next time part 233                           Click Here for Earlier Installments

“Don’t say a goddamn word, Darlene,” Cleopatra snapped.

The Asian woman squeaked and hid her face behind the curtains, disappearing completely. My father leapt to his feet, slipped, and bounced his face on the pavement. But since the pavement in this room was black velvet, just like everything else, he just wound up with a rug burn. It reminded me of how sunburnt he gets when he visits Bermuda to golf and forgets to apply sunscreen.

“Darlene!” Dad yelled. “C’mon back, baby. We’ll kick these interlopers out and lock the door.”

Esmerelda said disgustedly, “Jack’s a doughnut, and he doesn’t care who’s cup of coffee he gets dunked in.”

“Too true,” Cleopatra said.

“Neither or you minded when it was your coffee I was dunking in,” Dad snarked as he made his way to the wall where Darlene disappeared. He started patting it down, searching for her and calling her name.

I knew this was all a ruse, a show put on to distract me from my pointed questions.

I stood with my arms crossed over my chest, watching Dad pretend that he couldn’t understand why Darlene refused to return to his bed, thinking about Esmerelda and Cleopatra. It was true that Cleopatra had lost her accent, but they were sisters, so that meant they were both Svenborgian. And since Esmerelda was an Underduchess, Cleopatra probably was, too. Maybe an Underduchess-once-removed. It was hard to remember all the rules for Svenborgian royal lineage. No matter her title, though, she had to know Viscount Arlo. They both did. They were most likely related to him somehow. And Dad didn’t care.

It was imperative that I figure out what was going on. Without raising their suspicions.

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Geography was Never My Strong Suit

  • by jendidn’t want to say more over the phone
  • the deadly secrets she’d been hiding for three years
  • “What the heck is this?”
  • many generations of fine breeding
  • a very unrealistic assessment of what sex workers charge

Tune in next time part 229                           Click Here for Earlier Installments

Geography was never my strong suit, but even I knew there was a limited number of countries one could reach from Harmonia by water, and our current location resembled none of them. And then it hit me: hovercrafts can travel over land as well as sea. We could be nearly anywhere. And Cleopatra worked so hard to keep me distracted belowdecks, as it were. My distrust of her flared anew.

A zeppelin floated by overhead.

Cleopatra led me into a twisting alley. Where it dead-ended, there was a rusty steel door where she unleashed a flurry of knocks in a complicated rhythm. The door swung inward after a moment and I was compelled to enter the dim room.

From the shadows, a tall woman said, “You should have told us you were bringing him along.” Her voice was familiar.

“Time was short and there were enemies everywhere,” Cleopatra said. “I didn’t want to say more over the phone than the bare basics.”

Shadow-voice stepped out of the shadows and stood behind me, hands on my shoulders. She leaned forward and spoke quietly into my ear. “Did she tell you of the deadly secrets she’d been hiding for three years?” Her odd accent and stilted phrasing identified her as Esmerelda, my brother Jim’s wife. If she was here, did that mean my father was, too?

Esmerelda moved from behind me and embraced Cleopatra, giving her bottom a squeeze. “What the heck is this?” she demanded. “I’m disappointed in you, sister. We are the end result of many generations of fine breeding, and yet you cover up your genetically perfect ass with this relic of old Svenborgia?”

They were sisters? That was news to me. Cold dread clutched my gut.

“I am a traditionalist,” Cleopatra replied.

Esmerelda stood beside her sister and regarded me icily. “Your father has a very unrealistic assessment of what sex workers charge. He’s draining the treasury of his new empire, and he’s not even been publicly acknowledged as leader. We need you to talk to him.”

She was standing side-by-side with her sister, but they were on opposite sides of the conflict over my father. Or were they? Had Cleopatra been playing me all along in order to get me here?

Wherever here was.

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Looking at the Scalpel

  • by jennot in any way compromise your sister
  • three sons and two daughters
  • rural lava fields
  • asked Henri how his vacation was going
  • now that I’ve read it

Tune in next time part 213                           Click Here for Earlier Installments

Looking at the scalpel I remembered my father’s last words to me, Jason, Jim, Jemma, and Jemima: “I would not in any way compromise your sister against her wishes. You know how Freya is. She’s game for anything! I can’t believe that of all my children I have three sons and two daughters who are so uptight and inhibited. You five should try to be more openminded like your other siblings. Why, when I was a youth in the rural lava fields of Iceland, it was anything goes! Our little village was a popular holiday destination for broad-minded Frenchmen, and they taught me much. It was always educational when I ‘asked Henri how his vacation was going‘– if you know what I mean. But you handed me this petition, and now that I’ve read it I think that you don’t, in fact, know what I mean.”

He shook his head and expelled the lot of us from the Oval Office. I don’t know about my siblings, but I never saw my father again.

Until today.

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Special Bonus Double Installment!

Our chain story has been wobbling drunkenly along for close to two years now, lurching from one exotic location to another, and expanding our unnamed protagonist’s bizarre circle of friends and family. Just like we did with part 100, we’re celebrating part 200 by writing it together!

The list of prompt phrases is twice as long as usual, and has, for the first time ever, been drawn exclusively from our own published novels. We think this ups the challenge significantly because we both have the novels pretty much memorized and it will be difficult to put these phrases in an unfamiliar context.

Jen will go first, and as soon as she incorporates the first prompt phrase she’ll hand the keyboard over to Kent. He’ll work until the second snippet is incorporated and then hand it back. And so on. Hopefully we will not come to blows.

  • I know how to break
  • dominated coffeehouse debate
  • bordering on smarmy
  • jocularity and baggy shorts
  • “Enough fucking football metaphors
  • drinking way too much Mountain Dew
  • grinding more than rocking
  • rather large, rather ugly
  • intricate designs along her spine
  • slumped over with wheezing laughter

Tune in next time parts 199 & 200                      Click Here for Earlier Installments

I made it back to Dr Belladonna’s bedroom before I heard any sign of pursuit, and I got the door closed and locked just in time. Jem and Jem stood outside, debating loudly about the proper technique for picking the lock. I know how to break through most hypnotic trances, so I decided to take a chance and let the girls in. I’d be much better off if I could get them on my side and away from Jim.

The soft click when I unlocked the door was enough to shush my sisters. I stepped back, prepping my trance-breaking routine. Theirs could be any of three different forms of hypnosis, each with different weaknesses. The best way to rouse someone from a trance had dominated coffeehouse debate at the academy my junior year, so I had lots of ideas to try out. I just didn’t know how much time I’d have to try them.

“We know you’re up to something, big brother.” Jemma’s voice was unctuous, bordering on smarmy.

“And we know what it is,” added Jemima, brazen confidence in her voice.

“So come at me, sis,” I said playfully. The two common elements in all my anti-hypnosis tactics were jocularity and baggy shorts. Too late, I remembered what I was wearing.

I hurtled across the room like David Beckham, hoping to get to the closet before my sisters took me up on my offer. There had to be some baggy shorts in there somewhere, and if I could get them on quickly enough I could save the day like a goalkeeper stopping a game-winning ball.

“Enough fucking football metaphors!” I grumbled to myself. “I’m not even English!”

A pair of Dr Belladonna’s bloomers would have to suffice. I hauled them on over my pants just as Jem (or Jem) thrust the door open. “You look like you’ve been drinking way too much Mountain Dew!” I declared in what I have to say were surpassingly jocular tones. The girls were unaffected, which meant I’d guessed wrong about the nature of the trance.

They entered the room, moving with the uncanny choreography of twins, even though they were triplets. Their hips swayed in unison, grinding more than rocking, which gave me the vital clue: Jim was using some sort of mind-control drug on them. Something other than Mountain Dew.

Jemma stationed herself in front of me in a feline crouch while Jemima went over to the nightstand and hefted the rather large, rather ugly vase. She squinted at me, lining up her throw.

I timed my move just right. When Jemima hurled the vase, I leapt up and grabbed the chandelier. The hefty piece of porcelain flew right beneath my feet, strewing roses, and hit Jemma square in the chest. She toppled, swearing. The water from the vase quickly saturated her white t-shirt, displaying the intricate designs along her spine and ribcage, the tattoos she’d been given as a child to mark her as the youngest female in our family, and therefore the one promised to the Guild of Fire Eaters.

I pumped my legs to get the chandelier swinging. Jemima looked around for something else to throw at me, and Jemma sprang to her feet, dripping. I timed my next move a bit less perfectly, letting go of the chandelier too soon. Rather than clearing the bed, I landed on it and bounced, my momentum sending me sprawling against the wall to slide down head-first onto the floor. Jem and Jem slumped over with wheezing laughter. My less-than-perfect timing had been perfect after all.

Before they regained their composure, I seized the now-empty nightstand and used it to bash the knob off the door. Darting out, I pulled it shut behind me, trapping them in Absinthia’s boudoir.

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Jim Was Always Coming Up with Outrageous Theories

  • by jenin that gentleman’s widely opened eyes
  • these dashing cardigans
  • Tonight: dinosaurs.
  • Her stomach made fish tank noises
  • appeared to have been eaten by foxes

Tune in next time part 197                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Jim was always coming up with outrageous theories about twins. I guess being the only twinless sibling in the family will do that to a guy. Not that he was a singleton. No, Jim was a triplet, but his co-trips were identical girls and he always felt left out. His experiments were often painful, and I had no interest in seeing what he had planned for today, or how the paper shredders would play into it.

I took a step backwards, away from the false graveyard of office equipment, and promptly bumped into someone standing right behind me. It was Jim, of course, and in that gentleman’s widely opened eyes I saw no hint of brotherly affection. To my surprise, he was flanked by our sisters Jemma and Jemima. It was unusual to see all three triplets together. They were all wearing these dashing cardigans in a blue and green color scheme that told me all I needed to know about where their loyalties currently lay. Normally the girls pledged fealty to the Academy’s chess team, the Anacondas. Tonight: Dinosaurs. If he had convinced them to support the chess hooligans of our greatest rivals, Jim had more sway over them than I had ever imagined possible. Perhaps his theories about twins weren’t as outrageous as I had always imagined.

Ignoring Jim and his widely opened eyes, I smiled at our sisters and reached out to shake their hands. With Jemma’s hand in my right, Jemima’s in my left, I executed the secret “twin handshake” we had all developed as children when we wanted to exclude Jim. I was hoping to break through whatever insidious hold he had over them, but to all outward appearances I was unsuccessful. And on top of that, they wouldn’t let go of my hands.

“Jem,” Jim drawled, “and Jem, bring him back out to the operating table.”

My sisters pulled me back into the rocket surgery. My crocs had no traction on the slick floor, especially when they dragged me through Absinthia’s blood. Her stomach made fish tank noises under our feet, all blurbley and squelchy. Her poor corpse appeared to have been eaten by foxes, not operated on by rockets.

I averted my eyes and tried to come up with a plan to escape my nefarious triplet siblings.

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Now That You’ve Checked Santa Off Your To-Kiss List

  • by jenonly full-blooded Navajo
  • a vast subterranean chamber of horrors
  • reflection of its luminous rays
  • Ahem.
  • and you’re still not dancing

Tune in next time part 139                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

“Now that you’ve checked Santa off your To-Kiss list, Freya, I think only full-blooded Navajo is left.” I shot a glance at Mr Claus’s tattoo before his beard covered it again, hoping it was not a twin to my own. It wasn’t, and instead depicted a vast subterranean chamber of horrors, a Hellscape overhung by a giant bloody sun, the writhing flames a reflection of its luminous rays.

Santa said, “Ahem. My eyes are up here.”

Freya smoothed his beard and kissed the tip of his nose, then leapt to her feet. “Mother sent me to find you,” she explained to me. “She says, and I quote, ‘Thor is a huge disappointment as president, and you’re still not dancing fast enough.'” Freya shrugged. “She said you’d know what she meant.”

Oh, I knew all right. I knew, and I didn’t like it one little bit.

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Tallulah Kept Me Confined to the Bathroom All Night

  • by jenkissed each other good morning
  • she was going to carry a hammer to work
  • four years earlier, nearly to the day
  • another human skull
  • Oh hell

Tune in next time part 133                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Tallulah kept me confined to the bathroom all night. Between the arms merchants and their monkey robot plans out in the dining room, the occasional visits from the busybody janitor, the knowledge that my wife could discover us any minute, and the unhinged look in Tallulah’s eyes and her talk of blood — well, let’s just say that I was having trouble wrapping things up.

With superhuman stamina and dedication, Tallulah saw things through to the bitter end. When it finally happened, we kissed each other good morning and, at last, disengaged.

The next thing I knew Tallulah was glaring at my crotch and angrily telling the voice from the camera that there was no way she was going to “carry a hammer to work” again tonight.

I thought back to the last time she’d carried my hammer. It was four years earlier, nearly to the day. Tessa had left me and I was on a bender. I had just ordered my favorite drink when Tallulah joined me at the bar. “Don’t tell me you’re having another Human Skull. Those things will kill you.”

The rest of that night was a blur, much like the last night, and, really, every night with Tallulah.

I struggled to my feet and was trying to make myself look presentable when the door flew open, admitting Taylor, Tara, and Tanya, Tallulah’s younger sisters. On their own they were formidable – working as a team, deadly. And they followed Tallulah’s orders to a T.

Oh hell,” I said.

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Dramatis Personae

r-avatarFaithful blog readers have no doubt lost hours of their lives reading our chain story, cleverly titled Tune In Next Time. Since it’s been going on for more than a year and the cast has grown by leaps and bounds, we decided it was time to develop something of a cheat sheet. And here it is, without further ado.

Our Protagonist: Though we have yet to learn this man’s name, we have learned many interesting facts about him. His mother was a two-term US president before several scandals forced her to retire. Now his younger brother Thor holds that office. His father died in some sort of sex scandal that is related to both the president leaving office and a cataclysm that merged the Great Lakes into one and obliterated several states. Our hero is part-Indian, immune to jellyfish stings, and spent at least part of his childhood in a cult. He is a graduate of the Hopscotch Academy who wound up in a career involving both crime and espionage. He sometimes uses the codename Ludovico. He has the layout of at least one Hall of Mirrors memorized, and can imitate any kind of bird or beast. He has a twin brother, a wife, and many former lovers, all dangerous.

His family: Our protagonist has a large family, and luckily most of them have names.

  • Mother: But not his mother. Former US President, now pulls the strings and rules from the shadows. Was removed from office following the infamous White House Sex Scandal that resulted in her husband’s death, and a scheme to bomb Contraria’s enemies and make it look like an accident. She is the current Ambassador to South Dakota.
  • Aunt Züg: Mom’s twin sister. Last seen impersonating Mom and plotting to exploit the Pirate-Ninja alliance in naval action against North Dakota.
  • Thor: Our protagonist’s younger brother, and current president of the United States. Often utilizes his twin sister as a body double. He is married, but we don’t know to whom, and thinks he is the father of Svetlana’s child by the protagonist. Made enemies of the militant vegans through meat-based legislation. Was last seen in their clutches aboard the presidential zeppelin above the Contrarian city Pittsburghistan.
  • Freya: Thor’s twin, our protagonist’s younger sister. Despite being different genders, they are nearly impossible to tell apart when dressed. Seems to have played a part in the sex scandal that killed her father and got her mother thrown out of office. Last seen at the White House, acting as Thor’s body double.
  • Jason: Our protagonist’s identical twin brother, and America’s #1 wedding rapper. He has a lisp, which is a good way to tell the brothers apart. Last seen pretending to be a priest at a small church in Rhode Island.
  • Jinx Damocles: Great-Uncle to our hero, Jason, Thor, and Freya. Is missing his left arm and only has one good eye. Was thought dead following a plane crash in South America. Last seen in a church basement in Rhode Island, getting a hand job from Lyudmila.
  • Fleur: Our hero’s blue-eyed wife. It was an arranged marriage, designed to tighten bonds between the US and Contraria, and neither of them are particularly happy with the match. That didn’t stop Fleur from insisting that her husband take part in many elaborate fertility rituals, and she is now pregnant with twins. This pleases her warlord father immensely. Last seen in a leather goods shoppe in Pittsburghistan, Contraria, presumably unconscious.
  • Isolde: Fleur’s sister, our hero’s sister-in-law. He has a crush on her and tried to talk her into taking part in the fertility rites. But Isolde is infatuated with Harry, a Contrarian noble whom she expects to marry as soon as Fleur delivers. Also last seen in the Contrarian leather store.

His friends and enemies:

  • John: Our protagonist’s former partner in crime and/or espionage. He’s described as an intimidating guy who sucks at ciphers. Is possibly Russian. He spent his childhood in a Tibetan monastery, an experience that left him with a deathly fear of the Himalayan Snowcock. He seems to be passingly good at roller derby, and is mixed up somehow with the warlords of Contraria. Has at least two sisters and is engaged to Tessa. Last seen participating in a Contrarian pregnancy test ritual, playing the part of the rabbit.
  • Tessa: Tessa is very tricky. A former partner of John and our protagonist in several illegal schemes, she has double crossed them both several times. She has auburn hair, an impressive bosom, and gets hiccups when she’s horny. Her formidable ninja skills take our hero by surprise and suggest chapters of her backstory as yet unexplored. She was involved romantically with our protagonist in the past, and is currently engaged to John. She has at least one sister and at least one robot duplicate. It’s hard to say when she was last seen, or if she really exists at all. Perhaps she has always been someone else in disguise.
  • Lyudmila: John’s sister Lyudmila (not to be confused with his one-time date by the same name) is a former sushi chef and current contortionist and helicopter pilot. Owns miniature Pinschers named Trouble and Time. She is one of our hero’s many former lovers, and is, of late, aligned with Tessa in some unknown scheme. Last seen drugging our protagonist and delivering him into the hands of Aphrodite and Heinrich Hunter.
  • Svetlana: John’s other sister. Svetlana is also a contortionist. She and her sister Lyudmila once had a sideshow act, but now hate each other “with good reason.” Has narrow hips, a scratchy voice, and a predilection for blowguns. She is the subject of an international manhunt which she eluded for years by using her contortionist skills and a harness to secret herself under the clothing of Heinrich Hunter, masquerading as his rotund belly (Heinrich was in on it). This former lover of our hero claims to be pregnant with his child.
  • Tallulah: Tessa’s sister, the most dangerous person our hero has ever met. Has unusual blue-black eyes and a tendency to impersonate her sister. Or perhaps has always been her sister. Is married, but we don’t know to whom. Last seen underneath our protagonist’s jacket, disguised as his stomach, at a bistro in Pittsburghistan.
  • Michiko: The rebellious daughter of the leader of NinjaVision. She enjoys Harajuku clothing, and drives a Hello Kitty themed Lincoln. She owns a self storage place. Last seen behind the counter at her self storage operation.
  • Aphrodite Hunter: A pirate with surgically enhanced breasts, and a glass eye. She is married to Heinrich and sleeping with Captain Jorgensen. Is involved in the Pirate-Ninja Alliance. Knows that her husband carts Svetlana around under his clothes. Last seen in a warehouse in the hinterlands being treated for inhaling a jellyfish.
  • Heinrich Hunter: Another pirate, with possible ninja connections. Has a floppy red mustache and carries a katana and an uzi. Smuggled Svetlana under his clothes for many years, which made him appear fat. Last seen in a warehouse in the hinterlands, peeing in his wife’s mouth to neutralize the jellyfish toxin.
  • Captain Jorgensen: A pirate captain involved in the Pirate-Ninja Alliance. Sometime lover of Aphrodite Hunter. Last seen aboard his ship.
  • Mitzy: Has access to a helicopter, but does not pilot it. Kidnaps people for the president, or people pretending to be the president. Last seen at the White House.
  • Kelly: The love of Jason’s life. Unseen so far, possibly because she was convicted of a crime in place of our protagonist, a fact that Jason is unwilling to forgive and forget.
  • Oscar: Head of the Sanitation Workers Union. Last seen in Rhode Island being dragged into a barber shop.
  • Alonzo and Enzo: Milanese sanitation workers in the employ of Dr Minka Stiletto. Last seen dragging Oscar into a Rhode Island barber shop.
  • Dr Minka Stiletto: A hypnotist in Ipswitch, Massachusetts. Has control over both the town and the Sanitation Workers Union. Wears, but does not need, an eyepatch. Sometimes hypnotizes our protagonist and uses him as a sex toy. Last seen being decapitated by Tessa in her jungle-themed hypnotism office.
  • Ulrike: A dangerous German woman with at least one sister. She hunts by smell, but tells our hero apart from his twin by feeling his corneas. Is a former lover of both our hero and John. Last seen corrupting minors outside a hall of mirrors on the boardwalk.
  • Myxolemia: Our hero’s prom date, arranged by his mother of course. It didn’t go well. She is now the American Ambassador to Contraria, and has metal studs where her eyelashes should be. Last seen unconscious in a Pittburghistan leather goods shoppe.

If somehow you have not read the entire saga, this page will make it easy to catch up.

As I Lumbered Around the Table on My Way to the Loo

  • by jenan extremely rare bluish black color almost unheard of in the US
  • all five of them
  • Boom.
  • when I first let Nathaniel move in
  • in a series of digital manipulations

Tune in next time part 123                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

As I lumbered around the table on my way to the loo, I was compelled to exchange greetings with a great many people. I knew that Tessa’s bladder was about to burst, so I shook hands in a series of digital manipulations so blindingly fast I got cramps in all of my fingers.

At last I burst into the little gentlemen’s room. After ejecting the attendant, Tessa and I had the space to ourselves. Tessa let go of my neck and slithered out the bottom of my jacket to stand on her own feet again. Her eyebrows rose when she took in the room.

“This reminds me of when I first let Nathaniel move in and he brought his porcelain doll collection,” she said. “Their creepy eyes follow you everywhere.”

As she peed she went on talking about how creepy Contrarian bathroom design is, but I couldn’t follow her. At her mention of Nathaniel my mind broke. Boom. Just broke.

“I thought you hated Nathaniel and all his brothers,” I interrupted. “Last I knew, all five of them were your mortal enemies.”

The person on the toilet, who I was now convinced was not really Tessa after all, stopped talking. She blinked, dislodging one of her tinted contacts and allowing her natural eye color to show through. The eye told me everything I needed to know. It was an extremely rare bluish black color almost unheard of in the US and it could only belong to one person. The most dangerous person I’d ever met. Tessa’s sister.

“Tallulah,” I breathed.

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Reading Further of Contrarian Prophecies

  • by jenwe went to Pittsburgh
  • Uh uh honey
  • the prospect of a marriage proposal
  • what he did, and where, and when
  • pulled his tail

Tune in next time part 103                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Reading further of Contrarian prophecies did nothing to dispel my unease. I was still reeling from the import of that 43rd stanza when Fleur found me. “It’s time for the feast,” she announced.

The feast lasted three months. When it and all the attendant rituals were finally done, Fleur rounded up her entire retinue of bodyguards and we went to Pittsburghistan, a city several hours form Funkistan by zeppelin, but one with much better sanitation. That’s where the royal hospital was.

The ultrasound technician adjusted her turban and then confirmed, in verse, that Fleur was carrying twins. A cold finger of dread ran down my back. I turned to my wife. “Uh uh honey. No way. I don’t want to be a martyr.”

Fleur’s smile was impish. “Maybe they’ll be boys.” She turned to the technician and said, “I forbid you to tell us the sex of the babies. It will be so delicious to see my husband squirm and worry for the next six months!”

Just then Fleur’s sister Isolde rushed into the room. Ever since the announcement of Fleur’s gravid state, Isolde had been atwitter at the prospect of a marriage proposal from the toad-like Harry. They were unable to make anything official until after Fleur delivered the heirs, but in the meantime we were regaled daily with updates about Harry, what he did, and where, and when, and with whom. Isolde nattered on about Harry and how he pulled his tailcoat out of the car door thereby avoiding an international incident, since the tailcoat was borrowed from the ruler of a rival clan. It was tedious.

Everything in Contraria was tedious, which was surprising for a place ruled by a warlord. There were just so many damn rituals and traditions. Every day I spent here was a day in which Tessa got further away. Sometimes I even had trouble remembering what all the fuss over the treasure was about, or why it was so important.

Fleur snapped her fingers under my nose, bringing me out of my reverie.

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